Across the River to an Oasis

For years and years, my friends who live along the Delaware River implored me to check out the Inn of the Hawke in Lambterville, NJ.  Oddly enough, despite being from the Garden State, I have spent much more time on the other side of the river in New Hope, Pennsylvania, Lambertville’s more popular cross-river rival.  But after seeing the latest article by Chris Poh on the American Public House Review from the Inn of the Hawke, I knew it was time to bring this trend to an end.

The backbar at the Inn of the Hawke

The photos in the article are terrific, but this place really needs to be experienced.  A gorgeous building with a uniquely Delaware River vibe to it, the Inn of the Hawke brings all the history, architectural details, and atmosphere you can ever want in a great pub. For the beer fanatics out there, they also have an exceptionally well thought out selection of beers.  Cheers!

by Dave McBride


How I spent my Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is certainly a fun day for me, but is also a very busy one.  I make my living as a musician, and I have been known to sing more than a few Irish folk tunes in my day.  So St. Patty’s Day, while certainly a fun celebration, is a big business day for me as well.  This year, like the last few years, I spent it playing at an exemplary Irish pub in Cranford, NJ called the Kilkenny House.

St. Pattys Day crowd at the Kilkenny House spills out into the streets

First, let me just say I simply love this place.  It is a true Irish pub, run by great people and frequented by regulars who love Irish music, good drink, and a great pub.  On Saint Patrick’s Day it seems all the regulars come to celebrate at their favorite place and they each bring a dozen of their best friends with them!  Needless to say the place was predictably packed, so much so that the crowd spilled out onto the the streets, soaking in the wonderful weather and the perfect pints.

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale

Speaking of perfect pints, the Kilkenny House had a pleasantly welcome surprise for me on this most joyous of holidays.  It seems the week before they received a few barrels of my favorite Irish beer, Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale.  Like I said a couple of weeks ago on this blog, if you were able to find this brew at your Irish Pub of choice on Saint Patrick’s Day you should consider yourself luck.  Well, thankfully that luck found me!

By Dave McBride


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

The day has arrived. It’s time to sing Irish songs, lift a good pint and wear the green. The pages of the American Public House Review are filled with great places to enjoy the holiday, and for that I suggest you check out the “Celtic Pubs” section of the Backbar. But to celebrate the season, this week we bring you new articles from two top Irish pubs.

McGovern's in Newark, NJ

The first is the story of Newark’s legendary Irish institution, McGovern’s. The second comes from the Finger Lakes and Maloney’s pub in Hammondsport, NY.

from inside Maloney's in Hammondsport, NY

So from all of us here at Pub Talk and the American Public House Review, we wish you safe and fun Saint Patrick’s Day. Slainte!

By Dave McBride

 

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Surviving the Aftermath of Super Bowl Sunday

Photo by: Craig M. Wilson

Photo by: Craig M. Wilson

Having spent many a year in the tavern trade, I have always relished the relative quiet that fills the bars for the next few days after the big game. With each passing year since the first contest on January 15th, 1967, when the Green Bay Packers triumphed over the Kansas City Chiefs 35 – 10, the growing intensity of both the private and public hoopla have virtually brought the bar and restaurant business to grinding halt after that sacred Sunday. The American populace quite frankly is  simply just too spent and tired out. And who needs to leave the comfort of home in the middle of winter when there is still plenty of beer on the lower shelf, and an abundance of unknown dishes containing brie, guacamole and cilantro on the upper shelves of the fridge.

But for this introvert it’s a magical time–a time to have my favorite local  haunts  all to myself–a time of quiet reflection, wistful whiskies and peaceful pints. 

Here are just a few of the empty spaces where one might find me this week:               (Click on the photos to learn more.)

Lambertvile Station - Lambertville, New jersey

 The Boat House - Lambertville, New Jersey

For those of you that still crave the crowds and need to exercise our cherished right of noisy assemblage, not to worry, the Daytona 500 is less than two weeks away.

Posted by: Chris Poh

 

 

Throwing the Feds Under the Bus

There it was parked right across the street from my favorite local watering hole, the big bus that delivered the cadre of Tea Party types to my hometown. A small group of men, women and children had gathered to hear  the lady, with the hairdo and affectation of one former Alaskan governor, spread the message and principles of  Liberty in America.org. Being overcome by my own political curiosity, I was forced to put down my pint and venture out to find a place on the periphery of meeting.

The event was conducted as if it were something between a 5th grade civic’s lesson and a Bible study group. The speaker extolled the virtues of the Founding Fathers while damning to hell the 535 current voting members of Congress for their egregious assault on the United States Constitution.

