“Until we had cars in our senior year (mine being a ’53 Ford given to me by my uncle Terry), I went everywhere by hitchhiking or jumping on slow trains out of Exeter. I knew every stretch of road between Durham-Newmarket-Newfields and Exeter. That knowledge came in handy when I was occasionally thrown off the school bus.”
With those words and similar sentiments expressed throughout his alumni address, Martin Mahoney from STA’s Class of 1964 brought his audience back 50 years. In a time far less complicated but laden with Saints Pride, this beloved group of alumni swapped memories and recalled anecdotes that graced the halls of 197 Dover Point Rd. long ago.
“Once I snuck back into school after football practice,” remembered Mr. Mahoney. “We were so tired of hitchhiking back home to Hampton every night. The Drama Club was rehearsing on stage and the set design included some couches and chairs, perfect for sleeping… Not owning a watch, I walked through the stage curtains the next morning to check the gym clock wearing only my football uniform pants. I was shocked to find the entire faculty (who lived on the top floor of the school at that time) walking the gym, saying the rosary. I was caught with no place to run and no place to hide.”
Stories like these entertained all who were present on Saturday morning. In the history of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, these pioneers are celebrities, giants upon which the subsequent decades of alumni stand. They are the grand-founders (and many now grandparents) of today’s generation and we continue to call upon them for their recollections and testimonies.
Music added to the morning’s festivities. The STA Chamber Choir sang while student instrumentalists played select pieces for their esteemed predecessors. Principal Collins and Campus Minister and Alumni Director Brian Harrison mingled with guests, many of whom lingered long after the brunch, toured the school and even stayed to cheer for the Saints football team as they charged to a Homecoming victory.
As the years roll on, the lives and stories of our initial Saints become even more precious. Their thumbprints are tattooed on filed editions of Aquinews and their yearbook countenances forever pull us back to the time of The Beatles and soda pop.
We are genuinely grateful for their generosity of spirit in sharing themselves and their unique history with STA. They are our living legacy of whom we are very proud.