|One-and-a-third centuries of Bridgeport drinking now complete|
YET LET’S BE honest. There were elements of that place near 37th and Halsted streets that weren’t exactly the most welcoming aspects of Chicago. It wouldn’t shock me if a great number of Chicagoans had never been there and probably wouldn’t have given much thought to setting foot in a place that viewed itself principally as existing to serve the people of Bridgeport.
The pea soup, meatloaf and Prime Rib on weekends? I never experienced them.
Personally, I only visited the place once. It was back in 1999 and several of my work colleagues and I wound up going together to a ballgame – at then-New Comiskey Park to see the White Sox take on the visiting Chicago Cubs.
It’s actually the only time I ever have gone to see a Sox/Cubs game (too many knuckleheads feel compelled to show up, which is why I usually catch those games on television or by reading a box score). Afterward, the batch of us decided to try to hit an area bar for a quick drink.
WHICH IS HOW we wound up walking over from Shields Avenue to Halsted Street and spent a bit of time at Schaller’s Pump. Bridgeport ain’t like Wrigley Field with the Cubby Bear Lounge located across the street,
The place was (I recall) in a good mood, largely because the White Sox that particular night had come from behind to beat the Cubs.
Our group took up a separate table and was pretty much watched quietly by people who wondered if we’d cause trouble because it was pretty obvious we weren’t Bridgeport native.
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I do recall one guy asking me “what the story was” about our group, which had several younger obviously-suburban women and also some of the non-white types that a certain element of Bridgeport had long feared coming into their neighborhood.
WHEN TOLD THAT we were a batch of people who worked together, he kind of sighed, rolled his eyes then focused his attention back to his beer.
Like I already said, it helped that the White Sox won, so people were in a good mood. If the Cubs had won, maybe his reaction would have been more harsh.
But people were happy, particularly when the one colleague of mine who had worn a Cubs jersey into Schaller’s Pump was immediately told upon entrance to take it off (he did, and the bar’s staff kept it behind the counter; returning it upon his departure).
There also was the semi-humorous moment; when the bar’s patrons – upon seeing a televised recap of how the Sox beat the Cubs that night wound up bursting out in song. Giving us a genuine take on “South Side Irish,” which one of my work colleagues mocked by referring to it as the “Band Aid jingle.”
A GOOD THING that the Schaller’s crowd didn’t hear that wisecrack. It might have been contemplated as “fightin’ words.”
But no, there wasn’t a fight. In fact, we had our drink there, then moved on. Which probably kept the night from escalating into an incident.
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We of South Chicago and the East Side (and the 10th Ward in general) think of Bridgeport as being “way up North,” which is a thought that I’m sure would grossly offend the 11th Ward locals who now won’t have Schaller’s to hang out at to console themselves.