The Abbey Bar was kitty corner from Abbot Pennings High School, and for most of my high school years, the drinking age in Wisconsin was 18. Need I say more?
Whether my adult self approves of this or not, it was somewhat of a ritual for the seniors, as they turned 18, to walk across the street after school for a beer. As the year went on, more and more seniors would become legal and the bar would get more and more full at 3pm each day. Pity the poor senior whose birthday was in June.
(1984 graduates and before, send me an e-mail if you remember this differently. I didn't experience this myself.)
Alas, Wisconsin changed the drinking age to 19 in July of 1984, so my senior class missed out on this tradition, but I do find in amusing that in the 1984 yearbook, the Key Club posed outside the bar for our group photo. I'm not sure you could sneak that photo into many high school yearbooks these days!
Key Club group photo from the 1984 Argos.
The Abbey Bar (with significant upgrades) still operates on the same spot. This classic facade is gone of course, which is why I'm happy to provide a photo here. They have a nice history page about the bar, but I'm sorry to say, there is nary a reference to the Pennings seniors of old. It's nicer place now though so stop by and check it out when you're in town. I'm pretty sure there's no longer carpet on the walls. What was the story on that?
If you weren't yet 18 when school let out, you had to find the best way to get home. You could certainly take the school bus, but it didn't show up until school had been out for nearly an hour. Your other options were to spend $0.35 on the city bus that came a little bit earlier or hitchhike! In spite of warnings to the contrary, there were usually 20 or so guys on the road in front of Pennings with their thumbs out. I suppose that isn't the safest thing, but typically somebody's mom or an alumni would stop by and pickup a carload.
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Contact Eric Elfner at elf(at)abbotpennings.com with additions, corrections or comments on this site.