Friday, February 29, 2008

Preserving St. Philip's Stained Glass

St. Philip's Church in the Hudson Highlands, whose history is nearly as long as that of Philipstown, N.Y. is one of the region's most historical and beautiful buildings. One of its greatest architectural details is its stained glass windows.

Currently St. Philip's is restoring five of these windows and donations are welcomed to help preserve this art.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Irish Mouth" Music/Literary Gathering--March 14

This note came in over the weekend:

On Friday, March 14, the first ever Irish Mouth will be presented at Arts on the Lake in Kent/Carmel. The lineup will include local and regional talent--musical and literary--who share a love for Irish culture. Join us that evening.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Where Peggy's Still the Boss"

This is a tribute to the late, and by every account I've ever heard, undeniably great Peg Guinan, Jim's wife and mother of John, Margaret, Jimmy and Christine. It was written Philipstown resident Tim Donovan in 2003. Peg died in 1988 on Easter Sunday; she remains the pride of her family and was a pillar of Guinan's when alive.

Tim framed the poem as a gift for the Guinan's and it hung on a wall in the store until its closing. Ed Ashton took this photo of it before the store closed.


Back in the day when darts did fly
And Friday's train poured out.
The store would fill and Jim held court
For all form of man and lout.

Now as the moon does rise, merry makers come
Good Thursday of each month.
Then the life we knew
Of the old folks grew,
And the land their songs came from.

And Danny Boy, 'tis himself does sing
To no sound but a foot rhythm tap.
Then the pipes, tin whistles and strings combine,
In the store with the pub in back.

What's in a name, did Shakespeare say?
Then to Guinan's he never came.
For it's the man, great Bard, in this fair pub
That gives the place its fame.

Now a thousand folks claim kinship in,
Ten times that rounds it out.
But to be fair, no pedestal here
Whether elected
Or kicked out of the house.

The last honor bar does Guinan run,
It's a fact that's widely sown.
Hence the social drinker
Was granted this thinker,
Whose honor is widely known.

Good people most if they want in,
Good cheer, their tales and tears.
But if you swore then,
"Out the door",
"Don't blame it on the beer" !
And "gobshite" is his word
You might've heard
If it's politics you discuss
See if you spoke it, in voices clear
You were firmly told to hush.

Here on Sunday morn, traditions last
The news plus sweets for kids.
First they praise, then they make their way
To the store with the pub in back.

In gentle tones the topics join
Life's circle swings by often.
It's the talk of weather, neighbors and newborns
It's the woe of the sick and the fallen.

See it's a family place,
This fair store
In a town time once forgot.
Just its people and the river life
As time left it on this spot.

Still they come
The crowd's changed a bit.
Now in theatre, film, the arts.
Where beer is sold, boys and girls grew old
Some now seek wine to sip.
The best papers say we've all gone chic,
And we do make room for that too!
But slow to shed so much of this....
This pot of local stew.

So do much in the name of hist'ry
And all that's said worth saving.
Cause once its gone, one can't abide
A grand town with no place for living.

And now like Kelsey's nuts it's died
Tar the Highlands black with loss.
What Guinan made
John does it today
But where Peggy's still the boss!

Tim Donovan © 2003

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Service for Mike Mihalik (and a poem)

A memorial service for Michael R. Mihalik ("Old Mike") will be held this Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Philip's Church in Garrison. Friends of the family will gather afterward at the Parish House next door.

Below is a poem written by Mary Ellen Yannitelli this week in honor of Mike.

Mike Mihalik

At the end of the bar
near the corner he stood
his everyday stop
A transition from toiler
to loving husband and pop.
Releasing his day
talking with the boys
of history, politics, religion and big toys.

When talks in the bar turned to debates that got heated
Mike very quickly and nonchalantly interceded.
He'd look off in the distance,
put his finger to his lip
and reduce everyone to laughter
with an amusing quip.

A "Guinan's Google" original-
he knew a bit about everything
and much about things mechanical.
Discussions about engines at times were tyrannical.

Mike's big frame belied his gentle soul
and everyone wished he'd remain-
for the warmth it emanated
seemed effortlessly to ease all of our strain.

But in the end he'd wave and bellow, "Goodnight, all!"
His departure even we could not forestall.
For off he must go,
out of much love and duty
home to his Sue-his lifelong beauty.

Now he has gone HOME
to his Father
and his son
Eternity for him has just begun.

