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In the Good Old Days

Trivia Question

Who played Father O'Malley in the 1945 film The Bells of St. Mary's?

A Cap, a Gown and Potato Salad

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credit: Perry Correl/

It's graduation time again and the announcements are filling up our metal mailbox. Every afternoon, I hike to the end of our long driveway and retrieve a few more to add to our social calendar. I'm always impressed by the design of the modern graduation invitations we receive. High-end (and I'm sure high-priced) professional photos of the graduate from babyhood to senior year adorn the cards, with details of the reception embossed in school colors. The parties take place in venues such as park pavilions, country clubs and American Legion halls. The meals are hearty -- sometimes even catered -- the decorations are festive, and the gifts are plentiful and lavish.

I laugh when I think about my high school graduation celebration. It was a very simple affair in comparison -- from the preprinted, standard, school-issue invitations to my one-and-only senior picture (taken on the stage of our school auditorium) slipped inside the plain white envelope. We didn't order many. My grandparents and out-of-town aunts and uncles each merited one, but the remainder of the folks invited received a money-saving informational phone call from my mom. I wore a hand-me-down cap and gown, and the "reception," if you could call it that, was held in our garage and spilled over into our backyard. The best part? Mom made chicken sandwiches and her famous potato salad, and Dad cranked out some homemade ice cream to go with the store-bought sheet cake.

I received a few gifts and even a bit of much-needed cash to help me launch my college career. But when it comes down to it, all I really needed to make it official and move on with life was the diploma. Nothing else was necessary.

But I sure would have missed Mom's potato salad. 

'Til next time,

Mary Beth Weisenburger,
Good Old Days® magazine

PS. What was your high school graduation celebration like in your Good Old Days? We want to hear about it! Send a brief response to me at, and it could appear in a future update or in Good Old Days magazine! Here is one response from the April 3, 2019, update question: Do you recall dressing in special new clothes for Easter or other special events in your Good Old Days? What was your favorite outfit?

Sharon Kiesel from Missouri shared: "When I was about 12, I was allowed to sell greeting cards, wrapping paper, etc. door to door in our neighborhood. When I had earned a whopping (to me!) $7, it was close to Easter. I was so thrilled as, this particular year, I could then purchase my own Easter outfit. It was a blue shirtwaist dress with a blue-white-and-green floral sash. Not only was I able to get the dress, I was also able to buy a pair of shoes, a slip, a purse and a simple new hat! I was so happy with my purchases! Nowadays, on Social Security, I would love to find any article of clothing for $7! Those were certainly the nifty, thrifty, fifties!"

Mary Beth Weisenburger has been with Annie's since April 2011. She has 25 years of experience in the marketing, advertising and publishing fields. In addition to her job as editor of Good Old Days, she has been writing a family humor column for over a decade. She and her husband, two college-age kids, two dogs and various other critters live on five acres in the country, where she enjoys reading on the back porch, refinishing furniture, feeding the birds and digging in the dirt of her perennial gardens.

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Trivia Answer

Bing Crosby. The film also starred Ingrid Bergman as Sister Mary Benedict. In the film, Father O'Malley and Sister Mary Benedict work to save a struggling Catholic school. Crosby also portrayed Father O'Malley in the 1944 film Going My Way.  

Find out more about the fashion, events and popular culture of America in the Live It Again book series at, featuring the best of The Saturday Evening Post!

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