George Martin has been bartending at Elks Lodge 339 for so long that there is an entire generation of members that don’t remember a time he wasn’t there. George is turning 91, and on February 2nd, his actual birthday, the lodge will be open to the public as they celebrate 91 Drinks for 91 Years. Come be a part of history and meet the oldest bartender in the state of Pennsylvania.
I was born in Etna, but we moved to the North Side when I was just a kid. I went to school here, graduating from Allegheny High and then going on to Carnegie Mellon, which was Carnegie Tech then.
How long have you been an Elk?
I joined in 1951 so I’ve been a member for 69 years. I’ve been bartending for the last 45 years. I started off as a member then I was put on committees. The entertainment committee was always my favorite. From there I became an officer and a chair, then I became Exalted Ruler. I’ve served six times as Exalted Ruler (a lodge record). I got involved in district, state, and national levels, too. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
Why was the entertainment committee your favorite?
Since I was very young I was involved in entertainment programs. In high school I became involved in plays and so forth, I even wrote some plays myself. My instrument in high school was French Horn. Then I served in the Army and was in the US Army band for a year and a half, playing the trumpet. I’ve been on that stage (pointing to the stage in the main room of the Elks lodge) many, many nights. Everytime I jumped on that stage there, I just came alive. My motto is make people smile, make people happy, and I feel like I’ve been able to do that.
How did this birthday event come to be?
Bartending was something as an Elk I was called upon to do. And now I can’t seem to get away from it. They won’t let me get away from it. I keep saying let someone else do it… but they seem to like me here. This idea came to be from a very dear friend of mine, a friend who plays the accordian. He had this idea, and word got out and a lot of people came. Everyone wanted to come see who was this 90 year old who serves drinks. And they saw him. It was one of the highlights of my career. The Exalted Ruler came up to me and he said, we should do this every year. I said what? And then I dropped it. Well, of course, it came up again. And here we are.