Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our 1966 Glen School Christmas Program!

Above is the cover of our 1966 Christmas Program - artist unknown!
In December, 1966 the 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes at Glen School put on a Christmas Program -this is my attempt to try and recreate it as best I can.

Unlike today, you had to try out and be selected for choir. This wasn't without some trepidation - you know, "Will I make it?" - I mean my voice started to change a little in 1966! Very professionally, Mrs. Jamieson told me that I had made it and I was a soprano! I wondered - is that normal? Me - that high?

Anyway, you stood before Maureen Jamieson and her piano with a couple of classmates and sang something like "America the Beautiful" by yourself - ugh in front of girls - girls you liked!

Looking back, Maureen Jamieson's shows and concerts were quite something for grade school - very well-thought out and always a  theme within a theme. She took it all very seriously. There's so much debate about Christmas carols and what you should and shouldn't sing these days - but honestly the beauty of this show and so many others was the innocence of it. It wasn't about different holidays - it was truly about the holiday season and all of us were excited about it. Its what makes kids so great - we weren't concerned with who had money or who was what religion - we were all friends at a great time of year!

Above, Maureen Jamieson herself at the piano - not our Christmas show. Photo is a cropped version of a photo taken by Sam Silvers. Photo is property of and used with the permission of Margaret Silvers-Myatt.

Above, is Mrs. Jamieson's original piano and bench!! I stumbled upon it as I took my long-awaited walk through the school before the reunion - I would hate to see it end up in the dumpster - if only it could talk! Photo taken by Rick Flannery.

The December 1966 Christmas Show was titled "Animals at Christmas". It included the 4th, 5th and 6th grade choirs and a mixed orchestra called the Glen School Ensemble. I believe the 4th grade choir did a separate night.

Karen Pursiano-Parry had contacted me last year and donated several things to the Glen School archive and among them were the actual program of our show! Her mom had saved this among her papers. Here's Karen's own words regarding finding it:

"My mother managed to save the Christmas program. All of our names are listed in it. I still remember standing on stage and belting out the "Ho Ho Ho" part of the song "Up On the Housetop"! I am sending you the original - you can keep it because it really belongs to ALL of us!"

Yes there were those that didn't make the choir - sometimes crushing egos! Those that didn't make it would decorate the tree and take care of other details related to the show - sorry you guys! As Artie Brierley used to say, "I had better things to do!" - though I suspect he would have loved to be part of the choir just the same!

While Mrs. Jamieson handled the choir and music selection, Warren Grimm was the instrumental director - having taken over for Donald Cook (Mrs. Cook's wife - 2nd grade teacher) - Mr. Cook had passed away suddenly. Accompanying Mrs. Jamieson was student teacher Ann DiPietro.

The musical selection for "Animals at Christmas" included old carols and classic Christmas poetry as well as orginal poetry by the 5th grade - all sung or read by the students. The 5th and 6th grade choirs sang a total of 9 songs and recitations in-between. The 4th and 5th choir sang 9 songs with an original poem recited by a student in-between - each poem was original and authored by the student who read it.

Unfortunately a date can't be made out on the program but considering that it may have been somewhere between December 15 and 20, the weather was wintry - high 20's, low 30's - a little wet with flurries here and there according to weather history.

The audience was filled with our parents, siblings, relatives and Mr. McFall and his whole family. Probably better dressed than anyone in the room, Mr. McFall - our beloved custodian - enjoyed attending "his" students events and we loved it too - proud to perform for him.

My sisters recall going and remember their brother's sweaty palms and cracking voice!

The chairs - single, folding chairs - were each set up by Mr. McFall earlier in the day.

Above is the list of 5th and 6th grade choir members as it appeared in our program.

The "Animals at Christmas" program went like this:

The first song was a classic English carol - "Masters in Ths Hall". There was narration done by Cindy Hansen - no specific poem.

Masters in This Hall

Masters in this hall
Hear ye news today
Brought from over seas
And ever you I pray.

Sing we now Noel
Sing we noel clear!
Holpen all the folk on earth
Born the Son of God so dear!

