The Wheatley Alumni Association Newsletter #29: February 16, 2019

Dear Wheatley Wildcats and Other Interested Persons,

Welcome to The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 29.

Thanks to our fabulous Webmaster, Keith Aufhauser (1963), you can regale yourself with the first twenty-eight newsletters (and other Wheatley data and arcana) at  Conversely, if you are completely uninterested in Wheatley matters, please 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.


1961 – Patty Kirk Hefferan - Responses
Response to Richard Buzen: “Thank you for once again mentioning Mr. Doig.  A good many Wheatley students remember his impact on us.  It was historical.  I continue to love history and share this love with my husband, Pete, who is a consummate historian in his own right.  Thanks for your service to our country.”

Response to Gene Razzetti: “I don't remember much about keeping prayer personal, but I can say that I converted from Lutheran to Roman Catholic over 40 years ago.  We must now rebuild the Church and have turned to orthodoxy to do this.  It seems to be working.  The more orthodox the church, the more the membership climbs.” 

“I was not much of a ‘Wheatleyite,’ but I do have my memories, many of which are fond. Patty Hefferan RN MA”

1961 - Gene Razzetti – XYZ
Writes Gene Razzetti – “Art, I talked about ‘Reading Bible passages at the start of assemblies.’  Mr. Ehre talked about ‘Prayers before assemblies.’  Nobody could call what we did ‘praying’; unless, of course he wasn't there.  Glad to get a dose of reality from Matt Sanzone.”

Ed Roman – 1961 - The Princeton Plan
Writes Ed – “The Princeton Plan got me thinking a lot about neighborhood schools, and the great childhood I experienced. 
I agree with the sentiments of my classmate, Gene Razzetti, on the Princeton Plan  I too am grateful that I attended school in the 1950's and glad I got out when I did.  We were fortunate, for the most part, to be raised in a carefree era, and in wonderful, wholesome neighborhoods like Roslyn Heights and East Williston (Mineola for me).
Yes, diversity is a term that is becoming terribly overused, often as a political tool.  The Princeton Plan sounds like a decent tool to be used to integrate disadvantaged black schools with white ones, to give a better, and more diverse, education for all.  However, using it to integrate religions makes no sense.....particularly when they’re going to be integrated in seventh grade anyway.  First, a minor point, a ratio of ‘almost 100%’ may be a slight exaggeration.  I’m guessing closer to 90% would be more accurate, at least for Northside.  Second, religion was never an issue to begin with, for me, or for anyone I knew.  I always thought religion was personal.  I had mine, they had theirs.  And it was not practiced or promoted in the public schools I attended.  However, I do remember some classes with only five kids in them on Jewish Holidays.  Also, I vaguely remember having to relearn the Pledge of Allegiance in the early fifties, when Congress decided to throw in ‘Under God.’
I am  grateful to have had the opportunity to share those six years at Wheatley with all of my friends, regardless of their religion, because it made no difference to me.  Seven years attending Northside, I only had to walk three blocks to get to school.  I can’t imagine being forcibly bussed away from that convenience, and incurring the extra cost, to alleviate a problem that didn’t really exist.  Yes, glad I’m not there today.

1962 – Bill Jerome – Football’s Life Lessons
Writes Bill – “Numerous alumni have expressed gratitude for life-lessons learned playing football under Coach Jack Davis.  For me, that guidance — dispensed at practices, during games and in one-to-one meetings in the coaches' office — has been a source of time-released wisdom for much of what followed Wheatley.  The following is from Coach Davis’s playbook”


1962 – Karen Stumpfler – Family Photo
Writes Karen – Wheatleyites might enjoy seeing a photo of our father on his 100th birthday.  Yeah, we're getting along there too!  We are all in Florida: Dad, Karen and Bob in Margate, near Fort Lauderdale; Doug in Palm Harbor, near Clearwater.
Karen Strumpfler Tucker, Class of 1962
Bob Strumpfler, Class of 1965
Douglas Strumpfler, Class of 1969
And of course, Dad, a/k/a Fred Strumpfler”


Bob on the left; Doug on the right.

