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Memories of the Purple Pub

Greetings Fellow Ephs!

My name is Fiona Moriarty and I am a current junior History and Art History major and I am in desperate need of your help! I am currently taking my junior seminar for history entitled Documentary practices by Professor Leslie Brown and the entire semester has been based around a group project. This group project was to document the history of an establishment on Spring Street and my group chose the Purple Pub. This is where your help comes in. We would really appreciate if you could either post (in the comments below) or email me (fmm1 at willliams.edu) your memories of your times at the Purple Pub through the years. All memories good and bad and especially anything about the management, food or atmosphere are appreciated. These quotes will be used for our final project which is a website that will document the history of the building in a creative way. Email me with any questions, comments or photos, and just to reiterate, we sincerely appreciate your help!


(image credit to bloodbubb1e)

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#1 Comment By hwc On December 10, 2009 @ 1:23 am

I can remember buying beer out of the soda machine in West College. I can remember sitting around a pitcher at the LOG listening to Don Gifford regale us with stories of Joyce’s Dublin. I can remember standing at the bar drinking long necks at the Legion on Spring Street. I can remember playing Waylon on the jukebox at the New Florida Lounge on a snowy night in the dead of winter. I cannot honestly remember ever settomg foot in the Purple Pub while a student at Williams, even though it opened while I was there.

I did eat lunch there after motorcycling out to the Berkshires on a beautiful summer day about ten years ago. Just your usual bar food, if I recall.

#2 Comment By Ronit On December 10, 2009 @ 1:27 am

During the summer of 2005, which was the summer after my sophomore year, I was on campus. I was working in Jesup Hall and living in a stuffy, hot single room in the top floor of Morgan.

My plans for that summer had initially involved spending a great deal of time exploring the Berkshires with my girlfriend at the time, who was also going to be on campus. Unfortunately, this didn’t quite work out. We hardly spent any time together that summer. So I found myself at a loose end. My job in Jesup Hall kept me busy 9-5, but the days were long and hot that summer, and I didn’t have a car. It wasn’t long before I was utterly bored of spending any time at all in my sauna-like room in Morgan. Yes, I had a fan, but it didn’t help much.

So, to amuse myself, I started to spend more time at local establishments. One of those places was the record store – the Toonerville Trolley – on Water Street. I would spend hours browsing, and the nice old man in charge would not mind. I bought dozens of CDs. Listening to my latest Beethoven or Schubert purchase on headphones would take me away from the boredom and loneliness and stifling heat.

Another place where I spent a fair amount of time that summer was the Purple Pub, which was a short downhill walk from Jesup or Morgan. I would usually go after work. The place was nice and cool, and usually bereft of customers when I went in the late afternoon (their busy time was the evening, and to a much lesser extent the lunch hour).

Sometimes the bartender and I would chat – I remember him telling me about his frustrations dealing with underage Williams students who wanted to be served, or legally aged Williams students who couldn’t hold their drink. As a bartender, he definitely got to see Williams students at their very worst. Drunk Williams students are obnoxious. I believe this was a few months after the occasion when the Purple Pub was temporarily shut down or banned from selling alcohol (for a whole weekend? possibly longer?), by order of the Williamstown PD (?), because some underage students had been served and had been caught upon exiting the pub. The bartender had zero sympathy for underage drinkers, and I felt sorry that he and his employer had lost income because of the selfishness of Ephs who broke the law. He was friendly with many individual students, but you could see that he probably wished he was serving a more mature crowd. I don’t blame him.

Most of the time, though, we wouldn’t talk; I would sit at a corner table, reading a book (I read a lot of books that summer). As I said, it was usually quiet when I went (I imagine most people who patronized the place remember a much noisier and more crowded pub). Apart from the bartender and cook, there might be a couple of barflies sitting at the bar reading a paper or talking about the Red Sox. I would stay from 4 or 5 till whenever the regular weekday drinking crowd started to show up – 8 or 9. During the weekends, I would go during the lunch hour.

I would usually order a burger and a beer. They made some decent burgers, nothing amazing, but definitely an upgrade to the Snack Bar. They had some daily specials, and there was one burger in particular, with Havarti cheese and perhaps garlic aioli, that I liked a lot. As for beer, I would usually go for the BBC brews on tap – Steel Rail or Shabadoo; if there was no BBC left, it would be a Sierra Nevada pale ale or a Sam Adams. They kept the cold beer coming and otherwise let me enjoy the peace and quiet and airconditioning. Sometimes I would read the memorabilia on the walls – license plates, badges, signs, framed newspaper articles, photos – much of it relating to Williams history. Sometimes I would play foosball. The Red Sox were often on TV (another advantage over the Herring, which had no TV).

I was not then and never have been much of a regular pub-goer. However, whenever, during the rest of my time at Williams, someone would suggest going for a drink, I would suggest the Purple Pub. I helped a friend celebrate his 21st birthday there. It was an unpretentious and congenial pub. The Herring, by contrast, was rather more yuppie. The Purple Pub was a comfortable, honest place to go, and during the summer of 2005 it provided me with some much needed sanctuary.

#3 Comment By Ronit On December 10, 2009 @ 1:43 am

There are also quite a few nostalgic posts about the pub in the following threads:




(please feel free to repost your comments here if you posted in one of those threads, many of our readers would not have seen those threads back in 08 or 07)

This search may pull up more results.

#4 Comment By jeffz On December 10, 2009 @ 6:55 am

Unfortunately, most of my best memories of the pub involved forgetting them …


I did love the Pub, second only to Pappa C’s … I spent most Fridays spring of senior year trying to convince my good friend in Psych 101 to skip out on the Friday afternoon session for a burger and a beer at the Pub. I succeeded on enough occasions to assure that we both received unspectacular grades in that class. And I agree that the Pub was at its best on a quiet afternoon.

#5 Comment By Trevor Murphy On December 10, 2009 @ 9:04 am

The first establishment on Spring Street that I encountered when I came here in 2001 was the Purple Pub. I ordered lunch. Last year or so someone on campus said I looked familiar and asked if I went to the Purple Pub. Not so much. She pressed me on it and I owned up to having lunch in 2001. She remembered me and what I ordered. I’m glad I left a nice tip.

#6 Comment By Aidan On December 10, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

Oh, let’s be a little less sanctimonious about the Pub – they carded people approximately once, usually on their birthday when they had a high probability of being legal. I still remember turning 21, going down there at 12:01 for my first street legal beverage, and running into some guys I knew that had been drinking there regularly since they were prefrosh.

Great place – and sneaky good sandwiches – but pretty lax on the legal regulation of alcohol.

