Gene B. Drill (1907-2008)
By Angie Mangino
It was 1979 and I had just started a job with Stanley Home Products to earn some extra money and to meet people, after moving to Tottenville in 1978 with my husband and our infant and toddler sons. Sister Virginia gave me a start with a fund raiser I conducted for the CCD program of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish. This then led to my meeting Mrs. Drill.
She approached me with the idea of my conducting a demonstration at her home for a fund raiser to benefit OLHC’s Rosary & Altar Society. She went through the catalog with me picking out an ambitious list of all the hostess gifts she wanted to earn to use at the annual Christmas Fair to generate funds for the Society’s care of the church altar. We set a date and went to work.
Her job was to get people to her home and to show the sales book for orders from those unable to attend and collect the money for purchases. My job was to demonstrate the products at her house to sell, to do all the invoices and collections that night, to order and pack the products, and to deliver them to Mrs. Drill with her hostess gifts earned.
When sales were a bit short for all she had wanted for the Christmas Fair, I found myself taking my income from the sales, and sometimes donating more, to buy the extras. And while I never told her this is what I did each of the years we continued, something tells me from the yearly Christmas visit she paid to my house with cookies for my children that she knew I was giving her extra.
How could I not? This woman in her seventies was working so hard to do her part to help keep the Lord’s altar done properly and it was, after all, the altar that was before me in my newly found parish.
Originally from the Bronx, Mrs. Drill settled in Tottenville around 1940. She lived there until her death in 2008, taught at Tottenville High School for more than 35 years, and was a founder of the South Shore Swimming Pool, as well as doing her volunteer work at OLHC’s Rosary and Altar Society.
She was an outspoken woman who went after what she wanted. Having been born in the Bronx, I can attest to the tendency of people raised in the Bronx usually saying what they mean directly, something that sometimes ruffles Tottenville sensibilities.
In fact, I can just picture her now lovingly caring for the Lord’s Table in heaven after 101 years on this earth. Of course, I can also see her telling Him how to improve things more to her liking!