1964 – Rick Kaplin – The Actor that Played Falstaff
Writes Rick – “The story in Newsletter # 28 about the fire that destroyed the Stratford-Shakespeare Theater was, indeed, sad, but it reminded me of my class's (1964) trip there to see a performance of Henry IV, Part 1.  I was so taken in by the character of Falstaff that I couldn't wait to meet him after the performance.  I never did get the chance.  I was only able to see his name and photograph on the Cast Board outside the theater.  Thinking that the picture would be of an old, rotund, and rumpled gentleman, I was shocked to see that Falstaff was performed by a young, good-looking, dark-haired actor by the name of Hal Holbrook.  It is a memory I will keep forever.”

1965- Michele Parker Ross – Wheatley’s Difficult Days
Writes Michelle – “I remember many, many ‘bomb’ threats and fake fire drills; there were so many that after a while we stopped going anymore.  I also remember the ‘no locks on the lockers’ policy, and I never had anything stolen either; but then again, we did not have anything worthwhile to steal!  It was a much simpler and easier time, in my opinion.

1965 – Norman Resnicow – East Williston History
Writes Norman – “Walking near McSorley’s Old Ale House I came upon a small Merchant’s House Museum.  The wealthy merchant who built the house in 1832 is stated to have come from a farming family in East Williston.  When I asked a museum docent to tell me more about the East Williston angle, she showed me a book further describing the family background.  The 18th century farmhouse of his childhood was torn down in 1951.

My parents became the second owners of 107 Weeks Road in 1955; it was built in 1953.  So, the bottom line is that the Engoron family (26 Bengeyfield Drive) and mine lived on that former farmland -- which has a direct link to this fascinating small East Village museum.  Also concerning East Williston, I assume you’re already familiar with the formerly famous Oakley-Griffin Carriage Company.”

1966 – Amy Gruskin Gerstein – All’s Well That Ends Well
Writes Amy – “I got the chills when I saw the photo of the Class of 1966 Graduation.  I missed it to start my first term at Penn State.  I always had regrets about not sharing that day with everyone, but I did meet my future husband that summer at school, and we are still married after 50 years, with nine grandchildren, so it turned out alright!!”

1966 – Steve Hanft – More on Prayer in School
Writes Steve – “Here's a memory obliquely related to the ‘required prayer in school’ story in Newsletter # 28.  In 1965 or so Wheatley began requiring students to recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag every day in home room (to comply with new state law? school district policy? Don't remember.).  At first a few students refused to do it.  Then more started refusing.  A number of homeroom teachers, including mine, chastised the refuseniks for being unpatriotic.  A counter-movement sprang up with patriotic students verbally abusing the refuseniks.  Parents got involved - on both sides.  A local TV news crew showed up to cover the conflict, and Wheatley had its 15 minutes of fame.  I want to believe that reciting the pledge was soon downgraded from "required" to "voluntary."  But maybe the recitation was dropped completely.  I don't remember.  Did we have an assembly to discuss the pledge requirement?  Who was interviewed?  What was said?  How important was all this to our school/lives?  I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has anything to say about this.”

