The Building of One Oak Street
Madison Twp, N.J.
THE ORIGINAL BUILDING
The first general meeting of the "Order of the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh" was held at the Turf Club on Route 9. It seems Mr. Loftus was an official of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Newark and would be very receptive to an organization that originated principally to march in the Newark parade. We began meeting in the big room but gradually as the business began to grow we were moved to the bar area where we had trouble because the area was a public bar and too small for our growing organization.
One night we decided to transfer our meeting to O’Hara’s bar on Route 9 just over the Sayerville border. We went there because we were planning to hold a Christmas party at O’Hara’s. At the Christmas party in the midst of the merry proceedings one of our illustrious group decided he was Gene Krupa and wrecked the drums. Needless to say this put a damper on any future meeting at O’Hara’s. No matter, we had made arrangements to hold our meeting at the American Legion Home in Old Bridge. We met there for a while, but then moved to the Knights of Columbus on Pine Street. All the time, we were moving from place to place, we were looking for a piece of property we could acquire in order to someday build our own club. Tom English who was at that time the Tax Collector of Madison Township supplied us with a list of Township-owned property which was available for sale. Jack William’s was in charge of our building committee and at our regular meeting on March 10, 1966 in the American Legion, Jack informed the membership that, "we have made a bid for piece of property and he expected action soon". He was right, for on the 30th of September1966, we purchased 5 and 4/10 acres of land on Oak Street. The Shillelagh’s were now men of property and they were itching to do something about building a Club. But there was one thing holding them back, the money!
Our capable leader Jack Dunphy got together with a local banker, Al Reilly, of Amboy Madison National Bank. Mr. Reilly was invited to the Knights of Columbus in Old Bridge to speak to the members about the monies needed to build the club.
Loans to each member of the club in the amount of $150.00 were made and the project was off the ground and flying.
Edward Reilly The Architect-Engineer from Perth Amboy, was commissioned to draw up the plans, and on December 19, 1966 a resolution was introduced by then Mayor Harry Messenger, seconded by the Councilman Spiros Columbus, authorizing the Friendly Sons to go ahead with construction.
Harvey Nielson, a local contractor, was named "Clerk of the Works", and the main man in charge for the Friendly Sons was Ed Starace, and so the "Work Committee" came into existence.
The first order of business was to clear the land, and Joe Cuff and Ed Starace made a few fast maneuvers and purchased a small bulldozer. The humor and the conversation generated about the bulldozer made the whole thing worth it’s weight in laughter.
On the serious side, a miracle is defined as "an event or happening contrary to the laws of nature, caused by divine intervention". Well I am not certain how much divine intervention we had but suddenly the "Miracle on Oak Street" began to take place. The footings were poured, the cinder block walls started to rise, steel began to arrive, and heavy equipment was obtained. It soon became evident that the Friendly Sons possessed a wealth of talent in its members. The work committees sometimes were small consisting of only a couple of men, and sometimes there were so many on the job you could not keep track of them all.
When steel was needed, we had Harry Knox as our expert. For anything relating to roofing, we had the O’Malley’s; for iron workers, we had Bob Trachman; for procurement we had Jack Dunphy; for carpentry we had Jim Moller and Joe Striffler; for electrical we had Don Fenlon and Mike Long.
And as each day passed, the construction continued until finally the "Miracle On Oak Street" was completed.
It is a tribute to a noble group of Irishmen who believed enough in themselves and in their fellow Irishmen to undertake and accomplish this dream.Source: 20th Year Mortgage Burning Adbook Journal
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