Saturday, February 12, 2011

From Little Red School House to PS41

From running around and singing rabble rousing songs to dusty rooms, frustrated teachers, and discipline.

This school was so old and dilapidated that when they had a fire in an adjacent building a lot of the parents kept their children out of school fearing that the building would collapse on top of the school. The teachers were an odd group, some old battleaxes, a few enlightened ones ( Mrs Gutowski) and one teacher that used to nip at a hip flask all day. We made fun of her, but later found out that her husband was a prisoner of war (WWII had started).

I met all the people that I knew for years after…Greta, Priscilla Perry, Marcia Langsford,.
Nancy Chandler, Emily Lapowski (later Jay Lyle), Neil Snider, Arthur Halpern and our big crush Romer Schwartz. There were many others. A small town in the middle of a big city.

I must say that I hated school…and tried to feign sickness whenever I could. Don’t know why. I was fairly popular but not an a-one student. I never got math, much to my father’s surprise. He was so good at it.

The class I remember the most was Mrs. Gutowski’s. She taught Geography and the last term, we took over a spare classroom and each month did a different country in Europe. We made history maps, food maps, painted pictures and the children brought things from home to display. It was such a success that we didn’t have to take a Geography test that year. Hurrah!

PS41 ran from K to 6th grade and still exists, except in a beautiful new building around the corner on 11th Street. Our site on Greenwich Avenue is now their playground. I couldn’t find pictures of the old school on Google. Gone forever.

Across the street from the school was a candy shop that had all the usual stuff: wax lips, candy dots on a long strip of paper, wax bottles with some sort of drink inside and my favorite, tiny candy bars. I guess I took my lunch to school most days, and went home to lunch when we moved to Perry Street. It was so close by. My parents also made a deal with a small shop down the street where I sat in the back room and had a grilled cheese sandwich and a malted milk for lunch.

When the war started we had to wear a disc around our necks with a number so we could be identified in case we were hit with a bomb. The thought didn’t seem to bother us. We had enemy plane cards. We never spotted any, and lost interest in that. Each week we bought war stamps (about a dime each) and pasted them in a book. When it was full we could buy a bond. ($25 at maturity) Years later I cashed a bond in so I could go to Ballet Theater performances every night and every matinee for a season. Great!

Of course there was a super bad boy in our class….he used to take us down the street and into an apartment entrance and tell us ‘dirty’ jokes at lunch time. These jokes were very vintage, and not very dirty. But we thought he was wonderful. There was also Romer Schwartz. We all had a crush on him. I thought he looked like Danny Kaye. We flirted, giggled and screamed and he paid no attention to us. Ah well!

Most of us went on from PS41 to PS3 (7th through 9th grades) and most of us knew each other up into adulthood.

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