Friday night in my twenties and early thirties was bar night. In Old Saybrook, Ct. we hung out at the Monkey Farm. The Farm was filled with memorable characters, including Tommy and Harry, the two owners. And, of course, there was Bronko, who bedded down upstairs. Later in Portland, Me. where I moved with a group of back-to-landers and communards, we were regulars at the Beer Barrel in the city’s West End, an old Irish neighborhood where most people struggled to make ends meet. There too the patrons were unforgettable and younger for the most part. Some worked at a baked bean factory across town where I also earned my meager wages. Both bars had a juke box and tvs that featured the biggest sports game of the week. Needless to say, I as well as my friends had no trouble fitting in and holding our own. Aside from nursing regular hangovers that go with an extended stay at a watering hole on a Friday night, the only other problem was that by weekend’s end I had little left from my paycheck for the rest of the week.
These days my drinking prowess is greatly diminished, although from time to time I like to visit local bars in Kingston. In fact, I will do precisely that on Dec. 19. On that day my father was born and I mark the occasion each year with a pilgrimage to a watering hole. In this case, Snapper McGee’s is my joint of choice. Snappers is notable for its regulars, a dart board, and, what is rare these days, an old juke box with a great selection of tunes. It also stays open til 4am, but long before then I will be gone and home in bed. But before taking my leave, I will drink a couple of pints of beer and a shot or two of whiskey as well as find a tune by the late great Nat King Cole to play in my father’s honor. He loved NKC almost as much as the beer and “hard stuff” that he drank too much of Friday night when he arrived home after a long week climbing high tension poles crisscrossing the state of Maine. Not an easy gig, and he believed, I guess, it earned him a drink or two or three or … It seldom ended up in a good place, but that is another story.