The post about Chicago bars got me to thinking about a 4 o'clock bar I spent some time in, and, more specifically, about the bartender who worked in that bar. I do not know the name of the bar and I don't much care, though I guess it'd be fun to know. I do not know the bartenders name, and about that I care very much.
1981. I lived in Chicago, on Walton, between Rush and Michigan, this building here
. I spent some time in a 4 o'clock bar that was within a four block walk of that condo, a bit west and a bit south. I think. It wasn't far from that whole Rush Street singles thing but light years away from it. It wasn't so much in a basement, but it was definitely downstairs. Maybe it was in a basement but it didn't have that sort of feel, just more a downstairs feel. It was dark and it was small. If I recall correctly it had a back entrance too. Mixed, black and white, 4 o'clock people, mostly men, at least late. No TV, not that I recall, no sports bullshit. No live music. I'm not sure if it was a good juke or not but it was great for me, I was pretty much obsessed with Billie Holiday, esp God Bless The Child
but really anything and she was all over that juke.
The barkeep? A black guy. Maybe a bit older than I, maybe thirty then, maybe sixty now. Sixty-two? I'd say if I was forced to that he wasn't terribly tall but I am not sure if that is accurate or not. He stuttered, not always but mostly in any exchange he'd stutter. I do not know his name. I know his eyes, that's what I see and that's what I saw then. He knew exactly who I was and he did not judge me at all. He knew what I was and I didn't yet but I could see it in his eyes maybe what I was. Knowing but without judging.
I've tried to find him, visits to Chicago, really ran it down hard about eight or ten years ago, missed him by a couple of months -- someone knew him, said that he was at this other bar, I went there and he was gone, and no one could tell me where. And with that I stood on that sidewalk and said "Okay, I quit." and gave it up to life -- it is what it is, let it go.
But now -- I belong to MetaFilter. Maybe I don't have to quit on it. Maybe I could thank him for his kindness and understanding. I really want to do this.
Do you know him? Can you put me in touch with him?