I was devastated, my much anticipated boat was not going to the beach due to the morning rain!
I refused to falter and wither away in disappointment - there must be something else I could do!
The closest thing I could associate with boats was the Staten Island Ferry - so the Ferry it shall be! I noshed on my first tomato and hummus sandwiches while staring at the Statue of Liberty contemplating how the history of this nation may have ventured a different course if she were presented in the French Style as in the Nude.
At the Ferry Terminal I was presented with the Visitors Map with near and far patches of green with not-so enlightening descriptions attached to them. So my decision was the medium sized patch of green on the map that also indicated the Staten Island Children's Museum.
I was possessed with awe when I stumbled across a bold yet aerial sculpture with a bee line perspective of lower Manhattan. I did not need to be instructed it was a September 11 Memorial - the piece itself was so strongly executed with intent of location and presentation in mind that it sang for itself in its ethereal silence.
I had no expectations of my destination as I walked along Richmond Terrace and I passed a intriguing establishment with their doors open early in the morning - looked like a local bar, so I instructed myself to keep the place in mind for a possible refreshment after I investigate the green patch I saw on the Visitors Map.
This so-called green patch was called Snug Harbor Park and turned into an delightful experience to find a greenhouse, art + music conservatory and gardens to walk through and take luxurious naps in. I indulged in my Adobo seasoned chicken drumsticks and thawed out my early morning disappointment with a lengthy snooze under the soft sunshine, circumferenced by greenery and wild full blooms.
Unawares the morning had morphed into hot afternoon as I awoke in nature and was soon envisioning that ice cold one that I promised to investigate earlier.
I step into the bar interior with all my beach gear (shoulder slung - yoga mat and backpack overstuffed with towel) to be faced with surprised faces of the afternoon day drinking patrons and bartender behind the counter. Dark and comforting worn wood trim with decor of black and white photos with banners of yesteryear’s baseball teams. The familiar every-bar scent of alcohol served in a bar for untold years. I knew I was in the right place for a perfect beer - I had found the locals hangout.
Bartender greets me as I investigate the beer tap and order a Yuengling Lager.
“Do you want a Large or a Small? A Large is 3 dollars and a Small is 2 dollars.”
“Three Dollars!? I’ll take a Large please”
I tried to tip the bartender a dollar (as my NYC bar education has taught me),
“Nah, you don’t have to tip me, I’m the owner” as the proprietor of the establishment refused to take my tip.
“Can I take this beer to the table outside?”
I plop down on the garden table out front to throw my feet up from the walking I accomplished today. The proprietor come out to hang out with me.
I learn that “Larry” is the 4th generation owner of the establishment. Built by his forefathers as a place where the retired sailors living in Snug Harbor would come out and have their drink. I learned from Larry that Snug Harbor was originally built by a successful merchant sailor as a place of refuge and retirement for his fellow seamen - during a time when sailors were out to sea for years of their lives. Larry educated me on bits and pieces of Staten Island and the local area that we were in, and how he was disappointed when the salt company blocked his bar’s view of the Bay with a behemoth stash of salt for winter roads - only to no avail after his many petitions to to the city.
Larry had to go attend to his other patrons so I promised him I’ll say bye before I leave today. Next, a shiny red jeep pulls up front to reveal himself as another patron of the Shore Inn. We greeted and I shared my story about how I stumbled across this place and Snug Harbor and enjoying my afternoon (3 dollar!) beer tremendously. He informs me there’s a lot of Service Veterans and retired Firefighters who frequent this bar currently and on the weekends there’s a jumping music scene that stuffs the place with a crowd.
I got free entertainment with my beer with stories of Staten Island Firefighter culture and camaraderie that morphed into this cross country road trip with his buddies in his early twenties during the 1960’s 70’s including episodes of the almost stereotypical remote isolated towns suspicious of travelers and favorite 8 tracks and recreational substances to accompany that music.
Through these stories red jeep guy’s buddies all started showing up for their afternoon routine of cigarettes and beer. I even got forewarned as Steve pulled up in his car that he can guarantee that Steve will try to compliment me in attempt to be a ladies man and always light a cigarette before he exits the car. As red jeep guy spelled it out, Steve parked the car, lit the cigarette, stepped out, said Hi to Albert, and immediately turned his attention to me and was like “wow what a beautiful lady you are!” I could do nothing but laugh as Albert snorted through his beer.
I got to soak-in the whole crew, and later understood why there were Small beers as the elderly veterans still lived their vibrant lives sitting at the bar with a glass to raise with their friends as they shared their hard earned life stories.
I wound down my personal party after the second beer, and said bye to all my new friends as Albert exclaimed “You gotta come back to see us again!”
I can’t wait to make it back to the 3 dollar (aka priceless) beer again!