SAHS-Our-History-1024x345

Our History

The Boys’ Graduation Class of 1903

The Boys’ Graduation Class of 1903

The Brothers arrived from Ireland in 1858, responding to the invitation of Bishop Loughlin. They began serving the Diocese of Brooklyn in child care, primarily as educators, opening high schools and a college, and staffing local parish grammar schools.

The Brothers traveled all over Brooklyn from St. Francis Monastery on Butler Street, which served as the brother’s motherhouse for a century. As the congregation grew, the Brothers took on assignments throughout Brooklyn and Long Island. Over the past 25 years the Brothers began serving the church in pastoral ministries other than education and the congregation began ministering in areas outside New York, including Missouri and North Carolina.

In 1982 the Brothers celebrated with Franciscans all over the world as the Holy Father approved the new Rule and Life for members of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. In 1989 Pope John Paul II promulgated the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn an Institute of Pontifical Right with a decree of praise. The Brothers very happily celebrated 140 years in the United States on Pentecost Sunday of 1998.

When the ground was broken for Saint Anthony’s Juniorate on August 31, 1933, the Franciscan Brothers had already been a presence in Smithtown for four years, since the establishment of Mount St. Francis Novitiate and Normal School, in 1929.

At that time, Smithtown was not suburban, but rural. Fields of corn extended from the firehouse in Kings Park (then, as now, located at the corner of 25A and Indian Head Road) to a point well past the Franciscan property. The eastern boundary of the property was, at that time, located approximately along the edge of the present outdoor basketball courts. Only a few houses were scattered through the area, and there was no electricity.

Mills House, built by Sam "Stevens" Smith, sheriff of Suffolk County

Mills House, built by Sam “Stevens” Smith, sheriff of Suffolk County

It was the Brothers who quite literally, brought light to this section of the town. Lilco charged for the stringing of wires, not by the yard, but for each pole that had to be erected, and the Brothers defrayed the cost of the 72 poles required to bring the wires up 25A and along St. Johnland Road to what had been known as the Mills house. Obviously, it was then necessary to install electric fixtures in the Novitiate, for the Mills house dated to 1840, at the latest, and perhaps to 1826.

The entire property was part of the original patent obtained by Richard “Bull” Smith, and the house had been built by his great-great-grandson, Sam “Stevens” Smith, sheriff of Suffolk County. When his line of the family died out, the house and land passed into the hands of other descendants of Richard Smith, including the Mills family, who finally sold the house in 1926.

Of further historic interest is the fact that the Mills family had made its fortune during the Civil War, by the sale of buttonwood and walnut wood for ships masts and for gunstock, respectively. In 1933, some of these trees still grew on the property, in addition to the apple orchard that was cut down to make room for the Juniorate building.

The Franciscan Brothers purchased the land on October 13, 1928. While the records of Suffolk County name the Brothers as owners, there is no record of the sale of the land to them. A probable reason is not far to seek: As manifested by Al Smiths disastrous presidential campaign in 1928, anti-Catholic feeling was strong in America, especially rural America, during the 20s and discretion dictated that little public attention be drawn to the purchase. Only four or five years earlier, the Ku Klux Klan had burned a cross at Camp Alvernia in Centerport.

One of the intriguing points about the Mills house was the existence of a hidden staircase.Since the underground Railroad was not active in Smithtown (slaves escaped north into Canada, and eastern Long Island was not a good route), there are two possibilities. The staircase might have been needed because of smuggling, which was rife in nineteenth century Smithtown. A less romantic but more probable theory is that these were ?back stairs? ?servants? stairs? which were eventually walled off to permit more efficient heating of the home. That the staircase then appeared to be a secret one would have been fortuitous.

A second intriguing factor was the discovery of a child’s tombstone under the front steps of the house. In the early 60s, when these steps needed repair, the Juniorate boys who tore them down found a tiny stone engraved with the name of Charlotte Gould, aged two months, who had died in December, 1863. Again, the probable explanation involves little drama. When constructing outdoor staircases, early builders discouraged termites by placing a piece of dressed stone against the foundation. It had become customary to steal a tombstone for the purpose, usually one found at some distance from home, for no one wanted trouble with his neighbors. In this case, however, the stone may have been found nearby, for Charlottes parents, Deborah and Samuel Gould, were also descendants of Richard Smith.

