Sunday, May 17, 2009

Surviving Catholic School

Years ago I saw a picture of Madonna in a Tshirt that said I Survived Catholic School and thought, her too? How does one describe Catholic school, honestly, I can't begin to tell you. But Bill O'Reilly does a good job of it.

Yes, Bill O'Reilly that Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity. I borrowed his book on a recent trip to the library and have been laughing out loud since. Most everyone is familiar with the O'Reilly we see on TV, the brash, ego-driven, pompous so and so. But apparently, Bill and I have more in common than I would have thought.

Bill went to St. Brigids School in Westbury, NY which he describes as cruel and unusual punishment. My incarceration began in Kindergarten at Star of the Sea School in Honolulu, HI. We both attended school when corporal punishment was the norm. I was a well behaved student but even I had my knuckles rapped. Bill on the other hand was a little knucklehead who inspired a nun to come up with this very original quote...William, you are a bold, fresh piece of humanity!

Surely this is the face of an angel and not a little hooligan!
That will be three Hail Mary's, one Our Father and
the Act of Contrition, William

At our school, the nun's came up with an unusal method of keeping their young charges compliant...the spanking room. I am not making this up! It was actually a supply closet but we didn't know it at the time. It was never actually described to us but believe me we had very fertile imaginations. I pictured it as some sort of machine that had belt straps attached to it and doled out punishment to poor unsuspecting children. God forbid the dog really did eat your homework!

On his eighth-grade report card, Bill describes a comment written by Sister Mary Martin: Socializes quite freely yet resents correction! As a side note, strangely, most nuns were named Sister Mary Something. Anyway, after viewing the note, the conversation at the O'Reilly house went like this.

Mr. O'Reilly: What the hell does that mean?

Bill: I'm popular.

Mr. O'Reilly: Get less popular!

Bill: Okay.

I really admire the way Bill thinks on his feet! By the way Bill had a sister Janet, who was neither fresh nor bold and the nuns loved her.

Bill continued his Catholic education and graduated from Chaminade High School while I switched to Kalani High School, a public school at the start of my sophomore year. I can only say that I went through some serious culture shock! You just wouldn't believe it. Such language, such gestures, smoking in the bathroom, cutting class? OMIG - I had just landed on Mars!

In the end I believe changing schools was a good thing giving me exposure to the outside world. In Catholic school there was no doubt we were sheltered. What I missed most besides my childhood friends was the structure and discipline. Although I had made friends and did well in public school my loyalties lay with Star of the Sea. And yet I still feel some conflict about it. The stories I could tell you, I know you would shake your head in disbelief.

Let me leave you here. I'm only half way through the book and I am curious what other adventures Bill and I may have in common.

Remember if you have any comments keep it pithy and no bloviating. That's Bill's job!


  1. Hey Bonnie.... I attended Catholic school for a year and I can honestly say I hated every momemt. My mom came to my rescue, made the right decision and pulled me out. Long story but.... back then, Catholic school sucked.

  2. Hi Bonnie...I never attended Catholic school, but I grew up in the era where spanking was the norm. I did get a paddling at school...for TALKING!! lol I also had to stand with my nose in a circle on the blackboard while tears streamed down my face...for, you guessed it!...talking!! I will have to check out his book...sounds delightful! Have a great week...Debbie

  3. My son will be starting Catholic high school very soon... I think he is going to LOVE it!

  4. Hi ... didn't attend Catholic school either but did get smacked with a ruler a couple of times from my 5th grade teacher.

    BTW - the photo of Elinor Dashwood reminded me of Castle Howard (which I visited) and used in Brideshead Revisited.

  5. Hello Bonnie! Isn't this Pink Lady funny? She loves the group Pink Martini and pink martinis! Pink champagne however, is the best! I will get back to you on email about the manuscripts. Delightful!!!! Anita