87 still young at 65
The last time Barbara Slaughter dropped into Club 87, she didn’t know two things: that the place was closing and soon she would be its new manager.
Club 87 claims to be the oldest bar in Texas with the same original name. It opened in 1945 and has changed hands several times over the years.
The tentative re-opening is set for July 11. Customers must be at least 25 to get in the door, and hours will be noon-2 a.m. Different themes are planned such as Cajun Night, College Night, the traditional Ladies’ Night and perhaps some karaoke events.
Another possibility is the Latin-themed Salsa Night – by request.
“We’ve been asked to have it,” Slaughter says. “It’s not set in concrete but we’ve been asked because otherwise they’d have to drive to Port Arthur, Beaumont or Lake Charles.”
The club has a large stage/dance area, jukebox and pool tables. Several pool teams will call the place home once it re-opens.
Being a customer there since 1989, Slaughter says this is the perfect job for her.
“My husband’s health hasn’t been all that great and I decided to go back to work. And I figured if I’m going to go back to work I’m going to do something I like to do, and what I’d like is to do is run a bar and mix and mingle with people.”
Huey Buxton, who has a recording studio in Vidor and sits in weekly in Beaumont with former members of Tracy Byrd’s band, played at Club 87 for 10 years. He believes it was the last half of the ‘60s and first half of the ‘70s.
“The Boogie Kings played there every Sunday when I was playing on Saturdays,” he says. Another act he remembers there was Marvin Walston, a bass player who also sang.
Buxton played guitar with his group the Westernaires, but when another band lifted that name Buxton became leader of the Buccaneers.
The club wasn’t always at the end of Ivy Lane as it is now, but actually on Texas 87.
“A surveyor came through and discovered it was in Newton County,” Buxton says. “They had to move it into Orange County because Newton was a dry county.”
The nightspot was originally owned by Ambrose Claybar and has remained in the Claybar family. Leasing it for several years was C.R. Buxton, Huey’s cousin.
Also playing a 10-year stint (1972-82) at Club 87 was Ray LeLeux, known mainly for his barber shop in Bridge City. His group the Fontaines performed swamp pop for “great crowds and a great club.” He remembers another group there named James David and the Shanes, with David pronounced the Cajun way “Dahveed.”
“The CB radio craze was real big back then and we had played a CB Jamboree,” LeLeux says. “Everybody in Orange County monitored Channel 2 and when all these CBers started talking about us, the next week every CBer was down at Club 87 to see us.”
Ralph Richardson of West Orange played country fiddle with the Gulf Coast Top Hands in the ‘50s. “Highway 87 was a dirt road back then,” he says. “We used to get bogged down trying to get up there sometimes. The crowds we had on Friday nights always started out slow, then picked up when the football games let out.”
Richardson is proud to say he once sat in with Hank Williams Sr. and Bob Wills. He later worked for American Bridge and retired from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
For more information about Club 87’s re-opening, call 746-2394 or go to www.club-87.com. The Web site is still under construction and not yet complete.