Welcome to The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 26.
Thanks to our fabulous Webmaster, Keith Aufhauser (1963), you can regale yourself with the first twenty-five newsletters (and other Wheatley data and arcana) at http://www.wheatleyalumni.org/ Conversely, if you are completely uninterested in Wheatley matters, please don't hesitate to ask me to remove you from my distribution list.
I edit all submissions, even material in quotes, for clarity and concision, without any indication thereof. I do not censor ideas, which may not be my own.
Muriel Delabar – Special Education Teacher - Deceased
Writes former Wheatley Guidance Counselor Wes Berkowtiz – “An extraordinary Wheatley Special Education teacher, Muriel Delabar, passed away last week after a short battle with cancer. She was 63. Muriel was the most beloved special ed teacher I had known during my 33-year career at Wheatley.”
1960 – Kenneth Martin – Student of History
Ken is a true “Keeper of the (Wheatley) Flame.” He maintains a page (more like a book) of Wheatley-related thoughts at http://www.wheatley1960.com/chitchatwriting.html from which I have excerpted the following text, which I think many readers will find of interest (to read the entire article, click on the link).
My lifelong interest in history was initiated by one of the many great teachers at Wheatley: Mr. Stewart Doig. A subject I have never been able to put aside is the Holocaust. And recently Israel entered my mind and soul. I attempt to tie the two together below.
Many years ago - probably when I was in my 20’s, when studying the Holocaust, I came across a black and white photograph. The photograph, taken from the top of a watchtower, showed a stream of mostly Jews walking down a wide path. On one side of the path you viewed a bunch of cattle cars, which had just discharged the Jews. The other side contained a line of German guards with weapons. Directly below the watchtower, and what became the center of the photograph, was a bearded man. In one hand he carried a small black suitcase. In the other, he held the hand of a young boy who appeared to be 3 or 4 years old - no older. They both wore black suits with black hats on their heads. I assumed they were Orthodox Jews. The two of them, along with the other Jews, walked down that grim gauntlet…..probably to their deaths.
That photograph haunts me to this day and has generated many sleepless nights. I often wondered if the little boy was his son or his grandson? The greatest blessings bestowed on me are my sons and grandchildren.
The Nazis killed 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. The worldwide Jewish population at the time consisted of 18 million people. Thus 1/3rd of the Jewish religion perished. By the way, today’s Jewish population has again reached 18 million people.
Approximately 10,000 civil servants in Germany and Nazi occupied Europe worked on the “final solution.” That is a large number. However, you simply can’t kill 6 million people without a massive bureaucracy behind it. Some 10,000 people were in charge of finding, capturing, documenting, and shipping 6 million European Jews to their deaths. How do you succeed and get promoted in a bureaucracy? You do so by being dedicated and efficient. Yes, efficient in killing human beings. Far more people than a few SS troops broke windows during Kristallnacht, and Nuremberg only scratched the surface when punishing the guilty. And yet anti-Semitism remains very alive, healthy, and robust in today’s world.
The Holocaust perplexes me. Why? How could it take place? How? Answers elude me and probably always will. Another question for you, my schoolmates, and one that gets to the heart of the matter is this: Why have countless numbers of people hated the Jews? For 3,000 years.
Sometime after my 1960 graduation from Wheatley I thought this: How many of our Jewish classmates lost relatives in the Holocaust? I can’t remember hearing of any. Of course, we didn’t normally discuss such topics. At least I never became a party to such a conversation. Yet there must have been distant relatives who were victims: great uncles and aunts, 2nd cousins, those kinds of relations who were still back in the old country. Think about it, there must have been. Fully 1/3rd of the Jewish population vanished, mostly from Europe. All four of my grandparents emigrated from the continent, and I have to assume that was the case for some of my Jewish friends. A lot of us born in the early 1940’s had to have kin in Europe. Do any of you reading this know of any classmates who lost relatives in the Holocaust? Did parents hide it from their children? Or did they themselves not know?