Extending Beyond the Boundaries of Mills House

Just beyond the original eastern boundary of the property, a few feet beyond the outdoor basketball courts, was a tiny graveyard containing the tombstones of seven members of the Vail family, who were also among Richard Smiths descendants. This portion of the property was added to the Saint Anthonys campus when the town wished to extend and improve Landing Avenue. For this reason, a parcel of land was taken from the Brothers by eminent domain, and the former Vail property was given in exchange. Family cemeteries, however, were seldom included when land was sold, and this one was no exception. Necessarily, the cemetery remained an incongruous part of the campus, providing a place to initiate newcomers to the Juniorate, who were sent in the dead of the night, on Halloween, to place a flower on one of the graves. Eventually, arrangements were made with Ms. Anne Blydenburgh, whose mother had been a Vail, to remove the stones to the family plot in the Presbyterian cemetery near the Smithtown library, and to integrate the tiny plot with the remainder of the campus.

Originally, the slope that begins behind the Administration building extended to what is now the Smithtown Landing Health Spa. During the 60s, however, the land was filled and leveled to create the Cy Donnelly football field, the track, and the Archie DiMarco baseball field. If the very contour of the land has changed, it is obvious that buildings have been altered or torn down and replaced. When the brick building constituted the entire school, the south end of the top floor (in 1983, the Guidance complex) was the boys dormitory, while the north end (now the English Department office) was the chaplains quarters. All the rooms along that hall, offices now, were then Brothers bedrooms.

Only the chapel, named Our Lady of the Angels after the first chapel used by St. Francis and his earliest followers, was then what it is now, and its entire interior appearance has, of course, been changed in response to Vatican II. Probably every room in the building has served some other purpose during the past fifty years, and perhaps has also changed size and shape, for it is always necessary to explore during the first week of the school year to learn what has been moved or altered.

A barn once stood near the northern extremity of the property, for the Mills family had farmed the land and had owned cows. As this building deteriorated, the Juniorate boys repaired it to use it as a basketball court, though it was too small, and had low beams to interfere with shooting or passing as well as an uncertain floorboard or two to complicate running and dribbling.

In addition to the grotto to the south of the Administration building, there was a rose garden behind the Mills house. The former was the domain of the Juniorate boys, who enjoyed a lovely sunken garden near Marys shrine, as well as a tiny pool with a simple fountain, long dry and concealed by grass and dirt, but recently uncovered again.

Fire Breaks Out in the Historic Old Mills House

On two occasions, fire has destroyed some part of the buildings. Just before noon on April 30, 1970, fire broke out in the historic old Mills house, by then a friary for part of the faculty. Despite the efforts of over 100 firemen, some from as far as Nesconset, the house was destroyed. Classes were distracted from such mundane topics as Math and English, and the boys spent their free periods on the horseshoe drive in front of the brick building, watching the excitement from a safe distance. For weeks after, until the close of the school year, the eight Brothers who had occupied the building slept in the classrooms or the nurses office. About eighteen months later, a new building, housing ten Brothers, was ready for occupancy. Officially named Padua Friary, its color caused it to be called the black Friary. Since it stands on the site of the Mills house, it was known also, for the first few years, as Phoenix House.

A less disastrous fire destroyed the Earth Science Lab on July 23, 1983. Although repair work was begun immediately on both the lab and the adjoining office (the Assistant Principals office), neither was ready for the opening of school in September. That the Attendance Office had been moved, as planned, to the foyer of the gymnasium prevented much confusion, for it had previously been part of the Assistant Principals office, but the Freshmen suffered endless confusion during their first month of school, trying to find their Earth Science class in a different room every day

St. Francis Prep, Butler Street Brooklyn

SAHS-About SAHS_History5 - Image 1Before the construction of Saint Anthony’s, boys of high school age who wished to become Brothers attended St. Francis Prep, then located on Butler Street in Brooklyn. Established in 1923, this was the first Juniorate in the Brooklyn Diocese, which then embraced all four counties of Long Island.

At first, Brother Vincent Mulcahey, who was in charge of the eight boys comprising the group, taught them all of their subjects. Later, the group attended all classes except religion with the Prep boys. The religion class was taught by the Brother in charge of the Juniorate boys, eventually this was Brother Leo. Their after-school activities were also separate.

School Colors

The basketball team even had distinctive uniforms, contributed free of charge by A. G. Spalding Company, which had apparently discovered that vertical blue and white stripes would not sell. Brother Edmund Holmes, who moderated the team, was happy to accept the uniforms, which may, eventually, have dictated the school colors, for the team that wore them comprised the first group of students at Saint Anthony’s. Even after the school became a day school with black and gold as its colors, the Juniorate boys wore blue and white sweaters. And when the gymnasium was built in 1963, the front of the building was adorned with vertical stripes in both sets of colors.

