What This Older Man Will Never Forget About Sixth Grade

Sixth grade was a very good year for me. Top of the Lower School at Riverdale Country Day.

For sports in the spring we had a baseball league. I was captain of one of the teams, which I named the St. Louis Cardinals, beloved by me ever since they won the world series in 1934. I designated myself pitcher and did ok, although I distinctly remember shouts for my retirement from Tommy Kempner at first and from my disloyal catcher, John Rudolph.

Once, in the sixth grade I slipped and called our math teacher mother. The class exploded in laughter. Mrs. Atkins told them to pipe down and that she would be proud to be my mother. I just sat there red-faced.

Not so nice was the time our French teacher, Mr. Lamorey. gave me a stunning slap in the face as I was staring out the window, paying no attention to the class. I stifled my hurt and humiliation as best I could. After class, Mr. Lamorey, who I liked, spoke to me gently. He knew he had crossed a line. But I never told my parents or anybody.

At home in New Rochelle I was an only child. Alan was starting at Andover; Rita was in her senior year at Smith; and Herbert was newly married living in the city. I would go with my parents for dinner at Schrafts and then a movie. I always had a club sandwich and a vanilla milk shake. I can taste that cold shake now.

We would visit Alan at Andover and Rita at Smith, At Andover we stayed at a lovely Treadway Inn. At Smith we stayed in Northampton's Wiggins tavern, q quaint hostelry plastered with sayings of Calvin Coolidge.Actually, Coolidge said very little. In fact, when told that he had died, Dorothy Parker said "how can you tell?

For English at Riverdale we memorized poems of our choice and recited them in class. One that I remember fondly was THE LAST LEAF by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Here it is minus a few verses.

I saw him once before
As he passed by the door
And again

I saw him once before
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound
As he totters oe'r the ground
With his cane

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
in his laugh

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
in the spring,
Let them smile as I do now
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling

Yes, that is me now, clinging to the bough, often dreaming of days gone by. And sixth grade was a good year. As ole blue-eyes would say, a very good year.

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