A Haunting in New Hampshire

Mount Washington Hotel

With a motto like “Live Free or Die” so ingrained in the mind and spirit of those who hail from “The Granite State”, there is probably no other place in the Union that expresses a more cavalier attitude toward the inevitable outcome of life. So it is of little wonder that some of  the state’s more stalwart former residents refuse to leave, even after they no longer have the corporal wherewithal to cast even a single vote in the New Hampshire primary.  One particular local that seems to be a gathering place for those restless specters is “The Cave“, a Prohibition era bar cleverly concealed below the porch of the  Mount Washington Hotel.  I recently received a call from David Correa, one of our readers  who along with his friend Brian Gregoire, may have captured some very interesting photographic evidence of these uncanny after hours activities.

In the course of our conversation we exchanged some theories and feelings about those veiled possibilities of life after death. I as usual took the position of  that skeptic that suspects that most of what we believe to be otherworldly is nothing more than the  result of malfunctioning technology. David on the other hand was of a more open mind, and upon hearing about some of his experiences during his own spiritual journey, I was better able to deal with those occurrences and personal losses that so often haunt my own life. And while our current technologies may not be able to provide portals to the dimension of the disembodied, they can connect us with those kind souls who can offer comfort and good counsel during those times of need.

May all your dealings with the spirits, whether they be liquid or ethereal in their nature, always be to your liking! Happy Halloween from the rogues and wraiths at American Public House Review!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Below are the images from The Cave at the Mount Washington Hotel.

The Cave_1

 

The Cave_2

The Cave_3

Chasing the Green Dragon

Paul Revere's Ride

Other than my regional attachment and loyalty to those gentlemen from the South Bronx that don the pinstripes, I’ve always held the city of Boston and its feisty spirited citizens in the highest regard. The town that is the very embodiment of our founding cause also played an important role in my own personal quest for identity and independence. During my formative years, the ultimate extension of the boundaries of that restless suburban teenage rebel was a road trip to Beantown. Once I got over the elation of having put over two-hundred miles between myself and my parents point of view about proper public behavior, I would on most occasions give into that more circumspect side of my personality.

So following a few much appreciated pints of Watney’s Red Barrel at the now defunct Pooh’s Pub over on Kenmore Square, I would let my legs carry me across town and down those same cobble stoned streets and alleyways that wore away the  boot heels of British Regulars, local militia and Continental soldiers alike. After enduring some rather chilling blows off the Charles River in the course of my fall and winter perambulations, I was grateful that Henry Knox’s  artillery perched on the Dorchester Heights had not permanently removed all traces of English culture from the city after the strategic departure of William Howe’s troops in March of 1776. Nearly 200 years after the end of the siege of Boston, and long before there was a Harpoon IPA or a Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig, at a time when most future New England craft brewers were still pilfering an occasional Narragansett from their father’s basement reserves, it was an English ale that fortified my constitution as I chased history’s ghosts down the path of partisans and patriots.

During my last visit to Boston, myself and David McBride, a fellow student of America’s falling out with King George the Third, decided to indulge our love of colonial history by taking some pre-Christmas cheer at the Green Dragon Tavern. What could provide a more authentic setting to ponder the merits of  rebellion than an old brick pub with a sign outside the door that read, “Headquarters of the Revolution 1773 – 1776.” Unfortunately, this was not the same public house where the likes of Hancock, Adams, Warren, Revere and other prominent Bostonian Freemasons and the Sons of Liberty conspired against the Crown. That particular tavern, located on another site, ceased to provide comfort and safe haven to its enlightened clientele in 1854. And while the current Green Dragon is an absolutely eye-catching pub that always offers its patrons a  friendly and inviting atmosphere, it was not quite the eighteenth century touchstone that we had envisioned, so we instead focused our journalistic attentions on the Warren Tavern in nearby Charlestown. That particular trip was over two years ago, but the current tragedy and needless bloodshed that has befallen the people of Boston as a result of the Marathon Bombings led me to reconsider some our own past cause oriented actions.

When we think about the American Revolution, we tend not to recount the carnage and immense suffering of those who fought, and those who were the unintended victims of the conflict. The telling of that glorified story has always tended to skip over the gruesome and less than honorable aspects of our nation’s founding. And until the advent of modern photography, no one other than the direct participants and witnesses could fully grasp the realities of war. That is why an Alexander Gardner photograph from Antietam is much more likely to present an honest unsanitized accounting of events as opposed to artist John Trumbull’s depiction of the Battle of Bunker Hill. The camera seldom lies–but the artist’s brush is always subject to a desired effect or particular point of view.

Then there are of course the points of view of those on either side of the struggle  to consider. British authorities and loyalists referred to the Sons of liberty as  the “Sons of Iniquity.” Even Benjamin Franklin was uncomfortable with  the more extreme behaviors of  some of his compatriots. Throughout human history, the cruel and sadistic  have justified their atrocities by echoing the words of some greater cause–God, freedom, liberty and justice. And while I suspect that I would have been among those plotting the uprising at the Green Dragon had my soul’s time and space been eighteenth century Boston, I would have stood in forceful opposition against any individual that tortured and murdered those whose loyalties simply remained rooted on the other side of the Atlantic. All too often, one man’s celebrated dissident has become another man’s terrorist.

