Home / View from Pope's Hill /

Back to School Season

“Children are great imitators.
It is up to us to give them something to imitate.”
Anon, from the Boys’ Town calendar

The school buses have already been all around our neighborhood, the drivers checking out their routes before school starts. Hubby has been scouring the areas in stores that are filled with school supplies. He still buys all types of stationery supplies as if he were returning to school. We must go through our supplies to see what we can give to the local schools. I know that we have plenty of ballpoint pens. The teachers would probably love them.

The recent cool air has been a Godsend. I went through the recent bills and threw out the envelopes. I usually keep the bills for about six months although daughter Sue chastises me, saying, “If you forgot to pay last month’s bill, it will be included with this month’s bill.” She’s right.

Back to our wonderful wedding in Florida where JoAnne White married Matt Bernstein: Ann, with whom we went to Florida, had an appointment with the hairdresser so daughter Sue dropped her off and returned for breakfast at our hotel. In an hour Sue’s cell phone rang and she went to pick up Ann. Ann’s hair was so nicely done that we took photos of her hairdo on all four sides. We then rested because the Mass was to start at 2 p.m.

As we pulled into the church parking lot, we were welcomed by bagpipe music. I had a chance to chat with the bagpiper later on that day. His name was Danny John and he played some wonderful tunes including “Scotland, the Brave,” “Amazing Grace,” and even “Danny Boy,” which tugged at our heartstrings. We sat near the back of the church so that we could take photos. As JoAnne walked down the aisle with her dad Jack, I took a photo of her train, which was just as beautiful as the front of her gown. I have never noticed the back of a wedding gown before this. Groom Matt and Bride JoAnne lit the Unity Candle. They also walked over to the statue of the Blessed Mother and left a bouquet of lovely flowers while the soloist sang “Ave Maria.” The Mass passed so quickly. Before we left the church, I realized that the Stations of the Cross are actually the stained-glass windows—just beautiful.

Ann, Julie, Sue, and I arrived at the Delray Beach Club, where the reception was to be held. The staff was kind enough to get us some coffee even though we were quite early. We were fortunate to be seated at one of the windows in the dining room. (I think Grandpa Bill saw to our seating.) It was so wonderful just looking out at the ocean. To say that the food at the wedding “feast” was terrific would be an understatement. We began with salad, served with a small orchid on the top of the greens. To cleanse our palates between the salad and the main course, we were given a small scoop of raspberry sorbet, served with a mint leaf. I asked for the filet mignon choice for dinner. This positively was the best filet I had ever eaten. (I’ve probably had five filets in my lifetime and can compare this one to them.) The dessert was the wedding cake, which was positively scrumptious.

The DJ was just wonderful. He played such great songs that the dance floor was completely filled for most of the afternoon. Pal Lisa, aunt of the bride, asked the DJ to play two of my favorite songs so I got up and danced both very carefully, with my new knees. My friend Ann got up and danced also. The afternoon went by so quickly. I must mention the beautiful flowers that were on the tables. They were multi-colored. Some were low arrangements, right on the table. On our table we had a vase that was probably five feet high, with the flowers on top of that. There was only one thing wrong with the wedding. Most people had flown to Florida, so they were not able to carry these gorgeous flowers home. I was given a small bouquet of white roses. When we arrived back at our hotel, we left the flowers for the girl at the front desk. There will be a tiny bit more about the end of the wedding next week.

Our family had some sad news last Monday, Aug. 20. Cousin Ron called that evening to tell me that his aunt/my cousin Katherine, the matriarch of my mother’s family, had passed away at age 93. She was in Faulkner Hospital about a month ago but returned to the Armenian Nursing Home in Jamaica Plain just before her death.

