This past summer the Old Boys had a banquet to honour a stalwart Jesuit who left a lasting influence on many Old Boys in the class rooms and on the field of sports. That stalwart is Father Ryan, S.J. His speech that night rekindled the school boy days, and years, in each of us there. That was later followed by the bombshell of the evening when the Old Boys Executive told us about a tentative trip to Boston in the latter part of the year to see the Jesuits. We would journey in comfort: Coach bus with VCR and washroom; Only three hundred dollars. Price included the bus ride, accommodation and a big banquet. Sign up now as only so many can go since, I surmised, only so many rooms are at the Campion Centre Residence. But that night there was no maddening crowd stampeding to register for the trip. Apparently many had to check their social calendars with their wives. Besides, the price was more than quattie. Anyway thirty eventually decided to make the trip.
On the morning of the excursion the weather was bleak. It had rained overnight and the morning was overcast. In addition, the forecast was for rain in Boston all that weekend. Departure time was set for eight thirty. No waiting, we were told, for delinquents. So a Jamaican departure time of nine thirty is out of the question. That morning there were a few at the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts by seven thirty. Believe it or not, the last Old Boy showed up at eight twenty nine. So away we drove off alterNeil Dalhouse made sure, through a roll call, that all those who signed up were on board.
The Old Boys Executive had booked a thirty seat bus. To our good fortune the transport agency provided a sixty seater. So we traveled in style. The driver, whom we later nicknamed Captain Morgan, saw us taking three domino 'tables' (a flat piece of board) onto the bus. He came up with a better solution. Two proper bus tables were put in place and the appropriate set of seats reversed for two four-seat table settings. Furthest from our mind, at that moment, was how these settings were to result in many memorable moments. These tables were later graced with bulla and pear as well as Jamaican crackers buttered with home-made jam laced with scotch bonnet peppers. More treats followed such as solomon a'gundie on a biscuit. Who cared about the rain outside beating on the bus. Wait 'til you hear from those there how lovely this set up was.
Let's put it this way - there were three six-love domino games. Naturally, each ended with some rambunctious mouthing. As a matter of fact not everyone on the bus who could play, in my opinion, played. Maybe they dreaded getting on the short end of a six-love game. There was one set that came pretty close to that. The score was five love with one pair sweating out the sixth game. Near the end of that game three players had only one piece with the fourth player holding three.
He was very conscious of the fact that he was staring at six/love in his face. It was his turn to play. It took him what seemed like ten minutes to play and pass his opponent so that his partner could win. But the story, and excitement, did not stop there. Believe it or not, the luck had turned and the other side faced a 'technical' situation. That set ended at six-four. The stress around the table was so great that one Old Boy watching declared he would have had a heart attack if the set continued even one more game.
We made good time. We reached Campion Centre in Boston around eight thirty that evening. It was pitch black; dark all around except for the lights of the bus and from the Campion Centre building. Anxiously awaiting was Father Hosieand Father O'Toole. More anxiously awaiting was Father Quinlan. Our welcoming mentors were happy to see us. Also awaiting us was hot chicken soup with real noodles, sandwiches and alter dinner treats. After supper we all checked in and got together in the Loyola Room on the second floor. Father Hosie gave an overview of what was to come and then the personal reunions began in earnest. There were St. G.C. papers and publications of past years spread out over two tables. 'Not to be taken away as each of these was the only copy'. There was a lot of informal personal catch up as many hadn't seen each other in donkeys years. Many did not get to their bed until midnight.
The next morning at breakfast the reminiscing continued. Then it was time to visit our ailing Jesuit mentors to whom personal assistance is given right around the clock. Father Quinlan was a guiding light to each within their room. Reminiscing with each seemed to take them back to Winchester Park. Tales of those days brought peals of laughter. Even a nostalgic tear. It was touching to see our Jesuit mentors being cheered through our presence. It is, for me, too emotional to jot down any details. In case you would like to know more about this mini-visit then get in touch with an Old Boy who was there.
The toughest part was next. Our welcoming mentors took us to the two cemeteries at the Jesuit Centre. Here is where all those Latin lessons were put to use. All the inscriptions on the tombstones were in Latin. Even the proper names. At each recognizable tombstone our Jesuit mentors gave an update of the deceased's personal history since leaving George's. A few tombstones had an American flag waving beside them: signs that these Jesuits had served in the American Armed Forces. Many, many pictures were taken as individuals wanted to capture that special moment next to the final resting place of a personal Jesuit mentor. At the end of the stroll Father Quinlan, led us in prayer.
At St. George's Father Blatchford would caringly look after the seismology equipment and building. It was a building many students held in awe. You should see the seismology equipment at Campion Centre. It makes the one at George's look like boy. Man, there were so many doodads and doohickeys. Even jumping on the floor produced a recorded tremor. A selected few saw this equipment after lunch. Most of the others took a nap. Fatigue, possible from the excitement so far, seemed to have set in.
What came next was a natural ceremony of bonding. Our Jesuit mentors celebrated Mass with us. Father Hosie, encapsulated the historic moment so beautifully in his homily. Naturally we celebrated the Mass with organ music and with everyone singing hymns. For a brief moment we were back in the Cathedral pews on North Street. Incidentally, like Holy Trinity, the kneelers were so-so hardwood board. Just the names of the hymns would put any Old Boy in the North Street setting. Holy God we praise thy Name, Jesus My Lord My God My All, Soul of my Saviour, and How Great Thou Art. We all sang our hearts and souls out. A few shed a nostalgic tear.
What came next was the biggie. It was the banquet. But before that happened there was a little bit of socializing and cocktails. Man, it was a challenge not to full up the belly before the banquet. Finger treats like dirt. Drinks like water. Then it was picture taking time. First were our Jesuit mentors. Then the Old Boys present. Finally everybody. There were so many flashes it was like looking up at the stars on a clear night sky. Well, maybe a slightly clouded night sky. The banquet was done in immaculate taste with mementos to all for this special occasion. That was followed with a few toasts. Neil Dalhouse emceed that session. Old Boys were given a chance to have their say. Talking about memorable moments of their school days. Thanking personally our Jesuit mentors for all that great tutoring and personal development. It was emotionally moving, for a few, putting into words one's appreciation of what they have done for each and every one of us.
Father Hosie and Father Quinlan graciously replied. Then presentations were made to our Jesuit mentors collectively and individually. Long after the banquet Old Boys and Jesuits kept on talking. A handful of us even kept going until a few minutes past midnight.
Next morning the visit came to a close. Checkout was done alter breakfast. More group pictures. More blessings. Naturally, we drove off chanting, if not shouting, (St.G.C. Good and True.) Naturally the domino sessions resumed shortly thereafter. Everyone was in high spirits all the way home. As much as we each would like to make another trip like this to see the Jesuits, we all knew, deep down, that none can ever match this one. The trip turned out greater than imagined. Even the weather cooperated. For instance, the Saturday in Boston the forecast was for rain all day. Well, shortly after ten that morning it started to clear and the day turned sunny and bright. Likewise the trip back on Sunday was in gorgeous sunshine.
All in all a fantastic trip! For those who could have come, but didn't, you missed out. Big time. Just ask anyone who went on the trip.