This section adds stories provided by Aquinas students. It will be added to as additional material is accumulated. If you have a remembrance to share, send it in an email to the webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org. There must been hundreds of stories out there about student experiences that would probably fill a book.
Father Francis Clementine McKenna, O.P.
Father McKenna wore more hats at Aquinas than most people have in their closets. During my time there he was the Athletic Director, Religion, Latin and Spanish teacher, Public Relations Director, and bookstore manager. During the summers he oversaw the maintenance of the buildings and grounds and managed the summer student crew providing the labor. He was excitable, funny, and beloved by most.
Being such a busy man, he carried a key ring that had to contain scores of keys. During the spring of 1957 we had a gloriously nice day and the windows of our 3rd floor classroom were opened wide. When Father Clem entered the classroom for our religion class, he was confronted with a talkative audience which he attempted to quiet. As the din lowered a voice in the back of the room exhorted something about his bald dome. His face turned crimson. He stared the student down, took his key ring from his sash, and flung them at the offending student standing in front of the window. The student ducked just in time and the keys flew out the window like a scared bird. The silence was deafening until the now under control teacher announced that we would move the morning religion class outside to take advantage of the beautiful day God had given us. Once assembled, the offending student led us in the Rosary as we all got down on our knees and started the search for the scores of keys.
Contributed by Louis A Nobile, class 1957
You Would Think Your Safe on a City Bus
Back in the late 80's, Bill Quinn, class 1960, took a long trip around the country by himself and decided to visit Dave Farenbach, same class, who lived in Seattle. One night at dinner Bill told the following story:
"During his sophomore year, Bill and two of his buddies were caught smoking on a city bus. Fr. Smith had spies everywhere and this transgression was quickly brought to his attention. Quinn and his fellow offenders were called into Fr. Smith's office for 'counseling'.
Fr Smith began the counseling by describing the transgression in a low, controlled voice while simultaneously removing his rings and watch. He calmly and quietly continued to describe the reasons why the act in question was against the rules while rolling up his sleeves. At some point, he came flying out from behind his desk, grabbed the tie of the guy on the left and delivered an open-handed round-house right to the left cheek. He would then grab the tie of the guy in the middle (Bill Quinn) ... Smack! Then the guy on the right...Smack! Then the guy in the middle (Bill)...Smack! Then the guy on the left...Smack! Back to the guy in the middle (Bill)...Smack!... on and on until Father got tired or his hand was getting sore. As he was catching his breath, Fr Smith asked the three students if they had learned anything over the last few minutes. Quinn chirped right up with; "Yes Father, I've learned never to be the guy in the middle!"
Contributed by Dave Farenbach, class 1960
Father Smith's Desk
I didn't start attending Aquinas until my sophomore year. Needless to say I had never heard about Fr. Smith. On the first day of school I arrived just before classes were to start. Walked into the main office on the ground floor where a priest was seated at a desk in the back corner. Walked back to the desk and immediately noticed the immaculate glass top. Bent over the desk placing both hands on the glass while introducing myself. Fr. Smith swiped at both my hands brushing them off his desk. He then reached into his desk drawer, pulled out a Windex bottle, and proceeded to polish his glass top while lecturing me on never to touch the desk. He then spotted a lump in my left shirt pocket immediately frisking me for cigarettes. It was my rosary case. Such was my introduction to Fr. Smith.
Contributed by Steve Brown, class 1960
Bring me the salt... George
I worked in the cafeteria during lunch hour. There were usually two priests in the lunchroom. Fr. Minichiello took money for lunches, controlled the line making sure nobody ditched and barked orders to the kitchen staff and student helpers as only he could. Fr. McKenna was the patrol boy who walked though the lunchroom making sure students behaved.
There was a separate table in the middle of the dining area where students could get various condiments. You were supposed to take your lunch to the condiment table where your applied your salt and pepper, catsup, etc. Some students were violating the rule and Fr. McKenna stopped all activity to make a very public announcement "that nothing was to be removed from the table." Just then, my friend and classmate George Allen walked into the cafeteria to get his lunch. He had missed Fr. McKenna's announcement. He worked his way through the line then headed to the condiment table. I was watching him from the back of the cafeteria. Just as he arrived I hollered "George... bring me the salt." He reached for the saltshaker... Fr. McKenna exploded as only he could. He had observed my interaction with George and knew immediately who the real culprit was. He came over my table, gave me the hardest open-hand slap I've ever experienced, and banned me from the cafeteria. During my remaining time at Aquinas, I never spoke to him and he never spoke to me.
Contributed by Steve Brown, class 1960