Dear Wheatley Wildcats and Other Interested Persons,
Welcome to The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 77.
WARNING LABEL - THIS EDITION OF THE WHEATLEY SCHOOL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER CONTAINS STRONG POLITICAL OPINIONS.
A letter from the Editor (Art Engoron, 1967)
Dear Readers, The inclusion of three essays with strong political/social opinions (one recognizably liberal, and two, in response, recognizably conservative) in the last two issues of this Newsletter generated a relative firestorm of criticism. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the writers thereof, and I have agonized over what to do.
I have decided to continue the practice of all prior 76 issues, which is not to censor opinions or avoid controversy, for the following reasons (given in random order). First, graduates, opinions are just as much a part of who they are as where their summer home is located or how many grandchildren they have. Second, skipping the diatribes is easy; you’ll recognize them immediately. Third, we are all sentient adults, we know the nation is fractured, and we are all surrounded by media blaring opinions of all sorts 24/7 (which I understand militates in both directions). Finally, I am a proud, card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union and a First Amendment absolutist; censoring opinions would violate my own strongly held personal belief in favor of Freedom of Expression. The recent horrific stabbing of Salman Rushdie for a novel (The Satanic Verses) he wrote decades ago is the ultimate expression and logical extension of censorship.
I don’t publish these newsletters to upset people or make enemies, and I’m sorry if they do. But as long as I continue, I’m going to be true to myself..
I am not Tipper Gore, who infamously wanted to put warning labels on record albums (remember them?!) that contained profane lyrics, so the big print above is a one-off. But I will indicate, in the Title Line, any item that contains material that reasonably could offend anybody.
Finally, I have a saying that I apply to my professional life, and I have tried to apply to my editing of these newsletters: “factor yourself out of the equation.” These Newsletters are about you, or us, not me, and I scrupulously avoid publishing anything about myself that I wouldn’t about anybody else. To a certain extent I am channeling the words of the leader of a youth hosteling trip I went on when I was 16: “I just want to be the last rider in line and the one who holds the group’s spending money.” He wanted to make sure nobody was in trouble, but he did not want to play in loco parentis. You may have noticed that I, myself, have not joined the recent fray, and I won’t, as that would be unfair. But so would be refusing to publish heartfelt opinions because someone else may disagree or even find them distasteful or be offended. To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis over a century ago, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Note - Anything underlined is a link-to-a-link or an email address, and anything not is not, because Substack will not let you underline anything else.
The Usual Words of Wisdom
Thanks to our fabulous Webmaster, Keith Aufhauser (Class of 1963), you can regale yourself with the first 76 Newsletters (and other Wheatley data and arcana) at
Wheatley School Alumni Association Website
Also, thanks to Keith is our search engine, prominently displayed on our home page: type in a word or phrase and you’ll find every place it exists in all previous Newsletters and other on-site material.
I edit all submissions, even material in quotes, for clarity and concision, without any indication thereof. I do not vouch for the accuracy of what people tell me.
We welcome any and all text and photos relevant to The Wheatley School, 11 Bacon Road, Old Westbury, NY 11568, and the people who administered, taught and/or studied there. Art Engoron, Class of 1967
Class of 1972 - 50th-year Reunion - September 17, 2022
Writes the Committee - “50 years! Reunion on Saturday, September 17, at 5:00 pm for cocktails/6:00 - 9:00 pm for dinner at Revel Restaurant and Bar (835 Franklin Avenue, Garden City). For those who want more time together: Friday, September 16, casual get-together at Garden City Hotel bar at 7:00 - 9:00 pm (45 Seventh Street, Garden City), and Sunday, September 18, brunch at Majestic Diner at 10:30 am (498 Old Country Road, Westbury). Contact Seth Michael Katz at email@example.com to RSVP and/or for details. Come join us.”
The Wheatley School Awards
Wheatley bestows a plethora of awards. Here’s an incomplete list. I’ll print the names of any winners that come my way (a few are below). Thanks to Adam Rosen, 1976, for the information.
George Glaser Memorial Award -- presented annually to the senior student-athlete who most exemplified the qualities of excellence and dedication to the Wheatley athletic program.
Walter W. Wathey Award -- presented annually to a senior student-athlete for athletic
excellence and outstanding service to The Wheatley School.
