Monday, September 20, 2010

Daddy-Daughter Dates

This a story that comes to me in bits and pieces of particular images and feelings, yet most of the story was told to me by my mom and dad.

When I was a young girl, possibly 5 or 6, I would drive with my mom to Merrill Lynch (where my dad worked my whole life) and wait for my dad to come down and take me on a "daddy-daughter date".

Interestingly, I used to think this was the monogram for my family because ML was such a big part of our lives and our house was filled with assorted trinkets and office supplies with this logo on them.

I would wait outside of my car with my mom and we would look up at the tall glass building and be able to see my dad getting into the elevator and watch him come down, which was very magical to me for some reason.
Similar to the elevator on the building my dad would wave from
Merrill Lynch in Paramus, NJ

Despite my recollection of this, my dad would get into the driver's seat with me in the passenger's and I would make my mom sit in the back of the car and keep quiet. Because we were on a date, she had to remain silent and pretend she wasn't make it more authentic.

We would typically go to McDonald's where I would end up leaving "my date" for the ball pit most of the time. My dad would sit with my mom and read the newspaper until we had to head back to his work.

Then, we would drive back to say goodbye to my dad and watch him go back up in the magical glass elevator and wave to him in the window before he walked back into the office and out of sight.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Many weekends of my childhood were spent taking day trips to Bucks Country, Pennsylvania with my mom. Always set to a routine schedule, we would first go to Peddler's Village, then off to the SPCA to play with the animals, and, last but not least, visit "my house" (or at least the house I wish I owned).

Peddler's Village, Spring 2008

Peddler's Village, Spring 2008

I would sit in the back of her 1993 burgundy Oldsmobile Achieva on what seemed like always the most beautiful, crisp fall day and gaze in awe of the large bedrock mountains that would encapsulate the road and the miraculous view down the valley. There was so much color and vibrancy around me; I look back on it and realize these trips were the reason autumn is now my favorite season. 

Peddler's Village, Spring 2008

When we arrived at Peddler's Village, we would walk down the cobblestone sidewalks and trickle in and out of shops. We would spend most of our time in a unique gift shop, PastTimes, and I would always make my mom take me to Glitz and Glitter -a small store that sold costume jewelry and accessories.
My mom, sister, and I used to
go here all the time in Peddler's
After 'Peddlas' (as my mom and aunts would call it in their Brooklynite accents) we would drive a minute down the road so I could play with the pets at the SPCA. We were always compassionate towards the animals we knew were less likely to get adopted and I loved freeing the cats from their cages so they could play with one another.

Before our trip came to an end, my mom would make a quick stop at a gorgeous mini-mansion in the area. Located in a small development called County Cork, the monstrosity was Italian-style with a fountain in the center of the driveway (complete with a Rolls Royce) and a luxurious white stairway accented with pearl lamplight leading down to a terrace behind the house.

An embarrassing but telling video of my best friend, Melissa, and I traveling to see my dream house in PA
The view down the street from my house in NJ (facing the PA border), 2008

I get so nostalgic looking back on it today. It was a short trip from my home in New Jersey out to Lahaska, Pennsylvania, but I felt like each time we went was a special time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

'May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.'

Someone once told me 'We are the same people we were at age six.' This is quite a statement to make considering the numerous changes in the years leading to adulthood...peer pressures, responsibilities, heartaches, freedoms, education, loss...

However, I have come to believe in recent years that this idea that the foundation that has been set for us does impact the path we choose to take in adulthood. 

Personally, my childhood experiences speak volumes of the person I am growing into today. Specifically, my most significant childhood memories revolve around the family reunions of my father's side -in particular, the birthday roasts, Irish singing, and political debating that went on through the night.  
Though it is difficult to decipher the several parties we had as they all seem to mesh together into one, let me set the scene for you as if it was a single night... 

A large, white tent canopy with hundreds of amber stringed lights stood between my immediate family, my dad's six brothers and sister, a dozen of my closest cousins and a perfectly star-filled summer night sky. Though the daytime festivities of eating and swimming equaled the fun for the rest of the kids, I was more excited about the nighttime when I got to sit and laugh at the incredible stories of my aunt's and uncles' childhood, usually in a prepared roast format in time for one of their milestone birthdays. 

Irish music would always follow -traditional ballads which included hilarious stories of their own -songs depicting times of humor, death, and a lot of whiskey.  

A staple ballad of these particular nights...
(and doubles as the name of my dog, Finnegan).
Then would ultimately come political discussion...let me rephrase that - blatant fighting over current events of the time...most of which mean nothing to us now. 

And I couldn't have been happier to be involved. 

I look back at that time in joy, admiration for their gift of storytelling, and in enormous gratitude for letting me into their world...where I learned about my beautiful Irish heritage, my ever-growing passion for politics, and the stories of struggle my parents endured but never passed on to my brother, sister, and me. 

I continue to appreciate the importance of this time in my life everyday. 

Neary Irish Hooley 2009