Children of the Greatest Generation . . .
An Emotional History

by Frederick W. Lauck

The Story of Us

BOOK ONE… THE MARATHON BEGINS
THE STORY OF US as we headed off to our local Grade Schools and then on to High School where the gifted excelled and accelerated into the fast lane of athletic, academic and social accomplishment, but where the less gifted refused to take “no” for an answer, and used the gift of determination over the “Marathon of Life” to move from the “Sidelines of Life” into the “Game of Life.”

 

BOOK TWO… WE DANCED WITH LIFE
THE STORY OF US as we left the cocoon of our family and our neighbor-hood and courageously ventured out into the larger world competing “mano a mano” on the Detroit sandlots, the minor leagues, the Major Leagues, the National Football League and in the world of Art, Medicine, Psychology, Psychiatry, Politics, the whacked out world of Bar Bouncers, Brawlers and Prize Fighters and in the world of Courtroom Gladiators in the halls of justice where words are weapons… and the agile, lightning-quick reflexes of the articulate shine while the inarticulate stumble and descend into obscurity.

 

BOOK THREE… WINDING DOWN… LOSING OUR WORLD
THE STORY OF US as we lose our old neighborhoods, our old haunts, our trusty landmarks and even the wisdom of the Greatest Generation… as the politicians and capitalists who now “Dance with Life” champion a materialistic world of wealth, power, influence peddlers, lobbyists, sleight of hand deception and corruption… to wage class warfare, establish a “Ruling Class” monarchy of the rich and derail our Democracy by silencing the voices of Trial Lawyers and juries who would hold them accountable to “We the People.”

“Superb and Inspirational piece of writing… this isn’t just a book for children who grew up in the 1940s.”

Bill Bonds
WXYZ Detroit News Anchor Icon

 

“First book I read “straight through the night” was “Exodus” by Leon Uris then “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Husseini. The third is your book: Children of the Greatest Generation. I laughed. I learned. Did I cry? I take the 5th! We are our mothers’ sons. If they praise our looks – a hundred women telling us the opposite won’t break us.”

Bobby Berg, Jr., Esquire

 

“Great book! Started to read. Started to cry! Decided to attack it like a box of chocolates. A little bit at a time and ‘always’ something different. Thanks Forrest Gump!”

Jim McDonald,
Senior Vice President
Northern Trust

 

“I could not put your book down until I read it through. Wow! Your style is very unique and the content kept me riveted.”

Kim and Tim Tonachella

 

“Totally enjoyed your book. Fascinating book. I couldn’t put it down.”

Judge Tom Fitzgerald
Michigan Court of Appeals

 

“Your book is a work of art. You are a credit to the Trial Bar, but more so to the human race. Clearly one person cannot change society. But,in the spirit of love of your fellow man, you are exemplary”.

Jack Bindes Esquire

 

“I read your book with a great deal of interest. Your style is quite unique. You certainly have had a rich litigation history.”

Emanuel Tanay, M.D., 
Noted Forensic Psychiatrist and Author of
American Legal Injustice and The Murders

 

“I’m honored to be part of your struggle and our mutual struggle. As Ten Bears said to Josey Wales, ‘Your words have iron in them. They are not words of the double tongues.’”

Bob Butler
Wayne County Prosecutor
(Chapter 15)

 

“I just finished reading “Girl from the Hood” and several other chapters!! It gave me goosebumps!! You are a tremendously gifted author. I treasure your vision and find your book a powerful reflection on integrity and goodness!”

Sister Camille Kelley
Former Principal, Mercy High School

“A beautiful story … I spent two hours carefully turning the pages and can’t wait to read your story in its entirety.”

Amy Nanni
Government Teacher
Catholic Central High School

 

“I just finished that wonderful romp through time, characters, vision and history. Your exuberant love of life in all its variety came pounding through at breakneck speed. Your work as an author is a marvelous showcase of how your life dynamically intertwined with the lives of so many others. Following the Five Bangs through their arrival and destiny was riveting. Loved the way you named names and put an unsparingly, honest floodlight on who was who and what was what.”

