My friend Sandy sent me several hundred a dozen Marge cartoons this morning, but I don’t have one single drop of Irish blood in my veins. Not one.
Growing up Catholic, I have known a few hundred Irish Americans, many of them priests, and I had much exposure to green beer and other delicacies from that culture like corned beef and cabbage.
When I worked on Capital Hill during Tip O’Neill’s reign as Speaker of the House, I knew many Irish men and women. I worked for a moderate Republican from Illinois on the staff of the Select Committee on Population where we had plenty of Democrats on staff. David Stockman (a Republican) was also on the Committee, but the Republicans were a minority. We held a hearings on fertility with one whole day dedicated to contraception. Later we had hearings on immigration. I will never forget the D-New York Congressman who asked a gal eight months pregnant what kind of contraception she was using. (She was there to talk about what happens if you don’t use contraception.) He was the same Democrat Congressman who told the Washington Post that the “US needed to seal the border.”
Most of the staffers worked for various Democrat congress persons from New York and Boston, and they were Irish-American, although some were Jewish or Greek American. Most, but not all, staff jobs were payment for work in political campaigns. After every election, if a staffer’s Congress person retired or left office owning to a lost election, he or she had to find a job with a new staff. A number of the staffers had been around Congress for many years moving from staff to staff.
Because most of the staffers were Irish, Saint Patrick’s Day meant a lot of drinking. The pubs near the Capitol Building would be over run by raucous party-goers. Green beer flowed like water. After Happy Hour in the pubs, the crew would migrate to parties up and down Constitution.
My Dutch great grand parents and grandmother would have fainted if they had known I was hanging out with Irishmen. When my Mom was young, her Mom tied a big orange ribbon in her hair on Saint Patrick’s Day. Guess you know how they felt?? No, well let me tell you the story of the Battle of Boyne.
The photo at the left is Mom in her big orange bow on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1919. (click to enlarge) Like most young girls, Mom was defiant of her family traditions and married a Catholic, although he was not Irish. I learned long ago, we don’t wear orange or green at our house.