The Bar Chronicles: #23, ‘The Reunion’

Bar Night 2

Good to his promise when he left us shoveling and shivering in western New York State while he headed to the sunshine and surf of Florida, the ‘snow bunny’ friend among us bought the beers tonight, our 23rd ‘Bar Night’ at our favorite ‘dive’, Caverly’s Irish Pub (South Ave)

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It’s Spring, the weather is miserable, but our collective spirits are lifted by the opportunity for five of us to gather again for a good time talking, thinking and doing anything that doesn’t require too much energy.

The bar TV is a distraction, it always is, so we migrated to the back room, leaving the game broadcast and the bar talk behind. However, we still lean in to hear our own conversation, with eyebrows raised, mouths slightly agape and the ears likely cupped, SOP for Seniors.

With bottles held high, we offered thanks that we all made it through winter safely, if not a bit more worn, four of us having borne the burden of winter along Ontario’s shoreline.

I was anxious to describe my very ‘first time’ to a somewhat ‘aghast’ group. With four sets of eyebrows rising even higher, I clarified, no, not that ‘first time’, I’m talking fender benders. I needed a sympathetic ear and tonight provided me with four pair, I assumed.

The delivery truck driver should not have parked his white ‘box’ truck opposite our driveway, I protested. In my younger, more flexible days, I could easily have turned and seen it. But today, older and with several layers of winter clothing, I only looked left and right, leaving my backside exposed.

BANG! CRUNCH!

In a flash, after decades of safe and accident free driving, my perfect record fell to pieces, literally, $3800 worth of pieces to my rear end. My first auto accident and insurance claim!

A tough group, those ‘ears’, I got no sympathy, only warnings, ‘watch my premiums’!

As for risky driving, have you driven the Autobahn? What do insurance premiums look like for the brave souls who drive the Autobahn? A couple of us have, not me. Now that I’m a ‘risk’, I probably would be banned on the ‘bahn’. Furthermore, are Seniors even allowed on that highway?

Have you ever hitched a ride? I picked up a hitchhiker,once, a sailor, on leave. Took him from Albany to Cleveland on my drive west. But, what about hitching aboard a US aircraft carrier?

The former Marine pilot in our group did that, aboard the USS Vinson, a super carrier, on the Pacific Ocean waters from Hawaii to California. That has to be some sort of hitchhiking record. There’s no backing out driveways or driving 120 mph, but better yet, you can jet away and return, if you’re qualified. And the government pays the premiums.

Each time our group meets, we have new adventures to tell, new territory to cover and more beer to drink, one bottle each night. We’re big story tellers, but we’re not big drinkers, not at this stage.

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Here’s to everyone who enjoys the pleasure of good friends and conversation.

Steve (April ’19)

Srbottch.Com

So, You Say You’re Irish …

Reposting my story from a year ago. Happy St. Patrick’s Day (2019) to all you who are Irish, even if it’s just for a day…

May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.
(Irish blessing)

So, you say you’re Irish, at least today you say it. And why not, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, everyone can be Irish.

St. Patrick’s Day is a fun day for all, Irish or not. The ‘wearing of the green’ announces to everyone that you’re either real Irish, or just Irish for the day. You’re showin’ the spirit.

Irish Me

I’ve a little bit of ‘the green’ both in and on me, and enjoying it. The day seems to lift spirits a bit, makes us happy. The bright sunshine adds to the gaiety of parades and parties. Irish music fills the airwaves and Irish dancers jig their way around town, exhibiting the fast moving feet of Irish dance steps.

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Foremost, it reminds me of my mother who boasted proudly of her Irish roots. Her mother, my grandmother, emigrated to the States from Ireland in the early 1900’s, no doubt looking for a better life, like many immigrants at that time. The world passed our Statue of Liberty, stopped on our doorstep, asked to come in and were welcomed to be part of the American community.

St. Patrick’s Day brings out a potpourri of politicians to be Irish for the day, maybe hoping it’ll win another voting block to their side. ‘Pols’ are the best chameleons when looking for support, aren’t they?

