Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Russell Sage Junior High School 1961-64

In September 1961 I began 7th Grade at Russell Sage Junior High School (JHS 190). For those of you not in NYC, the schools here are numbered, but many are given names as well. If you are really interest in who he is, pleas check this Wikipedia article. The big change was that we had to take the bus to school. We were given a bus pass to take the Q60 bus along Queens Blvd to get to school. It was only about a mile away, but I was not a walker in those days. Another big difference was a departmental schedule. There were periods of about 45 minutes when we would go from class to class in different rooms. There was a different teacher for every subject.

Another big issue back then was integration of the school. Sage was in an almost exclusive white Jewish area of Forest Hills. Back then it was called de-facto segregation since students went to schools near where they lived. In order to achieve integration Negro students were bused from Jamaica to Sage in Forest Hills. The terms Black and African American were not used back then. There was some apprehension on my part about going to school with students of another race. I did feel that my parents were prejudiced back then. The Yiddish term Schwartzer was used as a slur for Black people. When we see that Barack Obama was elected president 48 years later, and think back to the early 1960s, I realize how things have changed for the better. There were mostly good relationships between students of different backgrounds. I do not recall any major racial incidents back then.

Some of my friends in Russell Sage were:

Larry Stahl
Joshua Socoloff
Alan Nelson
Alan Metzger
Eric Fradkin

Some of my teachers:

Mrs. Allen - English
Mrs. Minov - Social Studies
Mr. Seligsohn – Social Studies
Mr. Cahill – Math
Mrs. Klein – Math
Miss Singer – Spanish
Mr. Lederer – Spanish
Mr. Jackson - Math

There was one incident that comes to mind. In the eighth grade Larry Stahl brought his portable tape recorder to school and taped some classes. Mrs. Klein, the math teacher went into a rage when she found out her class was recorded.

The major news event of that time was the assassination of President Kennedy. We came to math class on that fateful Friday when Mr. Jackson told us that he had been shot. He cancelled the exam for that day and we just sat. Dr. Charles Tanzer the principal later got on the loudspeaker system and announced to the school that President Kennedy was dead. Some of the girls in the class openly cried. About 20 years later Dr. Tanzer came to the New York Public Library. He seemed impressed that I remembered him.

Of course, the other big event during that time was Beatlemania. The teachers just could not understand what the kids liked about them.


Irv said...

Bruce.... I came across your comment and thought I'd share my recollections... all best,

Irv Kass

Scroll down a couple of blogs and you'll see what I'm referring to.

Noelle Norton said...

Hi- my mom went to Russell Sage in the 60's, as well. She was telling me about a Mrs. Stein; a teacher who treated her badly but gave my mother the resolve to prove her wrong. My mother (Elizabeth Aben- her brother Robert Aben would have been in your grade)was wondering what ever happened to Mrs. Stein- do you have any info or way to get info? I'd really love to help my mom get some closure in this area.
Noelle Norton

Bruce S said...

Noelle - I don't remember a Mrs. Stein from Russell Sage.I was not acquainted with Elizabeth or Robert Aben. I am sorry that I can't help you.

Jeff Smoley said...

Hello Bruce,
I was a year ahead of you. I did have Lederer for Spanish. Graduated in '62. Then went to Stuyvesant, then Queens College. I was on the school basketball team. I don't see any other classmates of mine.

Jeff Smoley

Personal-Journals blog