#7 Comment By hwc On December 10, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

I hate to be the resident curmudgeon. Am I the only one who thinks that a junior seminar at one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States could find something a little more interesting, nuanced, or meaningful to document than bar in a strip mall style building with little in the way of actual history?

There are plenty of things in the Berkshires of real historical significance. For example, the Yankee Rowe Nuclear Plant was the first commercial nuclear power plant in New England and the third built in the United States. It’s history has now come full cycle as the dismantling of the plant is now complete.

As far as immpact on a community, both good and bad, over a sustained period of time, it would be hard to imagine a more captivating topic for a junior seminar than the GE plant in Pittsfield. Now, those are some neighborhood bars that could tell a story.

#8 Comment By K Taylor On December 10, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

I went there for my 23rd birthday my senior year of college.. did not have a valid ID at the time, and was carded and not let in to have a beer with my friends. was very depressing at the time… and it was to be the second time I went to the Purple Pub (and last).

#9 Comment By Ronit On December 10, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

@hwc: Yes, I can remember all the evenings that generations of students and town residents have spent at the nuclear power plant. Good times, good times.

@Aidan: Regardless, this particular bartender was really quite pissed off about underage drinkers. They cost him money and put him at legal risk.

#10 Comment By David On December 10, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

hwc: You’re wrong. There is just as much (potentially) interesting history in the Purple Pub as there is in a nuclear power plant. It all depends on how good a historian you are.

Students should study what they find interesting, as long as they do so in a rigorous fashion. The Purple Pub is just as plausible a topic as anything else. If anything, I bet that projects that focus on the local area end up better, on average, than projects about buildings far away.

#11 Comment By JeffZ On December 10, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

Funny Ronit.

Here’s what I’d like to know about The Pub, and Spring Street (and Water Streets) in general: why are there so many fires at commercial properties in Williamstown? The old Mezze, Cobble Cafe, Colonials, Purple Pub / Subway, this doesn’t strike anyone as a bit strange? Is the Williamstown commercial district particularly arid, or something?

#12 Comment By hwc On December 10, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

Yankee Rowe had a significant impact on Williams students. It was a rallying point for MASSPirg, when Nadar’s organization first campaigined for and got automatic dues payment for Williams students out of the activities fees.

If the topic had to be a student bar (and I’m sure why it would have to be), the LOG has a much richer history than the Purple Pub, which really wasn’t even around that long in the grand scheme of things.

For that matter, the Williams Inn (now called Dodd House)would make a more interesting history, given that it dates back to the start of the 20th century and was the first property in Treadway Inns, a national lodging chain.

I guess I just have unrealistic expecations of academic rigor.

#13 Comment By eph On December 10, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

Jeff, are you hinting at insurance fraud?

#14 Comment By hwc On December 10, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

hwc: You’re wrong. There is just as much (potentially) interesting history in the Purple Pub as there is in a nuclear power plant. It all depends on how good a historian you are.

Wouldn’t be the first time I’m wrong. I am not opposed to students studying any old thing as long as its interesting to them; however, I would like to see a little something commensurate with top level scholarship at one of the top colleges in the country.

Here’e the course description:

Approaching the Past: Documentary Practices

Comprised of photographs, oral history, narratives, folklore, films, fiction, music, poetry, art and other forms, documentary provides ways for audiences to access stories that would go untold but for the work of the documentarian: Jacob Riis’ turn of the century photographs of New York’s Lower East Side, Agee and Walker’s study of white southern poverty, Danny Lyon’s photos of the civil rights movement, or Spike Lee’s film about the murder of four black girls in Birmingham, Alabama. From its beginnings, documentary served to engender a progressive agenda by projecting the voices of the voiceless in order to illuminate the need for social change and spur the audience to action. But documentary also provides a way to access history, both the setting where the document was created and the subject it describes. This course examines the historical development of documentary forms, reviews and critiques the work of specific documentarians, facilitates historical research in non-traditional sources, and encourages students to develop a documentary skill.

I’m not sure the Pub offers much towards the “social change” and “spuring to action” components of the documentary form, as described here.

#15 Comment By hwc On December 10, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

Spring Street buildings do seem to have about the same luck as Spinal Tap drummers.

I’m not sure that the Colleges major donors would all applaud and in-depth examination of the issue, however.

#16 Comment By Ronit On December 10, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

@hwc: How on earth does the fact that a project is about the Purple Pub tell you anything at all about its academic rigor? You know nothing about the academic rigor of this project.

#17 Comment By JeffZ On December 10, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

I have an idea, why not just eliminate Williams professors entirely, not to mention all student-initiated projects and endeavors, and have HWC and DK assign, design, and choose class projects, thesis topics, extracurricular pursuits, social activities, student protests, campus speakers, and Record editorials [am I forgetting anything from the recent commentary and posts]? Because clearly, Williams students aren’t capable of making these sorts of earth-shattering choices on their own. Since you are so fond of giving advice to eveyone else, here is some to both of you: God help both of your kids if they are subject to remotely the level of micromanaging (and in HWC’s case, outright scorn) you seem to feel is appropriate to provide, based on limited knowledge, to Williams students who you don’t even know. [Mom and Dad, if you are reading this, thanks for being you.]

Harry Potter’s impact on popular culture (this is from another recent HWC diss) can be approached in an intellectually sophisticated manner, just as Derrida can be approached in a sloppy, intellectually lazy manner. Profoundly interesting ideas can be found in the most unexpected places (see, e.g., Calvin & Hobbes). Probably the best paper I ever wrote in high school was about Dr. Seuss — one that I am sure that HWC would have, without reading it, mercilessly scorned. Fortunately, I doubt a single Williams student gives a damn about HWC (or DK’s) advice about their academic or extracurricular pursuits. And they are better off for it.

… Eph, I’m not implying anything in particular — it just seems really, really odd. Insurance, maybe, consistently faulty wiring by a shoddy common contractor, maybe, bizarre coincidence, maybe, God’s wrath against Ephraim Williams, maybe, who knows. But it’s strange.

#18 Comment By Ronit On December 10, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

@hwc: I never had a drink at the Log in my four years at Williams. The Log has had almost zero impact on Williams students for at least the last decade if not longer. I remember it only as the place where they had the housing lottery. The Pub is a far more meaningful place to me than the Log. Just because you never went to the pub doesn’t mean one can’t do a meaningful documentary project about it.

Also, if you have nothing to contribute in terms of memories or history, please stop crapping all over a project that you know nothing about.

#19 Comment By JeffZ On December 10, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

I want to apologize for getting sucked in by the usual troll hijacking this thread in the usual fashion. I was really enjoying the pub memories responsive to the original request. I hope more are forthcoming.

