all began in 1943 back in Brooklyn (we all know where that is!) where I
lived until we moved to Valley Stream in July 1950. Coming from
Brooklyn to the "burbs" was quite a change. From concrete and brick to
streams, trees, and ball fields to play on. There was even some wooded
land where we could play "Cowboys and Indians" or imagine that we were
soldiers in the forest. Sometime during 1954 all of those areas were
bought up by developers, and houses sprang up quickly. After all, it
was the post-Korean War era, and everyone was trying to get their own
house and get out of the city.
After having attended PS138 in
Brooklyn during kindergarten and first grade, I transferred into
Brooklyn Avenue School. One of the oldest schools in Valley Stream, a
magnificent old building with 12-foot high ceilings and worn oak floors.
We sat in the old-fashioned one-piece desks with lift-up tops and
inkwells. After all, we had to practice our penmanship with ink bottles
in the well and a nib pen. If we were lucky, we had a regular fountain
pen that we brought from home.
The funniest thing, looking back
all these years, was the fact that I could not seem to arrive at school
on time each day, notwithstanding the fact that I lived only one short
block from school. It wasn't that I left home late- I just took my time
getting there! Along came June 1955, and suddenly my days there ended.
It was time to move on to junior high school!
We knew that two
new schools were still being built, both of which would house grades 7
thru 12, an entirely new concept. They were Valley Stream South Jr-Sr HS
and North (the other school). Construction was almost completed, so
those of us assigned to "South" would have to attend most of our first
term at Central HS on late session. Fortunately, that ended quickly, and
immediately after New Years Day 1956, we entered our brand-spanking new
school. This was a turning point for all of us, how exciting to now be
in junior high! No more days in a single classroom with one teacher, but
eight periods each day in at least seven different rooms with seven
different teachers. How would we ever remember all of their names!
Somehow, we did. You'll see some pictures from those days on my album
page as I am able to locate them.
Somehow, all of us were placed
in the same category by our guidance counselors and our programs were
geared to prepare us for an Ivy League future. I found myself quite
unhappy with my outlook, and somehow felt that this was not the path
that I wanted to follow. My interests had always revolved around
practical arts, and my one desire was to be able to work in the shops.
This didn't happen until I threatened to drop out of school during tenth
grade having amassed a large number of marginal grades. At that point,
my counselor finally relented, and I was permitted to move partially
into the Industrial Arts program. This was a welcome change and,
although I never achieved honor roll status, my grades improved
significantly, as did my level of interest.
Those were historic
times, and I really lived through an era of emerging technology. I
remember the first televisions around 1945- big boxes with little
screens, some of which had a big magnifying lens over it to increase the
picture size. Only those with a substantial income could afford one!
After 2-3 years, prices came down, screen sizes went up, and a
black-and-white TV could be had for $300-400, with as much as a 13 inch
Airplanes were all propeller-driven, and the one
that everyone recognized was the Lockheed Tri-Star used by Eastern
Airlines- we knew it by it's wide tail-stabilizer with three rudders.
They even built a brand-new airport in Queens, and called it "Idlewild
Airport," a name it retained for many years. After all, LaGuardia
Airport could not handle the traffic of the age of air travel.
also went through some major changes during my lifetime. The boxy cars
of the 1930s gave way to "streamlined" cars of the 40's. Then, during
the 50's, cars suddenly acquired a rocket-like shape- the future was
here! And so was the rush to the suburbs. Suddenly, everyone seemed to
move to Long Island to get a single-family home on a parcel of land, and
live the life of Ozzie & Harriet (remember them?). Life was good in
this black-and-white world.
In June 1961, the world I knew
changed drastically! It was graduation time, and time for all of us to
move on to college. Contrary to the wishes of my guidance counselors, I
chose to attend college locally, and enrolled in what was then New York
City Community College. My chosen field of study was Graphic Arts &
Advertising Technology, and after a summer of fun & relaxation, I
set off to attend college. Well, that turned out to be a bust- I learned
plenty, but just wasn't ready for the responsibilities that college
required. At the end of the first term, I left school for the world of
There isn't much decent work available for a non-college-graduate, and my first job was
in a stationery store. It paid minimum wage, and there was no future.
After one month, I left and found a position in a company that sold and
installed x-ray equipment, and had a machine shop where they
manufactured collimators- devices that limited the x-ray exposure to a
predetermined area. This, of course, was a little more in line with my
interests, but the wages were still minimal. I must admit, however, that
I learned much and gained some valuable experience. That job lasted
about 1-1/2 years, until I decided that I would never be successful and
independent without a substantial education.
The next stop was
New York Institute of Technology where I studied electrical technology
for two years. Now I could say that I was being prepared for some real
employment with a future. While at NYIT, I worked part-time to support
my lifestyle - car, social life, etc. At that stage of my life, there
were many ways to generate income, and I always had at least two jobs.
Two nights each week I parked cars for a valet service, and the tips
were very good, plus I was able to get behind the wheel of many
different types of cars, even some Jaguars, Corvettes and Rolls-Royces.
Several other evenings and days, I worked as a mechanic in three bowling
alleys, a fascinating job for someone with mechanical aptitude and a
desire to master the "machine."
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