This post is in response to the current RemembeRED prompt at The Red Dress Club: Take us back to an embarrassing moment in your life. Did someone embarrass you, your parents perhaps? Or did you bring it upon yourself? Are you still embarrassed or can you laugh at it now? Check it out here and perhaps post your own entry.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Winter 1957-58: My second grade class was lined up two-by-two on the stairway of the school, waiting to go up to our classroom. There was just enough room between where the paired up children stood on the left side of the stairs for our teacher, Sister __________, to move along the right edge of the stairwell from the bottom of the stairs to the top. We had just come in to the school after mandatory morning Mass. Everyone was bundled up in coats, hats, and mittens, and all the girls had pants on under their dresses to protect their bare legs from the bitter cold of the North Dakota winter.
Suddenly I felt a sharp rap on my head and heard “You ought to be ashamed of yourself! How dare you wear socks with holes in them to school?” Naturally my classmates all turned to see who was in trouble with Sister. A few of them turned away quickly but most of the others laughed out loud, probably relieved they weren’t the subject of Sister’s ire. [I will admit that these weren’t small holes…basically, the entire heel of each sock was entirely worn away.]
Today: Some 50 years later, I’m not even sure I knew then that holes in my socks should be a problem. I think it’s more likely I was glad to have them, holes or not. Our parents were at a place where they were struggling to provide for themselves and the four children they had at the time. Though they probably couldn’t afford it, they had taken on the additional burden of parochial school tuition for my brother and me and later, when she was old enough, our next younger sister.
Am I still embarrassed about this? I guess I must be, because as I think about it, I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then my adult self responds, trying to comfort the 6-year-old me, with the assertion that there was little such a young child could do to about what socks were available to her. Looking back, I just wish that teacher could have been sympathetic enough to ignore my hole-y socks and perhaps offer help rather than scolding, but that’s not the way it turned out. I doubt that I mentioned the incident to my parents, opting instead to pull my socks down toward my toes so that any holes wouldn’t show to that eagle-eyed nun.