Our next stop was the church where Gino’s grandmother had been baptized and his mom had attended as a child: St. Joseph’s. No one else was there as we wandered the aisles, contemplating the important events of so many past generations. As Dorothy explained the church’s history in a hushed voice, I lit a candle for Jan beneath the main altar.
After all that solemnity, our next stop was quite welcome: the sometimes-open post office/general store. Inside we met the infamous Paul Rogers. What a character!
Self-described town historian, postmaster, Jaguar-owner and all-around ladies’ man, he regaled us with lively stories of the town’s history, which included writers, movie-makers, and a cast of other colorful characters.
I told him how I had originally found cousin Dorothy’s address — through someone on an online genealogy site. This person in turn had put me in touch with someone who ultimately contacted Dorothy. And so it went.
The original contact had also advised me to be sure to go into the post office and seek out Paul Rogers, who knew everything and everyone there was to know in Aghamore. She was right.
During our visit with Paul, various townspeople wandered in and out to buy a lottery ticket or a loaf of bread, pet the dog, or buy a stamp. Patiently waiting at the counter while Paul finished some story, they would join in the conversation, never irritated by the delay. The border collie, familiar to everyone, bounded in and out excitedly between the banter.
Two older men shuffled in looking quintessentially Irish — one was even named Paddy. One wore a beret and one sported a tweed hat and knee-high boots over his dark pants. Paddy spoke in a soft voice with a barely understandable brogue. Leaning against the counter, eyes twinkling with memory, he described in great detail a trip he had taken as a younger man to Montana and along the western United States coast. He was an absolute delight!
Before we left, Paul gave Gino a newly published book on traditional Irish music: “Survival — Irish Traditional Music and Song — a View,” written by Seamus O’ Dubhthaigh from Aghamore. After exchanging email addresses, we said farewell and drove to Dorothy’s for tea and cookies and to meet her husband, Tom, one of their sons, and their dogs.