Especially to his family, and those that experienced his love,
though it is difficult, our lives will continue.
Mike is gone, but in all that he touched
his love and gentleness will remain
This, and Gods mercy will help to ease the pain.

On God's distant shore
we shall meet again
Slainte, Mike
and to his family
God be with you
until then.

-Mary Ellen Yannitelli, February 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A View of Guinan's from Boscobel

One of Philipstown's great treasures is Boscobel, a federalist period house museum with sweeping views of the Hudson River and U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Boscobel is home to the critically-acclaimed Hudson Valley Shakespeare festival. You've never seen The Bard's work performed quiet like this -- and never in a setting like this. Here's a Wall Street Journal review of last summer's "As You Like It."

Meantime, I recently received a note from Rick Soedler, who oversees Boscobel's immaculate buildings and grounds, about his Guinan's memories. Here are excerpts:

"My wife and I met in 1996 and stated dating in 1998. We met aboard the Sloop Clearwater which at the time frequently docked at Garrison Landing. Guinan's was a favorite stop for the crew. When my wife and I started to date one of our first nights out was the Rising of the Moon which we frequented from 1998-2000. Marriage, moving further north, and children have unfortunately kept us from returning.

I have been working here in Garrison at Boscobel since June of 2006 and that is when I received a copy of your book Little Chapel on the River.....Some [of the characters] I know, some I know of. Frank Geer [the preacher at St. Philip's Church] is a friend of ours and he married us in July 2001. We also just love the whole area down at the landing as well as the great memories at Guinan's. We took our wedding photos at the landing as well.

We are going to come for the last Rising of the Moon on the 24th, we wouldn't miss it for the world. We already have a sitter lined up and may be joined by a few other long lost friends…. Come down to Boscobel sometime."

Rick Soedler
Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds
Boscobel Restoration Inc.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Where the Hudson Meets the Heart" - Part 3

Here is the third and final installment of Joe Jamison's story about his journey to Guinan's. He captures a lot of what's good and right about places like Guinan's in this world. It's a good read.

I've borrowed two of the photos Joe took while at the chapel from his blog and am posting them here. Thanks to Joe for taking time to make the trip and for chronicling what it meant to him.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Your Chapel: Pirates Cove Yacht Club, Josephine, Ala.

My introduction to a place called Pirate’s Cove was to hear Kacey Jones sing her song, Never Wear Panties To A Party. Being fresh out of a divorce, this was exactly what I needed. It was the dead of winter. I was at a place that drew its name literally from the cove on which it sat, surrounded by water, the wind whipping from Wolf Bay just off the Gulf of Mexico, blowing through cracks that any of the dogs walking around the joint could have passed through. It was also so far out in the boonies that I suppose even pirates didn’t dare venture there.

The little bitty space (Guinan’s fans understand that term, right?) had two wooden picnic tables brought in for the uppity customers such as myself that thought you should sit to listen to a performer. In fact, it was my first night at Pirates Cove that I was introduced to The Sweet Potato Queens and their theme song written by Kacey Jones. There was one outdoor heater that had been brought into the middle of the room where people huddled. It was when I felt the radiation of the heat that helped me understand why people stood rather than sit at the fine dining tables.

My next encounter at the Cove was to hear a somewhat local (via Brewton, Al and New Orleans, La) and extremely talented musician, Grayson Capps. Grayson has trekked from Europe to Hollywood thanks to his penman father, Everett, by writing the music for the film “A Love Song for Bobby Long” starring John Travolta. By this time, Pirates Cove had started recovery from Hurricane Ivan and extended its entertainment stage to the outdoor porch….. i.e., more picnic tables and a bigger dance floor.

Pirates Cove is one of many places at the Gulf that you can arrive by land or sea. During special events like the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival, there is even water taxi service….. a ten minute ride from Orange Beach, Alabama.

The locals, well… they come by bicycle, by golf cart, by Harley’s or even walk. But, they get there. Sometimes quiet, sometimes rambunctious. As far as I know, Pirates Cove is not in danger of closing and if Mother Nature will leave it alone, it’s on the opposite end of the growth scale from Guinan’s. Josephine is a tiny community at the end of seemingly nowhere. You don’t pass through Josephine, you go there. If it doesn’t meet your liking, you turn around and leave or learn to walk on water. Even though I lived at the beach, to make this journey across the bay was an approximate forty five minute drive by car. However, after learning that the best cheeseburgers this side of Margaritaville are served at Pirate’s Cove, it’s worth the ride. On Sunday afternoons when your body says its shut-down time, listening to the local Riff Raff exchange tunes and relax is the perfect ending to another memorable PC weekend.

