We first came to America in December of 1949 settling in the ritzy Riverside Drive section of New York City. I spent that month and most of 1950 playing in the streets and constructing elaborate games with my marbles and toy clay soldiers, cowboys and Indians.
In September I started kindergarten and I remember my first day very well. I noticed a table filled with graham crackers and tiny containers of milk and children scooping them up to have breakfast. So when I went to the table my teacher stopped me and said that I had to bring two dollars once a month to pay for the milk and crackers, but that she would lend me 6 cents for that day's breakfast. It was that teacher that couldn't pronounce my real name, Benzion, so she gave me the name Bernie which I kept for the next 56 years.
The next year in first grade wasn't much different than kindergarten. Lots of finger-painting, paper cutting and gluing, paper-mache constructing, making boats out of poster paper, and filling coloring books with crayons and colored pencils. To this day whenever my granddaughter plays with crayons their fragrance hits my nostrils and I'm transported back to first grade, gluing crayoned paper leaves onto an Autumn tapestry. I'm a child again.
As much fun as the first grade was, it turned out to be a complete waste. I did not turn out to be a painter or even a sculptor. When we moved to Bayonne I was ready to start the second grade. Someone, I suppose the principal, knowing I just came from a New York City school, asked me if I could spell APPLE. Well, I knew what an apple was but I had no idea what she meant by the word spell. She asked me if I knew what the alphabet was. Again - nada.
So I wound up repeating the first grade, but this time learning the alphabet and how to spell. By the time I got to the third grade I could read and understand any text up to the eighth grade. I have no idea when the New York City schools in those days would have started to teach spelling, but clearly they were geared even at that time to the least intelligent child in a given age group.
But in this regard being left behind because I did not know as much as my peers forced me to overachieve in compensation. Even though I was kicked out of many schools I really enjoyed reading and learning. Sadly I didn't graduate High School until I was 20 years old.
Although I do not have a photographic memory, I can recall events from my childhood even as young as when I was three. I believe that I am able to do so because I remember things in parallel. For example, when I was three and living in Germany my father had bought me a bike which was stolen from me shortly after I got it. A boy about 4 or 5 living a few blocks away from me had been admiring it shortly before it disappeared. I suspected him and I told my father and we went to the boy's house where I found it hidden under a dining room table covered with an elaborately laced table cloth. Now this solitary event probably would have disappeared from my memory banks had not the next thing have immediately followed.
The boy's parents took the bike out, handed it to my father and asked him to stay a moment so he could hear the boy being punished. They took their son upstairs to be spanked. While this was happening their 3 year old daughter came under the table where I was still sitting and we began to chat. I cannot recall what we possibly could have been discussing at that age, but in a moment she pulled over a small potty-pan, pulled her panties down and began to pee, which seemed perfectly natural to me and not at all out of the ordinary. Before she could finish her mother had come back down from whipping their son and saw her daughter peeing in front of me and began yelling at her daughter to pull up her panties. Then she began yelling at me as if I had done something wrong.
When we left I asked my father why the woman had yelled at me. I didn't understand his answer - at that time.
But the event is as vivid to me now as if it happened yesterday. Of course, I can hardly remember what happened to me yesterday; perhaps if some strange woman pulled her panties down I would recall.
So what has this to do with Blog Talk Radio?
Well, this is an invitation to let you know I will be a guest on March 3rd at 7:30 AM EST in a none-scripted discussion: A Journey into the Moonbat's lair; where who knows what I'll wind up saying. But it should be fun if not interesting. Please tune in then by clicking here [UPDATE: link no longer active]
Of course, if you have any questions just phone in and ask away. The answers won't be politically correct but they'll be from the heart.