Welcome to The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 61!
The Usual Words of Wisdom
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The 1960s Pledge of Allegiance Brouhaha (Continued)
Writes Jeffrey Sandor Orling “ I was one of the Pledge of Allegiance protestors. I believe my name got into the papers and I received hate mail. America has a ˜religion' problem and is not the only place that does.
Writes Jack Wolf (1967) “ As one of the pledge refuseniks back then, I wrote a letter supporting our viewpoint, which Newsday published. I was hauled down to Mr. Wathey's office and lectured. My recollection is that he didn't really have a dog in the fight, or, at least, admit to it, but was just sweating out all the controversy, and I was not helping.
The 2021 Graduation Speech Brouhaha (Continued)
The Graduation Speech Brouhaha has not subsided, at least not in my inbox. Immediately below are two links to media coverage of the event and its aftermath, one article (from CNN), and then absolutely everything I have received on the subject, in rough class-year order. I have not censored or filtered anything (other than to remove some ad hominem attacks); so, if strong, acerbic opinions might anger you, please skip over this material, or at least get angry at the author, not me.
OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (CNN Newsource 6/27/2021) - A high school student says she was booed by parents while speaking at graduation.
17-year-old Huda Ayaz says she was in shock over what a group of parents said to her following a commencement speech she gave.
"I had adults coming at me aggressively, shouting at me," she said.
Wearing a hijab under her graduation cap, the Muslim-American student made a comment asking people to "Educate yourselves about international dilemmas including the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Uyghur Muslims. Families are continuously torn apart, and real human lives are being lost but ignored."
Shortly thereafter, as she received her diploma, someone at the event said, "Why didn't you say anything about Hamas?"
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic militant group which is at war with Israel.
Ayaz also says she was also booed and told to go back to Pakistan.
"It was incredibly overwhelming. My entire family was shocked by how aggressive they were being and how they were coming towards us like that," she said.
Following the ceremony, the school principal sent a letter to families regarding Ayaz's speech, saying, "The comments were not part of the approved speech. I apologize that such a wonderful ceremony became marred for many people in attendance due to those remarks."
Ahmed Mohamed with the council on American-Islamic relations is now calling on the school to give a public apology and to set the record straight.
"The school has never supported Huda in this process," he said. "It is absolutely false to say that Huda deviated from her speech. That did not happen. It's incredible the way the school has reacted to this by throwing a 17-year-old under the bus."
The school principal said the graduation ceremony was not the appropriate place to make political comments, but also condemns parents who he says were being disrespectful.
1960 - Writes Carl Stewart: The negative reaction to Huda Ayaz's speech is very dispiriting, but, unfortunately, not very surprising. Apparently, the negative reactions were mainly among parents and the seeming acceptance by most of Huda's classmates is a positive sign. Peace, Carl
1961 - Writes Gene Razzetti: Art, thanks for the newsletter. I watched the young lady and listened to her words. I had thought that the words, although provocative, must have been said angrily to have registered as they did. I did not gather that from seeing the video, and I tend to think that the uneasiness will ebb this summer as quickly as the tide ebbs at Jones Beach.
That said, I have to believe that indoctrination must have occurred at the Ayaz household, and not the Wheatley classrooms; and perhaps that the Establishment shows too much patience. Moreover, I suggest that her feelings came as no surprise to classmates. A compounding problem these days appears to be that NY teachers' unions run toward causes as fast as they run away from recertification.
During my years at Wheatley, some self-important students lost for us the reading of Bible passages at the assembly periods. Later, as you have reminded us older folks, Wheatley students brought about a spate of American Flag denigrations. The incident at the 2021 Graduation is yet another case where the opinions of young people are afforded undue standing and importance. I won't say Children should be seen and not heard, the popular expression that kept us in our places back in the day; but Ms. Ayaz needs to pay her dues before she can earn the right to be taken seriously “ let alone for her graduation address to become a teaching moment.
1965 “ Writes Peter Altschuler: My observant friends have known for decades that I'm not a real Jew. I'm just Jew-ish.
That may explain why, while so many Jews are willing to see themselves as victims of oppression, I'm more willing to see Jews as equal opportunity tormenters. I've seen it in Israel's treatment of its neighbors. I've seen it in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. I've seen it in my relatives in Scranton, PA.
This isn't new for me. In the late 1960s, friends in Roslyn didn't speak to me for days when I condemned a pre-emptive Israeli airstrike that killed dozens of innocent people. My friends claimed that, if Israel hadn't acted first, Palestinians would have killed many more on the Israeli side. That may play in the world of statecraft. It wouldn't play in court.
You can't kill someone and defend yourself by saying that you knew that that person was planning to kill you. If you killed the attacker in self-defense, that's justified. It's the difference, in my mind, between retaliation and pre-meditation, though I'm sure there are legal niceties of which I am unaware.
In the Middle East, the tit-for-tat annihilation has done nothing for the cause of peace. Not on either side. Jews against blacks in Williamsburg has been an ongoing battle for years. Jews against anyone who dares to drive through Bensonhurst on Saturday. My relatives against the Pollocks who worked in the mines. It seems that, no matter how many times over the millennia that the Jews have had to contend with prejudice and exclusion, they can always find someone to hate and demean just as much.
Golda Meir was sagacious enough to ask why, if the Jews are the chosen people, God gave them the one place in the Middle East that has no oil. Yet too many Jews I've encountered over the past 70 years have taken that chosen designation to extremes¦ and to the exclusion of people who are not like us. It went so far that a former film business colleague, who used to eat the same crappy coffee shop food we all did when working all-nighters, refused to eat food in my house when he visited me in California. Suddenly, my larder was ˜treyf.' He would only accept a cup of tea¦ in a paper cup.
