Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday for My Wife: The Most Popular Kid At St. Ignatius High School


My brother Patrick told Mary and I this one about his father (Mom’s second husband), who was a Jesuit for about thirty years before he left that job and married Mom. We called him Tex, because his last name was Christian (i.e. Texas Christian, like the university) and because they used to hang around the seminary quoting from old Western movies.

Jesuits go through a lot of training, about twelve years’ worth, before they become priests, and Tex said he was a scholastic at the time, one of the early levels of his training, so this would have been in the late Forties, early Fifties. He was stationed at St. Ignatius High School, an all-boys school which at least one of Chicago’s mayors (Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley) had attended.

At the time, desks were made of wood (as opposed to Formica and steel) and, if a class got boring (which they inevitably did), carving your name and/or other graffiti into the top of the desk with a ball-point pen was a good way to kill time. As you can imagine, one of the favorite expressions was a two-word phrase that starts with “f” and rhymes with “cluck flu.” The diligent and bored-out-of-their-minds boys of St. Ignatius carved it into roughly two-thirds of the desks over the years. (Okay, maybe not that many, but a lot of them.)

One day, Tex and a friend of his were called into the office and were told by the principal that theirs was one of the sites for a standardized test to be administered on a Saturday, and that the girls from a nearby high school would be taking it at Ignatius. He noted the graffiti that had been scratched into the desks, and told them to “do something about it.”

Tex and his friend hemmed and hawed about what they would “do” about the graffiti on the desks, when one of them had a brainstorm: with a few strokes of a pen, they could change that message to something totally innocuous. Several days later, they were able to report that they had “done something about it.”

Saturday rolled around, and when the test was finished, the principal of the girls’ school visited the principal of St. Ignatius and thanked him for his hospitality, then said, “Several of the girls were asking: who is ‘Buck Young’? He seems to be very popular. His name is carved into so many desks…”

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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