Louisville Magazine

FEB 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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bourbonwomen.org 42 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 2.19 is wedged in with Jimi Hendrix and Ray Charles. "People loved him," Bramer says. e daytime regulars — who profess to have no idea what happens at night at Air Devils Inn, since they're never here that late — agreed. en they grew morose. One leaned in and whispered, "You know what happened to Dan, right?" before declaring he didn't want to talk about it. By 11:30 a.m., down the bar from a half-dozen older men, 63-year-old Mike Kinberger sips a bottle of light beer. He says he comes in around noon and drinks a couple of beers. He likes the daytime crowd. "Everybody just bullshits with everybody," he says. Kinberger gets to talking, peeling back a life story between drinks. He got a job as firefighter in 1978 for a $14,500 salary. He had fun. ings were looser then. Guys brought women to the firehouse — though, he says, not him. He was only scared on the job once. at's when he found a woman in a house fire who looked like a burned-up mannequin in a chair. "Had an oxygen tank," he says of the woman. "It caught on fire and burned her up." Kinberger had kids and retired at age 45. Now he spends part of the year in a mobile home in Avon Park, Florida, either by the pool or hanging out at the Moose Lodge. He says he's just gotten back from the doctor. Pancreas issues. e doctor ordered him to drink fewer beers each day. Kinberger says the doctor told him to "cut it down to four, and we'll try that." Not long after noon, owner Russell Shockley — Dan's son, he himself now 51 — strides in wearing a backward baseball cap and carrying a slow cooker full of pork shoulder. He's got buns and paper plates. Another free meal for patrons. Shockley, who owns the place with his wife Kristie, is beloved, just like his late father. Why? One patron has an example teed up. He once pumped gas nearby without realizing he'd forgotten his wallet, so he called Shockley. Because who else would you call? Shockley left the bar, paid for the man's gas and gave him $20 to come drink. Shockley's not a fan of the media, for reasons that will come out later. He doesn't want to talk. He and Kristie do tell me that they still lease the building and operate with about nine employees (some, like Downie, now only work one day a week). But Shockley immediately says that he wants to sell the bar. e consensus is that if a TV show like Bar Rescue showed up, Air Devils would be ruined. "ey'd have a lot to say," Downie says. "You do what you can. It's the kind of situation where, if you clean up a certain section, it just makes whatever is beside it look worse." Shockley does say his wife wants to keep the bar, so she has taken on more responsibility. But it's a struggle he's tiring of: Doesn't own the place, can't afford a major renovation. A job with a steady paycheck would be nice. "You get a couple hiccups, and it's, 'Are we paying the lease or the mortgage?'" he says. "It's way too much stress." at stress grew after the demise of the weekly biker nights that the bar became loved and hated for, depending on whether you owned a bike or a nearby yard. Each ursday in the '90s and early 2000s, the bar would welcome growling Harley Davidsons, "a cross-section of Louisville that will include stockbrokers, mechanics, doctors, local businessmen, the occasional nurse, the moneyed and the tattooed," according to the Encyclopedia of Louisville. "By 8:30 p.m., the unconventional convention is on the road, happily Harleying down the highway." Some called it the "dusk patrol." Once, the bar hosted a biker wedding in the parking lot, covered live by a TV reporter. But complaints from neighbors led to a city crackdown. Shockley says he still blames one vociferous neighbor, a city inspector he believes had a beef with the bar and a reporter who wrote about it. I read one story, which seemed pretty tame, but that's not how Shockley remembers it. "It wasn't the Hells Angels or Grim Reapers; these are people who drive motorcycles on the weekend," Shockley says. "But, oh, man, if you'd read any of those articles, you would have thought there were knife fights and shootouts up here and all kinds of horseshit." Russell has to run off to deal with an order and refuses to be photographed. His wife leans in. "He's a negative Nellie today," she says, noting that, so far, they haven't received any sufficient offers to purchase Air Devils. Besides, she's hopeful that things can work out. She has plans to turn part of the bar into a speakeasy, a nod to its past. "We can turn it around," she says. "It's been a bar for 85 years." By 2 p.m., 43-year-old Jennifer Frames shows up behind the bar for a shift that will last until 8 p.m. e last of the morning crowd is gone. When Kinberger left, he said, "I'm going to take a nap." Frames, in a flowered sweatshirt and jeans, started bartending here in 2002. She was a struggling single mom in her 20s. She says her kid's father had gotten into trouble and was gone. She was stressed out, working at a plumbing supply company and badly in need

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