OLWG #20: Lou Rose, 1938

Just as Lou stepped on the cross-town trolley, the snow that had been threating all afternoon began to fall. “Good timing,” the trolley driver kidded. Lou dropped his coins in the collector beside the driver and waited for the mechanical flag to drop before heading into the trolley car.

He made his way to the back where the air was warm, and thick with the musky smell of jammed together bodies. Lou hunkered down in a window seat and took a deep breath. The 30 minute trolley ride from work was the best part of his day. He’d stare out the window at the passing scenes while his mind emptied. The gentle swaying motion of the trolley lulled his aching muscles into letting go of their tense hold after a long day’s labor.

Snow and rain always brought on more than the usual number of trolley passengers. Lou assessed the growing crowd at each stop, waiting for just the right person to whom he would give up his seat. Typically it was an elderly person, or a pretty young lady, with whom flirting was the actual intention, but today it was a very pregnant woman with a small child in tow. Lou loved making the grand gesture of moving out to the aisle while ushering the object of his generosity in with a swoop of his hand.

The driver called out his stop and Lou made his way through the gauntlet of the crowded trolley onto the street. The snow was now falling fast in fat flakes. He pulled his coat around him and flipped up his collar, wishing he’d remembered to bring a hat and scarf with him that morning.

Irritated about having to make the six block trek to his apartment in the cold and damp, it dawned on him the miserable weather was a perfect excuse for a quick stop at Barker’s Tavern.

The familiar wall of cigarette smoke hit him square in the face as he walked in, punctuated by the scent of Cuban cigars, beer and whiskey. He scanned the room for anyone he might know. Seeing none, he took a seat at the bar.

“Heya, Bud! Long time, friend,” the barkeep, Joey, called out.

“Heya Joey. Thought there’d be more people here, what with the weather.”

“Yeah. You and me both,” Joey shrugged. “So, Bud. What’ll it be.”

“Joey? Gotta ask. Why don’t you ever call me by my name?”

“You’re Bud! Rose Bud!”

“I’m Lou, OK? Wish’d I never told you my last name.”

“Ah, c’mon. I’m only yankin’ your chain!” Joey smacked the top of the bar counter. “What’ll be….Lou…the usual?”

“Nah. I want a Hot Toddy. Weather like this makes me think of Hot Toddys.”

“Yeah? Why?

“My granny would make ‘em when it snowed. Me and my sister and brother got the kind without the brandy, but she’d put in lots of honey instead.

“Right’o. One Hot Toddy, comin’ up. With lots’a honey. Gonna call it, Granny Lou’s Toddy!”

Yes, I have an “Uncle Bud” in the Rose family tree. He was Lou Jr. The joke was he was the “rose bud” to his father’s full bloom rose. The post is a mix of scenes from my father’s stories of their youth. The bar scene is just because the prompt called for nothing but a bar scene!

This week’s prompts are: My name’s not Bud; Southern Comfort and smoke; Pull on your coat