Posted tagged ‘cloak room’

“Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.”

January 30, 2018

When I woke up early, I saw the snow falling outside my window so I got up and checked it out. I figured there were about 2 or 3 inches already on the ground. I decided it was a great day to go back to bed day so I did. I managed over two more hours. Maddie was impatient. She heard me moving around and started meowing trying to guilt me into getting up. She was unsuccessful.

It is still snowing. The weatherman says the cape will have snowfall the longest. When I want to get the papers, I surprised by how deep it was and how cold the air felt. It is a good day to stay home.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have all that many snow days. We’d walk to school mostly on the street because they didn’t plow sidewalks. The road always had a hard packed layer of snow, and we’d run and slide in a snow race of sorts. We’d also fall down. I remember wearing pink longish thermal underwear which came to my knees under my skirt. From the knees down, I wore knee socks. I had boots, the sort you put over your shoes. I wore my winter coat, knitted hat and mittens. I wouldn’t have looked out of place on the back of a dog sled in the Arctic.

The cloak room outside the classroom was never build to hold all of our winter clothes. There were rows of hooks on two sides but the hooks just weren’t long enough. The only hope was that the jackets on either side would hold mine on the hook and off the floor. The cloak room floor was wet and dirty from all our boots. I remember standing in my stocking feet after pulling off my boots. I then had to pull my shoes out of the boots. While I was doing that, my socks got wet and dirty. I didn’t care. My mittens and my hat went up the sleeves for safe keeping. I remember once not finding my hat until I got home. I never felt it in the sleeve. I thought I lost it.

The house is warm, cozy and inviting so I’m going nowhere. Should I get bored, there are a few things I can do including that laundry still leaning against the cellar door. The only problem is I have a bag of books I got from the library. I’ll just have to be strong.

“It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.”

September 20, 2015

Today is dark and damp with the humidity at 80˚. It rained for all of three minutes, stopped for a long while then rained again for a few minutes. I think that will be the weather for the day, on and off rain. I have no urge to do anything constructive except take my shower which I suppose could be construed as constructive.

Tonight my friends and I are going out to dinner, a celebratory dinner for my friend’s birthday. I’m looking forward to the festivities.

My memory drawers are so filled I can’t even close some of them. Momentous events and whole experiences fill most drawers, but my memory drawers also save picture memories, single snapshots, and I sometimes wonder why. I remember my fourth grade lunch box was red plaid. I don’t remember any other lunch boxes. I have no memories of my school shoes, but I remember my sneakers, my play shoes. My favorite pair of dungarees had a flannel lining. The cuff had to be rolled once as the pants were a bit long. I was young and the waist of those pants was elastic, no snaps, no buttons. I remember one part of our walk to church early Christmas morning. It was still dark. I remember walking on the sidewalk and across the railroad tracks but that’s all. Arriving at church and the walk home are lost somewhere way back in one of those drawers. I can close my eyes perfectly see the cloakroom outside my first grade classroom. I remember the thick, painted walls in the rectory cellar where I spent my third grade. From high school, I remember where my freshman locker was, and I remember a before school practice for one of the Christmas pageants. I was sitting in the middle of about the third row. Once I got detention for talking on the stairs, one step away from the cafeteria where I was allowed to talk. I know exactly where that happened. I can even see the nun turn and tell me I had detention, but I don’t remember who the nun was.

In Philadelphia, at Peace Corps staging, we were together for about 5 days before leaving for Ghana. I remember standing in line for check-in. I remember sitting on the rug on the top floor with my back to the wall and reading The Naked Ape. Why I was on the top floor and not in my room escapes me. I don’t remember leaving for Ghana. I do remember after a stop for fuel in Madrid my seat belt got stuck and I couldn’t get it unstuck so I didn’t wear it for take-off from Madrid or for landing in Ghana.

Memories are so many things. Some makes us nostalgic, other makes us sad, some fill us with wonder. I always think the best ones keep those we love close to us whether they are here or not.

“Recess and lunch are the best.”

August 29, 2015

The sun was bright and warm earlier this morning. Now the sky is cloudy, and the day has darkened. No rain is predicted so I figure the sun will be back in a bit. I have a few errands today then I’ll do nothing productive for the rest of the day. The laundry still sits in the hallway. I don’t really care. It can sit another day.

My elementary school smelled of chalk, polish and on some days wet wool jackets. In the winter the radiators hissed steam and the windows were fogged so much you couldn’t see outside. That didn’t matter as there wasn’t really anything to see but the school yard in the back and on the side a couple of houses separated from the school by a fence and a driveway size exit from the back lot. I used to wonder if those people kept their windows closed whenever we were allowed out. That would be in the morning before school, recess and at the end of the day. My friend Kathleen lived three houses down from the school, and I envied her that. She came just before the morning bell, went home for lunch and after school was home in less than five minutes. I once had a pajama party at that house. I think I was ten or maybe eleven.

