The Island Trees superintendent's weekly letter to his community.
Submitted by Charles Murphy, Island Trees Superintendent.
is the land of
opportunity. Unfortunately, these opportunities have diminished in
recent years; however, with a little hard work they’re still out there
for young people.
During one of the worst periods in our country’s
great history -- The Great Depression -- opportunities
were few and far between for most Americans. Much worse than today’s
At this time, my paternal grandfather survived by
working his small farm and many odd jobs in
New York’s Mohawk
Valley. Although he had left school in the 8th
grade, he was considered fairly well educated for this time period.
Incredibly at this time, only about 10% of students graduated high
By in large, the Great Depression hit this part of New York
State -- the Leatherstocking Region -- hard. In
fact, employment opportunities were non-existent, and as a result, many
people began leaving the area looking for new opportunities. My
Frank left a few years earlier and wrote to him about a great
New York City’s Corrections Department. Cousin
Frank was living like a king as a corrections officer – he had an
apartment, new clothes, food in the pantry and a little money in his
pocket. He told my grandfather
that New York was looking for additional
guards and all that was required was a good score on their entrance
For an impoverished young farmer, my grandfather saw this
as “an opportunity”.
Sure he had to leave home, but without running water, a bathroom, or
electricity, the decision was a rather easy one. After all, he just
needed to take a test.
Fortunately, his tiny one room schoolhouse in
Herkimer had adeptly prepared him with a well rounded
education and the essential test taking skills. He found his way down
New York City where he took the corrections, as
well as the police department exams.
Given that he scored well on both
and that the police department paid better, he took at job with the NYPD
where further opportunities
to climb the departmental career ladder were available through
additional test taking. Shortly thereafter, he traded his distressed
farm for a house in
Brooklyn with running water, two
bathrooms, and electrical power.
With the knowledge gained
from that little schoolhouse, he was able to carve out his piece of the
These days opportunities may be challenging, but with an
education and the requisite skills today’s
children will be able to find their way.
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