Past Treasure of the Month – August 2020

Streater’s Place
Vintage dart game scoreboard from Streater's Tavern.

Vintage dart game scoreboard from Streater’s Tavern.

Streater’s Place was a neighborhood bar which operated in Galveston’s East End from the 1950s until the 1990s. Rosenberg Library displayed a vintage dart scoreboard from Streater’s as its August Treasure of the Month.

Galveston businessman John H. Streater opened a bar at the corner of Winnie and 14th Street in 1958. The establishment was popular with East End residents and with students at the nearby University of Texas Medical Branch. John Streater retired in 1978 and sold the bar to John Yeskewicz who kept the original name.

Streater’s Tavern advertisement from 'Galveston Daily News', December 31, 1983.

Streater’s Tavern advertisement from Galveston Daily News, December 31, 1983.

Perhaps Streater’s is best remembered for its annual O’Malley’s Cup cockroach racing championship. Galveston’s first-ever cockroach race was actually held at another East End establishment — O’Malley’s Bar and Grill — in 1978. However, Streater’s continued the tradition after O’Malley’s closed and named the prize trophy in the former bar’s honor.

Sponsored by Galveston’s local radio station, KGBC, the cockroach race was a novel fundraising event in which participants entered dozens of pet cockroaches to race one another across a specially constructed plywood track.

The cockroaches were given names such as “Cesspool Sally”, “Zippity-doo-dah”, and “Aloysious P. McGillicuddy,” and each had its own trainer.

In addition to the cockroach racing, Streater’s held a silent auction which included prizes such as weekend stays at local hotels and dinners for two at area restaurants. Proceeds always benefited community organizations including the Lasker Children’s Home, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Children’s Center.

The Galveston Daily News reported that the event received national attention in February 1980 when Walter Cronkite announced the winner — UTMB student Polly Clafford — during the CBS Evening News.

After several years of ownership, John Yeskewicz sold Streater’s to Keith Guindon. The Guindon family continued to operate the bar—and host the annual cockroach race fundraiser—until the late 1990s. The building was then sold to Jack Parker and Jerry Bair who converted Streater’s into the popular island eatery, Mosquito Café, in 1999.

Photo from a 'Galveston Daily News' article related to the Annual Cockroach Race, September 14, 1991. The Streater’s Tavern sign is visible in the background.

Photo from a Galveston Daily News article related to the Annual Cockroach Race, September 14, 1991. The Streater’s Tavern sign is visible in the background.