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A Deep Dive into Lefty's Sports Pub

At this Summer Ave. spot, buy a round and pour one out for Hollywood.

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Go fetch that damn ball, you lazy dog."

The ball rolled across the carpet and came to a stop while Sally, a Schnauzer, watched. Sally's owner got up and went after the ball himself. His friend said, "Now, why would she go get the ball if she knows you're going to get it for her?"

Dogs, big and small, are allowed inside at Lefty's Sports Pub as long as they don't bite. It's been two minutes since I walked in the door, and I am all in on any bar where dogs can hang out.

I try to write about bars that haven't received a lot of attention, but it turns out Lefty's Sports Pub has been featured on the cover of the Memphis Flyer before, back when it was known as Shirley's Overtime Inn. The article was prominently displayed in the bar until Shirley sold it and it became Lefty's, some 10 years ago. It has existed under one name or another for over 50 years, tucked away on Summer in a sea of used appliance stores. Now it is home to Sherry, the greatest bartender in the whole wide world. I told her I would write that, but it is not a lie. She might be the world's greatest bartender.

Sherry, as it turns out, is the cherry on top of what is the most colorful cast of characters that the bar scene might ever know. I met Elvis, the large stuffed dog who sits propped up at the bar with a handle of tequila. There was Sally, of course, who was too tired to play fetch by the time I got there. There was Kathy, a bar regular who has since passed on, but whose cremated remains fill a Miller Lite bottle behind the bar. Mr. Cecil wasn't there, but I felt like I knew him by the time I left. The same goes for Hollywood (so named after winning big on a scratch-off) who is recently departed from us after sustaining injuries from being hit by his own van back in September. But Sean, Larry, and the Toms are very much alive, happy to kick it with you at the bar over $2.25 domestics. They don't serve liquor, but you can bring your own and pay $2.25 for a set-up, same as a beer. They also don't serve food, but it's a block away from Elwood's Shack and you can bring your own takeout.

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Sean pointed out that neighborhood beer joints for working folks are dying out, and while I see his point, I don't think we have anything to worry about as long as Lefty's is around. This place is what you picture when asked to conjure up an image of a neighborhood dive. NASCAR cutouts adorn the walls. A "No Guns Allowed" sign hangs behind the bar. They even have Ms. Pacman!

There are a couple of pool tables, too, but I can't imagine any pool game being preferable to sitting at Sherry's bar and listening to stories. She told me about a police officer who would park across the street and watch them with binoculars, so Sherry brought her binoculars so she could watch him back. Then they'd send a sober bar regular swerving out onto the street, just to watch the police officer take off after him. Bar regulars knew to bring their cars by here for Hollywood to work on. Mr. Cecil arrives every day when Lefty's opens at noon, after telling his wife he's going out for ice cream. I think the thing that Sean laments isn't the loss of a neighborhood bar, but the loss of the sort of genuine people that give a place like this its character.

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I can't tell you everything I learned at Lefty's that night, like why that cop had it out for Lefty's or Larry's nickname for the matriarch of a prominent Memphis family. I'm still not sure why "714" was scrawled in various places in the bar or the unfortunate circumstances that led to the toilet paper being chained to the wall. I don't want to spoil Tom's idea for interacting with the dead for you, and I certainly don't want to divulge everyone's opinions on Princess Diana. I don't want to explain the situation with the squirrels in the attic and the untimely demise of a Cabbage Patch doll collection. I'd rather you go find out for yourself. Tell Sherry I said hey, buy them all a round, pour one out for Hollywood and Kathy, and for the love of God, don't do anything that gets you on the receiving end of Sherry's double bird-flip.

Lefty's Sports Pub, 4497 Summer (763-2679)

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