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Big Chuck

March 15, 2010

I Was Just Thinking: I'm more than a little Irish

They say everybody is a "little bit Irish" on St. Patrick's Day.


Like millions of Americans, my ancestors fit snugly into the stereotypical mold handed down through generations. After all, my grandfathers were an Irish cop and an Italian shoemaker!

My great-grandmother was Maggie Day, a strapping 6-foot-tall Irish nanny who was employed by Theodore Roosevelt's family on Long Island. In fact, when she retired to Unadilla, old "Bull Moose" himself came by to visit her. I am told she met him for lunch at the Unadilla House, where he signed the guest register.

My mother, born Kate Cody in Brooklyn, is as Irish as a fine piece of Tommy Ferguson's sheerest linen. She loves corned beef and cabbage, has a closet full of green clothes, cries when she hears "Danny Boy" and loves all Democrats. In fact, mention John F. Kennedy to her and she is likely to cross herself.

Her father, Joseph Aloysius Cody, was an Irish cop on the beat in New York City in the early 20th century. NYPD records actually show him receiving a commendation once for heroically chasing down and stopping a runaway horse in Manhattan. How proud we all were when we read that! Later, "Pop" Cody retired and moved to Sidney where he became the guard at the Scintilla (now Amphenol) main gate.

He lived with us in the 1950s. He was a kindly old gent with an Irish twinkle in his eye, a love for "a sip of the good stuff" and a master storyteller. He was also a deeply religious man. Pop shared a bedroom with me and my two brothers one year. Bobby, Jim and I would watch from under our blankets as Pop would come home late at night after sharing "a sip" with his friends at the Hotel Cartwright in Sidney.

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