Thursday, June 10, 2010

U is for Ursuline Academy

So...

When I was a little kid my Father was stationed at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana.

My parents enrolled my older sister and me in Ursuline Academy. It was a Catholic school.

It was scary.

Seriously, totally scary.

First of all the nuns wore wimples and habits. ... and, trust me, there was no singing and dancing like in this movie...
I remember the chapel being beautiful......but I also remember my bony, little knees feeling like they were breaking.

There was a small room (I couldn't find a picture) at the top of a bunch of stairs where we went to pay our respects to deceased Nuns and Priests. We had to file quietly in and kiss their hand and then file quietly out. And it always, always terrified me. Their hands were gray and frozen like clay. It always made me feel sick to my stomach.

There was a fifth floor art studio that was light and bright and full of air where we learned to do watercolors... ... but in that light and airy place, I also learned that rulers across bony, little knuckles really, really hurt.

I remember a lot of rulers at Ursuline Academy. I got rapped with rulers because I talked too much. Wiggled too much. Wondered too much. Asked wayyyy too many questions. And was told I had an "out of control" imagination. When the letter "U" came up this week I thought of Ursuline Academy immediately.

I read that it is now a museum and you can take a historical tour of the building.

But if I ever visit Great Falls, I will not be taking the tour.

Because I still talk too much. Wiggle too much. Wonder too much. I still ask wayyyy too many questions AND my imagination is still out of control.

And I think I would be afraid, deep down, that there would still be a whole drawer of rulers somewhere with my name on them.

This post is linked to Alphabe-Thursdays Letter "U". Click here to read lots more fun links!

post signature

64 comments:

Bossy Betty said...

Oh Jenny!

An out of control imagination is the BEST gift a child could have! Glad they did not take it out of you. Love the picture. Might have nightmares about those dead priests and nuns though. (I am also a girl with an out of control imagination!)

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I think my toddler would have been trouble for the nuns.

Nora Johnson said...

I think all we Alphabe-Thursday students would have been trouble for the nuns!

XOXO LOLA:)

Jeanie said...

I glad U made it through that experience with all your best qualities intact. My first grade teacher was a knuckle rapper....she always had that ruler in her hand and I have always remembered it.

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

Happily, Catholic schools have dramatically changed. You rarely see a nun as a teacher and there are absolutely no rulers (used for smacking) that is. Actually now smacking at all, however unlike public school, Kindergarten teachers are allowed to give a hug to each child as they enter in the morning. (Public school teachers' aren't allowed to hug a kid). And, except for a visit to Italy and her museums and churches, I haven't seen a dead priest or nun anywhere around here. I'm glad you retained your sense of creativity despite your Catholic school experience!

Mary said...

Bless your poor little ruler-wrapped knuckles! Your photo is adorable :-)

Linda said...

I always heard stories like that about the local Catholic school and it made me happy to be a Presbyterian! I wiggled too much, talked too much and well got in my own share of trouble in regular school! Love your picture!

Sami said...

I can't believe they made you pay your respects to dead zombie nuns!! That must be frightening for so many children... I was a weenie-pants so I would have cried while someone dragged me up there, then fled once they let go! Aiiieeeeeee~~~

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Morning Jenny,
I can't blame you one bit for not wanting to visit there. What a shame that people, especially teachers would squelch that inquisitiveness and wonder, someone should smack them on the knuckles. Glad you didn't let that shape you because we are all so blessed by your delightful writings of imaginative and true stories, they are wonderful.
I can't believe anyone would make kids do that, kissing a deceased persons hand, how awful!
I am a closed casket person myself, I prefer to remember them as they were!! lol
Bet you definitely are!! lol
Your pic was so cute, thanks for sharing that story. Amazing!!
Blessings hon, Nellie

Pondside said...

That doesn't sound like a very cosy place at all! I went to the Sisters of St Joseph and had a completely opposite experience. The sisters were gentle and intelligent and I'll bet that most of the girls went on to university, inspired by the nun's exhortation that a woman could do anything.

Bits-n-Pieces said...

oh honey...i hate that your memories of school are scary. My goal as a teacher is to make sure school is first of all, FUN and secondly, safe. We learn, but I want my students to feel safe and to have fun learning. If nothing else, my students will leave 1st grade knowing they were loved and that I had their best interests at heart.

