Inside the dormitory where we lived in, there was one giant room but filled with furniture and beds… lots of beds. You could stand in one corner of the room and see straight across the other side with no obstruction. If you’ve ever seen a loft or lived in one, then you have an idea of what I am trying to describe. After playing outside, we all had to go straight to the bathroom to wash up, and not just our hands, but our face, neck and of course behind the ears.
Yep, all that just to eat. We would have to raise our little hands and show that they were clean. If our hands weren’t clean enough, we had to run all the way back to the bathroom to wash them again. Believe me, when you have little legs, that bathroom seemed a lot further away than it looked. So you can bet on it that we made sure our hands were clean enough to pass inspection.
After our dinner, we all had to take our trays and put them by the sink and throw out plastic utensils, then rush to the living room to watch T.V. I don’t remember what we used to watch, but I do remember watching The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night. Following our group shower, we all changed into our pajamas and rushed to the couch to claim our spot before 7:30.
If there wasn’t any room, we sat on the floor as Mr. Jack, our counselor, handed out small containers of milk and chocolate chip cookies. I don’t think anyone ever turned down snacks when it was Disney time. One Sunday night while we were watching Dr. Doolittle, we heard this loud scream coming from the bedroom area. We all got up to see where it was coming from and found one of the boys from our group standing on the stool beside his bed pointing.
There was a big brown turtle on top of his covers. A turtle was on his bed! The only thing that I wondered was how did this turtle climb up three flights of stairs and get inside our dormitory and end up on someone’s bed? Mr. Jack picked up the turtle by its shell and told us all to calm down. We followed him to the back door where he went downstairs to let the turtle out of the building.
We all were standing by the back door on the top landing looking down between the stairs when we heard Mr. Jack open the door and then shut it just as fast. He was yelling for all of us to get back inside before he reached the top steps. We did just that. Before we knew it, it was time to go to bed. After all that excitement that just went on, we were all worked up and started acting up while in our beds.
Mr. Jack yelled at us to calm down or he would turn off the lights before 9 pm. Well, we calmed down alright, but when 9:00 came, he said goodnight to all of us in his nice voice, flipped the switch and the lights were out. There we were in the dark acting up and getting out of our beds to jump on other beds when the lights came on. It was the night lady. That’s what we called her.
She would yell and threatened to tell our head nun Sister Lockhart in the morning if we didn’t listen. I could hear her mumbling, as she turned off the lights. As I lied in my bed, I thought how my brothers and I used to play around when we were in our own bedroom on 17th street, and could hear my mother yelling from the living room for us to knock it off and go to sleep as she cursed in Spanish.
My older brother would mimic her and pretend he spoke Spanish and we’d all laugh until we heard her yelling once again for us to go to sleep. My last thought before I fell asleep that night, wasn’t how the turtle get on the bed, but how I missed sleeping in my bunk bed with my brothers. I guess this is my bed now.