Blood and Beer at Pat’s Idle Hour Lounge in Waco

Pat’s Idle Hour Lounge was a filthy, hole-in-the-wall Black bar just across  from the Waco Tribune-Herald.

The concrete floor was so filthy, your shoes made that sticking-and-unsticking sound as you walked.

But every now and again, when we really needed a cold, cheap beer, and we felt adventurous (read “stupid”), a covey of us lily white young reporters would scurry across Franklin Ave. from the Waco Tribune-Herald newsroom to Pat’s.

This was OK, because we’d had basic survival training from an older, alcoholic reporter.

“You’re pretty safe at Pat’s.  Just don’t say anything to anyone, don’t look at anyone, sit in the back, and make sure you leave before it gets dark, or you’re dead.”

You also had to make sure you never sat on a discarded syringe or rusty razor blade.

I think the Black regulars at Pat’s, at least the “daylight crowd”, sort of got a kick out of “the white kids” coming in for a beer.

Watching us was probably better than going to the zoo. Even so, there was always tension, just below the surface.

Waco was not a “sundown” town, if those still existed in 1982, but it was racist, nonetheless.

On the one hand, you had Baylor University, home to many of the whitest Baptist kids you will ever see in your life, who sort of lived in the heavily protected Baylor Bubble.

On the other hand, you had East Waco, a place where police told me: “You do not go at night unless you want to become a statistic.”

In fairness, Waco had about the same level of crime as most towns its size.

But maybe because East Waco was so Black and sad, and Baylor was so white and giddy, it made the place worse, at least to me.

Even Pat’s lost its novelty one afternoon when I found a bloody straight-razor in our booth.

Oh, and there was that time when a cop on night duty had to crawl under the tables, looking for a woman’s nose.  It had been cut off by an ashtray swung by another woman in a fight, probably over a man.


Click HERE for more Waco memories, most of which are funny.

Click HERE for the worst of the worst — the triple murder at Lake Waco.

2 Responses to “Blood and Beer at Pat’s Idle Hour Lounge in Waco”

  1. Steve D says:

    One of my uncles was in the NYPD so there were a lot of police type friends. One day an EMT friend of my cousin’s was regaling us with tales from the Dark Side (Newark). A buddy of his who worked in the ‘burbs told him one day “We had a rough night. We had a homicide.” To which the other retorted “You had A homicide?” Then he showed him his patrol book where every other page had one.

Leave a Reply