Tag Archives: NJ

Whadayamean, whadayamean?

Say it fast, it sounds funny.

Broken down this is a quintessentially Jersey response to someone asking “What do you mean?” (phonetically – Whadayamean?). It is the natural reply someone would give when they don’t quite understand what is being told to them.

To which you, or the person being queried responds, in exasperation, ‘Whaddayamean, ‘whaddaymean?’?!
Because you (or the person doing the explaining) can’t, at that moment, understand why there is a lack understanding on the receiving end (neccessitating yet another explaination).

It is a result of not understanding why the other person doesn’t understand or why they are asking (perhaps in exasperation themselves) ‘whaddaymean?’ Because you, yourself, don’t understand their lack of understanding.

It’s all very clear.

(follow the punctuation, folks. It is very telling).

Person1: Then, if you see the light on the VPN connector is still lit and connected, disconnect it.
Person2: Whaddaymean?
Person1: Whaddaymean, ‘whaddayamean?’?! If the connector is connected, disconnect it. Simple as that.
Person2: Oh. Got it.

Of Italian decent

Fig tree

Fig tree

I have a fig tree (ficus something-or-another) in my backyard that I am particularly fond of. I haven’t been able to determine exactly what species of fig it is, as a search turned up more varieties of ficus than I was prepared to investigate. Bro says it is a Petite Negro. I’ll go with that.

I take very good care of my fig tree. In fact, I may worry about it more than most of the other plant life in and around the compound. You see, this fig has a long history that dates back to Italy itself.

My fig tree started out as a cutting from a tree in my grandparent’s backyard in Union, NJ., sometime in the late 1990’s. That fig tree was more of a large, prolific bush-tree, as fig trees tend to get when planted in a good location. Protected on all sides by the two story brick homes that are the norm in that section of town, it was rooted in good soil and exposed to sun for most of the day. It was a prolific bearer of fruit.

My grandparent’s fig bush-tree began as a cutting from a tree that grew in my great-grandmother’s backyard in Irvington, NJ. That tree grew from a cutting that she had brought to America with her from Italy. Not sure how she was able to do that, perhaps with a gift to the inspector of a few dried figs and some prosciutto as a snack? Then again, at the time, the inspectors at Ellis Island were more concerned with human diseases coming in-country than they were with foreign plants.

All of my grandparents children (my mother, aunt and uncle) have a cutting from that tree, as do most of the grandchildren (my sister and cousins). I might be inclined to give out a cutting or two as gifts or in trade for an equally valuable clipping, but I am stingy with them. Just can’t go gifting heirloom fig cuttings like they grow on trees, ya’ know?

Fig trees love sun – the more the better. They can tolerate some fairly poor soil, so long as they have water and sun. Not too much water, they don’t want wet feet, but my fig can slurp up a good 2-3 gallons per week, easily.

Growing a fig tree in NJ can be difficult. I would love to be able to plant my fig tree in the ground and let it achieve its full potential, but the winter wind will turn it into firewood before the spring. NJ winters are not fig-friendly and special care is needed to keep them alive. Some folks go so far as to bury their fig tree over the winter, but that is way too much work for my limited schedule and aging back.

Mine is growing in a half whiskey barrel (fitting, don’t you think?). I move it into the garage after the leaves drop in the fall, wrap up the bottom snug with corrugated cardboard and let it go dormant.

When spring arrives I expose it to as much sun as I can, until the threat of frost is past (usually after Mother’s Day, in these parts). Then I move it outside and carefully monitor the weather for the following few weeks, so as not to be surprised by a frost. If temps dip too low, or if a frost warning is issued, I build a tent and lovingly cover my fig tree with flannel blankets.

Yes, flannel blankets. Wouldn’t you like to be swaddled in flannel if you had to spend a evening outside with the threat of frost about?

