Linda Treiber

Linda Treiber
April 04
a.k.a. Linnnn
You are cordially invited to close your eyes and throw a dart at any one of the titles listed in "My Links" below. Those stories are all bits and pieces of me. Let me know what you think...


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1 Act Play - 4 Generations of Women
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I Fought the Law and...
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NOVEMBER 30, 2011 6:45AM

Smoking Nuns and Cafeteria Jesus

Rate: 50 Flag


St. Anthony Catholic School

"Hey, there’s a spot! We must’ve done something right along the way.”

“Yep. Karma. Maybe.”

Scoring a parking place right in front of the church was something we agreed seemed kind of tricky.  Years of religious conditioning rolled our capacity for rational thought.
St.  Anthony Catholic Church
It felt awkward lucking into it, like we didn’t deserve it, so we quickly jumped out of Karen’s car and scurried across the road toward our old elementary school before anyone could tell us otherwise. It was a hot, cloudless Sunday morning assuring me (somewhat) that no bolt of lightning would strike down the two of us irreverent middle-aged delinquents in flip-flops for sneaking into school.  
Especially if we serpentined.
Karen and I, a couple of 50-somethings who were notorious little trouble makers in our youth, just wanted to see our old elementary school again. St. Anthony Catholic School.
“I didn’t get picked to play Mary in the Christmas pageant. They chose Darlene. She had blonde sausage curls, straight A’s and was such a flippin’ saint all the time. Remember? The stable used to be right here in front of the convent..."
A news story about the St. Anthony pageant. T'was a big deal.
“I always had to wear my dad’s robe, my brother’s sandals and a hand towel on my head to be a shepherd. I think I even wore a beard one time. I was taller than everyone. I never got to be a girl in these things.”
“There were real animals though. I remember a donkey and a calf or something. Sheep too? I think I played an angel one time.”
“Did you hang by your waist from a tree like you were flying? I seem to remember…”
“Wasn’t me…”
“Everything seems so small now. It was huge when we were little. Even the Angelus Tower seems shorter now. We used to climb up there y'know. All the way to the top. Bill and John and me. Altar boys knew all the great secret passages…”
“Yeah, I heard they used to get the wine from the sacristy and drink it up there…”
“Well, I didn’t do that…I did, however, climb up to the school roof over the principal’s office once thinking I’d avoid getting busted for something or other. Found Sister J. there, her veil off, having a smoke. We promised that we wouldn’t snitch on each other for being on the roof. Or smoking. She had brown hair. It kind of marked me for life to see she actually had hair under her veil. Didn’t we think they were bald? I don’t think she stayed a nun…”
“No! Really?”
“Stack of bibles.”
Math class about '64. Sr. M.T. tapped a stick while we recited times tables.  The girl with her back to the camera probably had her nose stuck  in a circle drawn on the blackboard.  Looks a little like Karen...
“Aww, damn, the gym’s locked. Remember the locker room under the bleachers and when we had to wear these special jumpers for P.E.? They made us look like powder blue pumpkins. Well, so did our regular uniforms as I recall.”
“It always smelled so funky in there.”
“Probably because there was no air conditioning.”

“Can you believe we had no A.C. in 90 degree heat when we were kids? I don’t know how we did it. Let alone the nuns. May explain some of their behavior…”

"It may explain some of ours..." 

“No hard soled shoes on the basketball floor! God, they got mad when we wore our loafers out there on the shine. I could slide almost all the way across in my socks.”
“I loved that crazy stage where we put on plays. It had real curtains we could open and close…”
“You were always directing something, yes, I remember.” 
“Oh, I can picture the Christmas Fair here. My mom always ran the bazaar. We stuffed ourselves with cotton candy, candy apples, and hot dogs and then we barfed it all up on the rides later! It was weird to see the nuns and the priests out playing carnival games and just hanging around wasn’t it?”
“We’re walking around in a closed school on a Sunday…”
“What’ll they do if they catch us? Call our parents? We went here, we have permission!”
“Here’s a memory: On this very spot, right outside the cafeteria, I will never forget Jose the Janitor sprinkled his magic sawdust down where Terry puked after lunch.”
“I think Terry projectiled on a bunch of us in 1st grade too, during reading circle.”
"And right here they gathered in a clump.  A penguin convention.  All the nuns sent us home early that day in '63 when Kennedy was assassinated. Remember? They cried. Nuns crying. THAT was awkward."
“It’s a little spooky how much things haven’t changed isn’t it?  Will you just look at this cafeteria with the turquoise tiles and the columns that flair at the ceiling and the weird statue up there of Jesus watching over everyone eat?”
Cafeteria Jesus

