Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Character

Basement bars have always had a special place in my heart. Perhaps that's why I never really found my home in Seattle. Their bars weren't dirty enough.

Sure, Linda’s had a great jukebox, and I'm fairly certain that the floors of the Comet went unswept for the nine years I lived there, but they were surface level and lacked the character and wisdom that can only be found at the bottom of a flight of stairs.

Dim and smoky, I prefer places where you find old men nursing whiskey before noon. Geezers and coots with hard-luck stories. These were the men of my neighborhood—the bachelors and widowers on my paper route and in my barber shop. They knew things. They kept score. And they are disappearing fast.

When we were young, they were the ones who called us by our grandparents' names, and remembered our parents as children. They were men that fought wars and built railroads. I look for them when I ride.

3 comments:

Jeni said...

Stop by the bars here in my hometown. I'm sure you'll find at least one or two folks there, a lot like those of your memories. That's how I always thought of the one establishment here back in my youthful days of indulging in a brew or two with some of the oldtimers then.

Sojourner rides said...

Memories! You are describing the neighborhoods of my youth in Chicago! We were always known by the family's names. Every adult in the neighborhood could correct a child's inappropriate behavior. The barber shop was where all important news was transmitted and debated.

Chicago still has many such bars--many. Thanks for briningg back memories! Nice way to start the morning!

Jonathan said...

Jeni and Sharon, as sparse as my posts have been this year, it's nice to know someone out there still stops by.

I love barber shops. When I worked at the Penn Stater magazine, one of our alumni (an AP stringer) wrote a piece for us from Baghdad after the run up from Kuwait. He stopped to get a hair cut from one of the local barbers. He has photos of himself getting a trim in nearly every backwater in the world. I'd be willing to guess that even though the languages change, the news is all the same when your sitting in the barber chair.