Newton “Bud” Jackson, Ph.D.
Forensic Psychologist
(Chapter 15)

 

“I especially want to thank you for Chapter 17. The Great Depression of 2008 America’s Ruling Class and Trial Lawyers. The ‘dumbing down’ of our nation is in full swing and you’ve explained very clearly how it is being done.”

Honorable Connie Marie Kelley
Wayne County Circuit Court
(Chapter 14)

 

“I have read about seventy-five pages thus far in the book. It is a fantastic book on life. Thanks for writing it.”

Michael Riordan
Assistant U.S. Attorney
United States Department of Justice

 

“This book is spellbinding. It’s an emotional ride that captivates. It rips your heart.”

John Telford, Ph.D.,
Educator and Author
TV20 Detroit

 

“I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. But, I just had to tell you that I think the book is amazing. I am so enjoying it and wish I could keep reading. You did capture all of our lives in the book. Your memory is terrific, writing impeccable, and very enjoyable.”

Suellen May Lamb,
Poet and Author

 

“Read the first 165 pages of your book last night. Riveting! A MUST read for anyone who grew up on the west side of Detroit. Looking forward to the rest of the book.”

Jim Sanderson
Federal Agent United States Treasury Department
and Author of A Spoonful of Sugar

 

“Entertaining, enlightening and empowering.”
Janice Pegg
A Girl from the Hood

Children of the Greatest Generation

Excerpt from Chapter 1: In The Beginning

At this wondrous moment, while relatives of the newborns pondered what greatness the future would hold for their new arrivals, Dr. Nathan Goodfellow magically appeared out of a puff of cigar smoke. Dr. Goodfellow, admiring his deliveries, overheard the relatives’ dreams and ambitions for each new infant’s future. Dr. Goodfellow, a wise and caring man, shook his head and cautioned one and all:

“Above all, the individual uniqueness of each infant must be recognized and appreciated, a uniqueness which must be turned loose into the world to find its own star, its own course, its own dream, and fulfill its own destiny, unburdened by the well-intentioned, but counter-productive, expectations of family members and well wishers.”

Excerpt Two from Chapter 1: In The Beginning

…But, for the most part, the environment and nurture in the Hood was a combination of good news – bad news, painted by parents who were a patchwork of all of life’s emotions. The lucky ones, however, grew up in households where the good of nurture outweighed the bad – homes where the new, young souls would be given a peaceful, protected place to live as they started to take baby steps toward their physical, emotional and spiritual development.

Excerpt from Chapter 3: Vicissitudes of High School

…After such an exhaustive, yet instantaneous check list evaluation of the words, thoughts and concepts of others, you then select a response in an instant – a response that is relevant to and most appropriate for the particular context or social setting you find yourself in, after which you then articulate your response, basically agreeing, disagreeing or expanding on the words, thoughts and concepts of others… all done effortlessly in a millisecond.

Excerpt from Chapter 4: The Big Game

“So this is what it all comes down to,” Rashid thought to himself. All the years of the pursuit of excellence. All the sacrifices. All the denials of social pleasures. All the endless practices. All the summer workouts. All the winter and spring workouts. All the years of determination. All the injuries, pain and past disappointments. And, now, it all comes down to this fifteen second period of life. In that freeze-frame reality, Rashid knew that this moment, this very strange moment of twisted reality, was the very the moment he was born to live out. In that surreal moment, Rashid knew that this night, at “Tiger Stadium,” at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull, on a cool November evening in the fall of 1960… he had a rendezvous with destiny.