Construction of the Boarding School

The day school, however, was far in the future when, on September 20, 1931, the Superior General and his Consultors determined to risk the order’s resources in the construction of a boarding school which would provide a more satisfactory environment for the Juniorate. Despite the depression, they examined both of their Long Island properties (Smithtown and Centerport) and hired Philip McGovern as architect.

The original staff of four Brothers – Brother Celestine, Principal; Brother Anthony, also on the Novitiate staff; Brother Martin; and Brother Pascal, one of the first graduates of the day Juniorate – each taught several subjects some of which they had to learn as they taught. The school consisted of a single structure, the present Administration building, where the boys ate and slept and attended classes. The Mills house continued to be the Novitiate.

In a formal ceremony attended by Brother Fidelis, Master of Novices, and his assistant, Brother Brendan, the ground was broken on Thursday, August 31, 1933. Father Bartholomew Timlin, O.F.M., of Washington, D.C., who was conducting the annual retreat at Centerport, blessed the ground and the project. On the following day, the John H. Eisele Company commenced construction whose cost was not to exceed $50,000.

Until 1936, the Freshmen continued to attend St. Francis Prep. Only thirteen boys – three Sophomores, five Juniors, and five Seniors – took up residence on September 14, 1934. On September 17, the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, the first classes began. It must be remembered that the school was always small, probably never having more than 50 or 60 pupils at one time.

Student Life on Campus

SAHS-About SAHS_History2 - Image 4The life the boys lived was much the same as, yet far different from that of their peers.

There was the routine of study and participation in sports that constitute so large a portion of any teenager’s day. The distance from home, however, was unique. They were home for the summer vacation, of course and for Thanksgiving, Christmas (leaving on the 6AM milk train from Kings Park, for they attended Midnight Mass at school), Easter and Mother’s Day. Father’s Day was celebrated by a family picnic, including a baseball game on the campus.

Household Chores and Groundskeeping

The household chores which fall to every teenager’s lot extended to the care of the grounds and to repairs, such as those to the front steps. They did not care for the cows, but were well acquainted with them, for while the farm was discontinued after 1934, the cows were kept to supply milk for both Novitiate and Juniorate. In 1934, the Juniorate boys helped to harvest and store the last potato crop. In the fall of the same year, the Novitiate’s pig, named “Stormy Weather,” was slaughtered; since the Juniorate boys shared the meat, pork was usually referred to as Stormy Weather.

The boys also washed and waxed floors. Lacking a machine to buff the wax, one of the boys would sit on a piece of blanket and the others would give him a ride down the hall. There’s much to be said for the system: Fifty years later, some of the original linoleum is still in use.

Recreation and Sporting Activities

SAHS-About SAHS_History4 - Image 1Recreation, of course, was not neglected. In addition to baseball and basketball, there was walks “around the block” with Brother Anthony. The short walk was along St.Johnland Road, through the hospital grounds to Route 25A, and back to school. The long one was down Landing Avenue to Jericho Turnpike, west to the Bull, and back up 25A to St. Johnland Road and home.

Certain feast days of the church were celebrated by “instant plays”; written and rehearsed the day before they were presented. There were other plays, too, more elaborate and more carefully prepared.

One winter, a heavy rain followed by deep cold transformed the fields into ice ponds. Sleds, with umbrellas as sails, wafted the boys about the campus. Ordinarily, however, Pigeon Hill and Pigeon Pond were used for sleigh riding and ice skating.

Prayer Schedule

The greatest discrepancy between Juniorate routine and that of other teenagers, even those attending boarding school, lay in the prayer schedule, which included morning and evening prayers with the Brothers, as well as daily Mass. Furthermore, since this involved rising at 6:30, bedtime was also early, with “lights out” at 9:30 – and the light switches were not in the dorm, but in the adjoining room, occupied by one of the Brothers. This schedule continued until the termination of the Juniorate program in 1969.

Once the day school opened, the Juniorate boys attended the same classes as the other boys, just as they had in St. Francis Prep, but at Saint Anthony’s, they were on the same teams as well. There is some discrepancy between accounts given by day students and those given by Juniorate boys. The former stress that the school was so small that participation in sports was almost mandatory, while the Brothers say they were discouraged from participation because it interfered with the prayer schedule. Knowing religious life and knowing boys, one suspects that they were discouraged, but did participate.

