SEE JOHN'S NEW BOOK !
John's book entitled "Mc Namara's Vagabond Travels" cronicles his many adventures around this country hopping the rails and Bermuda, Cuba and Key West during the Great Depression. After reading it I was amazed at the great life John had. This book is definitely a great gift idea. So order it now! -Craig
Photos by his good friend and fellow writer and Historian
John McNamara Jr., John McNamara Sr. and young Mack's three daughters, Paula, Kathy and Joanne at John McNamara Square. Bill Twomey requested the square naming, wrote the required proposal, the required bio, and testified at the City Council hearing. Councilman Mike DeMarco introduced the legislation for him.
This is the 1985 Bill Signing in the Blue Room of City Hall officially creating "John McNamara Square." Left to right standing are: Bill Twomey, Peggy Vega, Helen Cahill, John McNamara Jr., Jimmy Vacca, Jane Gover. Seated are: John McNamara, Mayor Ed Koch and Councilman Mike DeMarco. The mayor is giving Bill Twomey some official pens used in the ceremony to distribute to participants.
His new book!
A new book,
McNamara’s Vagabond Travels, which
is a collection of Bronx Historian John
McNamara’s writings about his adventures
while traveling around the nation and
the world, has just been released, and
could be the perfect gift for fans of
great writing or of John McNamara, who
passed away October 15, 2004.
written by McNamara as the stories
unfolded, and just laid aside until his
daughter, Betty, discussed publishing
them during a visit to New York in
October. John had dictated the forward
at that October visit and although he
has since passed on to his eternal
reward, the book is a reality, and what
a grand book it is. It’s a fitting
tribute to this acclaimed premier
historian of the Bronx as his readers
now have an opportunity to travel the
globe with a man who has truly
experienced all the world has to offer.
have the ability to turn a string of
words into a melody as John McNamara
could. His writing is like a symphony
with each phrase an instrument and each
paragraph an orchestra as he weaves his
thoughts and ideas into the equivalent
of a grand opera. He’s that rare breed
of writer who truly understands the
majesty of language. These writings now
come alive on the grand stage
represented by the pages of this book.
Vagabond Travels begins with his first
trip to Bermuda while still in his
teens. The year was 1930 and money was
scarce but the 17- year old John had
managed to save up enough for an
exciting trip outside the country in an
era when most teens hadn’t travelled
more than ten or twenty miles from home
and wouldn’t dream of such an excursion.
He received the rather reluctant
permission from his parents only when
suggesting to his father that he might
be able to bring back some whiskey,
which was quite a treat during
The next story
and perhaps the most riveting is a
recounting of his hobo years when he
travelled the country by hopping the
rails. This first person account occurs
during the Great Depression and could
well serve as a primer for those
interested in this era of American
history. His discriptions are beyond
vivid and the reader can envision all
that John had seen and experienced
during this important phase of American
life. Such phrases as “I was bearded
like a wet cocunut” or “I enjoyed the
passing scenes like heady draughts of
May wine” are examples of his
phraseology. Or consider this sentence:
“Dawn came up, soggy and milky gray, and
a long serpentine lumber train rolled in
like an opaque dragon, the red glare of
caboose lantern like a fiery tail.”
transported back to another era, as you
become a witness to history through John
McNamara eyes. The telling of his story
is in the detail. You will actually feel
the wind in your face and the hunger in
your belly, all the time wandering how
much more the body can endure. This is
not just another travelogue but an epic
saga of human endurance and triumph. The
chapter comes with an introduction to
the hobo language, which the reader will
find most helpful.
concludes with a trip to Florida and
Cuba in 1936 and that chapter too, is an
experience in both linguistics and
history. Describing Key West:
“Civilization brought Yankee fishermen
and Spanish adventurers together, dumped
them down on that Caribbean speck, threw
in a big dose of two-way smuggling,
flavored it with choice bits of
Antillean cross-breeding and set it
bubbling in a jungly Cape Cod setting.”
Who could have said it better? Reading
John McNamara, like meeting him (for
those so fortunate), is an experience
you will not soon forget. - Bill Twomey
story by an incredible man!
The 221-page book is available for $19.95 + $3.85 s&h from:
4265 Alma Street, Palo Alto 93406
or e-mail [email protected]
John McNamara and Bill Twomey appear at a booksigning party at the Starving Artist Gallery on City Island on December 6, 1998.
John McNamara as Grand Marshall of the Throggs Neck St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 12, 2000.
Left to right: C. Patricia Sullivan of the American Irish Historical Society, Bill Twomey and John McNamara.
John McNamara's surprise 90th birthday party at Charlie's Inn on 12-22-02.
Left to right: His daughter, Betty McNamara, John Sr. and son, John Jr.
Writer's gathering at Artie's on City Island on March 21, 2000. Left to right: Jack Sauter, John McNamara, Mike McGrory, Jim Hewitt, Bill Twomey and John Robben.
Ever since I was a kid I've been interested in history and geography. I was always a fan of his, especially since his son John Jr. (Mack) was a friend of mine. The first time I saw John was as a little kid hanging out down Big Oak Beach when a man and a woman, dressed as Indians, carrying a canoe, walked passed me to go down on the beach. And off they went. Luckily, I got to visit with him before he died and I brought a stack of papers with me from the old Bronx. He was very helpful. He told me why the numbers in Edgewater jump to the 200's in B-section. Reason: They had their home and tennis courts there at one time and needed to transition new houses into the block without renumbering everything.
He also told me a funny story about my parents who moved here in 1932. He lived a couple of houses away and said they were called the Honeymooners. Not to be confused with the show because this was 20 years earlier, but he meant they showed a lot of affection for each other. Knowing my father, I could believe it. He built my mother a house and gave her a family of 4 boys. Not to shabby for the Depression years when people were living in cardboard and starving.
Check out the links on the bottom of the page!
So John, Thanks for the memories!
Click for another Memorial page
Don't forget to check out the links on the bottom of the Memorial pages!
Great stories about Riker's Island. Old photos of the island from '48. Even a story about the plane crash of 1957. Check it out!