1966 – Diana Noble Rubinger Olmert – Wheatley Memories
Writes Diana – “The Wheatley Newsletter is so interesting for so many reasons.  It gives us new insights into our fellow classmates and their thoughts both then and now.  Thoughts, that for the most part, we didn't share at the time.  I grew up on Shepherd Lane, part of the fabulous ‘S Section.’  When my parents moved in, in 1950, the homes were purchased by both Christian and Jewish Families alike, but when the second synagogue was built on Roslyn Road, apparently, many of our Christian neighbors moved out, thus, Willets Road became a predominately Jewish elementary school, and North Side became a predominately Christian elementary school.  Remember, this was a time when Jewish families were excluded from certain neighborhoods, country clubs and the like. Although Willets Road had a vast majority of Jewish students, our chorus sang Christmas songs for the Holiday concerts, along with a few Civil War songs thrown in.  Even at an early age, I knew this was rather odd  By sixth grade, we had a few activities with our North Side counterparts, in preparation for 7th grade, but I don't remember there ever having been any issues with mixing it up. Diversity means learning, acceptance, growth, and for that, I applaud the administration’s decision to change the make-up of the schools, even though I did not get a chance to experience it. 

When we entered 7th grade, there were no locks on the lockers, we wore skirts to school, even on bitter cold days, and we were not allowed to hold hands.  As a 12-year-old I found that pretty funny.  Looking back, after teaching for 32 years, that was really funny!  I do remember an incident when some of the older students let a mouse go free in the cafeteria, during a crowded lunch, and the girls were screaming, standing on tables, and the boys were chasing the poor mouse.

We were lucky to be part of a fantastic learning environment, but there were many students who, for one reason or another, felt excluded or struggled.  Wheatley was not sensitive to those students.  Do you remember the bulletin board outside the guidance office that pinpointed where each student was going to college?  What about those students who weren't heading to college or those students who might have gotten rejected?  I am glad that these days the education system is more sensitive to the needs of a diverse population. 

Anyway, I always have a lot to say, and I am glad that this newsletter is bringing out what some of us might have kept to themselves. 

A happily retired teacher.

Diana Noble Rubinger Olmert”

1966 - Henry “Roy” Smith – Staying with the East Williston Jeromes
Writes Henry – “Roy is my nickname, which my grandmother gave me, because she was ‘the biggest fan’ of Roy Rogers.  I came to Long Island and the Wheatley School in 1965 with Harold Whack (both of us are from Charleston, SC) under the aegis of a program that the American Friends Society sponsored.  The program was labeled ‘Project STEP’ (Student Transfer Enlightenment Project).  It was designed to bring Afro-American students from segregated schools in the south to schools in the north that were either ‘integrated’ or all-White.  Harold and I ended up on Long Island -- he in Roslyn Heights with the Sugarman family, 23 Farm Lane: Gary 1963, Donna 1966, and Donna 1969; and I in East Williston with the Jerome family, 453 Roslyn Road: Timothy 1961, and Kyle 1971.  Lillian and Jack Jerome were my host family.  Timmy started at Cornell, then transferred to Ithaca College.  The Jeromes, knowing that everyone from Charleston referred to me as Roy, wanted to know how they should refer to me, and I said ‘Roy.’  Thus, I believe that Kyle only knew me as ‘Roy.’  Recently I re-connected with him, ‘my little brother.’”

1966 - Charles A. Trantum – Personal Family History
Writes Charlie – “I'll preface my story with what many of my Wildcat friends know, that I was adopted as an infant.  I was brought up knowing this.  It has been on all my medical records - family history - adopted.

My wife gave me Ancestry,com for Christmas a few years ago.  As I get older I try not to be grumpy, but all this mail on AOL, Facebook, and now Ancestry,com.  Well, I just erase most of what comes in and I can hardly keep up.  A few weeks ago I finally looked at Facebook and saw at least 20 requests for friendship.  I resisted my usual response to erase them all; instead, I befriended them all.  A few days later I found a message on my phone.  Well, this message was from someone I did not recognize, but it started out, ‘If this is Charles Trantum, I think we might be related, signed Earl.’  He left a # which I called.  When his mother died, in the 90's, she told his sister that when she (the mother) was a young woman she got pregnant, moved to NYC from Atlanta, got a job, had a child, gave him up for adoption, and moved back to Atlanta.  Since the 90's Earl has been looking for me.  I'm taking this in, not believing I could be that child.  I finally told Earl that I had found an envelope in my parents letters dated 1948, addressed to them from a doctor referencing the ‘Miller child.’  At which point I knew my birth mother was likely a Miller.  Earl told me ‘that is my mother’s maiden name.’  This with all the messages from – Remember, I had tossed them all in the garbage. They had told me and Earl that we were 1st cousins or better, 99% positive!

