Hey gang. This is a little piece about my hometown, the dystopian hellscape that is Rockford, Illinois. Its the end of an era as local landmark, the State Street Station, has closed their doors after roughly 40 years in business.
The local rag, the Rockford Register Star, wrote an obit of sorts in which owner Sherry Flynn provided a quote for the ages:
“We have lots of fond, fond memories and made lots of friends. We even had a wedding (at State Street Station).”
I love this quote because for as long as I can remember State Street Station has been a seedy exotic dance bar, and the thought of having a wedding there boggles the mind.
The station is located on Rockford’s hilariously nicknamed Miracle Mile. I say hilarious because if that stretch of struggling businesses and abandoned storefronts represents a miracle I’d hate to imagine a calamity. Directly across the street is a Chuck E. Cheese. I never found that odd growing up because it had always been that way, and I never noticed the odd juxtaposition until one of my highfalutin east coast cousins pointed it out during a visit.
With that being said I’d be lying if I said I never ventured inside but in my defense I was drunk each time. Really drunk. Think Charles Bukowski on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Going in that place sober would have been akin to going to war without a rifle. Luckily there was another notorious watering hole just up the road; another Rockford landmark no longer with us named Stash O’Neil’s. Despite being a shit hole O’Neil’s did have things going for it. The first was on Friday night they had a $5 cover and $1 beers. Their other interesting feature the morbidly obese bouncer. This guy looked like a gargoyle made of wet cement and had to have weighed at least 400 lbs. He had flame tattoos instead of eyebrows, and my friends and I were convinced he was too fat to get off his bar stool and when the bar closed at night he was simply wheeled away from the door and slept upon his perch. A couple more nuggets of O’Neil’s are that after the bar closed for good someone used the basement for an illegal marijuana grow op, and I believe someone was killed there during its heyday.
Anyways a couple times after drinking many a dollar beer my friend and I decided to pop into the station during our stumble back to the house. As mentioned previously I was very impaired but I distinctly remember two things about those visits. The first was using bathroom and looking up from the urinal at a wall completely covered in hardcore pornography. The other thing I recall was talking to a cocktail waitress who even in my state of advanced inebriation wasn’t attractive in the slightest.
I don’t think I can honestly say I’ll miss the station but I will definitely miss the idea of the station. I didn’t plan on ever going back but it was a local institution and its gone forever. I’m not going to tear up but next time I drink a beer I may pour a bit out in memoriam.