Letter: On the passing of a pub

It was stunning—like the unannounced and immediate passing of a friend—a loved one. I thought that the person who told me that the pub known as James’s Gate had closed was misinformed. But alas, it was true.

For years, I have carved lines in the Cheshire barstools that adorn the mystical pub known as James’s Gate—named after the brewery in Ireland that makes the famed Guinness Stout.

There I sat—warmed by the pulse of the heat emanating from the glow of the fireplace—warmed by the chit-chat with Dervin, Will, Lea, Bobby, Christy, Paulie, Bob, M’liz, Kathy, Steve, Linda, Howard, Brian, Martin—enlightened by the flames pulling out of that same fireplace—as tales were told—poetry composed (and real aloud once a year)—heated up and comforted by my communion at once with a surgeon who had gone awry, and a Ditch Digger whose philosophies could only make me smile.

For years I would dance between the barstools—pass the kitchen—rejoice with the staff in pursuit of the bathroom—relieve myself only to rejoice one minute later with those same members, on my way back in. Then I would saunter past the well-worn pine table where I had my first date with my love Deb—always relishing that memory.

I was born and raised there—stunned by the constancy of the daily celebration of life, effort—good cheer.

Many have told me to go to Ireland to experience the land of the genuine pub—that I’d love it. I haven’t make that trip yet, for in James’s Gate I found all that I could endeavor to extract from the combinations of people, place, daily communion, acceptance and spirit.

My friend Lars called me yesterday and jokingly asked, “Where are we going to go to soak our sorrows now?” I would suggest that the defining characteristic of the “The Gate” was that we really, in fact, soaked our joys there—many of us daily.

The fire crackles—the sparks wither in ecstasy as the pubgoers come and go—but no need to add another log—it is mid-summer—the fireplace—like the owners of James’s Gate—formed a mystical spot that has changed my life. It will be remembered, missed and loved.

Paul Gurspan

Jamaica Plain resident

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