‘Pickers and grinners’ homeless again
by Jeremy Enlow, Reporter / Photographer
Hood County News On-Line Edition June 18, 1999
Almost every Saturday night since 1977 a room was packed. People would dance and sing to the gospel-country music of the “pickers and grinners.” This Saturday the group will not have a place to play.
When Tom Hafford bought Rinky Tink’s in 1977, he and friends played every Saturday night. Hafford sold the popular ice cream and sandwich shop on the square in 1997. The group continued playing at Rinky Tink’s until the present owner forced them out. They then moved to the Granbury Café almost two years ago.
Bob and Tai Winkler sold the Granbury Cafe restaurant last week. The new owners, a Granbury couple, have chosen not to continue the show at the restaurant according to the Winklers. “We were hoping they would keep the music but they didn’t,” Tai said.
Saturday night was the only night of the week the Winklers were open. “We were open for fun on that night, not just for business,” Bob smiled. “All we hoped is to break even.”
Saturday night regulars rarely missed a show. “It was like one big happy family reunion,” Tai said of the crowds reaching 113 some nights. “Generally if you weren’t here by 7:30 p.m. you couldn’t get a seat,” Bob added.
Musicians attracted crowds from around the world. The Winklers kept a guestbook and have recorded visitors from every state. Also, Germany, Australia, England and Hong Kong are a few places listed as homes.
The Winklers are heartbroken for the pickers and grinners but are glad to sell. “It is sad as heck for us to quit but we need a vacation,” Tai said.
“If I win the lottery I will build a barn for them to play–no kidding,” Tai seriously stated. “We would open every Saturday night and serve just coffee and donuts.”
The pickers and grinners are now faced with a familiar dilemma. They have no place to perform. “We don’t know when we will start again,” Hafford said. “We haven’t even talked about it yet. We hope to always get together and play.”
Last Saturday night was emotional. It was the final night for the group to perform at the café. The Winklers originally planned to stay open until 9 p.m. but their hearts wouldn’t let them. “I called my husband at 9 and told him honey, we can’t close yet,” Tai said. Tai then went up to the stage and announced they would stay open until 10 p.m.
When playing finally ceased a 92-year-old gentleman couldn’t believe it was over. “You think just a couple more songs,” he begged to the Winklers.
“We had lots of wonderful memories with very, very wonderful people,” Bob remarked.
As the customers and players slowly drifted out of the restaurant, a dry erase board stood in a chair by the door. It read:
“We wish to thank our customers who have supported us over the past four and a half years. You have made our closing a sad day for us and we will miss you very much. For the rest we are glad you got to meet us and we wish the best to you. To our friends we love you and will see you often. It has been fun but the new owners do not desire the music on Saturday night. We will remember you all.”
The note was signed by Bob and Tai.