Lack of Education

The Wild Colonial Boys revised

The Wild Colonial Boys: (left to right) Johnny, Jimmy, Simon and Frank.

There are some movie phrases that over the years have become iconic.

“Here’s looking at you, kid.” – Casablanca

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” – Cool Hand Luke

“I’ll be back.” The Terminator

“Lack of Education” was a phrase coined by my husband Jimmy. It seemed to be a catch all for bad behavior or lack of manners – or both.

He first used it in high school as a dig against his two older brothers who had quite a reputation at West High School.

His oldest brother Frank knew everybody. He was a joker and wherever Frank went laughter often followed but mostly at the expense of overly strict teachers. He was the glue in afternoon detention sessions holding together a diverse group of students. It was the 50s version of The Breakfast Club. 

John, the middle brother, was always there to back Frank up and so naturally they were well known to teachers and students. Teachers dreaded them, fellow students wanted to be like them and trouble was their best friend.

One teacher was once heard to ask John if there were any other brothers due to attend high school. Johnny was pleased to announce that West High could look forward to a third brother, Jimmy, next year. The teacher heaved a heavy sigh and was heard to say, “Oh no, not another one.”

My husband has always been a bit of an instigator and so you can imagine the havoc he caused in high school – especially having his brothers there.

Jimmy with his angelic face and the charm of a natural born salesman, usually managed to dodge the wrath of his teachers leaving Frank and John to bear the brunt of the blame.

And then with all innocence and conviction, he’d deliver the bad news to his father Simon, a tough old Irishman if ever there was one that Frank and John were in trouble again.

Simon, would peer over the obituary section of the old Cleveland News and scowl at his son.  Jimmy who was only too pleased to venture his explanation as to the bad behavior of his two brothers, “Lack of education, Pa. Lack of education.”

Concerned for their younger brother’s welfare, Jimmy was quickly racking up as many detentions as Frank. Or perhaps because he was cramping their style, the older brothers decided it would be best if Jimmy attended catholic school. And so the brothers pooled their resources and packed him off to St. Edwards with the warning he’d better graduate or else.

Jimmy did graduate from St. Edwards, Class of 55 as he was fond of saying, but not before serving his fair share of detentions by digging the school’s foundation.

Frank , John and Jimmy joined the service and when they came out they went on to be a policeman , a lumberyard foreman and a salesman. They were as popular out of high school as they were when they were in it. People knew and loved them all. And Frank and John never stopped looking after their little brother.

I suspect that when Jimmy went before St. Peter at the pearly gates. His two brothers were there to meet him. And as St. Peter looked down the long list of Jimmy’s life, noting all of those detentions, I could just hear Franky and Johnny whispering into the gatekeeper’s ear. “Lack of education, Peter. Lack of education.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to the Macs, the Aunts, The Cousins and all of our friends from the other neighborhood known as Little Achill.  Up Mayo!



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