This I Believe

John - New Martinsville, West Virginia
Entered on December 8, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: community, place

I believe in the local bar, pub and saloon. A place where Michael Jackson,

the beer expert, said you could go and be included in the conversation or be

left alone to read your paper. Some of my earliest and best memories

centered around a bar, the Submarine bar, where my Dad and his buddies met

after work and on the weekends. They never missed a day.

The Sub was a place where they could unwind, joke, tell stories and drink.

They drank Stroh’s, Black Label, Red Top and Iron City. Only a few drank

whiskey. As I remember it, they never talked about work. When work was done,

they were done with work. The television didn’t dominate the bar; the people

did. Characters abounded and storytellers were revered. Although most of

them served in WW II and/or Korea, they didn’t talk about War

unless it was a humorous story. These were tough men who didn’t have to act

tough. I don’t ever remember a fight but if you couldn’t accept some good

natured ribbing, you’d better find a different place to hang out. One of my

few regrets is not realizing that these men were real heroes. Guys like John

Wayne were just actors.

Since then, I’ve felt most comfortable when I’ve found a local bar. After

high school graduation, my buddies and I spent the summer of ’68 at the C&R

Bar in downtown Follansbee, West Virginia. Like our old men, we talked, played cards and drank Stroh’s beer for 20 cents a mug. We never missed a night.

When I started college life in Morgantown that fall I set out to find a

local place where I fit. Luckily for me, Sleepy’s was close to my dorm.

Duquesne draft was 20 cents and the pin ball machine was a nickel.

Locals hung out alongside college

students and it was as comfortable as any place I’ve ever been. In the next

few years, I discovered Augie’s, Gene’s and Mario’s. All were local places

where you could get into a conversation or be left alone with your paper. I

loved those places.

Now, 50+ years after I would go into the Submarine and hit my old man and

his buddies up for a pop and endure some good-natured kidding about girls

and baseball, I’ve got a local place, Baristas, just down the street.

My buddies and I get together there most nights for a beer and conversation.

Unlike my Dad and his buddies, we are more particular about our beer. We

prefer WV Brewing and other microbreweries. Good old Stroh’s never passes

our lips. Some of us talk a little too much about work but that’s OK. We

usually get it out of our systems and get down to important things like

sports, women and euchre.

So far I’ve been able to avoid the prescription medicines that keep so many

people my age alive. In my mind, I owe it to my local pub and good beer.