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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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American Legion canteen: Smithfield's secret watering hole

By Tim Olsen

November 25, 2008 | SMITHFIELD -- For roughly five decades a bar has sat right on Main Street, and many city residents don't even know it exists.

In the late 1940's the American Legion moved into what was once a mercantile store on the corner of 100 South and Main and has been there ever since. Available to American Legion members and family as well as Veterans of Foreign Wars, it is a military canteen. The canteen offers a pool table and a television to its patrons as well as a variety of drinks. Along with regular sodas, alcoholic beverages are also served.

"Even though they serve alcohol, which in this community is pretty conservative, it does serve a purpose," deputy recorder and Legionnaire Char Izatt said. "If they want to have a drink or two they can come in and see their comrades and visit. It's just kind of a place for them to socialize."

Izatt was quick to point out that though the bar may be hidden in the community, the charity events, fund-raisers and programs that the Legion supports and puts on are not.

The hours of operation for the canteen vary, but it is usually open from 5:30 p.m. to midnight. Adjutant Frank Nilson runs the bar and keeps track of the patrons.

LITTLE-KNOWN BAR: The American Legion building on Main Street in Smithfield. / Photo by Tim Olsen

Izatt said that along with providing veterans and their families with a place to hang out, the bar also provides events such as game nights or pool tournaments.

"Mainly it's a place for the veterans to socialize and to help all the causes that we encompass," she said. "We're a dying breed though."

Despite the conservative nature of the community, Izatt said the bar has received very little opposition over the years. She said the Legion has a very good relationship with the police department and both work hard to make sure no drunk driving or other disturbances arise from the canteen's existence.

"It's better to have something like that for them to go to rather than domestically at home," Izatt said. "They can go blow off steam there if they're mad or angry. It's kind of a diffuser for the community, and most communities have something like that to go to."

Izatt also said there is an opportunity for community members that are not Legionnaires to join as a guest member and use the services there. All it takes is to be sponsored by a guest member.

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