I have the strongest memories of that school. I remember standing on the top floor and looking down at all the stairs. Between each set of stairs was a landing and in the corner of every landing was a statue of Mary or Jesus or some easily recognized saint. They were small statues on shelves. The old stairs creaked and were so worn the middles of the steps dipped. Wood was everywhere. Every classroom had a cloak room right outside and every cloak room was too small for all the jackets. The classes had at least 35 kids and many had 40. So many jackets and coats were on the hooks you really couldn’t walk from one end of the cloak room to the other without having to pick up the jackets you dislodged.

That school is over a hundred years old. It is still in use. The old windows have all been replaced with more energy-efficient ones. Nothing else I can see on the outside has changed. I wish I could get inside. I want to see how well my memory drawers have kept the school alive for me. I can remember walking through the doors and seeing the first set of steps in front of me and on the right another set of steps going to the basement where the bathrooms were. At the top of the stairs I can look right and see my first grade classroom with the cloakroom right outside. That’s the room I remember the most because it was the first, the only room which made me nervous and a little afraid for the first few weeks. After that I was an old hand at school.

“Football is the ballet of the masses.”

January 11, 2015

I’m still trying to catch my breath after watching the Patriot’s playoff game yesterday. It wasn’t a pretty game. The defense left holes big enough for tanks to drive through. Twice the Pats were down by 14. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when Brady hit LaFell with a pass along the left sideline that the Pats went ahead for the first time: 35-31 which would be the final score. We cheered, yelled, whined, complained and even booed a couple of times. Flacco tried a Hail Mary with a couple of seconds left, but the end zone was so filled with players, including Gronk, that the ball was deflected. We finally got to breathe.

When the game started, it was 19˚ at Gillette then it got colder. Today is relatively warm at 26˚. Tomorrow will be a one day heat wave in the 40’s. I’m trying to remember where I put my sandals.

When I was a little kid and had to walk to school, my mother dressed me in so many layers the clothes barely fit on one hook in the cloakroom. It took what seemed forever to get down to my school uniform, the first layer. The cloakroom had two rows of hooks on both sides on the walls, and in winter, there was no easy path to move through all the clothes to get to the classroom. Coats and jackets ended up on the floor so Sister Redempta, my first grade teacher, used to make us go back out and hang up all the jackets. She had an aversion to mess. I think that was a nun thing.

I still have the most amazing visual memory of that first grade cloakroom. It had wooden walls, a wide opening by the main classroom door and a door at the other opposite end which led to the classroom, to the aisle near the windows. The bottom rows of hooks were indented beneath the top rows. The floor was tile. The optimum spots for hanging jackets were the lower hooks. On rainy days, our jackets usually dried as they were in the open air, not in some lockers.

I lost my cloakrooms in the fifth grade when we moved to the new school. It had lockers with no locks or combinations which didn’t phase us at all. We were used to cloakrooms with open access. Besides, I had nothing valuable except my lunch: my bologna sandwich, chips and if I were lucky, a Ring Ding or a Devil Dog.

“June suns, you cannot store them To warm the winter’s cold..”

November 23, 2013

The weatherman says to expect a cold front starting tomorrow. I just bought a new hat, a wool knitted hat with ear flaps, so bring on the cold. I think I’m going to look quite fashionable.

This morning I watched leaves fall one at a time from the big oak tree by the deck. They fluttered as they fell. I watched the birds at the feeders, mostly drab gold finches, eating thistle and sunflowers seeds. When Gracie comes in from outside, her ears are cold. The other morning a thin layer of ice-covered the water in the bird bath. I don’t hear people outside any more. Winter is coming.

Winter brings back memories. I remember the hissing of the radiators in the house where I grew up and how the windows in the morning sometimes had a thin layer of ice on the inside. I’d use my nail to write my name. We always wore warm pajamas and sock slippers. For breakfast my mother made oatmeal and added milk and sugar. The walk to school was quickest in winter. The worst part of the walk was passing the field where the wind whipped across and seemed to go through every layer of my clothes to touch my bones. Getting to school was always welcomed. It was warm.

In winter there was never enough space in the cloak room outside my classroom. Winter coats were bulky and the hooks were small. I’d stuff my mittens and my hat in my sleeves then try to get my coat to hang. Sometimes it stayed on the hook while other times it was held up by the coats around it all jammed together. On the coldest days I’d leave my sweater on. The nuns didn’t care. They sometimes wore black ones with buttons.

Getting coats to go home was always done in rows. The nun would announce our row, and we’d get our coats and bring them into class and get dressed there while the other rows went and got theirs. Sometimes the nuns had to zipper coats. They never seemed to mind. I conquered zippers early though sometimes it took two tries. The hat came next and the mittens last. We’d stand in a line in the classroom until the bell was rung to dismiss us then we’d walk to the door and into the cold.