This branch of the Austrian Hesch family is descended from Johann Hesch and his wife Marya (Schlinz) Hesch, who came to America from Oberschlagles, Bohemia with three sons: Paul, Mathias, and Anton. +++Johann & Marya settled in Buffalo County, Wisconsin but moved to Pierz, Mn in about 1885. .+++Mathias settled in Waumandee, Wisconsin and moved to Pierz in 1911. +++Anton never married but farmed with his dad in Agram Township, where he died in 1911.+++And Paul, my great grandfather, settled five miles away, in Buckman, Minnesota. He died there in 1900.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The war on Evil Films

As a Minnesota Catholic school kid in the 50s and 60s, we basically did what ever Sister said to do.
In second grade, if we behaved, we were allowed to stand by the windows and rub the image off B&W 5X7 photo negatives that were soaking in pans of water on the radiators.  The clean pieces of plastic became covers on flash cards of spelling words. 

We were told what clothes were indecent to wear even if it was 20 below (pants, for girls), and that certain head scarves (Disney) were off limits to wear to daily mass cuz they were sinful, and distracting to other children.
We went to confession and received sacraments on the nuns' schedule.  We had our throats blessed on the feast of St Blaise because we all ate pan fish every Friday, like they said to do.

In 3rd or 4th grade, we were told to go see a wonderful new movie about the bible called "The Ten Commandments" (Yes, it came out in 1956 and this was 1958...the nuns wanted to make positive sure the occasional skimpy costume would be worth getting the message across to us.  They finally cautiously decided it was).

We got points for seeing the movies they strongly suggested, like "Ten Commandments"...or the horrible  "Embezzled Heaven", which haunted me for years.  Here's a quick synopsis from another blogger who was also subject to nuns with inspiring movies : "... the plot revolves around a woman who thinks she can gain heaven by paying for her nephew to become a priest. Instead he becomes a layabout. I couldn't bear to read through the entire plot line. Somewhere the Pope factors in."
Wonder what lesson 4th graders were supposed to take from that?

So, there was a nunnish pipeline of permissible movies approved by the Legion of Decency...and they were shown in the "good" theater in St Cloud, the Hayes (above). (The Eastman and the Paramount were dens of iniquity, doncha know).

"The “war on ‘evil’ films” had been waged several years prior by an organization known as the Legion of Decency (“Cardinal declares war,” 1934). A leader of the organization, Cardinal Hayes, condemned “lustful and depraved pictures” that featured “the glorification of crime, lust, and, in general, the serious violation of the law of God.” Hayes pointed to the dire consequences that such movies would provoke: “History records the inevitable ruin of nation after nation when moral laws are violated and spiritual ideals vanish. Evil motion pictures in their baneful influence undermine the moral foundation of the State.”
The causal claims made by the Legion of Decency were, to say the least, immodest. The organization hypothesized that eating popcorn at a showing of The Outlaw, a condemned film about Billy the Kid, could, by a diffuse but inexorable causal chain, result in the destruction of the soul, love, marriage, family, social harmony, and the nation itself"
--from THIS PDF.

Whoohoo...maybe you should cover your eyes after you click "play"


  1. I remember the Legion of Decency. They had listed all the forbidden shows in the Pittsburgh Catholic. To this day I still wonder what were they about, well, I was a kid and the only films we went to were Disney.

    I wonder how many of us now are neurotic and guilt ridden?

  2. LOL! I have a bumper sticker that says" Feel guilty for no reason? You're Catholic"...but I'm too guilty to put it on the bumper.
    It's on the visor, inside. Sometimes, I find myself apologizing for it...gawd!
    (I'd say quite a few of us...☺)