NEIL F. DEIGHAN was born July 7, 1892 in Florence NJ. His family moved to Camden when he was a youngster. A fine athlete, he was a star catcher in the semi-pro baseball leagues that flourished in the Camden area, and also was a well-known basketball player.
Neil Deighan entered the world of professional basketball in 1914, playing for the Billy Morgenweck-coached Camden Alphas of the 1914-1915 Eastern Basketball League. He left Camden to serve in the United States Army, and saw duty as an instructor in Aerial Balloon reconnaissance. His younger brother, John T. Deighan, also served in the Army, but passed away while visiting home during the Spanish Influenza epidemic of October 1918.
After returning home from military service, Neil Deighan returned to sports, and played professional basketball for the Camden Crusaders of the Eastern Basket Ball League, owned by Camden veterinarian Dr. Charles B. Helm and former Camden County Sheriff W. Penn Corson. Other team members included Neil Deighan's brother Rich Deighan, Eddie Ferat, Sam Lennox, Jimmy "Soup" Campbell, Roy Steele, and Joe Hyde. The Crusaders were the 1919-1920 Eastern Basketball League champions. He also played professional baseball with the Louisville Colonels of the American Association.
At the time of the January 1920 census, Neil Deighan was then living at 839 Elm Street in North Camden, at the home of his step-father, William Park. Besides playing pro basketball, he was also working at one of Camden's shipyards. Neil Deighan married his wife Clara shortly after the census was taken. He went into the restaurant and tavern business during the 1920s. His first bar was at 560 Carman Street, which he went into with his brother. This bar was later owned by basketball teammate Roy Steele. Neil Deighan was briefly involved with the bar at 28 Haddon Avenue in the late 1920s.
Neil Deighan also remained active in professional sports, remaining continuously active as professional basketball player until the end of the 1923 season, mostly with the Camden franchise of the Eastern League. He also appeared in four games during the 1926-1927 season with the Philadelphia Warriors of the American Basketball League. Besides his time with the Louisville Colonels, he played baseball in the low minors when Camden had a team, and as a player-manager for Madisonville in the Kitty League. He was still receiving offers to play and manage as late as 1928.
By the time of the April 1930 census Neil Deighan had gone into the restaurant business and had already done quite well. The Deighan family, which included sons Neil Jr., Hank, and Richard, lived at 101 Narberth Avenue in Collingswood NJ. Around this time he had operated a bar known as the Old Mill in Pennsauken NJ. He later moved this operation to another building, the new location known as the Red Hill Inn, at 9712 Westfield Avenue in Pennsauken, not far from where the Pennsauken Mart stands.
In 1934 Neil Deighan was a founder and was elected President of the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association, a trade group of bar, liquor store, and other merchants in the liquor business. He was re-elected at least two more times.
Neil Deighan gained great fame in his day from the restaurant that bore his name. Neil Deighan's, located at the Airport Circle in Pennsauken NJ, was virtually a household name in its day. The restaurant, which has been known for many years as The Pub, is still open in 2004.
In an interview given to Camden Courier-Post columnist Kevin Riordan, Bob Schaeffer of Haddonfield said, "We used to think we were hot stuff if our parents took us to Neil Deighan's for Sunday afternoon dinner. They had a Sunday afternoon stage show. It was like vaudeville."
Besides the Airport Circle operation, and the Old Mill Inn in Pennsauken, Neil Deighan operated several other establishments in Camden. The Old Mill Inn made front page news in January of 1940 when its safe was blown open by robbers using nitroglycerine.
In the late 1940s Neil Deighan Sr. had Deighan's Luncheonette at 805-809 Federal Street, Deighan's Five O'Clock Club at 811 Federal Street, Deighan's Den at 811 Market street, and Deighan's Sport Center. Deighan's Sport Center was a block wide, with addresses at 804-812 Market Street and 805-813 Federal Street.
Besides his restaurant business, Neil Deighan was involved in local politics. Neil F. Deighan passed away in May of 1967.
