Interview with Jude Mooney by Viola Russell
When I first began writing From Ice Wagon to Club House, I had no intention of writing a series; however, the Mooney family invaded my consciousness in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Jude and his family became flesh and blood to me. Here I imagine an interview with him as Viola the reporter questions Jude about his extraordinary life.
Interview with Jude Mooney:
Viola: Mr. Mooney, you’ve driven an ice wagon, fought in WWI, participated in the Irish war for independence, sold bootleg liquor, trained race horses, and run an illegal booking operation. How did you venture into so many enterprises?
Jude Mooney: I grew up poor. In 1915 New Orleans, I was a poor boy lucky to have a job on the ice wagon. I didn’t have a great deal of education, and in those days, most people only had iceboxes to keep their food cold. My buddy Pete and I sold ice to New Orleans households. Working with Pete made it bearable.
Viola: How did you find yourself in Ireland during the Irish Rebellion?
Jude Mooney: Well, I was always a kid who wanted more. I wasn’t easily satisfied. Pete and I started working in Storyville. My mother and father were very respectable, pious. Hell, I was, too, but my brother’s death had already hurt our family and put us in debt. We needed money. My parents still didn’t approve of Storyville, and when they found out what I was doing at night, they were furious. I jumped a ship, working my way back to my family in Ireland. It was there that I fought for Ireland and met my Maeve, my rose.
Viola: Yet you joined the British Army to fight during WWI.
Jude: I did. Maeve and I argued, and I joined because I was so furious with her. While I was in France, I saw some things I hope I’d never see again.
Viola: You reunited with Maeve.
Jude: She was beautiful. I loved her. We fought together during the Easter Rebellion. She was a woman of fire. When I returned from France, I found out she’d had my twins, Daniel and Paul.
Viola: You returned to New Orleans.
Jude: My parents were here. So was my sister Jean. Pete was back from the war. He was U. S. Army and ha lost an arm, and he then married Jean.
Viola: And you bootlegged.
Jude: We would have starved during the Depression. My mother was horrified, but I’d learned a few things from my time in Storyville and Ireland. You had to look out for yourself. Respectability is a luxury only rich men can afford. That was the case in Storyville. So many of those girls were poor girls trying to survive. That was true of Maureen.
Viola: Who was Maureen?
Jude: A gorgeous Irish girl making her way in the world. Her life and mine would be linked forever—much to her tragic end, I’m sure. Then, her lovely daughter Nieve—well, that was after my Maeve–. I don’t regret anything I did, but my sins were visited on my sons and my family. Daniel and Paul lived lives even more daring than mine, and their adventures began when they defended my bootlegging business. My little girl Aoife, who I tried so hard to protect, also loved excitement and freedom. In the end, you really can’t live your children’s lives. Their mistakes are their own.
Viola: Any parting thoughts?
Jude: I have no regrets. I was born in Ireland, the Mother Land. I loved her and my New Orleans. I fought for Ireland and made my fortune in New Orleans. My children have carried on my legacy. They have fought for freedom while loving life and seizing it by the throat.