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Hello ~ As school children in the 1950s, we were sent out to play "on the noon hour" everyday no matter what the weather - and it snowed, rained and scorched. It was the best part of the day even though it was tough. I remember standing in Mary Catlin's coat to stay warm. I was very little and my fingers froze. Our teachers, Sisters of St. Joseph in full habit, put on shawls and skidded down long ice chutes with black robes flowing. We played every game - pom-pom-pullaway; red-rover-red rover; dodge ball; witch-steals-the-child. We monitored ourselves on the playground - some kids were 'mothers' to others. We played our hearts out, never looked back, loved each other and let everyone play.

Here is a poem I wrote about those days about the playground at Our Mother of Sorrows Elementary School about 1954. We played in and around the cemetery and church and under full-size statues of saints and the crucifixion. The 150-year-old church was used to hide escaped slaves, the KKK burned a cross on the rectory lawn in the 1920s - it is the oldest, rural Catholic [Irish] church in New York State - built on Paddy Hill about 10 miles northwest of Rochester.

Sacred to the Memory

Slater, Sheehan, Byrne
chipmunks scatter across your names.

McGuire, Maio, Fleming
green jumpers, tan blouses
all sitting
eyes forward
hands folded
feet flat on the floor.

Cleary, Larkin, Lafferty, McShea
ice slides, black flowing
habits skidding on boots
across the fields of snow.

Farnan, Beatty, Brennan
David, Mary Jane, Janice.
Sister Jeannine, Sister Mary Alacquo.
Mary Catlin let me stand in her coat
on the noon hour.

McMannis, Roberts, O’Rourke
Helen, Bill and Stoney
secret place in the upstairs bedroom
for the underground railroad.
Leonard, Margaret and Mary Jean
Theresa of the Little Flower.

Today I read the names
scratched in the bricks
where the heart-knifed lady once stood
as we played briefly under her rose-petaled feet.
where the cross was our friend,
and the mother of sorrows
cradled the head of her son in her lap.

Barbara Lamb Carder, 2000