Excerpt from Chapter 5: The Game of Life

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Sammy saw a young doctor bend over the man and yell out “Code Blue!” “Code Blue!” Within seconds, four nurses were with the doctor, and the doctor was bent over the man pressing his thumb and index finger at the top of the man’s throat as if he were trying to straighten out the man’s windpipe. “We need an airway!” yelled the doctor, and then calmly asked the man: “Give me a history; what happened?” “Everything is black,” the man feebly replied. “I’m losing it. I’m going toward the darkness.” The woman blurted out: “He was swarmed by bees and he’s having a difficult time breathing.” “Anaphylactic shock!” yelled the doctor. “Get a gurney, oxygen, Effeneferin, Prednisone and warm blankets.” The two little girls were sobbing. Their fragile little minds could not process anything other than terror as they saw the strongest man in their world, their father, going down helplessly. Sammy was also overwhelmed by the life and death struggle he stumbled upon, but, even in his own state of shock, he couldn’t help but admire the leadership of the take-control, cool headed, young doctor that everyone in the Northwest Detroit Hood now looked up to… to take charge of a medical emergency that, to Sammy’s eye, seemed to be quickly marching toward a final, fatal outcome. In that same moment, Sammy clearly realized that only the cool-headed young doctor stood between life and death in the struggle which the man seemed to be losing.

Excerpt from Chapter 6: Life… Levels the Playing Field

Unvalidated, unnoticed and exhausted, she collapsed into her bed and fell into a fitful sleep. She dreamed that she ran away to join the carnival, but the distorted, misfit faces of the carney workers screamed when they saw her and ran away from her. She dreamed that she went to church alone, and, as she walked into the church, the congregation got up and walked out on her. She then knelt in prayerful submission, finally looked up toward the altar where she saw a sign that read: “God is tending to others Brenda; please call back another time.” At that very moment, someone got the drop on her from behind, and she felt forceful hands on her throat… squeezing the life out of her as she struggled to breathe. She was slipping into unconsciousness as she struggled against the frozen muscle paralysis of her deep sleep rapid eye movement dream stage.

Excerpt from Chapter 7: Graduation… Going Forth

Like the founding patriots of our county, my generation was influenced by the English philosopher John Locke’s Social Contract with its “age of enlightenment” philosophy that all rights and powers not given to the government remain the rights and powers of “We the People,” free from interference by our government. Although we renounced violence in our social protests, we stood by the principles of America’s founding fathers that, as true patriots, “We the People” in a true Democracy were obligated to protest against our own government’s hypocrisy and injustice because, like America’s founders, we intuitively knew “bad things happen when good people remain silent.” We brought our founding father’s philosophy to the streets of America for all to see because we also intuitively knew that the more robust the ideological debate in the American market place of ideas, the greater the chance America had to make the right decisions, follow the right path, and take the right course of action.

Where we saw injustice and hypocrisy, “We the People” of my generation held a mirror up to the face of America and demanded change. America’s 200-year-old political promise set forth in the Declaration of Independence forcefully proclaimed that it was “self evident” that “all men are born equal.” Yet in the 1950s and the 1960s of my youth, the right of “We the People” to vote was taken away from millions of American citizens, mostly black and mostly the poor and uneducated, because those American citizens could not afford to pay a poll tax to vote or because those American citizens couldn’t pass a literacy test as a prerequisite to casting their vote. With President John F. Kennedy and later President Lyndon Johnson, the Children of the Greatest Generation changed that.

Excerpt from Chapter 8: Al “The Kid” Moran… Major League Ballplayer

Casey Stengel? Need you ask? After eight years of Dominican nuns at St. Scholastica, and, after four years of Basilian priests at Catholic Central, both driving home the complex structure and use of the English language, Al must have been as cross-eyed as the “Aflack Duck” when he first heard manager Casey Stengel’s “conversation by obfuscation.” When it came to the spoken language, Casey was a master of linguistic disaster. He could stupefy and bewilder the most proficient interpreters of double-speak. Casey was the originator of the Yogi Berra malapropism method of communication – “if you come to a fork in the road, take it” or “a verbal contract is not worth the paper it’s written on” or, “if you think you’re going to hit a double play, strike out” or “if you fall in love with a homeless woman, don’t move in with her.”

