"Time often loses its way in a Bar


I can think of no place where time passes so rapidly as in a bar. People, this writer included, appear to lose all track of time on occasion in a bar, and I have some stories that well illustrate this point. In my early days of journalism drinking and bars were a way of life. At that time I had just joined a small, but very successful business publication in San Francisco and nowhere was noontime drinking more a part of the business scene than in the City by the Bay.

Which I should add was all new to me. Till then I had no idea that people drank in the middle of the day which shows how young and naive I was.

Where I worked selecting a place to have lunch was often the biggest decision of the day and such discussions, on where to go and and with whom, generally started early enough so by 11:45 everyone could be ready to go. Writing and production somehow had to be fitted around such an important event as lunch.

As usual on this particular day the whole staff, which consisted of two owners, the advertising manager, the editor and myself met with a couple of advertisers for lunch. At that time besides doing editorial I was also the staff photographer. In those early days I packed a 4 x 5 speed graphic, complete with flash gun, with film holders in one suit pocket and as many #5 flash bulbs as the other suit pocket would hold. This of course gave me the permanent rumpled appearance of the newsman of that era.

It was decided to go to Sam's in Maiden Lane in deference to me for I had a two o' clock photo assignment around the corner on Kearny Street at a prominent wine and spirits shop.

In those years no bar in San Francisco could exist without dice cups and the people we associated with used them at all times. Whether bull, ship, captain and crew, or liars poker, the dice cups were kept busy and as the afternoon progressed the bang of dice cups hitting the bar would get louder and louder.

This particular day both the dice playing and the drinking were spirited and as my 2 o'clock appointment loomed no one had even mentioned lunch. So I picked up the speed graphic, slipped out of Sam's, met the people for the photoshoot, and took the photos. All this had taken a good hour and still without lunch I decided to return to Sam's for a bite to eat before returning to the office.

I was still a couple of doors away when I heard the bang of dice cups which told me that my colleagues were still there. I moved into the bar, set down my Speed Graphic, took my seat at the bar and like magic a drink was once more before me.

Some time later one of the publication proprietors noticed me and asked if it wasn't about time to take my photos. I replied that I had done so, it had all gone well, also that it was now 3:30. This he pondered for some moments and then announced. "Say, let's shake for one more round, send it to a table and have some lunch".

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Last Update:12/2/97

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