52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: School Days

Her little freckled face was styled in a frown. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Soft sobs emitted from her throat. Her auburn ringlets touched her shoulders that shook as she cried. Why would she be so upset on this most glorious of days? It was our first day of kindergarten at Saint James Catholic School, Falls Church, Virginia! We wore our new school dresses. We had old cigar boxes filled with pencils and crayons. We received coloring sheets. Our teacher Mrs. Doyle was smiling and beckoning to us to listen to a story. I was in kindergarten heaven, but what about my table mate? I reached over and put my arm around her shoulder so I could comfort her. I asked her her name. She told me that she was Dodi. From that moment on and the rest of kindergarten, Dodi Driscoll would become my best friend.

During that school year, we learned to write our names. I could spell/write Dodi’s name before I could write my own. Together, we mastered those sweet little kindergarten skills of becoming good listeners, becoming well mannered little ladies, and becoming ready to read and do math. Those half days of school gave us the gift of spending time as best friends. On the weekends, I was invited to play at Dodi’s. Her father was a photographer for The Washington Post so he was camera ready to snap pictures of us. He also took great pictures of our graduation day. At the end of the school year, my family was moving away. It was my first experience in leaving a best friend.

Now 60 years later, I wondered what happened to her. I found her parents’ memorials on FindAGrave. Oh, no…on the page was written that their daughter Dolores Mary (Dodi) had died in 1999. How could that be? I searched for an obituary and found one. Dodi had never married, and she was dearly loved by her nieces and nephews. She was a dedicated children’s physical therapist. She had died of cancer against which she struggled for several years. As I read her obituary, my face was styled into a frown. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Soft sobs emitted from my throat. My dear school days friend was now tucked away in heaven. Dodi, you are remembered.

Kindergarten Graduation: May, 1956
Photos by Award Winning Photographer Norman J. Driscoll

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