View Full Version : “a bar named charlie”

12-30-2015, 12:15 PM
All rights and ownership are the exclusive property of
Charles August Croes

It was a typical St Nicolaas day, slightly dusty with a slow breeze that made its’ way through the streets and alleys. The rich aroma produced by the oil refinery had subsided almost completely due to its inactivity. To a ‘Village Person’, as the residents of St Nicolaas call themselves, the breeze still delivered a faint reminder of a time when oil was king, even on the small island of Aruba.

A young man named Charlie stood across the street from a white two story building located on a corner. He looked both ways before crossing then went in the direction of the building he had been staring at. His walk was slow and easy yet his face was deep in thought. He reached into his pocket and took out a bundle of keys. After selecting the right one, he put it into a lock and reached out, opening the doors to an environment that had been created by his ancestors and inhabited by his family for the past 70 years. He walked in and took a seat in Charlie’s Bar.

It was still early and customers would not be coming for at least another couple of hours so he went to the bar and filled a beer glass with Diet Cola then returned to his chair at the long table in the corner. There he thought back on his boyhood days and the stories he heard from his grandparents and his father.

He remembered grandpa telling him about how the bar would fill with the sound of men laughing and yelling at each other. These were sailors and during the 1940’s their laughter was mixed with a slight edge of fear. These boys were at war with an enemy they had never seen. Their country sent them here to this far away island to guard the precious oil refinery located on Aruba.

Grandpa said that during those times of war that these young sailors knew that some of their comrades would not make it home. To fight those fears they had Charlie’s bar. Here, in this homey watering hole is where they laughed and sang as they drank beer after beer all the time living with the reality that they were far away from home and that they were alone and scared. Yet here at this small bar, they found a moment of freedom and celebrated it with laughter. The small bar on the corner gave them memories they would share with their families and children at home.

He sat and let his thoughts go to conversations with his father and how he recounted the events that followed the war. Young men would come in and say to the bar tender, “My Pa came here and told us all about Charlie’s Bar. Man, the stories he told us.” On and on, they came back: Old tattooed sailors came to revisit their youth or their offspring came to see what Pa had seen.

That’s how the craziness on the walls started. As they returned, they left business cards or war memorabilia that had been left behind by their Fathers. Slowly the cards and items were pinned or nailed to the walls and in that way, history came back and consumed the walls that once heard the laughter. All the while, bricks and sticks slowly came to life.

He thought how odd it was that the thousands of visitors that came felt a need to leave something behind that said nothing more than, “I was here.” The walls of Charlie’s Bar had become a statement. Much like a novel written in bits and pieces by thousands of authors, the walls became pages to a time past. They screamed out about who had been there and in some cases, who to expect. In every sense of the word, it took on a life of its own. There was a moment in time when this building drew a breath. Of this Charlie was sure. He was also sure that it was done in secrecy.

The walls and the many voices had a special character. Arguably, those walls gave the bar a life and character of its own. The young man thought about that and came to a decision. He wanted to write a book. He pulled out his cell phone and called his closest friend to come over. When his friend arrived they sat at the bar and both had a beer then he asked Charlie “OK now what is it that so important.”

Charlie answered with, “I want to write a book and need you to help me with research on the bar going back to day one.” His friend looked at him and said, “What bar?” Charlie answered with, “This one.” His friend smiled and said, “OK so if I help you, tell me one thing so that I can figure out what it is you are thinking and how to research it.”

Charlie answered with “What one thing?”

His friend said, “Tell me what you are going to call this book.”

Charlie closed his eyes as if listening to a whispering voice. He turned to the researcher and said, “It want the book to be named -


Be well

All rights and ownership are the exclusive property of
Charles August Croes

12-30-2015, 12:39 PM
I have yet to make it to Charlie's Bar. You make me want to make a visit.

12-30-2015, 01:42 PM
Wonderful! Now I want to go to Charlie's Bar as well!

12-30-2015, 02:33 PM
Thank you Charles :)

12-30-2015, 09:03 PM
thanks Charles....I love that bar, even with all the tourists, it is still a place we go to every trip.....have to have a beer and say hello to Charlie's grandson!!!

01-01-2016, 11:51 AM
Thanks Charles. We love visiting Charlies Bar. It is amazing the amount stuff on the walls and ceiling. I love having a cold Balashi and walking around looking at everything and wondering its origin and the stories behind each particular item. Thanks again, and Happy New Year!