Potential Bukowski Philly Bars (1 Viewer)

Dear Buk Fans,
I went on another Bukowski inspired Philly trip yesterday March 20, 2014. I went down to the free Library in order to look for the names of Bars that Buk may have drank in, back in the day. I was going to go to City Hall to look for the records but I sure am glad I double checked because it turns out all they could have provided me with was the address and the name on the deed and not much else.

I wanted to see if I could find the names of Bars in and around 16th and Fairmont and around the addresses that Buk lived at which I had gotten before from this super awesome website. The guy in City Hall said I needed to look in phone books for the kind of info I was looking for.

As I have said before I love the movie the Barfly. For many years I didn't know that the movie was largely based on his drinking days in Philly. That is why they have Frank Stallone with his thick Philly accent as the main tough guy who takes on Chinaski. The two ambulance guys are Philly guys too if I'm not mistaken. I have often thought about and wondered where Buk actually drank back in those days.

When I saw the addresses of where he lived and worked on this website I almost had a cow. Walking down around on those streets last year was a real treat for me. My brian eventually turned on and I realized I could try to find out the names of Bars that existed back in those days. There is no way that I can prove if Buk drank in all of these Bars but I can bet that he had to have drank in one or two of these Bars.

All of the phone books were on microfilm and that was a pretty big pain in the ass. Some of the pages were really faded and hard to read. One of the guys had to show me how to focus better but I still needed the magnifying glass. I was hoping to find images of Bars that would be easy to spot. Instead all of the Bar listings were just small worn out words. I can tell you one thing. It was astonishing how many Bars there were.

They weren't actually called Bars. "Bars" was a heading in the phone books but there were only a few listings. What they were called back in those days as I found out was "Tap Rooms." The number of Tap Rooms was out of control. In fact each phone book had 3 full pages of Tap Rooms. The print was small and so the number per page was high. They also had listings under "Tavern" but they also only had a few listings, maybe 10 to 15.

Here are some of the beer names from back then. Some of the beer companies had 1/8 and 1/4 size page ads. Ortliebs had a 1/2 page ad. Stegmaier's, Pabst, Erlanger's Pilsener, Yuengling's ! They had some strange Cola names too; Lubie Cola. There was Canada Dry "Spur" the Cola drink (?)

Since Buk didn't spend that much time in Philly as out in LA some people might not care about this all that much. For me, being a Philly type guy, I absolutely Love that fact that Buk spent significant time here, in this neck of the woods.

So I looked in the phone books for places around 16th and Fairmont and since I didn't find loads of info I figured I would write down some of the names of the beers that were sold then as listed above. I also looked for Fairmont Motors or Fairmont Auto Parts where he worked and there was nothing in there for that. That bummed me out. I figured for sure that I would find a big add for Nabisco Cookies and didn't find anything for that either. I looked in the 1942, 1943, and 1945 phone books. I looked and scanned until I felt a headache coming on. I wrote the phone numbers down just for the heck of it. Some of the places spent extra money to make them stand out from all the other places. Most of the adds said...

Sandwiches - Platters - Beer - Wine - Liquors

1942
Jeremiah J. Sullivan Tap Room and Restaurant 39 South 17th Street phone:LOC ust 9185
Geo Wilos 942 Fairmont Ave. STE vnsn 4206

Tavern 1942
Mc Kenna's Cafe 1200 Block Fairmont Ave

1943
Saml Droz 942 Fairmont Ave. STE vnsr 8226
Herbert A. Geist 2017 Fairmont Ave.
Manas Kulhanjian 2002 Fairmont Ave. FRE mont 9529

Speghetti - Lunches - Wine - Beer - Liquor
Angelo Montagna 221 Green St. MAR ket 9835

1945
Karl & George's Tavern 343 Fairmont Ave. MAR ket 9971

After all of this staring at these tiny worn out little black letter and numbers I felt kind of let down that I didn't find the place that Buk had mentioned in one of his stories where he said that he worked at the Auto Parts store and then after work he would "walk across the street to this little bar and drink and then go fight in the back alley." That is the place I was looking for. I didn't know if I really found that place until I found this place right before I was about to quit. It was listed under Taverns.

It is called......
1945
Mc Kenna's Tavern 1700 Fairmont Ave. phone: FRE mont 9780 !!!

they used to be on the 1200 block back in 1942.

I think this is the place folks! He worked at 16th and Fairmont and this place was on 1700 block of Fairmont. Am I on the money with this or am I all washed up? Where's Philly Dave? He can set me straight on this. Even if I'm wrong on this one point I still get an "A" for effort. I still did find a bunch of places right around where he lived and worked. We can bet he drank some beer in some of these very places. I wish the decendents of Jimmy McKilligan would step up and show us where thier Grandad worked. Oh well....I guess that's wishful thinking. I happy with this data though.

I'm going with Mc Kenna's Tavern. It sounds right. It feels right.