Then to Bethlehem Town
Went we two by two
In a sorry place

We heard the oxen low.

Sing we now noel
Sing we noel clear!
Holpen all the folk on earth
Born the Son of God so dear!

Ox and ass Him know
Kneeling on their knee
Wonderous joy had
This little babe to see.

Sing we now noel
Sing we noel clear!
Holpen all the folk on earth
Born the Son of God so dear!

This is Christ, the Lord
Masters be ye glad!
Christmas is come in
And no folk shall be sad!

Sing we now noel
Sing we noel clear!
Holpen all the folk on earth
Born the Son of God so dear!

Play the link below to hear the song "Masters in This Hall":

Next, we sang "Friendly Beasts" another old English carol. This was followed by a poem read by Betsy Kline titled "Christmas in the Forest" by Ruth Walton. A 3rd poem was read following Betsy's though I can't make out the title - it was about a Christmas tree and was recited by Sandy McCormick. (Where are you Betsy Kline?)

The 3rd song was "Twelve Days of Christmas" and we were led by Ann Rimmer and Cara Worthington. Following this was the poem titled "Little Lamb" read by Jennifer Rudy.

The 4th song in the program was "Carol of the Shepherds" - an old Polish carol. Two poems followed: "The Barn" by Maryanne Vaz and Jim Smethurst and "The Cuckoo" by Lori Abrhamson.

Below are the words to "The Barn" as recited by Jim Smethurst and Maryanne Vaz:

The Barn by Elizabeth Coatsworth 

"I am tired of this barn!'' said the colt,
"And every day it snows.
Outside there's no grass any more
And icicles grow on my nose.

"I am tired of hearing the cows
Breathing and talking together.
I am sick of these clucking hens.
I hate stables and winter weather!"

"Hush, little colt," said the mare,
"And a story I will tell
Of a barn like this one of ours
And the wonders that there befell.

It was weather much like this
And the beasts stood as we stand now
In the warm good dark of the barn —
A horse and an ass and a cow."

"And sheep?" asked the colt. "Yes, sheep
And a pig and a goat and a hen.
All of the beasts of the barnyard."

The usual servants of men.
And into their midst came a lady
And she was as cold as death,
But the animals leaned above her

And made her warm with their breath.
"There was her baby born
And laid to sleep in the hay
While music flooded the rafters
And the barn was as light as day,

And angels and kings and shepherds
Came to worship the Babe from afar,
But we looked at Him first of all creatures
By the bright strange light of a star!"

Our 5th song was called "Carol of the Birds" a French carol, which was followed by "Christmas in the Woods" written by Frances Frost and recited by Katie Knight.

Below is the story Katie recited that night:

Above is the classic Frances Frost book from 1942 whose verses were read by Katie Knight.

"Christmas in the Woods" by Frances Frost 1942

The woods were still and the snow was deep,
But there was no creature who could sleep.
The fox and the vixen ran together
Silently through the starry weather.
The buck and the doe and the fawn came drifting
Into the clearing. The rabbit, lifting
His ears, shook white from the twigs he brushed;
The chattering squirrel for once was hushed
As he sat with his paws against his breast,
And the bobcat crouched on the mountain crest.

Safe in the fold the silver sheep
Told the young lambs not to leap.
In the shadowy stable the horses stood
Hearing the quietness in the wood.

And the cattle sighed in the fragrant barn,
Waiting the instant of the morn.
The stars stood at midnight, and tame or wild,
All creatures knelt to worship the Child.

Song number 6 was an original song composed by Kensey Stewart - who was part of the Ridgewood Public Schools system. It was titled "An Old Christmas Greeting". The song was followed by the poem "Gladde Things" recited by Cara Worthington - the author of the poem is unknown.

Song number 7 was called "Joyful Christmas Song". The 8th song was "The Night Before Christmas" with the Glen School Ensemble.

Our 9th and final song that night was the beautiful and timeless "Silent Night".

