My Life — An Autobiography circa 1984

Earlier in the week, in my writing about writing post, I mentioned the fact that in 6th grade, I had to write an autobiography. This afternoon, while doing ever more spring cleaning, I found a copy of it. It’s not terribly long and it’s very amusing to me and I simply can’t resist quoting it here in its entirety for anyone who is interested. This is how I summed up my life nearly a quarter century ago.

Preface
I’d like to give credit to my mother and father for given me ideas and typing this.

I’d like to thank my brother for helping me get organized, and I especially want to thank myself for putting more effort into this than almost any other thing I do like this.

I thought it was difficult and I did wait till the last minute and also my spelling probably stinks. I enjoyed doing this and I did my best.

My Family
My family consists of five people. My mother, Bernice, my father, Ben, my brother, Doug and my sister, Jennifer. I had a brother named Gregory but he died when he was eleven days old.

My mother and father were married in 1967. They will be married 17 years this July 10th.

My family has lived in four different states: New York City, NY, Somerset, NJ, Warwick, RI and now Granada Hills, CA.

In the Bronx we lived on the second story of an apartment building. We lived on Wallace Avenue right near the Bronx Zoo. In New Jersey, we moved into our first house. It was a three bedroom two bath ranch and it was great. In Rhode Island we moved into a two story house. It had three bedrooms and two and a half baths. It was a raised ranch. Now we live in a three bedroom condo on Woodley Ave.

Our relationship is great. No problems what-so-ever. My mother and father both work. My father works for “Bonnie Doon”. My mother works as a secretary in the purchasing department of “Rantec”.

My brother is in fourth grade. He is very smart. He is also very athletic. My sister is in her last year of pre-school. She is smart and has a lot of energy.

My Childhood
I was born in New York City at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center at 3:15 PM, March 27, 1972. When I was born I lived in the second apartment building on Wallace Avenue.

This will not be a long chapter because it will be hard to remember a lot of things.

When I was very small (under one year old) I would smear food all over my face. I went on my first big trip when I was four months old. We went to Chicago to visit relatives. Just before we went to Chicago I fell off the table and bumped my head. I was taken to the hospital but I was okay.

We had a big party on my first birthday. We could have about fifty to sixty people now that we had moved to New Jersey into our new house. It was our first house. It was a ranch with three bedrooms and two baths.

The Spring after we moved in, after my birthday when I was one, I met my best friend and the best friend a person could have, Brent Zoba. Brent and I are still friends today. As a matter of fact, he’ll probably still kill me if I get technical in astronomy with him.

When I became about two, I came for my first time to California. I came to visit my Uncle, Aunt and cousins with my mom. While I was there I went to Disneyland, but I know that from looking at pictures. The only thing I remember clearly was walking up the stairs and seeing a moth fly by.

The only thing I remember from when I was three is going to the Bronx Zoo, getting toy golf clubs and getting an electric train set.

Finally, when I was four I went into pre-school.

My School Years
My first year of school was in 1976. That was my first and only year in nursery school. I was four years old. Strange things happen to everybody in their first year of school. The strange thing that happened to me was I always enjoyed going to school and playing. Well during the middle of the year I didn’t want to go. I would walk in with my father. He’d say hello and then he’d walk out to go back home and I’d say good-bye and try to sneak home with him. It never worked but I didn’t know any better.

The last day of pre-school I graduated. They had a really nice graduation. We dressed up in caps and gowns and got diplomas.

In 1977 I went to kindergarten. There I learned the alphabet. The only thing that was interesting that happened in kindergarten was the circus. Our schools kindergarten had a circus every year. We sang songs, dressed up as animals and animal trainers. I was the strong man. It was fun.

During the summer my brother and I joined a parks and recreation group called Safety Town. There we learned how to rise safely, about the danger of fire and poison. I went there for two years.

In August of the same summer, we went to Arizona. We stayed at my grandparents house when we arrived there. While we were there, we went to Oak Creek Canyon, we went swimming a lot, we went to Montazuma’s Castle, and we visited several ghost towns

Well, it was time to go back to school. I was entering first grade. Everything went well until one week in the middle of the year I was walking home from school and two bigger kids started bugging me. So, I spit at them. The next day I told the principal the reason I didn’t want to go to school was because I thought I would get in trouble for spitting at them.

Second grade started out bad. I was going into school late. I was not completing my work. Then we moved to Rhode Island. I completed second grade much easier there.

That summer we went to many places. We went to Fall River, MA to see Battleship Cove, Mystic Seaport and Aquarium, Sturbridge Village and finally, we went to Washington, D.C. We went to the Air and Space Museum, The Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and more.

The summer ended, time to go back to school. 1980 I entered third grade. In third grade I had one of the nicest teachers I’ve ever had. It was a normal year. That is also the year I won second place in a drawing contest.

