Wednesday, March 4, 2009

School Better Never Call This House!

I am the fourth of six children, and therefore, the fourth to attend St. Bridget's School in East Falls. My older brothers and sister were handfuls at school, as evidenced by the reaction of one of the good Sisters of St. Joseph on reading my name on her roll on my first day of First Grade. She asked, "Are you one of those notorious McElvenneys?" to which I replied, "Don't worry, Sister. By the end of the year, you'll forget all about the others." Having had many calls from school concerning my older siblings, my mother always reminded me of the one iron-clad rule: "School better never call this house about you."

When I was in Eighth Grade, waiting for the results of the Admissions Test for La Salle College High School in the Spring of 1970, the Post Office went on strike, so the results of the test were held up in the mail. For some reason beyond my understanding, someone from La Salle called St. Bridget's, rather than my parents, with the news that I had been accepted and had earned a scholarship. Mother Superior at St. Bridget's called my house with the news. It was late afternoon, and Mom was making dinner. I was at the kitchen table doing my homework. As soon as she picked up the phone, Mom recognized Mother's voice saying, "I'm calling about David." Without waiting to hear more, Mom reached over and cracked me across the back of the head, saying, "I told you, school better never call this house!" Of course, I had no idea what this was about. I knew I hadn't done anything wrong at school, lately, and I didn't know it was news about La Salle. When Mom heard the news from Mother, she was very pleased, but she would not apologize for cracking me. She just said, "You knew the rule."


  1. Hilarious and strangely touching. "School Better Never Call This House!" is a true snapshot into a different time when the lines were clear and you knew not to cross them--or else. How proud your mother would be to know the sort of man who could write that reminiscence with such humor and love.

  2. Is the moral of the story consistent with the quotation at the bottom of the page? Doesn't the story show that it IS hard to make the distinction between right and wrong? Perhaps this difficulty is what makes stories (and life) worthwhile.

  3. Such hoity-toity comments! I just hope you learned, that's all. Ha!