Monday, July 12, 2010

Chapter 3, Part 6 - NINTH GRADE

The ninth grade turned out not to be as bad as I was anticipating, in fact it was one of the best years I ever had while in school.

The ninth graders had to sleep in the same dormitory as the grade school, but other than that, we mostly mingled with the other high school girls. I no longer had to report to Sister Bernard Marie after school hours. I shared the recreation room with the high school boarders, not the grade school that BM was in charge of. The nun that was in charge of the high school boarders was far nicer and more lenient. I don’t remember her name.

She even let us listen to the radio and watch some television. The high school girls were also allowed to dance with each other. This was the era when American Bandstand had just begun and Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando were the heartthrobs of the day. The popular dance was the “Bop”. We learned our dance moves by watching them dance on American Bandstand.

One thing that always surprised me was in all of the twelve years of boarding school, I was never taught how to cook or sew which is something you would think would be a priority in all-girl schools. The kitchen was off limits to the boarders in all three of the schools I attended, so I never even got to watch how food was prepared. We never did laundry either but did lots and lots of ironing. We even ironed our sheets.

After school, we were also allowed to leave the campus and go to nearby shops and soda fountains, which were quite popular then. We were only to leave the grounds in groups, however. This is when I first started experimenting with smoking cigarettes, which was considered a very cool thing to do, but daring and risqué for us. Something that I can’t imagine what the punishment would have been from Sister Bernard Marie!

My two brothers shared a small apartment together for quite some time while attending Gonzaga, but rarely would I spend week-ends with them. They both worked nights in an elite bakery located in the Davenport Hotel, which was the most exclusive hotel in Spokane.

Their job was to clean the bakery at night after all of the pastry chefs left. The Hotel served exquisite French Pastries and each one had to be perfect on the inside and on the outside. Jim and Bill were supposed to throw out all the fancy pastries that weren’t perfect. Of course, they didn’t throw them away but instead they brought them back to their apartment.

They had lots of parties too. Both of them gained so much weight that they each weighed close to 400 pounds! They each had severe problems with their weight and were both considered “morbidly obese” their entire lives. Bill’s weight was part of the cause of his many problems in Military School where self-discipline was highly stressed.

In her senior year my sister Beverly moved in with Jim and Bill into a larger apartment together about a mile from Holy Names. I was allowed to spend the majority of week-ends with them. My new found freedom was exhilarating for me. Prior to that year, I rarely stayed with any of them. My sister was living on campus in a building called Madonna Hall. She would occasionally let me stay with her but only when her roommate went somewhere else and her bed was available.

When I spent week-ends with the three of them while in the ninth grade I was given lots of freedom to do pretty much anything I wanted. My father was never made aware of it or he never would have allowed it….and he would have been furious. It was our secret.

A very strange coincidence happened with that apartment. Many years after they graduated from Gonzaga, my sister’s daughter, Jennifer also attended that same University. She lived on campus her first couple of years and then decided to rent an apartment. Without knowing anything about it, she ended up renting the SAME apartment that they had lived in! My sister was shocked the first time she visited her and recognized it was the same exact place. What are the odds of that!?

Our father never allowed my sister or me to go on dates or attend dances unless we were chaperoned. He would have to meet the boy’s parents before we could even attend a dance or prom. Our dances were with boys from nearby all-boy Catholic schools. My brother Jim was actually Beverly’s date for her senior prom and my father chaperoned! He also chaperoned the one dance he ever let me attend and it was my senior prom in the twelfth grade.

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