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BY CHRIS POH, PUBLISHER OF AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSE REVIEW


A FRIEND AT THE END OF THE BAR



While I and David McBride were pouring pints and potables for pipers, parade patrons and the personage of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Thomas Connally stood his usual post at the end of the bar. For three consecutive yearly St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Jim Thorpe he lent color and commentary to the festivities in the snug shebeen located in the back room of the Gilded Cupid Bed and Breakfast. In the midst of this hoopla and hell raising we struck up a friendship, and began a serious conversation that unfortunately would never be finished.
Sadly, Tom, the loving father of our associate editor, Kathleen Connally, passed away during the summer of 2008.

Our friendship was about two roguish like-minded iconoclasts, who in actuality were sensitive softhearted men, soothing their mutually troubled souls with a bit of wit and whisky. Our conversation was about the existence of God. This was quite the apropos subject for any St. Patrick’s Day, considering that even the reality and historic facts surrounding the chief patron saint of Ireland have been brought into question.
Chris Poh, publisher of American Public House Review
CHRIS POH

                             
After many years of dealing with the human myths and traditions concerning the almighty, Tom was firmly of the opinion that there was no God, no heaven and no after-hours club after life’s last call. I on the other hand argued on behalf of eternal self awareness is some shape or form. For three years running we debated the matter…theology guided by Guinness…logic and quantum physics sharpened by shots of Jameson’s.

Our final exchange took place in a much quieter setting. We met for drinks after attending the opening of his daughter Kathleen’s photography show. There he confided in me that he was having second thoughts about his position on the possibility of an afterlife. His somewhat wistful consideration of my point of view left me feeling uneasy. I sensed that regret and resignation that occurs when men begin to face their own mortality. We ended our evening in typical fashion – a warm embrace and a promise to continue sparring at some later date.

There have been some late nights when I thought that Tom might rattle a glass or give a gentle nudge just to validate my intuitions. Presently though I can only take comfort in the fact that his caring nature, keen intellect, good humor and irrepressible spirit endures in the lives of his children. But I continue to trust in that moment at some future after-hours gathering of cherished souls where I will look up and see my friend at the end of the bar. 



Tom Connally as seen in American Public House Review
Thomas Connally







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