Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Augusta's War: The Forgotten Angel of Bastogne

During my days in the Army, it was my experience to do about 10 months with the 1st Battalion of the 327th Infantry Regiment, in 1990-1991. It is a unit rich in its history, but no moment shines quite so bright for that storied regiment more than its defense of Bastogne, Belgium, during the winter of 1944. This is the story of one of the unsung heroes of that legendary defense, a heroic nurse named Augusta Chiwy who, along with Renee LaMair, saved so many lives among the wounded of the 101st Airborne.

The car was hot. He was traveling with his buddy, Bill, in his shit 2000 Crown Victoria. Why does he keep the windows rolled up? The electric roll down was out. It needed to get fixed. Damn it was hot. Hot like Mississippi or Tangiers. His buddy, Paul, was yammering on about the Jets, but all Bill could think about was German submarine movies:

The guys are all gathered around the periscope. The skipper has an announcement. Their T-shirts soaked with sweat, someone is nonetheless smoking. The fresh water is out. Depth-charges shake Das Strudel as the bearded leader of the small underwater tribe gives them the bad news -- "We have only air for 10 more minutes." Bill knows what it's like now. He's right there with them...a spectral image behind the sonar...sweating with them....thirsty and ready for one gulp of fresh water.

"...and I told her to go fuck herself. Yeah, go fuck yourself, bitch! I want my senior discount!" Paul cried victoriously, bringing Bill back to the moment.

'Can we stop, Paul, I need some water?' he queried.

"Just 10 more minutes," said Paul, replacing the cigar in his mouth.

Now, it was Bill's turn to feel the silent ghosts of the long-dead German submariners around him. In broken English, he could hear the shade of the white-capped skipper saying, "Ve know your pain, Beeel."

"Now stop being a whiny bitch, going to Arby's is worth a little extra drive," Paul concluded.

You Will Be Judged By History


Republicans , you are so concerned with your party winning that you are willing to be complicit in treason. Devin Nunes is the United States Representative for California's 22nd District. He is also the chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Nunes would rather promote the narrative that President Donald Trump was incidentally surveyed, implying that the Obama Administration spied on the future president than deal with the issue of the involvement of Trump and his administration's cover-up. 

Mr. Nunes -- and House Speaker Paul Ryan -- you will go to jail.Is it worth it to be the reigning party if you have to deliver the United States to Russia? Because, don't fool yourselves, that is what you are doing. Here is something you may not have thought of: If the Russians control the Untied States via proxy, it won't matter if you have the majority. 

Democrats, don't be afraid to get aggressive with Republicans; speak clearly and truthfully. The Republicans seem to have a 'win at any cost attitude' and I don't think it would be wrong to get more aggressive while still maintaining your morals. 
Rupert Murdoch: Another bad man with no hair?

People, do something! Before this year, I had not voted for a long time and have never posted on a blog, but I feel that the current president is dangerous to America and the world. Make your actions meaningful. Voting is very meaningful and so is educating your fellow man. 

President Trump: Ignorance is not an excuse! I'm not talking about ignorance of the law. Because you know you are skirting the law. I'm talking about using your personality as an excuse. One thing that has seemed to happen with every president in recent history is that, once they assume the mantle of the highest office in the country, they become president for the people. Not president for their party. Not president for their economic interest, but president for the people.

Right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch, you are so friendly with Russian leader Vladimir Putin that you want your network to push this terrible narrative of Putin as 'friend to the United States'? All the time, Putin is romantically entangled with Murdoch's former wife.

No, there is something very rotten in the state of Denmark, or should I say the United States Government. And, there are things and people that should simply fade before they do too much harm -- like bad haircuts from the 1980's or Beta VCRs. Yet, the Trump Administration and this Congress, and these very bizarre alliances are not going anywhere anytime soon, apparently. No, the reality show that is the Federal Government has just begun its season, and it has all the class of a Jersey Shore reunion special. 

(Blogger Abraham Lincoln is the pen name for a New Jersey resident who is 'Mad As Hell And Isn't Going To Take It Anymore.')

[The opinions of Blogger Abraham Lincoln in no way reflect the attitudes or opinions of The Purcell Chronicles. Rather, the website is a venue for those who wish to articulate their views and points of views in a civil way. All points of views are invited to request space. Of course, this is no way assures same will be given. Management reserves the rights to present columnists at its discretion. --JJP]

Friday, March 17, 2017

Beautiful Chinese Umbrella Dance

Wonderful dancing and presentation: a real treat.

