And so our story begins.
A few years ago I was sitting in a tavern in my beloved Chicago waiting for a friend to join me for an afternoon beer. I often found myself arriving about 30 minutes early for any bar date – there was something magical and mystical about being there on my own. I considered this “me” time and the only other character I wanted anywhere near me was that bar. I wanted to soak up the environment because as weird as it sounds, I’ve always felt connected to bars. Not in the obvious college way, but in the genuine relationship way. I wanted to listen to their stories and hear everything they needed to tell me about the past and the present. So, naturally, it was important that I make every effort to have this “me” time with each and every pub I encountered. I think the feeling became mutual.
Many, many taverns later, I had a revelation. Was it really possible that I could combine my love for pubs, history, and Chicago? Could I really teach people about the city’s past through each tavern I discovered? The answer was yes. And so was born the idea for Tales, Taverns, & Towns.
I have spent extensive time researching the bars of Chicago. Of course this research involves sitting there, drinking, socializing, talking, and experiencing. But let’s face it, that’s not history, that’s just being a bar fly. I’m not the kind of person that finds much interest in reporting that “Bar A has a Golden Tee machine” or that “Bar B is full of Lincoln Park Trixies and Chads” – you can figure that out just by walking through the door. My goal was to provide real information – the kind of stuff you can’t pick up just by having a beer like any other patron. So, I set out to investigate the history of each specific address, location, connections, families, and anything else I could that would truly give me an historic, cultural, and educational perspective. I do my best to spend time speaking with bar owners, managers, regulars, and anyone else that can help me complete the pictured past. I spend hours in research centers and libraries in order to find historic facts. I feel that this is important stuff, stuff that you, my loyal reader, will want to know.
My passion and interest in this has begun to grow more than I can describe. Chicago is and will always be numero uno, but I’ve begun branching out to other US cities. My vacations now include days for tavern research – research that involves drinking, but also involves doing. So while the first few posts will be all about the Windy City, look out for special guest cities making their way onto these pages. I’ll also have guest bloggers – bar owners that will be able to tell you far more about their tavern than I could ever dream of doing. But never fear, I will always make every effort to connect it back to the bigger “history” picture – my goal is to get everyday people to truly enjoy and appreciate the past. As I’ve always said, alcohol is the lubricant for history.
So, Tales, Taverns, & Towns is a historic guide through cities of the world. I hope I am able to teach you about the history of each city and I certainly hope I am able to quench your thirst for the past – one tavern at a time.