I don’t live at the beach any longer and my weekends are filled with more important people, like grandchildren. But, the good memories I have of times of Pirates Cove hover close to my heart and large in my memory. For all things, there is a season.

So, if you find yourself at the Gulf Shores area of Alabama, shuffle down County Road 95 in Josephine, Alabama till it dead ends and you’ll find Pirates Cove. Meander through the sand for that long awaited cold one or perhaps a concert of some of the best songwriters in the south. IT’S A DESTINATION LIKE NO OTHER.

Rebecca Rogers
Bessemer, Alabama

How to Leave a Message

1. Click on the link that says "Comments" at the end of any posted item (including this one).

2. A new page will pop up. Type your comment in the white box for text to the right.

3. To protect against spam, Blogger requires that you copy a strange mix of letters it presents. Simply retype those letters in the space that says "Word Verification."

4. Choose your identity. The easiest way is to hit "Name/URL" and then just type your name, or a pen name you'd like to write under, in the space that says "Name." Ignore the URL box. If you'd rather be anonymous, click the "Anonymous" button instead.

5. Hit publish. You're done. Thanks for being a part of this community.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Home Again...For a Night

Last night, in honor of the late Mike Mihalik ("Old Mike" in Little Chapel), a group of us gathered privately at the chapel to toast his life.

Around 10 p.m., we stood just outside the bar where he made us all laugh with his booming voice and wide grin, and with Ed Preusser leading the way, hoisted cans of Coors Light -- Mike's drink of choice once Schaefer wasn't available -- to our friend's memory and his family.

Guinan's is nearly empty of product now; the once-overflowing candy counter barren and the Coca-Cola beer cooler down to the final few bottles. There's an echo when you speak in the store. But there was nothing forlorn about last night. With the fire glowing, Margaret's cooking in the oven, Kelly's laugh and two dogs scurrying underfoot, we were transported home again, if for a brief while.

Things will change soon. But last night it seemed clear that Guinan's can be immortal so long as we never forget the people like Mike Mihalik who found solace inside her walls.

Photos by Kelly Guinan.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Michael R. Mihalik (1944-2008)

One of the chapel's most loyal parishioners, Mike Mihalik, passed away yesterday. He was the balancing force to Guinan's, the guy who made everyone breathe a little easier when he was around. Mike was born at Butterfield Hospital in Cold Spring, N.Y. He is survived by his wife Sue and daughters Lisa, Jennifer, Krista. His ashes will be buried at St. Philip's Church next to the grave of his son Michael W., who died on July 27, 1997.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 23rd at St. Philip's.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Candy Counter

The following are excerpts from Eric Gulley's "Guinan's Story":

"My Guinan’s story is a childhood memory story. My folks bought a small summer place in Garrison in 1960, the year after Guinan’s opened. I was three years old at the time, so as far as I was concerned Guinan’s was always in existence....

What I remember most was a hulking freestanding wooden retail case with a glass front that resided about two-thirds of the way to the back of the store. It had rows for candy bars on top, which as I recall took a number of years for me to be able to reach, but it didn’t matter because kids were allowed to walk around to the back and make selections from inside the case, then bring the goods up to the counter to pay. Thinking back, the products I found so enticing were awful stuff, mostly.......candy dots on strips of paper, boxes of Cracker Jax and Good & Plenty, baseball playing cards packaged with cardboard-like chewing gum, and of course, candy cigarettes -- which in the 1960s were apparently considered completely benign even in the hands of tots.

Then, up to the counter we would march to count out a few coins settle up. The recipient of our wealth was usually Jim or Peg Guinan, but sometimes it was one of their kids, a couple of whom were not much older than I was. I remember Peg as a fairly no-nonsense lady, but Jim was always affable. Reading this website, it was a revelation to me to calculate that he was only in his 30s during most of this era, because to me he was always a friendly old Irishman....

Even as a child, I had some notion that Guinan’s was a distinctly rare, local institution – a dying retail model unlikely to play a role in the lives of my own children. Even then, I sensed the old wooden candy case was a lingering relic of a time gone by."