Bar Night 2

I will toast St. Patrick’s Day with an Irish stout, a Guinness, maybe two, but no more, no corn beef nor cabbage, but, yes, some potatoes, a food staple that’s has a major chapter in Irish history.

“The significance of St. Patrick’s Day is the introduction of Christianity to Ireland” * hundreds of years ago.  Irish history, like most cultures, is replete with times of joy, sadness, struggles and triumphs.  It’s more than just a party day as we celebrate our Irish here in the States and around the world. However, the celebration factor is significant which contributes to the heavy consumption of alcohol and that brings us back to the reveling, doesn’t it.

The White House fountain is spewing green, the Chicago River is dyed green and other celebrations will take place. But, a word of caution. If you must celebrate tonight, take care not to overdo it. When you start to see ‘Irish dogs’, then you’ll know you’ve had too much. And they’re out there, ‘cause everyone can be Irish today.

Irish Dog

(‘Bud’, photo by Diana on Instagram @didimac211)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Steve
Srbottch.Com

To the Irish and everyone who wishes they were…

*Wickipedia: Saint Patrick’s Day

PLeasant 48756…

Do you remember those phone calls home, the ones you made after ‘leaving the nest’ for the first time? I do, and from a pay phone.  My sister remembers, too, offering sentiments recently that it would be nice to make those calls, again. But, we can’t, of course.

I remember the calls and can ‘see’ it in my mind’s eye. Mother would answer, as the official ‘answerer’, and in a soft voice, I’d hear, “Hello?”, in a questioning way.

“Mother, it’s me, Stephen!”

“Oh, Stephen, hello!”

The uncertainty was gone and the enthusiasm returned, once she knew who it was.

We’d talk and she would hand the phone to my father, nearby, and we’d talk some more, often repeating myself, a bit louder each time. I could sense the ‘changes’.

Remember asking to reverse the charges? She always accepted them. Long distance calls weren’t cheap so we limited the frequency and duration.

Over time, the phones changed, cords went away and buttons replaced dials. The nature of the calls changed, too, from ‘just called to talk’ to ‘how are you feeling’. Eventually, with time passing, so do the people you love…the calls stopped.

Yesterday, the old family telephone number flashed into my memory, Pleasant-48756.  Don’t know why, but it did, and it opened a floodgate of memories, good memories.

Initially, our number was just five digit characters, 48756, but as telephone service demand grew, so did the creativity of assigning numbers, longer numbers, with letters.

The phone was ‘anchored’ on a small living room table, the ‘phone table’.  It was a cumbersome black unit with a circular number scheme in a dial fôrmat, corded to the wall. More importantly, the mouth/ear piece was corded to the base, and cradled on it when not in use. You never lost the phone because it was ‘anchored’ in the same spot for years.

The telephone kept families connected. Every bit of emotion could be sensed over the lines.  Good news and bad news was delivered over the telephone, by voice. We made plans and had private rendezvous with special friends. Of course, with the phone anchored to a spot, that privacy was problematic.

We all have mobile phones now, several to a family. No need to remember the numbers, just ask the phone to call by name. You can send text messages and avoid speaking to the other party.  Play games and music and get easily distracted by the new phone capabilities.  You can even wear the phone like a watch, well, it is a watch, too.  Yes, we’ve come that far.  Progress, I guess.

But it sure would be nice to make those old calls, again. We can’t, of course…

“Hey, Siri, dial Pleasant 48756….. for the Hell of it!”

Steve (srbottch.com)

For my sister, June

The Crossing Guard Chronicles: These Kids Are Sharp…

“Good morning…know what day it is?”

Now, this was not a trick question. Rather, it was a ‘PSA”, Public Service Announcement, for the kids I cross as a school crossing guard. I thought that I was just reminding them of the date.

“Yes, it’s Pi Day!”

“Pie Day? No, it’s March 14th!”

“That’s right, ‘Pi Day’, 3.14…..”

They had me. They were teaching me, turning the tables from our usual morning exercise. And, it was fun, lots of laughs.

These kids are sharp!

