Sadie Meehan – Character in Divide the Dawn
“Sadie looks up into my eyes and smiles. She wipes a tear away and hugs me. And so does L’il Dinny, hugging me by the leg. She whispers to me, ‘Now you need to start makin’ a plan for yourself an’ your family, to escape Brooklyn.’”
Sadie Meehan (née Leighton, b. 1891) faces a terrible decision: Staying with her gang leader husband, or leaving him in order to keep her son safe. Sadie was raised in the terrible poverty of East London. In 1910, her cousins Darby and Pickles Leighton paid her passage to Brooklyn, New York where she again lived in desperate conditions. She was courted by both Dinny Meehan and Harry Reynolds of the White Hand gang, but when Meehan was arrested for the murder of Christie Maroney, Reynolds came to her the night before the trial. Her cousin Pickles was then convicted, while Meehan, McGowan, and Vincent Maher were exonerated. Feeling closer to Meehan and seeing that he could best pull her out of poverty (Meehan also promised to get her cousin out of prison), she shunned Reynolds. Sadie cared for three orphans that Dinny brought home and helped groom them as productive gang members. Within months of Meehan’s release, she gave birth to a son, Li’l Dinny.
Light of the Diddicoy
Sadie takes in the homeless immigrant teenager Liam Garrity.
Exile on Bridge Street
Sadie gives Garrity a haircut, flowers and advice on courting women when Dinny attempts to betroth him to Anna Lonergan. She is startled when her cousin Darby sneaks up on her and L’il Dinny, who shames her for marrying the man who banished him and set up Pickles for the murder of Maroney, then offers her a cryptic warning. When Darby and Anna throw rocks through Sadie’s window while Dinny is in jail, she goes to Garrity, but Reynolds says he “can’t talk to Sadie.” Garrity then pays for her and L’il Dinny to stay in a hotel on Long Island. Scared to go back to Brooklyn and the coming gang war, she plans on keeping her son far away.