Saturday, March 05, 2016


((March is Womens' History Month, and also the month of St. Patrick's Day. So I 
thought I'd celebrate by reprinting a story about one of my maternal side relatives, 
my Irish American grandaunt Peggy(McFarland)McCue. First posted in 2012))

Memory is a funny thing. You can go for years not thinking about something
and then something will catch your eye or ear and a memory will be triggered,
which might lead to others. I had one of those memory triggers happen the
other day.

I was doing my laundry over at the community center here in the apartment complex
and while I was waiting for the dryer to finish I checked out the recreation room
bulletin board and passed by the record player. Now for you young folks records
were these large wax or vinyl discs that you played music with using a turntable
and a needle. There was a stack 33 1/3 albums(I’m not going to explain that to
you. Look it up in your Funk & Wagnall’s…or on Wikipedia) and the album on
top was entitled “Peg O’ My Heart” by Jerry Murad and His Harmonicats.
That’s when I started humming that song and remembered where I’d heard
it as a kid. It wasn’t a version played by an all harmonica band. It was the versions
played by Aunt Peggy on a standup piano.

Peggy was actually my grandaunt on my mother’s side of the family, the
younger sister of my grandmother Agnes McFarland.  I’ve written before
about the cottage she and Uncle Leo McCue owned at Houghs Neck in
Quincy, Ma.. But  I also remember their place on Bowdoin St (or was it
Bowdoin Ave?). The first aquarium I ever saw was at that house and one
of the fish was a swordtail. Cousin Bobby had some sort of walkie talkie radio
connection with someone who lived across the alleyway from their house..
The best chicken salad I ever tasted (at least up until age 8 or 9)was the
chicken salad I ate at Aunt Peggy’s.( It had little chunks of celery in it.)

Aunt Peggy worked at one of the big department stores in Boston but I can’t
remember if it was Filene’s Basement or  Jordan’s Basement.  I remember my
Mom bringing me in there to shop and we’d  stop by the department where
Aunt Peggy worked. The first real wristwatch I ever had was a birthday or
Christmas gift from Aunt Peggy. It was waterproof and I wore it in the bathtub
which was where I found out that while the watch was waterproof but the watch
band wasn’t. It was some blue cloth material and I had a blue stain around my
wrist for a few days afterward..

When I was cast as Merlin in a play put on by the Codman Square Library Kids’
Summer Reading club, it was Aunt Peggy who provided the big black coat that
served as my magician’s robes along with the plastic paperweight that served as
my crystal ball. The paperweight was hidden in my sleeve and I was supposed
to pull it out at some point, but the sleeves were so big that the paperweight fell
out and rolled across the floor in the middle of some scene. That’s about all I can
remember about that!

But it’s the memories of Aunt Peggy playing “Peg O’ My Heart”, and “Heart of
My Heart” and “Those Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That old Gang Of Mine”
on the piano that I remember most. I don’t need to actually hear the song to have
those memories triggered. Just seeing the names can do it, and once more I’m
reminded of summer days at Houghs Neck and Aunt Peggy.

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