A boomer looks back to Cops and Shamrocks

Did we sometimes… um… get a little wild when we were young? Pittsburgh’s Tim Menees, who became a professional newspaper op-ed cartoonist, remembers one episode for BoomerCafé because it came on St. Patrick’s Day, 1968.

After cheering presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy when he walked past us in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, we returned to our apartment to host a party that night. It would end abruptly.

The four of us young military officers— two Army, one Navy, one Air Force (me), were renting a two-bedroom rent-controlled apartment on the Upper East Side. It was in an old stone building with a courtyard and open stone corridors. It cost $200 a month. Total.

Just before graduation from officers’ training school at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, my classmates and I got our orders for our next assignments. This was during the war in Vietnam and many were heading to flight school, some at Amarillo AFB (Joke: “There’s a girl behind every tree, except there aren’t any trees.”)

I was heading for the Air Force version of the Navy’s NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) in Manhattan, and I don’t mean Kansas. Our training officer, a captain, tried to be comforting when I heard he was sending me to New York and said, “Mr. Menees, I’m sorry.” He was typical military, preferring to live on base with its housing, commissary, hospital, PX, clubs, schools, and ball fields. But I thought: Are you crazy? I’m young, single, and heading for New York City where there are girls.

I said, “Yes, sir.”

Original artwork by Tim Menees.

Our St. Pat’s party kicked off around eight. The guests were other young officers and their girlfriends or wives. We started on the drinks, pretzels, chips, and cheese. We put on music— the Stones, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel. Chit-chat ramped up to singing “Satisfaction” and dancing and Stu putting the Simon & Garfunkel album cover on his head like a miter and blessing us all.

Around eleven, we all got loud, but it was Saturday night, St. Paddy’s Day, the city was bathed in green.

Knock knock KNOCK KNOCK.

Tim Menees

We cut the sound, Stu took off the album cover, and I opened the door. An NYPD patrolman was standing outside. He said, “Hey, guys, I know it’s St. Pat’s, but you gotta to turn down the sound, OK?”

I said, “Yes, officer, thanks for letting us know.”

We put the Stones back on to more drinks, more dancing, more volume, and more singing. Stu put on the Simon & Garfunkel album cover again.

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!

This was not a friendly “Hey, guys” knock.

The music stopped, the miter came off. Now the patrolman had two cops as backup. He said, “Cut the noise and I mean now, or we’re taking you downtown!”

We’d seen the old movies about cops loading miscreants into paddy wagons and taking them downtown and we wanted no part of “downtown,” especially if we’d have to call our high-ranking bosses, who wore scrambled eggs on their visors, to spring us from jail.

Our guests started to leave. Well, it was late and most had to get the subway, and that was that. Until the morning after. We opened our blinds to dried yellow paint. No. Someone had egged our windows. Speaking of eggs.

I know, I know … but where are the cops when you need em?

12 Comments

  1. This is the saddest St. Patty’s ever in New York… and other places. No parades, no pubs. People are scared and surely not in the mood for celebration.
    Yet, it’s a good day to remind every Irish, how this great nation lived through perils and hardships (the real ones, not toilet paper imaginary shortages), how Irish were on the front line of protecting this country and this world from every evil big or small coming into sight of Celtic soul… and all this retaining the ability to laugh and be happy.

  2. Thank you Tim for this great story to cheer us up on this unprecedented St. Patrick’s Day when there will be few parties, no bars open, no gatherings of 10 or more, the first time in our country’s history that the streets will be shut down from coast to coast. But, it’s remembering that we made it through all of the very tough times as a country, including the Vietnam War & other World Wars, the Assassination of our leaders, stock market crashes and so many other unprecedented times we thought might be our demise. I feel this day St Patrick’s Day 2020 our country will begin to come together in love and fellowship although we are 6 feet apart our hearts are one. May “The Luck of the Irish” be with you all and keep you safe and heal the hearts of our people, this One Nation Under God & Indivisible!

  3. Thank you for the cheer up today.We too are in a gloom state here in Canada. This will pass. We will be strong and happy again. We will celebrate extra exuberantly next year and loudly as Mr. Menes did back in the day. God bless the US and Canada.
    Tamara from Alberta, Canada.

  4. Always love your stories and your drawings. I realy believe you have a book in you! Just put together your best of best…i would buy it! I especially would love copy of the one you did for one of our reunions! Come on ztim, give it a try. As JBK said, “JUST DO IT”

  5. “I peg your bardon. I’m not under the alcofluence of inkahall though some thinkle peep I are.” I heard something close to that at a St. Patty’s Day party in Dillon, Montana. Even though half Polish and half Norwegian, the welcome was genuine and the beer was green. Testing limits does help in defining borders. Thanks for the reminder.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *