Reflections from Julie Powers:
STORY 1 ; Thank you so much for the lovely note that you sent me. Your letter brought back some touching memories of our years together at BCU.
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. (I think you were one of the girls with us.) 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.
I could go on for hours, but I’ll spare you.
One more memory and then I’ll quit. I did not know you well until you had the surgery on your back. You returned to school with a body cast and were unable to raise your head if you dropped it down to a reclining position. I thought that you were both the coolest person in the world, and the funniest. I was so glad to get to know you after that. I hope that your back has not given you any further problems.
Now that you have found me, lets try to share some of life’s funnier aspects of growing older, but not wiser.
Julie Powers Lopez
P.S. Just in case the Internet gremlins are hard at work, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I like the first of the year for many reasons, not least of which is wishing well to those I care for. So…Happy New Year!
I like to look back on all the really strong women who have graced my life.
My Mother, Louis Krebs Powers, was an amazingly strong woman. Mom was born on December 31, 1913, exactly 9 months after terrible floods ravaged Dayton and many river communities. Grandma and Grandpa lost their first home to that flood. Grandma had two small children at the time of the flood. We always supposed that Grandpa had comforted in the very best way when she was distraught.
Mom was given a great grief in her own life, but chose to rise above it and to carry on with two young daughters. She worked all her life, first as a young woman in a man’s world. Through diligence, hard work, and determination. she became one of the first female prosecutorial workers who advanced to the role of a sworn individual who is responsible for taking a charged potential felon from one location to another. Mom talked about her duties, but her favorite story was about a woman that Mom was sent to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to officially detain such a woman and return to Montgomery County. Mom said that she was scared to death to go out of state to perform her job. She said that she always liked to try new things. She had learned from her father (Frank M. Krebs, Dayton Mayor, 1942-46) that he best thing to do when you are scared is to active brave. So she went on the train to Fort Wayne, presented her credentials, and accepted custody of the woman. Mom said that no one offered any resistance or asked her any questions. (I figured she just acted very brave.) She probably taught me a great deal about life through her actions and well as her stories.
She worked for Dr. Sam Randall for about 15 years. When she retired, from Dr. Randall’s she began to work at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, on weekends. She transcribed EKG reports, took messages and relayed them to the cardiologist on call. Hospital policy stated that she must retire at age 70. The cardiologists threatened a few people at the HR Department, so they allowed her to work until age 72. When they forced her into retirement. After she was forced to retire, she volunteered as the Waiting Room Attendant at the Coronary Care Unit for 5 years on weekends. (No other volunteers wanted to work weekends).
She finally retired at age 77, and began to enjoy her life of leisure. She died at age 80, exactly 2 weeks short of her 81st birthday. Mom had been afraid that she would be alone when she died. I promised that I would be sure that she was keep company at the end of this life. In the final hours, Mom had been comatose from about 6 a.m. until about 9:30 p.m. Patricia Powers Haley (’67) and her spouse, Bob, had been spelling my husband, Louie, and me all through the day. I knew that her end was quite near. Abut 9 p.m., the attendants came in to turn and position Mom. they asked us to leave the room while they did so. Patricia asked me to let her know when Mom was about to die, so we could both be at the head of the bed with her. I also told her that it was not unusual for a person to die immediately after being turned and positioned.
When we returned to her room the four of us sat at the foot of the bed and talked quietly. I was watching Mom. I told Pat the now was the time for us to go to the head of the bed. She said, “Now???” I got up and said, “Yes, now.”
As we got towards Mom’s face, we started talking to her. We told here that it was OK for her to go. That Patricia and I would be all right, as we both had good husbands and fathers for our children. Suddenly, her eyes flew open. She focused on the far corner of the room. We felt that she was seeing her parents and our Dad, waiting for her on the other side. We told her again that she could to the other side- to go with her loved one.
Mom raised one eyebrow (like only she could do) smiled and died. Now that’s what I call a class act!
I will write about more influential women in a later e-mail Per usual, you may share this and anything I write to you with those you think might remember her.