Sunday, March 18, 2018

St. Patrick's Celebrations - Then and Now

Once upon a time ... in 1960 when I was a Junior at KU, my buds and I had a favorite bar.  It was Kelly's Westport Inn, shortened as you may imagine to "Kelly's."  It is a one-story brick building on a corner in Westport which was Kansas City's modest attempt at cool.  The building was believed to be the oldest building in KC, having been built in 1850 where it sat complacently until this moment.  We were told that there were chains in the basement walls for slave owners to park their property whilst having a convivial drink upstairs.  None of us were ever invited to take a look.

The building, if not Kelly's itself, was designated a National Historic site in 1959.  Post Prohibition was when the bar got a liquor license.

Today, you can see the ashes of George Wiedenn, Sr. in a Ten High bottle behind the bar.  Unf. the Website never discloses who he was in the life of Kelly's.  Whatever it was, he's still around.

"What does all of this have to do with celebrating St. Paddy's?" you ask.  Because in 1960, I drove my mother's car from KU direct, non-stop to Kelly's to celebrate it.  You know that a bar named Kelly's is going to be doing a good business on March 17th.

Such was the crowd attempting to pay tribute to St. Patrick that it spilled out onto the sidewalk and over the curbs.  To get a drink, you handed your money to a person closer to the bar than you were, the money made it's way through the crowd to the bar, the drink was made (Brandy Alexanders in my case and no, I don't know what I was thinking; I was 20) and sent back over bobbing heads to the person who ordered it.  No one ever kept the money sent to the bar nor drank the drink it bought.  People were honest back in those days.

Now fast forward 57 years and this is how Richie and I celebrated St. Patrick's Day.  He and "D" went down to the Hermosa Beach parade, had corned beef and cabbage at Scotty's on the Strand and a couple of beers at The Deck which used to be a dive bar named the Poopdeck.  Lucky bastards got window seats.  Himself came gliding in at about 5 p.m. after a 10:30 a.m. start where they waited and waited for the parade to begin which is typical and why I didn't go.

So what did we do together?  He had a gin and tonic and in the spirit of "green" the color of the day, I made myself a Green Martini.  We sipped our libations and waited for the pizza delivery guy.  And then we watched "The Quiet Man" with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.  Neither had to do a lot of "acting;"  in fact, all Maureen had to do all the movie was run like a deer, throwing alarmed looks behind her.  Her two expressions were doe-eyed fear and red hot rage.  Wayne just had to show up. He never played anyone but himself in any event.

So that is the contrast between back then and now.  If we're still able to get around without wheelchairs next year, we could fly back to KC for St. Patrick's Day at Kellys though ... writing about it has made me nostalgic.  Except for the part when I went to go home, found the driver's window of my Mother's borrowed car busted in with little round pebbles of glass all over the front seat.  At first Alexander and I thought they were rain drops.   They weren't.

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