Growing up in Newfoundland, in many communities, the people knew of the divide between Protestants and Catholics. In places like Petty Harbour, the two groups lived on opposite sides of the harbour. Other communities had people of one religious affiliation. In larger communities, you knew where the other group lived but you did not go to school with those children. Each group had their own denominational school.
As Catholics living in the St. John's area, my brother and I went to a Catholic school several miles from our home although there was another school in our neighbourhood. It was never a consideration for us to attend the nearby school even though walking to and from our own school was a challenge for us as young children. We had Presentation sisters at our school, with one as principal and our church in the same building.
Meanwhile, on the west coast of Newfoundland, my husband's family went to the Protestant school, knew who the Catholics were in their neighbourhood but did not affiliate with them. The Smith family home was near a convent and the family was accustomed to seeing the nuns in the area. This was in the days of the habits which covered the women from head to foot, leaving only their faces and hands exposed. You did not see their feet often so it looked as if they floated across the earth.
My husband's Aunt Marie and her son, Jeff, lived in the family home with her widowed father, Ern.
Mr. Smith had a Fix It shop attached to the house where he spent his days working on locks and keys, as his surname would suggest. Among his customers were the sisters of the nearby convent.
Jeff, a preschooler, loved his grandfather and spent every minute he could in the shop. One day, Marie went into the shop to find Jeff staring up at two nuns who were waiting for Ern to finish a key. When he saw his mother, Jeff ran to her and said, "Look Mommy. Batman."
Marie was shocked and speechless, not knowing nuns at all or how they would react. A split second of silence followed, then the nuns burst into laughter. It was a relief to the Smiths.
Hearing this story years later and having worked with them, I knew nuns as regular people. However, had I witnessed this incident as a child, I would have been surprised, even shocked. From my experience, I would have expected the nuns to be stern and to admonish Jeff. It just goes to prove that there can be a change of habit.