#20 Comment By hwc On December 10, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

Hey, it could be a great project. I can’t wait to see the completed documentary website.

The Purple Pub is not a topic that seems to lend itself to much in the course description, but, who knows?

#21 Comment By David On December 10, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

Fortunately, I doubt a single Williams student gives a damn about HWC (or DK’s) advice about their academic or extracurricular pursuits.

Better tell that to the two seniors that I had 30 minute conversations with this fall about their career plans, and the students who invited me to give a talk about finance, and to the students who attended the various OCC events that I have spoken at and . . .

All of these conversations have featured specific advice from me about academic and extra-curricular pursuits at Williams. Links available, if you want them.

#22 Comment By hwc On December 10, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

Harry Potter’s impact on popular culture (this is from another recent HWC diss) can be approached in an intellectually sophisticated manner, just as Derrida can be approached in a sloppy, intellectually lazy manner.

I didn’t “dis” studying Harry Potter. You must have me confused with somebody else. I posted the link to an MTV news TV feature on a Harry Potter seminar at a liberal arts college — a very popular offering that is lotteries every time its taught.

I’m probably one of the stronger EphBlog proponents of experiential and/or fieldwork learnng such as that involved in the documentary projects in this course. I don’t need to be sold on the concept. As someone who lived, studied, and worked year-round in the Berkshires for several years, I’m not sold on the Purple Pub as an establshment with historically interesting value.

#23 Comment By JeffZ On December 10, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

OK fine, take DK’s advice about pursuing a career in finance. But I think students are perfectly capable of finding their own ways when it comes to their day-to-day lives in college. Indeed, I find it ironic that you find it so troubling (and I agree) when the administration tries to entangle itself too intimately in arenas best reserved for students to find their own way (and even occasionally screw up, as 19 year olds are prone to doing), yet you seem perfectly willing to insert yourself in much the same fasion. In all events, I am now, finally, done with my response to this tangent, and eagerly await more pub stories.

#24 Comment By hwc On December 10, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

RE 17:

I only “shot down” one thing during my daughter’s four years of college: a trial balloon she floated about a lightweight European study abroad program (American students living and studying together in a European capital) — no homestays, no language immersion, etc. I wasn’t opposed to her doing it, I was opposed to paying $22,500 for it. She was not a happy camper when I suggested that, if she wanted another European vacation (she’d already been twice before college), she should just take the semester off and travel around Europe.

She came back to me a year later and thanked me. She also confessed that she knew before she even talked to us that her mom and I would shoot it down. We joked about it.

#25 Comment By rory On December 10, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

ken can do a better job of this…

but what we’re seeing between hwc’s (imo, horribly wrong) viewpoint of what is a “rigorous” (isn’t the rigor proven not by the importance of a subject but how well it is researched? how much does the importance of a subject actually impact rigor of a study? In fact, considering there’s no history of the purple pub outside of oral histories and maybe town documents, the lack of secondary sources might make it significantly harder to get a documentary done).

well, actually, hwc makes three claims: “interesting, nuanced, or meaningful”. let’s take them apart:

-interesting. What is “interesting”? Are the social habits of college students and/or townies interesting? Are the different uses of the same entity (the pub) interesting? Personally, I find following in micro-detail the memory-making about the pub interesting. I find seeing how a bar socially organizes the well-off and not well-off (who goes when, who orders what, etc.), the locals and the students, etc. riveting. These types of random locations are often where the best qualitative work is done (see, for example, tally’s corner or Mitch Duneier’s work on sidewalks or hell, even though i don’t like his theoretical grounding, the more recent work on animal-human interaction and the creation of a cultural identity by Colin Jerolmack). They may not seem “historically significant” but the “Great men” or “great places” theory of history is one that privileges only certain things to the great detriment of understanding a whole society.

-nuanced: Is a documentary about how nuclear power was a big issue decades ago more nuanced in its nature than one about the pub? unknown until shown. Some of the best documentaries are not nuanced in order to make the experience visceral (see Trouble the Water, for example). Either way, subject matter has nothing to do with level of nuance.

-meaningful: see my comment on interesting. What creates meaning is the quality of work, not the focus or scope of it.

While there may be other field locations that could create more opportunities for great documentary work, that does not invalidate the choice of locale as invalid or mistaken. Just one of many.

It is a dangerous view of history (and besides, this project is more about practicing documentary than importance to history) to judge, before studying, what is historically valuable/important/nuanced/whatever.

#26 Comment By kthomas On December 10, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

Dear readers,

Welcome to the 38,394th installment of ephBlog, your quarter-hourly dose of rigor bloggis!

And here we go again, with another exciting expose, er, expisode…:

(in W W voice)Our tale begins somewhere in post-prehistory, with a pre-Sophist in Macedonia, complaining about the habits of the youth and their disrespect for their elders…

(voice of author:) OBJECTION! ‘Sophist’ is a bad transliteration!

Skip to the present day:

“Oh HWC! Kids today! Writing about pp-purple p-p-pp-pubs instead of nuclear power plants, senators and w-ww-wars!!” (Screeching tone) “W-w-what shall we do !?!”

Shall we try proof by example?

documentary also provides a way to access history, both the setting where the document was created and the subject it describes.

I believe I walked into the Purple Pub exactly once before graduating. Perhaps twice.

It was the fall of 1993. In those days, email was still a rare thing. One of the boys in Jesup set up a mailing list for the class; with a few preliminary remarks from Mark and Esa, the discussion was off.


{…} the exact series of events. Was it a discussion of Baudellaire or Lacan? (Despite suggestions above, it was not Derrida). —– said something, then I said something. I’m almost sure I did not send the first email that wasn’t to the whole list. Then {…}


{…} The video feed between the continents, then– then, there were only a few feeds between the continents at any one time, and we were likely the only one using a feed at any given time– the feed was grainy and pixelated, and at some times it slowed to less than a frame per second, a sort of stop-motion photography in the other direction {…}

{…} imagine this link, if you will. Imagine getting to know a group of other people, through two an a half hours a week, of such a tenuous link, and a string of emails; sharing your thoughts {…}


{…} dinner at Mark’s… the Curry, with the amounts of tumeric and red pepper, switched… only Mark and I seemed to eat any of it …

… driving back … {…}

We had one of the tables in front of the windows. —– was on my right, —– to my left. Across from me, Pekka Himanen, over our beers, talked to me about the project. How could you work on code, if someone else had written part of the project? It wasn’t proper, he said– you had to construct every part of the program you created, be responsible for it, down to the device drivers. {…}

{…} by the time we met again, in Berkeley, Pekka’s views had changed. The Hackers’ Ethic {…}


{…} Southworth Street, —– mumbled into my ear, Du bist so nett. I think it took me thirty seconds to translate, and several more minutes to{…}


{…} Jesup {…}

{…} above Goff’s {…}

{…} Currier Ballroom, ice on the windows {…}

{…} breakfast, at Baxter {…}


{…} SFMOCA, 3rd Floor, 2001: Moholy-Nagy, aluminum prints of the rooftops of Helsinki

next room: prints from glass plates: Luxembourg; Belgian coast, ~1923 {…}


{…} Helsinki, 2000s {…}


IN OUR NEXT EPISODE: Rigourous Theory Poufs, er, I mean PUFFs! Your soon-to-be favorite breakfast cereal!