The class of 1960 was approximately half Jewish and half Christian. The cliques and friendships that developed often did so along religious lines. Many exceptions existed, especially given sports teams and various school clubs and organizations. Oh yes, an occasional romance. But birds of a feather do flock together. Just like our parents did when Jews overwhelmingly bought houses and settled in Roslyn Heights and Christians did likewise in East Williston.
And we never really explored the religion and indeed the culture and mores of others; we studied and practiced our own. Call it what you want, there was a subtle and hidden divide that existed in the student body, and that division was often along religious lines. No surprise-such divisions have been with us since time immemorial. However, we never took the time to break down barriers and really understand the other camp. And this “division,” if one can call it that, was found in intelligent young adolescents who never made the effort to truly understand other beliefs, leading to suspicion and prejudice. Were these shortcomings in us, in their own right, a possible genesis for anti-Semitism.
In my Wheatley days, the few things I knew about the Jews were that the boys underwent Bar Mitvahs, which were to me ceremonies similar to Christian confirmations, and the Jew’s “holy day” of the week was Saturday, as opposed to Sunday. That was about the extent of my knowledge about the Jewish religion. Oh yes, they also did not believe that Jesus was the savior. Now I did not view the situation as a “we-versus-them” relationship. No, rather, just a “we-and-them” one. I can’t consider that a healthy state of affairs-then or now.
When we got together and intermingled-classrooms, parties, sports, dances, etc., the division was barely noticed. However, subtle distinctions existed to which we were all privy. And I suspect some of you reading this would agree with that. Most of us never really investigated the other side. In our defense, we possessed other priorities-school work, sports, dating-all the activities taking up a teenager’s time. Nevertheless, we all could have gained much from a healthier relationship.
Back in the late 1950’s most of us read The Diary of Anne Frank. At the time it was, I believe, required reading in New York State. I’m not sure it still is mandatory. It should be. Worldwide.
Today, Jews make up less than 0.2% of the world’s population. They have always represented, at least for the past two centuries, less than one percent of the earth’s people. Yet, what an incredible shadow they have cast! Einstein, Freud, Saulk, Bernstein-need I go on? You get the point. Yet much of the world throughout Jewish history has tried to extinguish them. And I again raise the question: why is that?
1965 – Raymond (“Ray”) Christian – Deceased
Writes Classmate Malcolm McNeill – I am very sad to say that we just lost Ray. I will always remember him from our last reunion...big hearted and spirited, reaching out to all of us and happy to be home again. Ray was a good friend to many of us. As his sister Kim described, in 2016, in a beautiful testament to her brother (below), Ray was no stranger to adversity. Among other experiences, he was a Marine.....at a time and in a place where being so must have required uncommon courage and an unqualified fidelity to his brothers-in-arms. Following graduation, I saw him for the first and only time at our 50th-year Reunion. We spoke only briefly, and it's hard to tell, but I'd like to think he had found the peace and friendship he so richly deserved.
Godspeed, Ray Christian, and thank you.
Portrait of a Marine (Raymond Christian) Pastel Painting
Wrote Ray’s sister Kim Werfel, in 2016 – “Artist Note: When I showed my brother this painting, I knew he would appreciate seeing a portrait of himself at his finest. Of all my portraits of him, this was the only portrait he liked, so of course I gave it to him. I painted this from a black and white photo that a buddy of his snapped when he was sitting on a cot while in training. This was the first time I painted with such a limited palette – on orange pastel paper and with a restricted warm palette. I usually paint with a full palette, but I felt the intensity and heat of the warm colors suited him perfectly. The orange hints at the Agent Orange they used in the war. It’s a foil to bring out his intense blue eyes, and it also speaks of his daredevil fiery nature.
Portrait of a Marine in Words
My brother was drafted at 18; he was randomly picked out of a crowd to be in the Marine Corps. It changed him in good ways and not so good ways. He was taught how to speak, read and write in Vietnamese and was also sent to engineering school. He learned to build airplane runways, which the Viet Cong would then bomb, and so it went on. Death was all around him in the Demilitarized Zone. He had to bury bodies with a bulldozer.
