I was required to be an altar boy for our church. I did not really want to be one but it was expected of me and the nuns at my school trained all the altar boys. They also showed somewhat blatant favoritism for altar boys, holding out faint hope that we would get a vocation and become priests. With my tendency to commit classroom mischief I needed all the favoritism I could get. We had to learn Latin and all the responses to the replies were in Latin. We were issued surplices and cassocks. I was actually an altar boy in the procession when the bishop dedicated our church in 1955. Masses in those days were quick; some priests could complete a mass in thirty-five minutes. One of the tough tasks that I had was being the server for masses every day in lent. The mass started at 6:00 AM and I had to serve every day during lent. I remember doing a lot of yawning and struggling not to tip over during the mass.
After mass I would go down to the dark and dingy school auditorium and eat a breakfast. I had a Tupperware enclosure filled with Kellogg Sugar Frosted Flakes and a spoon. I loved Sugar Frosted Flakes not only because they tasted good, but because they had free plastic green Army men in the box which I had at least a platoon of and growing. I purchased a carton of milk at 5 cents from the milk vending machine, filled up the container with milk and ate breakfast. Cold cereal on cold mornings was not the most enjoyable combination for breakfast. When I had an extra dime, I went to the coke vending machine, bought a bottle of coke and drank it down. The Church and school always kept the heat down to save money so the whole experience still chills my bones today. My Breakfast of Champions, Sugar Frosted Flakes, milk and coke a cola, for some reason this combination, has not caught on yet with sports nutritionists.
My altar boy career progressed every year and I received more responsibilities each year. In my final year as an altar boy I reached the highest honor of being an altar boy. I was named master of ceremonies for the midnight Easter mass. This was one of the most complicated services and I had to not only know my duties, but the duties of every other altar boy. Everything went without a hitch and I subsequently retired, on the top, from further altar boy duties. I still remember some of the Latin.