Dianne Valenza – Post about Donna Slack Singer

This is Greg Slack, his wife Jill Grindstaff Singer (both class of ’61), Donna Slack Singer and her late husband, Al. It was taken several years  ago before Al died. Some of may remember him as the singer and sax player with his group The Chessmen who played at many Teen Towns. He also owned the Terrace Lounge on DeBallivere on the late ’60’s.
This one of my favorite pictures.

St Gabs 1959

From left to right, Greg Slack, his wife Jill Grindstaff Slack, Donna Slack Singer and her late husband Al Singer

 

I Remember or Don’t Remember

Having just read Tim Crowe’s interesting e-mail and finally sending off my bio to Joe, figured I’d chime in and say “hello” after all these years to my fellow 1959 grads.  Thanks Dianne for contacting me, and I hope you reached Paul Pautler with the lead I gave you.  Yes, there was a fish pond in kindergarten and I remember taking naps in the afternoon (or maybe I was the only one doing so).  We did have some really good teachers both lay and nuns; so maybe that’s why we all turned out so great!  Many of us were in cub and boy scouts, with my Dad as one of the leaders and  the weeks we spent at Irondale–perhaps best forgotten.  Also to be forgotten were some of the cafeteria meals.  Perhaps on the 22d we can remember those of our class no longer with us and share some of their stories.  Then there were the spelling bees  and can we recall who were the last ones standing?  And in some class didn’t we have to sit based on how well we did on tests or….?  Seems like I sat behind Nadine.  Ah, the good old days!

till….Jerry Baum


What a great memory, Gerald (or is it Jerry?)!!!!   I also remember having to put our heads down on our desks after recess for about 15 minutes.  We all HATED doing that!! TODAY I WOULD LOVE IT!!
I love your idea about remembering those students who have gone before us.  So sad! WAY too young to be gone.   Oh yes, those spelling bees.  We stood on either side of the room and if we got the spelling wrong we had to sit down.  Don’t remember who the last standing was but I know who it WASN’T!!
You are correct in being seated in rows according to your grades.   The first row by the door was for the ones who had the best grades and it continued until the last row.   That only happened for a couple of grades and not all the time.
I also remember that each room had a small storage room where you could go to buy supplies that the teacher sold on certain days.   One time in either 5th grade or 7th grade when we had Sister Willabald, she went into the storage room and closed the door!!!  It was right after she got mad at the class.   She stayed in there for what seemed like forever, but it might have been only about 10 or 15 minutes. She did that because we were unruly and she just could not take it anymore!!!!!!!!!!!  She also did something really wonderful that just popped in my mind, she would read to us on Friday afternoons and sometimes during the week.  It wasn’t a textbook but an interesting novel that wasn’t required reading, and sometimes she would read to us for hours!!  We loved it because she chose books that she knew we would like. I loved those times.
Oh, I remember the coat rooms where we put our coats, jackets, hats on hooks and on shelves.  If we played in the coat room we got into big trouble!!
I remember Brownies and Girl Scouts where we paid a dime for each meeting.   We had snacks and usually met in the cafeteria after school.  I also remember going to leaders’ houses, but don’t remember who they were.   Sorry.
Okay, my brain is taxed to the max and it is late.
Thanks, Gerald, for the memories and good thoughts!!
Margaret Giardina Barinotti

I hated the Spelling Bees because I was a lousy speller and still am.  I was always the first one down—embarrassing!

Margaret–I believe when Sister Winabald went into the closet to compose herself was when Bobby Altidonna threw the eraser at her when she was writing on the blackboard.  I remember we all just sat so still and did not move until she returned.

I remember the Brownies and Girl Scout meetings in the school cafeteria after school.   Rosemary Diettman’s mother was the Girl Scout Leader.  There also were a couple of associate leaders who helped Mrs. Diettman with the meetings and my mom was one of them.

Cub Scouts, I remember Mrs. Tiefenbrun being a Cub Scout Leader and had many meetings in her home.  Not sure if any of our grade were in her cub pack.

Rita

My mother was den leader for my brother Stan, who was 2 years behind us.  She never was a Brownie leader or Girl Scout leader.
Everybody is sure keeping us all entertained with their memories.  Keep it up-it’s great!!
Margie Tiefenbrun Paur

Also, not to be bragging, I remember winning a couple spelling bees.  And the prizes were holy pictures!!
WOW
Margie

Sister Willaball was a terrific reader and I credit her with getting me to love reading.

My favorite book was Kon Tiki about the raft trip across the Pacific.

I went back as an adult and reread that book and now I see it’s a movie.

I was going to bring that up but I am glad Margaret beat me to it and remembered it to the  rest of us -much better than I could have.

Regarding spelling: Rita at least you got to stand up in the line.  I never even got to get into the spelling because it was pointed out to me that I would not be able to spell any words and I was just wasting time and was better off not embarrassing myself any further. I can’t even get close enough for the spell checker to find the word on my computer. As far as “Look it up in the dictionary” = Half the time I can’t even figure out the first letter and usually have no idea about 60% of the other letters.

The attached cartoon pretty much says it all for me.

See you soon,

Robin

email-in-code-or-spelling

 


My aunt, Arline Furst, was my Girl Scout Leader.  Maybe we had more than one troop.

As for spelling bees, I usually did pretty good because that was something you could memorize.  I had more problems with things you had to figure out!

