Tag Archives: Redheads

Social Justice (Or Anger Issues)


Feeling the inequalities from when I was just beyond toddlerhood, I fiercely demonstrated for my human rights and social justice. Once my parents were visiting their friends in South Orange, New Jersey, when I was pretty little, I must have been about four years old. They had a bunch of little boys, and we were all told to go play out in their backyard. It must have been martini time for the grown ups. I actually remember the boys telling me I couldn’t play with them because I was a girl, and I hot-headed it outta that backyard.

The cops found me walking down a street in Newark. I got to ride in the back of the squad car (the first of a few rides like that I’ve taken…) – they must have gotten a call that a little red-headed 4-year-old was having a protest march. This was years before the Newark riots, so I don’t think I started anything.

Flash forward to ten years old – we still lived in New Jersey – and there was a little strip of woods between Payne Avenue and the next street – Hill Street – the Hill Street gang being our rivals. Kenny Miller lived two doors down from us. His dad was a carpenter, and we used scraps of wood to build a two-story fort behind Kenny’s garage. It was pretty swanky, and we called it the Rinky Dink Club. It took us a couple of months to build it – I was over there every day after school, hammering away, smashing my fingers, hauling wood, cleaning stuff up, etc. We put the finishing touches on the fort, screen windows and doors, and locks. I was then unceremoniously told that I couldn’t belong to the Rinky Dink Club because I was a girl. I freaked out. The night of my “dismissal,” I went over to the fort and I ripped up the screens and did some major damage to the place. I was like some kind of hell cat. I thought about setting the fort on fire, but figured that might be excessive.

The Rinky Dink Club of Payne Avenue was all up in arms because they reckoned it was the kids from Hill Street who did the damage. It wasn’t even considered that I could have been the culprit. We were out in the street playing Kick the Can, and all the boys were plotting their revenge upon the Hill Streeters. I was thrilled and guilty at the same time.

Yeah, guilt. Catholic school girl that I was, I needed to confess in the worst way. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I told my little brother, Michael, that it was me – I did it – I ripped up the Rinky Dink Clubhouse. And he squealed on me the next day – I couldn’t believe it! I forget the exact sequence of events, but we were up in his room, and I was so outraged that I stabbed Michael in the shoulder with a pencil. He claims to still have the lead in his shoulder to this day.

Well, I confessed to all of it and had to make amends – but those guys also had to admit me into the Rinky Dink Club. I told them I didn’t want to join their Stinky Dink Club…SO THERE!

Tea and Me


I went quite insane yesterday when I saw that our big chain supermarket, Cub Foods, now carries Barry’s Irish Tea. It wasn’t very expensive, either. Previously I was ordering it online and anxiously awaiting for its arrival, or making a special trip to Kowalski’s and copping it at their premo prices.barrys

What is with us Irish types and the tea tradition? Is it some sort of recessive gene? We’re (and I’m using the collective “we” as in “we Irish Americans” blah blah blah I have Irish relatives still living over there on the old sod) pretty famous for our obsession with tea, proudly outdoing our British rivals.

I did a little cursory “GTS,” you know, Google That Shit (hey, that’s a real technical term), and came up with this item:

Graham Clifford of Independent.ie writes:

Since the early 1800s, it’s oiled the mechanics of our chatterbox nation. Having the cup of tea, which was first introduced to Ireland by the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, is not so much the desire for a hot tasty beverage as it is to take part in a social ritual.

Incredibly Ireland is the leading consumer of tea per capita on the planet. We consume 2.71kg – or 1,200 cups – each year.

When JFK visited his home place in New Ross in 1963, he was handed a cup of tea and in more recent years Mrs. Doyle banged a familiar drum on Father Ted, asking all in sundry if they’d have a cup – and not taking no for an answer. Some say it calms the nerves, others that it has medicinal properties. One thing everyone can agree on is that it’s accompanied millions of fireside chats through the years in Irish homes.

Ah yes, the medicinal properties – once my Uncle Jack took us out on Nana Walsh’s big wooden row boat when we were staying up at her lake cabin in Highland Lakes, New Jersey (the cabin was named Cooga Doon, after the village in Ireland where she grew up.) We stayed out on the lake all day, and I had no sun protection whatsoever. Redhead that I am, I was sunburned very severely by the end of the day. They placed me in a tub full of teabags and cool water – something about the tannic acid reducing the inflammation. I probably should have gone to the emergency room, but tea did the trick.

Growing up, we were given tea for upset stomachs, colds, flu, and just about any affliction. Tea made everything better.

It’s been rumored that used teabags placed on eyelids can help to reduce the redness and swelling from bad hangovers. Having never been hung over, I can’t attest to this. Tea doesn’t help to alleviate fibbing.

I find that the caffeine element in tea is different from coffee. I require coffee first thing in the morning – and I am very particular about the brand of coffee I drink now as well (Peets – I know, I’m like a caffeine snob.) But when I’m in that slumpy mode after 3:00 in the afternoon it’s got to be a nice cuppa tea. It seems to revive and calm nerves at the same time.

Is it just years of conditioning that makes me believe I feel better?

Who cares? I’ve got Barry’s. Time to put the kettle on.