Excerpt from Chapter 10: John Argenta… Major League Artist

Giovanni Argenta was one of 28,867 immigrants who entered America through Ellis Island in 1918, down significantly from 1.2 million immigrants in 1914. He was one of 5.2 million Italian immigrants who entered America over a 158 year period from 1820 to 1978 – a half a million more than the Irish immigrants. Giovanni Argenta joined the ranks of such notable immigrants as: Frank Capra, the great Italian movie director; Knute Rockne from Norway, the storied Notre Dame football coach – Knute “win one for the Gipper” Rockne; Al “Blackface” Jolson, the “Jazz Singer” from Russia; Father Edward Flanagan, the Irish Priest who established Boystown in Nebraska on the slogan that: “There is no such thing as a bad kid;” and Irving “God Bless America” Berlin from Russia.

Excerpt from Chapter 12: Michigan Marty… Charismatic Tough Guy

…School was out and life was in. After all, Kerouac, the spokesman for a generation of restless youths, just told everyone life is to be lived, not studied, analyzed or contemplated.

So, Michigan Marty and his boys all bought saxophones, trumpets, clarinets and trombones, took a few lessons, and drove through the Hood on Fenkell and Livernois in old convertibles “honking” on those horns. That outrageous “scene” was something to behold: youthful characters searching to establish an identity, riding through the Hood at Livernois and Fenkell, blaring out a cacophony of discordant sounds that reverberated off store front windows and into the endless summer nights of the mid-1950s, and on up to the Milky Way Galaxy, and then on up to the very ears of God – the creator of “free will” that opened the door for this discordant symphony of restless youth. Let’s have another cocktail.

Excerpt from Chapter 14: Judge Connie Marie Kelley… A Girl From The Hood

The NAACP decided that a white lawyer was needed to represent Dr. Sweet in what was sure to be a racially charged all white jury trial. For America, in the twentieth century, was still struggling 150 years later to fulfill Thomas Jefferson’s eloquent, self evident promise in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” The NAACP chose famed “trial lawyer,” Clarence Darrow, who had just concluded his defense in the Scopes Monkey trial in which he depicted his adversary, the great orator William Jennings Bryan, as a close minded, bible thumping caricature. After finishing the Scopes Monkey trial, Clarence Darrow, at age 69, decided he had just enough energy left to take on yet another demanding social cause.

Excerpt from Chapter 15: Taking on General Motors, Insanity… And Broken Hearted Melodies

  1. Lee Bailey was an interesting character. I had been interested in his trial-lawyer career since I was in law school. Bailey had a resume of challenging trials: Dr. Coppolino’s acquittal of murdering his wife on retrial, Albert De Salvo, the “Boston Strangler,” Patty Hearst, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) murder trial arising out of Patty Hearst’s kidnapping, brainwashing, followed by her criminal career as a foot soldier for the terrorist SLA group, and later his work with National Football League great, O.J. Simpson’s, legal “dream team.” My interest in Bailey was, obviously, not reciprocal. When I ran into Bailey and some blond bombshell at a private club, “Pips,” in Los Angeles in the 1980s and introduced myself, he blew me off in a heart beat: “Nice not to know you kid.” “But, Lee…?can I have a dance with the blond?”

Excerpt Two from Chapter 15: Taking on General Motors, Insanity… And Broken Hearted Melodies

I arose with a great sense of anticipation like I was about to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world, or about to bat cleanup in the seventh game of the World Series. We were in the fourth quarter of this long-winded, four week pursuit of justice, but I had plenty of time left on the clock to pick apart the deficiencies in Dr. Robey and his presentation. Under the glare of the lights, and in front of a packed courtroom, I purposely checked my 35-year-old aggressive nature, and slowed my approach to the podium. Suspiciously eyeing Dr. Robey, I heard the echo of my own thoughts: “this cross examination is what I was born to do. Without it, I wither and die on the vine. With it, win, lose or draw, I have a life with meaning. It’s my journey… my destiny. It’s what I longed to do. It’s what I had to do. Let’s slug it out, Ames Robey! It’s me and you, mano a mano, and neither one of us has a place to hide. The universe of justice is watching, so, as they say in the Hood in Detroit: “Let’s throw down and get it on.”

