Cool nights and mornings recall past

Published 1:31 am Wednesday, September 12, 2007

By Staff
There is something about slipping under your quilt as the temperature is dropping on a September night and feeling the chill from the open window in the morning, that brings back memories of returning to school.
The notebooks with every page clean and blank, just waiting to be filled are stuffed into backpacks with an assortment of pens and pencils.
I can still picture my kids waiting for the bus, dressed in new school clothes and shoes, eager, yet still a bit apprehensive about a new teacher. I am sure they wondered whether they would be in the same classes with their friends.
When I entered first grade, it was really my first day. No daycare, preschool or kindergarten prepared me for the school.
I went to a Catholic grade school and my first teacher was a nun, Sister Maris, in full black and white habit. She was so sweet, young and pretty and the transition was easy.
I was eager to learn to read and I still have my Dick and Jane books.
"See Jane. See Dick."
My mother bought the black and white small check wool and made my skirt with suspenders, which were worn over a white blouse. I also had a beanie.
Very tiny, with my Shirley Temple blond curls and brown glasses with a little Scottie dog on each corner, I must have been really cute.
We had to stop where we were when the bell rang and say a prayer. I remember stopping quickly and the kid behind me ran into me, knocking my glasses to the ground breaking them. I dreaded telling my parents. I knew even then keeping three kids in glasses was very expensive.
But my worst memory was having to file past a student's open coffin. She must have died of some disease and she was wearing the same uniform. I kept my eyes on her black patent leather shoes, as I couldn't let myself look at her face. I had never seen a dead person before.
Second grade was Miss Neville, whom I had again in I believe fourth grade. Other than Sister Finbar in eighth grade, I don't remember the names of my other teachers.
We didn't have gym classes, but I remember chasing boys around the school playground.
I lived across the street, so I could get to school and get home really fast.
Those nuns though just didn't trust us. The boys and girls were let out at separate times, in hope we wouldn't meet on the way home.
In eighth grade, I had to play the U.S. Marine hymn on the piano for the entire school to sing to. I was a nervous wreck.
I can also vividly remember when I did something bad, but was never caught. I had turned in a messy paper and was supposed to take it home to be signed. I found my mother's signature and copied it over and over and finally signed her name to the paper. I didn't want to be punished.
The punishment instead has lasted all these years. I don't think they ever knew, but I was miserable after I did it. It was a lesson in honesty I never forgot.
I also remember being loud and disrupting the class in seventh or eighth grade, probably along with another girl. We were sent down to a second grade class to sit and learn to behave. I didn't do that again either.
Actually I really loved school. For high school I traveled by bus to Wilmette, Ill., an all-girl school, run by a different order, Adrian Dominicans.
Those days went quickly and the smells and memories return each fall with the pumpkins growing fat in the fields.