With the school year rapidly approaching, even
today--53 years after I graduated from high shool--I still think of my Permanent
Record Card. I remember those steel filing cabinets and gaily colored manila
file folders. They held a level of secrecy that the CIA would envy.
My teachers at Far Rockaway High School convinced me that my records from PS 42 were transferred to the high school in a
Brink's armored truck and carefully stored in the basement at 70 degrees and 50 percent humidity, as recommended by the
Library of Congress.
When I misbehaved (cut class on Senior Day), forgot my absence note (mom took me to see the Broadway show, "Damn Yankees"), or arrived late (the Green Bus Lines were always late), there was that threat: "Marjorie, don't let this hapen
again, or I'll have to record it on your Permanent Record Card."
"Nishtu gedacht!" (Yiddish for "it shouldn't happen!")
Miss English, my principal, handled all discipline problems with four words. No, they weren't, "What's wrong with you?" She said, "Remember the Permanent Record."
My best friends, Cookie Schneid, Bonnie Ruderman, and Helene Mandel, had spotless Permanent Record Cards. Mine, I'm convinced, stated that I suffered from frequent bouts of "Jahnsinitus"--that sudden pain one gets in the sinuses from
eatng the "Kitchen Sink," an ice cream sundae with a little bit of everything, at Jahn's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor.
I was sure that Florence Bressler, my business teacher, had written, "Marjorie is convinced that the 3 R's are an acronym for the Royal [typewriter] Road to Romance.
Because of those Permanent Record Cards I never left a classroom without the wooden lavatory pass, never uttered the four-letter
curse word, never went up the down staircase, and never read "Lady Chatterley's Lover."
During my senior year, I trembled with fear. Would the admissions director at NYU, my first employer, and the IRS all request an "official" copy of these files?
Truthfully, I never saw my Permanent Record Card.
For all I know, those file cabinets might have contained extra Delaney cards, back copies of Confidential, a magazine filled
with sensational fact and innuendo about celebrities, or the school secretary's galoshes.
What comes to mind now as I reminisce is the image of caring teachers who inspired industry and trust, and the existence of the
Permanent Record Card.
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