As another school year has begun for a 21st century generation, it is interesting to read about the experience of an earlier time. This reminiscence was composed by Roseanne Nash Eumen, younger sister of our S. Euphemia Nash, who unexpectedly found herself at St. Aloysius Academy in New Lexington “back in the day.” Although Roseanne did not date her writing, it seems that it was probably composed about 1989.
I suppose I should begin at the beginning. As I remember, it happened quite unexpectedly when, one afternoon, a knock sounded on our door and answering it found Mother Lima from S.A.A. standing there. She was a very stately lady, with a ready smile and kindly eyes. Upon entering the house, she asked to see my mother and after talking for a few minutes I was called into the room.
The nature of her visit was soon made known to me. Due to over-crowding at St. Rose School, some of the girls were being invited to attend S.A.A. for their 7th and 8th grades. I was one of the invited!! I remember how I felt, very excited and honored, but a little apprehensive.
The next few weeks were spent in finding uniforms. My cousin, Tillie, had graduated from S.A.A. and had two middies and a black pleated skirt. This was the dress for fall and spring. The winter uniform was a navy serge dress, sporting two pleats on either side, front and back, loosely belted at the waist. The collar was white and on special occasions, white cuffs were added to the long sleeves. Black cotton stockings and oxfords completed our dress code. Very warm and very sensible.
Of course, with the passing of time the middy and skirt were replaced by a cotton short sleeved chambray dress and the serge gave way to the navy jumper and light blue blouse. The oxfords and cotton stockings never changed, but the color went from black to a medium tan. We really looked classy, didn’t we? I don’t know about the rest of you, but to this day I never can wear medium tan hose.
The first day of school finally arrived. Armed with very little courage and much enthusiasm, I hurried up the hill. Sitting atop that hill was St. Aloysius Academy, visible from every direction, a landmark that spoke of service to God and the local community. The chapel steeple reached into the sky and its bell called us to prayer.
I walked into the gym ready to become a full-fledged S.A.A. “young lady.” Those two words, “young lady” made a lasting impression. To me, it meant I was someone special. Special to God. Special to the Sisters and special to my new found friends. This was the beginning of a six-year experience that unfolded day after day, year after year.
Gathering in the study hall, we were assigned desks and briefed on the school’s rules. The study hall was the same when I graduated as on that first day.
The 7th and 8th grade classroom was down the hall and just around the corner. It had three windows, 12 desks and chairs and was very small. Sr. Laurissa’s desk was so close I could reach out and touch it, if I dared. There was ample room in the desk for all my school needs, so the locker in the gym held my coat, boots, lunch, gym clothes, and oh yes, a very important item, my lipstick. The key to the locker was to be worn on my belt. Using it was only a formality, because I trusted everyone and can’t remembering losing anything.
[to be continued]