Catholic School Days

Bob & Jan2
Robert Zielinski & Janice (Zielinski) Kuznicki

As a kid, my grandmother adored her older brother, and she always wanted to be included in everything he did. Bob started school at the age of six, and two-year-old Janice would toddle after him on his walk to class each morning, sitting outside of the classroom until school was dismissed for the day. Bob’s teacher caught her one morning and marched her back home, but my grandmother continued to sneak out in the morning when her parents weren’t looking. Recognizing defeat, the teacher eventually allowed my grandmother to sit in on the class each day, and she enrolled her in school the following year.

After a few years at St. Hedwig’s Catholic School in Dunkirk, New York, my grandmother  had a teacher she didn’t like–and who definitely didn’t like her. The nun would repeatedly hit my grandmother across the knuckles with a ruler if she spoke out-of-turn (or sometimes for no reason at all), and she singled her out for the harshest criticism. My grandmother loved school, and she had always been close to her other teachers, but this teacher made learning a nightmare. Grandma is the toughest person I know, though, and she didn’t take the teacher’s insults for long; it’s her favorite story to tell.

My grandmother received a beautiful new doll as a gift from her parents, and she brought it to school to show all of her friends. When she arrived at school, though, the nun immediately confiscated the doll and put it out-of-reach on the highest shelf in the back of the classroom. She told my grandmother that she could get the doll back the next morning, but when she got to school the next day, the doll was gone. She was devastated, and she knew that the nun had kept the doll for herself.

Back then, they didn’t have three-hole punches; instead, they used an individual hole punch for their notebooks. My grandmother’s teacher had a favorite hole punch that she would pass around the class (it must’ve been of high quality!). One morning, my grandmother stole the hole punch from the nun’s desk; the nun questioned everyone in the class, but she never figured out who had stolen it. Grandma still has the hole punch to this day, and she loves telling this story to anyone and everyone who will listen.

Dunkirk High School Sophomores, 1958 // Janice (Zielinski) Kuznicki is seated, third from the left
Dunkirk High School Juniors, 1959 // Janice (Zielinski) Kuznicki is standing in the second row on the far left

20 thoughts on “Catholic School Days

      1. That kinda stuff doesn’t go on in my classroom, and my colleagues don’t treat their students that way either. I can’t believe that–what was she thinking? That’s never justifiable, just heartbreaking.


      2. I spent all day reminding my kindergarten students to stay quiet in line, but that never even crossed my mind as an option. I’m sorry that happened to your classmate, and I’m sorry that you were once in that environment!


    1. I’m sure she would have! Different time, I guess? Her parents were busy working in the factories, so she didn’t want to worry them. Wanted to fight her own battles. As soon as her mom found out, though, she switched her to a different school—that’s good!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris

    What a spunky little lady.. .. please give your grandmother a collective hiug from all her new found fan club…I’m surprised that her parents didn’t notice the doll was missing, or perhaps your grandmother took the blame for ‘losing’ it. Dolls would have been quite expensive in those times… I hope it brought bad luck to that woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’ll pass the hug along! Her parents may have noticed, but my grandmother was always running around the neighborhood and making mischief–if they did notice, they probably thought she’d just lost it. I’m surprised nothing was said either!

      And it seems as though everyone I know from my grandmother’s generation has a similar story–I wish this wasn’t the case. I don’t know what was going on in the nun’s life at the time, but I am glad that a bit of karma came around in the end.

      As always, a huge THANK YOU for reading and featuring my story this week!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I’d really like your grandmother… love her spirit.
        You’re very welcome..I often include one or more of your blogs in another section…Always Interesting… as they are. Thank you…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s a huge compliment, I appreciate it! And Grandma’s quite the character for sure–she’s a bit crazy, but the best of us always are! It is absolutely a privilege to be her granddaughter, and I’ve always admired her strength and courage and confidence. Wish you could meet sometime!

        Liked by 1 person

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