Saturday, March 10, 2012

Trouble starts with T and rhymes with P and that stands for Pool

Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh ran the show when Daddy was just a young boy on Charleston Avenue.  After all, it was her house.  She made the rules.

Fred Robert Slade, Jr. as a young boy
Photo of a framed photo

I don’t know if it was “an Irish thing” or “the Catholic thing,” but the rule was “stick to your own kind.”  In Daddy’s memory the Newtown neighborhood was rather self-segregated with the Irish here, the Italians there, the Germans over there, Catholics on one street and Baptists on another.  Ideally he would play with other Irish Catholics, but the Italians were okay because they were Catholic too.  They all attended mass at St. Paul’s Catholic Church and school at St. Joseph’s Academy. 

St. Paul's Catholic Church, Portsmouth, VA
from Google Images

Daddy and his brother had to sneak around to play with their Baptist friends over on the other street.  When their friend announced he was going to be baptized, Daddy and his brother slipped away to go watch.  “Watch” indeed.  Those Baptists had a POOL right inside the church.  That surely had to be something to see.

They quietly stepped inside and sat at the back of the church.  They couldn’t risk being seen by an adult who might later casually comment to their grandmother that they had seen the boys in the Baptist church.

But the young candidate for baptism saw his buddies.  He did.  He immediately pinched his nose and jumped into the baptismal pool.  Had it been deep enough, he might have tried a cannonball!

The baptizee’s mother swung around and shot a look at those naughty Catholic boys who surely must have instigated such behavior in her precious boy.  Daddy and his brother took off running, petrified that their grandmother would find out they had been inside a Baptist church. 

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. I think it was a way of life, sticking to their own kind, don't you? My how life has come full circle in so many ways......

  2. That's a funny story. Glad you shared!!

  3. Only Daddy! Love love love that story!