Friday, May 25, 2007
I'm way busy today, so I'm letting the multi-talented Ben Duffy share some of his adventures with you. I'll be back with more of my own madness tomorrow.
I stopped into Collin's Tavern today in West Springfield and took some pictures. It's a real neighborhood bar, an old-fashioned Irish drinking hole.
Some of these photographs are a little blurry. There isn't much light inside of this old barroom.
Collin's likes to call itself the "Best Kept Secret in Western Mass". It's such a great secret that they write it on the front of the bar!
Besides the Irish theme, the bar seems to have a sports theme (especially hockey), as well as a military theme (especially the 101st Airborne Division), and firefighter theme.
The place has an impressive array of Irish Republican Army propoganda on the wall:
Not that I endorse the IRA in any way. They may be my distant cousins from the "motherland", but they're still a bunch of terrorists. As it stands now, the majority of those living in Northern Ireland want to remain with the UK, largely because the majority of the people are Protestant. That will probably change in the near future, as the poorer Catholic Republicans are having a lot more children and than the wealthier Protestant Loyalists. This can all be decided democratically--if the people of Northern Ireland ever decide that they would rather break away from Britain, I would hope that Britain would respect those wishes, but that's not the situation today. Instead, we have a bunch of thugs trying to win with guns and bombs what they can't win at the ballot box. The best strategy would be to put down their guns, go home to their wives, and make some babies. In the long run, that will accomplish what years of fighting have not.
Irish Republican terrorism is the same as the terrorism that we have seen coming out of the Middle East as of late. The Irish Republican Army does in fact have ties to Muslims terrorist organizations. They consider themselves to be part of some sort of brotherhood of "national liberation movements". There's a reason why Iranian revolutionaries in Tehran renamed Winston Churchill Avenue into Bobby Sands Street.
In any case, I didn't think that it was wise to express my feelings about the IRA too loudly in that barroom. I don't think I would have made too many friends.
This is a mock wanted poster for the "Iron Lady", Margaret Thatcher. The IRA made an attempt on her life at Brighton, England in 1984. The 1980's was a time of major turmoil in Northern Ireland, and she was not known to take crap from anyone, not even the IRA.
On a lighter note, check out this relic from the past. It's the Springfield Indians! They haven't been seen around these parts since they moved to Worcester in 1994. They later changed their name, because "Indians" was not politically correct anymore.
This September 11th era tribute to firefighters adorns the door to the men's room.
Dozens of these old fire helmets hang from the ceiling. Most of them say SFD ("Springfield Fire Department"?), and many even have names written on them. If only fire helmets could talk, I bet that they would have some amazing stories to tell...
I had to laugh at this picture. I've been to Ireland twice, and I must say that no Irishman would be caught dead drinking Miller Lite. It is most certainly NOT "the choice of the Irish".
There was a lot of military stuff on the walls, but I seemed to notice quite a bit of stuff from the 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles", with a few items here and there from the 82nd Airborne and Marine Corps. This large seal of the 101st was painted onto the front door. It made me wonder if the owner of the bar is a former Screaming Eagle himself.
When I was in the Army, the soldiers used to talk a lot about famous people who had been in the military. There were stories going around--some true, some only silly rumors--about celebrities who had once worn the uniform. Elvis Presley, Shaggy, and Axl Rose were all rumored to have had military service. In the case of Elvis and Shaggy, it was in fact true. Elvis was drafted at the height of his fame, and Shaggy was a Marine in Desert Storm. In the case of Axl, it turned out to be false--he just went out and got an army tattoo on his arm to make himself look tough.
One of those rumors about celebrities in the military was about Jimi Hendrix. The usual version of the story was that Jimi had been drafted in the late 1950's. Details varied--some said that he had volunteered to be a Ranger, others said that he was in the 101st Airborne Division. Amazingly, the story seems to check out, even if some of the details aren't accurate.
Private Hendrix was in the Army for about thirteen months, beginning in May 1961. He was a supply clerk in the 101st, so he was indeed a "Screaming Eagle", although he was known to be a terrible soldier, not cut out for military life. He was discharged after he was caught masterbating, and he did not challenge it, because he wasn't really that thrilled about being in the Army in the first place. His sticky discharge (pun intended) must have been hard to explain to his parents, or even the guys back home on the block.
But enough about Jimi Hendrix. I also found a picture of this young soldier on the wall at Collin's. It could have been anyone, perhaps just for decoration. If I had to guess, I would say that this picture was taken sometime in the mid-1960's--the Vietnam Era. If this proud Screaming Eagle were alive today, he would be just about the same age as the owner. Is this the owner of the bar? I may never know.
Incidentally, there were bumperstickers on the beer cooler that read "Proud Vietnam Veteran" and "Boycott Jane Fonda, the traiterous bitch".
Well, it's worth stopping in.