I hope it is not a sign of encroaching old age, but these days I find myself longing more for the past. First I joined the Facebook group for my high school year. When I came across my junior high group, I joined without a second thought.
When I graduated in 1982 it was called William Cowper JHS 73 but now it is known as Frank Sansivieri Intermediate School 73 or I.S. 73. Wonder how Mr. Cowper feels about it? It was not the first school I attended but it was the one that I actually graduated from. I was fresh off the boat, so to speak, when I spent one day at some school in Brooklyn near the Sheepshead Bay area, which was where my family's sponsor, Uncle P., lived. I think the next day it was decided that we would move to the Bronx soon so there was no point for me to go to school just yet. Even the stay at the Bronx school did not last that long, as by summer we moved to Elmhurst for my father to be close to his job. JHS 73 was a long way from where we lived and I had to go there by public bus, although I remember some days I walked home, either to save the nickel or because the bus was too crowded. Along Grand Avenue I would go, pass some supermarket with a large parking lot where sometimes kids would arrange fights, pass the two Elmhurst tanks that are now gone, I think, pass Robert's house - Robert would later be a best friend at Newtown but I didn't know him then, even though we were at JHS 73 together - over some LIRR tracks, on to Seaman at the corner of Queens Boulevard and Grand, where Grand becomes Broadway. Soldiering on, I would pass Elmhurst Library, turn at Corona Avenue, pass Newtown, then turned left to go over some other LIRR tracks. I think I would keep going straight to Elmhurst Avenue then turned right and go for a few more blocks to get home. The whole trip had to take at least an hour, but back in those days I think life was simpler and I had a lot of time to waste.
Having arrived in the U.S. just half a year earlier, naturally I got put into ESL and that was where I met Ms. Madeline Butler. I cannot recall much details but I know she was nice to me, maybe because I tried hard to learn the language and showed improvements. She was very supportive of my efforts. I know one time we went to Rye Playland and I had so much fun playing bumper car - it was my first. The ESL class was next to the gym, on some floor. Good grief, it is almost 30 years ago, I cannot recall much.
Eventually my hard work paid off and I left ESL. I even went on to be admitted to Arista, the honor society, although I don't recall knowing what it meant to be in Arista. I do know we performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow at some ceremony. I did not know about the dress code for the evening and did not arrive with a jacket, not that I had one to bring. Mr. Gotkin let me wear his jacket to get on the stage to receive my Arista certificate. Some memory!
I belong to two Facebook groups related to the school. It is so nice to see all the young faces. After all, these are kids in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, in their teens. If there is a reunion, I don't think I will go. I didn't know enough people back then and it's been so long. I make exception for those who went on to Newtown High School and kept in touch with me. Still, I look forward to hearing about the teachers.