It was last call last weekend at Bucky’s Cocktail Lounge in San Mateo. The saloon hosted a celebration of the life of the bar’s namesake, Bucky Kahler, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 81.
Kahler was a legendary student/athlete at San Mateo High School back in the mid-1950s. His death was not unexpected. He had been very ill for months.
He would have been pleased with the weekend event at his establishment at the corner of South Boulevard and Palm Avenue. About 200 people — family, friends, former teammates, classmates, loyal customers and others — flocked to the watering hole to pay their respects. The place was so jam-packed at several points that visitors couldn’t get inside.
Those who managed to squeeze into the cramped premises got a bit more than they bargained for. One of Bucky’s closest friends from childhood in San Mateo journeyed north from his Southern California home to be part of the affair.
Kris Kristofferson, also 81, whose own health has been a cause for some concern over the past several years, according to published reports, was in attendance for a good portion of the hot afternoon.
In spite of an antiquated sound system that betrayed him on occasion, the singer/songwriter/actor performed a number of his songs; he accompanied himself on guitar.
Kristofferson, emotional and clearly moved, struggled at times, his voice cracking now and then as he sang/talked about love, loss, friendship, family and a cherished past on the Peninsula which can never be repeated.
That last thought resonated among some of us. The Saturday gathering probably cannot be duplicated again in these parts. Bucky, in some ways, was a kind of cultural glue that held his San Mateo High generation together, albeit in fragile fashion at the end.
His bar, reportedly to be sold and relatively soon, has been a meeting place for years, a casual, blue-collar joint where you could let your hair down (if you had any left) with like-minded folks.
Add in Kristofferson’s welcome appearance _ let’s be honest, an iconic member of The Highwaymen doesn’t show up and perform at a San Mateo cocktail emporium every day _ and there was a distinct feeling that more than Bucky was departing the local stage.
The ambience was particularly poignant when Kristofferson finished his musical tribute, country-western to the core, and the applause and cheers became loud and sustained. There were some tears too, make no doubt about that.
A piece of San Mateo history was passing from the scene. The nostaglia there in the room was almost palpable. And, then, it was gone.
Sample ballots, complete with voter information material written by the candidates themselves, have been shipped out to registered voters throughout San Mateo County in preparation for the Nov. 7 election.
As always, there are squabbles about how candidates are designated on the ballot and in the pre-election materials.
Is a candidate really an incumbent when he or she ran unopposed in a prior election that was really almost meaningless due to lack of challengers? Should such a person be referred to more accurately as an “unopposed incumbent?”
Should a person originally appointed to a post be allowed to state that he or she is now running as an incumbent? Some try. It’s enough to make your head spin. But accuracy is the best policy.
John Horgan’s column appears weekly in the Mercury News. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail at P.O. Box 117083, Burlingame, CA 94011.
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