Do you recall a publication called Connections which appeared in the three U.S. provinces back in 1990. It led up to the Chapter of Mats held at Stella in the summer of ’90 and featured stories and memories from Holy Name, Sacred Heart, and St. Francis Provinces. The April ATP included the Connections’ features on “events that have shaped our lives as provinces and as community.” Reprinted here is the section from Holy Name Province which focused on an old community song from the Franciscan Song Book. The song included many of the old customs which some of us (but not all!) experienced in the past:
Do you remember cupkins, kimkins?
Do you remember sheets in shredkins?
Do you remember mangle-stopping?
Do you remember Tuesday, weary?
Too early rising, eyes shut, bleary?
Do you remember days of yore?
That’s what a jubilee’s for.
Do you recall hauling pails of water?
Up flights of stairs when you knew you oughter?
Do you remember sandals, bread boards?
Do you recall those bedside clapboards?
Do you remember cherry picking?
Do you remember spiders sticking?
Do you recall the days gone by
When you were young and spry?
Do you remember paper-bailing?
Do you remember scorching veiling?
Do you remember mirror hinges?
Do you remember home-brew binges?
Do you remember who swallowed Herr Sharp’s lunch and all that followed?
Let us recall the long ago, now before we go.
At that time, S. Isabelle Reilly explained some of the references within the song. Even more so now than then, this is particularly helpful for those of us too young to have had those experiences. She recalled that at 4:40 a.m. S. Vera’s sandals would slap-slap down the corridor preceding the call to rise (“Stehet auf die Ihr schlaft, Jesus Christus wird Euch erleuchten.” which translates to “Rise ye who sleep, Jesus Christ will be your light.” The expected response was “Deo gratias,” but one can’t help but wonder if that was a universal thought!).
As the sisters came down for breakfast, each went to her place with her 6”x10” wooden bread board. Each board had the sister’s name painted on it. The bowls were known as kimkins (anglicized from kümpchen which doesn’t seem to be in a modern German dictionary) and cups were without handles. Potato peeling was an important morning task. Every Tuesday was laundry day and, according to S. Isabelle, the mangle always seemed to live up to its name and “mangled” the sheets. She remembered that candy was a treat at lunch that made up for some of the hot and harried work in the laundry.
There was “good” water at the outdoor pump which meant it had to be hauled up four flights of stairs to the dorm. (Does anyone remember where the pump was located? In the corner to the left of the time clock door?) Beds were bunk beds with clapboard sides and cornstalk mattresses—with all the attendant rustle. To wash, one knelt on the floor and used her Franciscan foot pan. The spider reference was for those who lived at “the Normal” (the old Sacred Heart on Washington Street) and were used to seeing many of the nocturnal visitors.
Spring was time for cherry picking. The ladders were not overly sturdy but the sisters were given permission to do some instant canning and the chore became a challenge. Mirrors, of course, were not to be found but creativity led to the use of the shiny steel hinges on the bathroom doors. Home-brew, cellar-cured, was considered one of the special feastday treats (now we’re more apt to have box wine and Labatt’s).
S. Isabelle didn’t explain the reference to Herr Sharp, but this was probably Mr. Sharpe who was an early cadet commandant, and your archivist supposes that his lunch may have fallen victim to his hungry dog. If anyone really knows what this refers to, please contact the archives!