When I was in grammar school and living at 363 North 12th Street in Newark, New Jersey, I was going to First Avenue School. And going to the First Avenue School at the age of 10, my mother had another child. The child was born with a broken arm and they brought him home, and we had a little brother.
I continued to go to school at First Avenue. When I was at school, the teacher switched me from lefty to righty and every time I’d try to switch back to lefty, the teacher’s name was Mrs. Redcosson, and she would hit me on the hand and say, “No, you have to use your right hand.” Consequently, it hurt me very much because I became very slow in reading. My parents sent me for remedial reading in Rectors, in Newark, and even until this day, I have a problem. I can read very well and comprehend what I’m reading, but when I try to read out loud, it sounds like a two-year-old child reading. But I do very well on my own reading and comprehending what I’m reading.
I went to grammar school and when I was in fourth or fifth grade, the guys started to abuse me because I lived in a Catholic neighborhood and I was a Jew. They used to beat me up all the time and my father said, “Well if they beat you up or take advantage of you go home and get a baseball bat and hit them.” So one winter we were sleigh riding and Joe Anjurio took my sled and he wouldn’t give it back to me and he said, “Jew tell your rich parents to buy you another one, this sled is mine.” So I went home, got a baseball bat, went back and hit him in the leg and broke his leg.
Consequently his father came to my house and wanted my father to pay for the hospitalization and my father said to me, “Tell his father the story.” So I began to tell him the story – that he took my sled, didn’t want to give it back, told me, “Jew you have a lot of money tell your parents to go buy you another one.” His father smacked him in the head, took him home and that was the end of that one.
I also had to learn to fight because when I used to go to the candy store they always wanted to get the Jewish boy and take his candy away. So I learned how to fight and I also earned money myself. I started to deliver newspapers and my mother used to get up early in the morning, help me fold the newspapers and then I’d go out and deliver them, come home and eat breakfast.