Receiving the Cassock of a Franciscan Postulant

A highlight in the life of a Juniorate boy occurred on February 1 of his Senior year, when he received the cassock of a Franciscan postulant and was given his religious name. From that time forward, he was “Brother”; even to his classmates and to the lay staff.

The practice of giving the cassock at that time began in February, 1936. Boys who had not attended the Juniorate were also being accepted into the order and would be Novitiate classmates of the Juniorate boys But seniority was an important issue in all religious orders at that time, and Brother Celestine ensured that his boys would be the seniors in their Novitiate class.

Participation in the War Effort

During the war years they could participate in the war effort as high school students everywhere were doing. Brothers Louis Cunningham and Henry Cuddy, Juniorate graduates who had returned as faculty members, organized the boys to work on a very successful Victory Garden. As Civil Defense leaders, the Brothers taught courses in air raid procedures and self-protection during gas attacks. In 1945, the war ended and a more normal atmosphere prevailed, but other great changes were ahead.

SAHS-About SAHS_History2 - Image 11958. Smithtown was becoming less rural. Though cornfields and orchards still predominated a few more houses had risen along St. Johnland Road and Landing Avenue. Travel was easier. In 1934, well-paved roads were a rarity on eastern Long Island, and a trip from Brooklyn to Smithtown required careful planning. The automobile itself was a chancey vehicle, for flats were common and, with service stations as rare as good roads, the driver had to be his own mechanic. By 1958, however, townships were meeting the challenge of their growing populations, providing well-paved secondary roads to link with the state’s expanding highway system.

For Catholics in particular, there had been startling changes. Whereas in 1932 there were new parishes (out east,) and a head count was taken in the attempt to persuade Bishop Molloy to establish a new parish in the Smithtown area, by 1958 the Catholic population had increased enormously. Beyond that, however, the recent death of Pope Pius XII had marked the close of a conservative era, and the interim Pope, John XXIII, was setting aside age-old conventions. None could yet know that the Church was on the threshold of Vatican II, but change was in the air.

For the Church on Long Island, there were more immediate developments. In 1956, Thomas E. Molloy, archbishop of Brooklyn ? which then meant of Long Island had died only a month after the death of his auxiliary, Raymond A. Kearney. The population explosion following World War II and the use of veterans’ benefits to move far from the city had resulted in a building boom in Suffolk County. The creation of a new diocese was inevitable. On April 16, 1957, Walter P. Kellenberg, Bishop of Ogdensburg, was named to the see which became known as Rockville Centre.

Transforming the Juniorate into a Day School

One of the new Ordinary’s first concerns was education. On August 7, 1957, Rev. Edgar P. McCarren, Superintendent of Schools of the new diocese, telephoned Brother Bernadine, the Franciscan Brothers’ Supervisor of Schools, requesting that the Juniorate be transformed into a day school to serve the surrounding area. The suggestion posed problems: Cafeteria space would be almost as vital as expanding the faculty, for the school would be at least doubled in size. The library was already adequate, but a qualified librarian would have to be hired. The athletic program would have to be expanded, and a social program instituted. If the dormitory and the Brothers’ bedrooms were converted into classrooms, new quarters would have to be found for them.

One of the new Ordinary’s first concerns was education. On August 7, 1957, Rev. Edgar P. McCarren, Superintendent of Schools of the new diocese, telephoned Brother Bernadine, the Franciscan Brothers’ Supervisor of Schools, requesting that the Juniorate be transformed into a day school to serve the surrounding area. The suggestion posed problems: Cafeteria space would be almost as vital as expanding the faculty, for the school would be at least doubled in size. The library was already adequate, but a qualified librarian would have to be hired. The athletic program would have to be expanded, and a social program instituted. If the dormitory and the Brothers’ bedrooms were converted into classrooms, new quarters would have to be found for them.

Since the Novitiate had moved to a new location in 1949, the Mills house had become St. Bonaventure Postulate. It now became the residence for the Juniorate boys and the faculty, but only after extensive repairs and renovations. It was felt, however, that a larger school would enable the Brothers to expand the academic program, which would benefit the Juniorate boys as well as the new students.

On Monday after Labor Day in 1958, therefore, the Brothers and some 40 Juniorate boys were faced by the unfamiliar sight of a parade of cars (there were no school buses the first year) disgorging some 85 new students.

