Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

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TidBits About Donna #41 Villa Maria Reunion – Memory Lane

Villa – Then – 1966

Forty-five years – where did the time go?” That was a common refrain as about twenty Villa girls from the class of 1966 met under a full moon on the back patio of their high school, Villa Maria Academy. (I know I am not being politically correct. Sixty-two-year-old women are not called “girls.” But we ARE Villa Girls. We have always taken pride in being Villa Girls … and so … we always will be VILLA GIRLS!

Many of the girls traveled hundreds of miles to share fun and memories. Some came from Georgia, Florida, Ohio, and New York. I trekked to Erie from New Jersey via Massachusetts. (That’s another story.) Many of the girls are lifetime residents of Erie, my hometown, which I have grown more and more fond of as the years pass.

We reminisced about old friends, old flames, and old classes. We dragged up memories of various nuns, the Sisters of St. Joseph, who taught us well; and we laughed at their funny quirks – and ours, too.

One nun used to lie in wait for me each day as I passed her classroom. Though I tried to slip by in the cluster of laughing girls, hurrying to our next classes, it was near impossible. Each time Sister So-and-So spied me, she would, with a crook of her finger, motion me to her. I’d wait, discreetly rolling my eyes, as she stuffed her hand into the cavernous black pocket of her habit to draw out a bobby pin. The scene was almost choreographed – we knew our parts well. Next, she would sweep my bangs off of my forehead and attach them to the side of my head.  Geez … how I hated that! It felt dorky, geeky, nerdy … you get the picture. Of course, the bobby pin remained in my hair no longer than the next doorway, when I slipped it out and stuffed it into my not-so-deep pocket. I had quite a collection of those brown bobby pins, but so did Sister So-and-So. She never ran out. She should have invested in bobby pin stock because she sure used enough of them. Hmm, maybe she did. Are nuns allowed to invest?

On that reunion patio, many stories were passed around. We learned about each others’ lives – our careers and professions, our families and our grandchildren. We learned where in the world we are all living and what we planned for our futures. We talked and we giggled and we promised as the evening drew to a warm, summer night close, to keep the reunion alive at least for another day.

Villa – Now – 2011

It was a joyful night. My only regret was an upset in plans – year-long plans. I was so looking forward to seeing a friend of mine, Patti M. and meet her husband, John. They had traveled two days from Georgia to attend the reunion. Patti and I had been writing to each other for more than a year in anticipation of this reunion. But upon arrival in Erie, John had a health emergency, which sent him, accompanied by Patti, to Hamot Hospital in the wee hours of Friday morning. Thus, John and Patti were not able to attend the Friday night patio party. Frankly, it was unknown when John would be released from the hospital. Their future was uncertain. It was so disappointing on so many levels. So I did what anyone, who had waited more than a year to reunite with a friend, would do. I took our reunion to her. First, I packed a survival kit for Patti. Into a cute little tote went the snack bags filled with grapes and cherries, crackers and carrots and peanuts. A toothbrush, and toothpaste and mouthwash were added. I also put in a crossword book to bide time while John slept or was having tests. Then, I called Patti and told her I was coming over. While John rested upstairs between tests, Patti and I were able to squeeze in an hour of nonstop chatter as we perched on the benches outside Hamot Hospital. Fortunately, John was later released and Patti and I vowed to meet again at the Saturday dinner at the Colony Inn.

On Saturday afternoon I met a group of girls, most of whom were unable to attend the Friday evening event, at Joe Roots near the Peninsula for lunch. As I walked through the door and glanced around, I wondered if I would recognize them. I spied Dorothy (aka Kelly) and she waved to me. That was easy. We had spent time together the night before on the Villa patio. Dorothy and I had been friends since we were about ten-years-old when we both attended Camp Kateri on old Lake Erie, but I hadn’t seen her since graduation day. Then my eyes roved to the other girls and I started to say my hellos to Mary G. and Barb K., to Kathy A. and Carol D. My eyes stopped on the last girl for just a second or two – a moment of panic – but then I quickly announced, “And … you are Margaret M.

              Lunching with the Girls at Joe Roots.           Donna O’D., Barb K., Carol D., Margaret M., Dorothy (Kelly) G. Kathy A.

I marvel at how, after 45 years, I recalled, with only a little hesitation, each and every girl/woman. The mind is a wonderful thing. But what is even more wonderful is that it seemed as if only yesterday we shared our lives together. Our shared memories bind us still. We lingered over that lunch – a very short two hours – not enough time to catch up on a lifetime.

I dashed home to my father-in-law’s house to change into evening clothes and to pick up David for yet another event. Several of us chose to include our spouses for our dinner at the Colony Inn. The Colony holds a special place in my heart. That is where David and I had our wedding reception 42 years ago.

David and I shared some very pleasant hours with Patti and John. (Yes, he was well enough to attend.) We reminisced with Cheryl D. and Barbara B. Their husbands were Prep graduates. And though Ed and Tom graduated the class before David, they remembered each other well. We mingled with Eileen S. and Susan M., Denise S. and Marie G., Charlene S and her husband, Tom.  We chatted with Denise B., Alberta S., Ellen P., Kathy A., Barb K., Patty W., Barbara A., and Marilyn P.

We made memories that night! And in 2016, at our 50th Villa Maria Academy Reunion, those memories will join the ones we treasure from our high school days – when we were not in our 60s but  … mere sweet 16s.

(Complimentary photos by ME.)

(Some photos compliments of  Susan Moore.)

(Clipart compliments of


August 15, 2011 - Posted by | TidBits About Donna | , , , ,

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