When I cruised into town nine years ago in my “flashy” U-Haul one-way truck rental (Jeep Cherokee in tow), I had no job, no place to stay and didn’t know a soul in town. Needless to say, it was quite an adventure and I was a man alone.
After three nights in the 5-star Budget Inn on the Beeline Highway, I moved into what was then Frontier Apartments, were I would spend the next two years of my life.
During my first few days and weeks in Payson, I spent part of my time looking for a bit of social life. Since I enjoyed dancing, I was hoping to find somewhere to go that I might be able to strut my two-stepping prowess around a dance floor. Several people that I met suggested that I mosey on down to the Oxbow Saloon on Main Street. So I did.
I had never really been the type of guy to frequent a dance “saloon,” but I soon found myself almost every Friday and Saturday night at the Oxbow, propped up on a bar stool, dancing to the country and classic rock sounds of the local bands and making new friends — friends I still have to this day.
You probably know that several years ago, the Oxbow Saloon closed its doors, save for the August Doin’s and a few other special events during the year.
Well, I’m happy to report that local resident Ernie Padilla, through his individual diligence and hard work, has breathed new life into the historic structure at the corner of Main and McLane. The Oxbow Saloon, under Ernie’s management, is now open Thursday through Sunday, noon till the cows come home (or till the Cowboys GO home, says Ernie).
Last Friday night, Ann and I were invited to spin the evening’s tunes at the Oxbow. It was nice to see the Oxbow from a different perspective than the one I had when I first came to Payson. It was fun to sit on the other side of the speakers and watch others having fun on the large dance floor — and bellying up to the bar.
It certainly would have been a shame to see the old saloon permanently shut down. The Ox Bow Saloon has always played a prominent role in Payson’s history.
Offering drinks and “entertainment,” the saloon’s legacy has included rowdy street parties and late-night bands. Main Street was “the” location, and people would watch parades from the Payson Hotel’s balcony. For a long time, the August Doin’s, the original Payson Rodeo, were held on Main Street in front of the Oxbow.
In the early days, commercial stores, saloons and dance halls were the main attraction in Payson, but as the community grew, so did the need for rooming facilities. The August Doin’s brought the greatest demand for lodging.
The Oxbow Inn began as the Payson Hotel. William and Estelee Wade built the hotel next to their restaurant, the Busy Bee. “Willie” Wade had experience building log structures in Yellowstone National Park. He took on a partner, Randolph (“Dolph”) D. McKamey, and they built the Payson Hotel, which is the lounge portion of the Ox Bow today. The hotel had nine rooms upstairs, a shared bathroom and a linen closet. The downstairs originally housed the owners’ kitchen, dining room, bar and lobby.
This week’s music trivia question is: Which of the following is a true statement about Payson’s Oxbow Saloon? A) The original building was built in 1933, B) The Oxbow Saloon and Inn are certified for having paranormal activity, C) The original dancehall has burned down twice or D) All of the above.
This week, if you are the fourth caller and have the right answer, you’ll win a CD of your choice. Tell me your 20 all-time favorite hits and onto a CD they’ll go. Good luck!
Now, let’s check out how we did with last week’s music trivia question: Can you name the country music group who, in 2001, scored a top10 hit with their song “I’m Movin’ On?” Some of this band’s other top hits include “Life Is A Highway,” “Why Wait” and their current hit (now at #8 on the country chart) “Easy,” which features pop singer Natasha Bedingfield.
Is this group A) The Crew-Cuts, B) Fleetwood Mac, C) Rascal Flatts or D) Bone Thugs-N-Harmony?
The correct answer was Rascal Flatts. The Crew-Cuts (“Sh-Boom”) was a mid-’50s pop vocal group, Fleetwood Mac (“Dreams”) rocked the airways in the ’70s and ’80s and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (“Crossroads”) rapped its way to fame in the ’90s.
Congratulations to this past week’s music trivia winner, Jack Jumper, who won a “Best of Rascal Flatts” CD. Jack has been a winner several times in the past.
Finally, new pictures that I’ve added to my Web site are from the recently held Big Brothers Big Sisters winter party held at the Senior Center. Well over 100 “Bigs” and “Littles” ate, played games, decorated cookies and danced the night away.
Have a nice week — and maybe one of these days, we’ll see you at the Oxbow Saloon!