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White Privilege on Parade: The trouble with St. Patrick's Day
Thanks to COVID-19, Cleveland’s 2021 St. Patrick’s Day parade has been canceled for the second straight year. First held in 1842, the parade’s incredible staying power is a testament to its popularity. St. Patrick’s Day in Cleveland has always been a celebration of Irish survival in the face of adversity.
The "past lives" craze: Yes, we can see into the past
Thanks to TikTok and YouTube, dabbling with the supernatural has become trendy. Using a YouTube video to induce a state of hypnosis, social media influencers are emerging from their alleged hypnotic state with wild claims. Some say they discovered they "let the Trojan Horse in" during a battle in ancient Greece; others say their past lives were more recent, and that they died on 9/11 or caused the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Apparently, discovering your "past lives" is the latest way of going viral - and as a middle school parent, I know going viral is the goal.
No Blood for Dope
NO WAR FOR OIL. Were you alive and watching the news in the years following September 11, 2001? I was, and I remember this slogan well. The anti-war crowd insisted America’s dual wars in the Muslim world—in Iraq and Afghanistan—were about “oil.” The War on Terror had nothing to do with the Taliban or terrorism, only oil and America’s access to it. Even Nancy Pelosi called George W. Bush and Dick Cheney “two oilmen” who were dragging American troops to the Middle East in shameless financial self-interest. Bush’s name became “Bu$h.”
The great sharks of the Great Lakes
William Chambers could sing Union Army songs in his sleep. He knew every word to “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and "Always Stand on the Union Side.” He enjoyed singing them in his hearty baritone voice. His fellow infantrymen liked it too, although they’d never admit it. And best of all, singing made it difficult for an American to realize that Will had an accent.
Call him by his real name
“Don’t worry if it spills over. The patrons like it that way,” Mary Gannon explained to Breda. Mary was the Whiskey Island dance hall owner who called herself Calypso. She was teaching Breda the art of pouring ale. “’Tis better than filling the glass halfway, which induces the men to complain that they didn’t get their money’s worth.”
"I've overheard a threat to kill the President"
“That’s the last speech Mr. Lincoln will ever give.” The man uttering the words had clearly not intended for Will Chambers to overhear him, but Will couldn’t help whipping around to look at him anyway. The crowd gathered outside the White House was solemn but triumphant; they listened to their President with rapt attention. Therefore, it surprised Will to find some ninny with overgroomed hair glaring at him.
The barn and the bog body
Breda walked to work each day as if she were walking to the gallows. Only a few nights had passed since a group of vagabond thieves—known among the Irish as Tinkers—had stormed Lord Andrews’ manor house, masked in old cut-out flour sacks that made them look demonic. But evil spirits they weren’t. They were common thieves who knew it was an auspicious evening to loot the teach mór—“the big house.” The owner, a rich English landlord, was entertaining rich guests that night. They knew because Breda had felt sympathy for the poor Tinker woman at the market. Breda had given the woman butter and a loaf of bread to feed her gaunt, dirty children, while letting it slip that Lord Andrews was hosting a Midsummer party.
The time I caught a ghost on camera
The summer before my eleventh birthday was the first time I encountered a ghost. Well, sort of. I was on a camping trip with my Girl Scout troop on Johnson’s Island, a tiny patch of land in Lake Erie. During the Civil War, the North built a prison camp for captured Confederate officers on Johnson’s Island, and a Confederate cemetery remains there today. Next to the graveyard is a cabin, and in the cabin is where I was staying with a dozen other ten-year-olds on an overnight trip. Unfortunately, it drizzled throughout our first day, so we were bored. Some girls cut through the graveyard to a walking trail. Suddenly, two girls came running from the woods, screaming that they had seen a ghost—a young soldier in the blue jacket worn by Union troops who once patrolled the island prison.