Together We Save said...

Wonderful pictures... that does sound scary...it is an amazing story!

Rural Revival said...

Maybe you do, maybe you don't but I think you're perfect just the way you are. And, I love that photo!

~Andrea~

Country Dreaming said...

Jenny---
Those glasses are to die for. :)
What a cutie. AND I just can't imagine you talkin and moving tooooo much plus having a very active imagination!
WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!


Melinda

Tracy said...

It is all behind you now. Quite amazing that your school is now a museum

laterg8r said...

hilarious that the academy wanted to rid you of your imagination - you sure showed them :D

Sarah said...

Jenny, it makes me sad when I hear stories about children with these feeling about school. I always tried my best to create a classroom environment that would be fun and stimulating. As a teacher, I personally welcomed those who marched to a different drum. I encouraged individuality because all too soon, children are expected to conform to the "rules" of society. I didn't go to catholic schools, but my husband did, and he tells some of the same stories. I trust catholic schools have changed with the times. Funny, but just the name Ursuline Academy seems scary to me. LOL ~ Sarah

Rebecca S. said...

Well that experience sounds a bit ghoulish, Jenny! I went to a Sisters of St. Joseph Catholic school in the seventies and we had a priest for a principal, then a nun for a principal, who had been my grade three teacher. They were all kind and had good senses of humour, but they were strict. My experiences were good, there were no smackings with rulers but there was a strap in the principal's office. I never got it though, because my dad was already strict enough!

Sue said...

What hard days those were for children in such schools as you describe. Can't even imagine...

BTW, I had a pair of glasses just like yours. And a similar behavior pattern, I believe.

Fortunately, I enjoyed the slightly greater laxity of public school. But I still managed to find my share of trouble.

;)

Riet said...

Oh so sad Jenny to have bad memories of school and childhood. Children should be happy in their years. Nice building

Jackie said...

Aren't you an unlucky one! Why is it that nuns were so strict and mean ? I have never met any like that. All the ones I know are sweet and loving.

Red Couch Recipes said...

Your post made me laugh--sorry that they were mean to you! No hills alive with the sound of music for you! I have several pics of me with cat-eyed glasses too. I had many pairs...always broke or lost them...they made for enchanting school pics. Joni

Carol said...

The sistas just didn't see your potential! Your wonderful...in every way!

mrs. c said...

I could see that you and a strict school would not be a good mix! I too am a talker but I was very afraid of paddles and rulers, not like my infamous hubby, Jeff, who knew his principal's office very well! I loved you post, hated that hand kissing thing, hope you recieved your package, and well see you on Saturday!

jeff campbell said...

Superfine post Jenny:-) I spent 3 years in Catholic school...nuns and all...That picture of you is adorable...cute, funny, missing tooth, glasses and all. Peace and blessings...BTW I do not play Uke very well...just a prop for the picture, although I love to fiddle around with my dulcimer.

Flat Creek Farm said...

Now if you didn't wiggle, wonder & talk so much.. you would not be our beloved Jenny M. And that would be a sad, sad situation indeed.

BTW.. That photo of you(?) is absolutely precious!! :) -Tammy

jaydubblah said...

Hi Jenny
Lots of Ursuline Schools here in UK. My mum was an Ursuline girl. I went to the Grammar School and we envied the Ursuline girls their cool pill box hats. But not the blazer, which was Brown Gold and Blue stripes!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I would have been imprinted with rulers all over myself too Jenny.
This, to me does not sound like a great experience....but all our experiences make us who we are.
Love, your wiggly and wondering friend.

Keri "The Coupon Lady" said...

Poor Jenny! I also went to a Catholic school for elementary. My teachers were not nuns but we had to go to mass every Wednesday for hours! We also did do a talent show performance like Sister Act. We dressed in habits and danced to the movie soundtrack. Of course that was right around the time that it was in theaters, so that dates me a bit...I wonder if I can find a picture?!?

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I'd think there might be a lot of damaged boomers out there...graduates of this school. Kissing the hands of dead people as a child...child abuse!

Giveaway at my place:)

H said...

My boys went to a Catholic primary school in Manchester (England) and I'm very pleased to say that it was nothing like this! It was family & they loved it :)

Brenda said...

Looks like an awesome building. Too bad the memories are not wonderful. I went to a public school that housed k-12th grade when I started out. Large many story brick building with large staircases that I will never forget. It made little children feel even smaller. And Mrs. Fickle the Pickle had a ruler in her drawer also. Better that than the huge paddle that resided at the principles office though. I am glad you have such an imagination!

Shugee @ Blue Heron Cottage said...

Ohhhh, Jenny! What the heck were wrong with those nuns. I don't get how people think corporal punishment is the answer. But luckily you didn't let them get the best of you and one of those is your talent and imagination. Luckily there are better teachers now that understand that children shouldn't be treated like they should be seen but not heard. What at dump notion. Okay, now I'm on a tangent.

Good writing love.

Marlene said...

Ooh...I went to Catholic school, and I still remember the ruler the mean ol' nun Kindergarten teacher used on us! I got rapped once cuz I colored a frog BLUE instead of green!!! Nasty ol' twat!

jen said...

That picture of you is absolutely the cutest! So darling.
Maybe if you visited it would rid you of your memories, and that may not be worth it.

RACHELLE said...

i love the glasses! serious! i had some when i was little that had no lenses. i wish i would have kept them for my daughter!

shell

gypsylemonade.blogspot.com

maggie said...

Really enjoy dropping by here. I wonder what strengths you gleamed from your school experience. It obviously didn't kill your vim & vigour for life or your creativity.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

That picture looks a lot like pictures of me when I was that age! Sheesh...good to know someone else was smile challenged! We are probably sisters somewhere in another dimension....

Bookie said...

How interesting, Jenny. How long did you live in Great Falls? My sister in law lives there now. During the summers she helps lead the chruch walks there...people take walks through the city, visiting inside some of the churchs. She says it is a popular event. New times, new ways.

The Words Crafter said...

Bless your heart! You reminded me of my sister-we went to public school and she got a ruler everyday, too. I have found that the wiggly, talkative, inquisitive, creative children are usually extremely bright...and I'm very glad that it wasn't "ruled" out of you!

Debbie said...

And dear Jenny don't you just love who you are in spite of those ole mean NUNS? Sorry but back then they where mean...my Mom went to a Catholic school as a young child, and I seriously think she was traumatized a few times...they wanted to hold her back in the first grade for the very same reason, they said she was too energetic and had to learn to sit and follow rules...well my Mom til this day is a ball of energy...and I love her just the way she is!~ Great post Jenny!

Lourie said...

I love your out of control imagination! My husband went to Catholic school through grade 5. He had one sister who had amazing accuracy with erasers.

Jo said...

you and your out of control imagination sure provide me with a lot of little gleeful moments! and dont worry about those rulers, those days are long gone ...

Viki said...

Yep, those were the nuns we had at our school but luckily we didn't have to visit the dead ones, ha. I remember having to kiss a cross once on the nun and say I was sorry. The whole class did after we all got whacked with a rubber strap. They were brutal lol.

Terra said...

oh I am afraid I wouldn't have any knuckles left had I attended this school. While I am certain it helped shape you into the wonderful woman you are today I am also certain I am very glad I was never enrolled!

GardenofDaisies said...

Those eye-glasses are marvelous!!
When I was little even public schools used a ruler. (that was obviously eons ago.)

Tina said...

That picture is ADORABLE! Sorry you had such a horrid experience. But as always, you told the tale with humor and style.

Short and Sweet said...

Jenny, loved your post about Ursuline Academy. I, too, went to a Catholic elementary school and high school. My elementary memories were happy, but the rules were crazy. I truly did survive Catholic school.

Serline said...

Hilarious! Many years ago, Harvard gave my hubby a similar vibe when he visited before deciding which college to apply for. "I felt like any moment a Jesuit priest might spring out from a dark corner and yank me into an inquisition room." He ended up at the place "next door" with a bunch of calculator-toting geeks with pocket protectors instead ;-)

Natasha said...

Thank goodness times have changed! the Ursulines run some excellent schools here in Australia actually and I am pretty sure they don't use rulers!

Best wishes and happy weekend,
Natasha.

Ms. Anthropy said...

Glad they didn't leave too much of a lasting impression. Your imagination and stories are truly inspiring!

Cheryl said...

