Five for Friday #112

Welcome to #112!

I’ve blogged on winning your 3 feet of influence.  Well, something that happened 112 years ago reminds me of how important those 3 feet are.

112 years ago, Katherine Charlotte Flynn was born.  She was my father’s aunt on his mother’s side.  By traditional measure, she had a simple, unremarkable life.  But, to my dad and his brother & sister, nobody may have been as important.

Aunt Kate grew up in Essex.   Almost immediately upon graduating from high school, she moved to Burlington and took a job as a bookkeeper at Abernathy’s.  Abernathy’s was a big, multi-level department store  at 1 Church Street – literally, the top of the block.  My cousin Kathleen reminded me how excited we (the cousins) would be to visit Aunt Kate at work.  Her office was on the top floor and we’d climb over each other in the elevator to try to be the one who got to push the button for “Aunt Kate’s floor.”

Aunt Kate worked there for 56 years.  Monday thru Friday, half-day on Saturday.

56 years.

One thing that I love about my job is its location.  I’m in the Costello Courthouse which, now, is on Cherry Street.  Of course, for many years, the entrance was on the corner of Pearl & South Champlain.   Why’s that matter?

The corner of Pearl & South Champlain is about .25 miles from where Abernathy’s used to be. It’s also about .2 miles from the house on Front Street that it took Aunt Kate about 20 years to save to buy.  Again, why’s that matter?

Well, Aunt Kate never owned a car.  She walked to work.  Every day for 56 years. Most days, she also walked home for lunch.  My office is on her route.  For whatever reason, I get a great deal of personal satisfaction knowing that the walk from my car to my office is almost exactly the walk that Aunt Kate made for all those years.

Aunt Kate had a sister named Helen.  Helen was my grandmother. She married a guy named Edmund Kennedy. Together, they had 3 kids.

Helen & Ed weren’t quite as stable as Aunt Kate.  As we Irish say, they spent a lot of time in their cups.  My grandparents’ fight with alcohol sapped them of stability long before it sapped them of life itself. Suffice to say, but for Aunt Kate providing stability, my dad & his siblings likely would’ve had much different lives.

And if it took 56 years of walking to work 6 days a week, scrimping & saving the entire time, well, then that’s what it took.  My cousin Kevin remembers one of Aunt Kate’s favorites:  cold, baked bean sandwiches.  Thinking back now, that was probably part of the scrimping & saving.

I’m pretty sure she was part leprechaun.  In her sensible pumps undoubtedly purchased from Mr. Adams, she might have been 4’8.  And that’s probably generous.  As my cousin Peter recalls, we’d race inside to see her on visits – just to stand back-to-back with her. For us, Aunt Kate was the first adult we were ever taller than.

She was surprisingly strong for such a bitty thing.  The last several years of her life, Aunt Kate needed help getting around.  It usually took 2 cousins to get her in & out of cars or up porch steps.  I can remember my arm nearly breaking as Aunt Kate held on in pure fear as we shuffled her around.  In fact, I wince in pain as I imagine how desperately she must’ve held on to my cousins Beth & Katie as they dragged her across a busy street in Montreal after Aunt Kate froze – literally – while crossing in traffic.

So many more memories.

  • The disgusting odor of the deviled eggs she’d make for every single family function.
  • The amusing fact that, in her mind, ambrosia salad was an appropriate side for every single meal – including Thanksgiving & Easter.
  • The front room that nobody was allowed to enter no matter how crowded it got in her teeny living & dining rooms.  (I used to tell her we’d put her in the front room for her wake . . . and that we’d try not to forget she was out there when we left.)
  • Trying to solve the rebus puzzles on the bottle caps of her favorite – Ballantine Ale.
  • Her work as the  unofficial treasurer of the old “Fightin’ Third” Ward.  She was never shy to announce that she’d never once voted Republican (except maybe for Denny Delaney. I think she had a crush on him).
  • A house that was literally a playground with its own snack bars: Battery Park, Beansie’s, and Sadie’s each were within shouting distance.
  • Her hand-drawn eyebrows.

