I try to attend the Alumni Memorial Mass at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, N.Y. The alumni newsletter appears several times a year. In memoriam appears prominently. Familiar names now appear there more frequently than in the updates.
In among this year’s memorials was Gerry (Moose) Morawski. A couple years ahead of me, Moose was in some ways the stereotypical all sports star athlete. Unlike many, in an all boys school where he was worshipped, he accepted fame gently. Well spoken, considerate, and approachable off the field — a fearsome competitor and talent on it.
Regularly, Moose appeared together with his best friend and team mate, Anthony Paliwoda, in Alumni Golf Tournament photos. Some part of me and probably many others was re-assured that what we learned and experienced was truly a life long lesson.
Another familiar name on the memorial list was Fr. Conrad Miller, class of 33. Fr. Miller was our parish priest in Montreal during my teens. Fr. Simon, his assistant. Two boys from the parish tried their hand at entering the Franciscans. One took the name Conrad; the other became Simon.
Over coffee and donuts after Mass I sat with Louis and wife Gladys. Louis graduated in ’42. He still lives across the road. They are a wonderful source of stories about the early days of the school, about family lost in WWII, and about the Polish-American community in Western New York. We also share a friend in common. Louis and Gladys attend various Polka events and love the playing of Michael Biskup, a fellow Montrealer, SFHS grad and college roomate.
As always when visiting SFHS, I walked around ‘the other prop’, an area across the road from the main buildings. Once a small farm, orchard, pond, and intramural fields, it is now largely stadium and sports fields. The cinder and gravel road remains along the railroad. There, the metal-spiked track team practiced and many others walked for solice or smoke. Although dreary in March, it remains a great place to think alone.