St. Patrick’s Day brings back (some) fond memories

March 16, 2023

And yes, indeed it is today! So why in the world is Peter Carter, obviously not Irish, writing about the patron saint of Ireland, perhaps even the patron saint of New York City?

For those of you who have not yet read my book(s), let me bring you up to speed with respect to the place of my formative years. Your columnist attended school in the City of New York, traveling to high school daily via the New York transit system, otherwise known as the subway. It is so named because it operates electrically on tracks below the streets of the city. I boarded the train at the Bergen Street stop in Brooklyn, and got off (having made two changes of train lines) at 86th Street in the borough of Manhattan, also called New York. A little confusing, but we residents all got the hang of it. The City of New York contains five boroughs, one of which was Brooklyn, another Manhattan (plus the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island), but we referred to Manhattan as The City. Why? I have no idea!

I shall get to the St. Patrick’s thing shortly. For the record, I must share the fact that the high school I attended was a Catholic secondary institution run by a religious order known as the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. These guys were serious about education and behavior. It was a fabulous four years where I learned about life and white people, given that I was one of only four African American students in the school, and the only Black kid for four years in my entire graduating class. The school’s majority of pupils were Irish and Italian, and my closest and best friend to this day was a student named Walsh, now a retired pulmonary medical professional.

I made it through the Regis High School secondary experience with all its types of twists and turns, including a punishment system known as “Jug” wherein students were required to memorize lines of Shakespeare or Keats or Frost after school and then recite said lines to an administrator called the prefect of discipline. The rules of the school were set up so that everyone got “Jug” at least once during his (there were no her) four years. I could spend pages writing about this high school, but then we would never get to St. Patrick. However, it was essential to mention the high school to make St. Patrick more relevant.

After attending a place like Regis High, the only logical next stop was a Jesuit University in the aforementioned Bronx. This was especially logical in that I was awarded a full four-year academic scholarship. Yep, I used to be a smart guy! There are many pieces to my Fordham College education, but the most interesting part is my delve into student politics. I ran and won office as vice president of the freshman class, and served as treasurer of the sophomore class. It was during my junior year that I dared seek the office of student council president. Campaigning was intense and time-consuming. During the campaign, I thought it wise to march with the Fordham Gaelic Society in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Perhaps one or two of you readers have done it. I thought the green line down the center of the Avenue would never end.

The things one does for votes. My part of the parade march finally ended, and we all dragged ourselves to a watering hole called McSorley’s Old Ale House. I cannot recall any details after 6 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day of 1963. I do recall that I was not elected student body [council] president, such political loss having nothing to do with the parade or St. Patrick. By the way, I urge you to google McSorley’s Old Ale House, or visit That is one interesting place!

So, to Dr. Walsh and all the Irishmen and women whom I have met over the years, I hope you are enjoying the day, and shall also enjoy the evening. St. Patrick’s Day is special to so many of us who are not Irish by blood, but Irish by choice and association.

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields…”



  • Peter E. Carter is a former public school administrator who has served communities in three states as a principal, and district and county superintendent, for 35-plus years. He is a board member for Delaware Botanic Gardens and Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation, and the author of a dual autobiography, “A Black First…the Blackness Continues.”

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