The more things change, the more they stay the same. This paradoxical cliché can be illustrated by the actions of an alumnus and a current Seton Senior.
The Grape Story. There was once a time when the entire student body ate lunch at the same time in the “Old Building Cafeteria”. This was the building that had a heating system with floor grates which every true Seton student at sometime stood on and melted the soles of his shoes. It was the building that the fire marshal said would burn down in 30 seconds. (Possibly after someone’s shoes were set aflame.) It was the building with funny little heaters that had open flames. (Another possible source of the 30 second incineration.) It was the building of lots of fun events and happy memories for those of us who knew its true charm. It was also the building of the infamous thrown grape.
On the day being considered, Mrs. Carroll spoke to the student body about keeping the lunchroom neater. Soon after it was lunch time and yours truly had lunch duty. (Really in that building it could hardly be considered a “duty” – an overflowing experience of joy and satisfaction more aptly describes the assignment.) Anyway, at some point Inoticed a grape on the floor where no grape should have been. Astutely, I deduced that the grape’s positioning could only have been arrived at by being thrown. So, I asked of the lunching student body, “Who threw the grape?” Silence. I asked again, (some might say yelled) “Who threw the grape? Silence. I then said,”OK, if no one will tell me, then we will eat in silence for this entire lunch period.”
The lunchroom never cleared out so quickly. (It was a clever way to end that pure proctoring pleasure, no?) That question, “Who threw the grape?” became famous in Seton lore. It was the source of humor in skits and a topic of informal conversation. And through the years the perpetrator of the scandalous projectile was kept a secret from me while, it seems, the rest of the Seton world knew.
The Sponge Cake Story. Fast forward to this year’s seniors. At one time they were freshmen, and I was their religion teacher. No longer could the entire student body fit in the old cafeteria. (For one thing it was torn down, for another the student population was now more than 75.) Girls had religion while the boys lunched, then the roles were reversed. At the time being considered the girls were being lifted to near ecstasy by their teacher’s interesting and informative exposition of the Catholic Faith. In rapt attention they listened, the very dropping of a pin would have disturbed their concentration. Then it happened: something came flying into the room through an open window. There was silence. I asked “What was that?” One fo the girls who sat near where the object had landed answered, “It is a twinkie” and the entire room burst into laughter – even their teacher had to laugh. I asked, (more calmly than about the grape) “Who threw the twinkie?” Ten girls rushed to the windows, but, so they reported, could see no one. So the twinkie episode became famous, at least among the freshmen. Questions about it appeared on the midterm and final, but still the perpetrator of the flying Hostess treat remained a mystery to me.
Today I know the answers to these two important questions: ‘Who threw the grape?” and “Who threw the twinkie?” The latter’s answer remained a secret for only a year. Jimmy Powers confessed during a sophomore English class. The grape thrower waited much longer – nearly two decades to tell. It was at Seton’s 25th Anniversary Gala that Steve Egan confessed to me to being the grape thrower, ending many years of speculation.
Events like a gala-gathering have a way of bringing out the stories of the “good old days” They are a carnival of laughter and good cheer, and each person present adds to the festive atmosphere. I encourage any of you who can to be an Alumni Gala-attendee, but leave the grapes and twinkies at home because great food is already planned — food that you won’t want to throw a bit of at anyone.
It would be wonderful to hear from any of you by using the blog if I can figure out how that works or by e-mailing me at: [email protected].