The mathematical ‘Pi’, of course, is the ‘ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter’. No, I didn’t know that. At one time, maybe, but years ago. One of the kids, a high school student, told me. I had more questions, but we were across and my ‘source’ was heading for her building, probably to a quantum physics class.

These kids are sharp!

Nearly every morning, for fun and mental stimulation, I’ll throw out a fact, a riddle, a question, word of the day, and the young people receive it well. My reward is their feedback. And they’re not shy about offering it, participating in the ‘give & take’.

Since it was Michelangelo’s birthday last week, it seemed appropriate to remind them about the artist and one of his claims to fame, the ceiling painting of the Sistine Chapel.

I was quickly informed that he painted it at the behest, maybe order, of Pope Julius II and it took several years to complete. Should I have known that? A student did. (As a sculptor, painting was not his forte, but we can agree the ceiling is a remarkable piece of art).

It is not unusual for these young students to amaze me with their knowledge, level of instruction, and ambitions. They want to be engineers, physicists, sports marketers, mechanics And they’re a happy group of young folks, as well, with keen senses of humor, especially the older ones who are tuned in to subtleties.

I hope these kids are learning something from me. My challenges are often turned into a learning lesson for me. It makes a school crossing job a pleasure.

As for ‘Pi Day’, one student wore a shirt with the message, ‘Come to The Math Side, We Have Pi’.

These kids are sharp!

‘Pie Face’ Game

Steve (March 2019)

I Drink My Coffee Black…Hair or No Hair

After high school graduation and between college semester breaks, summertime found me working for my dad’s painting company. Truth be told, I did little actual painting. But there were plenty of other tasks to support the real journeymen painters, low skilled tasks that a ‘college kid’ could easily master; scraping, sanding, dusting and hauling, to name a few. I abhorred it.

However, I did get an ‘education’ on hard work and found one task that was simple and perfectly suited to my teenage laziness, the ‘runner’.

When it was mid morning break time, I collected the painters’ money and went for their food and drink, generally coffee and a sweet roll, or donut. The workers’ break was 10 minutes by union rules, but for me, it was a good 30 to 45 minutes, because I was the ‘runner’.

I became familiar with the likes and dislikes of the men on the jobs, and listened attentively to their ‘sage’ advice. Naturally, I ignored it, I was a ‘college kid’.

“Drink coffee, and drink it black, it’ll put hair on your chest!”

Coffee was not part of my regimen, then, and I already had some hair on my chest, at least it was starting, so the suggestion didn’t sway me.

I often heard the same admonition from my ‘old school’ father when I was a kid; “eat it (drink it, take it), it’s good for you, and it’ll put hair on your chest”, my father would urge. Why would a ten year old kid want hair on his chest?

Eventually, I joined the throng of coffee drinkers. It wasn’t the macho world of laboring men who got me started, however. My caffeine fix began with ‘Gussie’, my future mother-in-law, who always had a pot of coffee brewing in her kitchen.

The aroma of percolating coffee, aaahhhh, it was addicting and ‘Gussie’ drank it black.

There’s a certain intoxication in that very aroma, isn’t there? And, if it could only taste as good as it smelled, with no additives, then black would be my choice, as well.

Years later, my sales job reinforced the black option. On the road several days a week, coffee became a staple of my morning routine and a stimulant during day time drive times. Who has time to mix in a creamer or sugar packet when you’re hustling to an appointment? Pull in to the fast food drive-thru, order, pay, then grab ‘n go.

I still drink coffee, black. And, yes, I have hair on my chest. ‘Gussie ‘ is gone for many years, now. And, if your wondering, I never asked…and she never mentioned ‘it’.

Steve

To coffee drinkers everywhere…especially, ‘Gussie’

March 2019

Take The Quiz…

“Double your pleasure, Double your fun, ………..

Do you remember this rhyme from an old television commercial?  Usually, there were a couple of twin girls who sang the jingle.  If you can finish it, then you’re of a certain generation.

Many people watched the Super Bowl for the entertainment pleasure of the ads as much as the actual game. Over the years, the Super Bowl has rewarded us with some of the best advertising money can buy, as millions of dollars were spent on brief but entertaining commercials.

