Showing posts with label James Monroe HS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Monroe HS. Show all posts

Monday, January 23, 2012

Matrilineal Monday: Daisy's Ticket to College (unpunched for 30+ years)

My mother, Daisy Schwartz, graduated from James Monroe High School in the Bronx, NY in January, 1936, at age 16. She didn't get this "college entrance diploma" until June, 1936, because (1) she had to pass statewide exams in certain subjects and (2) the state education department had to certify her coursework.

In those days, an academic diploma was required for college entrance in New York state. To get such a diploma, the high school grad had to have passed exams representing 4 years of English, 3 years of a language (hers was French), and intermediate algebra, plane geometry, and American history. Notice that no science was required, luckily for Mom. She went straight to work to help the household (this was, after all, during the Depression) and so her twin, Dorothy Schwartz, could go to Hunter College in New York. (Her older brother had already graduated college by that time.)

Nearly 35 years later, Mom returned to college to accumulate credits and earn raises, as a school secretary. She enjoyed the literature courses, in particular, but often said she would not go for a degree because she could never pass the science or math courses. Working during the day, going to classes in the evening, and studying at night was no picnic but she did it! And she insisted that every one of her children go to college (which we all did, and then some).

Daisy's matriarchal line: Daisy Schwartz's mother was Hermina Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964); Hermina's mother was Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938); Lena's mother's name in NagyBereg, Hungary (now Berehi, Ukraine) was Toby Roth.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Those Places Thursday: James Monroe HS, Bronx, NY

My mother, Daisy (Schwartz) Burk, and her twin sister, Dorothy, attended James Monroe High School in the Bronx, at the northern tip of the Soundview section. Wikipedia says the school opened in 1924, so my guess is the first school year ended in 1925 (according to the year on the school's seal, at left).

Today the building houses a number of small, specialized public schools, but it was originally one huge high school, drawing from many Bronx neighborhoods. It awarded academic diplomas, general diplomas, practical arts diplomas, and commercial diplomas.

Mom and Auntie graduated in January, 1936 (see bottom, where their names are listed in the graduation program she saved). They were just 16. Mom immediately looked for work. Her older brother Fred had gone to college (one of the free City University of NY colleges) but there was only enough money for one more to go to college, so Auntie went (to another free City University of NY college) and Mom didn't. Both Fred and Dorothy went on to earn a  doctorate degree. To see Mom and Auntie's yearbook photos, click:
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Mom, who could have done the course work in her teens, only finished a couple of years of college by the time she went at night as a working mom in her 50s. The math and science courses were, by that time, beyond her. She loved the literature courses most of all!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Letters to my Mom

I'm transcribing letters written to my mother in the late 1930s and into the 1940s, by one of her closest friends and, later, by the friend's husband as well and a few other folks. What an incredible way to learn about my Bronx-born mother's thoughts, feelings, dreams, hopes, disappointments, and fears.

Thank goodness for Google--I can look at the streets where Mom once lived, where her correspondents lived, and find out about places where they vacationed, such as Scaroon Manor on Schroon Lake, NY. That was pretty far from the Bronx, in distance and in other ways as well.

Mom's alma mater was JHS 60 in Bronx, NY and James Monroe HS in Bronx, NY. The JHS is no longer there, apparently, and James Monroe isn't a high school any longer. Back in the 1930s and 1940s, this was a busy and crowded area of the Bronx; it wasn't the "South Bronx" that today is so notorious for high crime, etc.

One letter, dated August 1941, refers to the good men already being "with Uncle Sam"--an eye-opener because I was under the impression that the movement to join the armed services didn't happen till after Pearl Harbor, not before.

How lucky I am that Mom saved this treasure trove of letters for decades.