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Joe Black – The Raven July 4th, 1990

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On July 4th, 1990 I started working at the Raven in New Hope. Yup, thirty years ago today. For some reason, Robert Ebert hired me as security. Yeah, you heard me. Security. Anyway, I treated it like just another job but it sure was fun. A few months later he offered me a bartending position. Suddenly “just another job” became a huge chapter in my life.

In total, I worked at the Raven and the Cartwheel for 14 years or the equivalent of roughly six gay lifetimes. Everything I have and everything knows about the service industry I got from working there. Some of the dearest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting are from those days.

Eventually, I left New Hope for Philly to begin another equally important chapter. Even though we didn’t “break up” on the best terms, the Raven always held a very special place in the area where my heart should be. We didn’t stay apart for long.

As most of you know, last year I was asked to come back to work for the summer with my dear friend Bari. It was a great time even though things had definitely changed. And we all know what ultimately ended up happening so before I go off on a tangent it’s probably enough with the nostalgia…

There were plenty of highs and lows and I’m sure I bitched about everything at the time, but it was the best. So I can’t find enough words to properly thank Robert and Bari. Robert saw something in me I didn’t know was there and Bari gave me the opportunity to play in the past one more time. And I’m forever grateful to them both.

“I wish someone would have told us we were in the good old days while we were actually still in them.” ~ Andy Bernard (The Office)

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