I blame Abraham. If he'd kept his hands off Hagar, Ishmael might never have gone off to become the patriarch of Islam. Portnoy would have had nothing to complain about. And Jews would realize that pigs have cloven hooves and, unlike boars, don't eat flesh, so bacon is fine.
Anyone who could hear Huda Ayaz's remarks and get their knickers in a twist has too many built-in biases about all those horrible, no good, very bad people who, they think, are trying to bring back the Holocaust. They're not. They're asking to be given what Israel got.
There's an irony in that particular arc of history. When the British ceded land to the Jewish people for a homeland, the land they ceded wasn't called ˜Israel.' It was called ˜Palestine.'
1966 “ Writes Claude Levy: WOW! ˜Amazing Things are Happening Here!,' as goes the ad for New York Presbyterian Hospital. The speech obviously triggered hate, which one would have expected. As to me, I wasn't sure about the technical value of the accusation of ethnic cleansing. I did some research and found out that this was Richard Falk's claim. I guess this could have been mentioned somewhere along the line (including by the student who delivered the speech. If things were easy, one would know, right?
1967 “ Writes David Nathanson: Kudos to Steve Rosenthal/Roselaren, my classmate and former neighbor, for his comments, observations and especially the link to the now almost ˜viral' video. Hearing or reading about this incident is not the same as watching the YouTube video. Those few moments of Huda's speech were magical. A master of the moment, she was either appointed by fate or the destiny of al-Ahad (the One, the Only) for this role. And was she ever poised and ready.
To speak Truth to power¦. she had faith in her own self and her essential truth.
The reaction “ verbal harassment and abuse - was delayed. At the end of her speech there were no boos. The eventual kneejerk PC righteous anger at the perceived cultural insult was followed by a more reasoned approach.
Sean Feeney, the school Principal, sent an email of apology to the Wheatley community. The white caption beneath the you tube video also has a disclaimer distancing the school from any responsibility for the Sentence.
As I watched the whole speech I was affected by the self-reflective sincerity of this obviously thoughtful 17-year-old woman.
Perhaps the parents who took such umbrage do need to be educated about the reality that only the youth can end the seemingly endless climate of hate, the cycle of violence and retribution that has gone on for generations.
Thank you, Huda, for your truth, the necessity of your message and for your kindness.
1967 “ Writes Dan Silver: The Graduation Speech Brouhaha reminds me a bit of the early 1960s”only because of the school's proximity to or involvement in First Amendment controversy”when SCOTUS ruled it unconstitutional for a state (NY) to promote &/or encourage all public-school students to recite a state-provided morning prayer.
As I recall, the case was vehemently discussed in Wheatley's halls, classrooms & cafeteria, particularly the words ˜under God' that in 1954 were added to the Pledge of Allegiance; although I don't believe that the case brought by the ACLU at the urging of the Herricks School District touched on the Pledge issue.
But at the time”again as I recall”there was more than a bit of rancor within the community, even among students, that generally split along the lines of ˜anti-religion' vs. ˜pro-free speech' & ˜patriots' vs. ˜non-pledgers' (implied, ˜communists').
1968 “ Writes Bruce Ellison: The attacks on Huda's comments as anti-Semitic reflects the extreme fears that The Far Right government in Israel might be as rightly condemned as China, for its murderous and oppressive actions towards a people. We condemn attacks on Jews by a racist element claiming to support Palestinian rights but fail to do so when Jewish Israelis kill Palestinians. Wrong is wrong, regardless of actor. Change cannot happen unless truth is revealed and constructively acted upon.
It's a pretty poor response to comment about the raising of outrageous apartheid acts for discussion by trying to dismiss them as anti-Semitic. As Jews we should never permit ourselves to be involved in subjugating and trying to ethnically cleanse Israel. What about our teachings about justice?
1968 “ Writes Hilary Lori Wallach Marshak: Dear Arthur, It has taken me days to be calm enough to publicly address this situation. Ms. Ayaz said nothing about Jews, our rights, or the Holocaust in her speech. There is sufficient evidence to support an analysis of ˜ethnic cleansing' in both China and the West Bank, and by educating themselves these parents might not be so reactive and afraid. As we age we do tend to become more afraid, but I see nothing threatening in this young woman's remarks. Do Israelis hate Palestinians? Do other Chinese hate Uighurs? Some do, some don't, but it is our governments that wage genocidal wars.
1970 “ Writes Robert Abramowitz: I agree with you John Poulos! Huda's speech was hateful and full of half-truths. As a left-of- center Democrat, THIS is the kind of bile that will ruin my party if left unchecked. She should go back to the land of wonderful democracy that is the Muslim world. Good luck getting an education there¦.yeah, those wonderful Muslim, Arab countries that give rights to....NO ONE.!! Had I been there, I would have grabbed the microphone from her hand and shoved her off the stage and off the grounds¦..that was not the time to be "polite. She made schmucks of everyone who attended. Bar her sorry ass from the grounds forever!!
I'm sick of this Israel-bashing. No, I do not think the Israelis are perfect. But I don't want to hear this extremism at Commencement!! You think if I was a commencement speaker at a Catholic high school and trashed their church, they'd tolerate that?
