NY-HS Happy Hour @ Old Town Bar

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006 | All Things, Events, Friends

The heat index in NYC hit 104 degrees this afternoon. Yikes. We’re not alone in our suffering: The New York Times reported 21 states with at least one location exceeding 100 degrees.

Wretched morning commute. The soaring temperatures have been wreaking havoc on the century-old NYC subway system. Yesterday, the nearly 100 degree heat caused a portion of the electrified third rail on the A line to buckle, stranding commuters for almost two hours in Rockaway. This morning, disaster struck the IRT. After slipping into the subway, just ahead of the closing doors on the downtown 1 train, my train proceeded to inch along the track for about 50 feet before jerking — hard — to a dead stop. A feeling of dread spread through the car, as the lights flickered, while the air conditioning sputtered, then whirred into ominous silence.

Seemingly within seconds, the train car was heavy with the sweaty steam rising off dozens of increasingly agitated commuter bodies. Car end-doors propped open, cabin windows popped and newspapers were fashioned into makeshift fans in a desperate attempt to generate some air circulation as we sat (or stood) in wait. Finally, an announcement: “Power outage on the West Side — please be patient.”

We were patient. We had no choice, really. I half expected a spontaneous riot, or some flare-up of commuter-rage, but the extreme heat seemed to have cowed the crowd into quietly suffering resignation.

Twenty stifling, interminable minutes later, the train reversed back into the Lincoln Center station, and we were released into the blazing sun. It was another twenty minutes of watching bus after impossibly-packed bus crawl past on Broadway after which I decided to change tactics and cross town for the East Side trains.

If not for work, I could have taken a cue from the toddlers frolicking in the Columbus Circle fountain. Though at some point, public nudity becomes considerably less cute.

Columbus Circle Fountain

Met SYB at the McBurney Y for our weekly CSA vegetable pick-up. After we’d divvied up our shares of Red Sails lettuce, dill, summer squash, perpetual spinach, new red potatoes, scallions, fennel, escarole, cucumbers, and Bright Lights swiss chard, he walked me to the Old Town Bar, where the Young Friends of the New York-Historical Society were hosting a happy hour.

The OTB was established in 1892 and is one of the Old New York watering holes, of which the most famous is probably McSorley’s Old Ale House. The high-backed booths (some original, with Prohibition-era storage space underneath in case of government raid), soaring tin ceilings, bevel-edged plate mirrors and marble topped mahogany bar all add to the charm. It sits west on 18th Street from another old timey bar: Pete’s Tavern, where in 1904, O. Henry penned his classic “The Gift of the Magi” at his favorite booth by the front doors.

Appropriately enough for the Historical Society, we were given a fact sheet on our venue (from which I cribbed some of the information above.) SYB stayed on for one lemonade — somewhat inferior to the deluxe versions from Sunday — while I remained to mingle with the other Young Friends. Met KW for the first time, and several others, including D, a documentary filmmaker who was recording the event for inclusion in a piece on the Society. Shortly after 8:00PM, DLW arrived from his office uptown; he and I stuck around for another hour or so, catching up on our summers.

Raced back home for a quick and much needed rinse before meeting CS at “our place.” As I was preparing to head out the door, I could hear the rumble of thunder and the sudden sound of rain — lots of rain — pounding against my windows. A quick call to CS, and after brief consultation, we decided to go forward with our plans, regardless of the storm. We did, after all, have important matters to discuss. Luckily, I had only to cross the rivulet, formerly known as Columbus Avenue, to reach my destination; CS sloshed in minutes later, from five blocks away. What a trooper!

Drenching aside, it was a lovely way to unwind after a long, hot day. On top of which, CS and I got to introduce ourselves to bartender Paul, whom we will no doubt be visiting again very soon.

There's 1 comment so far ... NY-HS Happy Hour @ Old Town Bar

July 24, 2006

Is Paul a cutie?

Go for it ...