The Dive Bomber: Keeping the Double Deuce Spirit Alive at Killion's Irish Inn

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While all the women my age are mourning the Patrick Swayze of Dirty Dancing and Ghost, that's not the Dive Bomber Way. No, in light of Mr. Swayze's passing, I'm thinking about Road House, and the lessons it had for a young Missouri girl in the late 1980s, curious about the best friend a good time ever had.

Want to find a real road house? Go to Caseyville, Illinois. This stretch of Highway 157 between I-64 and I-70 is the middle of nowhere, but when there's a break in the trees, the Gateway Arch is right there. Caseyville has at least five establishments that meet the road house criteria. I chose Killion's Irish Inn and Grill.

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Robin Wheeler
I ordered a can of Stag, and the fellow sitting beside me looked me over and said, "Are you from Highland? They drink a lot of Stag in Highland."

"You know why?" said a guy at the end of the bar. "Because there's a lot of heart disease up there. People with heart trouble like Stag because it's got less sugar."

This isn't conversation conducive to a good brawl. But then the guy beside me pulled out a switchblade. I would have been concerned, except it had a bright orange plastic handle. He uses it in his job at a postal sorting facility.

There is never going to be a brawl at Killion's. A few minutes later, I met the reason why.

I think her name is Annie. I didn't quite catch it, because her gravely voice was so low. She sat beside me, but I felt like she was standing -- she had to be at least a foot taller than I am. She sat long enough to balance the till, slug a shot and make a call before taking her shift behind the bar.

"That's the one you don't want to mess with," the guy beside me said. "I've seen her pick up grown men and throw 'em outta here with no help."

It's her way or the highway.

Robin Wheeler writes the blog Poppy Mom. She also has a strange attraction to drinking establishments with jars of pickled -- or possibly fossilized -- eggs. She reports on these dives for Gut Check every Thursday.

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