Senior Athlete of the Year Award -- presented annually to a male and female athlete for outstanding athletic achievement, dedication, sportsmanship and love of the game. The 1976 winner was Eugene DePasquale. The 1978 winners were Steve Rosen and Heidi McClure.
Senior Achievement Award – presented to a male and female athlete who has earned
Varsity and Junior Varsity points totaling 350 or more. The 1976 winner was Adam Rosen.
Scholar Athlete Award – presented to a senior male and female athlete demonstrating a combination of outstanding academic and athletic achievement.
Mo Schneider Scholarships – presented annually to two senior student-athletes (tennis preferred) for exemplary academic achievement, positive attitude, promotion of equality and fairness, and inspiration to others.
Unsung Hero Award
1958 - Steve Nelson - Petitioning Congress
Steve has created an online petition urging Congress to pass legislation to protect access to abortion. Read it and, if you choose to, sign it at https://www.change.org/BanBirthingBondage
1960 - Carl Stewart - STRONG OPINIONS ABOUT ITEMS IN NEWSLETTER # 76
Writes Carl - I am moved to write by two bits appearing in the above-referenced newsletter...one thankfully very brief and the other unfortunately prolix.
To take the easier one first: Jay Cummings, a fellow member of the Class of 1960, declares himself a patriot, although he offers no actual evidence of his patriotism. He mentions that his writings often appear in the one New York newspaper, the Post, that is essentially unreadable. There have been approximately 10,000 graduates of Wheatley in the 60+ years of its existence, yet I’m reasonably certain that not more than half a dozen of them read The Post. Thus the obscurity of the political meanderings of Mr. Cummings.
The screed by Jeff Jacobs and Rhonda Kalkin will, if I had to guess and hope, fall mainly on deaf ears. It is often wrong both factually and legally. Where to begin? If the writers believe that Roe v. Wade (establishing a constitutional right to abortion; recently overturned in “Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization”) was decided unconstitutionally, one must wonder if they think that “Brown v. Bd. of Education” (outlawing segregation in public schools) or “Griswold” (establishing a right to use contraception) or “Obergefell” (establishing a right to same-sex marriage) were likewise “unconstitutional?” What about “Citizens United” (allowing corporations and other entities to spend unlimitedly on political campaigns)? Just because Sam Alito and his cronies on the Court think that “Roe” was unconstitutionally decided doesn’t make it so.
I do agree with one point made by the two, however. The Newsletter is supposed to be just that...news about the Wheatley School and its students and staff. There are multiple forums for political discussion in the world, and I would hate to see the Newsletter becoming a place where warring factions get to take up unwanted space best dealt with elsewhere.”
1961 - Class Reunion
Writes Jeanne Messing Sommer - “We are all looking forward to celebrating our 61st-year reunion in person in October 2022!”
1961 - Jerome Mintz - Miracle Man
Writes Jerry - “I seem to be getting younger all the time, probably because I had a heart attack over 7 years ago, and subsequently I read a book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Essentially it said, ‘If you follow this diet you won't have another heart attack!’ So I said, ‘I'm in!!’ Since then I have lost 30 pounds, and I am on no medications. All inflammation left my body, and bloods and blood pressure are all normal.
I recently won the New York State over-70 table tennis championship. I had previously won the national. I still teach table tennis with an Olympic coach up to 5 days a week. I still run a nonprofit that networks all the educational alternatives around the world, and I run an online course to help people start new alternatives. We recently held a national conference. EducationRevolution.org
So you never know, but I’m still keeping on!
Eugene Razzetti - 1961 - Appreciated the Schneider/Jacobs Contribution
Writes Gene - “I took special pleasure in the response by classmate Rhoda Kalkin Schneider and friend Jeff Jacobs (1962) in the last issue. Their contribution to the newsletter was an on-target masterpiece. Jeff's late brother Everett was a terrific classmate and pal.
