The college across the way or notes on an old tradition, Sunday at St. Mary's...
By John Hurley
On any Sunday morning in Corby and Walsh, in Alumni and Lyons, in any of the residential halls, you can hear the oft-repeated question, "Got a nickel? I wanta call St. Mary's." This question, youthful freshmen, has been asked by blase seniors, knowing sophomores, and other first year men equally as green as you since six Sisters of the Holy Cross congregation moved St. Mary's from Bertrand, Mich, to its present site "across the road" way back in '85. It is, we might even say, a tradition, seldom spoken of but always present. There are two ways to reach St. Mary's, a fifteen minute walk over a well-beaten path around the lake or a fifty cent cab ride around the golf course. Popular opinion for the past few years has been in favor of the fifteen minute stroll — a result perhaps of the crash of '29. There are those, though, who claim the popularity of the lake stroll is because the warmth of a St. Mary's greeting seems doubly pleasing after a brisk walk. St. Mary's, always imposing with its magnificent buildings and beautiful lawns—not to mention the "lake" —presents an especially formidable front to the uninitiated. Girls in groups of twos and threes wander past covertly surveying the men from Notre Dame. Sisters, in the usual black habit, stroll casually by, possibly marveling at the "classiness" of the Sunday suits of the one-day Finchleys from Notre Dame. At two, or shortly after, on every Sunday afternoon from- September to May, seniors and freshmen alike converge on the right (formerly the left) wing of the college, the unofficial reviewing stand. Windows upon windows offer a vantage point to the charming young reviewers hidden from below by protecting drapes. However, a quick glance upward and you may be fortunate enough to distinguish a pretty face peeping through an opening. The fashion parade over, a girl in black and white in the reception hall asks whom you are calling to see. "I'd like to see Susie Smith, please." Around you there is quiet confusion. You notice the class president murmuring to his political, leader. A mental notation to see what kind of girls, they "rate"— Off at the side two dejected-looking "Casanovas" — "Stood up?" you wonder. Soft music of an afternoon orchestra drifting out of the large room at the left—a glimpse of couples dancing— "Will Susie ever come?"— Gutzky and his stooge (apologies to Father Cavanaugh) engaged in animated conversation. At last! There is Susie. What to do? Take a walk, or just sit and chat? The same old questions! Deciding on the chatting—there is so much to be said—you depart for the parlor to find a cozy corner. The parlor, goal of every real Notre Dame man, is warm and intimate with its thick-carpeted floors, soft chairs and large, beautifully draped windows. Little groups form. Four here, six there, two in the corner, absorbed, happy, oblivious. From nowhere the song "When You Went to Old St. Mary's and I Went to Notre Dame" pops into mind. A ceaseless hum of conversation fills the room. Notre Dame "he-men" laughing softly, murmuring quietly—wondering to yourself at the adaptability of these Notre Darners as Susie does her part to keep the hum unbroken. Couples, drifting to and fro — others coming in, their faces a rosy red from the snap of a cold autumn day—. Bits of sentences from the couch’s other occupants, mingled with Susie's chatter—the Army game—a new windowpane check—Chicago week-end—. The shadows grow deeper; subdued but efficient lights are snapped on.
The parlor is filled with a mellow glow lighting the faces of happy "gals and guys." It's nearly five. Back to the reception hall—hats and coats appear—the hum of the parlor deepens into a drone—It's more the Notre Dame atmosphere out here. Goodbyes are said. Parting warnings are heard. "Don't forget to write —' meet you at the Oliver at three—fix Frank up, now—." The exodus back to school—the long, strung-out line of "wolves"—no more St. Mary's for another week—. Yes, youthful freshmen, such is the custom of Notre Dame men, on any Sunday morning, on any Sunday afternoon.