I attended St. Norbert School from 2nd through 8th grade. My fondness for the olden days haunts my memories. It truly was an amazing time. The people in my classes and the teachers who mentored us along the way made the time I spent in Catholic school the best years of my early childhood. It seems we all grew up in neighborhoods playing on the sidewalks, under the streetlights and riding our bicycles everywhere day or night. We especially loved biking to Andy's Party Store to buy a ton of candy! I had a bicycle-built-for-two and the chain fell off every voyage, so usually some cute guy had to help us get it back on the sprocket. I lived near the "Flats" on Parkwood and Harrison. Boy, would my heart race when the Cherry Hill Marching Band rumbled down the street to practice formations down in the flats. But I was doomed never to attend CHHS as our address was cut-off from the district by 4 lousy houses.
School days were filled with a mixture of holiness and orneriness. We all had crushes on the alter boys, which made the church going a little more bearable. When I was younger, I remember we attended mass every day of the week, and on Sundays. Then we switched to an arrangement where the entire school attended one day a week on Wednesdays, our own class went one day a week, and then of course, church on Sunday or Saturday night! Christmas Eve midnight mass was always particularly moving. When the church was renovated I loved the new stained glass window designs so much; the beauty and the patterns mesmerized me. I think praying amongst the colors helped germinate my artistic side. Many of us had Mrs. Gubert in both 4th grade and 6th grade; I credit her for my creative side too, both with drawing and writing. She read us books aloud--Charlottes Web, The Boxcar Children. Anyone remember Mr. Flint lighting up a cigarette in class and blowing the smoke through a white hanky, to show us the ill effects of how the tar and nicotine left "stains" on a lung if a person ever smoked? How about his "Play Money and Reward for good grades" bargaining system? He came to class one day with a bunch of toys and had prices on them. He must have been teaching us about currency and such. All week our papers and worksheets accumulated monetary value and on Friday we spent it on the loot! What a revolutionary concept! Then someone goofed it all up--the very next week (?)--by making money on the mimeograph machine behind old Mr. Flint's back. So that Friday, the culprit showed up with a giant bankroll of counterfeit fake money. Party over. Bummer. Discipline was real back then too. I recall getting smacked on the hand with a ruler for being bad by some nun. Mr. Flint had a paddle, and used it on a few of the bad boys. At some point I recall some teacher locking me in a classroom supply closet for misbehaving, probably for passing notes or talking; although, I must say, I remember smelling the crayons in the dark and not being too scared--is this why I am an artist now? I think too that Mrs. Gubert pinned either Paul Pilat or Bob Grondziak's ears to the bulletin board with clothes pins! Goodness gracious! Where are these old teachers these days?
Another silly memory is how I sat in the first row, first seat, most of the time because the seating charts were usually alphabetical. This meant I had LeRoy Barber behind me practically every year, and Michael Gomez somewhere close in the next row. If the teacher went "sideways" with the alphabet, I often had Michael Gomez behind me, who was a super great artist back then. One game we played all the time was seeing how small we could write on the desk. This involved a rather sharp pencil and keen eyesight. To this day, I can still read the tiniest print imaginable, and I never needed glasses either. Extra curricular activities included our infamous lunchtime asphalt parking lot playground with a single Tether Ball game sadly off in the distance. I will always love Dances at the Social Hall which were total make-out parties--slow dancing and fast dancing to Elton John, Bread, Chicago, Bay City Rollers. Hot Dog Day once a month was always quite a joy, and a time to be gluttonous. I think hot dogs were 25 cents, potato chips were a dime, and milk was nickel.
So now our 8th grade class of 1977 is 30 years older. I am going through this reminiscing phase in my life right now, revisiting the days of the 70's and trying to find old long-lost acquaintances. Is being 44 part of this journey? I recently moved my dad out of his house, and found up in the attic my box of St. Norbert memorabilia. I discovered several elaborate address and phone number lists, including birthdays, of everyone from those adolescent days. I wonder how many of us still live near our old stomping grounds or even still in Michigan? And the 8th grade graduating class of 1976 too--I think it's time we ALL have a "Grade School" reunion! Call me in Dexter MI, 734.426.2676, or e-mail me at <TAuletti@aol.com> or <email@example.com> to plan a party or a get together. I look forward to hearing from everyone who attended St. Norbert's from 1970-1977.