Little Down Neckers Part 11 (circa 1909)

by Charles McGrath


My father attended Saint Aloysius School, which is nothing unusual by itself. Many people on this site attended that school. This Wednesday I was just speaking to a new visitor to this site who also attended Saint Aloysius School. She shared a common denominator with my father in that they both had the same second grade teacher. The teacher's name was Mary Ann Mahon and she was the second grade teacher from 1894 until 1955. She taught second grade for 61 years!

I was talking to my sister the other day about my father’s education. She couldn't believe that my father only went to the 3rd grade. Her disbelief was to the point that she doubted me.

My older cousin Margie is not only a Little Down Necker but she is also blessed with a photographic memory. I spoke to Margie this evening about the education of my father and his siblings. My grandparents had ten children and they were very poor. As I said in the past they were the ones with "Down Neck Feet" (tough as leather and black as coal). She told me that Luke the oldest son only went to the 2nd grade. James the youngest son in going to the 4th grade went to school the longest. She then confirmed that Charles only went to the 3rd grade.

In a home of poverty and the necessity for additional income, educational years were kept to a minimum. I say to a minimum because by the 3rd grade the prerequisites for life were met. One knew how to read, write and they made their First Holy Communion.

I then thought of Lincoln who had no formal education. I also remember reading that he said, “some of the smartest people he ever met had no schooling”.


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