“In life we all have an unspeakable secret"

Ande Bliss

Ande Bliss
November 04
Essays, poetry, opinion and short stories. Free lance on line and in print. Favorite quote: "In life we all have an unspeakable secret, and irreversible regret, an unreachable dream, and an unforgettable love.” ― Diego Marchi Personal Website:


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MAY 8, 2012 6:35PM


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 This post was inspired by jlsathre's story today entitled: ICE IN MY WINE.  

My parents were not so proper Bostonians. Although dad went to  Harvard and he and mom had tickets for the Boston Symphony on Thursday nights, they were uncomfortable with the uppity folks and fancy restaurants. Frankly, I think the cost of white tablecloths was a bit much from my frugal father.We moved to the suburbs.

My parents enjoyed tavern and pub dining. They knew their bartenders by name, and the bartenders, in turn, knew what they liked to drink. Mom had scotch on the rocks, Dad drank Crown Royal.  It was a limited libation, but they were always happy when they had a wee taste with dinner.

When I was in college, at the University of Massachusetts, I spent many of my happy hours at frat house bars and rathskellers. Didn't do much for my grade average or my weight. After that it was coffee houses and that shtik. I gained 20 lbs in my freshman year. It was not all about the was about freedom, french fries, burgers and beer.

After vomiting on mother's sabbath table, end of freshman year,  I gave up drinking for a long time. But still preferred pubs to chain restaurants and bistros. I only drink beer on occassion summer days preferred. Wine with dinner is still a staple.

Fortunately for me, both of my husbands enjoyed the local dining thing and we visited pubs wherever we traveled. My favorite were in Ireland, although I must say that New England has it's share. In order to become a regular you have to show up pretty often, which is not good unless you know when to leave and how to get home. They can become too chummy.

Three of my favorite pubs in the world are pictured below:



The first is the Tan Hill Yorkshire UK.:

The day we arrived the wind was howling and the rocks were near the color of the sky.  Someone was yelling: Heathcliffe!

Rain pelted us and we had to park in the rear of the building in order to open the car door. Two huge dogs (no kidding) were sleeping in front of a massive fire place. It was heaven.

I was thinking of asking you all to go there with me for a writers workshop...problem is that is haunted, as well as nearly impossible to find. But we could arrange it. I am sure. It would be an experience you would never forget.





This of course is the Bull and Finch Pub....aka CHEERS. A Boston Pub setting which was on TV forever. Might still be there in re-run. A place where everyone knows your name. Today it remains as a tourist destination, but the sit-com was delightful. And so I have to give it a thumbs up. 



 Dan Foley's pub in County Kerry. We stayed in the B & B for the purpose of hiking in the heather. Do not laugh. It is very difficult to come down a hill with a heather blanket hiding nasty holes and rocks. Best part of that trip was stepping out of the pub into a herd of cattle being driven down the main street. Yes, I was sober. The reason Dan Foley's pub is famous is prior to IT, all pubs in Ireland were white (so I am told). 

Dan Foley's Pub,County kerry, Ireland | Flickr - Photo Sharing! 


On a more serious note, when the dark days descended on my life back in the 1980s I found that going out to breakfast in local coffee shops gave me a jump start on the day.  The comraderie at the counter, not unlike tavern friends...someone to talk to..a destination.It took a while to get past "mornin" to "think it'll rain?" ...but even though months pass between visits, I am still greeted as though I had just been there. The waitress asks if I still want my coffee with cream, my eggs scrambled well, and my wheat toast with butter on the side.

Yup...that's what I like. A place where everybody knows your name.



























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Nice, with good illustrations. Pubs are always more fun than restaurants with starched cloths.

Do you mean to say your father drank Crown Royal Canadian whisky? Royal Crown is a cola. Just noticed it as I love Crown Royal.
Yes, Mary..he drank Crown Royal Whiskey. Have had a terrible time with this post. This is not what I planned..but spent hours and then OS quit. Whatever showed up...??? Thanks for finding it. :)
Thanks for this, which comes at an appropriate time for me. I found out this week that my local, my home-away-from-home, almost my entire social life, is closing soon and moving a few miles away. Way too far to walk, outrageous taxi cost, and the thought of driving but not drinking does not appeal either. Maybe we can organize a shuttle bus.

You don't miss what you got 'til it's gone
Where in County Kerry? I was there during my honeymoon thirty years ago. Gorgeous area. Drove the Ring of Kerry, stayed on the Dingle Peninsula (and drove the Connor Pass to get to dinner, with a tiny left-side standard transmission car - NOT easy).
Where in County Kerry? I was there during my honeymoon thirty years ago. Gorgeous area. Drove the Ring of Kerry, stayed on the Dingle Peninsula (and drove the Connor Pass to get to dinner, with a tiny left-side standard transmission car - NOT easy). be here: Anascaul, Co. Kerry...and it is for sale at 250...whatever. I'm in for 25 if you can raise the rest. But then one of us would have behind the bar and tell fuuny stories. :) be here: Anascaul, Co. Kerry...and it is for sale at 250...whatever. I'm in for 25 if you can raise the rest. But then one of us would have behind the bar and tell fuuny stories. :)
I always wanted to be a front man at a pub but since I only drink Champagne it never seemed like a viable alternative to my office day job.

