Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Was A Boarding School Brat... Part 5

When my senior year was at long last, nearing, it all started to change. Everything. Suddenly, I was afraid of how much I was going to miss everyone and that I'd never see them again. The end of junior year we were all pretty tight and this included many of the nuns we came into contact with every day. I almost dreaded going home.

When The Brown Recluse picked me up at the Aspen Airport, she went into her usual new book of rules routine. No problem. I was used to that. I had to work, as always, so she had arranged for me to work as a maid at two different hotels. One of them, I did day maid work and the other one I was night maid, where I went in to turn down beds, empty trash, and leave chocolates on the bed. As always, I had to give her my paycheck and she would give me a small allowance. It looked as if it was going to be another long Summer until I met my first real boyfriend, Sid Erickson. He was two years older than I and was starting U of C @ Boulder in the Fall on a skiing scholarship and I simply adored him. He was gorgeous and was the top skier from Aspen High and was the youngest man in Colorado to have ever received his pilot's license. He was just splendid and I couldn't believe he actually liked me, of all the available girls. He really did just like me.

We met the night of the Aspen High School graduation *woodsy*, which were parties held by teens in the woods, where we seldom got caught. OMG, those were the days, my friends. After meeting at the campfire that night, we were inseparable for the remainder of the Summer. The closer it got to Fall and the prospect of going back to school, it was getting harder & harder to think about. Still, he wanted to make a pact that we'd stay together until at least Christmas, no matter what. I was not about to decline. I was in love.

Sid left for school about a week before I did, which made it a bit easier for me when it was time to go, but it was still hard and I think I cried all the way back to school. Or at least until the train in St. Louis. In St. Louis, I was relieved to see several of my friends and once we got together, the pain was eased for the moment. We had all grown in many ways over the Summer, but we picked up exactly where we'd left off. Plotting and planning how we were going to get what we wanted that year, but it was all just talk. The moment we walked through the front entrance @ Ursuline, we were all respectful once again. For the time being.

That year, the popular songs were Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon & Garfunkel; Woodstock by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Evil Ways by Santana, Snowbird by Anne Murray, and The Thrill Is Gone by B. B. King. The war in Viet Nam was raging on and had already taken both of my cousins. Richard Nixon was president and gas was $0.36 per gallon. It was a very volatile year for the US in the news. The times were changing rapidly and none of us were really prepared. Not really.

Now, as it turned out one of my all time favorite nuns was named Sister Afra. She was very strict but had a tremendous sense of humor. She taught us science and was also the Dining Room Mistress. As Dining Room Mistress, Sister Afra took her role very seriously and carried a wooden ruler up her ample sleeves with which to slap the wrists of those who dared to commit a breach in etiquette. Seniors were, on the most part, pretty much past that stage, but it was always entertaining to see the freshmen & sophomores get whacked. However, if Sister Afra heard a senior snicker or giggle over it, she would feel the sting of Sister Afra's ruler as well. So, we learned to make faces of hilarity when her back was turned.

I had a great deal of respect for Sister Afra as a teacher of science. The woman was surely ahead of her time and we didn't always stick to what was the approved reading. She used to do things like tell the class she needed to leave for a few minutes, then would appoint someone to be the leader, or teacher. I remember the first time she appointed me, I was so scared to fail her. I really did the best I could and when she returned she said I was a wonderful teacher and should consider going into teaching. That was the first time in my life I'd ever thought about the future. I loved her for that. The Brown Recluse had totally convinced me I was an idiot & would never amount to anything, so I had never really thought about my future (other than skiing, of course).

Sister Afra also helped with our basketball team. No kidding. She used to use clothes pins to hold up her skirts and the woman could shoot a mean basket, for sure. What a sight it was to see her on the court with her habit flying behind her. I mean, she must have been at least 50 then. I think.

Throughout senior year Sid & I wrote passionate letters back and forth and amazingly, were still together after Christmas. His letters got me through that year, as I think mine did him. He had a heavy schedule for classes and skiing, so he didn't have much of a social life either. We helped one another through the entire year and we were so in love.

