My grandmother, Mary E. Howard, and my mother, Irene Gauvey, both attended St. Mary’s school here in Greenville, as did I. My children were St. Mary’s students, and now my grandchildren attend St. Mary’s School
Five generations in good old St. Mary’s School. That means many, many memories.
Mother liked to tell about the boy sitting in the desk behind her who dipped her long braids in the inkwell set in his desk. He only did it once because she flipped the braid and he got slapped upside the head with an ink-soaked pigtail.
I remember the chocolate taffy apples the good Sisters made and then sold at recess to the students. Even then teachers worked hard to provide money for education. They also sold the taffy in different flavors and different sizes for a penny to a nickel.
The chocolate taffy apples were usually available after the big kids, grades five through eight, had an apple roll for Sister Samuella, known behind her back as Sammy Lou.
She wore her black and white nun’s habit with pride. She was the school principal, and she also taught the four upper grades. At just about five feet tall in her sensible black leather lace-up shoes, she was shorter than most of her students, but a “look” from her left no room for any discipline problems.
When Sammy Lou got on her high horse, there was one sure way to bring her down—an apple roll. For an apple roll everyone in her classroom brought at least one apple to school and hid it in their desk until one of the older boys would give the signal.
He would give a loud shrill whistle when Sammy Lou was as far as possible away from him. She would then turn swiftly to stab him with “the look,” and we’d all roll apples up the aisles to the front of the room as she looked on in amazement.
She would express her profound thanks, ask the oldest boys to put the apples in the bags she just happened to have on hand, and dispatch them to the convent next door to the school.
The next few days we would bring our dimes and pennies and feast on delicious, if somewhat bruised, chocolate taffy apples at recess.
One year when I was teaching at St. Mary’s I told one of my classes about the apple rolls we did for Sister Samuella. They enjoyed the story immensely.
A few days later that class came into my room and sat down expectantly. I stepped to the front of the room, but before I could begin the lesson there was a loud whistle. As I looked on in utter amazement, I saw dozens of all kinds of apples and one really bruised banana roll up the aisles.
“A banana?” I asked as I looked over the class.
“Well, we were out of apples at my house and I just had to bring something,” was the meek reply.
I wanted to express my profound thanks, but it’s hard to talk when you’re collapsing in laughter.
The next day we did have a candy treat, but it wasn’t chocolate taffy wrapped around bruised apples.
I never told that story to a class again.
Oh yes, as a pupil and as a teacher, I have many great memories of St. Mary’s School. So today, as they are celebrating Catholic Schools Week, I would like to congratulate the staff, the students, and the parish which supports them, and wish them all many more years of excellent education and great memories.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Again this week St. Mary’s School in Greenville is celebrating Catholic Schools Week, and again I congratulate the staff, the students and the parish which supports them and wish them all many more years of excellent education and great memories, And to warn them that the sixth generation of our family is on the way.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in The Daily Advocate Feb. 3, 1999.