This was my first visit, but one, since the mid-1960's when I came occasionally to CYO meetings. Relatives and an article in the May 14 edition of the Herald News had alerted me that this was probably to be the last opportunity to view the building that had been the backdrop to much of my youth.
My one visit, many years ago, was on the occasion of a Boy Scout Troop 50 reunion, which turned out to be a reunion of Boy Scout adult leaders and almost none of the Scouts. That meeting was more or less limited to religious observations and socializing of a peer group different from the actual Boy Scouts. There was little about Scouting discussed at the meeting, and there was such restriction on reminiscence about the meeting place that the pastor of the time, upon meeting me in the hall, asked me to take a particular route from the men's room back to the meeting room. The anal-rententive narrow-mindedness was apparently fully intact then, and I was able to view almost nothing of the place.
Thus I had not really seen the school since I graduated in 1963.
On this visit I was determined not to be restrained. I was determined to see as much as possible of the physical school. I met briefly with a few fellow alums as well as a few dedicated teachers and the current scoutmaster. However, I had very little patience for conversation. I did not intend rudeness, but I was frantic to see the corners of my youth that I had not seen in forty-five years.
I had never been to the fourth floor and had no idea what I'd find. I was going to go see the mysterious rooms. What a delight to find that there was no one to stop me. Everywhere I went, I encountered friendly folks.
At any rate, the next few photos are probably of the fourth floor. My visits to the classrooms there were banally anticlimactic. They were just empty or nearly empty rooms. No drama. However, what I did find wonderful was that none of the woodwork had been tampered with in terms of finish. We can see how the woodwork looked when I went to school in the 'fifties and early 'sixties.
The rooms of the 'fifties were much brighter. All the windows were replaced a couple of years ago with smaller ones. The window sashes had been much bigger; this fact is obvious from both the inside and the outside of the building. Also, the sashes had many panes and mullions, of course.
I remember blackboards everywhere. These are indeed blackboards; they've all been painted green.
Is that the remainder of an old-style light fixture that I see?
The fourth-floor hall displays the original woodwork, but I believe the paint, at least on the lower floors, was green everywhere.
By the way, these photos are mostly posted in the order in which they were taken. No notes were taken while I snapped these and ran around the building, so they might not flow well one to the next. It is to be hoped that you don't mind.
Also, by the way, in case you're wondering, I'm doing this webpage not to ballyhoo my own youth but to offer a scratch to the itching curiosities of my classmates who couldn't attend, especially of those who also feel that the school left some nasty scars. May this page be cathartic and entertaining.
Now, back to the living part of the school. My goodness, did we have uniforms? I don't think so. I think that they were mandated shortly after 1963, because I can't remember wearing them, but I remember that younger kids wore them while I was going to Prevost High School. I simply can't remember if we wore them while I was there.
Can you believe these chairs are still here?
There were no lockers in the 'fifties. As far as I knew, theft was unheard of.
The urinals, which were on the other side of this wall and were facing the entrance, were much bigger fixtures that ran down to the floor.
I seem to have a vague memory that, towards the end of grade school, I began to measure my height, in part, by how low the bubblers became. I still call them "bubblers" and not "water fountains." I think maybe that name came from those days.
The music room.
This is the room, below the auditorium, that served as cafeteria; meeting room for Boy Scouts and CYO; and sometimes roller rink.
Outside the girls' room.
Linda Cote was the only classmate (1963) I encountered.
In the anteroom to the left of the stage, I found one of the things that I had come to see: the green paint that I remember was on all the walls in the 'fifties. I painted some of my own steel cabinets and tools this color years ago. Benjamin Moore called it Sea Mist Green, but I've always called it Catholic Prison Green.
The secretary of the school was kind enough to lead me to the library to show me that some areas behind shelves still bore the old color (although it might not show to be a true match in this photo.)
For some reason unbeknownst to me, an alumna wanted a photo of herself taking a bow onstage.
I thought it a great idea and joined her for a triumphant bow.
I measured the ceilings at twelve feet and two inches. The classrooms are thirty-seven feet from front to back and twenty-four feet wide, from corridor side to window side.
The crucifixes and flags are still there, but I didn't see any clocks! There used to be a clock in every room. There were shades, but they were almost never, ever pulled down, if I remember correctly.
Cloakrooms are another sight for which I came today. They were never "coatrooms" or "closets" but always "cloakrooms." I was always fascinated over the years by the memory of them. I think it had something to do with the smell of wet wool and the clink of the buckles on galoshes and the bustle of transitioning to and from schooltime. Maybe the idea of them has been pleasant in my memory because going to the cloakroom meant that you were leaving the building.
I've never seen anything before or since like them.
Is it imaginable that today someone would build a cloakroom in such a way that every hook had its own brass plaque to number it?
I seem to remember that the clocks were mounted over the front doors or somewhere on the inner walls.
Above the woodwork above the blackboard at the front of the class would often be a long banner illustrating the Palmer Method.
Like the cloakroom hooks, these chairs have or had each its own oval, brass number tag.
The projection booth, we were told in the 'fifties, was not used because there had been a fire. Projectors were placed in the middle of the room to show films.
Well, I don't think it has been used much lately!
Brass hardware and old varnish is ubiquitous.
That is a little, brass-covered speaker in the middle of this photo.
In May of 1963, the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization, the meeting thing for high schoolers) of St. Anne's decided to allow the eighth-graders to attend a dance, hoping in so doing to promote incoming membership in the fall. It was at that dance that I really first discovered that girls are quite attractive. Here I am enjoying a very brief dance in remembrance of that very memorable night. By the way, the song that kept running through my head as I went to sleep that night was "I Will Follow Him."
The principal's office.
Many years of varnish.
The light fixture is still there.
The nuns and priests taught me well. By the end of first grade, when I was seven years old, I was convinced that the only acceptable life I could lead would find me tortured to death as a missionary. By the time I was ten, I was in constant dread of mortal sin and eternal agony. Soon after graduation from St. Anne, after years of crying, I forced myself to lose my ability to cry and was not able to shed a single tear until many years later.
I learned many useful disciplines here that I still use every day. However, the lessons learned weren't worth the price. That was the lesson I had to learn alone.
Nothing is ever worth the price of freedom.
"Pray. Work. Study. Play???"
Photos of exterior
Fall River Herald News of January 10, 2008
(page no longer extant?)
Fall River Herald News of May 15, 2008
YouTube video of May 18, 2008
Fall River Herald News of May 19, 2008
Fall River Herald News of May 8, 2010
Facebook - St. Anne School
(page may be no longer available?)
A lot of pics on this St. Anne's Facebook page
(page may be no longer available?)
South Coast Today of September 8, 2011
(cornerstone and statue retained)
Postcard circa 1930-1945
Official parish website