That summer my cousins from Israel came to visit. I also went to camp.

Fourth grade I dropped badly in math and reading.

In April I went to get my tonsils out of April vacation. I got out of the hospital the same day I went in, April 19th.

At the end of the school year I was dropped a math level.

That summer was my first year on a minor league baseball team. Towards the end of the season I was an all-star first baseman.

Fifth grade was an average year except for that dad was looking for a job out in California. When the school year was over, my brother, sister, my mother and I spent most of the summer in New York until we came to California.

Outstanding Me
I have already mentioned earlier one of the outstanding things that happened to me. I was in an electric safety drawing contest. I drew a picture of a bathroom with running water in the sink and a wire of a dryer in the sink. On top it said, “Water and Electricity a Deadly Combination”. With that I won second place in the contest.

One outstanding thing I did was two summers ago in Spring Valley, NY. My brother, friend, my cousin and I were playing outside and we smelled smoke by the laundry room. So we went to look and there was a fire. My friend stayed down by the laundry room with my brother and my cousin and I ran to tell my grandmother. My grandmother called the superintendent and he came to stop the fire. He said if we didn’t say anything the whole building could have burned down.

Another interesting thing that happened to me which I have also already mentioned is when I got my tonsils out.

My Hobbies
My first real hobby started when I was in pre-school. My hobby was studying astronomy. That is was I really enjoyed doing. I even had a scrap book I was making with pictures of Jupiter.

By the time I was in kindergarten, I could recite the planets in order in distance from the sun. The only books I would check out of the library were books on astronomy. When I was in first grade, my mom and dad got me a telescope. By that time, I knew how to use star charts and that summer I found Saturn and in my telescope you could see the rings.

After about three years I got into drawing. I would draw anything. I used to draw so good, that I won second place in a school drawing contest. Today, I still draw and I am as imaginative as ever.

During my period of drawing I found out about a game called Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a fantasy role-playing game in which you make characters with their own opinion on things to fight as good or evil classes in the realm. Speaking about Dungeons and Dragons, I played that game for three and a half years. After a while of just drawing and playing Dungeons and Dragons after school everyday, I needed another hobby. As if its a hobby finding hobbies, I found another one. I got into airplanes. Then I would mix hobbies. I read a lot about airplanes and my father told me a lot about them. So, I drew pictures of airplanes from every angle including the cockpit.

Today, I enjoy trying to break dance and I like to draw. I’m also into basketball, planes, and models. So I hope to join a summer league this summer.

Off to the Future
I’ll start with what I’ll be doing after High School. After I graduate High School I will join the Air Force. I will stay in the Air Force for three to four years. I would like to acquire training as a test pilot and astronaut.

After the Air Force, I want to go to Harvard University for four to six years. When I am there, I want to take courses in Mathematics, Computer Science, Astronomical Science and Aerodynamics.

I would also like to take the required flying time to become a pilot. Then I want to take training to become an astronaut.

During my regular time, I would like to get married and raise a nice family.

Teachers Comments
The following is what my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Height, had to say about my autobiography assignment.

Story: A
Spelling: A
Organization: A+
Grammar: A

Jamie,

This autobiography is superb! It is beautifully organized and very well written, but then most of your stories are exceptional. It’s nice to know you have such a strong friendship with another person. I was dazzled by your collection of photographs. Numbers 30 and 11 are nice but my very favorites are 2 and3.

Addendum, 23 years later, April 8, 2007
It is exquisitely embarrassing to read this, 23 years later. The writing is actually not so bad. Some of the things I said, however, ugh! Break-dancing! What was I thinking? Until I reread this today, I had completely forgotten about the drawing contest. I remember nothing about it, except for the actual picture that I drew, which I can see in a vague way in the shadows of my memory. I also have no memory of “studying astronomy” in pre-school! If that is, in fact, true then I was more of a prodigy than I thought. On the other hand, I also have no memory of dropping a level in math at the end of fourth grade.

I do remember wanting to join the Air Force. While I never ended up joining (I had romantic notions of what it was like to be a test pilot), I did ultimately get my pilot’s license, on April 3, 2000, a mere 16 years after my autobiography was written. I do not remember ever wanting to go to Harvard. I can only imagine how terrified my parents must have been to read that I fully expected to go to an Ivy League school.

There you have it. The life of a world-weary 12-year old. The I can see some of the beginnings of what would eventually evolve into my terrific sense of humor in the writing. I can also see some of my early cheerful self-appreciation. Sixth grade, incidentally, was probably my best academic year in all of elementary school, so much so that the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce gave me an award for Outstanding Achievement. Unfortunately, it was the last significant scholarly award I was to get.