The atmosphere of the tiny school was more casual than it can be now. There were no lockers, Day boys left their books on a deacon’s bench in their cafeteria, and no one touched them. The Juniorate boys, who had a separate cafeteria, had cupboards there. Aside from the separate cafeteria and their blue and white sweaters or blazers, no distinctions were made between the two groups. All wore suit jackets and ties, though the sweaters allowed for boys who had earned a varsity letter could be substituted for the jackets. Juniorate boys wore a blue blazer with the school emblem, black trousers and a black tie. They had, of course, the advantage of living under the same roof with their teachers, and could easily obtain extra help with their studies, perhaps during the mandatory study hour at night. Also, they continued to have chores about the house and grounds.

One practice which has been discontinued was the assignment of boys to homerooms according to IQ. Today, of course, the alphabet rules in homeroom, and a student can be assigned to Honors classes in individual subjects without being segregated from his classmates.

Assemblies were held in front of the brick building, the speaker standing on the porch, the boys gathered in front of it. Graduation ceremonies were another innovation required by the institution of the day school. They were held in the grotto.

In 1958, no freshmen were admitted, but from 1959 onward, normal procedures were followed, allowing a gradual growth to the present population of just under 1,000.

In a small school in which everyone knows everyone else, at least to know his name, rapport is likely to be excellent and spirit high. The bonds between student and student and between faculty and students grew very strong. The school came to be referred to as “the country club.” Why not, when it even had a flying club and the yearbook boasted aerial photos taken by students?

On December 5, 1959, Bishop Kellenberg presided over a Pontifical Mass celebrating the school’s twenty-fifth anniversary at St. Josephs Church in King’s Park. The homilist, Very Rev. Eugene Crawford, stressed the role of the Juniorate in providing capable teachers and devoted leadership for the Franciscan order, and the values of St. Francis for those who wish to live according to the Gospel.

Celebrating the School’s 25th Anniversary

On December 5, 1959, Bishop Kellenberg presided over a Pontifical Mass celebrating the school’s twenty-fifth anniversary at St. Josephs Church in King’s Park. The homilist, Very Rev. Eugene Crawford, stressed the role of the Juniorate in providing capable teachers and devoted leadership for the Franciscan order, and the values of St. Francis for those who wish to live according to the Gospel.

Further Expanding the Building Infrastructure

Four years later, the continuing growth of the school necessitated the construction of the gymnasium and the 300 wing. Various make-shift arrangements had provided space until then; a Quonset hut and a trailer home had served as classrooms. In 1970, the 400 wing was built, connecting the gym and the 300 wing, and providing adequate cafeteria space. Prefabricated buildings were added in 1972, 1976, and 1982. A small building which housed three Brothers for a short time became the Faculty House, with a portion of the space set aside for an art studio; the typing room had been in the basement of the house for several years. Renovations in the basement of the Administration Building added classroom space, and increased the bewilderment of Freshmen who found they had to go out one of the side doors and re-enter by another in order to find the computer room.

The Atmosphere of Saint Anthony’s

Part of the atmosphere of Saint Anthony’s has derived from this rather haphazard scattering of buildings about the western portion of the campus. Hurrying from class to class meant moving from building to building, in all sorts of weather, some boys with warm jackets, others in their shirt sleeves, most of them eating a snack. Formal lunch periods have not been a priority, and the attempt to insist on them has usually been met by a plea to substitute a period of chorus or even calculus.

Another factor in the spirit of the school has been the policy of permitting students to use free periods for recreation if they so choose. The lunch period, for those who have one, is often a study time, but any free period has also been used for basketball on the outdoor courts, for touch football, for throwing a Frisbee, for draping oneself on a fence or a picnic table to talk with friends.

Faculty Growth

As the school grew in other ways, the faculty, too, had to grow, and it was no longer possible to staff the school entirely with Brothers. Of course, the coaches and Physical Education teachers had been laymen from the beginning of the day school, with Archie DeMarco, for whom the baseball diamond was eventually named, as one of the earliest. Now the percentage of lay faculty members increased, and came to include women as well as men. The first Sister, Sister Berchmans, OSU, joined the Religion Department in 1974, followed by six more Sisters, representing three Orders, the following year.

Curriculum Changes

Changes in curriculum have met the needs of a changing world, especially by the addition of computer courses and Advanced Placement courses. Business subjects were introduced when Vincent Tenety, the father of two students, went blind. An experienced accountant, he asked Brother Venard to allow him to teach accounting to juniors and seniors, because he did not wish to be without any occupation, and he was not a person to succumb to self-pity. His example was an inspiration for every student and for every faculty member. After his death, the accounting course was discontinued, but in the meanwhile, typing had been added.

