Scooters, Masks, & Nuns

Scooters, Masks, and Nuns, October 30th, 2020

Today was another beautiful sunny day here in Healdsburg, California. Blue skies and 73F in the afternoon as I walked downtown.

I’d dropped my wife off at the hair salon an hour ago and was walking downtown to meet her on the Plaza. We’d planned to go to the bookstore to buy some calendars and Xmas cards.

As I walked by the front of the Catholic Church on East Street I heard young boys approaching me from the rear. They were on wheels and catching up rapidly.

As I turned the corner on the main street of Mathieson, three young boys about 11 years old passed me on their scooters. They were in triangle formation.

As they approached Wilson Winery and its tables on the sidewalk full of drinkers and waiters wearing masks I heard the leader of the trio say, “Masks on! Masks on!”

So the three boys put up their masks and weaved their scooters down the sidewalk between the wine drinkers and onto the Plaza dodging folks in masks in line waiting for ice cream cones at Noble Folks Ice Cream.

It was kinda sad to me. I don’t wear a mask unless the owner of a business insists upon it for my entry.

It made me think as I walked down Mathieson past the drinkers and BBQ eaters on the sidewalks and in the parking spaces, of my own youth in Catholic School back in the 1960’s in Lincoln, Nebraska.

My good friend Patrick was a rebel. He didn’t like the priests or nuns much. Well, he’d had a tough summer in hospital. The nuns and priests smacking our wrists with wooden rulers and yardsticks got our attention, but it also taught us a lot about authority figures.

I remember this day very well at Holy Family (now called Cathedral of the Risen Christ) school. Patrick and I were about 12 years old.

The school was on two levels and just inside the front door was a balcony that looked down upon the lower cell level.

Patrick was at the railing looking down at the top of the nun’s habit of Sister Alice. Sister Alice was the Principal of the school. She was 6’4” (two meters) tall and very skinny and disciplined.

Sister Alice was giving some first grader on the lower level the riot act over some infraction. Her head was just below where Patrick was standing.

I heard Patrick hawk in his throat and then he produced the largest loogie I’ve ever seen. This huge drop of phlegm on a long thread of spit slowly descended onto the top of Sister Alice’s flat topped nun’s habit.

I could see a silver dollar sized puddle of spittle accumulate on Sister Alice’s head as she continued to rant at this first grade kid.

It was all I could do not to laugh out loud and ruin the moment.

Patrick finished his business. Wiped his mouth. Winked at me and said, “Sister Alice will wonder where that came from when she washes her habit tonight.”


Fifty some years is a long time.


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