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Pundit
195

      Sister Mary Elephant

      one year ago

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      (I re-posted this from earlier today after I noticed only a third of the post ... uh ... posted! Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!)

      .

      Certainly my experiences in the parochial schools of Philadelphia were no different from anyone else in the late 60's/early'70's. We had nuns we loved and respected. And then there were those we resisted with every fiber of our being, in many cases for no other reason than they expected way more from us than we were willing to give them, with no appreciation for their efforts to prepare us for the outside world. The clarity of hindsight forces us to recognize that those Sisters - despite our rebellions and organized disobedience - always had our best interests at heart.

      But that's beside the point.

      .

      .

      Whenever opportunity provides for a group of Catholic grade school products to gather, their stories and laughter inevitably address those unforgettable experiences at the hands of the more colorful creatures in dark-colored habits. They tend not to dwell on those less-than-memorable nuns who were simply great teachers. No, the best stories involve those blessed religious figures with the unique personalities, quirky mannerisms, and - in some cases - borderline psychoses that rendered them unforgettable.

      Of these I had a few ...

      .

      nun"None" looked like this though ...

      .

      My fondest memory by far was of saintly Sister Ann David in the first grade at Immaculate Conception (1962-66) in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. (The school was located on E.Chelten Ave, but was lost years ago to a fire.) She had me hook, line, and sinker as a wide-eyed, overwhelmed fledgling. She was kind and gentle ... an excellent choice for the task of quelling my grade school terrors. Another sterling example of what Sisters could offer in terms of positive childhood experience was Sister Bartholomew, who taught at my second parochial school, St. Jerome (1966-70) in the Holme Circle section of Northeast Philly. She was the perfect mix of grandmotherly love, combined with a stern refusal to put up with the antics of a herd of prepubescent teens.

      The characters-in-habit that I remember most - however - were those in my later grades at St. Jerome. There was Sister Cecelia in the fifth grade, whose seemingly non-stop lotion-rubbing hands were always held almost prayerfully at chin level, as if preaching her lessons to her flock. There was also the bent-over Sister Mary Magdalene, always short-tempered with a face reddened by boiling blood pressure. She once beat a fellow student so crazily she actually peed herself ... or so the legend .goes.

      .

      Teresita_1973530c... more like this..

      .

      Needless to say, said fellow student probably got what he deserved; and it's hard to look back on those days, when kids our age enjoyed expressing our independence and testing the limits of religious patience, without a good bit of guilt. Exasperating the tender inclinations of the good Sisters (Okay ... To be perfectly honest, not all of them had tender inclinations.) as they tried to instill in us the favorable qualities of the Palmer Method, the Baltimore Catechism, and long division were not our most Catholic of moments.

      But I digress ...

      By far our most "Sister Mary Elephant experience" came in the classroom of Sister Margaret Leonore, a droopy-faced, ruddy-complexioned saint. She was so clearly over-matched by the rebellious miscreants who swept through her classroom every day. Her venue was the vehicle for my only foray into the realm of class clown, which may have been the height of my grade school rebelliousness. For I was not brave enough to try it with any of the other nuns. But Sister L always seemed like such a push-over, almost incapable of discipline. And that was a recipe for classroom disaster!

      So the patients ran the asylum. Every possible disruption, class delaying tactic, and sophomoric stunt was trotted out to howling laughter and a slowly building pot of boiling frustration in the good Sister. But it could only go on until the limits of Sister Leonore's patience were breached and explosively overwhelmed. If you listened closely, you could hear the tension rising in her voice; her aggravation level bubbling over. You knew it was just a matter of time.

      "Children .... Be Quiet. OK ... That's enough. Sit down, please. OK, class, Let's get back to work. Class ... Class ... Please be quiet! Class ... Class ...

      "SHUT UP!!!"

      Ah ... the memories ...

      .

      Nuns_With_GunsOf course, I'm sure we drove them a bit too far from time-to-time.
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          Mike Shortall
          one year ago

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          Ahhhhhhhhhhh the Catholic nuns. My mother told me so many stories about them back in the day she would describe that if you were in class and they caught you gazing off or day dreaming out of now-where that would lay a ruler across your knuckles with a whack as they quietly walked up and down the isles, from behind you like a stealth attack!! LOL

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          Pundit
          40
              Batman
              one year ago

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              We had one Sister that could hit a fly on the head from 100 yards with a blackboard eraser. Fall asleep or talk in class? Like the nunnery version of "American Sniper"!

              Always funny seeing a fellow student coming out of her class with the telltale white chalk deposit on the head or shirt!

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                  27
                      Mike Shortall
                      one year ago

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                      Taught by American nuns at an English-language school in Helsinki, Finland in the late 1960s. Pardon my French, but some of the best damn teachers I ever had.

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                      Pundit
                      10
                          Jyri Kokkonen
                          one year ago

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                          no doubt many of them were!

                          I think I mentioned that within the story, but the funny stories are the ones we remember.

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                          40
                              Mike Shortall
                              one year ago

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                              "Sgt Stadanko has something he'd like to share with us."


                              My best friend's cousins were kicked out of every Catholic high school in the city of Indianapolis. No easy feat, as there are quite a few.

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                              Pundit
                              30
                                  Lizzy
                                  one year ago

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                                  High school nuns, I never had the pleasure of experiencing.

                                  My high school, Father Judge HS, was run by the Oblates of St, Francis.

                                  Priests as teachers was a completely different experience. (And no, I never had THAT problem with any of them.)

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                                      30
                                          Mike Shortall
                                          one year ago

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                                          The beginnings of schools being left to pick up the pieces of absentee parenting? Almost makes me long for the agrarian society where everyone scratched out a living between being full time parents. Almost.

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