Also, it appears “the boys” remember  the physical punishment that was dished out  more so than the girls.  That’s probably because we were all so well behaved!  I do remember in second grade (?) Miss Loretto (?)

who was either a novice or a postulant putting tape on my mouth because she said I talked too much.  Imagine that!

I sure hope I spelled everything correctly or I’ll be hearing from TW!

Rosemary Bene’ Kelly


I don’t remember much but I do remember I was one of the first ones to sit down in a spelling bee.  I was the teachers nightmare.  Today they would have me on drugs for ADD and I still cant’s speil.
Jane Gasko

Jane,

Are you telling me you couldn’t spell KAT if they spotted you the K and the T?

Robin


Maggie, your memories unearthed my own long buried recollections of those early grades. I do remember the grading/seating system. And, yes, I recollect that those with the best scores/grade got the front row seats. I was usually seated in the back. Excuse my very personal memory. I recall in the 3rd grade I was in the very last row – as far from the blackboard one could get. As it turned out, I was very nearsighted – though no one knew it at the time (not even me. I thought everyone saw the world the same way – severely blurred). To compensate I pinched my thumb and first finger together (both hands) and peered through the small hole that made, or closed my hand to make a funnel – same principle. The refracted light allowed me to at least make out some of the stuff on the board at the front of the room. It must have looked strange. And it must have looked like I was “playing” with my hands. The teacher/nun (who will remain unnamed since I think she still survives) did not much like my method of compensating for my poor eyesight. While I was desperately trying to see the board she would quietly walk to the back of the room, get behind me, and whack the back of my head with a book or a rolled up whatever to get me to stop. I stopped. And, I stopped trying to read the board. Later that year, my mother finally took me to an eye doctor and got me glasses. That teacher/nun stayed in my prayers the remainder of my grade school days – I prayed that she would not be at the front of the class on the first day of every new school year. Years later, my wife asked why I rubbed the back of my head whenever I saw a nun in a habit – or more commonly for my experience – a women in hijab (I taught school in a Muslim part of the southern Philippines).   Dave R


Oh, my!! That is awful!!!  I would like to say I don’t believe that happened, but I can’t say that since many times I saw punishment similar to what you experienced in the classes at St. Gabs.   I don’t remember seeing the situation you personally went through, but I know it has to be true.  It was the time we lived when nuns/lay teachers could get by with those kinds of things. Today nuns/teachers would never get by with that————but I’m sure you know that.

You were very smart to try your best to see the board. Very innovative!!  So glad your mom got you to an optometrist!!!   Sorry my memories brought back that awful memory!!
I also got my glasses in third grade!!  I LOVED my glasses and was so proud to wear them!!   My mother was a genius to tell me that I looked beautiful in my glasses.  I believed her!!——–at least for a while.
I have to ask you how you found yourself in the Philippines teaching Muslims??  Would you mind sharing?
Margaret Giardina Barinotti

Dianne and Nancy,

I know you like stories so as promised – here is a true story about Bad To The Bone  Jim Schibig (at his badest).

I wanted to go out with Dennie Boland (who was about 2 years behind us) and very hot. I asked her out and she asked her mom if she could go out with me  and her mom  said ok only if I doubled with that nice Jim Schibig. (Nancy, here is another instance where he had everyone convinced  he was  an Alter boy and sadly – I got blamed for all his misdeeds)

BTTB Jimmy said he would get a date so I was in 7th heaven.  (Dennie’s dad was a big guy and I was particular frighten of getting on his bad side so I wanted to play by the rules). Well the Saturday for the date rolled around and guess who waited until the last minute and never got a date – yes BTTB Jimmy. So now my life is in danger (parental violence against me for going on a single date with their daughter).

BTTB Jimmy had a ball game that day so when I go to pick him up he is still all sweaty and in his baseball uniform and explains how he never got a date. Now what am I suppose to do??? (See how bad he is).  I took  the only action I could. I made him put on a dress shirt and Sport coat (He still had his baseball pants and spikes on) and had him sit in the shotgun seat of my car and instructed him not to get out of the car – even if it was on fire  – or I would kill him.  I remember leaving his house and his mom and dad ( who were just about the neatest people ever) standing on their front porch just shaking their heads).

We pull up in front of Dennie’s house – I go up to get her and her mom waves at him and insists he comes in.  I of course am nearly hyperventilating and insisting we are running late for the movie and BTTB Jimmy’s date lives across town and we have to hurry. Thank God it worked and I hustled Dennie out the car and had her get in on the drivers side.

Now imagine this picture: BTTB is sitting in the car with a Sport coat and dress shirt and baseball pants and spikes on.

She gets in and (slides across the seat –  now sitting between us) She looks up and down at BTTB – looks over at me (I of course said “I can explain but first we have to drive away fast”). She then just looks straight ahead and mumbles something (I am not sure what it was but it sounded something like “Lord have mercy on my soul”?)

We then drove back to BTTB’s house – His mom and dad are still on the front porch shaking their heads – I dropped him off and Dennie  and I went on our (now) single date. (think we went to the movies – like the Fox?) We had a nice time  = Dennie was a terrific girl and her parents never found out.

Dianne and Nancy, now you can see how bad he really is (risking my life like that) and why he deserves to be called BTTB.

( It was also the beginning of my development of a great planner = wasn’t it really creative planning (on my part) to make him sit in the car with his sport coat and dress shirt on to fool her parents?)

There is not one word of this story made up or embellished. This is all the truth and you can see –  if it wasn’t for me cleaning up his misdeeds he would probably be in jail by now.

See you soon,

Robin