The Commodore Grill on East Washington street stayed open all night serving food and alcohol to shift workers at the mills. After prohibition, it switched to coffee but those who wanted a real drink could still get one as long as they spoke to Elmo Clarke, who boarded in the rooms above the restaurant.
On 24 July 1930, Eugene Sullivan entered, shouting loudly that he wanted a pencil to write a check. It was 2.30 in the morning. There were four customers in the bar. Eugene had been thrown out of the Commodore a few times for fighting, and had been sent to jail twice in the previous year: once for brawling in the hot-dog place down the block; and once for stealing chickens.
He went upstairs to the toilet, which was where customers went to buy liquor. Elmo Clarke, sitting at a table with a couple of men from the travelling carnival, saw Eugene go upstairs but didn’t follow him. He and Eugene had had a falling out over money.
Eugene waited in the toilet for twenty minutes, then came downstairs. He cursed at the carnival men and tried to pick a fight with another customer.
Abraham Nader, the owner of the bar, took Eugene by the arm and said, “You can’t start trouble in my place.” He led him to the door.
When they stepped outside, Eugene punched Abraham in the mouth. Abraham grabbed the window frame to steady himself and Eugene punched him again. His head hit the brick wall and he fell across the doorway of the pet shop next door, cracking his skull on the sidewalk. He would die in the hospital a few hours later. He had left his home in Mount Lebanon, Syria, when he was a young man and had run the Commodore for twenty years. He was fifty-one years old.
Eugene ran off towards the YMCA. Johnny Nader, Abraham’s son, caught him and knocked him to the ground. He took hold of his throat and punched him in the face until Elmo Clarke pulled him off.
Eugene was charged with murder. It turned out that, for over a month, a warrant had been out for his arrest in connection with the rape of an underage girl in Neshannock township, resulting in pregnancy, but the constables in New Castle had made no great effort to serve the papers. The parents of the girl told the police that, if Eugene had been arrested on that charge, Abraham Nader would not have been killed.
Eugene was indicted for murder and found guilty of manslaughter. He served two years. Three months after his release, he and another man were arrested following some trouble in the old Post Office building on South Mercer street. They were charged with being drunk and suspicious.
There is no further record of Eugene’s life. He died at the age of seventy-five, in 1979.Sources: New Castle News (24 July 1930, “Fight In Lunch Room Early Today Ends In Death Of A J Nader”; 25 July 1930, “Says Constables Derelict To Duty In Sullivan Case”; 28 July 1930, “Coroner’s Jury Finds Sullivan Cause Of Death”; 24 September 1930, “Sullivan Is Found Guilty”; 11 January 1933, “Two Men Arrested Following Trouble”).