One of Duquesne’s Beautiful Ol’ Gals

September 9, 2012 would have been the 100th birthday of a very important part of many of our lives. In the September 13th issue of The Duquesne Times, an article appeared that annouced the opening of Duquesne’s newest school, Holy Name. 

The opening was heralded as an “auspicious” occasion, with 250 pupils registered on the first day. Considering the fact that only four of the rooms were initially to be occupied, that meant there were over 60 students per room!! Eventually, all rooms of the building were occupied, and came to include high school classes on the third floor.


Postcard image of Holy Name School in all its glory –

That building was such a huge part of my life, and I knew it like the back of my hand. I remember: 

  • each and every room of the building from the cafeteria level to the very top floor.
  • the names of each and every teacher that I had during the eight years I attended, from 1957 to 1965.
  • the two principals that were BNOCs (Big Nuns on Campus!), Sister Agnes Eugene and Sister Mary Daniel.
  • First Friday breakfasts in the cafeteria with glass pint bottle of milk, chocolate milk or orange juice and trays of maple rolls.
  • decorating the huge classroom windows at Christmas time with poster paints and then having to scrape them all off after returning from Christmas vacation.
  • standing on the stoop outside the back doors of the school and pounding chalkboard erasers together to clean them, and then discovering that our faces looked like mimes from the chalk dust.
  • the smell of the blackboards after they were freshly oiled before summer vacation.
  • recess during winter with dangeous ice tracks becoming our personal skiing slopes.
  • getting to the church on time to serve at 6 a.m. mass.
  • Sister Delores frantically pounding out melodies on the 7th grade upright piano.
  • the mellow sounds of the small pump organ that was carried from room to room for music lessons.
  • 8th Grade graduation ceremonies in the school hall.
  • The swinging set of doors with glass panels when entering the cafeteria from the side alley.
  • fire drills and having to stand in line in the alley behind the school or on the front sidewalks of 2nd St. and not being allowed to utter a sound.
  • dismissal time and running down the front stone steps of the school
  • being allowed to use the two sets of interior metal fire stairs at the school entrance
  • the nuns eating lunch in the room on the left hand side of the stage, while Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Juliana had to sit among us.
  • the sound of each nun’s oversized rosery beads that would swing from their waist sash.
  • the religious article cart.
  • the school supply store that was set-up outside of the principal’s office on the 2nd floor.
  • the smell of mimeograph fluid that was used in the copy machine along with the blue and white stencils.
  • erasing pencil marks from our books at the end of the year.
  • handing in our $5 “book bill” each year

Our mutual friend, Jim Hartman of the Mifflin Township Historical Society, has provided copies of photographs taken during the demolition of our beloved Holy Name Elementary School.

I happened to be visiting Duquesne the very week that the school was being torn down in April of 2005. I had not heard that the school was to be demolished, so you can imagine my surprise as I parked in front of the post office and just stared. I managed to grab 3 bricks from the heaps that surrounded the demolition site. I still have them, and I hold them very dear.

You will FOREVER be in our hearts. Happy Birthday you BEAUTIFUL ol’ girl!

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29 Responses to One of Duquesne’s Beautiful Ol’ Gals

  1. Timothy Fox says:

    HI, Jane Voytkova! Nice to hear from you and hope all is well. The bizarre boat is still floating, thankfully. Unfortunately, life is like a roll of toilet paper – the more it gets used up, the faster it goes! Hope we all get to see one another again, someday.

    • voytkova says:

      That would be sweet. You are still a funny guy, Forrest Fox. I suspect that you, me, Larry and Ikach were actors in some Greek comedies back in those days. I wonder about Mr. Reutzel, the wacky chemistry teacher who kept us away from the chemicals most of the time. Keep laughing, if not, at least smilin’.

      • Frank Mullen says:

        I remember Mr. Reutzel very well, not only as my DHS chemistry teacher, but as a neighbor. He lived right around the corner, and down one block, on Liberty Street, from me on Miller Avenue. Every time I walked past his home, which was half of a duplex, if I recall correctly, he would manage to poke his head out to say hello. I always thought he was interestingly pleasant.

