Dad’s Letters # 4

It took my Dad three letters (#3, #4 and #5) to reply to my one letter (#3) in which I listed a number of questions about his sister Elise. In his letter #3 he answered the first nine questions and in his letter # 5 he returns to my list of questions and answers all of the rest. In between he decided to write another letter to further explain life in St Emydius Parish during the 1920s and 30s with the Doran Club and the League of the Cross Cadets. And he bares his soul while describing his “colossal IC” — his inferiority complex because of his height. Here we go:

Dad1994 letter04p1
Dad’s Letter # 4, page 1
Dad1994 letter04p2
Dad’s Letter # 4, page 2
Dad1994 letter04p3
Dad’s Letter # 4, page 3
Dad1994 letter04p4
Dad’s Letter # 4, page 4

Notes on Dad’s 1994 Letter # 4

1. My super active Dad: My sister Betty lived in Millbrae in the 1990s (still does) and my sister Pat lived in Clayton. My cousin Jack lived in Hayward before moving to Brentwood. I lived in Castro Valley (still do) which is right next to Hayward. I am not sure why he traveled to Sacramento. My cousin Geraldine (my mother’s niece) lived there and maybe Dad went along with my brother Jim and his wife Priscilla to visit her. Jim and Priscilla lived in Sacramento during their early marriage years and they became quite close to Geraldine. I don’t know why Dad went to Oakland.
2. My nephew John Murphy graduated from SI in June 1994.
3. Brendan’s confirmation: Five of my Dad’s six children married Catholics. Three of my sisters married Irish Catholics. One married a half Spaniard, half Italian. I married a lady from Guam. My brother Jim married a Presbyterian.
4. The Alaskan delegation: that would be my sister Marie and her family. Dennis and Marie moved to Alaska in the 1970s and both of their children were born in Anchorage.
5. Company C: Fran Pendergast and his gang. Here’s a photo of the Company C 1925 championship basketball team, all St Emydius Parishioners.

The League of the Cross Cadets Company C 1925 championship basketball team. That’s Fran Pendergast on the right in the first row. In the middle is his best friend Gerald Haggerty who was 6’7″ and in his later years well over 300 lbs. I can’t identify the other five guys but one of them is probably Leo Detwiler and another is probably Morris Paquette. None of the five looks like Joe Basile.

6. The Doran Club. In the 50s and 60s the Doran Club was the parish teen club. But in the 20s it was the club for young women in the parish. Eventually Company C merged with the formerly all-girls club.
7. Kathryn Dennehy Basile was older than most of the group – already teaching when most of the others were still in high school or college. She taught off and on at the Convent of the Sacred Heart for many years and also was a substitute teacher at St Emydius. When I was in the sixth grade at St Emydius our teacher Sister Philomena became very ill and Kathryn was called in and taught us for most of the year. Kathryn’s daughter Kate was a year older than I and attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart school. On days when she had no school she sat in the back of the class.
8. Janet Foley – Gerald’s girl friend for most of the 20s. Her folks had a summer home at Felton which became the locale for several parties in the 20s and 30s.

A get-together at the Foley ranch in Felton circa 1930. I can identify three of the four ladies: Janet Foley on the far left, then Barbara Denehy, then Elise Dwyer. That’s Gerald Haggerty’s big head between Janet and Barbara and Fran Pendergast is standing behind and to the right of Elise. I don’t know the others in the photo.

9. Hazel Dorn – Hazel’s dad was one of my grandfather’s YMI friends. I don’t remember him but I do remember passing the Dorn house on the way to and from school and saying hello to Mrs Dorn. Hazel married Mel Cloney and our families were close when I was young but eventually the Cloneys settled down across town and drifted away from the No-Name Club and after a while there was no more contact with them.
10. Joe Basile and my Dad were very close. Joe was active in the parish men’s club and was anxious to attend the annual retreat at El Retiro but he didn’t want to go alone. So he persuaded my Dad to accompany him. They continued this tradition for many years. The Basiles lived on Corona near Urbano Drive in Ingleside Terrace.
11. Barbara Denehy: The Shermans lived on Ashton a block from St Emydius, the house where Barbara and Kathryn grew up. My Dad was also close to George Sherman. The two had season tickets for the 49er home games in the 40s and my Dad took me to my first game in 1946 one Sunday when George couldn’t make it. My Dad describes his big dates with Barbara in 1925 and 1927. In 1957 Barbara’s daughter Barbara invited me to her junior prom at Mercy High.
12. Shrimp Dwyer: My Dad was 5’4″. He never knew his Uncle James or his three cousins Aileen, Bert and Claire. I researched this family after my Dad died and discovered that Claire (1912-1993) was also called Shrimp Dwyer.
13. The Big Four from St James: We never knew Frank Cronin or Pat O’Leary. But Will and Ilona moved to Westwood Park (Miramar Avenue) in the 40s and raised 8 kids, five born in the 50s. Bob O’Connell was in my brother Jim’s class at St Emydius and Jim O’Connell was in my sister Marie’s. I remember babysitting for the brood (most probably when the adults were having a No-Name party somewhere) whenever none of my sisters were available.
14. Helen Thornton: my Dad mentioned the Kennedy sisters a lot when he reminisced, probably because of their relationships with Pat O’Leary and Will O’Connell. But he seldom mentioned Helen.

Dad continues his replies about his sister Elise in his next letter (#5). This one is the easiest to read — it contains few typing errors / strikeouts and includes each of my questions before each of his answers. Stay tuned for Letter #5 next week.


Published by crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.

2 thoughts on “Dad’s Letters # 4

  1. I’m enjoying these letters. In the 50s there was a song called ShrimpBoats…and I was tagged with that name for a while.


  2. This is a very interesting post on your father having to deal with a very heavy IC burden. I admire his frankness about it. It must have been a special bond between the two of you that he could write so openly about it. Perhaps your dad’s dating failures were a good thing, to which you owe your existence. I am looking forward to reading the happy ending.


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