Eric Gulley February 4, 2008

Photo credits: Kelly Guinan

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Guinan's Waltz

In honor of Valentine's Day, here's a love song by Hank Beukema. It was inspired by a romance stoked at Guinan's. I've posted in the past about Hank, and published links to his work. Here's to keeping close the people and places we love:


It's been quite awhile, my darlin
Since we first took those long river walks
Past the shops down in Garrison
When I first heard the ways your eyes talked

I think it was the start of the romance
When you put your mouth close to my ear
You whispered Forever, it's only forever
I've waited for you to appear

Are they still serving beers down at Guinan's?
Do the ladies still dance Irish nite?
Do you think we can waltz by the fire
Do you mind if I turn down the lights?

La da da, da da da, la da da dee
La da da, da da da, la da da doo
La da da, da da da, la da da day
La da da, da da da, la doo....

We push and we strain, we run thru the rain
Trying to find the right one
There's no way to name it, no way to claim it
But getting there's half of the fun

Are they still serving beers down at Guinan's?
Do the ladies still dance Irish nite?
Do you think we can waltz by the fire
Do you mind if I turn down the lights?

Are they still serving beers down at Guinan's?
Do the ladies still dance Irish nite?
Do you think we can waltz by the fire
Do you mind if I turn down the lights?

La da da, da da da, la da da dee
La da da, da da da, la da da doo
La da da, da da da, la da da day
La da da, da da da, la doo....

Hank Beukema - revbuckman music - 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Your Chapel: Shannon's Tavern, Jersey City, N.J.

This is a poem written by Raymund Reddington about the last night of Shannon's Tavern in Jersey City, a joint also frequented by Fitz. (See page 46 of Little Chapel on the River.)

What Was That Place?

February 22, 2002 was the wintry date
The for sale sign had been up for years
Patrons were not surprised, it was fate
Yet, the closing of the doors brought tears.

Danny worked his last night behind the bar
His eyes twinkled brighter than stars
I asked, “Will you cry and be sensitive?
He responded, “That’s a negative.”

It was a place to catch a game
Though the gamblers’ talk got heated
You entered the place, you got greeted
Everyone did know your name.

Like lost children, the ex-patrons now roam
Every so often by chance they do meet
It’s here, there, or passing in the street
Sometimes it’s in a bar, but it’s just not the same
As that place named Shannon’s, we called home.

By Raymond Reddington April 15, 2004

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Irish Music Sessions

There will never be another session like the "Rising of the Moon." But some of the musicians who kept Guinan's Irish Night alive for so many years are sharing there talents in other venues.

Jack McAndrew
and Mike O'Hanlon, who plays accordian, are hosting a session on the first and third Sundays of each month at O'Malleys in the heart of downtown Mt. Kisco. (O’Malleys Pub 30 E. Main St, Mount Kisco, New York) It goes from 6-9PM.

On the alternative Sundays, he plays down in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx at a place called the "Rambling House". It's on Katonah Ave and 236th St, near the Woodlawn cemetery. That session starts at 7PM and it goes on usually till 11 or 12.

Candace Coates, the Highland Harper, writes that she's teamed up with Rita Mack to play in Wappingers Falls at Ciarnan's Pub on the 3rd Sunday of the month from 4:00pm until 7:00pm. Ciarnan's is located at 235 Myers Corners Road Wappingers Falls, New York. Their first session will be on the 17th of February. The phone number at the pub is (845) 297-2892.

Photo credit: Russ Cusick

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Where the Hudson Meets the Heart" - Part 2

Here is the second installment of Joe Jamison's recent journey to Guinan's. Joe lives in Bucks County, Pa. and was inspired to make a road trip to Guinan's. He hit the deck just before the store closed and describes his impression of what he found.

Read more about Joe and get a link to Part One.

One clarification to Joe's tale. Margaret Guinan makes that famous chili he references.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Even though snow is still on the ground, Team Guinan -- led by Kelly Guinan -- is preparing for next year's Braking the Cycle ride. Several of us have attached our bikes to trainers inside so we can pedal through the winter.

Our fund-raising, the hardest part of this ride, just got a great kick start thanks to Russ Cusick who is selling Guinan's tribute tiles and donating 25% of the proceeds to Team Guinan. Each rider must raise $3500 to participate; team proceeds are evenly split between riders.

Thanks for your support!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Finding the Way Back Home ...

Cathy Seeber, who grew up in Garrison, N.Y., took this photo on a trip home in 2005. The image is of a sign Ed Preusser hand-crafted in his basement to help folks find the chapel. He made two; one was stolen. He reclaimed the other on closing day.