This year’s Super Bowl ads, for the most part, were disappointing for message and humor. The Doritos ad with Chance the Rapper and The Backstreet Boys was pretty good, but other than that, ‘Meh’!

However, outside the Super Bowl, there have been some catchy ads over the years that are seared in our memories for both content and entertainment. Let’s have some fun, see if you can fill in the blanks of some of the old time ads. I’m sure you can do it…before looking at the answers.

1. Winston taste good ………

2. Please don’t ………. the Charmin

3. Fill it to the rim ………

4. Go Greyhound, and ……….

5. You’re in good hands ……….

6. Lucky Strike means ……….

7. Brylcreem, a little dab will do ya, ……….

8. See the USA ……….

9. Maxwell House coffee, Good ……….

10. Takes a lickin’ and ……….

Coffee commercials were very popular years ago and cigarette ads dominated the airwaves until they were banned.

Remember Wendy Hamburger’s line and the Little old lady who shouted, “Where’s the beef?” Everyone was saying it. Miller beer advertised their lite beer with a theme, ‘less filling, tastes great’. Celebrities would humorously debate which it was.

Can you think of some old time goodies? Sure you can, give us one or two and your score.

ANSWERS:

1. like a cigarette should! (cigarettes)

2. squeeze (toilet paper)

3. With Brim (decaffeinated coffee)

4 and leave the driving to us (bus company)

5. with Allstate (insurance)

6. Fine Tobacco (cigarettes)

7. Use more only if you dare (watch out, the gals will all persue ya, they love to get their fingers in your hair) (men’s hair cream)

8. In your Chevrolet (General Motors)

9. to the last drop!

10. keeps on tickin’ (Time watch)

How did you do?

srbottch.com (Feb 2019)

PS. ‘…Chew Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint gum!’

“You Don’t Have A F***** Thing To Say About It!!!”

Ahhh, army training, army messaging, army discipline. Some memories just stay with you, forever.

For instance, the corporal (could have been a general for all we raw recruits knew) who swore he couldn’t hear us as we screamed answers inches from his face. Does alcohol make you deaf and dumb?

Being called a dummy by the sergeant because my ‘steel pot’ (helmet) was backwards (excuse me, inexperienced and nervous), it stuck with me all these years as a reminder to check myself with one last glance in the mirror before leaving the house. Getting noticed by sergeants now.

But being told by the Senior Drill Sergeant that I ‘didn’t have a f****** thing to say about it’, after I was asked my opinion, well, that still brings a chuckle as I recall the exact moment.

That Senior Drill Sergeant’s assertion, that I ‘didn’t have an effin thing to say about anything’, just shut up and do as I’m told, is seared in my memory. He didn’t say that last part, but I was good at reading between the lines. i knew what he meant and took his ‘advice’ seriously.

And it worked well, army training, with that understanding. The military wasn’t built for opinions. It was built for action. There’s no time to debate. All discussions about any and every issue had gone on years before I came along. The rules work best when people react instantly to appropriate orders.

Strangely, when the training portion of my military service was completed, I realized, begrudgingly maybe, that it’s probably not a bad idea for a young man to have a brief period in his life when he has nothin’ to say about nothin’. Just do as you’re told. I think it fits into the broad category the army would call ‘discipline’.

Growing up and getting older teaches some of the same lessons but the army was kind enough to teach the condensed version.

I still check my appearance before leaving the house each day, making sure my ‘gig line’ conforms. The edge of my shirt, belt buckle and pant zipper must all be in alignment with each other: APPEARANCE! The corners of my bed sheets need to be tight and tucked, daily: ORDER! The area around my house is clean of any piece of scrap: CLEANLINESS! My shoe laces are still laid ‘left over right: UNIFORMITY! Above all, follow the rules:.CONFORMITY!

Yes, a substantial dose of discipline at an early age can have a positive effect for a lifetime. I just never understood, ‘hurry up and wait’*…

* anyone with military experience gets this

Steve B

To anyone with military training.