Excessive celebration on St. Patrick’s day all too often leads to tragedy. Our family has a legend about a horrible one involving my grandfather, Dick Cavanaugh. As a young lad he worked after school in a small brewery in a little town in the shadows of Mount Rainier, sweeping and running errands.
Imagine this scene one St. Patrick’s Day on the eve of prohibition. More than a few of the brewery workers had indulged in their own product a wee too much. Shortly before supper time the door of the brewery bursts open and a boy—my grandfather—races down the street on a terrible errand.
He stops at the gate of a modest house only half a dozen blocks away. The lad swings open the gate and its rusty hinges squeal in protest. He races up the walk and pounds on the door with his little fists.
A stout Irish woman opens the door. Several dirty faced urchins cling to her legs. The boy stammers, “Mrs. O’Donnell, Mrs. O’Donnell. There’s been a terrible accident down at the brewery.”
She screams and falls to her knees. “Oh Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. It’s my Sean, t’isn’t it?”
The messenger clutches his cap to his chest and says. “Yes, Mrs. O’Donnell. He fell in a vat of beer—and drowned.”
Mrs. O’Donnell clutches the children at her side and wails. “Oh, my poor Sean. He probably didn’t have a chance, did he.”
The boy scratches his head and replies, “Well, Mrs. O’Donnell, you would think so. I mean he did get out three times to go to the bathroom.”
Hey, it is just a legend.