Fifth Grade at the CTK Catholic School meant one thing, The Eleventh Commandment. You know it, “Thou shalt not abuse the basic rules of grammar”. By God’s Grace or hours upon hours upon hours of work , you would know the basics of a sentence, you would know nouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs and prepositional phrases and blah, blah, blah blah blah blah.
And fifth grade at the CTK meant English with Sister Verene. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Sr. Verene. She was awesome. She was (and I know this is nearly impossible to believe) a nice human being who liked kids, but she was also perhaps the most insect-like human being I have known. She was a small, nervous creature. She had a skinny, pointed face. Her small hands were always in motion, grasshopper-like in concerted movements with her metallic voice. Of course, this could maybe be the faded memory of a boy of the 1970’s, who maybe watched too many Saturday morning sci-fi monster movie marathons, but I digress. Sr. Verene plain, straight out LOVED grammar. It was her vocation. Most of the other nuns probably prayed rosaries and such, but I am pretty sure Sr. Verene broke down grammatical errors in the Roman Missal and diagrammed the Bible as her contemplation.
I know this is a major surprise to my wife (a.k.a The Grammar Police), my editors at MuseItUp Publishing, my former players and fellow coaches, but at one time (5th grade) this backward, redneck speaking (yeah, that’s speakin’) bubba boy was a minor grammar god. I was mesmerized by the science of it all and drawn into the world of grammar by Sr. Verene. We diagrammed sentences like madmen. I would even volunteer to go to the board to diagram sentences. The best time was when Sr. Verene set up elimination-style speed diagramming tournaments. She was too cool.
Do people still diagram sentences in school? I don’t think they do it anymore. Too bad, it helped me. I should pull out the old grammar books and brush up on my sentence diagramming. It has to be like riding a bike, you never quite forget how to do it. Maybe it will make a comeback and become an Olympic sport someday, who knows?