Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's Father's Day!

     
 Dad and I 1957.                                                                                   1958

To all of you Dads out there, Happy Father's Day!  I hope that you are enjoying today and the honor that it brings.

Today I would like to honor my own father, who sadly isn't with us anymore.  My father was born to poor Irish immigrants who boarded a ship to America in 1913 shortly after getting married in Dublin.  He was the sixth of seven children.

One day on his way home from school he heard he paperboys shout, "Extra! Extra!  Read all about it!  Lindbergh kidnapping ladder found in Bronx!"  Eight year old Patrick Doyle ran the several blocks to 222nd Street and was awestruck by the clamor going on.  Police and reporters were everywhere, all consumed with the biggest news of the year.  The Crime of the Century had recently happened, when Col Charles Lindbergh's 18 month old son was kidnapped from their farm near Princeton, NJ., and now the police had found the ladder used to commit the awful crime in the garage of one Bruno Hauptmann.

Young Patrick was smitten with the reporters, all wearing fedoras with their press badges in the ribbon above the brim.  They were shouting and writing in shorthand all the details the police chief passed on to them.  Then off they ran to pay phones to call the details in to their respective newspapers - Hurst, Daily News, NY Times, The World, The Mirror, The Star, The Herald, and papers from New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. 

That was the day that little boy decided that he wanted to be a crime reporter someday and cover the biggest stories in the city.  He saved money to buy a typewriter from a pawn shop and started out making a newsletter for the neighborhood merchants, being paid with groceries.  Once he had a taste of the experience, there was no going back.  He was hired by the NY Daily News in 1947 at 23 years old.  From his first story about an abandoned baby to solving a murder, to airplane crashes, a policeman shot and dying in his arms, to Son of Sam to John Lennon's murder, he reported over 20,000 murders in his career.  He was called Inspector Doyle. Robin Moore, a good friend, used his name in The French Connection.  He was touted as The World's Greatest Crime Reporter, and won numerous awards in his career.  He was even in the 1981 Guinness Book of World Records for covering the most murders.  He knew five presidents, and had an especially nice relationship with Richard Nixon.  His friends were James Cagney, Henry Ford II, Aristotle Onassis, and hundreds of others.

Dad at work, 1947                                                                   With VP Richard Nixon, 1956

But to me, he was my Daddy.  He was 5'11, thin and had striking green eyes.  When he wasn't sitting in front of a typewriter on the living room coffee table, pounding the keys, he was out doing the weekly grocery shopping.  On Saturday nights he and my Mother would get all dressed up and head into the city sometime after 11pm.  He was a handsome man, and I was so very proud of him. When he almost died because of ruptured stomach ulcers and spent 10 weeks in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, I myself cried a million tears and said thousands of prayers.  How could we not have Daddy anymore?  He survived several surgeries, and thank God, he came home.  I was just a child, and loved him more than I can write.


Englewood Cliffs, NJ Boat Basin 1963                                             Dad and I, 1972

As I grew up I understood his concern for our welfare.  Plenty of times it was an annoyance answering the questions every time I wanted to go somewhere (where are you going, who are you going with, when are you coming home, how are you getting there) but he covered crime six nights a week and loved us tremendously and I believe it would have killed him if anything had happened to any one of us.  I didn't always see it that way growing up, but being a parent I grew to see the sacrifices he made being the sole breadwinner for a family of seven. 



My Dad died in a one-car accident on the last day of his job at NBC.  He was going to be moving down to Austin, Texas where he had bought a beautiful home and my mother was waiting for him.  He was only 62 years old when a seizure took his life.  His funeral was beautiful.  It was Veterans Day 1987, and the New York City Police Chief asked my Mother if she would like policemen for pall bearers.  She was thrilled knowing how much the police meant to him.  The hearse came up from the west side of Manhattan that chilly November 11th, passing through traffic lights all the way to Fifth Avenue where we circled around St. Patrick's Cathedral and came to a stop out front.  The steps of the church were lined with policemen from different precincts in their dress blues, and once his flag-covered casket was removed from the hearse by six policemen, they all stood at attention and saluted.  It was the most overwhelming moment in my life, one only surpassed by the birth of my daughter.

