Bonnie Shell's Life Stories

What are some of your childhood accomplishments?

I was a quiet child, and we did not have a lot of kids on our block when we lived on Fairfield Ave. A little girl lived across the street, and we played together a few times. I wanted to go to school the worst way, and there was a school block from our house. So, one day, I joined a group of kids as they passed our home. I was almost at the door of the school when my mom caught up with me. When I was five, my mom wanted to sign me up for kindergarten, but the Catholic school did not have a kindergarten, so they put me in first grade.

The teachers figured that I would not do well and would redo the first grade. I surprised them and continued my schooling, always being the youngest in my grade.

I was always very kind-hearted, and I remember giving a little girl in my class one of my dolls because she didn't have one of her own.

We moved a lot and always seemed to move in the middle of a school year. I went to 1st and half of second grade at St. Helen's. I then went to half of the second grade, all of the third grade, and half of the fourth grade at St. Stan's. This move was very emotional for me. I was supposed to make my first Holy Communion in the fourth grade. My parents did not tell me we were moving, so when our class was to start practice for this ceremony, the nun told me to sit in the back of the church because I would not be making my first Holy Communion. I sat and cried and cried and cried. When my mom came to pick me up from school, she finally explained that we were moving and I would attend a new school.

I went to Holy Innocents School through the eighth grade. I graduated and decided to go to St. Columbkille High School. Of course, in the middle of Freshman year, my parents bought a house, and we were moving again. At this point, I decided I was not transferring schools and commuted one hour each way for the rest of my high school years. This was a three-year Commercial School, so I graduated when I was sixteen.

Even with all this disruption in my young life, I managed to get good grades and was always well-behaved.

When I was twelve, my mother went to work outside the home, and I was left to take care of my seven-year-old sister and five-year-old brother. I also learned to cook and was expected to have dinner ready when my parents came home from work.

As a result of all this responsibility, I could not get together with my friends after school or in the summer. That could be why I treasure the friendships I made as an adult.

Until I was twelve, we lived in apartments. I helped at home because I loved my family and knew this was the way we would eventually have our own home.