On the night
before, the night after or the afternoon of a college football game in which
your feelings are involved, you don't want to go to just any tavern. You want
to go to one where the patrons are as caught up in the game as you are. As can
be seen on the preceding pages, such watering holes come in no special form,
ranging, as they do, from a rambling roadhouse like the Alpine Beer Garden near
Stanford, with horses tethered out front and al fresco tables in back, to a
boisterous two-story hangout like the Alumni Club of Notre Dame (the
"Senior Bar"), located just across a parking lot from Notre Dame
Stadium. In many ways typical of these diverse establishments is Manuel's
Tavern in Atlanta.
1956, Manuel's stands in a nondescript neighborhood handy to several colleges.
There is the old terrazzo-floored barroom proper, whose booths have been worn
at appropriate spots by thousands of elbows; there are two newer adjoining
rooms for the overflow; and there is a chamber where pinball machines flash and
jangle. Throughout there is personality.
You can't really
say, "If these old walls could talk..." about the walls in Manuel's,
because they do talk. Warm inscriptions shine from photographs of Hubert
Humphrey and Henry Aaron. A framed poem points out, at some length, that the
horse, the frog and various other non-imbibing members of the animal kingdom
live much shorter lives than Man, who drinks. A sign says, IF YOU'RE DRINKING
TO FORGET, PLEASE PAY IN ADVANCE. And behind the bar hangs a message from the
proprietor: ANYBODY DON'T LIKE THIS LIFE IS CRAZY—MALOOF.
Manuel Maloof is
a Lebanese saloonkeeper son of a Lebanese saloonkeeper. He is a diehard fan of
the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. He is an elected De Kalb county commissioner.
He is a swarthy, lumpy figure who exudes a brooding,
common-man-with-more-sense-than-the-fancy-guys authority. "I guess some
people just weren't born to wear teeth," he said resignedly once when the
choppers he had bought to wear while campaigning on TV were bothering him.
Manuel was born to run a bar, specifically the kind of bar where people from
all walks get together and exchange views. On football-weekend nights, however,
the activity in Manuel's is beyond discussion.
the only nights I allow singing in the place," he says. "I allow it
because I can't stop it."
The carved wood
bar and the find-out-your-biorhythms machine and the stool made of crushed
together beer cans and the pictures of Manuel's heroes (Churchill, FDR, the
Kennedys and Jimmy Carter) resound to the strains of Rambling Wreck from
Georgia Tech, Glory (to Old Georgia) and other college songs. Not to mention
"A friend of
mine named Jimmy Rogers, a steward on an oil tanker, would always get here for
the Auburn-Tech game," Maloof says. "He's dead now, but no matter where
his tanker was in the world, he'd make it to the game somehow, and afterwards
he'd be in here yelling. I never in my life heard anybody holler 'War Eagle'
like him. He could holler the greatest 'War Eagle' that there ever was.
"One year the
game was in the mud, and one of their boys kicked a field goal to beat us. Lord
God, we was all soaking wet. We come in here, and Jimmy just assumed he could
drown us all out with that yell. I just came back at him with my 'Go Yellow
Jackets!' The whole store was waiting to see who was going to stop hollering
first. The only time I ever saw him put down, and I was the one who did it.
"I never went
to Tech. I went to the Army instead. I guess it's something a psychologist
could take apart, but when I was a kid everybody had a team, and Tech was mine,
and it always will be till I die. And I don't see anything very wrong with
A lot of his
patrons do, however. "We're primarily a Georgia place," Maloof sighs.
Even Manuel's brother Robert, who tends bar, is a Georgia fan. "The worst
thing is after a Tech-Georgia game when Tech loses," Manuel says. "I
don't know what it is, but I can't stand for Tech to lose. If we're in here
watching it on television and people start rooting against Tech, I've been
known to throw 'em out. Of course, if Georgia loses, we notice a striking
decline of business. We have to go and ferret out those Georgia fans."