The Greening of Manayunk

Once, the Indians came here to drink. Now, the yuppies do. And ex-mayor Bill Green is right in the middle of it all, merrily ringing up the register

Green returns to his group and returns to his thoughts. There is talk of expanding with an outdoor cafe and buying other bits of Manayunk. Everyone agrees that the old firehouse would make a terrific restaurant. Green tells how he rejected "a substantial offer" for the back bar. "No," he says, "this is to preserve. To protect and preserve." Money is talked about and money is shown — shown until Green’s register runs out of one-dollar bills. And for most of the night, that is about the only wrinkle.

That changes as Jack approaches the bar.

What could he want? Another drink? Crawfish maybe? Legal advice?


“I’d like to know where my flowers are. "

They would like to think he’s kidding. They would like to think that this is some sort of quaint indigenous humor. Some sort of taproom prank. But it becomes clear that he is quite serious.

"I sent you flowers two days ago and I don’t see ’em," he says, scanning the showy bouquets.

"Well, we have all the flowers…"

"No. No, I don’t see ’em."

"What kind were they?"

"They were big yellow flowers. "

"Well, we should have everything…"

"I’m gonna find out what happened to my flowers. "

He is beginning a search when the bartender spots something that has been stuck out of sight under the bar.

"Could these be the ones?" the bartender asks, holding a small pot of several bright blossoms.

Yes, those are the ones. They are put on the bar, near the door, where everyone can see them. Jack is both happy and sad.

"It’s just that when you send flowers to someone, you want to see them. You know what I mean? You know. Jeez…"

He settles up and heads to the door, knowing the "house of cold ones" has a whole new crowd.

WAYNE MODRES — the third generation of Modreses to draw drafts at the Third Base — has hopes that, in the end, gentrification will hit Manayunk the same way the gold rush hit California. It is Modres’ understanding that when the boom hit — with those speculators following fast on the grubby heels of those prospectors, with strangers sizing up this and that for what it might be worth sometime down the road — it was the bartenders who really got rich. That’s right, the bartenders. Plodding along beer by beer by beer, making their fortunes in a slow, honest way.

"That old California money?" Modres explains this busy Saturday night. "You go far enough back in those families and you’re liable to find a bartender."

It could happen here, he figures, and wouldn’t that be a hell of a thing after three generations of having something coming to you. Land of opportunity. About time, too.

Madres has been here all his life, tied to Manayunk as most are, by family and by the lack of any place more comfortable to go. They come in like clockwork now, regulars who have been looking at the development on Main Street from a certain strange distance — like it was happening to somebody far away, even though it was happening to their home.