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Post Up: Fun Times at the Hartsburg Hitching Post

By Inside Columbia
Hartsburg Hitching Post

She was voted least likely to ever tend bar, according to her obituary.

Not so fast. If you live to be 102, you can pack in a lot of living.

Margaret Moyer left this world a year ago. She was a mother, nurse, U.S. Navy veteran and, yes, a bartender.

When Margaret and Richard Moyer retired, “they moved to Missouri where she helped her husband fulfill his lifelong dream by reopening a small tavern that had been closed, and they christened it The Hartsburg Hitching Post,” her obituary reads. “It was a huge risk starting a business in a town with a population under 120, and only serving three-two beer.” But the couple worked hard.

It paid off. The Hitching Post became a gathering place not just for locals, but for folks from Columbia, Jefferson City and beyond.

Ask around your neighborhood and somebody is sure to share a story about fun times at the Hitching Post.

My first time was 30 years ago. I drove up to the front door with Blondie. Blondie was a bass fiddle lovingly wedged into every part of my car but the driver’s seat. You still can catch glimpses of Blondie’s long neck and gorgeous curves, visible in the grainy 1950s Kinescope movies of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Forrest Rose ended up owning Blondie, and he loaned her to me to play the Hitching Post gig with the Mudbugs, purveyors of honky swamp swing.

It was raining buckets outside this very small storefront. Inside was dripping with cozy character. The polished bar, a solitary pool table, a few four tops and a dance floor not much bigger than a yoga mat left little room for the band.

No matter. The crowd swelled in and from the very first notes, people were dancing on the tables and hanging from the rafters.

At least that’s my memory.

Oh, and they served Stag beer.

I was hooked.

Thirty years passed. I recently returned to the Hitching Post to check it out. It was a Friday afternoon, the early stages of happy hour. A couple of patrons sat at the bar watching the St. Louis Cardinals play the Chicago Cubs on TV. One group huddled around a table. Jason, the general manager, was tending bar. He greeted me with a friendly vibe that permeates the place. Jason started working here in 2009. Along the way, he began using the phrase, “Post up!” as a signal it was time to head to the Hitching Post. “It caught on.”

He told me to stick around and I’d probably get to visit with Hartsburg’s mayor. Sure enough, the mayor of this town of 102 souls, Bill Molendorp, ambled in. We talked about the Mudbugs, and the changes in the Hitching Post. The bar is on the other side of the room, and bartenders serve mixed drinks. The pool table now sits in a back room. He told me if I stuck around, eventually the tavern’s former owner from the ‘90s would show up. As if on cue, former owner Jim Motter came through the door.

Jim is a fountain of history about the place. It opened in 1904 as a furniture store. They even sold coffins. We talked about the two great floods in the ‘90s, and how herculean community sandbagging efforts helped the old building stand firm against the tides, as it has now for 120 years.

The place was filling with happy hour patrons. I asked about food, and a chorus responded, “Hand-tossed frozen pizza, tossed by hand into the oven!” TJ’s Pizza is a St. Louis product, made with Provel cheese. People love it.

Somebody even wrote a song about the Hitching Post. Orthopedic surgeon Barry Gainor can fix needy hands and in his spare time, he plays bluegrass banjo and writes songs, including “The Hitchin Post Song.”

So, the Hitching Post exudes more than charm. It’s a mid-Missouri bastion of pizza, love and understanding.

The Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival happens Oct. 14-15 and the Hitching Post will be hopping.

In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Next time you’re in the neighborhood, on the trail or at Eagle Knoll, “Post up!”

John Drake Robinson is a former director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. Read more of John’s rants at johndrakerobinson.com/blog.

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