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“Irishmen” | davelovell.net
Aug 252010
 

…the begin­ning of a short story, or a long ther­apy session.

The old­est of them, in his best imi­ta­tion Irish brogue, only attained through a robust sup­ply of Fal­staff beer, started, “So Pat says to Mike, he says, Mike, did you hear about the new pub across town, where for a buck and a quar­ter, they’ll give ya a pint, a glass of whiskey and take ya in the back and get ya laid?  And Mike says, no way; for a buck and a quar­ter they give ya a pint, a glass of whiskey and then they take ya in the back and get ya laid… who told ya that?  To which Pat replies; my sis­ter did.”  And so would begin hours of broth­ers swap­ping famil­ial heir­loom “Pat & Mike” jokes.  They told these jokes as if they had never heard them before, from 3rd rate, over­stuffed chairs that their own father had occu­pied, until the rail­road took his life at 38.  They were bright, lit­er­ate and loyal and they spoke to each other from under the yel­low­ing por­traits of JFK and Pope John.

And Patrick would lis­ten, only son of the youngest of the broth­ers.  Clad in Roy Rogers footie paja­mas, he would press his ear between the heavy wooden dow­els of the hall­way stair, ter­ri­fied of being betrayed by the squeak of the fourth step, mes­mer­ized by the sound of unguarded man-speak.  The absolute expec­ta­tion in the fam­ily was that he would do as they had done, and meet the world as an Irish­man.  The prob­lem; these Irish men never talked to their Irish boys.

But the women did; as far back as he could remem­ber, Pat’s grand­mother had flooded him with infor­ma­tion that he rarely under­stood, “You know Patrick Fran­cis, the British Empire tried to mur­der the entire Irish race in the 1840’s, that’s why the fam­ily came to Amer­ica and built the rail­road.”  As a child, Patrick took these state­ments as divine doc­trine and later found it hard to remem­ber if St. Michael and Michael Collins were two peo­ple or one, or if he should cel­e­brate Easter because of the res­ur­rec­tion, or the Easter Rebel­lion of 1916.

These women all seemed to wear a uni­form, as if to show their mem­ber­ship in the fam­ily; a Kleenex stuffed just under the cuff of a sweater (always paper, never linen, they were not protes­tants after all), severely detailed make-up, an apron or house-coat depend­ing on the pres­ence of com­pany, and the ever-present plas­tic encased whicker cof­fee cup.  Those cof­fee cups were the female ver­sion of the men’s cans of Fal­staff, some­time after din­ner the con­tents of those cups would sur­rep­ti­tiously trans­form from cof­fee to the bour­bon that was kept dis­cretely behind the flour box in a bot­tle referred to, for Patrick’s sake, as medicine.

Patrick thought that they lived in the kitchen, and the dishrag that always hung from their last fin­ger rarely ceased move­ment.  It was usu­ally employed to lend dra­matic empha­sis to cer­tain phrases that they refused to say above a whis­per.  “…I heard from the ladies that clean the rec­tory at St. Pats (and the dishrag would rub quickly over an already immac­u­late por­tion of linoleum) that they found four empty bot­tles of (now the low­ered voice, and another swipe with the rag) Bush­mills, in Father O’Bearne’s trash pale last week.“  Said Aunt Mau­reen, with a final flour­ish of dishrag to sig­nal her dis­ap­proval but not sur­prise; after all Father O’Bearne was from Ire­land, but not from County Cork.

But from his perch on the fifth step, Patrick strained to pick-up the infor­ma­tion that he would need to some­day take his place at the head of his own fam­ily.  The women were a mys­tery, and they would always be so, but these were the men that he was des­tined to become, and he needed all the infor­ma­tion he could get.  As an only child, he had no broth­ers to turn to, so he would have to go straight to the source.

Their con­ver­sa­tions, which only really took place after the fam­ily meals on the five major hol­i­days; Christ­mas, Easter, Thanks­giv­ing, St. Patrick’s Day and the annual foot­ball game between the beloved Nebraska Corn­huskers and Barry Switzers’s dirty, cheat­ing Okla­homa Soon­ers.  The talk always started with com­ments about the meal they had just shared and the qual­i­ties of the beef, with the oblig­a­tory state­ments about the supe­ri­or­ity of “corn fed” over “grass range” cat­tle.  Then Uncle Dave would remind his younger broth­ers of how lit­tle food they had all been able to make do with dur­ing the years of the Great Depres­sion.  “Do you boys remem­ber those fried bologna sand­wiches that we had for Sun­day din­ners?” Uncle Dave would offer.  “We were lucky that Dad had his job at the UP, even after he lost his hand cou­pling those freight cars” Patrick’s father would add.  To Patrick, this was a cru­cible that their gen­er­a­tion had all shared, a test that they had all endured, and one that he was con­stantly reminded he had not shared, due to being born dur­ing the glory years of post-WWII America.

