With Mrs. Schober, Seconds Were Always Free
For most people, elementary school was a time with few worries (other than homework) and many happy memories. We had our favorite teachers, our Very Best Friend for Life, and the school plays in which we had the lead role (or the ones where we played a tree or even the ones where we were just a stagehand).
For those of us who attended St. Joseph School in Ensley, however, we have one more very happy memory ... lunch! Every day, we could look forward to nice home-cooked meals, those scrumptious made-from-scratch rolls, and a cold half-pint of milk (with the corny joke on the side of the carton). Occasionally, there was even a special treat - so special, that it was "extra" and we had to find room for it on our baby blue lunch tray or simply carry it with us. At St. Joseph, we could even have seconds.
But of all the great food that came from St. Joseph, the best was always served on Wednesday. This was Spaghetti Day, or, to be more correct for the Italian population of St. Joseph, "Pasta Day!" And the person who made Pasta Day possible each Wednesday for more than 25 years at St. Joseph was the school's first cafeteria manager, Mrs. Annie Schober.
Mrs. Schober, a relative of many, many people at St. Patrick, died suddenly on December 18, 2000, at the age of 75, just eight days before her 55th wedding anniversary. With Mrs. Schober's death came the loss of a great person, a great wife, a great mother, and a great cook.
Having graduated from St. Joseph in 1979, I moved on to John Carroll, and then UAB, but remained active in parish life. This kept me close to the school, to the Presentation Sisters, and to the lunchroom. All of this also kept me close - very close - to Spaghetti Day, and to Mrs. Schober and her staff.
Because you are God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
My involvement in youth ministry at St. Joseph included weekly Wednesday visits for lunch to sit with the junior high and share stories and friendship over that great meal of spaghetti, salad, and rolls. Spaghetti Day was a day everyone looked forward to, and there was always plenty. Very few students brought their lunch on Wednesday, for to do so was almost considered sacrilegious!
Few people knew the recipe for Wednesday St. Joseph spaghetti. It must have been a secret recipe like that of KFC chicken or Milo's sauce. No one ever thought about it - we just knew it was good. What we did know, however, is that it took Mrs. Schober and her staff to make it all happen.
In my post-student days at St. Joseph, the visits to my alma mater were always a highlight of the week. I enjoyed seeing my former teachers and sitting with the students to talk. I liked answering the questions from Mrs. Schober and her staff about how I was doing. I was glad to know that they still cared about me and enjoyed my visits. I certainly enjoyed seeing them.
But most of all, I enjoyed the spaghetti. It was the trademark of St. Joseph. It was why more people visited for lunch on Wednesday than any other day. Some even came for take-outs! Other schools may have served spaghetti, but none served St. Joseph spaghetti, Mrs. Schober's spaghetti.
Now, St. Joseph is gone, the spaghetti is gone, and Mrs. Schober is gone -- two wonderful things and one tremendously wonderful lady. All are gone, but by no means forgotten. Like so many good things in our lives that come and go, memories will remain forever. Like St. Joseph. And Wednesdays. And Spaghetti. And Mrs. Schober.
For the Schober Family, memories of Annie Schober will be of a great wife, a great mother, and a great grandmother. For the St. Joseph Family, it will be of a great person who was a great cook who made a great plate of spaghetti. And seconds were always free.
God bless you, Mrs. Schober. We'll all see you soon in heaven for lunch on Wednesday.
Editor's Note: The following is an addendum to this story by Doris Moody, daughter of the late Mrs. Annie Schober, the subject of this story:
"Kevin's story has a very ironic twist. Annie Schober's cooking and kindness literally made a mark even after her death. Momma died suddenly exactly one week before Christmas Day in 2000. I found myself connected to my Dad as we left the hospital and made our way to Angwin's Mortuary in Ensley to make arrangements. Luther Angwin met with us and carefully walked us through all the information needed to update the previous pre-planned funeral arrangements for momma. At that time, and since her remains had not yet arrived at their facility, my mom's funeral was just another project for him. The next evening, after the wake service, I consulted with Luther about the crucifix that we purchased to place inside momma's casket. Although the funeral was covered by the pre-arrangement plan, we knew that this would carry with it an extra charge. Luther looked at me and with emotion in his eyes, said, "After I looked at your mother, I remembered her wonderful rolls and kindness to us when we conducted funerals at St. Joseph's. This is the least we can do for your mother in her honor." I then knew that her good works were evident even after her death. Annie Schober, my mother, showed compassion and kindness to all she met. And so many of the young people with whom she later connected were a tremendous testimony to that love. Oh that we can all be known after we pass this life for our own works of mercy."