News » News Stories

Old Joe

(Union Station, Downtown)


Old Man Joe, nearly toothless, raspy-voiced, his slouching gait expressing a life somewhat beaten-up but nonetheless well-worn. Old Joe, making his regular drinking rounds every day, beginning in the Soulard haunts and ending up at the bars in Union Station, calls St. Louis "a big-city small town." He's a much-loved character, a gambler and a raconteur. One of those experienced drinkers whose demeanor, whether sober or drunk, remains fundamentally the same.

"St. Louis is a big-city small town," Joe says, by which he means, among other things, that everyone in St. Louis knows one another, like in a small town. And he has a story to back up this assertion:

"A friend of mine," Joe says in his friendly gurgle, "says to me once, 'Joe, you old son of a bitch...'" — (Joe's favorite phrase is "son of a bitch," with emphasis on bitch) — '...Joe, you old son of a bitch, have I got a story for you. You won't believe this. When I was out in San Francisco, I met this lady at a dinner party and when she hears I'm from St. Louis, she asks me, "Do you know Joe Bigelow?" Well, I almost fell outta my chair,' he tells me. 'I couldn't believe it, you old son of a bitch...,'

"...he tells me, 'Well, I says to her, "Hell, yeah. I went to school with Joe Bigelow!"' I couldn't believe it. I almost fell outta my chair, you old son of a bitch....' That's what my friend tells me. This lady out in San Francisco knew who I was."

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.