The Catholic schools of my parents’ childhoods were the haven of the working class families of The Valley. Housewives herded their broods of four or five or six off to places like Our Lady of Lourdes and Bishop Alemany, as their husbands drove off to jobs in garages and banks and factories. These second and third generation American families’ allegiance to the Church was likely as much social as it was spiritual, and enrolling their children in the parochial schools was a natural step in the cultivation of their Catholic identities.
The instructors wore habits and doled out punishment with the flats of their rulers to trembling knuckles and bruised hides. The sisters did their part in reaffirming the mingling sense of reverence and fear the men of my family have always felt toward women, while laying deep the seeds of a crippling, life-long guilt.
In other words, a…
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