‘One of the Most Compassionate Things We Can Do’: Mulvaney on Whether Bu...

Social service assistance is necessary for tens of millions of Americans. I find it hard to consider cutting services from the most vulnerable of our populations as a good idea.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

On the benefits of growing old gracefully


Now that I am officially beyond the half-century mark, I feel credible to speak to at least a few things I have learned along the way. These are life lessons, some I lived and others I just picked up along the way from seeing the times other people had. In all cases, they left a lasting mark with me and that has led me to write them down.

1. Eat vegetables, drink water  and try to stay fit: There are any number of reasons, all perfectly reasonable, why life gets the best of people and they gain weight and lose their good health. I am an example about what not to do at this point, though I have been trying to take some of my own medicine and have religiously begun to eat vegetables and drink more water. I suppose part of this is staying away from anything that tastes amazing made of sugar, and this includes soda.

2. Use tobacco and drink if you can do it in moderation: Well, no one ever wanted to grow up and be an alcoholic or die of lung cancer. But, it happens. In fact, alcohol and tobacco are life ruiners and it is best to avoid them entirely. However, all things being equal, if these vices are going to be indulged in, it should only be with great moderation.

3. Get your sleep: Lack of sleep can kill someone when done enough. Maybe worse than that, someone who has not had a good night's rest is libel to make some very bad decisions. Being excessively sleepy is not that dissimilar from being on some narcotic. It is just a better idea to get as much sleep as you need.

4. Exercise in moderation: I over-did exercise as a youth. Because of that, there was a lot less of my body to work with when I got older. If I had to do it over again, I would have kept it to a normal, healthy work out regiment and not tried to push myself beyond what was normal. It doesn't work out on the Back 9 of life.

5. Staying married or staying single: There are some people who were made to be in marriages, whether they are gay or straight. And, there are some people just made to be single. The problems happen in peoples' lives when people who are supposed to be paired up aren't, and when people who aren't are. There is no clearer way to put it.

6. It is good to have hobbies: A person should indulge their creative side, if not for profit and gain, just to regularly use those parts of their personality and psyche. It must be very hard to become adled if one's mind is always at work.

7. In all things, do the best you can where it invovles God. Don't let anyone tell you how to pray, or what to believe, or how to have your own private relationship with your creator. Just do what feels natural and let the religious types bark at the moon.

8. Be kind whenever you can, and that means being kind to yourself too. You count.

9. Do the best you can at work: Work hard but don't give your life to a job. It's a cheap way to spend a life given you for only the small number of years we are given.

10. Be social to the extent you can: There is nothing worse than being an old codger yelling at kids to get off their front lawn. Just don't be that guy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The 2nd Armored Division (Forward), Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, Garlstedt, FRG

Former Intel Analyst, 
4th Bn, 41st Infantry Regiment 
"Fix Bayonets" Battalion
2nd Armored Division (Forward)

I was trying to find a few photos of Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, Garlstedt, then-Federal Republic of Germany (circa mid-1980s) and could not find any. At the time, East Germany was known as the German Democratic Republic -- ironically (not a lot of 'democratic' anything going on over there from what I saw). I learned the U.S. Army re-designated a kaserne in Wiesbaden Lucius D. Clay many years after I left Germany, so I am writing about the original Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, which I was stationed at while I served. Afterward, I figured I would post about it because there was not that much on it anywhere else on the Internet. All I found was this rather grainy, black-and-white photo that was undated and really only gives a sense of the kaserne itself. Even a lot of the story of the kaserne has been lost. So, without any further adieu, here is something about LDCK.
41st Infantry Regtiment

I arrived to Lucius D. Clay Kaserne in early December, 1986 from the 21st Replacement Detachment, in Frankfurt. I was transferred from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and there had been winter there -- but nothing like what I had experienced in Frankfurt, and certainly nothing like what I came to find at LDCK, in Garlstedt. 

At the time, the kaserne hosted the 2nd Armored Division (Forward), which was an 'infantry heavy' forward brigade of the 2nd Armored Division (Main), then based at Fort Hood, Texas. I was at the replacement for the Division (Forward) for a brief time and then assigned to HHC, 4th Battalion, 41st Infantry. The other infantry battalion on post was the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry. The 2nd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment was also headquartered there. To the best of my ability to remember, so was the 4th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment; a signal battalion and a support battalion (whose designation I have forgotten over the years).

