From: Patrick Finneran '53: Remembering Campion
When last we were here, I had just disembarked from the Burlington Zephyr, and I stood in amazement and awe of the backside of Campion. Like all the rest of the Freshman Class arriving by train, I followed the directions of Father Murphy, and the promptings of the older boys-- sophs and above, as we made our way to our assigned "lodgings".
We freshman were led to this old building-- Kostka Hall, up the stair which wound around an elevator shaft, to the third floor, and our assigned private space. This was my first introduction to a thing called an alcove. It turned out to be a smallish sleeping space, consisting of three wooden walls perhaps seven or eight feet in height, encompassing a space of approximately seven by seven feet. The fourth "wall" providing a measure of privacy, was a curtain to draw across the opening. While buildings of today have a ceiling height of eight feet, our dormitory ceiling in Kostka Hall, had a height of at least ten to twelve feet. If memory serves, we were assigned these spaces alphabetically. I remember the over the wall neighbor behind me was Bill Downing. For the life of me I can't recall who the two fellows on either side were.
The dorm was on the south end of the building, overlooking the playing field, and Loyola Hall.
Orientation soon took place. We were shown to the study hall, the lockers, the gym, and were advised to stay out of the "alley" the domain of the sophomores in their two-man rooms. Such "Jesuitisms" as "Jug", and "Lost Weekends", were briefly explained, and woe to those who didn't grasp the ominous meanings these two "attitude" or "behavioral adjustments" portended.
This was my first encounter with a thing called "demerits". Which would seem to mean one had a certain number of credited "merits" from which were subtracted "demerits". I never knew how many "merits" we were initially credited. Five subtractions resulted in a "Jug" which confined one to the lower study hall in Kostka Hall, during the free time following the day's classes. Jug was no respecter of Class. From Lowly Freshman to seniors, Jug was the great leveler all were required to show up in the same room at the appointed time for "Jug".
As if the loss of the precious free time wasn't enough, the Jug sessions, which, if memory serves, were 90 minutes long and effectively, consumed all of the free time between classes and the evening meal. Jug was overseen and administered by one of the Priests or Scholastics who had drawn the short straw himself. Depending on that august personage's teaching specialty, English, History, Math, etc., the hapless Jugee was subjected to memorizing for example forty lines of one of Shakespeare's plays, with correct punctuation and spelling, or even more diabolic, to commit to memory with the same requirements, any of the works of Chaucer!
Again, if I recall correctly, we were given twenty minutes to memorize the assigned lines, and en masse we were told to close our books, place them on the floor beneath our desks and proceed to write out the assigned task. Perhaps you can remember in those days we were required to do our paperwork in ink, most used the $5 Parker Pen and ink from the company store. Incidentally, if you kept that 1940s/'50s Parker, it's worth mega bucks today! But I digress. If you were a quick study you would complete work and present it for checking-- in the hope that you could salvage some of that precious free time. If you failed to nail it, you witnessed having your work torn up, tossed in a waste paper basket, and told to return to your desk and do it again. If you didn't get done and checked before the session ended, you were put on the list of "Jugees" who were required to return for the next Jug. Three such failings, or 15 demerits, resulted in a Lost Weekend-- all free time on Saturday & Sunday spent at a student desk in the short hall outside the offices of Fr. Guinta and Fr. Reinert. Fr. Reinert would provide the things to be studied or errands to be run.
Mr. Thomas R. Haller, S.J, oversaw one of the more diabolic sessions I can recall. He taught Math. His assignment for us was to raise 375 to the 35th power! Not only did it take up several pages of calculations, when you presented your work for checking, he would scan it step by step, and if you had made an error in your calculations he simply said "Nope. You're wrong." Your hard work was torn into many pieces and tossed into the wastebasket. "Go back and do it over." It would have been nice to know at just what step of calculations was the beginning of error! Only the good math students ever got out of Haller's sessions alive.
Another Jug Trap: The Principal/Rector/Disciplinarian, Fr. Carl M. Reinert, S.J., liked to hang out around the basketball and handball courts. He took diabolic delight on offering to shoot baskets or score handball points for jug points, as in "double or nothing". Too many learned too late that Fr. Reinert must have been in the NBA or a top star of his college basketball team before joining the Jesuits! For the jocks among us, it was a humbling experience.
Campion and the "Jebbies" made a huge impression on me. Years later after a stint in the seminary, and during my years in the navy, I would tell my own children of my Campion experience. I was quick to point out the Jesuits had over four hundred years educating young men, and had learned a thing or two themselves. They not only knew what mischief you'd be up to, but would be there waiting for you when you got there to do it!
