Thursday, February 23, 2006

St. Vincent School Alumnus Remembers...

Alberta Fitzpatrick, on her way to Nursing School...
As a result of yesterday's post about the St. Vincent School, and the snapshot of the 1925/26 7th & 8th grade classes, I received this feedback from an alumnus from that photo, Alberta Fitzpatrick, via her daughter (and my cousin) Delphine:

Mom for one thing knew everyone whose name I mentioned and said she could just see the Gamble farm in her mind. It appears that the people in the picture correspond to the names as listed. For one thing Jean Gamble and Mom are in the right places with the names. She identified Eileen Twamley and Fred Stranger and they too were in the right places as per the names listed below the photo. So I am inclinded to believe the names and photos of each are in the correct order from left to right row by row.

She did however make a few changes in that the one listed as Jean Scott her name isn't Jean but Jane. Brock Perry isn't Brock but Brooks. As soon as she said Brooks Perry I remembered her talking about him over the years. Brooks Perry's dad [Gale Perry] was the St. Vincent Postmaster. Norton DeFrances' Dad [Roy DeFrance] was editor and owner of the St. Vincent Herald [later named the St. Vincent New Era...] Grandpa and several other men use to gather in front of the Herald every day and gossip with each other.

Mom's class started out with 18 students and had they stayed together would have been the largest class to graduate St. Vincent. I earlier [wrote] that the class transferred to Hallock but I was wrong the class transferred to Pembina thus why they had to pay tuition. Going from Minn. to N.D. Grandpa and Grandma Fitzpatrick, the Smith family, and the Strangers couldn't afford that tuition so those kids weren't going to finish school. One morning Mom came downstairs to find Grandma crying. When she asked her why, Grandma who only had a 3rd grade education told Mom because if she would have had the opportunity to graduate she would have done so and Mom was throwing that chance away. Mom said if it meant that much she would go back and graduate. She contacted Fred Stranger and John and Allen Smith and asked them if they would go back to school. They all agreed so they met at the school the next morning at 9am and walked into Professor Vick's class. Mom said Professor Vick was so happy to see them he cried. He told them all at the end of the year that if any of them wanted to further their education he would pay for their college. According to Mom Fred Stranger and the Smith boys did go on to college on Professor Vicks' help. Mom went on to Nurses training which was free so she needed no help. In fact when Mom went to Nurses training it was a working school as well as classes so she not only did not have to pay to become a nurse she got paid $12 a month for nursing.

Others of the DeFrances family (not in the picture) were Gladys amd Marjorie*. She also talked about Mae Gamble who Mom knew well but also not in the picture as she was in a higher class. She knew every name I mentioned but before she could remember much her mind would cloud over again and then I would show her the picture once again to see if she could see it better so as to identify people and she then would tell me yet another story.

* I spoke with Marjorie DeFrance on the telephone about 6 weeks ago. We made tentative plans to meet at her Pembina home when she returns from the southwest where she winters, so we can go through her father's papers and photos, much of which covers not only the DeFrance family, but touches on the history of St. Vincent, Pembina, and the St. Vincent/Pembina New Era...