Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Neighborhood Brawl at Bram’s

A Neighborhood Escapade

A Neighborhood
Brawl at Bram’s

Bar Folks at Bram’s drinking and thinking…

Part Three

I shall now  inform our readers of an event which had brought a brawl into the Mouse Trap, that is the neighborhood bar called ‘Bram’s’ back around 1972.  I had come fresh out of the war in Vietnam, Larry the boxer, Jennie now his wife, Karin, John L’s wife to be, we were all sitting in a bar booth when it took place. You must keep in mind, this is simply one of many brawls that took place back then in that corner bar. I was perhaps twenty-five years old at the time.  Larry being several years my senior, and Jennie a year older than me, and Karin a year younger than me, and John, my age.
       John L., whom I had went to California with, prior to going into the Army, in 1967—thereabouts—came through the front door of the tavern, who drank a lot at the time, and had a few other bad habits, like Johnny Cash in his younger day, if you get the drift, whom he and I ended up in Las Vegas, in ’67, for less than 24-hours, thereabouts, I had to pull, I mean hug and pull like a mule driver, him out of the casino, lest he be brought up for charges by the casino officer who asked “Is he on some dope? Its life in prison for that kind of fellow here!” I said, “No officer, he’s just a happy go lucky sort of fella who won some money, and we had a long drive from Southern California and we’re headed back to Minnesota, he’s bushed out tired.” The officer looks at his winnings still sitting in the one-arm-bandit’s mouth, and says, “Sure, all fifteen-cents of his winnings, get him out of here before I call the real police.”  So need I bear out his reputation anymore for back in those late 1960s, it was irrefutable!
       Well the early 1970s were not much different, John came through the door like gangbusters at Bram’s, a hooting and hollering as if he was back in Las Vegas at that same casino and won that same fifteen-cents, thinking he won $1400-dollars, as if he won anything, he was as if on a chariot race, and behind him was a good many Hell’s Outcast, a notorious Minnesota motorcycle gang, and he looked like Lee Marvin in “The Man who Shot Liberty Valance,” riding sideways drunk on his horse shooting up the town. When something like this happens, it is wise not to take anything for granted, and this night John and his companions were drunker than a skunk, he was over-positive, obstinate, and egotistic. Not unusual for a drunk, any drunk. Although I was a little more reserved in my drinking behavior, but I was a drunk nonetheless, myself. We all handle drinking, a little differently, when we get a little too much. Other than that, John was a great fellow, the life of the party you might say, and he could be the death of it too. And he would back you up if need be. He was a man also with more than one string to his elbow, if you know what I mean, but mum lest I reveal too much.
       As for myself, patience, a blow delayed is not a blow lost.
       Their dress, their manners all announced that they were looking to cause trouble. John wild-eyed, red faced, cockeyed drunk, all restless, with perhaps several of the gang members if not more, all in the same disorder—
       The barkeep, held a disturbed countenance. It might be judged some powerful notion had had them come here. Larry, Jennie, myself, and Karin viewed them with increasing curiosity. As did Big Bopper, and Don G., and Gunner, and Rick G., were at the bar, as did the barkeep now startled by their full appearance, and in general surprise, said with impatience, “Leave, I’ve just alerted the police of your presence, they’ll be here in the next ten- minutes.”
       “We just came to drink,” said John, in a slurred and hoarse voice.
       “You’re already wasted,” said the barkeep, to John “get out of here!”
       Larry and I, and the two gals were flatted by their rudeness and manners, John came towards our booth, perhaps fifteen-feet away, leaned his arm on a chair, picking it up, threw it at me, I blocked it with my forearm, gave him a grin. And then all around us, bottles started flying, and chairs, and tables were turned over, glasses broke, glasses flying. With a toss of her head, Karin apologized for John’s actions, the chair could have hit her right in the face, had I not blocked it, and had I simply ducked. But I knew that, and endured a bruised forearm for a week.
       “He doesn’t know what he’s doing,” said Karin. Which was of course obvious, or was she wrong?
       The reader may ask, what kind of friend was this John with such an atmosphere, in this case, towards me. Well I can describe him, he was my age, a little heftier, perhaps more charming, more wild when drinking, more daring when drunk, I was more serious, more earmarked in my drinking,  back in those days than John, and a neighborhood hooligan with a more tempered character in that I didn’t fight unless burdened to having to fight and then it was all or nothing, and perhaps at that moment he remembered I had beaten up his cousin—which was all or nothing, who tried to rape a girl, and he ended up in the hospital, and his mother blamed me for excessive force in stopping the rape in progress.  Well, enough said on that, be that as it may, it was a long time ago, and that fellow I met in 1985, still cursed me for that beating, never mentioning his own tragedy in the makings, and him using excessive force over the girl, whom we shall call, Sandy, her rape that was stopped, and her parents called me up, thanking me for stopping it. I do hope the Lord overlooks that incident and a few more, but we are all guilty of such unreasonable arrogant circumstances, at one time or another.
       But as I was about to say, this is exactly, how the boys, now men of Donkeyland reacted. John then stumbled over to our booth, to greet us, saying, “Woops, I thought you were someone else…!” And that might be true of this matter, perhaps I looked like diablo, and he threw the chair thinking this, but I doubt it, yet Karin was concerned. And I never held a grudge. Once John and I were in a small town in California, and we were down with money, only having enough for a cheap hotel room, where thereafter, having only $1.35 cents left, my car’s motor blew a piston, and we had to parked it behind some gas station, and I told John I wanted to buy a quart bottle of beer, and cheese crackers, and he said, “You’re local, that is all we have!” And I countered with, “Then let’s get drunk,” and John said, “Two people can’t get drunk on one quart of beer, you take it, and I’ll eat some of the crackers, also, save a dime for the phone please!” So you see, John was on one side of him was a fine friend, on the other, local like me, but in a different more wild way; I think I was more calm on matters, he jumped the gun more often than not. And I do not want to go on with this, it is another story already written in a book called “Men with Torrent Women,” as is the story of my dear friend, “Jerry Hino,” whom went to Omaha, Nebraska, back in 1967 with me, and his wife Betty came a hunting for him, and brought him back home, I lived with Jerry for six-weeks thereafter, trying to get a job and back on my feet, Jerry now has passed on.  Anyhow let me go on with the original story.
       The door of the tavern was left open and a number of police dashed into the room, others were outside checking cars for John, he was the number one enemy for the police this evening, and they were creating a dragnet all around the bar and across the Jackson Street Bridge.  Larry and I, along with Jennie and Karin, we all kind of grabbed John, took advantage of the tumult in the bar, advanced to the backdoor, saw a taxi, flagged him down, jumped into the backseat, Larry up in the front, and I told the driver to get moving, beat-feet: but just then a policeman stopped us, told me to roll down the window, and I pushed John to the floor, kept my foot on his back, and Karin told him to be quiet, “Have any of you seen John L?” asked the policeman.
       “Yaw,” I said, he’s in the back getting into one of those cars,” we were now on the side of the bar. He gestured to an officer friend rapidly to check the other cars leaving the bar’s parking lot, and turned his full attention in that direction, and we zoom off making our escape. And to my understanding, the police lost all trace of John at the bar and thereabouts, of those obscure streets.

No: 1088/ 6-22-2015

For Jerry H., and Jim H., (deceased); John L., and Larry L., and Karin and Jennie
And Gunner (alive and briskly); and Big Bopper (deceased)…