Updated: May 6
At age nine, I would go with my mom to Woolworth’s on 79th and Broadway and run down to the toy department on the basement level while she shopped. I would skim past the Big Wheels and the Holly Hobby ovens, zip by the Mario Donkey Kong games and head toward one of the farthest aisles in the back. This is where they kept the art supplies. But I wasn’t there for the paints or the glitter. I had my eye on the chalkboard. A beautiful 18 x 24” green “slate” with a wooden frame and the alphabet painted across the top in capital and lowercase letters. It was too much for my mom to afford but I was in love with it. I set up shop right there in the aisle, talking out loud to my imaginary students, “Ok, Class.” Any passerby might have thought I was crazy, but remember, this was NYC in the early 80’s. No one paid any mind. Then one evening in late August my mom said to me, “You know you’ve got a birthday coming up and it’s a big one. Double digits. Do you want a party or a big present?” And so… the night I turned 10, after cake and ice cream with her, I set up every stuffed animal I could fit on my bed, drew out a fresh piece of chalk right out of the new box and began, “Ok, Class.” And I never turned back.
Happy Teacher Appreciation week to all (especially my friends who know the feeling of holding that new piece of chalk out of the box. :-)