A New Friend

by Mary Coughlin

Met Mary Ellen O’Shea at school.
We walked together.
(Mom had to take care of my new baby brother, Dennis Malachy,
named after my dad’s brother, Father Malachy Flaherty)

After class I went over to Mary Ellen’s house.
Her mom and dad owned a bar, a couple of blocks away.
You had to walk through the bar to get to her apartment above.
I smelled stale beer and pee – Eek! It was strong and burned my nose.
The room was dark and people were jolly.
The jukebox was playing, “Put Another Nickel in The Nickelodeon”
by Theresa Brewer. I felt at home.

Mary Ellen led me upstairs to introduce me to her bothers and sister.
They had a loaf of Wonder Bread on the kitchen table, glopped some
peanut butter and jelly on a slice and handed it to me.
It was delicious; I was happy being a part of their family.
In the next room she showed me her baby sister
who lie sleeping in a dresser drawer.
They were so happy but I thought they were poor
because they didn’t even have a couch or TV.

Now if I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or hear jukebox songs like
“Standing on the Corner Watching All The Girls Go By”
and “I’ve Got A lovely Bunch of Coconuts”
I smile remembering my dear old friend Mary Ellen and the O’Shea family.

© 2021 Mary Coughlin  All rights reserved.

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