An Irish wake: Last call (forever) for Ted & Jo’s

My favorite bar, Ted & Jo’s, officially closed its doors Wednesday, but there was a farewell party for staff and regulars Thursday night.

It was fun, happy, touching, emotionally draining and surreal. But, as always, it was home, for one last time.

These past few days have really felt like one long Irish wake. Everyone has been at the bar laughing, smiling, drinking and telling great stories, but as happy as everyone seemed, you just knew people were heartsick.

And for the record, there is really something wrong with this planet when Ted & Jo’s is gone but Bahama Mama’s lives on.

Among the highlights from the farewell party:

• The Port Authority bagpipes corps were there for most of the night. What a great and fitting touch. All we were missing was Ronan Tynan singing “God Bless America.” “As the storm clouds gather … ”

• After all the years of going to T&J’s, I finally got to go behind the bar and pour my own pint of Guinness. It was a lot of fun. I never realized just how narrow the area behind the bar actually is. It’s definitely not meant for fat bodies.

• Speaking of Guinness, my friend and I drank the last two pints of stout ever poured at T&J’s. Talk about bittersweet.

• We (as in the T&J’s community) unfortunately lost one of our friends on 9/11. I didn’t know him as well as some of my friends did, but I always have good memories of him and it’s easy to see what a quality person he was by the effect his loss had on everyone who knew him. I spent a good deal of time talking with his sister last night and met his parents for the first time. The fact that his family has gone out of their way to stay in touch with old friends for more than six years was really touching and just shows the kind of atmosphere that existed at T&J’s.

• Gerry, the owner, gave a very emotional farewell speech that this keyboard couldn’t even remotely do justice to. It marked yet another example of why T&J’s was so much more than a bar/restaurant to just about everyone involved.

• Newly appointed town crier Pat Fitzgibbons read the lyrics to a traditional Irish song that was perfect for the occasion, “The Parting Glass.” I included the lyrics at the end of this post. I honestly don’t know how he got through it without cracking. I couldn’t have done it.

• There was a big sign behind the bar that said, simply, “Thank you Hoboken, thank you.”

• I won’t even attempt to list them, because I’m bound to leave somebody out, but between the last “official” night Wednesday and the party last night, I saw so many old friends and familiar faces who don’t make it to T&J’s as much as they used to, but who came out for one last visit. It added happiness to a sad occasion.

One of the things Gerry said last night is a perfect way to close this chapter. In speaking about the family-like atmosphere of T&J’s, I can’t remember exactly how he phrased it, but he basically said that if you were there last night, you “got it.” All of the people who have said things like, “It’s just a bar,” “There are plenty of bars in Hoboken” and “You’ll find another place to drink” just don’t get it. There will never be another place like Ted & Jo’s and, even if something similar opens, with some of the same people, it just won’t be the same.

Farewell, my favorite bar. Here are the words to “The Parting Glass”:

Oh all the money that e’er I had, I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e’er I’ve done, alas, it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit to memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

Oh all the comrades that e’er I’ve had, they are sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e’er I’ve had, they would wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and I’ll softly call good night and joy be with you all

If I had money enough to spend and leisure time to sit awhile
There is a fair maid in this town that sorely has my heart beguiled
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips I own, she has my heart enthralled
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

My dearest dear, the time draws near when here no longer can I stay
There’s not a comrade I leave behind, but is grieving for my going away
But since it has so ordered been what is once past can’t be recalled
Now fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

If I had money for to spend, If I had time to waste away
There is a fair maid in this town, I feign would while her heart away
With her rosy cheeks and dimpled chin, my heart she has beguiled awa’
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

If I had money for to spend, I would spend it in her company
And all the harm that I have done, I hope it’s pardoned I will be
And all I’ve done for want of it to memory I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

A man may drink and not be drunk, a man may fight and not be slain
A man may court a pretty girl and perhaps be welcomed back again
But since it has so ordered been by a time to rise and a time to fall
Come fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

12 comments on “An Irish wake: Last call (forever) for Ted & Jo’s

  1. Jill says:

    Very nicely done Dave! My heart is heavy but filled with smiling memories.

  2. Lori says:

    Amen, Jill, there were lots of great memories! I was more of a T&Js “newbie” since I’ve only hung out there the past couple years. But, I had so many good times there that will stay with me. Like the first time I met the whole beach house gang there, I vividly remember meeting Dave, I was sitting next to him on a bar stool at the end of the bar and we showed each other pictures of our cats. (Of course at the time I was thinking “what a loser”… funny how things turn out…) (just kidding)(mostly)

  3. Kirk DeGrado says:

    Very nicely done as well, Dave!

