A little over a mile off the Marion exit from 195 East, just about on the Marion-Wareham line, is a small and quaint place called Gilda's Stone Rooster.

It's been in business for over 40 years and is also the home of Gilda Pietragalla Downey, the SouthCoast's oldest bartender.

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At the age of 95 – she'll turn 96 in May – Gilda is still trucking along, serving up cocktails and cracking open beers for her patrons.

The name of the bar, "Stone Rooster," is simply a translation of her maiden name Pietragalla. In Italian, pietra means "stone," while galla translates to "rooster."

On the weekends, you can hear the horns from the parking lot of the SouthCoast Brass Band performing the sweet sounds of New Orleans jazz and funk.

All along the walls are old photos of Gilda as a young woman and famous people she's met. Skulls and Christmas lights bordered the beams above while couches and tables filled the room for people to sit in comfort and enjoy the bands. A sign that was bright as day hung over the bar that reads "Call your Mom she still worries." I needed to be reminded of that.

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I'll be honest, I was very impressed with how well Gilda appeared and operated.

She was very spunky and full of life, but most importantly, she was kind and hospitable. Her bar was welcoming and felt as though I was actually having a beer in someone's living room.

Her stories were warm and nostalgic, just like her persona. If I had the time, I would have sat there all day listening to what she had to say. She was very concerned and actively open about heart health and even gave me a few tips on how to keep the ol' ticker strong and happy.

Long story short, if you're ever on Wareham Road in Marion, look out for Gilda's place. It's located 27 Wareham Road, to be exact, and it's one of those places you have to visit at least once in your life.

"I'm just me. I don't pretend to be anybody else," she said as I was bidding her farewell.

"And that's how it should be," I replied.

Wise words we can all agree on. Until we cross paths again, Gilda, thanks for the beer.

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