Posted tagged ‘school uniforms’

“Winter bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail.”

January 3, 2017

We have rain and 44˚. The low for the day will be 43˚. This is not winter in New England, but winter is impatiently waiting in the wings. Daytime tomorrow will be 50˚ but tomorrow night will be in the 20’s. The rest of the week will be 30’s during the day and 20’s at night. That’s a warm winter in New England!

The winter weather never mattered when I was a kid. I still had to walk to and from school every day. It wasn’t miles or feet of snow, but it was cold, freezing cold. The blasts of wind from across the field at the foot of my street whipped through my jacket. I remember using my mittened hands to protect my ears, red and numb from the cold. The hat my mother insisted I wear never kept my ears warm, just the top of my head. I’d hurry to get to the street below the field, the one with houses on both sides, buffers from the wind. It was a straightaway from there to school.

The middle of my classroom was always warm. Near the windows was chilly so most of us wore sweaters over our uniforms. The girls wore blue skirts and white blouses. The boys wore white shirts and blue pants. We could wear any shoes and socks. I don’t remember what shoes I wore, but I remember knee socks and pink long underwear which warmed my legs almost to the hem of my skirt.

In winter the classroom was never quiet. Even if we were silently reading, we could hear the hissing and wheezing of steam escaping from the radiators. I think that’s the sound I most miss from long ago winters.

My house has forced hot air from my gas furnace. I keep the daytime temperature at 68˚. That used to be warm enough. It isn’t anymore so I wear a sweatshirt around the house. The air blows and the house gets warm. I know this system is far more efficient than the radiators were, but the radiators did far more than spew heat. Coming in from the freezing cold, I could sit with my back to the pipes and quickly get warm. My mittens on the top of the radiator sizzled as they dried. My shoes with their curled toes looked like something Aladdin would wear after they’d dried under the radiator. When I was falling asleep, the radiators would hiss, crackle and even groan when they were warming the house. It was a comforting sound. I knew heat was coming.

“I went to a Catholic school, so of course we had to wear uniforms. My only form of expression was in shoes and the style of my hair.”

August 18, 2015

The hoopla is over, the festivities finished. The floor is covered in confetti. The balloons have lost helium and now are floating close to the ground. The cake is but a memory, a sweet memory. Last night my friends took me to dinner at the South African restaurant. It was the culminating event. Now my birthday is put away for another year.

The heat continues. We are still living behind closed doors and shuttered windows. Yesterday It became official. Boston is in the midst of a heat wave, three consecutive days above 90˚. We have been a bit cooler thanks to the ocean so no heat wave. The high 80’s don’t rate. They are just plain hot days.

Usually by this time in the summer, I’d done everything so many times I was getting bored. The joy of playing outside late had lost its luster. It was no longer a novelty. It was too hot during the day to do much. We’d bike ride, stop at a shady spot and just sit there until the sweat had stopped rolling down our cheeks, and we were cool enough to get back on our bikes. At every bubbler we’d drink water and wet our heads so we’d feel cooler. Bottled water was a long way in the future. Behind the town hall was a bubbler and another was in the middle of the field at the back of the baseball diamond near my house. That last one gave me the energy to get up the hill to my house.

We’d never have admitted it but it was exciting to get new clothes even if it was for school. We always got new shoes and socks and one new outfit for the first day of school because we didn’t have to wear our uniforms that day. We’d shop with my mother for the new outfit. The rest of the school clothes she’d just buy without us. The new white blouses and new blue skirts, our school uniforms, were never exciting so we didn’t care what my mother chose. It wasn’t as if there were a lot of options.

When I worked, I’d be back full time by now. Seldom did that mean new clothes for me.The excitement was gone.

“The school looks very good. The uniforms are a good thing. It will be easy for my wife. She won’t have to fight about clothes.”

August 8, 2013

Unlike the past few days, the weather this morning is humid and cloudy with intermittent rain, a soft rain you barely notice, but the paper does say a chance of thunder showers throughout the day and has predicted them for tonight and tomorrow, but right now the sun is working its way from behind the clouds seems to be struggling, maybe even losing the battle for today’s weather. The breeze is a bit stronger, always a bad sign on a cloudy, damp day.

Yesterday I earned a blue ribbon. I did my laundry, finally, all two loads, watered the inside and outside plants, paid all my bills, did four errands, filled the bird feeders and took all the stuff off the walls in the bathroom which is right now being painted and then around 6:30 met my friend for dinner. Today I have one stop, to buy more flowers for the front garden and some bird seed, then I’m going Peapod on-line grocery shopping. I think I have been the ant, not the grasshopper, for the last two days and deserve a few days of rest which I will gladly take.

We never needed back to school clothes except for a new pair of shoes and one outfit, for the first day, as after that we wore uniforms. My mother was glad for those uniforms as they saved her so much money. Outfitting four kids was expensive. We didn’t care about wearing them because that’s all we knew and all our friends wore them too. Even in high school I had a uniform; all Catholic high school students wore one sort of uniform or another.

My students in Ghana had three different uniforms. Most bought the cloth and had the dresses made. The classroom uniforms were lilac and all the students wore same style and color, regardless of which level they were. I remember watching students iron the uniforms using a charcoal iron. The uniforms were always stiff with starch and wrinkled easily. The students also had their afternoon chore dresses, and there were four different patterns, each one designating the graduation year of the student. The dresses were simple: one piece. Their Sunday bests, wore for church service and into town, were traditional, generally three pieces, and were also four different patterns. You could identify whether the student was T1, T2, T3 or T4 just by the pattern. The patterns followed the students from one year to the next so they only had to buy whatever they had grown out of or worn out. The incoming T1’s would have their own patterns.

I thought of my students when I saw Harry Potter and his friends go into town for the day, for the one day they were allowed off grounds. For my students it was Sunday. They could have visitors come or the older students could go into town to do some shopping, and usually a photographer or two came to the school and took pictures of students into their spiffiest clothes. I have a few of those pictures which were given to me as gifts so I wouldn’t forget my students. They did the same thing at the ceremony last summer. They had a photographer come and take pictures of the event and individual pictures of me with one of them, and they ordered copies. This time it was so they wouldn’t forget me.

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

October 2, 2012

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.