Richard Rothstein, born in 1942, was born in Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan, and lived on Webster Avenue with his parents who initially moved to the Bronx from Manhattan. Rothstein’s mother was a Hungarian immigrant, and he spoke Hungarian at home until the age of eight. The family later moved to Harrison Avenue, where he remembers having many Italian and Irish neighbors but very few Jewish ones. However, as Rothstein’s family was not religious, their lack of Jewish neighbors was not a bother. Rothstein remembers being bullied as a kid by some of his Irish and Italian peers and recalls the difficulties and joys of school.
Rothstein began his education at PS 115, where he attended for his first three years of elementary school before moving to PS 91. For junior high, Rothstein attended Junior High School 79, which he describes as prison-like. Rothstein then moved to California, where he lived with his brother and in-laws in an effort to modify his educational performance. However, he later moved back to New York, where he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School with an academic diploma. Later in life, he became an engineer and had a long career in environmental testing, even working on the Apollo at one point. Despite his educational difficulties, Rothstein believes that he got a good education and remembers fondly some of the individuals who helped him as a young student.
Additionally, Rothstein remembers the freedom of the New York public transportation system and the availability of free museum concerts, contrasting his experiences in New York to his experiences in California. Rothstein enjoyed the availability of things to do in the city and remembers concerts. movies and shopping with his mother were some of his most formative experiences growing up. However, in addition to the joys of his childhood in the Bronx, Rothstein recalls the fear of arson and riots that eventually led him and his wife to move out of the Bronx.
Webster Avenue, Harrison Avenue, PS 115, PS 91, Junior High School 79, DeWitt Clinton High School, white flight, Cross Bronx Expressway
Maier Garcia, Sophia, "Rothstein, Richard" (2023). Bronx Jewish History Project. 18.