ST. ALBANS CITY — Many detective stories include bars. But this is one about a bar.
And just as the mystery in those stories goes on unknown to those around it, this is a mystery on which many of us, every night, have set drinks, rested elbows, and laid cash without knowing what was directly beneath our noses.
The detective in this story is Lillianna Marie Baczeski. She lives in New Haven, Conn., which allows Baczeski to visit her grandfather, Joseph Wagner Jr., in New Jersey about once a week.
Wagner ran a bar in Yorkville, a neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Now Yorkville is among New York City’s most affluent communities, a neighborhood of residential high-rises with a median income twice that of the city’s average.
Wagner lived in a different Yorkville, without the high-rises and the high income and with a population of mostly European immigrants. Wagner’s father, Joseph Sr., emigrated from Austria in the 1920s. Joseph Sr. saved money working for the Jacob Ruppert Brewing Company, also located in Yorkville, to open his own bar, which Wagner took over after returning from World War II.
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