It has been my experience that political fundamentalism is very much like religious fundamentalism. Both share a common belief that a bunch of guys a long time ago, who supposedly stood in better favor with God than the current crop of humanity, were able to divine sacred texts that if properly adhered to would provide a simple black and white solution for all of society’s ills. This kind of thinking has led many Americans to view the resulting document of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as something akin to Moses coming down from  the mountain with the Ten Commandments.

While I cannot speculate as to the actual influence of the Divine on what occurred atop Mount Sinai, I can tell you that God just barely got his foot in the door of the Pennsylvania State House. A motion by the good Doctor Franklin to begin each day’s work with a clergyman leading a prayer was vigorously debated and ultimately defeated.

I’ve heard it said as of late that our political class has done a less than admirable job of honoring the intent of “The Founding Fathers.”  I would tend to disagree with this school of thought, since we know that the framers of the Constitution did not share one common vision as to how to govern the somewhat unruly states of America. Their views on the proper role of government were as conflicted and divergent as those being currently expressed in the national discourse.

 In reality, our beloved Constitution was the direct consequence of the discord, dissention and divisiveness amongst the  states brought about by the more libertarian leaning  Articles of Confederation, that were drafted by the Second Continental Congress in  1777. One might conclude that the Declaration of Independence was the result of the tyranny of one, while the Constitution was the result of the tyranny of thirteen.  

A More Perfect Union - by Alton S. Tobey

In May of 1787, many of the same men that had crafted the Articles of Confederation converged in Philadelphia to reconsider their earlier attempt at promoting  unity,  harmony and governance. For 100 days “an assemblage of demigods,” as Thomas Jefferson had characterized the convention, were shuttered behind closed doors in the longest backroom political deal in the history of the Republic. When the delegates finally emerged from the state house in mid-september, they presented their fellow countrymen not with a perfect piece of consensus–but instead with a pretty damn good piece of compromise!

But that compromise would not be enough to ensure a more perfect union. The strength and validity of the compact would be contested in the courtroom, the convention hall and ultimately on killing fields from Manassas to Appomatox.

On the 17th day of September of 1787, the final draft of the Constitution was signed. With the toil and turmoil of that brutal summer now behind them, the delegates could now attend to their own personal constitutions–certainly a bit of leisure and libations were in order. Many would seek those pleasures at the nearby stately City Tavern. While those of lesser means might have adjourned to the  Man Full of Trouble Tavern. As I am one who fully supports the constitution of the Founding Fathers, I ended my meeting with the local libertarians by returning to an awaiting pint of Harpoon IPA at the National Hotel in Frenchtown, New Jersey. 

Posted by: Chris Poh

We the People

In an ongoing effort to be more informed and a tad less reactionary to those points of view that I may not necessarily be simpatico with, I spent some today time trying to better understand the workings of America’s Tea Party Patriots. After a few hours of dissecting their website and reading through the posts of their blogging minions, I came to the conclusion that, with the exception of some additional descriptive language and a few new labels for your foes, the rhetoric of the republic has not changed all that much in the past two hundred and thirty-four years—on either side of our political quarrels.

Quite frankly, it is hard to argue with those expressed core values of the party that call for fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets. I haven’t met an American yet, no matter what their political leanings were, that hasn’t demanded the same from Washington if it was in line with their own particular issues and self interests.

But then there are those days like today, when millions of gallons of Gulf crude are about to devastate habitat, destroy life and disrupt the economic livelihood of thousands of people—that one realizes that a little more regulation and intrusion on the free market is a good thing. Had the Federal government required a remote control acoustic shutoff switch on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, as is the case in other countries, this environmental catastrophe may have been averted. And although the well-intentioned corporate citizens at British Petroleum will supposedly be picking up the tab for this environmental nightmare, I suspect that American taxpayers and consumers will pay dearly for this disaster—effectively driving another stake through the heart of fiscal responsibility.

In order for the Tea Party to realize its dream of a “government-free laissez faire libertarian world,” human beings would have to prove themselves capable of responsible moral and just self governance. During my American journey, I have experienced that possibility only once.

While researching a recent article about The Inn at Millrace Pond, which is located in the eighteenth century Moravian village of Hope, New Jersey; I spent some time delving into the history and philosophy of the people who settled there. Moravians guided by the principles of charity for all people, fellowship and understanding, built successful independent self-sustaining communities. Both their individual and communal lives were governed by a simple creed: “In essentials, unity; in non-essential, liberty; and in all things love.”

AP Photo/The Pensacola News Journal/Bruce Graner

Like those that served the cause of 1776, they understood that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was about We the People—and not me the people!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Photographic Evidence of Spirits at Frenchtown’s National Hotel

Recently, I was invited to attend a “reveal” of evidence gathered during an investigation of a potential haunting at The National Hotel in Frenchtown , New Jersey. That investigation was conducted by Don Wilson and his team from Open Gate Independent Paranormal Research Group. While their data was inconclusive, there were some rather intriguing indications of something out of the ordinary occurring at this historic old hotel and restaurant.

