“Then Sister Aquinata abandoned the nonviolent methods and produced a rolling pin from somewhere.”

The house is so cold I was surprised when I went to get the papers at how warm it is outside. This is so not the usual August. I should be complaining about the heat and saying to strangers as we stand in lines together, “I can’t take this humidity.”

I do the Globe crossword puzzle every day. Often there is a clue asking Bert’s twin. I know the answer is Nan because I used to read The Bobbsey Twins. I figure others know the answer because of context or familiarity with the clue. What I wonder is why The Bobbsey Twins. It isn’t as if they’re widely read. I took one off my shelf not long ago and read a few chapters. It was a book I had received as a birthday gift when I was nine. There is an inscription from my Grandmother. The book was so dated it was funny but not in a kind way. I really enjoyed that series.

My mother always told me I was the smartest little kid. She might have told my siblings the same thing, but I’m going with she didn’t for ego’s sake. She told me I used to sit on her lap while she read to me usually from a Golden Book. When I was two, I could name every animal on the back in Spanish. Okay, not in Spanish. I just threw that in to shock you, but I did know the names of all the animals in English. My mother thought that was quite an achievement for a two-year old. It even made my baby book of milestones.

Because I was the oldest, my life was chronicled. My biographers will have a field day with such information as my first word, mama, my success at potty training and my speaking in sentences before I was even two. I walked at nine months. My mother was quite faithful in filling in my baby book. My siblings weren’t so lucky. My brother had several entries, being child number two, but by child number four there was only an envelope with a few jottings on it. Her first word is forever lost.

I was trying to remember my first day of school but I don’t. I do remember going to the nursery school across the street from where we lived in South Boston. I remember because of the trauma. I cried the whole time and had to be dragged across the street the second day. My mother then wisely decided I didn’t need to go to nursery school so the planets realigned and life returned to normal.

I think I must have been fine for elementary school, and I figure my mother walked me to school that first day. It was an easy walk in almost a straight line so even without her I never feared getting lost. I did fear the nuns. They were different and in those habits they seemed barely human because all we saw on each of them was a face and hands. That was creepy. They did make noises when they walked because the giant rosary beads around their waists clicked against each other. It was like an early warning system.

The older I got the less I feared nuns. I don’t know exactly when, maybe by third grade, but I know at one point I recognized they were mostly humans in strange garb.

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20 Comments on ““Then Sister Aquinata abandoned the nonviolent methods and produced a rolling pin from somewhere.””

  1. im6 Says:

    Oh, you’re living dangerously today. Expect accusations of pandering from our pal Hedley. Not just a Beach Boys song, but a Beach Boys song AND a Bette Midler song! I suppose you did try to balance things out with the Dylan, but you risked wrath with the Lenny Cohen (no matter how beautifully Ms. Collins sings it).

    At least your ordered the music so the jauntier stuff follows the really depressing stuff. That’s a lot of depressing to try to counter balance, however. If anyone still hasn’t quite made it back to normal after The BBs & Bette, maybe this little ditty from 1964 will slap ’em back to reality.

    Schmock! Schmock!

    • katry Says:

      im6,
      I was even tempted to play the Lennie but was afraid I’d send MDH into a tizzy so I went with Judy.

      I did do the order of the music on purpose. I usually have rhyme and reason as to why they appear when they do.

      This don’t sound like Steve to me except when he says Schmock! Schmock! It is such a silly song. I used to love Steve Allen and his cast of characters. I remember once when they all played meat.

      • im6 Says:

        A couple of late night thoughts…

        I remember little about my first YEAR of school, much less my first day. I hadn’t attended kindergarten — only the “rich kids” in town got to do that! — but I know I enjoyed school. At that time, my mom was working at a local high-end clothing store and her employers had a daughter my age who started school that same year. Her parents used to pick us up after school in their big, shiny Cadillac. I thought that was the height of luxury (I believe my folks had a boxy older Dodge at the time). One time both families piled into that Cadillac and off we all went to the State Fair of Texas. I remember only a bit of a big stage show we attended because I fell asleep. Such a shame. It was Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis!

        I was a huge, huge, huge fan of The Steve Allen Show — the one that originated out of Hollywood in the mid-60s. From Wikipedia: “The Allen Westinghouse Show is considered a classic of American late-night talk shows today, given its professed influence on a number of comedy greats including David Letterman, Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Harry Shearer and others impressed by its wild, anarchic style, complete with outdoor stunts staged near the Hollywood Ranch Market, not far from the studio.”

