Thursday, June 24, 2010

Woodside Memories

The profile of St. Sebastian Parish on You Tube brought me this e-mail.


My sister just sent the YouTube video for the City of Churches profile of St. Sebastian’s. It brought back a lot of memories.

As a 1961 graduate of St. Sebastian’s School, I’m from the generation of the wooden church and iron parishioners… no AC on a crowded Sunday morning.

I don’t know if you’re collecting “living history,” but the message I forwarded to my kids with the video is below,

Wow! That sure brings back some memories!

Back in the day… in the early mid-50’s… I went to Sunday mass in the old wooden church with nanny Gleason… no AC in the summer… it was the 1950’s version of a steam bath; when I started fidgeting, nanny pinched me ‘til I settled down… I had my first communion either in the wooden church or the school chapel because the big church wasn’t ready. Nanny never liked the new church because she felt like she was going to mass in a movie theater. I think my class was one of the first to be confirmed in the big church… that would have been 1958.

Nance! You may remember this… every Wednesday we got out of school early, at 2PM, for Novena in the school chapel… the nun’s taught catechism to the Catholic kids who were in PS 11. When the new church was almost done, I remember Fr. Moran waving down at us kids lined up along 58th street & Woodside avenue from one of the church towers.

The side chapel was where I went to the 6:30 mass every morning… I had those stained glass windows memorized.

Where the parish center is now, was the school yard. It was segregated by gender… the boys were in the front near 57th street and the girls were in the back by 56th street… heaven help the boy whom the nun’s caught on the girls’ side… the girls spend a lot of time jumping rope and the boys just hung out… there was a little, separate school yard in the front on 57th street where the first graders went… when it was time to go into school, one of the nuns rang a hand bell… we all shut our mouths, lined up in double file, and our nun would lead us into school… showing up late—after the bell—or talking in line was usually good for a noogie or a dope slap.

Of the many gifts given to me by the church, which for me is St. Sebastian’s and Maryknoll, two are a love of learning and psychically surviving two years in Viet Nam. I feel blessed not to have been one of the names on Ed Fowley’s Vietnam Monument on 57th & Woodside, but I knew a lot of those guys from the school yard. I was told that originally the monument was supposed to go into Doughboy Park, but the city objected to the reference to God in the inscription; so, the parish allowed it to be set up on its present site… you got to love secular progressives.

Best wishes from a Woodsider exiled in the hinterlands!

Ray Gleason