A Recollection of the Life
and Times of Neil Deighan
Neil had come to Camden from Florence, NJ with his family when he was ten years old. It is recalled by family members that Neil was a member of the US Army in WWI and was an instructor in Aerial Balloon Reconnaissance. It was further recalled that soldiers went up in tethered balloons to obtain information about enemy movement. It is not believed that "Pop" Deighan ever was sent overseas. Evidence of this branch of military service is housed in the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
Neil and his brother Rich became well known in the Camden, NJ area as fantastic basketball and baseball players. Neil became "rookie of the year" during his first season in the old Eastern League and an outstanding star of the championship teams of 1914-15 and 1919-20. During the years from 1917 to 1919 he served with honor in the armed forces. He played basketball against such stars as Charley O'Donnell, Billy Kummer, Nat Holman, Johnny Beckman, Jackie Adams and Bill Herron, Among the stars with whom he played were Roy Steele, Jimmy "Soup" Campbell, Eddie Dolan, Dave Kerr, Sam Lennox and Joe Hyde. He also distinguished himself on the baseball field for the old Camden AC and Fairview Club. In addition, he was considered one of the classiest catchers on the semi-pro circuit and played professional baseball with Louisville in the American Association.
Long active in civic affairs he was a member of the Moose, the Elks and American Legion. He was organizer and first president of the New Jersey License Beverage Association. Neil and his brother's first tavern was at 560 Carman Street, Camden. Several of his former basketball teammates also became involved in taverns throughout Camden, notably Joe Hyde, Sam Lennox, Jimmy "Soup" Campbell, and Roy Steele. Later records show he had a tavern at 28 Haddon Avenue, in 1928 he had a tavern known as Deighan and Campbell's; and in later years he and his brother opened the Five O'Clock Club at 804-812 Market Street, which was renamed Deighan's Den. This property was razed in 1975. Family members recall that at some point his tavern was known as Neil's Grill. The name of that tavern was in the cement sidewalk outside the tavern. He also at one point in time owned and operated a tavern known as The Old Mill, at the bottom of a hill in Pennsauken, he then moved the business to the top of the hill and named it the Red Hill. From there he built "Neil Deighan's" at the old Airport Circle in Pennsauken.
Neil was honored by the N.J. Sports Alliance sometime in 1961. He was named "Mr. Sportsman 1961". Frank Lario, Camden attorney was toastmaster. A delegation from the National Football League, Philadelphia Eagles including Chuck Bednarik, Pete Retzlaff, Bill Bains, Jerry Huth, Bob Pelligrini and Bobby Walston, former world welterweight and middleweight champion Mickey Walker, former welterweight champion Pete Latzo, former boxer Lew Tendler, AAU bantam weight champion Joe "Chubby" Stafford (who owned Chubby's on Collings Road) and Joe Sweeney, president of the Veteran Boxers Association were in attendance. Also Anthony F. Marino "Mr. Sportsman of 1960", Charles A. Bodine, president of the Camden County Beverage Association, Frankie Conway, former bantamweight boxer and Willie Mosconi, famed pocket billiard player.
Neil Deighan's Basketball Career
Neil Deighan began playing professional basketball with the Camden Alphas of the Eastern League, a team owned by W. Penn Corson and Dr. Charles B. Helm. He played for the Camden team from 1913 through 1922. He came up late in the 1913-194 season, and was a regular for the next four seasons, before going into the United States Army in 1917, after the nation entered World War I.
This was a year of turmoil in the world as the United States entered the great war. The New York State League and the Interstate Basket Ball League both suspended operations but the Eastern League began play in mid-November. On December 3 the league disbanded abruptly as both Jasper and Greystock withdrew from the league without warning. An unsuccessful attempt was made to reorganize with a four team league and the league remained inactive until the 1919-20 season.
One of Camden's players during this abridged season was future Olympic rowing star, Jack Kelly. He later would become the father of Grace Kelly, movie star and Princess of Monaco.
After the abrupt season ending, Trenton and Camden agreed to play a best of seven series for the "Championship of New Jersey" with EBL President William J. Scheffer as referee. The first game was won by Camden 28-27 at Trenton on December 19, 1917. Two days later a second game was played at Camden and Trenton was the victor 47-19 but attendance was very poor. On December 14, 1917 the Camden owner, Dr. Helm called off the series due to the lack of fan interest.