1970 “ Writes Barry Lipsky: From Barry Lipsky, 1970 “ Dear Art, This is the first time I have felt the need to comment on your newsletters. I read what was written about Huda Ayaz, and while I can understand her comments, she is just another of the great speakers of our now one-sided conversations. It was right that she spoke about the Uighurs and their horrific situation under the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP is the Nazis of the 21st Century.
But for this person to equate what the CCP is doing to Israel is utter nonsense, and she deserved her rebuke. If Huda is so concerned about the plight of minorities, where is her outrage over what the Majority in her home country of Pakistan is doing to their Christian minority? Where is her outrage over 4,300 missiles being fired from Gaza at non-military targets in Israel? While I am mentioning her concern about the people in Gaza, where is her concern over what is being done under the name of Islam in Africa and elsewhere? Is it ok in her world that ancient civilizations can be wiped off the face of the Earth? There is a false narrative to her comments.
Lastly, the attorneys are coming out saying how she and her family suffered from the reaction to her speech. Seems to be just an old-fashioned sue and settle ploy!
1970 “ Writes Mitch Shapiro: What happened to that brave young lady during the Wheatly graduation saddens me. Lots of thoughts are going through my mind. What has become of this country? What this young lady said is no different from what all the yelling and hollering was back in the 60's¦.if you can go out and protest the war and all other things, then a simple statement and example of what was meant is no different. This whole unnecessary situation was a shame. In my humble opinion an apology was unnecessary. There is too much hate in today's society.
1970 - Writes a graduate: Art, are you really defending someone who is uneducated and simply racist? If she were educated she would know the definition of ˜ethnic cleansing.' Ethnic cleansing is the removal of the Jewish community in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. There is no ethnic cleansing in Israel; that is a classic anti-Semitic trope. She must have meant ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Jordanians and Syrians. Shame on you for giving her a pass.
1970s “ Writes a graduate: I don't know the answer to the dilemma of keeping the commencement pleasant for all vs. protecting free speech. But I do love your mixed metaphor [˜the middle of a hot potato']. I am imagining being in the warm soft center of a hot potato; of course, this potato would not be TOO hot, that would be agonizing. But in my imagination it is just right, like a sensory deprivation bath that you can snack on if you get the munchies¦ As a Jew, I hate it when the charge of ˜antisemitism' is hurled at any objection to behavior of any Jewish group anywhere. (For a local example: Was it anti-Semitic to object to the defunding of public schools in Rockland by the Hasidic school board? Or to object to the large mask-less gatherings of Hasidim in Brooklyn during the pandemic? They certainly claimed it was.] Whether or not it is appropriate to bring up such a complex and divisive issue in a commencement speech is another topic altogether.
1971 - Writes Dan Wolf: I too am deeply offended by the remarks of Ms. Ayaz. To put the ethnic cleansing by the Chinese of the Muslim Uyghurs in the same category as the plight of the Palestinians shows a true lack of understanding of what ethnic cleansing is. Ms. Ayaz's lack of empathy and understanding about ethnic cleansing, while talking to many families who lost six million of their relatives to Hitler and his gas chambers, is disturbing. The statement that there is ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians can only infer that this is being done by the aforementioned people; that statement and inference are despicable.
That there are issues between the Palestinians and the Israelis that must be settled by both sides is without question. False and inflammatory statements help no one and only add to the difficulties in trying to find an equitable solution. Hopefully we can leave this behind us and the Class of 2021 can celebrate their graduation and be especially proud of doing it through the COVID crisis.
1975 “ Writes Andy Schwartz: The response from John Poulos was right on target.
1980s “ Writes a graduate “ It is false, incorrect, and dangerous to say that Palestinians are being ˜ethnically cleansed' by Israel (not said, but doesn't need to be), and to make a parallel between what's happening between Palestinians and Israelis and an actual ethnic cleansing happening in China to the Uighurs. I appreciate giving a young person a platform to begin young adulthood by speaking out and holding thoughts and feelings and positions on real global issues. However, just like the newsletter states, you will refuse to publish blatant falsehoods. The notion of there being a Palestinian ethnic cleansing is a blatant falsehood.
Can someone take issue with how Israel has handled certain situations like the occupied territories or violence at border crossing or other government/political positions? Absolutely. Do the Palestinians deserve self-determination and some form of reparations? I'd would like to see that happen. Can Israel do better in other ways? I'm sure they could and hope that they are looking to do so.
But is there an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population by Israel? Absolutely not. Show me the data to prove me wrong. In fact, the Palestinian population has grown tremendously, not shrunk, over time. Arabs, Palestinians and other religious and ethnic groups even have representation in the Israeli government. There are, for sure, many, many ways that Israel could do better. However, to state that the Palestinians are being ethnically cleansed as a fact and make a parallel to the actual atrocities and ethnic cleansing of Uighurs is inflammatory, incorrect, and dangerous speech. Does the graduate have the right to share her viewpoints? Yes. But the viewpoints cannot be based in lies or twisted information. That is called ˜propaganda.' And again, they should take a note from your own newsletter and not publish blatant falsehoods.
I couldn't let this go without responding. There are a lot of attacks on Israel and Jews right now. The fact is that it is scary to be Jewish right now. I do not feel safe. I do not feel supported. I fear that people are forgetting 'Never Again.' Is the student's statement antisemitic? Not on the surface. No. But it's a very easy leap to go from anti-Zionist to giving license to attacking Jews in many ways, and that's what we're seeing now
The Passing of Legendary Wheatley Teacher Robert J. (Bullet Bob) Bernstein
Writes Mitch Shapiro (1970) “ Sorry to hear about Bob Bernstein's passing¦.I had him for social studies, and we chatted several times¦he was a new teacher at the time¦very well liked. I sought him out when I visited the school a couple of years after graduating¦I realized how involved he was with his students!
