Sunday, June 02, 2024

Peter Myers, Octogenarian

The photo above is of three stalwarts of the Bells of Hell, a Greenwich Village pub that served as my second home from the summer of 1977 until it closed in the fall of '79. On the left is Barry Murphy, who tended bar and provided lively conversation. In the center is Pierce Turner, who, along with Larry Kirwan, as Turner and Kirwan of Wexford (their Irish hometown), were the house band at the Bells during much of my tenure there. On the right is Peter Myers, half owner of the Bells from the time he and Tony Heyes bought it from its founder, Malachy McCourt until the late weekend afternoon in '79- I was present at the time - when Peter and Tony got into a physical scuffle, started by Tony and Gary Sellers, the first person I met after first crossing the Bells' threshold in '77, and which resulted in Peter making Tony the sole owner while he went on to found Myers of Keswick, Keswick being Peter's English hometown. 

The occasion of the photo was a party to celebrate Peter's 80th birthday, given at Myers of Keswick. It was a grand affair, bringing together a sizeable collection of surviving Bells alumni. Specialties of the house, including Cornish pasties, Scotch eggs, and sausage rolls, were in profusion, as were beer and wine. I was able to catch up with some old friends I hadn't seen in some years. The store is now managed by Peter's daughter, Jennifer Myers Pulidor, whom I remembered as a kindergartener. By all appearances she's doing an excellent job. I also had some pleasant conversation with Peter's wife, Irene, whom I hadn't seen since the Bells days. 

The photo was taken as the party was ending, and Pierce was singing "The Parting Glass."

The clip above is of an exquisite rendition of this beautiful song by Celtic Woman.

As I was leaving the party, I saw Peter and a friend sitting on a bench outside the store. I stopped for a bit of last minute chat. Peter reminded me that, after his unfortunate encounter with Tony, I had offered my opinion that Tony's words, "It's your f---ing bar!" were not sufficient to transfer ownership, especially given Tony's state of intoxication at the time.  Peter was happy with this advice. 

I then recounted an anecdote I'd read some years ago, about an anthropologist who visited one of the remotest of the Scottish Western Isles and sought someone who would have a long memory and knowledge of the island's lore. He was directed to an old man who, when asked his age, said seventy-something. The anthropologist asked if there were any octogenarians on the island. The old man said, "Octogenarians ... oh, yes, there were two. But my brother shot the one, and the other flew away." I suggested that Peter should avoid the Western Isles. "I go there all the time," he said. Good luck, Peter.