Sons of Liberty at the Green Dragon - Artist Unknown

Sons of Liberty at the Green Dragon – Artist Unknown

Thankfully, on American soil, the vast majority of  our  insurrectionists and iconoclasts have exercised a fair degree of restraint when voicing their displeasure with the status quo. For the most part, the rule of law, ethical standards, and our governing principles have prevailed, thus sparing the general population from the terror and senseless loss of life that is all too common on so many parts of the globe. But there have been those periods throughout our own history when some of our more self-serving malcontents have inflicted undue amounts of harm and hardships on our fellow citizens. Among those singled out in these campaigns of targeted terror were women, Blacks, Native Americans and homosexuals. And all too often, these extremists and assassins operated with impunity because the institutions of government, law enforcement and religion turned a blind eye–in effect providing cause and cover to this brutal criminality. It was only after those institutions were pressured to assert their legal and moral authority to prosecute and marginalize those guilty of such heinous illegality, that these waves of domestic terrorism finally subsided.

While we may never fully understand the motives of  Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,  it is important that those that may have influenced their ideology clearly stand in condemnation or be held accountable for their culpability. For it is only the unified voices of moral clarity that will make possible the peaceful pursuit of life, liberty and happiness as envisioned by those that raised their tankards and consciousness at that ever elusive Green Dragon.

Sign at the Green Dragon Tavern - Boston,MA

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag

A Good START for the New Year

 

Faneuil Hall - Boston, MA

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.

The Green Dragon - Boston, MAAs 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.

Lillie's - New York CityMy 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.

Christmas Tree in Quincy Market - BostonThis 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

Into the Mystic

The Mystic River in Mystic, CT

Other than a good pint of ale and a superb piece of Yankee Pot Roast at the Griswold Inn in Essex, I’ve maintained a somewhat fleeting relationship with coastal Connecticut over the years. In my haste to reach those favored tidal sanctuaries north of the “Constitution State,” I’ve all too often overlooked those delightful and interesting communities that have greatly contributed to New England’s rich nautical history. During a recent run up to Rhode Island, I made it a point to have a long leisurely lunch in the seaport village of Mystic.

Mystic River Bascule Bridge - Mystic, CT

 

Besides being known for its world-class maritime museum, Mystic offers a charming waterside retreat for those road-weary warriors that have had enough of the rush on nearby Route 95. There are a number of good pubs in town, but my favorite spot to watch life go by on the Mystic River is in the upstairs taproom at the S&P Oyster Company.

Upstairs Taproom at the S&P Oyster Company in Mystic, CT

From this exceptional vantage point one can watch the hourly raising of the bascule bridge that allows safe passage to the tall ships, and those commercial and pleasure boats that make  these southern New England waters home.

Tour Boat on the Mystic River

Mystic is one of those places that allows us to see that the quality of ones journey is not just about where we’ve been, or where we are going–but it is also about those stops that we make along the way.

Posted by: Chris Poh, American Public House Review  

Looking for God on the Gulf Coast

The need to establish a deeply reflective relationship at water’s edge has deposited me on many different shorelines over the years. Like a man in search for the right congregation, I’ve walked beaches from the Gulf of Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, looking for my purpose and position in God’s grand scheme. Currently my favorite place of worship is the stretch of ocean and sand at Easton’s Beach in Newport, Rhode Island. Their morning services consist of long contemplative strolls, afternoons are toes in the tide baptism, and evenings are spent raising a cup to creation from the choir loft at Flo’s Clam Shack.

Sadly, these waters in Narragansett Bay, like so much of our oceans, have been impacted by the misdeeds and miscalculations of mankind. As we embark on the celebration of a return to warmer days in our hemisphere, the staff at American Public House Review will keep in our thoughts and prayers our fellow citizens whose lives will be effected by the ongoing environmental catastrophe along our southern shores. 

And to those  who work to preserve and protect our beaches, marine life and sacred waters, we raise our glasses and wish them fair winds and following seas!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Ben’s raiding the cooler again!

As we close in on Independence Day, we all look forward to a holiday weekend full of all those fun and relaxing things that make summer great.  Hamburgers on the grill, a beer in the hand, and friends and family by your side are the things that make July 4th Weekend so enjoyable.

Fort McHenry

For me, I am heading to one of my absolute favorite places on earth, Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  There I plan to spend my 10 days of vacation visiting family, doing a bit of boating, and maybe I’ll even check out a tavern or two.  (Okay, maybe three or four…)  My plan on this vacation, like all my trips to Maine, is to sit.  I plan on sitting on a dock, a boat, an Adirondack chair, or hopefully on an array of well crafted barstools.  It’s time to decompress and as Otis Redding said, “watch the ships roll in and watch them roll away again.”

