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 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

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

Fare Thee Well to the Molly Maguires Pub in Jim Thorpe

Sadly, history is about to repeat itself once again, as it was on that infamous day in June of 1877 –  there will no reprieve for the Molly Maguires.  

At some point during the evening of December 20th,2009 the last pint will be drawn,  toasts will shared,  tears will be shed – and the Molly Maguires Pub in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania will close its doors forever.

I will not comment on those  circumstances that brought about the demise of this much-loved institution, other than to say that the  self interests and intrigues of a business are not always in harmony with the needs and desires of the clientele. Having just suffered through a similar loss of my own favorite local, (the over two-year closure of the bar at the National Hotel in Frenchtown, NJ),  I can more than empathize with the citizens of Jim Thorpe.

Taverns like Molly’s are much more than just a place to grab a beer and a burger. Besides providing employment they define the character of the area, they become a repository of local lore and  history, they are a measure of a town’s hospitality and integrity – they are in short the lifeblood and lifeline of a community!


As for myself, every visit to Jim Thorpe over the last nine years has begun and ended with a pint of Murphy’s Irish Amber at that wonderful bar. I am very thankful to the  gracious staff and generous customers that always made it feel like home. For the sake of all the good people in Jim Thorpe, I hope and pray that a new vision and vitality finds its way to the place that was the Molly Maguire’s Pub…Fare Thee Well!                                                                                                  

Posted by: Chris Poh

A Contrast In Horror

Clinton Mill

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.

Hotel Bar

But the real horror story here is that a property of this magnitude has 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.

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

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher – American Public House Review

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