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Looking Back at OLG

Let’s take a look back at our Lady of Grace

Teeming with children, oh … such a place!


It started as a dream – this parish had heart

So they gave the Building Fund a strong start


No money to spare, they made the decision

Canvassing, collecting with careful precision


Each family would bravely pledge a sum

Then smiling, collecting, Mr. Powell would come


On each door he’d knock, then chat for a bit

He charmed us weekly with his kind wit


We’d have our dollars ready, all set aside

Building our future with a deep sense of pride


Meanwhile some of us took the Public Service bus

To Camden for the Catholic school nearest to us


Others went to Somerdale School No. 1

Waiting for our own school soon to be done


There was another hurdle to be overcome

Teachers were needed …. Maybe even a nun!


Remember the ugly nightclub all broken down

That place was an eyesore, the worst in our town?


A huge transformation overtook the old place,

To prepare for each sister her own quiet space.


An army of volunteers made it soon ready

We now had a convent, solid, sure and steady


Soon Sisters aplenty in the convent were living

Now it was green stamps we were saving and giving


With thousands of stamps … millions? Maybe more?

We could get our Sisters a car, but not from a store


Purchases mounted as did those filled S&H books

A black station wagon was greeted with astonished looks!



We wanted our Sisters, who came from far and wide

To know we were grateful to have them by our side


There was a troubling thought, when we first found it true

To get teachers .. why, what the public schools had to do!


Pay them yes, money, to be in the classroom

When our Sisters for love, nurtured us to bloom


Can’t help but feel sorry for each public school child

Even if during Catechetical they were unruly and wild


Their teachers didn’t have this fine, lofty goal

To teach and to save their precious, immortal soul


We started in second grade, then went on through

By 7th we’d built on an addition, brand new!


For 4th and for 5th our class was so big

They sent us a lively nun, dancing a jig


The young Sr. St. Mark, fresh on her US mission

Steeped in Catholic truths, rules, and long-held tradition


With her cute Irish brogue & figures of speech

She was equipped to enthrall and wow, could she teach!


You’ve got me off ta th’ rrrraces”, she’d call out full force

Suddenly quiet, then we’d pay attention, of course.


She must have wondered, “Now, how could they ask?”

97 children in one room - such a formidable task!


So to the church basement, the only room large enough

To hold … 97 ... 98? … and all our stuff!


We soon learned of honor and honest self-control

Besides, if we didn’t, we knew heads would roll!

Remember our picnics at Clementon Lake Park?

Outdoor fun with our teachers all day until dark.


Some Sisters would ride the roller coaster hill

But others preferred the jarring bumping cars’ thrill


Once we were all driving, bumping, and crashing away

When something happened that almost ruined the day


Sister’s rosary, her beads … scattered, pulled all apart

Now wait, children. Careful! Watch, ok … start!


We scampered on knees searching clear to the door

Beads beneath cars, rolling, skittling all over the floor


Good sleuths, to the last, each bead we soon counted

Our frolicking resumed; excitement again mounted


The sound of our voices in church or at Mass

Could soar and swell, yes, and vibrate the glass


Our parents delighted in hearing us sing

Tatum Ergo”, “Salve Regina” … the Latin would ring



Tuesdays, first Fridays … we practiced and sang

Learning timing and diction, until the rafters rang


For smiling Sr. Loretta Therese we sang our hearts out

She spoke in a whisper, rarely a loud shout


Hands gracefully sweeping the air with the beat

Our eyes riveted on her, now that was a feat!


For our wiggle-worm selves to hold still & to sing

We were fighting the urge to sway and to swing


Just seeing her nod to us with a smiled “Good!”

We’d strive to do anything, all that we should.


Musicals, spring pageants and crownings in May

Were times for rejoicing and savoring the day


Soft pretzels, pre-ordered, and only a nickel

Soon you’re surrounded, sure, pretzels make friends fickle


The brass recess bell sat cornered on Mother’s high desk

For the privilege to carry it – boy, we’d sure risk


Matching step for step with Mother Donata in schoolyard’s melee

Through girls jumping rope, boys racing in “Breakaway” relay



The time soon arrived, it was your turn this moment

To ring the bell, clanging, instantly stopping all movement.


To take your turn, and not stand in those 2 by 2 lines

Arm’s length to your neighbor, standing orderly and fine


Was a joy we each relished and hardly could wait

Until the day came around, your one assigned date


Another chance, hourly, was to ring the class bell

And “Bless The Hour”, a job we loved as well.


There were some days when … the side blackboard rose

Filled with seat work assignments, so many - we froze!


As reading groups rotated, our copybooks would show

Red lines drawn and slanted where adverbs should go


The hundreds of sentences we diagramed must be

The reason for our complete grammar propensity!


Often, our mornings started off with a flash

As 5 question “mentals” up and down the rows dashed


Mid year another time of renewal and move

New seat assignments, a new classroom views might behoove



The assimilation of knowledge without so much chatter

New seatmates, good board view & attention’s what mattered


We’d troop, books in arms, to the room front en mass

Soon we’d be re-settled, feeling refreshed as a class


Reports came round quarterly like a dreaded disease

We’d squirm, eyes darting and all ill at ease.


Through the whole alphabet Monsignor would go

Calling our names, as we fidgeted to and fro


We’d be sitting there praying for at least a “plus”

To show we’d been working, and to avoid the fuss


Our parents noticed check marks blaring out loud

Our failing to comply, standing out in the crowd


Our uniforms equalized us, the poor and the rich

Jumpers and navy ties we preserved with many a stitch


No worry each morning about what to wear

But unpolished saddle shoes we couldn’t bear!


For the girls there was this little beanie affair

That mashed and distressed even the most well behaved hair!


For the boys there was always the problem of white

Whose shirt could still be so after all day & night?


Our janitors… let’s not forget that kind, gentle soul

Mssrs. Lex & Schaeffer made our school sparkle, going beyond their roles


We’d hope and we’d wait to see what next year brought

Which class, which teacher, what had been wrought?


You could hear from a distance our loud, complete pleasure

With unbridled joy and in abundant measure


When we learned that we stayed with Sisters Mark and Therese

A second year – who’d have thought it, who says?


OLG meant a sound education, rest assured

Never for a moment were we idle or bored


Graduation, then high school for us in 1967

We quickly learned that at OLG we’d tasted Heaven!


With much affection and many memories and a great education,
Maryjo Faith Celeste (Costanzo) Morgan © 2003