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Queen of Bodega's Casino


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Queen of the Casino, Evelyn Casini

Encountered first, 64 years ago,
vitality oozed from this tiny woman,
everyone knew her,
living in the small house behind the Casino,
yelling at little Artie, laughing, 
never idle, always doing something.

Cameo appearances at the bar,
always supported big Art, bartender extraordinaire.
Sometimes, I'd see her out and about but,
in most instances, she stayed close to home.
Now in her 90s, she's still there.
I saw her Monday at the bar's 75th anniversary party.
                                          ~~Judi Van Gorder

In the one block long, township of Bodega California there is a catholic church, a schoolhouse (used in the movie The Birds), a fire station, a coffee shop, a surf store, a general store, an art gallery and at the center, the Casino Bar and Grill. It is where I would meet my husband from my carpool after work in my early 20s.  I'd wait at the bar, drinking a coke, talking to big Art until Bob picked me up. We often went there with friends to play pool on Friday nights. It is where I saw my one and only, honest to God, spontaneous bar fight. Two guys got into it and all of a sudden everyone in the bar was punching someone. My husband and friend ushered us girls into ladies room to be out of harms way, it was very exciting.  

Art Casini was a proprietor and bartender, his wife Evelyn raised their kids in the back house. I didn't know her well, she was about 10 years older than me. But I would see her, we'd exchange words. After Art died, she ran the Casino, by then her kids were grown. A kitchen was added. No menu, Monday night you could go and eat whatever had been prepared that night for $10.00.  We went a few times, the food was always good. Last Monday was the 75th Anniversary of the Casino and all of the locals showed up. It took 15 minutes to just get into the front door. The bar was 3 deep. Little Artie, now in his late 60s was behind the grill in the side yard.  I had a chance to chat shortly with him and with Evelyn who is still the vital tiny woman I remembered from decades before.

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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vItality oozed...that comes across Judi, and in the back story. Life is for living, not a rehearsal, as they say!

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Terry A

In a way the place evokes the heart and soul of America, one the corporations and bureaucracy are undoing as fast as possible. In the mad rush to supply people big box stores and chains, something precious is lost. Your telling is heart warming.

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