Wabash Men Share Dollar/Tommy’s Memories

A long time Wabash watering hole is gone! Send us your brief memory or story and we’ll add it to this blog! E-mail to: We shot new photos just before noon today. See that photo album here.

Mark Dill, 75 – I suggest today become a local day of mourning for all Wabash alums! In the early 70’s there were a couple of bars we frequented, but Tommy’s always seemed to be everyone’s favorite. It could have been because of the service we received. Tommy was always accommodating to the Wabash crowd and I heard he had actually attended Wabash for a period of time, must have been in the 20’s or 30’s. He had a waiter named Mace. The story was that Mace suffered from shellshock in WW 1 but he could always deliver a tray full of frosty mugs of beer to your table and never spill a drop! After comps Tommy was THE place to go celebrate. My dad told me he had frequented Tommy’s back in the early 40’s when there used to be a dance hall at the back end of the building. Crawfordsville has lost a true jewel today.

Mike Thibault ’94 – When I was a Freshman, some Seniors called back to the house and asked for me and my brothers to come pick them up at Tommy’s. We drove all around downtown looking for Tommy’s, but could not find it. We finally had to ask one of the fine citizens of Crawfordsville where this place was. He smiled and said, "Right behind you". We looked back and saw the sign "Reggie and Rick’s Silver Dollar". I asked if he was certain that was the right place. He became a still as a stone, then breathed deeply so as to prevent his anger from boiling up. He then said to me, "Son, this place has ALWAYS been Tommy’s."

Eric Rowland ’86 – It seems that Tommies and the Crawfordsville Fire Department have an inseparable link in my mind.  My first experience there was during the spring semester of my sophomore year.  I was invited to Tommies to celebrate my election to the post of house manager of Beta Theta Pi.  Several of us enjoyed a few pitchers of TWR, plotted the future of the house and solved the world’s problems.  We made our way back home to find Wabash Avenue closed by fire engines, smoke billowing out of the windows of the Beta house and all of the brothers out in the front yard.  I quickly sobered myself up to address my first house manager crisis.  It turned out that the Sigs had stuck smoke bombs in the stairwells and there was no fire, but I’m sure my sober authority put the fire department at ease.

Long live Tommies!

Chris Cotton ’91 – Is it ok to fondly recall celebrating a 19th birthday in Tommy’s with Billy the Bartender? Much like bahhdges – we didn’t need no stinking IDs back then!

John Lustina ’91 – I’m sure all statutes have passed to where you shouldn’t be in any legal jeopardy.

  1. Dennis Sheridan

    My son Kevin, ’90 was always at Tommy’s studying whenever I called him???? Father’s are the last to know.

  2. Two memories jump out: 1) in 1962 + there were not cans, only long necks. Having little money for weekend imbibing … several of us would go around to the back of fraternities and find long neck boittles and cases … together you could get a $1 trade in … go to the back of Tommy’s (where you went under the age of 21) and trade in the empties for one full case. A little bit of heaven. 2) George Lipski (Poly Sci Professor of renoun) believed Topmmy was the living example of Machiavelli … he would take his class of upperclassmen … on select field trips to Tommy’s to experience the modern day Machiavelli … of course, George liked his cocktails.
    Jay Fisher, Class of 1966

  3. Todd Gross '93

    The best part about Tommy’s was that they never stopped Wallies from being Wallies. Case in point: I recall one evening seeing one Wally who had had more than his share of TWR (name with held for his own good), he was laying on his back on the pool table, chewing those wonderful hard boiled eggs they used to sell (2 for $0.25). Anyway, he was also doing a volcanic spew of sorts and saying he was Mount Vesuvius. The waitress calmly stopped by on her regular rounds and asked if he would get off the table, no more than that. No toss out into the snow, no admonishment, and no end to the beer and eggs. Just, please get of the table. Luckily no one reported the Gentleman’s Rule violation to Dean Hadley. Even Stony’s wasn’t that accomodating.

