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Sweet Revenge

by Barbara Federgreen Anderson

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          When I was 5 years old we moved to 49th St. from Inwood in Manhattan and I began kindergarten at P.S. 11  in Woodside.  It was a large wooden structure and I believe it burnt down.  Two years later we moved to 48th St. and I began to attend P.S. 150 where I was to enter 2B, the 2nd half of 2nd grade.  However, B classes were phased out and I “skipped” to 3rd grade.


           My teacher was Mrs. Levine, a portly lady with many anecdotes about her two young sons.  One day my mother and I met her after school and my mother asked about a particularly challenging boy in my class, J.E.  “OMG,” Mrs. Levine cried out, “I left him in the cloakroom,” and scurried off to release him.  Memory has it that J.E. may have been “bad,” but he wasn’t dumb.  I think he must have been home planning more mischief.


          While I loved school, going to and coming was exhausting. I walked 7 blocks there in the morning and then home at noon for lunch, our main meal of the day.  What seemed like only minutes later, I reversed the walk, usually arriving with a stitch in my side.  Then another walk home at 3PM, a change into “dungarees” and then out to play, whether I wanted to or not. I worked hard to rally playmates as many of them had music lessons, Brownies and other after-school activities.


          Did I mention I was a klutz? When I was 8 years old, I tried to test my balance on the bar of a missing see-saw, fell off and broke my arm.  I was carried to our doctor’s office where he set it, with no anesthesia.


          My family spent every summer at Rockaway Beach but on hot days before and after I went to the Sunnyside Pool on Queens Boulevard and 50th St.  There were some rough kids in my neighborhood and I did my best to stay on their good side.  I was often the butt of their teasing due to my physical awkwardness in sports and my having the vocabulary of an only child. 


          One day when I was 10, several of them invited me to go to the pool with them. Innocently, I thought they wanted to be friends.  We changed into our suits, entered the pool area, and stood at the edge looking at the water.  Suddenly, one or several of them pushed me into the pool. Thanks to my summers spent at the beach and unbeknownst to them, I was a very good swimmer.  I quickly recovered myself, looked up at them, and swam away.  Revenge was sweet!

          Barbara Federgreen Anderson grew up in Sunnyside, attended Queens College and Columbia University School of Social Work.  While living in New York, she worked in several state mental hospitals, at Travelers’ Aid Society and Jewish Family Service.  


          The Andersons left New York City to raise a son and two daughters in Southern New Jersey.  In 1993, the couple moved to San Francisco where they remained for the next 26 years, and where Barbara developed a private practice with a specialty in Sex Therapy, eventually getting a Ph.D. in Sexology.  


          Now in their 80’s, Barbara and Steve returned to New Jersey where they live in a Seniors’ complex with a full range of care although at this point they are still working and fit.

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