Saturday, April 11, 2009

introduction to chores

The orphanage was a huge building and housed several children from infants to high school seniors. The children were divided up according to age and gender. The smallest children too young to attend school lived on the first floor. The second floor housed the girls from kindergarten to high school. The two dormitories separated by the sister's sleeping quarters were where the younger girls were assigned to sleep. The oldest girls were allowed to sleep in a room that was on the second floor that was just a little ways down the hall from the main quarters and was located next to the girls' stairwell. Continuing down the second floor corridor on the left was the elevator and across from the elevator was the library for the girls. This room also had a small TV, piano and furniture. I remember the the west side of the room having windows the length of the room wonderful sunlight and lots of shelves filled with books. The room was the size of a large classroom. Continuing to the end of the long corridor was the living quarters for the younger boys and next to that section was another staircase, the boys' stairwell.

We were allowed to watch The Ed Sullivan show and Bonanza once a week after dinner. I can remember once when Elvis Presley was scheduled to appear on the Ed Sullivan show. We were all excited and hurried through supper, quickly washed the dishes, reset the tables and swept the floor all in record time to get back to the second floor library to crowd around the TV to watch.

Every child was assigned chores. I remember starting out being assigned to sweep and polish the floors in the girls' sleeping quarters every week. There was a big commercial floor polisher we were taught how to use. From there I graduated to cleaning the latrine. After those tasks were learned and executed to sister's satisfaction I was moved to sweeping and dusting the stairs on the stairwell. There were six flights of stairs that extended from the third floor to the basement. I can remember eventually being assigned to clean the chapel (which was a full size church). Sister Je was in charge of the chapel, the choir, the infirmary, and probably a whole host of things I didn't know about. I loved sister Je. She was nonjudgmental, soft spoken, kind and all the children loved her. Anyway when assigned to chapel duty, one had to wear a scarf and if a girl had pants on they had to put on a skirt. The pews had to be dusted, the kneelers wiped down, the space under the pews swept, the window ledges dusted and assist with arranging the flowers for the alter. On Saturdays everyone would take turns in the large commercial laundry that was in the basement. The laundry had a large mangle press, two large garment presses, two ironing boards and I think in the connecting room a couple of large commercial front loaders and couple of commercial dryers. We were not allowed to run the washers or dryers however got lots of time on the mangle, steam presses and ironing boards. Eventually I was assigned kitchen duty. I think this was my favorite. Although it was hard work in the kitchen Sister D was wonderful to work under.

I learned alot of skills while living at the orphanage and in later years was able to put myself through college cleaning houses for people.