Happy Hour 1990s
I had a recent post about the 1970s. A great time to be a kid and I would not trade it for any other time in America as far as I am concerned. But today the passing of an old friend reminded me of the 1990s. The 1990s were also a great time to be either a kid or young adult. Times were good then. Modern conveniences, internet, email, cell phones, but they were also economically good and if you were in your 20s like me, they were great. If you sat at home you had entertainment like the internet, webcast radio, Seinfeld, Friends, and if you went out, even better.
Where I worked at LHH in the Chelsea Section of Manhattan was great. We were all types of people from all walks of life and all nationalities and religions. We didn’t make a lot of money. It was a non-profit founded by Eleanor Roosevelt and now over 100 years old. The foundation has helped thousands (if not more) of people with disabilities related to hearing loss. This list would include Lou Ferrigno, many daytime soap star’s children, stand up comic, etc. In the old days it would be called “Deaf”, but it is a handicap most of us do not recognize. You cannot see it since the person is not in a wheelchair, or crutches, or motorized scooter. But, being hard of hearing and deaf has serious mental, social and emotional obstacles.
Today I learned of the passing of my 63 year old friend Tony Megino. He was the Comptroller of LHH. We started out as friends, he loved the move toward technology as did I. He knew to better the agency we needed to spend money on technology to make the League more cutting edge as well as bringing in more money in donations via web, databases, electronic media (sure we printed tons but he knew that it was cheaper to post webpages people can print over newsletters). But soon we fought and became opponents. Who knows why, it was 20 years ago, and maybe it was because he was the software king and I had mastered all uses of every available software program. Maybe it was because that I pleaded with my boss that we needed software and the money was not in the budget. Who knows the reason. But what I know now is, that we were on the same page, I was not a threat to his job and he was not a threat to mine. So, we started going out together at Happy Hour on Fridays.
Every Friday the word spread though out our 2-floor office on 23rd Street & 6th Avenue as to where we would be. Sometimes it was the Irish bar street level next to the building that offered a free food buffet of potatoes, corned beef, cabbage, etc. Other times we went to a Philippino place a block down that gave away chicken wings, noodles, mini Filippino vegetable rolls, even oxtail stew. The place was named Manila on 21st or 20th Street, I can’t remember. All I know is that once we started going there, the owner would bring us trays of food for free so we did not have to compete with the other happy hour patrons because he knew he would make his money back 10 times over in alcohol. 10 of us would come in, order 2-3 drinks each, and the money we spent on drinks would easily justify him giving away $10 worth of free food at his cost.
I am not sure how many places still do this. I figure a handful, if any. But what bar owners are forgetting is, offer some free food, and they won’t stay for 2 drinks, but 4-5 or more. Food is relatively cheap compared to alcohol which they nearly pay full price fore but markup 3-10% for.
So, back to my friend Tony. Great guy, had diabetes so he switched off from cocktails to drinks lower in sugar content like beer. I recall one memorable night (though there were many) but one I can recall is when we were at Manila drinking, eating, then after happy hour when the drinks went up in price we went to an indoor miniature golf place. We were in 3 teams of 2 people. The losers would have to pay for drinks. This hour was the sobering up time before dinner. Its now to 10pm, or (10 o’clock as we would say then). So, we head off to Francesco’s for our dinner. Paella for 2 that would serve 5-6 easily and a pitcher of red and white wine sangria that would would certainly satisfy all of us left standing.
Last bus to Jersey for me was 11:30, the others had trains or subways running late to take them back to the boroughs, but 11pm was late enough to be out and explain to significant others that we were “out” at happy hour for nearly 5 hours with friend from work. Good times. The economy sucked then too, but nothing compared to today. I miss those days and though I might not ever see any of those people again in my life, I will never forget how much fun we had and how unimportant the worries of the world were back then. So it seemed.
Tony Megino – RIP – – Love you, I am sorry we didn’t talk more after this era, I pray for your family and son who is to be married next month, and I hope, sometime, I see you again hoping there is an afterlife.