In the Fall of 1971, my mom and sister and I returned to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. My mom was still being asked to run the boarding house for girls. It was called the Villa Maria, the House of Mary. francis schuckardt had found a home to rent for this purpose. It was on 5th and Indiana in Coeur d'Alene.
This year was going to be far different from the previous year. In 1970, we had 3 girls boarding with us. This year, we would max out at 22 girls at the Villa Maria.
My mom was the "house mother", meaning she did the laundry and cooked for all of us. The ones who REALLY ran the show were the nuns. We usually had 2 nuns and a lay woman in charge of the house. Mom handled all the room and board from the parents of the girls sent to live there. She told me later on that schuckardt had wanted her to give HIM the money, and then he'd dole it out to her as she needed it. But, being the powerful woman that she was, she somehow persuaded him to let her handle the money. Good thing. We probably would have been diving into dumpsters for food before he would have given us anything!
So, what was so remarkable about living in a home with 22 other girls, 2 nuns, a lay helper and my mom? This home had 4 bedrooms and a basement. There were bunk beds stacked next to each other to accommodate that many girls. God help you if you got stuck in the "dorm" room with a girl who didn't shower often, or whose feet reeked! It was pretty insane.
The lay helper that was assigned to help my mom was Miss Klotz. She was a whopping 25 years old and a perfectionist. Everything was done just so. She got a thrill out of waking up the boarder-girls by taking a kitchen knife and beating it on a little fireplace shovel. Of course, there was no talking allowed - the girls had to roll out of bed, clean up, get dressed, and get downstairs to breakfast. The house had TWO bathrooms ---- and 22 girls. I don't know how we did it. Because my mom was the house mother, and my sister and I weren't technically boarders, the 3 of us shared our own room downstairs.
During this year, I had to take a bus with other girls my age to the home near the "City of Mary" for our school. You would think the bus ride would be a time for levity and getting to know other kids who were going to the school. But, no. During the 45 minute bus ride, we were made to pray the Rosary. That's not so bad, right? I mean, the Rosary gives a lot of Catholics comfort. But, on the bus ride, we had to fold our hands up next to our hearts, and keep our eyes FIRMLY CLOSED. If we were caught with our eyes open looking out the window, the punishment was mean. We'd be rebuked verbally and LOUDLY by a "bus monitor", and sometimes that person would go so far as to create a blind fold, or blinders for the offender to wear so that they couldn't see out the window. Outside the window of the bus was the world and all its evil temptations. I don't even know how schuckardt came up with all these insane rules.
francis schuckardt had convinced his followers that the Catholic Church had lost the Faith. The clergy had all gone astray, embracing the 'evils of Vatican Council II'. The latter days were upon us, and HE was the only hope for our salvation. In the Fall of that year, he made connections with a Daniel Q. Brown, and convinced him to make him, schuckardt, a priest and a bishop. So, under intense secrecy, bam! The group of TRUE BELIEVERS in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, had a bishop and the church would not die..... we were it. We were the last of the remnant faithful.
I remember when schuckardt made his return to his followers as a Bishop. It was a big, big deal.
Knowing now what a narcissist he was, it is amazing how he orchestrated the event. We were all lined up on both sides of the road as he was pulled on a sleigh (by a 4X4 vehicle) up to the church at the City of Mary. We were in such awe. Such a gift from God this man was. We would be saved.
In December of 1971, I was sick with an ear infection and in bed at the Villa Maria. The rest of the girls went to church and came home with stories that scared the crap out of me. schuckardt had been hearing confessions that day and doling out some whopping "penances" for various offenses. When the girls told me that some of them had to LICK THE FLOOR of the chapel, hold their arms out like Jesus on the cross while they prayed 20 minutes' worth of prayers, put cayenne pepper on their tongues - I was terrified. I knew the day would come when I, too, would have to get on my knees and confess my sins to him, and I was extremely anxious. I don't remember the occasion too well, but I do recall that I was super relieved that I didn't get any of the penances my friends did.
The school year passed without much drama. Since I had been held back after my year in 7th grade, they allowed me to make it up and jump to the 9th grade. I was excited, because that meant that the following year I would get to stay in Coeur d'Alene and go to school at the Villa Maria.