- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

OAKLYN, N.J. (AP) - “The Manor?” asks Portia Kane, who returns home to Haddon Township after a long absence as the protagonist in Matthew Quick’s latest novel, “Love May Fail.”

“You know, that bar in Oaklyn. Near the school?” answers Danielle Bass, Portia’s high school friend.

“The place with the deck, with the train tracks behind it? Next to the trestle?”

That’s the place. And when Portia tells Danielle she hasn’t been there in years, Danielle’s reply is one many patrons would echo:

“It’s exactly how you remember it. The place never changes, which is the beauty of it, right? It’s a constant.”

Quick, author of “Silver Linings Playbook” and an Oaklyn native, clearly believes in those constants, the familiar places he remembers fondly from his days living, teaching and writing in South Jersey.

“It’s a beloved place for me,” said Quick in a phone interview with the Courier-Post from his home on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. “I grew up right around the corner. When I go there now, it’s just … home.

“It’s one of those places that I truly love.”

Indeed, for a 2011 Courier-Post story about friendship, Quick and his buddy Bill Rhoda were photographed at the bar.

Quick will make an appearance at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Central Branch Wednesday launch “Love May Fail,” set largely in South Jersey, with key scenes at Oaklyn Manor. Among the other local settings: Haddon Township and Collingswood high schools, the Ocean City boardwalk, rowhomes on Cuthbert Boulevard and the Crystal Lake Diner.

In “Love May Fail,” one character, Chuck Bass, tends bar at the Manor; Danielle, his sister, is a waitress at the Crystal Lake Diner and frequently visits the bar.

Jack Farkas, the Manor’s owner for the last six years and a bartender there since 1973, says Quick’s observation the place hasn’t changed much is true- “For a lot of years, you wouldn’t even see women in the front part of the bar,” he said to a female reporter as his daughter looked on -but agrees that consistency is a good thing (even if the lack of women wasn’t.)

Farkas, who tended bar part-time at the Manor for decades before buying it, calls his establishment “an old man bar” with more than a trace of pride.

“It’s a corner bar, and there aren’t a lot of corner bars left around here,” he told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill (https://on.cpsj.com/1QtFGE2 ).

His daughter Tracey- who’s definitely not old, at 24 -says she grew up at the Manor and was happy to hear Quick, who also mentioned the bar in “Silver Linings Playbook,” came back in writing to the place he once frequented.

“It’s really cool; I’d never think a bar in a small town would be in a book,” said Tracey, a waitress at the bar for the last five years.

But the Manor does have a claim to fame, and not an insignificant one, either: Patrons once saved the world.

Or so the Weekly World News claimed.

The crowd at the Manor diverted doomsday Sept. 27, 1991, Trueman Helms of Collingswood, a regular who took part in that day’s epic effort, told the Courier-Post in 2011.

The people at Oaklyn Manor already saved the world once, twenty years ago. What are their thoughts, can they do it again? Do they even need to?

According to the supermarket tab, 1.3 million people in China were going to jump in unison, knocking the Earth from its orbit. “We had to counterbalance it, so we did,” said Helms in 2011, describing how about 20 patrons and staffers staged their own hop to keep the world on its axis.

A framed story clipped from the now-defunct tabloid proclaims: “New Jersey jumpers stomp Commie plot to kill us all.”

The Manor dates to 1933, right after Prohibition ended, according to Tim O’Malley, who’s tended bar there for 24 years and helped stage the world-saving jump.

He, too, liked the idea of the bar being immortalized in literature: “It’s kind of a big deal,” he said. “It brings us a little bit of civic pride.”

The bar’s character has remained the same in his time here, he said: “It’s a little off the beaten track, but it’s a really nice little spot.”

Jack Farkas credits its family atmosphere: Parents can bring their children to the dining room or deck for dinner, and patrons and employees look out for one another, as the characters in Quick’s book do.

“We’ll have some kids come in here after school sometimes, and they’ll get a pitcher of soda and eat something,” he said. “We just have a rule that you can’t have kids in here after 10 (p.m.)”

That family feeling carries across generations, and not just for Jack and Tracey Farkas: “I remember Matt (Quick) coming in here; my daughter talked to him a lot,” Jack said.

“And I used to wait on Matt’s dad when he would come in here.”

___

Information from: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, N.J.), https://www.courierpostonline.com/


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