Boulder City Magazine® November 2008 Issue
by Fran Haraway
Boulder City Library
The Tender Bar
by J.R. Moehringer
J. R. Moehringer’s memoir is about being reared in a bar called Publicans in Manhasset, Long Island. It is the story of a boy deserted by his father and living with his mother in a dilapidated house peopled by numerous relatives and a grandfather who rivals Ebenezer Scrooge for pure meanness. The boy latches on to his uncle Charlie whose life is connected to the bar - its ambience, its patrons, its history.
Boulder City Magazine®
|Young J. R. acquires a group of men who have lost their own dreams but are generously helping him realize his. They may be misfits, but they prove to be wonderful mentors to this young man who needs a father figure and gets several “uncles” instead. They teach him about baseball. They take him to the beach. They subtly instruct him on what it means to be a man, often by examples of what not to do. They define his coming of age, his going to Yale and all the pitfalls thereafter.
After J. R. leaves home for good, the bar is his touchstone. He returns again and again and the group is there for him ready to guide him through the worst of times, and there certainly are several of those.
Additional education and life lessons come from Bill and Bud at the mall bookstore. They not only mold J. R.'s reading habits, they also give him a job when he needs it most. Their venue is different, but Bill and Bud, like the guys at Publicans, sweeten J. R.’s life.
For young J. R., the guys at the bar become the nurturing family he never had. For Charlie, Joey D, Smelly and the others, mentoring J. R. is a second chance at getting life right, even if they messed it up the first time.
J. R. explains, “Long before the bar legally served me, it saved me. It restored my faith when I was a boy, tended me as a teenager and when I was a young man the bar embraced me.” J.R.’s touching story reaches out to embrace its readers too.
If you are interested in this book or would like to learn more, contact me at info@bouldercity magazine.com.
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