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Confessions by Suze Ford Brand

confessions:

I could spend a lot of time writing about the impact that BCU had
on  my sister Jamie and I – but Im pretty sure you all know that- we all share that which is what makes BCU special- the friends you make for life, the kindness of all. I though I’d write about what you didn’t know:

In 8th grade someone’s alarm would go off at 3am, that person- name be excluded (so she’s okay with this) would wake up only a few if you were privileged to go- navigate the steps (no creaking toes allowed) across non- wooden floors, Sr. Anthony seemed to be always waxing them (did she sleep?)to find ourselves in the massive kitchen into the massive Walk-In refrigerator in to be surrounded by bricks of cheese -and this was before Costco- the next mornings array of donuts and pasteries. It was heaven and we would eat too much! and yes the ice cream sandwiches!

Eventually Sr. Catherine who was very savvy would pull someone out to the landing in
the middle of the night and while they were waking out of their slumber, she would simply ask ”is there something you want to tell me?” and voila- ‘there it was’ so new pranks were to be created.
Many of us tried putting vaseline on our foreheads so that Sr. Catherine would send us off to sleep with a little cross, but then just simply swipe our heads when she caught on leaving us with vaseline hair-savvy again. Rolling beds into the elevator while someone was sleeping-though I don’t think I did it. I thought it was clever.
Remember the key to the front door- it almost cancelled our graduation?! Whoever was responsible? The grandest-I thought- again was created by another student- name to being excluded (so she’s okay with this) created the “gangster” The gangster was:
When walking by the building where the workers worked- the sisters kept their cookie jars filled at least until the gangster was created..
I’m pretty sure the sisters thought- these guys are eating a-lot….I often worry about that creator of the gangster- I believe her life has been a struggle and she has struggled with life. I wish her the best.
These were a few of the many that happened from what I can remember and then there were some really irresponsible ones that I am not sharing (so that we can all forget about them- and Thank you Sr. Agatha- you were given quite a challenge) that I like to just claim them as events along the journey.There are many riddles left unsolved- not important really but it does take me back to those days down the long tree-lined lane that I thought I knew every creak in every floor(except the cloisters of course ),every four leaf clover near Chatfield (yes its true) where on the other side of that lane- where our lives after BCU began was the biggest mystery of all.
I woke up to that fact in my junior year-what is going to happen with my life after Brown County? I’ll always appreciate the strength, the lifelong friendships, Sr. Catherines Theater, Sr. Mary Christine’s patience, Sr. Ruth’s class that helped me years later to get my cappuccino to go in France-though grammatically Im sure it was cappuccino go?
so many I am thankful to”thank you”!
.

Before and After by Robin Craig part 3

IMG_1187Part 3 
Before and After
*****
I was so young — 12,13,14 — during my BC years that I knew nothing about the family history that had preceded me there, and could not have anticipated the relationships that would unfold in subsequent years.
*****
How did a sort-of Methodist girl from Blanchester end up at BC?  My great-grandmother, Lulu Oberlin Craig, was the connection.  As a young farm girl in the 1890s, she wanted to study music.  The family lore goes that she drove her buggy to Brown County, and used her egg money to pay for piano lessons from the nuns.  Later, as a staunch Methodist churchwoman and the wife of a Blanchester business owner, she told het two sons to remain attentive to the convent.  My grandfather, her younger son, took those words to heart as a grain dealer whose customers included the convent farm.  I believe that he and Sister Peter, who managed the farm (and the horses!) were buddies long before I arrived as a student.  He and my grandmother had three sons, so there was no one to go to school at BC until I arrived — three generations after Lulu!  I also learned as an adult that after my 28-year-old mother and year-old brother were killed in a car accident, Sister Aloysius was the person to whom my father turned for support and counsel.
*****
Sister Miriam told me once that the nuns had found my grandmother to be an extremely reserved woman.  A surprise to me, but I suppose that she was, with people she didn’t know. But over the years, she and my grandfather developed deep friendships at BC, especially with Xavier and Agatha, who visited them in Florida during the winters and were extremely attentive to my grandmother after she was widowed and, a few years later, moved to assisted living in Cincinnati.  In time we all became great friends. My father served on the Chatfield board and so got to know Sr. Ellen and Sr. Cecelia well.  It was Agatha and Xavier who brought my 81-year-old grandmother to Cleveland for a day to meet her new great-granddaughter (picture sent separately), Xavier who gave me excellent advise about educating my children, and Agatha and Ellen who made a dash to Cleveland to attend the visitation when my son died.  Agatha and Xavier conducted my grandfather’s funeral in his living room, my grandmother’s in the Brescia chapel, my stepmother Jewel’s in Blan — and Ellen and Cecilia spoke at my father’s memorial luncheon (Sister Agatha had injured her back).
 
My family — except for me — is not a religious crowd, and I was a poor excuse for a student during my youth.  But such grace, that Ursuline nuns and the Craig family have had these treasured connections for 125 years!