1963 - Steve Rushmore - Expert Hotel Appraiser
Steve (L) and Art (R) after a leisurely lunch at the Harvard Club in NYC on 8/12/2022
Writes Art (sporting a regulation red Wheatley T-shirt under his dress shirt) - “Steve Rushmore is a fascinating guy with a fascinating family history. His ancestors owned extensive farmland, starting in the 1600s!, in the Roslyn Heights Country Club area in which many Wildcats were raised; they were the ones who owned the corncrib, hayloft, and carriage after whom those streets are named. He graduated from the Cornell Hotel School and, after the usual twists and turns, became an expert in, indeed wrote the book on, appraising hotels. Oh, and yes, to answer your question, he’s related to the South Dakota politician who managed to lend his name to the iconic sculpture of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt (Teddy, of course). Evidence of our lunch venue can be seen, albeit faintly, behind us.”
1964 - Nancy Gittleson Hodson, Marilyn Bardo, and Meryl Moritz
Writes Marilyn - “Nancy, Meryl, and I recently had a lovely lunch in Irvington, NY, on the Hudson, near where Meryl lives. Our get-together was postponed for a long time for various reasons, so it was really good to see each other and catch up in person.
Meryl has a new English Cocker Spaniel puppy; Nancy and her husband are about to go on a trip to Switzerland and Italy; and I am going with husband Bob (Halper, Class of 1965) to Egypt and Israel in November.”
1964 - Gene Grindlinger - His Life in Medicine, AND HIS STRONG POLITICAL OPINIONS
Writes Gene - “Dear Art, In accordance with your request for my autobiography prior to an obituary in my name, I offer the following. I do this, in part, because my parents taught me always to follow written instruction when possible, but also because the recent essays have energized me to do something other than delete emails or order more woodworking tools I don’t really need. I encourage anyone who agrees with my comments to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who don’t agree with me, please contact my wife, but be prepared to wait until she has time to check-off her own list of complaints.
August, 22, 2022
This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending The Tanglewood 90th birthday celebration for John Williams. An event to remember! Joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra were Branford Marsalis, Eric Revis, Jessica Zhou. Itzhak Perlman performed the violin solo from Schindler’s list. Of course, James Taylor performed ‘Sweet Baby James,’ as he always does at Tanglewood. This time, though, he was accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma. He also sang ‘Getting to Know You’ from The King and I. No Gertrude Lawrence he!
From Dickens classic ‘A Christmas Carol’:
When Scrooge is visited by the first Spirit, he asks,
‘Who, and what are you?’
‘I am the Ghost of Christmas Past,’ says the Spirit
‘Long past?,’ inquires Scrooge
‘No. Your past.’
And so, absent the benevolent Spirit, here it is. My story (or some of it).
My journey to Medicine began long before I entered Wheatley. Perhaps it was the kindness of the Pediatricians that treated me when I was young. Or maybe it was watching Hemo the Magnificent on our 12-inch TV when I was ten. As I walked along the old Vanderbilt Motor Parkway with a first-aid kit strapped to my belt I knew that Medicine was my future. After Wheatley graduation, I entered the Boston University (BU) 6-year AB/MD program. I felt well prepared because in those days the emphasis was on science and mathematics, and Wheatley had taught me well.
When I was seventeen, it was a very good year. (Ervin Drake)
I had every anticipation that Boston would be the progressive city upon which its reputation was based. After all, Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin, and Paul Revere were born there. So, too, was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allen Poe. Boston was a collegiate town, small and affordable and easy to negotiate on the ‘T’. There was Harvard and MIT (not strictly Boston, but close enough.) Martin Luther King received his doctorate at the BU School of Theology. The Kennedy influence was everywhere. Boston was “the Hub.” And, Boston had Yastrzemski, and Bill Russell and Bobby Orr.
But, when I arrived at BU, it wasn’t as it seemed, certainly not for women. Students housed in the women’s dormitory on Bay State Road/Commonwealth Avenue were not permitted in wintertime to leave the dorm in slacks unless the temperature was less than 17 degrees Fahrenheit. This per local ordinance of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). Similarly, in the springtime, female students could not leave the dorm in shorts, again per the DAR. As a protest, students would wear their shorts under a skirt and strip off the skirt in the middle of Bay State Road and ride away on their bikes. There were other Boston restrictions. You had to be 21 to purchase alcohol in Massachusetts; not such a bad law. But you only had to be 18 to serve in the military/Vietnam. The Catholic Church was a very dominant force. There were the Blue Laws. As fashions changed, certain hotels (the Parker House and Copley Plaza, I think) discouraged or even prohibited their female guests from wearing pant-suits.
