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“When Irish eyes are smiling. Sure it’s like a morning spring. In the lilt of Irish laughter, You can hear the angels sing. When Irish hearts are happy, All the world seems bright and gay. And when Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, they steal your heart away.” ~ Chauncy Olcot and George Graff, Jr

May 27, 2020


“There’s a tear in your eye, and I’m wondering why,
For it never should be there at all. With such power in your smile,
sure a stone you’d beguile, So there’s never a teardrop should fall.
When your sweet lilting laughter’s like some fairy song,
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be, You should laugh all the while
and all other times smile, And now smile a smile for me.”

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling – lyrics by Chauncy Olcott and George Graff, Jr


When I think about my dad without tears clouding my vision, I remember how he did the best that he could. He came from very humble beginnings in a cold water flat in Bridgeport. He bragged that he was the first of his family to be born in a hospital, and was the first baby born in Bridgeport in 1927.

He was a proud man and one of the things he was proud about was his service in the US Army where he held the rank of Sargent and served overseas. He loved wearing his collection of caps, but he especially loved wearing his World War II cap.He was an active member of the VFW, and the American Legion. He acted as if he hated hearing people say “thank you for your service”, but he actually loved hearing that. One of his favorite things was sitting outside of the local grocery store distributing poppies in front of Stop and Shop with his friends. He loved collecting the most money and giving poppies away to the children. He would take multiple shifts for weeks and never missed one. No one could resist his smile it seemed. He had a large bit of blarney in him.

The best day of my dads life (second only to the day I was born) was the day he met my mom where he worked as an oil delivery man at Hoffman Fuel in Bridgeport. My mom and dad were a team. Mom managed all of the inside and raised the children while dad worked long hours and managed the outside and cars. This is one of the first pictures I remember taking of my mom and dad with a Brownie camera – it is still one of my favorites from 1971.

My parents were married for fifty- three years and had many challenges like most people in life. When my mom died a part of my dad did as well. For a long time I thought, without her he is not going to live long. Dad had diabetes, a heart condition, he had smoked and drank in former years. He lived though a ruptured appendix, fell off a ladder, once had a car bumper fall on his head, and I do not want to think about the number of times he probably electrocuted himself working on wiring he had no business doing. There were many times I believed that “this was it” yet it wasn’t. Dad was stubborn in many ways and always did things in his own timeline.

For my parents, their pride and joy of life was always family. My dad was a very proud man. In spite of the fact that they did not have money they always provided for their family. Dad worked long hours, especially in the winter, in a job that was physically taxing, to make sure we had a roof over our heads, food on the table, an education, a strong belief in God, and plenty of times to make good memories.

Despite the fact that dad drove a truck for a living, my parents would sit down with a map almost every year, and make a circle and find a place to drive to for a vacation. Even hours in a car before air conditioning, crowded in car was an adventure and a memory made. Not always a good memory, but a memory none the less.

Much of my dads life was centered around family. Most of that was my mom’s doing but my dad was happiest with the ones he loved most, his children.

If you asked me what my dad loved besides family and making people laugh I would say taking care of his yard. Fifty years ago my parent bought a fixer upper in Trumbull.  Trust me when I say it was desperately in need of repairs.  It had been a rental house that was abused and in need of some serious love. Over the years mom and dad lived there, I can honestly say they made that broken down house into a home. Here is a good snap of then and now. 

  1. Skip Shaw permalink

    A beautiful tribute to Dad, from the one who knew him best!

  2. Gary Stephens permalink

    Wow, Linda. Such a beautifully, written, heartfelt tribute.

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