In memory of my father, William Lee Ballard, 1926 – 2007
One of the things my dad passed on to me was an appreciation for bars and bar life in general. I’m not referring to loud, hot nightclubs, but to a good neighborhood bar, the type of place dad referred to as a “good saloon.”
Back in the 1960s, when the business of advertising was still fun, Billy Ballard was a bit of a legend. Those were the days when four-martini lunches and after hours cocktails were part and parcel of the job. Dad had an extraordinary wit; he was notorious for his colorful tongue and outrageous irreverence, as well as his thoughtful generosity and unpretentious ways. He was also a resolutely unapologetic drinking man.
Over the years, during our many father-daughter lunches and dinners, I learned that a good saloon can take on an element of sanctuary. It is at once a meeting place, a book swap, a podium for debaters, and a message hub where you could also pick up sound advice. It was where you caught up on the latest news or local gossip, or where you could ask about a reliable plumber or a good stockbroker.
A good saloon was usually an establishment frequented by locals who expected or demanded the trusted absence of change. It was a place with a rhythm all its own, its dependable beat tapped out daily by the steady coming and going of its patrons. You could tell the time of day by who walked in the door, who was already settled into their regular spot, or by the absence of a particular patron.