After the open­ing stan­zas cov­er­ing the food, weather, crop pre­dic­tions and the Huskers chances in the upcom­ing sea­son, enough Fal­staff had been absorbed for the real con­ver­sa­tions to begin; every­one was in place, the women firmly hold­ing court in their kitchen, the men set­tled into the worn chairs of the den in the house built by the hand of their grand­fa­ther, and Patrick Fran­cis, safely hid­den, ready to take it all in.

Loy­alty

Patrick Fran­cis Coul­ton was the only son of Jerry and MaryEllen, although he could name the six sib­lings that he was sup­posed to have had, for MaryEllen had suf­fered six failed preg­nan­cies; three before Patrick’s birth, and three more after.  It was to have been John Michael, Colleen Anne, and Thomas Patrick as his older sib­lings, fol­lowed by Mau­reen Frances, Patri­cia Kel­ley and finally Emma Lynne.  In Patrick’s mind, he missed these peo­ple as if they had actu­ally lived, and he ached at the loss of John and Tommy, his older broth­ers and guides, and he would have traded any­thing to have been able to play the role of pro­tec­tor to his three lit­tle sis­ters.  “You’re a lucky boy,” Aunt Kath­leen would remind him, “not many peo­ple have two broth­ers and four sis­ters in Limbo that can offer prayers for them, you should be grate­ful.”  This was the first part of Patrick’s Irish-Catholic upbring­ing that he remem­bered being trou­bling; that he was to con­sider him­self lucky to have six dead sib­lings.  But he took these words as he did all state­ments from the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion, as absolutes, not to be ques­tioned, but to be inter­nal­ized and acted upon.

For Patrick excelled at the qual­ity that his fam­ily, his Parish and his Race iden­ti­fied as most impor­tant; Patrick was loyal.  But the loy­alty within Patrick was not the same loy­alty felt by most mem­bers of large clans; his was a loy­alty born of iso­la­tion, the cold and des­per­ate loy­alty of need­ing to belong to some­thing, anything.

Patrick’s father was the youngest of six and his mother was one of eight, the next small­est fam­ily sub-unit in Patrick’s extended fam­ily clan con­tained two par­ents (for there was no divorce in his known world) and five chil­dren.  By the time Patrick could do the math, he could count 13 sets of aunts and uncles and well over one hun­dred first cousins.  To Patrick, every­one had a set to which they belonged, except for him­self.  These sets came with iden­ti­fy­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics, “My God, but those Mahoney chil­dren are all such won­der­ful ath­letes,” and Aunt Ione would often com­ment on the some­what raggedy man­ner of dress dis­played by the chil­dren of Uncle Jack and Aunt Bob­bie.  Patrick was a mem­ber of no set; he had no con­fed­er­ates to help in the work of com­ing to under­stand his place in the world.  He was, and feared he would always be, alone.  He had his par­ents, and they would love him in the way they had been trained, but in his world, chil­dren played with chil­dren, and adults with adults.

Early in Patrick’s life he had missed these dis­tinc­tions.  His mother and her younger sis­ter, Kath­leen, both worked at The Queen of Angels, a decay­ing 19th cen­tury red brick hos­pi­tal that had always ter­ri­fied Patrick, but within which he had been born and cured of pneu­mo­nia. It was an easy walk for the sis­ters as both of their homes were on the same block of their ances­tral neigh­bor­hood.  And so for the first half decade of Patrick’s life he was raised among his cousins, and the dis­tinc­tions of who belonged with whom were blurred.  His mother and aunt worked out a sched­ule where one of them was always at home and the chil­dren lived in the house of whichever was off duty.  Patrick was part of a set, included in the lives of oth­ers, and very hap­pily, noth­ing special.

