Last week, Megan from Screamer's left a note on my year-end post, telling me where some of the late Screamer's regulars have landed. Lots of bars I've visited, it turns out, and one I'd never noticed, Larry J's.
I entered the bar, an extended South City bungalow, and didn't see any familiar faces. There wasn't a lack of friendly ones, though. Mark and I discussed Keno; I've never played, and he suggested I keep it that way. The bartender chided me to visit them, joking with me like I'd been there a hundred times.
When my friends arrived, we moved to a table where we could see the people at the bar, who were celebrating a regular's birthday, and the dart game in the back room. That's when we noticed all the hand-lettered signs: several informing patrons that the bar now accepts credit cards; one on the can crusher reminding people to make sure the cans are empty before crushing; and one on the jukebox with a curfew. A professional sign in the parking lot ruled no motorcycles allowed after 8 p.m.
Larry J's provided exactly what it should. Kindness, a smile and a place for friends to escape the craziness and the sadness.
Which is exactly what a good bar does.
Robin Wheeler writes the blog Poppy Mom and is a regular contributor to Gut Check. She also has a strange attraction to drinking establishments with jars of pickled -- or possibly fossilized -- eggs. She reports on these dives every Thursday.