The Whiteaker’s Tiny Tavern was hopping even at 2:15 in the afternoon.
Scott McMill had only been in Eugene for four hours, but he had already discovered the Whiteaker and the bar scene there. Peacefully smoking a cigarette, McMill was dressed in jeans and black sneakers.We had had a brief encounter hours before. He had watched me waiting for the bus and saw that I had been frightened by a transient. He remembered me. McMill had found the neighborhood inviting, but was dissapointed that there were only two bars in the area that opened before 4:00 p.m. He said he tried to go into the Sam Bond’s Garage, and the owner had kicked him out. He was not sure if would be willing to stop by after he had been treated so rudely. McMill said that he was from Las Vegas and had been traveling since October. Compared to other places he had traveled he found the neighborhood friendly and welcoming, but he did mention that although he had only been in Eugene since 10 a.m., he witnessed eight arrests.
“The police are all over,” he said.
McMIll is unemployed, and said that since he has been traveling he is convinced that the unemployment rate is much higher in the U.S. than the government is letting on.
McMill was also very concerned that instead of being in class we were out exploring. When we assured him that our teacher had asked us to do an assignment, he was angry that our teacher was getting paid not to teach us. We assured him that being in the Whiteaker was educating enough.
Across the street, a young man with a sandy blond braid softly played his bongo drum. His name was Seth. He said he regularly plays outside the Red Barn Grocery Outlet because his lives a few blocks away. He has a friend that plays violin in the same spot. Seth said that sometimes they play together. He said that he was attracted to the neighborhood because of the Musical venues. Seth enjoys hanging out at both Sam Bond’s garage and Tiny Tavern to listen to music. Although Seth said that he has played the drums for 14 years, he has no desire to play at a venue. He enjoys playing outdoors.
While Seth loves the Whiteaker, he is concerned about the neighborhood’s drug problem.
“I am really suspicious of some of the drug activity in the neighborhood, otherwise this is a nice place to hang out.”
Seth’s concerns were matched by others who were walking int he area. Gary Skeele and Hugo P. Sneadley called it “ronning”, but it looked like an afternoon stroll to us. The unemployed friends said that Whiteaker’s substance abuse problem is nothing new.
“They used to call this the Whisky Flat,” Skeele said. Sneadley added that sometimes when a neighborhood like the Whiteaker has cheap rent and progressive people there is bound to be a little drug problem.