An email received from John Mulligan ’43 in early 2014 (see below) inspired us to add a new section to our website where alumni will be able to share their memories with all of us. So please put your St. Vincent School and other memories on a piece of paper or in an email and send it to us. It can be as brief as one paragraph or as long as it takes to tell your story. Just remember that in sending it to us you are indicating it’s okay to put it on our website. We’ll publish your name and class unless you tell us you wish to remain anonymous. We may also do minor editing.
Mail your “Memories” to:
St. Vincent School Alumni
P.O. Box 175
Park Ridge, IL 60068-0175
Email your “Memories” to:
Barbara LaSpesa ‘56 at firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Brandenburg ’52 at email@example.com
Here is John Mulligan’s email:
I am probably among the last of the 1943 class. I am John E. Mulligan and attended grades 4, 5, 6, and 8th grade. Before that I attended St. Thomas of Canterbury on Kenmore and Lawrence Ave.
In 4th grade I had Sister Mary Lelia, a true saint. She caught me squinting through my fist and moved me from the back row to a front-row seat. I thought she did it to keep an eye on me as I was a bit of a cut-up. To top it off she handed me a sealed envelope that I was to give to my mother. I knew I was in deep trouble and I waited until after supper to give mom the letter. I braced myself waiting to get whacked when she read the note. It said, “Your son needs glasses.” A week later I walked into the classroom with my new gold-rim glasses and I looked up on the wall above the blackboard, and there was a picture of President Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Sister let me browse for a minute while I checked out my “new” surroundings while smiling to herself, and then she said, “all right class, let’s begin: In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost………
The summer after passing 6th grade we moved to Northbrook, Illinois where I attended St. Norbert’s until October when my dad died. My mother had a relapse of sorts and her employer drove me down to St. Joseph’s Home for the Friendless, where I spent nine months which included Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
I was the oldest boy and became the altar boy for the 6 am daily masses held for the nuns there. I attended a one-room class for grades 1-8; there were 24 to 30 children in the class. I was the lone 7th grader and a girl named Mary was in the 8th grade. We were the teacher’s assistants passing out the papers and helping the younger ones with their three R’s. On Saturdays Mary and I worked in the laundry running sheets and pillowcases through the giant mangle machine and then we did the hand ironing of the personal clothing for the children. I did the boys’ shirts and pants and Mary did the girls’ dresses.
Meanwhile, Mom got a job with Republic Tool Co. turning out ejection bolts for the M-1 rifle. She was then able to rent a fourth floor cold water apartment on Armitage and Kenmore, and in May she came down by streetcar and sprung me out and took me to our new location. That September I returned to St. Vincent’s entering 8th grade.
For our graduation party the boys drew the girls’ names out of a box on Sister’s desk. I drew Leone Gross, one of the nicest girls in the class. Of course they were all very studious and polite. During recess the boys played marbles on some neighbors’ front yard wherever we could find a bare spot. Also most of us carried pocket knives, not to defend ourselves or to attack anyone, but to play mumble-ty-peg. Nowadays you would get expelled for bringing a knife to school. When you bought high top boots at Sears a jackknife would be included in a side pocket. The girls played jump rope, hopscotch, and jacks.
One year we had a guy from the Duncan Yo-Yo Company demonstrate in front of the class all the tricks that you could do. The yoyos were ten cents each. Next day Sister had a half dozen in her bottom drawer that she had taken from those boys who played with them during class.
During those war years we showed our patriotism by buying War Stamps at 10 cents every week and pasted them in our booklet. I also remember Sister going up to each student and selling chocolate covered mints at a penny each and every so often the one who got a pink center won a Baby Ruth bar. We were a mixed group of Irish, German and Italian and got along all those years without one incident.
These are some of my fond memories of that era.
John Mulligan ‘43