Teenage Years

Getting Along in America

"I was on my own until it was time to go to school."

"We had a very small apartment in the section of New York called Sunnyside in Queens. Where [my mother] worked, the textile company was in Manhattan, so she would leave the house at 7 or 7:15 in the morning, catch the subway which was a block and a half away. She would come home at 5:30 or 6 o’clock at night. I was on my own until it was time to go to school. The neighborhood we lived in was not the very best... I was one of those kids that when I felt like going to school I did. When I didn’t feel like going to school I didn’t.

When the letters started to come telling my mother I was truant, at first I explained to her that they were letters of commendation about how well I was learning English. I got away with that until she started to learn English."