You can just make out the date, 4/25/61, on the rectangular black-and-white identification board in the back of the room, on the right. Most of these people were together from first through sixth grades, and this particular classroom is the setting of a key scene in A Brooklyn Memoir. A chapter titled "The Third Grade: 1960" begins like this:
"Does anybody know someone who was in a concentration camp?" our teacher, Mrs. Feinstein, asks the class during a social studies lesson.
Daniel Silver is the only one who raises his hand.
"Who do you know, Daniel?"
"My mother," he says. "She was in Dachau."
"Do you know how she survived?"
"She could split logs into three even pieces with an axe."
"Your mother has a good eye. She's very lucky the Nazis found that useful."
This photo demonstrates the inherent truth of William Faulkner's best known line: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
I'd been out of contact with my classmates for a half century as I wrote A Brooklyn Memoir. I had no idea what had become of them. I didn't know if they were alive. A Google search revealed nothing.
About a year ago, I received an e-mail. My former classmates were organizing a mid-pandemic Zoom reunion. Would I like to reunite?
Sometimes the past is best left in the past. This time I welcomed it back.