Western Brooklyn

Earlier Maurice Sendak Illustration Surfaces In Boody Junior High School Yearbook

Source: Joseph Ditta of the Gravesend Gazette

Longtime reader, author and guest contributor of all things historical in Southern Brooklyn Joseph Ditta managed to find a Maurice Sendak illustration published even earlier than the one we ran last week.

The newly unearthed work is the “cover of the June 1943 Boody Beacon, the yearbook of David A. Boody Junior High School at 228 Avenue S in Gravesend,” according to Ditta.

Ditta’s blog, the Gravesend Gazette, also shows Sendak’s 1943 class photo and a 1940 U.S. census, of which Ditta writes: “Incidentally, for those who insist on claiming Maurice Sendak as a son of Bensonhurst, we present the following page from the 1940 U.S. federal census, which shows the Sendak family (on lines 20 through 24) — parents Philip and Sadie with their children Nettie, Jack, and eleven-year-old “Morris” — living at 1717 West 6th Street, between Quentin Road and Kings Highway. That’s right smack in the middle of Gravesend.”

This most certainly must be the earliest known published Sendak illustration, unless of course Ditta finds a copy of Sendak’s childhood doodles, which given his researching abilities, may not be too far off.

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  1. I was wondering what elementary school he attended. He lived in Gravesend in 1940, but the 1930 census shows him in East New York. I’m not sure where the Sendaks were in the decade between.

  2. I’m an educator, who has been working on a PH.D in cultural history. Additionally, my family resided in southern Brooklyn, as I still do, from 1920, till roughly about 2000. My sources tell me, that Mr. Sendak, with his family, probably was living in the vicinity of 18th Avenue and 60th Street, on the border of Borough Park and Bensonhurst, in the general period you are questioning. If that is the case, he would have attended, either P.S. 48, or P.S. 180. However there is a possibility that he might have attended P.S. 121, which was also nearby. This school has an unusually high number of elevated, and artistic people amongst its’ alumni, including Gene Barry, who played Bat Masterson, John Forsythe, of My Three Sons Fame, Robert Lewis, the Editor of The Real McCoys, Director of many Mod Squad episodes, and Tommy “Buckshot” Brown” who played for the Dodgers . Even the noted social commentator, Sister, Camille D’Arienzo is rumored to have attended, what is now called, The Nelson Rockefeller School. Hope this helps!

  3. As my current students would say, My Bad! In my reply to your previous post, I attributed, My Three Sons to John Forsythe, who had gone to P.S. 121. Of Course, My Three Sons, starred, Fred McMurray. Mr. Forsythe claimed to fame actually included, Bachelor Father, Charlies Angels’, Dynasty, and a significant role, In Cold Bloood! Sorry about that…

  4. Actually, I list three address for Sendak and his family on the link above (but here it is again: http://gravesendgazette.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/maurice-sendak-gravesends-own/). It is possible they lived in the vicinity of 18th Avenue and 60th Street sometime between 1930 and 1940, but in 1930 they were definitely in Brownsville, and in 1940, they were definitely in Gravesend. By 1942, when Philip Sendak, Maurice’s father, registered for the WWII draft, they were still in Gravesend.