Friday, May 28, 2010

High School - Chapter 5

My last chapter referred to an event that took place in GCHS and came to a glorious conclusion after many years............

Many times over my long life, I have recounted the story of the swimming pool edict by the principal of GCHS, Mrs. Evelyn Allan. And whenever I completed the story, I realized that no one believed such a tale. But it was always real to me and since I acknowledge that I am a repeater of good stories, I continued to tell it.

One day, in my Life-bio class (year 2006), I chose this particular event as my home-work story. When I completed reading it to the class, I looked up to see a shifting of the eyes from one person to another. I was embarrassed but made no comment and neither did the others. It is an incredible story; why would someone be deprived of graduation for not learning to swim. I'm sure that even my blog friends and followers have been thinking the same thing.

Now, let me bring you to January 1, 2007. On this celebrated day, I was alone in the afternoon. I decided to practice my new-found skills of surfing the internet. (Remember, I started computer classes in 2006). Let me see: "I wonder if any of my high school friends are still living.' No luck! I tried to recall the names of some of the newspapers of 1928.....and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the Brooklyn Standard Union came to mind and I scanned about 95 pages. I was about to give up when up popped a page "Brooklyn Standard Union - 1929 News- June. I really can't account for continuing, but I did.......and lo and behold, I came across this article, and I quote it word for word:

20 June 1929
Pupils Have Until Next Tuesday to Obey Edict
Mrs. Evelyn W. Allan, principal of the Girls Commercial High School, is enforcing the rule that all girls graduated from the school must be able to swim the length of the 75-foot pool in the gymnasium, The penalty is loss of the privilege of participating in the commencement exercises, which take place next Wednesday. Instead they will get their diplomas by mail.

"The only way to make the girls learn how to swim," said Mrs. Allan today, "is to pursue more or less drastic means. Barring a girl from her commencement will act as a tonic on her to learn to swim."

Mrs. ALLAN said that the pool will be open all day every day until next Tuesday, the last opportunity to satisfy the requirement, and those girls who have not yet traveled the 75-foot tank under their own power still have ample time in which to master enough of the art of swimming to cover this distance.

Mrs. ALLAN declared that the Girls Commercial High School has occupied its new building for five years now. All this time the girls have been aware of the swimming requirement and they have had four years in which to learn, the pool being available to them during their entire stay at the high school. A month ago, more than fifty seniors had still failed to swim the length of the pool. Yesterday this number had dwindled to twenty-nine. Mrs. ALLAN said that she expected the number to melt away considerably during the next few days.

Mrs. ALLAN said 249 seniors are to be graduated from the school next Wednesday and of this number, she expects to have only a handful barred from the commencement exercises because of failure to swim the length of the tank. "Barring this handful," she said, "will not only stimulate those barred to learn to swim, but will act as a lesson for the seniors to come, who have thus far been backward in availing themselves of the opportunity offered by the new, beautiful pool we have here."


You will note that Mrs. Allan became a bit more lenient in her threat a year and a half after I graduated. It was no longer 'loss of graduation'; it was 'the loss of participating in commencement exercises'.

I quickly made ten copies of this on my printer on January 1, 2007, and at my next bio-class handed each one a copy, and smilingly said: "He who laughs last, laughs best".

Yes, I was in my glory. After 79 years, I have been vindicated.

I've mentioned several times that I'm not computer literate. The easiest way for me to locate this EDICT quickly is to Google Search as follows: Mrs. Evelyn Allan - Brooklyn Standard Union - June 20, 1929.



  1. Congratulations on some successful detective work Elvira. A fascinating chapter, as ever.

  2. Hi Martin

    I was so happy to see your comment this morning. I hope you and your family are enjoying good health.

    Kindest regards. Elvira