Yes, I've been MIA on my blog for a while. It's been a busy couple of months, but now that the weather is turning colder, I hope to have more time to write. What's new? Not a lot. We went on vacation, I sprained my ankle, we had a bad windstorm thanks to hurricane Ike. Oh, and a bar opened in the town I work in.
Now to most people in most places, that wouldn't seem like anything major, but in the town I work in, that's a BIG deal. You have to keep in mind that it's a very conservative Christian town, with a small, very conservative Christian college that tends to dictate what goes on. It has been dry as long as I can remember, with the exception being a couple fraternal organizations that were allowed to serve alcohol. That all changed last year when a petition was drawn up to get a referrendum put on the ballot. It was interesting to see how it all unfolded, neighbors against neighbors, rantings in the local "letters to the editor" section of the paper. When all was said and done, it passed, much to the surprise of everyone. Of course then all the rumors started about who was going to get the first liquor license and such. Finally two guys were announced to have it and work began on their bar/restaurant. Many hours of work later, they were ready to open, but in the meantime the grumblings had started about how it was going to turn our little hamlet in to a place with a bad reputation. I just chuckled and rolled my eyes.
My experience in a bar started very young. My dad used to take me when I was little (6 or 7) with him to his local hang out once in a while. It was an old bar a few miles from our house that everyone called the Shandagan. Never mind the fact that it hadn't been the name for years, that's what everyone remembered it as from years past. It was actually called Jack's Place after the owner, Jack Parker. Along with his wife Madeline, they made everyone feel welcome, including me. I don't remember seeing anything illicit, no fights broke out, no wild women came walking in. About the only strange thing I remember is reading the sign "No Minors Served" and being very confused about why they wouldn't serve coal miners (admit it, you've had moments like that too!). I sat there at the bar with my dad, while he and the others discussed the worlds problems over a beer. I always had a ginger ale with Snyder's potato chips, once in a while a Hershey Bar. To this day I can't eat Snyder's potato chips without thinking of ginger ale.
Now I'm sure there are people thinking "how terrible that he took a kid to a bar!" I don't feel that way at all. I was never in any danger and Madeline always made me feel very special. I'm not in therapy for anything that happened when I was there. To me it was time spent as father and daughter, and I looked forward to getting to do that. In fact, I remember reading the obituary in the paper when Madeline Parker died, and being a little sad that a part of my childhood, albeit small, was gone.
I don't know why everyone assumes that a bar is a bad place. For some it's a refuge, a place to unwind. In England the local pub is the focal point of the community, the meeting place for the residents. No one thinks ill of the pub or it's patrons because most everyone goes there. You can even take your dog with you. And we certainly don't think badly of places like Applebees, Olive Garden or Longhorn Steakhouse, all places who serve alcohol and have bars in them. I guess because their primary focus is on the food, we tend to overlook that little detail.
The Shandagan is still there on the corner where it's been all these years. I haven't been in it as an adult, and I don't even know the name of it anymore. I'm sure it has it's regulars though, and I'm sure in time, our new little bar in town will have them too. I wish them lots of luck and I'm sure if they don't succeed, they won't be the last to try. I haven't been there yet, but maybe I'll stop by and see if they have ginger ale and Snyder's chips. And maybe, just maybe, those naysayers will see that a bar isn't necessarily a bad thing.