How I went out into the world again, as a religious.
The honeymoon was
over; the reality of my new life set in in 1955, after our first profession
in the Congregation of Holy Cross. When I entered from St. Mary's, I had
envisioned the convent as a regular life of study, prayer and work (teaching),
with a modest social life-in a beautiful setting. The reality was not
quite as I had hoped--it was not the same and I was not the same.
I thought this was the ideal behavior for a nun, little realizing that it didn't incorporate much of my own personality, which had just begun to emerge in my teens-my romantic idealism and artistic bent. The self I had been on the way to becoming was literary, scholarly, artistic, self-confident, fun-loving and creative. The self that came out of the novitiate was practical, solemn, analytic, intense, diffident, conformist.
Could I ever regain that lost self? In the convent, once you fit into the limited role, most people don't want you to grow or to ever be outside that role-once you have adopted the nun-persona most of the nuns, the parents, even the students don't expect you to change. Would I allow myself to change? Would my superiors? These were questions I did not ask for years.
How we received our assignments
|In the various provinces
of our congregation, the nuns were assembled on August 15 the feast of the
Assumption, (most bands were professed on August 5, Feast of Our Lady of
the Snows) in a large hall. There, without any consultation or any mystical
hodge podge like Hogwarts' sorting cap ceremony, our assignments were read
by the provincial straight out calling out the various mission houses with
their superiors and persons assigned, according to age, and the subjects
they would teach. It was a practical, peasant-economy way of doing it, and
for a young nun just out of the Scholasticate just one more of the personality-denying
actions of the community.
Flint, Michigan, 1955
small band who had entered out of college made a retreat and then our
first profession of vows in February 2, 1955. On that day we learned where
we would be sent. I would be sent to Flint, Michigan, home of the Fisher
Body Plant of GM, where I would replace Sister Anita Jane, a Home Economics
and Business teacher who was ill. I was an English teacher, but what did
that matter? I could teach bookkeeping and typing, couldn't I, with the
help of the Holy Spirit?
students were mostly children of GM plant workers. Fortunately or unfortunately,
they were already broken in by the discipline established in Catholic
schools and did not dream of taking advantage of-indeed were probably
intimidated by the tall young serious young nun in black with the white
fluted starched headdress and deep wide collar (starched imitations of
a 19th century French peasant's garb) who greeted them the second semester
in their bookkeeping class, explaining that Sr. Anita Jane was ill.
How I trusted in the Holy Spirit and my Long Black Habit
As a result of our naivete and trusting the Holy Spirit as our implicit authority, we just went and taught whatever we were assigned, like day laborers in the field. We never questioned having to go into a classroom full of high school students and pretend that we were authorities on a subject that we may have known nothing about-bookkeeping was only the beginning for me. I might feel like a charlatan, but I got away with it by virtue of my long black habit. It helped that I was tall and could stand up and stare down the tall boys. I just swallowed my timidity and launched forth on whatever topic I was assigned. There was no such thing as going to the superior and telling her I couldn't teach economic geography or bookkeeping. The grace would come with the obedience. This extempore approach to life became an asset later; there was nothing I couldn't do. I didn't need training in something; interest was enough. I could launch forth upon film societies, plays, musicals, yearbooks, newspapers, humanities, art fairs, without any background, because that was the way we did things. The Spirit gave us the words and ideas and inspirations.
How I was shocked at the old nuns
have adjusted to the students quickly, but I felt utterly out of my element
among the many older nuns in Flint. In school those nuns, clad in their
armor, appeared formidable to me, as they did to the students, but at
home they turned into ordinary old ladies gossiping, wheezing, complaining
about their ailments. Only in chapel, at meals, at school and after dinner
did they wear their full habits; otherwise they quickly divested themselves
of the large collars and stiff caps and went around with white hair and
wrinkled necks showing. They all seemed to have personal belongings and
comforts --special diets, medicines, flowered kimonos, toiletries, crocheted
afghans and pillow covers-special personal items that were forbidden in
the novitiate and scholasticate. I who had made myself conform to an outward
standard of "nunlike behavior" was scandalized by the very unnunlike
behavior from all these veterans. At table they all had their special
chairs and standing medicine bottles on their place mats; in chapel they
had special seats with their little embroidered book covers. They had
special needs and privileges. Some slept in for meditation at 5:30 and
matins at 6:00 a.m. and didn't arrive until 6:30 for Mass. Here was another
discovery. In the novitiate I had gone through every deprivation without
being unhappy about it, because we were all in the same boat together.