      • voytkova says:

        That’s an “interesting” way to describe the fellow. Wore bow ties, as I recall, smelled of cigarettes and told vaguely off color jokes to us rookies. He certainly drilled in certain things that I recall to this day, like fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine, rhyming iodine to the others, something I still do. I need some i-o-deen. The local pharmacist understood.

      • TIMOTHY D FOX says:

        How about Mr. Mooney, who wore slippers to class everyday!

      • voytkova says:

        Hmmm…I never noticed that. Maybe he had tender feet. He was an odd duck for sure, but I liked his class. Overall my favorite teacher was Mr. St. Clair for ancient history. He was more into his subject than any other history teacher I experienced. (The way he described that Spartans was very graphic.) Maybe that is why ancient history is my favorite area of study, except maybe the American Civil War. Generally, high school was a drag except for certain classmates who made me smile and think about twisted things and dream up silly puns. Contributed to my becoming the curious person I am today, I guess.

  2. Frank Mullen says:

    Like so many sights dear to us, Holy Name School is, now, gone. However , as I sit here looking at these photos, the thought occurred to me that the school is not gone. It is right inside of me , as memories and as skills that have served me well for a lifetime. It’s been said that we “can’t go home again.” However, do we need to? I don’t think so. It has been part of us all along.

    • voytkova says:

      I still have dreams (in my sleep) about my family’s old house in Duquesne, breaking in and trying to live there now. It is either abandoned or the person who bought it is not home and I open closets and look out of windows. The place is definitely not the same as when I lived there. The walls or ceiling are different colors, etc. Makes me a little sad.

  3. Ken Denne says:

    Talk about mean.. Larry Curran and I were both slapped around by Fr. Bernarding because we made mistakes as altar boys !!!

  4. Faye says:

    It broke my heart to see the school demolished. All I have left are te memories. Thank you for the photos.

  5. Bob Dougherty Class of '50 St. Joe's; Class of '54 DHS says:

    St. Joe’s memories: Jack, I remember the 2nd & 3rd grades being assigned to the two classrooms on the third floor of the Old St Joseph’s school building and like you I do remember the fire drills and going down the ouside metal (steel) fire escape. I don’t remember being frightened going down the fire escape.. Since we attended St. Joe’s during WWII, I also remember going into the tunnel that connected the basement of the school to the basement of the church and that’s where we went , i.e., the tunnel, during the air raid drills and reciting the Rosary. Other memories: I remember when the school acquired a movie projector and once a month (six weeks?) the whole school would gather in the auditorium on the third floor and watch a movie. One of the movies, The Three Stooges or Laurel & Hardy (can’t remember which one) had one scene with some dancing chorus girls in short (short for the time) skirts. P J Bernarding (our favorite pastor) publicly humiliated the principal (Sr. Marcilene or Sr anthony – can’t remember which one) for daring to show such an obscene movie (horrors) to our naive/innocent minds – Ha. Another funny incident, 6th grade and Sr Xavier. Returning from Mass, we arrived back at the school at the same time that the milk delivery truck driver was delivering the school’s milk and Sr X said we would take our milk into the classroom and so we did but he still delivered the full compliment of milk for the whole school. Sr Marcilene or Anthony came roaring into the classroom demanding to know what Sr X had done because the school now had to pay for the extra molk that day. Bamboo rod across the out stretched hand and laughing in false bravado. Many, many other memories but that’s enoughfor now.

  6. Jack Schalk says:

    I wonder if Jim might have pictures of the demolition of St. Josephs school.
    This was another grand old lady, who along with the sisters of Divine Providence tried to install some intelligence and character into this Duquesne boy.
    It took some smacks with a bamboo stick across the hands to promise to never make the old mistakes but I kept coming up with new ones.
    Then there was practice fire drills and the escape from the building on the old outside fire escape.
    What a scary time that was with the steel stairs having openings throughout. It was almost like crossing the Kennywood bridge. I knew they both would fall with me on it at some time.
    Any other St. Joe memories?

    • Jim says:

      Jack, unfortunately I have no pictures of St. Joesph’s School. Little did the architects who designed the fire escape steps in the grade schools of our youth suspect that they were helping to develop the “phobias” of our youth! Here’s my plea – IF ANYONE HAS PHOTOS OF THE DUQUESNE OF OUR CHILDHOOD, PLEASE CONSIDER SHARING THEM WITH US. You can scan and email them to or mail them to me. I promise they will be returned promply after they are scanned. Perhaps there is someone out there Jack that could fulfill your request!

