Kehoe ran the marathon in two of those winning years. Both times he dropped off the pace somewhere along Heartbreak Hill and walked home to the store. He sat at the side of the celebration.
"I'd be there with two feelings," he says. "I'd be overjoyed that Billy won, but personally I'd be in the pits."
The new store, which opened in January, is two miles down Beacon Street, closer to the finish. The neighborhood seems more residential. The store is on the first floor, not in the basement. There still is a shower in the basement, however, and a pleasant, low-pressure atmosphere. There still is the man who won four Boston Marathons.
"The closer we come to the race, the crazier it'll become around here," Kehoe says. "It's already started. As soon as Billy gets here, the phone will be ringing off the hook."
Fenway Park...the Citgo Sign...Ken more Square...Massachusetts Avenue...the Eliot Lounge....
The night at the Eliot Lounge that Tommy Leonard likes best is the night Jacqueline Gareau came through the door. There actually are a lot of nights at the Eliot Lounge that Leonard likes best, but this night he likes best of the best.
"It was a few weeks after the race in 1980," Leonard says. "That was the year of Rosie Ruiz. Jackie Gareau from Montreal actually won the race, but the stories were all about Rosie Ruiz and how she sneaked in at the finish. I'll never forget what Joanie Benoit said, that 'Jackie has been denied forever the thrill of her greatest moment.'
"There was a ceremony a few weeks later, at the finish line, to give her the medal she rightfully won, and after the ceremony we invited her back to the Eliot. We had a bouquet of roses waiting for her and some champagne. There were a couple of sportswriters from Montreal drinking at the bar. They started singing O Canada
, and we had a piano player who started to play and the whole bar started singing. It was a beautiful moment. I'm getting choked up just talking about it."
The Eliot, which stands at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Commonwealth, seven blocks from the finish, is the clubhouse to the marathon, the almost-official runners' bar, a sort of Boys Town for anyone who ever jogged as far as the corner to catch a bus. Tommy Leonard is a sort of Father Flanagan.
While working as a bartender at the Eliot in 1971 and running the marathon as a member of the great huffing and puffing masses, he decided that his two loves should be joined. He obtained a mailing list of the marathon entrants and sent each runner a postcard inviting him or her to the Eliot for a free beer after the race.