I may very well have met Hermann Nieweler, but I can't say I remember him.
Hermann's got a obit/tribute to a life well lived in the Globe and Mail today, mainly on account of his Hermann's Jazz Club out in Victoria. Hermann was one of those post WW2 DPs who came here with nothing and made something out of it.
The jazz club happened after my time on the West Coast, but I certainly perked up at the reference to the Bastion Inn!
Holy Mother of God!
Hermann owned the Bastion?
I've spent some time in rough dive bars from coast to coast, but the Bastion out in Victoria, circa 1980 or so, was absolutely one of the roughest!
You could make a commodity deal across the room with a tip of the cap and a nod.
I remember a waiter, Russian or Greek with hardly any English. He comes to the table to take your order. He's wearing a nice knee-length fur coat. Pulls up his sleeves; he's got a half dozen time-pieces on each forearm.
"You like watch? Good price on watch! Hundred dollar! Regular two thousand... you like fur coat? Good deal on fur coat..."
I never bought a watch or a fur coat at the Bastion, but I bought a few commodities and lots of beer.
The Bastion was the kind of place where when a drunken brawl broke out nobody would notice. I remember sitting there, well lit in my dark corner, when a trio of cops march in. They're standing there scanning the room. They're obviously looking for somebody.
While they're scanning the room, there's two drunk guys having a death match right in front of them. Buddy A drops Buddy B with a boot to the groin. Buddy B staggers to his feet, wobbles towards equally impaired Buddy A, grabs him by the hair, and smashes his face into the edge of a pool table, about ten times... blood everywhere... right in front of the cops, who correctly conclude that everything considered, it's best for all concerned to pretend they're not seeing any of this!
The place was a fucking zoo!
But believe it or not, it never got out of control.
Hermann Nieweler was obviously one hell of a zoo-keeper!
Rest in peace, Herr Nieweler!