Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.
|Leo and Fred (my dad) 1937|
(not quite the right age to be an altar boy yet!)
Like the three boys in this week’s Sepia Saturday photo, my dad and his brother served as altar boys when they were young. That was in the 1930s at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in downtown Portsmouth, Virginia. At that time they (and their parents) were living with their grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh, a VERY Irish, VERY Catholic matriarch. She loved those boys and was determined to see to it they were raised right. That meant they received a proper education at the Catholic school and they served the Church. Likely most of the boys that were in Daddy’s class at St. Joseph’s Academy were altar boys too.
The role of altar boy was an important one. He carried the cross and processional candles; he held the book for the priest; he carried the incense and censer; he rang the altar bell; he presented the bread, wine and water to the priest, and he washed the priest's hands as well. The altar boy was instructed thoroughly in all parts of the Mass and responded IN LATIN to the priest’s prayers. He also joined in the chants of the liturgy. During Mass, he displayed proper reverence at all times to set a good example for the congregation to help them be more reverent too.
As an assistant to the priest, an altar boy was expected to be well-behaved in general, not just in church.
But boys will be boys.
One day at school, Daddy and his friends held one of the boys by his ankles and lowered him out the window to peek into the girls’ classroom below them. What was so enticing about that classroom to make little boys risk life and limb is anyone’s guess. This adventure or prank – whatever it was – was short-lived, however, because meanwhile upstairs in the safe confines of the classroom, the boys were startled when the nun came back. Everyone knows not to cross a nun, so there was nothing for the boys to do but let their friend go. Drop him, they did, right into the bushes.
Oh to have been a fly on the wall that day!
As punishment, the boys had to remain after school with the nun. When she realized she had to get to the bank, she made the boys go along with her. Who did they run into but Aunt Lil, a maiden aunt who also lived with Daddy’s grandmother. Daddy thought surely they would be in trouble now, but part of being a successful mischief-maker is being a quick thinker. They told Aunt Lil they were guarding the nun because she was carrying money. Apparently sweet Aunt Lil bought that story.
Please visit the bloggers at Sepia Saturday where everyone is on their good behavior.
© 2017, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.