Writes Alan Angell (1973) “ I was very saddened when I heard that Bob Bernstein passed away. I recently reconnected with him and had planned on meeting when (and if ) I had visited NY again (I have plans for November this year, but Thailand, where I live, is locked down, and I don't know when I can leave and GET BACK to Thailand). I had some of my best classes with Bob and had some interesting experiences with him after I left Wheatley. Mrs. Rock, who taught 3rd Grade at Northside, and Bob were my two favorite teachers.
Clayton Albert Friis “ Deceased
Writes Daughter Rachel Friis Stettler “ My father, Clayton A. Friis, was the Superintendent of the district in the 70's. He recently passed away on Martha's Vineyard at the age of 95. When my father took the position, we moved to East Williston. I graduated from Wheatley in 1974. My brother Carl graduated in 1972, and my sister Tanya graduated in 1984. As you can see from the obituary, he took on life with gusto! He was very proud of his service in public education and was pleased to have been able to lead during the golden years, when there was great optimism and public and government investment in public schools.
Walter W. Wathey “ An inspiration to us all
Writes Elvira Vivi Cilmi Kunz “ Mr. Wathey was not only my principal and summer employer, but he also inspired me to go into teaching. Thank you, Mr. Wathey. I'm retiring this year after almost 50 years of teaching.
Steve Ehre “ Wheatley's School Within A School
Writes Steve “ In response to Laurie Senz '75: The letter you published came about after we had an enormous number of students enter the ˜School Within a School' in one year. We were up to almost 40% of the high school students. We were still having other teachers from other disciplines ad hoc teaching in the program. That went away the next year. Karen Bartscherer, part-time, and Peggy Meisel, 80%, stayed on, plus a new teacher, Jim O'Brien (physical education, and later Assistant Principal). Only Stu Doig, Ted Tchack, and I remained full time SWS teachers (although Stu and I were technically only 3/5ths). Even with the problems, it was a great learning experience for most students. But that year, too many were testing the limits of what they could get away with, particularly a group of male students. Not only were courses suffering with lack of attendance, but the Wednesday Community Building Days were getting hard to keep organized.
Ilene Schuss “ A Correction
Writes Ilene - I was a Mathematics teacher, not a Social Studies teacher. [Editor's note “ Sorry for the error; my bad]
Writes Edward Brown (1958) - If I may offer a few comments about this picture. First, it was the 7th grade class at Willets Road under Joe Goldwasser, who is on the far right of the back row. The eighth-grade class ahead of us was the class that had to stay at Mineola for all four years of high school. The feeling was that having spent three years there, it would have been too socially disruptive to move them to the brand new Wheatley School for only one year. The class shown in the picture, the 7th grade class as noted, did indeed move back to Wheatley after spending just two years, 9th and 10th, at Mineola, and then we moved to Wheatley for 11th and 12th grades. Thus, we became the First Class and the lead class of the brand new Wheatley for two years. And as I have noted in the past, it was a truly superb class. Aside from establishing all the class customs “ mottos, colors, nicknames, names of the paper and the yearbook, etc., etc., it triumphed in both academic and athletic achievements, and the individual members of this class, by and large, went on to become extremely skilled, talented, and highly successful adults in a wide variety of professions. Indeed, we set the high standards for which Wheatley has, from time to time, been named as the Number One Public High School in the Nation, and which level of performance it maintains to this day.
But as proud as I am looking at this picture, I am also very sad. We have had a number of class reunions over the years (40th, 50th, 55th, 57th, 60th), each one getting somewhat smaller than the previous one. I look at all those fine people in the picture that I knew and see how many of them are no longer here. Yes, very sad, but that, after all, is life.
Just for the record, I am still, obviously, ˜here.' That's me, back row, fifth from the left, in the plaid shirt. Go Wildcats!!!
Writes Diane Sharrock Moretti (1971) “ My brother, Glenn Sharrock, is the tallest student standing at the back of the room, between the two boys wearing white shirts. He was born in 1940, so these students are all approximately age 80.
Writes Julian “ I'm in good health after hip surgery. I have a second life, with no pain and I have started to play tennis. I have not taken pills for my health.
pre-orderTick Toc from a variety of places:
Dr. Nan Bauer-Maglin, Professor Emerita
The City University of New York
Widows' Words: Women Write on the Experience of Grief, The First Year, The Long Haul, and Everything In Between (Rutgers University Press, May 2019)
Tick Tock: Essays on Becoming a Parent After Forty (Dottir Press, September 2021)
Writes Stu “ My daughter lives in the East Williston school district, so if things go as planned, my three grandchildren will be Wheatley grads; I'm thrilled!
1960 “ Lynn Haussermann Allman “ Deceased
Writes sister Patricia A. Haussermann Klimas (1966) “ Art, I am sad to confirm that my sister Lynn Haussermann Allman passed away from lung cancer on June 26th, 2021, at the age of 78, with her family by her side. Lynn was always a positive, soft hearted, encouraging sister, mother, grandmother and friend whose love was great. After graduating from Wheatley Lynn went to Ripon College. She was married shortly before her college graduation and started raising her 3 children while moving to several states within New England, PA, and finally landing in Ohio, for her husband's career. Lynn's greatest passion was the education of all children. She ran for and won a seat on the Enfield Board of Education in Connecticut to address parents' rights within the school system; early childhood testing for learning disabilities and continued testing for any child, from reading to psychological issues, realizing that our future depends on the care of our children. During this time Lynn was licensed as an optician and worked in this field until her early 70s.
