At first Grandpa Mormon didn't have much to say as he checked on our progress during breakfast; I assumed he was a man of few words - the second time my assumption about him proved to be incorrect. As we asked him for more details about the Academy he warmed up, and soon was telling stories in between the historical facts.
At a reunion for the nuns and girls who had boarded at the Academy there was a lot of talk about ghosts - all the former students agreed - the place was haunted. Apparently there were few mirrors in the dorm rooms at the time of the girls school, but some full length mirrors were added when the rooms were converted for the bed and breakfast guests. At the reunion, one former student got up in the middle of the night, saw herself in the mirror and was so frightened she wet herself.
Next we were off on a guided tour. Grandpa Mormon led us down a long dark hallway to the kitchen - a large room, well lit and equiped with excellent commercial kitchen fixtures. Mrs. Morman told us about how she aquired each piece, generally for pennies on the dollar due to devine intervention. While the equipment was state of the art, the kitchen walls, floor and ceiling have not been completely restored; I was reminded of the set for the movie, the Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Their Lover.
In the Chapel, Grandpa Mormon fished around in the confessional and pulled out a piece of stained glass so we could see details of how metal powders were infused into the glass to make the various colors. The grandson of the German imigrant who did the original glass had visited and explained the process. The Fry (Frie?) family still owns a stained glass studio in the St. Louis area.
Up in the balcony, Grandpa Morman said it was he who had dismantled the 358 pipes of the organ and numbered the 358 pairs of wires that go to the solenoid valves.
He pulled the ropes to ring the 4 great sonorus bells as he told us how the ropes had to be replaced. When I asked him if the bells were bronze or iron, he said he couldn't tell - too much pigeon poop.
He showed us the dining rooms, now serving as a gift shop, the antiques for sale in the former nun's bedrooms, the class rooms - some ready for a small conference, others storing great piles of junk and antiques.
He said the nuns produced all their food except for beans, wheat flour and milk, and the Catholic church provided almost no support. If the girls tuition produced any surplus, however, the Church wanted some of that.
As he showed us the areas under renovation, I got very tired. Plaster walls to be repaired, wood flooring pulled up to install electricity, old boilers, leaks, stuck windows, leaking roofs, endless painting - I calculated if every Morman took seven wives and every wife had seven sons, they would still be a few workmen short of the crew needed to get the job done.