Stories from an Unconventional Childhood: Week Seven

Over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales there’s a cool project going on about family history. There is a challenge to blog for 15 weeks about our growing up years, with a different time period covered each week. Spitfire talked me into joining in because she’s hoping for some wild stories from my childhood.

The summer before my fifth grade year, my parents decided they had had enough of roughing it. The animals were sold or given away, the wood cook stoves sold and the rest given away or packed. By this time, my grandparents had been asked to run a combination hotel and apartment complex in Austin. They offered my dad a position as handyman which included a one-bedroom furnished apartment. We pared our belongings down to the bare minimums and moved in.

I loved living in the apartments. We had a TV for the first time and a swimming pool a few feet from our door. I got to see my grandparents all the time too. The one thing I didn’t like was sleeping on the couch. We had lived in a communal room in the tent and the structure built after that. I missed my old room with the patchwork rug and the big windows. After a year and a half of sleeping on a mattress on the floor, now I was on the couch.

When it came time to register for school, my mom made a call to find out where my school would be. She left to go register me, but came back looking grim. There were then more calls made and a lot of discussion in the bedroom with the door shut. When they finally came out, I was told I would be going to a private school nearby, a Catholic school.

Now for a girl growing up with a Baptist mom and a sometimes Church of Christ dad, attending a Catholic school seemed like quite a stretch. It seems the school the apartments would use was a black school. I would have been only the second white child in that school and the only white girl. My mom wasn’t comfortable with that scenario, so she looked around to find a private school that was close to home.

Catholic school was quite an adventure. It came with religion classes and mass every Thursday morning. A lot of things were new to me like rosaries and confessionals and holy water. Although I didn’t really fit in, I did make friends and really enjoyed school. The curriculum was quite progressive and filled with interesting hands-on projects and free time to read.

Getting to school was an adventure in itself, as I had to ride the city bus every morning and then walk a couple of blocks to school, past the school I would have been attending. The catcalls  and indecent offers that came my way confirmed my mom’s concerns. In the afternoon, I walked back down those blocks and waited about 20 minutes for the bus to arrive and then rode it the rest of the route until it circled back around to my house. I was really nervous at first about missing my stop, but soon got comfortable with the journey.

We eventually moved into our own apartment a little further from the school and the bus didn’t run close to our place. I had to be taken to school and picked up when my parents got off work. I would sit in front of the school and watch my friends leave, and then the teachers, and then the administration. I would sit and read or do my homework until my parents came about 6PM. I didn’t like having to sit out there all by myself, but I considered it a small sacrifice to make for what I gained…my own room.

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