Irish American News Column May 2015




Mike Houlihan

Many old school South Side Irish remember being told stories of the mythological Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan by their grandparents. Frank had learned his Druid powers from his father Finbar in Kilrush and the not infrequent occasions of their use are what nurtured his legend. Here’s one of my faves.

Frank was just a young cop in those days, probably back in the late sixties, when he was working the Englewood district, not far from his alma mater Mt. Carmel.

He and his partner Ed Szibinski, also a Carmel guy, were working the midnight shift on a Friday night when they got a radio call about a disturbance at the Zanzibar Motel on Stony Island around three AM.

The cops put on the siren and wheeled into the parking lot of the Zanzibar and ran into the motel office to find out what was going on. Behind the counter night manager Sadie Coleman screamed at them, “Thank the Lawd, you’se here! We got a crazy Irish guy pulled a butcher knife on a couple hookers in Room 237!”

The “Irish guy” in question was one Bugeye Brian O’Boyle, who was renting a kitchenette at the Zanzibar in those days while driving a cab at night all over the south side. He earned his nickname because of his bulging eyeballs whenever he got angry, which was quite often according to his family and friends. He’d been given a tip by one of his fares the night before and won six hundred bucks on a horse named “She’s My Coochie” at Washington Park.

Driving back that night he’d thrown on quite a load and picked up the Kazooka sisters on Stony Island for a party in his room at the Zanzibar. They’d had a delightful time together until Brian came out of the john and found his empty cigar box on the floor and the cash gone. The Kazookas were having trouble unlocking the door however and ol’ Bugeye went into a rage as he picked up the butcher knife and backed the gals up against the wall.

Accusations were tossed back and forth and finally Helen Kazooka, the elder sister, grabbed the phone and called Sadie Coleman for some room service, who called the cops.

The standoff in room 237 would soon come to an end when Frank and his partner Ed broke down the door, slapped Bugeye silly as he dropped the knife and shoved the ladies onto the bed and told them all to “shut the feck up!”

Of course the Kazooka sisters wanted Bugeye arrested for attempted murder and O’Boyle wanted the hookers locked up for theft. “Shut up the both of you’se!” Frank admonished them and then picked up the empty cigar box and nodded at his partner Szibinski.

He opened the box and pointed at it as he questioned Bugeye, “Is this where your keep your money, ya’ amadon?”

Bugeye was practically frothing at the mouth as the veins in he necks pulsated, “Yeah, they stole it, search ‘em, you’ll find the dough for sure, six hundred bucks!”

Szibinski wasn’t crazy about the idea of searching the girls and he smirked at Frank. But Frank winked at him and began speaking in Gaelic as he blew into the box and the dust from the old cigars settled on the Kazooka sisters and they were immediately transformed into the finest pair of swine hogs ever to grace the Dupage County Fairgrounds.

They lay on the motel bed grunting and squealing and the money was laid bare by their side. Bugeye was now scared and astounded and he grabbed for the money.

“Not so fast, Bugeyes!”

Frank swept the dough up off the bed as Szibinski’s jaw hit the floor. Frank bounced the cigar box off Bugeye’s head and counted the dough. “There’s six hundred and twenty-six bucks here, you’re gonna pay these nice ladies a couple hundred for the lovely evening and they are going to go home, got it?”

Bugeye shook his head yes in absolute fear. Frank yanked the bedspread off and the pigs turned back into the Kazooka sisters, who had no idea what had just happened. Frank handed them their share and told them, “Goodnight ladies, and don’t let me catch you out on the street anymore tonight or we’ll be pinchin’ ya for sure.”

The gals left and Frank handed Bugeye the rest of the dough, minus fifty bucks, “for Sadie and the trouble you put her through.”

Frank pulled a rosary out of his pocket and told O’Boyle, “Take this and use it and don’t be bringin’ any more oinkers back to the Zanzibar motel and threatening to butcher them. Keep your mouth shut, your nose clean, and go back to church. You just walked on an attempted murder beef.”

Bugeye meekly offered up a hundred, “Can I buy you guys breakfast?”

Szibinski grabbed it and said, “Thanks, we’re going to the Pump Room for breakfast after this one.”

And that is how it happened.

Brian O’Boyle became a priest several years later and went on to become pastor of St. Felicitas on the South Side. He told only a close few the story of his encounter with the Druid powers of Ferocious Frank O’Hooligan but after all these years it can be revealed that the late Ed Szibinski inherited the rosary when Father Bugeye passed in the early nineties.



