CAPTAIN JOHNNY SET SAIL……bagwan didn’t realize there was a test!

bartending-age-1The Bagwan who has set next to, broke bread with, showered with, or otherwise hung out with 48 celebrities during his career didn’t count Johnny in that group, but says he was far more interesting than Rita Moreno.  I thank the Bagged One for his contribution….enjoy

I hate summer, I really really hate it. I hate the heat, I hate watering my lawn, I hate paying a guy to cut my lawn and most of all I hate that it makes me lethargic.

Trust me; you don’t want to get a reputation for being lethargic.

Several years ago on August 15th I was having a drink at a bar here in town that was then called Legends. It has since been remodeled and changed its name but I still call it Legends — that’s the kind of thing that old people do.  Back in the old days there was a bartender there named Captain Johnny.

Let me tell you a little about the Captain before I get to the point of today’s lesson. He was born to some wealth and privilege during the 1920’s in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. His father was at the top level of the food chain at the Ford Motor Company. This afforded Johnny a life of country clubs, sail boats and dancing at debutante balls with Ford heiresses. It was apparently his skill with the boats that earned him his honorary rank.

But alas, nothing lasts forever and after enjoying the benefits of prep schools, an Ivy League education and rubbing elbows with swells Johnny was sent out to make a life of his own. He would have been an extraordinary dilettante, but that is a tough way to make a living. He bounced around Michigan quite a bit but couldn’t find his niche until he landed a job as a bartender.

In his new career Johnny met up with a fellow who was headed to Colorado with an adequate bankroll and a concept for a bar called the Colorado Mine Company. In the 1970’s we were inundated with “theme restaurants.” Off the top of my head I can remember the Cannery, Victoria Station, the Sawmill, the Lift and of course the Mormon Tabernacle Bar and Grille. The Mine Co. was a huge success in the 70’s and 80’s and Captain Johnny was the head bartender. The bar was always packed 2 or 3 deep and Johnny developed a unique way of dealing with the crowd. He would work from East to West and when he came to you and you hesitated, you lost your turn till his next cycle through.

Fast forward to the start of the new millennium and Johnny is still tending bar, but considerably slowed by the fact that he is well into his 70’s. Even though Legends isn’t nearly as busy as the Mine, he still works the bar from East to West. Now it doesn’t matter if you hesitate since Johnny moves so slowly he’ll still be there. Johnny is so slow that having him as your bartender is almost the same as joining AA.  Still the owners let him work two day shifts a week because he is considered a treasure given his rich history, sharp mind and penchant for storytelling and philosophizing.

Finally we get back to that August 15th I mentioned at the top. There were only two customers in the bar that day so I had a chance to visit with the Captain. Amongst other questions, I asked him if the 15th of August is the Ides of August same as the 15th is the Ides of March. Johnny knew for a fact that the Ides of August is the 13th. That’s the kind of conversation you had with Captain Johnny.

Suddenly it dawned on me that August 15th was available for a special designation. It was there and then that I asked Johnny if we couldn’t declare August 15 to be the last day of summer and he replied in his inimitable way, “Why not?”

Welcome to Fall everyone!!

Johnny’s gone now and I sure do miss him*

*just to be clear, the Captain is not dead, he’s just gone.



  • zuki

    To bad I hadn’t noticed I’m gone as well….