Danny Mac
 
I'd say you do get an "A" for effort. Damn, that's some research right there, all y'all. Then again, a PBR at that establishment ain't gonna taste any better than one on skid row. Even if you were a Poet Laureate.
 

mjp

Founding member
I also looked for Fairmont Motors or Fairmont Auto Parts where he worked and there was nothing in there for that. That bummed me out. I figured for sure that I would find a big add for Nabisco Cookies and didn't find anything for that either.
We have current day pictures of Fairmont motors and Nabisco sites. It seems that both buildings are still there. I can't find the Fairmont motors pic at the moment, but the old Nabisco plant is here.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net

Skygazer

And in the end...
Dear Buk Fans,
I went on another Bukowski inspired Philly trip yesterday March 20, 2014...
It was astonishing how many Bars there were.
They weren't actually called Bars. "Bars" What they were called back in those days as I found out was "Tap Rooms." The number of Tap Rooms was out of control...]
Must be a hangover (so to speak) from colonial days as a lot of them are called that in the UK too, Danny.

... For me, being a Philly type guy...
And aren't they the very best kinda guys to be:).
 

PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
Sky, ;)

Danny Mac: to the best of my knowledge you are on the money. Let's go hit one of those taprooms. PM me. Lets make it happen.:cool:
 
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Skygazer

And in the end...
I'm thinking there's something in your eye there PhillyDave:).

But on the Mckenna Tavern, if that is the one at the new address that Bospress posted what's at the old address opposite the Autoparts and well, does that mean the new one isn't the actual one Bukowski drank at, or I'm not getting it right.
 
I obviously always got the idea of a 'TAP ROOM' wrong.

tap-dancing-575.jpg


that's what it is to be no native speaker.

Good work, Danny.
 

PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
btw: The "taproom" at 17th & Fairmount does have a for sale sign on it but it is still an up & running establishment. Drove past it yesterday. I think when and if i go though i may be the only person in there not Latino. Just sayin.

Oh, and I looked up the McKenna's Tavern, in the same neighborhood. It may or may not still be open but it only serves Schaefer in a can and has a seperate entrance for the ladies. Classy or hipster?
 
I'm thinking there's something in your eye there PhillyDave:).

But on the Mckenna Tavern, if that is the one at the new address that Bospress posted what's at the old address opposite the Autoparts and well, does that mean the new one isn't the actual one Bukowski drank at, or I'm not getting it right.

Skygazer,
There is a small one story building directly across the street from the Auto Parts store that Buk worked at. If you go back to my old initial post it is a blue building and there is a Chinese looking dude standing at the entrance. I suspect that long ago that may have been a bar but I didn't see that address in the phone books. But I've got to tell you that I may have missed some stuff because some of the phone book images on the microfilm were impossible to read. I must have looked like Shelock Holmes quite a bit with the amount of time I sat there with my face up against the screen peering though a 5 inch wide magnifying glass.

But, when people say, "across the street," that can mean a lot of things. For Buk it would have meant staying on the block he was on and then when he got to the end of the block he walked across the street.

I am stunned to hear that there is a functioning bar at 17th and Fairmont. I did see open bars when I drove down there and walked around back in last summer but I was so focused on "ACROSS THE STREET" that I didn't even think about other bars.

Someone with deep pockets on Buk dot net needs to step up and buy this place and turn into an authentic Buk Bar and Historic Site for people to get drunk at. We'll have to hire a whore and her name will be Helen. We'll occassionally hire a drunk to clean the blinds for $5. We'll get some of those fake glass bottles from Hollywood and once a week we'll toss a bottle at someone's face. It'll be just like the old days.

I need to try to shake out of these winter cobwebs and try to meet up with Philly Dave at the 17th & Fairmont Bar when it gets warmer outside.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
Skygazer, There is a small one story building directly across the street from the Auto Parts store that Buk worked at. If you go back to my old initial post it is a blue building and there is a Chinese looking dude standing at the entrance. I suspect that long ago that may have been a bar but I didn't see that address in the phone books.
Thanks for clearing that up for me, that was a lot of research you put in Danny. Whichever Bar you and PhillyDave choose to celebrate, better make sure they sell Guinness.:)
 
I've just got a request from a guy about Hank's Philly-jobs:

> Gesendet: Freitag, 11. April 2014 21:52
> An: [email protected]
> Betreff: Bukowski landmark?
>

> Hey. I was wondering if you knew, or if you could find out for me, the exact
> address of the garage Charles Bukowski worked at in Philadelphia when he was
> here avoiding the draft. I think it might be the one near where I live and I think it
> might be set to be demolished... I was also thinking I could stop that from
> happening if it is indeed the one.

>
> Thanks for the possible help..



I guess, the sanest way to handle this is to ask You Philly-cats.

So?
 

mjp

Founding member
The only things we know for 86.4% sure are the Nabisco plant in 1942, and these:
Works at Fairmount Motors, for 65 cents an hour. 16th and Fairmount St., Philadelphia. 1942
Works in Snap-on tool warehouse for 65 cents an hour, 1601 Fairmount, Philadelphia. [Oct] 1946

According to Google Street View, the Snap-on tool building is still there (and is still home to tool warehouses!), but I've never been able to get a street address for "Fairmount Motors." It doesn't look good though, since the four corners of that intersection today have the Snap-on building, an old rooming house and restaurant across the street, a vacant lot and some apartments or condos.

My assumption would be that Fairmount Motors is now a vacant lot or condos.
 

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