(&Apologies to Fiona)

#27 Comment By hwc On December 10, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

Hey. Don Gifford made an academic career and a best-selling textbook out his visits to and documenting the history of pubs.

Who knows? Maybe this will be a terrific project.

#28 Comment By Parent ’12 On December 10, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

JeffZ- Your question about potentially questionable fires brought back memories. With that question & the charity auction comments in mind, plus your comment here that included a ref to Mom and Dad, I can’t figure out why you don’t have a girlfriend. ;)

As for memories, I have fond memories of the old Mezze & a place that probably was Cobble Cafe. My eph’s first visit to Williamstown included time in the small park by the river near the old Mezze as we waited for the restaurant to open. The old Mezze’s space was lovely. I definitely prefer it and the old menu over the current location.

Unfortunately, if my memory of the building that housed the Purple Pub & Subway is accurate, I never wanted to enter either place. As I recall, the entrances were perpendicular to Spring St, and when I turned the corner, probably after leaving Cobble Cafe, I probably winced. It’s not as if I prefer the strip mall look of the building that houses the two ethnic restaurants or the retail shops. I guess it’s more that they didn’t look inviting or historical in a way that connects one to one’s past or to a period in time, the way the old brick buildings do, or even the old gas station and pre-parking lot buildings did.

As for scholarly documenting, perhaps hwc’s statement (or lack of a story) underscores the point of the project. It’s the oral history, the framing of stories from those who knew the place that matter, not the place’s historical status in a timeline.

#29 Comment By David On December 10, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

1) I second Rory’s comments above.

2) Don Gifford on pubs?!? Deserves a post of its own! I know nothing about it and would love to read more. If you have the time, please write something about this, hwc. Our readers would love it.

#30 Comment By kthomas On December 10, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

Anyone out there who’s taken Chris Waters’ junior seminar, able to bring von Ranke as a dessert?

#31 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On December 10, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

I would imagine the Pub has had more social importance at the College since the Log had to stop serving those under 21 (which I think happened in 1986, right before my arrival in Williamstown). My understanding is that before then, the Log was very popular place to hang out with a beer or two (or more). Once that was ended, the Log really suffered, generally having significant numbers of people for only special events.

I never spent any signficant amount of time in the Pub (probably because I never had a fake ID and by the time I was 21, I had other ways to pass the time) but many of my friends went there regularly. “Pub Lunch” on Fridays was a popular pastime, if I recall correctly.

#32 Comment By Jay On December 10, 2009 @ 4:14 pm

I had a burger and beer with a professor once at the Purple Pub. A lovely experience, more for the company than anything else. I think that was senior year, and I’d never stepped foot in the place before that. I think I went one more time during the summer after graduation, but that’s it.

I found that the bars on Spring Street played a very small role in my Williams experience. I wasn’t 21 until junior year, and I didn’t have cash for bars anyway. For a semester, maybe two?, the Log was open once a week via ACE – they had free popcorn, really cheap and good beer (Sam Adams, for $1 if I remember correctly, maaaaybe $2), and wonderful ambiance. I don’t believe they kept that up – very few people came, which wasn’t surprising considering how most students had absolutely no knowledge of the Log.

#33 Comment By Oh Five On December 10, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

I believe it was after the Red Sox won the Series in ’04 (or it may have been after they came back and beat the Yankees in seven) that a whole group of us conveniently but coincidentally met up at the Pub and proceeded to march around in campus in celebration. Someone was sober (or drunk) enough to have the brilliance to bring a bagpipe to provide some musical accompaniment and we proceeded to Sawyer to make sure everyone studying knew the glorious news. Another brilliant person got hold of a construction barrel and turned it into a massive bass drum. The festivities concluded with “We want Morty,” “Dingman” (for the security guard), and “Yankees suck” chants outside the President’s house. Morty never appeared but apparently called security because we, mob that we were, awoke, and scared his children. That he was a Yankees fan probably didn’t help matters.

#34 Comment By Oh Five On December 10, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

By “group” and “mob” I mean at least 50 people if not more. Many tagged along as they passed by.

#35 Comment By kthomas On December 10, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

If I might (small type to follow):

