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March 17, 2005

St Patrick Rocks!

So for those of you that know me, I refer to my ancestry being Italian (from my mom - northern Italian) and then there's my dads side; his mom was an Irish Catholic (Gallagher) and his dad the Scotsman. Christine pokes fun at me because given the situation I tend to exaggerate the part of my heritage to fit the situation. You should have seen me after the movie Braveheart (btw-it's probably the best movie of all time). So today - I'm Irish! A great excuse to yet again honor my heritage, this time from my grandmother, Gertrude Gallagher. My grandmother died when I was 13 so there's not a lot that I remember (has to do with my own capacity) but there are three things that will stick with me for the rest of my life. First, after Nixon lost to Kennedy, apparently he made some snide remark to the effect of, "well, I guess my wife can always go back to teaching". Apparently that pissed my grandmother off, she hated the guy. You see, grandma was a staunch Democrat, my grandfather was actually the chairman of the Democratic party in NY during the Roosevelt era. She must have repeated that phrase to me 100 times over  the years - and it got very colorful when she was sloshed. Which brings me to one of the the other fine memories. Grandma could throw back a Manhattan. Could this woman drink. I had no idea what a Manhattan was at 8, or 10 or for that matter at 25, but almost every morning, I would ride my bike over to grandmas to check on her, and there we would be, 9:00am or so in the morning, making a pitcher of Manhattans. She'd then take the pitcher and either sit in her rocking chair in the "TV room" if it was cold outside, or out on the front porch during  nicer weather and sip on Manhattans all day. It's funny now looking back on it, I had no idea how much of her life was blurred by the glass in her hand. I'd sit next to her in another rocking chair on the porch and stare out over the Hudson River from her house that sat high on a hilltop and she'd tell me story after story, glass after glass, all about her childhood, her life, whatever. She usually got to the point where she would call me by one of her other grandchildrens names - I loved it. The other thing that will stick with me was a particular trip we made to the corner store together. She had an old Ford Fairlane that probably only had 5,000 miles on it even though it was like 15 years old. She only drove to the corner store and back, and occasionally to one of her 4 children's houses - three of which were within a half  mile and the other was about one and a half miles away (that's the way it is back east). So anyway, I was 12 or so, we hoped in her car and drove to the store. Little did I know how whacked she was on Manhattans - plus she had pretty bad eyes to make matters worse. The store is about a half a mile from her house. We hit every curb, we were up on sidewalks, side swiped a white picket fence - you name it. By the way, all the time she's smoking a cigarette that has an ash on it about an inch and a half long...and it never comes off! After loading up on 2 bags of groceries which cost all of about $5, she stumbles out. So I'm finally thinking that this might not be a good idea - her driving home. So, how does a 12 year old get his grandmother and a big Ford Fairlane home. He drives it.....very slowly. Made it back to grandmas, unloaded the groceries, and what does she do, yup - makes another pitcher of Manhattans. My grandmother didn't leave the house too much, she practically never drove - now I know why. She was the greatest grandmother in the world to me (although Stella was a very close 2nd), I loved her dearly and I learned a lot from her. Today....my Irish eyes are smillin. Here's to you Grandma.

March 17, 2005 in Biographical | Permalink


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