Bill Donovan

To Hear Song click here, Music Store & Old Tool Box

There is a nice tune on Gary Rue’s CD titled “Old Tool Box.” It brought back some good memories for me of my kids’ Great Grandfather Bill Donovan.  In the song, Gary talks about how he has his Grandfather’s old tool box and I have a similar story.  
Bill Donovan was a second generation Irishman who lived in Englewood, New Jersey and worked construction most of his working years.  He relocated here to the County when his daughter Peggy and her husband Bill Raftery (my former in-laws) moved here in the early 70’s.  
Mr. Donovan and I clicked because this was back in my rock and roll days and like me, his favorite hobby was drinking with regularity i.e. everyday.  Plus he liked horse racing and we’d go to the tracks and have a great time drinking, betting and drinking some more.  I took him to a couple of Preaknesses and had him out on the infield sitting on a blanket, partying, enjoying the show and having a good old time.  I’d worry a little about him as some of the Preakness infield activities would “take off”  (in more ways than one) but he would always assure me that he was having a good time and was enjoying himself.  (The fact that he returned with me to the Preakness a couple years in a row convinced me that he was ok with what transpired there on the infield.)
One year on the way home from the Preakness, he and I were in the back seat of Mike Raley’s Subaru eating pizza, drinking beer and taking swigs of peppermint schnapps when I asked him if he’d ever done this before.  He laughed and said that it reminded him of the time back in the Great Depression when he and his friend Lucky drove cross country from Jersey to Chicago because they had heard that there was work out there.  He said they drank their way to Chicago only to learn that there wasn’t any work there either.  Since he and Lucky were now  broke having spent all their money on booze and gas driving there, he said they had to sell the car to get enough money to take a bus back to Jersey.
Not only did I buy my first house from Bill in Town Creek, but also when I bought my current home in Piney Point he helped me out on several of my initial Harry homeowner projects.  He’d say “J.Scott, I can’t help you too much, but I can tell you how to do it.” Which was fine with me since I had no clue what I was doing.

Bill Donovan

Once after having had a couple at Buzzy’s, Bill was stopped and issued a DWI on his driving back up the road.  When it came time for his court date, Buzzy went along with him as a character witness of sorts.  After hearing the case against Bill, Judge Sterling said,  “Mr. Donovan, from personal experience I have found that Ridge is a fairly easy place to get into, but it can sometimes be a tough place to get out of.  So  you need to be a little more careful when you go down there.  Now, I’ll dismiss these charges but in the future you got to promise me you won’t be staying too long in places like Buzzy’s.”   

Back to Gary Rue’s toolbox song and why it led me to all these memories.  Here is a picture of Bill’s old toolbox that I still have.  I plan to pass it along to my carpenter son Brady.  We might have to  ask Gary to update his song to sing about his Great Grandfather’s Old Toolbox.

Gandpa’s Old Tool Box With Horseshoe Intact (or Tacked In)

After recalling the above, I made a pass by Immaculate Heart of Mary cemetery and said hello to my old friend and to and let him know I was thinking about him.

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