Mary Van Deusen

When I Was Seventeen

Grammar school graduate

Although scheduled to attend Bowen High School, like my mother, the family decided over the summer that at age 14 it was time I got some religious instruction, so off I was sent to Chicago's Aquinas Dominican High School. First things first though. The nuns insisted that my hair be cut to a more "fashionable" style. The principal, Sister Mary Rosario, prepared me for first communion, and I couldn't have asked for a better preparation for college than what I received at Aquinas. The center of my high school life was Sister Mary Visitation Farrell, a former Chicago public librarian who became a nun late in life.
Mary Rosario
Sister Mary Rosario
Mary Visitation
Sister Mary Visitation
Thomas Owen
Sister Thomas Owen
John Maureen
Sister John Maureen
Thomas Owen
Sister Rose Ethel
Joan Patricia
Sister Joan Patricia

Sister Thomas Owen was my freshman homeroom teacher and Sister Rose Ethel my sophomore. Sister John Maureen taught science, and Sister Joan Patricia math. They're good women of whom I have good memories. I would love to hear from anyone who knows stories of Aquinas in those days, the students or the teachers.

Babes in Toyland
Yes, it looks tacky, but I won with it in the local and state science fairs!

My passions in high school were working in the library, singing (Babes in Toyland, I'm on the right), and participating in science fairs. In the Catholic fairs we didn't need to do anything new in science, just know our subject upside down and backwards. Luckily the stars are seen upside down through a telescope, so astronomy was an easy subject.


Through most of my high school years, grandfather (Daddy) was disabled with a stroke that left him unable to talk. He was so very strong, and the family was devastated by his loss. Grandmother, though, was still a vibrant force to be reckoned with.

Richard and I

The passion of my life that wasn't academic was Richard Monnier. My optics instructor and a pilot, he swept me off my feet with love letters, music and poetry. We were engaged just before I turned 17, and his impact on my life lasted a lot longer than our engagement. In my senior year of high school, Richard was suffering through his first year of physics at U of Chicago (the drop out rate was 90 percent!) Since his idea of a wife was one that stayed home, I didn't apply to college.


But we were broken up by graduation so, over the summer, I decided that I wanted to go to the school where my mother had met my father (and the one that Richard still attended). Absolute confidence seems to get amazing results, and I was able to talk the admissions officer of University of Chicago into taking me in at the last minute. Bless that man.

Still a Child    

When I Was 17    
    Love Letters
    A Young Married Lady




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