Shirley’s Parents, Leo Schlanger and Ceil Sauerteig
Shirley’s parents, Leo Schlanger and Ceil Sauerteig, were Jewish immigrants from Poland. They ran a grocery store in New York and, for a time, in New Jersey.
Shirley was born Dec. 17, 1933, just after her mother arrived in the U.S. They joked that the timing meant she could become President.
Shirley and Baby Sister Rosalind
When Shirley was 22 months old, her sister Rosalind (referred to as Roz) was born.
Shirley at the Beach
Shirley grew up in New York and New Jersey. She frequently visited the beach with her family.
Homework in Kindergarten
Shirley’s sister Roz was an athlete. She played basketball and liked riding her bike around the city. Shirley, on the other hand, loved going to school and enjoyed reading in her spare time. Her mom said she was the only child who claimed to have homework in kindergarten.
As a young child, Shirley wanted to be a teacher. She lined up her sister Roz and her dolls and tried to teach them. Roz wouldn’t sit still, and Shirley gave up on teaching.
The Future Lawyer
When Shirley was 4, she wanted to be President. At age 6, she changed her career plans. She decided to be a lawyer. Her parents never discouraged her.
While living in Poland, Shirley’s mother was a talented seamstress. In the U.S., she worked in the family store, but she continued to make clothes for her girls.
An Influential Teacher
Shirley’s favorite grade school teacher was Miss Hauptman. In her civics class, Hauptman stressed constitutional rights, even for minorities. Her class made a big impression on Shirley.
Injustice at the Library
Shirley lived in New Jersey for a few years during grade school. The public library refused to give her a library card because her family did not own property. She thought that was unfair.
A Great Love of School
Shirley loved going to school. When not at school, she preferred to be home. She hated going to summer camp and did not like sleepovers.
High School at Age 12
Shirley excelled academically, skipping several grades in school. She started Hunter College High School in New York when she was just 12 years old.
Drawn To Student Government
Shirley enjoyed participating in student government activities at Hunter College High School. She worked long and hard on several campaigns.
The Sibling Relationship
Shirley and her younger sister Roz shared a bedroom in their family home. While they had very different interests and friends, they got along well. Later in life, they especially enjoyed traveling together.