In late January 2019 I started to work out a trip to see my new-found brother.  I realized Jay Keillor and Jeff Knetzer, my life-long friends and ‘brothers,’ are both down south, so I put a plan into play - Meet Earl in Atlanta, then take him away to Florida to be with Jay and Jeff (who are almost excited as I).  I spent January 28 on the phone with hotels, airlines, car rentals and tickets for all to the Yankees.  My brother Earl and I will meet for the first time in March.  I hope to bring Earl to next year’s Wheatley Alumni Lunch.”

1967 – Art Engoron – Shaking Hands with the Chief


Writes Art – “I had the honor and pleasure to hear words of wisdom from Cheyenne Nation Chief Phillip (“Yellow Bird”) Whiteman during arguments in a case to determine where horse-drawn carriages may pick up and discharge passengers in Manhattan.  The following New York Post article is accurate (until the last paragraph, which is a complete fabrication).”

1967 – Peter Kaplan, Richie Holub, Scott Frishman, Kenny Hare (L-R) – Brunch in Boca


1967 – Leslie Metzger – Instantly Recognizable on the Right


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1967 – Corinne Zebrowski Kaufman – A Storied Venue


Writes Corinne – “My husband, Andy, and I went to the new My Father’s Place on Friday night.  That’s me and Michael ‘Eppy’ Epstein, the originator of old and new, still going strong!”

1968 – Laurence Schiller – Shakespeare in Connecticut
Writes Laurie – “Art – funny you should mention the Stratford Theatre – and sorry to hear it has burned down.   Our class used to take a field trip there every year.  I specifically remember “The Merchant of Venice” and “Julius Caesar.”  In the latter, I remember the last act, in which Brutus & Company are being wiped out by Octavian in the battle of Philippi, and a Roman soldier came across the stage and looked down the stairs that went under the stands (remember theatre in the round?) and decided to throw his spear.  Some unseen soldier (or prompter) went ‘Ahh’ as if he had been stuck, and the audience erupted in laughter.  I hope they rebuild the theatre.  Best, Laurie”

1970 – Willa Kozupsky (L) and Wendy Strickman Hoffman (R) – West Coast Gal Gathering


Writes Wendy – “Here’s a photo of good friends Willa Kozupsky and Wendy “Strickman Hoffman in San Francisco, celebrating Willa’s birthday.  We reconnected in 2002 after bumping into each other at a community event, and we’ve been great friends ever since.  Regards, Wendy”

1974 – Ilona Willick Guzman – Trip to FL
Writes Ilona – “I’ve been keeping busy, doing a lot of genealogy research, mainly through and lots of documents I’ve had here since my mother died.  My brother Nelson (known as Nicky, 1969) had some good stuff too and sent it to me.  I’ll be going to Florida next month to visit with my 83-year-old cousin in Sarasota, and I hope that he can fill in some of the blanks for me.  Also going to drive to Orlando to visit Wheatley classmate Cathy Michaelson (stopping at an orangutan sanctuary on the way!), my brother at his winter place in West Palm Beach, and a couple of other friends on the East Coast.”

1975 – David Abeshouse – Crows About His Class
Writes David – Here are three of my accomplished classmates:

1. Bruce (now Benjamin) Dreyer is an expert on writing.
and  (I believe the book was just released today, 2/5.)
2. Eric Asimov is a food & wine critic for the NY Times.   

