Religion, Faith, Chocolate and Treats.
“You Can Never Go Home” ~Thomas Wolfe
The first segment of times past in the story’s history takes place in town just over ten miles from Manhattan named Forest Hills, in the county of Queens — New York 11375
Forest Hills is split onto a few sections, most notably, for non residents was the north side and south side divide of Forest Hills which is separated by Queens Blvd — a large east west road stretching from Jamaica to Long Island City.
The northern section of Forest Hills contained three sub sections clearly defined by the sizes of the homes and the families that lived within them,
1. The Forest Hills Gardens: A private community that features some of the most expensive residential properties in Queens County,
2. Van Court: A less prestigious and less affluent section, yet with substantial homes as well, just not close to the size and beauty of the homes in the Gardens.
3: The A Frames: An unofficial title of the smallest homes on the north side of Forest Hills, this is where I grew up.
As a child growing into his teenage years, my neighborhood had it all, one needent leave his or her own block to enjoy play time with friends of our exact age. There were so many children that were around of ages above and below, and we all played well together. The bulk of play time was spent after school these were the years of 1976 thru 1984.
Myself, my sister and the handful of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic school kids always had to take a bit of extra time to change out of our classroom uniforms — for the boys it was jackets, dress pants, ties and dress shoes and quickly change into play clothes.
Once back outside, we played games such as Ring a Leveio, Red Light Green Light 123, Hot Peas and Butter, SPIT, Kill the Man With the Ball, Stoopball, Roller Hockey, Slapball and other urban street games.
We all played until dinner time, and all families ate between six PM and seven PM. We sat and ate with our family for thirty minutes, returning outside to commence playing till dusk came and the street lights were turned on, this was the sign that it was time to get home for the night, there was no returning back outside, there never was any reason to.
My sister I and were subjected to (I say that in jest as I really did enjoy the school) a private school experience at Our Lady of Mercy a Roman Catholic institute, not exactly a jewel in the crown of the Parochial school world, but a responsible education none the less. The public and private schools that all children in the neighborhood were sent to were separated by one intersection, even sharing the same street name. The private education was explained to us, to be far better than the public schools, but it seemed obvious the difference was that public school is run like a state school and private is a rich snobby religious schools not run by the state. What really separated the two learning institutions, from my point of view at the time, was the religion classes we sat through, uniforms we had to fashion ourselves in daily, and the nun’s we were rough and would crack you with a ruler in the blink of an eye.
To be quite candid, I can not say that I learned as much as I believe I should have in eight years of schooling in an effort to prepare me for high school, but in reality all school was to all of us was an extended day of fooling around and mischief.
All in all, it hasn’t made much of a difference except that he’s has more elitist tendencies and most of us didn’t have to work as hard to get into the necessary high school to advance into an excellent college Part of me always felt that because the school I attended was private, school administrators in concert with the OLM Roman Catholic Church papacy that was adjacent to the elementary school, would encourage whatever curriculum they wanted. The R.C. Church operates the world’s largest non-governmental school system and these education ministries taught a full curriculum in secular subjects, and a variety of extracurricular activities
One day while sitting in theology class I remember hearing Sister Terrance aka: Terrible Terrance say that “Homosexuality is a sin and it’s a conscious choice”. I internally questioned the topic being taught to us, as to its attempt to dissuade or more likely, influence a pupil’s future lifestyle. At our tender ages, this seemed like a topic that we were ill-equipped to grapple with. The issues of animal/human cloning were not yet in the works, but topics such as euthanasia and alike would have served the class better than countless hours of practicing for the May Crowning. Now, twenty years later on in life, I consider myself a person with a humanistic, pragmatic, secular and philosophical outlook on most matters. I have been content to use reasoning and science to help me solve most of my problems.
My parents were religious, not the fire and brimstone type where they believed in promoting eternal damnation to encourage repentance based on our choices. They believed they made the right decision in sending us to a private school; quite obviously, they were looking out for our education. It is my opinion that family values and engagement with your child matter most during school years.
