“Come, pensive nun, devout and pure, sober steadfast, and demure, all in a robe of darkest grain, flowing with majestic train.”

It is another beautiful fall day with lots of sunshine. The breeze is ever so slight and just ruffles the leaves. When I closed down the deck, I left out a table and a comfy chair so I can enjoy days like today. That’s where I’ve been for the last couple of hours. I fed the birds and read a while then figured it was time to get on with my day. I came inside but oh so reluctantly.

I have a couple of errands today, left over from yesterday. One I couldn’t do and the other I forgot to do. Looks like I’ll be putting four or five more miles on the car this week!

I wore uniforms for almost my entire time in school, from grades 1 though grade 11. They made it easy to choose what to wear, and uniforms made us all equal. My grades 1 though 8 uniform was a blue skirt, a white blouse and a blue tie: a cowboy tie is what we used to call it. The skirts had to be at least half-way down the knee. I remember the eighth grade when crazy Sister Hildegarde was my teacher, and she went after a girl who had rolled the waist of her skirt to make it shorter. Eleanor Garland was the girl’s name. It is a name I’ve never forgotten as the incident was so awful. To make it even worse, Eleanor was somehow related to crazy Sister Hildegarde, and we all knew it. I can still remember Sister Hildegarde storming down the aisle to the back desk, her veil blowing behind her, where she made Eleanor stand up. We always thought of her as poor Eleanor even before the incident. She had teeth which needed braces, was too skinny, not all that bright and was really shy. To have rolled her skirt so high was a defiant, rebellious Eleanor none of us recognized but should have applauded en mass when the incident happened. I’ll never forget Sister Hildegarde standing in front of poor Eleanor berating and yelling at her. Crazy Sister Hildegarde then  grabbed the hem of Eleanor’s skirt and pulled it down to where the rules said it should be. Eleanor never moved and crazy Sister Hildegarde never stopped yelling. Poor Eleanor cried silently, tears streaming down her face. She was humiliated and we were horrified. When Sister Hildegarde was finally finished her attack, Eleanor was told to sit down. She did so without a word. None of us said anything either. We turned around to let Eleanor have as much privacy as a room full of kids and a crazy nun could give her.

After graduating from the eighth grade, I went to a Catholic high school where every one of the nuns was sane. It was in a different town. I never saw Eleanor after the eighth grade. I sometimes wonder about her.

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14 Comments on ““Come, pensive nun, devout and pure, sober steadfast, and demure, all in a robe of darkest grain, flowing with majestic train.””

  1. Bob Says:

    I wear a uniform every day so that our clients can tell the instructors from the other clients. It makes choosing the days wardrobe very easy. The company pays for the outfit and the replacement parts annually. When I first came to work here, 22 years ago, the uniform included a navy blue blazer and stripped ties. The clients would come for training dressed in business casual with some of them would be wearing coats and ties. Over the years the clients began to dress down. Business casual has replaced the coats and ties and many of them show up for class in blue jeans and athletic shoes. In the summer some even wear muscle shirts, cut offs and flip flops.

    Several years ago we serveyed the instructors world wide and the overwhelming consensus was to get rid of the coats and ties. Of course our British compatriots still wear the blazers and ties because they wanted to look spiffy. I have a photo of two British men lying on the beach on the isle of Jersey wearing a full three peice suite, tie, dress shoes, umbrella in hand and the bowler covering their face ftom the sunlight. Only the British. The tie argument went away when someone wanted to have the female instructors wear ties. They balked, except for the one’s in the UK who wanted to sew a couple of the ties together and make a long scarf.

    The great arbiter of the dress code was the money. By ditching the coats and ties in the US it saved the company thousands of dollars annually.

    .


    • I like uniforms and I can understand why a uniform is perfect for your job. I think the uniform gives you authority.

      Our world seems so casual now I can understand why you no longer wear the blazer and stripped ties. I can’t imagine having to wear a constricting tie every day.

      Scarfs are quite European. I saw both men and women wearing them so I get the women in the UK wanting one.

      I think you would have looked far too dressed compared to your clients so I have to think money was just part of the decision.

      • Bob Says:

        I would agree with feminin scarfs, but sewing two cheap stripped ties together, give me a break 🙂 Our woman instructors here in the US refused to wear a scarf or a bow because they didn’t want to look like a flight attendant.

  2. olof1 Says:

    No uniform at my school but I remember it was a big topic. I know a lot of parents wanted that since we were a poor neighborhood and no kids would be bullied by not having the right kind of clothes. I can’t however remember any kid being bullied because of the clothes we wore.

    I have very little knowledge of nuns, wasn’t it a sitcom about a flying nun once? As I remember she wasn’t crazy even if she did fly around a lot 🙂 🙂 🙂

    There’s this new series about midwives in London after WW2 and there’s a crazy nun in that one but she’s a kind crazy nun 🙂 I once saw a nun driving a car and got amazed because I thought they weren’t allowed to do that, don’t ask me where I got that idea from, In haven’t the slightest idea 🙂

    Sunshine mixed with showers here today.