“It’s Jesus as like maybe a 6 year old all decked out in a fancy-schmancy medieval robe and a crown, like he was aware of his special powers even as a kid…”

“It’s the same, yes. Wow.”
“I have a question. Your mom volunteered in the hot lunch line with my mom right?”
“Did she ever reveal how they could get the fruit salad  chunks to suspend in the jell-o? And, really, what was ‘meat sauce?’”
“Nope. They were sworn to secrecy on the jell-o and I believe meat sauce was also a proprietary recipe.”

“Hey, first grade classroom is open. The alphabet is still up on the wall. It looks the same. Oh, damn. I’m welling up. What the hell? I never wanted to leave first grade. I hung on to Sister S.P. like a spider monkey the last day.”

The uber-cool Sister S.P. when we were graduating 8th grade. We knew she had hair.
“Sister S.P. was the best nun ever. She was so cool.  She played kickball and ran the bases like a flippin’ gazelle.  Taught us how to make crayons last forever.  And to read.  Dick and Jane and Puff.”
"Brave too. She stomped one of the biggest scorpions I have ever seen. Didn't hesitate, just crushed it!"
“The old live oaks are still out on the playground too. I can see them out the first grade window like I did then. Man, did I daydream about recess in those days.  All around those trees.”
“Hey, where’s the bench that used to be outside the principal’s office?  I left my very own butt impression there and I am not happy they removed the thing!”
“The principal, Sister M. from 8th grade, was a tiny woman. Remember? She had to reach up to put her arm around my shoulders."
"She had a hard time catching me. Most of us were too fast for her."
 "She told me I had some ‘unusual views on things about which we will be having many serious discussions.’  Maybe my face-off with Darlene in a debate contest rang her bell a little, I don’t know. Topic was abortion. I kind of went all scientific on her head.”
“Well, someone had to debate the little angel.”
“C’mon.  I’ll show you where I kicked a hole in the wall and was made to clean the boy’s bathroom on a Saturday as a punishment…”
When the coast was clear, we snuck back out of St. Anthony even though it really wasn’t closed for Sunday with catechism classes in full session all around, as we sheepishly discovered.  We heard the Angelus Tower ringing the noon bell as we pulled away from our lucky parking space. It was intoning "Bye-bye, Bye-bye!"  It was a gorgeous sound, so familiarly solid and reliable and yet so far away.  Like a memory.
Later, we rode by Karen’s childhood home. She wanted to see the tree she climbed as a child and if the house had changed.  We followed the house numbers right up to where she remembered, and the house was gone. Only a vacant lot remained.
It was a shock. Especially since we had only just wrapped the solidity and timelessness of our elementary school around us like a warm reassuring blanket.
Growing up was inevitable and a hefty helping of unwelcome change came along with that. Every cell in our bodies has turned over seven times since we ate our hot lunches under the watchful eye of a well-dressed deity.
It’s all a mystery, what endures and what disappears. We both know that the ghosts of two free spirits, one too tall to play an ingenue and the other elfin and quick,  will always roam those sacred spaces hand in hand plotting new shenanigans together in our dreams.
"Oh, Lenzen, that was sappy!"
"Yeah, Wiley. So?"

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Yes. That is sappy........


Cafeteria Jesus wanted to make sure that you ate all the creamed spinach, even though it was making you sick to your stomach. Or was that just his avenging volunteer Cafeteria Lady helpers? And the stuff they used to spread on the occasional splot of vomit - the combination of sour and sweet smells. Memorable.