Die Absicht eines Historikers hängt von seiner Ansicht ab; von dieser ist hier zweierlei zu sagen. Zuvörderst, daß ihr die romanischen und germanischen Nationen als eine Einheit erscheinen. Sie entschlägt sich drei analoger Begriffe: des Begriffes einer allgemeinen Christenheit (dieser würde selbst die Armenier umfassen), des Begriffes von der Einheit Europas; denn da die Türken Asiaten sind, und da das russische Reich den ganzen Norden von Asien begreift, könnte ihre Lage nicht ohne ein Durchdringen und Hereinziehn der gesamten asiatischen Verhältnisse gründlich verstanden werden; endlich auch des analogsten, des Begriffes einer lateinischen Christenheit: slavische, lettische, magyarische Stämme, welche zu derselben gehören, haben eine eigentümliche und besondere Natur, welche sie nicht betrachtet. Sie bleibt, indem sie das Fremde, nur wo es sein muß, als ein Untergeordnetes und im Vorübergehen berührt, in der Nähe bei den stammverwandten Nationen entweder rein germanischer oder germanisch-romanischer Abkunft, deren Geschichte der Kern aller neuern Geschichte ist. Die folgende Einleitung versucht hauptsächlich an dem Faden der äußeren Unternehmungen ins Licht zu setzen, inwiefern diese sich in Einheit und gleichartiger Bewegung entwickelt haben. Das ist die eine Seite der Ansicht, auf welcher gegenwärtiges Buch beruht; nun die andre, die sich durch den Inhalt desselben unmittelbar ausspricht. Es umfaßt aber bei weitem nicht die gesamte Geschichte dieser Nationen, sondern nur einen kleinen Teil derselben, den man wohl auch den Anfang der neuern nennen könnte; nur Geschichten, nicht die Geschichte; es begreift einerseits die Gründung der spanischen Monarchie, den Untergang der italienischen Freiheit; andrerseits die Bildung einer zwiefachen Opposition, einer politischen durch die Franzosen, einer kirchlichen durch die Reformation, genug jene Spaltung unsrer Nationen in zwei feindselige Teile, auf welcher alle neue Historie beruht. Es geht von dem Punkt aus, wo Italien in Einheit und wenigstens äußerer Freiheit ruht, wo es vielleicht selbst herrschend genannt werden darf, da es den Papst gibt; die Spaltung desselben, das Eindringen der Franzosen und der Spanier, den Untergang in einigen Staaten aller Freiheit, in ändern der Selbstbestimmung, endlich den Sieg der Spanier und den Anfang ihrer Herrschaft sucht es darzustellen. Ferner fängt es von der politischen Richtigkeit der spanischen Königreiche an und geht zu ihrer Vereinung, zu der Richtung der Vereinten wider die Ungläubigen und nach dem Innern der Christenheit fort; es sucht deutlich zu machen, wie aus jener die Entdeckung von Amerika und die Eroberung großer Königreiche daselbst, doch vor allem, wie aus dieser die spanische Monarchie über Italien, Deutschland und die Niederlande hervorgegangen. Drittens geht es von dem Zeitpunkt, wo Karl VIII. als ein Vorkämpfer der Christenheit wider die Türken auszieht, durch alles wechselnde Glück und Unglück der Franzosen bis zu dem fort, wo Franz I. 41 Jahr später eben diese Türken wider den Kaiser zu Hülfe ruft. Indem es endlich den Gegensatz einer politischen Partei in Deutschland wider den Kaiser und einer kirchlichen in Europa wider den Papst, in ihren Anfängen verfolgt, sucht es sich den Weg zu einer vollständigern Einsicht in die Geschichte der großen Spaltung durch die Reformation zu bahnen. Diese Spaltung selbst soll in ihrem ersten Gang betrachtet werden. Alle diese und die übrigen hiemit zusammenhangenden Geschichten der romanischen und germanischen Nationen sucht nun dies Buch in ihrer Einheit zu ergreifen. Man hat der Historie das Amt, die Vergangenheit zu richten, die Mitwelt zum Nutzen zukünftiger Jahre zu belehren, beigemessen: so hoher Ämter unterwindet sich gegenwärtiger Versuch nicht: er will bloß sagen, wie es eigentlich gewesen.

#36 Comment By Ronit On December 10, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

@Oh Five: I remember that! Hard to forget the bagpipes.

#37 Comment By BHC On December 10, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

In the early 1980s, The Log was more than popular — it was an integral part of the Williams experience. Age was not an issue. Sorry to hear that this has changed.

The Purple Pub was there too, but there was no compelling reason for students to go there instead of The Log. It was more of a townie place. I think The Purple Pub had attractions like (early) video games and maybe air hockey.

#38 Comment By kthomas On December 11, 2009 @ 1:26 am

@Parent ’12: @rory: I’m not sure I can, or did; you (rory) and I posted within seconds of each other.

Since we haven’t found another Ranke student, what I can do is offer my current translation Ranke’s sentence, which plays so centrally here:

Men have given to History the Office of judging of the past, in order to give the current world practical instructions for use in years to come.
The current research will not work itself out towards any such high purposes: it will simply tell, how things really happened.

Alas, the task is not so bloss (simple/low), and there is such a certain (Lutheran) false modesty and the arrogance of understatement, which I hope comes across in that phrasing.

“zu richten,” — I’ve accepted the common translation “to judge,” but– this expression shares a root with ‘Reich(t)’; if one makes a concordance of the uses of the expression in Freud and Nietzsche, and reads over them, closely– there are so many other meanings and concepts in the word; such as, of course, “master.” (Both substantive and verb– though, of course– Ranke is playing with the fact that subject and verb are not– were not– always distinct).

“Mastering–” still there in the German (Deutsch), but — not quite the same in English (a sister, Western German dialect).

But in any case– Ranke is talking about– the documentary task.

#39 Comment By aparent On December 11, 2009 @ 2:21 am

re #20 by hwc: “The Purple Pub is not a topic that seems to lend itself to much in the course description, but, who knows?”

Per your usual, you cherry-picked the course description’s two phrases you felt would prove your too-painfully-obvious disdain for anything Williams students might seek to pursue (were this a Swarthmore students’ project, you would be falling all over yourself in praise of their initiative, creativity, blah, blah, blah).

For the record, the study of the Purple Pub would very much fall under the parameters noted in the remaining 90% of the course description:

“Comprised of photographs, oral history, narratives, folklore, films, fiction, music, poetry, art and other forms, documentary provides ways for audiences to access stories that would go untold but for the work of the documentarian: Jacob Riis’ turn of the century photographs of New York’s Lower East Side, Agee and Walker’s study of white southern poverty, Danny Lyon’s photos of the civil rights movement, or Spike Lee’s film about the murder of four black girls in Birmingham, Alabama. […]

“But documentary also provides a way to access history, both the setting where the document was created and the subject it describes. This course examines the historical development of documentary forms, reviews and critiques the work of specific documentarians, facilitates historical research in non-traditional sources, and encourages students to develop a documentary skill.”

To reinforce rory’s and ken’s comments, I believe that the Purple Pub, as a viable part of the Williamstown and Williams experience in its day, is a valid subject for a documentary study — whether by an undergraduate or postgrad. The recording of its history, while a worthwhile student project on its own, is also a gift not only to those who knew it in the past but also to those, present and future, who may not have had the opportunity to experience it at all.

I wish the students well, and hope they’ll return to provide links to the results of their study. (My only knowledge of the Pub is from second-hand anecdotes about 21st birthday celebrations and reasonably-priced sandwiches).

#40 Comment By Jr. Mom On December 11, 2009 @ 11:04 am


(were this a Swarthmore students’ project, you would be falling all over yourself in praise of their initiative, creativity, blah, blah, blah).

Now there would be a hilarious parody; HWC’s commentary were the idea posted as coming from a Swarthmore student.

Jeff? (After all, it could be inspiring fodder for the students doing the project.)

#41 Comment By Eph ’90 On December 11, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

Like my classmate Whitney, my memories of The Pub were limited due to my lack of a fake ID and the management’s vigilance checking them at the door.

That said, the pseudo-exclusivity of The Pub made my time there during my senior year more memorable. It is the public venue where I had my first legal drink, for example.

The Pub was a place where my friends and I could try-out our new personas as grown-ups headed out into the working world. I know that many people’s Pub memories involve pitchers of beer and playing quarters; to me the place was associated with my new drink of choice senior year: Dewar’s and water. It may sound silly, but graduating from dorm room kegs to something a little more sophisticated was part of my transition from the Purple Valley to New York City.