Who could complain? Yet here people complained. I realized that in real
life nuns were much more self-indulgent than outsiders and I had supposed.
very little about that house or the nuns or students of that semester
in Flint. It was February-- dark and snowy. There was nothing to look
at anyway, except factories. I wouldn't be missing anything. All the better
to pray and meditate and keep silence as we had in the novitiate. I was
still trying to live like a contemplative, even "on mission." I did my preparations for school as quickly as possible, so as to have
extra time for prayer and spiritual reading, which was much more interesting
than spending time with the old nuns. Still we had to spend a certain
amount of time with the community.
After that first
shock at Flint, I found that all the convents were the same. The youngest
like myself did the jobs no one else wanted to do. The middle-aged nuns
ran things and the spirit of the house depended upon them. The oldest
nuns rested, at ease after a life of work. We were all basically taken
care of. A cook prepared our meals; the priest/pastor worried about finances;
the superior worried about a lot of practical things; the appearance of
the house seemed to concern many, who thought up cleaning tasks for us
young'uns. The rest of us never worried about anything. It was a comfortable
life. The only things we had to do were go to prayers and teach our classes.
Outside of that we could please ourselves, more and more as we grew older.
I was ambivalent; I didn't want to become like those old women. I wanted
some better models.
I begin graduate school and discover Emerson
out of my hole that summer, of 1955 when we all returned to St. Mary's,
and I began taking graduate courses in English at Notre Dame. Dorothy
Murnane-- Sr. Miriam Edward-- was getting her master's in French, so we
often walked over together to ND and stopped for ice cream at the Huddle
on the way home. I was reading Emerson's essays for Seymour Gross's course
on the American Transcendentalists. Emerson was immensely consoling to
me; he became my own personal philosopher. I could always find some epigram
in his essays, sometimes just by opening at random to a page in the essays. "A man is a god in ruins." "The highest is present to the
soul of man. " "Who can set bounds to the possibilities of man?
Once inhale the upper air, being admitted to behold the abolute natures
of justice and truth, and we learn that man has access to the entire mind
of the Creator, is himself the creator in the finite." (Nature) His
words filled and enlarged my soul. Some of my best meditations that summer
arose while reading Emerson and his ideas about the Oversoul. I reclaimed
some of my self through him and Thoreau. The self that had been narrowed
in the novitiate and distressed at the gloominess in Flint was the same
self who was inspired by the poetry of Emerson and Thoreau. There was
something still left!
Mary's High, Michigan City, Indiana, 1955-56
There was always hope, in those early years. In the heat of August we were once more back in the old gymnasium/auditorium at St. Mary's for the reading of the assignments. "St. Mary's High School, Michigan City: Sister Elizabeth Ann, superior; Sisters Victorine, Lenore, Rosita, Amanda, Maria Concepta, Rosalia, John Joseph, . . . Joseph Frances." Michigan City is at least back in the civilization, I thought; someone might even come to visit me there.
The community had plenty of high school English teachers, but not enough math teachers, so that year and many other years, I was sent to teach math: algebra, geometry, trigonometry. I enjoyed teaching math. Algebra, geometry, trigonometry and solid geometry were my favorite math courses. I loved preparing and teaching them. The students stood out too. Ron Girard and John Root were stars in geometry. I let them work their way through the theorems and take tests separately. John Root, whom I met many years later, told me that I gave him the only B he had ever received--in geometry, because he had missed a few answers that Ron had gotten. He still remembered that. I must apologize to him; I must have given only one A that semester in geometry.
