On February 11, 1920 I was born to an English mother and an Irish father far removed from the North / South Irish conflict which may account for their happy relationship. Clarence and Kathleen Coogan lived on Morton Avenue in Albany, New York. My Catholic grandmother, Ellen (Shepard) Coogan still had a bit o the ould sod anger in her soul when she would tell me of the streets that ran red with with Irish blood caused by the be-damned Orangemen. She taught me songs of Ireland - one in particular I later sang in an Irish Pub, "The Rocky Road to Dublin". I memorized her dialect of every syllable and they loved it. The overzealous ego still ruled my mind, but it earned me a few Guinness brews. My grandmother would have disowned me if she knew that years later, through geneaolgy studies, I found my paternal past led to the Protestants who fought the Finians in Canada; therefore, saving Canada for the British Crown.
In mother's words I contracted pneumonia at the age of ten months. The era of miraculous drugs was still eons in the future. It was not uncommon for temperature readings of -25 degrees in Albany during the 1920s. Cold dry air was the prescribed cure for any lung disorders. She told Doctor Van Loon she would push my carriage all day if possible. He said if you have the guts then he may survive, but be sure you are both well clothed. If the carriage stopped for any reason, the wheels would freeze and she would have to kick them loose. (Probably why I hate cold water and weather to this day.)
My father as a teenager, was employed as a bellhop in the Wellington Hotel at the foot of State Street. My grandfather also worked as a livery attendant at the Wellington Hotel. They both left the hotel to work for L.R. Mack, the wealthy owner of a Packard automobile sales company on Central avenue. There father learned to install and calibrate speedometers. About that time he met a young lady named Kathleen Crow with whom he fell in love and married. A year later young Clarence made his entry into the world.
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