Joe didn’t drink at home: he said only alcoholics drank at home. We didn’t have beer or liquor at our home. He didn’t hang out in bars, but he did frequent bars occasionally. So it was a surprise to me when he bought a bar, named Joe’s Café, on Worthington Street in Springfield. I don’t know if it was a surprise to Mare; whether he discussed it with her or informed her before it happened. I don’t think she would have been supportive of the idea. Remember, he was still working full-time at the power plant.
I also don’t know how Joe learned about buying, owning and running a bar business.
I remember it had a beautiful mahogany bar and mahogany tables and booths. I cannot remember how long he owned it or when he sold it.
He then bought another bar, named The Playboy Club, [not associated with the national company] also on Worthington Street in Springfield, adjacent to Bennie’s Deli. He was still working at the power plant and Mare was working at The Springfield Armory at this point.
My brother, Danny, worked full-time at the bar. And there were other nice men who worked the bar too: Jimmy Sullivan and Gene [I can’t recall his last name]. These men and their wives became very good friends with my parents.
I am not really sure how to describe the bar. I think there were a lot of sad, lonely people there, may be even looking for love. Who knows? It was a time of tremendous boon in Springfield. Construction of Baystate West started in 1969 and that brought into the bar many construction workers, including the iron workers who supposedly came down from Canada. My mother never wanted to use the elevators at Baystate West. She had seen the construction workers drink and she didn’t have confidence that the elevators were constructed properly.
My mother really wasn’t involved with the bar, except occasionally when something went amok and she had to either open or close the bar~be the key and money bag person. I think it was a very sad environment for my brother Danny to be in, seeing people ruining their lives with drink.
Together, my brothers, Jimmy and Danny, bought their own bar and package store in Westfield in the 1970’s. The package store sold several years ago and the bar sold in 2015. They were in business for 40 years and it was the longest period for a bar to have been owned by the same owners in Massachusetts. They enjoyed great success over the years.
I think the link to bars is now broken in the McCarthy family as Jimmy’s three children [Karen, Danny, and Kate] are all college graduates and have successful professional careers. Danny and I did not have children.
Mare was not happy about Joe owning the bar. She felt it gave him opportunity to get into trouble, meaning to drink and carouse more with his whore, who he was involved with even before he owned the bar.
This obviously was a huge hurt and disappointment for Mare. I never saw that Mare took this situation personally, nor did she hold Joe fully responsible. Rather, she blamed it on the whore who was available and all too willing to have sex with Joe.
[Mare and Joe at Jimmy and Eleanor’s wedding, April 25, 1970.]
For my part, I was exposed to this awful, adult situation and it created great unhappiness in me, from a very young age. Sad, confused, ashamed–a loss of innocence. This was my first experience with loss. I remember my brother Danny trying to explain it to me: “He’s a man, only too human.”
[With Joe at St. Thomas Church on the day of my First Communion in 1962. I was 7 years old.]
I hated my father and could not understand why she stayed with him. I wanted to protect my mother from any hurt. This situation went on for years, off and on. I don’t know what else to say about Joe that isn’t obvious or cliché.
Lesson Learned~Never get involved or marry or stay married to an unfaithful man. Never.