Little Down Neckers Part 2 (circa 1909)

by Charles McGrath

My father only went to the third grade. By that time he learned how to read, write and he made his First Holy Communion. He was ready for the world. My father's second grade teacher at Saint Aloysius School was Mary Ann Mahon. She lived on Fillmore Street. Mary taught at 'St. Al's' for 62 years (1894- 1955 A.D.). She had 100 pupils in her class prior to WWII. Two children to a seat. Nobody moved without permission and everyone learned. He called her "Polly Nose ". He did this bravely behind her back because she had a big nose and he bleed easily.

My Uncle James attended "St. Al's' not unlike all his brothers and sisters. Uncle James back then was a pretty tough kid.

It was one of the pre-requisites for making it. He and his buddy started one of the first sit-ins. And of all places to do it "St. Al's'.

I remember Uncle James telling me that they were splitting him and his buddy up. They were assigning them to different classrooms for whatever reason I do not recall. In protest they locked themselves in the classroom and wouldn't let anyone in.

Father George Fitzpatrick tried to convince both of them to come out to no avail. Through some ploy he got James to open the door around 4 inches. A quick right not only ended the sit-in but it also broke Uncle James's nose.

They didn't have truant officers as we know them today. But they did have Father M. A. McManus. He would ride on horseback through the cobblestone streets looking for truants. One day he spotted my father and called to him. In response my father started to run as fast as he could. Father McManus took off after him on his horse. The sounds of yelling of "stop, stop " along with the metal horse shoes banging against the cobble stones must have been terrifying. The priest's habit was flying in the wind. My father was a fast runner and gave it his best shot. He made it to his home and ran into the kitchen. Granny was ironing. I think the ironing board had a skirt around it. My father hid under the skirt because he knew his home would not be the sanctuary that he needed. Within seconds Father McManus was in the kitchen. Granny indicated to the priest where my father was hiding.

That helped my father accelerate his primary education to completion at the third grade.

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