The smell of the corned beef cooking is making the house warm and cozy on this rainy day. As I cook, I have been thinking about my Irish grandparents, Edward and Anna Stacia (Cushing) Lennon. Each were born in Ireland, and met in America when they were both employed by a well-to-do Boston area family. Grampy was the chauffeur and Nana was the nanny.
Funny story about that chauffeur job. When my grandfather applied for the position, they asked him if he could drive and he lied. Being a poor Irish immigrant, he had never owned a car. As the story goes, he was hired, and proceeded to sneak out at night with the employer's car to practice his driving in the dark.
Another story. During the great depression, my grandparents were married and there were no jobs. Every morning, my grandmother would pack a bag lunch and my grandfather would go to the main Boston terminal where the trolley cars would start their runs. He would take a seat, and wait all day, day after day, for someone to call in sick to work. In those days, if someone called in sick, they were replaced. One day, he was hired to drive a trolley, something he had never done before. For the rest of his life, he had that job.
When my grandfather died, he owned a beautiful brick house in Brookline and the apartment house next door. He also had a summer house in Hough's Neck Beach, which we lovingly called "the cottage." It was more like a wooden shack, which the city of Quincy was always trying to condemn because it had no inside shower or bathtub. My happiest childhood memories were with my grandfather at that cottage... digging clams for dinner, picking sun warmed tomatoes from the garden, and making jelly from the overgrown grape vines in the back yard.
My Irish grandparents have inspired my several of my passions: antiques, the ocean, gardening, and making homemade jellies. They were very frugal people, and taught me the value of a dollar, and how to stretch it. Thank you, Nana and Grampy, for being such an important part of my life.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!