So the best way the story goes, President Joe Biden’s godfather is from Archbald.
That Franklin J. McDonald stood up for child Joey at his baptism might be only a legend, however the story carries a twist that solely reinforces it.
McDonald, who died in August 2000, grew up associates with Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr. and his brother, John Finnegan, based on a Jan. 20, 1942, Scranton Occasions story concerning the three of them. A day earlier, the story says, all of them signed up for the Military Air Corps and have been about to move for fundamental coaching to battle in World Conflict II. That was a month after the Dec. 7, 1941, assault on Pearl Harbor. The story stated the Finnegans and McDonald have been associates for 17 years. On the time, McDonald was 26, Ambrose Finnegan, 27, and John Finnegan, 21.
The Finnegan lads’ father was Ambrose J. Finnegan Sr., Biden’s maternal grandfather and a Scranton Tribune promoting salesman who lived along with his household on the now well-known home at 2446 N. Washington Ave. Geraldine Blewitt Finnegan was Biden’s maternal grandmother. Their daughter, Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan, often known as “Kitty,” was Biden’s mom.
McDonald was the son of Scranton police Justice of the Peace Steve McDonald and his spouse. The McDonalds lived close by within the metropolis’s Inexperienced Ridge neighborhood at 817 Richmont St. Biden was born 10 months after the Finnegans and McDonald enlisted. Within the Catholic custom, Biden’s dad and mom, Joseph and Jean Biden Sr., and Jean Finnegan Biden, probably would have had their son baptized not lengthy after his beginning. The godfather declare begins taking up water right here.
An Oct. 22, 1942, a Scranton Occasions blurb reported that Cpl. Franklin McDonald was in England as a member of an Military Air Pressure bomb squadron. Contemplating Biden was born a month after that, it’s laborious to see how McDonald could possibly be his godfather.
Franklin McDonald later settled in Archbald the place everybody knew him.
“He was an older man who’s at all times strolling round, and he’d at all times cease and discuss to you,” stated lawyer Chris Munley, who grew up in Archbald.
By 1998, McDonald was retired and heard about President Invoice Clinton nominating Lackawanna County Decide James Munley as a federal decide within the Center District of Pennsylvania. Munley lived in Archbald and knew McDonald. Munley and his household traveled to Washington, D.C., for a listening to on Oct. 6, 1998.
“So my uncle will get appointed to the federal bench by Invoice Clinton and we now have a listening to down on the Senate,” Chris Munley stated. “And so they did it earlier than a subcommittee. And there have been like 10 or 12 of them (judicial nominees) that have been all collectively that day.”
U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, a Republican, chaired the subcommittee that day.
“And Pete Domenici was the one senator who was there,” Munley stated. “And in from the aspect door got here Joe Biden … So he walks in, he sits down and Domenici appears to be like over at him and he says, ‘Sen. Biden, that is sudden. What are you doing right here? Are you right here in your position because the senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee?’ As a result of this was the subcommittee on one thing and he (Biden) wasn’t on the subcommittee.”
Biden’s look shocked Domenici as a result of not one of the nominees have been controversial. The listening to was a formality. He didn’t have to attend.
As aides scurried to discover a nameplate for Biden, he informed Domenici, “No, I’m right here for the folks of Archbald,” Munley stated.
“He stated, ‘You already know, I bought a name this morning from my mom. And she or he stated ‘Joey, Franklin MacDonald referred to as me final evening and his pal Jimmy Munley’s coming down in the present day earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee for his affirmation to be a federal decide. And I need you to go over and ensure the Republicans aren’t imply to him.’’”
The room broke up with laughter, Chris Munley stated.
Biden stayed for the entire listening to and posed for photos afterward with Munley members of the family. When he returned dwelling, Munley bumped into McDonald at Propst’s Mini Mart in Archbald, relayed the listening to story and requested if McDonald referred to as Biden’s mom.
“He didn’t even crack a smile,” Munley stated. “And he checked out me and he goes, ‘I referred to as Jean. Completely. I wasn’t gonna let any of these … push him round. I knew what to do. So I referred to as Jean as a result of I knew that she would make him go to that listening to.’”
Munley didn’t even know McDonald knew the Bidens.
“He stated, ‘I grew up along with her, I’m his godfather,’” Munley stated.
Effectively, possibly not.
Joni McDonald Tordoff, Franklin McDonald’s daughter, remembers a political rally within the early to mid Nineteen Nineties at Tomaino’s Lounge in Archbald, the place Biden confirmed as much as marketing campaign for somebody whose identify she couldn’t bear in mind.
“And Joe walked within the again door of Tomaino’s Lounge, and my father, who was not an enormous man, however whoa, he could possibly be heard when he wanted to be. He screams out to him, ‘Joe.’ And you understand how tall the president is. He spun and appeared and he stated, ‘Franklin does my mom know you’re right here?’ Then he cuts via the gang and he picked up my 5-foot-6 father. And he held him up at arm’s size and stated, ‘Does mother know you’re right here, actually Franklin does she know?’”
That evening somebody requested her father how he knew Biden “and my dad stated, ‘I’m his godfather,’” Tordoff stated.
“So I don’t know if it was an honorary title. As you say, he was within the conflict throughout that interval,” she stated.
She is aware of for positive that her father and Biden’s father, Joseph Biden Sr., have been the very best of associates, and the suspicion is Joseph Biden Sr. wished McDonald to function godfather, however “daddy was already within the conflict,” Tordoff stated.
So possibly Franklin McDonald injected a contact of blarney into the Biden household historical past, but when he isn’t the president’s godfather, he positive acted like he was.
BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Occasions-Tribune politics reporter, writes Random Notes.