Friday, July 07, 2006

Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub Meets Joe The Bum

The wife and I went out to dinner tonight in Syracuse's Armory Square district and found a wonderful place to eat: Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub. The food was excellent, the service fast and congenial and the ambiance, well, suitably Irish. It really is a nice place to eat or drink. Everything was immaculate, the bar room was expansive and well appointed, the dining area roomy with the tables adequately spaced for comfortable seating. China cabinets were used to separate small dining areas and they contained lovely Irish china in a variety of patterns. There aren't many restaurants where I like to meander about and look at the fixtures, but Kitty Hoynes was one of them.

The restaurant is located right next to the city's central business district, actually a part of it, and has seen an enormous amount of revitalization and development in the past fifteen years. Once known for empty warehouses, rowdy clubs and bar fights, it is now full of good restaurants with sidewalk accommodations (in good weather), arsty-fartsy boutiques and trendy clothing stores. It is quite enjoyable just to stroll the area and watch the crowds.

During our dinner there was only one thing that interrupted my enjoyment of the premises. My memories of what it used to be and what I did there almost thirty years ago. Thirty years ago sweet Kitty Hoynes was not so sweet, it was the Crown Hotel. It was a dive, a raw festering sewer where criminals, stew bums and whores drank, fought and slept. It was the last stop for the desperate and destitute before sleeping on the sidewalk. And the uniforms were in and out all night long.

I was one of those uniforms when we carried Joe The Bum's fat, dead ass down the stairs of the Crown. I assisted the stretcher crew as we sweated and grunted our way through the narrow filthy hallways and heaved his vast bulk into the meat wagon. Joe was never the most cooperative person when alive and in death he proved no different.

Joe The Bum...I can't remember any cop who ever called him by his given name. He was always just Joe The Bum. Or Joe The %$@&# Bum when the occasion arose. Joe died alone, resting on top of a deeply stained mattress that provided his bedding. I don't think he was much past his mid-fifties. His room was on the third floor of the Crown.

Still, it was an unattended death and had to be investigated for evidence of foul play. That's why I was there.

Like so many alcoholics, Joe was in poor health and probably died from a whole host of ailments and afflictions, both minor and major, directly or indirectly related to the way he abused his body. Unfortunately anorexia was not one of those ailments, ergo the stretcher crew's discomfort and curses. We all sweated our asses off in that hot, fetid, filthy hole giving Joe his final escort.

As I ate my lamb chop and talked with my wife, I looked around and marveled at the transformation of the Crown and enjoyed the Irish music and the people having a good time all around me. I debated whether or not to tell her what was on my mind. I didn't want to spoil her evening, so I didn't.

So I'll tell you.

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