HARD AT WORK
My grandfather, Frank Clarke, was, among other things, a moonshine dealer in the Greater Portland area during Prohibition and afterwards. The basement of the old house on Payne Road in Scarborough was a haven for illegal whisky production. Many in the family were unaware of this side job. My mother spoke of her father Frank loading up the back of his truck with produce and meat from the family farm, and jars of root beer, all for sale, and underneath the blanket there was always a row of bottles of the Clarke "home brew" for sale to places like the St. Regis Hotel in Portland and some of the merchant seamen houses along the waterfront, which were referred to as "Houses of Ill Repute".
The tradition of Clarke liquor sales carried through to three of his children, all siblings to my mother, and all who have passed away of this writing. It is no coincidence at all that they were also three of the heaviest drinkers in the family. They each managed and owned a number of bars throughout their lives. Each of these bars was successful in its own laid back, neighborly way. They were not fancy places, but very friendly dive bars in seedier parts of town.
|WILLIAM ARTHUR CLARKE|
|BARS ON 8TH AVENUE|
|FLORENCE MAY CLARKE-BREWER|
|AUNT FLO AT FLO'S LOUNGE|
|POLAROID ON WALL|
AUNT FLORENCE AT THE BAR
ON WALL OF FLO'S LOUNGE
The sign above still stays. It is, and always has been, Flo's Lounge. She was a very popular lady, and the patrons of the bar still remember her today.
I got to stay with Aunt Butch a couple times when I was in a summer program at Boston University. I have fond memories of her loving, giving nature, and also of her pirate-like language. I remember her driving me home to Maine from Boston after one visit, and she sang along with the radio while I slept in the front seat. Her terrible, off key, singing kept me entertained as I drifted off to sleep.
She was a regular at Clock Tavern at 345 West Broadway in South Boston, a bar owned by Irish nuns, believe it or not. The Sisters lived upstairs from the bar. Around 1990, when the sisters were getting on in age, they sold the bar to Butch. Butch oversaw a massive renovation of the bar, knowing all the while it was a competitor with the very popular, and swankier, Shenannigan's Pub next door. She opened the pub early, at 8:00 a.m., and stayed open until about 11:30pm, every night, when other bars would close at 2. After her passing, the bar resumed to normal 10am-2pm hours.
The bar was her passion, and she was a very popular bar owner and bartender. The draw of the Clock was in its simplicity. It was the quiet, seedier dive bar you went to with your friends to play darts and pool, listen to the jukebox and drink cheap beer.
My Uncle Billy, my Aunt Flo, and my Aunt Butch are very much missed by our family!