Chapter XIV- The Reunion
At this point I would like to "Fast Forward" my story about sixty years to 1995. I was watching the CBS Television Program, "Sixty Minutes". Each feature story has the name of the producer credited in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. There I noticed the name Rome Hartman.
There surely can't be very many people in this world with an unusual name like Rome. I drafted a letter to CBS and directed it to Rome Hartman. In my letter, I described where I lived as a child, and the boy in my class named Rome. Mr. Hartman responded two weeks later stating that indeed it was his father that I went to school with, and that he was retired and living in West Palm Beach Florida. He had been president of a radio station in Florida.
At that point, I began to wonder if Sister Mary Colette could still be alive. I drove Cincinnati, and to St. Margaret's School, to ask about my favorite teacher.
The principal told me that Sister Mary Colette was still very much alive, and was the Administrator of Mercy Hospital in Hamilton, Ohio (30 miles North). I replied, "I want to see her before the sun sets."
I drove to Mercy Hospital. The receptionist phoned the Administrator, and when I told her that I had been one of her students a hundred years ago, she asked for my last name. I said you can't possibly remember me - my last name is Braun. She immediately said, "Edward, I certainly do remember you, and you come up here this very minute"!
When I entered the office, she said, "Now, Edward you take a seat, and tell me everything that has happened to you since the last time I saw you. (That was sixty years ago - June 1934). We spent the next hour talking about the "Good Old Days" when candy bars were three for a dime, and children were taught to speak only when spoken to. How mean I thought she was at times. She said " We were much more strict in those days." Then, we discussed the radical changes in the church in the past thirty years. She said, "I wonder how many people went to hell for eating meat on Friday"! Then she laughed. She told me how much more she enjoyed teaching boys, more than girls. I was surprised at that. It was a great reunion! Sister Mary Colette died the following year at age eighty-four. I mourned the loss of this sainted Nun! (Back to 1934)
One Sunday morning around eight o'clock, we were going through our routine of getting ready for church, when the front doorbell rang. Ruth answered the door. A man said, "Lady, I don't want to alarm you, but your house is on fire"! With that announcement, sheer pandemonium broke out. Bob and Marg were still asleep in their beds. I ran upstairs and yelled at them. "Hey you guys get up - the house is on fire"! Marg rolled over and said, "Yes I know. Now go away".
As she rolled over, she saw a big puff of smoke float past her window. That got her awake. She yelled, "Oh my God, it is on fire"! She raced in, dragged Bob out of bed, and tore out of the house in her nightgown. We all poured out on the front lawn to see flames coming out of the roof near the chimney. A neighbor had called the fire department by this time, and they were on their way. In just a few minutes, we heard the fire engine sirens. It was quickly brought under control, and the only damage we had was from the water. Repairs were made to the roof the next week.
We didn't have to move out just yet. That (yet) came about two months later, just as the school year was drawing to a close. That house also went on the real estate market. Once again we were house hunting. Once again, the Good Lord heard our prayers. We found a big house on Bramble Ave. - close to church, school, and the streetcar line. It was probably the most convenient of any so far. With all our bouncing around, we were still able to attend the same school and mingle with the same friends. The last week in May, Ilene asked Sister Mary Colette if she could speak to the class. She walked up to the front of the room and said, "I am very sorry to tell you this, but I won't be coming back to class with you in the fall." Tears filled my eyes. I couldn't accept what I had just heard. I was suddenly overwhelmed - just as if Toby had died again. The shock wore off in a couple of days, and I convinced myself that the world would not end when she moved away. I didn't make any attempt to loiter around her house after that.
The following Sunday, Father Ansbury told us that he had been reassigned to another parish in Dayton, Ohio. He said, " I'm sure you will like your new pastor, his name is Father Gerlach." You could hear sniffles and sobs all through the church. Most of the parish thought Father Ansbury should be canonized. Monday morning the entire student body was lined up on Watterson Street to bid farewell to this wonderful priest.
The Nuns composed a parody to a classic song for the special occasion. All of the children waved goodbye as they sang this poignant song. His car pulled away from Saint Margaret of Cortona for the very last time. The school year of 1935 ended on a very sad note, especially for me.
We settled into our "new" house and I hoped that this time we would be able to stay long enough for me to become familiar with the floor plan before moving again.
This was the time when trading cards were introduced to promote the sale of bubble gum. The card with the gum cost a penny. There was a wide variety of subject matter in the beginning. Animals, Movie Stars, and Olympic Medalists and eventually to the current spectrum of athletes. The cards were not saved in the accrual sense, as they are today. Children of all ages flipped them on the ground. Heads I win, tails you lose. Every boy had a "deck" in his back pocket, to challenge a friend as soon as they met. The initial fad lasted little more than a year. When the children's attention was redirected to a new fad, the "Duncan" YoYo.
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