Bits and Pieces

Working in the Vegetable & Flower Gardens Part 3

May 31, 2016

Rev. Bernard Weigand became chaplain to the Sisters after the death of Msgr. Nicolas Julian Franche in 1937. Msgr. Franche was the great nephew of Father John Joseph Begel, priest founder of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary.

I remember Father Weigand asking us altar boys on several occasions after Midnight Mass to check on Little Steve to make sure he was OK. It took us a couple of years to figure out why he had sent us out to check on Steve; but after some time we figured it out. I also remember Father Weigand taking all of the altar boys to several Cleveland Indians baseball games.

I remember when there was an island in the lake and in the spring Sister Basil had two of what I thought were plastic flamingos. There was a dock at the lake with a boat tied to it and Sister would have me put the flamingos in the boat and row out to the island and put them on the island. Sister would walk along the edge of the lake and tell me exactly where to put the flamingos and how to turn them so that they could be viewed properly.

I also recall when the lake was drained and dredged. Before the valve was opened to let the water drain from the lake, someone had to put a one inch mesh wire screen over the large pipe that goes under the driveway. That way the many goldfish that were in the lake would not be washed into the stream and later into Coffee-Run Creek. There was one area where there was a very deep spot in the lake bed and many of the goldfish remained in that area. The goldfish were flushed out into the area between the drain pipe of the lake and the pipe that went under the driveway that was all cemented.

When Sister Basil got word that the major portion of the water was drained out of the lake, she asked me to go with her. When we got to the spillway, Sister asked me to go down in the pit where the screen was and hand her the goldfish. I do not remember how many there were but at that time Sister drove up to the south end of the Pavilion where there was a handmade small cemented pond. We put all of the goldfish in that little pond.

I never went back to the lake unless I was still on my lunch break or if I was asked to go for other reasons. The one time that I went there I saw a snake caught in the one inch mesh screen. I tried to kill it but did not succeed. I think it had swallowed a small fish or frog and just got stuck. When I tried to kill it, it would lash out at me and I would jump out of the pit since I was afraid of it. So I went up to the old boiler house and borrowed a carpenter saw from “Grandpa Scott” as the Sisters called him. Then I went back and cut the snake in half and hurriedly jumped out of the pit.

Another time that I went down to the lake at lunch time Father Weigand asked me to set a turtle hook to catch a snapping turtle. Father gave me five hooks, some bait, wire and a steel rod. I lost four of his hooks and caught a turtle with the last hook. I told Father Weigand I did not have time to bring the turtle out. I did not tell him I was afraid of it. So he went down and got it himself. I guess he wanted someone to make turtle soup.

The only other time that I went down to the lake was with Sister Basil. She wanted to show me where I would be filling the vinegar barrels with water so they would swell up and not lose any cider or vinegar. Sister said that particular area in the lake would not be dredged any deeper.

As the gardens got smaller I would work wherever needed and at times it would be on the farm.

I am very grateful for the time that I had working for the Sisters, especially for the many different experiences that I encountered. They were all very hard workers and taught me many things about my work. I think one of the most important ones was paying attention to small details.

~Frank Romeo, Director of Land Management Emeritus