A Tree Glows in Lancaster


My friend Maria drove 200 miles through pouring rain on Friday to bring me furniture and Christmas decorations, but mainly to party here for the monthly town party known as Lancaster First Friday.  With the heavy downpour of rain, the outdoor festivities were cancelled, but the indoor fun continued.

We started at the Belvedere Inn, compliments of my friends Barbara and John, who gave me a gift certificate for the place as a housewarming gift when I moved in.  I was saving it for just the right occasion and this was it.  The Belvedere Inn is probably the best restaurant in Lancaster, and after 200 miles of white-knuckle driving in the heavy rain, Maria needed a good meal and a drink – not necessarily in that order.

I didn’t make reservations so we had to go to the bar until a table opened up.  That suited us both just fine.  We toyed with the idea of drinking Geralynis, a drink made famous by our friend Geralyn on the Las Vegas trip.  (In case you’ve forgotten, I went to Vegas a few weeks ago with Maria, Geralyn, Marianne, and Sabrina.)  We decided, though, to stick to more conventional beverages, wine and beer.

To show off my knowledge of Lancaster, I told Maria that “the Belvedere Inn has live jazz on Friday nights from 7 until 10.  After that they have Disco.”

The bartender cringed and bit his lip.  I looked at him and said that I heard they had Disco on late Friday nights.  He informed me that they did indeed have a DJ, but that Disco died nearly 4 decades ago.

Ooops, my age was showing.

A table was now available upstairs, and we went there.  We could hear the jazz coming from a room next door and it was great.  So was the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, the Salmon, and the Lamb Chops.  Thank you Barbara and John.

It was still pouring when we left the Belvedere Inn, so we went around the corner to my favorite bar in Lancaster, The Alley Kat, a place where the entire staff is too young to know that there ever was a dance called the Alley Cat, which played at every wedding in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.  We were already stuffed so we just drank, but I told Maria that this was where I went every Monday for the Pizza special, a 15 inch pizza for $6.00.  I also went there on Thursdays for the live music and the best pastrami sandwich I ever had in my life.  (I’ve since learned that they go to NY every Tuesday and pick up their pastrami at the Carnegie Deli.  No wonder it’s so good.)

After that, since it was still pouring, we decided not to venture too far away.  We went back to the Belevedere Inn to see what was the difference between DJ and Disco music.  I have to admit that I wasn’t saddened when disco had died 40 years previously, but the techno music the DJ was playing, did start to make me nostalgic for those good old days.  We finished our drinks and left.

We went back to my apartment and took turns being the DJ on the boom box Maria had brought me.  It was about 2 in the morning, but my upstairs neighbors are noisy night owls, so I wasn’t worried about keeping them awake.  We blasted the music, until we were finally too tired to stay awake.

The next morning we went back to New York for Marianne’s Christmas Party.  The rain had stopped.  The roads were clear, and we made it in 3 fun-filled hours, while listening to the best of the ‘60s on Sirius Radio.

Marianne and her husband Tres always have a great Christmas Party every year, but this year it was even better than usual.  Bob, the piano player, always makes it special and is ready to play any song we want to sing.  Bob played at their wedding and has been a staple at their parties ever since.  Marianne, Maria, Geralyn, and I were all drinking our Las Vegas drink of choice, Geralynis, made with Champagne, Peach Schnappes, and Peach nectar.  Sabrina wasn’t there as she had gone back to Chicago by this time, but she was there with us in spirit, and we were certainly soaked in spirits.

The party ended about an hour before I had to catch the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station to catch the Amtrak back to Lancaster.  Marianne’s son Will stayed up to make sure I woke up on time to catch my 5:04 a.m train.  Will had to work the next day, so he couldn’t have gotten more than an hour’s sleep.  I want to extend a big Thank You to Will for that.

By 10 a.m. I was back in Lancaster, just before it began to snow.  I set up my new Christmas tree as I watched the snow coming down for the first time since I’ve been in Lancaster.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Happy Holidays to all my friends and family.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


A Suck for a Buck



It wasn’t the first Friday of the month, but it was Friday night, so I decided to check out 4 more bars in Lancaster.  I started with the place that’s billed as the “Friendliest Pub in Town,” Molly’s Pub.


Molly’s Pub was about a 6 block walk from my apartment, and it is in a quiet part of town, with no other bars nearby.  It’s across from one of the big parks in town.  They have a few tables outside, but I was by myself and on a scouting mission, so I headed indoors.  It looked very much like an Irish Pub, with a crowd of people dining at tables indoors.  There was only one open space available at the bar and I took it.


About a third of the people at the bar were eating, and about a third of them were having Calamari.  I didn’t know that Irish folk ate Calamari.  I certainly don’t.  Calamari, anchovies, and canned peas are three items I will only eat if I am shipwrecked on a desert island and that is all that washed ashore.  But the patrons at the bar were obviously relishing the dish.  Different strokes for different folks.  Fortunately, there were some people at the bar eating Irish Stew, so the place kept it’s Irish atmosphere.  I didn’t eat there, but I did stay for a few beers and the crowd was friendly.


The newly-opened Federal Taphouse was my next stop and, even though it’s enormous, it was packed.  There was absolutely no room at the bar, so I made a quick exit.


I made Yorgos my next stop.  I had been there before in the afternoon.  The beer and food was good, and there were quite a few nice looking women in the place, which always adds to the atmosphere.  Tonight, it was packed with college kids, but I managed to find a place to squeeze in at the bar.  Most of the customers were drinking beers and pounding shots.  I felt like a chaperone at a frat party, so I only stayed for one beer.


I headed for an out-of-the-way place I had discovered earlier in the day while walking to the dry cleaner.  It’s only a block from my apartment and it’s called The Alley Kat.  It was fairly crowded, but I found an open bar stool and quickly occupied it.  The crowd there was quite varied, and there were enough people my age for me to feel comfortable.  The Yuengling on tap was just $2.75 a pint.  That made me even more comfortable.


The barmaid asked me if I wanted to see a menu.  I wasn’t really hungry as I had eaten dinner before going out, but I decided that a little snack might hit the spot, so I ordered some mini-burgers.  They were absolutely delicious.  Cheap beer, nice crowd, great inexpensive food, just a block from my house – I quickly ranked it as one of my favorite place in town.  I stayed there for quite a few beers.


Naturally, all this liquid led to a pit stop, and on my way to the gent’s room I passed a table of young ladies, who were all wearing long bright pink boas.  One of them was wearing a white veil and they were all having a great time.  It was obvious that this was part of a bachelorette party, so as I walked past I said, “Happy Halloween.”  They stopped me and told me that it wasn’t a costume party.  They were raising money for the future bride’s wedding.  They asked me if I wanted a “suck for a buck.”


I had already decided that this might be one of my favorite bars in town, now I was positive.  With the speed of a magician, I produced a roll of singles and quickly handed one of them to the girl in the veil.  She reached into her goodie bag and gave me a lollipop.  I laughed out loud at their little Trick & Treat.  So, I actually got a suck and a yuck for my buck, a pretty good deal, even if it wasn’t the deal I had pictured in my dirty little mind.


A couple more beers and my tank was full.  I headed home with a big smile on my face, and a lollipop stuck right in the middle of it.


Peace & Love, and all of the above,