Oregon Tavern Age: Pitch’s East

One day, a woman sat in a bar, Pitch’s in Port Orford. She saw a horse drinking beer from a saucer on the counter. On another visit, she saw a live boxer crab holding an unlit cigarette in one claw and a glass of beer in the other.

The woman’s name is Lacey and she used to work as server in Pitch’s. Now she works at Pitch’s East, across Highway 101 from the old Pitch’s. A couple of years ago, it went up in smoke and flames in the middle of the night and when it did, every Oregon Tavern Age man, woman and dog felt the loss deep, deep in the gut. There ought to be a gin-soaked country song about the pain of losing Pitch’s. Maybe there is.

I found myself in Pitch’s East an indeterminate time ago, and Lacey recounted the story of the terrible hell fire as I sipped a local ale and took notes on a napkin. It was just me sitting at the bar at 11:05 in the morning and Lacey behind the bar. She opened her narrative by saying, “Pitch’s was my first illegal drink in a bar, first legal drink in a bar, I got kicked out of it, and then I worked there.”

It don’t get no more OTA than that.

Then Lacey said, “It’s just not the same since the original burned to the ground.”

I know something about that.

She continued: “When I woke up that night, I could smell it. That deep fryer smell. It could only be Pitch’s being deep fried. In the morning, I heard it was.”

The only survivors were two kegs of beer and wooden name plaques of the female servers carved by an OTA local. Lacey’s name was one of them

Pitch’s owners tapped the kegs for the cleanup crew and the charred name plaques now rest in Pitch’s East. Lacey put hers in my hands and my hands trembled.

Lacey kept on storytelling. I grabbed another napkin and ordered another beer. What the hell, it was a Tuesday morning and foggy outside. She told me about her father, a legendary Port Orford character whose wake was equally legendary. She told me Pitch’s East used to be called The Truculent Oyster. The Truculent Oyster!

A delivery man arrived and Lacey went over to attend to business, not storytelling. But she wasn’t through, I knew that. And I wasn’t through listening because I wanted more of her crazy Pitch’s’ stories and I wanted to immortalize them all in print, because these OTA joints are slowly disappearing from the coastal drinking landscape. A fire here. A gentrification there. Then no more.

I just may have to open one myself. It would only be open from seven in the morning to four in the afternoon. I might even call it the Seven to Four. We’d offer Hamm’s and eggs as our only breakfast option. We’d have the greatest variety of pickled grotesqueries of any tavern or bar in the world, artisan ones, too. We’d have someone playing country covers on guitar every weekend morning. There’s be a couple of rescue OTA mutts lounging around the joint as well.

A man can dream, can’t he? A man has to dream after a terrible hell fire has incinerated him. Isn’t there a story about something rising from the ashes? I bet Lacey knows it.

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