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Making friends for life

Saturday, August 09, 2014 - Updated: 4:08 AM


For The Recorder

This story begins March 3, 1935. It was snowing, very cold, and my father drove my sister Betty and I to school. We lived on 9 Stewart St. and St. Mary's Institute was on Forbes Street. My mother had the flu and my sister Pat stayed home with her.

Two hours later, Mother Anna Francis got a phone call: "Send the Sheridan children home." We walked from Forbes Street to Stewart Street. When we arrived at home there was a police car and a hearse from Elliot Boice's. My dad had committed suicide. We had two weeks to move and we weren't exactly in "Fat City."

One year later, my sister Pat started school at SMI. I was in the fourth grade and was subject to a little ridicule due to my father's death and how he died. But not Pat. There was a beautiful young lady who sat behind Pat and took it upon herself to be Pat's "guardian." I don't know where she acquired the sympathy and compassion she showed. She and Pat were like glue for 12 years. Many, many weekends she would invite Pat over on a Friday night to spend the weekend with her family on what was then and is now the "high-rent district" -- Lincoln Avenue. Pat would come home Saturday evening and tell us just how the weekend went. She had three things to say. She had a nice Friday supper, a more than adequate Saturday breakfast, and a friend for life. This girlfriend's name was June Corrigan. Saturday afternoon Pat and June would go to the Strand Theater. One week after the show they stopped at the City Pharmacy for an ice cream soda. The following week they went to Rialto Theater followed by a Salvione hot fudge sundae. Those expeditions were financed by the Corrigan family because we had squat.

June had a brother named George who recently passed away. He was a scholar and he played varsity basketball and baseball. She had another brother named Bill who went in the Navy, came out and joined the Amsterdam Police Department, and was a very good amateur boxer. He had flaming red hair and a very short fuse. I sparred with him a few times using 16 ounce pillows, and believe me, he could hit. He married a young lady who ran the soda fountain at Albert Speedioci's Drug Store in the East End. She also had flaming red hair, but the difference was that she was beautiful -- she should have been in Hollywood. She was drop-dead gorgeous. The reason that I chose June for this piece is that my mother passed away in 1981. At the viewing and the funeral there was June. My sister Betty passed away in 1995. At the viewing and the funeral there was June. Very big on tradition and common courtesy. When my sister Pat graduated with June, she and Norma Petruccione went to St. Mary's Nursing School for three years and became RNs. June went in the greeting card business.

Down through the years, my wife and I were very fond of eating breakfast at Europa. On many occasions we saw June with former classmates or some of her employees. She'd always stop by the table to exchange greetings. The last time that I saw June, I stopped at the card store because a very dear friend of mine worked there, Lou Coughlin. I wanted to leave off a Christmas present for her, but June said she'd be in later and that she'd give her the present. It was Christmas time and the store was full. She still took time to visit.

I met Mary Lou at Mount Loretto -- no matter where she worked she took every Wednesday off to take her mother shopping and we always get five or six cards from her every year. She is a classy lady.

In the event Mary Lou reads this -- don't get any ideas. I have been happily married for 62 years. My wife hasn't, but that's another story.

June's passing broke a lot of hearts. She is gone, but she will never be replaced. I'm very glad that she was a part of our life.

I leave you with this: "You may not have been an angel and you may not have been a saint, but we loved you for what you were and not for what you ain't."

The last three times my sister called from Texas her last remark has been "How is Len Czelusniak?" I'm very glad my sister calls me, because from Texas to New York for 45 minutes represents a large chunk of change. I think she is rather well off -- I heard that recently they bought a kid for their dog to play with.

Thank you for reading this far. Hope to see you next week.

JAMES SHERIDAN is an Amsterdam

resident and frequent contributor.


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