About 1900 my parents came to the United States as children from what was then the Polish area of Russia.
For example, I am not a good craftsman.
Going to school and working for good marks, indeed working for very good marks, was a serious business.
However, Allied Printing brought the four of us into the middle class and kept us in the middle class thru the Depression of the 1930's.
I loved to build with the Erector set, I loved to build toys and models out of wood, I loved to draw mechanical devices, even those I could not build.
Natures' curriculum cannot be changed.
There were two free public libraries within walking distance of my home; I remember taking six books home from every visit, the limit set by the library.
As Jews, their families left Russia to escape the poverty and the antisemitism.
I was also interested in chemistry, but my parents were not willing to buy me a chemistry set.
My parents were determined to move into the middle class.
The remoteness of my parents from the schools, so unfashionable today, was often painful for me, but I learned early to deal with an outside and sometimes hard world.
This was good training for research, because large parts of experimental work are sometimes boring or involve the use of skills in which one is not particularly gifted.
Their educations ended with high school - my father going to work as a clerk and then salesman in a company dealing in printing and stationary, and my mother working as a secretary and then bookkeeper in a firm of wool merchants.
Whatever the course, whether the course was boring or interesting to me, whether I was talented in mathematics or not talented in languages, my parents expected A's.
My parents regarded school teachers as higher beings, as did many immigrants.
I learned quickly, as I tell my graduate students now, there are no answers in the back of the book when the equipment doesn't work or the measurements look strange.
They wanted me to play more sports because they were acutely sensitive to their children being one hundred percent American, and they believed that all Americans played sports and loved sports.
Along with my parents insistence, soon internalized, that I do very well in school, went my love of reading and my love of mechanics.
I read everything: fiction, history, science, mathematics, biography, travel.
Naturally, I have compensated in my adult years by owning very large numbers of books.
It was good fortune to be a child during the Depression years and a youth during the war years.
In my high school, two foreign languages had to be studied, four years of English was required, and that meant mostly grammar and composition.
A parent being called to the school because their child had misbehaved was as serious as a parent being called to the police station because their child had robbed a bank.
These schools and the attitude of my parents towards these schools were important in preparing me for the work of an experimental scientist.
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