June Column from Irish American News

Mike Houlihan

We found a big box of old snapshots at our house the other day and my grand daughter Charlotte insisted I sit on the bed with her as she went through them. It was fun showing the two-year-old photos of her daddy and uncle when they were babies.

We came to a shot of my late father sitting in his chair and Charlotte said, “Who’s dat?” as she pointed to the ol’ boy.

That’s your great grandfather Charlotte. That’s grandpa’s daddy.

She asked where he was and I told her he was in heaven. He certainly deserved to be because he was very good at spreading the love around.

As she handed me the next photo I wondered. This was another picture of my dad while in his late seventies sitting with a platinum blonde woman who was much younger than himself.

“Who’s dat?”

Uh oh.

“Who’s dat??”

Well Charlotte, that is “Sophie”, a nice lady that worked selling tokens on the CTA back when my dad was taking the Ravenswood El to work and one day he slipped her a note with a hundred dollar bill in it and invited her to dinner. They hit it off and the next thing you know he was squiring her all over town and he even married her and I thought it might help my show biz career having a Jewish step-mother and he bought her a condo on Lake Shore Drive and she talked him into taking her to Israel where he sent back photos of himself sitting on a camel wearing a keffiyeh on his head and we started calling him “Abou”, and she then talked my old man into buying her a spread in Kentucky, and a Cadillac for her mother, and they moved there and he bought a gun and supposedly took it out one night and began firing shots in the air and she started screaming at him and he told her, “The next one is goin’ right thru your f#&@in’ head!” And she called me and said, “Do you know he drinks?” And I laughed and said, “Thanks for the news flash Sophie, are you just figuring that out?” And he called my sister one day from O’Hare and said, “Pick me up, the marriage is over”. And I asked him “what the hell did you marry her for?” And my pop said, “Mike, I was in love!” And that was two weeks after the pre-nup expired and she took him for over a hundred grand in the divorce and he figured it was worth it to get rid of her. That’s who that is.

But instead of saying that I just tossed the photo on the heap, “Oh just some friend of his.”

We continued down memory lane and Charlotte grabbed another one of my dad, this time with another woman posing in front of Aqueduct Park.

“Who’s ‘dat?”

Well Charlotte that is “Doris”, who worked for my dad for over forty years and then retired and after he split from “Sophie” he was living at The Belmont Hotel by himself and he started going to the track with Doris a lot and I guess they re-kindled something and the next thing you know he moved into her bungalow on the Northwest Side when he was in his eighties and they traveled a lot and went to racetracks all over the country and lived happily ever after until he died when he was 91. God rest his lovely soul.

Instead of saying that I said, “Oh, that’s Doris, a friend of his.”

Charlotte was now bored with the photos and ran out of the room to discover new adventures. I looked at the photos of my old man. What a guy!

My folks split when I was in my early twenties and we all thought maybe it was for the best since they devoted so much time together hating each other. Dad outlived my mom by several years but when he died we made sure he and mom were together again….in Holy Sepulchre.

It’s okay though, because we put my mom’s sister Alice between them in the family plot, sose there wouldn’t be any more fightin’.

Happy Father Day everybody!