I caught pneumonia almost immediately at LDCK. though back then that was no reason to go on Sick Call let alone go to the hospital. In fact, the Army back then had its flaws -- common sense sometimes lacking being one of them. Eventually I was treated for pneumonia, though it was only when it nearly became very bad. 
66th Armored Regiment

LDCK was a small kaserne with its own LTA (Limited Training Area). It was one of the first places where the Bradley Fighting Vehicles (M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, M3 Scout Vehicle) were introduced. Every soldier was required to attend the HOW Academy once at LDCK. "HOW" stood for "Hell on Wheels."

According to the fine folks at the HOW Academy, the 2nd Armored (Forward) came to Northern Germany in 1978, as a result of a decision by then-President Jimmy Carter to assist British operations in the NorthAG (Northern Army Group) of NATO. The Division (Forward) as it was known, supported operations of a British armored division, as I recall. And, the British had operational control of the Division (Forward) in sector. Indeed, later on, when 4/41 Inf. rotated back to Fort Hood, in 1988, its final pass in review at LDCK was taken by a British two star and his wife. And, in general, there were infrequent visitors in garrison by British Army dignitaries, though this was known to me only by reading The Forward Edge, which was the kaserne's local newspaper. 

So, I was assigned to the S-2 Section at 4-41, which was known as the "Fix Bayonets" battalion because it was the greeting between officers and enlisted men upon passing. The 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry held the greeting "Straight and Stalwart" and the 2nd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment  greeted each other as "Iron Knights."

My NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer In-Charge) initially was SFC Craig Fisher, who was a 25 year soldier, the Intel Sergeant at the section when I first arrived. He was a long-time 'Germany soldier' who had spent most of his years in uniform in the FRG. SFC Fisher was an infantry soldier, and was given the position of S-2 NCOIC. I learned some history from him about the unit. At the time I arrived, 4-41 was in itself relatively new, as it had recently been designated such after being the 2nd Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment when he originally arrived at LDCK (what year that was I have no idea anymore). 

There was something different about this post. It was located in 'cow country' in Northern Germany. The locals were a mixed bag: Younger people seemed to enjoy the young, wild GIs from the Division (Forward) in the nearby towns -- Osterholz-Scharmbeck, Bremerhaven, Bremen. Meanwhile, many older Germans gave off the distinct impression they did not, though largely they were courteous to us. I lived on the economy, in Osterholz-Scharmbeck, with my wife at the time. 

As well as being among the first units to receive Bradleys, 2nd Armored (Forward) was also among the first to receive the then-brand new MI Abrams Main Battle Tank. Another first was that infantrymen (originally designated 11B) from LDCK were among the first to go through specialized Bradley training to become the MOS 11M (a Bradley designator for infantrymen). Of some note, when the M1 first was fielded, it had a 105mm main gun, which was later dropped in favor of the 120mm main gun. And, while I was at LDCK, its improvements included going from homogenous steel to depleted uranium. Only later in my tenure at LDCK would the M1 receive the designation M1A1.

At the time, the Division (Forward) was commanded by then-Brigadier General Tommy Baucum. He was flamboyant, and very well regarded by everyone within the command. Meanwhile, 4-41 Infantry was commanded by LTC John Voessler, who was someone I came to respect very much and who taught so many of us so much. Of some note, I find no reference to LTC Voessler's name anywhere online associated with 4-41 Infantry, which is a shame because "Pale Rider," as was his fixed call-sign, deserves to be remembered with the unit he cared so deeply for in its history. 

There were some hallmarks of service at 4-41 Infantry, as well as the rest of the units at LDCK. The Division (Forward) spent an inordinate amount of time in the field, compared to either the units I had served in at Fort Bragg, North Carolina or in Ft. Ord, California. 

The weather was harsh. Division (Forward) soldiers were very used to operating in extreme cold environments and cold-weather safety was second nature to everyone. Where soldiers from Southern Germany used to receive cold weather training in Northern Germany every year, the Division (Forward) (which was the northern most home of American maneuver forces in Europe) annually received its cold weather training in Boris and Oksbol, Denmark. There was a former refugee camp in Oksbol that had been converted into military use over the years and regularly headquartered visiting units. Boris and Oksbol are the coldest places where I have ever been and never before or since have I seen anti-freeze freeze. 

