There is something special about daytime drinking. I am not talking about the weekend afternoon drinking in loud crowded sports bars where drunken fans cheer their favorite teams.
I mean drinking in a quiet neighborhood saloon. The ones owned by "mom and pop".
Those corner saloons were places of solace. You could while away time, watch a ball game, read a paper, magazine, book, or just stare at your drink pretending to think deep thoughts.
You could order a short beer if all you wanted was to cool off from the heat and humidity. Short beers seemed to have gone the way of telephone booths.
There used to be some great spots downtown too. They were in some of the diners, below street level. You could pop in while shopping, running errands, or escape from the office for a little while. There are one or two left.
The bars all smelled the same in the afternoon. Stale beer and tobacco odors. They were dark. The dark wood of the looming back bar added to the depth of darkness. The dark was cooling on a hot summer day.
Daytime drinking was not for getting drunk. It was one or two beers, and maybe a shot of whiskey, that you took your time drinking. Then, you went about your business.
There might be a couple of guys playing pool. The click of balls breaking the saloon silence.
Sometimes you could strike up a conversation with the one or two people at the bar. You might talk sports, jobs, your family, or anything and everything. In some of the saloons you could place a bet on the horses or a games.
Most of the good saloons are gone. The mom and pop places where the beer was so cold it hurt your teeth.
Places where you could get an honest shot and beer. Sometimes a table with a spread of lunch meat or ham on the bone and condiments to make sandwiches. There were pickled pigs feet, pickled eggs, and jars of pickles. A drinking man's culinary delight.
Old songs on the jukebox. Neighborhood people or local factory workers stopping in for a few.
Suburbanites who moved to the city ruined neighborhoods when they demanded the corner saloons be closed. It interfered with their sterile culture of manicured lawns and quiet leafy streets. They would rather drive a few miles to another neighborhood to get drunk and act stupid. Getting drunk and acting stupid in your own neighborhood is taboo. So is afternoon drinking. They do not want their golden spawn exposed to people leaving a saloon in the afternoon.
There are the high class saloons. The hotel bars. Where You can sip a Martini, Gibson, or Manhattan. Maybe a good Bourbon or Scotch. These are for Saturday and Sunday daytime drinking. You might stop in for one or two after church or brunch.
On Friday I decided to daytime drink. I was out shopping on Lincoln Avenue. On my way home I stopped in the Huttenbar, a German saloon. I ordered a German draft and a shot of Bourbon. Soccer was on television, Exeter versus Liverpool.
There were a couple of guys my age at the bar. We started talking about gambling. We reminisced about how easy it was to place a bet in Chicago some years back.
There were bookies everywhere. Most of the elevator operators in high rises were taking bets. Barber shops, taverns, and other places all would be willing to take your bet on anything.
Some hotels had people on staff who could place a bet for tourists. There was a firehouse on the Near West Side that ran a book. Even some cops took bets.
Gambling, drinking, carousing, was a way of life for many. I rarely gambled even though I knew where to place bets.
One guy I was talking to was named "Doc". You can't get more old school than that. We talked about going to the track, Sportsman's or Hawthorne to watch the ponies.
After two beers and one shot it was time to go. It was a nice hour spent with interesting conversation.
Daytime drinking is still a pleasant pastime.
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