This day is set aside to honor Patrick, the Roman Briton captured by Irish seafarers who learned faith in Christ through his captivity and later brought it back to the culture that now, worldwide, claims him for its own.
But do not let this day pass without also remembering our red-headed thirtieth President, Calvin Coolidge, who freely acknowledged he would have gone nowhere near national leadership had it not been for the good Irish folks of Northampton, most especially wise shoemaker Jim Lucey, whose shop on Gothic Street was where Cal received what is perhaps the best advice ever given to him: What to say to the beautiful girl up the hill at Clarke School, Miss Grace Goodhue. Some papers reported as Cal rose in politics that Lucey advised him to keep his shoe laces tight and his tongue from wagging. In his Irish brogue he flatly denied saying anything of the kind. For, Lucey would declare, “his shoes were always laced tight and his tongue never wagged.” Instead, the older gentleman discouraged Cal from just talking law or about his cases to the girl. When Cal wrote to Lucey just before departing for Washington in the summer of 1923 to thank him for all the older friend had done for him, it was no mystery to Jim what this meant. Reporters, on the other hand, were clueless. A lady reporter was sent to learn what the reference did mean.
Overcoming his usual resistance to press interviews, Lucey cautiously repeated what he had said only once before to a gathering of the local college students and staff. In measured tones with unmistakable accent, he reiterated what he told Cal years before:
“Now, look here. The next time you go up there, you tell her how nice she is and how pretty she looks. Then look her square in the eyes and say: ‘What a wonderful wife you would make for someone and how I wish that someone were me!’ “
“That’s what Cal means where he writes that he wouldn’t be where he is if it wasn’t for me,” Lucey explained and he retrieved his letter from Cal laying on the table before them and the interview was done.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day as we remember the missionary to Ireland and the Irish supporters who helped our red-headed “little fella” on his path to greatness.