I've selected the freshman year as the one to write about because for me it was the most bewildering and transformative of my years at Campion. I think it was probably true for of most of us. Campion was an entirely new experience. There were actually ''rules'' to be followed, and they were enforced. Participation in intramural sports was required, and a wide variety of extra curricular activities offered to provide the initial steps of a liberal arts education.
We were assigned to various classes, A through D, based on the entrance examination we took, and teacher evaluations provided as a part of the "package" granting us acceptance at Campion.
To this day I am grateful to an exceptional teacher. Fr. Francis J. Aspenleiter, S.J. or as we called him, Father "A". Father A. was a relatively young fellow when we reported in as freshmen. He was all of 34 years old, and already was a first rate historian, in fact he literally wrote the book! Ancient and Medieval History became one of the classes I most enjoyed and actually looked forward to. I remember his first class, he gave us the most useful instruction: "We aren't going to concern ourselves with names and dates, that's what the books are for. We're going to examine the people and events that brought us to where we are today. History is like the break shot in a pool game, when that cue ball hits the pyramid of numbered balls; they scatter in all directions, cause and effect. History is a series of causes and events. So listen to my talks, and study the chapters. Take notes if you want." Fr. A's class proved to be an eye opener for me! I've enjoyed history ever since.
Latin was pretty much at the bottom of my list of favorite classes. It is hard to forget Fr. Theodore F. Peitz, S.J., who tolerated no nonsense in his class. I recall the fate of a young fellow from Chicago, who after blowing a reading and translation muttered a choice bit of profanity. Fr. Peitz heard it! The offending student was ordered into the hall, whereupon Fr. Peitz administered punishment with that ever-present cane of his. There was a time when Fr. Peitz was unavailable and we had the fill-in teaching of Fr. Zachman, and his "love taps" to the back of your head when he was strolling the aisles in the class.
Who knew what a "Bursar" was? Turns out to get some spending money from an account set up by your parents, you presented yourself at Brother Stritch's barred window on the main floor of Kostka Hall, and made a withdrawal. A bursar (derived from "bursa", Latin for purse) is a senior professional financial administrator in a school or university. I remember that on the wall beside the Bursar's Office was the all important bulletin board on which was presented for all to see the latest pop quiz and test results for each of us. This was truly a humbling experience at times. The board also held the notices of class and school events. This was all new to me, but I soon learned. Thinking of that main hall, down the way a bit and across from Fr. Carey's office was a full rack of pamphlets by Daniel J. Lord, S.J. Short treatises on faith and spiritual matters. Judging from the number of pamphlets, Dan Lord must have been a prolific writer!
There were so many new experiences. ROTC taught by veterans of the Second World War, and the inevitable M-1 thumb! Masquers-- our theatrical thespians. We were terribly politically incorrect back then-- there were "minstrel" shows done in "black-face". Couldn't possibly get away with that today!
VOC, "The Voice of Campion", the domain of Fr. Conroy. Thanks to this particular extra curricular experience, I've held several jobs in broadcasting. Art Club, and so many others, all of which influenced my life.
Owing to the fact the student body was comprised of young men from all over America and some foreign countries we were exposed to a very cosmopolitan accents and parochial views life as well, all to the good.
We stumbled about those first weeks, learning where everything was, and where we were expected to be at an appointed place and time.
Campion had quite a campus designed along the lines of the English "school" concept. Kostka Hall, Lawler Hall, Loyola Hall, Campion Hall, The Joyce Kilmer Library, the Gym, and Our lady of the Angels "chapel", the abode of the "wheels", Marquette Hall. ("Blessed are they that go about in circles, for they shall be known as....") all arranged along the main street of the campus, foreshadowing the layout of many colleges and universities across America.
I recall the great booming sermons delivered by Father Scott.
Movies? The theater beneath Kostka Hall offered weekend movies and student stage presentations. The theater was the province of Fr. Deeman who had made a deal with an exhibitor that resulted presentation of "move over" movies from a first run theater. Stage Presentations took place in the same venue.
Meals were served in Loyola Hall. As I recall we thought the food to be universally bad, except on those occasions when parents were expected, as for example, Homecoming. Then the fare improved immeasurably-- in our opinion.
There were times when the Jebbies showed great senses of humor. I recall one of the first for me occurred in freshman study hall one evening. Mr. Bosken, S.J., was performing his duty as Junior Division Prefect, patrolling the aisles, making his presence known, when he suddenly stopped his patrolling and in a loud voice said the following: "Boys, gas warfare was outlawed at the end of World War One. Open the windows!"
I hope this memory has assisted in opening your own memories of Campion.
I now recognize how very much Campion and the Jebbies influenced my life, as a husband and father, in the seminary and the navy.
Sometime I must tell you the story of Father Carey's visit to me in the seminary-- For now I'll just say he shook the place up a bit.
The author would like to hear from you. Contact him at: patfinn05 AT sbcglobal DOT net