For a time, I lived in New York City's Upper East Side, on the same street as a convent. Seeing nuns on the street going about their business always gave me a little thrill (it probably had something to do with the habit). After the initial delight ("Ooh!" I'd say to myself. "A nun!") I'd wonder where the women were going, what they were up to. Maybe they were off to do some of the things that these nuns are doing in these vintage photos.
1. Riding Scooters
In 1955, Sister Mary Thomas (right), a hospital administrator, convinced another nun to take a ride on an electric scooter. They look like they had a great time.
2. Playing Basketball
These nuns, members of the Order Of The Sisters Of The Cross, weren't just playing a game of basketball; they were training to be sports teachers at the College Saint-Laurent in Montreal, Canada, in July 1962. Later, they would go on to teach at convents around Quebec.
3. Taking Photos of Animals at the Zoo
Presumably, these nuns—Sisters of St. Marta from Florence, Italy—got a lot closer to Casey and Candy, two American black bears, than regular visitors did when they came to the London Zoo on August 12, 1963.
4. Playing the Trumpet
Members of the Archdiocesan Sisters' Orchestra put on a concert on March 29, 1958, at the Symphony Hall in Boston.
5. Using a Concrete Mixer
If you build it, they will come! At least, that's the theory that these nuns, from Ladywell Convent, were testing when they used a concrete mixer on July 8, 1965.
6. Jumping Rope
A visiting nun jumps rope with some New York City kids in August 1965.
7. Riding a Motorcycle
You've heard about Hells Angels, but what about Heaven's Angel? Before she became a nun at St. John's Convent in Twyford, Berkshire, Sister Mary Bernadette was part of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She took her motorcycle out for a spin on September 24, 1965.
8. Playing Baseball
These two nuns played a game of ball on May 14, 1976. Nice try, sister, but we're going to call this one a strike.
9. Cross Country Skiing
This photo, snapped in 1979, shows three nuns from a children's hospital in Ruhpolding, Upper Bavaria, enjoying some time off by going cross-country skiing.
10. Looking for a deal on a swimsuit ...
In 1965, this nun partook in a summer sale at Barker's, searching through the store's bargain bin.
11. ...And Going to the Beach
This nun and a few friends enjoyed getting their feet wet at the beach in the 1950s.
12. Playing Rugby ...
Is it cheating if you're so much taller than the members of the other team? Sister Marie Louise used her height advantage during this 1950s game of rugby. Her opponents—a bunch of little boys—didn't stand a chance, but it looks like they had fun anyway!
13. ... And Golf
Sister Mary Martina wasn't just a lady of God; she was also a golf coach. In this photo, snapped on September 6, 1965, she took an iron shot on the golf course at Rosebud Country Club, Portsea, Victoria, Australia, while girls from St. Mary's School For The Deaf looked on.
14. Enjoying Fine Art
OK, "enjoy" might be a strong word; these nuns actually look pretty annoyed. They visited London's Tate Gallery in July 1958 to check out a religion-themed exhibition organized by the Contemporary Art Society. The sculpture in the background is "Running Bird Totem" by Bernard Meadows.
15. Pushing a Broken Down Car
It happens to all of us. Even these nuns, who were snapped pushing a car in Rome in 1960.
All photos and caption information courtesy of Getty Images.