Home > Dive > History’s Pisser

History’s Pisser

Ron’s West End Tavern has been in existence, in one form or another, for well over 100 years. When President James Garfield was shot in 1891, and he was brought to Long Branch to recuperate this was where his doctors would get drunk after their shift watching over him. Probably explains why he didn’t make it.

The men’s room was a living piece of that history. For a hundred years, men had carved names and insults into every inch of the dark wood walls. When they ran out of fresh wall space people began carving into older carvings. The room marked time like geological strata, preserving incomplete moments from random points in the past.

It felt like some place special. The old wooden walls had absorbed punches, cigarette smoke, and just about every bodily fluid known to man. The urinal was some sort of historical artifact, shaped like a pelicans beak. The faucet creaked when you turned it on or off, and there was nowhere to dry your hands.

The room was small, but two people could fit inside, making it as much as a place for private conversations as it was for doing your business. It was a quiet, safe spot in a bar that can get as loud and raucous as any other.

The bar is still there. The same bartender has been minding the shop for as long as anyone can remember, and it’s still a patchwork of it’s different eras. Old books and novelties sit on the shelves next to framed pictures of 80’s b-list celebrities. The Soprano’s pinball machine is still in the corner. The crowd is still a mix of older regulars and college kids, and the music is either a classic rock station or an anything goes spin at the jukebox. But the bathroom’s gone.

Don’t worry, after drinking your 4th mason jar full of beer, you won’t have to go piss outside. There’s still a restroom. But it seems like it’s been grafted on from outside, like you just stepped out of the bar. The room was gutted. The wooden walls torn out and replaced with gray knife resistant tile, held immaculately in place with white grouting. The strange protruding urinal is gone, and in it’s place is a standard Home Depot bargain toilet. There’s a small, white sink wedged in the corner and a stack of paper towels placed neatly on it. It’s only been there a couple of weeks, and looks like no one’s bothered using it.

I asked the bartender what gives. That was a room with character. Now they have an impersonal, industrial rest room. She said that old bathroom was a pain to clean (wait… they cleaned it?). The new one they just hose down every night. Voila! Instant sanitation. As she was explaining this, another customer came running up to the bar. What happened to the bathroom, he asked. What did you do?

I get the feeling that Ron’s tends to change mostly by addition. New nicknacks are added to the pile next to the old ones. This was a major subtraction. Those walls could have been the subject of history thesis papers for years to come, as grad students tried to make heads or tails of what was recorded on it. But she didn’t seem troubled by it. She didn’t share our sense of loss. But she did tell me that the ladies room has not been touched.

Categories: Dive
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: