The enclosed photos are a good grouping representing life at Campion from 1916 thru 1920. You’d asked me for some background on family members who attended Campion, so here it is.
The public & parochial school systems where we grew up, Sidney, Ohio wasn’t able to provide the type of structured, disciplined education that was preferred by parents. This was as true for my grandfather in 1916 as it was in 1965 when I began at Campion.
My grandfather, Jerry Wagner, Sr. was the Campion Academy Class of 1918 & College of the Sacred Heart Class of 1922. When, the college was closed in 1920 and he transferred to Georgetown University in Washington to finish his junior & senior years.
Joyce Kilmer gave the graduation address to the Campion Academy Class of 1918 in the “gym” of Campion Hall, later converted into the Joyce Kilmer Library. My grandfather told me Kilmer gave the address in uniform as he had recently been drafted into the Army. After the graduation address Kilmer was shipped to France where he was killed in battle six month later.
In addition to my grandfather, I had a number of family members who attended Campion through the years.
Uncle- Bernard Wagner – Class of 1920, taught English at Georgetown. One of his many students was William Peter Blatty, author of the Exorcist. The dedication of Blatty’s book acknowledges “Professor Bernard Wagner for teaching me how to write.” Many Campion grads that attended Georgetown and took Bernard’s classes in Shakespeare & English probably didn’t realize they were being taught by a Campion grad.
Uncle – Charles Von brecht of St. Louis– Class of 1927
Uncle – Bob Wagner, Sidney, Ohio – Class of 1943
Father – Jerry Wagner, Jr., Sidney, Ohio Class of 1946
Cousin – Joe Castellini, Dayton, Ohio – Class of 1956. Joe was a counselor at Camp Campion in the summer of 1956 and drowned in the Mississippi when he was swimming and was caught in a whirlpool. His father & my uncle Jim Castellini, helped to lead the drive to raise funds for an on campus swimming pool so no other family would have this kind of tragedy. This resulted in Hoffman Hall.
Uncle – Bob Castellini, Cincinnati, Ohio – Class of 1959. Bob has the distinction of being the first transfer student accepted at Campion.
Cousin – Charlie Helldorfer, Dayton, Ohio – Class of 1966
Self – Jerry Wagner, III, Sidney, Ohio – Class of 1969
Brother – Paul Wagner, Sidney, Ohio – Class of 1970
Cousin - Pete Helldorfer, Dayton, Ohio – Class of 1970
Brother – Steve Wagner, Sidney, Ohio – Class of 1973; was pulled at the end of his freshman year due to the change in direction of the school.
My grandfather would talk of the long time spent at school as they would arrive there in August and leave in June with only a home trip at Christmas. Family would come to visit by train on occasion or he would go to Chicago to stay with relatives over a Thanksgiving or Easter Holiday.
He was very active on campus. ROTC, the mandolin club, the Ohio Club, sports and off campus ventures to the bluffs, the river and town filled my head over the years.
Dad spoke of the raids on the “barn” at Campion Hall, sneaking in the fire escape & rolling bowling balls down the floors, the football games, campus life in general.
It all sounded like something out of a movie to me as a kid and, as it’s human nature to recall only the good things, that’s all we heard.
My first experience was a visit with my brother Paul, Dad & my Grandfather to the school in the summer of 1964 for a reunion weekend. We stayed in Lucey Hall, got to swim in the pool, played golf putting on the sand greens, ate at Kaber’s & spent an idyllic weekend there.
My next step was Father Carey coming to our house in Sidney, Ohio in 1964 to administer the entrance exam. I was advised I had passed and would be starting in the fall of 1965.
We began to accumulate clothing….14 of everything (socks, shirts, underwear), sew in name tags, buy a footlocker, learn how to sew, polish shoes and the like. To this day, I still have more clothes than I need. If I have less than 10 pair of socks an alarm goes off & tells me I have to get more. My wife shakes her head & I just say don’t ask, as old habits die hard.
I recall driving to Chicago. I’d never seen buildings that tall in person before. We spent the night at the Hilton Hotel where Ray Bolger, the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, was the entertainment. We dressed coat & tie for dinner, as did everyone at that time. I had a whole hotel room to myself and my own TV set.
The next day, we went to Union Station to assemble with all the other kids to board the Campion Special. We said our good-byes to our parents and headed down to the track to board the train. Other than Matt Dee from Bellefontaine, Ohio whom I had met earlier in the year, I didn’t know a soul on the train.
Lots of confused & excited kids just like me. We played bridge a good part of the way up and then looked at the scenery from the dome cars since many of us had never been on a train before.
After about 4 hours the train stopped behind Marquette Hall and began to unload its contents. Only the football team was there as the freshman class had about a week on campus before everyone else cam back. We dragged our luggage to Marquette Hall, which was a first as freshmen had previously been lodged in the barn or Campion Hall. But, with the construction of the new senior residence hall, Xavier Hall, Marquette Hall became the new freshman dorm. It had been remodeled to accommodate two in a room, where the seniors had single rooms previously.
From there the adventure began.
I’ll send in some more detail later, but I want to get this off to you so you can review the photos.
Jerry Wagner ‘69