The big move to the suburbs


I was born in Providence and moved to Pawtucket when I was 8 years old. Except for leaving my grandparents, an aunt and uncle and cousins, I was happy to leave. I went to the same elementary school as my dad and, beginning in the fourth grade, I was going to have the same teachers that he had had. I do not want to say the school was old, but the auditorium on the top floor was not safe so we never went there. 

We moved to a first-floor six-room apartment. What a joy! My mother had a dining room and two 9-by-12 wool carpets (one for the dining room and one for the living room). Since we now lived in the suburbs, (only in Rhode Island could moving from Providence to Pawtucket be considered a move to the suburbs), we became a two-car household. I remember my parents talking about how nice the landlords were, a Mr. and Mrs. Horvitz.

Years later, while talking to a woman at a Jewish Federation of Rhode Island meeting, I found out that not only had her parents been our landlords, but she had once slept in the same bedroom as I. From that day on, whenever I saw the late Pearl Shein, I was reminded that we both shared a little of the past on Waltham Street.

The street had tons of children of all ages. We moved in the summer so all the kids were outside playing. The first girl my age that I met was Arlene Fishman. Although she did not go to my elementary school, we became good friends.  Arlene joined me in junior high and high school.

After college, Arlene moved to California and then Virginia. When she retired, she moved back to Rhode Island. During all these years, we have remained friends.

My brother and I were enrolled at the East Avenue Elementary School. From there, we would go to Sayles Junior High and then to West Senior High. All three schools were housed in the same building.

I had never been in such a beautiful school. The auditorium was on the main floor and was gorgeous. The halls were white with aqua tile, and the classrooms were bright with venetian blinds. Actually, the school was not that new. But coming from my old school, I was in heaven. Better still, none of the teachers had taught my dad.

MAY-RONNY ZEIDMAN is executive director of the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center.