As I sit recovering from our
first real snowstorm in nearly two years, my thoughts are drawn to the winter
of 1978. I was a 13 year old seventh grader at St. Teresa of Avila
Middle School, in Albany, NY. My English class was given the assignment of
writing a poem in honor of the season.I
recall looking outside at the snow falling on the ground and remembering the
excitement felt only when we are young and the prospect of spending long
periods of time in the cold and snow is something you actually want to do.
Upstate New York experienced some
brutal winters in 1977 and 1978, so there were no shortage of snow days
off from school. My friends and I would gather at my house, build snow forts,
snowmen, have snowball fights, and drink hot chocolate in our family’s wood-paneled,
1970s kitchen, decorated in burnt orange, avocado green, and harvest gold. I
recall having this image in mind when I wrote the poem.
I had quite forgotten about it
until recently when I found it among my school memorabilia, published in a copy of
the St. Teresa’s Tribune (Vol. I,
issue #4; June 1979). I was initially appointed as the “photographic editor,”
primarily because I owned a German Agfa camera (a gift from my fascist Italian
grandfather). This proved to be a rather meaningless title since photographs can’t be
printed off a mimeograph machine.
Here is my awkward first effort,
not bad for a young teen suffering through puberty at a Catholic middle school:
The snow falls gently on the ground
As I stand upon my self-made mound
Not a thing moves, shivers or quakes
For tonight we are in the snow’s wake
Harder and harder as it falls
Fun we’ll have in the shape of a ball
Nine, ten, eleven inches deep,
Harder and harder it gets to reap
Inside I sit all snug and warm
Until my friends come in a swarm
So here we sit all together
Drinking hot chocolate and hoping for warm weather
I’m sure my critics will say I
have not much improved. One can
view a scan of the original publication below.
Of note, in the publication is an interview with
Father Gary Mercure, a priest then assigned to St. Teresa’s who later was
convicted of raping two alter boys (click on link for more information).
Mercure was not convicted of anything related to St. Teresa’s, though I do
recall he went on an extended leave or a sabbatical shortly after this
interview, purportedly due to a “nervous breakdown.”I stopped serving as an altar boy before his
arrival, so I had little contact with him beyond my annoying questions in
catechism class. This is at least one way my early skepticism at the validity
of a hierarchal approach to spiritualty served me well.
Below are scans of the St. Teresa’s Tribune (Vol. I, issue #4;
June 1979), of no particular interest but to alumni of the school, which was
razed in 2012 to make room for a Mormon Temple.
I wonder, what would Sister Frederica think?