Over the years he told me so many stories. He could, should, write a book, but it’s very difficult for him to talk about. He suffered big-time from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Terrible things happened in Viet Nam. I was only 10 years old when he went and didn’t fully understand how close I came to losing him. He was the only one left alive in one combat battle, and was wounded twice, but always sent back.
He was due a purple heart, but never pursued it. He explained that they ran out of them at the time he was in the hospital, and so many guys were wounded that they didn’t keep accurate records of it.
He earned a bronze star there and didn’t even bother getting it because he thought it was B.S. I urged him to pick it up, and years later he did. In his spare time he had helped the people in a Vietnamese village irrigate their rice paddies more effectively. The village head told his superior officer. He was just helping out and not looking for a medal.
He was promoted to sergeant but didn’t want the promotion, as the enemy would pick off the officers to kill first in the field. He acted out to be demoted. He was so cynical that he painted a bull’s-eye on his back with the words “Shoot Here” on it.
It was a living hell, but he returned, albeit a different man.
My relationship with him runs very, very deep. We come from a home where my father was particularly abusive….especially to Ray, the only boy in a family of 5 children. I think my Dad’s jealousy of Ray, the only other male in the family, made him a target. Crazy, I know, but true. He’s named after my Dad and must have some crazy karmic dance going on. It was physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological abuse. My mother finally divorced my Dad in her 70’s after 50 years of marriage.
My brother – who didn’t do well in school because he was demeaned by our father on a daily basis – was tested and found to have an I.Q. of over 165. Kids picked on him too, but it was my father that really affected him. Because he was so smart, my brother was pushed ahead to the next grade twice in grammar school, making him 2 years younger than everyone else in high school, a social handicap. Ray had Attention Deficit Disorder and no real ambition. He dropped out of college and was drafted into the war.
We were raised Catholic, and when I finally grasped the gravity of his situation, I implored my mother, who told me (like a good Irish Catholic mom) to pray for him every night. Being a perfectionist over-achiever, I made a deal with God. I actually remember this…I was ten. God would protect him if I said 10 Hail Mary’s every night on my knees by my bedside before sleep.
For the entire time my brother was in Vietnam, about two years, I kept my part of the deal without fail. It was the only way I could deal with him being in danger. I would imagine God’s hand over him in the field and white light protecting him. No lie. And there were countless times he should have been killed, but was wounded or somehow escaped alive. He was in the DMZ at the height of the war in 1968-1969. I’m not saying I had any special power, but my prayers were fierce.
I always felt a special connection to him, even though we were eight years apart. He was my protector. My brother could be very funny, memorizing George Carlin, Bill Cosby and Woody Allen records to entertain the family. Lightening quick wit. He played the drums in a band; raced cars; was an amazing photographer with his own darkroom; kept huge salt-water fish tanks; is a self-proclaimed tree-hugger and animal advocate; had his own greenhouse where he could grow anything, and he cooks better than anyone I know. But he is a very wounded spirit and has addictions to alcohol and cigarettes, and demons both from his upbringing and the war.
People thought my brother looked like a cross between a young John Voight and Steve McQueen. And he acted the part. He was chosen to lead the morning exercise drills in the Marine Corps. He was that fit. He won a “punch me in the stomach” contest in the Corps. (I know, I know.) The Marines also taught him how to kill people with hand-to-hand combat, and he was afraid of his temper. On several occasions he interfered in bar fights and with armed robbers, and he won - alcohol makes you stupid-brave. He knows better than to do that now. [Original at http://www.whenwomenwaken.org/portrait-of-a-marine-by-kim-werfel/]
Ray in His Own Words (7/31/2015) (unedited):
After Wheatley I entered our family uniform supply business in Brooklyn, www.whchristian.com starting at the bottom of the barrel. After a few years there I attended NY Tech in Old Westbury for only one hectic year, because the school was under major construction and renovation. I remember having to read the teacher’s lips while trying to hear over the sounds of construction jackhammers in the background. The draft was breathing down my neck, so I wound up in the Marine Corps, and was off to sunny Vietnam, where I got my first decent sun tan and found out that when someone yells “get down,” it doesn’t mean to get up and start dancing.
