not all who wander are lost.

Friday, August 12, 2011

55 Years of Memories....

Yesterday (August 11th) was my fathers 55th birthday. Gifts seem kinda silly right now...we certainly don't need stuff. So instead, for his birthday I made him a book. I sent out an email to family and friends asking them to send me a memory, funny story, photo, or poem...anything that they wanted to share with Dad. Well...I was blown away at the amazing response. In the past 55 years, my Dad has certainly made an impression on many people. Funny stories and sad stories...but no matter what, they are memories that are not to be forgotten. Over the next few days I'll share them with you....

Here are some entries from my Dad's BROTHERS AND SISTERS:


I sat down and wrote this. It made me cry and smile and think about this great man that is my brother. I love you and see him in you. Love Sean

Paul is my brother, friend, father figure, and a mentor to me. It is hard to pick one story because there are many that are a part of every day life for me. He molds me even from a distance, he molds me. I fly into his life and soak up the love and move on but He always profoundly moves me, teaches me and I always leave full. For fun I will tell a couple stories but ultimately this man helped make me who I am......for the good and the bad.....the yes and the no....the left and the right....he is a part of me and I am grateful.

For those of you who don’t know me I Paul’s youngest brother Sean. I happen to be gay and my father asked my brother Paul to toughen me up when I was a kid because I guess I wasn’t that tough. Paul had me work on the half day fishing boats that he worked on. This was out of the box for me and I only did it because he told me to. This experience changed my life. It took me out of a shell that I was deeply in. It taught me how to fish and to this day love to fish especially with him because I feel his love for it and it washes all over me when we do it. It also taught me about being competitive.....Paul and I still fish together and I am being kind when I say it is INTENSE ! I would come down and fish for three days or so and we would get up at four or five in the morning ( I normally get up at eight ) and get coffee and get out to the back bay to fish for flounder....there was shitting in five gallon buckets, green heads, and complete silence for THREE DAYS. I was so tired at the end of the day I could barely eat and then would go right to bed. We would fish like Vikings and it meant everything. This is so not who I am in my everyday life but I always have this place with him.....this balance....... this place that brings me my childhood and who Paul wanted for me....THIS PLACE.....THIS MAN.....FRIEND, BROTHER, FATHER FIGURE, MENTOR.....I LOVE YOU MY BROTHER.....HAPPY BIRTHDAY ! --Sean Callahan


He was a gift from my mother. For awhile she had a baby every year. The older girls took turns getting one all to themselves. I got Paul. From the day he was born, he was mine. I could write a million memories of fun, laughter and kindness he has shown me, but at this moment all I can bear to say is he was mine…and I have loved him all my life as if he was.

Godmother Margaret Marcella Marie Callahan to Paul John Fitzgerald Callahan x.o.



One of my earliest memories of Paul was him with my mother’s Easter Hat on his head and nothing else, jumping from bed to bed in my mothers’ and fathers’ bedroom in Wheaton. Paul was the poster child for ADHD even though they didn’t know what it was at the time.

Paul was constantly getting cutworms and passing them on to his sisters and brothers because he played so hard, he inevitably ate some of the dirt he wallowed in. This went on for YEARS until many of us, reaching our prepubescent stages, agreed to take the medicine rather than get checked for the worms. We all knew that Paul was the culprit and Paul knew that we knew and Paul didn’t care.

Once, a suitor of Cissie’s rode his horse over to our house and Paul, all of three feet at the time, was put on the horse and rode it alone as if he had been doing it all of his life. It was a stunner seeing him on top of the mammoth horse, guiding it this way and that, without fear. This was our first inkling that Paul was going to be trouble.

Many, many years later, I spent weekends in Sea Isle where Paul was the first mate on Pratt’s boat. Every single Saturday, I’d walk down to the boat, jump on and head for the bow with my book. It was astonishing to watch Paul work the crowd. He would entertain everyone on the boat, from the little kids to the oldest gentlemen. I’m surprised he didn’t become independently rich those summers after seeing the cash pass hands as people got off the boat. When that was done, he’d walk off the boat and clean all of their fish. Another hussle. My brother, the hussler.

And we got into mischief together – egging a friends’ house late at night in a truck with a tee-shirt over the license plate; skinny dipping off the yacht Michael worked on (to the pleasure of the old-timers living on their yachts – a bunch of young, beautiful people swimming naked); sitting around the table in Sea Isle laughing and talking trash, playing bedroom bingo – whoever got in last got the tick bed!

