Elswhere has finished grad school, having moved her activism to the Pacific Northwest.
P., graduated from Stuyvesant High School (where he did make new friends) and from college (Math major), is happily married to Pippi Bluestocking in the Pacific Southwest.
I've left the "empty nest" in suburban New Jersey and moved to urban Tel Aviv. I'm sitting in my kitchen one day, reading 'Tis by Frank McCourt. I come upon the chapter about his enrollment at NYU night school, and the wonderful writing teacher he encounters there: Charles Calitri! I count some years on my fingers and decide it has to be the same extraordinary teacher I had for high school English. Ohmygod! Frank McCourt and I had the same writing teacher! I call my high school classmate in New York to share the news!
I resume reading 'Tis and learn that Frank (hiya, Frank!) spent years teaching English in the NYC public school system, first on Staten Island and then at Stuyvesant High School. I count some more years on my fingers (Math major too), and call P.
Me: "Who was your English teacher at Stuyvesant?"
P: "Which one?" [aaargh! toujours precise, this guy]
Me: "Did you have a famous one?"
P:"Oh, yeah. Frank McCourt."
Me: "Was he good?"
P: "He was great. He told great stories. But he was off doing theater stuff with his brother a lot."
Ohmygod again! My faith in the public school system has been vindicated! In a city of millions, my great high school teacher taught my son's great high school teacher! Just like a small town! Engineering works! Will one of Mr. McCourt's students teach one of my grandchildren? Where? Tune in in another 12 years or so. The story is definitely not over! (although I will try to control the exclamation points from now on.)
Update February 2004: Frank McCourt comes to Israel as a U.S.-sponsored "cultural ambassador."
Update January 31, 2005: The following post appears on Smartmom's new blog:
On Wednesday February 9th at 7 p.m., Brooklyn-born author Frank McCourt will be reading at MS 51 on Fifth Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets.
A fund raiser for the talent programs at Park Slope's illustrious Middle School 51, McCourt will be reading excerpts from his new book about teaching English at Stuyvesant High School, "Tis," and "Angela's Ashes."
A reception will follow at the Stone House in the Park at Third Street and Fifth Avenue.
Arise, you Brooklynites! Get yourselves over to Park Slope's MS 51 this Wednesday, February 9, by 7PM, and tell Frank McCourt that Savtadotty and Smartmom sent you.
This series is dedicated to immigrants who study, and to their teachers.
An Evening Trade Class, Stuyvesant High School, circa 1896
Photo Source: Board of Education. City of New York. The First Fifty Years: A Brief Review of Progress. 1898-1948. Fiftieth Annual Report of the Superintendent of Schools, Board of Education, The City of New York (New York, 1948). NYC Board of Education Archives, Milbank Memorial Library, Teachers College, Columbia University