The other day I was reminded of the refugees of World War II and the terrible genocide of the Jews during that time.
It reminded me of a time when I was young and did not understand it all. Well, I still don’t understand “why”, so I made no progress in that department.
It also reminded me of a certain incident in about the 3rd grade the principal of Waterman Street School Miss. Whitehead came to our class and wanted to see me. “Uh-Oh, what did I do now?” I thought.
She asked did I know a certain brother and sister that she said by name. I didn’t. She reminded me they were the two that recently enrolled who came from Poland.
Oh yeah! I remembered them! They both looked very sad. Somehow they did not dress like us… the boy wore baggy dressed pants. My peers and I wore tight-ass denims. The girl was sort of an expressionless plane Jane. Well, both of them seem to have no expression. They spoke with an accent.
I would learn later they were Jewish refugees from Poland.
A little math: I was born in 1941. In the 3rd grade I would have been 8 years old, 8 plus 1941=1949. That is about 3 years after the war. But I would think, with a war torn continent things were still in snafu. Somehow, the Polish family ended up in Marietta.
Miss. Whitehead asked did I know where they lived. Of course I knew where they lived. I was sort of a street kid. I knew just about every street and house within a mile of the downtown square – where the best hills and banks to play on, the best trees to climb, and even where most people lived. Mrs. Whitehead knew me too well.
By the way, Miss. Whitehead taught my father and his brothers and sister in the same school building.
I told Miss. Whitehead where they lived. She nodded. She probably already knew, from the forms they filled out when they first enrolled.
She told me neither of them came to school that day. Then she asked me did I know if they moved or anything. Not that I noticed I told her. She asked me to go check to their house and see if they or their family were there.
Me? A third grader doing a truant officer’s job? The city had one truant officer, a Mrs. H. (a story about her will come one day). I went to visit the Polish immigrants house.
It was pouring down raining. There house was on Atlanta Street, only a couple of blocks from where I was born… and also only a couple of blocks from Miss Whitehead’s room at a boarding house.
Why didn’t she go? For one thing, she didn’t want to get wet.
I think with me going it was not an official visit. And she was trying to keep it unofficial. Or maybe, she was just afraid of people with accents.
I knocked and knocked on the door. Nobody came. I walked back in the rain and told Miss Whitehead.
A day or two later the boy and girl was back in school. Later in high school I think they both graduated with honors.
I don’t know where they were that day, it is not like they had to explain why they were not there that day to me… wait, yes it was!