Fun piece, great memories. Well, except for the creamed spinach and super sawdust shavings.
This is wonderful. And, as it happens, I didn't get to play Mary either.
Rated. And that architcture is terrif!
Love this! Makes me happy I'm putting mine through Catholic school...which seemed so foreign to me...but seems to have worked out pretty well for my husband. I won't say sappy. Nostalgic can be GOOD.
Time traveling is something you do with magical esprit. I was a little Catholic boy there for a while.
This brought back memories of my Catholic school days. Fun post!
I liked that tough little Nun stomping on the scorpio. Great post.
That Jesus is the Infant of Prague. Did they serve goulash that day?
The best post ever!!! I loved this jump back in time. I too went to Catholic school in the same time period and had some wonderful and freaky experiences. I was the tooooo tallllll girl. I think you two may have had a bit more fun than me, and your school might have been cooler....I really enjoyed this trip back in time. Thanks for taking me along!
O, my dear skypix0 and a zero for impure thoughts, huh.
I confess sin and wondered what Sister Derrina ate, huh.
She may also eat too much angel food cakes? Devil, huh.
Who said? Gaud.
Religion is to convince people to fear an invisible Santa.
He lives in the sky.
God watches awes.
She knows we sins.
he invisible` Otter.
The notion of an Invisible One watches everything we do and makes a Santa List on Us.
There are Ten Things that we can't ever do. Possums and People do them all day long.
If we humans do?
Gaud punish too.
There is a Special Place where we people who are human Beings go to if we do disobey.
Spoof. Goofy. Oho.
The kook say what?
We no do smoke up.
We go to a smoke up?
We sinners go to hell.
O, Place of hot-Smoke.
A Dark Red hot-Abyss?
No do 'Miss a hot-Date.
We suffer hot-red coal.
We go to suffer or burn?
We suffer until a end day.
We know God Loves You!
Smile. God is a metaphor.
We go transcend all levels.
Divinity is not intellectual.
Arguing about God is like:
Fleas arguing about Dogs.

D.O.G. backwards is GOD.
I have no answers ref God.
Fleas argue who itch a dog.
I am just scribbling notions.
I am not a theologian. Theos.
En-Theos was an`Enthusiasm.

apologies to Awe Spiritual Humans.

I believe in something I can't explain.

Mark Twain thought we are animal.
He believed we are religious apes?
Church people may cut your throat.

At the end of a Path of Peace on Earth?
There is a 6X6 green grass sodden grave.
I gamble it's best to live as if we may know?

We be wise to obey a ethics - what ought we do?
I believe we people ought to cultivate the Virtues.
I observe that Vice-Ridden creeps are in a Here-Hell.
Martin Buber believed God needs us to respect. Adore.

No Hubris

I looked into this after war. I don't know now.
Religion sure can be wacky. Folk become clown.
Spirituality is a bit different. Wear a lil' makeup.
Relious people wear too much makeup. clowns.
I be back later
I need to go off
Maybe I smoke
We die to find
out and no no
do ten no no
goofy days
Ay sappy
So? no
Cute, cute post with lots of fun detail. I got to be Mary in the Christmas ageant but it was at the Presbyterian church so that is not as cool. Protestants don't hold the Virgin Mary in as high regard as Catholics.

I sure wish you would make those black and white images bigger because I would like a closer look at them. Do you know how? If not, PM me.
Have had several discussions with Red over the years about what it was like going to a Catholic elementary school. Let's just say I'm glad I didn't. I read her parts of this -- she identifies.

This was funny, witty, wise and irreverent all at once, Linnnn.
This was a great read - fun, fun, fun - eclipsed only by the title.
I love this piece...I can relate to it by proxy. My wife was taught by nuns. Her stories are difficult to listen to, but nonetheless interesting.
This is a great piece.
Fruit floating in jello is not a matter of religion.
I got my Lutheran grandma to show me.
I know how to keep the bananas from turning brown at the top of the strawberry jello.
You grew up in a similar environment, Linnnn, we had a few mean nuns but mostly they were great. If my nose was in a ring on the board, I probably did something way worse to deserve it. We had one nun who let us have cocoa on cold mornings before art class, it was a big deal, we loved it. My kids, my grandpop and my mom went to my grade school, now closed. I would love to sneak in and smell the hot air off the radiators and the paint on the wood floors. Thanks for the memories today, you put it together in such a great way Linn.
yes I remember.. the tales of my friends.. BUT we did have religion classes and god help those that screwed around..:)
The scorpion, Jose the Janitor, the smoking non bald nun, cafeteria Jesus!! Just some of the gems in this magical post. Getting scientific CAN piss people off.

