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BALLSTON SPA: Last call

"It's hard work to stay in business now," said Monaco. "I give Crow credit for sticking it out this long."

Packing up the memories

Monaco's dark interior was known for being cool in the summer and cozy in the winter months. Romano and a crew of helpers will spend this week taking down the trinkets and souvenirs that have marked the passage of time. Down will come the poster of James Dean, the Sponge Bob Square Pants cartoon characters on shelves over the bar, the puncture-riddled dart board, the pool table, the toy crows that Romano received over the years. Sunday, Romano peeled the original dollar bills from his first sales off the wall behind the cash register. The old-fashioned telephone booth, still operating, will remain in the far corner, as will the small tables covered with vintage newspapers under glass. From small interior closets, the crew cleared out Halloween decorations, holiday lights, a disco ball and an enormous collection of handmade ceramic beer steins with names painted on them. "People drank from their own mug when they came in," said Romano. "That's going back at least 20 years. I forgot I had them."

Last call

This past weekend was a time for large-scale reminiscing. Michael DeLong of Ballston Spa grew up across the street from Monaco's, and remembers working at the site where he later became a bartender.

"Crow used to give me $1 for sweeping out the parking lot, which back then was a lot of money," said DeLong. "It's family here, there are so many stories. It's different from any other bar because of Crow's personality. That's what makes it so sad, all those memories."

Micky Gruber, a former village resident, flew up from northwestern Florida Saturday to be there for the last night of business.

"I can't believe it's closing, and I can't believe it's been that many years," said Gruber, a class of '79 Ballston Spa High School graduate. "It's the turning of a page for sure."

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