Myself and our associate editor, Dave McBride took a very long walk through the well chilled blustery streets of Boston the other night. Our mission was clear, our cause was common–find the perfect tavern that would provide us warmth, comfort and an atmosphere that might revive our somewhat dampened holiday spirits. The results of that December campaign will be featured in a couple of upcoming articles in American Public House Review.
As we navigated the old brick alleyways around Quincey Market we spoke of history, politics and Christmas. With the flurry of political achievements coming out of Washington during the last few days, among them the new START treaty, perhaps there is still reason to believe in the hope for mankind espoused by those young rebels from Bethlehem to Boston.
The following piece was originally published in December of 2007.
I still retain many fond memories from a childhood that was somewhat tainted by the cold war. That robust competition for world domination between communist and capitalist could unsettle even the most secure suburban upbringing.
In my version of “Leave it to Beaver Land”, better known as Teaneck, New Jersey there were only two reasons for seeking shelter below the first floor: the fear of nuclear winter, or the fear of not keeping up with those that had achieved a subterranean paradise replete with paneling, ping-pong and a mini-pub. Trusting that John Kennedy would always best his Soviet nemesis, Nikita Khrushchev, my parents decided to forego stocking up on a six month supply of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, and chose instead to dedicate the basement to recreational use.
My father was a trained artist as well as a self-taught musician and craftsman. He brought all of those talents to bear on the construction of the altar that would become our home bar. It became a place of warm gatherings, merriment and song.
As a child, I remember the excitement of waiting for my dad to flip the switch that would illuminate his handiwork. Light danced on multi-colored inlaid metal tiles that adorned the top of the bar. The scene had all the drama of those Christmas Eves long past, when my assigned yearly quest to locate that elusive brown extension cord, that would bring power from wall to tree, yielded success.
This publican owes much to Raymond J. Poh. The culmination of his craft instilled in me my great love of the tavern. Every time I answer the call of one of those splendidly lit confines there is a sense of Christmas. Perhaps the mix of neon, candles and designer incandescent bring on those feelings; but more likely the potential for fellowship, kindness and generosity that one finds in such places renews my hope for peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
All of us at American Public House Review wish you and yours a joyous and blessed season of light!
Posted by: Chris Poh