Weekend nights, the Bag was the place to be. No bands, just good friends, good company

Bill Packard: The Bag and David Brinkley

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 8:00pm

I enjoy some light reading in bed before turning out the lights and finishing with Fulghum, I looked through my library and decided to revisit Everyone Is Entitled to My Opinion. You’ve probably never heard of it.  I bought it for the title and because of a connection to the author, David Brinkley.  Some readers may identify with David, but if you don’t Google him. I have a limited number of words that I’m allowed on these pieces and can’t afford to use up too many explaining who he was.

The book consists of short essays, usually only a page with his views on current events.  The thing that struck me about the first few pages was that while they were written in 1981 and 1982, they are exactly about what is going on in certain parts of the world today, almost 40 years later. But this is not about books or world events, or even David Brinkley.  It’s about The Bag.

Before I go on, I must admit that this subject is over 50 years old and while I do my best to be as accurate as possible, my memory only goes so far.  I tried Googling the major players, but as notorious as they were, apparently, they were not notorious enough to make Google.

In the 1970s, establishments that served alcohol were just getting started and one that became very popular was The Bag.

 It was located where Peter Ott’s used to be and where 16 Bay View is today.  I’m trusting my friends with better memories to keep me honest as we go forward.

The place opened with a small bar and served draft beer.  Just draft beer.  No special names or brews.  Just beer. The furnishings were different.  Big old tables with mismatched chairs.  If you wanted a seat, you picked a spot next to a stranger or strangers that you thought you might like or tolerate. 

The brains, if you can call them that, behind this thing were two guys, Icky Webber and Bill Jones.  Not the Bill Jones from Hope.  They were Sugarloafers back before the name was invented and apparently decided that Camden would be a good location for a second version of the very successful Sugarloaf bar.

This joint was very new and different to Camden.  Liquor sales for consumption on the premises had just been voted in and while Marriner’s Restaurant was the first to serve, this place was the first night spot. 

It was a hit. Don’t judge, but back then it was not unusual to see a couple Marriner’s Inc., dump trucks and a couple pickups parked in front of what is now Cuzzy’s on late Friday afternoons that summer. 

We didn’t stay long.  It had been a long hard week and a cold beer with friends and coworkers tasted good. So, it was a popular weekend hangout. 

Later, it was renamed the Bay View Street Garage and moved downstairs. The place had excellent sandwiches and that was the menu.  Beer and sandwiches.  To give you an idea about the guys that opened this joint, Bill Jones played bass fiddle in Jud Strunk’s band at the Red Stallion in Carrabassett Valley.  That should tell you something. 

Icky opened a place in Waterville that was called Down Under.  It was in the basement under Emory Brown’s. Icky wanted to name it Emory Brown’s Bottom, but the powers that be in Waterville at that time vetoed that idea. They were forward thinkers and great characters.

Weekend nights, the Bag was the place to be.  No bands, just good friends and good company. It was more like going to a friend’s place for an evening, than going out to a bar.

One weekend night, like all the others, we’re enjoying everyone’s company sitting at the mishmash of tables and chairs (only a few sat at the small bar), when a familiar face walked in and took a seat at the bar.  It was David Brinkley. 

We whispered to each other, but nobody went up to him, asked for an autograph or anything like that. Such things were taboo in the Camden of that day.  Unheard of. The evening went on, but we were all keeping an eye on David. The time came to pay his tab and leave.

As he headed for the door, in unison, the entire place hollered, “Good Night, David!” 

He waved acknowledgement over his shoulder, turned with a grin and disappeared into the night.  Good times.


Bill Packard


Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of BPackard.com. He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant.