Progression run today, I was thinking about the debates.
The sixties dawned with great hope and promise. Young John F. Kennedy was making a run for the White House The future president was handsome with a beautiful wife and family. Richard Nixon, his electoral opposition on the other hand looked like a cross between Montgomery Burns and Fred Flintstone. The Irish-American Catholics were putting their best foot forward and they looked good. You may not know this but Jimmy was the sole court-reporter to record and transcribe the Chicago Nixon-Kennedy debate. This was the debate that Kennedy came out on stage bronzed after a summer at the beach and Nixon emerged from a cave with a five o-clock shadow as a dusty gray showcase to the American public. Kennedy could have worn a burlap sack and babbled incoherently for an hour and still crushed the ashen, grayscale Nixon. Yes, the Irish immigrant had come full circle. Happy days were here as Kennedy was elected in 1960 and JFK was now our man.
The West Side of Chicago was jubilant and people could be seen hanging out their windows. At Jimmy’s house, they were hanging from the windows for a different reason. With five children and mom and dad in that small two bedroom apartment, it was time to move again. This was post World War II baby boom and people were moving to the suburbs. Wide open spaces, sun was always shining, the suburbs were the land of plenty. Now, the Northwest suburbs were calling the clan. Jimmy answered the call. Mom and Dad had heard about a nice house on Fairview Avenue in Park Ridge. It was June, 1961. They left most of the kids with Uncle Pete and headed out to the suburbs with me in tow, I was six weeks old. They went in to see the sprawling mansion (actually about 1200 square feet) and left me in the car. They would have used me as a doorstop if there was a door that needed to be propped open. I was sleeping peacefully so they left me in the car (in June, in Chicago). The car was a Ford Rambler, so I was happy and content. They loved the house, bought it straight away, packed up the family and moved out of the city and to the suburbs, never to return.
It is not long after they arrived in their dream home that the morning sickness started again. It would be a particularly snowy winter and driving was treacherous. The Ford Rambler wagon could handle most conditions but when Barb turned the corner onto Fairview one day after dropping Jimmy at the train station, a snow plow made short work of the Rambler and plowed into the car and my mother. Morning sickness and a “how do you do” from the snow plow made this a day to remember. The snow plow ripped the hood right off the car that now looked like an open can of sardines. Call the fire department, we have to make sure that mother was OK. Barb was fine, she walked back to house and replenished her blood sugar level with some pastries.
Winter turned to spring and spring to summer and the weather turned hot. Mom was ready to deliver on her due date of July 15, 1962. Her new doctor lived two doors away and it was so hot that she was trying to convince this new doctor to induce the delivery. Unfortunately, she was no longer at St Anne’s Hospital and did not have the clout that she had built up in Chi-town after having five children under the care of the St. Anne’s doctor. The new doctor would have none of it, he did things his way and did not care if my mother was the expert of Monroe Street. She would have to wait for delivery and this would be a natural childbirth, no ether, and a brand new experience. One hot day turned to the next, my mother mowed the lawn, ate spicy ribs, worked on the auto body of the Rambler, but nothing would get this baby out. The Rambler was running again but every time you turned left, the horn would start to blare incessantly. It sounded like a fire alarm. Even this did not induce labor. Almost two weeks after the due date, this baby decided to answer the alarm. “Jim, I think it is time to go to the hospital.” Jimmy was taking no chances this time, he would load up the car and go. He had learned his lesson the last time. There were already many good neighbors to watch the five children, so away they went. Jim decided that he would get to the hospital by taking a series of right turns rather than blare the horn so late at night by taking any left turns. This was all new to the young father. The West Side of Chicago would have been easy but now he was in the suburbs heading to Resurrection Hospital. After taking a series of wrong turns he was forced to take left turns and pulled into the emergency parking lot with the car horn absolutely blaring. He may as well have been driving a fire truck for all the noise he was making. This seemed to increase the rate of contractions so they took my mother directly to labor and delivery while another guy in the emergency room was threatening to take a fire axe to the Rambler.
My father checked my mother into the hospital and made his way to the waiting room. This was really nice, nice chairs, new Philco TVs, he could really get used to this. Just then the nurse burst into the waiting room and said, “James Dolan, Mr. James Dolan?” My father was engrossed in a particularly interesting episode of Mr. Ed, but responded eventually, “yes?” “Mr Dolan, is that your car horn blaring in the parking lot? It is starting to annoy your wife and newborn baby boy”, the nurse informed my father. My father thought about this sixth child and fourth boy, it made him happy that he now had enough boys to field the famous T formation that his beloved Chicago Bears had made famous. He now had a quarterback, a fullback and two halfbacks.
When he was reunited with Barb, they both looked at the boy and decided to name him John, after the beloved Irish-American Catholic President of the United States. He would be John Francis, so he could have the middle initial “F”, just like the President. The day was July 27, 1962 and John F. Dolan was now the baby of the family.
Found this at the track yesterday. Favorite song: I Walk the Line performed by Johnny Cash.