Michael and Mary O’Malley, parents to the main character Ellen O’Malley in PFIB, emigrated from Ireland to New York's Ellis Island before taking a train to Union Station (currenly called the Terminal Tower) in downtown Cleveland. On the right is a picture of Cleveland's busy ports where many of the Cleveland Irish labored.
In the beginning of the 1900s, the majority of Cleveland Irish lived in a section of Cleveland, Ohio known as Ohio City (often referred to as Whiskey Island based on their fondness for homemade libations.) The O’Malleys lived at 3104 Carroll Avenue and kept their horse in a barn on Carroll Court (later converted to a garage/storage.)
Although the O’Malley home burned down in the 1990s, remaining homes in Ohio City have been renovated, many without the much-loved front porch, The size of the homes are still close to the street (originally to prevent ladies’ clothing from dragging in the mud during the mid- to late-1800s), long and narrow in structure dictated by the lot size. Pictured below is a current neighboring home on Carroll Avenue.
All the O’Malley children in PFIB attended St. Patrick’s Parochial School and the family attended weekly mass. Built and funded by Irish immigrants, St. Patrick’s Church is located on W. 36th and Bridge Avenue near Downtown, Cleveland. A labor of love became a beacon of hope for all religions. It grew in size from its humble beginnings in 1873 . . . and schools soon followed (pictured on the right.)
Prior to the 1930s, children attended St. Patrick’s Parochial School from grades one through ten without going to high school. If a child wished to further their education, grades eight and nine would be repeated at a public high school. Diplomas issued were large by today’s comparison (16 inches by 20 inches.)
Both protagonists in PFIB (Ellen Grace O’Malley, nanny to the Sheridan infant, and Frank Szabo, detective in charge of the 1939 Sheridan murder case) attended West High School in Cleveland.
Below is the photo referenced in PFIB to commemorate St. Patrick’s 75th Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1928--in panoramic view and focusing on the banner with “Home Coming Features.”
To thank the parishioners of St. Patrick's for their hard work in reaching the $50,000 goal in 1928 toward church and school renovations, Fr. Kinney paid for the entire parish to attend Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH with transportation by boat (normally a two to three hour drive by local roads in the 1930s.) To the right is Cedar Point in the late 1930s (currently the roller coaster capital of the world.)
Pictured below (left) is Carroll Avenue in the 1930s; on the right is the back of 3104 Carroll Avenue which included a spare apartment rented out for extra income in the depression.