An eerie quiet at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton

An eerie quiet at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton

Saint Ingatius Loyola in the Carriero Commons Reception Area [Except where indicated, all photos: David Kramer, 3/26/20]

(top) accompanying plaque; (middle) the Warmenhovens are board members of the Wegmans Family Charitable Trust, from placard at the Tom Seymour Field; (bottom) looking into the Wegman Family Science and Technology Center

Up until several years ago, Jesuit brothers lived in quarters attached to the McQuaid Jesuit High School on Clinton Avenue in Brighton, since replaced by the Wegman Family Science and Technology Center. Now during the pandemic — especially with the brothers gone — all day and all night, an eerie quiet defines the McQuaid campus.

(below) 2016. The demolition of the Jesuit brother’s quarters in preparation for the construction of the Wegman Family Science and Technology Center.

In normal times, the corner of Clinton and Elmwood is a hub of activity. The cross country team runs on the Elmwood sidewalk, always courteously letting me pass on my bicycle. Night football games have an electric feel in the packed stands of the Tom Seymour Field, the gridiron where NFL standouts Bob Thomas and Eugene Goodlow played back in the day.

East vs. McQuaid 9/9/16. (left) Having friends at both schools, my outfit was designed diplomatically. Photographer Nico Mundy also had divided loyalties. Nico’s nephew plays for McQuaid, but Nico himself played with Roland Williams at East in ’94. Nico said I could take off the shirt or the hat depending on who won.  (right) with McQuaid President Rev. Edward F. Salmon, S.J. From No Jills; no playoffs for the Bills

Right now, the baseball Knights should be defending their Section V title at the Father Richard Noonan, S.J. Field. On warm spring afternoons, like many in the overflowing crowds, I enjoy the Knights’ top notch play.

Today ever so tranquil, one favorite spot is the Our Lady’s Grotto with the Virgin Mary beckoning.

(left) inscription (right) the statue (left) plaque [Photos; David Kramer, 11/17/18,  From Maundy Thursday

Tom Seymour Field and adjacent practice field

(bottom) From placard at the Tom Seymour Field

This afternoon, I saw but a single car in the parking lots, the StudentDriverMobile.

(top) the only vehicle on campus; (bottom) Paddy Grace, McQuaid ’21

The only person I met was McQuaid junior Paddy Grace.  Paddy lives nearby and wanted to see if anything was happening on campus. A polite young man, Paddy explained that McQuaid is conducting classes remotely, mostly using ZOOM. So far, distance learning is going pretty well, but it’s just not the same without everybody around.

Speaking with Paddy triggered a wave of memories from 2010 when I was an ELA student teacher at McQuaid while pursuing an accelerated certification program at Nazareth College.  An enriching experience, I taught 9th grade English and co-taught AP Literature with my mentor teacher, Daniel Gorton.

In his reference letter, Dan wrote:

Daniel C. Gorton, Department of English, McQuaid Jesuit, February 2011

I think Dan meant that I respected the Catholic traditions underlying a McQuaid education.  Although I am not Catholic — like others in the faculty and student body — the McQuaid community made it easy. I never felt out of place, finding my immersion enlightening. And, Dan, the varsity golf coach — an excellent mentor who offered constructive criticism without ever hovering — gave me a goldish golf team shirt as a parting gift.

Daniel Gorton’s Letter, February 2011, McQuaid Jesuit High School

(top, l-r) In the McQuaid golf shirt given by Daniel Gorton, David Kramer at MCC with Athesia’s political propaganda placard from Talker interviewed by Channel 8. Knowledgeable supporters back Cruz;s gold standard and Leslie Kramer dressed as a “Gold Bug” from  Visiting a Talker haunt: the Brickyard Trail with Leslie Frances and Audrey; (bottom) well-worn jersey, gift of the McQuaid Jesuit High School administration

One day a mass was held in the gymnasium honoring the memory of a deceased priest. While not required to attend, I found the ceremony memorable and moving. Sometimes when entering our classroom, an older priest/teacher hurried past me, leaving elaborate handwritten notes and charts from his biblical history class scrawled on the blackboard. I was glad the students had the opportunity to imbibe his erudition. Occasionally, the brothers invited us for a free lunch in their dining room. One kindly elderly priest had spent decades working with addicts in the city. I could picture the man offering faith, support and tough love to the sufferers.

A few times, we went to Zebbs across the way for its free-tacos-and-beer-specials Friday Happy Hours. One priest filled me in on the priestly life, disabusing me of some misconceptions. For example, priests love Happy Hour as much as the next guy, as he downed his half price Molson and overstuffed dripping taco. And, he does own a TV, although he rarely watches. When I asked why he became a Jesuit brother, he related an experience during his first or second year of college.  One night when alone in his dorm room, he felt a presence like nothing he’d known before.  He couldn’t exactly define it, but for him the moment could only be a divine visitation. And in that moment he knew God was calling him. There was no going back.

Several students remain in my memory banks. Salvadore was from Mexico or maybe Brazil; his parents had moved here to work for an international corporation. Always a very strong student, Salvadore once wrote an essay whose sophistication felt beyond that of the average ninth grader. Dan and I ran the essay through which found 0% plagiarism.  A few years later, I read in the Democrat and Chronicle that for a contest, Salvadore submitted a letter to President Barack Obama. The letter was chosen as one of the very best received. I can’t remember Salvadore’s last name but don’t doubt he’s achieved high level academic success.

Speaking of President Obama, in June 2010, McQuaid science teacher Jeanne Kaidy was named one of the top STEM educators in the nation by Obama. During my time at the school, Jeanne was invited the White House for an award ceremony where she met the president, so far the highlight of her teaching career.

