Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The Secrets of My 10-Year-Old Self


While I was cleaning up the house, I happened on an old diary. It was from when I was 10 years old. I stopped cleaning to look at it.

My parents used to give us these little diaries at Christmas. I remember I would wait breathlessly until Jan. 1 and then I would begin writing in them. There was a page for each day. The trouble with that system is that eventually you fall off the wagon and it is hard to get going again. For this diary, though, I did pretty well. I made it all the way through January.

I do not remember ever looking at this before. It was illustrated! I drew pictures of my teachers and my friends.

I do remember Mr. Cvinar was our 7th grade teacher at Christ the King School. So I was in 7th grade. I was kind of babyish, I think, because I was just 10. I was the youngest child in my class. That was because when I was in kindergarten, my dad had taught me to read, and I was put ahead into first grade. In effect I skipped a year.

That picture of Mr. Cvinar does look like what he looked like, to my recollection. I did not remember Mrs. Cvinar. But apparently I liked her. “Mrs. Cvinar said on Monday she would bring little Steve Cvinar in so we could see him.” I loved reading what I was excited about.

On New Year’s Day I wrote, “New Year’s Eve, we stayed up till 12:30. We drank wine and Pepsi. We also watched them launch the New Year’s balloon on TV, and saw half of Show Boat. The grups wouldn’t let us stay up till 1:30.” “Grups” was our shorthand for “grownups.” I think my brother Tony got that from “Lost in Space.”

I was already a partyer. On Jan. 4 I wrote: “Margie (my sister) dropped out of Brownies lately. Jean dropped out of Girl Scouts.” Jean Schneggenburger, my best friend, makes frequent appearances in the diary. Looking back, I would have thought that with Jean out of Scouts, I would have wanted to leave too. But no! I continued: “I might drop out of Scouts too, but I’d just as soon wait until after camp and the Potluck Supper.”

I stayed in Scouts. On Jan. 11: “Tonight was Girl Scouts. We reviewed a couple of our dances and discovered we would do one for the Potluck Supper.” I remember going to several camps and Potluck Suppers. Good times.

It’s funny to see something that flies in the face of what you thought you remembered. I thought I hated gym. But no — the diary mentions hockey (floor hockey, this would have been). I looked forward to games. I was on a team called the Cherry Bombers. “We are the champs!”

My Uncle Bob gave us piano lessons every Sunday. “Boy am I going to be in trouble for lessons,” I wrote one Saturday. “I didn’t do 1/2 the things I was supposed to do.”

Next day: “Lessons didn’t go as bad as I expected. I simply said ‘no’ when Uncle Bob asked me if I did the Kinderscenen. Then I was able to fake (sight read) the finale of the Mozart Sonata, up to the ‘episode.’ When Uncle Bob asked me if I did the 4’th Beethoven variation, I just said no.”

I wrote a lot about my teachers. There is a day-to-day account of Mrs. Bucholtz and her sprained ankle and when she was finally going to come back to school and how she had to walk with a cane. I seem to have liked Mrs. Bucholtz more than I remembered. There was also a Mrs. Mazzu, whom I don’t remember. I drew a picture of her captioned “Mrs. Mazzu, when she isn’t yelling.”

I did a lot of drawing. One drawing of a woman yelling is captioned: “A Mean Teacher.” And at one point I wrote: “Somehow I can’t refrain from doodling in my books at school. Hope for the best!”

There is a nun named Sr. Marie Patrice who would give me a tough time. I had no memory of her. Then I read that she was subbing for a Sr. Marie: “Fortunately, Sr. Marie came back today. Sr. Marie Patrice was just going to give us a science test. Sr. Marie decided not to.”

One episode is something I distinctly remember. I got to go to my Uncle Joe and Aunt Marie’s to help my cousin Caroline serve hors d’oeuvres (I spelled it “orderves.” I don’t blame myself — I still struggle with that word.) I remember they dressed Caroline and me in dirndl skirts and we went around serving shrimp and stuff. Well, I describe it:

There were many people there, about 40. Most of them were doctors. Caroline and I were busy from beginning to end, picking up dishes, passing food, refilling glasses, etc. Despite that, though, it was a lot of fun.

There was this one woman there. She had a long, green feathered ‘strip’ around her. Caroline and I kept finding bits and pieces of green feathers on the floor. After a while the whole strip disappeared. Maybe it grew small and she put it away. Or maybe it shredded to pieces.

It is funny to be able to place that party in its proper place: Feb. 23, 1973. And the “strip” of feathers. I did not know the term “boa.”

Back to my friend Jean. We were just making plans to get together — I will have to bring this diary, or at least tell her about it. Because it is so funny reading back on our doings. One day we made mean posters of all our teachers. “It was great!” I wrote.

Then this: “I played with Jean again today. We decided to go to Tops. However, when we came back, there was so little time we only got to play the piano for one another and then separate.” Jean and I were always playing the piano for each other.

There is a lot of mention of Tops. I loved going to Tops — I still do, LOL. Back then I would go there with my sister Katie and with Jean. We would buy candy and cans of pop. No wonder that on Feb. 20 I talk about having to get two cavities filled. “Yippee!! It’s all over! Katie has 5 cavities. Man, I don’t envy her!”

How awful, that we had all those cavities. That wasn’t right, you know?

But the diary is so much fun. I found another little daily diary too, along with this one. That one was four years later, however. I would have been 14. I’ll read it at some point, but 14 isn’t as much fun as 10.

That diary of my 10-year-old self.

I wish I had kept it up all year!


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