Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
Thanks, gents, for your comments, most appreciated including the recollections of the Irish-American bar environment of some 30 years ago.
Sadly, that would be some 40 plus years ago. How time flies. If I may, though, I'll add one more story that sprang to mind today. It was in one of these Irish pubs in NYC that I saw my first dead person! I was only four or five years old and, as always, accompanied my father and uncle to an establishment that could shoehorn no more than about thirty people inside it. I remember the place well for two reasons: it had crushed peanut shells all over the floor (which I found amazing at the time because I could just throw the shells wherever I wanted) and the bartender would always run next door to an Italian joint whenever I showed up and return with two massive hot meatballs and warm bread for me, which he would allow me to eat at the bar with my coke and maraschino cherries. It always made me feel important, and the Irish brogues and music swirling around me seemed enchanting.

On this particular occasion, the patrons were holding a wake to celebrate the life of one of their dear friends, who happened to be laid out in an open casket along the wall across from the bar. The place was roaring with laughter, as they told stories about the deceased gentleman, who I knew quite well, if only from sight, having seen him in the pub many times before. I couldn't get my head around the notion that he was actually dead and everyone seemed to think it was funny, such was my five year old take on the situation. When I finally plucked up the courage to venture over and peek inside the casket, an old Irish guy came over to me and whispered in my ear, "It's okay, son. You can pet him. He won't bite you, that's for sure." And off he went, bellowing with laughter, as he walked to the men's room. Ah, the good old days!