A great delight this was, Linn. Thanks.
Linn, this is great and the pictures enhance it so much. Cafeteria Jesus almost made me pee my pants.
Cafeteria Jesus is so much cooler than Touchdown Jesus!
This brought back so many memories. But I never caught a nun smoking...hilarious. I did get to play Mary though which was a complete surprise because I was not one of the popular girls. Great post. -R-
Of course you felt like you didn't deserve the parking place. It's all part of the Catholic school upbringing.

A very fun journey.
Oh lord (no pun intended), this is just about perfect. Took me right back to SS. Philip & James School. (Both my grade school and high school are no longer schools, though.)
awww :D I've got warm fuzzies now
Really great post. It took me back, though i didn't go to Catholic school. I didn't get to be Cinderella in our 6th grade play - had to be one of the mean stepsisters. :-(
I loved reading this tale of middle-aged miscreants who just wanted to wander down memory lane : )
The cu-pie doll Jesus made me laugh!
I thought nuns were bald as a kid too...

I still haven't gotten over returning to Atlanta, and my elementary school was completely gone, with I-400 running right through the former school with large acreage and woods...too surreal.

Thanks for writing about this!
Loved this, Linnn. A nun [with hair] smoking. And a cool Cafeteria Jesus. The italics summing things up at the end ... You have a gift.
A +
Really great post!
This is just so great! Nostalgic, but in the best way! Not to mention, Best Title of the Year! I also always thought nuns were bald. And naked under those habits. And kind of scary. Still, I ALWAYS wanted to be Catholic. Very cool post!
I'm much older, and our school was not nearly as pretty as yours, but we had the Dominican nuns, the handy-dandy sweeping compound for puke, and similar ugly uniforms. Your great piece put me right back in those hallowed, smelly halls.

I love your whispery, conspiratorial tone, Linnnn.
Infant of Prague, whatever ~ the cafeteria Jesus scares me.
Sister S.P.'s smile restores me. Thank you for this ~ love it !
Picturing a nun stomping a scorpion, then going up to the roof to have a smoke ...

Cafeteria Jesus would have spoiled my appetite.
I missed soooo much going to public school. Great story, Linnn! ~r
This was wonderful and sappy in a great way. Ah, the shock of going back to important places from our childhoods.

And I think "Cafeteria Jesus" is one of the weirdest Jesus statues I've ever seen - and as a former Art History major with an Italian Roman-Catholic grandmother, I've seen a lot of them!
I bet you two were such a handful. Great memories, and you make them seem vibrant and not far away at all.
[r] Linnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!! You so rock as a writer. This resonates. I was painfully tall and raised Catholic though went to public school, but had those catechism classes! Love the serpentining and the jello suspension and spider monkey and title in particular and ... come on... you made up the smoking nun story, right? I love laughing out loud reading your stuff! bravo. libby
What wonderful (and funny) memories. I often picture my old elementary school and the things that went on there; that magic sawdust the janitors used, I'll never forget the smell...
Fabulous Post! It brought back some of my Catholic grade school memories as well!
Oh, this is amazing, to go back to your old school. My wife actually worked as a school psychologist in one of her old schools! The principaln did not like her sticking to her guns in her assessments...
All I can say is Holy Cow! Happy Holidays and more to you.
Our alter boy friends were the worst reps for the church, weren't they? All pious at Sunday service and probably stealing the wine afterward. My friend John was a case in point: so silly and irreverent. I wonder whatever happened to him. He most likely became a trader on Wall Street!
Oh, lass how did I ever miss this? Memories. Grand, horrible memories.
"a penguin convention". Classic.
To survive is the greatest sin.
A Good Catholic School Story!
I love how you told this mainly in dialogue. Smart. And Cafeteria Jesus is beautiful!

The reader can really taste (and smell) the place - very rich in description.

And thank (God) for Sisters like Sister S.P.