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Bullet of Memory

11 January 2010

My leisure time is still filled with questing and dragon-slaying, but I did want to share this memory:

  • When I was in (private, religious) elementary school, any time an adult would come into the room — to speak to the teacher, to collect one of us, etc. — we would all get up from our desks, stand to the left of it, and say, in unison, “Good morning/afternoon Sister Mary/Mr. Jones/{..}”. And the guest would then ask us to be seated before getting to the business at hand.

My girls went to Montessori elementary, so first of all, they didn’t have desks, and second of all, I don’t think public schools do the stand at attention thing, even if the children do use desks. But in any case, this memory feels so quaint and old-fashioned in the twenty-first century. Did any one else do this sort of thing?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 12 January 2010 10:30 am

    I, too, went to a private, religious elementary school. We didn’t follow the practice you described (the “good morning” was chanted, but there was no standing). I do remember that whenever an emergency vehicle drove past with its siren on (my school was situated at the busiest intersection in Illinois south of Chicago, so there was a lot of traffic), the teachers would stop whatever they were doing and lead us all in a “Hail Mary.” To this day, whenever I hear an emergency vehicle siren, my subconscious starts reciting, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…”

  2. 13 January 2010 7:59 am

    Oh, yes. At St. Thomas the Apostle (not to be confused with St. Thomas Aquinas, the lesser school — or so the nuns insinuated — in a neighboring town) we lept right up when someone came in the room. And there was always one or two kids (boys) who couldn’t move quickly enough and had his shirt untucked and messed-up hair, and it was just an embarrassment, really, to the rest of us. Those kids are probably on the Fortune 500 list now…

  3. Three of Four permalink
    13 January 2010 9:47 am


    This just triggered a whole bunch of old memories that seem alien today: like having one’s desk moved into the closet (or, eep!, right up against the teacher’s desk if you were really bad), metal lunchboxes with matching thermoses (soup for lunch — nobody does this at our kids’ school these days) and, my personal favorite, Sister Claire making us get under the desks for air raid drills (with sirens nobody else could hear…).

    Then again, I get chills when our kids have what the Hobbit calls “crazy man drills.” These involve locking classroom doors, dropping blinds on all windows, and huddling the children in corners where they cannot be seen through the window in the hallway door. In the days of standing at attention for classroom visitors, we would never have imagined practicing for armed shooters on school grounds.

  4. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    13 January 2010 10:59 am

    Marsha: You’re right, it was definitely a chant.

    Ellie: well, of course — St. Thomas the Apostle was much closer to the Savior than Aquinas ever was! And I think you are right about where those naughty boys are today.

    3 of 4: “Crazy man drills”? Oh, dear, I am laughing as I shake my head in disbelief. That Hobbit! I’ll have to check with the girls if they have to do crazy man drills — I’m guessing not, since Iowa is far from the danger zone which is our nation’s capital…

  5. 28 January 2010 9:46 am

    We definitely did the “good morning, Sister….” (religious elementary school for me too) but I don’t remember the standing.

    Marsha, while I wouldn’t say the “Hail Mary” anymore, I like the practice of saying something when an ambulance rushes by me. Think I may have to come up with something for that.

  6. Diane permalink
    30 January 2010 8:43 pm

    Oh yes, I remember it well. I also remember a zealous and anal retentive nun who, before we could go out for our 10 minute recess in the morning, made us stand, pray, be seated, go by rows to get our coats(there were ususally five rows of 9-10 desks filled with eager to escape children), returns to our seats, and the, after all of us were dressed for the weather, we were released by rows to go outside. We were lucky to have two minutes on the playground before the bell rang again. One of my not so favorite memories is of the time all of the eighth graders were hauled to into the church to hear Monsignor lecture us on the dangers of carrying school pictures of members of the opposit sex in our billfolds. Sometimes I think my early life would have been boring were it not for the Catholic Church.

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