Boston, when I arrived, was very much a divided city. Boston had its neighborhoods. There was East Boston, Charlestown and South Boston, primarily Irish-Catholic. The elite of Boston lived in the Back Bay and on Beacon Hill. The African-Americans lived in Dorchester and Roxbury. The Black and White neighborhoods did not mix. Bigotry and racism were entrenched. Finally, later in the 60’s, Boston imploded over racial segregation in the public schools. Federal Judge W. Arthur Garrity ruled that the schools were unconstitutionally segregated. The Boston School Committee, under Louise Day Hicks, consistently disobeyed orders from the State Board of Education to develop a busing plan to desegregate. After nearly a decade of effort and opposition, Garrity, in 1975 took the Boston City Schools under receivership and initiated a busing program to assure racial balance. Racial violence exploded, pitting the largely Irish-Catholic enclaves of Charlestown and South Boston against the blacks of Dorchester and Roxbury. Garrity became the target of death threats and at least two attempts on his life. His home was picketed. On my way to Boston City Hospital one morning, a large rock aimed at my head was thrown through the car’s windshield. Fortunately, I managed to escape harm. Talk about a Tale of Two Cities. The myth versus reality.
In 1967, Boston University students petitioned Bill Baird, a reproductive rights pioneer, to challenge the Massachusetts law that prohibited providing contraception to unmarried persons (Crimes Against Chastity, Decency, Morality, and Good Order Law.) This was not a unique law, as other states had similar proscriptions against pre-marital sex. In New Jersey, for example, unmarried pregnant women could be prosecuted under their anti-fornication laws. In April 1967, at BU’s Case Auditorium, Baird gave a lecture that I and 1500 other BU students attended. He spoke about the dangers of world-wide over-population and the need for effective birth control. At the end of his talk, he gave one condom and over-the-counter contraceptive foam to an unmarried female BU student. He was promptly arrested as a felon by the Boston Police, who were standing at the back of the auditorium. At trial he was convicted and jailed for three months at Boston’s Charles Street Jail. Baird had been jailed for similar advocacy eight times in six other states, including New York.
When I was 21, it was a very good year.
After graduation from BU in 1970, I began what would be 7 years of training in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care. But, after only two years of Residency I received my military orders for Vietnam (Berry Program). Most of my deployment was spent at the 67th Evac Hospital in Pleiku (central highlands). I was opposed to the war, as were others with whom I served. Anyway, I was considered a non-combatant (Geneva accords). I volunteered for CAP (Civil Action Patrol) missions whenever I could. One of these was to Dak Pek, a small firebase about five miles from the Laotian border. On return to the 67th we stopped to refuel at Kon Tum. While there, we transported a six years old desperately ill child who had sustained a shrapnel wound to her abdomen days before. At the time, Vietnamese civilians in the villages had little or no access to medical care. We resuscitated her as best we could and then operated. She was the first laparotomy (opening the abdomen) that I performed. She had extensive peritonitis, not at all unlike the peritonitis that follows a botched back-alley abortion, which was common in America in those days. She was in what we call septic shock. The holes in her stomach were small and easy to repair. But her sepsis was too far advanced. She died later that evening. It was said at the time that there were better antibiotics on the black market (just outside the perimeter fence) than we had available to us. War is hell. This case had a transformative effect on me. My ambition changed from General Surgery to Trauma Surgery and Critical Care, specialties that were in their infancy, but strongly influenced by the necessities of the Vietnam War.
I mustered out of the Army after two years and returned to Boston City Hospital in 1974 to complete my Residency. I was now a third year Resident and it was then that I met Ken Edelin, who was a GYN Chief Resident. Ken was under indictment after performing a legal abortion on a 17-year-old unmarried woman. Roe-Wade had been decided earlier that year. The charge was depriving a baby-boy of oxygen while it was still in the womb being born. He was convicted in 1975 of manslaughter by an all-white (Edelin was black) 12- member jury, 10 of whom were Roman Catholic. The prosecuting Attorney was Newman Flanagan. Racial slurs against Edelin were spoken during deliberations according to one alternate juror. Though the court could have imposed the mandatory 20-year sentence, Dr. Edelin was sentenced to 1 year probation. He kept his medical license and continued to practice OB-GYN at Boston City. Edelin appealed the verdict and in 1976 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously overturned the conviction and formally acquitted him.
