Antique Childhood

It Made Sense At The Time

Whenever I’ve talked about how that at St. Cabrini, where I attended Catholic grade school, our 4th grade class saved up to buy a pagan baby, I’ve gotten one of two responses. People who did not attend Catholic school in the 1960s will look at me in stunned silence as though I were from Mars. People who did attend Catholic school will nod their head knowingly and sigh at the utter absurdity of the notion.

Istock_000000417863small_2How does a fourth grader go about buying a pagan baby you might wonder? Well, we brought our scavenged pennies and nickels into school and put them in a jar until we finally had enough to send off for a pagan baby, I guess from the pagan baby store which was probably somewhere in California. That’s where everything cool was, or at least that’s what mid-western Catholic school kids thought. If you could get your parents to move to California, then you could automatically be cool. Anyway, $4 and some box tops later, or something like that, and we were the proud owners of a heathen. I have no idea how much a pagan baby cost, no one ever told us, and being good Catholic children, we didn’t ask.

Eventually we would get a certificate of some kind in the mail. The class would vote on a name and afterwards we would have a naming ceremony. For a baby girl, Sister always pushed us to choose Mary something – Mary Beth, Mary Alice, Mary Margaret, Mary Catherine, Mary Jane, whatever. The Mary list is endless. For a boy we were expected to choose a name like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. But in 1969 the names we fourth graders favored were names like Ringo and Twiggy.

Since it was a class vote with Sister having two votes to our every one, we compromised on Mary Twiggy. We thought it so very funny to exasperate Sister with our zanyness. As a class, we were supposed to pray for the salvation of little Mary Twiggy throughout the school year. So you see, there was a seed of goodness buried deep deep within such a warped idea. And somehow? It made sense at the time.

I wonder what ever became of Mary Twiggy

11 thoughts on “It Made Sense At The Time

  1. OK. I’ve been laughing since the very first sentence. It IS absurd. But there are so many schemes just like like it, and still so many fourth graders and well-meaning teachers…Maybe we could convince them to start raising money for “Find Mary Twiggy.” Because she is undoubtedly lost now, and must be found.

    “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” Seriously, cannot stop giggling, picturing it all.

  2. Good night nurse, AM… You have had a humdinger of a life, haven’t you? You’ve got more stories than the Bible, I think.

    Mary Twiggy. That is just brilliant.

    So did you pray for the heathen baby, or did you try to figure out how to stuff the diaper with a snickers bar?

  3. You always make me laugh! I remember desperately wanting to “sponsor a child for just 22 cents a day” when I was in junior high. I was so disappointed to learn that my little “sponsoree” wouldn’t be brought to the US for me to visit every day!

  4. Wow, the things I missed growing up non-Catholic. That is a great story.

    I would like to contribute to the “find Mary Twiggy” fund.

  5. Sounds like an ideal sort of motherhood to me. You chip in a few cents, get the fun of naming a baby (which is the part I always love, although in real life I was hampered by having to take into account my husband’s choices), and then…voila! Presumably Mary Twiggy is doing fine somewhere, no doubt pounding maize topless and wearing ubanga earrings and yet still going to mass, somehow. What a lovely image that is.
    And yes, I also think “Buy a Pagan Baby” would be a great name for a band…or possibly a book. If you ever write your memoirs, consider that as a title.

  6. Laughing and nodding. Having been raised Catholic (albeit not in the 60s) I indeed understood. And appreciated the exasperation of the Sister. LOL.

  7. I was too late for pagan babies… but, you could tell the nuns so wanted to us to still be able to buy them… we had to settle for UNICEF cartons in which we would stick our daily milk money.

    Not quite as fun.

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