Which one, Mr. Walsh asked on Monday, “The tank driver, or the one with the Mossad?”
There was also the Puerto Rican Jewish karaoke jockey who strode along the bar, promising that she, like Gloria Gaynor, would survive, and getting you to buy in and pump your fist.
The surgeon pulling in millions a year at the hospital down the block, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, sat one stool over from a school custodian making a fraction of that. Thursday nights, hospital paydays, were a whirl.
Besides medical workers, Coogan’s served world-renowned runners from the Armory Track and Field arena, off-duty cops and teachers blowing off steam.
A couple of years ago, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton,” joined Mr. Walsh to serenade a woman celebrating her birthday; as a boy growing up, Mr. Miranda had his own birthdays there. So did my kids. We had baptism parties at Coogan’s and an 85th birthday, held a Ph.D. bash in the back room and wolfed down a meal between the afternoon and evening sessions at a funeral parlor.
The owners could spot people who had just come from a rough visit to a sick relative in the hospital and knew to give them the right dose of warmth or quiet. Or they shouted a merry greeting to the older woman who arrived every evening for her one highball and a dinner that was technically solitary, but not really, with Mr. Hunt or Mr. Walsh or Ms. McDade invariably pulling over a chair for a chat.
Herman D. Farrell, when he was chairman of the Manhattan Democratic Party, would interview people for judgeships at a table in the front room, where everyone could, and did, see what he was up to, and with whom.
During the crack wars, Coogan’s was a sanctuary. A peace treaty was negotiated at one of its tables during the Washington Heights riots of 1992. In defiance of crime, Mr. Walsh organized a “Salsa, Shamrocks and Blues” five-kilometer run through the streets on the first Sunday in March.