That is more work than I do for any other herbaceous life, anywhere. It sounds like a chore, but if you watch the weather and don’t bring out your fig too early, you might only have to do it a couple of times. After that, the fig only needs water, a little lime and some fertilizer to take care of itself.

I’d be interested to know if the parent fig trees are still alive. I hope so. They have propagated quite a legacy.

Joe Perry is the coolest guy in rock and roll

Joe Perry

I don’t know Joe personally, but I have seen enough of him to postulate a theorem.  And until I am proven otherwise, I will stand by my statement.

Joe Perry is one of those guys who is just naturally cool.  He is not overt in his actions or words, dress or style.  Even when he is up on stage, he appears relaxed, almost stand-offish, sleeves cuffed up, sure of himself, cool.

Not Jazz cool; Rock cool.  He usually dresses in black, which is, and always will be, cool.  Sure, the riffs are red hot (Train kept a rollin’), but he can also belt out something equally intriguing on a more subtle scale (Janie’s got a gun) and with little effort.

Like most people, I would only be making a statement based on what I have seen on MTV, VH1 or heard on the radio, if not for the critical fact, FACT, that I stood not more than 20 feet from Joe Perry at an intimate venue near the NJ shore.

I will elaborate.  It was 1985, I think.  Aerosmith had just regrouped after a long hiatus that almost caused the unfortunate demise of one of the greatest rock bands to ever have spawned in this country.  The band hit the road and began playing some smaller clubs around the area.  Somehow I found myself at the Fountain Casino (Rt. 35, Aberdeen, NJ) fighting the crowd for an overpriced Jack and coke in a plastic Dixie cup and a place near the stage.

Although I will be the first to admit my memory from those times might be somewhat obscured by the bluish-gray haze of smoke, I have imprinted on my mind the opening number.

I was pressed against the people in front of me and hoping it was the blonde chick in the tight miniskirt pressed up behind me.  It was hot, humid, smelled like cheap booze and stale cigarette smoke  (because you could smoke inside the clubs back then.  No, no one cared about your lungs).

Then the house went dark and the crowd hushed up, a little.  I could see movement on stage as the band took their places.  There was a brief pause and then someone counted off. The opening notes were struck simultaneously by bass, guitar and drummer, the lights flared on and there, in all their farking glory was Aerosmith, within spitting distance, belting out the most appropriate tune from their repertoire for their triumphant return.


Tyler’s rip-saw voice tore through the house as we loyal, adoring fans, threw our arms in the air and reveled in the onslaught of sight and sound.

Tyler and Perry wore long, white aviator scarfs around their necks that were blown back from the force of the floor fans.  The stage may have been smaller than they were used to, but that didn’t seem to bother them.  They belted out tune after glorious hard rock tune.  They were indeed baaaack and we were all feeling damn good about it.

I don’t want to take anything away from any of the other members.  In a band, no one is an island.  You don’t get to be the greatest American Rock and Roll band without a kick ass drummer – Joey Kramer; a rock solid bass player – Tom Hamilton; and a tight wing man on the guitar – Brad Whitford.

Steven Tyler, true to any legendary Rock front man, is a blog item unto himself.

I’m sure there are other people in Rock that are cool, but I’d bet not as cool as Joe Perry.  If you watch Perry, on stage or in interviews, he just exudes that laid back, who-gives-a-fark, light-me-another-smoke-and-let-me-play-my-farking-ax attitude.

I hear he’s a damn good short order cook, too.

Taylor Ham

– or Pork Roll – call it what you will.
For those readers not enlightened, let me begin by explaining what Taylor Ham is (other than a good name for a Country music star).

Taylor ham is, by simple definition, a pork product.  Not exactly ham, but a reasonable facsimile thereof.  It is made exclusively in NJ and as far as the ‘Taylor Ham’ brand name, only in Trenton, NJ.  Trenton is the state capital, but producing Taylor ham is a much better accomplishment than housing the politico of this state, I assure you.

