Again, for those of you that don’t know me, I don’t make a habit of doing daylogs – only when I feel the occasion warrants it. Today seems to be one of those occasions.
My personal “Cheers” is gone. At about 5:45 last night, a 35 ton fire truck, trying to negotiate a turn, slammed into the side of my local watering hole. Luckily, all patrons and firefighters escaped with only minor injuries and nobody was seriously hurt. . The building, well, she doesn’t look so good.
This “local establishment “ was the kind of place that was safe haven for me during times of crisis. It was also the place where people (locals, mostly) gathered to entertain each other. Where births, marriages, and graduations were celebrated. Where deaths and other assorted tragedies were mourned. Where major sporting events and world news were watched and details pored over. Where people acquired nicknames such as “Chud”, “One Eyed John”, “Bad Back Jim”, Professor Paul”, “Drunk Ass Laurie”, “Old Man Bob”, “Bobblehead Marty” and “ First and Third” (so named because his eyes point in different directions). I’m sure there are probably many more that if given the time, I could think of, but I think you get the idea.
You see, this “local establishment” wasn’t one of those chain type restaurants/bars that profess to be interested in you and have people running around in all sorts of trendy costumes. When people asked “How you doin?”, it was out a of genuine concern that probably comes with familiarity. The familiarity that comes with sharing a couple of drinks and moments of conversation with people who have the same neighborhood concerns as you do. A place where you could run a tab for a couple of days if you were short or float a check if the need arose. A place where, on occasion, drinks were bought on the house by some of the long-term bartenders for their favorite patrons. A place with Irish trappings that employed Mexican and Greek immigrants, where college students came to wait tables and make enough tips to get them through to the next semester.
For some reason, I was just too tired to stop in last night. I left work around 4:00, drove past the place, saw the usual cars in the parking lot, and just kept going. At around 7:00, my phone rings and I decide to let my machine pick –up. I hear my ex-wives voice and immediately start to cringe but then I hear the tone in her voice. “ I just hope your not where I think you probably are” (or something to that effect) and I pick up the receiver. “Turn on the local news”. I do so and am immediately shocked at what I see. What used to be the side of the building is now replaced with a gaping hole. At this point, I jump in my car and head down to the bar to see if any of my friends were hurt. Luckily, besides a few scrapes, scratches and bruises, all are intact.
.A few hours later, the crowd outside has grown to over 500 people. All seem to be waiting to see how they are going to extricate the fire truck and get it right side up. My friends and I, we gather off to the side to contemplate how lucky we were and what’s to become of our watering hole. Hopefully, the building is sound enough to be saved. Structural engineers have to make that determination over the next couple of days. My friends and I, we wonder where we can go to find the same atmosphere that we found there.
I suppose that in the grand scheme of things, this is a relatively small blip on the radar, but to some of of us locals and regulars, it has taken on a rather large degree of importance.