When I return to The Pub for reunions I recall both the excitement of talking to my classmates about the thrill of finishing our theses, finding jobs, fretting about NOT finding jobs (Drexel filed for bankruptcy in the middle of our search), moving to the big city, and, of course, getting laid (or, more often, NOT getting laid).

In the 20 years since, the smell of The Pub has not changed. Walking into the place drives an olfactory spike goes into some corner of my brain so that I am transported back to that time and the same cocktail of eagerness and anxiety washes over me anew.

#42 Comment By hwc On December 11, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

“Comprised of photographs, oral history, narratives, folklore, films, fiction, music, poetry, art and other forms, documentary provides ways for audiences to access stories that would go untold but for the work of the documentarian: Jacob Riis’ turn of the century photographs of New York’s Lower East Side, Agee and Walker’s study of white southern poverty, Danny Lyon’s photos of the civil rights movement, or Spike Lee’s film about the murder of four black girls in Birmingham, Alabama. […]

Actually, that was exactly the paragraph that caught my eye in the course description and made me think that documenting a bar where white wealthy college students hang out wasn’t totally in keeping with the full spirit of the course. Now, obviously, a college class can not be expected to match the standards of these world-reknowned documentary historians, but I think we should at least consider the spirit of documentary history from those photographers.

Here are some examples of Jacob Ris’ turn-of-the-century photographs of immigrant tenament life in New York City:

Jacob Ris photos

Here’s one photo of Agee and Walker’s famous book on southern poverty.

Walker Evans photo of southern poverty

And, one of Danny Lyon’s photos of a prison work crew with the warden on a horse. I don’t if they had prison work crews in Westchester County, but they had them where I grew up and this was a not unfamiliar scene by the side of the road.

Danny Lyon photo of prison workcrew

I don’t see anything in these photos that would likely be matched by a history of a college pub from 1973 to 2006. Remember, the course specifically talks about documentary history as an agent of social change.

There are topics right in the immediate area that would be ideal candidates. For example, the history of the Sprague Electric mills in North Adams caputures the entire economic history of the Berkshires, from the birth of the industrial revolution to the Starbucks tourism of MassMOCA. Maybe that means something to me because I drove by those abandoned mills every day for a year. I remember when the very first hippie “artist space” was made available in one of the buildings. Kind of a North Adams version of Factory 798.

There are fascinating stories to document in the Berkshires.

(were this a Swarthmore students’ project, you would be falling all over yourself in praise of their initiative, creativity, blah, blah, blah).

Well, of course, my standards of reference are the field-work and other similar projects done by students I’m most familiar with — Swarthmore, Harvard, and the International Honors Program overseas. What other standard would I use, other than contemporary college students? This stuff “just wasn’t done” when I was in college.

Off hand, I can think of about eight to ten loosely similar field-work group or individual projects my daughter did for courses at college and during study abroad. David’s point is well taken. This is just a practice exercise so any topic will suffice. In that sense, a history of a college pub on Spring Street is as good any topic. On the other hand, I think all of the projects my daughter was involved in had at least some small component of Robert Guadino’s uncomfortable learning, some more than others. It would be interesting to hear whether Professor Brown ideally envisioned her documentary students experiencing a taste of uncomfortable learning.

#43 Comment By rory On December 11, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

@hwc: you shoulda let a sleeping dog lie…because had you not done a fine-grained reading of the course, I would not have re-read Fiona’s (so sorry…and because of that, i’m including stories) description: “This group project was to document the history of an establishment on Spring Street”. As in, the professor (it seems) gave them that limit. Now, personally, I’d have gone with Images, but no big deal. The professor limited it to spring street (likely to keep it close to home).

In other words, none of your alternatives would have fit (PTC might have had some interesting ideas…but maybe they got taken by other groups in the class?).

Fiona (if you’re still reading this!):

I have two memories of the pub. First, my senior year, a group of four or five of us (exact membership rotated and I was a somewhat late addition) would go to the pub every friday for a burger, a beer, and a round of golden tee golf. We sat in the corner and we were trying to catch up with each other, so we didn’t get to know the staff well. But it was a better burger than the college, cheap, and good beer. Plus, golden tee! One time, one of my friends was a little too into his shot and hit his hand on the edge of the golden tee game during his “drive”. Drew a little blood. However, he was so over-vigorous with his playing that he barely touched the track ball (i don’t think it registered) and smacked his hand right on the screen…where the blood stayed for about 5 seconds as we all just stood there in shock before laughing and trying to wipe it off with a napkin. He eventually finished the round after getting the bleeding to stop.

Second, for my final class meeting of any type on campus, Professor Darrow and I had our tutorial meeting @ the pub. My tutorial partner had been struggling to get all his work done and so missed that meeting (and many other tutorial meetings. Fortunately, Professor Darrow needed no third party and I sometimes appreciated our one on ones far more than when my partner showed up. And my partner was a good friend…just always overextended). The two of us discussed my final paper–one I had written in about 2 hours starting at 1 am one night with a beer next to my computer (college! smh) about the image of Abraham in modern Judaism. To get to the 7 (I think) pages he requested, I added a page about my dad’s own apocryphal story of three Abrahams. The first Abraham heard he was supposed to kill Isaac, said forget this, and gave up on God. The second Abraham heard he was supposed to kill Isaac and did so. God was disgusted (your own child!) and left that Abraham behind with no descendants to carry the religion on. The third Abraham heard he was supposed to kill Isaac, struggled with it and at the last moment cried out “Aha! A ram! God sent you as a sacrifice because God is benevolent!” And God thought “now that’s a guy I want to lead a people!” and so Judaism was created.

Darrow enjoyed the story over a beer @ the pub (and how it fit my paper) and told me to share it with my father. Long story short, sharing that paper with my dad was probably the most meaningful gift I ever gave for father’s day.

#44 Comment By aparent On December 11, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

Re #42 by hwc: Ah, where to begin … perhaps with this: “white wealthy college students” (!)

I’ll just say that the Williams of today is definitely not the Williams of 1970-1975 and take a cue from jz by letting hwc’s expression of his sentiments about Williams and its students show everyone else just out of touch and foolish he really is.

That is all.

#45 Comment By Jr. Mom On December 11, 2009 @ 2:15 pm


Very well done on the parody @42! You managed to get in the requisite hallmarks of an HWC rant. Although the Gaudino reference as a Swarthmore standard might have been going a bit too far, and I’m not sure you should have used his moniker…

#46 Comment By kthomas On December 11, 2009 @ 2:38 pm


Thanks for the addition and explanation.