After coming home from the Army, Neil Deighan resumed his basketball career with the Camden team, now known as the Camden Crusaders in 1919. He was joined at the end of the 1919-1920 season by his brother Rich Deighan. The Crusaders were the 1919-1920 Eastern Basketball League champions. With a combined record of 30 wins against 8 losses, Camden won both halves of the season, eliminating the need for a league championship series. Neil Deighan appeared in 38 of those games, more than any other team member, and was second on the team in points per game, behind league scoring leader James "Soup" Campbell.
Both the Crusaders and Neil Deighan's play the following year were almost carbon copies of the year before. Camden had the unusual distinction of having the best overall season record (29-11) and not being invited to the league championship series because they had won neither half of the season - finishing second by one game each time. Camden had five of the top eleven scorers in the league that year, Neil Deighan being the eleventh in total points for the season.
The team, now called the Camden Skeeters, met a similar fate in the 1921-1922 season, as the Trenton Tigers went an incredible 24-3 in the first half, and the Skeeters finished a game behind the New York Celtics. Again, four out of the top ten in total points played for Camden.
Camden's success on the court may have contributed to the league's
demise. Eastern League club owners on January 18, 1923 decided to suspend the season and attempt to
As stated above, Neil Deighan's brother, Rich Deighan, also played with the Camden Crusaders during the 1919-1920 season. Rich Deighan would play the next three seasons for the Coatesville Coats of the Eastern League, and go with his older brother to the New York area to play for Elizabeth in the Metropolitan League in 1923. He played for the Trenton Royal Bengals in that loop during the 1924-1925 season, and spent the next five years with the Cleveland Rosenblums of the American Basketball League, before being released during the 1928-1929 season. He briefly played for the Camden team of the Eastern Basketball League, at that time a semi-pro circuit at best, and briefly played for the Camden Brewers of the America Basketball League in 1933-1934.
row, left to right: Jimmy “Soup” Campbell and Joe
Click on Image to Enlarge
|Camden Courier-Post - July 26, 1955|
in original full page format
in original full page format
|Trenton Times - November 5, 1925|
|Camden Courier-Post - January 26, 1928|
Conception Takes Over Camden Elks Franchise in South Jersey Cage League
ENTRANT TO RETAIN SIX OF ELKS PLAYERS
When Millville handed the Camden Elks there second
straight reverse in the second-half race of the South Jersey Basketball
League by beating them 30-26 at the Convention Hall Annex last night it
saw the finish of the Elks a s a member of that circuit. The Elks
sustained their first defeat at Bridgeton last Tuesday night when the
“Moose” turned in a 26-23 victory.
“Immaculate Conception has taken over the Camden
Elks franchise and will finish out the second half schedule under the name
of Immaculate Conception.”
That’s the bombshell Jim Mulligan, manager of
the “fightin’ Irish”, dropped in local basketball circles when he
made the above announcement today.”
I talked the matter over
with Larry Callahan, who has been handling the Elks, after Camden hand
dropped their second league game to Millville last night at the Convention
Hall and Callahan agreed to surrender the franchise to Immaculate
Conception”, continued “Big Jim”.
Retain Six Local Players
The players signed by the Elks are our property now, but I’ll be forced to cut some of them loose in order to retain some of the Immaculate players whom I think are plenty good enough for the as South Jersey League. I’m going to keep Hughey Lennox, Joe Hyde, Harry Cunneff, Joe Burns, George Boone and Neil Deighan, all local players who go with the franchise, but will have to drop the other Camden players. Bart Sheehan, Bernie Maguire and Roger Brown are the Immaculate Conception players who will be retained in order to round out the South Jersey League roster.
“1 would have liked to have
retained Joe Scrone, but he informed me last night that he had been
offered a job with Salem, and when he told the financial inducements they
had offered him, I told him to go ahead and sign with them, for I could
not pay him that much money. I consider Scrone one of the best men in the
league, but rather than have him with us and be dissatisfied, I thought it
best to let him sign where he pleased.”
“Dolin and Richelderfer would hardly fit in with my plans, so they also are free to join any other club in the league”.
