October 2: Never a Dull Moment at Izzy Ort’s
Sam Rivers told me: “It got rough sometimes. You’d get the Navy and the Marines in there, and they could destroy the place in five minutes. The police would come in and it would be a shambles. I still don’t understand why people weren’t getting badly hurt—they were throwing bottles around in there.”
Rivers was referring to Izzy Ort’s Bar & Grille, a club at 25 Essex Street, and if you were to look up “bucket of blood” in a musicians’ slang dictionary, the entry might read: “See Izzy Ort’s.”
Isadore Ort was born October 2, 1893 in Brooklyn. He was raised there, quit school after fourth grade, and eventually found work as a Coney Island bartender, pouring drinks in saloons where Eddie Cantor sang and Jimmy Durante played piano. At 21, he was president of the bartenders union in New York City. Ort arrived in Boston in the early 1930s in the employ of a bootlegger, and he must have liked the town, because he opened the Grille in 1935 and stayed with it until 1969.
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