Basin boy has a successful treasure hunt

Barbara Anne Greene

Digging for treasure in your yard is a rite of passage for many children. For Hunter and Elizabeth Baril, who live on South Eighth Street in Basin, the digging led to the discovery of a treasure of sorts.
Hunter found a token just a little smaller than a quarter. One side says, “Good for 25 (cents) for trade,” and the other, “Douglas Soft Drink Parlor, Basin, Wyo.”
Hunter said, “We were digging for treasure in our yard. We found trash mostly. When I found the coin, I ran to our kiddie pool to wash it off.” Elizabeth added that the pool isn’t any good now because they poked holes in it. They took it to their mom, Heather.
Heather went on a hunt herself to learn more about Douglas Soft Drink Parlor.  When Hunter found the coin in 2022, he went to the Big Horn County Library in Basin, where she received considerable help from then-librarian Alice Davidson.
By searching Wyoming Digital Newspaper Collection online, they found a menu in the Basin Republican (name of paper prior to it merging with the Big Horn County Rustler) dated Sept. 26, 1919. The menu was for “Douglas’ Soft Drink Parlor.” There was a selection from deli to soda fountain to Whitman’s Candy.
The menu also said “Ladies Special Service- We will endeavor to at all times cater to the better trade and will make a special effort to make such services pleasing to the ladies.  We have secured the services of Miss Mary Clarke of Sioux City, Iowa, who will have charge of our lady department, and who comes recommended as thoroughly competent in this line of work.”
However, there was no address on the menu so the location of said establishment is a mystery.
Baril’s research continued. She found that M.R. Douglas owned a bar before the parlor. There was an ad in the Big Horn County Rustler, Dec. 18, 1908, for The Capital Bar. M.R. Douglas is listed as the proprietor. Like the ad for the parlor, no address is listed. However, the phone number is listed as 5-Y.   The ad states the bar is an “Agent of Val Blatz Beer.” It also notes “Pool and billiard room in connection. Also, Nice Cozy Club Room. Finest Brands of Wine, Liquor and Cigars in Basin.
On April 3, 1908, another ad ran in the same paper promoting the bar as the place for “discriminating men” and “Sunny Brook: The Pure Food Whiskey.”
Douglas made an application for a retail liquor license for 1916-17 The permit was for a one-story building on lot 13 block 37 in the original plot of the town of Basin.
Despite all the research, Baril has not figured out where the parlor was located. She hopes someone reading this story may have more information about Douglas.
She did find that Douglas and a customer named Cundiff were in a shoot-out in 1911 about an unpaid tab at the bar. Douglas’ dog was shot.