“In taking over the Elks
franchise, we must relinquish our Camden County League franchise, as we
will be not be able to compete in both leagues. We also ask permission of
the League to change our home-playing night to Monday instead of
Wednesday, which has always been Camden’s night to play their home
games, as we can only obtain the Catholic High School gym on Monday
Must Assume Elks Standing
“We will start under a big handicap as we will have to assume the Elks league standing of two losses and no wins, but I feel certain we can make a respectable showing during the remainder of the season”’ concluded Mulligan.
The transfer of the Elks franchise had been hinted at more than once during the past two weeks, due to lack of patronage at the home games. Callahan, one of the best sportsmen in the city, is “stuck” for several hundred dollars. He lost plenty last year, but decided he would make another attempt to make the club a success but to no avail.
However, it is thought that the
entrance of Immaculate Conception will solve the difficulty here, as the
“Irish”’ have one of the largest followings of any club in South
Better marksmanship from the
15-foot mark during the last few minutes of play enabled the Millers to
turn back Camden last night.
After taking the lead five
minutes from scratch the Elks appeared certain winners until a rush of
goals drew the visiting Eagles dangerously close to the locals. Then the
sudden collapse of Larry Callahan’s aggregation paved the way for John
‘Pete” Miller and his mates to amble home on top. The game failed to
arouse any frenzy in the scant gallery but anyone who watched it closely
could not fail to see the bruising combat that was waged inside the four
wired walls of the civic cage. The players plugged hard from start to
finish and it was only the freak turn of events in the closing minutes
that really decided the issue.
Coach Roy Steele again started
Neil Deighan at center with Hughey Lennox up in front alongside of Joe
Scone. Captain Joe Hyde and Harry Cunneff did guard duty.
Hyde retired with only four
minutes to go after banging the baskets for four field shots and a foul in
addition to handing a pair of passes to mates.
Young, Miller Shine
Walter Galley, who is now a member of the Collingswood club in the Camden County circuit, made his debut at center for the Eagles and proved a powerful factor in the triumph. His string of eight straight fouls stands as one of the best exhibitions seen in local cage games here this season.
It was the steadying influenced of Miller and the
plugging of Billy “Dutch” Young that swept the Millville club to
victory in the dying minutes of action.
Hughey Lennox tied up the score at 4-4 shortly
after the first tossup and a trio of fouls by Harry Cunneff put the locals
out in front. A rally in which
Hyde figured prominently checked a Millville spurt and gave Camden an
18-12 lead at the end of the initial session.
Camden Attack Collapses
“Millers” flashed another uprising early in the final inning, but the
better passing of the Elks kept them well ahead of their foes. The score
was 24-18 when Millville uncorked another spurt that ended when Miller put
his club ahead with a field goal from a point under his own basket. Hyde
again stepped out, and tied the score at 25-25. The next two minutes were
spent in passing, but Camden could not break through for any more field
goals. Galley’s sixth straight foul gave the invaders the lead, and when
Young trailed him to the line he sealed up the combat.
odd part of the whole game is that Camden scored seven field goals to
three Millville in the first half. In the last period Hyde scored the
other two floor goals for the Elks four minutes after the half began.
A whirlwind battle seems assured Ocean City fans when the Bridgton outfit journeys to the resort. Trenton’s Bengals will clash with Hammonton in another game.
|Camden Courier-Post - January 31, 1928|
|GETS GOOD OFFER||
Local basketball and baseball star, who has received an offer from the Hagerstown club of the Blue Ridge League, to act in the capacity of player-manager. Deighan, who is a member of the Immaculate Conception club, of the South Jersey Basketball league, is seriously considering the offer and may clinch the job within a day or two. He has had previous experience in that line, having managed the Madisonville club, of the Kitty League, several years ago
|Camden Courier-Post - January 31, 1928|
Trenton Times * February 12, 1928
Camden Courier-Post * December 1, 1930
Brewer - Lillian S. Turner - Neil
F. Deighan - John L.
Thomas J. Boland - Bronx Cafe
North 3rd Street - Arch Street - Federal Street - Market Street
Camden Courier-Post * June 22, 1933
|SUNDAY BEER, BARS ADOPTED BY ASSEMBLY
Amendments to Temporary Law Passed in Early Morning
SENT TO SENATE FOR FLOOR BATTLE
Hours of Debate Center On Local Option Phase Of Measure
Trenton, June 22 (Thursday) Sunday sale after 1 p. m. and bars are permitted by a supplement to the temporary state beer law adopted by the Assembly early today. The Sunday sales are dependent on resolutions by the local governing bodies. The temporary law is extended from July 1 to September 1.
