Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Empty Nest: Silver Dollar closes after 40 years in Bloomfield

By Curt Swarm

Jim Reyes turned 21 in water up to his knees in Vietnam.  After discharge, at the age of 29, he plunked down $6,000 on the bar and bought the Silver Dollar, on the east side of the square in Bloomfield.  He has been there ever since.  After 40 years, on Friday, January 2, Jim closed the doors for the last time.
But not without a party!  If the economy is bad, you wouldn’t know it on this night!  The iconic bar was jam packed, wall-to-wall with well wishers, loyal patrons, and curious onlookers leaving the movie theater and drawn to the gaiety, loud music, and cups of cheer inside.  Jim had ordered special glasses for the occasion.  On one side were the words, “Cheers to 40 Years!” on the other side a barometer, with lines, starting at the top, “Cheers” “Buzzed” “Drunk” and “Hurtn’ Tomorrow.”  Jim laughed, “I’ll be hurtn’ tomorrow!”
An old-time jukebox blasted tunes from the sixties and seventies.  It was the original jukebox in the Silver Dollar.  Jim had it brought out of retirement, dusted off, and the 45 rpm records washed for the grand finale. Seven songs for a buck!  The music never stopped.  Nor did the celebration!   
I’ve written about the Reyes family before.  Jim is the oldest of 12 children (six girls and six boys).  They were raised in Floris, in a three-bedroom house with no indoor plumbing, by loving parents, that taught them the values of God, love, work, and family.  At the time, they were the only Hispanic family in Davis County.  Jim would go on to be mayor of Bloomfield, from 1998 – 2002, the first Hispanic mayor in Iowa.  
Jim points out with pride, “All 12 children speak only English.  This is America!  In America the language is English!  What more respect can you pay to this great land?  How are you going to build a great country, if you don’t speak its language?”  
Growing up in Floris, the family made do.  The kids picked shucks in cornfields for tamales, washed their hair under a pump, and played baseball in a pasture using cowpies for bases.  Jim carried his make-do work ethic into the military, life, and business: live within your means, help others, trust in God.  
Stuck in Jim’s craw like a bad oyster, and one of the reasons for the Silver Dollar closing, is the ban on smoking.  Jim could abide with no smoking if it weren’t for the exemption for casinos.  “It’s not right.  I don’t care what they say,” Jim waxes eloquently.  “How can the state tell me my customers can’t smoke in my bar, but allow it in casinos?  It’s all about money!  Eighty-five percent of my customers smoke.  I would have been happy to put up a sign that said, ‘Smoking Allowed, If you don’t like it, don’t come in.’  I fought for this country, I pay my taxes.  Now they tell me how to run my business?  I fought communism in Vietnam, now I fight it here!”
Jim’s wife, Betty, pulls him aside for cooling off and a photograph.  She has plans for Jim and his “retirement” at the age of 69.  Maybe a bathroom remodel, and more time with the grandkids.
Patrons such as “Johnnie” lament (or shout) above the music.  “It’s a sad day, Jim and Betty are good people.  An icon of Bloomfield is closing it’s doors!  Where will we go?”  He hugs Jim and slaps him on the back, “Thanks for the memories, ole buddy.”  
A lady with Johnnie tugs at his arm.  “Stick around!” she shouts.  “There’ll be dancing on the bar before this night is over!”
Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.  Curt also reads his columns at www.lostlakeradio.com.