Happy Birthday, Dad!
My father, Bernard Rose, born exactly 118 years ago today, on December 28, 1897 in Lithuania, became a NYC public school teacher as a second career. When I was born (when he was 75 years old:), he had been teaching electronics and electricity at Brooklyn Technical High School for years. Before teaching, he had several jobs: bicycle delivery boy for his father’s butcher shop (Fort Greene?), electrical engineer for Otis Engineering. He left Otis. I once asked him why. He wouldn’t provide any details but he did say they discriminated against Jews. Not that my father was a religious zealot. Au contraire, he was raised in an Orthodoxy that he could not abide. He was a scientist. He received the highest possible grade on the math Regents and was offered a full scholarship to Cornell University. His father refused to let him go there because they didn’t serve kosher food. So much for religion. He got his EE from Brooklyn Polytechnical Institute and MAT at Teachers College, Columbia U.
Upon retirement from 36 years of public school teaching, he traveled, played cello and decided to try his hand at writing. He took a writing course at the 92 Street Y. I just found his faded, carefully typed drafts in storage. Here’s his essay about a man, presumably a boss – entitled “Educator.” (I’ve left in his Oxford commas…though they drive me nuts.)
(A handwritten note at the top of the page contains his “disclaimer:”
“This is purely a writing exercise. Any resemblance to a person living…
I know one guy who fills this character somewhat…)
He is an educational supervisor, a high school department head. He is a brilliant student, a graduate of MIT, a first class technician and engineer. He is also an unmitigated rascal endowed with iniquitous talents. Selfishness motivates his activities. Each semester, he selects for himself a juicy program of classes with top ranking students, small in number, and assigns them projects which require maximum exertion on the students’ part but a minimum from the instructor. When a new course is given, he assigns it to another teacher rather than to himself, and at some future time observes the teacher and passes judgement.
Call it perversity if you will, but sometimes he composes the final examinations and makes them so difficult that the passing mark has to be reduced to thirty percent. He doesn’t seem to understand that a student does not obtain infinite wisdom and maturity in a subject to which he has been exposed but briefly.
Chicanery and deception are his also. On his supervisory examination he stated that he had been acting chairman of a department which didn’t even exist. But he is frequently generous. He works very hard to raise his failing Regents examination papers, and is exceedingly lavish in awarding credits. Unfortunately, his papers are not reviewed by the State Education Department. Socially he is nil. He does not know how to laugh, joke, or play. He shows enthusiasm only in discussing his own attainments.
Someone erred when he became a supervisor. His kind is not typical. Others I have met are positive and human and possess real qualities of leadership.
Bernard Rose Class 1920″
(ed: that’s the number of the class – this was probably written in the 1970’s”)
Dad with his fav BTHS students and me…
Dad took this selfie in a mirror on Mar 24 1919. He wrote this note on the back of the photo:
Dad’s original draft:
His writing teacher’s critique of the draft essay:
The critique reads:
You’ve done quite a good job here; we begin to feel we’re getting to know this interesting man. The sketch would be stronger if you had let us witness a brief scene in which he is seen doing what you say he’s done; if we could hear him speak, perhaps, he would come more to life.
The writing is nicely simplice, and flows easily. I like its swift pace, and directness: it is free of pretentiousness, and “clutter.” Your summary at the end is particularly strong and direct.
Pray tell — what’s “simplice”? Anyone?