ST. PATRICK’S DAY MEMORIES
Commentary by Patrick Michael Cassidy
For a man who was still making monthly payments on his lawn mower, imagine the joy of having a chauffeured Rolls Royce limousine take him and his buddies on his St. Patrick’s Day birthday into San Francisco, along with 17-dozen green carnations to pass about to lovely fair-haired Irish lassies on that special day of merriment.
That man was me, Patrick Michael Cassidy, and the year was 1975. Today, I’m Michael Pollack’s designated broker and marketing director, but all those years ago I first thought of the idea for something memorable and special to mark my birthday.
That day was most eventful, but not half as much as when I arrived home at 3 a.m. to be greeted by my lovely Irish lassie wife Donna, to whom I’ve been married for 55 years. She was relieved I was home safely but inquired how much the day and evening cost.
“About $5 in bridge fare, about $10 spent in Irish pubs and $16,500 in miscellaneous,” I told her.
Donna was speechless knowing that we could barely afford our $22 monthly payment for our lawn mower.
I’d contracted with the limousine owner, who served as the driver, to purchase the 1961 pearl white Rolls Royce Silver Cloud and then would allow the company to utilize it in future limousine excursions that would pay for the Rolls. Two months later, the company went out of business, leaving me owing a monthly payment of $675 on the Silver Cloud plus $22 per month on the lawn mower.
Not wanting to say goodbye to the Silver Cloud, that younger version of me made arrangements with a friend to park the Cloud in the parking lot of a Shell gas station with a sign in the window that said, “Rent Me.” The phone never stopped ringing, and with it was born a new business that would lead to the purchase of four more Silver Clouds and become Northern California’s largest Rolls Royce limousine company.
Future birthday journeys to San Francisco became second to the real joy of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with visits to a special-needs facility for children ages 4 to 16. Having had polio as a young boy myself, I was told I would never walk again.
That gave way to my desire to bring joy and happiness to youngsters who had special challenges in their own lives.
I would arrive with 100 McDonald’s Green Shamrock Shakes and Ronald McDonald himself to spend the better part of St. Patrick’s Day with the children, handing out laughter, memories and those Shamrock Shakes.
Looking back to those days, from 1975 through 1983, brings many wonderful St. Patrick’s Day memories but none like the ones with the children who brought me the true blessing and understanding of the real joy of living that God intends for all.
Oh yes, Donna and I did eventually pay off that lawn mower.