John D. Fitzgerald gave the world an amazing Papa. Though at times he was a bit eccentric, he was heroic, smart, cutting edge, and a civic leader. In the books, Papa is the town newspaper editor. In real life, Thomas Fitzgerald, Sr. was a saloon owner.
Initially this idea can be a shock. It took me a while to process. Yet, as I studied the era and the culture around saloons, I came to see Papa in a different light. Saloons often doubled as drug stores.
To be a druggist, a man needed a degree in pharmacology. It was a risky new branch of medicine, but Thomas Fitzgerald, Sr. boldly obtained his degree. Then set out to experience life. Not until he was in his forties, did he return to pharmacology and saloon-ing. By this time, he was married and had kids. There appears to be nothing to mar the love he had for his wife and kids.
Civic Leader -
Eventually the man of a thousand trades, sold his saloons, lost his other real estate investments in a large fire, and with that decided to become an elected official. He ran for city council and won. The 1915 Eastern Utah Advocate, in its New Year's Call column, highlighted the joyous news, employing the phrase, "things cannot go any other than the right way."
With a ringing endorsement like that, how could a kid not be proud of his dad?
I have had people ask me why John didn't keep his dad's career more authentic in the books. John never answered that himself. In fact, he stuck to the newspaper editor career attribution all his days. I think though, to John it didn't matter, because to him Papa was a noble, heroic, and wonderful civic leader.
As 2022 rolls in, may you be as bright and wonderful as Papa was, with whatever you do. There is always someone who will thrive in the shadow of the good you leave behind.
Happy New Year!!!