May Crowning Memories

A couple of weeks ago, the Class of 1963 had a get-together which my sister Pat Eberhardt attended. After the get-together she received an email from Bob Lipinski that had been forwarded from the Class of 1964 originally from Phil Riordan (as best I can reconstruct) with the link to this video. A few days after receiving this from my sister and saving it to add to our May newsletter, I also got an email from Cathy Riordan Full with the link to the video as well as some back and forth emails between her, brothers Bud and Phil, and their sister Gwen. Hope everyone enjoys these images and musings as much as I have.

Last fall I sent out a couple of images that were scanned from my Dad’s slide transparencies. Below is the link to a YouTube video that includes those and other May Crowning photos my dad had taken, along with two more I found on the web. These images are from 1961, and 1962. Perhaps you’ll recognize some familiar faces from our grade and from others. In 1962, (we were in 6th grade) Marty Gavin’s sister did the crowning honors. I hope the video evokes some happy memories of our glorious days of yesteryear. …… Enjoy! Phil Riordan

email from Cliff (Bud) Riordan Jr. on 2015 May 08

Brothers and Sisters,

As in many of my emails, I don’t know why these thoughts/memories suddenly pop into my head, but here goes another.

You have to understand that up here in Muskegon, the season is a good bit behind what you are experiencing in Chicago and suburbs.  Also, when the wind is out of the west and off Lake Michigan, the climate is relatively unique to a very small geographical area.  For example, a couple of days ago I looked at all the local area forecasts and the temperature reported in the local towns was in the low to mid 70s, even as close as Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Here in “Scenic Woods” it was in the mid 50s because Lake Michigan cools the wind so much as it crosses the lake.  Last week there was a 30 degree difference between the temperature out the front door of my house and that of a small town only 50 miles to the east.   Ah, but I ramble.  The point is that it is just now turning Spring here on Scenic Woods Circle.   Some of the trees are just starting to show the first signs of budding.   So here I am sitting at my computer and supposedly working diligently on whatever I work on and guess what pops into my head?

“Oh Mary we crown you with blossoms today, Queen of the angels, Queen of the May …”

I remember how the weather would walk the tightrope between too cool and breezy and the sun on our faces that caused us to take off our jacket, tie the arms around our waists and scurry home with Ed and Bob, making plans as to how I would put off my homework indefinitely just to squeeze in more playtime before it got dark.  Of course Ed always calculated how he would get his done before we went out to play. I remember those big giant seed pods that came off the trees in the front of St. Ethelreda.  They always seemed so exotic that there must be something clever to do with them.  Even to this day I can’t think of a thing.  And I remember the helicopter like seeds that came off the many maple trees on the way home from school, especially around the brownstone, Craftsmen style homes on the perimeter trek around Foster Park school.  Once in a blue moon we would carry umbrellas.  They were more used to experience the sensation of parachuting as we jumped off the porches of some of those brownstones than to actually shed the rain.  Those were the days.  The hint of summer on the horizon and to me a three month furlough from the uncomfortable many encounters with Sister Botchameanie and Sister Slapamesilly.  I remember carrying my Marion (sp?) candle home in preparation for the coming May Day celebration when we all dressed to the “nines” within the constraints of what uniform regulations allowed.  And we walked from the school to the church in long processions with our heads still wet from the water that was slathered on to hold each hair in place in anticipation of passing eloquently in front of the crowd of on-looking, families, church ladies, ushers, and general nondescript admiring crowds.  We were pious, well behaved and good looking, at least until church was over.

Sunshine, fresh air,  the early hint of warmth from the sun and an occasional cool blast to remind us that it was still jacket time.  It was a great time of the year and in our lives. Everything seemed fresh and new.  And it was Sunday.  It was Spring.  And Mom was waiting with hot pancakes and sausage.  What could be better. …. Bud

email from sister, Gwen Gaffney (Riordan) on 2015 May 10

Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2015 10:56:11 AM Subject: Re: May thoughts

I can’t believe how this story and photo brings it all back enough to touch. Of course there were the two sets of ribbons. One for casual wear (every day school attendance)and one set for formal wear (.May crowning and graduation only)The girls had to bring their dresses to school ahead of time for approval of the nuns. No sleeve or small sleeve may give the boys impure thoughts, and of course that was much out of place at such pious events.  New shoes or best shoes crunched on the new fallen blossom leaves and seeds all the way home. With luck there was enough change to pick up a long john at “Beverly Food and Liquor”s to share with a friend while walking. Laughing, chatting, and planning all occurred during these special valued times and small adjustments to the trek home were made to lengthen the experience. Of course, paved alleys were preferred, so the best clothes stayed pristine. The moisture drained in the small groove that was dead center in each alley marking the advancement toward the modernizing these alleys in the newer neighborhoods.     Ah, you guys bring it all back and I am grateful for the safety and freedom we had and took so much as a given……


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One Response to “May Crowning Memories”

  1. Viv Corley Kerwin says:

    Great memories of a wonderful childhood and treasured friends.