Grammar School

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Mickey, with bugle, front rwo, second from rightIn 1913, I started Grammar School at the South Market Street School, which was located nearby our house. School was strict. I had strict orders from my mother and father to listen well and learn everything. It made me and my parents very proud and happy as I progressed through my first reading class.

Everyday when I arrived home from school I was made to sit beside my father in his shoe repair shop and read to him the day's class work. I had to read him the class reader and explain the story to him. He marveled at my progress. He would hug me and kiss me. That was something- it being in the warm period of the year.

My parents never learned to read or write English. They never went to school in America. Whatever they learned about English while living in the USA was self-taught. Often I would help them with their English, translating something into Italian for them.

I did well at school, and had no problems, except once I did something I was not suppose to, and made my teacher angry. She wrote a note to my parents asking them to come to school and meet with her. She gave me the note and told me to give it to my parents.

I was a nervous wreck. I expected all hell to break out when I showed the note to my parents. I had to think what to do, and I had to think fast. I read the note and below it I wrote, "My father deeply regrets that he is unable to come to school at this time, but he shall strictly discipline his son and see that it never happens again." Then I signed his signature like he signs it in Italian, "Nicolo Maffei."

It was a dangerous thing to do, but I had no choice, and it worked. The note was accepted, and you can rest assure that the problem never happened again. After that, I did everything with strict discipline in mind.