When I was 35 it was a very good year
After Surgical training I spent two years at Harvard Medical School/Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in a Fellowship in Surgical Critical Care. After fellowship I accepted an academic appointment at Boston Medical Center and continued to practice Trauma Surgery and Critical Care in Boston and then in Maine for the next nearly 40 years, until my retirement.
Roe-Wade was not a political issue when it was decided in 1973, it was a human rights issue. When in 1972 the Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Bill Baird, it established the right of unmarried persons to possess contraception on the same basis as married couples. U.S Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote in that decision, “If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as to whether to bear or beget a child." This landmark decision was foundational for Roe-Wade and other human rights decisions.
Our generation made great advances to improve the lives of Americans, or we tried to. We fought for civil rights and voting rights and human rights. Did we succeed? I think so. Or, was it, as Scrooge surmised upon seeing the visage of Marley, ‘more of gravy than of grave?’ But now, the Supreme Court has stricken one of those fundamental rights and left it for the States to decide. States that have historically disenfranchised some of their citizens of these same fundamental rights. Which one of the unenumerated rights will fall next on the chopping block of this politicized Court that ignores Supreme Court precedent and stare decisis. Will it be same-sex marriage, voting rights, gay rights, contraceptive rights, privacy rights? States are already banning books in the public schools. What’s next?
Now that we’re ‘in the autumn of the year,’ did your wine ‘pour sweet and clear?’ was it ‘a very good year.’ Well, was it?
1966 - Richard Jalonack - A Milestone
Ricky and his wife Tibi celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this month. Fantastic! They and Ricky’s sister, Carol Jalonack Blum (1961), were a regular at Art Engoron’s annual Wheatley School Alumni Association NYC Luncheons, currently on a Covid pause since 2020.
1966 - Neal Kirby - Kindergarten at North Side
The following identifications are tentative, problematic and questionable.
First row: ???; ???; Dawn Somebody
Second row: Larry Collucci; ???; ????; Linda Somebody; Barbara Hogarty; Robert Jenness; ???
Third row: ??? (standing, far left); ???; Neal Kirby; ???; Jimmy Palantino; Steven Kanthak; ???; Terry Lauricella; ???; ??? (standing, far right)
Fourth row: Robert Stange; ???; ???; Gordon Hummel: ???; ???
Writes Neal - “I was digging through a box labeled, ‘This crap is yours when I die, with my youngest daughter (almost 27-years-old) last week, and came across this photo. It's the only school photo I have, other than yearbooks, so fittingly it's the oldest. So, this will be a memory test for all. I'm in the third row, third from the left. My head has fortunately grown into my ears, my hair remains (miraculously) mostly brown, and I'm still sporting my Covid lockdown ponytail (due to my wife's health, we've been sequestered longer than most). My act of rebellion at 74. The IDs above are from my lockdown/chianti ravaged brain cells. I would love to get as many blanks filled in as possible and hear from anybody out there, NLKIRBY70@GMAIL.COM
1967 - Michael Abrahams - Correction
As many new teachers and substitutes back in the day learned the hard way, Mike Abrahams ends his surname with an '"s," as though it were plural. Classmates Art Engoron and Dan Silver knew that—but evidently their keyboards didn't. They apologize to Mike for the miscue.
1967 - Art Engoron - In the News
The New York Times
The Daily Mail
Law & Crime
1967 - Carl Wirth - In the News
Writes Carl - Art, not really my obit, but I did get recently a little free publicity. The Omaha World Herald has been running a series on the impact of Title lX on woman’s sports. You might remember I wrote girl’s sports for The Wheatley Wildcat as “Carol Wirth,” so the paper interviewed me on how the college I attended, John F. Kennedy College in Wahoo, Nebraska, was the first team to win the Women’s Softball College World Series in 1969, 1970 and 1971 until banned because they awarded women’s basketball scholarships (they were twice national champions and represented the US playing in the People’s Republic of China). You could check out the article if you google “Omaha World Herald First Woman’s College World Series Champions” and might be able to find it on Youtube under the same. They interview me since I’ve been President of the Alumni Association since 1971, promised never to collect alumni dues, also helps; the college closed in 1975. The YouTube video is kind of cool; they interviewed the softball players, but I got my chance to put in my Two Cents WIRTH… HaHa! Carl
1968 - Lois Weissberg O’Neill - Memorial Service
Writes sister Martha Weissberg (1965) - “Lois and her late husband, John Baum, will be honored at a memorial service on September 10th, 2022, at Lois’s home in Baldwin, NY. If interested, contact me at MarjeanW44@gmail.com or classmate Louise Kurshan.”