Lynn spoke recently about how she loved Wheatley but how apprehensive she was coming to a new school at age 14 - wondering if she would be accepted by the Wheatley students. She felt her classmates embrace/acceptance of her, and she kept busy with studies, sports, clubs, and cheerleading. Wheatley and her education were a positive influence and a fond memory for her. Lynn had attended a couple of her class reunions over the years and always enjoyed them. She was still in contact with classmate Mary Jane Johnson Fisch (who attended the celebration of Lynn's life) and others at the time of her death.
Her family and friends are feeling the deep pain of our loss.
Writes Stu Sanderson (1959) “ Lynn Haussermann was a special woman and Wheatleyite.
1964 - Ellen Solow Holzman “ Advocate for Liberal Education
Writes Ellen (who taught at Wheatley for 24 years!) “ Hi, Art. I thought you might like to see the letter of mine that Newsday published on July 4th.
To the editor:
As I read the editorial ˜Book limits unwise' [June 27], I was reminded of books I have taught. Inherit the Wind, for example, is a play based on the famous Scopes Trial of 1925, in which a biology teacher was prosecuted for teaching about evolution. Both the trial and the play are fundamentally about intellectual freedom, and also about what and how children are taught.
I expect it is only a matter of time before a teacher is put on trial for teaching about race relations in this country, probably in a state currently trying to outlaw the teaching of that misunderstood subject ˜critical race theory.'
I'm retired, but if I were not, would I get into trouble for teaching African American poets such as Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen? Or the play ˜Fences'? Or even ˜Huckleberry Finn'? One can't teach these important works of American literature without confronting issues of race, prejudice, inequality and more.
I agree with the editorial that the value of an education lies in challenging students . . . preparing them for the staggering realities that exist in adulthood . . . We do them a disservice when we limit their ability to understand the injustices of our world.<
1965 - Phyllis Brasch Librach “ Pinned at Willets Road
Writes Phyllis “ Like so many of you, during the pandemic I finally found the time to declutter my closets, basement and garage. I even got the chance to dig through my jewelry box, where I discovered a 1959 gold pin from the Willets Road School, photo attached. The pin had been forgotten for more than 60 years, as I moved from Roslyn Heights to Florida, then New York City before I made St. Louis my home in 1978. I have no memories of receiving this pin. Does anyone remember a pinning ceremony that marked graduation from Willets Road?
1967 “ Art Engoron “ Photographed with Colleague Alexander Tisch (1989)
Arthur (with the pink tie) and Alexander Tisch, surrounded by two lawyers at a bar association event.
Writes Gary Matthesen (1968) “ Art, I remember the 1967 United States Marine Corps' Physical Fitness National Championship Competition at the big base in Quantico, Virginia, when your left hand pinky cramped up like a claw after you did 16 pull-ups. You couldn't straighten it out and clearly were in pain, so we all jumped in and straightened it out for you. That was a scary moment in the competition. [Editor's note “ That pinky bothered me somewhat for years, but these days I do 13 pullups in a row several times a week without any issues.]
1967 “ Scott Frishman “ Friends and Good Fortune
Write Scott “ My wife and I had dinner with classmates Peter Kaplan, Kenny Hare and Steve Galan, and their respective spouses, upon our return from Florida in early May. Always great to see our old friends and particularly fun to eat outside with no masks on!!! It is so nice to finally feel somewhat liberated, as many of us have chosen to be vaccinated. It really is a no-brainer as far as many of us, especially at our respective ages, are concerned. Thank God we have had the privilege to be in a time of having a vaccine perfected in such a short period of time. How very lucky we are!!!
1967 “ Ken Lang “ An Early Color TV, and a Model Train Set
Writes Gary Kenton, 1968 “ Ken Lang's father was the first in the neighborhood to get a color TV set, and we were invited over to get a view of the modern world. I also have pleasant memories of the model train layout in their basement.
1967 “ Jill Simon Forte
Writes Jill “ Newsletter # 60 touched me with its political views, mine being liberal. I remember clearly the days of protesting against saying the ˜pledge.' I was one of the few that actually walked out the front gate to speak to a reporter (always a rebel 😊).
Graduation speeches should not be censored. What have we become in this country, a group of censor police? Too many people to the right of me think that think they are boss. Even here in mostly blue Connecticut, a small number of vocal Republicans managed to get our black superintendent to resign. His ˜problem,' basically, was that he wanted a bit of liberal thinking in our schools!
There will always be religious people that feel the need to defend their religion over others.' Which is why my only religion is kindness, and that's what I passed along to my kids and grandkids.
These are perilous times, even more than our years in high school. I don't have much hope for my grandkids having the health and freedoms we thought as hippies we would be starting. Republicans come to the political arena with guns, while, so far, Democrats come with only small knives. Unless the Dems do away with the filibuster and add more justices to the Supreme Court, I think we don't have a chance. I am frightened of our future.
Thanks in advance for your editing; my education was sort of lacking because I only enjoyed school for socializing.😂 I certainly have no problem in letting everyone see who I am 😉🙂
1967 “ Mitch Stephens “ Triathlon Man
Writes Mitch “ I Just completed a triathlon in Pawling, NY -- Lowell Thomas country. I was the oldest. I was not the slowest.