But most of all, what strikes me the most about Paul is that he didn’t follow the crowd. Despite a college education and the pressure of society to “get a job – make money”, Paul followed his dreams and became a sea captain, a surfer, a farmer, a fisherman, a teacher and a damn good gas technician. And because of his commitment to his dreams, he became the type of person we would all like to be. He is a loving husband and father, a man of principle, a true friend to well over one hundred people, and a legend in South Jersey. I admire my brother and I’m not alone. What an accomplishment – to have lived life large, with commitment to the good, with so many people who speak well of you, who love you. I Love you too Paul and I’m proud to call you my brother. --Kate Callahan


What My Brother Paul Means To Me:

Your capacity for love for your family & friends shines through with everything you do.

When you are in the room there will always be laughter.

Whenever I have needed you have been there for me.

You are by far the best hunter and fisherman that I know (sorry Mike but it’s true).

Not only are you the best brother you are a great friend.

I Love You Paul! Happy Birthday. --Megan Callahan


Brother Paul,

We grew up pretty much as twins. Our parents dressed us the same, we had the same friends, went to the same schools. We learned to fish together...first, biggest, most, “cape may drop back”, “Wildwood death grip”. I have a lifetime of hunting memories that would have never happened without you. I am going to pass that on to my son.

Some of our teachers could not wait to teach Pauls little brother (Miss Sulivan - 8th grade), while others had a hard time with it (Frank Paris gym teacher “Callahan - you’re a foul ball”). I also give you credit for a long, fruitfull drinking career....I got served at age 16 because they thought I was Paul Callahan. We fought side-by-sde (sea isle boardwalk) and fought with eachother, but you always had my back.

With all your well deserved nicknames; snapper, half-day, triple limit, free-spool, pinder, favorite will always be, my brother paul. Happy Birthday, I Love You.

Your Little Brother,



Someone once said our brains are like tape recorders, we record everything. Well, I tried to rewind mine and it seems to be a bit overloaded with love and laughter. How anyone in our Family can pick just one memory is unimaginable to me, especially when it comes to you. The Son of Neptune, my brother, my Paul, of gentle kindness ,yet fierce loyalty with the protective nature toward friends and family that is unmoving. It’s an unattainable much love and laughing all the way.

When we left Illinois, I was six and you were around eleven when we moved to Moorestown where we stayed for the next twenty five years. That’s when most of my wonderful memories began. I remember the tobogganing down Stokes hill and laughing all the way. Then you and the boys grabbing the back of cars and sliding down prospect road covered with snow laughing all the way. And then of course the snowballs thrown at the cars as they went down the street and you guys running your asses off to hide in Mrs. Rhodes bushes so not to get caught laughing all the way.

Then of course the fishing trips with Captain Pratt on the Miss Sea Isle a lifetime in itself. When you would come home with fish, clams, oysters and even sharks pulling up in a truck and all the neighbors coming over laughing all the way. And the Friday nights full of seafood-fried fish, clam or oyster soup and Captain Kirk with Mr. Spock on the TV. The great bonfires in Strathmere on the beach, partying , and dancing and you “THE SON OF NEPTUNE” offering your underwear into the fire laughing all the way.

In Illinois, Moorestown, Sweetwater or Sea Isle, it doesn’t matter which state, place, activity or time...EVERY TIME has just one memory for me....LAUGHTER! Not just the laughter you brought me and others, but the JOY it gave me to watch you laugh. SO.. I guess ...I can say for certainty...I do have one very special memory ...YOUR LAUGHTER!!!!! I love you ...your sister Kelly, laughing all the way.......

--Kelly Callahan


Paul, My Irish Twin! After ten long years and five baby girls in a row, me, being the last of the first five, God gave my parents a BOY. I think all of Wheaton Illinois celebrated that night. Finally a BOY! Well you can imagine what happened to me. I was immediately at 11 months old thrown out of my crib, my playpen and all things necessary for a new baby because King Paul had been born! They say that when I was only one years old I pulled Paul off the couch in anger to get back at him and thats why he has a flat head but I have a flat head too! so who knows.

When I sat down to write this, it was difficult to try to put in writing my feelings for my little brother, how do you do that? How do you pick a couple of memories about my Irish twin of 55 years? There are so many, so very many. Each one cherished, not one thats the best or even a few. Our life together has been one unlike most people, how do I explain that? There’s only one Paul.

