Wednesday, April 24, 2024

STREET BEAT: Bar Moore than a rum shop


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As part of the Nation Publishing Company’s 50th anniversary of Independence Celebrations, the WEEKEND NATION is dedicating the Street Beat column to a staple of Barbadian life – the rum shop – as we Fire A Shot For 50.

THE JOHN MOORE BAR is more than just a rum shop. just ask the patrons.

The long-standing watering hole, located in Weston, St James, has hosted a range of well-known Barbadians, from former prime ministers to educators to high-ranking police officers, and today still stands strong, steeped in tradition and memories.

While it is true the rum shops are no longer what they once were as youth tend not to congregate in them and the older folk are gradually disappearing, there is no question places like John Moore’s Bar have earned a special place in the hearts of many. so to call the bar “just” a rum shop would be doing it a great disservice.

“This is where we grew up. It was a place where all kinds of people came. The history of this place is not about drinking . . . it is more than just a rum shop,” said a patron, who was not identified.

Gordon Gibbons has been a part of the John Moore Bar for more than a half-century.

john-moore-bar-081216“This shop moved here since 1959 and was remodelled in 1962 to how it is now. I remember they used to call around here Castries because so many St Lucians used to live around here. They used to bring their instruments and we would dance and ting. There’s so many memories,” he said.

Looking back, Gibbons said it was a little sad when he thought of all the friends he lost along the way but added the bar would always be a place where the old guard could come and discuss the issues.

“The shop more upmarket and industrialised now, it was a real rum shop before but now it more modern though it still has that um shop culture. It is still the place we call “the office” where we say we would come to the round table and talk.

“Now us old fellas dying out and the younger ones don’t socialise here like we do, they don’t know the history. Most of the old guard gone now; we used to meet in camaraderie and make sport at each other then go home and met again the next evening,” he said.

Lamont Adderson is the current owner of the bar. He said he had been a close friend of Moore and provided support to him after he lost both legs to diabetes and eventually passed away.

“From the time Moore started here, I used to be here too. He sold me the shop in 1983 and died four years later. Before that, I used to rent it. I used to take him to the doctor so I guess he sold the shop to the person who helped him the most,” said Adderson.

The shop owner said he realised times had changed but historic places like the John Moore Bar should be preserved, adding it was still a place where both locals and visitors frequented.

Welches Variety is a little shop overlooking the highway near Warrens. Victor Sandiford runs it now, having taken over from his mother. He said it was still a popular place.

“My mother started it in 2000 and I took over as she is getting old. It’s an up and down business, some nights we close early and others we shut after midnight. We still get a good crowd on evenings, sometimes more than 30 people and we get quite a bit of tourists too,” he said.

Sandiford said he opted not to go the route of offering karaoke as such events often attracted large numbers who did not buy anything. Instead he kept things more intimate and held special limes when it was someone’s birthday.

One of Welches variety’s long-standing customers, who declined identification, said it was a place to come and relax. He said rum shops had raised the bar since days gone by.

“We used to call here the clubhouse as the fellas used to play cricket then lime here. From there it just spread to friends and family. This place is a great stress reliever, you can come, sit and watch traffic go by,” he said.

The customer said many old rum shops were more like bars and restaurants now with some offering things such as wines and even cash machines.


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