28 July 2008

Update on the South End Tavern

I have readers in Troy, NY. Who knew? Or at least among former Troy natives. Mike de Seve wrote in recently about my recent Troy post, particularly the one about the age-old South Side Tavern (aka Marty Burke's) which transfixed me so. Turns out I had reason to be transfixed. The joint is a fascinating place. Read:

My grandmother was one of the ladies the sign was made for - an Irish girl, daughter of the contractor that did most of the major industrial building in the city, icluding the famed Burden Water Wheel, the world's largest I believe. They were the Behan family, and I grew up as the last of 6 generations that lived in the very same house, 334 4th, which Burden Avenue becomes as you travel north.

My favorite story of hers about Marty Burke's was that, in the ladies room, there apparently was a mural of the Garden of Eden, including a nude Adam. Adam sported an actual brass fig leaf for modesty—which was secretly tied to a string that rang a bell when a lady was curious enough to lift it. This was a signal to the band to strike up a fanfare for her as soon as she stepped out.

As a kid in the '60's -'70's I was raised on Marty Burke's fried codfish Fridays-only special (the old Catholic rule—no meat on Fridays). Still a benchmark of strong-flavored fish fry, a tradition carried on when cod is in season by Ted's Fish Fry, the area's most beloved chain of 3 stores. The other great thing about Marty Burke's is that the majority of the 8-ounce beer glasses are so old their glass is still communion-wafer thin. Very curious, feels nice in the hand.

I feel like holding one of those beer glasses right now.

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