9th grade student Will came to mind when I was writing a review of Geva’s To Kill A Mockingbird, A finely executed performance of Mockingbird at Geva. And on the “white trash” Ewells. The play reminded me of an exceptional essay Will had written for 9th grade English:

About five years ago, I taught Mockingbird to 9th graders at McQaid Jesuit High School in Brighton.

At Geva with copy of To Kill a Mockingbird given to me by the McQuaid English Department. From A finely executed performance of Mockingbird at Geva. And on the “white trash” Ewells

We began by tracing the class or caste system in Lee’s imagined town of Maycomb, Alabama. At the top of the white pyramid are people like the Finches, the gentry or the educated professional elite. Beneath them are the yeomen farmers, represented by the Cunninghams. At the bottom are the white trash exemplified by the Ewells, collecting relief checks and barely subsistent.  At the same time, all three castes are granted supposed genetic or innate superiority over the segregated African-Americans. . . .

First showing how the Ewell’s are demonized or negatively rendered, one student, Matt (whose last name I unfortunately forget) took his analysis further by looking at an often buried subtext.

Matt argued that the Ewells — as representatives of the lowest white class — did the “dirty work” of the gentry. i.e. Atticus. In Matt’s reading, the higher class whites, especially the enlightened, noble, color-blind Atticus, could not do the lynchings themselves. The Ewells thus serve as a kind of necessary ingredient in maintaining the racial and social order.  Within the universe of the novel, Matt posited a symbolic and real “unholy alliance” between the Atticus Finches and the Bob Ewells . . . Matt’s 9th grade interpretation — to which I really only added details and terminology — is persuasive.

Alas, I can’t recall Matt’s last name but don’t doubt he’s achieved high level academic success.

I remember more what Will Mahar accomplished three years after our class. Will was a solid student and good athlete. He was recruited to placekick for Boston College.

Photo, Democrat and Chronicle, 2013. Blurb from the 2013 Boston College football website. Will’s parents are members of the Wegmans Family Charitable Trust.

In 2013 against Monroe/Edison at Seymour Field, Will’s last second heroics were so remarkable he appeared in Sports Illustrated‘s “Faces in the Crowd.” Earlier that day, Will’s grandfather Ray was buried, and Will dedicated the game to him.

On its final drive, McQuaid began at its own 24, trailing Edison 21 – 19.  In a last ditch play, Will caught a 41 yard pass, getting out of bounds with 8 tenths of a second left on the clock.

The catch [Photos from MaxPreps videos, 2013]

Will then lined up for the game winning field goal.

The kick

The kick is good

The celebration

The final score

McQuaid graduates have written for the magazine.  In Bill Peters, author of Maverick Jetpants In The City Of Quality, reflects on Rochester and writing, the McQuaid alum reflected on his debut novel set in Rochester and reviewed favorably by the New York Times Book Review.

(left) copy of Maverick Jetpants In The City Of Quality signed by the author; (right) William Peters reading at Writers and Books, 2013. From Bill Peters, author of Maverick Jetpants In The City Of Quality, reflects on Rochester and writing

Justin Delinois, McQuaid ’15 and University of Rochester ’19, has appeared in the magazine several times, most notably in For Justin Delinois, all roads led to the Liberty Pole Way. And beyond. where Justin gave a riveting account of his arrest following a July 2016 Black Lives Matter rally at the Liberty Pole Way. Describing himself as a “Self-Driven Community Builder,” Justin now works in San Francisco as a healthcare management specialist. I hope Justin comes home. There could be an office waiting for him in City Hall.

{left) Justin at Liberty Pole Way from For Justin Delinois, all roads led to the Liberty Pole Way. And beyond. (center) Justin at MuCCC from Another rally at the Liberty Pole Way. (right) Just at the Activism Fair at the Visual Studies Workshop from Activism Fair draws largest crowd of its kind in recent memory

For more on McQuaid’s Eugene Goodlow, see Gates-Chili’s Ernest Jackson one of a few Rochestarians who made their football mark in Canada

In the Walk of Honor at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester in Highland Park reminders of two McQuaid graduates who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Walk of Honor at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester in Highland Park

Lieutenant Junior Grade Grauert was a member of Heavy Attack Squadron 8, Carrier Air Wing 14 aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS CONSTELLATION (CVA-64). On November 3, 1967, he was the co-pilot of a Tanker Aircraft (KA-3B) on a combat mission over North Vietnam when on takeoff the tanker crashed killing the crew. His remains were not recovered. His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial.
LCdr. Peter H. Krusi, pilot; LtJg. Hans H. Grauert, co-pilot; and Lt. Richard W. Sanifer, crewman, launched from the USS CONSTELLATION on November 3, 1967 in their KA3B tanker about 1900 hours in support of a combat mission. Their responsibility was to circle outside the combat area
for accompanying fighter jets to return to their area for refueling.
Upon takeoff, the tanker crashed, and all aboard were killed. Subsequent searches yielded the body of Richard Sanifer, but the bodies of the rest of the crew were not located. Krusi and Grauert were placed in the category of Killed/Body Not Recovered. There is no hope that their remains can be recovered. (from, photo added by Liz Olmstead)


Thomas Urban Way. St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY [Photo: DANIEL COGNÉ] See An eerie quiet at St. John Fisher College

Michael J. Pernaselli graduated from McQuaid. See On the day to remember its fallen, Brightonian Slagana Avramoska Mitris reflects on what Memorial Day means to her.

SEE ALSO In Search of Irishness  Rochester historian Blake McKelvey sees Bishop Bernard John McQuaid as the central figure in the mid to late 19th century Irish community.

In Search of Irishness

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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