Taylor hams travel well, keep for an extended period, even if not refrigerated properly,  survive relatively unchanged in melted cooler water and thus make for damn good camp chow.

The Case company also manufactures a pork product similar in appearance, heft, bulk, size, shape, form, taste and texture.  Either way, the pork product comes wrapped in a cloth bag.   That, in turn is hermetically sealed in plastic. For better shelf life, and all.

Novel, yes.  Conducive to breakfast preparation while in the woods? No.

Now that all of that is clear, let me get on with my observations and statements:

Pretty cool, don't you think? All Jersey.

Pretty cool, don’t you think? All Jersey.

Pork roll tastes pretty good and as such, is a much sought after breakfast meat.  However, in no way does it make itself easily available to the preparer of breakfast.  In addition to the pork roll preparer being hungover, sleepy, cold and bitchy, the pork roll endeavors to add to the morning burden.

taylor ham 5

Properly prepared Taylor ham. Obviously not done over a camp fire.

How so, you ask?

First, the heat shrink plastic covering could trick you into slicing open your fingers with the sharp knife you are hacking away with, thus negatively effecting your ability to use said fingers for the rest of the trip, and beyond.

Second, the cloth bag, thoroughly soaked with fat and clinging to the pork roll like a sausage skin, defies being peeled back with hungover, sleepy, cold and bitchy fingers.

Third, slicing the farking pork roll into proper thickness results in the inevitable hack job of too thick, half slices, quarter pieces and all combinations of those.  (But after looking at it in print, I realize that may be the best way to cook it).

Lastly the pork roll slices must be slit around the edges, so that it lays flat on the griddle.  Otherwise, you have these puckered up disks that need to be flattened repeatedly with the spatula.  Even then, the slices may not lay flat.  This results in a pork roll slice that is burned in some spots, not so burned in others and despite being at least 75% fat, not exuding enough grease to cook eggs.

I am well aware that some pork roll comes pre-sliced and packaged.  But I have found it doesn’t cook up the same as a solid log of pork roll does.  It must be something with the extra preservatives or something.  That, or the farking pork roll itself is intentionally going the extra step to not cooperate.  So if you are going to eat pork roll, get yourself a 3 pound log and prep it yourself.

GFY, pork roll, Taylor ham or otherwise.  Sure, you taste good, but what a farking pain in the ass you are.

Jesus is just alright with me

This is a link to a great version of this song by the Doobie Brothers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3aYJibxMOQ&feature=related

Here’s a shock for you all – I teach 7th grade Religious Education for my church. Believe me, it often takes me by surprise, too.  Mostly when I am not prepared for the evening lesson.

Right about the time my daughter was conceived, I began my journey back towards my faith and God.  I put aside my old rhetoric about hypocrisy, money and other crap and just focused on being a good Catholic.  It worked for me.  It worked for my family, as we wanted to raise our daughter in a faithful way.

One day, at the end of mass, the Deacon asked if anyone would like to help out as a hall monitor.  Being that I was going to be bringing my daughter to CCD, and wanted to help out in the church a little more than just tithing, I volunteered.  Easy, I thought.  Make sure the kids are out of the halls and can find the bathroom.

Then one day I mentioned to the right person, that if they needed someone to fill in as a substitute teacher, I would be willing to give it a shot.  Two days later the Deacon asked me to teach a class.  Not just any class, but the 7th grade.  For the whole year.

And really, how do you say ‘no’ to the Deacon?

So I got my materials together, mentally prepared myself the best I could and showed up at the school.  As I was walking down the hall to my first class, I ran into a friend that also teaches religious ed.  When I told her where I was headed she replied, ‘7th grade?  Good luck, they’re the worst bunch to teach.

Oh, brother. What have I gotten myself into now?

So, I went into class with the mentality that it was going to be difficult to keep the kids focused (and it is, very much so).  Drawing from everything I have ever experienced, the way you keep a bunch of unruly kids in order is to lay down the law – in a clear, firm, non-jocular and paramilitary manner.

