This weekend was quite an excellent time for me.
First, I was able to go to my cousin Shelby’s wedding on Saturday. The mass itself was in the amazingly beautiful Holy Redeemer Church in Detroit (a few blocks off Michigan Ave). My mom, two sisters, and myself were able to bring the Walsh contingent. We arrived at Holy Redeemer quite early, so we hung out in the parking lot talking. A pack of three pit bulls sauntered by, and we got to talking about some of the wild dogs that must roam Detroit. We weren’t sure if these were wild or not, but we definitely didn’t want to take our chances on trying to catch them! They looked like they were on a mission as they went in single file across the parking lot to the dumpsters, and then moved on. It actually felt like a scene from a documentary about hyenas or something.
We went inside the church a while later, and looked around. I had been there many years ago, and it was nice to remember some of the lovely memories we had there. I had been there before heading off to the St. Patrick’s Day parades that the Walsh/Carey family always used to participate in. We had been there for some of the quinceaneras as well. I remember being taken aback by the sheer size of the church when I was a kid, and even on Saturday, I felt it was quite breathtaking.
After Mass, my family and I went to Fuddruckers because there was a three or four hour break between the Mass and the reception. We had a blast hanging out and talking. My mom parted ways with us after a few hours, so my two sisters and I hung out at the Hotel Fairlane (where the reception was to be).
While we were hanging out in one of the long ornate hallways, we saw an older couple come in. By his stride, looks, and the way he carried himself, I could tell the man was an Irish folk singer. They set up in the lobby where people were congregating before the dinner.
As he started playing, my one sister asked the other, “Isn’t that Charlie Taylor?” His voice sounded very much like him, but the other sister said, “I don’t think so.” I too remembered Charlie Taylor as a larger man with broad shoulders and belly. However, it turned out that we were mistaken. In fact, it was Charlie Taylor himself.
For those of you who don’t know, Charlie Taylor is an excellent Irish folk singer, and was a very good friend of my grandfather’s. He is classically trained in operatic singing, and has a lovely voice. My grandfather gave him his start at Walsh’s bar in Detroit many years ago.
When we found out it was him, we stood nearby for a while. When he sang “Danny Boy,” it immediately brought me back to some of the Irish funerals where he had sung that song while we were interring someone. A little later, I brought my two sisters over and we introduced ourselves to him when he finished a song. He seemed genuinely happy to see us, and said, “Oh, I remember you. Your grandfather and I had some great times!” We talked for a few minutes, and then let him get back to playing his set.
We talked to a few other interesting people, saw some relatives we hadn’t seen in years, and generally had a nice time waiting for the dining area to open.
When the dining area finally did open, we took our seats. At first, my two sisters and I were sitting all alone, but a couple who didn’t have any seats joined us named Andy and Corrine. They seemed like interesting enough folk. However, I was very excited when Charlie Taylor and his wife sat down with us!
Charlie and I talked about the Irish language and everyone soon joined in, laughing about the huge “difference” between pronunciation and they way words are spelled in Gaelic. Charlie talked about some of the moments in his life, and Andy asked about the Old Shillelagh. Charlie talked a bit about how he and another gentleman started it, though he was quick to tell us that he was the one who had come up with the name of the place.
Charlie told the girls the story of the exploding potbelly stove at Walsh’s Bar. I had heard this story before, but it was great to hear Charlie tell it. Basically a gentleman and friend of the Walshes (whose name I’ve forgotten) came in to Walsh’s Bar with a brown paper package of steaks and a few other groceries. When he wasn’t looking some practical jokers switched the steaks out of the package and replaced them with coal. However, they didn’t notice that there were two cans of soup at the bottom. As the gentleman got up to leave, they stole his brown paper package, and started tossing it around the room. They were all laughing and carrying on playing “monkey in the middle” until one clever prankster decided to throw it in the potbelly stove that heated the place. They all had a good laugh about it and explained to the gentleman that they had not actually thrown his groceries in the flame. He was greatly relieved, until a gigantic and resounding explosion rocked the whole scene. The soup cans had exploded from the extreme coal-fired heat. In fact, Charlie told me that the potbellied stove was ruined and had to be replaced.
Charlie gave us lots of other great stories and anecdotes about his life and his travels. Before I knew it, a few hours had passed. Charlie’s dinner didn’t agree with him, so he and his wife left. So, the girls and I went out on the dance floor for a while. We shook our booties and had a great time.
Before we knew it, it was much later than we had planned to stay and we said our farewells. We were able to take my cousin Margo home and talk to her for a little while longer, and then we headed back home.
I woke up the next morning very excited because it was the day of my “2011 Winter Sports Crawl.” I had been planning this event for a long time, and I was very excited. The idea behind a sports crawl is to have multiple games and sports throughout the day. In one way, it is sort of like the olympics, but the biggest difference is that its main idea is that it is a pick-up type game where anyone and everyone plays and is welcome.
We played kickball in the snow at first. We used a sled to make the “track” to roll the kickball. It was kind of fun because the kickball would sometimes jump out of the track at the last second, making the ball really hard to kick. We started out by just throwing it a few times while we waited for people to arrive, and then when we had enough for a team we played a few innings. I had a lot of fun with that!
Next, we played football in the snow. It was a lot of fun to just lay out and catch the ball. Andrew was on my team and was covering my other friend John, but John was super fast and was running some great routes. Andrew said for me to take over because John “has cleats, or at least that I’m going to tell myself.” We had a good laugh about that, but then I wasn’t laughing so much trying to keep up with John. I had a couple of good defensive plays, but that man is fast!
We then played “snow gauntlet” and “snow pie.” I had originally planned on ice skating, but no one really seemed to want to do it. So, we played the “snow pie” for a lot longer than originally planned.
When we had finished with all that, we took a break and went to dinner at my friend Robin’s house. We had pizza and pop and just hung around for a while.
Then, we went to Veteran’s Park and finished the sports crawl with some sledding. The hill was very fast and a bit icy. We decided to go to a smaller hill near the big one to avoid injury. Then, Adam and Andrew proceeded to ride a picnic table all the way down that hill! It was pretty impressive from where I stood.
A few of us went out to McDonald’s afterwards for some hot chocolate and socializing. Since, it was Sunday, we didn’t stay for too long, said our goodbyes and went on with the rest of our merry lives.
To sum up, this weekend was simply wonderful, and I am really grateful for the lovely times and memories. Even though my body took a bit of a beating and I’m still sore even now, I wouldn’t change any of it!