It was in the mid 1950's and our mother wanted her three children to receive a Catholic education. It was post World War II and the economy was thriving. The "Baby Boomer" era had arrived and there was plenty of construction of new homes.
Our school was located in central Massachusetts and the nuns were of the order of The Sisters of Saint Joseph. However, several of the nuns were from a Canadian novitiate and talked with a slight French Canadian accent.
Sister Gabriel was my home room teacher and because my father was an alcoholic and "unreliable", AND the fact that I was left handed, her demeanor toward me was quite harsh.
When report card scores were read aloud by Father Hebert, the pastor of Saint Thomas Aquinas church (and our school of the same name), Sister Gabriel made a point of humiliating those who performed poorly.
The grading system was a series of numbers from 100 being the best down to "dummy". I was one who did not do well in arithmetic and she broadcast to the class for the benefit of Father Hebert that I (Robert) was a "dummy", and that my father was a "drunk!" She continued to admonish me for being left handed and it appeared she was going to make me pay for the "sins of the (my) father!"
Sister favored Mary Anne Carleton (from a Catholic family) whose father was Superintendent of Public Schools and always passed a sealed envelope to Father Hebert once her above normal grades had been announced. Who said you can't buy your way into heaven?
A young nun by the name of Sister Albert Marchetti an art teacher with a sixth sense was able to read between the lines of this young student and embraced him - showering him with love and kindness.
With an assignment to draw my peaceful feelings when in her class is entered into an art contest, Sister Gabriel and Father Hebert are asked to judge without the identity of the young artists.
My entrance wins first place, and Sister Gabriel has no choice but to congratulate this "dummy"!
Sister Albert has impacted my life greatly and this short true story of my childhood is dedicated to her.
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