Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Memories - Annie's Song

This is Annie.

This is Annie as a song.

She talks faster than I write and I write faster than I talk and I talk fast. So some of this she said and some of this I hope she said. This is her song:

"We lived on East 138th Street. My mom, aunt, my uncle on the weekend. Eight of us kids. Then we moved to East 10th. And then we moved to 400 Grand, across from the bialie place and the delicatessen. And then we moved to 440 Grand. Nine of us, two rooms we all slept in the same beds together. We were right across from the co-ops which was the forbidden land. Tenements you had the poorer people. You knew you didn't belong in the co-ops but they knew they didn't belong with us. We played together sometimes but there was this line down the middle of the street. A yellow line that divided us. They still thought less of you. And the special buildings they put up for the bar mitzvahs. This was before they did bat mitzvahs. Huge tents. We lived on the top floor and Rosie's Pizza and Heroes was on the ground floor. We would line up and she would give us for free fried dough in sauce. We couldn't afford the sandwiches. The old principal at PS 134. Jewish woman, red hair, dressed like Joan Rivers, eyelashes, bangles up her arm to here and all she had to do was look at you. Then we had an African-American teacher - female. Wore miniskirts, blue eye shadow, overweight 4th or 5th grade? First one to introduce us to Africa. Because of Biafra. We brought in pennies to donate. We thought we had it bad we didn't have it that bad. 1966? 1967? The principal, Miss Cohen? She was ahead of her time. But mini-skirts. That teacher used to wear mini-skirts. It's the life we knew but it's gone. A sense of community. Gone. And you can't forget the egg creams."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Her name was Coleman, not Cohen, and according to my informants, who were children at P.S. 134 in the 1960s, she was unforgettable. One recalls "her oranged loud rude self." Another reminisces: "She did seem beastly, but almost cut a comical figure by my time there, probably slowing down with age. You were aware of her presence every day. One day a number of us came in from lunch having brought back a few jars of insects from the large lot across the street. We had collected bees that day and decided to bring them into class. But someone either dropped the jar or deliberately let them escape. Just as we were approaching the stairs leaving the cafeteria--the bees all flying around the hallway, your basic honeybees--some kid saw Coleman stomping by and warned her, 'Watch out of the bee.' She stopped for a moment, glared at everyone, and then thundered sarcastically, 'Oh, I thought it was a Cock-a-Roach!' and stormed away."