As I approached the podium with my notes and cross examination materials, I caught a glimpse of my father sitting forward on a bench in the back of the courtroom, and I thought of him and his father as I said to myself: “Here I am, a lawyer, standing in an American courtroom.” And, I thought to myself… this is certainly a long way from my grandfather, Frederick William Lauck’s fourth grade education, his move from St. Louis Missouri in 1917 to Detroit, Michigan to find work at Ford Motor’s Highland Park Plant, and his part in the “Battle of Miller Road” with Walter Reuther’s union boys squaring off against old man Henry Ford’s designated hit man, Harry Bennett, and his army of ex-cons at the overpass on Miller Road in Dearborn, Michigan and his early death at age 48. And, this is certainly a long way from my own father’s ninth grade education and his pangs of hunger on the “mean streets” of Detroit during the Great Depression of the 1930s and his struggle through life with limited opportunity. And, this is certainly a long way from the logging camps and mining towns of my mother Jean McKelvy Montroy’s Minnesota childhood with its brutal winters in such forlorn places as Duluth, Hibbing, Tower and Eli, and a long way from the early and tragic death of her 17-year-old brother Sherwood Montroy in a logging accident in 1918 with Sherwood’s battered body laid out in the family parlor, with pennies on his eyes to hold them shut, and his burial on the snow swept plains of desolation-row, Minnesota. And, it’s certainly a long way from the ravages of the flu pandemics of 1918 and 1919, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s that the Greatest Generation endured, and certainly a long way from the ravages of alcoholism that beset my family, and a long way from their destitution in “soup lines” during the financial ruin of the Great Depression. But, through it all, through the hardships of hard-scrabble life, those survivors carried on, living lives of quiet desperation, and, eventually, at their last hour, succumbing to graves with nameless markers, forever remaining faceless and nameless on life’s social registry.

But, then, I thought… every once in a while, even in the bleakest of family histories, good fortune smiles on one of the survivors’ descendants, and graces that lucky descendant with “opportunity.” That unearned, serendipitous, good fortune of “opportunity” somehow fell from the Greatest Generation to me. Now, generations of desperation later, I was the lucky one, the one chosen to stand up as a lawyer in an American courtroom as the judge called out my name: “Mr. Lauck, your witness,” putting me squarely in charge of the fight for justice for another no-count, another one of life’s desperate survivors, Robert Smith. Two no-counts – randomly, or, perhaps, fatefully and inexorably locked together in the battle for fleeting justice and for Robert Smith’s life.

Excerpt from Chapter 18: A Kid’s Improbable Journey, Jesuit Guidance… And Vignettes of Trial Lawyers

We left the steaming hulk of what used to be a car, and walked away from a mystical silhouette of the headlights, fog and radiator vapor. We headed back toward the empty roadway. As we walked in silence, I kept checking my teeth. “How ironic,” I thought. My father, with great financial sacrifice, had an orthodontist, Dr. Martinek, put braces on my teeth which I dutifully wore for five years. But, now what did my teeth look like? I was fixated on my teeth. Did I look like a jack-o-lantern? But, hallelujah!… Good news! I found my teeth in their customary sockets. Hooray!… Brian didn’t knock my teeth out.

Finally, when we got to the roadway, I confronted Brian: “What just happened, my man?” to which Brian replied without missing a beat: “As Jack Frost said, we took the ‘road less traveled’.” And so we did, in more ways than one. Brian and I walked and walked, and, finally, a car stopped and gave us a ride to Brian’s house where I crashed on Brian’s couch, and Brian snuggled up to his wife. I wonder what her thoughts were. As for me, I didn’t have any profound thoughts or profound emotions one way or the other. It was just another “day in the life of… ” – the usual dysfunction that surrounded me since I could first remember. Although others seem to see these types of incidents and my life as dramatic or perhaps even traumatic, all I knew was that “life was tough,” and one hard day just kept evolving and revolving into the next difficult day. As I drifted off to sleep on Brian’s couch, my last thought was: “Okay, so today Brian Lavan tried to knock my teeth out by crashing us headlong into the scary darkness of the forest primeval, but I’m still alive. So what’s next on the agenda? Tomorrow will tell.”