The Division (Forward) was in garrison more than its three maneuver battalions, and it was no surprise if one or two of its maneuver battalions were gone at the same time doing some training or other somewhere. 

Between regular gunnery in Grafenwohr-Hohenfels, REFORGER, certain rail exercises, cold weather training or whatever else came down the pike, 2nd Armored Division (Forward) soldiers were, it seemed then and now, mostly living in the field. However, the 'field' was occasionally different from what I was used to as a soldier. This unit was very good at rail movements for armored vehicles, which is art and science. Railcars we used to transport M113s, Bradleys, M1A1s, M88s and the like and were not designed to such specifications perfectly. And, these vehicles only just fit on the railcars. If drivers or ground guides were as much as a few inches off when guiding these behemoths onto these cars, these vehicles would have capsized onto the ground. How could that be good for anyone? So, one either learned how to do this well, or things became very scary. 

There were times when encampments were in occupied villages or towns, or just outside of them. There were times when armored vehicles convoyed on busy public highways or thoroughfares. Maneuver training sometimes happened in areas occupied by German nationals, though the Army went out of its way to work as unobtrusively as possible. Frequently, American units worked with Dutch, FRG and British forces. In one instance, the Division (Forward) even worked with elements of the French Army in training.

In short, garrison life was short-lived in the "Iron Deuce." In the rear soldiers, particularly those from the maneuver battalions and the artillery battalion, seemed to be given some leeway with schedules to allow for time with families and time off. The soldiers were young and prone to frequently going out and getting in trouble the way that soldiers have always, in time immemorial fashion.  At the kaserne, though, in my experience at 4-41, vehicle maintenance, field readiness, personal fitness and tactical training were paramount. Yes, the fellows were given a longer rope than ordinarily back at the kaserne, but no one wanted to be on the wrong side of training requirements. Business was business. 
Then Specialist Jim Purcell at the Hohenfels Training Area (1987)

The Division (Forward) was a family, in the truest sense of any word I have ever known. In 4-41, we knew each other better than our wives and loved ones did, we certainly spent more time with each other in almost every condition than they did. It was a clannish place, where friendship was taken very seriously, and soldiers were very lucky to have leaders they could generally respect very much. Good leadership is not something assured in every army, at every post, at every time. This was a very combat-ready unit that was used to working in extremely harsh weather and terrain environments and which was easily able to work with a wide array of NATO units. By modern standards, I suppose, much of its equipment was antiquated and basic. Still, if given the choice, 4-41 Infantry and the Division (Forward) would have been and still is my first choice to have served in would the balloon have gone up for the Third World War in Europe during the 1980s.

I was made a corporal in Germany, and after returning to Fort Hood, Texas, in 1988 with the unit, an exception was made and I was assigned as the S-2 intelligence sergeant. Normally, the S-2 NCOIC job went to a senior infantry non-commissioned officer. However, the then-commander, LTC John Vermillion, thought it was a good idea to retain me there instead -- and I was promoted to sergeant, E-5 and served at this despite being an intelligence analyst and not serving in an infantry MOS at that time. 

No one can capture the whole spirit of a unit with words, or pictures. These are the things left to memory, sad to say since memory is such a fallible thing. It was the finest unit I ever served in, though, and there were many fine units I was assigned to during my tenure in the Army. However, those are other stories. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Elton John - Philadelphia Freedom (Captain Fantastic 13 of 13)

Chronicles Go Over 30K Page Views

Thank you Chronicles readers, over 30,000 page views. You stopping by has meant so much, please keep it up! 

Jim Purcell

Chicago's Hide Out Inn

Chicago's own secret place to have a good time -- the Hide Out Inn, 1354 W Wabasania Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Tel: (773) 227-4433

It's been some years -- like eight -- but I have always meant to post something about the Hide Out. It is a small place, but with a rich history of mobsters from the Prohibition Days of Old Chicago. Today, it is a great small venue and a lot of the literary types hang around there, as well as musicians.

The food was great. You can't be afraid of closed in spaces if you go, but if you are okay with that then expect a good old-fashioned time. The service, as I recall, was friendly and very good.

