Willie Off the Pickle Boat

In Fun

I don’t know much about my ancestors who came to the United States from Ireland, but I know they must have been hilarious. I can’t think about my family’s Irishness without thinking about our sense of humor. And my grandpa—Billy Balance—was the source of infinite goofs.  I’m Willie but technically I’m a William. I’m named after Billy Balance, another technical William. (And I’m sure there were a million Williams who came before us.) I wasn’t really supposed to be a William. That was kind of an accident.  One day, before I was born, my parents were driving to my grandparents’ house and they were trying to come up with a perfect name for me. After my mom suggested a few names of players from the Mets roster, my dad said, “Maybe we could name him William after your dad.” Mom said, “Yeah, that might be nice.” They parked the car and my dad rushed into my grandparents’ house and announced, “We’re having a boy! And we’re naming him after you!”  I could have been a Mookie. But in that moment, Billy Balance was already too proud. And so that was that. My parents were having a William. When I was little, running around in my OshKosh overalls and causing trouble, grandpa would call me McGillicuddy or Slick or Rusty or Willie Off the Pickle Boat. He taught me how to start a fire with a magnifying glass and how to make a pope hat out of newspaper. I see our shared name as a connection to our ancient Irish sense of humor.

Place(s): Ireland

– Willie

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more