My first school on these shores was Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs in Forest Hills, NY. And my first love was a first-grader named Mary. She had her desk in a row next to mine, and when we went to the blackboard (as was the custom in those days), I’d be next to her and I could copy from her (Don’t forget, I was still the Swiss immigrant).
She took a liking to me, so our days at the blackboard were for me a thrill. I still couldn’t figure out everything the teacher said, so she’d give me gentle hints. After class, I’d resort to my new pastime of scouring the floor for cast off crayons. (They were new to me; Swiss schools had colored pencils.) It was a beautiful relationship, but then we moved to Long Island.
We moved to a town where the parochial school had the same order of nuns as Queen of Martyrs. They took up where the Forest Hills teachers left off, and I became an expert in English Grammar. Sometimes I longed to have Mary beside me at the blackboard again.