Anniversary: Our First Date, 1976

See the source image

I think that’s a reproduction of The Islanders menu, printed in the print shop at the good old Bayshore Independent, where Patty and I were working in 1976. I was managing editor, she was the bookkeeper. And The Islanders was a slam-bang great restaurant–I had my first Chinese food there, when it opened–which made it a natural destination for our first date.

And we’ve been together ever since.

After The Islanders we went to the movies (Voyage of the Damned–not exactly a knee-slapper) and then to Sam’s Bar & Grill for a nightcap. It was more an old-fashioned tavern than a bar and grill.

All those things are gone by now… except us. I don’t like to think of how our lives would’ve turned out if we hadn’t met: glory and praise to God, who has blessed us with each other.

Our Friendly Haunted Tavern

Sam’s Bar & Grill, in Fords, was my favorite tavern, once upon a time. It was famous for its beef dip and its sandwiches. It was a nice place, no untoward happenings. My mother used to go there occasionally. Our county freeholders went there for Monday Night Football. Sam’s sponsored our softball team for quite a few years. My wife and I used to go there: she loved the sandwiches.

But as my desire to drink faded away, we didn’t go anymore and by and by, Sam’s went out of business.

Just for the heck of it, last night, I looked for Sam’s on the internet. Just to see if anyone remembered it.

Imagine my astonishment when I read that Sam’s Bar & Grill was believed to be… haunted. Ghosts. And I found that little video, displayed above.

Haunted? I must’ve been to Sam’s a thousand times, and never heard a word of any haunting. But then who would have told me? Not the owner. Not the bar maids. Nor was any ghost likely to put in an appearance while the bar was open, the lights were on, and patrons were enjoying themselves. I suppose the only people who knew those stories were those who lived in the neighborhood. Still, Weird N.J. Magazine lists Sam’s as a haunted site–so somebody was talking about it, even if the stories never reached my ears.

Gee, I wish I’d heard those stories.

It got me wondering about some of the other bars I used to go to–which led me to the startling discovery that they’re all gone. Not replaced by other bars. Gone. Where do you go to get a drink around here? But then I always liked quiet, restful places, so I wouldn’t be interested in going to any of the crowded sports bars that still look to be pretty abundant. I doubt you can enjoy a quiet conversation there.

So I wonder what I would have seen and heard if I’d been in Sam’s after it had shut down for the night and everyone had gone home. Anything? I’ll never know.

Forty Years Ago Today…

Image result for images of first date cartoon

Forty years ago this very day, Patty and I went on our first date. Before it was over, we felt we’d known each other for years.

First we went to dinner at The Islanders, a very fine Polynesian/Chinese restaurant whose owner advertised with The Bayshore Independent, the weekly newspaper of which I was associate editor and Patty was the bookkeeper. Then we went to the movies and say Voyage of the Damned, and wrapped things up with a visit to Sam’s Bar & Grill, a cozy old tavern with the best sandwiches in the county.

Time passes; and the only thing that’s left of that date, on Dec. 26 of 1976… is us. And even after all this time, we still have it in us to surprise each other.

Harmless prank: On Christmas Eve I handed Patty a gift-wrapped present and said, “And this is for you, from Deborah Grossman.” Now we don’t know anyone named Deborah Grossman, so you should’ve seen the look on her face…