Good afternoon. Today, we are delighted to have Detective Patrick Timothy O’Shaunessy, of the Chicago Police Department, as our guest. Detective O’Shaunessy is third generation Chicago Police on his dad’s side of the family. While his grandfather retired many years ago, his father, a beat cop, died in the line of duty. Detective O’Shaunessy has received many commendations for outstanding service in the line of duty.
Sue Myers: Welcome Detective O’Shaunessy.
Det. O’Shaunessy: Thank you, Sue. Please call me Patrick.
SM: Patrick, I understand you have deep Chicago roots. Tell us about them.
DET: My story is pretty close to a lot of the officers I know. I grew up in one of Chicago’s neighborhoods, Bridgeport. I attended Catholic schools and I was an altar boy. After I graduated from City College, I entered the Police Academy.
SM: Could you tell us a little about Bridgeport?
DET: For those of you who are not familiar with Bridgeport, it’s located on the city’s South Side. The Chicago River forms the north and west boundaries, while Canal Street covers the eastern edge and Pershing Road, the south border. And it has been home to five of Chicago’s mayors, including our current mayor, Michael Keeley.
SM: I understand that many of the Irish immigrants who helped build the Erie Canal also worked on the famous Chicago I & M Canal. Did you have family who worked on either of these projects?
DET: Actually, my great-great-great-grandfather came over in the 1830’s and worked on the I & M Canal. His oldest brother worked on the Erie Canal.
SM: Has your family always been in the Bridgeport neighborhood?
DET: Yes. Most of us still live there today.
SM: Tell me what it was like growing up in the Irish community.
DET: Besides the Irish, there were many other European immigrants. Looking back, it was an incredible experience. Our lives were centered around our families, neighbors and church. Everyone knew everyone. People looked out for each other. My mother died from pneumonia when I was twelve. Obviously no one could replace her, but my grandparents and the neighbors stepped right in and I’m not talking about just for a few weeks. And, I’m a Sox fan!
SM: How many siblings do you have? And where do you fall in the pecking order?
DET: I’m the oldest of six. I have five younger sisters, Chevoun Marie, Callie Marie, Catlin Marie, Colleen Marie and Claire Marie.
SM: How old were you when your father died? And how long had you been on the police force?
DET: I had just turned 29 years old. I’d been with the department for six years.
SM: That had to have been hard. What happened to your siblings?
DET: It was a challenge. Before Dad’s death, we worked opposite shifts so someone was always there for the girls. By that time, Callie was married with a son, living two blocks away. Chevoun was engaged and ran the house. We kept everyone together.
SM: I noticed you have a wedding band. With all your responsibilities how did you have time for a life?
DET: Well, it is a story as old as time. I met my wife, Sylvia, a nurse, in Chicago General’s ER. Many of my police friends met their wives in hospital settings.
SM: Do you have a family?
DET: Sylvia and I have two daughters. Can’t you tell by my thinning hair?
SM: You mentioned that you still live in Bridgeport. After you married did your sisters stay at the home?
DET: Actually, Sylvia moved in with us. Only Colleen and Claire were living in the family home. Colleen was completing her student teaching and Claire was commuting to the University of Chicago. There was plenty of room for all of us.
SM: I don’t know how you feel about answering this question, but since your father’s death was in the line of duty, do you ever worry about leaving your wife and children without a husband and a father?
DET: It’s part of the job. I don’t dwell on it. Sylvia understood that when she married me. Her sister is with a federal agency, which makes my job look like a piece of cake. Think of all the men who lost their lives working on the Erie and I & M Canals.
SM: Patrick, I would like to thank you for stopping by to chat with my readers. And, I’d like to thank all the men and women who put their lives on the line for our city every day.
DET: It was my pleasure.
SM: If any of my readers have questions for Patrick, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next month, I have a real surprise for you. Instead of interviewing my character here in my office, I’m taking you back the Bridgeport neighborhood. So don’t forget to stop by. Thanks for visiting and have a great day!