Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lunacy at The Luna and Cheers at Chief’s

Hi Bill,

This morning I woke up thinking about when I was living on North Craig Street in Pittsburgh while I was a student at Pitt. I had lived in Tower A (dormitory) for two years and decided that I had had enough of that. So Richard, Jim, Joe and I moved into a two bedroom apartment in that area several blocks from campus. After a year living with them I moved into a one-room apartment of my own. You may remember that I wrote about living in that area in my last letter. I don’t want to repeat myself, although with my feeble memory I could easily cover the same ground without knowing it.

Clark back in the late 1960s and early 70s

Anyway, today I thought about that neighborhood and remembered two establishments where I spent a lot of time and money. You may have already guessed that those two establishments were bars. Yes, I admit it! I drank a lot when I was in college (and for many years after that). I never really considered that I had a drinking problem, because everybody in college drank a lot. Didn’t they? Well, most of my friends drank a lot. Of course, my affinity for alcoholic beverages actually began while I was in high school, but I think I probably already covered that in some previous letters.

There were two bars on North Craig Street where I (and my friends) hung out.

The Luna was a typical college bash bar that played loud music and attracted college students mostly from Pitt, but also from Carnegie Mellon University. I began partying in The Luna during my junior year even before I turned 21. I was usually able to sneak past the bouncer when the crowd was overwhelming him. After I turned 21, The Luna remained my bar of choice and my friends and I became regulars since we lived practically right across the street from it. The Luna was a large bar that was more like a nightclub for college students. It had a u-shaped bar that extended out from one of the walls, with seating around it and plenty of space to stand and dance and generally let your freak flag fly. Although, during weekend evenings it was extremely crowded and actually difficult to move around in. However, the music was loud and the beer was great, so we spent many hours drinking and talking (actually yelling at each other because of the loud music and other yelling people) in The Luna. It makes me realize what an idiot I was back then when I think about it! The thing was though - I liked the crowded Luna and after a few beers I didn’t even notice that the crowd was full of drunken college students who couldn’t control their emotions and actions, or even keep their liquor down. Anyway, The Luna was a typical college bar where we could party, dance, yell, drink and totally lose control of ourselves. I spent many enjoyable hours doing that (which I often could not even remember the next day) and I also spent lots of money (which I couldn’t really spare) in The Luna.

During the summer after my junior year in college, I met Pat and instantly fell in love with her, although it took me awhile to convince her to hang out with me. Eventually she even accompanied me to The Luna. Although she was under 21, she was usually able to slip by the person checking IDs at the door. However, she gradually convinced me to not spend as much time in The Luna, and I didn’t seem to mind that at all.

Okay so I am supposed to be writing about two bars, not my love life.

The second bar was practically across the street from The Luna in distance, but it was a long ways away in ambience. Chief’s was a small neighborhood barroom that had a bar with a row of stools along it and some seating booths along the wall across from the bar. Most of the customers were older people who had been imbibing there for many years. However, some college-aged people also frequented it. I and some of my friends went to Chief’s when we just wanted to sit and have a beer and talk for a while. In addition, we sometimes had a hardboiled egg and toast or some other quick food. It was a comfortable place where pretty much anyone was accepted as long as they remained cordial and under control. A few of my friends and I went there fairly often to sit, relax and talk. It certainly was not luxurious but it had a comfortable feel. Chief gradually got to know his good patrons and treated us well. Unfortunately, Chief’s was also an inviting establishment for robbers with guns. It was robbed several times during the two years that I lived on that block. However, Chief also had a gun (hand gun) to protect himself and his customers, although I am very happy that I never witnessed him using that gun. My good friend from Jamaica RG practically ate all his meals at Chief’s and he was also lucky enough to not witness any crimes while there. However, there were gunshots in that bar at least once during the two years that I lived in that neighborhood. My friends and I advised Pat to not sample the atmosphere and food of Chief’s and she followed our advice. Thinking back now I believe she would have enjoyed Chief’s ambience very much, but is was wise for her to stay safe.

Bill – Of course, we occasionally visited some other bars closer to the Pitt campus. However, The Luna and Chief’s were surprisingly important establishments for Pat and I when we lived in that North Craig Street neighborhood many years ago. I think it would be interesting to check out Chief’s and The Luna some time when we are in the Pittsburgh area. However, I suppose both those establishments are long gone. It’s probably best if we just think of that neighborhood as remaining the way it was back in the day, when we were young and eager to experience life in the future. I hope your life in the present is as fulfilling as mine.

Take care,

Sincerely Clark

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