Their educations ended with high school - my father going to work as a clerk and then salesman in a company dealing in printing and stationary, and my mother working as a secretary and then bookkeeper in a firm of wool merchants.
My parents regarded school teachers as higher beings, as did many immigrants.
I read everything: fiction, history, science, mathematics, biography, travel.
Naturally, I have compensated in my adult years by owning very large numbers of books.
Natures' curriculum cannot be changed.
I was also interested in chemistry, but my parents were not willing to buy me a chemistry set.
Whatever the course, whether the course was boring or interesting to me, whether I was talented in mathematics or not talented in languages, my parents expected A's.
Going to school and working for good marks, indeed working for very good marks, was a serious business.
A parent being called to the school because their child had misbehaved was as serious as a parent being called to the police station because their child had robbed a bank.
It was good fortune to be a child during the Depression years and a youth during the war years.
About 1900 my parents came to the United States as children from what was then the Polish area of Russia.
As Jews, their families left Russia to escape the poverty and the antisemitism.
My parents were determined to move into the middle class.
The remoteness of my parents from the schools, so unfashionable today, was often painful for me, but I learned early to deal with an outside and sometimes hard world.
I learned quickly, as I tell my graduate students now, there are no answers in the back of the book when the equipment doesn't work or the measurements look strange.
For un-subscribe please check the mail footer.