Just wrapped up a great hang with Frank who at 87 years old is still quite the raffish young man.
"100 years ago this place was hoppin with all the Merchant Marines coming in here on leave.We didn't have stools then cause the lads would get so drunk we were afraid they'd hurt themselves when they fell off.We'd just drag em out in the morning and leave em on the curb for the garbage collectors.Now we're here for the service industry folks.They gotta have a place they can come to when they get off so they can gripe about how tough they got it."
Each story ends with a vigorous"get the picture?"I nod and then he launches into a fresh tale of the old days of the French Quarter.He produces a picture of Vieux Carre,a fine dining restaurant he owned on Bourbon for 35 years."Oh,those were the days,the folks really got dressed up back then.Bourbon Street was classy."
I ask for details about Evelyn and he walks me around the bar and shows me some great old photographs."She was the old bitch and I'm the old bastard".
Evelyn was quite the looker in her youth with a thick mane of lustre-y hair,cigarette in one hand and cocktail in the other.She's been dead for a few years now but the old bastard carries on.
"The name of the joint is actually Stonehenge.We used to have so many sailors from the UK that we had to have a name they could relate to"
"You gotta earn your tips in this industry.Too many of these young bartenders just pour the drink and walk away.You gotta converse with these people.Give em something to talk about when they go home"
He tells me about how when he gets some young fillies[middle age women]in the bar he gets em behind the bar to pose with a bottle of liquor while their friends snap a picture.Then he pinches their rear and everybody has a good laugh.
Old school bartenders like Frank are getting hard to come by.I strongly recommend a visit to Evelyns Place.Walking in the history hits hard.Ancient stone floors,walls stained brown like old leather from all the smoke of decades past.The menu runs towards sandwiches each coming with a cup of Red Beans and Rice.A cup of Pabst Blue Ribbon will set you back 2 bucks,the conversation is free and there is a great jukebox with Louis Prima over in the corner.Frank tells me about how Louis met Keely Smith 50 or so years ago when she was a young broad busking on Bourbon St.He liked the way she sang and the rest became history.
It's time for me to leave so we say our goodbyes.Frank tells me about how when he was a young man 100 years ago he had an Indian motorbike with a sidecar to put all the young honeys in as he sported about town.He cautions me to be careful as I make my way back to Texas.There's a warmth and charm beneath the bluster that resonates in me as I ride across the Quarter through a gentle Summer rain.
Thanks nolacake I appreciate the tip.