Still stumped for that perfect gift for that very special someone? How about a family tavern with three apartments, dozens of devoted inebriates and 60 years of small town memories?
There. That ought to really stuff your stocking.
Alas, The Pond is for sale.
A steadfast Latrobe landmark since 1954 can be yours for right around $350,000.
So it’s conceivable that this blog is being composed today above what in six months could be a shiny new Jiffy Lube.
And wouldn’t that be a pity?
Times change, but The Pond never did. That in some ways may have been its downfall. In an age when many taverns advertise free wifi, The Pond still doesn’t take credit or debit cards.
Want to show the kids what a pay phone looks like? Bring ‘em here.
Of course, parents have for years been bringing their kids here because that’s what their parents did with them when they were growing up. Arnold Palmer’s told Dave he raised his daughters on Pond pizza.
I’m doing the same with mine. I’m sure years from now they’ll remember Friday nights we’d eat pizza in the dining room and then walk the mile to the stadium to watch the high school football games.
Ain’t that America?
So, yeah, right now I feel a bit like a little boy feels when his folks tell him they’re getting a divorce.
Am I going to have to move? Will I ever see my friends again?
Writing to me is sitting all alone in small room and spending hour after hour screaming for attention. Couple the isolation with redundant failure and it can drive you nuts.
So having a bar full of happy inebriates just 33 steps away is a real godsend for someone who likes to laugh and joke.
I’ve never found a better place for that and I’ve been drinking in bars since, gee, about the fifth grade.
The regulars here include attorneys, football coaches, farmers, office equipment sales people, teachers, postal carriers — you name it. On weekends the place is still packed with so many friendly familiars there’s a kind of soulful magic I know some people say they feel during worship.
What went wrong?
Actually nothing at all. It’s still a great bar.
Dave’s run it for 24 of its 60 years. That’s a long time in a business that chews up personnel and leaves many in need of 12-step rehab.
Dave’s always resisted raising prices in a place renown for affordability. Plus, he’s over-staffed. But he’s been reluctant to let anyone go because, hey, they’re his friends, too, and he doesn’t want to be the guy to put them out of work.
That brings me to the kind of statement that would lead to cruel “Brokeback Mountain” jokes from guys here who’d never dream of watching “Brokeback Mountain.” Here goes:
I love Dave Carfang.
Love his Dad, too.
They built a true pub — a public house — the kind of place where you can always get a great meal, some cheerful companionship and feel right at home, even the guys who come here to escape what they feel in their actual homes.
We’re still a few weeks away from the wild rumor stage so now it’s just conjecture.
Will a new owner tear the old building down? Will he or she keep the staff? Will the place be turned into a hipster coffee shop?
I have my own selfish interests at play. Namely: For God’s sake, how far will my next office be from the nearest bar stool?
And what will become of our friend Dave? What will he do?
I fear my friend is feeling like a failure, and he doesn’t understand how much we all think of him and all the life-long friendships that have formed just because of him and his homey little corner tavern.
My dream of what happens next is in black and white.
Just as Dave’s about to close for the last time, the front door bursts open and in walks a man with news of a Christmas miracle. More come. They’re all happy. They’re all smiling. And they’re all carrying fistfuls of cash and dropping them in a big hamper on the bar.
The bar is saved and Dave realizes that no man is a failure who has friends.
That would be fantastic.
After all, it is a wonderful bar.
Related hijinks (or 9 stories why I’ll miss The Pond) . . .