Civil Wednesdays––A Day to Honor Craftsmen and Craftsmanship
Like Tuesday, Wednesday is a day when our pub is a little slower, with many regulars lining the bar. But among those regulars, you’ll find two unsung heroes of the Civil Life. Let’s call them “Ray” and “Jim.”
Way back before our bar opened, the unassuming structure that would house the Civil Life was in need of distinction and character. Plans were drawn up with our friend Shamus, Saint Louis’s tallest architect. The founders turned their eyes to the details that would make our pub special. Lots of wood was critical, but any bar in Saint Louis should have some brick, too. And so the founders reached out to two legends in their fields, Jim the Carpenter and Ray the Bricklayer.
Jim constructed our beautiful ash bar. Its clean lines and simple beauty evoke the designs of the arts and crafts movement of the early twentieth century. Every inch of the elegant ash expanse was lovingly cut, sanded, and assembled by the skilled hands of Jim. The bar’s solidity and aesthetic perfection tell the story of Jim’s supreme artisanship. When the work was done, Jim sipped a beer and lovingly inspected his handiwork.
Meanwhile, sparing no expense, Jake enlisted his mother and some of her retired friends to stain the new bar. They then applied hundreds of layers of nautical-grade polyurethane. This thousand-year bar was built to withstand anything, even a long ocean voyage. We have broken open millions of rolls of gold dollar coins on its uncomplaining surface. Every time we do, you can see Jim the Carpenter wince, as if that solid roll of gold was brought down upon his very soul.
Even gallons of spilled beer and copious sprays of natural cleaning compounds have left our bar in beautiful shape, showing just the warm patina imbued by the sustained use of our thirsty patrons.
But before you even enter our bar, you’ll see fine craftsmanship adorning our pub. The brick façade of the east exterior wall of the tasting room was constructed by a local legend, Ray the Bricklayer.
He built so many buildings in Saint Louis, he can no longer remember them all. If you ask him about those historic buildings, he will get a faraway look in his eyes, before saying, “Hell, those places all fell down.”
Like the Roman Forum and Coliseum, those ruins are a crumbling testament to a powerful vision, one man’s monochrome vision of a red-brick city rising up beside the nation’s greatest river.
Ray’s self-deprecating jokes aside, our brick wall still stands almost six years after its construction. With luck, Ray’s handiwork will last another six years. Rumor has it, Ray mortared a beer can on top of the wall, after quenching his thirst as the work neared completion. Thousands of years from now, archeologists will stare in awe at that can and wonder who put it there.
Ray and Jim like to come inspect their work on Wednesdays. You’ll find them at the bar drinking from special gemstone encrusted goblets (actually small mugs with handles to keep Ray and Jim from dropping them).
Lewis and Clark, Laclede and Chouteau, Ray and Jim––visionaries who built Saint Louis. Come in some Wednesday and raise a pint to them in the best-built pub in town.
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.