These shots, your notes - lovely. A pause in my day like a visit to a pub.
Loved Cheers and miss it tremendously.

In 1971, I left a small, rural town in Oklahoma to move west, to California. At the time, my father owned a corner grocery store that was a virtual hub of real people doing real people things; communicating, smiling, sharing and everyone knew everyone by their first names except of course, the children and teens were still expected to maintain the typical southern social grace of referring to adults as Mr. and Mrs., a social grace that was rarely left unchecked in a quite severe manner if one failed to adhere to the expected, e.g. a ringing in the ears after a swift hand to the side of the head.

The store, even before it was owned by my dad, was a place where the community members could obtain food on finance-free credit simply by asking and when they could pay, they would; no questions asked, no suspicious glances, no worries. There was even a huge, free-standing, cast iron, grated stove that was used to heat the little store, at which people would stand and warm themselves, often entering the store for that sole purpose during the brutal, windy, icy winters of Oklahoma.

Almost immediately upon moving to California, I began to miss that and still do; immensely. There is a magic in people, one they often don’t even realize they have, a magic of simply sharing a small world that almost transcends life itself.

I relay that story to my wife and daughter who are both extremely urbanized and they look at me like I’m some hillbilly from Mars; I suppose it’s an experience, not a story, but that experience as you so well expressed is one that is virtually unforgettable.
I just love that you went to "rathskellars!" Thanks much for a great post.
Nice post. It puts in mind of the pub scenes in my favorite movie: "The Quiet Man." Where is Barry Fitzgerald when you need him? R
Let's go tavern, pub and bar hopping, Ande. You found some in Ireland that I missed.
Boomer, you made my heart sing. I too.. love those places. On my way to play golf...I stop at a country store in E. Kingston NH to get a coffee to go. No one says "have a nice day" ...they say '' mornin'...and smile. I sit on the front steps and sip my cuppa before I meet the girls. What a life! It is just so fine. So fine. Lucky you to have grown up in the magic of a small world. Nothin' like it. :)
jl...anytime..Call me. I am so up for another 'crawl'. Let's go to visit Kim in Australia...Never been there. We can stop by and pick up the B.Princess...whadda you think?
@ Ordinary Joe...I am sorry. The shuttle bus sounds good. Never drink and drive. Taverns are a way of life for some. Those who scorn, don't know. Humans are social animals. We seek companionship.
Few are true hermits. OS is an on line tavern.
@ nilesite: The problem is they have to put up with all of the sob stories and such. Working there is so different from visiting. It is like owning a B&B...a thousand good mornings. And then they clean the dishes. For us who visit is a 'trip'. Not so for those who are trying to earn a living there.
Jennifer...I was a pub crawling, almost hippy, on the verge of....and then I got married. Too young. It is amazing I have lived this long.
Many pubs to visit..many more roads to travel.
"Let's go visit Kim in Australia ..." OMGawd you don't know what you just bit off there !
I'd be glad to put you up, & then I'd take you to The Greengate, stage of many a barney, then down to the 19th hole at Killara Golf Club, & onto a ferry to The Rocks. If we're lucky we'd wake up somewhere close to The Steyne, & start again !
A great post, Ande, in the spirit o' the thing, & the likes of it will never be there again, begorrah !
Gerald..I am a fool for anything Irish. Gawd only knows how that came about. I have not seen the Quiet Man, but did a quick read on the net before answering you. There is a thing about the Irish..they are insanely brilliant in the arts... have suffered so...but twinkle like no other. One pub I visited was in Baltimore Ireland...oh that was another day when the wind blew you across the stones and the door slammed in your the bar were two leprechauns....and I was their bait..... (another story).......
that's very cute and funny ande. I'll tell you why in a pm. I've never been to Ireland, but they tell me a lot of the Irish live there.
Gee Whiz Kim...I'll be kissing my pillow tonight. Hmmm.....

Now about the Irish and their writing prowess.. like none other.

I hope that you have read the authors from the Great Blasket Island. My favorites. There are none better: A quote follows:

"An old woman sat up in bed in Dingle Hospital. Her hair was carefully combed. As she sat in state, her sightless eyes vaguely alternating with her ears in sifting the occasions of the ward, a flock of schoolboys crowded to the stairhead and spilled quietly into the room.

As four boys walked forward, nuns and nurses watched carefully. One of the boys spoke in Irish.

