“Where’s Malvern?” you ask. To quote Prince Herbert from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “Well I’ll tell you…” Some of you instinctively just began singing “He’s going to tell… He’s going to tell…” Sidenote: when I was a Seton Home Study high school student in the early 1990’s my youngest sister and I would frequently “finish” our work around noon and then watch that movie on a loop for a few hours. It never got old. There was that and our other favorite movie The Fighting Sullivans. First, we can’t have been unique in our experience. I know some of you did the same exact thing. Second, these are classic movies and our “study” of them was justified by the fact that cinema could rightly fall under the banner of US History and who are you to judge me!?
I mention our viewing habits because even earlier in my childhood, in the time before I actually went out to school, I remember that my mom would watch a soap opera or two – what George Carlin would refer to as her “stories”. Her favorite was All My Children. Now I know that daytime dramas are probably not the normal domain of many of our alums (liars) but AMC along with the show that aired right after it – One Life to Live – were, from a television history standpoint, quite seminal. Work with me here. I have a point. These shows were created by a screenwriter named Agnes Nixon. Nixon chose to set her shows in fictional towns in the suburbs of Philadelphia in an area known to locals as the Main Line. Pine Valley and Llanview, respectively, were idyllic communities on the surface but seething with intrigue just below. How in the world to I remember all of this? And why should you care? The reason is that Malvern, PA IS, in my mind, Pine Valley minus the intrigue.
The Wallacavage brothers, Mr. Zwick, and my sister Mary Ann Gaffney, ’93, were naturals, reporting on their memories with the aplomb of a network correspondent.
Malvern was first settled by Welsh immigrants who named their borough Prghsvlllth, a Welsh-Celtic word meaning “pretty”. See, I had to fabricate that last fact because there is nothing of intrigue to ever have happened here. What is here is a community of beautiful homes, pristine lawns, and the burial place of singer Jim Croce, who tried to save time in a bottle. Apparently that didn’t work out too well for him.
Day 13/Event #7
After mass at the Harrisburg cathedral we packed and headed East along the Pennsylvania Turnpike toward Malvern. The hour and a half ride was quite pleasant as we rolled past bucolic meadows dotted with Holstein heifers. The Turnpike, America’s first superhighway, opened in the 1940’s and has not changed much in certain stretches.
Shortly before 5 we pulled up to the home of our hosts, Andrew (’93) and Christine Youngblood and their family. Andrew, mindful of canon 1251, had prepared a meatless feast for the 25 or so guests who would be arriving shortly. Once again, the weather cooperated better than we could have hoped.
Kate Palladino, ’97, entered and we greeted each other with enthusiasm. Kate is one of the Christendom alums I actually knew before we began this tour. Way back when, Kate had come to our house as a visitor with my sister Barbara. Since then Kate’s sister C(h)rista, ’01, has become a good friend through her association with Karla. But the Palladino I like best is their mother Anne. You see, Anne (or Annie, as I call her) has been following my other blog for years and has earned the distinction of being the most prolific commenter over there. She is a dear women on whom I can count to do the thing writers hope for the most – read our work! Kate had brought a dessert made by Annie so it was like she was with us too. And we love our alums but we really love our Christendom moms and dads. Without their sacrifices most of us would not be a part of this experience. Thank you and prayers for our benefactors.
Also joining us this evening were the Wallacavage’s – Mike, ’89, and Mark, ’96. Mark barely remembered having been my RA in St. Joe’s for the few weeks I lived there after I moved out of the quad. Dan Zwick, ’00, also joined with his wife and young daughter. Here we have yet another “six degrees of separation” moment. I first met Dan when I was about 14 years-old. I had visited my oldest sister in Cherry Hill, NJ. She was homeschooling her children and had decided we’d all head to the Jersey shore for a day with other local homeschoolers. The Zwick’s were among those families. So in addition to being the two native Jersey boys at this shindig we had that moment from our youth going for us.
Dave Wilson, ’11, was there too. I mention Dave because a few of us have wondered (as he did aloud) how exactly we fit in. By that I mean that not everyone who enrolled at Christendom actually graduated. Perhaps our name tags should say “Sort-of Alum”. Following God’s call in your life sometimes takes you to other places and that is no reflection on the school. I think of myself as the prime example. One semester is all I lasted but if I hadn’t at least given it a shot I would not have known my wife. Dave entered in 2007 and left the next year. Here’s the thing. If you completed one semester the school considers you an alum and we happily welcome you to join us for these events. Beside, who would turn down great food, drinks, and a fun time with like-minded people just because you don’t have a piece of paper?
All in all, the live interview was probably the highlight of the night. This one just rolled so perfectly. The Wallacavage brothers, Mr. Zwick, and my sister Mary Ann Gaffney, ’93, were naturals, reporting on their memories with the aplomb of a network correspondent. Take a look below. Now tell me if you have similar memories. If we haven’t hit your city yet and you plan to attend start thinking ahead. You never know when I’ll stick a camera in your face and say “Go!”
And there’s something else you could do for us. I’ve been trying to hammer you with the survey that you may not have taken yet. Let me give you some stats. Currently we are at 528. When last I mentioned this we were at 511. OK, that’s not bad. Friends, the reason we need you to complete the survey is so that we can better serve you. We are not building a fundraising database. We will not sell your information. If you come to an event and have not completed one we can help correct that. If you have time to fill one out for a spouse who’s also an alum, then go for it. Every completed survey brings us closer to the 1000 we need in order to raffle the Apple Watch. Trust me, you want this watch (in a non-materialist way). And we want to give it away (in a non-wasteful way).
As for us, it’s on to my homeland tonight and a family wedding over the weekend. Time to visit with Mom and Dad and all the family. We’ll be doing lots of fun things so keep reading. Our next event will be a few days hence, and yes, I did just use the word hence.