Printed on: December 09, 2012

'Tricky Dick' lives here

Nostalgia takes up permanent residence at the R&R

By Clark Corbin
ccorbin@postregister.com

EDITOR'S NOTE: In our Sunday Smart Living section, the Post Register is taking a snapshot of people, places and things unique to eastern Idaho. Send your idea to news@postregister.com.

Even Richard Nixon still is welcome at the R&R Bar.

Situated just east of railroad tracks running parallel to Yellowstone Avenue in Idaho Falls, the R&R is part dive, part '50s and '60s pop culture museum, part pool hall and 100 percent nostalgia.

Twin campaign posters of President Nixon and former Vice President Spiro Agnew hang proudly against the back wall, just above a mounted moose bagged years ago by owner Kent Steed.

The Nixon/Agnew posters appear as though they've hung there untouched since 1968; and ten bucks says they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

That's the way life is at the R&R, nearly every square inch of wall is plastered with memories -- vintage Hot Wheels cars (most still in the package), muscle-car hubcaps, James Dean posters, Marilyn Monroe glossies, music memorabilia and Three Stooges figurines.

The men's bathroom is adorned with photos of combines and tractors in pinup-like displays.

Customers wouldn't have it any other way.

"I love it, its part of the atmosphere," longtime regular Sharon Cafferty said. "I've got stuff in here, too."

The tradition of hanging memorabilia on the wall began with Steed, a Three Stooges fanatic. It spread to staffers over the years. Eventually, customers started adding their own collectibles to the display, manager Andi Pettingill said.

For her part, Cafferty contributed some of the Monroe photos.

The nostalgia doesn't end with the wall hangings.

Customers won't hear the latest Top 40 singles from Rihanna or Taylor Swift inside the R&R.

Instead, the soundtrack for pool games and barroom banter consists of classics by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline and The Everly Brothers. Songs cost a quarter a spin, and the old-timey jukebox pushed against the west wall plays 45 rpm records.

Nobody is going to bury "Ol' Blue Eyes" or "Tricky Dick." The jukebox and nostalgia are staying put.

"Trendy and new doesn't work," Pettingill said. "Part of the allure of the place is its timelessness. It looks very much the same way it did 35 years ago."

Although the sign at the corner of the bar continuously proclaims "Free beer tomorrow," there is no need to wait. The R&R proudly, defiantly slings cans of beer for a buck a pop.

"We're one of the only bars in town that still sells beer for a dollar," Pettingill said. "It's been brought up that maybe we should raise our prices, but we haven't done it in a decade."

The R&R is connected to a Goth shop called Shaddow Domain, which occupies a space that once was home to the first Catholic church in Idaho Falls. Dedicated in May 1901, the building was the first home of Holy Rosary Parish, the Post Register reported in 2006.

Before the R&R, an appliance shop operated there; then it was Dusty's bar.

Cafferty remembered walking by Dusty's as a girl, and believes a bar has operated on the site for more than 50 years.

Although most people don't think of beer joints as family establishments, R&R regulars Troy Whitaker and Lori Furstenau beg to differ.

"It's just a good place to really get away for a few hours," Whitaker said. "I like to come in for a couple hours and hang out with the guys. It's a good local place that is so well established."

Most afternoons and early evenings, the R&R is populated with the regular crowd of 40- to 60-somethings. But a new generation of regulars is joining the old guard.

Three or four years ago, R&R regulars began to notice a younger crowd showing up at the pool tables and shooting the bull during the evenings. On many nights, a group of 20-somethings, wearing Converse All-Stars and sleeve tattoos, squeeze in beside the 50- and 60-year-olds at the bar or cue up for a game of eight-ball.

Like Nixon, all comers are welcome.

"Kids started coming in with tattoos head-to-toe, but they are a nice group of kids," Furstenau said. "The customer base ranges from 21 to 90, and no matter what age you are, you're welcome here."

Clark Corbin can be reached at 542-6761. Comment on this story at Post Talk, www.postregister.com/posttalk.

If you go

The R&R Bar is located at 195 S. Eastern Ave. It opens at 11 a.m. daily. Call 522-9939.