As a kid, my grandmother adored her older brother, and she always wanted to be included in everything he did. Bob started school at the age of six, and two-year-old Janice would toddle after him on his walk to class each morning, sitting outside of the classroom until school was dismissed for the day. Bob’s teacher caught her one morning and marched her back home, but my grandmother continued to sneak out in the morning when her parents weren’t looking. Recognizing defeat, the teacher eventually allowed my grandmother to sit in on the class each day, and she enrolled her in school the following year.
After a few years at St. Hedwig’s Catholic School in Dunkirk, New York, my grandmother had a teacher she didn’t like–and who definitely didn’t like her. The nun would repeatedly hit my grandmother across the knuckles with a ruler if she spoke out-of-turn (or sometimes for no reason at all), and she singled her out for the harshest criticism. My grandmother loved school, and she had always been close to her other teachers, but this teacher made learning a nightmare. Grandma is the toughest person I know, though, and she didn’t take the teacher’s insults for long; it’s her favorite story to tell.
My grandmother received a beautiful new doll as a gift from her parents, and she brought it to school to show all of her friends. When she arrived at school, though, the nun immediately confiscated the doll and put it out-of-reach on the highest shelf in the back of the classroom. She told my grandmother that she could get the doll back the next morning, but when she got to school the next day, the doll was gone. She was devastated, and she knew that the nun had kept the doll for herself.
Back then, they didn’t have three-hole punches; instead, they used an individual hole punch for their notebooks. My grandmother’s teacher had a favorite hole punch that she would pass around the class (it must’ve been of high quality!). One morning, my grandmother stole the hole punch from the nun’s desk; the nun questioned everyone in the class, but she never figured out who had stolen it. Grandma still has the hole punch to this day, and she loves telling this story to anyone and everyone who will listen.