Contributed by Ephraim Zackson, MD
My mother’s parents came from small shtetles in the vicinity of Grudno and kuvno in czarist russia, emigrating in the 1880’s. Her Father became a glazier and a locksmith, fathering 13 children in This ,the “goldener land.” the family made many moves, eventually Ending up in the bay ridge section of Brooklyn, New York.
My mother was the twelfth child. Though the family was perpetually poor, Books were always a common item inthe household, and mama became A reader at an early age. When she entered the first grade in the Public school, it was rapidly apparent that she was an excellent Student.
The first grade teacher felt that mama could do second Year work and advanced her to second year class during the first week of school. The second year teacher had a reputation of not liking Jewish people and was upset in having mama in her class. She gave mom a test, including the question: ,”how many legs does a chicken have?” my mother wrote down “four”. The teacher, angry that this stupid child was skipped into her class, immediately took her down to the principal’s office, and demanded that this “idiotic Child “be sent back to the first grade.
The principal asked my mother how she came to the answer. Mama replied that her mother would send her to the kosher butcher to get what they could only afford, namely “ein viertel chicken”. Since a quarter of a chicken had one leg, a whole chicken[which she had never seen] must have four legs.
The principal sent her back to the second grade, and mom went on to become an outstanding student!