Books Read in 2007
5 October 2007
That's My Answer's question to be answered today was whether or not your grammar school had a web site. I did a Google search and was surprised to find that St. Brigid School did, indeed, have a web site.
Not only did it have a web site, but it had an alumni page where it was asking for information from graduates. I sent mine to the e-mail address included.
Visiting the site did, of course, open a floodgate of memories.
The staff were members of The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (or "BVMs" for short) and, of course, this was the day when all nuns wore habits. The BVMs had the box-like headgear, with heavy rosary beads hanging from the belt around their waist. The notion of a nun having any skin under all that black was incomprehensible. It seemed that they always carried clickers. We stood on clicks, we sat on clicks, we genuflected in church on clicks. I suspect that the idea of clicker training for dogs was started by some person who went to Catholic grammar school!
I remember my very first day of school...or at least the first five minutes of it. I was starting a bit late because I was too young and after my best friend started Kindergarten, I was so sad, my mother got a special dispensation for me to go into the classroom too, so it was a few days after the start of school. The deal was that I would spend 2 years in Kindergarten, but apparently I was so good at coloring, they let me move into 1st grade with my classmates. I was always the youngest in the class (which became difficult when everyone reached puberty a year before I did).
I remember standing at the kindergarten room door, crying while Sister Mary St. Patrice was telling me how pretty my curls were as she gradually took me by the hand and led me to the playhouse in the room.
I don't really remember anything else about kindergarten at all, but that one moment when I stepped into the room, trying not to cry, is indelibly burned into my memory banks.
We got to wear whatever we wanted for kindergarten, but for the next 11 years, I would wear uniforms. August was always the month when we would head to Macy*s or The Emporium, or whichever store had the contract and get, in grammar school, the white middy blouse, the removable collar and cuffs, the navy blue tie, and the pleated navy blue skirt that I lived in 5 days a week. The boys had grey tweed slacks, white shirts and ties.
My memories of grammar school come in little chunks. We played games in the school yard -- "Lemonade," "Red Rover," and "Mother May I," for example. I participated sometime, but I was usually one of the last chosen for teams. I mostly remember sitting off in a corner reading.
I remember the day when a group of girls in my class all surrounded me and felt under my middy blouse to see if I had breasts yet, because they were all wearing bras already, but since I was a year younger, I was still flat chested. They laughed at lot.
(When I did get a bra, I was so jealous because Stephen would always snap my friend Judy's bra and never mine...we both had a crush on him.)
The school playground was next to the church, which was built of big stone blocks. Now there is a rectory between the yard and the church, but then there wasn't. I liked to stand at the church wall and flake off pieces of the stone with the tip of a bobbiepin. I would sometimes spend my entire recess period flaking pieces of stone off the side of the building.
I remember the school library. We had to have special permission to go to the library, because it was so small, but I was there as often as possible and read a lot of books about the lives of various saints and decided I wanted to be a Carmelite just like my heroine, Saint Teresa of Lisieux.
I remember hot chocolate and plain cake donuts in the cafeteria on Lenten mornings for those who went to early Mass, and that "cafeteria smell" that comes with institutions. I developed a hatred of canned green beans in that cafeteria!
The 7th and 8th grade girls had a special bathroom on the third floor of the building that the little kids weren't allowed to go in. I was always curious until I got old enough to realize that it had a Kotex dispensing machine in it.
Religious ceremonies were part of our life every day, whether things like "May processions" (where we crowned a statue of Mary with flowers) in the classroom, or a big deal in the church, like "40 Hours" devotions, and endless processions down the side aisle of the church (I nearly typed "theatre" -- same thing!) for various events.
I remember singing in the choir loft of the church. We sang Gregorian chant at Mass each Sunday, and read the words off of big plasticized cards. It was a tiny choir loft and we all crowded into a little space next to the big pipe organ.
I remember endless grammar drills in class. How I hated them ("b says buh-buh-buh," ... "s says sss-sss-sss"), and how I now appreciate them because of the excellent grammar foundation it gave me. We always knew that we had much better grammar skills than the poor non-Catholic kids in the nearby public school.
When I was in about the 7th grade our special project was to do a report on a state (I had California). It had to be in a booklet cut in the shape of the state and when all the reports were finished, we put them together into a big U.S. map on the bulletin board outside the classroom. They took a picture of us putting up the booklets. It was the year after I went on my first diet and I still remember Jimmy Whoel looking at the picture and saying "that can't be Bev. She's not fat enough."
I remember the preparation for receiving the sacrament of Confirmation and how we were expected to take "the pledge," promising not to drink alcohol until we were 21. I wonder how many of us kept that pledge (I didn't!).
I remember Christmas pageants in the little theatre in the basement of the church (which was also the place where we assembled to line up for processions).
I remember lining up on Sunday mornings for Mass, those who were having communion in one line and those who were not in another line. I had a taken a sip of water one morning, in the days when you couldn't even have water before receiving communion. I mistakenly got into the communion line and thought I was going to go to hell for not switching lines, but going to hell was far less frightening than having to admit to the nuns that I'd made a mistake and gotten in the wrong line!
Most of my classmates went on to Presentation High School. Only three of us went to St. Vincent, a decision I've never regretted, but I did lose track of everybody from my grammar school class, which is kind of sad.
Because I always believe in passing along good information to my readers, I offer this as a possible filler for a hole that has existed for a long time. If only I'd had one with me when I went to see whales with my friend Diane....
And to counteract that, this page has absolutely THE most beautiful photos from Africa that I have seen.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
OK, Gang--here's my graduation photo. The
people are, left to right, starting at the top:
(I put in all those names for purpose of Google