Hugh Francis Xavier Daly II, Lt. Col. USA, Ret.

From The Ingenious Bluff : An Army Private, European Theater of Operations, 1944-45, pp. 30-32.

[The soldiers had been stationed at the University of Alabama and were relocated to St. Bonaventure.]

So, what a joy it was for Jimmy, Joey and me to be assigned to St. Bonaventure College, Olean, New York.  Nestled in the rolling hills of the northwest corner of New York State, close to Lake Erie and Canada, St. Bonaventure was a little gem of a campus.  It lies across the border from Bradford, Pennsylvania, with Salamanca, N.Y., and an Indian reservation to the west and Buffalo, N.Y. , and Niagara Falls ninety miles to the north.

Grottoes dedicated to the Blessed Virgin dominated the campus, arousing vocational thoughts.  Four story dormitories, the chapel and faculty residence bordered the quadrangle where we fell out each morning to march off to class.  An academic classroom building, the library, field house, a track and an athletic field which doubled as our parade grounds completed the complex.

On the right, as we rode to bus into town, was a hospital and nursing school staffed by Franciscan nuns, counterparts to the Franciscan friars in brown cassocks, white cinctures and sandals who ran the college.  Uptown Saturday afternoons, the Olean House was an oasis, with its sophisticated cocktail lounge and drinks served in real glasses--a sharp contrast to the bootleg culture of Mississippi.

When we were broke, which was most of the time, the American Legion was a source of free drinks, particularly from our math professor, Mr. Reilly.  Sixty-five years later, on a break from our Chautauqua Institution summer retreat, I discovered a mushrooming Bonaventure campus, with the paramount complex the Professor Reilly Center.

Our pre-engineering curriculum, which consisted of math (from algebra and trig. through geometry and calculus), chemistry, physics, English, geopolitics, military science, etc. was intense.  In three months, six full days per week blocks, we completed the equivalent of two semesters of work.

Joey met a lovely Olean girl of Syrian descent, Amy, who invited us to share her family's home after Sunday Mass.  Sitting on the living room sofa, Joey and I were treated to jiggers of homemade anisette by Amy's dad who held sway like a real patrician.  He loved to demonstrate that the addition of a drop of water to the anisette would turn it milky.

A toast to their Joey, the eldest son recently inducted, would bring a tear and the warming up of our drinks.  A sumptuous dinner was served by Amy's mother and her sisters at what seemed to be a men-only, bountiful dining room table.

The father was the founder of the present day Olean Paramount Dry Cleaning business, with shops across the city.  What a delight and an education it was to be accepted into the hospitality of this loving family.

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