September 20, 2004

A bar, a word about pronunciation, and the whole subject of me and Texas (including the second reason I owe my life to coffee).

Responding to my Saturday post about my middle name (Adair), an emailer writes:
There's an Adair's Saloon in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas. Deep Ellum is a bar/nightclub area east-northeast of downtown Dallas, so named because it's centered along Elm Street (Ellum being a corruption of Elm). Adair's is one block south of Elm on Commerce Street. It's long and narrow like an old-style barber shop, and has black marker graffiti all over the walls and tables. It's a great honky-tonk, with live Texas-style country music most nights of the week. They also serve fantastic hamburgers that come with a whole jalapeno impaled on a toothpick topping the bun.

Adair's is one of the few places in Dallas that reminds you you're still in Texas. ... You should check it out if you ever happen to be down Dallas way.

Incidentally, although I've always pronounced Red Adair's name with the emphasis on the last syllable (red' uh-dare'), I say Adair's bar with the emphasis at the front (ay'-dares). I have no idea why. Maybe it has something to do with the meter.

Here's a link to the page of their website with lots of clickable photos of musicians and customers. And, yes, it does look very appealingly Texan.

Let me add a word about pronunciation and a word about me and Texas.

Pronunciation: I've never heard Adair pronounced the bar's way. Everyone in my family always said Adair the way you'd say "a dare," and that's the way I always heard Red Adair's name pronounced on news shows. The bar's way of saying it seems like a southern/country/cowboy thing, like saying CE-ment instead of ce-MENT (which is an incredibly cheesy insight into pronunciation based on watching "The Beverly Hillbillies"). "Ellum" for "Elm" reminds me of how my paternal grandfather--known to all as Pop--used to pronounce "film"--"fillum." I don't know the geographic range of that kind of speech, but he was from Delaware, which may or may not be considered southern. We certainly didn't think we were in the South when we lived there. Pop also called a gas station a "filling station," which always seemed to me--in kid logic--to be related to calling film "fillum.

Me and Texas: Dallas is probably the largest American city that I'll never set foot in. It's hard to think of a reason for me to go there. In fact, the only place in Texas I've been is Austin, to attend a conferece at the University of Texas Law School. I should say the only place in Texas I've ever been ex utero is Austin, because I spent a good portion of my in utero existence in Texas City, where my parents and sister lived before I was born. Back in the 1950s when I was growing up in Delaware, I always felt sad about missing out on Texas. Delaware seemed so insignificant--no one outside of Delaware seemed to care that we were the first state. And Texas was so magnificent and important--the largest state in those days. Older readers may say, so your parents lived in Texas City right after World War II and before your birth in 1951, then they must have been there when the great Texas City Disaster occurred (in 1947). Yes, indeed they were, and they always taught me not to yield to the temptation to become a spectator at the scene of a disaster. (Read the story at the link if you don't know what happened to people in Texas City who went to watch a spectacular fire that was consuming a ship full of ammonium nitrate.) I have written before that I owe my existence to coffee. (Here's the story of how the smell of coffee caused my parents to meet.) But I owe my existence to coffee a second time. On the day of the Texas City Disaster, my father was working at a desk near a window. He got up to get a cup of coffee, and, while he was away from his desk, the burning ship exploded, sending a shockwave through the city, that drove a huge triangular spear of glass deep into the chair where he would have been impaled had he not gone for that coffee.

ADDED: Rereading this post, I noticed the word "impaled" is used twice. Had I noticed that when I was originally writing this, I would have been sorely tempted to write: "deep into the chair where he would have been impaled like a whole jalapeno on a fantastic hamburger at Adair's Bar in Dallas." And that would have been so wrong!

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