I will always remember two Quad-Cities landmarks that are no more. They are the long closed and recently demolished Dock restaurant on the Davenport levee, plagued over the years by floods and fires, and the Lodge Hotel & Conference Center, formerly Jumer’s Castle Lodge, in Bettendorf. It is also now closed.
When I was a youngster, I remember eating lunch with my dad in the 1950s at the riverfront restaurant near the roller dam. Then it was called Johnny Hartman’s (See the old postcard pictured above). Later it became the Dock, then the Rusty Pelican, then Pronger’s and, finally, the Dock again.
What I remember most about that experience with my dad isn’t the meal. It was being allowed to reach into a “treasure chest” full of toys and trinkets— like you’d find in a Cracker Jack box — near the front door as we left.
I was invited to choose an item. I no longer remember what treasure I selected, but I was thrilled at the time.
What perhaps was my next visit to the building was in about 1966 when its ballroom area known as the Draught House was a popular teen hangout. A local band known as the Night People provided the music, singing songs made popular by the Rolling Stones and others.
As a young married couple in the early 1970s, my wife Sherry and I would dine at the Dock on special occasions — when we could afford it. There was something magical about sitting at a white linen tablecloth-covered table near the picture window, watching Ol’ Man River flow by just feet away outside.
We ate at the Dock on Monday, May 1, 1972. I remember that date because the next day my wife gave birth to premature twin daughters. We lost Alisa when she was 2 days old. But her sister, Andrea, survived, to be joined in later years by three brothers.
The last time I ate at the Dock was likely Monday, June 27, 1977. I was the assistant personnel director for the 26-store Davenport Division of National Foods. I had lunch at the Dock with my boss, the personnel director, Pat Spurrier, after we had checked out the space formerly occupied by the Draught House for a future company presentation.
We were about finished dining when we heard a large boom. At first we thought a train had derailed nearby, but what we had actually heard was an explosion at International Multifoods, just east of us on River Drive.
I was affiliated on a part-time basis with the former KWNT Radio in Davenport and hurried to the scene. I phoned in some reports from a pay phone at a restaurant across the street from the blast. One was picked up and broadcast nationally by ABC Radio News.
The former Jumer’s Castle Lodge, a beautiful German-style hotel, restaurant and bar, now closed and with an uncertain future, is another place I well remember.
In the early 1970s, I supplemented our family income by working part-time as a security guard and private investigator. I started with Per Mar but two other local companies called, and I ended up working for all three of them at the same time.
One of the security firms had been hired by Jumer’s as the building neared completion to protect antiques that had been moved into the building, and the guard was required to carry a gun.
I agreed to work a few shifts and the owner of the security company obtained a gun permit for me. He told me to pick the gun up at his house before I went on duty.
“But I don’t know how to use it,” I told him.
“You don’t have to use it,” he replied. “You’re just required to carry it.”
So the first night I sat outside the front door with a holstered gun that I did not know how to use. At one point there was a noise that I traced to a garbage can. Looking inside, I saw a mouse crawling into and out of an empty pop can.
In later years, Sherry and I celebrated special occasions with dinner and the occasional Sunday brunch at Jumer’s or The Lodge. I have missed the Dock for a long time, and now I will also miss The Lodge.
Copyright 2015 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This was submitted as a column to the North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.