I would hope that we all could and would be careful in our personal criticism– and dismissals, especially of student work.

Each of the examples you cite has a very particular, notable value– in the issues of a particular time. In this sense, I might say you are choosing them for topical, rather than simply documentary value.

You are also making a series of judgments of value, of the type Ranke rails against in his famous (and so oft-misquoted) statement. (I love that Gombrich dared add an ‘ist’ to the end, as if he could correct Ranke’s grammar!)

In my recent work– Ranke’s expression, Versucht (more literally, “search forward”) is better– there is, as Ranke puts it, less pretension to great office. For me, there is a value in merely recording, or attempting to record for future time, for instance, the chatter between people of different ages, on a bus or subway or train.

Because I cannot (yet) speak many of the languages involved, there is a certain loss of control– I do not, in large part, know what I am documenting; I will have to come back, review and search my own record. (This is much the same for photo or film– while I am making choices, I am also, with the aid of new technologies, sweeping a rather broad path).

Judgment? Yes, I have some idea of the things I want to capture– but it is more often a path of discovery, and piecing together. (The brochure holders at Brussels’ main train station are marked ‘duits,’ ‘nederlands,’ ‘frans’– you could place this next to the Belgian Prime Minister’s discussion of regionalism and language in the political context of Schengen, or next to the Danish Ministry of Culture discussing the difficulties of translation, and the price of “everyone speaking” and transacting “in poor English” for official business.

My friends are documentary filmmakers: I caught the last two “live” on audio, but not video. (The personal context would have been changed by a video camera, surely!)

How and why and where to present such materials? It’s not like documentary film would reach much of an audience, though surely more than academia. (But unlike Ranke, I do not have the arbitrary historical limits, and strange provincial customs, of an academic position to struggle against).

Translation again– when Ranke says “Amt,” he means “position,” and of course, his academic position, and that he is breaking convention. Somewhat! Read that previous paragraph, if you will– speaking of a dreadfully Teutonic, nationalist, racist way of viewing the world.

What is Ranke’s next question? >>Woher aber konnte dies neu erforscht werden?< < That’s a very Germanic way of stating it as well– a contradiction on top of a contradiction– well, of course, common German is a constructed language, Luther’s amalgam of … but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ranke goes on:

Woher aber konnte dies neu erforscht werden? Die Grundlage vorliegender Schrift, der Ursprung ihres Stoffes sind Memoiren, Tagebücher, Briefe, Gesandtschaftsberichte und ursprüngliche Erzählungen der Augenzeugen; andere Schriften nur alsdann, wo sie entweder aus jenen unmittelbar abgeleitet, oder durch irgendeine originale Kenntnis ihnen gleich geworden schienen.

“Primary materials:” Memoirs, Diaries, Letters… tales from those who saw things, with their own eyes…

We could stop there, for ‘une Pause.’

#47 Comment By hwc On December 11, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

Thanks so much for letting me know that Williams’ diversity has changed over the years.

From my spreadsheet of diversity at Williams, I’m missing the first three years of the Purple Pub era, but here is the percentage of white US students at Williams College for most of that time:

1976 89%
1978 89%
1980 86%
1982 87%
1984 86%
1986 85%
1988 81%
1990 76%
1992 74%
1994 72%
1996 73%
1998 73%
2000 72%
2002 70%
2004 67%
2006 64%
2008 62%

Combining that historic data with the fact that, for every year of the Purple Pub’s existence, more than half of the students at Williams College paid full sticker price with no need-based aid, it is a not-unreasonable conclusion that the Purple Pub was an institution serving a substantially white, wealthy clientele. I could be wrong, of course, but I would be surprised to find that the Pub ever drew significant numbers of customers from the non-College minority population of Williamstown.

#48 Comment By Oh Five On December 11, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

Oh, fake ids/legal age requirements! Not something crawling through the window near the parking lot would stop… (not that such behavior should be encouraged, but it was freshman year…)

Yes, the typical night involved each person purchasing his own round, usually a pitcher of beer for the group. Which meant that by the time it closed for the evening each of us had had our pitcher’s equivalent to drink. Not recommended, but a frequent occurrence!

Nights rarely began at the pub–Beirut first, pub later.

And the juke box there always seemed to eat my quarters.

The Pub crowd tended to be strongly on the athlete side, whereas the non-athletes favored the Herring.

The tables outside were very a very pleasant place to have a late night drink in warm weather.

#49 Comment By hwc On December 11, 2009 @ 3:22 pm


Yes. I would certainly agree that simply observing might contribute to the understanding of a time or place. I know my daughter was involved in at least two projects where she sat on a bench in a public place and quietly documented what (and who) she saw pass by — once in the 30th Street train station in Philadelphia at rush hour and once in a public park in Buenos Aires. She did several more that involved walking neighborhoods and talking to the people she met — once in a melting-pot neighborhood in Brooklyn, once in a brand new high-rise apartment complex in Beijing where families had been relocated from traditional housing. She also did an oral history with the founder of a non-profit agency in Philadelphia where she interned as part of a college seminar. All of the students interned at various agencies and then prepared reports including oral histories from the founders. None of these were in “history” courses, per se… but I think they got at similar documentary ideas, perhaps from the perspective of sociology or urban development courses. I think the one that was by far the most “uncomfortable” learning experience was the day she and a group of classmates spent visiting and talking to the residents of a shanty-town in Buenos Aires — a neighborhood of squatters tin shacks that doesn’t “exist” on any official maps. She told me that even the concept of going to observe that neighborhood was painful on every level.

None of these produced award winning documentaries or scholarly work, but I think they all served as effective vehicles for learning how to do this kind of academic or documentary research, in the same way that a new-media documentary of the Purple Pub would provide a vehicle.

#50 Comment By aparent On December 11, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

Re #37 per BHC:

“In the early 1980s (…) The Purple Pub (…) was more of a townie place.”

#51 Comment By hwc On December 11, 2009 @ 3:47 pm


There are college students doing new media documentaries, often growing out of course-work.

Here is a documentary film that three American college students made with MTV on a visit to the refugee camps of Dharfur:

Translating Genocide: Three Students Journey to Sudan

Or, these two oral history radio/podcast projects that started with a History course and then became self-sustaining student activities with professional media mentors:

A weekly radio/podcast show reporting on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

War News Radio

Sample story from this week’s show about Afghanistan’s dancing boys, children who are exploited to entertain wealthy adults:

Audio story: Dancing Boys.

A monthly radio/podcast show reporting on the genocide and politics of the Sudan:

Sudan Radio Project

Sample audio story from last month’s show interviewing people in Sudan about Obama’s newly announced Sudan policy:

Audio story: Sudanese opinons on Obama’s policy.

