On any given Tuesday afternoon, the doors of are open. A steady crew of regulars man the barstools, keeping one eye on the game and the other on the ample contents of their giant foam cups.
But this Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, was a little different. Full except for standing room, cops and firefighters from around the borough dropped by the watering hole to drink, talk and remember those who died that similarly clear Tuesday 11 years ago—men and women who could just as easily have been them.
I'll admit I'd never tried drinking at Farrell's in the afternoon, being that 1 p.m. on a Tuesday normally finds me canvassing the neighborhood for stories, writing stories, or at the bare minimum, furrowing my brow and thinking really hard about writing stories.
But today—why not? Farrell's patrons were immediately welcoming, with one bleary-eyed gentleman, noticing my hesitation, gallantly offering to stand so that I could have his seat.
The bar was uniformly filled with firefighters, fresh from the 9/11 ceremony in Lower Manhattan. I sipped my beer and eavesdropped on nearby conversations, the topics of which ranged from the mob ("Now they don't shoot you in the face, they shoot you in the back of the head.") to the football game on the T.V. ("&*^$" those *&$&@ing Redskins). No one spoke of 9/11.
Emboldened by a pint of Budweiser, I thanked the man for his seat and left my perch, wandering outside where another cadre of dashing firemen smoked cigarettes and sipped their containers. (Farrell's terminology for a sloshing Styrofoam cup filled with 32-ounces of beer.)
Frank Witkowski, 32, is an FDNY member with Flatbush's Batallion 41. He was still in college when 9/11 happened.
"It doesn't matter if you got on in 1960 or 2010—you're still going to be here today," he said.
Back inside, the place had swelled from standing room only to shoulder-to-shoulder standing room only. Now 2:30 p.m., the sunlight streamed through the bar's broad front windows, and it became clear no one was going home anytime soon.