or just plain warped!
Oh what fun we had
But, did it really turn out bad
All I learnt at school
Was how to bend not break the rules
Oh what fun we had
But at the time it seemed so bad
Trying different ways
To make a difference to the days.
-MADNESS from the song BAGGY
TROUSERS ( from lyrics freak)
When I moved to suburban Washington DC from Suburban Atlanta , more specifically from rural redneck Stone Mountain, Georgia to semi-urban exploding fast Bethesda, Maryland... I was introduced to a nostalgia like I have never experienced since. All of the second grade students were unable to appreciate the young and energetic second grade teacher Mrs. McCambridge, with her Dorthy Hamil haircut and her aqua marine blue Datsun B210 for what she had to offer because they were too busy reliving the glorious times with Sister Marie Josephine from the year prior as first graders. Then when they were not looking back at the finer times with Sister Marie Josephine they were looking forward with great anticipation for the year when they would get to experience the teaching of the church organ player who never missed a note, Miss Mann. It was funny to have these young children discuss with great anticipation and fear that Miss Mann may retire before they get to sit in on her fourth grade class! Such an adult set of concerns... what was their source... where were they getting their information.
To our grand pleasure we did get to experience Miss Mann before she retired. It may have been all that the students had anticipated and more she was a sweet women and perhaps even a solid educator.
This great nostalgia created a great bond. This group of second graders had already created their little "in" group.... a group that I was never able to penetrate. But that is a bitter rant for another time... at this moment I am just trying to introduce a basic outline of my grade school and its quirkiness in an odd and quirky time.
The 70's were an odd time... Our Lady of Lourdes was an exceptionally odd place.
While downtown Bethesda was experiencing the 70's with a wonderful small town flare with record stores, headshops, rug stores (why so many rug stores?) video arcades popping up everywhere... there was growth and development.... the GRAND UNION which looked more like an aircraft hanger was flattened and a Dart Drug boxy warehouse building was put in its place..... the A&P on Arlington Road also got a facelift so it could compete with the GIANT food store that operated right across the street... there was talk of a subway system that would be called the METRO, but that was just an idea that became a huge hole in the ground, a hole in the ground for what must have been a decade... the frozen in time, the never aging, never evolving always old; Our Lady of Lourdes.. the walls of Lourdes had a feeling that may have been more similar to the 50's then the approaching decade of the 80's. Their were hints of the outside world during gym class when the hip and the cool were able to sport their Sunshine House t-shirts, but for the most part we were all forced to look like little parochial soldiers.... exactly like how the students had dressed for the past many decades before us.
The boys with their dark blue pants, dark blue ties, and light blue shirts with some flexibility on the selection of shoes. As it was the 70s.... earth shoes and desert boots were the shoe of choice in the early years.... but as the North Eastern Preppy Phenomena invaded pop culture and yes, even the walls of OLOL it became more common to see children with either Penny Loafers or Sperry Topsider.... yes... boat shoes. Then there were the girls with their white blouses with the odd rounded colar and the green plaid jump suit..... a jump suit that was modified to skirt option around the time when my class reached the 7th grade. They came to realize that this uniform was awkward, uncomfortable, and unbecoming for any young lady that was starting to develop as a woman. (that britney spears private school girl appeal does not happen for the young ladies until later on in life, perhaps in high school for some... perhaps in the adult film industry for others.... the kids at Lourdes had an awkardness to them... awkward and uncomfortable)
The building was simple and square with all sorts of rooms and hallways that seemed more an era of 1441 than the year of 1941. But, in looking back the secret passageways were not ancient tunnels leading to ancient catacombs, but rather bomb shelters as fear was the temper of the time when this structure was built. The gym was small and far from gym like. The windows were stained glass, not ornate stained glass, just large orange or yellow stained glass rectangles. The basketball net on one side was fastened to a chain link fence that enclosed a balcony, a balcony that had seats for a chorus and an operational organ. A room that was still used for choir classes.... in seventh grade I recall that our entire class spent their choir class writing the definitions of words on their hands so that they could pass the vocabulary class that Mrs. Collins was adminstering in the next period. The gym or gym class was not one of the strengths at Lourdes. Well, Lourdes had very few strengths... actually... I do not think that Lourdes had any strengths, unless of course you want to consider quirky a strength.
At OLOL or Lourdes the world was still using a manual copy machine that worked somewhat like a carbon copy, but for multiple copies. I can not remember what that device was called, but I can remember that the metal barrell of a device with a large crank arm on its side and the ink when still wet offered quite a buzz. Tony Altamont's mother with her foot tall bee hive hairdo was perhaps the only person who know how to operate this device without splattering the room with that semitoxic ink. The XEROX machine had not yet hit the market and most definitely was not planning on hitting the economically deprived arena of pororcial education that was Lourdes.
Ode to Sister Collumkill...
this was some little rhythm that we would utter out of ear range
How many kids could Collumkill kill?
if Columkill could kill kids
it may have been longer
it may have been more clever
but this is all I can remember
Sister Collumkill was my fifth grade teacher....
she was an ageless nun... so old that I am sure that people stopped counting
I figure that she was a a century younger than Sister Garlth and maybe a few decades older Sister Marie Josephine (who is not to be confused with Sister Michael who was often torn between two callings.... Sisterhood and the FBI)
Sister Collumkill was a freak... I mean that in the best of ways
or at least in any sort of way that would prevent Sister Collumkill from feeling just in sending fire from the sky to punish me
it was Sister Collumkill that taught me to Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally!
A mneumonic device for solving math equations.
(while it was Mrs O' Grady that taught me Roy G. Biv which was far less clever.... but she was far more appealing to the eye. Roy G. Biv is of course the colors of the rainbow)
the nuns were a rare breed...
As much as we feared the nuns we were all sad to see them go....
it was hard to understand how or why a Catholic School would operate without their Franciscan nuns! But that is how it happened.... when I was in 6th grade at Our Lady of Lourdes we no longer had nuns. A long history of teachers with a vocational calling was over.... it just was not the same. They had taken our nuns out to pasture and changed the dynamic of the school entirely.
I was sad to think what would happen to all the nuns that we all grew to love and fear. They all had an amazing ability to instill fear yet to exhibit compassion. I always feared my trips to the principal's office, but Sister Francis Paula always delt with things fairly.
not only am I feeling less than creative
I am feeling like it is time to slide down the dinosaur
the task of the afternoon have not been completed either
most everything is done....
there are some things that keep failing me
it is Saturday morning... I am at work in between REBOOTS of various machines I make edits
in between REBOOTS and EDITS I make mad dashes for the Men's Room
it seems that me and the boys all have a bug....
my stomach is not feeling right... not right at all
I made some long revisions last night....
these long revisions did not make it through the PUBLISH AND POST process
I felt as if I had been able to bring this rant together
like I actually said something
as if I had brought all the ideas to a cohesive end
but... that set of revisions have been lost
I did go through and make a few changes this morning....
as my fellow graduate of OLOL Helder had made some corrections via the comment section