'Peig Sayers', he said, 'we offer you this small gift as a mark of our esteem' …chun méid ár measa a chur in iúl duit…

He thrust his gift into the blind woman's hands. The tears came down the old features. Peig Sayers of the Blasket Island, one of the great narrators of the wonder-tales of Gaelic Ireland, and a superb natural actress was on her deathbed.

In gratitude she stretched out her hands to read and caress the boy's face."

I love them all. Please read if you have not. Start with Paig and go to the Island Man. Easy to find on Google. I have the entire collection. Just owning the books is a wonder. Imagine living on a barren island in the North Atlantic ....

I was able to cross and visit this place. It is incredible.
Ben Sen..I read y0ur PM. The pub is for sale. Buy it and I will come. Promise. Really, I promise. I'll rent a room for a month and write there. I might even bring my husband. I've been thinking about a month in Kinsale...but Annascaul would be just fine. :) Imagine.
[r] heartwarming read from you once again, Ande. Nice reminiscing. I so relate to enjoying the social warmth as well as good honest cooking and drinking of the more working class establishments. My weakness generous breakfasts at seemingly greasy spoons. best, libby :-)
I have an enormous love of pubs from my six years in Newfoundland.
I drank Guinness on draft in a imperial pint.
Miss them terribly.
Thanks for the memories Ande. Love the thoughts of going to Ireland one day. Like this post dear....
I love the camaraderie of a" regular" place. One of the nicest things about eating out, especially in new places. Irish pubs are about the friendliest places around.
ps any good pubs in County Cork? Father's side of family came from there. never got to visit though was in limerick city then dublin for a quick fly thru long ago. pubs fun though closed early. liked the music and the patron singing, where people didn't mind holding forth whether or not they could begin to carry a tune. Warm beer? Not fond of beer, anyway. best, libby
Oh hurray...celebrate pub life. I love it. When I was younger, I drank at the Old Monk in London and had a few at the Royal Dublin. Here in PDX we drink at Mcmenamins. Right on.
@ Libby...thank you for you reading this. It was not my final post but after three tries I just let it go. What a day...
@ Mission...Guinness intrigues. It looks like root beer...but not. I think I might like it better cold?
@ Lea...There are none better. It's the blarney, but I love it. Gawd it feels so good to laugh.
See Maureen..we are all set for 'girls night out'. Go easy...and remember to dance. OKay? Your boys are lucky to have you as a mom.
Take care of yourself.
I think you are on to something, Ande. Coffee houses now provide what taverns/bars traditionally served up. My daughter goes out of her way to visit a particular coffee place she used to work near. When her daughter was born, one of her first outings was there, where everyone was waiting to see the new baby as well as prepare her decaf mocha with soy milk before she made it to the front counter. It wasn't just the employees, it was the patrons who knew her name and story. Because of this kind of hominess in Portland, I am warming to life in the city after spending the majority of my life in rural areas.
Beauty...most of us need some kind of contact that is personal. And I am glad that you are adjusting to the city. Hard to do. Thank you for your comment. I am going to post a summary...after this..
More than a pub of sorts, Ande. Who will spare me an "o"? It's time to leave the hoity-toity founding name and make it Open Saloon. are so right. I took my summary down because it was toooo
tight and sounded like a lecture. grand kids are asleep!
Thanks for bringing me around. See? I'm still here. Kick me off the bar stool and send me home. :)
Back in the 80s I took a bicycling vacation around the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. Checked out many pubs but after googling, I don't think Dan's was one of them. It sounds great, as so many of the pubs in that part of the country were. Nice article Ande.
This is a cool and great piece, Ande. R
Ande, neat subject. I loved Cheers and its homey idealized atmosphere where no one was ever stinking drunk, obnoxious or had to be forcibly removed. Unfortunately I never drank regularly at a place like that. A stretch of Cols. Ohio's High Street, across from OSU, in its pre-prettification days, is what I cut my teeth on. Or whet my whistle on. When I went there in the early '80s, it was a ghettoish stretch of seedy dives and loud live music bars interspersed with used record stores, my favorite 2:30 a.m. chicken place (Fat Jimmy's) and weird little shops like Dismuke's Stamps. My friend's brother bought a damp dark basement bar called South Heidelberg and me & my friends usually ended up there and closed it down. Most Sunday mornings that stretch of High Street was a wreck and smelled even worse. It's those places I have the fondest memories of so maybe that's why my favorite TV bar now is Paddy's, on a show called "Always Sunny in Philadelphia." I've had good times in other nicer places but nothing will ever come close to those days.
Thanks Thoth...something different for a change. What I call rainy day writing. Glad you enjoyed the pub crawl.
Thank you Margaret...I thought I was going to get shut down for a minute....whew. Anyway, I sent you a PM. About OU and OS ....Good to hear from you. I guess you are up for girls night out?
I'd go for the writer's workshop! What an experience that would be! Rated with hope.
Thanks Deborah we should "think on it". I would like to attend an OS gathering if there is ever another. I do plan to get back to Ireland. Not sure about Yorkshire.
Ande~ Gorgeous little ditty with a good amount of fun. I love when I get to learn about someone like this. My father is a Bostonian, and also Irish. The line "Fortunately for me, both of my husbands enjoyed the local dining thing and we visited pubs wherever we traveled." Made me laugh. After the freshman 20 it shows that you, my dear, can do anything you want... Gorgeous and endearing.
You would write this on the first night I got smashed at a rstrnt, Tuesday evening, in decades!
This is just terrif!

