I am proud of my Irish heritage. I rode my bicycle through Ireland years ago and marveled at the people and the countryside. Our lineage and link to the old country was through my great grandfather on my mother’s side. His name was Patrick Carroll and this is a little story about him.
Patrick emigrated to America around the turn of the 20th century and settled in the North Side of Pittsburgh. He built the first house on Stayton Street and it still stands today although a little disheveled from the original appearance.
Patrick became a police officer for the City of Pittsburgh and basically was a beat cop whose jurisdiction was the Marshall/Shadeland area and Woods Run. He was a good cop and raised his family with the same values as he adhered to as a police officer. When you walk the beat, you get to know the people. As I heard it told from my mother and grandmother, Paddy would rattle the fences of houses with his night stick to alert the kids that it was time to go inside. He would see the local guys moving moonshine out of their automobile trunks during prohibition and rap the fenders and tell the guys to keep that business off the street. He left the bigger bootleggers to the Feds, but the local guys trying to make a buck, he looked the other way as long as they did not abuse the privilege. He greeted the ladies with respect and looked after the local businesses on his daily rounds. In short, he was a good cop and looked after the neighborhood. My grandmother told stories about people coming to the house and delivering food and other treats for Paddy Carroll for some favor that he had done for them or for just being attentive to their business or family. This is the way it was back in the day.
He ended up with a house full too. His wife died at an early age and my grandmother basically ran the house for him and his two sons. My grandfather Jack Reynolds eventually married my grandmother and moved in to the house on Stayton Street. So the house was full of guys with my grandmother cooking and cleaning for the lot. Unknown to Paddy Carroll my grandfather was making gin in the bathtub upstairs in the attic and after prohibition, he switched to beer. Paddy kept an eye on things and when Grandpap Reynolds found out that Paddy was counting the beers in the cases in the basement, he would save the caps,and fill the bottles with water. Paddy would remark that Johnnie was cutting back. My grandfather would chuckle and continue the charade until he stopped drinking around the time when I was a little kid.
At that time, the neighborhood was filled with hard working, blue collar folks trying to raise their families and getting by. Patrick Carroll was a friend to the neighborhood and in reality, he was the patron of the Woods Run and Marshall/Shadeland area. Things have changed a bit in the neighborhood and these days, there are shootings, drugs, violence and other happenings that make the old neighborhood a menacing place to live sometimes. Paddy the Cop would be saddened at the condition of his home, but as life progresses, things change sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
It is said about history that you don’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been. Perhaps we all could take a lesson from Paddy the Cop’s page when we look back and see how he managed the neighborhood and his job. It is a lot more complicated today with the complexity of crime and poverty. However,without deference to any race, heritage, or social status, Paddy took care of the neighborhood and the neighborhood took care of Paddy. Just sayin. Thanks for reading.