Sunday, September 4, 2011

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report card inside.jpg

The report card shown above (it's the same card -- the two images show the outer and inner panels) isn't from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls. It's from P.S. 69 in the Bronx, which is where Peter Wunsch attended school while growing up in the 1950s. He had saved his report cards and was kind enough to scan this one and send the scans to me.

This document is more in line with what most of us think of when we hear the term "report card." It was sent home for the student's parents to review and sign. The Manhattan Trade student files, although I frequently refer to them as report cards, are actually the students' permanent records, and are filled with much more information than a standard report card. Still, conventional report cards like Peter's have something that the permanent records do not: a parent's signature. It may not seem like much, but sometimes something as simple as signature can be something to cling to, a cherished reminder of a loved one who's passed away.

"The reason I sent you this particular report card is it's one of the few in which I received a good grade in conduct," says Peter. He also sent along his second grade class portrait (that's him in the back row):

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Click to enlarge

Peter had some interesting commentary on this photo:

The teacher, Ms. Friedlander, wearing pearls, hosted a really early Sunday-morning AM radio show that we all listened to regularly.

The chubby boy on my left, Alan Friedlander (no relation), worked in the World Trade Center and was one of the 9/11 victims. There was a campaign earlier in the year to re-name P.S. 69, and Alan’s name was one of the nominees. I believe the entire naming is stuck in NYC bureaucracy. …

I notice in looking back that the then-middle class neighborhood was almost entire white. I always thought of myself as the outsider because I was the only Jewish person in the class. I never thought about how Cathy (Korean adoptee) or Mercedes (the tall Hispanic girl) must have felt.

I recently went back and toured the area. My father’s candy store is now a dental clinic and both the synagogue I attended and the movie theater are both Hispanic churches.

Unfortunately, I haven't saved any of my old report cards. Have you saved any of yours? If so, and if you're willing to share them, please send them my way and I'll feature them in a future installment of Permanent Record.

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