In my last post, I told you about the wonderful Christmas present given to me by my Father.....that he fully supported my wish to graduate from high school. So let's continue.....
With my new found happiness, I set the ball rolling. I changed my studies from an academic course to a commercial one, which included bookkeeping, typing and the handwritten 'lost' language of stenography in which I excelled and enjoyed tremendously.
The transition from academic to commercial caused me to lose quite a few credits....and if I still wanted to graduate with Rose Lorber, somehow, I had to recover those credits. I sought the advice of my Grade Advisor (a music teacher whose name, at the moment, I can't remember) and she directed me to summer school classes at Erasmus Hall High School on Flatbush and Church Avenues in Brooklyn. I enrolled and the summers of 1926 and 1927 were spent at this school accumulating the necessary credits.
During the first two years of my high school days, a new building was being constructed for Girls Commercial High School on Classon Avenue and Union Street.....opposite the famous Brooklyn Museum and across from the Prospect Park Botanical Gardens. In the interium, some of the students were temporarily housed in annex buildings throughout the borough. Rose and I were placed in an annex on Gates Avenue, between Tompkins and Stuyvesant Avenues....and each morning at eight o'clock, we boarded a Gates Avenue trolley at Greene Avenue and St. James Place after walking four long blocks.
Christmas 1925! What a wonderful Christmas; it continued to reign gifts. On returning to school shortly after the holidays, the students at the annex received a surprise announcement, but to me it was a gift: The new term, beginning the first school day in February 1926.....we were all to report to the new building on Classon Avenue; that all Girls Commercial students, for the first time, would all be together in a magnificent building, with a very large auditorium and a huge swimming pool.
Yes, I proudly walked through the Union Street door of this magnificent building on the first school day in February 1926. There was no need for a trolley; I walked ten short blocks straight up Washington Avenue. And on most Friday afternoons for the next two years, I stopped and chatted with my Aunt Filomena (my Mother's youngest sister) whose house I passed-by each day. I decided I would try to do my very best in all the activities assigned to me,
Part of the Gymnasium curriculum was a swimming class once a month. Students were required to purchase a standard-style swimming suit at the school store, and when I asked Mother for the money, I thought she was having a heart attack. She screamed and cried: "No! No! No! You can't go in the water. You will drown." And once again, I sat down and listened to a tale of woe from my dear loving Mother: In Italy, when she was 17 years old, she was riding a horse across the meadows, when she came to a stream she had crossed many times before on her way to and from her home. This particular day, something in the water disturbed the horse and she was thrown into the stream, rendered unconscience and nearly drowned. Fortunately, she was rescued by a neighbor but remained slightly incapacitated for almost a year. "So you must understand; you must not go into the swimming pool; you must promise me; promise me." What could I do, I promised....although I had no idea how to handle it.
Well, I don't recall what excuses I gave once a month to the swimming teachers. However, there is one excuse I used legitimately and frequently; but I can't recall what the others were. As I sit here typing, I calculate there must have been at least 20 swimming sessions during the next two years, and perhaps for the five or six legitimate excuses, I truly can't recall the other fourteen or fifteen ones. Since I can't remember any stress, it probably didn't matter much to the teachers. I'm wondering if I just said "I don't want to swim today"....or did the teachers say to each other "We don't force anyone to climb the ropes, so what's the difference."
Was I a tomboy? Yes, I was. Did I play basketball and all the rougher ball games? I sure did! I remember qll the long black stockings that had holes in them from the falls, scraping the grounds. Did I climb the ropes? Why do you ask? What a snap.....heck, all the way to the top!
I remember clearly....that every Monday morning, we assembled in our beautiful auditorium and after pledging allegiance to our Flag, I can bet that even the people staffing the museum could hear us sing our school song:
We're Girls Commercial
Yes we are, yes we are
In everything, we are the star
We are the star
Ooooh say by jinx
Now don't you wish that you
Belonged to Girls Commercial too.
Two years to go and I will graduate from high school.
To be continued.