The Penny Post Song / Legend of Bill Bailey
Mar 02 2017

The Penny Post Song / Legend of Bill Bailey

By: Keith John Paul Horcasitas

The Penny Post was a coffee house in New Orleans on Daneel Street that I used to go to in high school and college and even performed with some friends doing Beatles and other songs. It is now called the Neutral Ground. I really never liked coffee before going there - and made up a song noted below in a "Rocky Raccoon" ballad type, as if I had been poisoned by "Bill Bailey," a "coffee bartender" who volunteered there and played some neat tunes.  

I'm sitting in front of my laptop, which is actually a "glorified desktop," since I hardly ever take it outside the house, and sipping on some delicious New Orleans CDM coffee. Yet I haven't always been a coffee drinker, which gives rise to this little story. How did I develop this addiction? And how do I now daily get treated at work to the best java in Red Stick? 
 
The Penny Post Song / Legend of Bill Bailey
 
While a junior at De La Salle High School, back when 18 was the legal age for Dixie Beer from Uptown 'Yat establishments like "Bruno's" or "Fat Harry's" if we looked old enough to get in, my buddies and me found a coffee house on Danneel Street off of St. Charles Avenue. The Penny Post, now called the Neutral Ground, was a throwback to 60s hangouts where we could try our hands at playing non-amplified folk-type music on "open mike nights" and not be exposed to adult beverages. 

The Post had a real avant-garde atmosphere and folks could play board games like checkers, chess, and backgammon while listening to great music like bluegrass and musicians with all kind of instruments like dulcimers and mandolins. Next door was Bisordi's, which was known for poetry readings and frequented by lovers of tea. 

It was here where I discovered the great taste of coffee per a pot of Colombian brew among the many varied types that were available at the Post, as well as many herbal or caffeine-rich teas! Bill Baily, a very engaging "barista host," accomplished folk guitar player and Post co-op employee, was somewhat eccentric and strange but convinced me to take the plunge with a special brew that was the ticket to my caffeine addiction per coffee. 

Since those formative coffee drinking days, I have loved partaking of good ole N'Awlins types of coffee and mainly prefer the Cafe' Ole' blend that many folks associate with Cafe' Dumonde on Decatur in the French Quarter. I'm old fashioned and don't care for the exotic types or flavored creams like Frappuccino, Hazelnut or French Vanilla. I have to say, some of my friends are really the true cafe' purists – as they consume their coffee treasures without cream or sugar or any additives! 

I'll get coffee from PJs, Starbuck's and other places but my favorite is CC's. Being a Baby Boomer, one situation that I appear out of place at times is when I'll go to a coffee shop for some private time to journal - a great way to keep perspective on things. As I take out my old spiral notebook and ballpoint pen to catch up on some personal and spiritual reflections, I'm surrounded by a cacophony of clicks by folks using their laptops! No wi-fi, no electrical cord, or no mouse is needed for the old fashioned way - and my "hard-drive" hardly ever crashes - unless I don't get enough caffeine! 

Now that I am hooked on drinking coffee, it is truly a blessing to get a fabulous cup or two of coffee every morning at work. Eddie Ross, LPN, one of the VA Nurses who works in the same building with me, treats us fellow employees every day to some mighty fine and strong cafe'! And he provides it to us in a very elegant presentation with many alternatives for coffee aaficionados– making sure we can add evaporated milk, other creams, all types of sweeteners and tasty eating treats to boot at times! 
 
It doesn't surprise me that Eddie does such a great job with our coffee, as he was recognized as Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System’s 2012 Employee of the Year for his extraordinary service to the extraordinary Veterans were are privileged to serve! 

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Keith & Eddie

Move over Joe Dimaggio – the real “Mr. Coffee” is Eddie Ross, LPN! - Keith John Paul Horcasitas   

Here's the song with a YouTube made for this memory, which I embellished per an allegory of how I was "poisoned" by the fateful first time with liking coffee: Penny Post Song / The Legend of Bill Bailey, Penny Post Song (The Legend of Bill Bailey)

"The day I first went walking in the Post I looked it over carefully especially the host “Bill Bailey’s my name,” he told me with a grin He told me ‘bout the history of the old Penny Inn... 

...Well my friends David, Scott and Neal were also there Bailey talked to us with an evil looking stare Now he seemed friendly but I really wasn’t sure His eyes kept that look as I listened on to more... 

...After awhile Bailey gave us each a list With all the things the Post sells the things you can’t resist The list included munchies, coffee and tea We all looked it over as Bailey started to stare at me...

...Well I never liked coffee even though I’d tried Neal told me to try once more he said, “You’ll be satisfied!” Bailey fixed me up a cup of secret blend to taste Said, “I’d surely like it there’d be nothing left to waste... 
 
...Well as I drank that coffee my buds were in delight Told Bailey, “I loved it!” that he’d really picked me right Bailey quickly gave a smile and stared me in the eyes I started feeling dizzy as he sang to my surprise...
 
...(Chorus) Welcome to the Penny Post sit and have a cup The music’s getting going and things are looking up Welcome to the Penny Post it’s the only one The people here are friendly and we’re gonna have some fun... 
 
...When Bailey finished singing I could hardly see his face Neal, Scott and David wondered why I mumbled in disgrace Told them, “Let’s get out of here I need some doctor’s care!” Told um, “I’d been poisoned by that eerie looking stare!”... 
 
...Well my friend named Pierre, a learning doctor was his trade Was also at the Post and so was called to give me aid He dragged me to a corner since by then I’d hit the floor He started to look me over as Bailey flew outside the door...
 
...After this I couldn’t think my life seemed sure to end But Pierre kept on working on his close and long-time friend Then he found what caused it all what Bailey’d hoped to see The coffee Bailey’d given had some poison set for me... 
 
...Well now I still go to the Post my health’s returned to me Pierre saved this life of mine now I still drink coffee Where Bailey’s gone I’ll never know but one thing I’ll never forget The staring eyes of Bailey as he sang without regret." 

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