Tarrant County, TXGenWeb

Blondy's Tavern - "Worthy" of Mention

Contributed by Kenneth Klein
Staff Writer, NW Times-Record

 

Most people drive by this street in Saginaw without giving it a second thought; It's located just north of the intersection of McLeroy and Saginaw Blvds. This quiet little street is called "Worthy Street", and it has a place in the history of Saginaw. It's named after the two Worthy brothers, Earl "Blondy" Worthy and his brother J.W. "Jay" Worthy. Together they ran "Blondy's Tavern" - a place that really made Saginaw feel like a community.

Blondy's Tavern meant many things to many people in Saginaw during the 40's and 50's, but it's appeal was universal in one aspect - the cafe was a family place where everyone could go to get a fantastic meal, play dominoes and get a "big ole' glass of cold beer.

The friendly neighborhood cafe was originally established by Blondy's brother J.W. in 1937. He was the businessman behind the cafe, and his wife, Mae, assisted in the cooking. Saginaw only had 110 people then - But this small country town just north of Fort Worth was "wet" and people learned of Blondy's cooking talents. They found out quickly that nothing went better with a Blondy burger than a frosty mug of ice cold beer.

Blondy's Tavern was originally in a one-story frame structure, and Blondy, J.W. and May fed the American and Canadian troops from Hick's Airfield, and employees from Burrus and Globe Aircraft. "There was no other beer in town" said J.W. Worthy, and after 5 o'clock the house would completely fill up." Blondy's biggest attraction always remained it's tasty food and drink. Mae continued to cook until J.W. returned home at the end of World War II. Upon his arrival in January 1946, the cafe grew even bigger. J.W. ran the business end and assisted in cooking; Mae manned the steam table loaded with an assortment of salads and veggies, and Blondy created his hamburgers.

The pleasures of dining out were different in those days. This small cafe sold plate lunches for 35 cents and could serve 345 patrons in 45 minutes. Blondy's did not have a cashier, either. Payment was based on the honor system. When finished with meal, the customer would go up and tell one of them what they had. A person's word was gospel truth to this owner. As J.W. recalls, "A handshake or "I'll do it" was all you needed in those days".

Blondy had a "world of friends" and it was the Saturday night ritual to spend the evening with him at the pub. Although there were domino games and TV, most of the patrons just wanted the chance to relax, and visiting with neighbors was entertainment enough.  Other customers, staples of the community, such as John Kennedy (first Mayor of Saginaw) frequented the cafe. Then there was Jim McLeroy. "Jim McLeroy was always pulling something", remarks J.W. Worthy. "He once bragged to two girls from South Dakota that Saginaw was so much like the old west that he wouldn't be surprised to see a cowboy on his horse ride into Blondy's and order a beer. Sure enough, McLeroy went home, got his horse (Old Rooster) and brought it right through the door and up to the bar to order a beer". The crowd at Blondy's roared with laughter and the two girls from South Dakota weren't about to question Saginaw's likeness to the old west again. One of the girls, Rose Brooks, decided she liked this "old west" and still lives in Saginaw. Jim McLeroy had a reputation for playing practical jokes. Bessie, an employee at the establishment, decided to get even and "cool him down". The employees and customers played right along and waited for his daily visit. When Jim showed up, they striped him of all clothes, save his underwear, and tossed him on the snow outside!

To accommodate the growing number of patrons, Blondy and his brother decided to expand for a third time in 1953. With the help of neighbors and friends, they constructed a new Blondy's Tavern just on the north side of where the old Saginaw Chamber of Commerce stands today.

But as luck has it, all good things must come to an end. Shortly after the new cafe was built, a legislative ordinance was passed prohibiting the sale of alcohol. That, coupled with shorter lunch breaks for the Bell Helicopter and Burrus employees took a toll on the business. In 1954 J.W. left the business, and started "Worthy Beauty Salon" and a Worthy Trailer Park with his wife Mae. Both businesses are still going strong today. In 1957 Blondy made a fond farewell to Blondy's Tavern. He sold the cafe to the North Fort Worth State Bank.

Blondy's favorite expression was "Come by my joint and see me". Everybody did just that. His heart was open to everyone and people in this town and surrounding areas knew him and liked him.

The two brothers and the Tavern are gone now, but the street bearing their names still stand as a tribute to this small place where people could come together to share one of life's greatest joys - the pleasures of a neighbor's company.

Our thanks to Mrs. Mae Worthy for her contribution to this article about her husband, J.W Worthy.


 

This page was last modified 19 Feb 2003.

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