Irish Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles About the Old Neighborhood

Little Disturbs Tranquil St. Malachi "Village"

"Around the Town" with Jack Warfel and Jim Herron
Cleveland Press, August 3, 1946

 Neighbors in "The Little Village" of St. Malachi's parish today brewed tea and recalled chasing Annie Perkins, Public Square newsgirl of half-century ago, over the old viaduct.

"Wait till I stir the stew and I'll tell you about it," said Mrs. Mary Daniels, village pioneer.

Outside, village streets were tranquil in summer sun that sifted through "Trees of Heaven" to splotch sidewalks with shadow-embroidery.

Traffic of Main Ave. Bridge surged overhead, tense humanity sped east and west on Detroit Ave. In the village a small dog followed a lazy beetle along the curb, and on the sidewalk, two women arms akimbo and dust-caps pushed back enjoyed a morning discussion while resting their market baskets.

"Wore Men's Pants"

"The reason we chased Annie Perkins over the viaduct was because she wore men's pants," said Mrs. Daniels, coming out of the kitchen. "Each afternoon she'd cross from east to west to sell her papers and I'd join the O'Boyle, O'Dea and Mulloney youngsters in giving her a run. Never seemed to bother her."

Mrs. Daniels peered through her screen door. "My father, Hugh O'Donnell, came from Ireland and built the house we're sitting in. Then there were friendly Indians down the hill. At the end of the street was a palace of a place, all brick, with a veranda facing the lake. Built by a sailboat owner. See my brother, Cornelius, four houses up, right next to old St. Malachi's church. He can tell you some yarns."

Capt. Cornelius O'Donnell, of the tug boar "New Mexico," was waking from a parlor nap. "My house is older than the old church," he said. "No nails in it. All pegs. The night old St. Malachi's burned my house was a crystal palace from the fire hoses.

"Once the owners of sailing vessels had their estates here. The streets leading to the docks were lined with sailors' boarding houses. Fifty dollars, no more, no less, was what a sailor paid for room and board for his shore period. We never locked a door and we never had a robbery. Sure we might find a stranger asleep in the front parlor now and then but no harm came of it.

 "Door Always Open"

"Being next door to the church, we never knew how many we'd have for Sunday dinner. There's a song called, "That's Why Paddy Was Always Poor" and it could have been written for my father. The door was always open and the tables always set."

Capt. O'Donnell looked proudly at rows of wall-pictures. "I've raised my children, James, Anna, Claire, Joseph, Joan, Frank, Bernadette, May and Dorothy in this house. Now two are married. You might want to see Mr. George Donovan across the road, I can't remember when she wasn't in the parish."

Mrs. Donovan appeared at the screen door drying her hands. "I'm doing the wood-work" she said coming out on the back stoop." Mrs. Catherine O'Boyle is 80 and must be the oldest resident. But she was 18 when she came from Ireland. Some of the finest citizens were raised here. Doctor, lawyer, postmaster, ambassador, senator—the parish produced them all. Father Winchester might have the records.

Rev. Fr. Otis S. Winchester, assistant pastor to Rev. Fr. George F. Martin of St. Malachi's was standing before the nesar-finished new church. "This little parish is very close to our hearts," he said. "Today there is talk that the housing project may envelope the village. But whatever happens the spirit of courage and progress of this very old little community will live in the city that surrounds it."