Boarding school, a Catholic school to top it off.
I was not Catholic, there for I was somewhat of an outcast, the fact that Iíd never been baptized made matters worse. Most of the nuns made it their priority to convert me, after all it was their duty to make sure my soul would be saved!
I arrived either in late September or early October which made my appearance note-worthy, I stood out like a sore thumb. I hadn't been accepted into any group (click) of students and I soon learned that seniority exists even in boarding school.
I was assigned my sleeping quarters, which consisted of a narrow bed (actually it was more like a camping cot), to the right was a night table with a washbowl so that one could wash when the 5:30 A.M. bell went off.
Privacy was a curtain between the beds two-hundred or so beds, it reminded me of being in a hospital emergency ward, only with more beds and all the patients were female.
Being one of the last arrivals meant that I was also the last to be able to use the bathroom, or to fill my washbowl with water, (which of course meant cold water as the hot water had been used up by the first arrival girls).
Once the cleansing of our bodies had been accomplished it was off to the church to cleanse our souls.
Not being of the Catholic faith, mine without doubt was in deep trouble and in need of much help.
I was told over and over again that upon my death I would be going to purgatory because thatís where the non-Catholics went. It was even insinuated that I could end up going to Hell if I didn't believe that Mary was a virgin, that Jesus died on the cross to erase our sins and that the Pope was infallible.
The part about Jesus erasing our sins left me wondering why I had to go to confession every other day. Why did I have to tell the priest my inner not so nice thoughts when Jesus already knew of them and he had died to erase them. It really didn't make sense in my mind.
Now as far as Mary being a virgin, I could have cared less one way or the other. What difference did it make in the long run. Immaculate conception, I had my doubts!
After daily church and soul cleansing , came study time.
After study time came breakfast.
Breakfast consisted of standing in a long line by our designated table. Being the last student to arrive meant being the last in line, which resulted in being the last to grab the remaining burnt, cold toast, as well as a glass of very warm milk.
Some mornings were better than others, there were times when there was actually some peanut butter and/or jam left over, which meant that the black, burnt, cold toast didn't taste quite so dreadful.
Next came regular school classes.
I was in grade 7, there were 32 of use and Sister Saint James Mary was my teacher. She wasnít like the other nuns, she was nice, kind, loving, encouraging, understanding and a great teacher. I think she took a particular liking to me, and I to her.
With her guidance my grades went up, like way up, I even became first of my class. Sister St. James Marie made a big deal of it, congratulating me on my hard work and how it proved that even if you arrive late in a semester with hard work and devotion to your studies you can succeed. I was living proof, a testament of sorts.
Coming in first of class made my parents happy, very happy, to them it confirmed the fact that they had made the correct decision in sending me to boarding (reform) school.
One of the other students, didn't feel quite the same way about me becoming head of the class, so one fine afternoon she invited me to join her group of friends, I was like WOW, I've finally made it, I've been asked to join their group.
Little did I know that it was only her, and her sister Barbara (she was a senior, not in my class). Suzie held me down with her hands over my mouth, while Barbara slashed my left wrist with a broken Coke bottle. I bleed like a pig, but fortunately the cut wasn't all that deep. I did however require stitches, 12 to be exact. I was also warned that I better not come in first ever again, second place okay, but not first. If I did not heed the warning, the next time sheís slit my throat.
Needless to say, I accepted coming in second of class and to continue living; after all if I was to die, I knew that I would end up in purgatory or worse yet Hell!
Boarding school weekends where different from the weekly school days, most of the other girls when home on the weekend, but not me, I was granted a monthly home visit. So it was just me, Suzie, Barbara, Angel, Bonnie and a few others whose names I canít recall.
After the morning wash, confession, church, breakfast, it was back to the dormitory to grab one's mattress, bring it outside and beat the living daylights out of it to rid it of any lingering germs and dead skin. In actually fact, I enjoyed that part of my Saturday morning, it felt good to hit something, and to hit it hard!
After the mattress cleaning, it was off to do weekend chores, mine was to sweep and wash the floor of the study hall. One had to make sure that all desks were in perfect alignment, otherwise special privileges would be revoked.
Special privileges consisted of being able to skip extra study in the afternoon, to actually go out and play volleyball, and to watch a movie in the evening.
You can bet your bottom dollar that my study hall desks were beyond a shadow of doubt, perfect aligned ............... <Next>