The superior, Sister
Elizabeth Ann, was more open-minded than the previous superior. She seemed
to understand me, she knew something of the world, and under her I reclaimed
a bit of myself. She enjoyed concerts and movies, saw value in reading
books other than spiritual reading. She and Sr. Maria Concepta made it
a point to engage in uplifting dinner conversations. They were both well-educated
women who enjoyed reading, music, and plays. They were women I could see
myself becoming someday. They did not want to listen to complaints at
the dinner table. In a sense, St. Mary's offered me a first glimpse of
the possibilities of mission life. These were some of the strongest women
I was to know all through my years in the convent. Although we never even
got to the Michigan City Beach, which was within walking distance, I didn't
feel confined that year because of the stimulating conversations as we
walked around the block. I was amazed at how Sr. Rosita could laugh at
things which I took as deadly earnest. Maria Concepta (English) was an
inspiration because of her creativity. John Joseph (history) and Rosalia
(biology) were a team whose sarcasm always amused me. Sr. Victorine was
always reading a new biogrphy; Sr. Amanda was thinking up ways to make
grammar easier or at least more formulaic.
Bishop Noll High School, Hammond, Indiana, 1956-60
After another summer
spent taking classes at ND, I went to the gym in St. Angela's Hall to
hear mission assignments read out by Mother Verda Clare, the provincial. "Bishop Noll High School, Hammond. Sr. Cecile Marie, superior. Sisters
Agnes Regina (religion & English), Agneta (religion and math), Alice
Marie (commercial), Andrew (religion, history), Berenice (religion, French),
Clarellen (librarian), Danielita (religion and English), Francis De Sales
(religion, English, social studies), Dolata (science), Dolorine (religion,
Latin), Edith (religion, English, choral), Francis Jerome (religion, commercial),
Francis Raphael (religion, English), Gabrielita (religion, commercial),
Georgia (religion, English, journalislm), Hortense (religion, science,
mathjematics), Peter Julian (religion, English), Rosalia (science), Ruberta
(religion, Latin), Verona (religion, history, Latin), and Joseph Frances
(religion, math, English)."
I was like a mother
who finds her children much more interesting than her husband. Except
for rare moments, community life at Noll was as bad as it had been in
Flint. The average sister was in her middle sixties. I sat at the dinner
table night after night and listened to them complain about their health
or gossip about what the lay teachers were doing or about how bad the
students were. Sr. Peter Julian had an angina attack at the table, Sr.
Dolorine took hydro-chloric acid with every meal. Every old nun seemed
to have some special diet. They couldn't wait to leave school each evening
so they could come home, undress, and sit in the kitchen complaining about
the students. When I saw what was uppermost in their minds--comfort, attachments
to the few things that they had which gave them some compensation--shopping,
cooking, reading, pampering themselves, I thought, "another Flint." I was 25 and felt like I was living with many grandmothers. I vowed I
would never become like these women, so petty and so concerned with their
health, so negative about the students. I was glad when we kept silence
during dinner. What could I talk about with them? What did I have in common
with them? I had more in common with the students, who were only a few
years my junior. It was hard to pretend to be joyful on feast days with
these nuns. I felt like I was in a strait-jacket. I couldn't be myself.
I said little with them or had to pretend. I learned the nuns liked us
to laugh at ourselves and our families. Pictures of me in the yearbook
this year show me with dark circles around my eyes.
Fortunately the superior, Sr. Cecile Marie gave me a free hand at school. It was simply too big a school to watch over us, and she was someone who had other interests herself. I reclaimed a bit of myself when I painted my homeroom bluegreen. Color always reassures me. Then I turned to my homeroom students, to whom I taught algebra. I see them now in the yearbook: Dan Bencze, Joe Bielefeld, Jim Feerst, Mike Gleeson (the class wit), Suellen Hoy, Mike Jakupcak, Pat Krizmis, Frank LaMantia, David Ligda, Gerard Walter, Pat Flanagan, Pat Whelan, John Kruzan, Gertrude Kovach, Jeanine Czepiel, Margaret Frechette, Justin Clarence Kolb, Karen Kocur, Jim Natonski, Mary Lu Wadas. I didn't want to stay in my room after school, and I didn't want to be associated only with CCD; I wanted to do something lively with these bright students.