The Marine Corps trained me to be an engineer (heavy equipment operator) and Vietnamese interpreter. Right after Vietnam I learned that Okinawa had great sushi and women. I spent four months in Okinawa and picked up a bit of the Japanese language. Then it was back to the USA and the family business again. In sales for several years and then management, when dad retired in 1979 and my cousin Bill and I have run and grown the business ever since. I devote a lot of myself to the business and I love it. Since I stayed single, I enjoyed the nightlife of NYC five nights a week, and for many years dated as though I was in a contest. My home was on the waterfront for twenty-six years, so fishing and boating was a big part of my life. I watched as old friends got married and divorced, sometimes several times over, and I decided marriage was not for me.
Now at 67, I still work a few days a week and have a strong interest in photography. I have four sisters to visit when I need or decide I want to be around family and children. My parents have passed as I’ll guess most of ours have, but my four sisters and I are still pretty close. So, for the future? Donald Trump has this advice about marriage…think PRE-NUP!!! Enjoy and take care! Life has been a heck of a ride so far.
Ray’s wake is or was (depending upon when you receive and read this) Thursday, 12/20/18, at the Wagner Funeral Home in Hicksville, NY. His funeral is or was at Holy Rood Cemetery, 111 Old Country Road, Westbury, on 12/21/18, with full military honors. “He was one of ours, and now his journey is over, and he is home."
1966 - Suzanne Stone, Amy Gruskin Gerstein, Beverly Berman Hornick – Three Friends Celebrating Their Special Birthdays
1967 – Linda Caterino Kulhavy (L); her granddaughter, Alessandra; and Amy Pastarnack Hughes
Writes Amy – “I just had the loveliest visit with Linda! It was so nice! I was in Phoenix as my husband had a conference there, and I contacted Linda at the ‘last’ minute. And we met halfway, at the Phoenician! Her granddaughter is adorable!
1967 + ???? – Art Engoron (Right) and Mystery Colleague
The first person to identify my court-system Wheatley Wildcat co-worker wins a lifetime free subscription to this newsletter. Half credit for figuring out what year he graduated. Hint – He graduated between 1960 and 2000. Answer at the end of this Newsletter.
1967 – Bonnie Glassman Crohn – Deceased
Writes widower Frank Crohn – “I have very sad news for the Wheatley Alumni Community. Bonnie Glassman Crohn passed away peacefully, at the age of 69, from cancer on Friday, November 23rd, 2018. Here is her obituary that I submitted to the local paper. Regards - Frank Crohn”
“Bonnie Glassman Crohn, 69, a 34-year resident of Killingworth, CT, peacefully passed away on Friday, November 23rd. Bonnie had a very long career in hair cutting. For many years she worked at the salon "A Style Above" in Chester, and after many years at the local salon "Total Hair" she retired. In her retirement, Bonnie volunteered at the Killingworth Library and was involved and active in a few local organizations. One of her greatest pleasures was walking her dogs in Chatfield Hollow. On most late mornings during the week, you would find Bonnie at the Copper Skillet having a late breakfast with friends. Bonnie will be deeply missed and always remembered as a loving wife and companion to her husband Frank and a caring and loving mother to her daughters Ariel and Anna and a loving grandmother ("Gramie") to her granddaughter Gianna. Bonnie will live on in the hearts and memories of her family and her many friends.
[[[Editor’s note – I wrote Frank: “Dear Frank, Sorry to hear of your (and our) loss. Bonnie was very vivacious at Wheatley, and one of the “Cool Kids.” Frank responded: “Arthur - Thank you for your note. Please notify anyone you think would be interested. Bonnie remained "COOL" throughout her life. Regards – Frank”]]]
1971 – Deborah Klein (L) and Nancy Khan – This Year in Athens, Greece
1969 – Deborah Willard Goldenberg – A Star is Born
CHAPTER ONE: THE BABY HAS COME: I was born Deborah Eve Willard, on May 8th 1951. When I was discharged from Kew Gardens Hospital at the tender age of 5 days (the norm in the ‘50s), it was Mother’s Day. And I lived at 22 Corncrib (now spelled as two words) Lane in Roslyn Heights from Mother’s Day, 1951, until my marriage on June 27, 1976.
