The Impoverished Gentlewoman

A '60s woman lost in the woods.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That weekend.....

The third day...
That was Sunday which was normally a lazy day and strangely, the feeling was similar on that particular day. We were all tired and irritable. The chapel was crowded. Long dark cars deposited stony-faced priests. The hunky Italian priest came but he failed to fill our teenage hearts with the customary lust. We were unmoved.
After a calorie laden pancake breakfast ,most of us headed back to the dorms. Mary came over because she said her parents were driving her crazy. She convinced me to go to the smoker to see Oswald be moved to..from..jail to prison or something like that. I admit I was a bit fascinated-morbid or not.
He was being escorted by a veritable crowd of police in the basement parking lot. Suddenly we saw several flashes and heard a "pop pop" sound. It looked and sounded like little kids playing cops and robbers. Something so shocking takes awhile to sink in properly. Oswald was dead.
All I remember of Jack Ruby was his white hat. As for my fellow dorm mates, there were no screams or yells, just loud gasps of shock or surprise. We were all too drained. I didn't watch the funeral on TV-was it Monday? Instead I viewed it later.
Life got back to normal fairly soon. It tends to do that when you're young.
It was the worst weekend ever. But its just an anniversary now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

That weekend.....

The second day..
I lived in the dorms at Marymount for two years but went home for the weekend VERY rarely. Beyond the obvious reasons, there was good food,central air and even maid service so whats not to love? Boca Raton was little more than a retirement village then. We generally headed for Ft. Lauderdale if we felt dangerous(haha). My friend Mary went to high school there and we'd hang out with her friends. Locally, we'd go to the movies or hang out at the beach.
That Saturday was different from any other . It was very quiet-"hushed" was the word. It was claustrophobic for some. Some girls who lived in Palm Beach or Miami left to escape. But I knew I'd prefer the "cloistered nunnery" feel than a trip to the land of tiny-brained folk. Life at Marymount was sheltered and even going to Publix for groceries could be a shock to the system. That night after dinner, I saw a group of nuns walk to one of the man-made lakes for prayers. The sky was a mixture of pastel blues and pinks. They lit candles. And I was consoled.
But it got to us after awhile. One of the wealthiest girls at the school, Monica (from Norwalk,CT) was also our best dancer. Her "dirty dog" was banned at the school dances. She and a few other girls were dancing in the "smoker". This was the student lounge and the only place where smoking was allowed. Its also where they had a TV and music system. One of the nuns came in and screamed at them,"Have you no respect?!!!". And Monica screamed right back at her ,"We can't stand this anymore!". The nun just turned around and left.
Things get better with time,right? But the next day was no help.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Adventures of Aunt Ollie, part 1

I met Aunt Ollie once and it was a memorable meeting. It was that summer in 1963. She came to Polly's house to see my mother and myself . I think she invented the term "colorful character".
The true tale that I'd already heard:
It was during the depression. Ollie and her husband George were driving through those twisting roads late one winter night. Ollie was normally very distrustful of everything but felt sorry for the lone,shivering figure on the side of the road,trying to hitch a ride.
"Pick him up,George." she said. Uncle George knew better not to argue. the hitcher got into the back seat, unsmiling.
Aunt Ollie felt uncomfortable. "Where are you going" she asked, trying to be sociable as well as feeling curious as to where he was headed.
"I'm going wherever you go" he answered.
For some reason, this terrified both of them. Uncle George gasped and began driving very fast. Ollie put her hand in her purse ,turned towards him and croaked ominously,gritting her teeth, "I've got a GUN".
I'm not sure which scared the hitcher more, the car careening wildly on mountain curves or Ollie about to pull out her six-shooter(which didn't exist) but he begged to be let out."Please,just stop the car!Please!".
When Uncle George finally found a spot to pull over, the unfortunate hitcher jerked open the door and then proceeded to run away, slipping on the icy road,looking over his shoulder with an expression of pure terror.
So a scary story he might have told to his children later on was a funny family story for us.
The blog-the modern campfire.

That weekend.....

I was coming out of Spanish class with Susanne Carvalho. It was Friday afternoon and I don't remember if there were any plans that weekend. There usually were. Our mutual friend Mary Cunningham was waiting for us. This was very strange because Mary was a commuter student and would normally have waited in one of our dorm rooms.
"Kennedy was killed" she blurted out.
"Very funny, Cunningham" I shot back. But then she started to cry and she never cried-she was the cool,unflappable one.
We sat in her car in the parking lot for a long time, listening to the radio. I was too much in shock to cry. But then I rarely cried.
Marymount was a Catholic college of course and portraits of Kennedy hung proudly all over campus. That evening there was a special Mass, the first of many. We all slapped on our mantillas and clutched our missals. We were never so well-behaved. I was a brand new convert and yes, it was so comforting.
Susanne's father called her from Fall River that evening and told her,"You're now a part of history!" and she replied "But I don't want to be!" and thats how we all felt.
That was the first day.