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Evansville, Indiana
November 26, 1993     The Message
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November 26, 1993

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1993 The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana St. Vincent Day Care celebrates 75 years Message staff writer 1961, Frances Taylor ,'to Sti Vincent's Day Care , as a tempo- kNN HUGHES rary worker. She had been asked to help out for two weeks, but she stayed 15 years. Last week, as St. Vincent's celebrated 75 years, Frances r Served as president of the Ladies of Char- Years. She also worked at St. Vincent Day 15 Years. Message photo by Mary Ann Hughes took time to look back on her work with the day care center, both as an employee and as president of the Ladies of Charity. It was work she loved filled with memories she cher- ishes. Her ties to the day care cen- ter go back to the 1920s when her mother Margaret was an active member of the Ladies of Charity. Frances remembers her mother setting up folding card tables in their living room and dining room on Sunday af- ternoons; then their house would fill with bingo players. "All the money went to keep the day care open." One of her mother's "favorite" things" was the Ladies of Charity and when she was old enough, Frances became active too. So active, in fact, that she served as its president for over 30 years. Her employment at the day care center began when one of the teachers became ill. She was asked to work with the after-school group for two weeks. "I said, 'yes, but I don't know anything about chil- dren.'" When the two-week job turned into a month, Frances approached her superior and asked, "What are you doing about my replacement?" The answer was, "Nothing. You are doing a wonderful job." She began to help out in the office, doing bookkeeping and becoming a "Gal Friday. Ask me something I didn't do. I did anything that came along," Tuesdays were spent starch- ing the habits for the Daugh- ters of Charity who worked at the day care. She also served as the substitute teacher whenever any of the regular teachers became ill, and she helped out as a cook and chauf- feur when she was needed. "One week, I made five trips to St. Louis, on the old road not the new one, to pick up Sis- ters for Sister Mercedes ju- bilee. I made one trip'each day." When the Sisters of Charity modified their habits, Frances was recruited as seamstress. "Only six of us could make an old habit into a new one." She also taught the children at the day care to sew, starting with doll clothes and eventually helping some of the girls to make their own dresses. One year, a bolt of material arrived from Chicago and Frances began sewing aprons while one of the Sisters can- vased the neighborhood selling them for $2. "We didn't have much money, but we sure had good times." She says one of her favorite memories began when she walked into the kitchen and heard the cook say she was out of corn meal. "I asked her, 'Did you pray,' and she said, 'No, I'm leaving that up to you.' "Just then the door bell rang and I found a man from Wes- selman's Cafeteria standing there holding a 25-pound sack of yellow corn meal that he had ordered by mistake. "I told him, "You are an an- swer to our prayers.' When I took that in to Sister, she al- most fainted." Frances said she enjoyed her work at the day care "because every day there was something different and every day I knew there was going to be some- thing that would make me laugh." 3 Last Tuesday, Frances joined staff members and the children for a 75-year birthday celebra- tion; the day care center opened in 1918 during World War I. The center, originally St. Vincent's Day Nursery, was es- tablished by the Ladies of Charity. During those early years, the organization had over 600 members, represent- ing all of the Catholic parishes in Evansville. The first home for the nurs- ery was at 121 Upper Seventh Street; the building was fur- nished by a donation from John Fendrich and his sister Laura McCarthy. In 1919, Daughter of Charity Sister Lucia began work at the nursery; which was moved to 517 Bond Street. A lawn festi- val, held by the Ladies of Char- ity, raised $2452.09, which was used to furnish the building vith "modem improvements." Seventy-nine children were enrolled by 1921 and the cost per child was fifteen cents a day. In 1930, the William Hell- man property at 611 First Av- enue was purchased by John Fendrich and Laura McCarthy as a Christmas present to the Daughters of Charity. The total budget for the nursery in 1939 was $9,800; by 1970, the budget had jumped to $59,714. The 1993 budget is $943,344 and today, 244 chil- dren are enrolled at the center with a staff of 50. In 1969, the center became the responsibility of the East Central Province of the Daugh- ters of Charity. In 1976, a new facility behind the Heilman home was built for the day care center. In 1990, St. Vin- cent's began a new program for students at Indiana Vocational Technical College; children ages one through 10 are cared for while their parents are at- tending class. During 1992, a total of 291 children were served at Ivy Tech. Vincent Day Care Center enjoy a parade celebrating the center's 75th Message photo by Mary Ann Hughes With children at St. Vincent's Day Care during the early 1940s. A Sister of Charity in Evansville during the 1960s.