The results are in from the local VFW Post for the Voice of Democracy Speech Contest, and Seton did very well: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and two honorable mentions. Four of the winners have recent Seton alumni siblings; Orr, Gonzalez, Aveni, Murray. We’ll get the results from District at the beginning of December.
The non-alumni sibling winner was Merritt, who wrote about his grandfather who was shot down during a reconnaissance mission off the coast of Norway by the Russians during the Cold War.
The Cold War might mean something different to Seton students of yore. Seton was famous for its chilly classrooms. I’ll never forget Father Vander Woude (before he was Father VW) typing with gloves on in the classroom up above the carpeted gym. Probably slowed him down just a little. The typing class and the newspaper class that we had up there seem so funny now. Electronics have revolutionized the world, so that talking about the ‘late 70’s and early 80’s seems as if we are talking about a whole different planet. For the school newspaper, the students would justify margins by typing in extra spaces — and that meant having to type an article, see how many spaces short a line was, and then figure in where to put the extra spaces when it was retyped.
Mrs. Von Reyn transformed the room when she took it over — air conditioning and heat were significant improvements. That was the room where ALS (Advanced Lab Science) had its beginnings. The sailing trip is still a highlight of senior year. And the Blue Crab Bowl that Mrs. Von Reyn got Seton started in, is still going strong. Last year Seton achieved the unprecedented: 1st and 2nd at the Virginia State Contest. The top team went to Colorado for the national tournament.
Today the upper room is the nerve center of the guidance department.
Going back to the other Cold War, I read the book The Little Toy Dog which tells the story of Captain John R. McKone and his five comrades who were shot down in July of 1960. The Cold War, and the understanding that Russia was a redoubtable enemy, was something I grew up with. I was post-duck and cover drills, but many of my siblings, Mrs. Carroll included, did the duck and cover drills in school. I checked out the old videos on Duck and Cover, and then a modern one arguing that the drills were valuable and still should be taught today.
So The Little Toy Dog had an interest to me because of the time period. The book tells of the lives of the two survivors before, during and after they were shot down. It includes letters sent between the two who were imprisoned and their families. I found most interesting the parts on the interrogations, comparing what was said in this book to With God in Russia, and the description of Lubyanka, the hotel that was made into a prison where Father Cizek was detained for 15 years. The two American pilots were held there for seven months. There was also information on Francis Gary Powers who had been spying and was shot down just two months before Captain McKone’s incident. I was glad to learn of his story. I would recommend the book, though there is one part that was disappointing and unnecessary, and if I could, I would take out the pages that cover it.
Jezu, ufam Tobie