Ever wonder about McDevitt’s murals? In our first “Fallser Friday,” we get schooled on an East Falls Sports Association legend, Mike Dooney aka “Monzone” (and his faithful dog Gandolf!)
Let’s get one thing out, right off the bat: mea culpa. Biiiiiiig mea culpa.
I accidentally joked about a memorial wall at McDevitt on a local “Rants” Facebook page. I know! I suck! Don’t worry — Fallsers set me straight, like, immediately. They also shared poignant comments & memories about a beloved neighbor/family member who we’re honored to recall here.
Of course, neither Steve nor I ever knew Mike Dooney aka “Monzone” but we’ve walked past his mural many times, and never even realized it was a tribute. There are no dates or “In Memoriam” notice. The image, in fact, has always cheered me: the guy looks chill, his dog is kinda smiling. Peace, man.
There’s a dollar sign at the bottom right-hand corner, which reminds me of my Ukrainian grandmom, who often made up words she cared not to remember in English. “Monzole” was her word for money, so “Monzone” kinda tripped that memory, but, again, money isn’t usually a funeral symbol so to me the text seemed to make the image cheekier.
Naturally, then, when I shared the picture on Facebook, I tried to add a similarly funny comment (remember, it’s a “Rants” page):
GRRRR: the dog who modeled for this McDevitt mural was promised Beggin Strips and all he got was a stinkin Milkbone!
Oh no she di’int!! In roughly two nanoseconds, appalled comments fired in:
“Not funny, that’s a very close friend’s father and his beloved dog. You two would know better if you’re real Fallsers.”
“Yeah, lets not start anything bad here. That man meant a lot to East Falls and too my family!”
“I‘ll spit right on somebody disrespecting Monzone.”
And those are the polite ones! 🙂 But as a kind “Ranter” later explained to me, “…As you can surmise, when EF people feel disrespected, right or wrong, they’re not going to remain silent.”
He also shared an important bottom line: “East Falls goes way back. There are people on every block who deserve to have their story told.”
Well yeah. On EastFallsHouse.com, Steve and I have written close to 100 articles on local history, including a timeline from pre-colonial dates, and a list of street names with meanings (Calumet is a Native American word for pipe, for instance). Family stories, however, are the most interesting — what we strive to share on East Falls Local. Personal struggles and successes from all corners of the neighborhood. Love and joy and loss and heartbreak.
Fortunately for us, our clumsy misstep turned into a one of these stories. Fallsers might be quick to defend but they seem just as fast to forgive. One question, “Who was Monzone?” shut down the haters and bloomed into touching memories about a legendary local from Haywood Street:
“Mike Dooney aka Monzone and his dog Gandolf were fixtures down McDevitt. Mike coached, umpired, volunteered his time, etc. for years. Gandolf was his best friend, as many dog people would understand…”
“He umpired for years, has two kids who played for years and now his grandchildren play ball at McDevitt. He bartended at one of our local establishments for a time and was loved by all. He religiously walked his dog at McDevitts and was a great person in our community. Groovy dude to say the least.”
“The mural was done in freezing temperatures in the dark… The artist got his fingers half frostbitten and did the piece for the price of the paint btw.”
“We were all family to Monzone he treated us like his kids.”
“He was a great man, he loved EFSA and had the coolest dogs ever. Gandolf being my favorite as the dog would walk him to work to the 19th Hole then walk himself home.”
“That great man gave everything n more to Sports Association….”
Someone even shared the most awesome family photo! But then, enough.
Who was the artist? What breed of dog? What else can you tell me?!
Ask us, came the reply now. No matter how I phrased my questions, the answer always seemed to be, “Well just ask.” As if I wasn’t asking. But wasn’t I? I actually puzzled on this awhile, but then suddenly the message was obvious: ask a real Fallser.
I was mistaking a Facebook group of ranters for real flesh-and-blood humans with feelings. In this light, that I’d gotten ANY information at all here is a testament to the good vibes Mike Dooney’s memory still generates. We were even practically invited to hang, “Try talking to folks at a local happy hour like Cranky Joe’s. A lot of his friends drink there and could contribute to a good piece along with his family.”
OMG thank you, yes, sounds like a plan! If this post seems incomplete, it’s because we’ve got some footwork to do, yet, adding details Mike’s friends and family find important. In the meantime, we hope the memories and photos shared here help enlighten other neighbors to the rich history here, and the strong binds that tie “native” Fallser families together.
NOMINATE A FALLSER! We’re already looking forward to the next “Fallser Friday.” Seeking local stories & memories of all kinds to illuminate (and celebrate) the neighborhood. Remembrances like old sports banquet programs and yearbooks. Family photos and home movies. Recipes passed down thru generations. Local traditions and milestones. Email us or respond in the comments below, thanks!