Once a week like clockwork the Catholic boys of Belle Isle would make their pilgrimage halfway the lenghth of Wheeling Island to Blessed Trinity Church. Belle Isle was at the norther tip of the Ohio River island that like the river itself was situated in the state of West Virginia. The island was reletively flat compared to everything else in the state so walking was not quite the chore as it might have been for other kids in the Mountain State.
Every Wednesday was confession day and whether you had sinned or not, attendance was mandatory. I have even gone as far as making up a sin that I had commited and then confessing to a lie just so the priest wouldn't think I was lying about having not commited a sin for an entire week. Is that messed up or what?
One particular early autumn afternoon in the year 1964, as the boys, Ace, Charleyhorse, Greenie, Smelly and myself were walking up North Huron Street towards the church engaging in the usual adolescent shenanigans, shoving each other into hedges, pretending to push each other in front of moving cars, kicking our feet out from one another, etc., we found ourselves in the comic book aisle at Kline's Market, the neighborhood candy store, that I suppose was actually the predecessor of todays modern convenient store. Of course we didn't buy anything, just loitered until we had barely enough time to get to the church before the closed the doors at six. Actually, I did buy something before I left, a badly bruised Chiquita banana that Mr. Kline was letting go for three cents as an alternative to throwing it in the trash. I couldn't pass up the deal and since I didn't see any "Lucky Balls" hoverering around the hole in the gumball machine, I walked out of the store eating a mushy banana.
After finishing the rotten fruit and before whapping Charleyhorse in the head with the peel, I removed the blue Chiquita sticker and stuck it to the middle of my forhead. We laughed, threw the peel at each other until there was nothing left of it to throw and then went on our way, making it into the double wooden doors of Blessed Trinity moments before Sister Dolorita closed them behind us.
Since the confessionals were located in the back of the church, people waiting to confess their sins sat in the last few pews while they waited their turn. That particular day there were less than half-a-dozen people waiting by the time we arrived. Now of course we all know that nothing will generate greater laughter than five ten-year-olds sitting together in a place where laughter is forbidden. So of course, everytime I looked over at one of my buddies, they would look away, squint their eyes, grit their teeth and do their best not to laugh out their nose. I didn't know what they were laughing at but that didn't stop me from joining in on the hilarity, after all, something was funny, I just didn't know what it was.
After about five minutes of maintaining some resemblance of cool, and at the precise time that Greenie had a snot bubble the size of a big marble, a shooter, growing out of his nose, the rest of the boys, along with myself couldn't contain our laughter any longer.
At first I didn't understand why it was me that Sister Dolorita picked on to lift out of the pew by my hair but when she reached out to peel the Chiquita sticker off my forehead, I thought she was going to claw my eyes out, no kidding, well anyway, she snatched the sticker off my head and held it before me.
"Do you think this is funny?" she asked.
I don't recall what she said after that, I think it may have been in Latin. She held me there in the back of the church by my collar, my friends weren't laughing now, no siree, then as soon as Tim Gilson's mom exited the confessional, I was tossed into the closet size room like a bag of garbage into the rubbish chute. To this day I don't know what sin I commited, but I believe I made one up anyway for the benifit of Sister Dolorita.