An Enviable Education

18 Apr

In the years between marriage and the end of my lunch room lady career I had many interests and jobs.   None of these jobs and interests earned me much money, but they afforded me the education I had never pursued with formal schooling.  I played a lot of hookey as a girl and I spent the stolen hours in the metropolitan museum of art.   I was in the museum so much that the guards  assumed I belonged there.  I always carried a pen and pad.  The props I carried must have convinced them that I was doing a school project and belonged on the marble benches staring at the works of old Masters.  When the weather was nice I  spent time sailing on New York Harbor aboard the stately Staten Island Ferry .  It only cost a nickel one way.  Hence my love of people watching.   Standing at the rail with the wind in my hair, who was better than me?  Certainly not Rose on the bow of the Titanic.

When I was politely asked to leave Catholic High School in about my sophomore year I already had a good basic education.  I entered Central Commercial in my junior year and learned the skills that would aid me in making a living, typing, filing and talking to people on the phone.   Here was where I discovered my love of books.  Central Commercial was a black board jungle type of school, but you could learn if you wanted to.  I was in English class one day when this older very tired female teacher was trying to keep the class in some kind of order.  She was failing at this.  At one point near the end of the period she told us we were to do a book report.  I felt so sorry as I witnessed her frustration at the chaos around her that I went up to her and asked if she could suggest a book for me.  The women lit up and spent time choosing something.  As it happened I read it and found that I loved it.  It was a Sherlock Holmes novel.  That woman changed my life.  Thank you teach!!

 Central Commercial was located on 42nd street between second and third avenue.  What a place to go to high school.   The heart of New York City.  When the fire alarm would go off you walked down 42nd street to get away from the school.  This was practice for a true emergency.  If it happened to go off when you were in gym, you strutted down the street in your gym uniform with stockings attached to garters, gym socks and sneakers.  No one ever bothered to take off their stockings and garters in gym class.  It took too much time.  You walked to the applause of young fireman and police who responded to the alarm.  It was really fun.

This avant garde education made me truly street smart and able to think on my feet.  Because Central Commercial was coed and multi racial, I learned that people were just like me no matter their color or religion.  I was able to talk freely with everyone and for some reason no matter what gang or prejudice the young people carried I was never challenged and readily accepted in all the groups.


Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “An Enviable Education

  1. Rachel

    April 18, 2011 at 10:44 am

    This post rings so many bells for me. I thought that I was the only one who cut school and went to the Metropolitan Museum! Although I didn’t do it often, I loved to spend time with the beautiful Greek and Roman statues (I’d caress them when no one was watching). I would wander through the halls – I always got lost, and could only find my way back from the armor hall. I also went to school in Manhattan, and laughed at your description of fire drills (we *did* take off our stockings, though).

    Your comment about your English teacher warmed my heart. We teachers always hope that at least one of our students will remember us as the one who changed their life. Thanks for that. And thanks for this blog and for sharing your journey.


    • mssopia

      April 26, 2011 at 1:57 am

      Rachel, I am so pleased you are enjoying my posts. I have a few coming on about my time in Brooklyn. Hope to see you soon.



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