Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tracking down Miss Bound

Miss Bound - and if
I'm not mistaken that's
Kathy Spitz and 
Bernadette Matusek 
in the front row 
of little girls, and
Denise Grabowski 
at the top.

I hadn't thought of Miss Bound in years, probably, when I saw her in the first holy communion photo on an old classmate's Facebook page - I posted the photo a week or so ago.

I knew almost nothing about this woman. She was my second grade teacher. And since she was young and not a nun and wore hip 60s style clothing she was easily the coolest teacher at Our Lady of Fatima school. And I was something a teacher's pet in second grade until Miss Bound and I had a falling out...

But it's truly remarkable that I knew so little about her considering how important she was in my life when I was seven. I only knew her first name was Dolores because it was on my second grade report card.

But thanks to the Internet, the world is a strange and tiny place. I knew so little about her - until yesterday. After looking again at the communion picture it occurred to me to see if I could find out whatever happened to her, and within ten minutes I had the outlines of her entire life. It seems that she was a Bensalem local and had always gone by Dori Bound -  which I never realized, but that's because I knew her as "Miss Bound."

She apparently married a Brenenborg, which is how she is listed in Facebook. Yes, I sent her a friend request, although I'm sure she has no idea who I am. She is 68 now, according to this web site which means she was about twenty-two when I knew her. She left Our Lady of Fatima when I was in third or fourth grade but I can't tell if she taught anywhere else. She appears to have lived her entire life in Bucks County PA, and is a member of Our Lady of Grace parish in Penndel, just north of Bensalem.

Apparently she was a clown in the 1990s.

Lately she's been a judge at the Hulmeville Garden Club and won a community pride award.

For some reason she favored me in the early days of second grade. I always got picked to help her erase the blackboard or hand out papers, that kind of thing. I was golden and I knew it. And then one day, I was sitting at my desk doing my school work and I was making noises with my mouth, sort of duck-like noises, just experimenting with the kinds of sounds I could make, as seven-year-olds will, I guess. And Miss Bound said "Nancy, is that you making those noises?" to which I replied "no" because I wasn't aware I was doing it. In a moment I realized I had been making sounds, but by then it was too late. I was no longer golden. She stopped asking me to help her do things after that. I learned a bitter lesson then - life isn't fair.

That's not really true. I learned that lesson in first grade. The first day of school I suddenly realized that unlike the half-day sessions we had in kindergarten, we were required to attend first grade classes all day. "We have to be here all day?" I remarked to a child sitting nearby. "This is like jail!"

"Who said that?" said Sister Martin Joseph*, who, it would turn out, was batshit crazy. I'll never forget the shock of her getting into a fist fight with my classmate John Michelfelder which ended with her swinging the kid by his arms in a circle until John's sister Ellen (they were in the same grade because John had been left back) shrieked at her to stop. Sister Martin Joseph left Fatima soon after that and I heard she washed out of the nunnery too. Although her shenanigans were nothing compared to those of Father Hermley. Hermley didn't teach at Fatima but he was called in to pinch hit to say Mass  occasionally - my father was some kind of mass attendant in those days (I suppose there must be an official term) and he did mass with Hermley on several occasions.

I didn't know Martin Joseph was batshit on the first day of school, of course, but I could sense the threatening tone of her voice. So I said nothing, and instead meditated silently on the prison that is life on earth.

Which is why it was such a relief to get into second grade and find this hip 60s chick would be my teacher instead of a nun. And for a little while, the only time in my school career, I was golden.

*I don't have Martin Joseph's civilian name and so can't find out what she's up to, but she is mentioned in her father's obituary in December 1966.