My dad went to Catholic schools through all 12 years. He would not let one of his children attend because of what he experienced. Not much different from your experience only worse because he was male and there were no holds barred when it came to boys.

redtedart said...

Oh My "OUT OF CONTROL IMAGINATION"?!!?! How old fashioned is that! Am so pleased that they were NOT able to curb your imagination.. tsk tsk.

Thank you again for a wonderful Alphabet Thursday, have only just found you and am enjoying taking part!!

Maggy, Red Ted Art

amariaf2000 said...

Great U post!! Reminds me of Kindergarten - man, I got the ruler ALL THE TIME. Until I read this post, I had pretty much blocked that period of my life. Thanks...JUST KIDDING! Great post!

~angela @ peonypatch

Laura said...

I went to a girl's boarding school.
I know what you mean.

You should have a 'breaking rulers'
party!

Laura
White Spray Paint

Susan said...

some Nuns have bad habits!

LOL


Susan...using my out of control imagination, while wiggling, wondering and talking too much....it is of course ADHD!! (I would have never made it in a catholic school, I got stood in the corner enough, thank you at public school)

PERMANENT POSIES said...

This is the second story I read today about Catholic schools. Scary! I am glad you imagination is out of control.

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Ah! Miss Jenny! I am still working "my way back to you, babe" (oops that song just popped right out!

OOOH! Ursuline Academy! ...(first, fun to hear we both grew up as Air Force brats and have had experienced a Catholic school with nuns with habits and wimples (have to admit...I had to look up what a wimple was, but yep ours wore wimples). My school was Dominican School, when we stationed in Taipei, Taiwan. I can't say that I had the ole "ruler on the knuckle" trick, but I did get swatted on the butt with a wooden paddle! I don't know why! And now that I think of it...I have pushed that in the deep dark recesses of my mind...so maybe it wasn't me but another classmate? Hm...I was such a docile student...ah! so many years ago...my memories are muddled!

But boy, oh boy! My hubby has a memory SEARED in his mind of his Catholic school "ruler-smacked" knuckles in kindergarten in Hawaii!

Blessings & Aloha!
(What an absolutely adorable photo of you! Too cute to get into any trouble!)

Vicki said...

I was positive I left a comment here the other day...what did you do with it? I know, you took it up them stairs and put in one of them gray hands! MWAHAHAHA

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Oh Jenny you are so cute! We could have been twins as I had similar glasses and I went to Cahtolic school for 12 years!

Melinda Cornish said...

that is really sick that they made you kiss dead peoples hands...I dont care if its the freaking pope......if you had the kind of imagination I did, and I am sure you did, that is a terrible place to go......you were such a little doll and you still have that smile...I love it....

Amanda said...

I started out in public school in the seventies, and had my knuckles rapped quite a few times by the teachers. I will never forget the first time it happened, in first grade. We were sitting in a group at a round table, drawing a map, and I drew a line wrong. I got whacked on the back of the hand and publicly scolded. It really hurt my feelings and left me confused, because I had tried my best. In piano class, we would get whacked for hitting wrong notes, and I got whacked on top of the head, with a teacher's long wooden dowel, for wiggling during a tornado drill!
I've often thought we should require teachers to take an oath to "do no harm", but alas....

Lillian Farring said...

Hi Jenny,

when I read your comment about the Ursuline Academy I could not believe it. It was my story exactly and I mean exactly.

My Father was also stationed at Malstrom AFB. We were there when Col Malstrom's plane crashed and that is when they renamed the base to Malstrom.

I remember the first dead body I ever saw was at the Ursuline Academy. Your experience was mine! The rulers scared me to death. My brother has scars on his knuckles from those rulers. They were the wooden rulers with the medal blade.

I remember too, the public beltings that the nuns used to inflict on certain pupils. The kid would have to go to the front of the class and get beat with the belt that the nuns wore around their waist.

Some of the students were boarding students. I think they were orphans.

I was astounded to find that the Ursuline Academy is even still there. It was a chapter of pure horror in my life and scared me to death. I spent 3 years living in total fear of that place. My two brothers have equally horrible stories. At least we are not alone and we are out here.

I will never go back either. Just coming upon your post on the internet caused me no amount of unhappy thoughts. Your experience was mine and I felt tears for your experience because I knew exactly what you went through.

nikita92 said...

I wouldnt call religious "Zombie" anything...