by Julie Powers Lopez ‘69
Most of the time, I have memories of all the girls in our class. Some memories stand out very clearly, such as the night of our senior year, when we sat huddled together in Chatfield Hall, while our favorite neighborhood pervert tried his best to get into the building.
I vividly remember the night that Sister Timothy took us out for a scary night of fun on the grounds. Each girl chose something to use as a weapon. All I could find was Sister Mary Anthony’s broom. Sister Timothy assured me that Sister Mary Anthony would not mind if I borrowed it.
As I remember it, only Sister Timothy had a flash light. The rest of us crept terrified behind her all the way from the basement door to the main gates. The wind rose, making the old chestnut trees sway in the rising winds. On the way back down the drive, as we approached the area of the old Indian cemetery, I thought I saw a huge spider creeping across the pavement in our direction. I bravely said that I would kill it. I took a mighty swing at the arachnid with Sister Mary Anthony’s little broom. I brought the bristles down hard on the spider, and heard a horrible cracking sound. I couldn’t tell if the spider made the noise, or what. I raised the broom to see if there was anything left of the giant spider, when to my horrified eyes, I beheld, Sister Mary Anthony’s broken broom. Everybody broke out laughing except me. Sister and the girls took off down the road, laughing. I could see only Sister Mary Anthony shaking her aged fist at me and saying she was going to write my mother that I was probably going to go to hell.
Sister Timothy told us a wonderful scary story while we sat around a cold campfire. Everyone’s mind was on the story, except mine. Sister Mary Anthony was very real and frightening. A ghost was infinitely less terrifying than Sister Mary Anthony. She had chased me up the front and back stairs on more than one occasion, just for tracking in some dirt. This was far more serious.
I had just enough time to think my response to the broken broom through. I told Sister Timothy that I was really scared of the repercussions for breaking the broom. I had decided to place the broken broom in her cupboard, along with a note. I would explain my actions, and told her that I would buy her a new broom on our next weekend home.
I slept very poorly that night. All the next day, I kept looking around corners as I approached corridors, to make sure that Sister Mary Anthony was not cleaning in that area. By 4 p.m., I thought that I was home free. I was walking from the Second Department Home Room toward the stairs when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I froze in fear.
I slowly turned around to see Sister Mary Anthony standing behind me. She had her arms folded across her flat bosom. She fixed me with a stare. I could not have run away. She just stared at me for a moment, then asked if I was Julie Powers. I admitted that I was. I was cringing inside, terrified at what she would say. I never expected her to say the next words. “You never should have taken my broom. You’re right about that. But you were very responsible to own up to the misdeed. Not one in a hundred girls would have done that. If you can find a small broom, fine. But don’t worry about it. I will also look for a replacement.” Then she turned a walked away. I was rooted to the spot. By the time I reached the dorm, I was laughing rather hysterically. Sharon Bruce asked me what was going on. When I told her, she could hardly believe it.
I was able to find a small toy broom, with a tiny dust pan. I was very happy to return to Brown County with the promised bounty. Sister Mary Anthony was delighted with her new broom and dust pan. They fit her small frame very well. She used them up until right before her death.