Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Journey West and Tug Boats on the East Coast

We found Donald Brands in Bayport NY, where he is a tug boat captain plying the waters of the East Coast inner channel. Donna, Don's wife, said that they really hadn't been to any reunions,even hers, but I encouraged her nonetheless to make our 45th their first.

The next chapter. The summer of '72 found 3 friends packed in a '67 Mustang with a cat litter in the back seat and a mirror on the roof sandwiched between two mattresses. Don't ask me why I decided to take a mirror. I just don't remember the reasoning for something so goofy. Headed west to Lincoln Nebraska to the HiWay Tavern 300 West P street, bound to bring left wing ideas to the working class of Nebraska. Actually, it turns out that the HiWay is a really great bar. Sitting along the banks of Salt Creek, it is squarely on the wrong side of town. Railroaders, meatpackers, truck drivers and working people through and through. Schlitz and PBR on tap. A quarter would get you an 11 oz draft; 40 cents, a long neck. Don't ask for some fancy umbrella drink. Ball and beer. Whiskey sours were house blend and Squirt, a grape fruity citrus soda. Hi balls were all you could expect. Anything fancier, we'd tell 'em to take it to the Cornhusker Hotel.  Lunch was a real busy time. A 30 minute lunch didn't allow much time to share 3 pitchers with 4 buddies and throw back some burgers, and travel to and from the plant. We'd get em served in 20. And lots of straight honest talk about work, about family, about politics, about the things that really mattered to them. The decor was straight roadhouse. Slab concrete foor, easy for hosing down, nicotine colored walls. Tube chrome bar stools. If you fell off, you were shut off for the night. In the afternoon, the regular crowd, and then the families would start piling in for food and good company. Move this setting to another part of the country and there will be a tavern similar to this. It was an interesting time. It was where I met my first wife, my companion to-be for the next 24 years. That's a good teaser to end for now.

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