1969 - Marynn Wechter - Missed
Writes Jill Wattel Stockinger (1969) - “She was a good friend. She was ‘fiercely herself.’"
Writes Stefani Fusey Valadez (1970) - “I lived down the block from Marynn Wechter, and we were very close. It was good to read about her all these years later. I was devastated upon hearing she died in that motor vehicle accident. I was only 18 and she was 19.”
1972 - 50th-Year Reunion - Saturday, September 17, 5:00 PM, Revel, 835 Franklin Ave., Garden City, NY - Contact Seth Katz at LIV2SKIFOREVER@GMAIL.COM
Writes Art Engoron - Seth, Richard Weissman, Mary Vachris, Gail Russo Biggs, Susie Spielberger Porter and others too numerous to mention have been working hard organizing what promises to be a fun event. I, myself, plan to attend the cocktail hour (but don’t let that deter you).
1972 + 1973 - Robin Freier and James Klepper - Dinner in Huntington
Writes Robin - ‘"How funny that my new friend at the Hamlet in Commack turns out to be Jim Klepper’s wife! Such a fun, unexpected reunion!”
1975 - Robert Vincze - Sounding Like an American Original
Writes Robert - “At the risk of sounding like Yogi Berra: it's a problem when the problem isn't the problem” (intended as a general comment on the national political scene).
1976 - The Gang’s All Here - Dboysh (“The Boys”)
Delaware, May, 2022 - L-R: Tom Flynn, Joe Potenza, Tom Romeo, Mike Cashin, Tom Lonegan, Rick Volpe, Steve Johnson, Warren Kosel, Charlie Cassely and Ed Biancavilla. All are Wheatley 1976 except Tom, who’s a friend; submitted by Charlie Cassely.
1978 - Valerie Gomes - Memories of the North Side School, 1965-1969
Writes Valerie - I’ve become quite nostalgic these days; I suppose it’s the result of turning 60 a couple of years ago. I have many fond memories of East Williston and Northside Elementary School and wanted to share some of them with you.
Mr. Heroy was the principal during my five years at Northside, from 1965-1969. Luckily, I was never sent to his office, but if I had been, I’m sure he would have made it a positive experience for me. We all knew what a nice and caring person was in charge of our school.
Mrs. Donus was my kindergarten teacher, and I loved her. She was probably my favorite teacher, she was kind, elegantly pretty, and youthful.
I had Mrs. Kole for first grade, and Mrs. Shea for second (she went on maternity leave midterm, and was replaced by Mrs. Resnick). In third grade, it was Mrs. Mellor, with her long and strikingly straight gray hair that she kept tied up in a bun. Mrs. Basick for fourth grade was a wonderful, kind, teacher who in retrospect was the perfect fit for me at that time.
When I think back to my kindergarten year, what I remember most are images of nap time, snack time, and reading. My favorite subjects!!! Mrs. Donus would read stories to us while we’d circle round her near the book case. I adored the “The Five Chinese Brothers.” Each brother had a different power. One of the brothers could swallow the entire Ocean!
In first grade, I waited patiently on line, with my precious 35¢, to buy a hot lunch. Every day it was something different. My favorites were Chicken Chow Mein with white rice and dry noodles, hamburgers (who knew rubber could taste so good?), boiled hot dogs, and on Fridays, a square slice of pizza.
Milk was 2 cents, but in time it was raised to a pricey 3 cents. The lunch ladies in charge were Mrs. Peterson and Mrs. Cologna. Mrs Cologna was a loud, brash, boisterous woman with red hair, who managed to keep us all in line with her booming voice. Mrs. Peterson was gentler, quieter and much more approachable.
Miss Ebner was a constant presence, as Music teacher, during my time at Northside. She played standard show tunes on the piano, and we sang along. Her renditions were my first exposure to music from Broadway. My favorites were the songs from Finian’s Rainbow and Oklahoma, and in the fourth grade we put on an elaborate production of Oklahoma for the school.
