July 12, 2015

Long run today. I was thinking about sisters today.

In the late 1950s, the landlord at the Long Avenue apartment thought he was renting his flat to a nice newlywed couple with professional aspirations. Maybe someone should have informed him that American-Irish-Catholic couples from that era had one goal: making more registered voters. The year 1957 dawned as a typical year in Chicago. The Cub fans were hopeful and the White Sox fans were confident. Since the budding family lived on the North Side, hope sprung eternal. It wasn’t long into the year that the morning sickness set in again. With a new baby and a new routine, Mom was learning the ropes fast. Being pregnant with an infant in the house was a challenge but not too hard. Spring turned to summer and summer to fall and a confident young mother decided to have a birthday party for her mother on September 25, 1957. Grandma Alice’s birthday was actually on the 26th but that was getting closer to the due date and careful planning was needed. Mom would bake a Chocolate Chiffon Cake for the party along with a complete dinner and appetizers. After all, she would have to show her older sister and her mother what a capable bride and mother she had become. Preparations had proceeded throughout the day. There was plenty to do to prepare for Marshall and Alice and all the other guests that were due to arrive soon. As she was whipping egg-whites and folding dough, she felt a tingle. No matter, it was her mother’s birthday and everything would be perfect. As the guests began to arrive on a beautiful fall afternoon, Mom casually mentioned, “Ooh, I think I am going to have a baby.” Plenty of people now in the apartment to babysit James II. The cake was still in the oven, the guests hadn’t even hung up their coats and Jim and Barb were racing back to St Anne’s Hospital. They wheeled my mother into labor and delivery and my dad checked her in at admitting. My father had just arrived in the waiting room full of expectant fathers with five o-clock shadows. The stacked coffee cups filled with extinguished cigarette butts had also indicated that these men had been there for a very long time. My father smiled politely and tried to settle in, when a nurse arrived. Everyone looked at the nurse while my father was looking for a place to sit.
The nurse said, ”Mr. Dolan, Mr. James Dolan?”
My father lifted his clean-shaven face and asked “Me?”
She responded, “Yes Mr. Dolan, you are the new father of a beautiful baby girl”.
The other expectant fathers looked at him like he had just won the Irish Sweepstakes. Turns out that my mother had been in labor most of the day but was too busy with the Chocolate Chiffon Cake to notice. Some say that the cake is still in the oven on North Long Avenue. This moment was definitely one of the top ten moments in my parents’ lives. Mary Eileen had come into the world just before the Chocolate Chiffon Cake and Grandma Alice’s birthday. Mom was getting her feet beneath her as a patient at St. Anne’s Hospital and demanded to see her beautiful baby, the nurses complied. Dad began to tell the baby the stories of what a special day it had been and how fast they all ran.

This is the turnaround point. They are building a tunnel that leads to another open space that is twice the size of the one I currently play on. Favorite song today: Mardis Gras in New Orleans performed by Professor Longhair.

Michael Dolan's photo.

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