Queens had its share of really rough public schools so my parents wanted me away from the horror stories they knew about regarding violence and illegal behavior. I know that’s part of the reason why they sent us to private/catholic school, I think they would’ve preferred me to be pushed into religion than pushed into drugs and sex at a young age. Can I say for sure if the education is much better, much worse, or equivalent, no I can not. What I can say is just that I had issue (still do) with the curriculum they feed you, based on their biased fundamentalist beliefs.
God alone created the world
God keeps all created things in existence God was moved by His Goodness to create the world.
The world was created for the Glorification of God.
For a young mind to be taught in this manner, seemed to be that even in science evolution was it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory. We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory
The process itself is rational. Catholic parents whose children are in public schools should ensure that their children are also receiving appropriate catechesis at home and in the parish on God as Creator. Students should be able to leave their biology classes, and their courses in religious instruction, with an integrated understanding of the means God chose to make us who we are.
The Chocolate Bars:
Once a year the school handed out as many boxed of chocolate as each child thought they could sell to friends, family and neighbors. All chocolate bars that were unsold from the chocolate fund-raiser drives, had to be returned in issuing condition, Catholic school fund-raisers were quite common and we had a full catholic school fund-raising brochures. Fundraising for your catholic school or religion-based school is a never-ending process, whether it’s for school trips, sports teams, benefits, playgrounds, school dances, proms, talent night events. Our school must have earned easily up to 75% profits with their chocolate fund-raising products.
If I recall correctly, the price per bar was $1.00 and we were all given about fifty bars to sell. Just the other day while I was sitting at home working on my ever mounting stack of paperwork a middle-aged girl appeared at my door selling chocolates. The rate per bar was amazingly $1.00. I was selling these in the late 1970’s when a Hershey bar in the store was less than fifty cents. My problem was I had not been able to keep my fingers out of the chocolate box that we used to carry the bars around in and consuming these chocolate bars was overtaking my ability to sell them. The bar is about six inches in length and two inches across. I found this bar enjoyable. It had a nice taste, it wasn’t too sweet or too bitter, at least for me. It had good creamy texture; I like how it melted in my mouth, more so than any bar at the candy stores.
Well, I sold about six to my family and next door neighbor and ate about thirty of them myself. Once the time came to turn in the money and if available, surplus product, I was told I owed thirty something dollars. This shocked me for some reason, clearly it was not the math equation portion, but how was I going to come up with the money to satisfy the owed money? Reality was closing in on me and I had to come clean and have my parents bail me out of this jam and they did. But I had a new revised chore list that would keep me working through the next few weekends to cover the payment they had made on my behalf.
The consumption, availability and varieties of candy and chocolate played a huge role in my life growing up, as the options were endless and it was the only affordable, consumable I could purchase without financial assistance. Just lift the sofa cushions every other week, the piggy bank always held a few extra coins and if not my sisters usually did. I was unable to repay what I had owed based upon my personal consumption, I felt terrible and from that day forward remained hesitant about debt.
The Candy Truck:
There was a dedicated candy truck that came around every day after school to sell all of the school kids his delectable, sugar filled items. Everything from Apple Heads, Boston Baked Beans, Bubble Gum Cigarettes, Bubble Gum Cigars, Candy Cigarettes, Charms Sweet & Sour Pops, Cherry Heads, Fizzies, Freshen Up Gum, Giant Smarties, Hot Tamales, Jolly Rancher Sticks, Laffy Taffy, Licorice Pipes, Pixy Sticks, Pop Rocks, Razzles, Sugar Daddy Pops, Sweetarts, Wax Lips, Zotz, Atomic Fireballs, Bazooka, Candy Necklace, Jaw Breakers, Lemonheads, Necco Assorted Wafers & Now & Laters. At the time it was a wonderful world to live in. Little did I know within 2 years all would be upside down? Sweethearts became shooting stars LSD and M&M’s would be substituted for Mescaline.