Atlantic Avenue Reunion

In my last post I talked about growing up on Atlantic Avenue with tons of kids, described some of the games we played, and the general camaraderie we felt among the neighbors. Well, 45 + years later, we had a reunion. My sister so kindly opened her lovely home to our friends from long ago. My siblings gathered in the driveway waiting in anticipation for the next person to arrive, with squeals of, “Oh! That’s so and so!” And we’d run up to them, hug, kiss, and cry! It’s true; sometimes we couldn't recognize the person, as I’m sure they felt the same about us. But as soon as they’d say their name, we’d laugh, hug, and yes, see some little resemblance of the kid we hung around with so long ago. Over 70 people attended last year, and our school principle from St. Beatrice, St. Francis, also came. It was funny – nobody talked about what they were doing now – it was nothing like a high school reunion. Nobody wanted to “prove” that they made it in this world. Everybody was just reminiscing. I’d hear catches of conversations of, “Remember when we...” or “I remember...” or “Who was the one that...” Some people stayed until way past midnight. All promised to mark their calendars for the next year’s reunion.

The Second Annual Atlantic Avenue Reunion was last weekend. We laughed, we cried. We reminisced, sang, and cheered. We ate, drank and were merry. We didn’t seem to see the added pounds, the bifocals, the gray hair, or lack of hair for that matter. What we saw were our buddies, our pals, our compadres from Atlantic Avenue. I felt like a kid again, especially when my brother’s friend, Mike, put my sister, Linda, in a head lock and called her Linda Shoelaces. (Our last name sounded somewhat close to that!) Nothing had changed. How fun to witness another family’s reunion – many of whom hadn’t seen each other in over three years! Mary was so clever to bring those T-shirts that she made for each of her siblings with their name on the front and home address and phone number on the back. My family is wracking their brains how to top that – and short of us all getting our names tattooed across our forehead, I don’t see how we can!

Several families came with all their siblings and significant others. Since that’s how I tended to remember them (in one lump sum) it was nice to see all members. Of course, I was happy to see those who came singly representing their families too!

My sisters worked very hard on this reunion. Irving Park Road is the main road that runs through the town of Schiller Park, and they decided to research all the stores that were in place back in 1965 on that street. They met with a local historian, and we had a heck of a trivia contest with everyone yelling out what they thought was on the corner of such and such. It was a lot of fun. Also, there were trivia questions posted all over the walls outside of my sister’s house and the garage, which started even more trips down memory lane.

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Another great thing this year was that seven nuns from our old school, St. Beatrice, showed up at the reunion. Many people were so moved by this. And we couldn’t get over how young some of the nuns looked! We thought they were so old when they taught us! LOL! Remember, WAY BACK THEN, only their faces showed, not even their hair!

My twin sister, Pam, is very creative. She changed the words to, “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah” Here are the words:

Mine eyes have seen the fury of the nuns of Old St. Bea's
They trampled on our classroom jokes,
and brought us to our knees.
They taught us how to read and write,
and always first say please.
Those nuns kept marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory Hallelujah! Those Nuns kept marching on.

They stuck us in the corner on the days when we were bad.
The whole time in the corner we prayed they would
not tell our Dad.
They scorned us when we laughed in church,
which really made them mad.
Those Nuns kept marching on.

They sounded forth the big school bell which ended all our fun.
We knew the bell meant "come in now", and we had better run.
We lined up single file then and entered one by one.
Those Nunse kept marching on.

As years went by we realized these nuns from way back when,
would be the reason why we all turned out to be such gems.
The memories now we hold so dear are all because of them,
those nuns kept marching on.

The lessons that they taught us help transfigure you and me:
As they tried to make us holy, and the best that we could be,
We hope that you are proud of us,
Your class from Dear St. Bea's,
Our Nuns keep marching on.

Those good old days we've shared with you
have sadly come and gone,
If we've never really thanked you then,
we thank you now in song,
Your presence here has warmed our hearts
and made our bonds grow strong
Our Nuns keep marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our Nuns keep marching on!

She made up folders to look like “missellettes” from church and pasted the song inside. Then she bought a school bell like the one that was used at to call us back into school from recess. Once the nuns arrived at the party, Pam rang the school bell, and we all lined up single file and walked to the deck. Then we sang the songs to the nuns. Watch the video here. My twin sister is the red-haired woman standing down on the driveway. I’m up on the deck all the way to the right in the black sweater. My other sister is to the left with blond hair in the bright coral top. My brother is in black all the way to the left behind the curly hook thingy. Missing from the singing are my other brother and sister. My brother was taking pictures. I don't know what my sister's excuse was. Unless she's really in the picture but I can't see her because she's so short. The nuns are standing down by Pam to her right.

Several parents of the kids showed up, too. Again, they looked pretty good for their age. The oldest was Mrs. Maturno at 92 years old. Still very sharp.

The party lasted well into the night. Everybody hugged and promised to see each other next year. I don’t know how we can top this year’s party, but there’s talk of getting a DJ to play some oldies music and having a, “Name that Tune” contest. Stay tuned.
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