I begin a speech and debate club
I had been on the
debate and forensic team in my high school years and thought it a shame
that a school this size had none. I would start one. I set out to recruit
students for the debate and speech club by going around to homerooms of
the freshmen, sophomores and juniors with higher IQ's, in those days before
mainstreaming . "We are" --or perhaps "Bishop Noll is"--
" going to start a debate team," making it sound as if I were
doing it at the request of a higher power, as if everybody at the high
school were in favor of doing it and had authorized or appointed me to
do it. I did not want it to seem that it was only I myself, not a large
group, who had wanted to do it. It was not only personal timidity or diffidence
that prompted me to avoid claiming the initiative came from me; it was
also the fear that it would fail unless there were a big push from behind.
Although I believe authority truly comes from within, yet "authority"
-in the sense of prestige, weight, influence-were best seen coming from
institution or large group. In fact, it was not the "authority" but my enthusiasm that convinced them.
|I was reassigned to
Noll for a second year. The English faculty that year included Sr. Peter
Julian (also speech) , Sr. Edith (also choral), Sr. Danielita, Sr. Francis
de Sales (also language arts) , Sr. Agnes Regina (also religion) , Sr. Georgia
( also journalism). I was pictured in the yearbook with the English faculty
(but listed also as teaching debate, world geography and general mathematics).
Math faculty included Sr. Agneta (algebra), Rose Veronica (English, geometry).
The coaches taught algebra, geometry, advanced algebra and Fr. Bach taught
solid geometry and trigonometry. Even if I taught math, I would be limited
to algebra and geometry here. Science faculty included Scholastica and Rosalia;
Social Studies included Dolorine (consumer economics, modern history, political
science), Marie Jeanne (typing and ancient history) and some coaches who
taught ancient history, U. S. history, modern history, political science.
Sr. Andrew who had seemed like an institution, was gone, so Sr. Francis Jerome
took over Red Cross. Commercial subjects were all taught by nuns: Francis
Jerome (religion, shorthand, ancient history), Gabrielita (typing and shorthand)
and Alice Marie (typing, bookkeping, business English). Languages included
Berenice (religion and French), Lorettyn (Latin and geometry), Mrs. Kelly
(Latin), Sr. Victorine (Latin) and the ancient Sr. Verona (U.S. history
and Latin). (Someday this may be of archival interest to someone.)
Again the elderly nuns dominated the community, while the few younger professed like Georgia and Edith had all the good activities like the newspaper and the plays, but by now I had my own activity in the debate club. Speech and debate had caught on. I could raise money, I could get permission to go to other schools; I could call meetings; I could ask mothers to drive us--just as Georgia and Edith and Scholastica did. I took over the sponsorship of the Prop and Publicity club because Sr. Cecile Marie knew I was an artist. Sr. Cecile Marie and I got along well; though she herself was very ladylike and genteel, she could see more of a person than meets the eye. Under her I could be exhuberant, and she didn't tell me to slow down. Once she said that I could could get paint out of grass. In the publicity club that year I met the fabulous Suellen Hoy. She was a natural leader; she took charge and made herself responsible. On top of that she and I were always laughing at the same things.
How Debate and Speech grew, and how I became a casting director
The students all came back into debate and some new ones joined. Mike Overdeck and Jim Lennertz, Pam Powell and Novelene Yatsko joined . The debate club picture in the yearbook for 1958 shows not only Jeanine Czepiel, Karen Kocur, Gertrude Kovach, Mary Lu Wadas, Margaret Frechette, Fran Buzinski Pat Frankowiak, but Dave Ligda, Pam Powll, Novelene Yatsko, Mary Beth McGrath, Janet Berkowicz, and others I can't remember. There were always those who joined and didn't work. By returning, at last, I found that I had a loyal clique of students, speech and debate students who loved to talk and interpret literature. I brought out these qualities in students. Encouraged by the response, I got cuttings galore and did some myself. I collected a dollar per person from my class to buy these cuttings. Novelene did marvelous acting. She could become anyone; she was a marvelous Mary Stuart. Sue Adams did an interpretive reading of Eloise; Mary Lu of St. Joan. Margaret Frechette did comedy --Arsenic and Old Lace., Auntie Mame, Pygmalion, Harvey over the years. Pat Krizmis, Gertrude and Karen did oratory and Jeanine and David did extempore. To them all I am grateful, for they made those years joyful for me. Many years later Margaret Frechette lent me her yearbooks, which brought back all the memories of those years.