It's out of the way but not too far out of the way, which is good. The bands are especially good here. Meanwhile, the beer is cold, the food is hearty and the facilities are clean. You meet a lot of interesting people here and the conversations are great. Someone should write a book just about this place.

Sen. Bob Menendez: A Great Orator, But A Controversial Figure

Photo by Jim Purcell
U.S. Senator. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on the 
Campaign Trail for U.S. Senate in 2006. 

I first heard the name Bob Menendez when I was a correspondent for The Jersey Journal, working for the late and very great editor Peter Weiss there. Even in bringing up his name in passing, I will always say it was one of the great honors of my life to work for a journalist of his stature. 

Peter told me stories about the famed Hudson County Demcoratic bosses, the good and the bad of them. Of course, a lot of those stories were relegated to myth and legend and there was no actual proof about half of what he said, and he was sure to tell me that. In that fabled company of North Jersey decision-makers, Bob Menendez figured prominently by the time my byline was showing up in the Journal. 

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, United States Senator Robert "Bob" Menendez was born in New York City, the son of Cuban immigrants on January 1, 1954. His family moved to Union City, New Jersey, which is in Hudson County. He is a graduate of St. Peter's College, in Jersey City, and went on to graduate from the Rutgers University School of Law (in Newark). He was then elected to the New Jersey Legislature, then the United States Congress. In 2006, then New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine appointed Mr. Menendez to fill his own unexpired term for the U.S. Senate as he took over the post of governor from outgoing former Gov. Jim McGreevey

In the years since he was elected to the U.S. Senate, Mr. Menendez has been indicted on federal corruption charges in the Untied States District Court. This has yet to play out entirely, but those who supported him sure took a shot in the eye from that. I have no idea if Mr. Menendez is guilty of those charges, and he still has to get his day in court, so I will refrain from further comment in this area. 

In 2006, I was the publisher of The Courier in Middletown, New Jersey, which was owned by New Jersey Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina in those day. I was very involved in politics back then locally. At the time, I was working (away from the newspaper) with Middletown Democratic Chairman Joseph Caliendo to get Democrats elected to the Middeltown Committee. Those were hard-fought campaigns, which were dramas in an of themselves, but those are for other stories. 

For this story, Joe Caliendo and I decided we could insert some flash into the campaign cycle for the election by trying to get a big name -- Sen. Menendez -- to come down to the Bayshore area (the general area that Middeltown was in within Northern Monmouth County) and give a speech. We would make an event of it, if Joe could pull it off with the senator's people, of course. Meanwhile, I spoke with the owner of the Shore Casino and booked that, and got the Color Guard from the North Jersey Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, my home chapter, to attend. 

It all worked out. I think this was one of the first times that Mike Morris from Middletown Mike covered an event. I liked him very much and, before he started writing his very good blog, encouraged him to do something like that online. I think he has done well for himself with it, and for his readers, ever since. He is a hard-working, family man and very grounded.

Anyway, the event came and it went off well. The word circulated through the Bayshore area Democrats and the Shore Casino was bright and the lovely hall was filled. It was typical of political events in most ways, but I enjoyed it very much -- having been a part of bringing it off. What I did not expect, though, was that Mr. Menendez would have such a command of oratory. He is a great speaker, and I do not mean that in some passing way. His command of the spoken word is absolutely mesmerizing. I cannot say that I have heard anyone offer a speech better. 

In fact, if I had to come up with my top 3 all-tome greatest speakers I have ever heard, it would not be hard for me to figure it out: 1. LTC Leonard Scott, former commander of the United States Army Airborne School during my tenure there; 2. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ); and then-BG Bernard Loefke, assistant XVIII Airborne Corps commander during my tenure there at G-2. This is my short list. 

I have heard people recount great orators before, in writings and in person. Well, Bob Menendez had that rare quality that can charge the air with electricity. For the life of me, I cannot recall the exact subjects he discussed that night. What I do remember is the way he did it. He was and is a great orator. 

Praise You In This Storm - Casting Crowns

Johnny Cash - Sunday Morning Coming Down

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Stuck in time or walking down Memory Lane: TJK Stadium, Keansburg, New Jersey


I have lived an unsettled life, and this has contributed to me being one of these aging guys who has been a lot of places and done a lot of things. I've been about every place in the world and country I have wanted to go, and I have worked at everything from laborer to top executive of a company, from artist and writer to ditch digger and soldier. I have been everything from a responsible family man with a pretty young wife to a barfly on the prowl for any kind of wizened hag that passes my way after last call.

