Francis Wallace, author of many great Notre Dame books, tells this
story of his mother's visit to Notre Dame:
My mother came to Notre Dame for the first time for my graduation and met
Father Cavanaugh. I had been looking forward to the meeting of these two
great people who could give the most ordinary idea the imaginative lilt of
blarney. They bounced it back and forth for a few sentences and then Fr.
"Well, Mother, and what do you think of Notre Dame?"
"Father, it's heaven number two."
Paul Hornung's mother took out an educational policy with an insurance
company for him to go to Notre Dame, never thinking he might become an
"But she made up her mind, once he became a big deal in high school
football, not to attempt to influence his choice of school. The scouts
were all over the place, and this was at a time when the University of
Kentucky decided to go with home- grown talent. Scholarship offers were a
dime a dozen.
"She was making novenas, hoping he'd choose Notre Dame, but still she
never interfered. One day Bear Bryant, Kentucky's coach at that time, and
Governor Wetherby went to see the boy at his mother's home. This was big
stuff, the Governor walking in and saying, 'Mom, let's put on some coffee
"Mrs. Hornung put on the coffee and they talked; and finally they
left the house, without seeing Paul! They didn't ask for the boy, because
not seeing him in the living room or in the kitchen in the daytime, they
thought he was out somewhere.
"They didn't get anywhere pleading their case with Mrs. Hornung,
naturally. She was wishing out loud and praying inside-for Notre Dame.
"Bryant and the Governor left, still without having asked about
Paul's whereabouts. If they had asked for him, he might be playing for
Kentucky today. He was in the house, taking an afternoon nap. But they
never thought to ask. Was this the luck of the Irish?"
At home, Johnny Lujack's mother still worried about his getting hurt.
The first year he went to Notre Dame, during his second scrimmage at
Cartier Field, he got his front teeth knocked out tackling halfback Bill
Early, now one of his backfield coaches. Johnny had a fine bridge made,
and kept the mishap a secret from parents all during the war.
The first game his parents saw him play for Notre Dame was the 1943
Michigan game. In the third quarter Johnny was making a hand-off to the
Notre Dame fullback. The player temporarily lost his balance and banged
his shoulder against Lujack's jaw as he went around him. As soon as the
play ended, Johnny drop down on one knee and called time. The Notre Dame
trainer, "Scrap Iron" Young rushed out to him.
"What's the matter, Johnny?" he asked, anxiously. "You hurt?"
"Naw," Johnny mumbled. "My bridge just got knocked out.
Tell the guys crowd around me. My folks are up there in the stands and I
don't want them to me putting it back in. They don't know about me losing
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