“Why a Memorial Mass?” The border inspector’s follow up to the standard ‘purpose of your visit’ question was more odd than rhetorical. Next she asked me to remove my wool cap. Our friendliest crossing was the time we encountered an SFHS grad. My answer then settled everything and the remainder of our brief encounter was about graduation years and pleasant memories. Shared understandings do smooth relationships and trust.
After the Memorial Mass we had a difficult discussion with Kevin, class of ’99, about the number of young men from recent graduation years whose names were read. He as a young man with a new baby, me as a parent and grandparent, experienced the loss from additional perspectives.
Also on the list is James Michalek. I met him for the first time at last year’s Mass . The school library is named after his dad, Dr. Leo Michalek, school physician during my time.
Later, John and I enjoy a conversation with the family of a future alumni. Ryan, class of ’15, and I share Choir membership. His mom, dad, and grandmother delight us with family stories about finding common ground in a Polish – Irish household that differs on conservative and liberal social and economic perspectives. It is obvious from the delightful anecdotes that spirited conversations have a long family history. Ryan and his dad, Jim(?), will be travelling to France soon and expect to see the monument to another SFHS grad (1933), Friar Ignatius Maternowski, who died as a chaplain parachuting into D-Day.
Off to Red Top Hots where we try to convince the owner to bring his mobile unit to Canada in the summer. He tells us about other annual Canadian regulars from Calgary. Obviously worth the drive from East or West.
We find ourselves in Lackawanna for the second time. Earlier it was breakfast at Daisie’s on South Park. John and I took a break from Lent. Now we are following Lauren around Our Lady of Victory. It is her first day as tour guide. Father Baker and her OLV teachers would be proud. His store and the story of this impressive Basilica is captivating. The museum displays child welfare charity of the times. It was a ‘Baker boy’ who provided his last days of hospital care.
Our South Towns tour ends with pizza and wings to go. Hope to be back next year. It will be the 50th anniversary of the class of ’64.