    • Timothy Fox says:

      Hi All! I attended St Joseph’s School between 1954 and 1962. There seems to be a severe lack of postings on ANY of the Duquesne blogs, including Facebook, by anyone in my era. I was there when they built the new school, but remember the old school, as well. My parents used to bowl duckpins in the bowling room on the first floor (to the right after entering the main entrance.) School kids were forbidden in this room! My teachers consisted of the following: 1st grade=Sr Marlene; 2nd grade=Sr Del Rey; 3rd grade=Mrs Schorr; 4th grade=Sr Opportuna; 5th grade=Sr Donna Marie; 6th grade=Mr Callabro; 7th grade=Sr Rose; 8th grade=Sr Marcelline. Mrs Schorr was famous for hitting kids’ knuckles with a ruler (more than any of the nuns). Sr Rose (or Mary Rose) used to walk up and down the aisles and perform the “sniff test” – looking for kids who had neglected bathing! Sr Del Rey was a peach. I remember being a pilgrim in a Thanksgiving play in the auditorium of the old school, while holding my brother’s BB gun as a prop. (Imagine that today!). I was an altar boy, but disliked Fr Bernarding, whom I viewed as “mean”. One mistake and you had to kneel before him after mass. I remember the new cafeteria in the new school – was probably state-of-the-art, but the only kids who ate there were from West Mifflin, as far as I know. Peggy Fath is a name I remember in connection with the cafeteria. I attended Camp Fatima (near Zelionople) one summer while attending St Joseph’s. It was a positive experience, and they let us shoot real rifles! I remember Joe the janitor, who also rang the church bells. I also remember the daily Angelus “freeze” in
      the schoolyard! When the bells sounded, everyone stopped what they were doing and remained motionless until the bells stopped. I remember “flipping” baseball cards on the porch of the back entrance to the church. When someone’s card touched another card, he could claim all of the tossed cards. (Gambling during recess!). I bought most of my cards at Butler’s Drug Store across the street. Well, enough! If anyone else from this period reads this, let’s hear from you!

      • Jim says:

        Hey Tim!!! Thanks for all the memories. As a Holy Name graduate, I wasn’t familiar with your list of teachers, but I am SURE there is someone out there that shares your history and memories. I know Lou A is VERY familiar with St. Joe’s and would love to reminisce with you!

      • Lou Andriko says:

        Hello,Tim. Sorry I don’t remember you, I was at St Joe’s from 56-64. I too had Sr Marcelline in 8th Grade; as principal she was there quite a while, the other nuns transferred more frequently. Do you remember Srs Jerome, Mary Mark, Hubert, Alice or Rose Michelle? Joe McKenna was quite the character, we always thought he heard confessions on those Saturdays that Fr Bernarding or Petrie went golfing! And yes, Fr PJ had the reputation you mentioned. Mom wouldn’t let me serve on the altar because of it… so I joined the choir and have been singing liturgies ever since, one place or another. Peggy Fath, who worked the cafeteria with Mrs Stein, was great friends with my mother, who worked lunches every Friday for many years. I lived on Maryland Avenue just 2 blocks from the WM line, so lunch for me was always at the cafeteria; remember when we would have ‘breakfast’ during 1st period after going to 8 o’clock mass? We’d get those little paper 4 ounce cartons of milk to wash down our Twinkies. The school is gone, the fast is gone, you can’t get whole milk in schools and Twinkies just bit the dust… Oh, to be young again! Wait, what AM I saying? but those were good times.

      • Timothy Fox says:

        Hi Lou! Thanks for the reply. You must have been a couple of years behind me – funny how we didn’t socialize with other the other grades (a tradition that carried into high school!). Your nuns don’t sound familiar to me, except for Sr Marcelline. I forgot to mention in my post that Mr. Calabro [sic?] was a replacement for a nun in 6th grade, whose name I cannot remember. Of course, back then, we were not told the reason for this.
        A few years ago, my wife and I attended the St Joseph’s Catholic School reunion, at Westwood Golf Course (the old Duquesne Golf Club). There were lots of people older than me, but only one from my class besides myself. I found out later from a few people that they weren’t contacted (not too surprising, as they live all over the country). Of course there were younger people, but the 70 – 80 year olds were the majority.
        Another funny story (I got from my uncle Ed Foster, from Holy Name). In the beginning, Holy Name was the Irish parish and St. Joseph’s was the German parish. There was such a rivalry between the two churches that many fistfights erupted on the streets of Duquesne, among the parishoners! Wow – going to church didn’t do much for them, did it?
        One last thing, when I was in 8th grade, there was a rare cooperative effort between St. Joseph’s and the Duquesne public school district. They had some “shop” classes for us (woodworking, leather, etc) at the old Libengood school – yes, it appeared abandoned but they “renovated” one classroom on the first floor. It was spooky going there, as most of the other windows were boarded up. I can’t remember the teacher —anyone?

      • Lou Andriko says:

        1.I think I remember Mr Calabro; taught 6-7th grade?
        2. And yes, when my parents were to be married in 1950, Fr PJ actually told them that they shouldn’t be attending a German parish as neither was German -Translation – you’re both HUNKIES.
        3. In 8th grade (63-64) we boys went to DHS for drafting/woodshop; can’t remember about the girls, maybe Home Ec.? Anyway, I still have a usable if somewhat amateurish serving tray I made 48 yrs ago…

      • Bob Chermonitz says:

        Timothy, I recall going to shop class at the high school during 7th & 8th grade while at HNS. This would have been in the ’63-’64 and ’64-’65 school yrs. I can picture the drafting teacher but cannot recall his name. However, I’m certain that the shop teacher was a Mr. Oresky (sp?). He was a powerfully built very strict hunky with grayish hair. One didn’t mess around in his shop class. I hope this is who you were looking for. Shop class has been forever etched in many a boys mind with Bill Cosby’s “Who put the bullet in the furnace?” routine. And, Lou, I still have my tie rack fron 8th grade. 🙂

      • Lisa Schorr-McAnally says:

        Oh wow Peggy Fath!! I used to help her with the dishes sometimes and Joe the janitor was my uncle Joe McKenna he passed away shortly after I moved up there from Holy Name. Not sure which Schorr was a teacher when you were there I went from approx 75-79 then back to Holy Name in 80. I guess Fr. Bernarding was before my time I remember Fr. Turner and Fr. Hubert(?) I liked Fr. Hubert he was nice always thought Fr. Turner was more intimidating I guess. I also remember Fr. Frasier from Holy Name. My cousin Pat Schorr worked in the office and Sr. Bernard(?) was principal. She didn’t wear a habit. I remember when Kent Tekulve(?) and the Pirate Parrot came either 4th or 5th gr. It was around that time that they were considering making us wear uniforms if I remember correctly. wow the memories are coming so fast lol.
        Two of my cousins are pastors now Fr. David Schorr and Fr. John McKenna (Joe’s son) they are at different parishes. I lived on Zewe alley and used to get our candy from Andy’s (Kennedy meat market) at Peter st. and Kennedy. Just wow I can still see everything in my head as it was. I feel like a kid again just thinking about all those times.

      • voytkova says:

        Hey Tim (Fimmy Tox), if you graduated from DHS in 1966, I was in that class as well. Saw you and your wife at the 50th high school reunion at the Westwood Golf Club. I hope you are doing well. “Keep the bizarre boat afloat!” Remember that line from an OLD email?
        I went to public school, as the Byzantine Catholics did not have a school.

  7. Bob Chermonitz says:

    Today I passed through Duquesne on my way from the McKeesport Hospital to the south side by way of Rt 837. I decided to drive “below the tracks” where the mills used to be. For those far away you’ll remember that we could never access mill property. Today you can. I turned right at Grant St, crossed the tracks, and was into what has become a well established industrial park. Business is doing very well, thank you. There is even a US Steel building here. I decided to park where I could look up at the city we all knew. I must say I never saw Duquesne from this perspective. The hills rise gently, to my surprise. I recall it being much steeper. There remain so many trees that it is hard to locate certain landmark buildings (those that are left). However, the empty lots along the side of the former Holy Name Church confirm what Jim has highlighted here. Our school is gone, and it is sad. But the memories remain of her and our city as it was.
    As a former History teacher, allow me this, I sit here and wonder how Duquesne was when on July 8, 1755 Braddock’s army, along with George Washington, passed through on it’s way to defeat the next day after crossing the river to, what is now, Braddock, Pa. This must have been a beautiful site to behold! And then us Duquesne Hunky’s came along and the rest is, as they say, history. 🙂

  8. sally morini says:

    I happened to visit Duquesne when the school demolition was in progress and picked up 2.bricks.
    One for me and one for my brother, I delivered his to Syracuse, N Y, He really appreciated me bringing a part of Duquesne to him………….