Excerpt Two from Chapter 18: A Kid’s Improbable Journey, Jesuit Guidance… And Vignettes of Trial Lawyers

Six months before the McKenzie trial, I was in England with John Conlon at a joint seminar for American Trial Lawyers and English Barristers. Talk about smooth, erudite use of language. I saw an English Barrister defend an alleged rapist at the “Old Bailey” in London. The defense was “consensual” sex. When the barrister cross examined the alleged rape victim (prosecutrix), he suggested consensual sex, asking the question: “Madam, let me suggest to you that you extended to my client, shall we say, the maximum in cordiality on a voluntary basis.” Wow, did I love that phrasing and that use of the language!… sexual intercourse: “the maximum in cordiality.” The English Barrister was on the mark with that “maximum cordiality.”

I brought that erudite phrasing all the way across the Atlantic from London’s “Old Bailey” to Detroit Recorder’s Court, and used it to cross examine the hooker that was on Fred Baker’s arm at the time Baker was shot. I attacked her credibility by showing that her profession was that of prostitution. Using my best barrister-inspired phrasing to a “T,” I opened with the question: “Madam, let me suggest to you that yours is, shall we say, the oldest profession known to mankind,” to which she instantly responded: “No… yours is; lawyers have been screwing people a lot longer than hookers have.” There you have it. I think her history is incorrect, but I went down for the count just the same. Even my dear friend and co-counsel, Bob Mitchell, was stifling a laugh until he saw my face, and then he couldn’t hold it in any longer. Touché! Round one to the witness. And, somewhere in my embarrassment and my uncertainty on how to follow up with my next question, I heard the refrain from my mother’s voice and the logic of her eighth grade education: “Don’t you ever forget where you came from.”

Excerpt from Chapter 20: There Used To Be A Ballpark Here

During the summers and falls, other lesser known Gladiators in the spectator seats entertained the crowds at the Corner with stupendous battles and knock outs. The fans’ favorite was Marty “K.O.” Lahti, the “King of Fenkell and Livernois Ave.” K.O. Lahti always stayed late at the Corner for “last call”… invariably turning out the lights of many a boastful and “beery” challenger. How could we ever forget the British tourist who, after taking in his first American football game, got knocked out by K.O. because he had the singular misfortune of referring to “K.O.” as a “bloke.” After putting his lights out, an always defensive K.O. asked me: “What’s a ‘bloke’?” My response: “I don’t know… but any man who calls another man a ‘bloke’ deserves what he gets, K.O.”

BOOK REVIEW
Children Of The Greatest Generation: An Emotional History
By Frederick W. Lauck
Reviewed by Patrick J. McDonnell

All That Counts Is Who We Are, Not What We Have Accomplished

The Basilians first stoked their fiery, educational cauldron of Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge in Detroit, Michigan in 1928. Later, in our era in the late 1950s, the Basilian Fathers moved their 30-year-old glowing, red hot, bubbling cauldron over to 6565 West Outer Drive… the cauldron’s fires still being relentlessly stoked by the Basilian’s no-nonsense passion for excellence. To feed the cauldron’s ravenous appetite, its tentacles reached out to its “farm system”… the parish schools of mostly Northwest Detroit, but also as far away as Hamtramck, Southfield, Redford, Farmington and even Downriver. The cauldron had long established, trusty sources for its raw material.

Fortunately, before arriving at Catholic Central, the naive and unsuspecting half man-half boy urchins who were thrown into that “baptism of fire” cauldron had been (unknowingly) subjected to an intense educational, athletic and disciplinary preparation by the Bridesmaids of Jesus… the (show me no) Mercy sisters, the (“don’t do it”) Dominicans, Sister Servants from Monroe, (our) Precious Blood (gladly given) and many others. The outreach: St. Scholastica, St. Bridget, St. Suzanne, Epiphany, Christ the King, Gesu, Precious Blood, St. Agatha, Our Lady of Sorrows and my own St. Monica, among the many others.

