Bartender Philosopher (10-7-1893)

“Hellow, Jawnny.  How’s thricks?  Dint know where ye’ve bin all these days, man alive.  I ain’t seen ye, Jawn dear, since ye led th’ gr-rand march in Finucane’s Hall this tin years past.”

That is supposed to be someone speaking with an Irish brogue.  Dialect humor was popular in 1893.  So when readers of the Evening Post read that paragraph on this evening, they got a chuckle.  The words were attributed to an Archer Avenue saloon keeper named Martin Dooley.

Another Dooley column appeared a few weeks later, then another.  Soon they became a regular feature in the Evening Post.  And as the columns continued, something became clear: despite the mangled syntax and outrageous accent, this Mr. Dooley was one smart character.

Eventually Mr. Dooley was unmasked.  The anonymous columns had been composed by Finley Peter Dunne, the paper’s 26-year-old editorial writer, himself a second-generation Irishman.  But revealing the secret only increased the readers’ appetite for the Dooley wisdom.

Dunne published his first anthology in 1898.  The book was a best seller, and Mr. Dooley became a national sensation.  President Theodore Roosevelt was a huge fan, but he was only one of millions.  People knew that Mr. Dooley spoke Truth.  Even today, many of his observations still resonate.  Here are a few, minus the dialect:

*A lie with a purpose is one of the worst kinds–and the most profitable.

*Among men, wet eyes mean dry hearts.

*The Supreme Court follows the election returns.

 *If you live enough before 30, you won’t care to live at all after 50.

 *A newspaper comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

 *A fanatic is a man who does what he thinks God would do, if God only knew the facts.

   *Swearing was invented as a compromise between running away and fighting.

   *A man who would expect to train lobsters to fly in a year is called a lunatic; but a man who thinks people can be turned into angels by an election is called a reformer, and remains at large.

   *Trust everyone–but cut the cards.

The popularity of the Dooley columns reached its peak in the first decade of the 20th Century, then declined as dialect humor declined.  Finley Peter Dunne eventually moved to New York as a magazine editor.  He died in 1936.




2 Responses to “Bartender Philosopher (10-7-1893)”

  1. 1 V Finucane November 25, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    My great-grandfather owned the saloon and Finucane’s Hall referenced by Mr. Dooley. His name was Thomas Finucane. His father, Michael Finucane, sold liquor and supplies to the river boats. The saloon is now called The Bridgeport Inn. It stands on the corner of Archer and Loomis. The manager is Maggie Finucane.

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