My second boarding school was “Holy Names Academy” in Spokane, Washington. I would live there for four years while my sister and two brothers attended Gonzaga University nearby. This boarding school was by far the most difficult for me, and the hardest on me than any of the others. The nuns there were nothing like the first ones, especially one in particular. I have always been grateful for the tender loving care I received from the Visitation Sisters. They were like 20 moms to me.
My father chose Holy Names Academy in Spokane, so named for the Holy Names nuns that ran it. He picked Spokane because my sister Beverly was starting her first year at Gonzaga there. My oldest brother Jim started the following year along with my brother Bill after he graduated from St. John’s Military Academy. Gonzaga was only about a mile from Holy Names, so it fit the bill.
My brother, Jim, was eleven years older than me, and we had not seen him for a very long time. He lied about his age and joined the Air Force at sixteen (something that probably could never be done today). He was in the military for five years, including three years in Korea during the war. Following a foot injury he was reassigned to work as a court stenographer in Military trials. When he left the Air Force, he had decided he wanted to become a Lawyer because of all the injustice he witnessed in the military courtrooms. He qualified for the GI Bill to attend College. First, he had to get his high school diploma and he managed to complete the two years he had missed in less than one year.
Jim was extremely intelligent. He had a photographic memory and could remember everything he ever read or saw. It was truly amazing. After a while in college, he could find information, instantly, out of dozens of different law books, because he could remember exactly which book and where he had read the information he was looking for. I’ve never known anyone else equal to him.
I would be starting Holy Names in 6th grade. My arrival there was memorable only in that it was nothing like Visitation Villa - whatsoever. The school was in a crowded residential neighborhood and had very little property, probably about an acre or less. The boarders there were also in two groups, but this time they were divided into 1st through 8th and 9th through 12th grades. Again, my father took me there. He spent a very short time meeting the nun who would be in charge of me. The majority of the boarders were all arriving around the same time with their parents so it was quite a busy place. After telling her what a wonderful child I was, he departed and left me in the hands of “the nun from hell”.
Sister Bernard Marie was the one in charge of the 1st through 8th grade boarders. I knew immediately that she did not like me. I will never know why, but it was quite evident from day one. Her name was really appropriate because she rather resembled a St. Bernard dog in a nuns’ habit. When she would bite down, her upper teeth went behind her lower teeth so her chin stuck out in what I would call an “under bite” as apposed to an “overbite” (actually she looked more like a Bulldog, but St. Bernard dog would do). I don’t know if she sensed my “doggy” description or maybe she didn’t like my father (which I did sense). Perhaps it could have been my looks that she didn’t like. I was a chubby, overweight, unattractive ten year old with buck teeth. Whatever the reason, she did not like me. She would make the next few years truly hell on earth, not only for me, but for all of the girls in her charge.
There was one “rule” the Holy Names nuns required of us which was quite different from any other school I ever attended. Whenever you were walking down the hallway and saw a nun approaching you, you had to stop dead in your tracks, move to the far right of the hallway, next to the wall, and bow your head as they walked by. You were never to look them in the face. They considered themselves “sacred” because they were devoting their lives to God. We were to do this out of “respect”.