1968 “ David Pinter “ Handsome and Happy
David and daughter Allison
1969 “ Donald Cohen “ Talk Show for Kids
Kids are Talking, hosted by Donald Cohen, is the longest running kids talk show in the country. It is featured on YouTube and Facebook and other media. It airs live-streamed Thursday nights at 7:00 EST (4:00 out west). Each week Donald discusses important issues with teens around the country relevant to what's going on in today's world.
1969 “ John Jeb Stuart - Deceased
Writes Daniel Ross (1969) “ After reading your last newsletter, I went out and bought The Lost Boys of Montauk by Amanda Fairbanks. I had never heard of the tragedy of Mike Stedman and his three crewmen, who were lost at sea off Montauk in 1984. I barely knew Mike (he was a year behind me at North Side and Wheatley) but was shocked to learn of it. I had mixed feelings about the book itself, but I was deeply affected despite its literary shortcomings. I couldn't help seeing it through the lens of my relationship with one of the book's peripheral characters, Jeb Stuart.
Jeb and I grew up across the street from each other on Argyle Road in Albertson. We were best buddies until sometime in grade school, when we all went our different ways, as kids do. We used to play ball on the street and sneak cigarettes from our mothers and hang out in Valentine's Farm before Heathcote Drive and those other streets were built. He eventually got involved with the surfing crowd in Montauk, which seemed light years away from my bookish inclinations. I lost track of Jeb but heard he went to SUNY Maritime Academy and made his life at sea.
Many years later, when Jay Hack put together his first online group for the Class of '69, he sent out a list of missing names, and I saw Jeb's name on it. Because of our early friendship, I took it upon myself to track him down. I was startled to discover through some Google sleuthing that he had become a lobsterman in Portland, Maine, just a few miles from where my wife's family took their annual beach vacations. I met up with him the following summer at a dockside bar. He was living with his second wife and family on”of all places---Long Island, Maine, just off Portland, in Casco Bay. He looked and sounded like the epitome of a ruddy lifelong seafaring Mainer. You'd never know he grew up on the other Long Island. We caught up and reminisced, then he grabbed some lobsters from his boat and tossed them into the back of my car to share with my family. We met up one more time, a few years later, and then I read that he passed away from liver and kidney failure after a lifelong struggle with alcohol. He had the chance to write his own obituary, published in the Portland Press-Herald, where he claimed his greatest accomplishment was to die sober. That seemed disingenuous for a guy who raised a lovely family, had several successful businesses, touched many lives, and lived the life on the water he always dreamed of.
The Lost Boys of Montauk gave me new insight into the context of Jeb's life and how we all dealt with the cross-currents of the 60s and 70s. I thought its best parts were about the social structure of the South Fork”year-round and summer people, north and south of the highway, tennis players and surfers, Maidstoners and Bonackers”and how these different groups interacted with each other, and their children (that is, our generation) rebelled against the strictures of early-60s life to cross social boundaries and surf together, smoke dope, have sex with people our parents wouldn't approve of, and get into all kinds of difficult situations. Although I never surfed, I could relate to the confusion of those years.
I learned from the book that four Wheatley families used to go surfing together and became part of the Montauk scene: the DePasquales, Geerys, Stedmans and Stuarts. Mike stayed to become a commercial fisherman, and he bought his own boat, which went down in a freak storm with three other crewmen, leaving behind a wife and three young sons. He was just 32, his crewmen at least 10 years younger. Jeb, who had already moved to Maine, helped lead the search for the missing boat, which turned up only wreckage. Four young lives were cut short, and many others left floundering in the debris.
At that same age, I was turning a corner in my own life, giving up on my half-hearted attempt to become a writer, starting a new career, and meeting the woman who would become my lifelong companion, mother to my three children, and grandmother to my four (and counting!) grandkids. The year of Mike's shipwreck, we got married and bought the beat-up Brooklyn brownstone where we found stability and built our family's life. I couldn't help thinking how Mike (and the others) never had the opportunities Jeb and I did to rebuild, solve our problems, and strike out in new directions when necessary. Mike's life ended when mine was just starting.
I've since retired and moved to Maine full-time. I'm sorry Jeb's not here anymore to share a few laughs. Although we grew up together, I now feel I have a better understanding of where he was coming from.
1970 - Michael Stedman “ More on Mike
Writes Gary Matthesen (1968) “ After reading the most recent Newsletter's item on Mike Stedman, I read the book, Lost Boys of Montauk, about him that was recently published, and to which Paul Seeth (1970) (whom I thank) drew our attention. For those of us who knew Mike, the book was a heart-wrenching, emotional story (and old age and emotions don't mix well). I read the book with old memories of Mike; his gang, the Choppess; and Montauk surf bums coming to mind, as old cobwebs were dusted off.
Approximately 1981 I purchased my first sailboat and became acutely aware of weather information available, as things could get rough in Oyster Bay harbor and out on Long Island Sound. It was March, my boat was not yet in the water, but getting close to its usual April launch. I had become accustomed to listening to government marine weather broadcasts during my morning shower, where more information than temperature and rain is given, but includes notice to mariners about tides and wind speeds and direction to expect. This one morning I hear a Coast Guard bulletin. Be on the lookout for the fishing vessel ˜Windblown' overdue out of Montauk. I knew Mike had been a fisherman, living out there along with a bunch of the Wheatley surfing crowd, of which I was minor part. After all, I was 2 years older, which was a different generation in those days, and I had a car and a license, so I was ˜the ride' for the group. Although I didn't know the name of Mike's boat, I knew right away it was him. I was sick, I could feel it in my gut, he was gone.
