Gil Bears

Gil BearsGil Bears
Oil on canvas

Gil Bears was a neighborhood tavern in Millville, NJ. Gil was bartender at Larry’s Bar back in the day.  The story goes, Gil ran numbers. Gil finally stockpiled enough cash to buy his own liquor license – I think it was $5,000 at the time. He converted the first floor of his house into a bar.

There was the pool table, and four dart boards for tournaments. He had maybe four beers on tap in the heyday – and cheap shots, and at the end only served bottled beers. No food, Gil Bear’s was a neighborhood bar for the working class to grab a beer and shot before heading home after a hard day at the glass plant.

Ghosts – Gil Bears was inhabited by ghosts of the past. Kerr Glass workers stopping in in the morning after pulling the hoot owl shift. Blue collar. And there was always a good conversation. Near the end, the place was sparse. A few locals playing pool. A couple at the dart board.

Gil allowed his liquor license to lapse. Gil died.  Gil Bears burned to the ground shortly after – bad electrical. Fortunately nobody was hurt. But  a Millville icon was erased in a night. I imagine the ghosts still wander the empty lot to this day.

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