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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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