From when we were tiny little kids, Michael, me and Paul were always together, Hell we even slept in the same room in the back of the house in Wheaton. We really should have been triplets, so close in age and glued to each other. Our bedroom was a big room with three beds and two sets of bureau’s in between. We used to jump from bed to bureau to bed to bureau laughing and screaming until Dad yelled to go to sleep or he’d come in with the belt. Well he never really did come in with the belt but it was enough for us to stop fooling around. Michael was so scared one time he actually fell off the bureau but didn’t say anything until Mom came in the next morning to pick him up and he screamed in pain because he’d broken his collarbone.

Mom used to bundle the three of us up in snowpants, jackets, gloves scarfs and hats to go out into the Chicago winters. it would take forever to get us ready and I remember the three of us outside leaning up to the glass windows of the big black door begging her to let us in even lying and telling her we needed to go to the bathroom. All to no avail, so we’d give up and dig tunnels in the snow, go sledding down Saddle road and of course have snow ball fights. Oh yea, we had our fights....physical ones. Paul got me in the head with a REAL tomahawk, Mike got me in the head with a Golf Club! And because I was always taller than the two of them until High School I religiously beat the two of them up, yea, they used to call me Mighty Sheba until one day the two of them hit puberty and let me have it thus ending our physical wars. Don’t get me wrong we loved each other to death, we just played really hard! We had parades, yep, got all dressed up in old clothes put on tons of make up, especially mom’s red lipstick, carried brooms and shovels, clanged pots and pans together and go dancing down Saddle Road for all to see. Paul always looked like a little devil because of his widows peak shaved haircut! He fit the part just perfectly.

On our way to 904 Delancey street in Ocean City every summer for most of youth, Paul, Michael and I always had to lay on top of all the stuff in the back of the station wagon for the long 24 hour ride. Paul and I always hid Oranges in our pockets so we could squish them all over Michael who HATES oranges, he’d have to smell them the whole way to O.C. We were at the beach everyday as soon as the sun was up, somebody was always attempting to watch us, Cissie, Mary, Kate,Tommie. Of course that was impossible, we were always over our heads in the Ocean, its a miracle we didn’t drown.Oh the sunburns we used to get! No one knew back then about sunscreen, but Mom used cooled down tea bags to soothe the burns on our shoulders. At night it was the boradwalk, Lazaleres penny candy store, Johnsons Ice Cream and the RIDES. The shooting range and gutter ball were regulars too.. We all learned how to to skim board on a green board that our Pop Pop made and painted for us. Paul was always the best at it. No wonder he became such a great surfer. We had such fun in Ocean City, we’re blessed with such a great childhood. My Pop Pop built his own boat, called the Mary C. After our Nana. He had such patience, putting together all the fishing rods, baiting them, untangling the lines. We always caught fish, he really was the person who gave all of us the fishing bug, especially Michael & Paul. Thanks Pop Pop.

When we were a little older Dad bought a Boston Whaler called the Irish Power. One of the funniest memory I have is when the three of us decided to take the boat out ourselves. We couldn’t have been more than 7, 8 and 9 years old. We took our cousin Jay Bailey with us who is Mike’s age. Well we got the boat out into the Bay and I of course had the boat full throttle flying down the bay. Poor Jay was laying on the bottom of the boat screaming and begging us to stop. It was exhilarating! Paul Mike and I were laughing hysterically until the Coast Guard got us and made us go back to the boat slip, called Dad and yea, we got into heaps of trouble but that wasn’t anything new, we didn’t care we had fun.

We all went to grade school together and I remember Miss Sullivan had me first and told me I was going to be a nun because I was so good and then got Paul and said he never paid attention and didn’t read very well because he couldn’t answer questions in class ! What she didn’t know was he was totally bored and was always reading a book under his desk that she couldn’t see. She wasn’t very good I guess at determining what people could and couldn’t do..I never did become a nun. A lot of memories in Moorestown, Paul Mike and Me. We even added another brother from another Mother called Jimmy Liotta. He’s always been one of us from the day we met him and loved trouble as much as we did.

