J.J. Foley’s, an Irish bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

J.J. Foley’s, an Irish bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston on Saturday, June 4th 1988.

Photographs of Boston.

The front room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

I started hanging out at JJ Foley’s after The Blue Sands, just around the corner, closed in 1983. The Blue Sands was at least a little bit more of a dive bar than Foley’s was in the mid-1980s and I can’t remember if it was while taking pictures there or at Foley’s that some guy gave me a hard time about taking photos when the place wasn’t empty.

The front room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

Such a concern made no sense to me being in my mid-20s because I figured like yeah, someone saw me at a bar, who cares? Indeed I hang out at bars from time to time, so what? It took a few days for it to dawn on me that a guy in his 60s wouldn’t like a picture circulating of him in a bar because at his age people would figure that’s all he did: spend every afternoon watering his guts with empty booze calories.

The front room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

Guys like him have nothing to worry about because none of these pictures “are of” anyone in particular, each head takes up about 4% of the photo and most of them are blurred because of slow shutter speeds.

The front room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

If you know how the bar looks now these pictures of the front room are most evocative of how much the place has changed since the renovations after the 1990s.

The front room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

The worst elements in my photos are the stools and chairs which look so battered and haggard. Beyond that is the back wall, the shelves and bottle cabinets.

The front room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

This is where the J.J. Foley’s lost so much of its old-world charm though it must be said, when renovating it’s kind of impossible to “do it halfway”.

The front room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

The back room…

The back room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

The black and white ceramic floor tiles haven’t been changed and would after all be quite difficult and expensive to replace, the walls have been entirely repainted with all the bumps, scratches and dings lovingly repaired and smoothed over.

The back room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

Everything else has changed, the chairs, benches & tables have been replaced and it seems they no longer store cases of beer in the back room.

The back room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.

The cigarette burn marks on the table are so adorable, a charming souvenir of the days before smoking inside was prohibited in 2004.

The back room of J.J. Foley’s bar at 21 Kingston Street in Boston.