In the late sum­mer of Patrick’s fifth year, his mother called from the front porch, inter­rupt­ing a very com­plex reen­act­ment of Custer’s Last Stand.  “Patrick!  Come inside and wash-up, your father is home and has some very excit­ing news to tell you.”  An impromptu audi­ence with his father was always a moment that filled Patrick with an odd mix of excite­ment and nau­sea.  Nor­mally, when Jerry Coul­ton returned home from what­ever mys­te­ri­ous world he inhab­ited dur­ing the day, Patrick knew how to behave; no speak­ing until spo­ken to, no toys in pub­lic view and no noise until his father’s mood could be deter­mined.  But today, Patrick sensed, was a dif­fer­ent kind of day.

With­out even chang­ing his clothes, usu­ally a sacred rit­ual, Patrick’s father sank into his chair and looked at him, “Pad­die, I’ve got some very excit­ing news…” the pause made Patrick even more ner­vous and he debated with him­self as to which part of his father’s face his eyes should be focused on.  “I’ve been given a big pro­mo­tion at work,” at which point Patrick’s mother elbowed him in the back as a reminder to tell his father how proud he was and how he wasn’t even a bit sur­prised.  “And with the extra money, your mother and I have decided to buy one of those brand new houses that they are build­ing up on top of the bluffs.”  But Patrick was to start school at St. Fran­cis that fall, the same school that his par­ents and grand­par­ents, aunts and uncles had attended and that all of his cousins still did, and he began to won­der how he would be able to get way across town to school if they moved all the way up on top of the bluffs; and that’s when it hit him.  — Patrick Fran­cis Coul­ton, descen­dant of Famine-Irish rail­road work­ers, was to move to a mod­ern house in the sub­urbs and attend pub­lic school.

The Wan­der­ing

He had screwed-up and he knew it,  “Well, I know one stu­dent in this class that can answer the ques­tion… Patrick?”  When the ques­tion had been asked Patrick had betrayed his closely main­tained anonymity by look­ing up.  The teacher, a rather ascen­dant pro­moter of a long dead cul­tural elite, saw the answer in Patrick’s face, and called him out.  Patrick would rather drop the bells dur­ing mass than have to answer a ques­tion in class, but when an adult asked; he answered.

Patrick had duti­fully entered the new pub­lic school in his new sub­ur­ban neigh­bor­hood, had rid­den there on his new bike from his new house along the new roads.  His old neigh­bor­hood had brick streets, the kind that he knew his ances­tors had laid by hand to make extra money on the week­ends, but his new world was paved with “black­top,” the kind that seemed to melt when it got really hot, and always smelled bad.  He hated new, he loved any­thing old; peo­ple, places and things.

Patrick’s new neigh­bor­hood was a wind­ing nar­row lane that wound itself over the ridge­lines that ran along the top of the bluffs that looked out over the great river val­ley. A short walk from his new house gave Patrick the abil­ity to look out over a vista that held his old neigh­bor­hood and the train yards.  From those heights Patrick could have stared off at the vast­ness of the high plains where, in a few years, he would spend count­less days on horse­back, rid­ing fence lines to keep an eye on the sum­mer cat­tle, but at that time all he could see was the his­tory of his fam­ily as it had devel­oped down on that plain, far from where he now stood.

From kinder­garten through the end of his sixth grade, Patrick had made his way in a strange new world where his fel­low chil­dren talked of things that he found bewil­der­ing.  “Last week my dad came home with brand new hair” said Pete Yost, one of the kids from Patrick’s cul-de-sac, “my sis­ter said he needed it ‘cause our new step­mom is half his age.”  Patrick wasn’t sure how some­one came into pos­ses­sion of “new” hair, but he had no earthly idea what a “step­mom” was.

Before Patrick was taken away from his home, the only peo­ple he had ever met that belonged to a dif­fer­ent reli­gion were the Costanza’s, but his grand­mother had allowed the chil­dren to play with them any­way, “…that fam­ily is not like yours Patrick, but Mr. Costanza does work at the UP, so I sup­pose you chil­dren can play with them, but only in our neigh­bor­hood.  Just remem­ber, they’re not Catholic like us… they’re Ital­ian.”  Patrick had learned some­thing of these other strange reli­gions; he and his attended St. Pat’s, but the Costanza’s parish, St. Anthony’s, was five blocks away, and in lit­tle league he had met a kid with an unpro­nounce­able last name who attended St. Wences­laus’ way out by the river.  But it was not until his per­sonal Dias­pora that Patrick first met the peo­ple that he remem­bered being told had tried to wipe-out the Irish race; Protestants.

