This is one story from my book "Just Hangin' Out, Ma." Click on the link at the right of this page for more information or to purchase a copy. This book is also listed on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Lawrence had a wealth of churches – some really beautiful churches too. I remember how shocked I was when I learned that the Immaculate Conception Church had been torn down. Some very famous people had been married in that church – my buddy Jack Greco for example. I was his best man. That alone should have been reason enough for preservation. I didn’t think that it was allowed to destroy a church – especially a Catholic church – and a Catholic church in Lawrence. Where is that pope when you really need him!
Lawrence had its eateries, diners, bakeries and mills. But the one thing that may have outnumbered all of these landmarks was barrooms. Barrooms, taverns, and nightclubs were everywhere.
I worked at S. H. Brennan Meat Packing on Broadway. It was a door or two down from Essex St.
Speaking of Essex and Broadway, what happened to the post office? Man if that building had been down here in the South it would be a shrine. They save any building that was built before 1860 down here. I told the mayor here in Bumkinville that my whole hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts was built before 1860. He wanted to know why, if I liked that town so much, I ever left. The mayor is, of course, a local redneck who has a bumper sticker that reads: We don’t give a damn how you did it up North.
I remember parking my truck at the dealership across from Brennan’s. Some days I would work from 5 or 6 in the morning until 8 or 9 at night. It would be too late to go home and change clothes and catch one of my buddies for a night out on the town. So I would just walk home.
One night instead of just passing by all the bars on my way up Broadway, I decided to try an experiment. I would have one beer in every bar I passed on the way home. A beer was a dime in those days.
First I went around the corner to Al’s Tavern and then into Tubby Clark's for a quickie and fortify myself for the challenge. I don’t think I got four doors up Broadway before I hit another joint. It was an Irish place – O’Toole’s or some such thing.
There were more barrooms on Broadway than I had estimated. I can’t give you all the names but there were a few builder and trade clubs and a plethora of other significant “craft” type joints. There was a place called the Flamingo. There was also a place with a piano bar. There was an entertainer there who was a one man phenomenon. I forget his name. He played all the instruments and pre-recorded himself. He had a stage full of type recorders and such. This was prior to the electronic boom and karaoke. It was something to just watch this guy co-ordinate all his tape recorders. He sang but didn’t dance. He was good. Definitely worth a dime. I think I ended up at Cain and Bernard’s ‘round midnight.
By the time I left Cain and Bernard’s and took a right onto Arlington St, I was singing at the top of my lungs such old favorites as: Jingle Bells, Did Your Mother Come from Ireland, I’m Looking over a Four Leaf Clover and A Little Bit of Heaven. You remember A Little Bit of Heaven – So they sprinkled it with stardust just to make the shamrocks grow.
On another occasion, I decided that Broadway was too dangerous for my one beer scientific experiment. I tried instead going up Essex St. to Lawrence St. and then through to Chelmsford.
That route was not much better. I bumped into Jimmy Sheehy on that occasion. I told him about my experiment and he liked the idea and joined me. As I remember we ended up sleeping in a parked car. He had the front seat and I took the back. When the owner of the car woke us in the morning we accused him of kidnapping us. We immediately checked our wallets and demanded that he return our money. He didn’t call the police. So I guess our tactic worked.
The Tally-ho, the Bamboo Room, the Merry Mac Club, the Polish National, the Irish Social, the English Social, the Capri, the Chez–When, there were a million places to drink, party and play games. At places like Cain and Bernard’s or the builders and trades it was genealogy. Somebody would ask your name and off they went. “Are you any relation to the Noble girl who married Billy Callahan? Did your father marry a Dougherty? In some of these bars the regulars knew more about you and your family than you did.
Shuffleboard and darts were big in those days. The bars sponsored “intramural” bar tournaments. Naturally we played for beers – another good excuse for getting sloshed.
The Tally-ho was the starting line for many of us each evening. After about four hours of warming up at the Tally-ho and who knows how many beers, it was off to the Merry Mac Club for the talent show, or to the Chez or the English Social for the strip show. The night would start at 6 and it wouldn’t end until 1 or 2 in the morning.
In the morning I would be up at 5 a.m. and hiking down to Brennan’s to unload a few sides of beef. My god! I don’t know how I did it. If bar hopping was an Olympic game, I think I could have won at least a silver medal. I would go for the gold but there were just too many extremely talented, professional drinkers in Lawrence for me to even fantasize about such a victory.
About 20 years ago I went back to Lawrence for a “Corner Reunion.” After an outing at the park a bunch of the old gang ended up at Jack Sheehy’s Pizza Pub on Lawrence St. There were ten or fifteen of us sitting along one wall reminiscing. A round of drinks consisted of 10 orange juice, 2 cranberry cocktails, and four Virgin Mary’s. Most of the old gang were active members of AA – that’s not the automobile club, that’s the AAA.