In the show, Julie King starred as Laurey; John Mazlish was given the part of her cowboy suitor, Curly; Robert Hundertmark played the sinister Jud Fry; and Joan Giarmo was Aunt Eller. I had one short line as a farmer, but got terrible stage fright, panicked last minute, and surrendered it over to my understudy!!! Ughh…I just couldn’t go on.
Another fixture during my years at Northside was the Art teacher, Mrs. Greenberg. Her love of art and nature left a lasting impression on me. In her large art workshop, the sun seemed to bathe the entire room in a bright white light. I’ll never forget those big old windows, facing south into the parking lot, with Mrs. Greenberg basking in her element, cheerfully firing our ashtrays and clay creations in the kiln.
Mrs. Greenberg was a model of the “art life” for me back then. Kind, warm, and soft spoken, she seemed to have permanent bits of dry clay under her fingernails, which I loved. So many fun and creative holiday projects were conjured up in her class, all of which came home with me, to the apparent delight of my parents, lots of ceramic ashtrays.
When I think back on the countless hours spent in gym class at Northside, my mind leads to Ms. Vaca. Whether that is the correct spelling I can’t be sure, but I recall her face and demeanor like it was yesterday. I remember the awkwardness of being asked to wait up in the bleachers, while the rest of the class did wind sprints. I had a faint heart murmur as a child, and I wasn’t allowed to participate in any overly strenuous activities. I do remember, however, partaking in those exciting games of dodgeball!!
No Northside story would be complete without telling of the unforgettable, yet routine, air raid drills. The warning alarm would sound, and we would all head quickly downstairs to sit against the walls of the hallway near the cafeteria. We were instructed to tuck our heads between our knees and we had to be very quiet. Nobody said a word. We knew this was serious! This was life during the Cold War!
Northside was an old building, especially the parts left intact after the famous fire. In the old wings, desks and chairs were made of weathered wood, with desk tops that would lift for storing books inside. There were large holes in the top corners of the desks. Later, I came to realize the holes were designed to accommodate inkwells, a relic from bygone days.
I must admit that I always looked forward to returning to Northside each and every fall. After all, I’d get to meet my brand new teacher, and reunite with all my favorite friends. I loved getting brand new books, and I would go home and cut a brown paper grocery bag and make covers for them. I loved the summers but was always happy to come back to school in the fall.
And once at school, nothing was better than lunchtime! I’ll never forget when my classmate Joellen gave me a piece of Bazooka bubble gum in the cafeteria. She was a “tomboy,” and I always admired her wild ways, and always wanted her to like me, so when I asked her for a piece of Bazooka bubble gum and she said yes, I was elated. I remember in first grade when she brought her Saint Bernards to school for Show and Tell, they were the biggest dogs I had ever seen.
After lunch we’d race outside excitedly to hit the playground. The cold steel monkey bars were always inviting us to climb, and it was there that we used to flip our hoards of baseball cards. I always looked forward to seeing how many cards I could win. Calling shades was fun. As long as you had a card that was a shade close to the color of your opponents card, you could win. My happiest moment was capturing the NY Mets team card that was the ultimate prize! It was very rare!
On some days, I opted to leave all that fun behind and head home for lunch. My house was only blocks away from the school, so I’d cut through a few neighbors’ yards, and be home in no time. Of course, my mom was always there (it was the sixties!) waiting happily to greet me. A bologna sandwich with Hellman's mayonnaise on Wonder bread was my favorite!!!
On days I wasn’t feeling well, the nurse’s office was a sanctuary; I don’t remember the nurse’s name , but her favorite remedy was to simply let me rest quietly in the small bed, with a minimum of fuss, just long enough to get me back on my feet.
One last Northside kernel from memory, to balance all this innocent nostalgia, was when my best friend and I, when no adults were watching, would stealthily sneak into the auditorium, and climb up on the high scaffolding behind the stage. It was always frighteningly dark, and tensely creepy, and looking back, probably not the safest thing to do. But ‘ah,’ what fun it was…
Well, those are some of my early memories from Northside. I hope these tales jogged some memories for you!
1979 - Julie Paine Hamilton - Deceased
TWSAA was just informed by a classmate that Julie passed in April of 2020.
