– The New Guy In Town –

I had only been in Lake Oswego, Oregon a little over three maybe four days. Still trying to get my sea legs, so-to-speak. The reason for me being here at all was do to a friend of mine, who I kept in touch with over the years in a periodic fashion, a favor. She and her husband owned a house in what is called the First Edition part of Lake Oswego and they were having some remodeling done. I guess there was a problem with their original contractor and since I did that kind of work, they asked if I wanted to complete the job.

I was living in Phoenix, Arizona and working in telemarketing to be close to my kids. She knew I hated my job and Phoenix so getting me to leave that miserable place was fairly easy. I had no plans of staying any longer than six months or so. Just enough time to finish the job, look around a bit and return to the dry heat of the desert which I loved so much. Yeah, right! That was thirteen years ago.

After getting re-acquainted with my friend and her family and getting settled in general, I decided to take a walk around town, which was only four or five blocks away, and see where things were. The best way to find your way around is to walk it. Especially when the town is as compact as Lake Oswego.

There are two main streets that comprise the main part of town. Highway 43 or State Street and A Avenue which T-bones right into State Street. B Avenue is a secondary main street that runs parallel to A street has offices, the Fire Station, restaurants, pharmacy and things of that nature. First Street through Fifth Street which run parallel to State Street and across A Avenue also have businesses. Like I said, it’s a very compact little town that thinks it’s a city.

I was actually looking for a place to get a good hamburger and a cold beer. I always say, “If you can find a place that serves a good burger and cold beer, just about anything else you buy there should be good as well.” It doesn’t always hold true but most of the time it does.

I walked from my friends house to State Street and followed it down across A Street until I reached a place called Brazil’s. There was a sign in the window that read Hamburgers $3.95. It was a neighborhood bar, dark as pitch inside but that was normal for most small bars. No one really wanted know what the next person looked like drunk or sober.

I walked in through the open door, through the small dining area and through the swinging cafe’ doors to the bar or lounge part of the bar. I looked around but saw no one. I mean no one. No bartender, no patron no cook, no one. I figured the bartender must be in the bathroom so I sat and waited and waited and waited some more. Nothing. I checked the mens room and, reluctantly, checked the ladies as well. Still nothing.

I tried calling out but no one answered. I walked up the back stairs and checked the alley and saw nothing there either. This place was completely deserted. I guess a more dishonest person could have robbed the place but being me, I locked the back door and closed the front door. I didn’t know what else to do.

Come to find out that the old gal that tended bar there usually started drinking when she clocked in and about the time I got there she would have been asleep on a chair in the kitchen. The regulars would have known to wake her up but me being new, didn’t know to look in the blacked out kitchen. Live and learn, right?

After leaving Brazil’s, I went back toward A Street and crossed to the other side where I saw the Pump House. It was another small local bar that catered to the baseball cap and flannel shirt crowd. Don’t get me wrong, basically I am one of those guys but it wasn’t what I was looking for at all. Besides, they only served beer and wine and no real food to speak of. My search continued.

I walked, again, toward State Street and hung a left. I came upon a place called the Gemini Bar and Grill. I did a quick walk through and noted that they had pool tables in the front along with tables and chairs for customers. In the back were more tables, a dance floor and a large stage that stretched across the whole back wall. The bar was long and L-shaped at the front with well stocked liquor shelves behind.

I sat at one of the tables in the front of the bar near the pool tables and waited for the bartender to come over. I waited while he looked at me and placed an order with the cook. I waited while the cook passed the order over the stainless steel shelf and I waited some more while the bartender looked at me as he started to eat the hamburger.

It was then that I walked to the bar and asked if it would be possible to get some service. The bartender, with a half full mouth said, “That section’s closed.”

I asked him, “Well why didn’t you say so? I’ve been sitting there for twenty minutes waiting for some service. You saw me, right?”

His reply was, “Yeah, but I thought you were just resting.”

I figured this place and, especially this moron bartender, didn’t deserve my business so I left for greener pastures. I hoped.

I was about to give up and head back to my friends house when I spotted a white plaster building that I had walked by earlier not knowing what it was. It was kitty-corner from the pharmacy. Looking at it from this direction I could see it was a restaurant and lounge. Lacey’s of Lake Oswego, to be exact. Steak and seafood it’s specialty. I figured one more chance and that’s it, I go home after this.

I walked through the heavy front door, turned right down a short hall and then left into the bar area. There were few if any people inside so there were plenty of bar stools to choose from. I picked one close to the door just in case.

Walking toward me behind the bar was a good looking blond with a very pleasant smile. She placed her elbows in the stainless steel drip edge on the back of the bar top, smiled an even bigger smile and said, “Hi, what can I get ya?” It was then that I knew I was home. This was going to be my watering hole of choice. My home away from home. My spot.

And so it was for almost ten years. There were blue collars who mixed with business execs who mixed with millionaires who mixed with whoever. For a good number of those years, all pretexts, for the most part, were hung on hooks just inside the front door. There was no class distinction in Lacey’s. The owner, Ed Lacey, wouldn’t allow it. Everyone was equal when they walked in and remained so until they left and even then, many remained friends regardless of there educational or economic status on the outside.

Like everything else, change is inevitable and change came to Lacey’s as well. Ed Lacey sold out to someone who really didn’t care about maintaining the business. It was run into the ground, the new owner evicted and the name of Lacey’s removed once and for all. Even though I was no longer a regular, the thought of Lacey’s being gone leaves an empty spot somewhere in my soul.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times but it was our time, good or bad.

I’ll catch you next time.

Have a really nice day!

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