Class of 1952 Reflections
We congratulate the pioneering Class of 1952 on the 65th anniversary of their graduation from St. Gabriel School. St Gabriel opened its doors with grades kindergarten through 4, and added a grade each year until we were a k through 8 school. The Class of 1952 began as 4th graders, the top class in the school. They continued year-after-year as the top class until their graduation. We thank those of you who shared some memories of your time at St. Gabriel.
James Cliifford: St. Gab gave me a sense of self-worth and respponsibiity that carried me thrugh life. I still feel, as the nuns taught, we are all special to God.
Eileen Coltrell Rossi: Two memories have stuck in my head. The occasion was Vocation Day when students were chosen to dress like nuns going through the formation process. I remember two phases because I was dressed as one--the novice-and my friend Carol Phelan, as I recall, was dressed as a professed sister. My habit was a simple black dress with some white at the neck and, I believe, a short veil. Carol’s habit was the real thing: she wore a starched white headdress rising from her face and completely surrounding it before falling into a double bib that covered her chest. The whole thing was capped with a black veil that ended a little above the knee. Her long black habit was cinched with a leather belt and rosary beads. To tell the truth I envied Carol because my habit was so simple while hers was so much more elaborate and impressive. (What terrible feelings to be having on Vocation Day!)
The second memory has to do with “shut downs” (maybe they were called “quiz downs”), a teaching method Sister Mary Aurelia used, to test us on academic content and to hone our skills for quick thinking on our feet. These “downs” were organized by five captains who each chose a team of eight classmates who would sit in the row behind the captain. The captains chose their teams according to the captains’ perceptions of those kids who were sharp in various subjects like arithmetic, history, and geography. Everybody eventually got picked for a team. The teams also picked names for themselves, often borrowing titles from organized sports like the Gaels. One team I remember did not follow that pattern. They called themselves the Gila monsters. The name has stuck in my mind for nearly 70 years because, at the time, I had never heard of these venomous lizards. When the teams finally played, Sister would announce a topic; the captains would send up their best member for that topic; then Sister would pose a math problem, ask the name of a historical figure, or ask for the capital of a given country or state. If you knew the answer, you would try to say it, or more often shout it, before anyone else could. I remember once Peggy Pabst knew an answer but couldn’t get it out. To help her recall, she snapped her fingers repeatedly and tapped her feet rapidly. Then with a laugh she finally choked it out.I don’t remember how the captains were assigned nor do I remember if at any point we were rewarded for our efforts. I do remember that these contests were highlights of my classroom day.
James R. Edwards: I was one of the first Altar boys at St. Gabriels for Monsignor Bedford. I remember playing basketball with Fr. Sullivan. My Italian mother spoke only Italian to me up to the age of 5 years old. When we moved to San Francisco it was only English. Because of my Italian language background, I picked up Latin very easily. I got the Altar boy position because I spoke good Latin.
Joe Fitzpatrick: What I remember most is that as the senior class going forward for four years is that we did everything. I was the altar boy at 7:00am Mass. When that was over at 8:00am I was one of the traffic boys. At 3:00pm I returned as a traffic boy. The school rotated our corners to make it more interesting. There were 48 students and it is fond memories.
Pat Hanley Davey: I don't have a lot of memories as I arrived the latter part of my seventh grade. I do remember the presence of Monsignor Bedford standing tall in the classroom. Made many lasting friendships.
Jan Jasoni Rothbard: Always an upperclassman!!
Robert L. Mills: We had a dottering old monsignor who was about 20 years past his sell by date. He’d show up each year to hand out the report cards and mispronounced about half our names--the same way each year. We had a priest who looked like George Clooney. All the girls would flirt with him--and all the guys tried to comb their hair the same way. We were so poor we’d play baseball on the asphalt--with “balls” fashioned from crushed milk cartons--and “bats” our rolled up brown sweaters. One year, we hit a baseball through one of the church’s stained glass windows. As I recall, it took us about two years to pay for it out of our milk money. The nuns didn’t have a radio so I would “re enact” programs I’d heard the night before. Did so well, 35 years later, I became a writer for Bob Hope. If the nuns had a radio, I’d have had no career in show business.
Edward Kavanaugh: It would be interesting to visit the school again after all these years and for that matter the church etc.
John Martinez: My favorite memory was being friends with Jack McManus and several other people. As far as the academic aspects of school, I have no memory.
Peggy Pabst Maze Johnson: I loved my years at St. Gabe’s! I came when it first opened and graduated in 1952. Wonderful years! I loved all of the Sisters, especially Sister Mary Aurelia, who followed me to Mercy. I’m grateful to the Sisters of Mercy Order.
Carol Phelan Quigley: Made friends who I still have today. Loved our nuns especially 8th Sister M. Aurelia. Remember Vocation Day, we dressed as the nuns from novice to receiving their vows.
Barbara Rozzano-now Sister Mary Janet Rozzano: I remember being in the “senior class” from the 4th through the 8th grade--and then continuing this “senior class” pattern through my four years at Mercy High School, San Francisco. I remember in the early years walking to school through blocks that were still entirely sand dunes. I remember being called the “sea breeze kids”. I remember having “office duty” as a 4th grader during which we answered the phone in the school office. I remember that the 2nd floor of the school was only a big unfinished space when we first started--no classrooms there yet. I remember the way Sr. Mary Aurelia divided our 8th grade class into competitive teams to teach us to identify every country, state and its capital on a blank map. I think she taught us many other things through such methods. I remember feeling very grown up when we 8th graders took on the task of publishing our school paper, the St. Gabriel’s Trumpet. I remember Msgr. George Bedford, the pastor, coming to distribute report cards. I remember the school cafeteria; my mom worked there. I think macaroni and cheese was my favorite lunchtime menu. I remember that St. Gabe’s, school and parish, always felt like a big extended family to me. I knew by name almost all the students who came after us, and knew many of their parents.
Ann Wiegner Hunt: I especially remember Sr. Aurelia, our 8th grade teacher creating teams that competed in certain subjects as a learning device. It was great fun. I also remember making wonderful friends, many of whom I still see. Eileen Coltrell Rossi and I continued together through high school at Mercy and college at U.C. Berkeley. She was a good dancer. Jack McManus had a lovely voice and sang at our programs. I also remember that we were not allowed to “mix” with the boys. Some of us went to a dance at the 40th Ave Community Center and were seriously reprimanded the next week by the principal. We never quite understood what we had done wrong. I took cello lessons from the music teacher. I never excelled. They were all very happy memories!