The Senate was considering the measure in the hope that adjournment of the Legislature until Fall would be possible early today.
No effort was made to pass a permanent measure, sponsored
by Senate President Emerson L. Richards, chairman of the beer control commission.
The Assembly vote on the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Thomas M. Muir, of Union, was 31 to 18 with most of the
Finally Get Passage
Passage came on reconsideration, after an attempt earlier in the session failed. During the first debate on the bill, Assemblyman Herbert J. Pascoe, of Union, had it amended to provide for Sunday sale on resolution of the local governing bodies.
Minority Leader John J. Rafferty, of Middlesex, led the opposition to this proposal, demanding a referendum clause. Then Assemblyman F. Stanley Bleakly, of Camden, a member of the beer commission, sought to amend it to continue its provisions to December 31.
Fight Sunday Sale.
"We would have bad a permanent bill if there had not been so many deals in the Senate," he declared. His proposed amendment was voted down. Rafferty moved to strike out the Sunday and bar clauses. His motion lost. The measure was put to a vote and mustered only 26 of the necessary 31 votes in favor, and 24 against.
Pascoe then demanded that telegrams be sent to absentee assemblymen to obtain the necessary number of votes. No action was taken on this proposal.
''We can pass a beer bill if the majority will eliminate the bars and Sunday sales," Rafferty declared.
Majority Leader Joseph Altman, of Atlantic, criticized the minority and "a few disgruntled members of the beer commission who have caused the Legislature to say that beer is to run rampant in New Jersey." The Assembly then sidetracked the beer problem to continue its other work.
Joining in the protests against Richard's proposed permanent
bill yesterday, was the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association, composed of more than 15,000 dispensers of
Telegrams sent to every state senator by the legislative committee headed by Neil Deighan, of Camden, read:
"On behalf of all licensed beverage dispensers, we urgently request that you oppose the proposed permanent alcoholic beverage act as detrimental to the interests of our community and of those engaged in beverage retailing.
"If the bill is to receive consideration, a public hearing should be held before submitting it to a vote of the Legislature."
|Camden Courier-Post - February 2, 1938|
J. Beverage Association Opposes State Stores
MORE POWER URGED FOR BURNETT OFFICE ON FAIR TRADE PACT
Curb on Price Cutting Sought in Resolution of State-wide Organization
HEAVY PENALTIES ASKED
The New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association, in a one-day special convention, passed resolutions flatly opposing inauguration of state-operated liquor stores in New Jersey and asking the Legislature to grant State A. B. C. Commissioner D. Frederick Burnett wider powers to enforce the Fair Trade Act it was announced last night by Neil F. Deighan, president of the association.
Deighan reported the Camden and Jersey City delegations offered the only open opposition to the resolution against the state stores. They argued, Deighan said, that the association may be forced later to advocate state stores to break up price cutting by package stores.
The additional powers asked for Burnett are designed to break up price cutting, Deighan pointed out. He said the resolution asks setting of mandatory penalties, to be enforced by Burnett, of 30 days suspension for the first offense and license revocation for the second offense against the fair trade act.
Deighan said he supported the anti-state stores resolution, both personally and as president.
The association, which met Monday in 'Trenton, also passed a resolution urging that breweries be placed under the same Federal permit system as that which now prohibits ownership of liquor selling establishments by distillers.
Another resolution continued a committee, authorized to select private brands of whisky to bear the association's emblem and to be sold only by association members.
The association also passed a resolution disavowing criticism of Burnett as expressed in quotations from Roy Dunn, counsel for the Original Tavern Owners' Association of Newark, in the Newark News of January 28, went on record as being "not in agreement" with the criticism, and commended Burnett's administration. Deighan said the resolution pointed out also that "the association represented by Mr. Dunn is not affiliated with the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association."
