I was a Catholic boy who grew up on Staten Island, New York. I went to Blessed Sacrament school just like my sisters before me did. The Sisters of Charity ran the show there with an iron fist. Catechism was a class among your other ones. This class was about God and all things related. It troubled me because I wondered if I was good enough to make it to heaven. A question that reenters my mind from time to time.
I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about my salvation, yet it lingered in a neat little compartment in the back of my mind. The nuns were very strict especially in catechism, and if you got out of line you could get smacked in the face. One day we were in Sister Basils class (she was well known for slapping) and Donald Naples was talking to me. I told him to be quiet because I didn’t want her to see us talking. You guessed it! As soon as I told him to be quiet she looked my way!
It was on! She started making her way towards me. I thought of pleading my case but knew it didn’t matter, she needed to hit someone that day. Looking back it was really a sight. Sister Basil was about five feet two inches tall and very large and round. To see her coming down the aisle reminded me of a runaway locomotive being stoked with wood so that the final impact would be sure destruction. Being in her black habit (clothes) she also reminded me of a Big black comet whose short yet fiery tail had my name written on it.
Right before she got to me I decided to stand up and take it like a man, or maybe it was to lessen the blow because standing would get me farther away. Whatever the reason she got me. I can’t remember what happened after, but I’m pretty sure I had words with Donald after class.
Anyway, wondering about going to heaven or not bothered me. Then something happened which changed everything. In 1956 Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel was made into a movie starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. In one scene he was robbing someone and slipped and fell on his knife and died. He then went to a place between heaven and hell. The guy in charge came in and that’s when I learned he was a star hanger.
A great weight was immediately lifted off my shoulders. Surely I was good enough to be a Star Hanger. I could roam the heavens at night and light them up with my stars. Oh salvation you are in my reach. I’m still hoping for at the least a star hanging job. (just in case). Remember folks love one another.