I cannot let St. Patrick’s Day pass without mentioning my late dear friend James “Spot” O’Donnell. I met Spot on a summer night in 1967 during my first ever shift working in the newsroom at the Sunday Dispatch. The offices, along with the printing press, were in the basement of the Dime Bank Building on Main Street, but we entered from Dock Street. Spot, the head pressman, arrived about 9 p.m. We remained close friends right up to his death in 2018.
When he bought and refurbished an old mansion at Harveys Lake in the early ‘70s, Spot named the property "O'Donnell's Donegal Hill," and asked me to paint a big sign for the entrance to his long driveway. An art student at the time while writing sports part time, I threw myself into it. When the sign, featuring a welcoming leprechaun, was stolen and then found in a dorm room at College Misericordia, Spot was more honored than angry. "Kid must be an Irishman," he said. "And he's got good taste."
Blessed with the proverbial "gift of gab," Spot had plenty of stories to tell. Here's one.
The O'Donnells were hosting a visitor from Ireland, he of devilishly good looks and more than his share of Irish charm. "He had a way with the ladies," is how Spot put it.
Well, one evening at Spot's favorite local watering hole, Bill's Tavern at the lake, one woman in particular was falling all over herself making a play for the visiting Irishman.
"Did you ever visit the Blarney Stone?" she asked at one point.
"I have," the Irishman answered.
"Is it true what they say about the Blarney Stone?" she went on.
"And what," he answered, "might that be?"
"That if you kiss the Blarney Stone you will be blessed with the gift of gab and abundant good luck?"
"Indeed," he answered, "that's what I've heard said."
"And," she continued, "is it true that if you kiss someone who kissed the Blarney Stone you will be similarly blessed?"
"Aye, that is what they say."
"Then may I inquire," she pressed on, "if you, yourself, have ever kissed the Blarney Stone?"
He knew the answer she sought but was not about to oblige. "I'm afraid not, my dear lady," he said instead. "But I did sit on it once."
I never tired of hearing Spot tell that story. I hope you feel the same about my telling it.