Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A P.S. 131 class picture, 1964–1965

[July 2020: There’s new information about Mrs. Vistreich at the end of the post.]

[Click for a larger view.]

See? Little ladies and gentlemen, every one of us. Still our teacher is not satisfied. She turns to principal I.O. Gimprich. Why me? she asks. Just because, says Dr. Gimprich, climbing a wall, just out of the picture.

The above photograph shows Mrs. Roslyn Vistreich’s third-grade class, P.S. 131, Boro Park, Brooklyn, New York, 1964–1965. Mrs. Vistreich was not my favorite teacher, nor I her favorite pupil. She called me a clock-watcher — at 2:58 or 2:59, if you can believe it, which you should, because it’s true, I think. She called me Mr. Dooley, perhaps a diss of my Irish-American ancestry. She didn’t like my habit of whistling (melodies, not wolf calls). She charged me — on my report card — with being a danger to myself and my classmates: “Must try to walk up & down stairs more carefully to avoid accidents to self and others.” Yet she sent me off during class time to travel from floor to floor delivering notes to other teachers. I read the notes and found out her first name.

I once told a joke about Schaefer beer in Mrs. Vistreich’s class. Surely it confirmed whatever she already thought of me. But still, I “did good.” Under the words “Our Best Work” is my report “Building Materials.” It’s the one in the middle, the work of a tileman’s kid.

Do click for a larger view and enjoy the props on the desks, which I don’t think were standard in class pictures. Look at the MacBook on Barry’s desk. How’d that get there?


July 21, 2020: There was much more to Mrs. Vistreich’s life than met my third-grade eye. Here’s a story that features Fernand Vistreich, the man who became my teacher’s husband in 1964. For the unacknowledged source, see an article in the January 29, 1948 Daily News: “Doc Denies Consulting in Shorts.” The later Herbert Gehr story, with no Vistreich connection, is told in three New York Times articles: “Wife Seeking Data for Divorce Killed,” “Gehr Weeps As Trial Is Told of Shooting,” and “Gehr Is Acquitted in Slaying of Wife.”

[I’m uneasy about identifying fellow third-graders by last name without permission, so I haven’t. These photographs have faded and remain so here, as unimproved scans. I’m the kid with the blue shirt and necktie.]

More from the P.S. 131 collection
1962–1963 1963–1964 1965–1966 1966–1967

comments: 7

Slywy said...

I'm impressed that these are in black and white. My kindergarten class photo, rows of our head shots, is in black and white. Still well preserved.

Michael Leddy said...

I know you mean color. : )

Andy said...

Yeah, what was the story with the props? I've never seen or heard of that before. Were they things that were around the classroom or were they things that the students brought in for picture day? I especially like the kid with the Lionel boxcar.

Something that strikes me as I look at these pictures: grade school kids must come from a very limited number of molds, because I would swear that some of these kids were in my class too about ten years later.

Genevieve Netz said...

I am surprised at the old-time front-to-back desks in your classroom. (I suppose that style of desk did use space efficiently, though.) Did they have inkwells in them?

Michael Leddy said...

Andy, I have no idea where the props came from, but I know what you mean about the limited number of molds.

Genevieve, yes, there were inkwells, or what remained of them. Nothing to hold ink, but the metal lids were still attached (and fun to play with).

Ed Weinberg said...

hey Michael.....George Berelson posted this link so you know I had to check it out! This is Eddie Weinberg from your to see you are doing well after all these years.....
A few of us classmates are contemplating a 6th grade reunion of sorts....what do u think?
I'm on Facebook.....look me up!
all my best

Michael Leddy said...

Eddie, Ed, hello! I’m glad that you got to see the pictures, esp. fourth grade.

Alas, I don’t do Facebook. But if a reunion is in the works, please keep me posted. If my schedule will allow it, I’d like to be there.