Richard E. Noble was raised in Lawrence, Mass and is now a freelance writer. He has published 9 books.
Books by Richard Edward Noble. Click on covers below for more info and purchasing instructions.
Classic Tragic Novel
Don't Laugh - This Could Have Been Your Life
Funny stories and some strange characters.
Monkey Dishes and Cocktail Fawks
My Harrowing days in the restaurant business. Great Read.
It's a Long Story
Long Short Fiction - Great stories!
Bloggin' Be My Life
"Bloggin' be My Life" contains a selection of some of my more popular Hobo Philosopher blogs.If you enjoy reading this blog, you should love Bloggin' Be My Life.
It's All About Love
It's All About Love is ... all about love. This is the 2nd book of poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford off Arlington. Every poem in this book comes with a prose introduction. If you enjoy poetry this is a simple choice. Have fun!
A Little Something
Traditional poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford Off Arlington with some poignant prose introductions. If you enjoy any type of poetry, you will enjoy this volume. Thanks.
Talking To Myself
This is my third book of poetry.
Bits and Pieces
The Hobo Philosopher - My first book using the Hobo Philosopher brand. Featuring a variety of writing styles and ideas. Look for the Thoughtful Hobo on the cover.
A Baker's Dozen
The Hobo Philosopher: My Second book of Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Short Stories. All varieties of short stories - lots of laughs!
Cat Point - and Them Dang Oyster People
Cat Point is the sequel to "The Eastpointer." Both books contain humorous tales about life in a fishing community on the Florida Panhandle. Lots of laughs.
Won 1st Place award for humor in 2007 from Florida Press Association. More wit, wisdom and humor from the yet to be world famous author, R.E. Noble
A Summer with Charlie - Lawrence
Fiction - Salisbury Beach, Lawrence, Mass. Featured in Merrimack Valley Magazine July /Aug. issue 2010
Travel, Humor, Commentary on migrant farm work and illegal immigration still very pertinent today.
"Just Hangin' Out Ma"
Thank God for the Street Corners of Lawrence, Mass. Anecdotes and humorous escapades about growing up in an industrial mill town in the 40s,50s and 60s.
This is the sequel to "Just Hangin' Out, Ma"
That Old Gang of Mine
This is # 3 in my Lawrence Hometown series. The series is about growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's in an industrial mill town. Sorta like a Huck Finn goes to vist Uncle Ralph, the bus driver, who lives in a big, rundown city. Lots of fun.
Come On-A My House
This is # 4 in my Lawrence Hometown series.The old homested at 32 Chelmsford ST is pictured on the cover..
Down By The Old Mill Stream
# 5 in the Lawrence My Hometown series.
Standing on the Corner is # 6 in the lawrence My Hometown series.
The old Howard Playstead on Lawrence St.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
# 7 in the Lawrence my Hometown series.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Classic tragic novel written from child's perspective. Deals with abuse, poverty, unemployment. Pulls no punches.
Noble Notes on Famous Folks
Humorous, satirical notes on everybody from Constantine to Bill Clinton. Inspiration: Willy Cuppy.
America on Strike
History - documented survey of labor strikes in America
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
Who are the American Nazis - the Liberals or the Conservatives?
MY NAME IS RICHARD EDWARD NOBLE. I AM A FREELANCE WRITER AND I HAVE PUBLISHED 12 BOOKS:"THE EASTPOINTER" - SELECTIONS FROM AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER COLUMN - "A LITTLE SOMETHING" - POETRY WITH PROSE -"HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER" - A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE NEW ENGLAND MILL TOWN OF LAWRENCE, MASS, "HOBO-ING AMERICA" - A WORKINGMAN'S TOUR OF THE U.S.A. - "A SUMMER WITH CHARLIE" - THE STORY OF A YOUNG SAILOR'S LAST DAYS AT SALISBURY BEACH, "NOBLE NOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS" - HUMOROUS ANECDOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS IN HISTORY,
"AMERICA ON STRIKE" HISTORY BOOK - A SURVEY OF LABOR STRIKES IN AMERICA; "A BAKER'S DOZEN" A BOOK OF HUMOROUS SHORT STORIES; "JUST HANGIN' OUT, MA" - GROWING UP IN THE 40'S, 50'S AND 60'S IN LAWRENCE, MY HOMETOWN, "TENEMENT DWELLERS" - SEQUEL TO JUST HANGIN OUT, MA; MEIN KAMPF - ANALYSIS OF BOOK ONE - HISTORY. CAT POINT - AND THEM DANG OYSTER PEOPLE - SEQUEL TO THE EASTPOINTER
All 12 BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND OTHER INTERNET SOURCES OR FROM NOBLE PUBLISHING. ALL 12 OF MY BOOKS ARE NOW ON KINDLE AT BARGAIN PRICES TOO. IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS E-MAIL ME. MY EMAIL IS ON MY PROFILE PAGE.