Recess at Catholic School in the 60's
Most days at St. Joseph Catholic school in the 1960’s, we walked two by two holding hands, in a giant circle. Every now and then (maybe it was more often than I remember) we got to run around and play on the playground.
St. Joe’s was in Lancaster PA and just about in the city. It had a Lancaster address, in a location that was known more commonly as “The Hill”. Back in those days I remember a lot of Irish people lived on the Hill. Back in the days when you could walk all over and not be afraid.
But I was afraid in school, afraid of the consequences of pissing off a nun and having to write “Sister Agnes Bernadette” one thousand times for getting caught for calling her Aggie B which was our nickname for her. She was a mean old Sister with a quick draw of her poker which she loved to rap knuckles with.
I got sent to Catholic school in the 4th grade. In third grade, I was in an experimental class that was split grade level, third and fourth. I thought only the smart third graders got to be in the split class so I must be one of them, right? According to my parents, from my earliest memory, they told me I had to go to Catholic school because I wasn’t learning enough in public school.
After being a parent, I understand their rational. They did love me and wanted me to get the best education that was out there. And, they had to pay tuition because Catholic school isn’t free. So it wasn’t an easy decision for them, we were lower middle class and free public school seems like the more economical choice.
As a child though, pulling a kid from one school and sending them to another was very traumatic. I remember the first few weeks at the new school and everyone had friends and I wanted a friend, but they had all been together since kindergarten and I left all my friends from K-3rd grade behind.
Our uniform was a green jumper with a white pixy collar blouse underneath. We were allowed to wear knee socks, and there wasn’t a restriction on what kind of hosiery we were permitted to wear and I do remember a pair of neon green knee socks that made my mom cringe and holler at me when I’d wear them to school. She thought they were ugly. I loved them. That is probably when my sock fetish started.
Back to the tooth and fence story... one day we were allowed to run around the playground like banshees, and a few of the kids were running up and down this little concrete hill, bouncing into the fence and then do it all over again. I decided this was the most fun thing going on at the playground but dumb me forgot to put my hands in front of my face when the fence was coming right at me and BLAM... chipped front tooth. That was the last time I played that game!
And it was walking in circles didn’t seem so bad the next few days.