When I was a kid on the Lower East Side libraries were very important to me. There was one on East Broadway and I went there on Saturdays for their children’s hour activities. I was a big reader. I always took out the maximum books allowed each time I went. I’d read them all and bring them back.
My friend Florence was from Poland. The loved the library too! Her mother was out Super and cleaned for us. Florence was my best friend and she and I were the smartest kids in our class. We did homework together. When I had to babysit my brother, she would come up to keep me company and we would watch our TV. We were one of the first families to have a TV. We would watch The Show of Shows. We loved it! They had dancers and comedians.
One Saturday night we had been watching TV and babysitting. Florence and I started wrestling! I threw Florence and she fell on the coffee table and broke one of the legs. I put one of the legs back and balanced it so my mother wouldn’t notice it. My parents came home that night and I went to bed.
The next morning I snuck into my parents bedroom and got my father. He was always saving me from my mothers anger. By the time my mother woke up he had fixed it and she never knew. My mother never hit me, but my mother would get loud. I don’t blame her though, because she really allowed me to do what I wanted. Sometimes that would backfire. Like with the coffee table. And I’m pretty sure even though she let me do what I want she never wanted me to break her furniture.
We moved to Bayside in the summer of my 14th year.My friend Barbara Kivel lived in Bayside. I knew her from Camp Cejwyn. I mentioned Bayside to my parents which got them moving in that direction. My mother’s sister bought a ranch home next to ours. We were very busy unpacking and settling in. I cried every day because I missed the Lower East Side and all of my friends at my school. I started at Bayside High that year. They gave us a lot of work to do and tested us every 6 months. They gave the same test to everyone! It was a lot of pressure and a big step for me. I learned a lot though.
Diane Russo was my first good friend at Bayside High. I met her on the public bus to school one day. We started talking on the bus. She was wonderful! She had a big mouth when it came to dealing with other kids who gave me a hard time. She protected me. I was picked on by a few girls who were jealous of me for dating my boyfriend at the time, Dick. He was super good-looking and they all had crushes on him. They would follow me and make fun of me for being Jewish. One day on the bus one of them tried to get in a fight with me. She said, “Go ahead and push me!” and I would turn to Diane and say, “Go ahead Diane!” And she would fight them for me.
My love for books shifted when I was reading required books for school. Dostoevsky was one of my favorites. He wrote about relationships and people who were trying to love each other. There was a lot of politics but I really enjoyed the strong women characters he wrote about. I’ve always loved stories about women I could relate to.
When I was 16 I dated a soda jerk. He wasn’t Jewish which was a big no-no in my family. SO he became my secret boyfriend. His name was Bob. His parents liked me so we would spend time at his house. Id also stop by the candy store where he worked every day after school. As it turns out, my mother suspected I was dating Bob and she was sitting outside the candy in her car one day. I walked out of the store with Bob and she followed us in her car. So the cat was out of the bag and she told me I had to stop seeing him. I’d been dating him for 3 years but I stopped. Bob and I were very upset.
So looking back now, Id say even though I didn’t want to move Bayside was a part of my journey. It was a whole new life for my family. Bayside is where I was a teenager and adult. The Lower East Side was where I was a kid. If we’d stayed there I don’t know if there would’ve been a downside, but I would’ve missed out on the celebration of my parents being able to buy a house.My parents worked very hard to get that piece of the American Dream and I’m gad they did. It allowed me to think of the future more and to see outside the box of where I was brought up.