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In New York Leo greeted me at the dock and took me to his studio apartment at 58 West 57th Street, where I was installed on a couch in the foyer. Leo and Jennie Tourel had separated and now had their own apartments, although they continued to care deeply for each other and maintained a lifelong friendship. They simply could not live together. Leo confided that living with a temperamental artist had become too difficult. Leo could also be difficult to live with. He would, in a disarmingly charming manner and without explicitly raising any objection, stubbornly persist in doing exactly as he pleased. Leo shared his studio with Minos, his miniature French poodle, who had escaped the Germans together with Leo and Jennie. Minos was a lovely, highly intelligent dog but was given to jealousy when people came to visit. If he felt neglected he communicated his displeasure by chewing a finger off any gloves the unwary visitor may have left in the entryway. When it was time to leave, Leo’s guests would discover the mutilation, and an embarrassed Leo would try to make restitution. Consequently, Leo bought many pairs of new gloves. In fact, Minos honored me at our first meeting by venting his spleen on my precious pair of leather gloves, which I had unsuspectingly left on the table. I quickly got used to life in New York; in fact, I loved being there. Leo and I adapted well to living together and settled into a comfortable bachelor existence. I helped in the apartment and ran errands for him. We did not cook much but ate a lot of delicatessen cold cuts. Leo was obviously happy to have brought me over and proudly introduced me to his friends. Some of them perceived a family resemblance between us and often asked whether I was Leo’s son. During summer 1947 Leo went to Europe for an extended visit, and I looked after Minos and his stateside affairs. My English was adequate for face-to-face situations, but I found telephone conversations difficult. " A New Country, a New Beginning  158 THE WAR AND POSTWAR YEARS To make up for years lost in the camps, I was determined to finish my schooling as quickly as possible. My intent was to become an electronics engineer, an ambition I had nursed since before the war. In my mind there was no question that I would achieve this goal. Ten days after landing in New York I started attending the YMCA Evening High School just three blocks from Leo’s studio. I enrolled in fourth-year English, advanced algebra , and solid geometry, subjects I had not previously studied. My English was still somewhat shaky, but I had little difficulty keeping up with my classes. Despite the six-year interruption, I adjusted easily to the school routine . In fact, after years of manual labor I found the world of ideas extremely stimulating. I was unfamiliar with modern American literature and began to read voraciously. In addition to the required reading for school, I became acquainted with the influential contemporary American authors of the time: Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Sinclair Lewis, Richard Wright, and others. Most of my classmates were also in their early or midtwenties , and I felt comfortable there. After completing the spring term I took several Regents tests, the New York statewide high school examinations . Having attended high school in Riga, I essentially picked up where I had left off in 1941. I was permitted to take Regents even in subjects I had not studied here. Upon completing a second term of fourth-year English, chemistry, and trigonometry during the summer semester, I passed more Regents and received my high school diploma. The next step was college. A friend suggested exploring the possibility of entering the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We took a bus to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for an interview with the admissions officer. He listened sympathetically to my story, and upon learning of my lack of financial resources, he advised me that the City College of New York (CCNY) was an excellent school and that I should plan to attend it. Following his advice, I applied and was admitted to CCNY as an evening student in an electrical engineering course. CCNY was free, but as I did not meet the one-year city residency requirement I had to pay a modest $110 tuition for my first term. In February 1948, having fulfilled the residency requirement and satisfactorily completed my...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780870816925
Related ISBN
9780870817885
MARC Record
OCLC
52338922
Pages
192
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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