May 26, 2015

Jim's, the place to go after a thirsty ride on route 3

Jim Premo, the Jim in Jim's Bar
Doc's report:

If you want to take a bus to a bar on the east side on a weekday afternoon, you have four choices. (The buses stop running at 5:15.)

Routes 2, 10 and 11 go east to west. You'll pass five bars on the 11, four on the 10, and none on the 2. It makes you wonder why they have a route 2.

On the north to south route 3, leaving from the terminal on the north end of town across from Striker’s at Washington and Second, you'll pass 11 bars going south -- not restaurants with a bar, but just bars or bars that serve food. You'll go south down Washington to Madison to Michigan, and see such places as Madame Shelley's, Chet's Corner Bar and Barney’s.

Coming back north, you might visit Trix's, the Spinning Wheel, Tubby's and Bishop's, as the route 3 makes its way up Broadway and Kosciuszko to Farragut.

So going south on route 3, the last opportunity is Jim's, one short block west off the corner of Cass and Michigan. Leaving from the bus terminal, there are 10 opportunities before Jim's. You'd never make it. Jim's isn't a destination. It's the southernmost bar on route 3.

It's a neighborhood bar. “Everybody needs a place to go when they're happy, sad or angry,” as our bartender Jessica told us.

You don't take the bus; the bus takes you. You don't go into Jim's; Jim's goes into you.

Growing up at 39th and Garfield, I passed Jim's -- Styn's at the time -- at least twice a day for eight years, on my way to St. Hyacinth Church and elementary school, a block east. I always
"Nope not here" still only $1
wondered what the WWII veterans of my father's generation were doing in there after the shifts let out at Chevy, Prestolite, Dow and Industrial Brownhoist. And after Mass?

What was going on in there? Without Harry, the G-man and me two weeks ago, the answer would have been: a bartender, a pool table and a TV.

But that's just the physical bar: a place. The real bar is the people who come there.

We met the owner, Jim, who has had a tracheotomy, but that didn't keep him from expressing his passionate and articulate views on the current state of the church and the lack of courtesy in the younger generation.

Jessica told us that getting tips was “like pulling teeth” -- then she revived the cliché --  “from a German shepherd.” (Why a German shepherd?)

The Red Bull rep came in and told us her product is like making love outdoors: “It's two in tents (too intense).”

I remembered a riddle that a client from Labatt's in Canada once asked me: Q.: “How is American beer like making love in a canoe?” A: “Two (Too) fucking close to water.”

Bar chat is contagious: The bartender offered that “at 2:30 a.m., the 2's become 10's and the “10's become 2's.”

Someone told the one where a blind guy walks into a bar and they tell him he can't bring in his seeing-eye poodle, and he says: “They gave me a poodle?”

And then there’s the one where the bartender tells the talking duck that he could make a lot of money in a circus sideshow and the duck says, “I've got it covered. I'm already a plumber.”

A friend of mine from the South End who bartends at Coonan's tells me Jim's is known as the
A place for a phone
“7-Up Bar.” The iconic logo on the welcoming sign is many times larger than the bar name under it.

So, the neighborhood bar. How can you make sense of its passing? In the 2003 movie “A Mighty Wind,” an aging folk group, the Folksmen, sing a song about Old Joe's Place, where everyone is welcome.

They sing: “So if you’ve got a “hank'rin',/I'll tell you where to go:/Just look for the busted neon sign/ that flashes “Ea a Oh’s.” (“Eat at Joe’s”)

There's a certain comfort in the neighborhood social scene outlasting marketing technology.

At Jim's, the neon signs in the front windows say simply “BEER" and LIQUOR.” And that's all you really need.

See the hairy guy’s report on Jim's: A longtime quiet South End corner bar has all the basics covered, along with gum and a squeak

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, he's still alive. I tended bar for Jim in the mid 70's. I worked primarily the day shift so I greeted the real locals every morning. Just gimme a shot and a beer. If my wife calls tell her I just left. Working evenings was a lot more exciting especially when Jim agreed to sponsor a men's slow pitch softball team. The place was packed after a game. This was in the days when smoking was allowed and there were evenings when the smoke wasn't from tobacco. I only worked there a couple summers but it was a great place to have fun and talk to all the older timers. In case you are interested the players on Jim's softball team used to call me Blind Alvin.