  9. Lori D. Achtzehn says:

    I loved going to that school. After they tore it down, I took some of the bricks. How I wish it was still here, but the memories are imbedded in my mind forever.

  10. Bob Salopek says:

    I DON’T GET IT Why do Americans tear old buildings down?? It must be a conspiracy that politicians have with the construction trade, drumming up scare tactics that they are unsafe, or unsuitable to the digital age, or might hurt someone in case of earthquake ( well, maybe ). But europeans don’t tear their stuff down, but rather convert the beautiful old structures to different purposes. Old St Joseph’s gone as well. It must be unnecessary to demolish. Also it takes historic preservation societies to step in to block thses kinds of wasteful actions. Those school buildings had SO MUCH character. And now, what. Ugly squat, slab sided boxes, so the construction crews can slap it up fast, and get to their next unremarkable project.

    • Lisa Schorr-McAnally says:

      I so totally and whole heartedly agree! I attended Holy name first grade and then again for 6th(1980) and St. Joes the in between I cried when I went back and saw they were both gone and the one building I hated is still there. Well except for the cafeteria I liked that part lol. I had Mrs. Newhouse, Sr. Constance Marie, and the one teacher I will never ever forget was Mrs. Morgan (shudders) My cousin Pat Schorr worked in the office and My uncle Joe McKenna worked the grounds and the church. I fondly remember filing into church for wednesday mass at St. Joes and have always loved that church. Always wanted to be married there. In my opinion and if I had my way instead of tearing those buildings down they should have been restored. I love old buildings they had / have character and hold so many memories for so many people. Ok my rant is done lol Thanks again for sparking the memories.!!

  11. Gene Sabolcik says:

    Happy 100 Holy Name!! I remember all of those things, which you mention, Jim. That school was such a big part of what made us who we are today. Brings back a lot of memories.

  12. Ed kozarian jr says:

    Sad to see such a big part of my childhood go. Good article

  13. Frank Mullen says:

    IMHO, the building itself was the setting – the stage – for one of the precious beginnings of our lives in Duquesne; the nuns were the school’s lifeblood; we students were the new-blood, “fresh” (pun intended) air blowing in the direction of the future. Many of us were intrigued by the whole aura attached to the Sisters of St. Joseph at Holy Name, from how they managed to suffer all those layers of clothing – their “habits” – in the hot days at the openng and closing of the academic year, without complaint (I never witnessed any of them squirm or uncomfortably adjust their wimples, for example, in the heat,) to their always traveling in pairs and being so serious about themselves wherever they went. They represented their faith, their Church, their Order, and their vocation perfectly, all of it wonderfully symbolized by their remarkable clothing/”habits” (which I have been sad to see eliminated by so many orders of nuns and sisters.)

    One thing for sure, from my personal perspective, is that despite what some might have perceived as their being “unusually stern,” (WHO wouldn’t be with a class of forty-eight eighth graders in one small room?) I sure did learn from them. In fact, spelling, grammar (esp. DIAGRAMMING) and those ubiquitous TIMES-TABLES were skills that served me very, very well right into college, throughout life, and certainly into my profession as a grammar and high school teacher. It has been said that we “teach as we were taught, ” and I certainly did find myself teaching as I was taught, for decades, in numerous ways. Those nuns inculcated a strong foundation – as strong as that school building’s foundation was, surely – in self-discipline, self-control, self-motivation, and communication arts, AND THE LOVE of LEARNING itself that never failed me.

    I find myself deeply grateful for the privilege of having attended Holy Name School, having begun life and grown though childhood in Duquesne, having served at Mass for Holy Name Church, and having had the privilege and joy of earning so many friends at DHS. I take none of it for granted. Those were special people – good and decent folk – who populated our young lives in Duquesne. Make no mistake about it. We were very fortunate.

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