    The memories that I have of Ted and Joe’s are of the people that I met there and called friends in Hoboken. I suppose I have Hogan to thank or curse for that. T & J’s always seemed to have a positive feeling to it. That’s what I miss about it. Having moved to Hoboken from New Orleans and naturally feeling out of place in New Jersey, I never felt out of place in T & J’s except when Tommy wore that orange hunting vest. I felt like I was in the movie Deliverance and about to hear Ned Beatty squeal like a pig – scary night.

    I wish I could’ve been there for the last night.

  4. Abbe says:

    Well said and again, it was our home. Just think, without Ted and Joe’s, where would we be? It was the key reason why we all met and became the Sunday Funday group that we were. All these years later, it was our link, our spot. and our reason to get together and go back and always feel like we were siiting in our living rooms- minus the cats, dogs, and other variables. I will sincerely miss all of our times and have many memories for us to cherish such as… Sunday Funday that began at noon and I was supposed to leave to see my parents and then just closed out the bar with you and Tommy…. Ski hat, sunglasses and poinsettas in a pint glass, any yankees and cowboys banter, “CALL ME BACK”, CHOWDAH, tattoo’s anyone?, falling asleep teaching the future after a sunday funday, I was here meeting JD!, and many many more. We will always have this bar and the memories- and our photos from that last night will be posted soon. XOXOXO

  5. Art Beagan says:

    Can you advise me on how to get a setting for the Parting Glass played on bagpipes.

    Our band “Fairfield Gaelic Pipes and Drums” would like to learn it

  6. 9nine9 says:

    I have no idea, concept, clue or theory. I know nothing about bagpipes, and “The Parting Glass” was just read as a poem, not accompanied by the band. Sorry!

  7. Marianne says:

    A few months ago I dropped into T&J’s to see Patrick and brought along a few younger friends that had never been there, yes they live in Hoboken but never venutred past 8th street to go uptown. I then realized how old I was…I have known Patrick for the entire time he worked there. God I felt old but I have to tell you, Patrick and I, for all those years had held up pretty well.

    I read your blog about the “wild” times at T&J’s and I have to say, I was a part of those…out of town friends, my family from Australia, I always told them we had to go to Ted and Joes!!! And each time we would walk out of there and not remember the walk home. The next time I was in though, Patrick made sure he helped me remember what I did that night. Now isn’t a bartender suppose to forget???

    When I first moved around the corner, it was the first time I would be living alone. I had just walked out of the Deli on the corner with something to eat after a tough day at work. Jerry saw me and would say, why don’t you come in and sit at the bar and have a good meal. I felt weird doing that, but the next time Jerry saw me, he pulled me in, sat with me, I ate and all was right with the world. Then that became a habit and a few months later when I went over to Ireland for the first time, I saw that it was ok to do that, go into the neighborhood pub, sit down at the bar and have a good meal. The bartender always checking on you to make sure you didn’t feel awkward, making you laugh and then clearing your plates and sending you on your way.

    When I moved to Rutherford and would stop to meet friends before going home, I would double park and Jerry and would keep an eye out on my car. You bet you can’t do that now, it would be towed before you got in the door. Park right on the corner, the nose of your car peeking out over the yellow line, but it was ok, Jerry was watching.

    I have moved away and come home again a few times and T&J’s has always been there. I would walk in, Patrick would be there behind the bar with a big smile and a smack on the lips, asking me where the heck I have been??? Checking out my girlfriends or the new guy I paraded in there for his approval, which by the way I think there was only one guy that Patrick ever approved of over the years, was always a riot.

    It is sad that those young kids I brought in to T&J’s a few months ago will never experience the full force of the people and laughs and the feeling of coming home when you walk through those big, velvet drapes.

    When my Dad died, I came in and cried with my friends and when my Mom passed, Patrick walked around the bar and gave me a big hug and said, you need a drink, and boy did I drink that night…This wasn’t a bar, it was family that was there in good times and in bad.

    Ted and Joe’s was laughs, and tears and hugs and life and it is sad that those young kids will never know what a great place it was and what great people worked and visited there that made it such a wonderful establishment.

    Ted and Joe’s, you will be missed!

  8. […] man should not have to lose his bar and his ballpark in the same […]

  9. […] I can’t say I was sorry to see 2008 come to an end. A man should not have to lose his job , his bar and his ballpark in the same year. […]

  10. […] This is in direct contrast to 2008, which can pretty much go to hell. I managed to lose my job, my favorite bar and my ballpark in 2008, while 2009 brought some sadness, but nowhere near on the level of 2008. In […]

  11. […] unlike when this was written five years ago, I no longer have my favorite bar as an option, since Ted & Jo’s is no longer with us. Among the many reasons I loved Ted & Jo’s, New Year’s Eve was just another night. There […]

  12. […] 12 years here, but it’s just not the same anymore. It really hasn’t been the same for me since Ted & Jo’s, my absolute favorite bar and living room, closed in March 2008. And while I still have several […]

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