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.
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 as often is 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.
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.
Every Wednesday, veteran journalist, George Froehlich, gets personal – sharing with you, his amazing travel destinations, his wonderful recipes, art he loves, music he enjoys.
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