|The sad scene after yesterday's fire at A and P's.|
I wasn't truly sure of my memories when I first heard that PJ's aka A and P's had caught on fire on First Avenue in Sandpoint yesterday morning.
After reading this morning's paper, I can safely say A and P's was the first bar I ever frequented AND I was maybe 4 or 5 at the time.
Without going into detail, let's just say my real dad knew the owners at the time very well. Their names were Herb and Hilder Carlson.
I remember trapsing along with him and maybe even with my brothers into the bar one afternoon during my time of first memories. He was a big man, and he may have had to lift me up to that bar stool in that dark setting.
The only other memory I have of that day is that everyone in there was happy. I later understood why.
Fast forward 40 years. No longer known as Carlson's, the bar at 222 First Avenue, just down from the Panida, was known as PJ's.
My son Willie and his friends Alana and Seth frequented the place, and that was okay with all the parents. This high school trio loved to go in there and have the burgers, which a lot of folks claimed were the best in town.
In those days, the kids would almost always run into Pete. Pete was a town character who had a history all his own as a European soccer player and prisoner of war in Russia during WWII. Most kids in Sandpoint knew Pete cuz Pete also attended the local athletic events.
During that time, Bill and I heard so much about PJ's from the kids that one time we even joined them for a meal of those hamburgers, and we all had a delightful time in this old Sandpoint bar, steeped with local lore, even stories of ghosts.
I sent a note to Alana yesterday. Since her days in Sandpoint, Alana has worked for a big New York publishing company and now has her own marketing company in Denver. Seth earned his doctorate from Harvard and works as a psychologist in Germany. Willie was home but feeling flu like, so I didn't bother him.
Alana was shocked to hear of the demise of this place which meant so much to her and her friends during their formative years.
Bill was reminiscing this morning about a time when the Willie, Seth, Alana trio even talked of having a graduation party at PJ's. Apparently parents weren't so keen on the idea, as happened at times with other ideas during that last month of their senior year.
The paper this morning was filled with colorful anecdotal accounts of other locals who created memories in what was currently known as A and P's. Hamburgers were mentioned frequently.
I also saw comments on Facebook yesterday expressing sadness for the owners and staff members and great hopes that the place will rebuild.
Let's hope that happens so other generations will have their memories.