William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNews
Seeing John Barron’s name today in the comments section of our page reminded me of the 3 O’clock Manhattan gang that was active in the late 70s and 80s in Gloucester City. It was a select group, made up of longtime businessmen, politicians, and residents.
Most every day during the week between 3 and 4 PM they would meet at the Brown Street home of John Lincoln or the Highland Blvd., home of Henry Barron. They would discuss what was happening in Gloucester City and at times what was going on in our country.
So what is a Manhattan, you ask? A Manhattan is a cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. While rye is the traditional whiskey of choice, other commonly used whiskies include Canadian whisky, bourbon, blended whiskey, and Tennessee whiskey. It is a strong cocktail, something you have to acquire a taste for. Similar to scotch on the rocks, or a dry martini.
At times those “meetings” would end up in heated arguments because one or more of the boys had too many.
The above photo was taken in the late 1970's early 1980's at the Gloucester City Democrat Club. My dad, George (left) and John Lincoln. The sign behind them read Democrat Club Headquarters.
George F. Cleary Sr., my dad, Henry Barron, John Lincoln, Bill Leeds, Ed Haughey, Wild Bill Kensler were regulars. Every so often City Clerk Tut Kilcourse, along with Dick Nesbit and others would gather to kibitz.
Dad and Haughey were Republicans. Lincoln was a Republican and in the '50s John actually represented the local Republicans as a city councilman. But in the early ’60s when the superintendent’s job for the City highway department was offered to him he jumped ship. We heard John’s Republican side would surface every so often at those gatherings.
These individuals were long-time friends, many of them members of the local Lions Club. Unlike today, their political affiliations or a difference of opinion didn’t stop them from talking with each other or socializing together.
If alive I don't believe any of the Manhattan Gang would approve of the socialist direction that a minority of those in Washington are presently pointing our country towards.
Those who met at Lincoln's or Barron's had certain values and those principles took precedent whether you were a Republican or a Democrat. They would have been irate if you told them the feds were paying anyone with children $300 a month per child for childcare. They would also be furious to learn the federal government was dolling out thousands of dollars to certain members of the public not to work. As for the millions of illegal immigrants crossing into our country from Mexico and elsewhere they would have been disgusted with the do-nothing political elite in Washington.
As for the topics pertaining to Gloucester City you could bet your last dollar that the endless increases in Gloucester's local property tax and school taxes would have been at the top. If they knew that the City of Gloucester City was one of the 30 cities with the highest taxes in the state many of them would have busted a blood vessel. For those not in the know the school district's budget last year was $50 million and the City's budget was $26 million.
They would have certainly talked about the piss poor condition of our city streets and infrastructure.
And they would not have been happy about the millions of dollars wasted on studies and architect drawings pertaining to the development of our riverfront that gather dust in the municipal building. Knowing that the City Fathers haven't done a thing with the riverfront development in 37 years would also have been a regular issue on the agenda.
What was great about those men they didn't hesitate to get involved. And, they didn’t hesitate to tell the mayor and council, no matter who was in power that they were doing a lousy job.
They were part of the Greatest Generation, and I miss all of them. Gloucester City and our Country would be a better place today if they were still here, and you can bet your last Manhattan Cocktail on that fact.
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