Townie Tidbits

April 23, 2015
By

MICHAEL MURPHY TALKS BARROOM HISTORY

   I bumped into Michael Murphy last week on Main Street by the Cooperative Bank and we ended up talking about the barrooms of Charlestown. He is just old enough to have remembered many of the names I was slightly too young to have known. Sometimes it is nice to be too young for almost anything nowadays.

   By the way, Murphy is a man of many names. Some call him Mickey while others call him Irish Mike since he is pretty Irish. I knew there had been many bars down by the Navy Yard back in the day. I mentioned the one under the bridge not far from Hayes Square and he said that was «Maccaveys.” When I asked how do you spell that, he said just like it sounds. There’s a good chance it is misspelled here. But be that as it may.

   My grandpa’s favorite bar was ‹Donovan›s› in City Square›s Rogue Hall where my ma used to dance in her younger dancing days. At the time I was born my grandpa lived above J.J. McCarthy›s on Main Street in what was then a rooming house called the Clipper House.»

  Seems back in the day when marriages broke up, the guys usually ended up renting a room in places like the Clipper House while mother and children kept the apartment or house. Remember, divorce was unheard of so people stayed together separately.

   By the way Murphy told me there might have been at least a hundred bars way back in the day but even up to around 1970, he said there were still about 70 watering holes available for the thirsty among us.

  Murph and I also talked about the old Thompson Square Theatre which I remember going to. It was replaced by the Charlestown branch library. It was a cool neighborhood movie house and on the first floor by Wood Street was the Thompson Square Spa, a great family restaurant and neighborhood hangout.

   So much has changed. Most but not all for the better. The trains no longer roar overhead on Main Street and people can hear each other talk without waiting for the train to pass by overhead.

  Many say the town has changed too much. They liked the old days better. However, even I know that someday today will be called the old days too. The only day as a true Townie would say is yesterday. Everything else is pot luck.

  • Stephanie Lyman

    I am trying to research my father Ralph , Larry, Harry Lyman Legacy’s .He was born in 1938 and raised in Charlsetown Ma. He told many stories about JJ”s bar. I am curious to which one it was. Does any one have any input to the JJ’s he was referring to roughly around the 50’s..