Mis tiempos en la Escuela Pública No.5 de Astoria, Board of Education of New York en los EE.UU. 1950-1954

2 de abril, 2021

1.Las alertas de ataque nuclear inminente en la Escuela Public No.5 de Astoria y la Defensa Civil (CD).

In Duck and Cover, Bert the Turtle advocated that children “duck and cover” when they “see the flash.” [Traducción: ‘a agacharse y taparse la cabeza y cara para evitar ver el estallido nuclear deslumbrante y enceguesedor’] [sic]. Manuales de instrucción se usaban tales como ‘¿Cómo sobrevivir un ataque nuclear?’ Booklets such as Survival Under Atomic Attack, Fallout Protection and Nuclear War Survival Skills [16] were also commonplace.
WIKIPEDIA [16] Scheibach, Michael, ed. (2009). “In Case Atom Bombs Fall”: An Anthology of Governmental Explanations, Instructions and Warnings from the 1940s to the 1960s. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-4541-7.

Las alertas de protección antiaérea contra ataques nucleares comenzaban con el sonido –casi que aullido– amenazante de sirenas en todo Nueva York. Los alumnos se organizaban y aprestaban usando la tapa del pupitre para protejerse la cabeza ‘contra el estallido de bombas atómicas’ [sic], cada uno sentados en el suelo respectivamente debajo de su pupitre en el salón de clase.

‘Survival under Atomic Attack’

There were no Civil Defense CD Fallout Shelter Signs being displayed in close proximity to PS 5 that I could remember. The student body was never directed to seek the entrance to any such fallout shelter as part of the drills at the school.

I remember seeing the above orange and black Fallout Shelter Sign close to our apartment building located at 25-14 31st Avenue Astoria, LIC 6 (south of Crescent and north of 29th Street). One sign was affixed to the wall next to the apartment building’s underground parking garage entrance ramp on Crescent Street, Astoria. The other Fallout Shelter Sign was affixed to a metallic pole standing next to the entrance to the apartment building’s back courtyard and above-ground garages’ entrance on 31st Avenue.

Los ensayos de incendio comenzaban al sonido de timbres eléctricos. Se convocaba al alumnado a formarse en filas en los corredores. Ostentando brazaletes en el brazo izquierdo con el emblema del triángulo con las iniciales ‘CD’ inscritas en un círculo azul, letras CD en rojo, inscritas en un triángulo blanco ‘monitores’ y maestros organizaban a los alumnos con el fin de dirigir una evacuación organizada del edificio. Así evitando las estampidas escaleras abajo (no había ascensores en el edificio). Las clases mixtas de kinder al tercer grado elemental, cuarto, quinto y sexto elemental se formaban por grupos hasta el final del ensayo de incendio en el amplísimo patio que colindaba con las calles 29 y 30 de Astoria. Nunca ví extinguidores de fuego, ni grifos de agua para conectar mangueras en ese vetusto edificio construído talvez a principios del siglo XX [¿?]. Ciertamente no durante la posguerra después de 1945. Washrooms were ‘tucked away’ and out of sight in the first floor, not very convenient to class rooms or for the exclusive use of students of either sex.

2.The PS 5 building was demolished eventually. By 1967 from the sidewalk of the opposite-side 30th street entrance to the front yard, multiple piles of rubble could be seen through a gap in the wire-mesh fence left standing that separated the sidewalk on 30th Street from the area where the PS 5 building stood for about 70+ years.

P.S. 234 30-15 29th Street, LIC 2 SCHOOL DISTRICT 30 QUEENS 11102 for children in grades PK K-5 replaced the former P.S. 5 30-11 29th Street LIC 2 at this location it shares with the Academy for New Americans 30-14
30th Street, Astoria, NY 11102.

• Supervised playing in the courtyard during the morning recess between classes was allowed. But ‘bullying’ and other types of untoward behavior were not tolerated.
• Attendance to school was checked daily and a ‘roll call’ was duly performed at the beginning of the morning class. Good behavior, neatness, punctuality, regular attendance were encouraged. Gold and red stars were awarded to students for compliance. In Mrs Rosenberg’s class (my 2nd grade teacher at PS5, in 1952/53), the number and kinds of such awards were tabulated and posted on a wall of the classroom under each student’s first name only: ‘Marilyn’, ‘Charlie’, ‘Lawry’, ‘Carol’, ‘Ellen’, ‘Jay’, ‘Wendy’ and ‘Alvaro’ [these were the actual first names of several classmates of mine in those years].
Alvaro was issued his own metallic ID TAG with my engraved name and address in Astoria, as well as an ID 7-digit number. It was possible to wear your metallic ID TAG hanging from a chain around your neck permanently.
• Report cards were circulated to the student’s parents who then were welcomed to meet with teachers in order to discuss their children’s results in a non-confrontational manner, as part of an arrangement under the auspices of the PS5 PTA.
• The Astoria Federal Savings & Loan Association (Lake Success, NY) issued bankbooks and postal savings accounts were opened for students to record their deposits and withdrawals of cash. A self-addressed and stamped envelope was provided for students to mail their deposits. It was possible for students also to visit the Astoria Federal Savings and Loan branch on Broadway so. of Crescent Street in Astoria to do their banking in person.
• Close to the PS5 main entrance 30-11 29th Street LIC 2 a nursing station staffed by a Physician and Red Cross Nurse was opened with a mandate to address health emergencies that might occur during the school day.

In close proximity to Astoria’s Queens Mount Sinai Hospital on 30th Avenue, north of Crescent Street.

