That phrase is indelibly imprinted in my memory bank, as if placed there by a branding iron.  It evokes a sweet memory of childhood, when we were practicing for a fifth-grade play. It was the description of the sound effect of thunder, induced by our holding and flapping all four corners of a big sheet of tin . It was at the point in our play where the Virgin Mary appeared to the three children at Fatima, and invariably the point during rehearsal when someone flubbed their lines, and we would have to start over.

Thus, “Take it from the crash, boom, bang!” became the phrase for all do-overs — I remember the incident like it was yesterday.

We were in the backyard of Terry Ann Donovan’s house on West Oneida Street in Oswego. Every time I see Terry Ann today, we exchange our “crash, boom, bang!” as a friendly greeting, followed by laughter and a hug. I am certain we all have key secret phrases to conjure up a childhood memory of some thing or someone. It’s a good thing to have. It’s one of my favorites.

Memories of those carefree days in the Donovan backyard are sweet. Indeed, so is Terry Ann.

She now lives in Westvale, where she made her home with her husband Andy, who passed away in 1975.  They had three children: Andrew, Emily and Stacey, all of who still live in the Syracuse area. The family also includes five grandchildren.

The Donovan clan from which she springs was originally located on West Cayuga Street,  just east of N.W. Ninth Street (more frequently called the lane). Her father, John T., and mother Rosemary (Murtha) were the parents of five children: Maureen, Kathleen, Jack, Terry and Timmy. Jack Donovan was a scion of nearby St. Mary’s church, where his deep baritone voice could be heard at the eleven o’clock-high mass in St. Mary’s men’s choir every Sunday. I have many memories of that choir, in as much as I sang in the boys choir for most of my grammar school years at the 11 a.m. high mass.  John T. had a brother, Father Joe Donovan, who was stationed in Syracuse, but was a frequent visitor to his home parish of St. Mary’s, and served his last parish assignment at Oswego’s St. John’s church.

In his later years John T. served as a Republican County Legislator from Oswego’s Third Ward. I was proud to serve along with him for several years. Another brother, Stowie (Francis), became a politician as well and served as a Democrat from the First Ward as a County Supervisor.

The eldest child of John T. And Rosemary Donovan, Maureen, married Bill Pluff,  famed OCHS basketball star and they had one daughter, Susan

Her brother Jack became a teacher in the Rochester area, and judging by the glowing compliments on his Facebook page, was much beloved by his pupils. He was also a golf coach. He died suddenly in 2019, survived by his wife of 51 years, Linda, son, Kevin, and daughter, Shanley, along with three grandchildren.

Her sister Kathleen of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has two children: Meghan and Tim. Brother Timmy, (Mary Ellen) the youngest Donovan child, lives in Canandaigua, and they had two daughters: Sarah and Katie O’Shea.

The Donovans were a quintessentially conventional Irish Catholic brood, with sparkling eyes and personalities to match.  Love, laughter and lots of activity abounded in the Donovan home. That effervescence continues today in the Donovan siblings and their many offspring. And when ever they are at a loss for words, which is seldom, they can always “take it from the crash, boom, bang.”

John T. Sullivan is a former Oswego Mayor and the author of three books, “Forks In The Road” parts I and II and an autobiography “Pee Not Your Pants — Memoirs of a small time mayor with big time ideas,” available locally in the river’s end bookstore and online.  His column appears exclusively in The Palladium-Times on the first Thursday of each month.

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