As I have noted in previous REAL MEN columns, I only feel the inspiration to write them when I recognize the subject has made an indelible mark on me. A person – in this case – PERSONS that made an impact on my life in some way, shape or form. Most of the men I have chosen are my elders. Dear friends and family that have all guided me through my almost 50 years on this big, spinning, blue ball. However, this chapter is being dedicated to a large brood of kind, soulful, hysterical and 100% crazy men that I have been around for a very long time.
Yes, welcome to the Crazy Train indeed, folks.
Born, bred and proud Lowellians, the five Slattery Brothers are an army of awesome. With no disrespect to their solo sister, Kelly, this series is about men, but I am confident she could measure up to her kin in many, many ways (Apologies, Kelly. If I ever develop a ‘REAL WOMEN’ spin off, you will make the cut. God Bless you for tending to these screwballs for more than half of a century)
And now on to the boys and their individual accolades from this man’s perch.
Actually, let me back up for as second.
The Slatterys are a larger than life (literally and figuratively) Clan that have been causing mischief and mayhem around the Mill City for a long, long time. Educators, corrections officers, civil servants and (arguably the greatest) bartenders a plenty, these fellas do not f&$k around. Each and all have very storied and, somewhat epic, athletic histories taking them from the gridiron of Cawley Stadium to college stadiums across New England and beyond. A gifted brood of jocks that each appear to be a little better than the one in line in front of them. And while all of that is impressive and widely known, these cats are simply great dudes. Fun, fiery, loyal and wild. The epitome of a classic 20th century Irish American family.
Here are their stories (insert the Law and Order DAH DAH!!!).
In birth order, each hold a special spot with me for incredibly different reasons. (Jesus, I hope I don’t piss any of these monsters off. Here goes!)
Ted “Bubba” Slattery
Became friends with Teddy at a later age and have always been honored to call him that. It’s almost ironic he bears the name Teddy – because he truly is a Teddy Bear of a human. (Of course, I don’t recall knowing or owning a Teddy Bear that would rip your head off if you crossed him or his family. I digress.) Ted is actually a gentle, considerate, kind and awesome guy. The first guy to offer a handshake, a hug, or ice cold beverage. Most of the time I have spent with Teddy has been on a golf course or in a saloon. While we both suck at golf, we make up for it in the barroom. Our sessions are always fun and packed with laugher. We all could use a guy like Bubba in our corner.
Paul “Pipes” Slattery
Oh boy. Where do I begin with this 6’5, 250 pound mass of coolness? The Pipa is an absolute legend and a gift to us all. A hilarious, story-telling, drink-slinging gentleman of historic fame, Pipes, for lack of a better term, is just freaking fantastic. One of those people that you light up when you see because you know you are on the receiving end of an amazing story, joke or (likely exaggerated) tale. Paul was the pourer of my very first (illegal) alcoholic beverage. The now-defunct “KEG” pub, tucked over in Lowell’s Centralville section, was where one squeaky-voiced Frankie McCabe Jr. ordered his first beer at the tender age of SIXTEEN in 1991! Yes, really. Tagging along with some older cousins and buddies, I was a wreck. Paul asked for my identification. My stomach dropped on the spot but then he quickly followed with, “I’m “f%cking with you buddy, what do you need?”. The best. A single-handicap golfer, Pipes still remains the man around these city streets.
P.S. – Ask him to croon Springsteen’s Thunder Road if you bump in to him.
Kevin “Coach” Slattery
Kevin was on my high school football team’s coaching staff. While he was busy directly coaching the “biggins” and not us soft, little, delicate guys, he always made a point to know all of his players. Truly an intimidating figure, Kevin taught me a healthy amount of fear and respect for my superiors – which is highly lacking (and needed) in today’s world. Just prior to my senior season, Kevin decided to put a temporary hold on his coaching career; and that stung. I recall my Dad pulling him aside and virtually begging him to stay just one more year until I moved on and continue providing me direction. He was a powerful influence on a whole gaggle of punk teenage boys. A builder and leader of men, Kevin is a role model and a Real Man if you ever met one. Thanks Coach. You made a valued and important imprint on me.
James “Don’t you dare call me Jimmy” Slattery
Nope. No stories. No banter. Nuh uh. Not doing it. Ain’t no way on Turkey Day. Guy scares the shit out of 99.9% of the population (the only 0.1 % that are not scared are his brothers – maybe). Have a good day, sir. Sorry to trouble you. Carry on. God Bless.
“Administrator” David Slattery
Baby of the Slattery Clan. Arguably the craziest. Arguably the toughest. Arguably the sweetest. . Positively one of the best. David is closest in age to me and I consider him a dear friend. There are 10,000 David Slatts stories that I won’t bother to reference; except for one. At a very low point of my professional life, when I really needed a break, David was my guy. At a career-crossroads for yours truly, DS stepped up and offered me daylight to get me back on my feet. It turned out to be, perhaps, the most meaningful part of my working life and I owe that to him. And speaking of education, a University of Rhode Island football (and Lowell break dancing) legend, Dave will get the pleasure of my company at those Rhodie tailgate parties as my middle child is about to become a Ram for the next four years. Can’t wait, buddy!
And there it is. Hope I didn’t upset any of you big boys with these words, but if I did, I want you to know Shaun McCarty held a gun to my head and made me type this.