Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Stepmother and the Nun - Storytelling Sunday 2

Today is the first Sunday in the month and for more than fifty people that means we put on our thinking caps and write a little story then link it to Sian's Blog From High In The Sky
Her is my contribution, requested by my daughter and my new found cousin in America

The Stepmother and the Nun.
Dad aged about 12
Long Trousers!
This is my Dad's story really but he isn't here to tell it anymore and as he handed over the family history research to me it is my job to pass on such tales. My Dad's mother died in childbirth when my dad was four and a half. My Grandfather employed a widow with one son to be his housekeeper and within six months he had married her. Dad often said that she made no distinction between her children and her step-children and I am pretty sure I can speak for most of the cousins when I say that we didn't know she was step-mother to any of them until we were quite grown up.
When Dad started school, in April 1920 he went to the state school just around the corner but it wasn't long before the priest from the Roman Catholic church was knocking on the door asking why he wasn't going to St Marys with his brothers. Ma (she was called Ma by all her children) agreed and he was soon trotting along behind Fred and Steve trying desperately to keep up.
In those days the teaching in the school was done by the Sisters of St Joseph who lived at Llantarnam Abbey. some of them were quite formidable and even the parents were afraid of the Nuns - except Ma.

Ma, the youngest picture I have.
One day the children in Dad's class had a spelling test and that's when it happened.
He never knew what he did, after all he was only just five and a half, but the sister  dragged him to the front of the class and made him hold out his hand and then she hit him with the cane, catching the joint at the base of his thumb with the cane so that by the time he went home for his dinner his hand was so swollen he couldn't use it.

Ma walked him back to school in the afternoon, having first cut a bandage from rags and bound his hand then made him a sling for his arm. He said she kept a firm hold on his good hand and told him not to worry.... "I'll give her SISTER!" He always remembered that because it made no sense.

She politely asked to see the sister responsible for Dad's class and asked her why she had hit him with the cane. The sister said something in reply and Ma reacted.
Now, you need to picture in your mind a very tall, Victorian, redbrick school with a formidable wooden door that was only changed for a new plastic and glass modern one three years ago. Are you standing there, waiting to go in? OK, let's open the door. In front of you is a small vestibule. On the left a steep staircase goes up and on the right is the door to the boys' cloakroom.
Ma had gone up the stairs to the first landing where, at that time there was a door to the office, a door to the main school and the stairs turned through 180 degrees and continued up. Through the door into the office and on one side was a large walk in cupboard. When the sister replied to Ma she obviously didn't give the correct answer because Ma said "See how you like being punished for getting something wrong!" and with a quick shove she had pushed the Nun into the cupboard, shut the door and turned the key.
She took my Dad's hand again and led him down the stairs saying "let's get you home, no more spelling for you."
My Dad loved her from that moment. Even when she was at her worst - and she could be a real tyrant - he knew that if anyone tried to harm any of those kids she would simply kill them and step over the bodies.

So there you have it. If this story has pleased you at all then just go on over to Sian's place fromhighinthesky
and see what other delights are in store for you.


Missus Wookie said...

Oooh - what a story! Sounds like a definitely formidable lady.

debs14 said...

Oh my goodness! I'm guessing the nun was in shock for ages after that! How lovely though that his stepmother was so incensed that she felt she had to take such drastic action.

Irene said...

Such different times back then but how wonderful to have someone to stand up for dad. I wonder what the nun had to say when she was released from the cupboard. I bet it was something unprintable! I love the photographs and the story.

Louise said...

wow you had me on the edge of my seat. Times are so much different these days - I wonder if the sister ever used her cane again!!! great story.

scrappyjacky said...

A formidable lady indeed....but sadly many teachers [and nuns]back then were bullies....hopefully she learnt her lesson!!

Kirsty.A said...

Oh love it!!

Becky said...

Fantastic story! What a wonderful woman and mother - it actually brought a tear to my eye after I had gasped at her shutting the nun in the cupboard!

Melissa said...

What a fantastic story - she must have been a wonderful stepmother. This reminds me of a story about my Daddy and a coat room (better jot it down for a future storytelling Sunday.)

Karen said...

I love this story - a real life Miss Trunchball getting her come uppance.

furrypig said...

gosh what a great woman and she was brave to go the school and stand up for what she believed in!

Beverly said...

Talk about a Mama Bear!! Wow, I wasn't expecting that at all not even when you mentioned the closet! Adore the pics :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story - sounds like it definitely wouldn't pay to cross her.

Unknown said...

ooooh! She sounds scary! So did you dad go back to that school or return to the original one?

Jimjams said...

Gosh - good for Ma - I hope she learnt her lesson!

Sian said...

I knew your story was going to be worth the wait. Of course it is! It's an absolute cracker and has persuaded me to stop unpacking for good today and read on. I love it - and those photos too? It's the whole package!