The nun who ate glue

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When I was 11 years old, I went to a convent boarding school in Maine. It was run by Ursuline nuns.

There was one girl there that I liked very much. Her name was Cecilia. We used to sit beside each other every chance we got, and we would roller skate. We were always together.

One day, Cecilia and I were feeling kind of silly so we decided to eat some of the paste that we were using for our art project. Needless to say, it tasted awful. We wondered how we could spit it out without getting caught. We found that we couldn’t, so we were caught and punished.

I left the boarding school when I was 14. Three years later, I moved to Boston, and so I lost contact with my dear friend Cecilia; I never heard from her again.

In 1999, on one of my many trips back to Maine, I visited the convent boarding school to see my old music teacher, Sister Lucille. We had a wonderful visit, talking over old times and remembering all of the times my antics had gotten me in trouble with the nuns.

During my visit with Sister Lucille, another nun came into the room. Sister Lucille introduced her to me as Sister Mary Anne, the Mother Superior of the convent. How surprised and pleased I was to realize that she was my childhood friend Cecilia, who I had eaten the glue with.

I told Sister Lucille the story of us eating glue, and she was surprised to learn that her Mother Superior had joined in my glue-eating prank over 60 years ago. We all had a good laugh.

A couple of years later, I went back to Maine to visit the convent. I learned that Sister Lucille had passed away, but my “glue friend” was still there. Sadly, she was very frail. Three months later I received word that she had also passed away.

Now there is nobody left in Maine that I know. All of the friends from my childhood have passed away over the years.

I guess my visits to Maine have come to an end, but I’ll always remember Sister Mary Anne as my “Glue Buddy.”

Helen Hampton is a member of the writing class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. It is held off-campus at the Norwalk Senior Center.

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