08/21/07 - Posted from the Daily Record newsroom
Morris man's memoir looks back at 93 years


Joe Carroll, at the age of 93, was moved to share his stories about his life to a good friend and golf partner, Finbarr M. Corr. Corr, a former Catholic priest, now married and living in Dennis, Mass., recorded Carroll's stories in a book called "The Many Loves of Joe Carroll: A Memoir As Told to Finbarr M. Corr."

Carroll is a well-known figure who grew up in Brookside and Morristown. After marriage to the former Adele Hado, he moved to Chatham, where the couple raised their son, Robert . Their love affair lasted 68 years, until her death in March 2006.

Dot Morehouse, a neighbor of Joe and Adele Carroll, remembers what an asset Joe Carroll was to the neighborhood.

"Joe was a wonderful neighbor," Morehouse said. "He and his wife, Adele, and son, Robert, were an active part of our neighborhood in Chatham for 48 years. He is well known for his humor and generosity. I enjoy hearing his stories."

Perhaps the legendary luck of the Irish was bestowed on Carroll because he was born on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1914. His stories reveal a life that had many lucky breaks leading him into situations that benefited his ever-changing circumstances.

He grew up with eight brothers and four sisters. His brothers Bob and Jack live in Morris Plains; Eddie lives in Mendham Township, where he tends to his farm.

For many years, Joe Carroll's father, Eugene, was the foreman on the Scribner estate. The estate, called "The Gables," was located on Van Bueren Avenue in Harding. This is where the Carroll family lived. The children grew up among the wealthy and, of course, the farm and its many pleasures.

Joe Carroll reminisced about their life on the farm.

"We were lucky to be living on a farm even though we didn't own it. We had our horse, turkeys, chickens and geese. The Scribners treated us like family."

Carroll enjoyed a long and productive work career that began at the age of 7.

"Coming from a family of 13 children, I knew if I was going to have pocket money for candy like the other kids, I was going to have to work for it. On my way to school each morning I passed a very large man by the name of Mr. Keyes sweeping the sidewalk in front of his store. It was the American Store on South Street (the Acme chain). It gave me the idea to offer to sweep the sidewalk every school day for him if he would pay me 5 cents a day. I was very excited when he agreed.

"He liked my work so well he eventually promoted me to delivery boy. It was the beginning of a work career that continued until final retirement at the age of 85."

A con man with a goatee in a fancy car stole some groceries the 11-year-old Carroll was delivering for Mr. Keyes. The incident caused him to fear losing his job, so he resigned and went to work at Loyola House of Retreats on James Street in Morristown. In addition to serving meals to the retreatants, he became an altar boy. He kept this job until he finished high school.

While at Loyola, Carroll experienced a calling to the priesthood. He also was experiencing a conflict because of his affection for women, especially a young lady by the name of Mary Lou.

When he discussed his calling and the resulting conflict with Father Stark, his mentor at Loyola, Father Stark advised him to attend Brady's Home for Jesuit priests in Peapack for a year. Carroll knew after a short time the clergy was not the life for him. Of his experience, his assessment was that the secular had more allure.

"I enjoyed the music in town on Saturday nights and realized this was not the life for me," he said. "Besides, I was still thinking about Mary Lou."

Carroll attended Bayley Grammar School and Bayley High School in Morristown, located behind the Assumption Church on Maple Avenue. The schools have since been torn down; Bayley Grammar School was replaced by the Assumption School on Macculloch Avenue, and the high school was replaced by Bayley-Ellard High School in Madison. The high school closed its doors in 2005.

Carroll's many careers all worked in his favor. He worked for PSE&G for 20 years, then drove the No. 70 bus in Morristown for another 20 years. At age 50 he went to Triangle Industries and stayed there for 18 years.

Carroll continued to work even after retirement. He drove a limo transporting travelers to Newark Airport (now Newark Liberty Airport).

He reminisced about one of the most interesting jobs he ever had.

"I worked for the U.S. Air Force during World War II making aircraft radios for the planes used by our Air Force and the U.S Army. We made single radios for the smaller fighter planes, two sets of radios for the larger planes and three sets for the bombers. I must have been good at it because I was promoted to assistant manager six months after I started. Unfortunately, when the war ended, so did my job."

Among his many loves are old cars. He had a succession of old cars that he kept replacing for $50 as each one had to be retired.

"When I took my wife on our first date, I was driving a 1932 Auburn. She didn't like it because it didn't have runner boards and had low seats, so I had to get rid of it. I had a friend who owned the Ford salesroom at the corner of Market and Maple streets. He helped me get other old cars that would run for a while and then conk out. I kept getting others to replace them."

Sports proved to be both a love and a distraction in high school. He played football and baseball. Golf has been yet another romance that has lasted for more than 80 years. At the age of 9 he caddied for a wealthy gentleman who gave him his golf clubs when he could no longer play himself.

Corr and Carroll became friendly when they both belonged to the Early Birds at the Madison YMCA. The Early Birds are a group of varied age gentlemen from various walks of life who enjoy the camaraderie of exercising together. They have become good friends and schedule regular get togethers.

In addition to exercising together regularly, Carroll and Corr also played golf weekly. Corr said Carroll is a really strong player.

"I am 72 and Joe is 93. I have not been able to beat Joe on the golf course yet," Corr said.

In addition to writing Carroll's memoir, Corr has published three other books: "A Kid from Legaginney," "Living, Laughing and Loving Thru Marriage" and "Bridges from Legaginney."

Corr has experienced some of his own life challenges. He was pastor at St. Vincent Martyr Church in Madison from 1979 to 1988. One of his biggest challenges was his decision to leave the priesthood. His work as a marriage and family therapist enlightened him that this was not a natural life for him.

"After 28 joy-filled years as a Catholic priest, I resigned the priesthood to marry Laurie Hutton. I have continued my ministry as marriage and family therapist, professor and writer. As an active Rotarian, I foster dialogue between Muslims, Jews and Christians as a step towards world peace and understanding."

Carroll's son Robert is the second most important love of his life. Robert is now 62 years old. When his mother became ill, he brought his father and mother to New Canaan, Conn., to live near him and his wife, Barbara.

Joe Carroll is content to play golf with Robert once or twice a week and enjoy his late afternoon cocktail hour with his daughter-in-law, Barbara, and the many visits from his three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

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Marie L. Pfeifer is a freelance writer.

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