|Rose and Roy with Jerry|
(undated/in front of what appears to be a ship)
The exact years Jerry was in school in Guatemala are unclear, and family members are not sure whether it was a regular school or a military school, but his brother Roy recalls that before going to Guatemala, Jerry had been very ill and hospitalized for months in New York for his asthma, and he was actually sent to Guatemala to improve his health--and apparently it worked, because Roy reports that Jerry was much better on his return. Certainly, he recovered enough to be able to serve overseas during World War II. He later revisited Guatemala with his bride during their honeymoon, so one can assume he had fond memories of his time there.
I did a bit of research on Guatemala and discovered that the climate is far more varied than I previously realized. In the mountains in Guatemala, it is actually quite cool. In any case, I imagine there was far less pollution in Guatemala than in Brooklyn, so Jerry's sojourn in Guatemala now makes a lot more sense. This now makes a lot more sense to me--and in fact in the same period many people in New York City sent family members to the Adirondacks to recover from lung diseases such a tuberculosis, because of the clean, unpolluted fresh mountain air and sunshine.
My own Uncle Jimmy also suffered from asthma, and I had often wondered why my grandparents chose to send him to Fishburne Academy, a military boarding school in Virginia, unlike his siblings, who attended day schools at home in Washington, DC.
After getting the information from Roy and Dinah which helped me piece together the story, it now dawns on me that Uncle Jimmy probably went to Fishburne for exactly the same reasons as Ross's father Roy went to Guatemela, because Fishburne was located in the mountains of Virginia, with cool, fresh, clean air during the entire school year. (Washington DC classrooms were beastly hot and humid in September, May, and June.)
Also, at that time, I believe that many people still heated their homes with coal and the pollution levels in densely populated cities such as New York and Washington must have been terrible during the winter months. I assume that rural mountainous areas would have had pristine fresh air.
Indeed, Paul Schaefer, the noted environmental advocate who built the home we live in and who also fought to preserve the beautiful old-growth forest adjacent to the natural burial preseve where Ross is buried a mile away from here, traced his own love of wilderness to a time in his childhood when he and his brothers accompanied his mother to the Adirondacks in the hopes that the mountain air and vistas would "refresh her spirits and restore her ailing health."
Ross had some asthma as well, though fortunately not as severe as his father's, perhaps in part because environmental regulations have greatly reduced air pollution levels. I do remember that his asthma was worst during polluted times, and one of the reasons Ross loved living up here in Upstate New York since 1989 was that the air was far more pristine than anywhere else he had ever lived. He and I both rejoiced in all the natural beauty of the mountains and the fresh clean air surrounding us.
[Note: an early version of this post, which I created when I woke up in the middle of last night and couldn't sleep for a while, contained numerous errors. I think I have now corrected most of them but appreciate hearing from anyone with more to share. Thanks to Dinah and my mother for pointing them out. I welcome any additional corrections, additions, and clarifications.]