A resolution urging the display of "Buy American Whisky" signs in taverns was passed also.
Deighan was given a vote of confidence by the delegates when questions involving administration policies was brought up, John Pennington, head of the Camden Unit, reported.
Camden delegates to the convention were Pennington, Roy Steele, Alfred Munyon, Bruno Bronislaus, Celia Ellis and Tony Paretto.
February 19, 1938
Roye - Loyal D. Odhner
Camden Courier-Post - February 19, 1938
|Camden Courier-Post - January 8, 1940|
Otto R. Vehrlinger
|Click on Images to Enlarge|
Courier-Post - July 5, 1941
CHECKED AND DOUBLE CHECKED
Feed Bag: Former Judge Joseph Varbalow will soon announce he has purchased the Towers and Broadway Theatres from the Ellis family ... Circuit Court Judge V. Claude Palmer will probably file his decision today in the fraud charges made by the Republican League against the election of Freeholders Ciechanowski and Francesconi ... Since Judge Palmer told the Democratic attorney, Alex Feinberg, that Feinberg must complete his entire case in a half a day "because, frankly, 1 don't see what answer you can make to this testimony," you can draw your own conclusions about what the decision will be ... Incidentally, Judge Palmer will take a plane July 12 for a vacation at Calgary in the Canadian Rockies ... The name of Walter Uliase, Seventh ward Democrat, has been withdrawn from powwows on appointments to the county tax board, .. Senator Al Driscoll was willing to okay Joe Ackroyd, Democrat, as successor on the board to Fred Schorpp, whose term expired a few weeks ago, .. The Republicans are said to have figured that in that way, they could hold Victor King on the board awhile longer, even though his term expired more than a year ago ... Lee Smith, former WPA director; is still a possibility for the tax board job ... The Democrats are holding frequent conferences on who the assistant prosecutor shall be ... Police Judge Gene R, Mariano, a strong contender, has reportedly been dropped with Ben Dzick, Tony Mitchell, Charlie Rudd and the Kraft boys still in the running ... Police court habitues believe that Gene himself announced indirectly that he had been eliminated when he said from the bench, while hearing a case, "Lady, you'll find that even your best friends sometimes stab you in the back. I found that out myself only 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon" ... That was on Thursday ... Mayor George Brunner told the dept that our guess was still I as good his, so that leaves Ben Dzick still with the fence position in the race ... Mariano may be considered for the $5000 State job as sealer of weights and measures ...
Miscellany: Neil F. Deighan, the saloonman who led the opposition to a legislative bill which proposed that liquor manufacturers and wholesalers be prevented from selling goods to any retailer who owed them money and that all purchases be made with cash or quick payment credit plan (the bill will die in committee), is having his troubles with some wholesalers ... Suits have been filed against Deighan and the Old Mill Inn, Inc., by Galsworthy, Inc., for $1713.51 plus interest; Joseph A. Reinfeld, Inc., for $1366.43 plus interest, and Majestic Wines and Spirits, Inc., for $1579.80 plus interest ... The suits are in the New Jersey Supreme Court and allegedly represent unpaid balances of liquor bills ... Tom Dickinson, courthouse custodian, is wearing a bright red face these days because the missus sent him to the store the other night for some sandwich meat for their guest…… Because of a similarity of trade names, Tom returned home with a package ... Of razor blades ... The new office of Bishop Eustace may be established at the old Rodger homestead at 721 Cooper street ... Vice Chancellor Al Woodruff has left for Chile and some deep sea fishing.
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|Ad from St. Joseph's Church Golden Jubilee Yearbook - 1943|
"Pop Deighan made sure he stayed in touch with everyone he had EVER known. He maintained an index of cards with birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, etc. and you could be sure if there was a card in your name you received a birthday card. Pop carried those cards around with him to each tavern he opened. And, if he spotted you in his tavern/restaurant you were treated to at least a drink. There was many, many a time when I saw him approached by an old friend, obviously in need, and Pop never failed to reach into his wallet. And I'll bet the loan was never repaid, mainly because Pop never expected it. He did not die a rich man for that reason. A more interesting man never lived."
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