In April, the nuns would don their Spring Habits of white and preparations for the school Operetta, May Day, and graduation all went into full swing. I was amazingly cast as the lead in the Operetta called The Nifty Shop as Madame Lazzare. I was so excited and amazed and scared that I'd blow it. I wrote The Brown Recluse to let her know the dates of our performances, but she did not come. I was splendid in my role and got a standing ovation for every performance. It was the time of my life, up until then anyway. I was actually glad The Brown Recluse wasn't there. If she had been, I'd probably have choked or fainted or something equally as embarrassing.

As a freshman student @ Ursuline, you were required to do the Maypole Dance, which we always thought was immensely stupid & humiliating.Sophomores were required to carry the Daisy Chain, which was equally as stupid in our eyes. I was at long last a senior and no longer required to do either, which was yet another perk to being a senior in 1970. Still, as with tradition, we stood and snickered as we watched the lowly classmen do it. We had earned the right and it was great.

As everyone was receiving their acceptances to college, myself included, we talked of almost nothing else for weeks. I had been accepted at several colleges I'd applied to and called The Brown Recluse with the great news, only to hear that I was going to be attending a place called Rocky Mountain Jr. College that was about 50 miles from Aspen. I had not applied there, but it would keep me close to home & under the thumb of The Brown Recluse & away from my boyfriend, Sid. Mission Accomplished Mom. Once again.

Graduation was bittersweet and the tears flowed. I was the only graduate with no parent there. As usual. Fortunately, by the time I graduated I was beginning to not care anymore about whether The Brown Recluse was there for me or not. It was extremely difficult saying good-bye to my friends and I swear we cried & reminisced and at last had to say it all for good. Everyone's parents had come to take them home. Except for me. I was the lone student taking the train to St. Louis, then a taxicab to the airport and then on a a plane to Denver. From Denver, I took the old Gasp And Scareways (Aspen Airways) into Aspen and I was home. I was still crying when we landed. I'm not quite sure why now.

It wasn't until I returned to Ursuline for my 30th reunion that I realized how much I'd loved the school and the nuns. I'll tell you all about it at another time. For now, we are off to the golf tournament from hell... that I am going to enjoy if it kills me!


Mental P Mama said...

Maybe you were crying when you got back to Aspen because Ursuline was home....keep your head down;)

Snooty Primadona said...


Katie Ryan said...

Wow. What a great post! I can't wait to hear more.

Daryl said...

Playing through!!!!!!!!!

that's all the golf lingo I know ... except the 19th hole is usually the best ..


scargosun said...

Still don't know how you made it through with the BR. You are an amazing strong woman and I only know that thru your blog! Imagine the people you see everyday. :)

Mamahut said...

Hey Snooty, would I be crossing the line if I asked where was your dad? I don't think I would have lived to see 16 if I had not found my dad.

Snooty Primadona said...

Well, what a surprise. We come to play golf in the middle of nowhere in a fairly questionable motel and bless their little hearts... we have internet. So much for 3 days of cold turkey from the computer so that I could concentrate on my golf game (I mean as if I could). Mr. Snooty brought the damned thing, not me. However, I'm mysteriously not complaining, lol.

Thanks P!

Daryl: The 19th hole is ALWAYS the best hole, lol.

scargosun: Believe it or not, I haven't even gotten to the good stuff that nightmares are made of yet. Although I now realize how not normal our family was, I thought everyone's life was like mine or something similar. I had no idea there were people that led happy, chaos & drama free lives. Since we never stayed any one place too long, I never really got to make any friends, until we moved to Texas. The 3 years we were here was the longest we had ever lived in the same place in my entire life. But that's all together a completely different story from the other 3,597,326 stories, lol.

mamahut: Dear God, don't get me started on him. My father is a book unto himself. Different from The Brown Recluse, but he was never there for me. Ever. I was lucky to get a Christmas or birthday card from him. He died almost 17 years ago, but since I never knew him, I didn't know there was something I was missing. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

I do love your boarding school stories!

Anonymous said...

You turned out so lovely for all you have been through.

Mamahut said...

Why did you guys move so much? My dad and alllll of my stepdads were hard rock miners. We were always following the gold. I went to 16 different schools when I was in the 2nd grade. That of course was my record but it was comparable throughout the years until I got married at the ripe ole age of 16, in hopes of having a home, NOT! I guess I should write all of this in my own blog huh? It is just so rare to find someone who led a life as crazy as your own. Could you try to leave a comment on my blog for me? My comments were shut off somehow and well I have turned them back on now. Thanks Snooty. Have a great day!


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