Chalk Dust Memories
Michael Menaster (1982)
I was in Steve Phelps social sciences/history class as a freshman (1978-1979). Steve was talking about guerilla warfare, and I asked if that had anything to do with monkeys. That question got me a detention.
I took Fr. Dodd for Homeric Greek, and one of my classmates, who was not doing well in the class, tried to bribe him with a bottle of Greek wine. I reminded Fr. Dodd, “Never trust a Greek bearing gifts.”
I attended college at Loyola Marymount University with a pre-med and chemistry major. One of the required courses was a physics laboratory. Predictably, the midterm test was very difficult. A couple of days later, classmates in another section came up to me and congratulated me. I asked them to explain. The instructor said that I earned the high score on the exam. He explained that people criticize American education, but that I was an exception because I had attended SI and studied Latin and Greek.
Latin is actually very useful in the medical profession, despite being a “dead language.” During a pre-med course in alcohol/drug studies, the instructor asked what NPO meant. I reflexively responded, “Nihil per orum.” After observing a puzzled look on her face, I translated, “the patient can’t eat or drink anything.”
Fr. Harrington taught me the classical pronunciation of Latin (1978–1979). We learned it so well that I cringed when I heard Ecclesiastical Latin pronounced. During medical school, we studied myasthenia gravis, a neurological disorder. Classmates didn’t understand me when I pronounced the letter “v” in gravis as a “w.” We proceeded to have a discussion about the merits of classical Latin as opposed to Ecclesiatical Latin. I still pronounce the disorder as “myasthenia grawis.”
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