It Was Always Crazy
Daniel J. McAloon (Danny) was born in The Bronx to Edward and Marie McAloon in 1943. He had an older brother, Edward (Eddy), and a younger brother, William (Billy). From the beginning Danny was a handful, to say the least. He and his brothers would tear things up and Danny was usually the most adventurous, daring and from all account a bit crazy. He would go to All Hallows Catholic School, where the Irish Christian Brothers would literally try and beat the sense into their students. He was well liked by his teachers and friends and though not a bully, he was always ready for a fight. He most likely had ADD, but at the time the treatment for it was a good beating by the Brothers, but to their dismay it never really took.
Danny was a natural athlete, as were his brothers, and gravitated towards football, his favorite sport throughout his life. He played with a reckless abandoned and if not for his medium build would have most likely have become a football player. All Hallows discontinued football by the time he reached high school so he followed his older brother Eddy onto the track team. He would receive a partial scholarship for cross country to Manhattan College and in his senior year, on a dare, entered the NYC Golden Gloves, a new love was born. He would graduate college with a PE degree and become a Phys. Ed teacher at the Browning School as he continued to amateur box with some success.
He would turn professional in 1966. He would train at Gleason’s Gym, located in the Bronx and after it moved to Manhattan in 1974. He would sign with Mike Capriano, Jake LaMotta’s former manager. He would be trained by Freddy Brown a renowned trainer who had worked with Rocky Marciano, Larry Holmes, Roberto Duran, and Vito Antuofermo. He would win his first 13 fights and begin to gain some notoriety as the Fighting School Teacher.
In 1969 he would meet Diana Andrew at a party on the west side in a Manhattan loft party. Diana was an aspiring actress/singer who had left Sarasota, Florida soon after High School graduation to seek her fame in NYC. It would turn into a quick love and they married in 1970. Danny’s boxing career would continue to rise and in 1971 they had their first son Danny Kyle. They would have two more sons, Scott (1972) and Willy (1975).
They relocated in 1973 to Diana’s hometown in Sarasota, Florida and Danny went to work for her father in construction. This is where Danny and his family lives would be introduced to another level of crazy. On November 14, 1973 Diana’s father committed suicide, pushing her into the condition that would control the rest of her life, manic depression. They relocated back to the Bronx soon after. Danny would become a dean of discipline in a NYC Public Junior High School. His boxing career was always hampered by being a junior middleweight when there was only welterweight and middleweight, his drinking and need to take care of his family, which included dealing with a manic-depressive wife. He was always close to a title shot but always lost the fight that would give him that shot. He would lose to 5 champions, Emile Griffith, John Stracey, Vito Antuofermo, Billy Backus and Doug Dewitt. He would change his daytime career, becoming a maintenance worker at the Fieldston School, Riverdale and move to Riverdale in 1976. He would supplement his income as a bouncer for bars or after hour’s clubs, where my mother would deal blackjack. He would retire from boxing in 1981 and jump right into training boxers.
I would, from an early age idolize my father, and would literally try and follow in his footsteps. My brothers and I would grow up on the crazy stories of my father and our own dysfunctional lives of drinking and manic depression. He would train me as well as others and his luck stayed the same. His fighters would be very good but always something seemed to hamper their careers, whether it be brain damage or crack. Thinking back I see that dementia was starting to creep into his life but no one would know at that time. My brother Scott and I would grow up in the boxing gym. By the time I was ten my father and I were inseparable and I began my own boxing career. Scott and Willy would follow other pursuits. We grew up in an atmosphere of general craziness of my father’s drinking, and my mother's manic depression. By the mid-80s unbeknownst to us dementia was starting to infect my father’s life. He would be constantly oppositional at work and forget things constantly. We, at the time, thought he was just being Danny but it would grow worse as time went on.
I would continue boxing but by 1994 I would realize that I did not have much of a future in the ring. I joined the Marine Corps and grew a little distant from my father. By this time, he was really beginning to become frustrating. I would work with him from time to time and be amazed at how argumentative he was with his boss. He would get glee from driving him crazy and I would be put off by it.
In 1999 I would marry the love of my life, Francine, and grew even further away from my father. My mother would have a remission of sorts from the manic depression after her change of life and we grew a little closer, discussing her frustration with my father. I would invite them over and he would be crude and rude and it really bothered me. In 2003 shortly before the birth of my first child we were devastated to learn my mother had breast cancer. She had for some reason neglected to take care of a lump and by the time she was forced to go to a doctor it had spread. We were in shock as a family and knew she did not have long, and then in 2004 my grandmother suddenly passed away. The effect on the family cannot be overstated. She was the rock of the McAloon’s and through our entire lives was always the steady point. For me it was especially hard, we were very close, for I had moved in with her after my grandfather died and lived with her for almost ten years. If not for her I would not have gotten through college, let alone life. This is also when my father’s real condition started to become recognized. My mother and father were the ones that found her in her apartment. They were there to take her to the doctor and I was to pick her up after I left work. After being instructed by the doctor’s office to “just go to her apartment”, I walk into them standing there with police and EMT’s. It had been at least an hour and confusion reigned for them. Thinking he was distraught, I immediately began calling his brothers and funeral home, something that they did not even think to do.
A short time after this my mother and father had gone up to the cabin in Maine, were my mother became gravely ill. She would be transported by ambulance to NYC leaving, my father alone in the cabin. My brother Scott and I rushed up there to help him, thinking he was distraught about Mom. I would drive back with him to New York. This is where it first hit me that something was terribly wrong with him. For almost seven hours as we drove he would constantly ask, “where are we going, what is going on?” I was flabbergasted that he could not retain that his wife of 35 years was dying. I immediately went to his job and asked what is going on with him. They said that he had been getting very forgetful and strange so they had placed him in the least visible area. They were trying to help him, not realizing that he was seriously ill. I got him on disability right away and took over his health care at that point.
With my mother dying of cancer, my grandmothers passing and now my father’s condition being diagnosed as pugilistic dementia, or what it is called now CTE, along with Type 2 Diabetes, things were moving very fast and crazy. Then on March 12, on my grandmother’s birthday and a week before her passing the year before, my mother passed in her sleep next to my father. After much discussion and some hand wringing it was decided that he could not live alone and he would have to live with someone. Being the closest to him and being raised not to abandon a love one it was decided I would take my father in. I was firmly in my career as a NYC school teacher, which would allow me to take care of him, and had a loving wife that would support me in this decision. We would buy a house in New Jersey, have two more daughters to add to my oldest daughter and begin our life of craziness with my father.
Raising three young daughters, working in the Bronx at a suspension school and trying to keep a healthy relationship with my wife all while dealing with the stages of Dementia/Alzheimer’s has been a roller coaster of epic proportions. There is no doubt that at times the roller coaster can be scary, but it is also exhilarating. My daughters are learning first-hand how love for one’s family is hard but the most important thing. We get strength from each other and God. We have good days and bad days but we keep up the fight. There are many things that can be said to try and explain my experiences, but one always seems to sum it up best- I Know Crazy.