In the fall of 1957, I was among the fortunate, naive freshman drawn out of St. Monica Parish… an abrupt ending to the carefree days in the old neighborhood of my Brightmoor youth and its joyful summers of baseball at Stoepel Park and my endless bicycles rides through the Hood delivering the Detroit News to the blue collar world where most of my grade school classmates lived. There were some “rich” kids (as we thought of them then) from South Rosedale Park, just east of Stoepel Park, but most of us from St. Monica came from a two block, middle class, Irish-Catholic ghetto… that rectangular no-man’s land that ran from Vaughan to Heyden and from Lyndon to Fenkell. There were fifty kids on my block of Vaughan alone, running between Eaton and Outer Drive… a block of three bedroom colonials crammed with four to eight kids each.

Now, flash forward to graduation day 1961 as Catholic Central sent forth its latest survivors of four years of Basilian inspired Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge. My classmates and I shot out of the 6565 West Outer Drive cauldron like comets on parallel paths streaking across the night sky… virtually all embarking on college careers, but some to the priesthood, some to the military, some to public safety careers and some to blue collar endeavors.

Time passed, and, along the way, those once parallel comets began to drift apart pursuing family life and different careers in different geographic areas. Their differing paths took them to: law, medicine, engineering, science, accounting, education, entrepreneurship, politics and public services and corporate leadership positions as “captains of industry.” In pursuit of those paths, some remained in the Hood, while others explored the far corners of the globe.

Our 1961 comets also found different political paths to express their commitment to the welfare of mankind. Some did so by fighting in Vietnam, others by protesting it. Some were more financially successful in life, others perhaps not as much. Along the way, a few of those comets met untimely ends… at least one to combat in Vietnam, Rick Tevens, one in a firefighter’s line of duty in the City of Detroit, Terry McHugh, and, later, some to accidents and illness, but the brotherhood of the Basilian’s relentless cauldron keeps their memories fresh.

Later, long, long after leaving the Basilian cauldron of Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge… the intensity of those trajectories began to moderate as the comets began to mature. As they did, another pattern began to appear. Those trajectories, once flashing across the night sky in apparent random and different patterns and intensity, began to come back to parallel. As they did, it became more apparent that the Basilian Fathers’ cauldron had not sent them forth just for the achievement of professional or financial goals. The comets finally came to understand the big-picture mission of the Basilian cauldron. It was the spiritual “journey” through life that counted… not the destination.

As I set down these thoughts, the comets are entering the final phase of their passage instinctively following in the footsteps of those before them, while the Basilian Fathers’ unerring mission, captured in the old, well-tested cauldron, continues to relentlessly send forth more and more young men of Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge… far better prepared to make a contribution to their fellow man than any of them can possibly understand.

Now, 50 years later, the trajectories of those 1961 Basilian comets of Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge are back in almost perfect parallel as they now realize the “relative” importance of academic, athletic or other accomplishments – once the source of pride, identity and reputation while inside the cauldron… have receded and now pale in significance.

What then is left? What is left is that which binds all Shamrocks over the course of past centuries and centuries yet to come. What is left is the indelible mark… a brotherhood of the Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge which was forged in us in that blessed cauldron that sent us forth into the night skies back in 1961. We take pride in the knowledge that each of us, irrespective of the differences of the past 50 years, is virtually identical… having earned our place in the company of other good men of integrity and intelligence in the sight of God, the Basilian fathers and our families. We have fulfilled our duty. We have passed along the franchise no worse than we found it.

And so the journey ends… right back where it began. In the final measure… all that counts is who we are, not what we have accomplished. And therein, I infer, is the point of my Shamrock classmate Fred Lauck’s excellent book, Children of the Greatest Generation: An Emotional History. I recommend Fred’s book to today’s Catholic Central students.

Thanks for the ride Fred. I look forward to seeing you at least once more where I can shake your hand, give you a hug and thank you for being the fine Christian warrior that you are.

Patrick J. McDonnell (Class of 1961)
Author, “Everyone Wants to Go to Heaven (6 Steps to Organizational Excellence