By James Sheridan
For The Recorder
I became addicted to St. Mary's Institute when it was on Forbes Street because so many wonderful things happened to me while I attended school there. In the basement was a lunch room. My two sisters and I ate there five days a week. I thought it unusual that some of the kids brought mashed potato sandwiches for lunch and then I realized you could enhance their taste by applying mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup or applesauce -- it made them quite palatable. My mother made sure that Betty, Pat and I had either tuna fish, egg salad, peanut butter or cheese sandwiches.
Next to the lunch room was a bowling alley consisting of four lanes, run by a man by the name of James Boyce. James Jr. was in my room at school. There was another son named Richard who became a priest. James Sr. was not what one would call a philanthropist. Myself and a boy named Chuck Mahoney set pins there. We each took two lanes and we received 4 cents per game. On a good week we might make $2.60 to $2.80. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it was the era of penny candy, nickel candy bars, nickel sodas and 10 cent Dixie Cups (ice cream). We were truly in "Fat City." There was nothing hydraulic about setting the pins. One stepped on a lever and the spikes came up and you applied the pins manually to each spike.
We only had one bad day a week. That was when Rocky McCune came down to bowl. If he got a strike -- fine. If he was going after a split, Chuck and I would head for the toilet, because Rocky threw a bowling ball with the same velocity that Bob Feller threw a baseball. There were no cautionary measures. God how I miss John "Rocky" McCune.
Chuck Mahoney went over to Europe during World War II and got himself all shot up. He came back, married a beautiful woman, and is buried in Tribes Hill directly behind my sister-in-law.
You young people have no conception of what a joy it is to be stopped in Hannaford's by Jimmy Bergen or Bob Sise who will call you by your first name and take the time to talk to you. You know then that you have arrived.
See if any of these names from SMI ring a bell: Ralph Albanese and Richard Rozak. Those were two guys that I was very jealous of. They were very good looking fellows.
A few years ago I met Mary Healey. She married John Kubas. They had two daughters -- Ashley and Samantha. Then I met Jerry Isabel. He had two sons -- David and Anthony. And I met Ginger and Tommy Champion. They also had two sons -- Luke and Jake. How many years ago? It has just been brought to my attention that David, Jake and Samantha now have driver's licenses. I will henceforth and restrict my traveling to my own driveway. No hard feelings, but, I am 86 years old and I want to be sure to make 87. I have seen you folks on the highway and I have no guarantees. Ashley, Anthony and Luke -- your turn will come. May God bless you.
Personally for Diane Vecchio's father: Emery, Wallin and Betty are no relation. Betty, along with Sis Cramer and Eleanor VanDerbeck, were probably three of the leading amateur golfers in New York state. More details, just ask.
JAMES J. SHERIDAN is a local native and frequent contributor.