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

Bill Twomey


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.

 It was 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.

 Few writers 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.

 McNamara’s 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 Prohibition.

 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.”

You’ll be 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.

The book 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

An incredible story by an incredible man!

The 221-page book is available for $19.95 + $3.85 s&h from:

Bunratty Publishing

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!
Here's one:
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!
Here's another: