JUNE 8, 2013—Spanky would have been proud. Over the past dozen years or so, privately held marine transportation company Hughes Brothers, Edison, NJ, has taken over former New York City garbage barges and repainted and renamed them for the characters in the classic “Our Gang” short film series first produced by director Hal Roach starting in the 1920s.
Generations of children later came to love the Our Gang characters after about 80 of the short films, which were produced until 1944, were turned into syndicated TV shows starting in 1955 under the name “Little Rascals.” The black and white TV shows depict the comic misadventures of a gang of poor grade school children.
The roots of Hughes Marine Firms go back to Michael Hughes, a “boatman,” who arrived in New York from Ireland in 1843, and relocated to New Brunswick, NJ, in 1862. Hughes Brothers was formed in 1894. Hughes Brothers’ Joe Hughes Jr. says that over the last 119 years, “we have begun running out of numbers for the barges. We thought that it would be fun to name this class of barges after the Our Gang characters. The present family members grew up in the Little Rascals era and we thought that it would add a little something different to the fleet.”
Observes Mr. Hughes, “It must be interesting when a motorist on the FDR drive in Manhattan sees the “Chubby” and “Alfalfa” being towed on the East River. We hope in the future as we buy additional barges that we can add “Miss Crabtree” and “Pete the Dog” among others.