I had just started a new job at Brunswick Hospital in Amityville and thought I couldn't take a day off for the funeral, but I should have done it, as perhaps I could have had better closure and questions answered of what happened. I would have wanted to show my support to friends from church, surfing, the Fitness team, and Wheatley. I have been haunted by the memory from that first notice on the Marine Radio and still am today. Maybe now that I know details of the boat's seaworthiness, I can put some of the heartache to rest.
As I recall the history, back in 1967 Mike and his brother John were on the fitness team with Artie and me. The team of 10 was cut to 6, with John, having surged toward the end of preparation, edging out Drew Orione (1968). As Coach August put it, 6 men for 5 positions. Frank Vedder (1967), I remember was a decoy, wandering around before the competition in a flashy Wheatley outfit, while the competing 5 wore low key uniforms to attract less attention of the judges. We felt Carle Place and Wheatley, as the strongest contenders, would be scrutinized intensely during the meet. This was the last year Dr August coached us, it wasn't the same without him a year later, my senior year, 1968.
I remember Mike's father, Mr. Stedman as he was to me, as a popular member of our church choir, with a deep baritone voice. He was a world traveler, and he came back and talked with our youth group of his trip to Africa. He was told, in visiting a native town, the chief will offer you the best meat off the roast they had prepared. He should make a big deal of how good it was and how much he appreciated his generous offer. That piece was the eyeball, great!
Names would appear in the book about Mike, one being his best man, Bart Stewart. Bart was a little kid back then, who showed up when I would make a run up to Albertson to pick up big brother Jeb, along with Bruce DePasquale on Robbins Lane. Jeb's father was active in our Boy Scout troop. Also surfing with us often was Tom Bear Polevich, Kenny Cock Dice Strachan, who followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a carpenter, in Orient. I think Jeb gave him that nick name for Kenny's repeated use of the expression. It was later shortened to Dice, as he wore the famous ˜Strachan Boots, which suddenly changed this reclusive guy into a babe magnet.
In reading the book I was able to find the area between Block Island and Montauk, near midway buoy, where Mike had made radio contact. I have sailed through there, once on my boat, and once on a larger boat on the way to Bermuda. I had assumed Mikes boat went down further offshore, and that the wheelhouse was hit by a rogue wave and pitchpoled (stern over bow). Mike was so close to home. Now knowing the boat had excess weight on top, wind and seas could push the extended stern off to the side and expose the boat broadside to the large waves, causing a broach- to roll the boat over. Often being further offshore is the thing to do in a storm, as shallower water tends to increase wave height and steepness.
Having finished the book, the haunting is louder than ever, and my regret for not attending the funeral more intense, even after all these years. I see I would have been lost in a large crowd, probably unknown by most, but my mindful presence was there just the same. I loved Mike; I'll always remember him on the Fitness Team, and the time I ran into him surfing at Long Beach, waiting together for the right waves.
Now more than ever, he is not forgotten to me, and the sorrow for his loss is stronger.
[Editor's Note “ Mike is also referenced in Danny Ross's moving essay about Jeb Stuart, 1969, immediately above]
1971 “ Class Reunion Picnic
1972 “ Robin Freier Edwards and Husband “ Majestic Photo
Writes Robin - We were celebrating our niece's fairytale wedding in Mykonos.
1973+1978 “ Todd and Jeff Glickman “ Mom Turns 90
Writes Todd “ Mrs. Leatrice Glickman, on the occasion of her 90th birthday, celebrated July 8, 2021, in Boynton Beach, FL. Lea was on the EWSD Board of Education ~1973-1979, including a few years as Vice President. Pictured with her are her sons Todd, 1973 (R), and Jeff 1978 (L).
1980 “ Andrew Pessin “ Novel Number Three Comes with Great Reviews
Writes Andrew “ I am happy to announce the pending publication (Sept. 1) of my third novel, Nevergreen, an academic satire that examines campus cancel culture and the ideological excesses that generate it. For the record, it addresses both the right and the left, though with greater focus on the left, as that is the dominant culture on campus. It's getting some good pre-publication buzz, and if you pre-order and send me a screenshot of your pre-order, I'll enter you in a raffle to win two free signed copies once it's out! More info and pre-order here: https://andrewpessin.com/nevergreen/.
I'll close with the publisher's blurb and a couple of endorsements. Thanks!
A chance encounter”if it is by chance”gives J. the opportunity of a lifetime. A physician in a midlife funk, he is invited to speak at a small college. But when he arrives at the secluded island campus of Nevergreen College, he gets a lot more than he bargained for. No one actually shows up for his talk, but that doesn't stop it from becoming the center of a firestorm of controversy”with potentially fatal consequences. Nevergreen” a smart, fast, funny, and incisive portrait of today's liberal arts college scene, cancel culture, and more.
"Nevergreen is an unsparing satire, at once funny and horrifying and compelling because it's so real."
--Howard Gordon, Emmy Award Winning Producer of Homeland, 24, The X-Files
"Sharp, funny, and ultimately scary, Nevergreen cuts right to the quick of campus cancel culture. It may officially be a satire but it may as well be a documentary, it's so close to home. That something so serious can also be so entertaining is impressive."
--William Jacobson, Cornell University
Welcome to Nevergreen, a small college in full descent into madness. Intelligent and witty, with crackling dialogue and keenly planted in the cultural firmament, Nevergreen engages from start to finish. More Animal Farm than Animal House. Be prepared to be offended and like it.
