It is impossible to make this up, but when I was younger there was a priest in my church named Pastor Alfred T. Sico, who was called Father Psycho by many, because that name fit him, as he was a real whacko. One day I was in Sunday mass with my Dad, Sister and Brother while he was preaching and all of a sudden he got annoyed, because some of the parishioners that came in late were standing along the walls in the far aisles. He started out calmly saying that if they would just simply ask the people sitting in the pews to make room for them, that he was sure that they would move over. Then he started in and said. “I see this every week and it makes me so mad that you people stand in the aisles and don’t find a seat. If I had a machine gun, I would mow all of you down.” I never saw people move so fast and within a few seconds, no one was left in the aisles.
My Dad who actually was a machine gunner in WWII could not believe this priest said those horrible words. I don’t have any more stories about Father Psycho, but I thought it made such a nice title for this post. I heard that my 8th Grade teacher Sister Mary Margret left the order of nuns the year after I graduated, which was uncommon in those days. I actually owe a lot to Sister Laurentine, my 8th Grade math teacher, as she literally got me to be on the right page in her class. I was mostly a goofy kid, that did a lot of daydreaming and did not pay all that much attention in class, but this would not fly in Sister Laurentine’s class. She would walk around her class with a yardstick in her hand and if she caught one of her students not being on the page that they were supposed to be on, then they would get smacked across their knuckles with her yardstick.
I am certain that I had Attention Deficit Disorder when I was young, but this condition was relatively unknown till 1980. I got my knuckles cracked several times and I finally learned to stay on the same page as the rest of the class. I am a firm believer in discipline for certain students, as I know it helped me. School can be confusing for some students, as they are not prepared to be in an environment that is not dedicated to the pursuit of their own pleasures. In their own homes they understand how to play with their own toys, but maybe they never learned how to share a toy with another child, or with twenty or more other children. They have never had to sit in one place for long stretches of time, and they have never had to walk in a line for long distances with anyone but their own parent. They have never had to follow so many instructions, or be responsible for keeping so much stuff, like lunches, backpacks, pencils, books, doing homework, writing papers and of all kinds of things.
When I was finally able to get on the right page, my grades improved. If you don’t get all the pieces you will never be able to see the whole picture, which means that you will never solve the puzzle. Math was difficult for me at first, as I did not see any sense in adding two numbers together that were equal to the letter X, but after I got on the right page, I was able to see the patterns and it started to make sense. I finally realized that most of my struggles with math came from me being on the wrong page.
My parents taught me right from wrong and I knew that I did not always have to obey all the rules, as I saw my parents do things that were not always right. My Mom often skipped church, as she said that she needed to get the house cleaned and who could argue with that. My Dad drank beer and he enjoyed placing bets of Football games, but he never missed work because of his drinking and he only bet with the money that he got from doing his side jobs. If I deemed a rule or an order to be stupid, then I knew that I could disobey it.