With this issue we conclude the reminiscences of Roseanne Nash Eumen about her days at St. Aloysius Academy. The photo with this article is of a group of young St. Al’s students in their “middies” and black pleated uniform skirts worn in fall and spring. Although we don’t know when this photo was taken nor what year Roseanne began her St. Al’s education, it is possible that she is one of the young ladies in the photo—at the very least she and her friends would have looked much like this during their school years.
I’m in the music room with all the glassed-in alcoves filled with the girls practicing piano. This is Sr. Hortense’s domain. How I longed to play an instrument!! Well, I did play the violin for one year. We had a little orchestra and practiced during noon hour. I remember “every-good-boy-does-fine” and “F-A-C-E.” Not bad after all these years. I squeaked through “Silent Night,” but can’t recall the other pieces we played. I enjoyed singing with the choral group.
Standing in front of the stage in those gorgeous white rayon, satin gowns, with the tinsel around the neck and long loose sleeves. Were we supposed to be angels, or what?
I loved being in the plays. The attic was full of costumes, most were moth eaten and somewhat shabby to the naked eye, but under the stage lights [they] became quite beautiful. Sr. Dionysia was a good director. Remember standing on the stage projecting our voices to the back wall and Sister sitting in the very last row to be sure we spoke distinctly?
The year Sr. Honoria directed I was to sing “Maggie” as I came up the back stair and when I got on stage I was so out of breath I couldn’t say a word. Sr. Dionysia, from behind the curtain said, “Take three deep breaths slowly and begin.” That bit of advice has helped me on many occasions when I’d get up tight and my stomach turned flip flops.
For English and Chemistry, Sr. Cyrilla was always one jump ahead of me. I can see her with her black sleeves almost covering her hands. She encouraged me to read and the people I met and the places visited provided many hours of enjoyment for me when the children were young and baby sitters were at a minimum. The poems we recited in class gave me the desire to dabble in a little poetry on my own. I’ve written many for my kids.
Public speaking has been a big plus for me. Giving those little speeches before all of you gave me the courage and confidence to cantor and lector for Sunday liturgies and with Joe, talk before groups of engaged and married couples.
Did you keep your notes from Sr. Annette’s U.S. History class? How many alphabet projects were there? No books, just page after page of notes.
I’m winding my way to the art room and am looking at Sr. Coletta’s paintings. Such beautiful scenes brought to life for one who would probably never see the actual place. Sr. Coletta taught Algebra and, it seems, Freshman English. I remember she could hear a whisper, but at times the spoken word escaped her. I’m glad because when reciting the poem “The Last Leaf” the line that read “A melancholy crack in his laugh” didn’t quite come off as written.
I think Sr. Dionysia’s first love was French. I didn’t get involved with learning French, I suppose I am too Dutch. In geometry class we played a baseball game of sorts. We chose sides and Sr. Dionysia pitched the questions to us. It was an interesting way to learn. Her love for the missions became a part of my life.
She planted the seed deep within me. Wasn’t her brother Father Ed, a missionary? I saw her two years ago and she remembered all of us and prays for us daily.
Let’s run up to the lab and see the dusty old owl. It had to be a hundred years old, and it remained there for a number of years after we left. It neither changed expressions nor moved a feather. I can see the mercury running around in the lid and smell the phosphorus. Weren’t we warned that it could catch fire? By the way, how many bells have you wired since graduation? I tried to replace an ironing cord and ended up putting all the pieces in a paper bag for Joe to fix. Need I say more? Sr. Emelia really knew her subject and loved every minute teaching it.
Sr. Leo guided me through government, the environment and its effect on humanity, and Latin. Speaking of Latin brings to mind June exams and the test on Caesar and his exploits. The story began, “Caesar with seven legions” (this much was easy and not really caring where he went I wrote “went over the hill.”) and continued writing my interpretation of his battles. After grading it Sr. Leo stopped me in the hall and told me how much she enjoyed my version. Then she smiled. Not only that, but I passed. Rosalie, I’m so thankful you had older sisters to help us in the translations. Always she wanted us to be the best that we could be. One time when the little bird told her I’d had a date she kept me after class and asked me “Would you stoop and let a boy kiss you?” As short as I am!!!
Periodically the faces of these dedicated nuns pass before me and a smile crosses my lips and I whisper a “Thank you” for their interest in me and for loving me enough to overlook my failings, knowing that one day I would set aside the things of my youth.
I’ve saved the memory of the chapel until last. Its marble altar covered with snow white linen and gold lace, aglow with candle light and framing the tabernacle, Sr. Reinharda’s beautiful flowers. As I sat in chapel, my eyes wandered to the stained glass windows depicting only women saints and in the silence the haunting refrains of past years filled me with much peace. Today sitting quietly in church, with the sanctuary lamp flickering in the dim light, I am filled with that same sense of peace.
You, who shared my life for four years, are very dear to me. I think of you often and pray for you daily. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. There are many memories I could share—these have been but a few.
A little about my life since 1939. I married Joe on December 27, 1941. We’ve parented ten children: Timothy, Beth, Janice, Teddy, Joan, Jean, Jeff, Kevin, Kenneth, and Christopher. Ages range from 31 to 46. We have 21 grandchildren, ages 2-23 and two great granddaughters, 10 months and 18 months. We’ve celebrated birth, experienced the emptiness of death of Jean at age 23 days and Janice at 27 years. We’ve laughed, cried, trusted, and worried. Became angry at times and begged forgiveness. We’ve worked hard, played hard, got weak in the knees and stood tall. We’ve been blessed with good friends, a loving family, and fairly good health. We’re moving into the sixth stage of life, and our destiny lies before us for our life has indeed been fruitful.