Above is a photo of my dad’s first-grade class. What a sad-looking bunch of Irish-American ragamuffins. They were obviously just scolded to keep their hands to themselves. Walter “Curly” Price (1922-2005) is the one glowering darkly in the first row — wearing striped leggings — next to his pal Jim Tighe (abt. 1922-1960) (detail below).
I wouldn’t have guessed it’s my dad, but he spent some time in his later years trying to remember and label all the kids. His notes:
St. Edward’s (2709 Clara, in the Archdiocese of St. Louis) was a Catholic parish serving predominantly Irish families in the Arlington neighborhood of north St. Louis. While my dad had great memories of its sports program and the lifelong friends he made, he also told this story: Apparently the pastor was bragging about smacking around unruly boys. This got back to my grandfather, who was not Irish, not Catholic, and not intimidated by bullying clerics. He marched over to the rectory and summoned the priest. “Don’t you ever touch one of my boys!” he said. In an era when men regularly belted their children, it was a wonderful lesson for my dad in the strength of kindness.
Here’s a picture of Curly making his first communion. I see his polished shoes (he was an avid shoe polisher), but his mother noticed his hair and put her own note on the back.