Friday, February 13, 2009

My Grammar School Friends

The St. James family: a Catholic school which struggled to stay alive, much less grow, in its earliest days. We had “Scotch” tape with numbers running through it, no doubt left over from some factory; if we needed a protractor or some other circle-maker for class, they came from the round top of a milk bottle. The playground was the dead-end street behind the school. The cafeteria? Bring your own sandwiches, sit on one bench and put them on the bench in front of you.

That’s how Catholic schools were in those days. For the pupils and the nuns, we formed a family which stayed together over the years.

Three days ago, Mary Lou Dinan passed away; the cutest girl in the class went to her reward. As I read her obituary, it appears she was not only cute, but also was very kind and giving: an EMT, library volunteer, Red Cross helper.

I used to think she was way above me, her father being a physician and having any boy she wanted. Now I wonder about that; I’m willing to bet she went for whoever was the best match, the person who would be as generous with life as she was. Maybe I should have tried harder (!).

Losing a grammar-school classmate is, to my mind, a lot different from losing any other person of the same age. Here is someone you grew up with, you were school family, you began your learning process. We’ll see you sometime.


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