Not that Patrick was a minor­ity, for even in his new world Catholics still filled half of any room they entered, but these were those other catholics – the kind that didn’t auto­mat­i­cally cross them­selves and mut­ter to Mary every time they heard the wail of an ambu­lance or the shriek of a siren.  “Hey kid, what are you doing that for?  Is it for good luck or some­thing?” Jimmy Pear­son would ask.  “Maybe you should try it the next time you come up to bat.”  Patrick learned to mute his nat­ural habits, at least any that drew the atten­tion of his class­mates.  Which was why he hated it when the teach­ers began to call atten­tion to Patrick’s abil­ity to answer any ques­tion they cared to ask.  Those sit­u­a­tions pre­sented an irre­solv­able dilemma – to find a place in the new world of his class­mates, he had to find a way to fit in, but as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of his fam­ily, he had to carry the bur­den of child scholar.  It was Patrick’s first irrec­on­cil­able con­flict, to do that which made life bear­able and pos­si­bly even happy, or to ful­fill the dreams for which his ances­tors had sac­ri­ficed, by sac­ri­fic­ing his own life.  In his new world, he was the sole rep­re­sen­ta­tive of that fam­ily, and he could not let them down.

Patrick?” Mr. McCarthy repeated, with a bit more edge to his voice.  The teacher had sim­ply asked a ques­tion, but it forced Patrick into a set of deci­sions that should have still been years away.  In the end, Patrick always answered, and was almost always cor­rect, “There are three branches that make-up the Fed­eral gov­ern­ment – the Judi­cial, Leg­isla­tive and the Exec­u­tive, Mr. McCarthy.”  The teach­ers were always so pleased, but Patrick knew he would pay for his sins on the play­ground, prob­a­bly dur­ing the next game of smear the queer.

Patrick’s fam­ily had fol­lowed the immi­grant path to new wealth and sta­tus that Amer­ica had offered to all the hud­dled masses of the mid­dle 19th Cen­tury.  The first arrivals had endured the back­break­ing work offered by the Union Pacific in its attempt to build an iron span across the high plains.  They had then set­tled in con­cen­trated lit­tle pools along the path the rail lines had cre­ated, from Chicago to Wyoming, you could find lit­tle remade bits of Ire­land, even amidst the NINA signs and the thinly veiled pity.  They lived hard, at work and at play, “…you haven’t had too much to drink,” one of Patrick’s uncles had taught him before him went off to col­lege, “if you can still get-up and do a full days work.”  Soci­ety painted them as the human equiv­a­lent of sturdy dogs – if trained well, they were hard work­ing and loyal, but prone to bite if abused. And so the early gen­er­a­tions latched onto the cor­re­spond­ing occu­pa­tions – fire­men, police­men, sol­dier, and per­me­ated those insti­tu­tions with their own val­ues; work, fam­ily and loyalty.

Those gen­er­a­tions had pro­vided the back­bone upon which the great engine of Amer­i­can indus­trial might had devel­oped as it rushed into the new cen­tury, and the fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tions had fought the wars that assured Amer­i­cans of their place at the front of the line.  The gen­er­a­tion of Patrick’s father and his broth­ers had been given a clear objec­tive – now was the time to reap the rewards earned by those who had gone before, and the path to those rewards began at the front door of the clos­est Jesuit school.

At some unre­mem­bered fam­ily gath­er­ing, Fr. Charles, who Patrick knew must be some kind of shirt­tail rel­a­tive, since only fam­ily Priests were ever referred to as Father First Name, had told a joke; “Did you know that right next to the three wise men at the birth of Jesus, there was a Jesuit priest? Of course there was, he taught at the local uni­ver­sity, and after the three kings had offered their gifts, the priest turned to Mary and Joseph with a ques­tion (and a brochure), have you con­sid­ered where you will be send­ing the boy to school?”  Patrick’s father and uncles had all attended the local Jesuit school, which was ever dili­gent in its search for the gifted chil­dren of the work­ing classes.  No dog is as loyal as the adopted stray… They offered the way out – and up.  All the child needed was a quick mind and the abil­ity to offer absolute alle­giance to the Order.  The broth­ers had all taken advan­tage, going from the Jesuits to the engi­neer­ing school at the state uni­ver­sity, to the tops of their var­i­ous cor­po­rate lad­ders.  “Your Grand­fa­ther left his hand at the rail yard and worked him­self into an early grave,” said Patrick’s father, who lost his father when he was only 8, “but he pro­vided me with the oppor­tu­ni­ties to do all that I’ve done.  With what I’ve been able to do, I can’t imag­ine how far you’ll get with all the advan­tages I’ve given you.”

