who stole all the desks from st. gabriel’s?

St. Gabriel’s, on 97th Street in East Elmhurst, was such an exceptionally good parish, including a school. The Sisters of Charity, De La Salle Christian Brothers, and lay faculty members ran quite a tight ship but they were entirely likable and fair too.  One would think, logically, that nothing of any significance could possibly go wrong there. There was one incident when I was a kid, though, that boggles people’s minds to this very day. Sister Rose Eugene, my first grade teacher, was quite a tall, imposing looking lady. Back then the Sisters of Charity wore old fashioned black habits and bonnets, and Rosary beads as belts. To this very day I still remember my very first day at St. Gabriel’s, as a student of hers. We youngsters all got the shock of our lives when we first showed up on that otherwise fine September morning so long ago. My neighborhood friends and I all got off the Q 19 B, the local utility bus, and walked through the schoolyard in order to enter our new school.  Uncontrollable shock and chaos set in the instant we first walked through the school’s doors. The children arrived for the first day of school to find that there were no desks in any of the classrooms. Being six years old at the time, we youngest kids didn’t know what to think.  “Maybe Martians took them,” said Dale.  Upon hearing such a claim, Jo Anne whined, “Oh shut up! Everybody knows Martians don’t even have butts so they can’t even sit anyway!” After the shock had all somewhat subsided, the principals, Sister Dolorita and Brother Andrew, got us all together for an assembly, so they could explain how to deal with our most unprecedented problem. They ended up deciding that they couldn’t let us stay unfortunately. Being kids, we were all so very happy to be allowed to go home. Our very first day at our new school ended up having to come a week late because of all the problems that were involved with finding new desks. To this very day no one has any idea what could possibly have happened. It wasn’t a result of anyone’s negligence and there was no criminal activity involved. It was just a weird quirk of fate.  Even now my oldest friends and I still always talk about it, often wondering which of us may have perhaps been the guilty party. 

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