1981 - John Hughes - Looking Back Then
Writes John - “The 1981 Wheatley Aurora celebrated Wheatley’s 25th Anniversary (notice the ‘25’ in the bottom right corner).”
Here’s a photo of Wheatley being constructed:
It was such a great school!”
1982 - 40th-Year Reunion
Writes Class Correspondent Maria Reyher Meredith - “The 40th-year reunion of the Class of 1982 will be held on Saturday, October 22nd at the Strathmore-Vanderbilt Country Club. Contact Maria Reyher Meredith at email@example.com for more information.”
1982 - Jeff Zaremsky - Television Producer
Writes Jeff - “A TV program I helped produce, Shalom Adventure TV, is being aired nationwide on Hope Channel Television, which is on DirecTV, Channel 368, Roku, Apple TV, etc. The show can also be seen directly on Hope Channel’s webpage, www.HopeTV.org/watch on Mondays at noon, ET, or Fridays at 3:00, ET.”
1991 - George Nossa - Appreciating Wheatley
Writes George - “My brothers, ‘Rick" (1994), and ‘Bobby’ (1997), and I remember what a special school Wheatley was (and is) and have many friends from there with whom we still keep in touch.
In the 1960s, which Willets Road School teacher taught about the yellow-bellied sapsucker?
Faculty (Gloria Oliver) - “Thank you for your dedication to the Wheatley alumni. You bring much joy to many people.” GCOLIVER34@GMAIL.COM; 516-209-3884
1958 (Steve Nelson) - “I’m looking forward to the next issue, as always.”
1959 (Matthew Sanzone) - “I look forward to the Newsletters.”
1960 (Carl Stewart) - “As always, I look forward to the next newsletter. Being the caretaker of the Newsletter is clearly a labor of love for you. You might be surprised at how many Wheatley alumni eagerly await each newsletter. It’s really a wonderful chronicle of the passage of time, particularly for those of us who are truly old timers.”
1961 (Theresa Frisina Levine) - “I really enjoy the Newsletters.”
1961 (Richard Kopelman) - “Well done, Art.”
1961 (Jerry Mintz) - “Nice issue, as usual, Art! “
1961 (Eugene Razzetti) - “Art, many thanks for another great newsletter. “
1963 (Martin Kay) - “Many thanks for all your work.”
1964 (Marilyn Bardo) - “Thanks for these informative Newsletters; they keep us all connected.
1964 (Steven Lewis) - “Sincere thanks for creating and editing the Wheatley Alumni Newsletter, which I always look forward to reading.”
1965 (Barbara Ashley) - “I always enjoy reading other classmates’ news. I very much appreciate your efforts and marvel that you find the time to do this for us all!!”
1965 (Martha Weissberg) - “Count me as another alumna who appreciates and enjoys the newsletter.”
1966 (Susan Cohen Fuersich) - ❤️
1966 (Neal Kirby) - “Thanks for doing this newsletter every month. They're really fun to read.”
1967 (Stephen Presti) - ❤️
1969 (Peter Siegelman) - ❤️
1970 (Stefani Fusey Valadez) - “Much appreciation for keeping this going.”
1970 (Jonathan Gold) - ❤️
1970 (George Nierenberg) - ❤️
1970 (Mitch Shapiro) - “Another good Newsletter. Keep up the good work.”
1973 (Charlie Nash) - “Thank you so very much for continuing to connect all of us with each other.”
1973 (Edward B. (“Woody”) Ryder IV - “People can contact me at Woodieo@aol.com.”
1974 (William Bosshart) - ❤️
1974 (James Elefonte) - ❤️
1975 (Irene Kappes Beirne) - ❤️
1975 (William Ray) - “Thanks for the continued insights.”
1976 (Robin Firetog Glanzberg) - ❤️
1976 (Adam Rosen) - “Many thanks for all your efforts on the newsletter.”
1976 (Donald Spininger) - ❤️
1979 (William Behan) - ❤️
1981 (John Hughes) - “Thanks for all of your hard work with the newsletter!”
1983 (Maria Marazzo) - ❤️
That’s it for The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 77. Please send me your autobiography before someone else sends me your obituary.
Arthur Fredericks Engoron, 1967
© 2022 ARTHUR ENGORON