But Patrick was not sent to the Jesuits, he thought that he was smart, maybe he just wasn’t Jesuit smart.  Patrick attended the pub­lic grade school that sat three houses down the street.  His father, who seemed to share the hubris of Richard Nixon, believed that any Amer­i­can school was all a young man of this gen­er­a­tion needed to make his way in America’s golden age.  Unless it was the fact that the Jesuit school was on the other side of the river, and that would require logis­ti­cal sup­port from very busy parents.

Dur­ing those years of pub­lic school, Patrick’s reli­gious edu­ca­tion con­sisted of Sun­day cat­e­chism classes held back at his old neigh­bor­hood parish, and in the com­mon cur­ricu­lum of the Altar Boy.  At least, Patrick thought, in these two ways he could keep in con­tact with his old world.  What Patrick didn’t know was that dur­ing the first three years of his life, the lead­ers of his Church were meet­ing in Rome to try and wres­tle the Church into the mod­ern world.

Two very dif­fer­ent types of nun con­ducted Patrick’s cat­e­chism classes, and Patrick could usu­ally tell the dif­fer­ence by the shoes that they wore.  The changes in the Church had allowed many of the nuns two adopt sec­u­lar cloth­ing rather than the tra­di­tional habits of their order – to Patrick, earth­shoes and san­dals meant a morn­ing of talk­ing about the love of Jesus and lis­ten­ing to God­spell or Jesus Christ Super­star, where as strict black broghans meant mem­o­riz­ing some of the Sor­row­ful Mys­ter­ies and lis­ten­ing to Gre­go­rian chant.  These nuns played a “zero-sum” game for Patrick’s alle­giance while Patrick tried to force both views of the Church into some kind of work­able com­bi­na­tion.  Patrick felt the same con­tra­dic­tions as he learned to become an altar boy.  For old Mon­signor Cough­lin, Patrick learned to serve at mass in much the same way that his father had, even though Patrick’s father told him, “…it’s much eas­ier for you now than in the ‘old days’ when we had to learn all the latin.”  Patrick donned the same black cas­sock and starched white sur­pluss from the musty altar boys closet beneath the sac­risty that his father and uncles had; but when young Father Steve had the mass, things were very dif­fer­ent.  He was a recent grad­u­ate of the Greg­go­rian Uni­ver­sity in Rome and he brought with him every new idea that the recently con­cluded church coun­cil wanted implemented.

For Patrick, it was like being a mem­ber of two churches – “There is noth­ing you could ever do, no thought you could ever have, that will sep­a­rate you from the love of God,” Father Steve would tell the boys dur­ing con­fes­sions, and send them on their way with a penance that con­sisted of picking-up trash from the street, or pay­ing an extra visit to elderly rel­a­tives.  But Mon­signor Cough­lin reminded the boys that “a fiery pun­ish­ment awaits all those who betray the com­mands of the Lord, God see’s all that you do and knows all that you think, and his judg­ment comes as a thief in the night.”  Love and fear, accep­tance and judg­ment, Patrick tried to find a way to make a place for both ideas in his head and heart.  Like brick streets and black­tops, Patrick inclined toward the old fash­ion, but Father Steve and Sis­ter San­dals’ church became Patrick’s, and he per­ceived that these new ideas would slowly per­me­ate his church and trans­form it into some­thing that could truly bring about a bet­ter world.  Maybe some­day, that new church could be the place for Patrick to make his mark on the world.

So Patrick spent these early years resid­ing in two-worlds – dur­ing the week he attended his new school, lived in his new house and coped with being detached from his clan, but on Sun­days he served the mass and attended to his cat­e­chism in the same build­ings as his ances­tors.  The build­ings were the same, but what was going on inside was quickly begin­ning to shift.