After a bit of fine tuning of my auditory capabilities, I believe that I was actually able to make out the disembodied voice of someone, captured on tape during an (EVP)  session, expressing their general misgivings about ghost hunters. But what really piqued my curiosity was this particular orb photo captured in the basement lounge of the hotel.

Both myself and Don Wilson, the founder of Open Gate, are extremely skeptical about the evidential credibility of orb photos. Since the advent of digital photography, everyone seems to have  filled their photo albums with those tantalizing  balls of light presumed to be the discarnate presence of their dead relatives. The truth be told, the vast majority of orbs are the result of retroflection; the phenomena by which the light being generated via the camera’s flash bounces off normally sub-visible particles (e.g., dust, pollen, water droplets), and is reflected back into the lens. It seems that digital still and video cameras are much more prone to produce this effect. Interestingly though, our purple visitor, hovering just below the ceiling, was photographed without the use of a flash.

But perhaps the most compelling proof of life beyond our mundane existence comes by way of this image taken by freelance photographer, Kathleen Connally.

Behold another one of the National Hotel’s truly friendly spirits!

You can enjoy more of her outstanding work by visiting  Shots With Kathleen, a newly featured photoblog at American Public House Review

 Posted by: Chris Poh

A Good Old Ghost Story with a Great New Ending

Clinton Mill

Previously Published in 2008   On the June 11th episode of “Ghost Hunters” the team from The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) will be visiting the Garden State. One of their stops will be The Red Mill in Clinton, New Jersey. This historic Hunterdon County landmark has been rumored to be haunted for generations. It is hard to imagine a paranormal presence at this perfect pastoral setting. But just down the road a few short miles is a truly frightening location.   

The Now Shuttered National Hotel

Welcome to Frenchtown, New Jersey and the site of the now shuttered National Hotel. Like the Red Mill, this property has also played a significant role in the history of this area. During the 1930s poet, novelist and script writer James Agee lived on the street behind the National. Apparently he found the environs of the hotel well suited to his lifestyle and his talent. Much of his work during that period was accomplished while sitting at the bar .

During the late 1800s, Annie Oakley would visit  Frenchtown with fellow performers from Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. While in town the National was always their preferred watering hole. In recent years the bar was the de facto office of the publisher of American Public House Review. And while I can not prove the existence of the reported spirits that supposedly roam the halls of this hostelry, I can confirm that the  remains of a former long-term guest have not been checked out.

The Main Bar at the National Hotel

But the real horror story here is that a property of this magnitude had been abandoned and allowed to fall into a state of decay. As always, it is not the activity of the dead but the actions of the living that we need to fear.

Exterior The National Hotel

Update: The National Hotel is rising from the ruins and will reopen the week of November 1st, 2009

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher

Summertime Submarine Watching

Ohio Class Nuclear SubmarineA gentle rain fell on the streets of New London as Fran and I sipped our pints of Cottrell Old Yankee Ale at the bar of the Bank Street Road House. During breaks in our conversation, I would cast my gaze beyond the back deck and across  the channel of the Thames River in hopes of spying a Virginia or Ohio class submarine making its way upstream to the Electric Boat facility at Groton. On this particular  August afternoon, the behemoths of “The Silent Service” would not rise from the depths. Though south of my position something was stirring up Atlantic waters.

A Russian Intruder?An interesting photograph found its way onto the internet of a surfer in the waters off  Strathmere, New Jersey. In the background appeared to be what was  possibly a  Russian nuclear submarine. Staff writer John West, who was on assignment at McMenemy’s Pub in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was summoned back to New Jersey to take  command of naval operations from aboard the Escape Goat (the flag ship of  American Public House Review’s Atlantic fleet). As fate would have it, the boat was conveniently docked across from Maynard’s Cafe in Margate, New Jersey–in close proximity to the supposed Russian intruder.

Commander West on Patrol in the Waters off Strathmere, NJCommander West began his investigation at Maynard’s,  knowing full well that this legendary local hub of hard partying and well respected repository of useless information was the kind of joint foreign agents might target in order to glean military secrets. When he was satisfied that nothing sensitive was compromised, other than the inside line on next week’s Notre Dame game, he moved the “Escape Goat” to the docks adjacent to Twisties Tavern in Strathmere. Once more his inquiries did not turn up anything unusual other than a report of a group of pale skinned tourists asking how many rubles were needed to purchase a Twisties tee shirt and a bottle of vodka. Commander West concluded that what was being mistaken as a Russian intruder was nothing more than a deep sea dredging operation.

