Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chinese New Year & another cigar haunt

Well, happy new year to all my readers!

Since I was rather quiet during the traditional new year I figured I'd do a little post about the Chinese new year celebration I attended over at one of my local haunts, the Decoy.

Now, for those that may not know or remember I live out on Sauvie island just outside of Portland, Oregon and my little neighborhood bar is the Decoy tavern over in Linnton.


I usually visit there when I'm on the mood for comfort food and a quiet drink. Peter, the proprietor and I chat when he has a few free moments from his grill and during my last visit he invited me to the Chinese New year celebration he was having on the 15th of January.

Naturally, I said yes :P.

So, at around 6pm I showed up and discovered that Peter was having a free Chinese buffet. 

If you know me you know that I hardly ever turn down free food, even when I'm already too full to begin with ;).

Food was good, though Smile.  I do love a good Chinese Buffett some times, and Peter’s cooking has always been good. 
The Decoy has always been a good place to eat a lot of different things.  From the outside, it looks like your average working man’s tavern, but has a menu that covers more than your basic burgers and beer. 
For one, besides a good list of Burgers and Beer, they’ve got Chinese Food, Pizza…. and on. 
Making me hungry just thinking about it Smile with tongue out
So, I gorged myself till I could eat no more, thanked Peter for his hospitality, then decided to drive up north to the Wal-Mart Super Center up near Vancouver, WA to get a universal windshield mount for my new HTC Thunderbolt phone/Wifi/GPS/pocket computer…. Dang the thing does a lot!
Trip was pretty uneventful, got to try out my first go round navigating via GPS, using Google Navigation. 
With the evening still fairly young, and not really wanting to go home, I decided to add one more place to my stops for the evening and punched in McMenamin’s Kennedy School in Portland, Oregon to see if the rumors I’d been told of it’s Cigar bar were true or not.
Little history of the Kennedy School:

The Kennedy School has been a center of lively activity for the Northeast Portland neighborhood since opening in 1915. Over the years, thousands of kids congregated here to decipher the three Rs, eat mac and cheese on Mondays and climb hand over hand up the gym rope to ring the bell.

When built, Kennedy Elementary School's location was rather remote; it stood three blocks beyond the end of the nearest streetcar line. And that line, which came out Northeast Alberta Street, passed through some pretty sparse country, judging from an ordinance that outlawed the shooting of rabbits from the streetcar.

Also, the school was just eight blocks from the city line, then set at Northeast 42nd Ave. — and in those early years, the numerous Kennedy students residing beyond that boundary lived without electricity, water, sewer or telephones.

Actually, the first elementary school classes were held on the school grounds in portable, one-room buildings in 1913, two years before the present-day school building was built and opened. Just 29 children attended that first year.

As decades passed, the school took on additional civic roles, further endearing it to its neighbors. When school was not in session, "Kennedy" served the community as a public meeting hall, polling place, Red Cross blood drawing center, collection site for paper and tin can drives, weekend playground and even flood-relief shelter.

It was a sad day indeed when at the end of the 1974-75 school year, faced with declining enrollment throughout the district, school officials closed Kennedy, declaring it too old and crumbling to repair.

Scrambling to ward off several demolition orders, a coalition of neighbors, former students, past PTA presidents and the Portland Development Commission fought successfully to save the building.

Mike and Brian McMenamin presented just one of several proposals for reviving the condemned property. Other ideas ranged from a retirement home to an indoor soccer facility. After receiving the approval of the city and the support of the neighborhood, McMenamins launched its renovation in the spring of 1997, infusing the 80-year-old structure with new life. In particular, a river of artwork was inspired by the stories of generations of Kennedy's students and teachers.

On October 22, 1997, the original principal's bell was rung on the front steps at 7 a.m. sharp to herald the old school's new beginning as McMenamins Kennedy School. Offering a unique and fun lodging, dining and meeting experience, Kennedy remains a lively gathering spot for neighbors and newcomers alike.

Since I’d already eaten, I forewent any dining on site, plus, I’ve eaten quite a range of McMenamin’s fare, so it wasn’t a great loss for me on this particular visit. 

Instead, I found myself here, in detention if you will:


The tiny cigar bar is actually the old Vice Principal’s outer office area, where the original benches that students once sat upon awaiting their fate before entering the principal’s office (now used a storage closet). 

The room is very small and very dimly lit, I only managed to really get a couple pictures. 



The heating in the room is supplied by a cantankerous old wood stove that is either in a constant state of running out of fuel or trying to roast you out of the room Smile with tongue out

While definitely not my favorite of the McMenamin’s cigar bars, it does have the best selection of cigars that I’ve found at one of their establishments so far. 

I enjoyed several cigars, chatted with a number of folks, and heard some rather amusing tales from a fellow who’d worked in Cellphone sales for a number of years.

Afterward, I retired home for the evening and slept well. 

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