Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Occupational hazards

I AM LOOKING for a picture of a tree. One of the Sisters, lamenting the recent loss of a huge, hundred-year-old tree on the Doheny Campus, has asked for a memento. Trees are seldom the subject of a photo but often in the background, so looking for a specific one means sifting through a lot of photos. And therein lies today's theme.

Inevitably, when I'm researching something in the records I come across plenty of things I'm not looking for, tidbits and tantalizing references to situations and events of yesteryear. Most of the time I have to let them go and press on. And, of course, later on when I recall such a tidbit, for the life of me I can never find it again.

This contact photo from a publicity shoot, not dated but probably 1962, shows Matt Doran, a member of the Mount's music faculty, with some children playing musical instruments. According to our written history he formed a youth orchestra that year.

But somewhere in the records I have seen a reference to a plan around the same time to create a prep school at the Doheny campus for school-age musicians. It was going to be called something like Mount St. Mary's Academy of Music. The plan was probably read into the administrative minutes in the early 1960s, which I spent a lot of time with last year trying to figure out how the Mount ended up with the Doheny Campus in the first place. Academy of Music? School children? Wow. But I had to let it go.

This kind of thing can drive you crazy if you're the kind of person who likes a good story. Was the youth orchestra a prelude to the academy that never happened? What did happen? And so on.

I have a lot more photos to go through in search of Sister's tree. I know I'm in for many more memory-jogging finds and frustrations. Like paper cuts, they go with the job in archives.


After all the posts about mold, I realize that I never concluded the saga of the Disaster of '10. Everything is more or less back in order: ceiling repaired, damaged tables and chairs refinished, most of the books back on the shelves and the water- and mold-damaged ones lined up for repair. Building improvements have been made, including diverting rain gutters away from the building. They got a big test in the deluge of March 20, but we survived. Deo gratias.

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