Life at BC 1965-1968 by Robin Craig part 2

part 2 
Ten of us arrived in the seventh grade in the Fall of 1965.  The five who were boarders (joined by two more after Christmas) lived in a room on the public side of the glass divider on the second floor, with the eighth graders in an adjoining room, if I remember correctly.  All of us in bunk beds.  I think that our class was in 8th grade when we moved up to the long rows of beds on the top floor.
*****
Those were hard years in my life.  My home life was a disaster, and I spent most Sundays and month-ends with friends.  I loved my three years of Spanish with Sister Timothy, and algebra with Sister Andrew, but was otherwise not interested in school, and was a diffident student at best. Probably the best thing that happened for me academically was a very young Sister Colette’s decision in 8th grade to give up on trying to teach Catholicism to her recalcitrant “non-Catholics” in favor of us learning about other religions.  My first Seder ever was the one we held in our tiny pastel classroom on the ground floor level.  From Sr. Colette I learned that you could be simultaneously committed to a life of faith while being hospitable toward those of other faiths.
*****
Unlike Toni Wallace, I went to great lengths to avoid sewing class.  I remember that once Sister Lawrence came into our rec room (what was that called? Sunnyside?) and I rolled under the couch, where I remained undetected.  Other times friends and I would go out to the far end of the soccer field for the afternoon, thus avoiding any attempts to discover our whereabouts.  But, like another of us has written, I loved the horses, and went riding with Delana Brose every afternoon that she showed up.  
*****
Sister Mary Paul and I engaged in a year-long battle over skirt lengths.  I finally ripped the hem out of one of my skirts (the one sewing skill I had learned) so that it hung around my calves, and wore it every single Sunday to mass for the rest of 9th grade.
*****
The best thing about BC for me was the wonderful group of lifelong friends that we made. Yes, we spent a ridiculous amount of time on The Mystery of the Secret Life of Nuns and on trying to infiltrate hallways closed to us.    But we also spent hours and hours listening to music, writing to penpals, and just talking, talking, talking.  Pam Malin in my class had her dorm alcove on the corner, with huge windowells overlooking the front lawn.  Late at night after Sr. Mary Charles went to bed, I would slip down to Pam’s space and we would sit in the window and talk – one of my favorite memories.  And when I hear The Mamas and Papas, the Rubber Soul and Revolver albums, the Monkees, and Motown music, I am instantly transported back to specific spaces and people at BC.
*****
My father had it in mind that I should go to boarding school in New England as he had done, and so I left BC after freshman year.  I was devastated, of course, to leave what had become something of a home filled with good friends, and I am so glad that many of us have refound one another decades later.
*****
One final note:  At a reunion several years ago, some of my friends told me that they had been invited by the nuns to a vocation week-end during senior year.  They are all businesswomen now.  Who would have guessed that I would be the one to go from rebellious convent schoolgirl to ordained Presbyterian minister?  And that Sisters Agatha and Ellen would come to my ordination service!

Arrival by Robin Craig part 1

part 1 
I did not.want.to.go.to. Brown County.
I wanted to go to Little Miami Junior high with my friends and classmates, who included boys.  My family lived outside Blanchester, in Warren County, and I had done the visit and 6th grade dance events at Little Miami, where everyone I knew would be.  Plus I had a crush on Toby Adams, brother of Suzanne Adams Cajacob (BCU ’75) with whom I had shared a first kiss, thanks to a spin-the-bottle game (I had decided that that counted) at our first boy-girl party  at the end of sixth grade.  How could I possibly go to an all-girls school even further out in the middle of nowhere than my own family’s home?
I remember clearly the dark plaid jumper, white blouse, and black flats that I wore on our first day, a Sunday. I was twelve years old and in seventh grade, class of 1971. The older girls in their heels and hose, standing around for sign-ins in the Playhall, looked so sophisticated.  I was clearly in trouble.
After our families left, we were ushered into the chapel for a benediction service.  My family was nominally — very nominally – Methodist.  I knew next to nothing about religion. No, make that less than nothing. So imagine:
  • All those women in long black dresses,  white head and neck coverings, beads (what were those?) dangling from their belts, crucifixes (what were those?)  jammed in their belts — it was a relief to discover that we were supposed to call them all “Sister,” since how would you ever tell them apart?
  • A container of water (what was that?) in the entryway to the chapel, and people crossing themselves (what was that?) and genuflecting (what was that)?  A priest in resplendent robes (why?) raising a huge silver monstrance (what was that?) above our heads.
  • And just to be sure that everything was clarified, all the words were in Latin!
Dad, what have you done to me?  I wondered.  I was seriously in trouble.
After church, we were introduced to the refectory.  I was assigned a seat across from one of my classmates — tall, imposing, and I think African-American/Puerto Rican.  Not someone you would encounter in Blanchester, Ohio.  “Hi!” I said in my friendliest voice.  I had been to summer camp and I knew that you cpuld make friends easily over the dinner table.  “My name is Robin!”  “WHO CARES?” she thundered back.
Yeah.  This school was definitely going to be a challenge.  I wondered how fast I could arrange my return to Little Miami.