24 Maple Avenue…..

Built in the 1920’s, it served as an elementary school for parishioners and for those wanting their children in a parochial educational environment. The lunchroom was in the building basement/gymnasium and as children were led down flights of stairs, asbestos-wrapped pipes were visible everywhere.  The halls were dark, almost foreboding, somewhat intimidating for a small child, outfitted in the required uniform of a stiff blue jumper and starchy white blouse; sweaters were allowed during the colder months but had to be blue in color.  Nothing was allowed that deviated from an almost military type of dress code.  Education came with intense regimentation. 

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The faculty was comprised of nuns.  Ursuline, in fact.  They were regarded as the upper echelon of nunnery, all focused on teaching children art and music…aside from the endless catechism drills and recitations.  But, no matter what order any of these holy women came from, all were well-schooled in corporal punishment and they could descend upon you, without warning, leaving the sting of a ruler or long black belt strap as their calling card.

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Students in attendance were mainly from Irish families. I was not one. Those of us with mixed heritage (Italian, British, German, etc.) were dealt with accordingly by our classmates.   Nuns knew everyone’s family business and made it a point to include personal issues in daily prayers.  I was a major beneficiary of such litanies, both to God and every virtuous person classified as a saint, mainly because my father was not Catholic.  I think that by the time 8th grade came around every possible prayer had been exhausted.  So did the end of my elementary tour-of-duty.

 

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Our school janitor, a dedicated and hard-working man, had a large family with at least six, maybe eight children.  One morning as we trudged into our 4th grade classroom, our teacher informed us that this man had died while sitting in his chair, reading his newspaper.  She told us not to be sad and had us pray that the Angel of Death would come to each of our parents and take them to Heaven in the same way.   Her point was well-taken. The next day, almost 40 parents of the 52 students in our class demanded to see the school principal after dealing with hysterical children and their outbursts the night before.

 

My elementary school experience took place in very different times. Authority then was never questioned.  Still, as young students, we did learn and there was never a gray area of discussion on anything that took place inside school walls.  Some memories were good but the bad ones still aren’t easily forgotten. 

 

 

From Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop….Share a memory about your elementary school.

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Fifteen years….

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Tragic events which leave deep emotional scars on those left behind tend to soften as time passes.  But not always.  Not even after fifteen years when, on that beautiful September morning, each of our lives was severely impacted by the willful, destructive ideology of radical extremists.

 

As I sat and watched the yearly 9/11/01 ceremony in New York City, it seemed to hit harder than in previous years.  It was almost as if it had just taken place for the first time.  The incredible pain of watching innocent lives disappearing as two majestic icons collapsed into clouds of smoke and twisted metal was…overwhelming. 

 

My personal reaction might have been due to recently spending time at both the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Museum with my family.  The footprint of the North Tower had us walking on what I deemed sacred ground; there was a sense that many who had perished were watching over each visitor, perhaps looking for a familiar loved one, waiting to send some spiritual comfort to those left behind.

 

Today, I again watched, and listened, as names were read by family members.  Their tears gently fell as they spoke about the losses they suffered, each vowing to never forget.  Brave families, with such unimaginable voids in their lives, who took time to share sweet stories and express their love as they looked to the heavens.

 

Fifteen years have passed; many more will follow.  Ceremonies and observances will continue.   One day, the 9/11/01 tragedy will become a chapter in history for generations that follow.  That is, until those generations walk on hallowed ground and learn…to never forget.

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Remembering…

Fond memories of what once was are often much better than what actually took place.  So are dreams.

 

Time does that.  It tends to erase so much.  Like, romanticizing things.   Almost in an attempt to blanket all that might have been painful so long ago.  And, those situations we wish could have had happier endings.  Dreams are much like old photo albums.  With each turn of the page, a moment jumps out at us.  It lingers for a while, softening into a cloud of wishful thinking.

 

And memories.  Like raking leaves every Autumn, when we reach into a pile and pick out the prettiest ones, stopping to admire their vibrant colors before gently sweeping them into a mound.  Then, we watch the wind carry them away. 

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Fond memories of what once was are often much better than what actually took place.  So are dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

My choice from Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop…..Write a post that begins and ends with the same sentence.

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