Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Elephant Eyed Me As I Drank My Beer
I like any bar with a hand-written sign on the door that says, “Smoking Permitted.” To me, it is an emphatic statement that the owner of the establishment is much more concerned with someone’s inalienable right to smoke than their right to eat, since in Pennsylvania, it is perfectly fine to feed your patrons fried cheese stick wrapped chicken wings with extra trans-fat laden dipping sauce, but not allow them to smoke. Or, the owner always hated cooking.
So after a day of antique browsing and a devilishly good dinner, my wife and I walked into Joe’s in bucolic Ligonier, PA. You can notice many things when walking into a bar; the neatly arranged liquor bottles, the jukebox, the clientele. We noticed the giraffe and polar bear, before we noticed the elephant’s head hanging from the ceiling.
Seems that Joe (whose wife Marcy has actually owned the bar for fifty years) had a penchant for safari’s - and hunting. I don’t mean to understate this. When I say penchant, I mean it like congressmen have a penchant for spending money – which is to say, wildly and without prejudice. Imagine killing, and subsequently stuffing, every animal you have ever seen. This is the idea.
The display had more horned animals than a sales convention in Orlando. Besides the above mentioned giraffe, polar bear and elephant, there was a rhinoceros, alligator, lion, tiger and literally about one hundred more animals. All were displayed in museum like cases that took up the back room and the entire second floor. Except for the elephant, whose head was suspended in between floors sand whose legs were made into chairs – really.
The friendly bartender informed us that all the meat from the kills was given to the local people. Imagine the delight in backwoods Kenya when an American rolls into the village with a giraffe slung over his Land Rover, “Giraffe tartar! Gather round kids!”
But hey, after spending an afternoon looking at white porcelain tea sets and cases of watches that, according to one antique dealer I heard say, “None of ‘em work,” I happily shared my Yuengling with a stuffed baboon.
(Like the Grand Canyon, pictures do not do this place justice, I highly recommend a visit to this place. You really have to see it to get a true handle on this wonderful piece of Americana.)