Two Schools of Thought

In Elmhurst IL in the 1960-somethings, Hawthorne public grade school was strategically located across the street from Immaculate Conception Catholic grade school, setting in motion a preoccupation of US and THEM.

We of the parochial persuasion had the upper hand, considering God dwelt with us. We had catechisms and a church on our first floor to prove this. Public school students were much better at sports, but then, they had a gym, and we did not.

We had the distinction of wearing uniforms, which made each of us look like each other and there is perceived power in numbers. Public school students had to get by on whatever their parents dressed them in, although I will say they were colorful.

The only men working in our building were two nice janitors who also wore uniforms, beige, and the occasional visit from Monsignor Plunkett, who handed out our report cards each year. I don’t know how Hawthorne kids received their report cards but I am certain they lost less sleep anticipating the event. It was rumored that Hawthorne hired some men teachers but nobody I knew could verify it.

As to diversity, there wasn’t any. The most rakish and foreign student to attend Immaculate Conception was a boy who moved to Elmhurst from New Zealand. He distinguished himself by playing kickball in his bare feet.

Recess was the single event we shared, sort of. At 12:30 p.m. daily, we congregated outside the church on what you’d call a big concrete landing pad and they cavorted in a blacktop parking lot enclosed by tall chainlink fence. To the unschooled, we would have appeared to have the edge…more freedom…no fence. This was illusory since we had the blessed Sisters of Saint Agnes on crowd control.

About Mrs. Fitz

Hello! I'm Michele Fitzpatrick, a Chicago writer. Like our town, a work in progress. As a journalist, teacher and writing coach I think all of us live our stories and sharing them creates moments that remind us we're connected. And that is enough.
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