This will bring me to the last two weeks of my attendance at Girls Commercial High School.......................
Several days after the family's happiness regarding the Life Extension incident, on arriving at school, my first class of the day was swimming, which was to be the last swim session of the term. Ater roll-call, one teacher said that she had just received a bulletin from Mrs. Allan, our school principal, and as soon as all the chatter stopped, she proceeded to read from it: 'That any girl who had not learned to swim at least across the width of the pool, would not graduate.'
I can't recall my immediate reaction except that my whole world collapsed. I sat down on the floor, shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. Then I felt the arms of my teacher embracing me, whilst assuring me that I still had ten days to learn.
The last ten or twelve days before graduation were usually spent by most students 'just-fooling around', visiting friends and teachers in different classrooms, signing autograph books, and attending to last minute details. But, not for me! I didn't dare say a word at home. For the next seven days, I rose, dressed and walked to school in a trance. There, I would don my bathing suit and report to the pool area. My teacher, realizing how dreadfully scared I was, patiently kept coaxing me. I kept going in and out of the water but hanging on to the ledge constantly. Then I heard the teacher call me back into the water: Elvira, please come back...I'll be right here with you; just have faith in me; you will not drown. Eventually, very slowly, I walked down the several steps into the shallow end of the pool. "Now Elvira, just do as I say: Now throw yourself backward (yes, I'm holding on to you), wave your arms through the water (yes, I'm still holding you), splash your legs up and down (yes, still holding)...........and about minute or two later, I heard several teachers and a few students yelling and clapping their hands, and the teacher in the water with me, saying "mission accomplished". Then I was told.......that without my realizing or being aware of it, and after the last 'yes, I'm still holding', she released her hold and I just floated across on my own steam. Her report to the principal's office was that I swam across the pool.
Are you out there listening to me? I've told you more than once.........REAL angels are everywhere, and they are just ordinary people.
Yes, I graduated from Girls Commercial High School with Rose Lorber in January 1928. In my new autograph book, this time she wrote "Too bad we won't be going to three schools together". And, in the Year Book, under my picture was printed:
Elvira you're not so unoberved
We know you're doing your share
Twixt printing room and typing
Your days are not free from care
A very lovely and very distinguished lady, Louise Hoover, was our Commencement Speaker. A year later, her husband, would become the President of the United States. Unfortunately, only seven months into President Herbert Hoover's administration, sounds of newsboys, down on the streets below offices, resounded with "EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!"......and the whole world remained in a Great Depression until World War II.
However, in February 1928, I entered the business world with the economy rather
good. No longer was I the little girl who worked in her Mother's grocery store. I was a stenographer and bookkeeper on her way to a job in a medical office in Manhattan. I had become an American young lady whose heart was wrapped up tightly, enclosing forever, all that warm Italian culture. which, to this day, has sustained me throughout my extraordinary journey in this life.
There is one more chapter regarding the incredible event that took place in GCHS, which, after many years, came to a glorious conclusion for me.
So until next time........Elvira