I’ve worked as a bartender in several places…one of which was a wonderful place here in New Jersey called, Tiffin’s Pub. Great atmosphere!

I lived in England (courtesy of Uncle Sam and the USAF) for two years and got to spend time in many terrific English pubs.

Always wanted to open a pub of my own. My dream included a huge shield on the outside like the English pubs…a shield with a dragon on one side and a donkey on the other separated by a diagonal stripe. The place would be called, The Dragon Ass Pub!
Goodmorning Princess: Did you father grown up in Somerville? Or the South End? Funny..the links we all have. Thank you, again.
@Jon...shame, shame. Hope you didn't get into a brawl :) At least tell me you had some fun before the hangover. it. You build it and they will come.
I am having a difficult time picturing you at The Rat! Nice bathroom, eh? My weekends as an art student, pretty much spent there. About ten years ago, an ugly hotel was built over the spot. Now, Kenmore Square is an intersection you drive through on your way to Storrow Drive or BU.
Ande, I'm a pub lover too. I really want to travel to Ireland some day and sample their pubs, among other things. I have distant cousins in Oughterard (definitely misspelling it here) in County Galway. Thank you for a delightful pub crawl through time.
Green Heron...I know driving into Boston is an exercise in losing it!
I get lost and miss the old days on Beacon St. and Comm Ave. I went to UMass at I don't think we are speaking of the same Rat. Maybe? Anyway I was 19 back then. By the time I got to BU...I had a Mrs in front of my name. Fun to talk to someone who knows the neighborhood. Thanks for your comment.
Going to a place where everybody knows your name is good only if no one wants to kill you. Nevertheless I agree dining publicly, and we ain’t talking about McDonalds, is the best way to satisfy the human requirements of both nutrition and companionship.
Erika..there is a lot there to experience. I love the food. Irish soups and mussels...yum beyond words. I must get back to Kinsale. There is a B and B on the waterfront with 2 small apartments. You can walk to everything on the flat. That includes pubs, as well as groceries etc.
Look it up. Great city.
Ande, The Rat was The Rathskeller. Punk bands like Patti Smith, the Ramones, Pixies, Cars played there. The bathroom was kinda unforgettable. Yes. Boston, full of ghosts, for me too.
I am not much of a drinker but this post made me wish I was. Charming!
Jack you have to be a really bad dude to get killed in my kind of pub. More likely to happen in McDs on Main street. However, on trip to the Gran Sabana in Venezuela about 25 years ago, I did find some trouble. Didn't know our stop was in a gold mining town. Our guide only spoke in Spanish and my Spanish is fairly limited. Anyway he stopped for petrol and I made a beer run. Within in second of my entering the door...Gus, our Polish/Spanish/Huge/ guide grabbed me and literally tossed me back in the Land Rover. His admonishment was NO, NO, NOT EVER! I didn't know that women who venture in such towns are the 'other kind of ladies'...An experience I will never forget. Memories!
Miguela...In Ireland folks go to pubs just to chat and eat. Now, of course a wee nip is OK too. They are fun places. But again, not the Mall style phoney pubs, but the real thing. Thank you for your comment. Enjoy hearing from you.
Sounds like bliss (I didn't scan the comments, so I don't know if my terrible pun is redundant.) It's been years and years since I've had a regular haunt. Almost forgot what it's like.
Delighted to see I was the only one with such abominable pun taste. Now that I'm finished giggling over my faux pas I recall my favorite stretch of being a regular, when I was in the Army serving in Germany in the mid-'60s. We had a little network of favorite places - the Germans call them gästehausen (guest houses) - many of them noted for the beer they had on tap, which was often a local brew, as even the small communities had their own breweries. Got used to room-temperature beer in those days. Refrigeration was not common.
I'm a pub man myself, love rubbing elbows with the pretty waitresses!
Chicken you! My brother spent time in Guest Houses in Germany. I think that is how he spend most of his time during the Korean war. Came home with a really big beer belly.

Scanner..Pubs are portals of life. We must not fear the fun. We must be wary of too much fun. Hmmm??? I am sure you know what I mean. All that shines at 9 PM can be a mess in the morning.