As with other families, we sat in the same pew every Sunday, the second pew behind the third pillar on the left side of the church. I think we favored it because an electric fan attached to the pillar kept us reasonably cool.
I remember the pulpit, from which homilies were delivered, and without audio equipment, which was another reason, I suppose, that we sat in the front pews.
In the late ’40s or perhaps early ’50s, a restaurant (believe it was Rothrock’s) opened next door, and this became a problem, because we could smell the bacon frying, even through those thick brick walls. That reminded us how hungry we were, and how we wished the service to end with a quick “Amen.
As a child, I loved the beautiful mural behind the altar, and the altar itself was to me a magnificent structure, with its life-sized statues. I feel confident that present-day parishioners, like me, are relieved that those elements are not only still in place, but even more beautiful, due to the restoration process.
In the 1950s, Paducah experienced a significant population growth, due to the construction of the gaseous diffusion plant then known as Union Carbide. Church memberships grew as well, with some moving to new, larger buildings west of the downtown area. Those that remained had a parking problem. St. Francis did not own a parking lot, so parishioners had to park on the street. Our preferred parking space was closer to Broadway Methodist church than to St. Francis!
How I loved the organ and choral music. The organist was Lois Sutherland, who, as I recall, did a very respectable job on that instrument. When I was a part-time student at St. Mary’s Academy, I was a member of the high school choir, and I enjoyed that. The soloists were classmates Tom Bartholomew and Joan Moore. I thought they were wonderful. And perhaps they were.
There was a painting on the rear wall of the choir loft of St. Cecelia, martyr and patroness of music. I loved that painting and was inspired to take her name in Confirmation, hoping (and praying) she would intercede for me so that I, too, could be a proficient pianist. I guess Cecelia had other priorities because, alas, my prayers were not answered.
The painting is gone and no one climbs the narrow staircase to the choir loft these days. The pipes have been moved to the music ministry space. What a joy it is to hear those pipes again!