Friends for life reconnect through Mount Mary
Posted on May 17, 2021
For many years, Anne Salamun Huff kept in touch with other members of Mount Mary’s Class of 1942 as a volunteer class delegate, writing annual letters filled with news and updates.
She kept everyone abreast of their activities, these women who graduated from college at the height of World War II, as they established careers and settled into their lives as mothers, teachers, professionals, grandmothers and more.
As the years passed, she recorded losses in their ranks too, fellow students who passed away or lost touch.
Obstacles present challenges
About a year ago, Huff got an email and photo from classmate Lynne Luchini, who had just turned 100. Lynn’s request: “Send me a photo when you get to be 100,” Huff recalled.
This is the story of a milestone, and two photos worth sharing.
Little did Luchini know, Huff’s eyesight had deteriorated to the point where she could no longerstay active on email. She had to close her account and lost many email addresses in the process, but she always remembered this request.
It took some detective work from Mount Mary’s Office of Alumnae and Donor Relations (Lynne Luchini is listed in our records by her full maiden name, Evelyn Maliczak). But eventually these two friends, who now live in different states but grew up only a few streets away, were able to reconnect.
Women share similar backgrounds
Both girls grew up in West Allis; they were the only graduates of West Allis High School from 1938 to attend Mount Mary College. As commuter students, known as “dayhops,” attending school at Mount Mary meant riding a streetcar and a bus into Wauwatosa and a shuttle from around 88th Street and North Avenue to campus. This journey could take almost two hours.
“At this time, West Allis seemed like a world away,” Huff said.
Before Luchini’s junior year, her parents got her a car and she would sometimes give Huff a ride to school. Like the other dayhops, they ate lunch at the grill,
while the resident students returned to their own dining room in Caroline Hall. There was a jukebox at the grill and while Sister Mary John Vonderen made the grilled cheese sandwiches, Huff remembers practicing her dance moves with the other dayhops to the music of the time, Tommy Dorsey and young Frank Sinatra. They would waltz, fox trot and do the Milwaukee polka.
Dancing still brings them joy. Even at the age of 101, Luchini still loves to dance. “I could dance every day, I don’t sit much because I don’t want to stiffen up,” she said. “During TV commercials I walk the halls of my apartment for those three minutes.”
Memories endure as life goes on
There are only a handful of graduates from 1942 remaining on Mount Mary’s mailing list, but these two keep the memories of departed friends alive, Edith, Betty, Leona and Anita, to name a few. Huff was godmother for Leona’s son, who recently passed away. Before he died, he gifted Huff his mother’s 50th anniversary pin from Mount Mary.
After graduation, Huff and Luchini kept in sporadic contact as their lives took different directions.
Both of them teachers, they moved away from Milwaukee because of licensure restrictions at the time that made it difficult to secure full-time teaching in the city.
Eventually both of them returned to Milwaukee and although they lived in different parts of town, occasionally their paths would cross. Both had daughters who attended Pius XI High School.
One year, their girls were in the same debate class. They connected, and moved on.
Huff attended Mount Mary reunions regularly, and Luchini attended them occasionally. In 1973, Huff was awarded the Madonna Medal for her service to Mount Mary.
“After you graduate from Mount Mary, you are off to someplace else and you’d like to keep in touch but you get busy,” Huff said. “People come and go from your life. But reunions were always a time to reconnect.”
Sharing a milestone
The years passed, and both these members of the “greatest generation” would say that time has been kind. Huff said her granddaughter has kept her young at heart, and Luchini is grateful for good health.
“It doesn’t feel any different to be 101, but I am slowing up a little bit,” said Luchini, who lives independently in a senior community. “I don’t need a walker or a cane. I have perfect eyesight and I can drive.
“I do my own cooking, but I don’t bake much, though.”
This past year presented challenges in seeing family and friends; Luchini’s family had to cancel her 100th birthday party last March, and COVID made it difficult for Huff to see her family until a month ago.
As they reflect upon their lives, they recognize the value of their time at Mount Mary and relish the joy of reconnecting.
“It’s nice to see how we look at our ages,” said Luchini.
“I’m grateful for my time at Mount Mary,” said Huff. “The nuns encouraged us to learn, try new jobs and be leaders, that’s how I got interested in so many new things.”
At the age of 100, Huff shares some timeless advice:
“Don’t be afraid to try something new, to get out there and do work. Don’t just sit on your rocker.”
And never, ever be afraid to reach out to an old friend.