Marge and Joe’s Tavern
Many months ago, a visitor to this website asked if I knew for sure what ever happened to Marge and Joe’s Tavern, and when it happened. Although I knew a little something about it, it wasn’t much, but I told him that I would ask around and if I found out anything I would post it on the website. After a little “asking around” and with a fair amount of good luck, at least some of the answers have been found.
For those of you who aren’t old enough to remember this landmark, or for whatever reason never set foot in the place, a little background is in order.
Established in1935, Marge and Joe’s was what what today would be called a family bar and restaurant. It was located on the “S” curve on U.S. Route 24 1 mile west of Secor. The owners were Marge and Joe Beoletto. They, along with their little girls, Jean and Sandy, operated the establishment and also lived in an apartment inside the building.
It was a friendly place to stop and have a good meal or a beer or two. In the beginning, as the lead photo shows, it was also a place to get gas for your car. And for a weary traveler on a dark night or a third shift worker dragging himself home after a hot, long, mean 8 hours of back-breaking labor at Caterpillar or LeTourneau-Westinghouse or Keystone, the lights of Marge and Joe’s, visible for miles in every direction were a welcoming beacon of rest and camaraderie and the promise of good things to be enjoyed.
In the earlier days, on Saturday nights a local dance band might perform and then the small dance floor would be crowded with happy couples, the bar would be doing a brisk business and Mom, Dad and the kids, couples on a date and the occasional traveler would be in the dining room enjoying some of Marge’s famous deep fried chicken or a fried catfish and a cold bottle of beer or for the kids a hamburger and fries and maybe a bottle of Orange Crush or a Squirt. It was a familiar, comfortable and friendly place to be.
While I was looking for information which could answer the question about “whatever happened” a newspaper clipping was provided to me by Ann Armstrong, which pretty much answered that question. The contents of that article are a follows:
Roanoke Review, February 21, 1961
Fire early Saturday morning completely destroyed the Curve Inn, formerly Marge and Joe’s, a combined tavern and restaurant six miles east of Eureka on Route 24.
This blaze, the third in the Eureka area in less than two weeks, was discovered by unidentified passing motorists about 6:30 a.m. They reportedly tried the doors and when they were unable to arouse anyone went to the Art Menssen farm home a half mile east of the tavern to turn in the alarm.
Mennsen notified the Secor fire department and then he and Henry DeGroot went to the tavern. They knew that Robert Brubaker, operator of the tavern slept in the building. Unable to wake him at first, they broke down the door. He escaped uninjured.
The Secor fire department arrived at the scene about 7:00 o’clock and the Eureka firemen a few minutes later. However, the fire in the 100 foot long frame building had gained such headway from the effect of a strong south wind that efforts to save the structure were hopeless.
The fire started toward the east end of the building and is believed to have been caused by faulty wiring. When firemen arrived, the storeroom and dining room were already a mass of flames that were spreading rapidly to other parts of the building.
Brubaker said that the tavern had been closed at midnight and an employee, Lulu Mennsen, left a few minutes later. He said that he went to bed about 1:00 o’clock.
Damage to the building and contents has been estimated at approximately $40,000, partially covered by insurance.
About a year ago, Joe Beoletto, who at the time owned the tavern, and his mother, Mrs. Margherita Beoletto, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in an apartment they occupied at the west end of the building.
That’s all the article had to say. There was a photograph of the fire accompanying the article, but unfortunately, the clipping was a copy of a photcopy, and the quality of the photo was so poor as to render it unusable.
Fortunately for this story, Marge and Joe’s daughter, Sandy, had made a number of family photos available to Lois Diener Vogel, a former Secor resident and a Secor historian. Lois assembled the photos into a poster which was displayed during the 2007 Secor Sesquicentennial celebration. Lois’ sister, Ann Diener Armstrong has graciously allowed the photos to be copied and included in this post. Only a few of these photos will be included with this post, but several of the rest will be added to the History page of this website as a permanent feature.
If anyone reading this post has anything to add to this information or knows anyone who does, whether it be additional photos, newspaper clippings, first-hand accounts, corrections or comments, about this website or any of the posts, whether favorable or otherwise, please contact the site administrator at the email address provided. For that matter, anyone who has historical information or photos about Secor that they would like to see posted, or a topic that someone would like to know more about, please write and mention that too, and perhaps some questions can be answered.
Many thanks to Ann Armstrong and her sister, Lois Vogel, for graciously providing this wealth of information.