Pass Not These Doors

April 25th, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Drinking Fountain JP Squeamishness comes with city life as surely as an urban provincialism.

A lot of years ago, a dear friend from high-school days and I used to walk Manhattan. That’s 14 miles tip to top, and about 10 miles from my West Village hovel.

Some days we walked…and drank…and walked. The sordid oases of McCann’s bars gave us a tad of rest, the sense of adult pleasures, and more personal contact than swapping gazes on the avenues.

Then, a shot of well whiskey was 60¢. We’d walk three or so miles (the rule of foot was 20 blocks of streets to a mile, and 10 blocks of avenues). Like leprechaun magic, a McCann’s would be in always in the middle of a block. It has a green sign and shamrock images. The bar was pitted but clean and okay, as were the johns.

The patrons knew each other but not us. The moment we took a stool though, we were fair game for chats. When they heard we walked up from the Village, everyone had a story from any of the past five decades about our neighborhood. As we had gone to high school in New Jersey, there were more stories.

We’d walk, talk, toss back a shot or two of bourbon and walk some more.

By the time Paula and I got to Washington Heights and the Cloisters, we were ready to see some filigreed fingers (relics) and hop on the A train for a stop at Victor’s (when it was still up on Columbus) for some black bean soup.

To my admitted failing, I have passed three JP dives for nearly 20 years, never entering. During that time, a friend from our Inc. magazine writing days, John, and I have met ever week or two to regale each other with wisdom and lies, and always beer.

I’d think as I’d walk by the locals that I had to try them, but did not until this week. Instead, we did the predictable. When we first moved to JP, we asked where to eat and drink. The strong consensus was invariably, “Doyle’s,” and “Doyle’s,” and “Doyle’s.”

I admit feeling uncomfortable there only twice, both times when I arrived after a died-in-the-line-of-duty cop’s funeral. Our boys in blue were there en masse. They were angry. They were armed. They were drunk.

Years later, Centre Street was pocked with yuppie food palaces and the Forest Hills Stretch of Hyde Park Avenue got fancy pizza/beer joint Dogwood Café. Meanwhile, at the request of various of our boys, we went to Doyle’s or Dogwood frequently.

I continued to bypass Foley’s Fireside, Griffin’s and the Drinking Fountain…until this week. John agreed to join me in likely the first of several pub staggers to the neglected stools of Washington Street/Hyde Park Avenue.

The first door we opened with the Drinking Fountain’s (above). More in the next post.

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One Response

  1. Rolfe says:

    Nice exploration and coverage. Good thing you didn’t ride your bike!

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