Monday, August 12, 2013


I get pretty emotional when the new school year comes around.  I recall the days when I had to return to school as a teacher.  Those first two weeks back would render be absolutely exhausted getting into the routine.  I empathize with my daughters.  I know they are excited to go back to see their friends, but starting the work grind up once again is a challenge.  So to my two girls and all those kids and adults going back to school today, I'm thinking of you.  Oh yes, I will say prayers for all of you to have a good year.

So let's get started on the August Back to School Foyer.  I wanted to use my lantern as the focal point of this diorama.  I needed inspiration.  It didn't take long to find it.  Upstairs in my tub of vintage family pictures, I picked out one of my favorites.  It was a picture of my Grandmother's class picture taken in 1906 at St. Boniface School.   

St. Boniface was one of the few Catholic schools in the South end of Peoria.  My great grandmother was a parishioner there.  Early stories tell of Great-Grandma Novak being in charge of the parish dinners.  She would go house to house asking for donations of chickens to be used at the parish hall dinners.  She would collect,  kill and clean them and then fry them up for the church dinners.  Grandma used to tell me what an extraordinary cook she was.

A little history first....St. Boniface Parish was originally built as a small framed church in 1881 on Louisa and Antoinette streets.  The 26 German speaking families who lived on the south side were the founding families of the parish under the guidance of the 1st pastor, Fr. Frederick Von Schwedler.

Having outgrown the small church, in 1894 the cornerstone was laid for the new Romanesque-Byzantine styled church.  The new church was built in little more than a year costing $34,000.00.

In 1924, a terrible storm destroyed 2 towers of the church and rectory.  The towers were quickly repaired but it was decided to replace the rectory with the present one located on Louisa St. in 1925.(The first school building was originally located there.)  And this is where my story takes us.

The year is 1906 and shown below is the class of 7th and 8th graders.   My Grandmother was born in 1896.  She would have been 12 at the time.  One of the first things I noticed about the picture is how small she looks.  She is the girl sitting to the right of the one in the front row holding the chalkboard.   Grandma was always small for her age, but she made up for that in many ways.  She was one of the most inspiring people I have ever met in my life.   You would never have found a woman more kind and gentle.  She was a very spiritual woman her entire life going to church daily into her 90's.

This vintage photograph will be the focal point of my 'back to school' foyer.  The next post will detail all the trimmings added to make this a unique foyer display.

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