Monday, February 11, 2013

Matrilineal Monday: 1920s School Days in the Bronx

Late in 1984, my aunt Dorothy Schwartz wrote my sis a letter enclosing a newspaper article about her alma mater P.S. 62 at 660 Fox Street, which at the time was "an island of stability in a crumbling neighborhood" of the Bronx, according to the New York Times. P.S. 62 served students in K-4 in 1984 and K-5 today (left), but then it had one of the highest student turnover rates in the city.

My aunt's comments:
P.S. 62 was the elementary school we attended, only then it ran to the 6th grade. I never knew the area was in the South Bronx; I did know it had been renamed Fort Apache. To me, the South Bronx was below 149th St.!
Auntie Dorothy, her twin Daisy (my mom), and their older brother Fred were born in the apartment building across the street from P.S. 62, at 651 Fox Street. Their parents, Minnie Farkas Schwartz and Teddy Schwartz, moved every few years during the 1920s, but always stayed in the neighborhood.

My aunt remembers that after 651 Fox, they lived on Leggett Ave., a few steps away from Teddy's Dairy (my Grandpa's grocery store), which today is a hop, skip, and jump from Bruckner Blvd. Later, the family moved to 712 Fox Street. Finally, they settled at 672 Beck Street, around the corner from Teddy's Dairy store, where they stayed for many years until everyone was grown and my grandparents retired.

Now for some class photos of Daisy and Dorothy at P.S. 62 during the 1920s. Sorry, no notes about which twin is which. Note that the kindergarten class, in a photo taken around Halloween, has more than 30 students. Looking at the other photos, the classes are even larger!
Kindergarten: Daisy and Dorothy are in identical outfits and haircuts with bangs, center of 2d row, with a jack o'lantern between them

Second grade: Daisy and Dorothy at left of center, in matching outfits and haircuts again. Poster at far right is for American Junior Red Cross.
The twins were apparently separated during fourth grade. This is class 413--the twin is in closeup, below.
Dorothy or Daisy in class 413

Class 407, with the other Schwartz twin (along left wall, see closeup below).
Daisy or Dorothy in class 407


  1. I think I spy one little kindergarten boy cracking a smile amongst all those serious faces. :) Great pictures! So cool that you have these.

  2. It must have been difficult for kids to sit still for however long it took to get these photos! Thanks for reading and leaving me a comment.

  3. AnonymousMay 15, 2013

    Great to see these pictures. My father, born in 1919, grew up a few blocks away on Kelly Street. He used to cry when he went to see the "old neighborhood". I used to teach at ps 62 in the '90s. Apparently, the neighborhood is rebounding which is a wonderul thing.

  4. Thanks for so much commenting . . . your father must have been at PS 62 around the same time as my mother and aunt. Wow, you taught there too? Very cool.

  5. Hello
    My father also went to PS 62 in the 1920s. We only have one picture of his classroom and it is labeled "PS 62 204 am" Do you know if the numbers correspond to the grades, i.e. 204 would have been a second grade classroom or 405 would have been fourth grade? I do think they may have been running double sessions because of overcrowding, hence the "am" (something that also happened at my ex-husband's high school in Mass. in the 1960s because the population overwhelmed the existing building). I am just trying to figure out how old my father might be in the photo, and what year it was taken. Any help you can provide is much appreciated!
    Many thanks!

    PS. the photo I have looks almost exactly the same as a couple you have - almost like they lined them up in the same classroom for the pictures, or, the classrooms were all identical.

  6. Hi and thanks for commenting. Typically, the first number would indeed have indicated the grade number. So "204 am" would probably mean "second grade, 4th class in that grade, morning" - but not necessarily indicating that the class was any less smart than "201" or "202" or "203." Whether there was overcrowding or not in the 1920s, I don't know for certain. But having a total of four second grade classes seems to indicate a really large school population! Best of luck in finding out your father's age. My mother was born in 1919, if that helps as you look at the photos.