By John McElligott
After a successful second grade career at Terminal Independent School System, Star-man (Me), transferred back to St. Ann’s with a feeling of being indestructible.
Sister Soteras told me “John you are in charge of setting the clock on my desk everyday.” I said “OK, Sister”, and she handed me the wind-up clock. Thank God that Joe O’Neal and Harry Miller were sitting there. I turned and said “What do I do?” I could not tell time since I never had to with Mom, Bruce, Tom and Roof around all the time. So, Joe and Harry showed me what the little and big hands on a clock or watch meant, and how to wind it up. So, on my first day, I, “Star-man”, became the official time keeper for the 3rd grade class at St. Ann’s.
Later that day, I realized that I could not read, write or count as fast as my new classmates. I was quickly instructed not to go to recess or lunch. I was tutored by the nuns until I passed the next rounds of test. Even still, I realized that I was still D—-A– of the class.
Now my classmates were destined to become “Stars”, too, and fortunately, they never stopped and flamed out like I did over the next 11 years. I did have a few short bursts of stardom that you will see in later stories.
To date, one of the most challenging tasks of my life was learning how to become an altar boy I began going to mass 5-6 days a week to watch and learn what the altar boys did at mass. I was mesmerized and watched every move they made. I also watched the priest and how he maneuvered back and forth in front of the altar. Eventually, I started Latin classes on Saturdays. Not being a linguist, I just memorized each prayer, I did not know what I was saying or what it meant. After I finished training that following summer, I would never miss a chance to be an altar boy.
The only problem was, it was a 6 AM mass and I lived 10 miles away near the airport. So, I would hitchhike to town and walk from the main drag to the church. Why did I do this? Well I was the “Star Man” again lighting the candles, carrying the book, pouring the water to wash the priest hands, towel carrier and pouring the water into the wine. Then, I got to hold the Eucharist drop shield. The latter kept the Eucharist from falling to the floor. I was able to catch 100% of the dropped wafers totaling 0.
Now by the time I finished my training I was again a star and no one knew I did not know the meaning of one Latin word I was spouting back to the Priest. Father Beasley saw me so much that he began to feed me breakfast after 6 am daily mass and Saturday after mass at the Convent. The convent mass was my favorite since the chapel was small and I got to wear pure white (like winter snow) altar boy vestments.
Finishing my 3rd grade falling star year, I was asked to be in a play “Johnny and the Devil”. I knew for sure I would be the star “Johnny”! However, I was the Devil and John DeJulio was “Johnny” and I was crushed to say the least. It turned out good since John D was very smart and never used the hidden prompter (Richard Hughes) who I used every time I had a speech over one sentence long. Also, I had a really hot devil’s costume made by my mother. My mother always called me ” you little devil”! Followed by, “I’m going to whip your butt!”