I transferred to St. Francis Xavier School
in December of 1959, during my kindergarten year, when I was sent
to live with my grandmother on North 6th Street (across from the
Coca-Cola factory). At the time, the new school building was under
construction, so to reach my new classroom, I had to lumber up the
steep steps of a trailer parked somewhere on the church's property.
Once inside, I forgot I was in a trailer, so like a typical kindergarten
classroom did it look. The trailer was warm, cozy, and festively
decorated for Christmas with Santa and his reindeer in flight across
a bulletin board backed with deep blue, star-sprinkled paper. Stars,
angels, and other paper decorations made by my classmates dangled
overhead. My teacher was Mrs. Avalon, a warm and welcoming woman
who made me feel comfortable right from the start.
One day, the door to our trailer opened and a tall, young, handsome
priest came up the steps. As soon as my classmates saw him, they
were on their feet, boys bowing and girls curtsying as they had
been taught to do when a priest entered a classroom. "Good
morning, Father. May God bless you," they chorused.
This was our new priest, Mrs. Avalon explained. His name was Father
Scanlon. He came to visit and talk with us and to give us his blessing,
the first of many. Father Scanlon was to remain at St. Francis Xavier
for many, many years to come.