When I was going into seventh grade, it was decided that St. Ignatius School would be integrated by busing a number of students from Holy Angels School on the South Side. Chicago was still pretty segregated in the late Sixties, and we really didn’t know what to expect. I think a couple of parents pulled their kids out of school, but for the most part the parish pitched in, and several families agreed to host the kids while they were in the neighborhood. The combined seventh grade class that September included three boys, Mathis, Montrice, and Michael, and two girls, Donna and Carla. Cultural differences aside, we did what any kids would do, and soon we didn’t think of them as outsiders, they were our friends.
I didn’t get to know the girls that well, largely because all the boys were in one class and the girls in another. In the mornings, half the boys and half the girls switched classrooms, and the girls from Holy Angels always seemed to be in the other classroom from me. Montrice and Michael were quiet and studious, although in Montrice’s case that might have been because he was tired most of the time and occasionally had trouble staying awake. Mathis, on the other hand, while quiet, was a bit of a mixer. He didn’t cause trouble per se, but when he opened his mouth, watch out.
By eighth grade, they decided to have coed classes, since we spent so much time together anyway. I was in one class, and the kids from Holy Angels (except Donna, who decided not to come back) were in the other. I mention this because I was in the other room at the time and got this story secondhand.
Sister Rosemary, who we called “Rocky” because she had a tendency to hit us (usually because we deserved it), was teaching Religion to the other class one morning, and at one point she said, “Let’s say I’m St. John the Baptist…”
Mathis hopped out of his chair and exclaimed, “You can’t be no St. John! You ain’t got no penix!”
As I recall, he didn’t get in trouble for that, although he was lectured for using the word “ain’t.”
Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday was brought to you by the word “class.” Linda Hill hosts this feature every week, and if you follow this link (which might or might not leave a pingback), you’ll find the rules and links to all the other participants.