By Charles W. Skelly and Donna Sheriff (Mostly Fact)
GRANDPA HARDEE SAYS that when Cocoa was still a settlement called Indian River City, there was nowhere a man could get a drink to lift his spirits unless he went all the way to Titusville. The trip alone deserved a healthy drink, but then you had to come all the way back.
Rightly enough, some enterprising young man began to bring a supply of liquor back home with him and sell a drink or two in the store on Delannoy Avenue.
Now who it was that thought a place of this kind needed protection I don’t know. Or perhaps some wife was trying to discourage patrons from entering the building. In any case, somebody went out into the scrub and captured a wild cat and chained him in front of the door.
Wild cats as big as a German shepherd roamed the woods and could be heard screaming in the night. There were bears and deer out there, too, and birds you wouldn’t believe-canaries, mockingbirds and parakeets.
Anyway, Grandpa Hardee says this wild cat would snarl and lunge at anyone entering he saloon. Men would tease him, but they never got too close. Whether the business had a name before this or not, I guess is unimportant, because from then on it was the Wild Cat Saloon.
Now, as I say, I swear I can remember seeing that cat chained there, barely restraining his wild animal instincts, but A.C. Fiske thinks otherwise. Not to embarrass me in front of my captivated audience when he once heard me tell this story, he waited until we were alone to set me straight. It seems Mr. Fiske bought the Wild Cat Saloon building in 1903, tore it down, and rebuilt it as it now stands, owned by Robert Gould. In 1903, I had not entered this world yet.
Appropriately enough, that building is now an antique store.