My favorite memory of him was him holding me while we sleigh rode down a hill in upstate NY in a cardboard box when I was about four years old. 

I was so proud of him!  He would speak to the students in my all-girl high school, and he would take me to Madison Square Garden and Broadway, and Yankee games.  He worked hard on our house, nurturing gardens that brought him peace, away from the crime-ridden streets of lower New York.  He was my hero.  It is him on the cover of my first book, A Christmas I Remember.  The story is, in a way, a tribute to him. 

    
I miss my Dad, but I know that he is with the Lord.  He was a good man, a hard working man, a man who loved and revered God, and loved us all tremendously.  He was crazy about my mother and would show her off every chance he got.  Thank You, God, for the 31 years I had with him.  Please kiss him for me.

Click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL9DjN6OSSI

17 comments:

  1. Sensational tribute, Deirdre! And a tear-jerker. Such a shame he died so young. Mine was 63 and died in 1992. My mom fell apart but she grew much closer to the Lord in her grief. I miss mine too, maybe even more than I did before. Wonderful story. I'm sure God has kissed him many times for you over the years.

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    1. Thank you, Linnea, we wll always miss those that we love, but the amazing thing that God does is to let them live in our hearts and memories. It is such a blessing. Yes, we would love for them to see how well we have done, and that hurts, he didn't see my Mary get married, or know his grandsons, one named after him, but his legacy lives on through us and the stories we tell. I'd like to have a scholarship for HS students in his name one of these days. He'd like that. Thank you again for your kind words as we sit, smile, and toast the men we loved! Hugs, Deirdre

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  2. Deirdre, My tears of joy and sadness for you just kept flowing as I read your incredible tribute to your Dad. I wish I had had such memories and happy you did. The heart smiles on great men of this world and that is why I have written a tribute to my husband this day but this gives me the courage to post it on my blog which I did not think I should, as it has not much to do with Ireland.
    Another grand job. I am so happy to know you.

    Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins

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    1. Mamie, follow your heart. It's alright to have beautiful words for someone you love desperately. Ireland is most lovely, but it can't fill your heart the way a person you love can. Let the world know of your love! I am also, very happy to know you. Your encouragement brings peace to my soul! Hugs, Deirdre

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  4. What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I am sure he is smiling down on you right now. Thanks you for sharing this beautiful post.

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    1. Thank you, Peggy, I appreciate it! Deirdre

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  5. A beautiful story and a loving tribute to your dad. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.

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  6. What a beautiful tribute to your dad and what a great bit of history--both national and personal. You've obviously inherited his writing genes because you have a wonderful gift for both drama and description--I was so "right there" with your dad! Great blog post as usual!

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    1. Thank you so much! I could never be compared with Dad, but I don't mind following in his footsteps! I'm so glad that you like my blogs, it means a great deal to me! H&K

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  7. Deirdre,
    This is usch a wonderfully loving and well-written tribute to not just a father but a famous man who impacted not just your life, but the lives of thousands. He looks like a movie star and from your words stayed down to earth in spite of his fame and knowing famous people. I really enjoyed this post. How lucky you are to have a father who loved you so well.
    Love, Micki

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    1. Thank you, Micki. He was very important to me. I have been blessed indeed with everyone that has been in my life. Good or bad, the relationship has taught me something and helped me grow. Of course it took knowing God for that to become accepted by me. Have a blessed day!

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  8. Your father sounds like he was a good and loving man.
    Holly

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  9. Deirdre, I don't know how I missed this post on Father's Day. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories of your dad. My dad passed away unexpectedly in 1997 and I miss him everyday. Of course, I still talk to him and know he is listening in his own special way.

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  10. Sharla, I miss my dad too. But we'll see them again on the other side of the rainbow, won't we? Thanks so much for writing!

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