3. Dan Weiss is President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Best, David Abeshouse”

1977 – Robin Guadalupi – Art at Wheatley
Writes Robin – “Hi Art, Interesting to read about what was, back then, and recognizing some of the teacher’s names.  Some 60 years later, I am sure most of those who add their stories would probably not even recognize the school that shaped all of us.  The world has changed!  The Newsletters helped me locate an old friend from my childhood, before I even lived in EW.  A shout-out to Jill Simon Forte and Bob Forte. The amusement of finding her post and connecting the dots that I would play with her oldest son when we were children.  LOL.   And for all you early 1960s graduates, what happened to my old art teacher, who made me pursue my interest in art?  That would be Rochelle “Shelly” Levine.  The irony is that she was my teacher in my younger years while living in Uniondale.  Moving to East Williston, I think that 80% of my days were spent in the rooms of Aaron Kuriloff and Gerry Friedberg-Pagliaro.  I used to say that I held the key to the art rooms, staying there for all my free time and turning down my boyfriend’s request to go to the local McDonald’s.  Sadly, or not, I was not ‘allowed’ to continue my love of art, as I was told that it was not ‘a real career.’  As my mom said to me back then, ‘What will you do?  Paint on street corners?’  I often laughed about that over the years.  Especially when, years later, my mom would ask me, (short term memory), ‘Why didn’t I pursue your art’?  LOL.  My creative passion did take me to the fashion industry for many, many years; and now, with that industry shrinking, I design Kitchens.  Carry on Wildcats…and keep the stories coming.  Robin”

1977 – Christine Strom – Decased
Leaves behind sisters Karen (1974), Lisa Ann (1978) and Heidi (1980).

1982 – MaryAnn Behan and Diane Keller Austin – Tasting Wine in Sonoma


Writes Diane – “Hi Art, I am  on the right, the blonde.  Mary Ann and I have been friends for 40 years and still see each other about once a year or every other year.

Back in the day, my parents wanted me to try a private Catholic school for high school, so after 8th grade I attended Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset.  I did one year there and hated it; it's hard to take a kid who went to public school for eight years and then have her attend a school with uniforms

I followed my brother Douglas (1979) to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1987 (he went in 1984 and is still there).  I lived in the Bay Area for 5 1/2 years and then moved to beautiful Lake Tahoe.  I have been here since March of 1993.  I am married with two children: a son who is 20 years old and a daughter who is 18 years old. They both attend college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. 

My sister (who opted not to attend Wheatley) is still on Long Island, and our dad lives in Manhattan on the Upper East Side, so we are still very connected to New York.”

Fan Mail:

1958 (Barbara Newman) – “Art, you have a great skill at making the newsletters fun to read and touching at the same time.  All the best, Barbara Newman”

1960 (James Turco) – “Art, I love the newsletters!  They are like fine wine that just keeps getting better and better with age.  Thanks. Jim Turco”

1961 (Patty Kirk Hefferan) – “Thanks again, Arthur, for a nice read.”

1962 (Bill Jerome) – “Huge thanks to you and Keith Aufhauser for informing and connecting Wildcats around the globe.”

1962 (Carol Keister McCormick) – “Thanks Art.  It was great to see several of my fellow 1962 classmates in this issue.  Also, I loved Richard Buzen’s mention of Mr. Doig, who was an inspiring teacher.  Thanks for keeping us up to date.” 

1962 (Marvin Leifer) – “Thanks for keeping me in the loop!”

1963 (Gary Sugarman) – “Thanks so much for all you are doing for our 1960's Wheatley Gang!!”

1964 (Rick Kaplin) – “I always enjoy your newsletters and the memories they bring forth.”

1964 (Diane Nissenfeld Moore) – “As always, thank you for the updates.”

1965 (Michele Parker Ross) – “Thanks for all of your hard work.”

1966 (Debbi Davis) – “Keep on keeping everyone connected!  Thanks for all you do.”

