Bob has fond memories of St. Pat’s Day

Bob has fond memories of St. Pat's Day
March is Saint Patrick's month.

I can still remember how we looked forward to it at Sacred Heart School. When we marched single file to the church for daily Mass, I recall how the Kennedys, the O'Shea's, the O'Malleys and the Manrahans swaggered a bit because they were REAL Irishmen, and the rest of us were faux Paddies for the day.

I even changed my Polish name to KarO'Levitz for 24 hours!

We all wore green in honor of the occasion. And we knew we were going to sing to the top of our lungs:

Great and glorious Saint Patrick

Pray for that dear country…

I think Sister Martina pulled out all of the stops on the church organ, and I swear they could have heard us a half a mile away as we belted out:

Great and glorious Saint Patrick

Hearkin to the prayers of the children.

Boy, did we hearken! We may not know what hearken meant, but we sang it as loud as we could.

For one day out of the year Saint Patrick was almost like Santa Claus – without reindeer. Everybody got into the act. There was enough green to make Al Gore happy.

Adults ate green mashed potatoes and drank green beer. We kids had to be happy wearing green and singing our yearly hearken. We also cut out shamrocks and hung them above the blackboard or pasted them on the windows for everyone to see.

Of course, the menu in most homes that day was corned beef and cabbage!

I think Sister Martina enjoyed the day, too. Her family name was Dreis, and I think she was as Irish as I was. But on that day she played the organ as if there was no tomorrow.

All of these things come back to me now as I contemplate another March 17. The old church has been replaced by a more modern structure, but I wonder if Saint Patrick's Day means as much to the kids today?

Sister Martina is gone now, too, and I doubt if they still sing the song but I don't think today's organist would play it with the utter abandon like our old music teacher did.

Shucks, we didn't even know where that "dear country" was, but we sang it with gusto just the same. We knew that the good saint had driven all the snakes out of Ireland, and that was good enough for us.

Today's Saint Patrick's Day is still celebrated – with leprechauns, shillelaghs and shamrocks – but the kids don't hearken like they used to do!

I know we can't turn back the calendar; however, just once I'd like to hear that rollicking song which made Saint Pat's day so special for so many "Irishmen."

©2008 Robert F. Karolevitz

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