Today I looked up my old boarding school on Google to see if it was still in existence or whether I had imagined it. St. Mildred’s was in Laurel, Maryland, a town midway between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. It is where I learned to sing the Mass in Latin and to withstand horrendous bullying condoned by the evil Sister Francisca.
I remember two happy moments in that school: winning the bingo game with the prize being several Hersey chocolate bars (maybe even a whole box) and being chosen as one of the girls to accompany Father Pete to a restaurant for a spaghetti dinner. The rest of my stay there was not joyful. The food was dreadful and we used to make a meal of mustard and bread when the main dish was inedible. We even made a song of the mustard and bread menu that is too long to go into. One night we were served tapioca pudding that several of us refused to eat and it ended in a standoff with Mother di Pazzi, the Mother Superior. That night, I gathered a posse of girls and convinced them to run away with me. We walked into the town of Laurel, borrowed bus fare from one of the older day students, (we banged on her front door) and took the bus to Baltimore. Our destination was a bar owned by the parents of a girl in the group. The minute we arrived, the bar owner (after a brief conversation with Mother diPazzi) put us on a return bus to the school.
St. Mildred’s, like many boarding schools, was rife with crazy kids from wealthy dysfunctional families (myself included). During my stay, all of the children from the Embassy of the Dominican Republic were there and occasionally, I would go home with them to enjoy fantastic formal parties. Fortunately, my father owned a boutique department store that supplied me with long gowns. I cannot stress enough how incredible that seems to me now.
Google is an insane miraculous tool that collapses time like it was nothing.