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.
THE DUQUESNE TIMES – SEPTEMBER 13, 1912
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!