We did all make it to college, first me at Stockton and then Paul and then of course Mike. To say Paul liked to party is putting it mildly ( I was no angel either!), he spent his first two years in most of the same classes as me so I good write his papers and he could cheat off the tests we had! Many times I had to go and rescue him from a bar at 2 and 3 in the morning.I was no goody two shoes, I was just at a different bar at the time. Poor Paul had his lifestyle abruptly changed one day in his Sophmore year. We both worked at Seaview Country Club down the street from School. One night he came up to me at the front desk ( he was serving drinks in the bar) and said he didn’t feel to well.When he wasn’t working at Seaview he was Oystering, his hands were always raw. Paul NEVER got sick but I took one look at him, his eyes were bright yellow and so was his skin. I knew that wasn’t good so after work we headed to the emergency room. The doctor came in after several hours and announced that Paul had Hepatitis and was going to have to go into quarantine!!! more more girlfriends ahem (sex), no more fun period for at least one year probably two. Well that sure did slow down Paul. He got really into College, studied all the time got super grades, knew more about most subjects than I ever did. And then God Help ME , Michael came to school. All three of us lived together in our parents Sea Isle house and went to school together everyday in a car called THE THING. A Volkswagon that was blue and White striped with removable doors, windows, roof...a crazy car. We both worked down at the docks every morning. I was a waitress from 4am until 9am, Paul worked on the Headboats and eventually the Lobster boats. He’d come home from the lobster boats with his beard and eyebrows frozen stiff, chilled to the bone but with fabulous fish and lobsters to eat. Oh the parties we had at that house!!! I can’t talk about them. The nights at Braca’s, and every place else that we could find. Living with the two of them is something that no one will ever understand nor could I ever clearly explain the adventure. Just picture Fish in the sink everyday, bloody pheasants or ducks hanging on the front door and bodies everywhere. We all survived college and even graduated; there had to be angels involved in there somewhere.

My little brother, my twin, is a lucky man. He fell in love with his true soul mate, Doreen. She’s had his heart since then. A beautiful daughter too. Not many people find that kind of true happiness today but my brother did. I had a beautiful son, Michael too. Life is truly a cycle. Our children have all learned how to fish from Paul and Mike, taught just like our Pop Pop taught us. I see my son on the Native Guide,Paul’s boat, listening and watching Paul in awe building his memories and learning about life and the sea. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There truly is only one Paul, a special son, brother, father, friend.

--Nellie Callahan

1 comment:

  1. Cailin,

    There are so many memories and happy times that I think the whole family could talk for a year and never have an end to the funny tales. My first thought of your Dad is the love that I would see when you were a child whenever your Mom & Paul were with you. They would BEAM with pride and love and still do. You are the result of two people that love each other and live their lives everyday to the best of their ability with class, love & loyalty. What a gift you have been to them and a testament to what your parents are all about.

    As a child my memories are of always being in complete AWE. Being from the midwest, and spending most of my year with my Dad's family who are quiet and laid back all I could do on our visits to the Callahan's was WATCH and soak it all in. If I wasn't laughing, I was crying from laughter or speechless from shock. I was born when Uncle Sean was only 5 years old so I was just like another one of the 10. Nellie, Kate, Mary, Megan & Kelly taking care of me and dragging me along with them. When Paul & Michael would come into the room especially in Sea Isle wearing their cut off jean shorts and no shirts the little girl from the midwest would just watch in awe. I was so in love with them. They were the funniest guys and always had something up their sleeve. I was in love with Michael and my brother was is awe of Paul. We both learned to fish with Michael & Paul on Pratt's boat in Sea Isle. I loved going to Pat's for hoagies with them. I can smell the shore now as I am writing this. Your Dad was my brother's mentor and Sean to this day loves and respects your father like no other. All of the kids used to sneak out to the boardwalk late at night and they would take me with them. I was young and cute so they would sit me on a picnic bench by the Pizza Palor and leave me there by the Juke box as bait. Cute girls or Cute boys would come talk to me and then one of the Callahan's would come in for the pick-up. LOL My mother would of killed them if she had caught them sneaking me out at that age.

    One other quick story happened at the docks in Sea Isle. There was a place by the building that in order to get around you had to step on a part of the dock that had fallen into the bay but just floated because it was still attached. I was always afraid to step on it because it would sink a little I would think that a shark or something would get me. I'm sure that thought had something to do with some story your Dad had planted but none the less I spent one whole trip going all the way around to avoid that floating step. You're Dad was the one to get me to face my fear and step on it and go. He is King of the Forrest and Captain of the Sea but under all of that he is the most loving, patient, kind & loving Uncle a girl could of ever have grown up with. Happy Birthday Paul. I love you very much and Thank you for being part of my childhood and for being the light that has always guided my brother Sean, the Prince of the Forrest. Cailin, you are blessed.