Stories of the South: AJ's Bar and Grill Montpelier, MS
A.J.s Bar and Grill, usually just known as AJ’s was almost infamous in its notoriety when I was growing up. Situated on highway 46 about 7 miles from the Chickasaw County line it was the watering hole for those that wanted a cold drink and a game of pool on Friday and Saturday nights without having to go into town. Then again sometimes town folks made the trip out to the country just to have a beer at A.J.’s, that’s how much of an institution it was.
I can remember being a little kid and we would stop there for gas and I got to go in and pay - maybe get a coke and a candy bar. It was broad daylight but it was still a little thrill to get to go in the bar. As I got a little older and started to drive I still stopped there to get my gas and a coke and a candy bar. Eventually, when I was of an age, I went there on Friday or Saturday night to have a beer with my friends and a game or pool or pinball. It was a dive. We all knew it. We all loved it. The beer was cheap, the burgers greasy, and there wasn't a straight pool cue in the whole building. Then again neither were the tops of the pool tables, or maybe it was floor.
As long as Mrs. D ran the place there were no shenanigans and since she was a distant cousin there was absolutely no getting into trouble for me. But as things happen an old boy made an offer that couldn’t be refused and the place was sold. The new owner, to me, thoroughly ruined the place. He took out all but two of the pool tables, I suppose to fit more people in the place and hung a stuffed boar’s head behind the bar. Ever tried to drink a beer with the disembodied head and beady eyes of a wild boar staring at you? It’s disconcerting. But trying to support local business I went one more time when they advertised “live band” for Friday night. I didn’t have anything else going on so I rode up there when I got done with the horses that afternoon. The five dollar cover kinda took me aback, this wasn’t Starkville after all but I paid and went on. Sitting at the bar I drank my long neck and kept waiting for the band to set up - there was plenty of room as there weren’t that many people there. One of the pool tables had a piece of ply-board sitting on top with amps and musical paraphernalia set up on it and then I spotted him. A truck-stop, cowboy hat wearing dude with a couple of guitars. Well surely this was the warm up act. I had a sinking feeling though when I asked the girl tending bar, “When does the band get here?’ She twisted the top off my second beer and handing it to me tipped her chin in the direction of the gentleman, “He is the band.” I glared and she walked off while I muttered to myself one man with a guitar is not a not a band. Things went from bad to worse when he started singing and I realized a woman at a bar, by herself, in jeans that might or might not have been a touch too tight made a perfect target for a guitar wielding, redneck Lothario. Oh he was making the rounds, but kept coming back around to my end of the bar. Taking a break he walked up to me with a microphone and what I figured he figured was his best lady killer smile. “What’s your favorite song pretty lady?” Good grief. I told him Amarillo by Morning and hoped like the dickens he didn’t know it. Of course my luck was as good as it usually is, which is to say horrible, and the first chords of George Strait rang out through the speakers. I was mortified and the bar in its entirety snickered and watched my would be Romeo serenade me. Needless to say I was done for the night. I let him finish and then tipped the young lady tending bar, threw a dollar into the old boy’s guitar case, and slipped out the door.
Not being the business owner Mrs. D was the new owner ended up having to close and the building sits vacant caught up in a bankruptcy. The tornado that ripped through the area in 2010 damaged the building and nothing has been done to fix anything. It sits there sad and forlorn by the side of the road waiting.
That's it for this week my lovelies. What with the holiday and getting ready to come to the coast for a wedding this weekend I've been a little busy. Have a great weekend!