The Gleaner
Arts & LifeSharing Our Stories

Sharing Our Stories: My grandmother Elizabeth

Story told by: Lorraine Montour
Written by: Simona Rosenfield, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Translation by: Sahawisó:ko’ Arquette

We had a hard time continuing in education because the church was in control of the education here, the nuns. They had these special nuns from Boston. Sisters of St. Anne they call them. And they were experts at what they call proselytizing – how to change who you are.

And they were good at it.

They would always humiliate somebody in the class. Call them out and humiliate them somehow.

I would always go back home and tell my grandmother what this nun did. She would tell some of her friends and they would organize and go raise hell at the school.


Lorraines grandmother Elizabeth Jacobs Hemlock is pictured with her husband George Hemlock on their wedding day in 1913 Courtesy Charlayne Norton


If you were left handed, then they were going to change you to be right handed. If she caught you, she’d come right there and smack you right on the hand with a ruler, and you were only little.

My grandmother said, “Why are you talking like that?”

I said, “Like what?”

She said, “You’re stuttering. Why are you stuttering?”

“Oh, it’s that stupid nun,” I said. “She’s always smacking my hands. She doesn’t want me to be left handed.”

Well, my grandma went there and raised holy hell with the nun.

She says, “She’s stuttering now because you’re trying to change her from left to right.”

See, she knew how to raise children. She would notice things right off the bat. She was smart, really smart.


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