To reference “Cheers” when telling the story of a bar seems at once hopelessly clichéd and absolutely necessary, so I’ll get it out of the way first thing — Eamonn’s Loudon House was the place where everybody knew my name. Over the course of the years I spent there, I played many of the roles: Carla, the bitter, sarcastic waitress; Cliff, the pedantic know-it-all; Norm, the beer-loving working stiff; and of course Diane, the would-be intellectual who didn’t quite know how she’d ended up slinging drinks for a living.
It was, therefore, with great sadness that I read the following opening words in an email yesterday from Shannon, “They are demolishing Eamonn’s on Thursday…” Today’s Albany Business Journal confirms the news, and describes a bit about the condo complex that will erase a little piece of my personal history.
It’s been more than ten years since I moved away and maybe two or three since it was gutted by an electrical fire, but there are few stories in my life from between 22 and 27 where Eamonn’s does not play, at the very least, a supporting role. It was where I worked, I played, I made friends, I dated. Many of the stories from those days are known simply by their most notable characteristic — vacuum boy, for example, or Irish Band Night — or a memorable catchphrase, my favorite being “once they taste human flesh, they want human flesh.” (Long story.) And because of all the people I met there, I can still walk into any Irish bar in the greater Albany area and have a reasonably good chance of running in to at least one or two friends.
Of course, nothing about the demolition does anything to change or limit my memories or my friendships, but I am deeply sorry to see it go nevertheless. I don’t work where I do today by accident; buildings are important to me — and Eamonn’s is no exception. I have very specific recollections of it as its own thing: the smell it took on after the summer of the mold (a faint sour aroma that remained long after its source was gone), the slippery-edged hole in the floor under the ice machine (where I was sure one day I would fall and break my leg), the tiny, built-in wait-stand outside the kitchen (home of an endless string of cheap calculators ruined by having beer sloshed on them). It was an old building, more than 100 years if memory serves, so it was rife with the indignities of age, but for me, it was altogether more than the sum of its slightly-crooked parts.
I haven’t gotten the impression that there was much of an effort to save it after the fire. Time and neglect gave the town what it long wanted — an excuse to get rid of what was seen as an eyesore, a noisy place that drew crowds, even as an upscale neighborhood grew up around it.
Tomorrow, it will be gone.
So fill to Eamonn’s, the parting glass:
Oh all the money that e’er I had, I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e’er I’ve done, alas, it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit to memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all
Oh all the comrades that e’er I’ve had, they are sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e’er I’ve had, they would wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and I’ll softly call good night and joy be with you all