That works for about the first three classes.

One of my famous quotes – “Sure as I am standing here, you will remember me saying this to you”  (I say that because it sounds so ominous).  “Some day you are going to need to know how to pray.  Life is like that.  And what are you going to do when that time comes?  Stand there and say, ‘oh, geez, God, I, uh, well, uh, I don’t know what to say….how’s it goin’ up there?’  A lightening bolt will fly out of a cloud and fry you on the spot!”

For the most part they are good kids.  For the most part.  Some are more good than others.  I wouldn’t call them dumb or naive, not by a long shot.  But they are not street savvy.  So I try to spice up my weekly hot air sessions with little vignettes from my long, checkered and oft times misspent life.  They seem to like that, but I have to be careful what I say so they don’t decide to begin a ‘Birdlife’ of their own.

(Hey Teacher, I tried to make grease bread on the stove over the weekend.  Mom says the I ruined two pounds of bacon and Dad said I almost burned the house down…)

They throw some tough questions at me that I have to give serious thought to (on the fly, no less) so that I can formulate a lucid answer.

‘Was Hitler (or Osama binLadel) the Devil?’   No, but I am sure they are speaking to him right now.

‘Do aborted babies go to heaven?’    Everyone goes to heaven.  Jesus made sure of it.

‘Will I see my pet dog in heaven?’    As long as he didn’t pee on the carpet, ever.

‘Why do some people die young and others not?’    When their job is done here, God calls them home.

‘It says ‘thou shall not kill’, so what about eating animals?‘    The tastier something is, the more ok it is to eat them.

‘Do you believe in ghosts?’     For that one I usually break into a tale of the NJ Pinelands, foggy cedar swamps and the notorious Jersey Devil.

Being that they are only between 12 and 14, there are a lot of things that are very difficult to explain to them because they have not experienced life yet.  So it is a challenge to distill a response into language and terms that a pre-teen can understand.

I never, ever discuss sex.  I don’t even mention the word.  In all seriousness I am not comfortable talking about it, I don’t feel it is my place and I am not interested in answering questions about it.  Not ever.  They will find out about that whole world soon enough on their own.  No need to complicate things any further for them.

I try to get them to understand that their faith is important, but that they will come to understand that in their own time frame, like I did.  That being said, I also let them know that when they decide to get their heads out of their asses and look to the sky searching for God, that putting forth a little effort now will go a long way towards their enlightenment then.

It’s difficult because they don’t view CCD as regular school and think that it is mostly an hour and a half of boredom.  I understand that, but it is my job to push past that and get them to understand some basics about their faith.

On the last day of class I bring in ice cream sandwiches (the round ones, not the cheap rectangles wrapped in tissue paper) to try and make up for being rough on them all year.  I don’t think it helps much.  Inevitably the ice cream melts and coats everything from their hands, to their desks, to their books.  And there is always one kid that doesn’t eat ice cream.  I just can’t get past that.  What kid, let alone one out of each class, doesn’t like ice cream?

So, you are free to call me a hypocrite, Sisters Nancy, Gale and Elizabeth.  I certainly have earned it.  You can gloat at me getting my comeuppance after the disinterest I showed in your classes.

However (of course there is going to be a ‘however’…) something must have gotten through, perhaps via osmosis –

(Osmosis – molecular movement from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration via a semi-permeable membrane, like my skull)

– because when I decided to get my head out of my ass and look skyward I not only found Him, but saw that He was pleased with my return.

Camping in the Pines

The vast Pine Barrens of NJ became our new area of operation and would remain so for many years to come.  One thing was sure – there was a lot of wilderness out there.

As we explored, both on foot and with our vehicles, we needed to keep our bearings and remember where we came from.  I had grown up hearing stories about people getting hopelessly lost out in the Pines.  Once you are out there, you understand.  One sand road looks just like all the others.  Those short pine trees and gnarly oak scrub don’t have any discerning features like a deciduous forest does.  It was all too easy to take a wrong turn and be walking away from your truck or camp, instead of towards it.  And all the time thinking that it will be around the next turn.

