In 1954 we were the Freshman class
girls from many parishes, wearing
new blue uniforms
with crisp white blouses,
bobby socks and penny loafers,
blue and white beanie caps;
Assigned our lockers
and a list of the rooms
of all our classes.
In my dreams, I still lose
the slip of paper with my
classes listed on it and have
to go to Sister Emily’s office
to get another. I may have lost
that list once or twice every
year. I may have been slightly
Religion, English, General Math,
Science, Domestic Science (Sewing).
I was not very good at sewing and
spent a year making a pair of pajamas
with French seams.
Public Speaking. I had a class in
Public Speaking? P.E. I did not like
P.E. and it did not like me. I think the
teacher took pity on the girl with two
left feet. she allowed me to be the coach.
In 1955, we were the Sophomores
No longer the new kids on the block.
We were worldly, experienced, and knew
our way around the halls and up and down
the stairwells. I still lost my list of classes once
or twice until I had them memorized.
Religion, English, Biology. (Sister Joseph, I remember
you well–oh, that all the world could have been as
enthusiastic as you!)
World History, Public Speaking (again?) Domestic
Science (Cooking Class; I love you Mrs. Cunningham,
where ever you are). P.E. How did I ever get a 97.5
average in P.E.? (is this really my report card?)
In 1956 we became Juniors.
No longer babies. “Young women” sister said.
Religion, English, U.S. History, Homemaking II.
typing! (I loved typing class) Office Practice.
(Sister Joseph again. We practiced writing checks
for weeks. Sister was a stickler for getting it right.
To this day I write a pretty good check.) P.E. (how
did I ever get a 92.5 average?)
A in Conduct. (OK, I could live with that.)
In 1957 we became the Senior Class.
Religion, English, Business Math,
Problems of Democracy (Democracy is
still having problems fifty years later)
Typing, P.E., The Senior Prom. Getting our
pictures taken. Final Exams, graduation Day
in front of the school.
(Of all the things, the documents, driver’s license,
birth certificates for four sons, and bits of paper
that have trailed me through life, much has been lost
along the way, but somehow I have managed to keep
four important report cards, proof that I was there
for four years and graduated from Mother of Mercy
High School June 4, 1958).
Requiem for Mother of Mercy High School
Last April I attended the 60th class reunion for the class of 1958; it was held in the school cafeteria, after we had a group photograph taken in front of the school. Then we were allowed to explore the school, much of it just the same as it was 60 years ago when we were students. Mother of Mercy opened its doors in 1915. A couple of years ago, Mercy celebrated its 100th year as a Catholic girls high school. As of this school year, Mercy is merging with McCauley High School, at McCauley. Our Mercy building is being bought – possibly to the Cincinnati public school system. – sls
Sandra Lee Schmidt/Smith
Class of 1958
FOUR YEARS AT MOTHER OF MERCY, CLASS OF 1958, A RETROSPECTIVE
In 2018 I attended my 60th class reunion, held inside the high school, along with perhaps 40-something classmates. (I think there were about 250 girls in my 12th grade graduating class) it would be our final class reunion held at Mother of Mercy, in April of 2018; Mercy has been in the process of merging with McAuley Girls High School. Mercy celebrated its 100th year teaching girls in 2015.
I wasn’t the only former student shedding tears at what is most likely our last class reunion. I wasn’t the best of student during those four years–preoccupied, at times, with working in the school cafeteria, the school library, and cleaning classrooms for 50c an hour, to help pay for my tuition and receiving free lunches. I didn’t feel as though I fit in at Mercy–the majority of the students in 1954 were from well-to-do families–and like it or not, the nuns knew which students came from well to do families and which ones didn’t. and we knew that they knew this. The sisters would insist that the reason we wore uniforms was so we would all be on a level playing field. Don’t you believe it.
For one thing, our report cards (coming from a poorer parish) went to our parish priest for review before it was given to us to take home top our parents. The parish paid half of your tuition. I don’t believe I was the only student in the 1950s who was aware of my “lesser” status. Even so, there were classes at Mercy that I loved – cooking class for one (Domestic Science), office practice, sewing classes, typing classes (in which I excelled), reading and writing and memorizing poetry. I was a terrible student in American History in my Junior year of school for the first semester. The teacher took pity on me and said I could make up any tests I did not pass. I was mortified–I knew that the only reason I was failing was my failure to study. I did much better the second semester –I have often wished I could have let the teacher, Mrs. Schuab, how I developed a great interest in American History about a decade later, and how surprised I think she would have been.
Mrs. Cunningham, my cooking teacher, knew from the start that I was greatly interested in “domestic science” – my mother turned me loose in the kitchen when I was about ten years old.
I was unable to attention the first four class reunions, held every five years; the first I attended was our 25th reunion and I think I attended all the rest. I was also able to purchase the four year books for my years at Mercy, when I was there in 2018 – books I couldn’t afford when I was a student.
Sandra Lee Schmidt/Smith