When I was nine years old I started to work for Sister Basil [Thurin]. Sister was in charge of the Greenhouse and all of the flower beds along with the gardens. I started to work here since my mother was working here for Sister Aloyse [O’Brien]. When my mother first started to work here she had to walk two miles back and forth to the Villa. It was not long after she began her job here that either the driver for the Sisters, Frank Bryer, or the farm manager, John Komar, would pick her up in the farm pickup truck. So when I began to work here I rode along with her to work.
On my very first day Frank Bryer took me to the Meat House since Sister Basil had another obligation to complete every morning. Sister Lidwina [Kirschensteiner] was in charge of the farm along with the Meat House; she would always offer me some milk and a cookie or cracker. Sister had a small section in the Greenhouse where she raised some special flowers that I had never seen before. Sister took care of them herself.
| Sr. Lidwina in the Greenhouse
As soon as Sister Basil came to the Meat House she reintroduced herself. Actually I had met her twice before. Sister then took me to the Greenhouse which was north of the Meat House, it ran north and south. Since it was raining out Sister wanted to begin by doing some work in there. Sister wanted me to stack all of the wooden flats on three separate stacks and all of the different size clay pots on separate stacks. There were no plastic flats or plastic pots at that time.
Then Sister said she had to leave for a while. Before she left she asked me to turn on the lights. I replied telling her I did not know how. Sister showed me where the light switch was and showed me how to turn them on and off. I had seen electric lights at school and in church but we did not have electricity at home.
As soon as Sister left, I made sure she was out of sight. Then I went up to the light switch and flipped it on and off at least 50 times. To me it was magic.
Sister was very good to me. She brought me milk and cookies at 10 am and again at 3 pm, then she would tell me to hide somewhere until I finished my treat. I usually went to the front room in the Greenhouse.
When Sister Basil was on retreat, Sister De Chantal [Voitus] would take her place. She was also very good to me. She would bring out milk and cookies at ten and three and tell me to go into the asparagus patch to take my break. By that time the asparagus was harvested and all that remained were the tall stems that went to seed. I could crawl in there since it was like a forest. There wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t tell me that I had to be a priest; other than the last day that I worked for her. On that that day she told me to be whatever I was comfortable with.
~Frank Romeo, Director of Land Management Emeritus