JACKY MALONE

By Pat Fenton

The following piece was posted on Pat’s Facebook Page…

The obituary in the upstate New York newspaper called him John “Jack” Malone.

It had a few facts about his life underneath his picture. Nothing much though, really.

It didn’t say that for 40 or more years he walked in the back door entrance to Farrell’s bar on the corner of 9th Avenue and 16th Street and sat where he always did at the very end of the bar. Always at the same spot.

Jacky Malone

It didn’t call him Jacky Malone. That’s what I always called him. We hung out together. He lived next door to me at 481 17th Street. I lived, and grew up at 483 17th Street. I knew more about him than probably some of his family. And he knew more about me than probably some of my family. He was like an older brother to me. Always giving me good advice. And all my life that street, that Irish working-class street filled with tough guys and lovers where we grew up kept coming back into my life. It always pulled me back.

It still does.

It was like the writer Peggy Noonan once said about Catholicism: “at some point, if you are lucky, being Catholic lands like a harpoon in your heart. You can swim away with that harpoon in your heart forever, but you will be pulled back.” Windsor Terrace is like that. Probably one of the last neighborhoods like that.

Recently, I was pulled back to 17th Street and Windsor Terrace for what turned out to be an Irish wake for Jacky Malone. It took place in Farrell’s Bar on the corner of 16th Street and 9th Avenue. Jacky Malone missed out on what the writer Denis Hamill once called a “marvelous three –cushion shot in the same zip code, Smith’s Funeral Home, Holy Name Church, and Greenwood Cemetery.”

Smith’s Funeral home, which was in Windsor Terrace for almost a hundred years, is closed now. From what I hear they turned part of it into a Dunkin Dounuts. But he got part of it. He got an Irish wake, something that never happens anymore in Windsor Terrace. “Hipsters”, the new people, don’t know much about Irish wakes. And I don’t imagine they really care about them.

Jacky’s sister, Snooki Malone, and her family brought his ashes down from Lake Luzerne in upstate, New York where he retired to a few years ago, and they had a funeral mass for him in Holy Name Church. After mass they all walked down 9th Avenue to Farrell’s Bar, like we used to do years ago after wakes and funerals from Smith’s. And they brought Jacky’s ashes with them.

After moving through the crowd of the bar with my wife Patricia and Gladys Mastrion , who also grew up on 17th Street, I didn’t notice until later that his ashes were placed in the very same spot he drank in for so many years. I ordered some drinks, stared into the long row of mirrors behind Farrell’s Bar that me and Jacky once stared into when we were so young, and then Gladys picked up her glass and the three of us walked down and tapped our glasses against Jacky’s ashes at the end of the bar.

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4 Responses to JACKY MALONE

  1. Al says:

    Pat, your writing is always a pleasure to experience. Wistful, genuine, poetic and hits like some magical elixir. Thanks.

    Windsor Terrace and the South Slope I put in the same category; I’ve lived in both growing up, just blocks away. I’ve travelled all over the five boroughs hundreds of times before I moved north and got to know Gotham’s neighborhoods very well. There were beautiful, leafy, sedate ones, like the extreme northwest corner of the Bronx, a small section of the Mill Basin area, and others—all small sections. Staten Island? WAS very nice. No character. Our neighborhood was really, I think, unique. It had friendly, real neighbors, soul, grit, tranquility (yes, tranquility, forget The Jokers, et al) and character. It was like a disconnected island within our city. Looking back, we know this as we did not then.

    I remember a day the folk singer Dave Van Ronk walked through Farrell’s portal with a friend of his from the neighborhood. Before they left, he uttered, “I feel like I’ve been here, somehow, all my life. So familiar.” I think he captured the spirit of our place. In Maine, the locals have a term for outsiders: “from away.” People can live there for 25 years and still be called “from away” by those with longer roots. Our neighborhood was not like that. In our own crusty, unpolished way we were welcoming.

    Didn’t know Jacky Malone but I’ll bet he would have welcomed me for a cold one. RIP.

    • Steve says:

      Atta boy Al…good contribution.

      Have a great weekend.

    • Pat Fenton says:

      Al, you’re a damn good writer yourself. You said more about our neighborhood in those four short paragraphs than most people could say in ten.

      • Steve says:

        Thanks for checking in Pat…

        Love when others contribute.

        Here comes the summer baby…Let’s make it a memorable one.

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