I loved Aunt Kate. She  made me smile and laugh, and most of my memories of her are of her laughing.  She’d laugh so hard that she couldn’t speak. Her eyes would get really bright and crinkle up around the edges. Then, even after stopping, she’d look at you for a few seconds, then burst into another round of uncontrollable laughter.

But it wasn’t all laughter.  There were some things about which she was very strict.  My brother and my cousin Katie have very clear memories of “NO SWEEPING AFTER DARK!” and “NO RED DRESSES TO WORK!”  Like, those things actually made Aunt Kate very mad. For real.

And she couldn’t stand Roger Clemens.  Why?  Who knows.  But my brother lived with Aunt Kate for a while and she was never happy when he’d watch the Sox and Clemens was pitching.  She’d spend whole games making little faces mocking him.  Yes, making faces at an athlete on TV.  At the time, she was 84 or 85.

As I proof-read this post, it worries me that it doesn’t come close to doing Aunt Kate justice.  In a sense, by one manner of scoring, her life didn’t add up to a lot: a girl moved from the farm to the city, took a job, worked, went to church, retired, died.

But I think that some lives can’t be scored.  Or maybe the score doesn’t become final until long after the life has ended.  That’s Aunt Kate.  She died in 2003, but she’s still earning points.  Her life might not have been remarkable, but she was a superstar within her 3 feet.

When she was in her 90’s, the time came for Aunt Kate to move to a nursing home.  She was living in Milton, near my aunt, having moved out of her beloved Old North End several years prior.  My cousin Katie was there when they told Aunt Kate she’d have to go to the nursing home.  Aunt Kate was quiet for a few moments, so Katie asked if she was ok.

“Of course I’m ok!  God didn’t make me Irish for nothing you know!!!”

Aunt Kate.  When I walk from the office to the parking garage later today, I hope to follow in her footsteps.  Literally and figuratively.


Onto the quiz!


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  • Even question 5!
  • Unless stated otherwise, the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct apply
  • Team entries welcome, creative team names even more welcome.
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Question 1

Which is a rule?

When lawyers are associated in a firm:

  • A.  only one may have signature authority on a trust account.
  • B.  each is professionally liable for the misconduct of any other.
  • C.  none of them has a duty to report the misconduct of any other.
  • D.  none of them shall knowingly represent a client when any one of them would be prohibited from doing so by the conflict rules, unless the conflict is a personal one and does not present a significant risk of materially limiting the representation of the client by the remaining lawyers in the firm.

Question 2

Many lawyers advertise.   Indeed, an exception to a rule allows a lawyer to “pay the reasonable costs of advertisements.”   It’s one of the exceptions to the rule that prohibits a lawyer from:

  • A.  Giving anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services.
  • B . Direct contact with prospective clients.
  • C.   Using a misleading firm name.
  • D.  All of the above

Question 3

Fill in the blank. (verbatim)

There’s a rule that prohibits a lawyer involved in the investigation or litigation of a matter from making “____________________ that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.”

  • A.   Any statement
  • B.   An extrajudicial statement
  • C.   A statement during jury selection
  • D.  A social media post.

.Question 4

Attorney represents Client in matter vs. Litigant.  Litigant is self-represented and does not have a lawyer.

The matter is close to resolving.  Attorney has reduced a proposed settlement to writing.  Attorney shows it to Litigant.  Litigant asks Attorney what paragraph 2 means.

True or False:  Vermont’s rules authorize Attorney to explain Attorney’s view of the proposed settlement and Attorney’s view of the underlying legal obligations created by paragraph 2.

Question 5:

Alan Page was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992 and served until reaching mandatory retirement age in 2015.  When first elected, Page had been working for several years as an Assistant Attorney General in Minnesota.

I often blog on the duty of competence.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, Page excelled in a different profession.  Indeed, as a member of the famed “Purple People Eaters,” Page was among the most competent ever to do that particular job.

What was Page’s job prior to becoming a lawyer.



3 thoughts on “Five for Friday #112

  1. I love ambrosia salad. Great stories. Don’t stop. Your aunt reminds me of my great aunt Molly who immigrated from Galicia. She used to walk several miles to work in order to save the 10 cent trolley fare for her children. People of character and will.

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