Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 16:
In the Beginning:
So, hunting and fishing were a source of recreation for the next five years, while I toiled as a clerk in the small general store that belonged to our family. Fortunately, business and my social life weren’t too demanding and I had lots of opportunity to read and study eleventh and twelfth grade texts at night, and sometimes in my spare time during the day. It took five years, eventually I passed all the examinations I needed to matriculate.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 15:
In The Beginning:
At age sixteen my life turned calamitous. My father, the sole breadwinner of the family, died. He had been sick for six months, during which time I ran our small general store. When he first got sick, I had just completed the tenth grade. Mother, who was then in the throes of menopause, decided my two younger sisters should be educated first because, she argued, life could be hard for women.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 14:
In The Beginning:
The convent chaplain took me aside one day and asked if I would consider the priesthood. I told him I didn’t think it was possible, especially if he recalled how many times I had confessed the private sin a young man is often addicted to, when he fantasizes about the opposite sex.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 13:
In The Beginning:
I had always come first in every grade, up to and including, the tenth grade. In that grade, I remember some very good looking and capable girls students, who couldn’t seem to beat me in the scholastic arena. Looking back on those times, I now suspect that the nuns had a tendency to mark me higher because I was a boy. I was never abused by these dears but for some reason they seemed to take great pleasure in running their hands through my thick mane of black hair.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going saga one paragraph at a time. It begins  on Friday July the 6th.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 12:
In The Beginning:
There were only two boys in my tenth grade, me, and the other one was an English-speaking Protestant, whom I grew to resent for two reasons. First, because I was of Acadian descent I had to study advanced classes in French, which were given after regular classes. Second, because I was a Catholic, I had yet another class after hours-I had to study catechism in French.

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With permission of the author.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 11:
In The Beginning:
In grade ten the number of boys often plummeted to one or two. This happened because strong young sons were needed in family enterprises like fishing and farming. Therefore, the idea of getting a higher education was rarely considered. Then too, no spare resources were available for sending someone to what were then considered, “faraway” universities.

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With permission of the author.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 10:
In The Beginning:
Another incident of my early school days occurred in ninth grade. At that time the number of boys in class had dropped. I was cajoled into playing the part of a tired husband coming home from work in “domestic science”. There were some twenty girls in this class and, at that time, the important thing in a girl’s life was to prepare for the happy day when the would wed. So, for twenty times in succession I would open the door and one of those dears would invite me in with a peck on the cheek. (A peck was all the nuns allowed). She was supposed to ask if my day had gone well and then engage me in small talk.

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With permission of the author.

 

 

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 9:
In The Beginning:
The last time I took an extended recess was in the seventh grade, when I and several other boys, were more than an hour late in returning. The teacher, Mother Lena, was fuming—partly, I suppose because, in my eyes, she was almost a saint. With a long aquiline face split by a long hook nose, she will live on in my memory because of her uncanny resemblance to Pope Pius the 12th. For our penance Mother Lena assigned us each a poem to memorize before we could leave for home. Mine was the first stanza of “Tubal Kain”, a particularly long epic whose first line is all I can recall. It went something like this: “Tubal Kain was a man of might in the days when the earth was young.”Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 12.54.31 PM

With permission of the author.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 8:
In The Beginning:
Towards spring, the game consisted of taking somewhat extended recesses out on the pack ice that had drifted down from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In those days the pack ice was home to large numbers of seals that we could club. Seals were not particularly liked in our fishing village, because of their boundless appetite for fish. The teacher’s concerns centred more on being late, rather than the cruel fate of these defenceless animals. Anyway, in general, our “ecclesiastic” teachers took a less than enthusiastic view of this sport, especially on those days when we returned late because of shifting ice.

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With permission of the author.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 7:
In The Beginning:
As the winter wore on, the packet steamer left more and more clumps of ice near the harbour wharf and the game consisted of jumping from one ice block ( a “clamper”) to another in a competitive sport appropriately called “hop-wetting”. Since each block was too small to float a boy’s weight it was necessary to move fast to reach a sufficiently large clamper that each participant had designated as his end point.

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With permission of the author.