It is easy to get deep into the woods out there.  Dollar is one of the most gifted dead-reckoning people I have ever met, and many times led us back to camp after being out hunting all day.  But we had a few tricks we used to keep us from becoming a statistic.

When we came to a trail crossing or intersection, we would draw an arrow into the sand pointing in the direction we came from.  This might seem like a no-brainer, but the locals could tell you more than a few stories about folks that neglected to do so and were lucky to come back out alive.  Going out with a full tank of gas, or following your tracks backwards were helpful.  Knowing what your tire tread and/or boot tread looks like helps along those lines.  Keeping a good survival kit in your pocket is a must.  Compass reading skills we learned in Boy Scouts were good for giving us general direction.  It took a couple of long hikes, but we learned our way around in short order.

A lot of the smaller roads and trails out there get started during forest fires, when the Rangers come in with special vehicles that are capable of plowing through even the densest of brush.  Then, the locals come in and begin using the newly cleared areas to explore, hunt or ride dirt bikes.  Most of them (most) cross other trials at some point, but there is little rhyme or reason to the layout.

The County Line trail is an arrow straight scratch through the scrub.  It runs exactly on the border between Burlington and Ocean counties.  I have ridden my mountain bike for miles on this trail, encountering very few cross trails.  This one trail alone can take you so deep out into the scrub that you could, inside of two hours, be miles from any standing water or paved road.

And this was where we would retreat for anti-social activities.

We moved our camp to a clearing off the side of the road.   There was an old rut running through the clearing that became our fire pit.  Off to one side was an area of slightly higher ground thick with grass.  We put our tent there.

It was a good campsite.  The clearing allowed us plenty of room to setup and move around.  We even had a shooting range, where countless pumpkins, rutabagas, apples and stale loaves of bread were blasted to tiny pieces.

One thing about the crew camping out – no matter what camp might look like on Sunday morning, it was spotless when we left.  SPOTLESS.  We were strict about not leaving anything behind except firewood, and there usually wasn’t much of that left either.

We cooked over a fire.  We didn’t bring propane or Sterno.  That stuff cost money, added weight and who needed it anyway?  Boy Scouts had taught us that we could survive just fine with a wood fire.  It cooked our food, provided heat and light and was a good focal point for the evening.  “Better than TV.” Dollar declared once.

True that, brother.

These pictures – we were set up real good.  We had brought 3 bales of straw out with us.  One bale was broken up and went under the tent.  It provided a warm, dry and well padded underlay for the tent.  The other two bales were stacked up beneath a wind break that we built out of 2×4’s and a plastic sheet.  At night, with the fire going full blast, the windbreak trapped and reflected heat back.  It was very comfortable.

You can see that Dollar is well content, as the Studogger gazes off at something of interest.  That chopping block in the foreground is the stump of a double-trunk tree we dragged out. It functioned perfectly; split wood on one side, bury ax in the other.   In back of that is our ‘ground table’.  A length of 2×10 nailed to two shorter pieces to keep it above the dirt and stable.  To the left of that is our fire pit.  The contraption that the coffee pot is hanging from is a device I made (I worked in a wire fabrication shop at the time).  It was two uprights that get stuck into the ground, and a cross-piece that hooks across the top.  Metal hooks suspend the coffee pot, 8 qt. pot and a smaller tea pot above the flames.  Under the coffee pot is our cast iron griddle – with a six-pack of pancakes getting ready to be eaten.

If you look closely, between Dollar and Studogg is another table.  Another brainstorm of the ever-scheming Dollar, it is a board nailed to a log. It functioned admirably, as you can see.

