At Junior English (in Rome) I was starting to be the troublemaker wisecracker who sits in the back as a teacher anti-pet. When I got to OSR (Overseas School of Rome), in 4th grade (Ernie Leichter’s class), I could already add 8 digits across and had done multi-base arithmetic in pounds, shillings and pence (not yet decimalized) and my teachers thought I was a genius.
That relatively high self esteem started to extinguish again in Bradenton FL (blacks and whites sat separately in cafeteria mostly) as I again retreated to the back of the room with the other troublemakers, highly critical of my dummy Floridanian teachers and not really eager to fit in.
Black kid to me, pointing to my combo lock: “Show me dat”. Ear against it, dial dial, click, open. Wow, talented.
White kid to me: “if you only combed your hair you’d have a girlfriend.”
Me: “God let school be over that I may watch Star Trek in our roach motel, while dad, recovering from hepatitis contracted on the West Bank that summer, looks for new work in northern capitals.”
Mom: “we’re moving to the Philippines”.