At this time I rarely drink. I’ll have a glass of red wine at dinner, but I really don’t particularly like it — I’m convinced it’s good for my heart. However, there was a time in my past that I often drank to excess. Again, not because I liked the taste of alcohol, but because I was cavorting with friends. It’s lucky I made it through that period. There was a moment or two when it was touch and go. Drinking and driving was the cause of death for several of my friends. One friend got a taste of buckshot after a drunken brawl in Wilmington. But that was 50 years ago.
This intro brings us to the subject of this week’s discourse — the local DORA initiative. DORA stands for Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area. This means anyone who buys an alcoholic beverage from a Dora sponsored business buys the right to walk out into the designated area with their open container. When I first heard about this my first thought was, “Why?” Then, since I could see the city council was taking the notion very seriously, my thoughts leaped to “who could make a dollar on this?” Because, after all, community development and commerce is all good and everything, but come on, who will benefit from this monetarily?
It was explained to me that everyone would benefit since the concept would attract customers to an under served uptown business community. So, White’s Bakery would increase sales? Or Cundiff’s Flowers would benefit? Barr’s Pharmacy? Uh, no, no and no. At this time, who would benefit?
Well, uptown we have the Eagles, a private club. They won’t let me in there to drink unless I’m accompanied by a member. And then we have, uh, we have nothing else uptown. There is The Porch, several blocks north of uptown. And we have somewhere in the future an entity called The Patriot Public House. It’s still under construction. Are we to believe DORA is simply to allow us to buy a drink at the future Patriot and walk north on Northwest Street, past all the houses, in order to party on at The Porch? Really? Seriously?
I’m told if Hillsboro had a DORA it would encourage other entrepreneurs to open more bars and night spots that would make the whole uptown a joyous place to be. A carnival-like atmosphere; we’ll all be giddy due to alcohol and conviviality. Hmm, is that what the community wants? Maybe this initiative should be on a future ballot? Not given to the city council to decide? I don’t know, I’m just throwing that out there.
What I do know from personal experience is there was a time when a DORA initiative might have made sense. Believe it or not, you youngsters who were born after 1990, uptown Hillsboro was a rocking place. Jump in the Way-Back Machine to the 1970s and ‘80s and you would find at least eight bars in the DORA map proposal. I hope I don’t miss one, but my memory shows me Christopher’s on Main Street, Richard’s and across the street The Carousel. There was the Hawaiian Bar (next door to the police station) and within a stone’s throw (literally) Penn’s. There was Sug’s that became Jon’s that became Prime Cut. Around the corner was Scotty’s where a man was shot outside in the street (still remember seeing the blood on the pavement.). Go north on High Street, past the Colony Theatre, and you’ll arrive at The North High Lounge that became White’s that became Fat Brothers.
North High Lounge was the site of the infamous “Mock Turtle Soup War” where country music artist, (“Take This Job and Shove It”), Johnny Paycheck, bounced a .22 off the head of his opponent. And that doesn’t count the city periphery, i.e. The Highlander as you go west on Main Street near the Dairy Queen or The First and Last Chance on S.R. 73, named that since it was the first bar for a drink as you entered town and the last place to drink as you leave. It became Chris & Charlie’s then The Bullpen. Now it’s an empty grassy lot. I spent many weekends during a 20-year period moving from bar to bar to bar.
I’m not sure a DORA would have meant much. For example, if I had just purchased a can of beer and my friends said, “Drink up, we’re heading over to the Carousel.” I promise you I would not have wasted a full can of beer. I would have, and did, simply walk out with it. If I thought there would be a hassle at the door, I would have concealed it, but most of the time, whoever was there knew me and all it took was a smile. So, I don’t know. What do you think?
Garry Boone is a Hillsboro resident.