Monday, August 24, 2015

Act III - Scene 1 - Flashback # 3 - Vince Gets and Education

Act III Episode 1 – Flashback #3 – Mid- May 1965 - Vince Gets an Education

Somers Point Nj Canvas Prints - Bayshores Canvas Print by Rick Lang

                                                              Rick Lang's Bay Shores

Vince Gets an Education Behind the Bar

The sun rising over Ocean City greeted Vince Rennich as he woke up in a second floor room of Bay Shores nightclub in Somers Point, New Jersey. That’s where he was, he thought, taking in a lungful of sweet, salt air and getting his bearings to the sounds of barking seagulls outside the screen less window. Poking his head out he looked at the giant orange and red sun rise across at the Ocean City skyline on the horizon, then at the blue shinny swath of Great Egg bay, and rows of boats to the north and the foot of the causeway bridge on the other side.

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Views From Bay Shores Second Floor Window the Bay to the North and Bridge to the South

One big seagull flew by and looked at Vince, perched on a mast of a nearby sailboat and chattered on like a laugh, making him wonder if the seagull was laughing at him.

Making his way down the rickety wood steps he finds some of the guys from Gregory’s Tight End club already there, continuing the job they started  yesterday of cleaning up the bar so it can open by Memorial Day weekend, two weeks away.

After cleaning up the joint for a few hours they broke for lunch, some having a pizza delivered that they washed down with some beers that were left over from last Labor Day, while Vince and Bill Saylor drove down Bay Avenue to Delaware at the Anchorage and up the hill to Gregory’s, where Saylor introduced Vince to Charles Carney the bartender, as instructed by Bay Shore’s manager Jack Murray.

As Saylor and Rennich ordered lunch – raw clams and snapper turtle soup, Carney opened the clams in front of Vince while telling him that Jack Murray wanted him to learn the basic tricks of the bar trade, so pay attention.

“You won’t have to shuck any clams at Bay Shores,” Carney said, as he put a knife into a clam in his hand and twisted it around, tausing the top and placing the clam in an ice lined dish, with lemon. “But you will work somewhere else someday and should know how just the same.”

“At Bay Shores you’ll just have to open beers and pour shots for the most part,” Carney continued, “but there are a half-dozen other drinks that you have to know how to make because there’s always someone in the crowd who wants a screw driver, Harvey Wallbager, Dunes Sunrise or a Long Island Ice tea, so you have to know how to make them,” handing Vince a copy of Mr. Boston. And as the waitresses ordered a special drink, Carney showed Vince how to make it. He also took Vince behind the bar and showed him how to mix the right amount of liquid detergent in the sink to wash glasses, how the copper pipe thing worked, and how all of the liquors were placed in a particular order so you knew where they were when you were busy.

Before Rennich was finished with his lunch, Carney had given him the Bartenders 101 class, and at the end said, “You’ll just have to learn the rest from experience,” and that he did.

Before the month was out, Rennich had risen from bar back to relief bartender during slow nights during the week, and was working the night Bay Shores was raided, and all the underage girls scampered out the women’s room window onto the dock while grown 20 year old men jumped into the bay and swam ashore, but they escaped.

The NJ state police ABC – Alcohol Beverage Control, without notifying local authorities or police, orchestrated the raid, and only nabbed one guy, a 19 year old college kid who they busted and used as an example, with the penalty being Bay Shores had to close for one month – the month of July. Vince was glad that he hadn’t served the kid, though he did have some new friends he met and they kept coming to his bar and tipped good, though he knew they weren’t 21. They got away in the melee.

Jack Murray took care of his crew however, and made sure that everyone who worked for him got a job at another nearby joint, with the understanding that they come back and work August through Labor Day, when they would close for the season at the end of the night. All of the local bars and restaurants offered to help, and took in his bartenders, bar backs and waitresses for the month, and they all went back to Bay Shores when they reopened in August, and Vince went to Gregory’s where he worked one end of the long mahogany while Carney worked the other.

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Gregory's Circa 1965

 When the people come and everybody does well, all the businesses are busy and everyone is flush with cash, there is no competition and everyone helps each other, especially in the bar and restaurant business. If one place ran out of a certain brand of beer or liquor, or needed a keg of beer, toilet paper or anything, they could make a quick phone call and count on another place near by to send a bar back over with whatever it was they needed, and it would be replaced in kind the next day.

Some nights, after closing Gregory’s at 3 am Vince would drive Carney over to the B&B Lounge in Atlantic City, that was open all night, where Carney introduced Vince to George McGonigle, the bartender who was always complaining about something, but a good Irish curmudgeon.

Early one night, just when they were getting busy, Rennich saw Carney talking to Elmer Gregory, one of the owners, and some heated words were exchanged and after serving a customer, he looked down the bar and Carney was gone. It’s unclear if he was fired or just walked, as he sometimes did, taking the tip cup with him, and Elmer told Vince he had to finish the shift by himself.  But when he had the chance, Vince grabbed a dime from his tip cup and went into the old wood phone booth, closed the glass door and called the B&B Lounge. When George McGonigle answered the phone Vince told George that Carney had just walked off the job and it was an open opportunity for him.

George then pulled a Carney and doing the same thing, he picked up his tip cup and walked, shaking hands with the other bartender and said his goodbyes to the waitresses he liked and without even announcing he was quitting he walked. After talking briefly with Elmer, George McGonigle was behind the bar with Vince Rennich for the first time.

While Rennich went back to work at Bay Shores in August, and continued living in the second floor room overlooking the bay, he worked part time at Gregory’s and when the Bay Shores season was over on Labor Day, he began working full time at Gregory’s where he shared the bar with George McGonigle for the next thirty years.

But after the bust for serving that under 21 year old, and the Anglemeyer murder connected to one of the Dunes bouncers and maybe one of the Bay Shores bartenders, Jack Murray also walked. It’s not clear if he just quit over all the shit that was going down or if he was fired by McLain and McCann, but he was gone when the Bay Shores reopened in August and a new manager was ordering the liquor, hiring the bands and counting the money at the door.

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Gregory's, Shore Road, Somers Point, N.J.

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