O’Neill and his friends frequently
gathered in Dr. Joe Ganey’s living quarters above
his office at 8 Main Street, the source of the name the Second Story
Club. Ed Keefe, "Ice"
Casey, "Hutch" Collins, and Scott Linsley as well as Art and
Tom McGinley were also members of
the club. Many of these men were O’Neill’s lifelong
friends. Art and Tom were from a prominent and happy local Irish family
and Ah, Wilderness! (the playwright’s only comedy) was based in part
on the McGinleys. The group played
cards, drank, and read from Dr. Ganey’s personal library.
During the course of his travels abroad, Ganey had acquired first
editions, many of them avant garde works
banned in the United States. O’Neill read
extensively in the doctor’s library, though Ganey did not appreciate
the young writer’s desire to
borrow rare books. The Second Story Club was regarded as
New London’s bohemian center, yet sometimes the group repaired to Dr.
Ganey’s cottage on the Niantic River. Dr.
Ganey further flouted convention by living
openly with his mistress Kate. She later recalled, "Gene...sitting
on the railing and looking at the
river, the boats going by, as if he was miles away—that was
typical of him" (Sheaffer, SP, 225). In the mid-1970s, after much
local controversy, Main Street was
renamed Eugene O’Neill Drive.
Second Story Club members, c. 1912 - O’Neill not pictured here
8 Main Street, site of Doc Ganey’s office and the Second Story Club, c. 1916
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