The brightest students
wanted to get into debate and drama. They reminded me of our own debate
and speech group back in my high school. They liked doing readings and
digging into debate topics. In response to their enthusiasm, I read more
and more plays, looking for ones I could do ten minute cuttings from.
I felt myself expanding; I was not just a nun or a teacher of algebra
and geometry. I exercised new powers; I could cast students in new roles,
introduce them to new imaginative worlds. I had the sense that I had something
valuable to give. I saw beyond a student's face value into what he or
she might be. I could seize the essential character of a person, seeing
their capacity for other roles. They weren't just 14 -15-16 -17 year olds;
they were Medea, Eloise, Elwood P. Dowd, Mary Queen of Scots, Joan of
Arc. In discovering them I was discovering myself. I discovered that I
liked to directing.
During the summer
of 1958 I took more courses at ND, and after the annual retreat, we made
our final profession. I was very happy in the community because I had
hope; I could see my future, working with the students at Noll. Religious
life offered infinite possibilities of working with students as my mission
in religious life.
Everyone in my family was now married. In 1957 both Kathleen and Joe had married. Kathleen and Dick Connor had a new son Keith, born March 31, 1958. I had missed that wedding but saw the pictures, with Bishop John Cody at the main table at the reception. My dad was doing a lot of building for him, as he had for Bishop O'Hara, his predecessor. Joe had graduated from ND in architecture in 1956 and was working in my dad's office. He had married Pat Graney in 1957 and their first son Michael had been born in May 1958. In June of 1958 Carol had married Bob Miller. So permanent changes had been happening within our family, and I had missed them all. I tried to pick up from where we were then in our lives. Their lives were assuming permanent shapes. Was mine permanent?
Back at Noll, 1958-60
In this home visit I gained back more of myself, rejoicing in the full lives of my parents and family. I was surrounded by things that were missing in the convent: color, art, family love, joy and fun. On the other hand, I had gained a lot on my own path. I was 27 and a successful high school teacher with debate and speech teams waiting back at Noll, looking forward to competitions.
The third year at Noll many of the same sisters returned with me: Sr. Georgia still had the Warrior, the school newspaper, Sr. Dolorine the Mission, Sr. Victorine the yearbook, Sr. Francis Jerome the Red Cross, Sr. Berenice "Le Cercle Francais," Sr. Raphaelita the National Honor Society, Sr. Good Counsel (in her debut at Noll) the Student Council. Other nuns included these English teachers: Sr. Francis Catherine, Raphaelita, Peter Julian, Berenice, Francis de Sales, Danielita, Georgia and Lois (new). Srs. Clarellen and Verona were still there. I was back in the math department, along with Sr. Clement Joseph, Agneta and some coaches. Holy Innocents ("Holy Terror" the students called her) had joined Francis Jerome and Gabrielita in commercial. Good Counsel and Scholastica were among the science teachers. Francis Catherine, Francis Jerome, Lois and Dolorine were among the social studies teachers (including 5 coaches).
By then I wasn't confined within the rotating identities of math teacher, English teacher, and occasionally Economic Geography teacher. I was established as the debate coach, like the other coaches! That year my freshmen debaters were juniors who were going around the state to contests and winning debates and medals. That year we even held the Calumet regional Forensic contest at Noll on Friday and Saturday. Twenty-two students were pictured with me in the yearbook, including John Kruzan, Pat Krizmis, Mary Lu Wadas, Margaret, Sue Adams, Pam, Jeanine, Karen, Gertrude, Dolores Rak, R. Silva, C. Koslow, Jim Seipol, D. Cole, Jim Lennertz, Carolyn Keckish, L. Grodzicki. David and John helped train them for debate, while I became more interested in the dramatic interpretations. In the 1959 yearbook the Debate Club had a two-page spread!