- BACK TO 5/13/51 –
My brother Dan (Wheatley 1966) was introduced to me and Miss Hefner, my nurse. My brother immediately thought we (me and Miss Hefner) were a package deal. So, with his advanced mathematical mind he asked, “When are Miss Hefner and Debbie leaving?” When he was told we weren’t, Dan, all of two years and eight months old, inquired, “Then can I throw the baby in the garage?” The answer was still “No.” A week later, Miss Hefner was gone.
That’s Dan playing with, or maybe pulling, my hair.
Folks: Stay tuned for Chapter Two - The Early Years of Debbie’s Life, in the next edition of The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter.
1980 – Lisa (“Lena”) Ehrenberg – Los Angeles Life
I currently live in Los Angeles, where I am a commercial actress and coach women who want to have more love in their lives. On December 4th I gave a talk at https://tedxbartonspringswomen.org/
titled “What Are You Allowing?” Thanks for allowing me to share! 😉
1989 – Alexander Matthew Tisch – Rocket Man
Alex’s meteoric career continues ascending with his November election to New York State Supreme Court!
Staff (Wes Berkowitz) - Wonderful newsletter as always Art! Thank you for all that you do for the Wheatley Family!
1960 (Paul Hennessy) - Hi Art, Bravo Zulu [Editor’s note, nautical for “well done”] on your Wheatley Newsletters. Worth noting for your many readers, the Class of 1960 has the ONLY website that is public—sans passwords—to provide a rich and personal account of past, present & future. WWW.WHEATLEY1960.COM
1961 (Marty Mahler) – Arthur, great job.
1962 (Carol (Keister) McCormick) - Thanks so much, Art, for the hard work that goes into the newsletters.
1963 (Alan Pachtman) - Art: Thanks for keeping up with these memories. It’s nice to hear about people, even if the connections are remote. I’m a 73 year old curmudgeon, but I admire those who keep these things going.
1966 (Rick Jalonack) - You never cease to amaze me.
1966 (Suzanne Stone) - Great job as always.
1967 (Lorraine Eisner) – I always love reading about different graduates; their lives, interests, accomplishments!! Thanks for keeping all of us in the loop!
1967 (Scott Frishman) – Thanks as usual.
1968 (Ken Gallard) - Thank you once again, Art.....A Herculean task you've undertaken here that continues to sustain us.
1969 (Richard Kornfeld) - Arthur: Thanks so much for your acknowledgment of my father's recent passing. Though not unexpected because he had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease for the past 10 years, he was an unbelievable "trooper" who made the journey as admirable as one can. Again, your note regarding his death was very much appreciated and thoughtful.
1970 (James Doyle) - Many thanks for all you do!
1971 (James Schaus) - I have great memories of growing up in East Williston with many friends on Bengeyfield Drive, including Mark Greco, John Poulos, Paul Rosenfeld, Robert Knowler, and others. Thanks for all the hard work writing the newsletters, and your dedication to all things Wheatley, North Side, and Willets Road.
1972 (Rick Frishman) - You do a fabulous job.
1973 (Edward B. Ryder) - What a nice item to open on Hanukkah. Chag Urim Sameach, Arty!
1974 (Ellen Marie Barnett Diana) – A great way to wake up is to read your newsletter (I started it at 6:00 AM California time)!
1976 (Jennifer Karp Colbert) - Thank you Arthur, I really enjoy reading the newsletters.
That’s it for the Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 26. Please send me your autobiography before someone else sends me your obituary. The answer to the quiz is Joe Burke, 1980. I told you that he graduated between 1960 and 2000…….right between.