Was Mum trying to punish me?

I’m sure my life would have been different if I hadn’t won that damn scholarship. To start with I would have gone off to the local public high school for Grade 7 along with my peers from primary school. The scholarship certainly didn’t give me a sex education or the desire to be chaste. What it did give me was a school chair at a Catholic Girls’ School for four years. But my mother (Mum) wanted me to have the opportunity to attend the same school she was forced to attend as a girl. The school she hated because there were no boys. Mum’s sister said I wasn’t scholarship winner material at all. After my great triumph she asked me what I wrote my essay on and naturally I replied “paper”. Mum and her sister had an argument after that. If only I’d realised she meant the topic.

The green moll winter uniform

So with the scholarship clinched, it wasn’t long before Mum took me to be fitted out for my brand new ‘green moll’ uniform. The ‘green molls’ – that’s what we were known as in those days. For winter we had the bottle green tunic and the blazer with ‘orse piss’ on the emblem; the bottle green jumper; the bottle green Aircel underpants; the brown stockings with the suspender belt (practice for hell because that’s where we were all heading); brown lace-up shoes; brown shirt buttoned up to the neck (the chin in my case – I’ve got a short neck) and not forgetting the mandatory noose,  the brown tie with blue and bottle green stripes. This was off set with the velvet bottle green bowler hat with a band to match the tie. I can’t believe we wore all that shit to school. What’s more we carried brief cases to shove our books and homework into with enough room for essential items such as make-up and cigarettes. I’m not sure why the public school kids used to call us the green molls as we walked past. Just jealous I guess.

The nun’s rules and regulations

The school was run by nuns. I spent a lot of time during my high school years trying to avoid them because they were quite scary at times. They made lots of rules and regulations associated with the school uniform and everything else. Occasionally they would do a random underpants check (usually on a day when we did PE).  This involved all girls lining up in single file and one by one you had to lift up the right- side of the bottle green sports tunic to show that you were wearing the regulation bottle green Aircel underpants. If you weren’t wearing them the punishment was usually something like writing one hundred lines – I must wear the regulation bottle green underpants …… or I must not wear frilly, lacy underpants to school ….

More random checks by the police nun

Another rule that involved random checks was the length of the school uniform. In those days it had to be no more than five inches (12.7 cm) above the knee when kneeling on the floor. If you suspected your uniform was a bit on the short side you could lean forward slightly while the police nun was getting the ruler into position on the floor and hope that she wouldn’t notice. This rule only applied whilst actually at school. Before and after school we made our own rules; it was common practice to seriously shorten the uniform by tying the tunic belt tight enough to hold the raised tunic in place.  

The green moll summer uniform

The summer uniform consisted of a bottle green dress, brown socks and shoes and a straw boater hat.  A cane and a pair of tap shoes would have been a great addition. When it rained we had special regulation plastic hat covers that looked like shower caps to protect our hats from the elements. Hard to imagine how silly we all looked really!! Like walking around wearing a snood.

The nun’s uniform – the habit

The teachers were mainly nuns at that time (late 1960s to early 1970s) with names such as Gummy, Feret, Chester and Samson. Why are girls so unkind? They had their own special black and white uniforms known as habits. The habit consisted of a floor length black tunic which was completely covered with a black apron: a white coif and wimple; a big, black veil was draped and secured over the head piece and an enormous set of rosary beads hung down the front. All that was on show was a set of eyes, a nose and a mouth; not a lot of difference between the nun’s habit and the burqa really.

Sister Feline was all woman when out of habit

When I was in Grade 9, the nuns took our class of about 60 girls on a retreat to Blackmans Bay to do a helluva lot of praying, meditating and bible reading. We must have become sufficiently purified by the third day because the nuns let us all escape to the beach for a swim. A pair of speedos in the old familiar bottle green could be seen bobbing up and down in the surf. All eyes were transfixed as the speedos approached. It was none other than Sister Feline. She had an actual body; legs, arms, nipples …  It was cold, really cold so the nipples were right out there.  She had hair – short black curly hair; not just on her head but a healthy growth under the armpits as well. You couldn’t help but notice it when she raised her arms to dive into a wave.  

No religion – not welcome anymore

I left that nun infested school at the end of Grade 10 because religion was a compulsory subject for Grade 11. I didn’t want to do religion. And my scholarship had expired anyway. So I ended up at a matriculation college – a public one. Here, there were no rules – well I wasn’t aware of any at the time. However, Mum got a letter about my non- attendance a couple of times so there may have been a rule that you had to attend classes. The other thing about matric was that there was no uniform. I never had to wear a uniform again. The strange thing was that I really missed getting decked out in that bottle green uniform every day.

Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/77Tph4X3StM

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2 Responses

  1. Great story; brings back some old memories of the male version of the catholic school I was sent to at the back end of Glenorchy in the 1960s.
    We had the same strict dress code and a church mass every day. The teachers were priests and brothers. I recall that the priests/brothers from Italy and Malta were quite pleasant normal people who actually knew how to interact with young boys. Some others that were from the UK area of the world would have fitted into a role in a horror movie with ease. Their individual weapons of choice for punishing us young boys included a strap of rubber from an old tyre, a metal ruler(used on the thin edge across the knuckles) and a big drum stick.
    The best thing that happened there for me was that I was expelled on my first day attending grade 10. The reason being that my elder brother did not return to the school for grade 11 but opted to go to a normal public school in the city. The headmaster gave me a letter to give to my father and sent me on my way. I left happily.

    1. Thanks for your comment Steve. There are so many stories people have to tell about their catholic school education. It’s obvious that many of the nuns, priests and brothers weren’t fit for teaching.

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