We spent several camping/hunting trips at that site.  It served us well, up until one Sunday morning when the local dirt bike militia came roaring through camp and almost took out the fire pit.  We watched in hung-over, quasi-interest as Yamaha 250’s and KZ 125’s rolled, dodged, bounced and crashed all around us.  Not a word was spoken on anyone’s part.  The crew, well, we were a little beaten up from the previous night’s activities.  The dirtbikers were clad from head to toe in all manner of personal brush guards, so they couldn’t get an audible word out.

There were no obscene gestures on anyone’s part, either.  I like to think that it was a case of mutual respect – you find that out there (sometimes).  Both parties being of equal fortitude to survive the unforgiving scrub, you naturally have respect for each other.  But the fact might have been that there were so many dirtbikers, maybe a dozen of the knobby wheeled mutha’s.  As far as the Birdcrew was concerned, well, we had shotguns.  And .22 rifles.  And plenty of ammo.  We generally didn’t fear intrusions.

All kidding aside, if any of those bikers had decided to stick around instead of roaring off into the scrub, they would have been invited to a hot mug of coffee and a plate of pancakes topped with cherry pie filling (as evidenced by Dollar, here. The rubber overalls and boots? That is called ‘learned conditioning’ from the Thanks-giv-o-fest washout).

But dirtbikers and their trails, wheel ruts and impromptu morning visitations were not to our liking.  Change was in the air.

The Liberty Tavern – Revisited

I had occasion to visit one of my favorite bars yesterday evening, the illustrious Liberty Tavern.

The Lib has changed a lot from when I first discovered its dimly lit and sparsely stocked, mint green painted interior.  Changed for the better, to be sure.  I would say it has brightened up a bit (but not too much), food is available (proper pub chow) and you can expect to be in mixed company (so watch yer manners, boy).

Some things I noticed last night on the plus side of the equation:

  • The pool table is still there and center stage (for uninhibited play).
  • The jukebox has a fine selection of good ol’ rock music.
  • The shuffleboard table is in place, properly blessed with whatever it is they bless it with;  and free.  Bravo.
  • There are still some moldings and door jambs with the original mint green paint.
  • A great bartender.  Thanks for the shot, Ron.
  • A good representation of locals.  Nice to meet you, Mikey T.

Some things on the minus side:

  • The phone booth looks to be more of a prop or storage for holiday decorations than a working device.
  • The dart board was down.

I am quite fond of the old neighborhood bar.  A place that has been there since forever, that everyone knows, is comfortable, low key, always has a cold beer on tap and a shot waiting.  The kind of place where your dad, and maybe even his dad used to hang out.  A place that has witnessed the changes of the neighborhood around it, while keeping its hallowed status.

I’m sure you will join me, as I raise my glass and toast the Liberty Tavern.  A fine drinking establishment.  SLAINTE!

Some regular readers will recall the post below that I cut/pasted from the 2011 page.

The Liberty Tavern

As long as we are on the subject of imbibement and our favorite establishments for imbibing, I felt it only respectful to mention the Liberty Tavern, or The Lib, as it was know to those of us who imbibed there regularly.

The Lib was very much your typical local tavern. Indeed it had been there since the ol’ man’s younger years. A stalwart of the neighborhood, it was the kind of place that opened at 9 am, to accommodate the night shift.

It was circa 1981. I remember coming home, shortly after moving to our new home in Onion, NJ and regaling the ol’ man with tales of this great place I found.

“Oh, the Lib? Yeah, I used to drink there when I was your age. Are the walls still that same color green they use in the high school?”

Actually, yes, they were, at the time. I was drinking there for years before they painted them.

The Lib was a great bar to cut your teeth on.  It was easy walking distance from home, safe, low-key and cost effective.  But it was not the place where you would go to meet girls.  In fact, it was years before a female within our age range walked in.

