Monday, January 23, 2017


It was the fall of 1950, and a new school year was beginning at Our Lady of Lourdes elementary school. Mom had an infant at home and me entering first grade. My older sister would accompany me to school every morning while my parents tried to either change the locks or move to a different apartment by 3:00 pm when the school had enough and sent me home.

One of the things that were needed before they would allow a child into their world of religious education and military discipline was an upfront payment of both tuition and books, each was to be paid separately. Mom gave my older sister the money for the books in an envelope and her, in turn, handed it to my cranky first-grade teacher, Miss Langon.

Miss Lagon was a cranky skinny old lay-teacher who wore old-fashioned laced shoes and long floral dresses, who also had a need to give me a hard time. The around the third or fourth day of school Old Miss Langon called my sister over and gave her ‘What for’ for not paying for my books! I remembered that my sister gave her the money in a white envelope my mother gave her with the money in it.

From under her gray bun, severe attitude and squeaky voice my sister got reprimanded for not turning it in. Going home in tears that day she related to Mom her encounter with the Leona Helmsley wanna-be (Queen of Mean) Old Miss Langon. Grandma Frances who happened to be visiting that day listened as Mom translated the sobbing encounter to Grandma into Italian. Grandma said nothing.

The next morning, there stood Grandma, waiting for us to go to school, she wanted to meet the wicked witch of Catholic Schools, the original Our Lady of Sorrows. Off we went to school, my older sister, and Grandma tugging me along by the hand. She was getting to the bottom of this and would set Miss Langon straight about yelling at her grandkids.

We reached my first-grade classroom Grandma stood with her hands on her hips and motioned the old girl over, what she said I don’t remember, but I do remember the witch retreating backward as grandma raised Hell, fingers flashing from all the rings she wore, and hands waving in her nice Italian accent, fingers!  We were never bothered by Miss Langon again. It was later ascertained that she did get the envelope.


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