How I found out a Nun wears a Habit
For those of you who may not know, a habit was the name given to the costume worn by all nuns of that day. Different orders had different variations, but most went something like this: there was a long-sleeved, heavy, semi-pleated, dark black dress that hung to the floor. Their cropped hair was always covered with some sort of tight-fitting hood that resembled the head-gear of a diver’s wet suit, only white. It covered their head and neck with only their face sticking out. On top of this head-gear was worn a scarf or shroud-like thing that hung down past their shoulders. The blouse type affair that they wore was plain, white, looked to be starched, and resemble a breast-plate. When stepping out in public, all this was topped by a cloak, of the style worn by Dracula. I have no opinion on what was worn beneath.
The actual events at my Aunt Mart’s party that led to my newly acquired knowledge happened like this. My Father was in Aunt Mart’s kitchen, where the kitchen table had been hastily removed, and he, along with Al Newel, was doing the Russian Bear Dance. A crowd had gathered and was cheering them on. The party had been in progress for well over an hour, so, of course, my father was drunk, as was Al Newel. Upon completion of their production, my father heads straight for a priest, (Father Patrick was his name, I think) and kisses him right on his forehead. As for his part, Father Patrick didn’t even seem to notice that he had been kissed, since he too had come for the booze, and was well into the spirit of the affair. After my father had completed this familiarity with the priest, he reached directly for a nun who was standing not two feet away. Now the nun was new to the parish and, as far as I could tell, hadn’t drunk a drop. She had come fully clothed in her habit, including her cape. Grabbing her hand, my father shook it decisively, and while looking her directly in the eye, he said, “Any friend of Zorro’s is surely a friend of mine.”
My hat immediately shot straight up in the air! That did it for me. My cousin, Glenn, was rolling with laughter but I didn’t think it was funny. As a kid, it was my belief that it was the sworn duty of all parents to embarrass their children, and my father had always done a stellar job in upholding his part of the bargain, but Zorro! Come on. I mean I got it, they both wore a cape. All catholic kids got it and, as a matter of fact, had told it. It was lame, but what really turned my face three shades of red past embarrassed, was that he had the audacity to say it right to face of a perfectly functional nun. I had to go. But here’s where I had a bit of good luck. While heading for the door, I overheard a remark made by a woman who had been standing nearby and saw everything that had transpired regarding the nun. This woman, whom I have seen many times before, but whose name I didn’t know, said, “Did you see what Joe did? And her in her habit.”