Back to 1852 and the gold rush. When saloons were rowdy and smelled of sawdust. When bourbon was cheap. When paintings of half-dressed beautiful ladies on a picnic was considered daring art. When there was no plastic and no need for 4 “cash only” signs.
Last time I was here I drank cheap port out of a scotch glass. I debated with a bartender who looked like Dr Phil and had been banned from Canada. I listened to gray-haired hippies with cobwebbed trumpet sleeves singing blues.
This time I drank GT out of a proper glass. I was scolded by the bartender, a lady in her 60s. I listened to a fantastic gray-haired blues band and there was not a single hippie in the saloon. Life goes on. The saloon survived the 1906 earthquake. I wonder whether it will survive the next big earthquake. If that happens during my lifetime I will be back. Perhaps then it will be time for a bourbon and some more blues.
(The Saloon on Grant, San Francisco, USA; December 2014)