Meantime, Cathy, who now lives in Fall City, Wash., shared these memories of Guinan's:

Guinans…Where I bought clandestine cigarettes in my teens; Where my dad got the paper every morning before jumping on the train. Where my brothers had their first beers. Where Lucien Hold probably bought a soda the day he sailed out alone and was dragged under by a tug-line, not to be found for over a year. Where all the kids went to get an ice cream bar and then go sit on the dock for the afternoon. Where we all got snacks when building sets for the Garrison Depot Theatre which my mom and dad founded. Where my sister Mindy and I played guitar in the gazebo pretending we were Joan Baez.

Videos: "Closing Time" & "Jim Guinan Tribute"

Russ Cusick of In Focus Designs adds this video to the growing body of tributes to the Guinan store legacy. (Click on the "video" tab on the right side of this page to see others.)

What I like best about this one "Closing Time" -- a collage of images from Guinan's last day in business -- is the repetition of shots and how his camera canvases each nook and cranny of the pub and store as well as the faces there. The style is one of preservation, and that's what the spirit of all these creative efforts is about.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Reflections of a Session Leader

Jack McAndrew wrote a short thank you essay about his time at Guinan's Irish Night music sessions.

You can still get copies of recordings of some of the last Irish Nights; details are posted here.

Meantime, a CD called "Long Time Coming" featuring Jim Guinan is out with five songs and it's fantastic. The folks behind this venture are making another run of the CDs, and I'll post here with details on how to buy when they are ready.

Photo by Christine Ashburn.

Monday, February 4, 2008

"Where the Hudson Meets the Heart"

A week and a half ago, I received an email from Joe Jamison of Bucks County, Pa. He'd read about Guinan's closing and was inspired to make a road trip to the pub. Joe is Music & Arts Contributing Editor for the Newtown Ourburbs Community Web site. He's chronicling his trip on one of his blogs, Life in the Key of Joe.

You can read Joe's first installment, "Where the Hudson Meets the Heart" Part I here; I'll update with his second chapter when it's posted.

He also helps write another interesting blog called Memeticians. For those curious, here's Wikipedia's definition of a "meme."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Video: "Last Train to Guinan's"

Joe Foster shot this video during Guinan's last night in business. The good-bye ran for many until after midnight, for some until 3 a.m., and for a diehard few, until the first morning commuter train pulled into Garrison station.

Joe does a nice job piecing together still shots with moving video and captures a lot of the regulars in this footage. The words in the beginning are borrowed from Peter Applebome's New York Times column last Sunday.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Song: The Hudson Is a River

A poet from Nyack/Pomona, Hank Beukema, wrote this song dedicated to the Hudson River and Guinan's. If you want to hear Hank reading his poem, you can through this Web site.

Hank has visited Guinan’s with Rebecca "Becka" Rogers (pictured above) from Alabama; I'll be posting about Becka's "chapel" down there soon. Hank, meantime, maintains a MySpace page where he penned a nice tribute to Guinan’s. Read more of his writings at this Web site. Thanks for sharing this poem Hank.


The Hudson is a river
The natives used to say
That runs in both directions
Evry mile along its way
From the mountains to the city
She's cut her winding course and
There's a piece of her in all of us
Who grew up on her shores

Was at Guinan's on the Landing
We fell in love that day
But then the current caught us
And we turned the other way
Somewhere south of West Point
And north of the Tappan Zee
I let the river turn me
To a man that could not see

The Hudson is a river
That runs right thru my soul
It's taken quite awhile
To realize the ocean's not the goal
It's not the getting there that matters
While thru the valley we roam
It's learning to ride the currents
That make this place a home

Where were we, Darlin'?
You were right, that much I see
We were talking about
What it was that was so wrong with me
Seems we ended the ride
Just as the voyage got started
Seems we ended the ride
With both of us half broken hearted

I just called to tell you
What was once lost has been found
I just called to tell you
This year has turned me around
It's taken nearly a year of
You being on your own
It's taken many a mile to
Find what I needed to find alone

The Hudson is a river
The natives used to say
That runs in both directions
Evry mile along its way
From the mountains to the city
She's cut her winding course and
There's a piece of her in all of us
Who grew up on her shores

Hank Beukema - revbuckmanmusic - 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008

Fox Business Guinan's Story

In addition to the many print stories written about Guinan's closing over the past few weeks, Fox Business Network visited Garrison a few days ago to shoot a farewell piece about Guinan's. They even got a clip of Jim singing "Danny Boy" and used it at the end of the segment.

Since we don't get FBN up in this neck of the woods yet, here's a link to a digital clip of the story.

If you know of any other stories about Guinan's, let us know through the comment section here and I'll try and post a link.