Growing up, Mike knew a little bit about his mom’s childhood. She had grown up in Detroit, and his grandmother still lived in the house on Pingree, where the family moved some time between the 1940 census, and May, 1944.
Patricia Kukler (Pat) was in high school in the mid-1940s. Like her siblings, she had been sent to Catholic schools. Her older sisters attended Rosary School of Commerce, the parish school for Our Lady of the Rosary Church. Her brothers attended Central Catholic (all boys) for high school. By the time Pat reached high school, the family had moved a couple miles north, so she attended Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Academy. Blessed Sacrament was co-ed through 8th grade, girls-only for high school. It closed in 1971.
It wasn’t until Pat died, and Mike was cleaning out her apartment, that he found the ephemera she had saved from her youth. It was eye-opening! She kept the expected items:
- portrait in cap and gown
- a really crinkled tassle
- high school diploma
- class photo for the class of 1947 (35 students)
- graduation announcement
- graduation program
- report cards
I’ll save those items for a school theme somewhere down the line.
Tucked in with them, though, were other, surprising tidbits we had never seen. It would have been nice to be able to ask her about them. So what did we find? First up was a dance photo:
I’m trying to figure out where/how the photographer was perched for this shot. Counting heads, the number is pretty close to her class size, leading me to speculate this was a school dance. “Bob” was the only boy’s name on the back without a surname. One of the clippings mentioned a Bob Elliott. Was that Marjorie’s brother? Had he taken his sister to the dance? Or was Bob Pat’s brother, 2 years older, and taking Marjorie to the dance? The guy dancing with Pat in the photo resembles her brother, so it’s possible he took her friend. It also explains why Pat looks somewhat disinterested! It also means we still don’t know who she went with . . .
There were also two pieces of card stock, folded, with cartoon drawings:
One of her sisters dated a Jimmy Rose, but with a 6-year age gap to the closest sister, it’s unlikely a boy Pat’s age tried to date both. Of course, the 47′ could be for the year it was drawn. But Jimmy Rose wouldn’t have needed to ask for Pat’s number—it would have been the same as her sister’s. We’ll give this guy points for persistence (and creativity!), though we don’t know if he ever got Pat out on a date.
We learned she acted in the Freshman play in the spring of 1944:
The mimeographed program for The Ghost in the Green Gown told us the play was written and directed by one of the students. Pat played Mrs. Reynold (on the right hand page, in the top half, very faint). The back cover contained signatures from the cast, and possibly crew members. I haven’t taken time to detail all the names—they are such a jumble!
Aside from fun, Pat also found time for games during high school, in one way or another.
She saved several undated, unidentified news clippings, but also kept one complete “newspaper.” It was the 16 March 1947 copy of The Hour. While it had information like one would find in a parish bulletin, there were full-fledged articles, similar to a diocesan newspaper. From the publication information on page 4, it was the “Official Publication of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish” with a readership of 7500 readers (from the masthead). It appears the loose clippings were from the same publication, different dates.
So why did she save the paper? On page 2, the “Basketball Bits” column detailed the last game of the C.Y.O. (Catholic Youth Organization) season. Unfortunately, it was a loss to Holy Rosary, leaving Blessed Sacrament out of the playoffs. Towards the end of the column, the cheerleaders were acknowledged:
Even though nothing has been said this year about our cheerleaders, they are of major importance when it comes to giving credit. They have been present to cheer the crowd on at all but one game, and have given many hours of their time to practice. Pat Kukler, Mary Lou Sullivan, and Pat Brennan—the team wishes to express their heartiest congratulations and sincere thanks to you.“Basketball Bits,” The Hour (Official Publication of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish), Detroit, Michigan, 16 March 1947, p. 2, col. 2, para. 5.
A cheerleader her senior year? Really?
One of the other clippings was another “Basketball Bits,” apparently from January, 1946. How did I arrive at that date? The column ended by encouraging people to attend the Holy Rosary game on Sunday, January 20th. A perpetual calendar did the heavy lifting at that point. What was in this clipping?
The cheerleaders, Pat Kukler, Margo, Mary Lou Sullivan, and Katie Yacks did an excellent job turning cartwheels and leading the spectators in great cheers.Norma Spiers, “Basketball Bits,” The Hour (Official Publication of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish), Detroit, Michigan, January 1947.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around the cartwheels . . .
My mother-in-law was not, however, a one-trick pony. She appeared twice in the “Drips by Drizzle” column. “Drizzle” was the nom de plume of a person who wrote a somewhat random “social” column for The Hour. One clipping provided few clues to the year. Pat’s sister was 2 years younger, so if both were playing, it was probably 1946, when Sue would have been a Freshman. It also suggested late May or early June:
The Academy lassies flung the old ping-pong paddle with much abandon the last week of school and managed to bring their tournament to a very successful conclusion. A new champion has been enthroned, with Patricia Kukler now occupying that position after defeating last year’s champion, Lorraine Humphrey, in a thrilling series. Pat got into the finals by eliminating Margaret Babcock in the semi-finals; and Lorraine gained the chance to defend her title by nosing out Pat’s sister, Susan Kukler.“Drips by Drizzle,” The Hour (Official Publication of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish), Detroit, Michigan, undated.
The last clipping, also a “Drips by Drizzle,” came from the middle of the column, but seemed to talk about softball season:
The extra player at Short Center, whose job it is to cover up the errors made at Short and Second, was Patricia Kukler of the Ping-pong Kuklers.“Drips by Drizzle,” The Hour (Official Publication of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish), Detroit, Michigan, undated.
Clearly the sisters had a reputation in ping-pong! The article on the back of the clipping mentioned “V-Day.” I suspect it was a reference to 8 May 1945, when the Allies accepted Germany’s surrender. Yes, I know we usually refer to it as V-E-Day, but there was no Queen Elizabeth I until Queen Elizabeth II came along, ditto for World War I; it was just “The War” until World War II popped up. Since the other article implied there had been only one victory, I’m presuming it was between 8 May and 15 August of 1945. It could be a wrong assumption on my part, but it’s the best I can do, without other clues.
The other problem with that date theory, is that younger sister, Sue, presumably wasn’t in high school, yet. But it’s possible their ping-pong prowress existed from grade school days. Or that I’m mistaken in thinking Sue was 2 grades behind Pat, even though their birthdays were somewhat close together.
It’s hard, sometimes, to imagine our parents, grandparents, or other relatives as anything other than what we are accustomed to seeing, or doing anything other than what we think they’d always done. We had no photos of Pat in a cheerleader or softball uniform, so had no clue until we found these clippings. I wonder what else we don’t know?
Oh, and for those keeping track, this is blog post #200, with six more needed for 200 actual 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks posts. I’m waiting for a big cake to appear accompanied by a bottle of champagne to celebrate, but so far, nothing . . . Sigh.