Michael Caraboolad's mother, Najeebie Otto Caraboolad, was a linguist and accomplished speaker, often lecturing before non-Arab civic groups on the culture, religions, and politics of the Middle East, particularly emphasizing the struggle of Lebanon for independence. Mr. Kalil Caraboolad, the godfather of one hundred fifty-five children, enjoyed great popularity, kept close contact with his godchildren, and was regarded as one of the leading elders of the community.
The Irish Cop: Godfather of Arab Families
Not all the godfathers in that little community around Bolivar and the Haymarket were Arab. There was an Irish cop on the beat who for long years was the brother member of many a family of Arab immigrants. He would daily visit the grocery stores and restaurants on his rounds, stopping to have a friendly word with owners and customers, or looking in on the tenements, checking on the sick and jobless.
The neighborhood relied on him to advise them about the necessary licenses, ordinances at City Hall, and applications for citizenship. He was a happy participant in the process of their assimilation into the big city and the big country. His name was Timothy Costello and he later rose to the rank of Chief Inspector of Police.
Tim Costello was as completely at ease with a plate of raw kibbee before him as he was with Irish stew or corn chowder. Among his close friends were the Anter brothers, who owned a grocery store, which was later expanded to a large wholesale house, and Sam Macron, their brother-in-law, who operated a restaurant at the foot of West 9th Street near the Erie Depot.
As children were born to these families, Tim Costello became an Arab godfather, and he too kept the Meyroun faithfully throughout his life.
Sometimes Tim Costello would voice his disapproval in strong direct language:
"Don't take this girl out of school; you must educate your daughters as well as your sons."
"Yes, that is true, but we need the money she will earn to bring over our relatives from the old country."
Tim would persevere and persuade, and some of those girl students of the early years owed their high school diplomas to his persistence.
Early and arranged marriages he could never understand. "That is a little baby you are marrying off. She doesn't even know this fella she has to marry," he would shout.
And the soft voices would respond:
"Ah, but you don't understand. Her cousin and his family are our own people; they will treat her well."
"Ah, but you don't understand; it is better to have her married than to send her to the factory, maybe to get in trouble or meet somebody not of our people, whose ways are not like ours."
"Ah, but you don't understand; this man is from our own village. He is from a very good family, and he has much land over there, and he owns a good business here. He will take good care of our daughter."