One of the lives I lived was as a bartender in Keansburg, New Jersey. This was a rough patch, to be sure. I was coming off of some devastating professional and personal losses and was fresh off actual homelessness, living in the woods outside of Lincoln, Nebraska (which was a whole other story). At the time, I was in the last chapter of a bad relationship with a girlfriend 20 years my junior and it was fresh after Hurricane Sandy, the worst howl I have ever been in. My apartment in a run-down flop house in Keansburg was destroyed by Sandy, which is to say my belongings were destroyed along with the thriving bedbug population of the Capuccio Hotel there.

Before Sandy (October 22, 2012), I was tending bar for an old friend, Tommy Keelen, at TJK. Actually, TJK was named for Tommy's initials. I do not know if Tommy is alive or dead anymore, which is a shame because he is or was a nice guy and a stand-up friend. Nevertheless, this is a story about what was, and not what is.

I thought about this after I came upon some old articles about how, four years after I left the bar, there was some big drug bust that involved his place and another bar down the road, Applejacks II, on Carr Avenue.

I remember that bar being so wild. It was a hangout for local townspeople but it got its fair share of bikers from around the state. I wouldn't have called it a biker bar -- but a sports bar where bikers came around a lot. Never have I been in an American bar so much like the Irish pubs I saw in Western Ireland when I visited there as a kid. It was more than a place for some food and drink: It was one of the hearts of the town's community. TJK actually tended to people who might otherwise have no place to go, while at the same time entertaining the younger people, the working people, the upright and downright respectable. But, TJK was this place of non-judgement, where simple kindness could be found by populations of people who could not expect understanding or kindness anywhere else. Maybe it was Tommy who once told me that Keansburg, as a community, was like a carnival troupe. I do not think that would be a bad comparison. Well, if that were true then Tommy was the caretaker of those who would have their tents far away from the Big Top. His place was a godsend to many.
Tommy Keelen and a lady friend (circa 2012)

I did not get the nitty gritty about whatever drug bust happened years ago. Without knowing a thing, I could say the least likely person I would ever know to sanction such a thing would be Tom. He was not that kind of guy. No way. Rather, I would say what I remember about Tom. He was a business man, yes. But, he cared for people who were broken. He gave jobs to people who would otherwise be unemployable -- me for a time among them. I do not want to make this all about Tommy, though it could easily be. The man deserves a book. He was and maybe still is a gentle soul in the world, good at heart -- but with a hard right hook if you want any of that. He was extraordinary, cultured beyond what most people thought in his humble little burg. And, he had a joy in him that was sometimes the best and worst parts of being a kid. In fact, the one and only time I have ever seen a motorcycle driven through a bar, it just so happened that Tommy was riding it. No more about Tommy, but what a splendid fellow.

TJK  served good food, had great characters who went there, and absolutely thumbed its nose at proper society, the likes of which could be found in nearby Middletown or Rumson. The bands were loud and the dance floors were filled with all forms of humanity on Friday and Saturday nights. The last time I danced so hard I was dripping with sweat and dog tired was there (of note, it was my night off). The food was good at TJK. Some of it, like the seafood, was amazing. Everyone knew how to cook and cook well -- Tommy taught everyone. Meanwhile, the beer was freezing and there were a lot of choices for a fair amount of money. No doubt, if I were to be fortunate enough to be granted entrance to heaven at the end of my days, heaven would not generally be TJK. However, TJK would certainly be somewhere over the wrong side of the heavenly tracks.

Could someone find a fight at TJK if they were looking for it? Yes. Maybe even if they weren't looking for it at the wrong place and time. But, the bar was not someplace where lawyers and accounts went. TJK was a place for honest, simple people who were not afraid of the world around them. It was not fancy. No one was talking about the next big business merger there. It was easy enough there -- you drank, you danced, played pool, watched a ball game, bitched about your boss or your wife, maybe you fell in love on the most perfect night of your life. Maybe you broke up with your girl there.
Tommy driving his Harley out of the bar at TJK in 2012

TJK was the best bar I have come across on three continents and several counties. And, along Memory Lane, it is a nice place to stop. Of course, this is the only place it resides now, as it is permanently closed. Well, the only constant is that things change. Yet, it is also said that nothing good lasts forever. I will leave it there.