From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
EDITOR'S NOTE: George R. Cullen will be remembered best in Leavenworth by those persons who were in their teens about 50 years ago. He has, since leaving Leavenworth, established himself as a well-known writer, having held positions on many of the country's larger newspapers. In more recent years he has done publicity work and has been an advertising specialist for manufacturers of well-known household appliances. He now lives at Tulsa, Okla. The following article is the second of a three-part story which will appear in The Times.
Who remembers when the bells of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception were installed? Father Duffori, a genial, rotund priest of French extraction, talked a long time about those bells. "Dose pells" was a family topic for months. Father Duffori did everything to raise their price from the congregation. My dad contributed ten dollars toward them, five for my brother and five for me. When we heard those bells chime we used to feel a sort of proprietary interest in their caroling. Killian, the bearded man-of-all-work about the church, used to pull the bell cords. We helped him lots of times.
Well remembered is Father Reilly who, we believe, became bishop, succeeding Bishop Lewis B. Fink, O. S. B., a courtly, rather aristocratic gentleman, who used to crack his snuff box on our "bean" in a gesture of friendly regard. We were an altar boy for his early morning mass.
A spirited, young red-headed priest came to the Cathedral . . . had been highly educated at various places, including Montreal. His name was Father Kelly. He was athletic and liked to play baseball with the larger boys. We liked Father Kelly a lot.
We also liked Father McCune, a huge, handsome priest with longish dark curling hair. We heard somewhere he was the son of a locomotive manufacturing magnate back in Pennsylvania. He had gentle manners, was most kind to the boys . . . a charming priest who had a host of friends and admirers.
In the period being recalled we went to the old parochial school, (after being taken out of the Morris school) a frame building that made way for the brick building at Fifth and Kickapoo which is still there. Our last teacher at that school was M. P. Becker, who also was organist at the church. A fine looking man he was, with black hair. He came from Miwaukee[sic] to succeed Professor McAuliffe, a man of parts. Before Becker, of course, our teachers were the gentle Sisters. Sister Raphaella, who was our first teacher, finally became the teacher of the fourth and fifth, the top grades. She and other Sisters who were my teachers entertained me most hospitably at Mount Saint Mary's several times. One visit there was made with Henry Berry and Richard McCormick (whose death was recently reported to me)--all three of us well remembered by these teachers. Dick McCormick's sister was there wearing the robes of a nun, at that visit, and she and I reminisced about the days when she was a girl living in the red brick McCormick home, Sixth and Dakota, with all the rest of the family, and I lived one block above, at the corner of Sixth and Pawnee. We all played games by day and often by moonlight. I used to fly a kite in summer, get it way up, and tie the string to the fence while I ate supper. Seems to me I left it up all night once. It was up there in the morning. The enemy of boys with kites in those days were bigger boy imps who demanded that your kite have on it the letters "T.P." taxes paid. If not so marked it was just too bad . . . they'd bust 'em on you.
I remember when we lived at what me called "The Jobson House" near the corner of Broadway on Ottawa. It was a cement covered house which in summer was covered house which in summer was covered with fragrant wisteria, roses and other flowers, and had an immense cherry tree in the front yard. The big side yard sloped toward a creek with a culvert and a bridge across it. When storms came the water rushed through that creek and overflowed the banks. It was quite thrilling to us youngsters.
Across the creek in a low set cottage lived Steve Cotter, a great big fellow. Afterwards a police officer I was told, but I never saw him when I grew up. He was an old schoolmate, too. Jim Cavanagh lived next door to the Cotters, with his parents and brothers and sisters. A wholesome Irish family we used to like. On a visit back to Leavenworth they entertained me at a grand corned beef and cabbage dinner. Jim, I've heard, became a compositor on the local newspaper, but I never saw him as a grown man.
Let me mention just a few of the names of my schoolmates that come to mind. In addition to Henry Berry, with whom I have kept in touch there were: John (Ginny) Glynn, whom I've seen in recent years . . . the nationally known detective . . . Aloysius Meyers, down at the bank. He was the smartest mathematician in the school. I think the late Frank Carroll, the banker, was one of the class. I know Henry O'Donnell was. And Tom Phelan, the grocer's son; and John O'Keefe, Joe Hurley, and "Butch" Kane, Clyde Kingsley, Henry Myers, the watchmaker's son, Aloysius Cass, Frank Morris, Emmett Curran, Jim Stanton, Jim O'Conner . . . or maybe it was Conners. Andy Delaney was another. There were, too, Jim Garvey and Will Galvin. Jim and my brother fought a battle after school one evening in a ring composed of the whole class. It was "to a finish" and was a draw with both pretty much exhausted after many uncounted rounds. Will Galvin was one of the smartest boys in my class . . . but did not live up to his promise. Was an aging newsboy the last time I saw him. Many of the others came out fine, some raised families, and their children and grandchildren are holding up their heads in the community, which is as it should be.