Michael Ledwidge, James Patterson’s right hand author
They came separately to the U.S. in the sixties and arrived in New Haven, where there was a big Irish immigrant contingent at the time. The couple actually met in Queens a few years later.
“My dad came here and he stayed with his uncle, who was also an Irish immigrant. That uncle was the captain of Paul Rockefeller’s private yacht, believe it or not,” Ledwidge says.
“He was the Rockefeller who built the Twin Towers. He lived in Tarrytown and he would take his yacht into Manhattan every day. That’s actually how he commuted to his office in the Rockefeller Center. My dad’s uncle would drop him back and forth.”
The relationship between the Irishman and the mogul was friendly enough because when Ledwidge’s father was looking for a job Nelson Rockefeller, the governor of New York at the time, helped him get it.
“My dad worked for the New York State Thruway and he got his job through the Rockefellers. Nelson Rockefeller was governor and there was some sort of deal there,” Ledwidge says.
“I remember my dad saying that when he first went to work it was a hard job to land and he was asked, ‘Do you know Nelson Rockefeller or something?’”
Ledwidge grew up in Riverdale in the Bronx, not too far from the last stop on the Number 1 train in Van Cortland Park. His block was pretty Irish.
“It was a very typical Bronx childhood. I played stickball, and there was a whole bunch of neighborhood kids around. I remember going out alone and running around all day long and it was safe to do that.”
Like other boys from the neighborhood Ledwidge went to the all-boys school Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx. But it was, he says, pretty grim.
“It was run by the Marist Brothers and it wasn’t that much fun. They believed in discipline and I was happy when it was over. Puff Daddy (now known as Sean “P. Diddy” Combs) was a year ahead of me in that school, believe it or not.”
Ledwidge knew that he wanted to go to college and his girlfriend -- who became his wife -- was going to Manhattan College. He decided to do the same.
“I took a history major and a philosophy major and I eventually decided to major in English because the thing I’ve loved to do my whole life is read,” he says.
Ledwidge’s mother is also a voracious reader and is now an English teacher. “There was always books in the house because she’s such a big reader. She actually got her PhD recently,” Ledwidge says.
“My dad was a bridge painter -- he painted the Tappan Zee Bridge -- so he was a hard worker all his life and he actually just passed away. He was a stoic Irish guy. He used to love to walk everywhere and he loved Gaelic football. He was the one who encouraged us to play.”
After college Ledwidge worked as a doorman on 50th Street and Park Avenue. He wanted to become police officer but was frustrated when it became clear that he would have to wait years to realize his ambition.