My students are my support group
|The students were my friends, my helpers, my support group. They taught me to relax and have fun. Novelene, that engaging redhead who could move me to tears with her acting, told me that I was "swinging." She and Pam were authorities on the subject. Suellen and I laughed at all the same things. Margaret shared each of her ribbons with me. These students empowered me and I them. I was, indeed, leading an exciting life, a life not unlike any high school teacher's, traveling to other schools for tournaments. When I left the student world and returned to convent life for prayers at 5:30, a pall fell over my life. I felt unspoken criticism from the pews when I entered the chapel and genuflected. Perhaps they thought I should have been home right after school or driving them to the doctor? Perhaps they resented that I was getting out of the tedious renunciation that went along with convent life and was actually flourishing in the stimulating atmosphere of student activities. Later I faced over the dinner table the hatchet faces of Clarellen and Raphaelita, the misery of Dolorine, the bland piety of Sr. Francis de Sales, the self-pity of Sr. Scholastica, and the martyrdom of Sr. Peter Julian. Sr. Victorine and Sr. Cecile Marie alone of the older sisters seemed even remotely interested in what my students were doing, and I was chiefly interested in that. I was naively hoping for support from the community to validate my emerging self. Yet I didn't depend upon them; I had the support of my students behind me. This year also the freshman that I had started Noll with had assumed leading roles in activities as juniors. Sue Adams was a cheerleader. The operetta that year brought out Alberta Hap, Adam Gawlikowski, Margaret Frechette (in the chorus); Suellen was poised to take over the newspaper the next year.|
1959: My best friend Dorothy is assigned to Noll
another summer of classes at ND, I returned in September, 1959, for my fourth
year at Noll, to an even larger debate and speech group. As Sr. Georgia
had been transferred, I took over journalism and the Warrior. But the best
of all was that my dear friend from college, Sr. Miriam Edward (Dorothy
Murnane) was assigned to replace Sr. Berenice in French. We were a team,
not quite as important as Sr. Cecile Marie and Sr. Holy Innocents, (who
went shopping in Chicago at Fields as often as they could on a Saturday).
My year there with Sr. Miriam Edward (Dor) turned out to be the highlight
of my years on mission. We had studied together in the summer at Notre Dame.
Sr. Cecile Marie, who had been Dor's superior at Twyckenham, was our superior
again that year. Though she had us cleaning constantly, even stripping the
varnish in the chapel during holy week, she was kindly and rather favored
us--spoiled us the older sisters might say.
Many familiar faces showed up at Noll that year: Sr. Clement Joseph was again teaching the advanced math that I had taught in Michigan City. English teachers there were in abundance--Sr. Francis de Sales and Sr. Danielita had the freshmen, Sr. Agnes Regina and Sr. Francis Catherine the sophomores, Sr. Raphaelita the juniors and Sr. Peter Julian the seniors (or something like that). Sr. Scholastica taught chemistry; she was close to Sr. Francis Jerome, my roommate in the first year. Sr. Scholastica listened to classical music a lot and made a point once of telling me that I wasn't the only one who appreciated classical music. I must have done something to give her that impression. I liked Sr. Holy Innocents who taught typing and shorthand (which Dorothy later taught, as well as French). Sr. Victorine taught history; conversation with her was always interesting; she read history and biography; Francis Jerome read politics and followed baseball. Sr. Dolorine, who always talked of her health problems ( an overactive thyroid caused her eyes to protrude), taught religion and ran the sodality and mission. Sr. Miriam Edward had the French club; Suellen Hoy and Marida Highfield became her special friends.
A beautiful newly professed young sister, Marian Loretto (Donna Dries) had been assigned to Noll and had long talks with Dor, probably making the observations about the convent that I am now making. At the time I couldn't allow myself to discuss negative feelings, for I would have had to act on them. Besides, I had no time for negative feelings; I had so much positive energy which flowed out to embrace ever new students and projects. Donna Dries did leave after that year, but not I. Had she found something as rewarding as I, perhaps she wouldn't have left.
