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I attended Saint Patrick School under the instruction of the good Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Now it's become the fad for former Catholic school students to gather and tell horror stories of the torture chambers that the schools kept in their basements. One friend claims his nuns performed lobotomies on students who refused to wear their uniforms to school. Another claims one of his nuns packed heat. They are apocryphal stories at best. You will never hear such stories from me since I hold those women in the highest regards.
When I was in first grade my nun was Sister Julie Barbarian (a false name was used to protect the guilty). Our classroom was in the school basement since Sister had 52 students, no exaggeration. There was no aid in the class or break for an art or music teacher to come in. She was stuck with us, which may have lead to the encounter I tell. It was Halloween. Being good Catholic boys and girls we were told to dress as our patron saint and be ready to parade around the school. As I was ready with my sister to walk the 1.5 miles to school (today that would be child abuse). I informed my mother I needed to dress as Saint David. "When?" she asked. "Now!" I replied, "Today is Halloween." My mother took a copy of the Lowell Sun and folded it into a bizarre lump and informed me it was a crown. I was going as King David. I'm grateful she did not give me a loincloth and sling shot and go as young David fighting Goliath.
When I got to school there was St Francis, Saint Anthony, Saint Ann.... It looked like the hosts of heaven descended on Adams Street wearing their fathers' robes and mothers' bedsheets. Sister looked ecstatic as we walked in. She pointed at the folded Lowell Sun sitting on my head. "What's that?" she asked with her black habit looking much like a witch's outfit. "It's a crown. I'm King David." I thought she would comment on how creative my crown was. Instead she gave some sort of theology lesson that David was not a saint since the Messiah had not yet arrived and how could I be a saint if the gates of heaven had not been opened yet.............. My eyes glazed over as she went on quoting scripture, I think. Her last words were, "Take it off." I was crushed, until the kid after me walked by, we'll call him the sacrificial lamb. He had on a Woolworth's skeleton costume compete with plastic mask. You could see her take a deep breath. "I'm a skeleton," came the muffled voice from behind the mask. I've heard that certain sounds can break glass, and that the blasts of trumpets felled Jericho's walls. The sound that came out of Sister's mouth was akin to that. Her final words were, "Take it off." "I can't," said the skeleton mask. "You can't or you won't?" asked the good Sister, now looking more like a witch. "I don't have anything underneath here," retorted the skeleton. While the rest of the class paraded around the school ,Skeleton Boy and King David stayed in the classroom eating candy corn.
Sister Julie is now counted among the saints. The whereabouts of Skeleton Boy remains unknown.