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."