Kelso: Giddy Ups saloon in Manchaca at risk of going belly up

The T-shirt message says, “If Your Wife Drives You to Drink Have Her Drive You To Giddy Ups Saloon.”

What’s been driving Giddy Ups’ owner Nancy Morgan to drink lately is the money she owes for attorney fees and the settlement of a civil lawsuit she won’t discuss as part of the settlement.

Nancy figures she needs $18,000 to keep her bar open, which is a lot of Bud Lights. So to help raise the dough, this old-fashioned beer joint with a liquor license, located way down at 12010 Manchaca Road in Manchaca, is holding a Fall Music Fest. The bands started playing Friday, and they’ll continue through Sunday night.

Bruce Springsteen didn’t make the list. Nobody invited him. What an oversight. But you’ve got the Redneck Boys, the Koolerators, Tottsie and the Flames, and Uranium Possum, to name a few.

Upscale doesn’t come to mind when you walk into Giddy Ups. Nothing under glass in this joint except the coasters.

Each year the bar puts on eight chili cookoffs, all of them to raise money for various charities. The bar even collects beer tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. Nancy keeps little paper houses with the Ronald McDonald brand printed on them on the tables. There’s a small hole in the top of each house. You stick your beer tab in the hole. The beer tabs go to the Ronald McDonald House to be recycled.

Then there’s Blue Santa — the Austin Police Department’s drive to gather toys for kids at Christmas. Thursday nights are open mic nights. Tips for the musicians on open mic night go to Blue Santa. Nancy says that since 2003, Giddy Ups has given $37,000 in musician tips to the Blue Santa cause.

Ironically, Nancy is now the cause at Giddy Ups.

Giddy Ups is sort of an old folks’ home with live music and a shuffleboard table. You don’t come in here to pick up chicks, unless you mean pick up literally. The place is definitely blue collar, though Nancy says it attracts everyone from “attorneys to cement truck drivers.”

Nancy pronounces cement “SEE-ment.”

Many of her regulars are known by their bar names. On Tuesday during the lunch hour, a guy who answers to Tomahawk came strolling in. Tomahawk wears a cowboy hat with a colorful headband. He makes headbands and jewelry and sells what he makes.

Then there was H-E-B Bill, a Giddy Ups fixture and the impetus behind Nancy starting a library in the bar with a book exchange. H-E-B Bill was an avid reader. “He read anything by Michener,” Nancy said.

Even Nancy has a bar name — Mom. That’s what her younger customers call her, since she’s the one who tells them to knock it off. Nancy has a reputation as somebody who’ll toss you if you get ugly in a no-ugly zone.

“Even when I get the young whippersnappers in here, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. This is my living room,’” she said. “‘Would you act like that in your mom’s living room?’ And it works.”

She says there hasn’t been a fight in here in 14 years. When there was a fight, she made them take it outside. Things happen in Giddy Ups that you won’t see at a downtown club. There used to be a riding arena across the road. Occasionally, some cowperson would ride into the bar on a horse.

“That’s why I put that rail out front, so they could tie their horses,” Nancy said.

Nancy bought Giddy Ups 15 years ago. She says the location has been a bar since the 1950s when Samuel H. Dodson put up the building. This was back in the days when Manchaca was rural and settled by black families. Dodson grew vegetables on the 4 acres behind the bar and butchered hogs.

Something’s always up at Giddy Ups — a shuffleboard or a washer pitching tournament. A couple of years ago there was the Movers Olympics, featuring guys in the moving business competing to see who could lug a couch across the yard the fastest.

Then there were the turkey shoots. (No turkeys are harmed during a turkey shoot.) People show up with shotguns and shoot at targets. But with all the subdivisions going in out here, the turkey shoots have gone away.

Let’s hope that Nancy’s supporters raise enough money so that Giddy Ups doesn’t go away, too.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

COMMUNITY NEWS: A&M extension holds food preservation workshop

TRAVIS COUNTY LAKEWAY Sing Along to present vaudeville theater Lakeway Sing Along will present its 18th annual spring show, “Vaudeville & Beyond,” at 6 p.m. April 26-28 at the Lakeway Activity Center, 105 Cross Creek. The shows will include dinner with music by the Lohman’s Crossing Band. Tickets are $30 and available at the activity...
Federal money to connect Texas schools to fiber at risk, officials say
Federal money to connect Texas schools to fiber at risk, officials say

Delays and denials by the federal government are putting Texas schools at risk of losing millions of dollars in potential subsidies that would help pay for installing high-speed fiber internet in classrooms, according to state officials. Last year, state lawmakers approved $25 million to help school districts over the 2018-19 budget period replace...
In gentrifying East Austin, are dogs replacing children?
In gentrifying East Austin, are dogs replacing children?

Olga Hernandez sat on the porch of her East Eighth Street house on a warm April afternoon, offering a few minutes to the latest reporter to come through asking about gentrification in her quickly changing neighborhood. Between pointing out rental units, she called hello to a young man and woman walking dogs down the sidewalk. Hernandez, 67, recently...
Opinion: Playboy comes to D.C.

Playboy Enterprises just announced that it has purchased a table at this year’s White House Correspondents Association dinner. Swell. Just what we need. The dinner, as you’ve probably heard, is an annual ritual of narcissism in which leading press figures don black tie and hope to see, or better yet, be seen with, Hollywood stars. Like...
California murder suspect arrested after SWAT standoff in Pflugerville
California murder suspect arrested after SWAT standoff in Pflugerville

A California man suspected of fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend earlier this week was arrested in Pflugerville on Saturday after an hourslong standoff with SWAT officers. Kevin Darnell Dickson, 55, was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force and Austin police at about 1 p.m. Saturday. He had been barricaded inside a home...
More Stories