Goodbye, Cardinal Gibbons

May 24, 2010

I was a member of the graduating class of 1972 at Cardinal Gibbons. What an incredible time to be a teenager in the late '60s and early '70s for many reasons. I was so proud when I received my acceptance letter to attend an all-boys Catholic high school with such a great reputation. In looking back, they were the most formative years of my life. I will never forget the values we learned there. I will also never forget playing junior varsity and varsity baseball on the same field as Babe Ruth. For some reason I stopped wearing my class ring in 1973.

To make a long story short, I joined the family funeral business 12 years ago. I never needed to drive past Gibbons in all that time. However, on Friday morning, I was taking a funeral to St. Thomas Church, and the route taken was up Caton Avenue to Cardinal Gibbons and right onto Wilkens Avenue.

As I was driving slowly by, I couldn't help but to see both upper and lower parking lots full of cars. It was great to see the gray brick building again as the memories came flooding back like a tidal wave. Later on I didn't think much of it again.

On Saturday morning I woke up to my normal routine of getting the paper in my driveway and making a cup of coffee. I noticed an article on the front page of The Sun about Gibbons ("Sadness and ceremony," May 22). At the exact time I was taking a funeral past my old school, the final school assembly was being held in the auditorium where I attended countless mandatory masses during those four years. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The irony of it all was beyond coincidence.

After completing the article and wiping the tears away from my eyes, I went up to my bedroom to a bottom drawer where I kept a little wooden box that contained very special things. I pulled out my class of '72 ring and put it back on my finger for the first time in 37 years. It made me proud to consider myself a Crusader again. I will wear the ring until my final day and then give it to my son.

Thank you Gibbons for making me the person I am today. Goodbye, and thanks for the thousands of memories.

John Polyniak, Lake Shore

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