Boothbay Harbor 

I can’t help but wonder what our Founding Fathers would think of how we choose to celebrate this most solemn of days.  Because of the resolution agreed on back on July 4th 1776, the men who signed it put their necks in the proverbial guillotine.  Years of war, disease, and god knows what else followed during the struggle of the Revolutionary War, and in many related respects the War of 1812 as well.  And in recognition of those events we choose to barbeque.   I don’t know what the founders who lived those struggles under the constant fear of being hung for treason might think of my hotdog and potato salad celebration, but I have a guess.  I think they would find it absolutely perfect! 

st-peters-02

People complain America has become too lazy, too pampered.  How many times have you heard people question what the founding fathers would think of us now?  Well, I like to think on this weekend they would want us to celebrate by exercising the absolute freedom to do what makes us happy.  So while you pop open a bottle of whatever and sit under the stars waiting for the fireworks, think of what Erma Bombeck said…

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.

So as always, drink and party responsibly during this holiday weekend.  But do it knowing that you are not only enjoying yourself to the fullest, but you and your loved ones are also paying a sincere homage to those who literally put their necks on the line for this little barbeque.  Somehow I couldn’t see Benjamin Franklin lecturing us on the frivolity of our Independence Day tradition.  No, I see him raiding the cooler and waiting for the baseball game to start.

Posted by: Dave McBride

 

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Click  here to view past articles on America’s finest  colonial taverns. 

One Man’s Pirate…

Errol Flynn from Captain BloodLike so many of my fellow countrymen, I couldn’t help but feel some degree of personal pride and satisfaction knowing that our boys on the fantail of the Bainbridge had bested those freebooting  buccaneers from Somalia. And with the liberation of  Captain Richard Phillips another chapter in this nation’s struggle against Africa’s nautical thuggery  has been brought to a successful close. With the speculation already in progress as to who should be cast in the role of the good captain, so that this tale of treachery on the high seas can be delivered into the comfort of our living rooms, we would do well to remember that one man’s pirate is another man’s privateer.

On the streets of Mogadishu and in villages throughout Somalia the members of this ad hoc ragtag navy are the heroes. If this chaotic shattered nation had any form of functioning governance these seafaring brigands would be operating with a Letter of Marque. The rape of the fish stocks  and the dumping of toxic waste in Somalian waters by foreign concerns fostered the  relationship between starving  fisherman and the street militias whose common goal it was to drive the invaders from their shores. Unfortunately the resulting financial bounty associated with their initial efforts cultivated the current climate of  criminal  behavior.

“For inside the body of many an honorable privateer lurks the soul of a dishonorable pirate.”  Captain Chris “Yo Ho” Poh

Our own history reveals a more than accomodating attitude towards piracy when it served our national interests. From the early eighteenth century during the infamous Triangle trade, through the American Revolution and into the War of 1812 we allowed the maritime mercenary to do our bidding. Perhaps the customary eye patch is less accoutrement and  more  metaphor  for what happens when nations turn a blind eye to the improprieties of scoundrels.

So here I am once again facing that simple fact that we live in a world where there is no black or white other than what we hoist up the mast before firing that first shot across the bow. A Jolly Roger

So I will, as I have done so many times in the past, embrace my inner pirate by pouring myself  a pint of Clipper City Loose Cannon Ale and singing a few verses of “A Pirate’s Life For Me.”

Clipper City Loose Cannon AleYo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even high jack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We kindle and char, we inflame and ignite.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we’re really a fright.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

We’re rascals, scoundrels, villains and knaves.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We’re devils and black sheep, really bad eggs.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

We’re beggars and blighters and ne’er do-well cads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Aye, but we’re loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
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Posted by: Chris Poh, Yo Ho

 

 

Here’s Two for the Soul

For the better part of October American Public House Review has been sharing  memories of some of the outstanding pubs that our editors and writers have visited during the first year of this publication; but I thought we might take a break from the nostalgic and interject some upcoming content.

The photo at the top of the post was taken by Barry Botelho, photographer and purveyor of the famed “Twin Lobster Rolls” at Easton’s Beach in Newport, Rhode Island.

The piece of music that you are about to experience, “In the Beginning” is by JP Jones, an acclaimed singer songwriter who also resides near this stretch of beach.

Both artist’s work will be included in an upcoming article about Flo’s Clam Shack, which just so happens to be located on this side of the rainbow.

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher

The Griswold Inn in Essex, CT brings you back to a better time

The Griswold Inn located in Essex, CT is one of those places that make you feel like you’ve crossed back in time about 200 years when you walk through its doors.  It is dripping with history and some of the details that adorn every corner of this tavern make you stop in your tracks and admire them.  Like this sign below…

found at the Griswold Inn in Essex, CT

I found it strange that only these two groups of people need to report to the captain of the vessel.  Are these truly the only folks he should be concerned about?  Ahh, how I long for the good old days when homeland security meant keeping track of gamblers and “fancy women”…

Click here to read our article from the Griswold.  It is a captivating pub situated within a gorgeous and historic New England town.

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