When in Virginia last fall, my sister and I worked with our aunt to organize some of the family history collecting in her basement since the death of several beloved “keepers of the history”. One collection uncovered were the many letters our mother had written to her mother, our grandmother, when the former was a high school senior in Virginia and the latter was in France with five small children while her husband, our granddaddy, was there for a two-year deployment. Granddaddy was stationed first in Belgium and Germany, then in France following WWII. As a captain in the U.S. Army, he and his troops were part of reconstruction efforts across Europe. Our mother would spend her senior year in the home of a family friend. She attended St. Joseph Catholic High School, played school basketball, and played the organ at the Catholic church on the Ft. Lee military base each Sunday. Initially, her letters were somewhat sporadic, but they increased in frequency as her final days of high school neared. Following high school graduation, she flew to Paris to be reunited with her five siblings and parents for their final six months there.

January 11, 1954

Dear Mother,

Well it’s ten o’clock Tuesday morning and it’s snowing outside. I mean it’s really snowing hard, too. Almost looks like fog. It has been snowing since last night.

I suppose you’re wondering why I’m not in school. Well, I’ve got a bad cold. I just caught it Sunday, last night Mrs. B. fixed me a “Hot Toddy” and the cold has broken already so she said I shouldn’t go out.

Hardly anyone went to school. Peggy Jones, Lulu, Emily Carol, Cecilia, Ann Burch, and I are out and goodness knows who else.

We’re supposed to play PHS tonight and the boys, Barry Robinson. I don’t know if they’ll postpone the games or not, but I sure hope so. We lost to Walsingham 30-23. The boys won though 46-28.

Just about all our team is sick. Ann Burch had some kind of liver trouble this summer and was in the hospital and now they think it’s coming back and she won’t be playing tonight. Neither will Peggy. She has had the flu and is just beginning to get over it. In fact last night she had a temperature of 104°. Lulu is home today with a bad chest cold. Cecilia had the flu last week and she didn’t go in today and if she didn’t go to school, she couldn’t go to the game. Jeannette has been out of school since before Christmas and she just came in. Yesterday was the first time she has practiced basketball in over a month. So you can see we really have a mess.

Besides all this, Sister Vincent has nothing more to do with athletics. There was a fuss about the boys bringing the girls home after out-of-town games. Sr. Vincent wouldn’t let them (the girls) go on the trip if they didn’t find another way home. By the way this was told to us at 4:00 P.M. Tuesday Jan. 4th. The bus was to leave for Portsmouth 4:30 P.M. Jan. 4. So some of the girls said they just couldn’t go because they didn’t have any other way of getting home. But some parents, like Mrs. Bloodworth, Toni Jordan’s sister, & Mrs. Brennan got everyone home.

But the worst came when Sr. Vincent & Sr. Miriam began to get phone calls from different ones saying it was none of her business and why didn’t she leave the girls alone. And some even wrote mean things in notes. This was all done by parents not us, the ones who were fussed at.

So Sr. Miriam said Sr. Vincent didn’t have to take this so she has relieved her of everything connected with athletics. God knows what will happen. Fr. Gerlaff said, in Williamsburg Friday night, he’s going to ask Sr. Miriam if he can cancel all the rest of the games. Why? We don’t know. Anyway, Sr. Vincent has nothing more to do with it. Sr. Miriam doesn’t want basketball down there. She says we came to school to get our lessons not to play basketball. As far as she’s concerned she’d just as soon we didn’t have it. She’ll tell you this herself. The team went over to the Sister’s house the day we heard about Sr. Vincent and apologized and wanted Sr. Vincent back. Sr. Miriam said no and that we didn’t have to apologize because it wasn’t our fault but the parents. So– Anyway this whole thing doesn’t mess me up much anyway, because Mrs. Brennan takes me home from the away games.

Guess what! I got a letter from Aunt Blanche! She said she tried to call me Christmas Eve but she couldn’t get me or the Burijon’s. I was over Emily Carol’s anyway Christmas Eve. Well, she wants me to come up and see them, but I can’t go anywhere because of the organ on Sundays. Though I am going to try and go to see the O’Brien’s around Easter time if they don’t go to Boston. But isn’t it around Easter every year when they do?

How is everyone? I hope no one is sick. How is David’s bronchitis (you know what I am trying to say)

Oh. (I got) Rather you have a Christmas card here from Caw and Chuck. She has a note written on the back. Instead of sending the card, I’ll go get the note and send it and the address. It was sent in care of the church.

This is all for now.


Carol Ann (over)

P.S. I decided to send the whole thing. I hope this letter gets to you.

P.P.S. Mrs. Burijon’s daughter Lillian and her family were up the week-end of New Year’s Eve. Anyway she says hello. Don left the 9th I think of Jan. for Europe. He’ll be in France but he didn’t think he’d be near by. Anyway he’s going to get in touch with you if he can.

Image credit of original letter: Mary Ann Stewart

%d bloggers like this: