An Old Man's Bar Where Plots Are Shaped
December 19, 2012
On a mild, partly-cloudy Saturday morning in the fall of 1973, a close friend and fraternity brother took me to his father’s establishment. For years, it had been Tony’s job to go in on the weekends and clean the place. I offered to help and he refused. I used the time we were there to look around and daydream.
It was not a restaurant. But it reminded me of those classic movie scenes where a significant conversation or plot-shaping action occurs.
This is how I remembered the Louisville Tavern, owned by Anthony Danna in my first novel, The Tourist Killer.
It fits my mental image of an “old man’s” bar.
Because it was.
The bar room was long and narrow.
It was dominated by the old fashioned wooden bar.
There was just enough room to walk to the far end without disturbing anyone that might have been sitting on the bar stools.
Past the bar were booths along the wall and two tables that would seat four, if anyone wanted to sit there.
Competition for table seating was non-existent.
In my second novel, The Presidents Club, another character enters the same bar and this is what he observes:
He resumed his study of the inconspicuous retreat.
He smiled to himself as he took in the setting.
The long narrow layout.
Bar stools with worn red leather cushions.
Black and white octagonal-tile floor.
When he had stepped into the bar from the street, he found himself in a vestibule separated from the bar room by two louvered, swinging doors — and from the 21st Century by decades.
Just as his friend had said, the charm of the place was irresistible.
It could be a bright sunny day outside, but inside was dark and moody.
You could pass the time of day in here with no cares.
Plots or conspiracies could be born and take on a life of their own in here.
The asthmatic air conditioning system wheezed.
The periodic clink of ice in a glass broke the silence.
The rush of beer coming from a tap and building to an attractive head in a mug was the prelude to a conversation.
Bar stools and chairs screeched on tile floors.
Loose change rattled as it tumbled onto the wooden bar, marking the end of a visit.
These sounds created the ambiance and formed a fitting soundtrack for the chatter of old men.
The hands on the clock behind the bar of the Louisville Tavern had not moved in decades. The regulars had shuffled in and out every day and night for as many years.”
The Louisville Tavern in Monroe, LA, closed several years ago.
For me, it will always be there.
A place like this is more than just a place “where everybody knows your name.”
It’s a refuge.
It’s a safe harbor in which you can retreat and relax without fear.
It’s a home away from home.
It’s as real as your desire to be there.
You can visit the Louisville Tavern by reading either of my books.
Meet me there and have a drink on me.
Frank C. Etier is author of The Tourist Killer. Click here to read more about the book or purchase a copy direct from Amazon.