The End of an Era

When Bishop McGann celebrated the Golden Jubilee Mass on Sunday, September 18, 1983, none of the thousands who gathered on Cy Donnelly Field for the Mass and the champagne brunch that followed realized that an era was ending. Three months later, on December 5, the Bishop called a press conference to announce extensive changes in the educational structure of the diocese. As part of these changes, Holy Family Diocesan High School would close at the end of June, 1984, and Saint Anthony’s would re-locate in the Holy Family facility in South Huntington. At three o’clock, while the Bishop was making his announcement, Brother Hugh McGrath, Principal of Saint Anthony’s, held a brief faculty meeting to make the expected announcement (rumors had been flying for several weeks) and to answer questions. The following morning he made the formal announcement to the students, reminding them that their sense of loss could not be as great as that of Holy Family students.

As this history is completed, therefore, we are forced into the awareness that history can never be considered complete. The problems of transition lie ahead. Two schools which have been keen rivals in sports, must learn to blend into one. But if school spirit is more than a matter of broad fields and white fences, if it is truly a matter of the heart, it will not only survive, but will grow stronger.

SAHS-About SAHS_History1 - Image 1A great many of the stories about Saint Anthony’s, past and present, are concerned with dogs. Occasionally another animal will slip in, like the two horses stabled nearby that found the grass greener on our side of the fence, or the sparrow that went to sleep in the bus one night and couldn’t get out until the forty Juniors on their way to a museum opened a window somewhere in Queens. But most of the stories are about dogs.

Beans

The first one was Beans, who antedated Saint Anthony’s, since he belonged to the novices. When Saint Anthony’s was under construction, Beans marked it as his own: Somewhere under the linoleum in the computer center are paw prints Beans left during a tour of inspection. He was a friendly animal; even other dogs liked him. Every time he strayed off for a few days, he returned with a retinue of a dozen or so dogs who seemed to hate leaving him behind. Of course he adopted the Juniorate boys as soon as they arrived, but he never deserted the novices entirely. Naturally he was fed by both groups.

There were a few occasions when Beans did not get along with other dogs, and returned looking like the lower in a melee. On one occasion, the Juniorate boys took him to a vet to have his wounds treated, and the vet decided the dog needed to remain, at least overnight. But when the boys returned to Saint Anthony’s, they found Beans already there, waiting for them. All of the early graduates of the school speak of Beans with great affection. He was obviously a dog with personality.

Arko (Arco)

Years later, when the day boys had become part of the school, Brother Celsus used to bring his dog to class with him. Arko (or Arco) was less friendly than Beans had been. If he took a dislike to someone, he growled each time he met the person. He seems to have had a genuinely threatening manner, so Brother Aquinas was none too happy to hear the dog approaching one evening when no one else was at home. But the empty halls and rooms were apparently oppressive to Arko, and he wanted company, no matter whose. He settled peaceably at Brother’s feet, and, having once been friendly toward him, never threatened him again.

Anthony

Then there was Anthony. Anthony attended school as regularly as any student. All through the 70’s, he prowled the paths responding to every sign of affection, and generously accepting lunch from half the boys on campus. As a rule, he spent homeroom period at the windows of the 300 wing, his paws on the sill, waiting patiently for a pat on the head or a bite from a sandwich.

The dog was none too careful crossing streets, and on one occasion, was hit by a car. The boys immediately collected money among themselves, and took their unofficial mascot to a vet to have his broken leg properly treated. The vet, of course, was deeply impressed by their caring so well for a dog that was not their responsibility.

It was evident that Anthony belonged to someone, for he was well cared for, but no one knew who the owner might be until a freshman exclaimed, “That’s our dog, Max! We’ve been wondering where he goes everyday!? Anthony/Max continued to attend school until the day when he was again hit by a car, right in front of the school, and died.

Opal

Finally, Mr. Tenety’s guide dog, a golden retriever named Opal, was everyone’s pet. It was impossible for the boys to remember that they should not distract the dog from her duties. They patted her and fed her far more than was good for her, and Opal was too friendly to ignore them. Sometimes, when the bell rang and she rose from her nap at the end of class, she took advantage of the momentary confusion to pick up someone’s lunch. If chalk fell on the floor, she was likely to eat that too. Opal and Anthony/Max had a stiff-legged rivalry, but they never fought.

