Volume XVIII, Number 40
December 31, 1992 - January 7, 1993

By Bill Kirk

In 1964, when Eilene Strange bought a small run-down bar in Sacramento's Pocket area, known as the Ingleside Inn, she joked with her friends that they should "come see the little trap I have bought." Not surprisingly, that neighborhood bar at 6125 Riverside Boulevard was soon renamed The Trap. And, like Cheers, its glitzier television counterpart, it has become a place "where everybody knows your name," according to its owner of over nine years, Kathi Acquah.

With its aging mascot, Wile-E-Coyote, hanging high in the corner over the bar, The Trap stands as a safe haven for the many regulars and newcomers who drop by with varying frequency. Almost without exception, those we spoke with during a recent visit, remarked that although the outside appears uninviting and somewhat intimidating, once inside any first-time visitor is welcomed into the "family von Trap" within minutes, if only after brief but careful scrutiny by the quorum present.

As a hangout, The Trap is truly a social gathering place whose many customers reveal a remarkable cross section of city, county and state workers and business people. For the most part, the patrons are longtime friends who drop by to sip on a beer, play pool or pinball and watch a little television if there's a game on.

Harley Schlinger, a self-described former "river rat" who now works for New West Petroleum, used to be a steady here. "The was my home away from home, especially while I was living in my houseboat on the Sacramento River." Although he doesn't get back quite as often now, and has switched from beer to Pepsi, he still enjoys visiting, particularly during the holidays when many other old friends will also be dropping by.

"We come here because we all are like family," said Robert Gutierrez, who works in the city parking division. "I've been coming here since I was a kid when we would buy cokes and chips before going fishing down by the river 35 years ago." Rich Crudo, who now works for Delta Sugar in Clarksburg, goes back almost as far.

"The place has always been a hub of social activity in the area. People used to hang around the old general stores and talk politics and local events. For us today, that kind of gathering place is The Trap."

Al Gabert, who works a northern California territory, told us he comes in periodically to catch up on the news and mostly to enjoy the fellowship with other he has met over the years.

Julie Miller, who fills in part time if needed behind the bar, pointed out that all sorts of people come to The Trap, "from high-brows to lowbrows." She also noted with some pride that all of the patrons are very protective of the place, which has a history of being self-policing. "No one intending to cause trouble is allowed to stay here for very long. We always have plenty of help if someone needs to be shown the door."

Somewhat more tongue in cheek, Patrick Chladek, a financial manager in the State Department of Education, confessed that he "likes to come in here because of the great cosmopolitan mix of the patrons." A friend hooked him on the place sight unseen when he was a law student nearly 20 years ago with this reassuring description.: "The place may look a little scruffy, but eh people are great." He wasn't disappointed.

Data from the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society indicates the bar has been in continuous operation as a local gathering place since at least 1912. Because other references to its existence on the site as a bar, restaurant or store as early as 1885 are unsubstantiated, The Trap appears destined to remain unimproved and unprotected as a historical site, which requires a documented 100-year history to be considered for preservation status.

Curiously, the future of The Trap appears secure. Because it was "grandfathered in" as a bar with the first wave of Greenhaven development in the 1960s, it will apparently be allowed to remain in place as long as improvements are not made-very agreeable, if ironic, accommodation as far as the current guardians of The Trap are concerned.

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Copyright © 1993 by the Suttertown News and 2002-2015 by billkirkwrites. All rights reserved