When the ‘crew and I first began frequenting the Lib, a 6 oz. glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon draft cost ten cents.  No, I didn’t miss-key.  Ten cents.  And every third glass was on the house.  Where the hell are you going to find a place that does that anymore?  There were other perks, as well.  If the drink or shot of booze you ordered was the last one out of the bottle, it was free.  Between that and other patrons buying me drinks, there were times when I have went into the lib with $10, walked out a few hours later, puked in the parking lot and still had change in my pocket.

In the beginning, the choices of libations were few.  There was Fleischman’s gin and vodka, Calvert whiskey (which sucks), a few cordials and schnapps, maybe bottle of VO or Canadian Club.  Booze from another era, to be sure.  But the clientele was of the older crowd.  I was the first to ask them to stock Jack Daniels.  Then, as time went on and more people my age found out about my little hideaway, the liquor choices grew.  The Lib may have started out as an ‘old man’s bar’ but by the time the ‘crew and I were done it had transformed.

As far as entertainment went, there were three things constant – the pool table, the shuffle board and the juke box.  Pinball machines, video games and the dart board came and went.  But at least you could count on the two standards.  The juke box didn’t contain a song, not one, which I wanted to hear.  In fact, I didn’t recognize most of the artists listed.

The pool table was an old 6 foot bar table.  It’s exactly what you would expect in an old bar.  The felt was green/blue faded to gray, but in good shape.  The frame was scratched and worn, but sturdy.  And this was one of the few bars where you could find a queue that was straight.  Smacking the queue on the side of the table because you screwed up a shot was frowned upon.

When I first frequented the Lib, there was an old guy, Eddie that would play one handed and beat you, or anyone else, every time.  He would even use the short stick for fun.  Unfortunately this was well before the snooker playing era in my life.  The lib was a nest of very good pool players and I could have learned a few things.  My friend Ziggy, however, would jump right in and battle for his every shot.  Zig did learn a few things from those old guys.

There was a tiny, smelly bathroom with an undersized window that was always opened, even in the winter.  The walls were cracked plaster, painted over about a dozen times and the floor was little squares of white and black tile, also cracked.  There was sticker on the mirror from the town Health Department commanding that ‘Every employee must wash hands before returning to work.’ Every word was crossed out except for ‘Every employee must work.’

This was where I first encountered the ‘ice filled urinal’.  I just couldn’t get that.  Why did they put ice in the urinal?  Sure, it was a welcome distraction, blasting the individual cubes to their demise, like some kind of post-consumption video game, but I couldn’t see any other purpose.  And what bar or bartender is going to be thinking along those lines anyway?

“Let’s put a scoop of ice cubes into the urinal to give the boys something to do while they’re standing there.”

Not likely. A few years later that I found out it was a way of keeping the smell down, albeit not a very good one.

The Lib had a phone booth.  Not just a pay phone on a wall, but an actual booth where you could sit down, close the door, light up a smoke (you were allowed to smoke in bars back then and the booth had an exhaust fan) and jot down notes (there was also a small shelf).  The phone book was even in good enough shape to use.  It had a working phone number, so you could also receive calls.  You could order a pizza and have it delivered to the bar (Again, this was back in the 80′s, well before cell phones had been conceived).

Eventually life took me away from Onion, NJ and the Lib.  Once in a while I would stop back in, on my way back from the airport or to meet up with my friend Ziggy.  Of course, the bar had changed considerably.  Even the shuffle board was removed. The pool table was still there. The clientele had completely switched over to a younger, louder crowd, complete with girls.  Even the bartenders are younger than me. Blenders whirl, fruity bullshiate drinks are the norm and you won’t find any old dudes in the corners hunched over a shot and a beer.  There is not a bottle of Calvert or Fleishman’s anything on the shelf.

If you are flying past the town of Onion on Route 78 east, about a mile after the Maplewood exit (whatever number that is) and you look through the break in the sound barrier that is the entrance ramp, you can see the neon bar signs.  If you’re so inclined, stop in sometime.  Tell them you know me.  They won’t know who the hell you are talking about, but it might get you a laugh.

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