“John Robert, you have to take the placement tests for Ladyfield” my Mother announced to me quietly using my full Christian name.
Mom always suggested new concepts quietly like attending this Catholic Junior high school adjacent to the crumbling convent.
It could have been worse as my Dad always threaten to send me up the river to the military boarding school. For some lazy hazy reason I didn’t put up a fight. I’d been in a lot of trouble and hanging out with guys that smoked and did juvenile delinquent deeds ….. but nothing too serious.
The Notre Dame nuns controlled the school from class room to the cafeterias. Thankfully our Darth Vader black caped Sisters did not coach the football team.
My Mother was Irish Catholic but I was raised a Protestant Pilgrim with Peabody-Mayflower blood in my Father’s family tree. I was the new kid from the elite neighborhood going to a parochial school with a blue collar flavor. I was bullied from the first day and throughout my two year stay. My creepy tattooed bus driver punched my thigh every day instead of a morning greeting. I fought on the playground and the playing fields far from the protection of Sister Mary Joseph Teresa. I was kneed in the nuts and kicked in the ass by my Holy Roman classmates.
In the class room I learned Latin, Religion, German, on top of all the curriculum regulars. We wore ties and white button down shirts. I learned to tie a tie in the dark and we stood at attention when asked a question. It was a habit that took a while to break when I returned to my good old public school as a Freshman. It was a challenge but I’m a better man for my struggle, “Oh Virginia, they didn’t give you quite enough information.”
Playing football was fulfilling; smashing some of those who tormented me when Sister Mary Margret Ann wasn’t looking. I knew how to tackle with my battering ramming helmet and made Jimmy Valetine pay. But surprisingly the most redeeming activity at this little Catholic school in West Toledo was attending Mass once a week. The service was sung in inspirational Latin “Domine my mother plays dominoes espirita”, whatever.
Ironically the requiem masses were my favorite and there were many. The heavy chants brought me closer to Mozart. I got to skip classes and sing in the choir as I was a perfect young tenor that could sing the notes. Fortunately, Carl, Bruce, and Rodney got to serve Father Nelson as alter boys.
Afterwards we boys in the choir got to eat special jelly rolls and milk. The confirmed Catholics had to fast before communion but I didn’t have to take the holy sacraments because I was not part of the Parish …. but I ate those jelly rolls.