Irish American News Column December 2013

1960 City Champions Coaching Staff Back row: Howie Fagan,Van Snyder, John Mc Donnell kneeling: Rocco Principe. Far right, Head Coach Tom Carey

1960 City Champions Coaching Staff
Back row: Howie Fagan,Van Snyder, John Mc Donnell
kneeling: Rocco Principe. Far right, Head Coach Tom Carey



Mike Houlihan

If you hang around long enough, sooner or later somebody will give you an award. I seem to remember some showbiz hotshot saying this as he accepted his “Irving Thalberg” Award at the Oscars.

This month I will turn 65 and it’s finally happened to me. And just like that guy in Hollywood, I’m very proud of the honor but mystified why I was chosen.

On Saturday, December 14th at Hawthorne Racecourse the MC Foundation will honor me with the “Man in the Arena” Award “honoring coaches, players, and past heroes” of Mt. Carmel High School at their annual “Salute To The Champions”. I’m thrilled to be in the company of 16 others being inducted that day, particularly since I am a very proud alumnus of Mt. Carmel, the most legendary school in Chicago history. On the gridiron and splashed across the sports page of America, the Caravan has electrified our nation with heroic exploits of athleticism, courage, and fortitude for more than a century.

So how in the hell did Houli get in?

Yeah I asked myself the same question when I realized I’d be sharing the stage with the likes of boxing legend Marty McGarry, NBA All-Star Antoine Walker, and Heisman contender Jordan Lynch.

Back in 1960 I went to a football game at Soldier Field to watch Carmel defeat Taft 27-0 for the City Championship. I was in sixth grade and became entranced by the legendary tradition of Mt. Carmel: the brown and white, the tough guys on the team, the Carmelites in their brown robes running up and down the sidelines. The spirit of the school was infectious. Even the cheerleaders were hot, and some were even rumored to be slutty.

I decided I wanted to go to Carmel.

And so in 1963 I was a freshman trying out for the football team. I had been a starter at CK but the guys at Carmel were bigger, tougher, and meaner than the kids I’d played with in 8th grade. I played football all four years at Carmel but never broke that starting lineup. I didn’t care, I was wearin’ the brown and white, I was part of the tradition, and I got to play at Soldier Field just like the legends had.

I was a tight end in senior year and earned the sobriquet of “Hands” Houlihan due to my uncanny ability to drop every pass thrown in my direction.

I used to spray that tacky stuff all over my hands before practice to insure my catches, but then I’d forget and go to fish out a booger during practice and spend the rest of the afternoon with my finger stuck to my nose. “Hey hands, go long!”

My “dobber” on the sidelines was infamous as I exhorted my teammates with cries of “Way to be!”

In senior year I proudly wore my letter sweater everywhere, including mass on Sundays. Maybe I never started, but altar boys feared me.

I recovered a fumble against Hales Franciscan in 1966 when we were beating them 57-0 and my pal Skinny Sheahan tells me they’ve erected a statue at Hales commemorating my singular play that day.

Thirty years later I sent my sons to Mt. Carmel and relived high school, watching them win the state football championship in 1996.

I wrote a column on my class of 1967 for years in the Alumni quarterly but soon grew bored with stories of “our classmate Bob who lives in Schaumburg with his lovely wife Trudy and three kids”. I started making up imaginary classmates in the column and amusing myself with their exploits. Tight asses objected and I quit.

I wrote “An Ode to the Ol’ Brown ‘n White” and was a celebrated after dinner speaker at the annual “Big Event” fundraiser, but wasn’t asked back after giving my speech with a jockstrap on my head.

I had pretty much resigned myself to the dustbin of old Carmel guys until Coach Howie Fagan asked me to perform my “Ode” at the 50th Anniversary of the 1960 City Championship team. Suddenly I was back among the heroes and legends who had started it all for me in sixth grade, champions like Tony Carey and Buddy Ruel and coaches like Tom Carey and JJ McDonnell.

These were the guys I idolized as a youth and here I was, honored to be in their midst, having a beer and swapping stories of the glory days. And now it looks like I’ll get another shot at standing with champions on December 14th at Hawthorne Racecourse. I’ve been around the block in my travels: as an actor on Broadway and films, as a newspaper columnist, and radio host; but the thing I’m most proud of is being a Carmel guy.

So please join me that Saturday afternoon when we “Salute The Champions”. It’s for a good cause and we might even win some dough at the track. Call Howie Fagan for tickets at 708-780-3679.

Many thanks to my old pal and another legend, Coach Howie Fagan, for making it happen.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!