--Scott Johnston, author of Amazon bestseller, Campusland
"One part Lucky Jim and three parts One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Andrew Pessin's terrific and terrifying novel may just be the great campus novel of our generation. Every page delivers a hearty laugh, and every laugh soon blooms into a painful stab of recognition, reminding us that we're all stuck on Nevergreen. This one is a pure delight."
--Liel Leibovitz, editor at large, Tablet Magazine
Professor of Philosophy, Connecticut College
Campus Bureau Editor, The Algemeiner
1986 “ Jennifer Becker Hebert “ Candidate Hebert
Writes classmate Kevin Mulrooney “ Art, Jen Becker Hebert is running for the Huntington Town Board. Great to note, without an endorsement per se! Her campaign manager is Blake Flaherty Dunne, also Wheatley 1986.
1958 (Barbara Newman) “ Thanks for your wonderful service to us!!
1958 (Audrey Warde Muccio) “ I always enjoy the Newsletter; I especially liked the article about Mr. Wathey. He made my two years at Wheatley special. As a Long Island ˜transplant' from NJ, I was proud to be part of the Class of 1958.
1958 (Julian Whiting) “ Thank you.
1959 (Stuart Sanderson) “ I read each Newsletter with interest; thank you for the effort.
1960 (Joanne Festa Lemanis) “ Thanks for all you hard work.
1961 (Rhoda Kalkin Schneider) “ Thanks for another enjoyable newsletter!
1961 (Patricia Kirk Hefferan) - The Wheatley Newsletter was as professional a piece as I have seen. Congrats.
1961 (Gene Razzetti) “ Thanks for another great newsletter.
1964 (Elvira Vivi Cilmi Kunz) “ Thanks, Art, always good to read.
1965 (Phyllis Brasch Librach) “ I enormously appreciate all that Art and Keith do to keep the Wheatley community connected.
1965 (Jeffrey Sandor Orling) “ Nice report.
1966 (Pat Haussermann Klimas) “ Many thanks for keeping your newsletters going. It is fascinating to read how Wheatley has represented us all with many twists and turns and many accomplishments. I always look forward to the latest editions.
1966 (Claude Levy) “ Thanks for publishing all this, Art.
1966 (Allan Silver) “ Thank you for another thoughtful and interesting Newsletter. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
1967 (Ellen Frey Wineman) “ Arthur, You do so much hard work on the newsletter that an occasional ˜Oops' needs no apology.
1967 (Scott Frishman) “ Another great Newsletter.
1967 (Marjorie Hope Gross) “ Thanks so much for keeping me in the loop. I read it all, but I particularly love the photographs!!
1967 (Ilene Kornblath Rosenbaum) “ Thanks, Arthur!
1967 (Steve Kornfeld) “ Thank you for all of your tireless efforts in keeping the Wheatley graduates connected.
1967 (Jill Simon Forte) “ Thanks, Art, for letting my older years become a time to enjoy socializing with Wheatley ˜kids' again.
1967 (Joe Tartaglia) “ Thank You for all you do. Keep up the good work. I love hearing stories about our friends.
1968 (Ken Gallard) “ As usual, I enjoyed the Newsletter.
1968 (Gary Kenton) “ Thanks, Art, for all the info.
1968 (Gary Matthesen) “ Thank you for your efforts. They have a strong bonding and reflective effect on us all.
1968 (Ken Strachan) “ I enjoy reading the Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletters. Thanks for your hard work.
1969 (Donald Cohen) “ Truly amazing stories and effort by you, Art. Keep up your great work.
1969 (Gerry Gersh) “ The latest edition of the Newsletter is excellent, as usual.
1969 (Maria Lawson) “ Thanks for always working so hard for us.
1969 (Andy Wilkins) “ Thank you for all you do to keep Wheatley in our hearts. I know Alice (Wilkins, 1966) also appreciates all you do.
1971 (Susan Deaner Wiley) “ Dear Arthur: Thank you for your continued notices. I appreciate the work you do to keep us all informed and in community. Many thanks for the news.
1971 (Merrie Sesskin) “ Art, Thank you! Merrie
1971 (Daniel Wolf) “ Thanks to you and Keith for all your heart and effort keeping us informed and together.
1972 (Robin Freier Edwards) “ Thanks for another great newsletter! I look forward to it each month!
1973 (Gail Gimbel) “ It's so great receiving this from you.
1973 (Michael Laskau) “ I have been living in Vietnam for the last 14 years, and it is so nice to receive a slice of home that conjures up emotions. Really big thanks to you and Keith for all your hard work and effort.
1974 (Melanie Artim) “ Thank you so very much for these newsletters, which my siblings and I enjoy reading and reminiscing over. Thank you for all of this epic dedication. It is so appreciated.
1974 (Gregory Cave) “ Thank you, Arthur, that was a wonderful reminder of my days in 1974 at that spectacular institution, the only institution with which I've ever been associated. Peace and love
1974 (Rachel Friis Stettler) “ Thank you for creating and maintaining the Wheatley Alumni Newsletter. It's a great idea, and people very much appreciate your efforts.
1975 (Andrew Schwartz) “ Great newsletter.
1975 (Patrice Maller) “ Looking forward to a good read!
1976 (Steve Johnson) “Keep up your fine work!
1978 (Joanna Faber) “ Thanks for all the memories.
That's it for The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 61. Please send me your autobiography before someone else sends me your obituary.
Arthur Fredericks Engoron
The Wheatley School Class of 1967