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     JESUS RETURNS TO FELLS POINT
 small purple logo
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH
initialwas brought up Catholic, and like many others my age that have veered off the road to Damascus, other than for weddings or funerals I seldom see the inside of a church. I will make no excuse for my lack of attendance. There is no tale of injustice at the hands of some rogue cleric that has caused me to question my faith, nor have the frailties of human behavior inherent to all religious institutions dissuaded me from spending time on bent knee. The fact of the matter is some of my closest friends are Roman Catholic Priests, and if I were to base my churchly affiliations or earthly relationships upon the pretense of principles - human contact would be nil.
Ale Mary's logo as seen in American Public House Review


Ale Mary's bar as seen in American Public House Review
ALE MARY'S ECCLESIASTICAL BAR


So on one particularly fine summer afternoon in June I am directed to Ale Mary’s, located in Baltimore’s historic Fells Point district. In both my personal and professional opinion this area offers one of the best concentrations of unique neighborhood taverns in all of North America, and this perfect corner pub surpasses a very demanding local standard of excellence.


Ale Mary's in Fells Point, Baltimore as seen in American Public House Review
THE ARCHETYPICAL NEIGHBORHOOD TAVERN


Upon entering I feel compelled to bless myself and to genuflect. I haven’t seen this much Catholic kitsch since the street concessions at Yankee Stadium during Pope John Paul 11’s visit there in 1979.  In spite of its parochial provisioning this establishment equally extends its warmth, welcome and whimsy to papists, protestants and those of any belief or lack there of.



Ale Mary's nun picture as seen in American Public House Review
WATCHING . . . .

Ale Mary's priest picture as seen in American Public House Review
  . . . ALWAYS WATCHING

Ale Mary's picture of Sister McBride as seen in AmericanPublic House Review
SISTER McBRIDE





Ale Mary's Jesus statue as seen in American PUblic House Review
EACH PATRON IS PROTECTED
AND EVERY ALE IS BLESSED

My eyes scan the ecclesiastical accoutrements of the surroundings and fixate on the pink Jesus statue on the center of the bar that appears to be watching over the inhabitants of this small earthly kingdom. During the course of the afternoon, our good-natured host and owner of the establishment, Mary Rivers, relates a story about a time when this Fells Point flock was deprived of its rubicund protector. Apparently some pub crawling philistine had the audacity to pilfer the good shepherd.

A thorough inquiry into the matter was conducted by Mary’s husband and co-owner, Tom Rivers. His investigation uncovered evidence that suggested the likely suspect had covered the expenses incurred that day with plastic. A careful audit of the receipts revealed the culprit, and an amount, proper and in keeping with the seriousness of the transgression was added to the offender’s credit card. Of course it wasn’t long before there was a call received at the bar questioning and protesting the apparent seizure of funds. But after a tactful interrogation a full confession was made, and a suitable penance was imposed. It was agreed that the attached monies would be returned if Jesus was restored to his rightful place, and that a public act of contrition be offered up to the local patrons. As to how this second coming played out, I can’t quite say. That part of the story got lost in the pleasant fog encountered after several pints of Brewer’s Art Resurrection Ale.



Good ales though do have a way of providing a pathway to transcendence and illumination, and it occurred to me that people come to great taverns for many of the same reasons that impel them to fill those edifices of public worship. Beyond our position or status we are all wandering souls in search of comfort, conciliation, community, counsel and conclusive proof that there is magic imparted to those that drink from the cup of life.

With the bartender as high priest, Mary as mother superior and Tom as father confessor I know that this flock will be well cared for. So once more I raise my glass and toast Ale Mary’s full of grace and a very generous portion of Baltimore charm!

Ale Mary's clock as seen in American Public House Review



Editor’s note: Many of my favorite days on earth have been spent in Baltimore pubs. For these times I offer many thanks to my dear friends, Jack and Kathy who have provided stellar recommendations, safe cover, transport and shelter for both me and my wife, Fran. - Chris Poh




people of note in Ale Mary's as seen in American Public House Review
FRIENDS AND FAMILY






ALE MARY'S

On the corner of Fleet and Washington Streets
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
(410) 276 - 2044

www.alemarys.com

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