With Apologies to Finley Peter Dunne

The other night in a dream I was visited by the ghost of my ancient Irish mythological grandfather, Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan.
Frank was a Chicago cop, born in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland back in 1939. Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan, was the seventh son of Finbar and Mary O’Hooligan. The family emigrated to Chicago in 1946 where Finbar opened a tavern on 79th Street, not far from Sheehy’s Funeral Home and Riley’s Trick Shop.
As a seventh son of a seventh son, Frank O’Hooligan was also blessed with the ancient Druid powers bestowed on the few favored of our race. Those powers came in handy at critical moments in his life.

Ferocious Frank was always a good man for a pint.

Once in 1963 while waiting in line to cash out his Christmas club account at the bank at 71st and Jeffrey, a pair of masked bandits entered with shotguns and demanded everyone empty their pockets and screamed for the tellers to hand over all the cash.
Frank used his Druid powers to magically turn the bad guys into braying donkeys and the guns dropped from their scrambling hooves as the alarm was sounded.
Stunned witnesses couldn’t remember exactly what happened that day but all were thankful that the off-duty Irish rookie cop had saved the day.
In my dream, Ferocious Frank appeared to me on the next stool at the Cork & Kerry Irish Pub in Bridgeport as we quaffed pints. He called me by my nickname as we discussed our beloved city of Chicago.
“Mr. Hooley! What’s this Lightfoot fella up to with the police?” he barked.
I told him, she’s not a fella, but just a diminutive lady with a little man’s complex.
Frank was upset, “Word is that this Mayor Lightfoot called the cops of Chicago, “cowards”
Well, many of the coppers have no faith in her Superintendent of Police, David Brown, and have voiced their feelings about him, and she said they are “cowards” according to the Sun-Times.
O’Hooligan scoffed, “Is she daft?”
Well, yeah kinda.
“How in the hell did she get elected?”
It’s a long story grandpa.
“And what’s all this blather about ‘defunding the police’”?
Yeah, it’s happening across the country, progressives want to replace the police with social workers to solve crime.
Ferocious Frank laughed, “Social workers? Do youse call a social worker when somebody is raping your daughter? Or stickin’ a gun in your face to hijack your car? And who the hell are these ‘progressives’ yer talkin’ about?”
Good government types who are hellbent on destroying the status quo, up is down, black is white, women are men, and men are eunuchs, and we’re all racists. We call them ‘goo-goos’!
“Goo-Goos is it? Dirty stinkin’ blagguards is more like it!”
Yeah, things are outta control, they’ve issued no days off for the cops, making them work round the clock, and when they do make a pinch, the scumbag walks out of the station five minutes later, on his own recognizance.
Murders and shootings are at an all-time high in the city, the violence is so bad in The Loop, and folks are so scared, it’s like a ghost town. Roving gangs of whacked out marauders have been descending on the stores and cleaning ‘em out of fur coats, clothes, tv sets, looting is practically legal.
“Bejazus! What does Mayor Napoleon say about ‘dat?”
She says the stores should have hired their own private security guards.
“It’s a nightmare! My Chicago has given way to the tossers and blagguards! This would never be happening if Mayor Richard J.Daley was still running things!”
Yeah, a couple ‘shoot to kill’ orders might straighten the whole mess out. But he’s dead and we are stuck with this little tyrant who thinks everything is just jake. The Loop is a cesspool, almost empty because of all the violence.
“But why Mr. Hooley? Why piss off the police? Those are the LAST guys any mayor should want to fight with, they’re the only line that stands against the evil feens of this world!”
Things are different now grandpa, we’re living in a world gone mad.
“Ah bejazus Mr. Hooley, yer startin’ to depress me with all this talk of ‘defund the police’, goo-goos, and your murderin’ midget mayor!”
Say I meant to ask you grandpa, do you ever see Mayor Daley up there in heaven?
“Uh ho, did I say I went to heaven, me boyo?”
I just assumed.
“Assume your sister!”
Well grandpa, there is one ray of sunshine in Chicago lately.

“Ah that’s better me bucko, tell me something good is happenin’ now in my windy city, what is it?”

Chicago’s 2022 St. Patrick’s Day Parade Queen Kelley Leyden CPD.

The Queen of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is a young Irish American cop, a darlin’ young female police officer named Kelley Leyden.
“Now that’s worth comin’ up here to hear. Good to see the Plumbers Local 130 is still doing good things for our city. God bless her, long may she reign!

