A Classical Education by Mary Ann Sheridan-Woods

Really? He spoke Latin? 

In the early 1920’s, my grandfather, Charles Vincent Ryan, met his wife, Edith Alice Lawton, at the Alhambra Dance Hall at Crescent Park in Riverside, RI. They both hailed from the Mt. Pleasant section of providence, Rhode Island and took the Alhambra Trolley.


Grandparents. Mom in the middle

My mother, also Edith Alice, was born in 1925 and her brother, Richard Charles, was born in 1927. They lived in various apartments in Mt. Pleasant. My mother and her brother attended Providence Public Schools. She was the recipient of the prestigious Anthony Medal from George J. West Middle School. This was awarded for academic excellence.

My mother attended Classical High School. Every evening after dinner, my grandmother and my uncle had a merry old time putting together jigsaw puzzles in the living room. Not so for my mother and her father. She would spread all her books and notepads out on the kitchen table. She reviewed every class explaining what was taught and all the notes she had taken. Many an evening after my mother, uncle and my grandmother retired for the evening, my grandfather would continue to study. He could speak Latin and converse in it with my mother ( you don’t speak Latin).

My grandfather was a painter for the City of Providence. He would joke with us that he had attended Brown, RISD, and Pembroke even though it was a women’s college. He had painted the inside of these buildings for many a year.

My grandmother, grandfather and my uncle proudly attended my mother’s graduation. I truly believe that one name was left off the roster, Charles Vincent Ryan.

© 2019

By | 2018-11-28T17:51:42+00:00 December 27th, 2018|Stories of the 1940's and 1950's|12 Comments


  1. Peter Voccio JR. December 27, 2018 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Mary Ann, now we know where your intelligence and humour come from. The Anthony Medal speaks volumes and Classical confirms it. My wife’s brother received the Medal in the 1950’s at Green and also was a member of the Classical class of 1958.
    Lovely photo, prescious to you for sure. A very attractive mother, quite sure the looks passed on. A nice American story from years back.

    • Ed December 27, 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Peter, I was a ’57 CHS grad. What is your brother-in-law’s name?

  2. Peter Voccio JR. December 27, 2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Ed, Alfred Almonte

  3. Ardys Filippone December 27, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    I graduated in January 1958. Would like to know your brother in law’s name also.

    • Ed December 27, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

      Al Almonte

  4. Peter Voccio JR. December 27, 2018 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    Ed, a tidbit, my wife Ann was the class of 1950 Regent Avenue school, Green 53, Mount Pleasant 56. I know Mary Ann’s playground well. Ardys Gunther, my wife Ann remembers you from years way back.

    • Ed December 27, 2018 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      Peter, we have a luncheon of GJ West and Mt. Pleasant grads ’54 thru ’58 three times a year. You guys will know many, so I will include you on the invitation list 😊

  5. Peter Voccio JR. December 27, 2018 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Ed, Sounds good!

  6. Natalie L McKenna December 31, 2018 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    I had forgotten about the Anthony Medal. It was prestigious, but I wasn’t! Thanks for that memory jog. I love these stories!

    • Ed December 31, 2018 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Waiting for another from you, Natalie.
      Any lentils today?

  7. Tom Mulvey December 31, 2018 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Great example Mary Ann that learning is not confined to the 4 walls of the classroom. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ed December 31, 2018 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      Excellent comment. Tom. A lesson to be learned indeed

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