        In retrospect, what’s really amazing to me is that my parents let me stay up and watch the thing. On school nights! Either they were way cooler than I realized at the time or else they had just resigned themselves to the fact that they didn’t have any other options. They knew I would have sneaked out of bed to watch it anyway. But how could I resist? It was the perfect combination of silly and smart and I’m certain it had enormous influence on who I am today.

        Besides being a talk show host, Steve Allen wrote book after book after book and later created the program, “Meeting of the Minds,” which ran on public television. Musically, he was much more than just a bunch of schmock. An accomplished pianist and composer, his most famous song is “This Could Be The Start of Something Big.”

      • katry Says:

        im6,
        I have read many of the Allen novels, and I knew he was an accomplished pianist. I knew he composed but I didn’t know the names any of the songs: now I know one.

        I didn’t have a single friend who went to kindergarten. I don’t think my town had any. Stoneham was a middle class town with few people of money. I had a friend, Stephen Bigelow, who lived in one of what we called the mansions. There were four huge, beautiful houses just off the square, and that’s where Stephen lived.

        I remember when Steve Allen was the Tonight Show guy and I loved his Sunday night program with the man on the street sketch: Don Knotts, the stutterer, Louis Nye-Gordon Hathaway here- and Tom Poston who never remembered his name.

  2. olof1 Says:

    I do remember my first day at school and the walk to the school I had a green school bag that could be worn as a backsack but also as a briefcase. It was a bit hard so I prefered the briefcase way.

    My mother didn’t believe in nursery school, I would gladely gone there, she instead placed me at a childminder whose child actrually went to nursery school 🙂 🙂

    It has mostly been rather cold, cloudy and rainy here today but in the afternoon the sun started to shine on and off and it made the day so much nicer.

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      I could use mine as a briefcase or cross my shoulder, and that’s what I usually did. I like having my hands free.

      We didn’t have mandatory kindergarden back then so none of us went. The nursery school was free, but I wanted none of it.

      It is cloudy and then sunny here but it stays warm. Right now there is a stiff breeze. I just hope it doesn’t rain on my movie night.

      Have a wonderful evening!

  3. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I remember my first day of school. My mother walked me there. We all stood with our mothers around the perimeter of the classroom and stared at each other while “THEY” processed us. There was a set of twin girls in my class. They had white hair and sharp little faces and I remember thinking they were old.
    Only my youngest brother went to kindergarten and that was so my mother could work. By then my other brother and I were in regular school. In summer she would send us to Bible Study at a church that wasn’t our regular church. We were there for several hours a day for two weeks. It was a nice vacation for my mom. None of it rubbed off on us, though. 🙂

    Possibly it’s The Bobbsey Twins because the person who does the Crossword puzzle is our age? I just reread those a couple of years ago. They were favorites of mine when I was a kid but I was a bit put off by them now. You are correct when you say they are funny in a not kind way.

    It’s cloudy and muggy except when it’s sunny and muggy.
    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I don’t remember the mothers coming into the classroom. We were in the schoolyard every morning so I’m thinking that’s where we all were. The bell would ring, and we’d line up by class and teacher. I’m thinking that’s as far as the mothers got.

      My sister’s middle chi;d was a handful. I remember one summer she sent him Around the World with Jesus which was not in their church. My sister and I made up horrible jokes about traveling with Jesus and we felt sort of bad for Justin, but it did give my sister a break.

      I thought it might be because Nan would be a good filler, but it could also be as you suggested.

      It was the way Dinah and Sam were portrayed which was a huge put off for me though it wasn’t out of the times it was written.

      It is a bit muggy here as well-first time in a long while. I am sweaty as I get ready for movie night.

      Have a wonderful Saturday!

      • Caryn Says:

        I think Dinah and Sam may have been portrayed better than normal for the times. I was put off by how very carefully it was explained that even though Sally (?) considered all her dolls to be one family, the black doll was carefully put away in a separate box from the rest of the dolls. They shared the same drawer in the chest but it wouldn’t do to have them in the same box. It wasn’t a one or two sentence description, either. It went on and on.
        The laissez faire attitude towards extreme child abuse was also a turn off.

        Around the World with Jesus? Oh, god. Was he scarred for life? 🙂

  4. katry Says:

    Caryn,
    I don’t even remember Sally, just the two sets of twins. What was the child abuse? I didn’t read enough to get there.

    I tell you that was the fodder for many funny moments between my sister and me. She was so frustrated by Justine she was willing to try anything. I actually think he liked traveling with Jesus.