1966 (Larry Fox) – “I love reading Art’s newsletters and following the journeys of our lives.  We truly had a great crew and built some wonderful memories.”
1966 (Lorraine Gallard) – “I continue to read with great interest each of the Newsletters.  It's interesting that with the passage of time, and general catching-up having taken place, that issues of perspective are cropping up.  I think it is such a good thing that diverse points of view are being expressed, in an overall respectful manner, but that may actually be due to our fearless leader/editor.  So additional thanks for that.  I also enjoyed your definitive presentation on the legal case that Betty Spiro raised.  Many thanks as ever for all that you do.”
1966 (Suzanne Stone) – “Thanks for another fascinating, heartwarming newsletter.”

1966 (Karen Wattel Arenson) – “A very long, newsy letter!  Thanks for the newsletters and luncheons.”

1967 (Lois Ertel Burdge) – “Thanks so much for sharing.  I love to hear about everyone and the teachers.”
1967 (Robert Scandurra) – “Judge Artie, what you're doing and have done is fantastic, and I always look forward to hearing from the Wheatley folks that are in touch with you.  Some months ago, after reading his newsletter comments, I had a long telephone conversation with Harold Whack (1966).  This time I really appreciated the comments of Matt Sanzone, one of the most successful, if not the most successful, Wheatley wrestlers ever.  You're doing such fantastic work for us, Art.  I recently came across your very informative and exquisitely detailed Class of 1967 history, from Kindergarten all the way to graduation, which is a masterpiece!”
1968 (Ellen Alpert Aronow) – “Art, I enjoy all the letters and remembrances --and now debates -- in the newsletters; but I have to say that the description of you bounding across the train tracks is one of the best stories by far!!  If you ever do a top ten, that definitely should be on it.  Thanks again for all you do.”

1968 (Susan Goldfeder Weiss) – “Hi Art, Thank you again for sending the Wheatley updates.  I especially liked Steve Ehre’s 
comments and feedback.”

1969 (Steve Ballen) – “Thank you very much for your hard work in keeping people connected!”

1969 (Gerry Gersh) – “Personal and comprehensive as ever Art!  Fairbairn, father of Object Relations Theory, believed ‘connectedness’ motivates all our behavior.  This treasured newsletter you handle with such care attests to this.  A better guardian there never was.  Thank you, Art.  Gerry”

1969 (Jack Lipsky) – “I Really look forward to the Newsletters!  Great Job.”

1970 (Robert Abramowitz) – “Wonderful job, Art.”

1970 (Wendy Strickman Hoffman) – “Hi Art - Thanks for keeping up the newsletters.  It’s fun to read about friends and teachers we haven’t seen in many decades!”

1972 (Robin Freier Edwards) – “So sad to hear of Janet Green (Castile) passing.  Such a sweet person.  Thanks so much, Art, for keeping this newsletter going.  It’s always great keeping in touch with fellow Wheatley-ites!”

1972 (Jean Kappes) – “Thank you Arthur for putting all your efforts in the Wheatley School Newsletter.  I enjoy reading and being informed about former Wheatley schoolmates.”

1972 (Debra Soffer Beilin) – “You’ve done it again, Art  Well done.  The newsletter is such enjoyable reading - familiar people, places & times.  You’re an angel to do this for us all.  Thanks so much.  Deb Soffer Beilin”

1973 (Dorothy Smith) – “Thank you so much for the Wheatley alumni news…I love it.” 

1975 (Patrice Maller) – “Art, thank you for taking the time to help the Wheatley community stay connected.”

1977 (Robin Guadalupi) – “Thank you for organizing these newsletters.”

1978 (Amy Feldhun Handy) – “Thanks for all you do as the ‘Mayor of Wheatley.’”

1982 (Diane Keller Austin) – “Thanks for all you do to provide the newsletter”

1988 (David Mahaffey) – “Wow…..You outdid yourself with this one (# 28)!”

That’s it for the Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 29.  Please send me your autobiography before someone else sends me your obituary.

Arthur Fredericks Engoron
The Wheatley School Class of 1967