“My homework was not stolen by a one-armed man”

The nights are chilly, afghan chilly, animals right beside me chilly. I can barely move in bed as they are huddled beside me, and it isn’t even winter yet. The house was around 65° when I woke up this morning which meant a sweatshirt and warm slippers. The sandals have been put way back in the closet.

The day started out sunny but has since become cloudy and dark and is supposed to stay this way. It’s 56°, tolerable but sad. It means no open windows and wearing socks and shoes. I hate that it gets dark so early in the afternoon now. That mole feeling which comes with winter is getting stronger.

When we were kids, early darkness this time of year left little time to play outside after school. Besides, it was too cold for the usual games except for an occasional bike ride. The walk to and from school and recess were about the only physical activities we had until snow and ice gave us more options. I don’t remember minding having to stay inside as we had plenty of games, and I had my books to keep me company. Late in the afternoon the TV went on, and we’d sit on the carpet close to the set and watch our favorite programs on the flickering black and white screen. Only my mother calling us to dinner pulled us away.

I was the one who always did her homework right away. I’d sit at the kitchen table with my papers and do mostly English, religion, spelling or math. We almost never brought home books except for our catechism, which we had bought. I think the nuns were afraid we’d lose the other books and money was hard to come by to replace lost or damaged books. Most times we brought home worksheets with math problems, spellings lists or fill in the blanks with the right pronoun, country or whatever else was asked for. For some reason the coin sheet jumps out of my memory drawer, and I remember black and white pictures of coins. For homework we had to add or subtract them from the total number of coins. Religion homework was always memorize something. Where is God? God is everywhere was on the first page of one of my catechisms. My favorite picture was of the three milk bottles. One was white for sinless, one was half white and half black for venial sins and the last was all black for mortal sins. I wonder what they do now. You can’t see through cartons.

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11 Comments on ““My homework was not stolen by a one-armed man””

  1. Bob Says:

    Before the energy crisis daylight savings time had long since reverted back to standard time and darkness came early in October. Our outside activities were cut short and we watched a lot more TV after school.

    I never did my homework before dinner because I had to watch my afternoon TV shows on the floor directly in front of the screen. Did your mother tell you that you would go blind from sitting to close to the TV? After we ate I had to watch the evening TV shows which left little time for homework. I was an avid reader but hated doing math problems or diagraming sentences from the textbooks which we covered with brown paper cut from grocery bags. I was probably an undiagnosed ADHD kid, but no one knew about that in the 1950s.

    Much of my formal education came from outside interests because public school time in Texas was taken up with overcrowded boring classes. Much of the school day was filled with repetitive rote memory exercises interspersed with lunch, recess and occasionally an art or music class. Each school day and lunch period was begun with a devotional over the intercom system. Texas is the buckle of the Bible belt and prayer in public schools is still being debated long after the Supreme Court outlawed the practice. During the fall, football was king here in Texas and teachers would excuse homework over the weekend if you bought a ticket to the game. I always bought the ticket but never attended. Every football game was also preceded by a devotional prayer.

    I remember one teacher who allowed us to listen to the World Series game on a transistor radio during her class. She knew that her material was boring and useless. She thought that we would learn more listening to the pitching exploits of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

    Last night Albert Pujols and the Cards put on a home run exhibition in Arlington Texas. Hopefully, the Rangers can figure out a way to even the series tonight.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      I don’t think TV, when I was young, started until later in the afternoon, after four. Yup, my mother told us the same thing. I expected to wake up blind some morning.

      I have always hated math. I had to work at it to do well while the other stuff was easy for me. I loved diagramming sentences. It all made perfect sense to me with a place for every word.

      We had prayers only in the morning, and it was a Catholic grammar school. Massachusetts, once a hotbed of Puritinism, became liberal enough that there was no prayer in the public schools.

      I sneaked and listened to the radio a few times, but no way would that have been allowed.

      Albert won that game practically by himself.

  2. olof1 Says:

    We’ve had a rather nice day over here, sunny and a bit chilly as long as the wind blew. Almost warm when the wind blew away somewhere else 🙂

    I made my homework later in the evening mostly as I remember it, but we always had our books with us home when we had homework. I’ve never seen those coin sheets though 🙂

    We did have a lot of christianity in our religion classes but lots about jewism as I remember it. Almost nothing about Islam though. We also learned a lot about the old Viking gods for some reason 🙂 🙂 🙂 I barley remember anything about those any longer 🙂 It seems as if our learning of other religions mostly came from what ever religion that the teacher we had was interested in 🙂

    I have actually never seen a milk bottle 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      It stayed chilly all day and right now at 9:30 it is only 46°. It’s a snuggle under the covvers night.

      The coin sheets were just work sheets to help us learn money and how to make change.

      We never studied other religions until I was in high school and that was pretty sketchy. College is where I learned comparative religions.

      We used to get our milk delivered in bottles when i was young. The top of the milk always had a layer of cream, and we all wanted to be the one to open the bottle.

  3. Bob Says:

    In the United States the Constitution provides for separation of Church and State. The degree of that separation has been interpreted by the courts for many years. The rulings generally please minority religions and nonbelievers while irritating fundamentalist Christians. Religion can be taught in the public schools from a historical or literary point of view.

    The correct term is Judaism.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      The Church of Sweden, formerly the state church, didn’t become separated from the State until1999; however, it still receives some state support so that is the background of where Christer is from. I think his misspelling is because he speake Swedish and English is a second language.

  4. Zoey & Me Says:

    I don’t know what they do now but was it really necessary to teach children that God watched your every move? That sickened me. Later in life I recall all the things I did NOT want God to see me do. I think the Catholic Church lost a lot of people in our age group after enduring College and sorting out truth from fiction.

    • katry Says:

      Z&Me,
      I figured we were being taught to do what was right even when no person could see us. I wasn’t ever sickened by it and it certainly didn’t stop me making some interesting choices. I always went by the principle that you didn’t lie, cheat, steal or intentionally hurt someone. I figured anything else was fair game, God watching or not.

  5. Lori Kossowsky Says:

    When we were younger milk bottle were delivered to the house. My best friend’s family owned the dairy farm. We are having a heat wave, but today ( paws crossed) no earth quakes. I don’t remember when I did my homework. Sometimes I would walk from school to a friend’s house who lived across the street because her mother would let us watch Dark Shadows, and I wasn’t allowed to watch it. Sometimes we did our homework together. I don’t believe we were taught much about god in our school.. and since we were Jewish most of my religious teachings were stories my father and mother shared with me.

    • katry Says:

      Lori,
      I still remember the clink of the bottles being delivered by the milkman.

      Dark Shadows is the only soap I have ever watched. I loved it.

      School was where we were taught about our religion. My parents didn’t need to.


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