Katherine and her sister Mary were my good friends even when I was a little kid. Katherine was 15 when I was born and Mary was 14. In today’s terms, they were “cool,” in addition to being lots of fun. The girls loved my grandmother and grandfather and spent many hours visiting them and us, in a big house where most of our family lived. It was in the late ‘30s and during World War II, when separate apartments were very scarce. Few people had cars and gasoline was difficult to get. Katherine had taught herself to play the piano. Our family was very musical so we would stand around the piano and sing with her. Grandma had probably baked a pie or two either that day or the day before and we would have some before Katherine and Mary walked back to their home.

I must stop now and tell you that Katherine wasn’t her only name. She was born Ursula Catherine Mills. Some called her Ursula; others, “Sis” or “Urs.” Her girl friends called her “Queenie;” her nephews, “Aunt” or “Auntie Cate.” We Mills cousins called her Katherine because her stepmother was always big Kate. “Little Kate” didn’t seem appropriate so we dubbed her “Katherine.” She was also called “Cat,” which was an appropriate name for her. How she loved cats! She would always ask how my indoor cat “Abbey” was doing before she passed away at age 16 years. Then she would tell me about her cat, “Penny” and later “Gray.” When one of her cats passed away, I found a big-sized greeting card, with a cat on the front, and gave it to her so she wouldn’t be lonesome.

Katherine made the newspaper once and Boston Magazine once. She worked for the New Haven Railroad’s Dining Car Division. Years ago, a journalist had her pocketbook stolen while she was riding on one of the trains. She wrote a wonderful story for The Boston Globe about how kindly she had been treated by the railroad’s employees, including my cousin Katherine. Katherine first offered her coffee. She then took out $10 from her own pocketbook and said she could get $50 more from her account at South Station if the woman needed it. Katherine suggested that she check the lost and found dept. to see if any of the “found” eye glasses could replace her stolen pair. (The journalist found two pair that were perfect.) This all happened 29 years ago. I was so proud of Katherine that I still have the article saved. That’s the way she was, always helpful.

Because Katherine was so talented musically, she was in demand to play the piano. I think it was every Tuesday evening for years that she played for the patients at the VA Hospital in Jamaica Plain. For several years, she played at Aunt Sadie’s Gift Boutique in the South End on the Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Katherine was featured in a small article in Boston Magazine, complete with a photo of her at the piano in the store.) She attracted many customers, who loved listening to her as they shopped. She also played at the Lenox Hotel. When she was a resident of Youville, she would play for the retired priests, who loved her music. One of her nephews played a tape of her playing the piano as we gathered at Doyle’s Café last Friday. What could be a more appropriate place to remember this Jamaica Plain Irish-American woman than to have her family’s get together at Doyle’s, following the cemetery service. If you still have the Aug. 23 edition of The Boston Globe, check out the obit for Ursula Mills or see her obit under the Brady-Fallon Funeral Home. You will see why her nephews, nieces, all of us cousins, and all the younger members of our family are so proud to have been a part of her family.

What a nice story I heard just before I left Carney Hospital after having a Coumadin check-up. Bob Angland and his Carney co-worker Kathleen Killeen called me over to the front desk. They wanted to introduce me to James Pearson, the groundskeeper at Carney. (James does such a beautiful job taking care of all the grounds there.) While working on Aug. 22, James found a substantial amount of money. Being the honest man that he is, he turned the money in. With a little investigation, the hospital discovered the rightful owner, a fellow Carney employee, who was so grateful to have her money returned. I congratulated James on being so honest. If you see him working on the grounds, tell him that you think he is a great person for being so honest.

Thanks to St. Ann’s Bulletin, I learned that the 9 a.m. Mass this Saturday (Sept. 1) at St. Ann’s Church will be said for Trooper Mark Charbonnier, who was killed in the line of duty 18 years ago. I can hardly believe it was that long ago. I also noted that the 10:30 a.m. Mass last Sunay was for the birthday of my late friend Jack O’Connor. I said a prayer for both. By the way, the 10:30 Mass this Sunday will be for the 11th anniversary of the death of everyone’s friend, Dick Duchaney.

I wish all the students and school staffs a very happy and successful school year!