When Everyone Was Irish

Across the Bay, the City had a parade each year.  Even the Italians walked among their Irish compatriots, extolling the Virtues of the Green in their mutually adopted new homeland.  This was America.  The Melting Pot.  Monthly Holidays in a myriad of global refinery and adapted traditions, representing many of the nationalities that had built our country, eventually found a home on Rubberneck.

The weeks after the Christmas holidays were always a letdown for kids; we had to wait for the end of January or early February for any further excitement.  Then, we enjoyed Chinese New Year (comparing our birth year animals) and Valentine’s and George and Abe’s birthdays; excitement invaded elementary classrooms each March as we studied the Irish and their folklore.  A childhood imperative:  we must wear green or risk being pinched!!!

We brought home our latest St. Patrick’s art project to the smell of corn beef and cabbage, with little boiled potatoes, turnips, onions and carrots cooking in the pot!  This was the one night of the year when we were all Irish on Rubberneck Avenue, sharing a bit of the blarney and blessings in our own kitchens.  While most of Mom’s boiled dinners were “French” in nature, containing a variety of meats and things (i.e. oxtails, beef tongue) that my normal friends didn’t eat, I enjoyed this Irish meal very much…and was much relieved that we were eating what the other kids did that evening!  Even Yakov knew what St. Patrick’s Day was.  Wow! What a country!

One St. Patrick’s, Mom even let me make green lemonade!  Odd, but that pitcher lasted the longest any pitcher of lemonade ever did.  Apparently, not too many neighbors were willing to test it out.  Even the kids on the block hesitated.  Thinking about it now, I may have put a bit too much food coloring in the batch; the Kelly green shade was slightly over the top, making the lemonade look more like a potion; something from the Evil Witch Stepmother’s laboratory in Snow White.

We’d had too many hours of Disney magic to warn us of such things. Even though we understood that not all Irish have red hair, the bigger, more important question remained:  do Leprechauns really exist?  Darby O’Gill convinced us they did.  Wow…even the bakery had four-leaf clovers; holiday cookies sprinkled with green sugar.  What a great day to be Irish!