It does not happen often.

But when it does – it’s forever seared in the windmills of your mind.

For me it was at least 20 years ago.

But to be honest I can’t remember the exact year.

I was in New York on business, staying at the Algonquin hotel.

It was quite close to Times Square.

On my way back, I saw a sign, Jimmy’s Corner.

It was a bar.

It was half a block from Times Square and one block from the hotel.

As soon as I entered I loved it, a place full of atmosphere. The place was jammed.

This was not your typical New York tourist bar.

In fact, as I later discovered this was a bar that tourists stayed away from.

The walls were decorated with boxing pictures, autographed posters and pictures of the world’s great boxers.

And behind the bar was a man called Jimmy.

I ordered a bourbon with branch water, a classic way to drink bourbon.

And as is my wont I struck up a conversation with Jimmy the bartender.

We made the usual small talk, often the case in bars.

But I continued to chat away and before you knew it, Jimmy and I engaged in a real conversation.

At one point Jimmy asked – where are you from?

I said, Vancouver.

And that’s when Jimmy recounted a great story about Vancouver and someone he knew from there.

It turned out Jimmy knew none other than the legendary Murray Pezim, the best-known stock promoter in Vancouver.

I also knew Pezim aka The Pez.

The reason?

I once was the stock market reporter for The Vancouver Sun.

Of course during that stint I got to know The Pez really well.

So when Jimmy heard that, it sealed the deal – we became friends.

Of course, I offered to buy Jimmy a drink, but he politely said no, saying he had a policy of not accepting drinks from customers.

So after a few drinks I said goodbye to Jimmy and left.

But every time I went back to New York, which was often, I would visit Jimmy and have a few drinks.

Of course, initially he would not remember me. But when the conversation got around to, where are you from and I said Vancouver, he would remember me.

And over the years he and I would have great conversations.

Jimmy was a classic storytellers.

I just listened.

And he was modest.

Turned out, as I later learned, he was the owner of Jimmy’s Corner.

He had great stories to tell about the world’s greatest boxers.

They all came to see Jimmy as he was a former amateur boxer.

He even got knocked out by Floyd Patterson, a former boxing great, when he was still an amateur 

Earlier this week I learned Jimmy died in May from the coronavirus.

Jimmy was mourned all over the world.

Newspapers everywhere did a story of his passing.

Jimmy was 89.

RIP dear Jimmy.

And when I return to New York, I will visit your bar and order a bourbon with branch water – in your honour.

But, in the meantime, the memories of you and your place are forever etched in the windmills of my my mind.