After filing his report with the Coast Guard,  John returned to Portsmouth to complete his story about  McMenemy’s Pub. According to his findings, this fine old Irish tavern may be haunted by a number of  the ladies that provided companionship and comfort to the sailors who served on the more than seventy submarines that were built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard during the Second World War. One of which, “The Galloping Ghost of the Japanese Coast” the USS Torsk now keeps a watchful periscope on our favorite pubs in Baltimore: The Wharf Rat, Slainte Irish Pub and the Cat’s Eye.

USS Torsk - Inner Harbor Baltimore

 

For those of you that are still not convinced that our shores are safe from an incursion by the Soviet Navy, our own intelligence gathering unit, operating out of the Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, Rhode Island, has confirmed that the only Russian sub operating in U.S. waters this summer was the Juliette class K-77. She was commissioned on October 31st, 1965, and assigned to the Soviet Northern Fleet. The submarine remained on active duty until 1988, and was decommissioned in the early 1990s. In 1994, the boat was sold to a Finnish businessman, and it was operated as a rather unique restaurant and watering hole, (this writer’s idea of a great “Dive Bar.”)

Juliette Class K-77

In 2000, the K-77 was moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia where it was used in the film K-19: The Widow Maker, the fact based film starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. Then in 2002, the boat began its final assignment as a museum ship operating with the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation in Providence, Rhode Island. In 2007, the K-77 sunk after a combination of high tides, heavy winds and a storm surge flooded the submarine . The boat was raised in 2008, but the extensive damage made restoration and repair economically unfeasible. Sadly, the Juliett Class K-77 made her final voyage on August 11th, 2009, down the Providence River to a site owned by RI Recycled Metals to be dismantled for scrap.

Juliette Class K-77

The staff and writers of American Public House Review salute all those intrepid souls that have served in “The Silent Service”– and we raise a glass to those that are still on patrol!

Thanks to stevehdc for his photo of the Torsk.

Posted by: Chris Poh

Raising a Cup with Russ

Russ at the Frenchtown CafeAt some point during the inception of American Public House Review I was tasked with coming up with a catchy phrase that would suitably define the mission of our fledgling magazine. During a rare moment of early morning clarity the words came to me.

Glasses Raised…Spirits Lifted…Journeys Shared

It is my hope that these words not only adequately define the purpose of our publication; but that they also represent the greater viewpoint of mankind. In each of us there resides the power to acknowledge and lift up the spirit of our fellowman, and to share with him that which has purpose from our own personal journey.

A couple of weeks back I spent an afternoon drinking coffee with my dear friend Russ Coen at the Frenchtown Cafe. He is a gentleman who totally embodies the editorial philosophy of American Public House Review. Recent personal losses in both of our lives had left us in a mutual state of melancholy that no amount of caffeine could overcome. We spoke at length about the powerful impact of those that had touched us for just a brief moment in time, and then sadly, had passed on leaving an unexpected void.

Bob Dukiet

Bob Dukiet

For Russ one of those souls was the late Bob Dukiet. He shared a story that occurred many years ago about an interlude at Neilley’s Long Bar in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Here are his own words from a posted remembrance of  the  Boston College basketball great and former head coach of the Marquette Warriors, Bob Dukiet.   

My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Bob Dukiet on his passing. It was 38 years ago that I met Bob through our mutual friend, Joe Walsh, at Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. A rainy afternoon in July found us discovering an old honky-tonk piano up against the back wall of Neilly’s Long Bar.Neilley's Long Bar Within minutes, Bobby brought that piano to life with his signature cover of  Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire.”  The Beatles “Oh Blah Dee, Oh Blah Da” andWhen I’m 64″  followed as a large crowd gathered (ages 21-80+). For many hours, he handled any request from every generation, including the World War I era, “Over There” and the “Marine Corps Hymn.” In spite of my less than admirable guitar playing, we were offered a job for the next weekend and a cardboard sign was placed in the window to that effect. Unfortunately, we had to decline. What a day that was!! Thank you, Bobby. I am sure a crowd will gather around the piano wherever Bob may be, and I hope to some day be there enjoying many more songs and smiles once again. He truly bridged the ages with his many gifts and talents. Thank you, Bob, for sharing them unselfishly.       Russ Coen – Frenchtown, New Jersey

Glasses Raised…Spirits Lifted…Journeys Shared 

Point Pleasant Beach - Photo by Christine Aber

Point Pleasant Beach - Photo by Christine Aber

 
Broadway Bar and Grill - (Formerly Neilley's Long Bar)

Broadway Bar and Grill - (Formerly Neilley's Long Bar)

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Christine Aber for her photo of Point Pleasant Beach, and to Vinnie Mattia for providing the image of Neilley’s Long Bar. Also, we thank bricktownlive.com for the photo of the Broadway Bar and Grill

Posted by: Chris Poh     

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