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From the Archives

The "Holy Cross Boys" series

By Jack O'Connell '81

McDonaldIrving T. McDonald '15 penned boys' adventure stories in his spare time.

It was the beginning of the last quarter of the first interclass game of the football season, and the sophomores were crowing lustily. They had been crowing since the game started, for their poor freshman opponents, scarcely two weeks old at Holy Cross, had only organized the night before whereas the older men had an intact organization from the previous year.

So begins the novel Hoi-Ah! Andy Carroll's First Year at Holy Cross, by Irving T. McDonald '15. Published by Benziger Brothers in 1926, Hoi-Ah! is the first book in the "Holy Cross Boys" series. The other titles in the series are That Second Year (at Holy Cross) and Schooner Ahoy! (Holy Cross Boys with the Cape Cod Fishing Fleet).

Intended for "young Christian boys aged eight-to-11," the books depict an idealized view of student life at a Jesuit school in central Massachusetts. The main character in each novel is Andy Carroll, an all-American, sports-loving student from Texas. Reappearing secondary characters include Gus Belcher, a perpetually hungry classmate, and the impetuous "Riot" O'Rourke.

Irving McDonald had a prominent career at Holy Cross both as a student and an alum. An award-winning and popular undergraduate, he was known for writing and performing plays and skits at class dinners. Following graduation, McDonald spent some time as a vaudeville entertainer, who toured extensively with Will Rogers, before becoming a manager of several early movie theaters in Manhattan. Moving back to his hometown of Springfield, Mass., he became the manager of the Fox Theaters until 1929 when he accepted an offer to create and direct a "dramatics department" at Holy Cross. During his career at the College, McDonald taught in the English department, directed numerous student productions, and eventually succeeded Foster Stearn as head librarian.

Interviewed by The Tomahawk in 1941, McDonald spoke about the impetus for writing the Andy Carroll books. "My reason for writing the series was twofold," he said. "In the first place it seemed that there was a gap in juvenile Catholic literature, and, secondly, I knew of no juvenile books that dealt with an authentic college."

McDonald left Holy Cross in 1942 for a career in radio. The head of radio promotions at WRKO in Boston, he later worked as the "international news interpreter" for WEEI. He died in Gainsville, Fla., on March 1, 1966.

 

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