I’m back to my ole stompin’ grounds – Easton PA – this time unlike last month, sans trailer. It was easy to park on Larry Holmes Drive right by the Chain Dam.
Since it was already dark, I would wait to see my friend Pat at Antonio’s Pizzeria tomorrow. So I headed straight to my relic hangout, Rivals Sports Bar. My friend Joel isn’t working there any longer, but so maybe I could make new friends
Sure enough I was greeted by an affable fellow by the entrance – not the bouncer but just a local yokel who was “quick with a joke or to light up your smoke.”
“Hi, I’m Chito,” I smiled broadly.
“Nice to meet you. My name’s Zach,” he said as he offered his hand.
I almost reciprocated, but then I caught myself and remembered the coronavirus. I offered him my elbow instead, and we bumped cordially.
“So you gotta check out the show tonight”
“Really, there’s live music here?” I asked incredulously, surprised that anyone would be performing on a Thursday night.
“Yeah, his name is Heart Headed – Ricky Dum Dum. Amazing acoustic. He even sings and drums and makes shit as he goes.
“Wow, can’t wait to hear him perform. How do you know him?”
“I’ve seen him around town, at local bars here and there. We’ve drunk together many times before. Easton PA is a small town, and so Allentown isn’t much bigger.”
“Oh cool, so I see you’re from here. What do you do?”
“I’m a painter,” Zach replied proudly.
“That’s a tough job – it’s hard work for sure. Do you like it?” I could see his shirt and jeans were speckled with dried paint of many colors.
“Absolutely,” he replied as he held up his PBR amicably.
I eased myself in – it was just like old times. Fairly busy for a Thursday night, and social distancing made things more challenging. I walked around the U-shaped bar. After a few minutes getting reacquainted, I finally found an empty table. A youngish couple with shots of bourbon going bottoms up and then jovially headed for the door, doing the unimaginable, leaving, untouched food on the table, neatly wrapped in aluminum foil.
I was perplexed. Did they forget their food or where they been charitable? Didn’t want to be presumptuous and start biting into someone else’s hot dog. Besides I eat mine with relish and mustard. Then as I walked to the bar to order my drink, I noticed something strange. The bartender was handing out hot dogs left and right to other patrons.
“Hi there, It’s great to be back to my ole stompin’ grounds.”
“Thats great. Welcome back. I’m Kristy by the way. What are you having?”
I ordered a Tröegs Perpetual IPA paired with an adult slushie – tropical flavor double spiked with vodka. My bartender made my drinks then proceeded to the kitchen and returned with a dog neatly wrapped in foil – just like the wiener that was left on the table – scrawny and dry.
“I’m not hungry,” I said. Plus the previous customers were kind enough to leave one of those for me.”
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re hungry or not You could be a vegetarian for all that it matters, ” Kristy replied. “Governor Wolf requires everyone who orders a drink to order food with it. So Happy Hot Dog.”
It finally dawned on me why the couple left the dog, still wrapped in foil on the table. They were been generous to the next patrons. It didn’t matter, I still had to order my own. Now I had two dogs to enjoy with my drinks, so I better keep this tab open.
Sure enough, Zach was spot on with his review on the entertainment.
Ricky aka Heart Headed was a skilled guitarist and multi-talented singer and percussionist He knew where on the guitar to tap to generate the right sound. There is nothing like strong drinks and live music – something I haven’t experienced in a century it seems.
I walked up to the stage and bumped fists with the talent. “So, what’s your secret?”
“Time. Lots of time with it. And pickups. Two. In a parallel series, 1/4 inch output. One braided and one hummbucker. They capture the body and strings,” replied Heart Headed.
As soon as I returned to the cab, it was lights out next to the roar of the Lehigh River, surrounded by the gentle mist of the falls. With the windows down, I was gently nudged asleep by the relaxing rhythm of the falls.
No one knocked on my truck, there was no ticket on my windshield, and I stayed parked in the same prime spot the entire next day.
The next morning, I went to visit Pat at Antonio’s and ordered my usual Fettucine Alfredo – creamy cheese heaven. This time I decided to do go outside the box and paired it with a Jamaican beef pie. I then returned to take a dip in the River greeted by Canadian Geese and Pennsylvania Wood Ducks who were hoping I brought lunch.
An intermodal freight train rumbled on the bridge over the twin rivers. Across the ravine on the Jersey side, a bunch of rafters were returning from an afternoon of fun drifting on the Delaware.
When I returned to the truck to dry up, I was still unscathed by the long arm of the law. The last time I pushed the limits here, I ended up been scolded by a Penn Park Ranger for paddle boarding too close to the dam and a hefty $140 ticket. Sadly I had missed the court date and unbeknownst to me there was a warrant for my arrest until I paid in full.
“What you did was foolish, you could have gotten yourself killed,” the ranger berated me.”
The next morning I woke to commotion all around me. What was once just me and my truck and the Chain Dam on Larry Holmes Drive had turned into a busy commotion of vendors and volunteers.
It was Saturday and the Easton Farmers’ Market which has been held weekly since 1752 was moved from Centre Square to Larry Holmes Drive to the Coronavirus.
“Our farmers market has survived two world wars, the Civil War and the 1918 pandemic,” said Megan McBride, the Market Director. “We sure are not gonna allow the Coronavirus to stop us now.”
“The Circle has gotten a little snug and cozy,” said Megan. “Holding the market at the park on the bed of the Delaware River presents a better opportunity to adhere to COVID-19 safety practices.”
Outdoor concerts, fairs, expos and other events have been axed throughout the US for the rest of the year – how then have they been allowed to organize a farmer’s market every weekend and close down a very busy street by the waterfront?
Farmers’ markets is considered essential service and the food passes through far fewer hands than at other retail outlets. Markets take place in the open air with space to move away from people if needed, and the temporary nature of the booths allows for easy cleaning and less contact with people.
I returned to Rivals that evening and finally ordered a warm, gooey cheesesteak, the best in Easton PA.
“You can keep the dog,” I said. “Or better yet, I know some hungry geese down river.”
It was opening night in Baseball and the Mets Braves was showing on the big projector screen.
There was also a hard rock and classic cover band performing – there is nothing better than jamming to classic rock. My new friends were there again: Kristy, Zach, Josh and my new ole hangout at Rivals in Easton PA.