On March 4th, I wrote about my grandmother Ethel Alzafon (Bloomfield) in the post Hats Off To the Top Fearless Female. It's only appropriate that I write about Ethel again on International Women's day. She was an amazing woman and I'd like to share her writing. When our family encouraged her to write her story she signed up for Memoir writing class. She was in her seventies at the time, and died about a year later. Unfortunately, she only completed nine chapters (not quite enough for a book). I incorporated five of the chapters into my book Stored Treasures, which is Minnie Crane's Memoir, Ethel's mother. I chose to include Ethel's perspective in her mother's memoir, and this short chapter is a good example of how much insight Ethel's stories shed onto her mothers life.
November 15, 1994
My First Report Card by Ethel Alzofon.
|Ethel (on the left) and a friend, 1927 (First Grade)|
My first report card almost cost me my life. My parents took turns driving me to school when we lived at 1919 Austin Street, corner of Pierce Avenue, Houston Texas, in a two-bedroom apartment over my parents’ grocery store. The elementary school I attended seemed miles away to me as a small child, but now in retrospect, I doubt if it was even a mile from our residence.
We moved to Houston in October, 1923, and enjoyed a few years of prosperity until the market crashed in 1929. My parents chose a location for their grocery store in an unpretentious area of mixed residencial and commercial properties, close enough to a wealthy neighborhood to attract customers who phoned in their grocery orders for my father to deliver to their homes. When I was much older I realized that our clientele included some of Houston’s most prominent families.
When my Father drove me to school, we went in his 1923 Ford truck, which he used for picking up merchandise from the wholesale houses and produce market, and for making deliveries to the customers. I felt important riding in the truck with my father, whom I considered the best business man in the neighborhood. He was certainly more important than my friend Peggy’s father, who was a barber, or my friend Helen’s father, who was an insurance salesman.
|William Bloomfield, Ethel's next to Ethel |
who is proudly sitting in the Ford.
I believe this is the 1923 Ford Truck and not
the 1925 Model T Sedan, but it's hard to say because
William is obstructing the view of the back of the car.
It was raining the day my teacher gave each of us our first report card. The teacher complimented those of us who made all “A”s. She instructed us to have one of our parents sign the space provided on the back of the card, and return the card to her the next day. Then she continued with our class work, so all I had time for was a quick glance at the card, and expected to examine it more carefully on the ride home. However, I hadn’t counted on the problems caused by the rain.
When my mother picked me up after school, I got in the car and handed her my report card immediately. She was very proud of me, and praised me for making all “A”s, but didn’t give the card back to me. She placed it carefully on the back seat to dry, because it was soaked from the rain. I protested that I hadn’t had a chance to look at it carefully, and I wanted to hold it and read it. Mom won this little argument, turned me around facing forward, and started driving home.
Two blocks from our store covering a whole square block of ground was Saint Joseph’s Hospital. I felt that when we were that close to home, I should have the right to see my report card. I turned around in my seat, got up on my knees, and leaned over towards the back seat, hoping to reach the card.
Mom said, “What are you doing?
“I’m trying to get my report card,” I replied.
“Don’t touch it yet,” she answered. “You’ll get it dirty. I’ll give it to you when we are inside the store and out of the rain.”
“I’ll be careful with it. I can’t wait any longer, “ I insisted.My mother tried to stop me by pulling on my dress with her right hand, not realizing that her left hand, still controlling the steering wheel, was slightly pulling to the right also. It changed the direction of the car to the right just enough to cause it to run into a parked car. We probably weren’t going over fifteen miles per hour, so this was not a major accident, just a little bump that broke a front headlight. However, because safety glass had not been invented yet, the windshield broke.
Actually, the windshield didn’t just break. It shattered, causing everything from large pieces of glass to little splinters to fall everywhere. I started rubbing my left eye. My mother thought I might have glass splinters in my eye, so she parked the car behind the car she ran into. We each got out of our car door, she took me by my left hand, and we walked to the Emergency Room of Saint Joseph’s Hospital.
As soon as we entered the Emergency Room there was a flurry of excitement. My mother tried to explain that we had been in an automobile accident and she was afraid I had glass splinters in my eye. However, the nurses and doctor had seen something my mother hadn’t discovered. My dress on my right side was soaked with blood. When they took off my clothes they found a two-inch gash in my neck behind my right ear bleeding profusely. The doctor’s closer examination caused serious concern.
“If your automobile accident hadn’t happened right outside a hospital, this little girl might have bled to death before you could get medical attention for her,” I hear him tell my mother.
"The piece of glass that slashed her neck had penetrated to within an eight of an inch of her jugular vein,” he continued. “Do you know how lucky she is to be alive?”I don’t remember whether my mother answered him. Probably I fainted, because I don’t remember the surgery or the rest of the afternoon. I do remember the next morning when I woke up in the hospital room and asked my mother,
“Now, may I have my report card?”
If you enjoyed this post and want to read more post from this series, visit:
Women's History Month Day 1: Fearless Females: Favorite Female Ancestor & Genealogy Guru!
Women's History Month Day 2: Fearless Females: Third Great-Grandmother!
Women's History Month Day 3: Fearless Females: The Middle Name That Almost Was
Women's History Month Day 4: Fearless Females: Hats Off to the Top Fearless Female!
Women's History Month Day 5: Fearless Females: How I Met Your Mother
Women's History Month Day 6: Las Mañanitas
To learn more about +Lisa Alzo's 31 inspirational writing prompts in celebration of Women's History Month visit her blog: The Accidental Genealogist. It's not too late to join!