Sunday, March 24, 2019
Saint Patrick's Day
A while back on St. Patrick's Day, I had been thinking about the Irish, my grandfather, Thomas Francis (“T F”) Reilly, and about you and me.
T F was an Irish immigrant who came to these United States of America as an orphan. Like many another he worked with his hands. And some hands they were, “Two-fisted Tom Reilly” was his moniker when we was a railroad man. After that tour of duty he became a contractor and a millionaire. My earliest memories of him were of this very big man we called “Poppa”. Of course all people seem huge when you're a kid, but he was exceptional. When he passed on in his late 80s he was still over 6 feet. I can still see him sitting in his living room on a straight back chair listening to Bing Crosby's recording of Toora Loora Li. Poppa became a proud American like so many others who were not born here. My clearest memory has him seated at the head of the table with a bowl of boiled potatoes as his side dish. A part of Ireland that never left him.
Yes, besides thinking of Poppa on St. Patrick's Day, I remember too my own celebrations in New York City. Certainly they were memorable with so many Noo Yawkahs wearing green and the Big Parade. I too marched for a block with my own very young offspring, just so they could say they had marched in New York City on St. Patrick's Day.
You don't have to wear green or march in the parade to celebrate St. Patrick's day, but it's fun to do so. Just about everyone in Manhattan is Irish for that day. It's a beautiful thing. My memory is especially keen about my late friend Mel Sokolow and I celebrating the day at Tim Costello's watering hole on the East Side. St. Patrick Day parades are held in other cities to be sure, Charleston, South Carolina, and Savanah, Georgia, two notable examples. But New York is New York.