The year was 1970. I was in the eighth grade at St. Mark’s school in Peoria. I remember the day like it was yesterday. One of my classmates — I’ll call him Paul — brought a Polaroid picture to school to show to his friends. Paul and I were the same age — 13 years old. The person in the picture was the girlfriend of Paul’s older brother. She and Paul’s brother were in high school. She was a student at Academy of Our Lady and Paul’s brother was a student at Spalding Institute.
When I was growing up during the 1960s and early 1970s, my favorite movies were Westerns. I’m not sure why. One reason may have been because I watched a lot of television with my grandfather, Tom Williams, and he liked Westerns. Another reason may have been because the heroes in Westerns were always tough, rugged, no-nonsense men who reminded me of the men on the Williams side of the family.
For some unknown reason, during the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about the 10 principal virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a reminder, the 10 principal virtues are (1) her profound humility, (2) her lively faith, (3) her blind obedience, (4) her continual mental prayer, (5) her mortification in all things, (6) her surpassing purity, (7) her ardent charity, (8) her heroic patience, (9) her angelic sweetness, and (10) her divine wisdom.
One day about 20 years ago, I needed to have a court order signed by one of the judges at the Peoria County Courthouse. I walked over to the courthouse from my downtown office. When I entered the courtroom, the only people present were the judge and a local area attorney. As soon as I walked up to the judge to ask him to sign the order, he said, “Where’s your jacket?”
One Saturday evening in the early 1970’s (when I was in high school) I was watching the Miss Universe pageant on television with some of my brothers. At one point my mom walked into the room. On the TV screen was Miss Lebanon strutting around in a bikini. When my mom saw her she said (in a repulsive tone of voice), “She’s really ugly!” I immediately responded to my mom’s comment by saying, “No she’s not mom. She’s one of the most beautiful women in the pageant.” My mom shot back, “There’s nothing beautiful about her. She’s ugly!” Then my dad walked into the room, so I dragged him into the conversation by saying, “Dad, do you think she’s ugly?” He looked at the television and said, “No, she’s not ugly.” I looked at my mom and said, “Mom, you know she’s not ugly. You’re just saying she’s ugly because she’s wearing a bikini and you don’t think she should be parading around on national television in a bikini.” My mom then proceeded to lecture me, my brothers, and my dad about why it was inappropriate for us to be watching a show that had women prancing around on stage “half-naked.”