I grabbed a stool little more than half way down the bar and was greeted by an older woman tending the bar. She went only by the name "Bev" and was clearly adored by the customers speckling the interior of the building. Her hair was silver with age and her bifocals rested squarely on the bridge of her nose. Despite her age, she carried with her a glow and a degree of kindness that was immediately apparent in her words and her smile. She was quick to help me and was happy to grab me a drink. After ordering a beer I took a few moments to absorb my surroundings. The water stained drop tile ceiling, worn bar stools, and tarnished bar fixtures showed the tavern's age, but the lot of them added a degree character that can only be gained with a thorough history. Soon, my first drink was gone and Bev, unprompted, was quick to hand me another.
As Bev opened another beer and set it in front of me, she started talking to a couple at the end of the bar that had made her acquaintance in years past. In short order, they worked through common threads before delving deeper into conversation. Before long, I was listening to Bev tell the man at the end of the bar about her 36 year career at the Oscar Mayer plant. She explained how she knew the man's family members that had previously worked there and told stories of her various jobs throughout her tenure at the plant. I felt lucky to hear her stories, all of which seemed to fit comfortably within the walls of Simm's Place.
In time, the couple at the end of the bar left for another obligation, and I spent some time talking to Bev about her experiences. Her openness was welcomed as we covered topics ranging from her history at Oscar Mayer, to the more revelrous days of Simm's Place, to discussing the life experiences Bev had in her time. Bev maintained a strong wit and a jovial spirit in our discussion. Her laughter was resonant, filling the room with an air of hospitality. When I told Bev of my "I have never..." idea she was quick to say, "You only live once!" and begin listing off ideas of experiences that could help me fulfill my journey. It was clear I was among good company.
|Bev and I|