During the 80’s, a husky and a setter have been rather frequent visitors, especially in bad weather, when they take refuge in classrooms or in the cafeteria, but neither has been as regular in attendance as Anthony/Max, and neither seems to have earned a nickname.

The Galloping Friars

One of the more famous animals on campus was the horse ridden by a student, Harry Feuerstein, during football games. When the black and gold scored, Harry, dressed in a Franciscan Habit, cantered along the sidelines. In later years, Brother Shane carried on the tradition. At present, few students are aware of the origins of the title “the Galloping Friars.”

SAHS-About SAHS_History4 - Image 2There have been tragedies, too, of course. Not too long after the Juniorate was established, a woman who cooked for the Brothers and boys died in a fire in the kitchen. One of the early students, Raymond Murphy, died as a result of an accident while the barn was being repaired. He was laid out in the Franciscan Habit and was buried in the Brothers’ plot in Brooklyn.

Another source of legends is the school bus and its frequent breakdowns. Some freshmen actually believed that the breakdowns were planned so the athletes would build muscles pushing the bus.

When Brother Martin, one of the first faculty members, grew old, he resided at the Phoenix House and spent an hour or so daily working in the school library. During his last illness, he was prayed for daily during homeroom announcements. Leading the prayers in one of the classes, a thoroughly pragmatic student prayed, “Please make Brother Martin better, but if he’s going to die anyway, please get us a day off for the funeral.” The prayer was answered, and it was on a Friday morning that members of the Senior Class lined the aisles of St. Joseph’s Church, Kings Park, as a guard of honor during Brother’s funeral Mass.

Afterward, the school bus was made available to faculty and staff who wished to attend the interment in Brooklyn. The bus left the church first and reached the Huntington exit of the Long Island Expressway before it broke down. Ten minutes later, the funeral cortege came along and pulled over onto the shoulder. What passing motorists thought when they saw forty or so Brothers in long black robes, their white cords tossed in the wind, milling about a hearse and a school bus, has not been recorded.

The bus and its driver were deserted, the passengers obtaining rides from other faculty members, only to learn that some of them would have to find still other transportation back to Smithtown. One of the Sisters, who had planned to use the bus trip for arts and crafts, stood at the graveside singing Salve Regina, with pink knitting tucked under her arm.

Another set of legends surrounds the early days of sports, when Brother Pascal was asked to organize teams, but wasn’t given money for equipment because money was in short supply during the Depression. Or the year players were in short supply, because there were only eleven boys in the school. They fielded a baseball team anyway.

Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital

In the early years of the day school, basketball and baseball were played at the Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital, the former in York Hall, the latter on Tiffany Field. During practice, the teams became accustomed to having patients as spectators, and soon learned that erratic behavior involved no threat. Visiting teams, however, were intimidated when a patient took the basketball from a player’s hands, or sat on third base to watch the game.

Christmas Eve Mass

In the mid 70’s, the custom was initiated of inviting alumni, seniors, juniors, and their families to attend a nine p.m. Mass in the gymnasium on Christmas Eve. The adult chorus, which dates from about the same period, joins the boys in singing the Mass. It has become a cherished part of the holiday season.

Communion Breakfast

Other annual functions which help to bind members of the school community are the Communion Breakfast at which academic awards are distributed, and the dinner of Champions, at which athletes are recognized. The two functions, run by the Fathers’ Guild, bracket the school year. The Mothers’ Guild Boutique and the Fashion Show, the parties at Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day, the breakfasts following the Graduation Mass and the Ring Day ceremony, the pancake breakfast on Homecoming Day – all are part of the rhythm of each succeeding year, and help to express and to fortify that intangible something known as school spirit, and re-create each year a sense of what Saint Anthony’s means.

Sept. 1948 to Sept. 1950

SAHS-About SAHS_History5 - Image 2Although the black brothers had no direct relationship to Saint Anthony’s, their presence on the Juniorate property is a little known chapter, re-created here by Brother Aquinas, who wrote this account.

The most Rev. Bartholomew Eustace, first bishop of Camden, undertook to establish a Religious congregation of Black Brothers to serve the growing needs of his diocese. To fulfill a canonical requirement in this matter, he came to Brooklyn and met with Most Rev. Thomas E. Molloy, Bishop of Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s Bishop graciously agreed that the planned novitiate for the Black Brothers could be at the Franciscan Brothers’ property in the Smithtown area. That is, if the Brothers wished to undertake this responsibility. Thereupon Bishop Eustace came to our Generalate to meet with Brother James. Brother agreed to place the matter before his Consultors. As Bishop Molloy stipulated, a term of two years was fixed for the Brothers to remain in the Brooklyn Diocese.

