Uncle Al Schwartz
I was born in 1952 at 5431 Kings Highway, near where Kings Highway and Avenue D cross, when the greatest night hazard was walking into a hugely thick maple tree. Across the street slumped a house purported to date from Colonial times. As the 50s wound down P.S. 208 up the avenue hosted a desperate National Defense Intellectually Gifted Children program in counterpoint to Sputnik. Helen LaPlace taught first and second grade to the second strangest child (my fellow student and tutor Robert DeGrande holding trump) ever to fit his bottom into desks still with brass inkwells and bolted to worn floors. I skipped third grade, then THEY had me.
13 years later the Buckley Amendment opened public school records. I read my teachers' evaluations with growing delight. They summed to fear decorated with revulsion, though I and my kind were priceless assets whenever a standardized test demanded mutant smart hostages. I cede homage to Mrs. LaPlace, Hazel Sanjour (English; who opened my eyes with language. She was important to me), and Murray Zwerling (Chemistry; I've got a PhD in it). As for the rest, especially Mrs. Johnson, I relish Hell pinning its thermostat in honor of your arrival.
I was waiting with my bus pass outside Meyer Levin Junior High School when I heard of John Kennedy's assassination. I lost half my senior year at Tilden to Albert Shanker's teachers' strike. Lou the barber cut my hair. I rode the IRT back to Flatbush. I fled Brooklyn for Michigan State University, and the plane's tires lifting from La Guardia concrete was the happiest moment of my life until then. There was no pronounced "r" in my surname until I was 25.
Brooklyn was a curious beginning. In times of crisis I have reached deep into the Abyss to find strength in my origin. It is a ferocious ruinous weapon, and I cherish its possession.
7 June 1999
Copyright © 1999 Alan M. Schwartz
Kathy Aldrich Wright
St.Catherines of Genoa School in the early 60s. Lived at 4805 Beverly Rd. Miss Cristi, Sister Anna St.james, Mrs. Sylvander. Playing punchball and cooling off in the summer by open fire hydrants. Ice skating at Tilden park. Ringa-levio with Nickolas, Sally and Susan Morello. Devil Dogs, Ring Dings, Yodels. Good Humor dixie cups. Only lived in my wonderful Brooklyn for 10 yrs. But they were the best years of my life. Moved to Lynbrook, Long Island in '67. Went to visit my Brooklyn in '76 and found that everyone I knew had left. Where did you all go?
8 June 1999