Grades nine and ten attempting to appear older

So much to learn

For Grades 9 and 10, I attended an all-girls high school. I never truly felt as if I belonged. We wore uniforms. I chose to take Latin instead of home economics, which would have been more beneficial in my life, but Latin it was.

I caught the city transit bus because the school was out of my neighbourhood for the first time. And my parents paid a fee for me to attend this school. Mom or Dad must have worked harder, and some of my siblings must have done without some things they wanted so that there was extra money for me to attend this high school.

Way back then, we didn’t have backpacks. We carried our books and binders in our arms. The school used our mathematics and French books for grades 9 and 10. I always put those two books on top of my homework pile while I rode the bus, just in case someone else recognized the books and perhaps assumed I was actually in Grade 10 vs Grade 9.

During Grade 10, we learned that the Provincial Education Department would open a co-ed Catholic high school in my neighbourhood. I jumped ship for Grades 11 and 12. But that is my next memory.



When you are not chosen

batter up

Since I’m in my recollection box, another memory wants to be memorialized.
This was again at St. Augustine School. It must have been around grade 4. A few of us girls were not chosen for the ball team.
Ok, my family had a ball and bat, and we would make up our team. We did. We played where there was room, until one day, one of our team hit a ball and broke another player’s glasses.
My dad was called into the office because the ball and bat were our family’s personal property.
Someone wanted my dad to pay for new glasses for the girl.
I’m not sure what transpired except of course we felt indignant, and I was forced to take the bat and ball home and never bring them onto school property again.
I also remember the fear I had because I knew we didn’t have money for someone else’s glasses. But when I look back from an adult perspective, perhaps the girl’s parents did not have funds to replace the glasses broken accidentally by a group of girls who only wanted to play ball.

I do not know the outcome. It was never spoken about openly when my tattletale ears were open.

As a Grades 7-8 library assistant

So very long ago

Because it was so very long ago, I do not recall why or how I had earned this privilege.
I recall learning how to repair, catalogue and sign out books in the basement of our school. I have a vivid picture in my memory of being seated behind a table stamping the date on cards as students borrowed books. In this area of our city dads worked as labourers and mom’s stayed home, so perhaps this was the only access to books many of us had.
One memory stands out when one of the most handsome boys in the class, Gene, said to the person sitting next to me, while pointing at me, “She knows so much more than she lets on.”
I was surprised and puzzled.
That summer between Grades 8 and 9, Gene drowned swimming in one of the Saskatchewan Qu’Appelle lakes. His thirteen-year-old life stopped.
As a thirteen-year-old girl who was considered wise by this boy, Gene was the first death I experienced of a classmate.

One more memory about the library. Our Grade 8 teacher instructed us not to talk on a return trip from the library. Of course, in the stair well voices echoed. When we returned to the classroom, our teacher asked us who talked. I knew I had whispered to my friend. I raised my hand. It was my first and only time, I held out my hands for that thick rubber strap as it descended with a smack. I wish I had learned that owning up to the truth isn’t always necessary.




Image by <a href=”″>Viktor Von</a> from <a href=”″>Pixabay</a>

Oh, so wise

Our family moved houses for various reasons, and I attended four elementary schools. In Saskatchewan, elementary school is from grades 1-8.

In grades 7 and 8, I was in a new school. It was small, with a combined grade 7 and 8 split.

I’m not sure if it was because I was new to the area, but suddenly, I found myself being able to assist in the library. I was voted the Red Cross representative, and I also had the opportunity to be our school representative in the Saskatchewan Legislature. I can’t recall the area of expertise I was supposed to represent, but I do recall spending part of lunch hour rehearsing my speech. At our grade 8 graduation, I was the valedictorian of our class.

I was seen.

However, the other side of the coin was that I had purchased new high heels with my babysitting money to wear for this prestigious event, but I had a hard time walking heel-toe rather than clumping. My dad told me that if I did not learn to walk properly, I would not be wearing those new shoes anywhere.

I must have accomplished the hee-toe walk because I know I wore them while I recited my wisdom to the class before the summer when we would go our separate ways to high school the following September.

Oh so wise


It’s been so long I should start at the beginning

Many years ago, I wanted to be a writer.  However, I had difficulty spelling, and looking up each word in the dictionary was time-consuming. Then, along came the computer with spell check, and my world opened up. I was no longer tongue-tied and embarrassed to write my thoughts and stories.

As a youngster, I was known as the tattletaler in our family. If adults wanted to know something, they would ask me what I had heard. I don’t believe I did it maliciously, but I was curious about the people around me.

I also liked to be alone with my studies. In one house, we had a crawl space behind the wall in the upstairs bedrooms. I claimed one of those as my private study space. I also spent time studying in a car before I could drive.

When I was a preteen, almost the time when the amphibians crawled onto land and developed legs, my aunt shared her Harlequin Romance Novels with me. She read voraciously. I also read other books. I remember reading a story late into the night where I sobbed and sobbed. I don’t know the title or the story, but I can still feel the sadness in the pit of my stomach. And I can see myself in my memory in the upstairs bedroom that I shared with my sisters.

But being a writer wasn’t something I knew about. When people ask me why I became a nurse, I explain that for many women my age, there were few careers open to women raised in a family in the lower economic range, such as teacher, secretary, and nurse. (we already know about my spelling.)

One day in Grade 5, my friends and I walked to the convent to pick up our teacher, Sister Henry. I can see us on the wooden steps on our way up to the front doors of Saint Agustine School. Sister Henry asked about our future educational plans. The other girls said they would like to become nuns. I said, “A nurse. Isn’t this great? They all start with N.”

I had set my career path as noble as becoming a nun.

To be continued

Second row First girl on the right with ringlets