  4. David Decker '67

    I must really be getting OLD as all the favored haunts of my youth are now gone. First the Snacker, now Tommy’s. I took my current wife to the Snacker on our first date in 1965 (hey, I was poor!). I later took her, upper crust Boston lady that she was, to Tommy’s. In those days you could get a beer and a bowl of chili for something like 50 cents. So, I took her there, and she stared at the silverware which was stamped with the initials “ISP.” “What is ISP?” she asked. Indiana Stae Prison, I replied.

  5. Pete Miesel '91

    I remember being at Tommy’s one night with some fellow Tekes and I was talking to Will Grannan about some new song I had added to the WNDY playlist called “Don Henley Must Die”. Out of nowhere this incredibly drunk local descending on me and Will, loudly asking if we were “messing with Don Henley, because if we were messing with Don Henley then we were messing with (him)”. Barfights by nature are pretty stupid affairs, but to get into a barfight over a Mojo Nixon song about Don Henley would rank amongst the stupidest. We managed to calm him down, bought him a beer, and he proceeded to sing us a pitch perfect version of the Eagles’ Duelin’ Daltons. Good times, good times….

  6. As I recall, at the end of the 50’s, a hamburger was 50 cents and cheeseburgers were a dime more. Beer was 35 per glass, so the average post studying trip was a couple of beers and a hamburger. It seems to me that $1.20 was about all I could afford per week!

  7. Does anyone remember when Tommy’s was first opened, and/or who first owned it?

  8. Dave Obergfell '70

    I remember being a bartender at Carl’s and closing Carl’s to go to help others at Tommy’s. More class than the Green Street Bar. No chickens on the bar.
    Anyone remember betting on the number where the chicken would have its nature call?
    Oh the good old days are long past.
    Thank God

  9. Martin Tuohy '91

    The old Silver Dollar sign hanging out front used to say “Since 1934” back in the late 1980s.
    Many good memories come to mind:
    –J.C., Mark “Rat” Ratekin, and I sitting around on many quiet, cold winter “pitcher” nights nearly 20 years ago, when an 18-year-old rhyne could grow into a young man with two seniors looking out for him;
    –Hillrat tending bar because he was such a regular, despite being 19 or 20 at the time;
    –The Lambda Chis Ross Weatherman, Mike David, and Jeff Marlett convincing Raymond the 300-pound rest stop attendant who was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome NOT to snap my head off with one hand (which he probably could have);
    –My wedding party and closest friends adjourning from the “official” reception in Greencastle to the Silver Dollar for the real reception;
    –Solving the world’s problems and closing the place with Steve Reedy, Dennis Vetrovec, Matt Stephens, Hugh Vandivier, and a few other 1991 classmates in October 2001;
    and just sitting and drinking with Hugh one night last June, when we shared our respective successes, sources of pride, struggles, and disappointments with a life-long camaraderie that only two Wabash men can share.
    “The Silver Dollar Bar: Since 1934”

  10. Prof. Rick Warner, History

    It’s great to see some oral histories of Tommy’s/the Silver Dollar. I am not an alum but I do remember one afternoon when I invited Chris Zilz ’01 to have his final independent study meeting in Tommy’s. Chris is always early to everything, and I don’t think he has spent a lot of time in bars. I arrived a few minutes later than Chris, who was nervously waiting near the pool tables while some unsavory locals were picking on him for his Wabash attire… guess I got there just in time to rescue him, since we were clearly outnumbered.

  11. Rev. John Sowers'99

    We have a lost a great friend and comforter. Surely we must pray for the departed. I spent plenty of time at Tommy’s and the Snacker. I am so glad that these bits of Wabash history were still alive and well while I was at Wabash

