Back to school

Next week is Catholic Schools Week, and each year at this time, I can’t help but think back to my days at St. Anne’s School in Fall River. Despite the derogatory images baby-boomer comedians (or so-called comedians) have painted about being taught by Sisters, I had a wonderful time in my nine years at SAS.

We were taught by Dominican Sisters, and my favorite was Sister Anne of Jesus, whom I had in first and fourth grades. She was young and funny and a joy to be around.

In fact some of my buds and I would visit her during the summer at the convent at the old Dominican Academy on Park Street. Not that we went out of our way — we used to skateboard down that part of Park Street nearly every day on our planks of wood with a half of a roller skate nailed to the front, and the other to the back.

I have great memories of Father Rene Patenaude who always seemed to be in the school. He was a great baseball fan and heavily into the St. Anne’s Little League, the only baseball league in the city run by a parish school.

I used to love to put on the old gray woolen Collies uniform (like my Igor), on hot summer nights and play ball. It itched and was like a sauna, but it was baseball.

We got a taste of what lay teachers were like when a couple of them were brought in while I was there. Mr. Dozois was a really cool guy that we all looked up to. As a matter of fact it was he who was our teacher when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated within months of each other in 1968.

Those were scary times for 12-year-olds and he got us through them.

And in eighth grade, Soeur Mary D’Aquin took ill and Miss Prescott took over for the final few months of our time at SAS.

It was the first crush I had on a teacher — before that it was just classmates. She was blonde with blue eyes, but for this 13-year-old the clincher was that she was a Boston Bruins fan. And the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1970 for the first time in 29 years while she was our teacher, so she was also my good-luck charm.

I did well with my studies there, and it was largely because of the Sisters and the sprinkle of lay teachers, who taught with enthusiasm, humor, and always with the Spiritual element at the forefront.

We were taught to respect each other and to bring that lesson into our own little corners of the world.

I made great friends at SAS, one of whom I’m friends with on Facebook. I’m in awe that I’m still in contact with a pal I met more than 50 years ago.

There were also times when I was admonished for poor behavior. I was a bit of a pest — some say I am still. That’s up for debate.

There were also a couple of teachers I didn’t care for, but nothing is perfect.

But I wouldn’t give up those precious years at SAS for anything. They’ve made me the man I am today, and I thank everyone who had a hand in that at SAS.

Sometimes I love going back to school.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts