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Dear Teacher:
My Wanda will not come to your school any more. Jake also. Now we move away to big city. No more holler ‘Pollack’. No more ask why funny name. Plenty of funny names in the big city.
Yours truly,
Jan Petronski
A deep silence met the reading of this letter. Miss Mason took off her glasses, blew on them and wiped them on her soft white handkerchief. Then she put them on again and looked at the class. When she spoke her voice was very low.
“I am sure that none of the boys and girls in Room Thirteen would purposely and deliberately hurt anyone’s feelings because his or her name happened to be a long, unfamiliar one. I prefer to think that what was said was said in thoughtlessness. I know that all of you feel the way I do, that this is a very unfortunate thing to have happened — unfortunate and sad, both. And I want you all to think about it.”
The note began with a salutation to Miss. Mason. On that note, it was mentioned that Wanda would not come to school hereafter. Jake, her brother also, will not attend school. Wanda's father wrote that they would move to a big city. Then he mentioned that if they left the place, no one could call them "Pollack" (polish people). In addition, no one would ask them why they had a funny name. Then he said they were migrating to the new city and had plenty of funny names. Here, Wanda's father is trying to tell her that as they moved to the big city, there were people like them (polish people). So their name wouldn't seem weird while living along with them. He then ended the note by writing the feelings of a polish man.
Miss Mason was also stunned; thus, she cleaned her glasses with a soft white handkerchief. She then wore it again and looked at the class. She started to speak to the students. While she was speaking, her voice remained very low. Miss Mason told the children that she knew none of the boys and girls in Room Thirteen would purposely hurt anyone's feelings. After telling them that, she said she expected that no one had hurt Wanda or Jack's emotions because of their long unfamiliar name. Then she said if they had said anything about the names, they should have told without thinking anything. Then she said she knew that all the children in Room Thirteen were feeling the same way as she felt. Then she said it was a sad thing that happened to everyone and asked the children to think about it.
Meanings of the difficult words:
HandkerchiefA square piece of cloth or paper used for cleaning the nose or drying the eyes when they are wet with tears
WipeTo slide something over the surface of something else, in order to remove dirt, food, or liquid
Unfamiliar To not have any knowledge or experience of something
ThoughtlessnessA lack of thought about how your actions or words may upset someone
Unfortunate Unlucky or having bad effects
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). First Flight- The Hundred Dresses II-Eleanor Estes (pp. 73-83). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.