The Franciscan Board of Consultors approved the request and Brother Aquinas Lanahan was appointed to be the Novice Master and Superior. On September 14, 1948, the official beginning of the term began. The Shevis House was fitted for the young men. It was self-contained: Chapel, Kitchen, showers and toilets, bedrooms. Most of the Brothers could cook. The Camden Bishop supported us. The man who was the leader and who interested the Camden Bishop in this venture was Charles Luanga. The others were Gabriel, Eustace, Michael, Leo, Herbert, and John.

This undertaking had no connection with the Novitiate or the Juniorate. However, we used the Juniorate chapel for the Holy Mass. Their own chapel was used for the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Crown (the Franciscan rosary), and for meditation.

The status of the Black Brothers was that of Postulants even though they had already put in time in their house in Camden. During this time they decided to take as an official name that of the FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES OF CHRIST THE KING. Also they decided to wear the brown habit of the Friars Minor. Both these decisions won the immediate approval of the Bishop.

Relations with the students, teachers and Novices of the sponsoring community were always cordial and fraternal. The Black Brothers were always invited to celebrations either at the Juniorate or the Novitiate. It was at one of their gatherings at Mount St. Francis that they introduced the singing of the Salve Regina after night prayers. They themselves always closed the day with the Salve Regina. These postulants were from the South; some from the Virgin Islands, others from Louisiana; one from New York; one from Chicago with roots in the South. So our first winter and the first snow fascinated most of them. Children could not have been more gleeful when the Novices down the road challenged them to their first snowball skirmish.

The Brothers were recipients from time to time of benefactions: donations of money, a statue of the Infant of Prague (from Brentwood), two heroic sized statues of Christ the King and Mary Queen of Peace which graced the chapel. One night while at supper, a knock at the door caused Brother Leo to rise to answer it. He brought into the refectory a rather large box containing a delicious looking cake. We at once designated it as our dessert for that meal. We wondered who sent it but we were not over-anxious to know; we always enjoyed the ways of Providence!

About half of the richly decorated cake was being consumed when another knock at the door revealed a novice inquiring if a cake had been delivered to us by mistake. Some parent had ordered the cake for her son’s birthday. At the revelation we were hilarious. We thanked the novice for letting us share the festivity and surrendered the remainder.

Besides cultivating a vegetable garden in the rear of the Shevis House, the Black Brothers laid the foundation and then erected an Army surplus Quonset hut (20X50). It was partitioned and a very large, airy dormitory was set up. After 1950, this hut was put to use as a science laboratory by the Juniorate for about 11 years.

Bishop Eustace visited us occasionally, dined with us, and remained with us for a few hours. One day he came to stay overnight and he was roomed in the Juniorate, for he came to give the Brothers their Habits, thus making them Novices. The ritual was held in St. Patrick’s Church in Smithtown Branch. The ritual for the Reception of the Habit was that of the sponsoring community.

The Bishop’s sermon was inspiring; they were to assist him and the future Bishops of Camden by making known to their people, many of whom are confused by the fragmented Christianity that has spread among them. They were to take a census of the Black people of Camden and after further instruction and training to teach Christian Doctrine. A very large crowd attended and when we returned to the Juniorate ample refreshments were served. At the end of the stipulated period, the Black Brothers returned to Camden.

SAHS-About SAHS_History3 - Image 1Students leafing through old yearbooks are always surprised to see pictures of a swimming pool. The story is another little-known chapter in the history of the school.

Each summer, from approximately 1950 until the opening of the day school, a unique camp was conducted at Saint Anthony’s. Under the aegis of Brother David, elementary school boys who were encountering academic difficulties were provided with a combination of remedial schooling and camp activities.

They slept in the Juniorate dormitory and had classes each morning in one of the four classrooms then located on the second floor. In the afternoon, they swam in the pool, constructed especially for the camp, or enjoyed other typical camp activities.

With the advent of the day school, the camp had to be discontinued because the dormitories had been eliminated. Eventually, the pool fell into disrepair and was filled in. The boys were told that the Board of Health had ordered the pool filled in, and they immediately blamed Mr. Vilbig, a science teacher who was also an inspector for the Board of Health.