    Have a great day!
    Christer.


    • Christer,
      Public schools didn’t have uniforms back then but many of them now have them by choice. Parents like the kids dressing alike. I suspect these days kids who can’t afford the “right” clothes would be bullied. When I was a kid, bullying never occurred.

      The sitcom was called The Flying Nun and starred Sally Field as Sister Bertrille. I remember it quite well.

      In the old days, nuns never were allowed to go home to visit or travel alone or drive. Now nuns seldom wear habits and most no longer live in convents. They are difficult to identify without those habits.

      Same weather here today!!

      Stay warm!

      • john Says:

        We still have a cloistered convent in town, The Poor Clares, and I believe they’re the only ones who still wear the habit. A woman physician I delivered mail to would treat them and I’d often see one waiting for her sister. I’ve often wondered what the condition of the world would be like without their life’s calling.
        I always assumed many orders didn’t drive ’cause wearing the habit interfered with their peripheral vision. Not being able to see beyond the veil, so to speak.

  3. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I went to public school so no uniforms except what one’s peers dictated as the style of the day for that age group. We had no crazy nuns but plenty of crazy teachers who bullied us just as effectively. It’s probably better now that teachers aren’t allowed to hit the students but sometimes I wonder. 🙂
    It was sunny for an hour or so earlier but now it’s grey again. Warm, though. I have a dinner invite from my sister-in-law for this evening but that’s my only outing. Bills got paid online yesterday, auto registration renewed online this morning. Ain’t life easy with computer? 🙂
    Enjoy the day.


    • Hi Caryn,
      Most of the nuns were good, but that one nun was really crazy. She was old which we took advantage of often. We’d come back an hour late from lunch and tell her we were in church and she would believe us. If you were a good student, she never bothered you and gave you plenty of leeway.

      We had that beautiful morning then it rained a bit in the afternoon. I have to do my registration also, and I’ll do it on-line too. I have to pay my bills yet and I too do many of them on-line

  4. john Says:

    Let’s see,,,, 12 years of Catholic School, 2 years of the Army, and 35 years at the Post Office. 49 years was quite enough of the uniform life for me. Now my uniform of the day is a T-Shirt (pants, optional – at Sandy’s request) until the flannel weather arrives.
    I was the last tie in our town, so much so that the uniform store had to special order for me. From late October ’til late March, whenever I’d wear a long sleeve shirt I would have the tie on while in my postal uniform. It never felt uncomfortable and always seemed appropriate. After all, it was a uniform. I’m old fashioned, I guess, but it always seemed wrong to watch my fellow carriers leave for their routes in the morning with Cubs hats, Bears sweatshirts, or white tennis shoes. A little decorum? Ferchristsake.

    Your Sister Hildegarde seemed that she could have fit nicely in the film, The Magdalene Sisters. I had but one like her, 8th grade’s Sister Mary Juda. She was always considered the wonderful one by those who never sat in her class. Smiles and cheer on the surface, but beneath that facade, a dark and sinister human being. I can empathize with your poor classmate, Eleanor, and hope the years have healed the scars I know Sister Hildegarde left. Those that Sister Mary Juda left still fester from time to time.


    • John,
      I love your new daily uniform! I to am into the casual garb. Though I didn’t have to wear a uniform to work, as an administrator, I wore a dress or skirt every day though female teachers wore pants. I figured I needed to be a bit more formal. Now I have two dress: one for warm weather and one for cold.

      My postman doesn’t wear either a tie or a hat though he does wear a uniform shirt. He is far less forma than you were.

      I have to admit I took advantage of the horrid Sister Hildegarde. I was smart so she liked me. My friend Jimmy was also smart so she liked him. We used to tell her we had to go to the library and then just leave school for the afternoon. She’d just smile and say okay. She used to yell at us and say that when we graduated from the eighth grade she was going to write on the board, ‘Thank God they are gone.”

      • john Says:

        I do owe a lot to many of the good sisters that got me through school even though I was one who never ‘worked up to his potential’. I loved learning what I loved learning,,, and the rest be damned.
        Basic Training in the Army was a lot easier for we who went to parochial schools… We learned to keep quiet (to a degree), stand in line and wait your turn, and do the job assigned in the manner dictated to you. Granted, not a lot of room for creativity or independent thought, but an ability to take to the task. Yeah, Basic was a snap. I’ve found my creative and independence in my off hours, and now that I’ve 24 off hours each day, I’ve found even more and wish the days were longer
        Oh,,,, only three concerts this weekend…. culminating with an evening with Tom Paxton at the famed Old Town School Of Music in Chi Town on Sunday night. Busy, Busy, Busy.


  5. John,
    I too learned to stay in line, speak only if spoken to and work to complete a task. The sisters I had in high school were more into teaching us to think, to answer for ourselves and were far more open to individuality in their students. It was my junior year English teacher, Sister Ernestina, who inspired me to major in English.

    I’m oozing jealousy here for Tom Paxton!


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