A Letter from the Drinking Town #1 – The Ballot Box

Dear Worcester,

Hi Worcester, it’s Dante and I am happy to write to you after eight months.

What is it about March that makes me thirsty with curiosity? Three years ago in March of 2014 I started a silly project where I was to go to every bar in Worcester and have a gin and tonic and then write about it. I went to 144 bars in 18 months. This is no world record but it was fun. Then last March I got the itch, the urge to check out other bars I had not gotten to. I went to 13 bars in four months. That was fun and I thought it was over and my itch had been scratched but here we are, in March once more. March, time to go out and see bars. Have a gin and tonic and try to live to tell the tale.

I was driving into Worcester today to see a friend, to sit down at a bar and write up a report for work and then out of nowhere, I said, “It’s time to have a gin and tonic.” And like that, I have started up these letters to you. I know of a few new bars so I will have places to try. The closest place for my needs was The Ballot Box.

The Ballot Box is located at 9-17 Kelley Square. It is where the Grey Hound Pub and for a little bit a hot spot called Varsity resided. Even though I went there, I couldn’t remember its name and had to check my notes to remember Varsity. Former Sheriff Glodis has now created the Ballot Box. In one of the articles about its opening, Mr. Glodis stated that he wants it to be the Hard Rock Cafe for the political set. I’m sorry, but he should aim higher.

I went in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. Around two. Yes, Worcester, I know that is not the best time to see a bar and get what it is about, but that is the time I had. Also, if a bar is open, it is open. The off hours is a time a bar shows its real face, the time it greets you without its makeup on and wearing only a worn housecoat.

I went in and there were three or four at the bar and in the second room, at tables there were another ten or twelve or so. Not bad for a cold Sunday. The bartender was good. Friendly. Greeted people when they came in. I got a tall gin and tonic for 6.25. He asked if I wanted a lime. It was fine. Nothing special, but pretty good.

The place is clean and open. The second room is great. It has black leather furniture to sit and move and shake Worcester politics I suppose. I suppose. Or talk about the Bruins or the Red Sox or why that girl won’t call him back. You know, the important inebriate conversations.

The walls are full with wonderful old Campaign Posters. There is an old ballot box on the floor. I spent a good time looking at the posters. They were awesome and worth the time to go and have a beer.

Seeing the posters is like going to an art gallery. Which made me think that what we need is a walking tour of Worcester Bar Art. All the places where you can see interesting art and have a shot of whisky. Ballot Box will be on the tour, as well as Nick’s, Vincent’s, Ralph’s, George’s, Electric Haze, Guertin’s. (I’m not kidding, I want to make this happen. A tour of art you can see in a bar in town. A little guide book and a description of the art. More on this as we move forward)

There was an old school bar shuffle board in the second room and it was cool, but I do recall a bar owner looking down on things like that. It takes up room and doesn’t make money for the bar. Not a good thing, in the opinion of this one bar owner. On the other hand, it was pretty cool.

Before I go on. I like the bar. It was clean and presentable and fun. And now…

Here is my problem with it. The idea that the bar has a theme. That it is a political bar. I don’t like the idea that the bar can force a theme on any establishment. How can Mr. Glodis say that it will be a political joint. Are people forced to talk about Trump or Warren or McGovern? Will they pass out conversation starters? Will you be cut off for talking about movies or sports or knitting techniques?

It brings to mind when I take my eight year son out for dinner and he looks at me seriously and states, “Now we will have a talk Daddy. We will talk about our favorite characters from the Harry Potter books.” Or we will talk about what is the best Star Wars movie. Or it is decreed to be only what the best part of the Dr. Strange Movie was.

And for my son, I will jump into that conversation with crazed enthusiasm. But going to a bar, where I paid more than six bucks for my gin and tonic, I don’t know if I will be so enticed. “And now, Daddy, we will talk about the issues of the second amendment in regards to immigration.” I guess we could have that talk, but I don’t know if I would like it as much as saying that Lucius Mallfoy is my favorite Harry Potter bad guy.

Give a bar credit. Let it be what it wants. It might be called the Ballot Box. But the only politics of it is that it is a Meat Market, or a Gay Bar, a Sport Bar, or a high end joint to have a good drink in a clean glass. None of those are bad, of course. But all of those are not pushed upon the bar by the owners. Let the customers determine what it is. Let the customers tell you what kind of a bar they are drinking in.

Until Next Time,

Dante of Worcester


8 thoughts on “A Letter from the Drinking Town #1 – The Ballot Box

  1. And I can hardly wait for your next installment! Didn’t realize how much I missed hearing from you! Thanks, Dante.

  2. He returns! Welcome back! I am very much looking forward to your matter of fact humorous narratives.
    The bar art tour …why not.

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