    • Caryn Says:

      Flossie, not Sally. Got my children’s readers mixed up. 🙂
      The child abuse was a story about a friend of the older twins whose father beat the snot out of him on a regular basis. The twins’ father said he would speak to the boy’s father and hope that he would take the advice to heart. Essentially the attitude was that there was’t much else to be done about it except to be kind to the boy.

    • katry Says:

      Caryn,
      I remember the younger twins: Flossie and Freddie. I don’t think there was much thought given to the way kids were treated back then in the spare the rod spoil the child days. Child labor was still acceptable. The Bobbseys were a wealthy family so we saw a very different view of the world.

  5. Jay Bird Says:

    I remember my first and second days of school. Kindergarten at Our Lady of Victory. My mother was in the hospital, so my dad walked me to and from for day 1. A five block urban walk. Day 2 he fixed me breakfast, gave me a house key and a kiss and said good luck, kid. He had to go to work. In those days employers were not so “family friendly”. I survived, though all the other kids had parental escorts for weeks. You grow up fast when you have to.

    Our kindergarten nun was barely bigger than us – maybe 4’9″, Sr. Denise. A sweetie! Probably the only nice nun I encountered in 12 years of Catholic education. Harsh but true.

    • katry Says:

      Jay,
      My school, St. Patrick’s, had no kindergarten and neither did the public schools. We just went right into first grade.

      I doubt my mother walked me as I had a 5 year old brother and a 1 year old sister and getting us all ready would have been a bit much in the morning. In the neighborhood were a lot of other kids who also walked to St. Pat’s so I always had company.

      My first grade teacher was Sister Redemptor who was really old and scared the heck out of me. I think she was the only one who did. The rest were kinder and less scary.

  6. flyboybob Says:

    My first day of school was when I was six years old when we lived in Brooklyn NY. My mother walked me the couple of blocks to PS 26 where I think I was enrolled in kindergarten. NYC had so many elementary schools that they numbered them instead of giving them names. When we moved to Dallas the following Spring I didn’t enroll in school until the fall. That school was too far away to walk so I rode a yellow school bus. I attended Margret Henderson Elementary school. I couldn’t remember the name which I had to look up on Google maps because. I also can’t remember my first grade teacher’s name. The next year we moved and I attended Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Elementary School. I found my second grade class picture recently but I couldn’t remember that teacher’s name either. The school still looks the same sixty years later. In the third grade we moved again to the Walnut Hill Elementary school and I remember my teacher’s name, Mrs. Lahamadu, because I had a crush on her. She was much younger and dressed less like my grandmother.

    My grandmother’s house in Brooklyn was on the same block as a Catholic school. I was always curious about the nuns and the brothers who would walk by the house while I was playing in the front. I didn’t nor do I still understand the robes and the rosary beads that clanked as they walked by the house. In those days the nuns habit covered everything except their faces and hands which must have been very uncomfortable especially in the summer months. To this day I wonder if they wore anything under their habits. I still don’t understand ‘brothers’ in the Catholic church. I understand the priests and nuns but not the brothers.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      You were little and you moved-easy to forget the names of schools and teachers. I stayed at the same school from first through eighth grade and happen to remember all my teachers’ names. St. Patrick’s Elementary School celebrated its 100th anniversary a few years back.

      Not all nuns had rosary beads but they all wore habits back then. The habits were signs of their consecration to God and the religious life and that outward fashion wasn’t important. As each order had different habits, it was also identification for each order.

      Priests are ordained and usually live in rectories near their churches. Brothers are not ordained and can choose a career like being a doctor or they could choose to become ordained as priests. Each order of brothers lives in its own a community. Hope that helps!

  7. lilydark Says:

    Our family had two children. I was the youngest, and my deranged sister took advantage of that. She was the baby sitter from hell. I do remember the Bobbsey Twins..( vaguely). My sister had all the pictures taken of her, and there was even a painting in our living room done of her in our living room. None of me of course.

    I was told my first word was NO! I think they may have made it up, but on the other hand it does fit me.

    I did go to nursery school, and I don’t think I liked it very much.

    Waving,
    Lori and the Crew.

    • katry Says:

      Lori,
      I had more pictures of me than all the others did. The first child does get that attention, but it didn’t last long. I was 16 months old when my brother was born. What is the age difference between you and your sister?

      Lots of kids learn no first as they hear it enough.

      Waving,
      Kat and the kids

  8. lilydark Says:

    I wasn’t sure where to put one of my favorite sister trios so I might as well place it here.


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