Last week, the James McDermott Legion post publicly thanked the member most responsible for opening and continuing to operate the bar and other facilities in the barroom — George Briggs.
Briggs had just completed a year as post commander in 1970 when he decided something had to be done to provide members of the post with a place to gather.
“We had a small bar in the middle room, but it was not stocked or operating, used mostly by people renting the hall,” he recalled. “I wanted to have something for our members.”
Briggs began transforming the back room of the hall from a storage area into a bar and game room, acquiring the bar itself from the Tracy Elks Lodge when the Elks began expanding their bar.
“We had a small bar at first, but then we enlarged it, and it provided more capacity,” he said. “We also had tables and a pool table set up in the room.”
Volunteer bartenders pour drinks and open beer bottles, and sometimes members help themselves, Briggs reported.
“We just asked for donations to cover our costs,” he said. “That has worked out well for us.”
Briggs has continued to stock the bar and serve as occasional bartender. The bar is open to members from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Last week, John Treantos, post commander, presented Briggs with a plaque that is being posted in back of the bar thanking him for his leadership in making the barroom a reality.
“George has made all this possible,” Treantos said. “He and his wife, Ruth, have really kept the post going.”
Briggs is a native of Stockton who served 22 years in the U.S. Navy as an aviation machinist’s mate, beginning in 1942 during World War II and continuing during the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
He retired in 1963 as a chief petty officer and moved to Tracy when he took a job as a correctional officer at Deuel Vocational Institution. He joined the local American Legion post two years later.
In addition to serving as post commander on three occasions, Briggs has been district commander, state historian and national Veterans Affairs representative.
He and his wife have been volunteers at the Livermore VA facility for a half century.
• Contact Sam Matthews at 830-4234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.