Saturday, April 04, 2015

"Money Means Something" My April Column for Irish American News

 Kareem on the right inthe Virgin Mary Blue Polo is the hardest working guy I know
Naceda and Bidya on the right are the hardest working women in American!

                                                      Money Means Something
Work in the worldly life relies upon diligence. Therefore, man is required to work hard and actively, leaving behind laziness. The Quran and Sunnah direct us towards this understanding. Allah The Almighty Says (what means):
{And say, “Work, for Allah will see your deeds, and [so, will] His Messenger and the believers.”} [Quran 9:105]
I was brought up to work hard.  My father worked three jobs and my mother was housewife in the care of three kids.  All of my uncles and a few of my aunts had more than one job outside of the home.   My family left Ireland in the early part of 20th Century, when Teddy Roosevelt was President – Grandpa Hickey, a big husky Kerry bogman, worked in the Chicago stockyards, then as a stockyard police man and then helped found the Stationary Engineers Union in Chicago. Granny Hickey from the islands off southern Kerry and then near Cahirciveen came to the States with little English and fewer pennies and worked for the swells in the magnificent homes on south Prairie and Calumet Avenues as a cook learning from a Mexican and an African American woman.

They met when they worked at the Metro pole Hotel on Cermak Road, Larry heaving coal into furnaces and Nora cooking for the swells. They married at Holy Family on Roosevelt Road and had fourteen children- seven boys and seven girls.  One little girl died of a fever, they were fortunate. Thirteen role models and American workers lived through the Depression, World War II and labor warfare.

I once walked past a penny on the sidewalk and my Dad barked, “pick that up!’  It’s only a penny. “ Your Grandfather, my brothers and me and hundreds of other working-stiffs walked hundreds of miles on picketlines, got a nightstick on the head, spit at, arrested and locked-out of jobs for that penny, smartass.  Now, pick it up and give it to your brother when we get home.”

Money means something.

I respected that for the balance of my life.  My Dad and uncles were easy with buck and always Duke’d us little guys with some “Walking Around, Folding Dough and Spending Loot.”  Uncles Bart, Donny, Sy, Mike, Bud and Jack knew the value of a dollar and knew how to part with it with liberal ease.  Money means something to little guys. It means comic books, Dixie Cups, Chuckles and Pop.

Money represents the values of hard work, sacrifice, loyalty and labor.

Granny Hickey always paid a ‘special visit’ to Monsignor Stephen J. McMahon of Little Flower Church. The Hickey’s were among the first settlers in that great parish and helped build its still magnificent campus, now used by Charter Schools and Father Pfleger.  The priest’s house is where the pastor of St. Sabina’s parks his cars.

The Irish immigrants from County Kerry helped  the Church and the founding of a grammar school and convent and eventually a co-educational Catholic high school, later closed by Cardinal Cody only to make the point to other pastors that he could.

Money means something.

I was reminded of that fact on Sunday March 15th just before the South Side Irish Parade conducted by a son of Little Flower Parish Tom McGourty from 77th & Wood Street.  I was going to Mass at a cousin’s home which is an annual family gathering and I needed to get out of the neighborhood before the parade step-off.  Streets are strategically blocked after 10 AM.  I needed to get to Oak Park by 11 and Mass was at 9:30, so I drove to 99th & Oakley – I usually walk over to my cousin’s house.  I found a good spot for easy parade egress and a clear path to the Dan Ryan and decided to grab a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts on 104th & Western Ave.

It was here that I recalled my peasant roots and immigrant values when I was greeted by my pal Kareem, the manager of Dunkin Donuts/

Kareem and his crew of Naceda, Larry and Bidya are my family.

Every morning, Monday through Friday, I am at Dunkin Donuts a little after 4 AM, where I am greeted with Kareem’s hale and happy, “ Leo Hickey! How’s Myles Turner( a Leo Man shot up by gangbangers and struggling to walk again); He’s at Chicago State, yes?”  I answer as best I can and say good morning to Naceda and Larry from India.  This happy couple live in Homer Glen.  Bidya always asks, “ How’s  Jimmy Sexton, I love that man!”  Mayor Jimmy Sexton, also a Little Flower man, of Evergreen Park helped Bidya recover more than $ 4,000 from a fraud of a window contractor.  Jimmy Sexton knows the value of a buck to hard-working people.  Cousin Sylvester “Sy” Hickey, Chief Engineer at Cook County’s Stroger Hospital arrives and fights me for the morning payment of the Zoom Juice.  I surrender easily, always have. Kareem does the color commentary.

Kareem is a native of Morocco, lived a while in France and is married to an American girl and together they have three lovely children .  They live on 99th Street on the border of Evergreen Park.  Kareem is at work every morning at 3AM and he is present every day.  He says, that he always takes Sunday off to clean the garage and do a Dad Commands Clean-up of the homestead, followed by a spoiling of the children outing.

I call Kareem and his crew the hardest working Americans always to their protestations – “ Painter Pat Maloney works much harder!”  He do?  I have only witnessed these role models move with speed, race and accuracy in making change and always with smiling grace. 

Kareem, Bidya, Naceda and Larry seem to be there every day. They do not own the franchise; they own non-stop flow of customers, greeted by name and always with genuine affection. America will be just fine.  A couple out of County Kerry did their kids proud and they, in turn, the same.

Money means something.

The Bible speaks of it and so does the Quran.  

From Irish American News for April (p.45)

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