  12. Scott Simpson '95

    Brilliantly circumventing the school’s dry rush policy, an industrious rush chairman took a gaggle of high school seniors to Tommy’s during Honor Scholars Weekend, and so began my four-year relationship with this drinking establishment.
    I can’t say I am shocked by the demise of Tommy’s: only surprised it didn’t burn down sooner.
    My memories of Tommy’s are mostly blurry, but one stands out like a Danni in Crawfordsville. During the fall semester of my freshman year the upperclassman in charge of my fraternity education ordered me and two of my pledge brothers to go to Tommy’s, with firm instructions not to return until we had collected 537 cigarette butts (the specific number is tattooed in my brain for eternity). Sadly, that wasn’t the worst of it; we had to go there dressed as superheroes: capes included. And if anyone asked us what the hell we were doing, we were required to shout in unison, “We are flying Phikeia, fighting for truth, justice and the American way.” The funny thing, as we were crawling around on the muck covered ground trying to reach our quota of disregarded smokes, with a Garth Brooks song du jour echoing in the background, none of locals really gave us a second thought. You see, that was the beauty of the place: two very diverse social circles peacefully (for the most part) coexisting.
    Where will the students go now for beer? I heard they built a new Applebee’s a few years ago, and in my era a good time could sometimes be had at the Holiday Inn near the interstate. But wherever they go it just won’t be the same.
    Maybe I should move back to Crawfordsville and open a bar? No, better not; I’d probably drink all the profits.

  13. Brad Rickel '87

    Does anybody remember the Thursday night club? My senior year, a group of guys from different living units, backgrounds, and majors would gather Thursday nights at Tommy’s for cheap pitchers. After we drank ten, we would get one for free. There were many great guys that would hang out, drink beer, and solve the problems of the world. We tried to drink our way to as many free pitchers as possible, and still have semi -coherent conversations. Let’s see if I can remember a few of the group members…Tim Brown, Steve Badger, Doc Party, Steve and Dave Manual, Mike Shaw, Jim Amidon, Scott Cougill,Paul Boger. Can anybody add on some more?

  14. What a shame. I work in the news business at a tv station in Terre Haute. As soon as I heard that there was a fire in downtown Crawfordsville involving a bar, some apartments and other businesses, I figured it was the Dollar. Unfortunately, I had just recently made my first visit. Rich Hardesty got a last minute gig there in early/mid April. I decided that it wasn’t that far, so I would do the responsible get a room, take a taxi and drink thing, and see Rich perform. It was an enjoyable evening. I figured I’d make it back there sometime. Guess not. Cheers!!

  15. Eric Spencer '75

    Like many others, I was saddened to learn of the fire that destroyed Tommy’s. I had at least a couple of philosophy classes there. As a matter of fact my senior picture for the year book was taken behind the bar with Tommy and a stellar patron named Ben Stout (Dr.Tom Stout and Dick Stout’s uncle; Dr Harry Stout’s brother). I enjoyed drinking beer and shootin’ the breeze with Tommy and Ben. Such great memories from a wonderful time in my life.

  16. The best part about Tommy’s was that they never stopped Wallies from being Wallies.

  17. Will Grannan

    1) My brother, John ’97, called me early in the work day to tell me about the fire. All I could think was, “That’s the first bar I ever went to legally: 12:15 a.m. 9/25/90” The bartender carded me, looked at the clock, poured a draft, and wished me a happy birthday. John said, “Yeah, me too.”
    2) A couple months later, before the Monon Bell Game, you couldn’t hear anything except “Old Wabash,” all six verses. Man that felt great: a part of something big.

  18. Larry Knauff '62

    Tommy’s contributed to good “town-gown” relations and was a refuge from those “townies” who might pick a fight with out-numbered “Wallies” just for a wrong “look” at some other watering holes on Green Street. Although we did “brave” the Green Street for their “happy hour 10 cent draughts” (remember, college tuition was 1/10 of what it is today).
    There used to be an old C’ville roofer, a Silver Dollar regular, who would invite some of us home at closing time, wake up his wife to cook us breakfast while he passed around a whiskey bottle and taught us to chase it with dill pickle “juice”. The wife was a lovely person to put up with all of us and seemed to enjoy students. Always wondered if he didn’t invite us home for protection, as his sweet wife was always “proper” in front of the guests. Eventually, before morning, we did leave him alone to face consequences, if any.
    Of course that would be the weekend….NEVER on a school night!

  19. Look for the bricks to go on EBAY if any one would like to have one from the Tommys bar.Im sure they will only have VERY few hit ebay,
    …Comming SOON…

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