The Return

Christ­mas of Patrick’s sixth-grade year brought the usual pile of pack­ages that his father would care­fully stuff under the tree, except for what­ever the Big Present for that year was to be.  Patrick’s father liked to hide that gift some­where else, and then wait to watch Patrick’s reac­tion when all the vis­i­ble presents had been opened to see if his face betrayed any ungrate­ful­ness; if not, Patrick would be sent on some errand to a part of the house where the final gift had been hid­den.  Once opened, Patrick’s father would pro­vide some his­tor­i­cal con­text, “You know Pad­die, my broth­ers and I all had to share one present at Christ­mas, and since I was the youngest, I got the least – I hope you know how very lucky you are not to have to share.”  Patrick always wanted to respond by telling his father how lucky he had been to have those sib­lings, and how dark it was to be alone, “…I know Dad, I am the luck­i­est boy in the whole wide world, thanks so much for the ping-pong table.”  All Patrick could think about was how the hell he was sup­posed to play ping-pong by himself.

But there had been one gift that Christ­mas which Patrick would remem­ber for years to come – in a rather odd pack­age, wrapped in the twice-used paper that his mother believed was the very soul of fru­gal­ity, was a sweat­shirt with the mas­cot of the local Catholic high school.  Patrick under­stood the sign imme­di­ately – he would return to his own the next fall, his years of wan­der­ing alone had finally come to an end.

Dur­ing Patrick’s years in pub­lic school, the three Catholic high schools had been merged into one – and it took stu­dents from grade seven, through their grad­u­a­tion.  Patrick’s 7th grade class con­sisted of about one hun­dred stu­dents that came from the six parochial grade schools and a few (includ­ing Patrick) from the pub­lic sys­tem.  On the first day of classes that fall, as Patrick strug­gled through the vagaries of a new neck­tie and a heav­ily starched white shirt, Sis­ter Mary Kay attempted to impart some order, “all of you chil­dren from St. Pat’s – go over by the statue of St. Peter, if you went to St. Anthony – meet around the Holy water font” – and so on.  Patrick quickly learned that he was, even now, with­out a set, for he and the other six kids from Pub­lic were told to just stay where they were, prob­a­bly on the assump­tion that they couldn’t tell their saints from their fonts.

As Patrick folded him­self into the small pack of his fel­low pub­li­cans so that he would attract as lit­tle atten­tion as pos­si­ble, Fr. Steve called out from the other side of the main hall, “Is that Patrick Frances Coul­ton I see?”  Patrick was never sure how he did it, but his voice was always big­ger than every­one else’s, dur­ing mass he assumed it was the clip-on micro­phone that he snaked up his robes, but he had the same vocal power even now and he clearly wasn’t wear­ing a mic.  “What in the world are you doing over here with these kids?  It seemed Fr. Steve could spot a pub­lic school kid at some dis­tance, but he did not asso­ciate Patrick with the due to his sta­tus as an alter boy.  “All of your cousins are over their with the oth­ers from St. Frances.”  It was then that Fr. Steve remem­bered about Patrick’s house on the hill and his sep­a­ra­tion – and Fr. Steve decided to help Patrick return to the fold.  It became a moment of ter­ror that Patrick would remem­ber for years.

Sis­ter, gather-up all of our new stu­dents and bring them over here – young Patrick and I are going to explain the mean­ing of all these stat­ues to them.”  Over the next half an hour, although it seemed an eter­nity to Patrick, he and Fr. Steve (with Fr. Steve’s arm around Patrick’s nar­row shoul­ders, led the new class of 7th graders around the main hall of St. Thomas Cen­tral Catholic High School.  As they approached each statue Fr. Steve would inter­ro­gate Patrick; “Now who is this then Patrick?”  St. Joseph.  “and how do we know that?”  “He has a carpenter’s square in his hand.”  “That’s right Patrick!” “And we all know that St. Joseph, the father of our Lord Jesus, was a car­pen­ter.”  “Why is this saint stand­ing on a snake Patrick?”  That one’s St. Patrick Father, he con­verted the Irish to the Church and drove the snakes off the island.”  “Cor­rect” gushed Fr. Steve, “and who were you named after…?” To which Patrick mut­tered, “St. Patrick, Father.”  Then came the worst blow of all – “I want all of you chil­dren here to know this young man, he’s a foot smarter than any of you, and one day I’ll wager, he’ll be hear­ing all of your con­fes­sions!”  With the dam­age done, Fr. Steve gave Patrick a wal­lop on the back, and walked-off down the hall­way – seem­ing very pleased with himself.

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  One Response to “Irishmen””

  1. […] If you would like to read a bit more of what it was like growing-up Irish-Catholic in those years, at least for me, you can click here. […]

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