Queen Of The May #socs

Catholics have a great affection for Mary, the mother of Jesus. We consider her to be the great intercessor with her Son, because, after all, if you want a kid to do something, you ask his mother to tell him to do it. The wedding at Cana was Jesus’s first public miracle, and naturally, it was His mother who told Him to do it. So, we figure that, if we need God’s help, we can talk to her and have her put a bug in her Son’s ear.

May is the month dedicated to Mary, the Queen of Heaven. One the ways Catholics would celebrate the month was to hold a May Crowning, where we sang songs about her and, at the climax, sent a girl from the school (usually dressed in her First Communion dress) to a statue of Mary with a wreath of flowers, with which she crowned the statue as we all sang "Oh Mary, We Crown Thee With Blossoms Today"…

(There’s a lot more to this, both the devotion to Mary and the whole theology behind it, a lot of which probably sounds loony to many of you who didn’t live through it. I’m trying to keep this short, so go along with me…)

When I was in first grade, my teacher was Miss Disselhorst (she shortened it to "Miss D" for the benefit of six and seven-year-olds). Miss D and I didn’t have the most cordial relationship because she taught us how to print and I was really awful at it. I recall one day she gave me an "F minus minus minus minus minus minus minus" on one of my printing papers (I might be a "minus" or two off), and when I responded by sticking out my tongue at her (the six-year-old’s equivalent of giving her the finger) she pulled me to my feet and dressed me down in front of the whole class until I was at the brink of tears.

Anyway, Miss D decided one day in May that we would hold our own May Crowning, and the honor of who would place the crown on the statue of Mary in the corner of the classroom would be determined by pulling one kid’s name out of a hat (or a Kleenex box, I’m not sure which). And guess whose name she pulled out of the box?

Naturally, I was embarrassed as hell, because first of all, the job of crowning Our Lady was women’s work, and second, this would be in front of the whole class, who would be giggling (I know I would be if I weren’t the star of the show). But I survived, didn’t fall off the chair I had to stand on to reach Mary’s head, didn’t drop the crown (which was Miss D’s bracelet) or knock the statue over, smashing it into a million pieces. I heard about it from my classmates for the rest of the year, though, which, thankfully, was only three more weeks.

Epilogue: Miss D lived across the alley from my best friend, and I ran into her during that summer. We greeted each other by sticking our tongues out at each other.

Epilogue 2: I ran into Miss D’s great-niece on Facebook in a group dedicated to my old neighborhood, and told her to tell Miss D that I still can’t print. The niece wrote back that her great-aunt said I was one of her favorites. I wondered aloud who she was really thinking of….


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. And now a word about Ballantine beer, with the fire-brewed flavor that chill can’t kill!

40 thoughts on “Queen Of The May #socs

  1. I’m smiling – great childhood lessons. I doubt those same lessons are learned during homeschooling nowadays? I loved reading that you greeted each other years later with tongues sticking out!! LOL.

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    1. I was surprised to discover that homeschool parents have really worked hard to address the issues there can be with homeschooling. CCD (or Sunday school etc.) is one way kids get the traditional educational experience, and it’s an opportunity for them to meet and interact with other kids and have the dubious honor of crowning the Blessed Mother… 🤪

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        1. The constant fearmongering we’re getting from public officials about this disease, for which we now have three different vaccines that ostensibly protect us from ever contracting it, has got to stop. It’s having a terrible effect on all of us, especially the children. At this rate, more people will die because of the lockdown than because of the virus…

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            1. This was excellent and so true. A hundred years ago, H. L. Mencken said “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Sad that only a few of us have learned that…

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              1. Very astute of you and HLM! Have you heard the new Styx song – Crash of the Crown? It’s intriguing as well. I hold on to hope that there are more than meets the eye, in silent crowds who avoid the social media hype, and they aren’t buying the alarming messages 🙂

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                1. Haven’t heard that one yet. I’ll look it up.

                  I think people are coming around to the idea that treating it like H1N1 and SARS might have been just as effective (maybe more) as the drastic measures we took. Richard Brodie talks about the way that memes (not like Grumpy Cat) work, how they get planted in the mind and alter a person’s behavior, in the book “Virus Of The Mind.” I read it a few years ago and re-read it when the whole Covid-19 thing started, and suddenly the whole thing made sense….

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  2. Ah, this brought back some memories. I taught at a Catholic school for a couple of years and the May Day celebration was always special.

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  3. I was from a small Catholic church that didn’t have a school, so our May crowning featured an 8th grade girl to crown Mary with the first grade girls acting as flower girls with baskets of flowers and the rest of us processing with single blossoms. I remember that May Crowning hymn. I think I still have it written down in a music manuscript book sitting in my piano bench, copied by hand from the also handwritten copy at church when I took over as organist as a high schooler. Thanks for the memories, John.

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  4. Love your school day story! Interesting how traditions are done. I’ve never seen a May pole or a crowning of anyone before. 🙂

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  5. This post makes my day. I bet Miss D was remembering you. You sound just like any of the boys in my class. Though when a young David stuck his tongue out, Sister Verna did more that dress him down. Off to the principal’s office. We didn’t see him for the remainder of the day. I don’t recall anymore sticking out of tongues after that.

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    1. My nun in third grade had this habit of picking people up by the hair. I fixed her: I got a crewcut. That was also the year the principal grabbed me by the cheek and dug her fingernails in, leaving two cuts. Mom called her and chewed her a new one, then chewed me out for making her do it. Mom didn’t take any BS from the nuns…

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      1. Ouch! Glad your mom didn’t take any BS. The handful of times that happened with my brothers they got in more trouble at home. By default it was never the nuns fault.

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    1. I don’t know what happened to her after that. My brothers, who came up behind me, didn’t have her. I think some guy swept her off her feet and she got married and moved away. That happened a lot in the ’60’s.

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  6. Aw, I bet you really were her favorite! We used to do the May day thing too, including dancing around the May pole. — pole dancing didn’t have the same connotation back then – LOL

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    1. Of course, not that the pole dancing we’re talking about wasn’t going on back then, it just wasn’t discussed in polite company. We didn’t do the May pole, for some reason.

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  7. She probably liked your spunk even though you didn’t know it at the time but she could never get away with doing that today. She was a bit too harsh which undermines a child. Today they swung to far the other way of the pendulum where the teacher has no say. The beer commerical makes me think of Marty Crane(Frazier)

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    1. In 1962, it was pretty normal to get dressed down or smacked by your teacher. And, when you got home, you’d get yelled at and smacked there, too. Barbaric, maybe, but you learned in a hurry.

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  8. Love your personal touch. I can just feel with you how it was to be “crowning” Mary. I am not Catholic so thank you for the quick run down of some “Mary” tradition and theology. You talk language I understand.

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    1. A lot of it was “just believe it, you’ll learn why later.” They hoped you’d figure it out for yourself or just forget about it.

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