As with documenting the history of the Purple Pub, both of these radio/podcast shows serve as vehicles to teach college students how to document current affairs, using new technologies.

#52 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On December 11, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

By the way, Walker Evans was a Williams grad.

#53 Comment By hwc On December 11, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

RE: #50

I hope that you aren’t suggesting that the Pub catered to a less white/wealthy clientele to the extent that it served a townie as opposed to College customer base (an observation I disagree with, BTW).

Here’s the census data from Wiki on Williamstown in 2000. I have no reason to believe that it was more diverse in earlier years. I believe that the two African American visiting professors I took courses from were possibly the only two black residents of Williamstown in the early 1970s.

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 8,424 people, 2,753 households, and 1,693 families residing in the town. Williamstown is the fourth-largest town in Berkshire County, and ranks 189th out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts by population. The population density was 179.7 people per square mile (69.4/km²), ranking it 7th in the county and 264th in the Commonwealth. There were 3,053 housing units at an average density of 65.1/sq mi (25.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 90.79% White, 2.72% Black or African American, 0.11% Native American, 3.12% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.77% from other races, and 2.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.77% of the population.

#54 Comment By hwc On December 11, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

By the way, Walker Evans was a Williams grad.

Cool! I wonder if the College art museum has ever done a show of his photos?

BTW, wiki says that he was only an Eph for a year, so he might fall into the Edgar Bronfman category of virtual grads.

#55 Comment By Ronit On December 11, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

@Guy Creese ’75: Awesome. Thanks for sharing that. I would guess Evans would be one of the 2 or 3 most influential artists to ever go to Williams? I can only think of Stephen Sondheim as someone who’s had an equivalent impact to Evans in their genre.

#56 Comment By Ronit On December 14, 2009 @ 12:34 am

A place is not remembered because it is meaningful; it is meaningful because it is remembered.

#57 Comment By Lisa Maloney On February 18, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

Hi Fiona,

My father Gerald L Maloney created the Purple Pub and I would be glad to help you in any way that I can.

If your semester project ended in Dec 09 then I am sorry I am just reading your post now, Feb 18. – and I am too late.

but if your project is still ongoing I would be glad
to help you…

and unlike a lot of the useless posting you have received here
from folks who are not really trying to help you as you requested – I can help you piece together the history you are looking for.

I will contact you via your email you listed here.

– and yes the current owner of this building(now demolished) is only the second owner of the property. My dad was the first.
and it is my understanding that not only was there a fire here but the same owner also owns another building at the top of Spring St where there was a fire some years ago. Coincidence? Accidents?

I believe you will end up seeing this same person(owner) will now be the next owner of the Purple Pub when its rebuilt in the new location

so yeah … the history of Spring Street.

#58 Comment By PTC On February 19, 2010 @ 3:16 am

I drank there for decades. Got into a slight altercation there 2 nights before my wedding… (sweating the black eye on that one). Spent several new years in the place… and many summer nights…

Yeah, the pub was cool.

The new pub will never be the same. Even if, they keep the purple and gold gum ball machine, slap up all the old license plates and play Copa Cabana on the juke box, the old pub will always be better.

Pub memories… many, but often hazy. I cannot imagine the place with a “new floor” in a new building. Red Herring or bust.

#59 Comment By PTC On February 19, 2010 @ 6:29 am

Lisa- What about you? What years were you there?

#60 Comment By Lisa Maloney On February 23, 2010 @ 7:53 pm


I was there from the inception 1971 and prior while it was being built and thru 1973
But my patronage experience was a bit different than everyone elses who have been commenting here but no less FUN…as I consumed soda and Shirley Temple drinks while eating “beer nuts” as this was the favorite snack at the time amongst the chips and pretzels.

Saturday mornings when the Pub was closed – while my father cleaned up the Pub from Friday’s fun. – My younger brother Keith and I would go to work with him so we could hangout and play computer games, listen to music, eat “beer nuts” and drink soda.

I was 11 my brother was 6. We had a blast.
The Pub had some computer games.
The first computer game pong – was a computer game that was built into the top of a table . Along with the table top Pong there was another cool computer game – a computerized dart board game with a guy figure and a woman figure on it and it was a huge screen almost like today’s big flat panel tv screens (thou not as thin) and it was mounted up on the wall and you had remote controls to maneuver the figures hands and a button to dictate when you want to release the dart from their hand.
(I imagine this could be even more fun and funny for the night time crowd and a good communication piece I am sure)

We could play all the songs we wanted on the juke box for free

The songs at this time as I remember were:

Carly Simon “You’re so vain”,
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have you ever seen the Rain? Sweet Hitch-Hiker and Up around the Bend
to name a few and what I remember as the most popular song during this time:

… “put the lime in the coconut song” …

She put the lime in the coconut, she drank them both up
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank them both up
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank them both up
She put the lime in the coconut, she called the doctor, woke him up,
And said, “Doctor, ain’t there nothin’ I can take,
I say, Doctor, to relieve this belly ache?

We had a blast – and on some Saturday mornings we would find some money on the floor from patrons from the night before at which time my brother and I would yell out to our dad that we would be back … as we walked up the street to Bobby Gomeau’s Newsroom store and purchase some penny candy

So yeah, we had a blast too.

My father sold the Pub in 1973 he still owned the whole building up until the late 80’s but I was never a patron of the Purple Pub as an adult.(by then off at college and living out of town)

A lot of the current bloggers here have no idea of this Purple Pub or the building from that time as some of them are pretty harsh on the building that was just demolished
but I guess its not totally their fault. The most recent owner never seemed to put money back into it and let it deteriorate so it didnt really look the same as in the begining.

When it was built in 1971 the town was excited to have a Modern Colonial building, the first new building in 43 years on Spring Street, and it provided fresh new stores for the folks of the town. A breakfast and lunch spot , Judy’s, – a record store for the teenagers and students, St.Pierres Barbershop (as my father owned that too , my mother is a St.Pierre and my cousin Roger owns it now) and a Clothing store with mod 70’s clothes.

It was very sad and hard for me to see it sit there with the fire damage the last few years if I would go by it when I was in town and shocked the town allowed it to sit there like that for so long. My father passed away in 1991 at 59yrs old. I am glad he never saw the building sit there like that as that alone would have killed him.

With the proposed opening of the new Purple Pub I could look thru my family’s old photos and slides [as folks mostly shot slides back then] and see what I can find.

It could be fun to see and I am sure it would bring back many memories for Williams alum and town folk. The college folks like my dad so much and enjoyed the Pub they made him an honorary member of the Williams College class of 1946.