“You sure do have a lot of cool little bars around here,” said the young stranger. “I’ve never been up this way before, but I might come back and hang out some time.”
This poor deluded creature was a foreigner from Anne Arundel County. She had traversed Curtis Creek, the mighty Patapsco River, and perhaps most dangerously of all, had passed by that carcinogenic pond by the old steel mill, just to buy my pool table.
“You should’ve seen the place about 40 years ago,” I told her. “Had almost as many bars as Highlandtown.”
“As many bars as who?” asked the foreigner.
But she was right: We do have a lot of cool little bars around Edgemere. And even though my Highlandtown comparison was a gross exaggeration—nobody has as many bars as Highlandtown—there was some truth in it. There really were a lot of bars around here at one time.
This got me to thinking about some recent bar talk.
A few months ago—summer, actually—after a long day of staring out the window and finally determining at sundown that the grass could go one more day without being cut, I piled up in the recliner to watch some TV.
As usual, there was nothing on, so I decided to head out to one of the few remaining bars in Millers Island.
I sat at the bar alone—as is my custom—and put down a few beers while I (go on, take a guess) watched the TV in the bar. There’s just no escaping it.
After about a half hour, a true local legend entered the bar. Old as hell, he’s lived in the area all his life. He knows everybody and everything about Edgemere, and all of southeastern Baltimore County, for that matter. He took the stool two doors down from me.
His drink was in front of him before his rear end hit the stool.
“How’s it going, Bobby?”
I could have said anything and Bobby would have merely nodded.
Finally a thought crossed my mind. A sure-fire, nod-blocking, authentic bar-talk conversation starter.
“You know there’s only three bars left now on the Island,” I said. “I can remember when there used to be 10.”
Bobby swiveled slightly on his stool to sort of halfway face me. His expression was one of interest. Or amusement. Or was he looking at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears?
Ah, now’s my chance to dazzle this guy with my great memory. I began to reel off the names:
“Well let’s see . . . we still have the White Swan, The Islander and Dock of the Bay, which used to be the Fisherman’s Inn, of course. Then there was Worster’s, Willie’s, The Riptide, Anderson’s Locust Grove, Walker’s, Ramona’s and . . . .” (I paused for dramatic effect, because nobody ever gets this one) . . . “The Sea Breeze.”
I eased back on my barstool and took a self-satisfied sip of beer. Old Bobby looked at me and smiled, no doubt impressed with my fantastic memory of local bar history. At last, I finally got more than just a nod out of him. What I got was:
“You left out four.”
When I heard those words I was in mid-gulp, causing my throat to catch slightly. Gears were reversed and some beer made its way up to and out of my nostrils.
Bobby went on:
“Let’s see . . . there was Jim and Ann’s, The Duck Inn . . .”
And, then, since I was basically fighting off asphyxiation throughout Bobby’s Millers Island bar history lesson, I didn’t catch those last two names.
Anybody out there know what they were? If so, drop me a line.