How could I leave my pets? Dor and I each had our own outside group of friends among the students and their parents. These students or their parents gave us rides to town or to St. Mary's or to Chicago. In fact, it was through a trip to Notre Dame with Mrs. Wadas to attend the National Catholic Drama Conference with some of my drama students that I got the idea to do the Matchmaker as the senior class play. Of course, Dor had to do it with me, and we began casting, then producing The Matchmaker as the senior play in February and Sweethearts as the senior musical in April. A tradition of plays and musicals with those talented people that is still going on.
Frechette, who had been Anna in The King and I at the Marian Theatre in
Whiting in the fall of 1959, was perfect as Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker.
The irreverent and irrepressible Adam Gawlikowski was Horace VanderGelder;
the lanky Mike Jakupcak (co-editor) was Cornelius Hackl, and naive Frank
Bryja was Barnaby Tucker. Laurel Loverich was the perfect ingenue Mrs.
Molloy, the "impulsive millineress," and Marida Highhfield was
"her wide-eyed assistant," Minnie Fay. Bob Hart and Connie Gargas
were the lovers Ambrose Kemper and Ermengarde. Carole Ann Langowski was
the perfect aging beauty Flora Van Huysen; Dan Adzia enjoyed his role
as the cabman. Even Suellen was in it as the cook . Her chief contribution
was her irresistible laughing at everyone. She got me laughing at their
characters, which I knew so well, instantly. I could cast them because
I instinctively knew what their main traits were and what imagination
each could bring to the role. I also knew that others would enjoy seeing
them in character, that everyone would enjoy his/her part. It was my time
in Shakespeare's company. Justin Clarence (JC) Kolb was the pianist. Pat
Bojarski and Tom Cardis did the sets and Pat learned professional makeup
from someone who helped us.. (J.C. went on to a career as a pianist. Adam
Gawlikowski appeared in over 50 plays. Margaret Frechette continued her
stage career and was in Steel Magnolias a few years back. Laurel Loverich
also had a musical career. Sue Ellen entered the community, left, got
a PhD at Harvard in history, wrote Chasing Dirt, taught off and on at
Notre Dame. I found much of this out when I attended the class's 35th
reunion in 1995.)
I had much to look forward to for the following year. Suellen Hoy and Mike Jakupcak had been senior editors of the newspaper, and Dan Fabian, who was in journalism class had been junior editor and would be editor next year. He was also a singer and his group made a record a la the Kingston Trio. Perhaps we could look for a play with him in a leading role for the next year.. (Indeed, he starred in Brigadoon.) Everything was winding down. Suellen wrote up a senior class directory for graduation. Many new students wanted to get into debate and speech tournaments or onto the newspaper next year. Whatever we did was fun and students wanted to come aboard. I was finding talent all around: I got Pamela Powell and Novelene Yatsko into journalism as well as drama and debate. Novelene and Pam were stars, as was Jim Lennertz. I felt like a patron of the arts, helping to turn students on to literary activities.
1960 Graduation from Notre Dame, Trip to Canada and Cranbrook
The following summer at St. Mary's, inspired by our dramatic productions
at Noll, I produced a musical comedy with the nuns during summer session.
We performed it in Moreau Theatre. Sr. Mary Immaculate wrote it. Sr. Miriam
Edward was in it and a lot of the other of our friends among the young
nuns. It was a silly play about convent life, but we did it up as if it
were a Broadway show with songs. As producer, I coordinated all the parts,
got the permissions, got the cast, etc. The Matchmaker had given me the
sense that I could do casting, directing, and production. When the curtain
went down and all the nuns (including some from my missions) applauded
wildly, I couldn't believe it. That summer too I finished my master's
degree in English. Graduation was in August, so my parents and my brother
came for it. By this time Ivan Mestrovic the sculptor, was at ND, so my
father was interested in seeing his studio and work. Joe and I got into
a picture of the famous "Touchdown Jesus" piece by Mestrovic.
We couldn't wait to get back to Noll. We were sure we'd both be reassigned.