Good thing Donald Trump didn’t fat-shame Mary Shanley at a Queens bar at 3 a.m.
Yes, Trump had another rough week, taking flack for seeming flustered in his recent debate with Hillary Clinton, who resurrected Trump’s infamous fat-shaming of beauty contestant Alicia Machado.
All of which left Trump but a few points behind Clinton in most polls.
What’s going on here? After all, even if you are a Republican, you must admit that it’s quite shameful America has never had a woman at the top of a winning presidential ticket.
And yet, for you Hillary supporters out there, you must also admit that there is a curiously low level of historical excitement in the air. The sense of history when Barack Obama ran and then won was palpable. Obama haters were not hard to find.
But when he became America’s first African American president there was a tremendous level of excitement, at least in places that lean heavily Democratic. There was a feeling that America had managed to correct at least a little bit of its shameful history.
There seems to be no such euphoria when it comes to a history-making female presidency. Which is a shame because in the annals of discrimination and oppression, women had so much to overcome.
As bad as African American males have always had it, at least they were able to vote and run for office in the 1860s. Women had to wait until 1920, over five decades longer.
Some women, of course, were not so patient. As Irish American historian Ellen Fitzpatrick notes in her recent book The Highest Glass Ceiling, Victoria Woodhull is generally considered the first woman to launch a bid for the White House, way back in 1872.
Whether Clinton wins or loses, we must acknowledge the obstacles we’ve placed in front of women on the road to equality. And those -- like Woodhull -- who looked at those obstacles and tossed them aside.
Which brings us to Irish American Shanley, trailblazer and defender of the Irish in the wee hours of the morning.
Shanley, the subject of a new one-woman show at the Bridge Theatre on 54th Street starring Rachel McPhee, was born in New York in 1896. As the play, Dead Shot Mary, notes, Shanley was not the first female New York City police officer. But she was the most famous, rising to the rank of detective.
In September of 1935, Shanley made headlines, making what The New York Times described as “the first arrest of its kind.” Shanley, as well as fellow “policewoman” Bertha Recht were on patrol at a department store when they noticed “a man engaged…in stealthily opening and closing the pocketbooks left momentarily by women shoppers on the counters.”
The paper added that “though the two women are small of stature, they seized the man who weighs 160 pounds, and without drawing pistols, they marched him to the West Thirtieth Street stations.”
Unfortunately, Shanley was not always able to resist drawing her pistol. She earned the nickname Dead Shot Mary because she often brandished a pistol while making many of the 1,000 arrests she is credited with.
But her weapon -- and her Irish background -- also got her into trouble.
It was in March of 1941 when Shanley entered the Spanish Rail bar in Jackson Heights, Queens. It was 3 a.m. Shanley was accompanied by her pet bull dog Jiggs.
She ordered a drink but the barman refused to serve her. She showed her detective’s shield, but things went downhill from there.
As a report in the Times noted, another patron, “John Huljes, a restaurant worker, of 21 Granite Street, Brooklyn, made a remark insulting to the Irish and to Mrs. Shanley.”
Shanley was not having any of that. She fired a shot in the direction of Huljes, though no one was hit.
Still, Shanley was suspended. In the end, though, she was reinstated, and went on to battle pickpockets and other criminals for years.
All of which means Donald Trump may want to rethink his support of putting guns in the hands of any and all folks who want them. Especially women.