February Column from The Irish American News

Wally The Wire

Wally the Wire


Jimmy Strong and I were sitting in the Hidey-Ho in The old Bismarck Hotel about twenty years ago. Jimmy and I shared an office with our pal Pete Nolan upstairs.

The three of us would visit the Hidey-Ho on a regular basis. It was only an elevator ride away, in a little cubbyhole of a bar between the Walnut Room and The Chalet, with six stools and three red leather booths.

Jimmy and Pete were retired Chicago journalists, Pete a veteran of NBC News in Chicago as a political reporter and commentator, and Jimmy the former labor and political reporter for the Tribune for the last hundred some years.  These guys had been around the block and I was lucky enough to hang with them in gin mills across the city.

Our office in The Metropolitan Building was the scene of a million naps as we hunted for business as “Media Consultants”. We worked on political campaigns, did radio and TV spots for The Plumbing Council, and pitched items to Kup and Sneed.  We used to hit Lino’s, Gibsons, Gene & Georgetti’s and early some mornings Nolan would drag us to piano bars like JoAnns or The Chop House where Pete performed sort of an Irish Sinatra act that was big on…phrasing.

Looking back on it now I’m amazed I could keep up the pace with these guys. They were pros. And they could somehow answer the bell at the crack of dawn the next morning. Staying home the next day was never an option. By that afternoon we’d be having a beer in The Hidey-Ho.

So Jim “Stormy” Strong and I are sitting in one of the booths on this blustery winter day, accompanied by a friend of his, who I knew only as “Wally The Wire”.

He was an average looking mope in his mid-sixties, dressed like the guy who delivers your cleaning, smoking Camels as he smiled and told us, “I like to drink.”

Wally ‘s specialty was wire tapping the enemies of his “clients”, usually outfit guys.  Stormy knew lots of guys like Wally, all remnants of his dissolute life in the newspaper business. Stormy knew Hoffa and knew where he was buried before the shovels even made it back into the trunk.

We were both enjoying the Wire’s company as Wally told tales of his days as one of Chicago’s sneakiest guys. Finally he looked at us and said; “Well now gentleman, I think there’s something we have to discuss.”

The Wire called for another highball as he laid his cards on the table. He told us he was driving on two tickets and he had warrants.  “I’d like to hang around but I’d also like you fellas to give me some money.”

It was great the way he said it too, kind of “Hey if you wanna party with me, you gotta pay.” I admired his moxie but of course I was in no position to give him a dime and I told Wally it was nice meeting him.

He got a little prickly then, but I told him, “Don’t let the sport coat and tie fool you Wally, I am tapioca as well.”

Then he turned to Strong, “Come on you newspaper guys have dough, you can’t BS me.”

Strong looked at him and then put his arm around Wally and gave him the nod, “Hey, don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of ‘ya.”

Stormy knew I couldn’t kick in for any “criminal kitty” fund he was starting. I never asked him how much he duked the Wire, but I’m glad he did.

We spent the next several hours listening to the Gospel According to Wally The Wire.  His story would have made a great movie and evidently he had almost sold it to some Hollywood shark until he got the tap on the shoulder one night from some wise guys who said maybe that ain’t such a good idea Wally.

I was shocked to open the paper a few weeks later to read that natural causes had caught up with him. After drinking with some pals in a Rush Street saloon he had collapsed and croaked.

The late mobologist John O’Brien’s obit in the Trib was classic.  “Walter Dewey Pritchard, a private investigator and fabled Chicago felon, engaged in a variety of crime as a Damon Runyon like character who admittedly tapped telephones for clients and enjoyed the limelight of hobnobbing with mobsters.”

“A federal judge who sentenced Mr. Pritchard in 1984 after he was convicted of interstate racketeering remarked, ‘I see no redeeming features for Mr. Pritchard at all, except that he’s a nice guy.’”

The judge was right; Wally possessed a self-deprecating wit and acquitted himself as a man mistakenly cast as the bad guy, making the best of it.  He picked up electronics in the fifties in an Army radio school and spent the rest of his life on the eario.

Thanks Stormy for introducing me to this legend 21 years ago this February.

“Services (were) private. There are no plans to honor Mr. Pritchard’s request that his ashes be scattered along Rush Street.”