3. There were ‘arts and crafts’ activities. For example, ‘finger painting’ was allowed, as well as threading a needle for sewing or playing with clay and silly putty. Two easels were left standing along a sidewall of the classroom for pupils to paint on with brushes the large sheets of foolscap placed on each easel. Long-stem-handle brushes were available that you could dip in a pot/ink well containing paint/ink in several colors. Pencil/crayon hand drawings of yourself and the dog were attempted on paper; attempts were made as well at sketching crayon pictures on paper of mum and dad, your house, your car, my favorite pet ‘Zé Carioca’ the green Brazilian parrot.

‘Zé Carioca’ the green brazilian parrot

ZÉ CARIOCA 1941 José Carlos de Brito (J. Carlos)

We got colouring books for using our Crayola 48-crayons box bearing the “Rubens” and “Gold Medal” round icons. Crayola started an artistic Rubens Crayola line in 1903 directly targeted at artists and won Gold Medal during the April 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair for their invention of the first dustless white chalk. Watercolors were used by my classmates to color the iconic cartoon characters Donald Duck. Bugs Bunny, and an orange Halloween Pumpkin.

Singing was encouraged and initiated by the female teacher standing in front of the class as another teacher played the piano. The basement floor was used both as a cafeteria and lunch or breakfast counter. No organized sports were taught, nor organized classes of physical education held for the mixed student body. The yard outdoors and/or the basement area of the building were used for games of ‘tag’. “Skip to My Lou” was another simple game of stealing partners (or swapping partners as in square dancing). Forming a circle while chanting the “Skip to My Lou” lyrics, the teacher’s designated pupil while skipping inside the circle would tap on the wrist the extended arm of one of the pupils (usually a girl) forming the circle. This would initiate a ‘girl chases boy’ race while skipping (no running was allowed). The chanting and skipping continued as fun was had by all!

4. Spelling was taught using the ‘Palmer method’. Printing was also taught (capitals and lower case letters and the Arabic Numbers as well). Pencils and their own self-help illustrated exercise books for spelling were provided free of charge to the class. The Alphabet [capitals & lower case letters] as well as the Arabic Numbers were posted across the wall atop the blackboard. For learning the English language’s ‘phonetic reading skill method’ we used a Reader Primer Book entitled ‘Dick and Jane’ [and ‘Spot’ the dog] much in use in the 1940s, 1950s and ending in the 1960s.

source: https://americacomesalive.com/dick-and-jane-story-of-these-early-readers/
Dick and Jane: Story of These Early Readers
Education, Only in the USA / By Kate Kelly

5.Arithmetic took a ‘back seat’ to all the learning activity described above. We learned the use of a primitive ABACUS, and pencil and paper to perform sums and subtraction [no pocket calculators existed back then!]. Except for sums and spelling, no math was demonstrated on the blackboard, that I can remember. I enjoyed the purchase and use of my first privately-owned SCHOOL HARDCOVER NOTEBOOK. Students were encouraged to keep a LOG, faithfully writing on a daily basis their thoughts and record truthful accounts of their activities.

6.Science consisted in performing simple experiments. For example, performing the supervised close observation by students of the growth and development of a plant seed, first OBSERVED sitting in the bottom of a glass container full of water placed in the classroom windowsill under the sunlight. The class would later use a ‘planter’ to grow flowers from seeds that came in tiny paper bags. A gardening skill. Outside the window overlooking PS 5’s front yard, there was an attached mercury thermometer. One sultry afternoon, we observed a reading of 117 degrees Fahrenheit in one of Astoria’s late spring sunny days.

7.The school did not have a library for the student body to use. We made special trips on ‘field day’ to several of Astoria’s own Queens Public Library Branches where it was possible for students to apply in person and obtain from friendly librarians their own Queens Public Library Cards and use or borrow the Queens Public Library Branch’s own books and other materials available in the facility. Other activities during ‘field day’ included awesome visits to Hayden Planetarium and the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan [located in Central Park West].

8. ‘Principal’s Day’ activities involved us climbing the stairs to the PS 5 top floor auditorium dressed up in blue pants, white shirt and red tie. The girls wore dresses.


(*) From the podium standing in the middle of the auditorium, the Principal would read from the Bible and the student body would all sing a Hymn. ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ was sung in closing the ceremony.

(*) At the beginning of classes at 8 AM, the mixed student body would sing ‘America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)’ [to the tune of the British national anthem ‘God save the Queen’]. The line ‘let freedom ring’ in ‘America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)’ supersedes the line ‘God save the Queen’ in the British National Anthem. “The Star Spangled Banner” was adopted as the American national anthem only in 1931. Prior to that, ‘America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)’, first performed on July 4, 1831, served as patriotic hymn along with “Hail Columbia”.

After placing your right-hand palm and resting it over your heart on the left side of the chest, and on our feet, we recited the Pledge of Alliance to the American Flag that was placed hanging from the wall in every classroom of PS 5.


The 48-star flag in effect 1912-1959

Esta entrada fue publicada en Albertina Cunha Alfaya, ALVARO HERRAN, Alvaro Herrán Lima, ASTORIA, CENTRO DE HISTORIA DE VILLAVICENCIO, CORPORACIÓN CENTRO DE HISTORIA DE VILLAVICENCIO, Dr. Alvaro Herrán Medina, Pedro G. de Céspedes, PS No.5, PUBLIC SCHOOL No.5, Suzanna Augusta de Oliveira Lima, Suzanna de Herrán y etiquetada , , , , , , . Guarda el enlace permanente.


Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de WordPress.com

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de WordPress.com. Salir /  Cambiar )

Google photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google. Salir /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Salir /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Salir /  Cambiar )

Conectando a %s