The Glen School Ensemble played 5 of their own songs that evening. These included: "Good King Wenceslas", "O Come All Ye Faithful" which highlighted the 5 trumpet players: David Clay (5th G), Stephen McDowell (5th G), Jim Carroll (5th G), Paul Pettofrezzo (5th G) and Doug Terhune (4th G).

The Ensemble's 3rd song was "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"with a trumpet solo by Stephen McDowell. Their 4th song was "Green Sleeves" which featured Janice Malley (5th G) on flute, Janis Avery (5th G) cello, Kathy Johnson (5th G) viola and Sandy McCormick (5th G) on clarinet. They concluded with "Adeste Fidelis".

The others that made up the Ensemble that Christmas included:

Lisa Faeth - violin
Corinne Frank - oboe
Alex Kramer - trumpet
Will Lavery - clarinet
Lynn Malley - cello
Beth Perdue - clarinet
Frank Petrucci - clarinet
Ann Rimmer - clarinet
Jennifer Rudy - clarinet
Cara Worthington - clarinet
Barbara Demick - clarinnet

Our Christmas tree was decorated by:

5th Grade

Bill Corcoran
Ricky McDaniel
Dan Wagner
Cindy Hartmann
Jay Kennedy
Mike Rogers
Cindy Hansen

6th Grade

Artie Brierley
Jill Neandross
Penny Ward
Wayne Bond
Jan Koper
Chic Voorhis
Linda Bowers
Corinne Frank

The 4th and 5th grade combined on a different night and sang 9 songs and 9 original Christmas poems.

Above is the list 4th & 5th grade choir members as it appeared in our program. The 4th and 5th grade choir more than likely sang a different night.

Their program went like this:

Introduction by Janice Avery with an original poem ("Caroling) written and recited by Jody Stillwell
Song "Here We Come A-Wassailing" - poem ("Christmas Tree") written and recited by Kathy Johnson
Song "The Litte Fir Tree" - poem ("Candles") written an recited by Ruth Caplice
Song "Bring A Torch Isabella" - poem ("Mistletoe and Holly") written an recited by Gail Ferstandig
Song "Heigh Ho the Holly" - poem ("The Creche") written and recited by Mary Lou Breitweiser
Song "Yodeler's Carol" - poem ("Charity") written and recited by Cindy Edinger
Song "An Old Christmas Greeting" - poem ("Santa Claus") written and recited by Francis Goode
Song "Up On the Housetop" - poem ("Gifts") written and recited by Jay Kennedy
Song "We Three Kings" - closing by Janice Avery
Song "Calusso Noel"

Above is our old stage as it looked on November 9, 2009 all quiet - 43 years after our 1966 Christmas Show!!! Photo taken by Rick Flannery.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year you guys!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmastime in Ridgewood NJ Circa 1960's!

Above photo shows an early 60's Ridgewood tree - a little smaller than usual at the end of E Ridgewood Ave. Photo is property of and used with the courtesy of the Ridgewood Public Library.

Christmastime growing up in Ridgewood NJ - it holds so many memories for many of us. Whether you celebrated Hanukkah or Christmas, when we attended Glen School or any elementary school in town - it was a very exciting time of year!

There were of course, many signs that the holidays were on the way. Thanksgiving always marked the start of it all. In my early years, we would always spend Thanksgiving with my grandparents (my mom's parents) in Fairview, NJ. To me it seemed they had the largest dining room table in NJ! There are 17 cousins on this side of our family and you were lucky to get a seat at the huge table for dinner as a kid - I'm proud to say I accomplished this by the age of 5 or 6! This was a thrill because there were cousins older than me still consigned to the kitchen for dinner!

My grandmother had impeccable taste - finger bowls, the finest silver, salt dishes and my grandfather seemingly made the largest turkey in NJ. There was football, the movie "March of the Wooden Soldiers", home movies after dessert. The dad's would claim they were going for a walk but it meant a nightcap up the street! The countdown to Christmas would begin! It was a great time - no Black Fridays - just simply enjoying the holidays with family and friends. My cousin Carolyn and I would be together the entire day and sneak back into the dining room to steal some more turkey before it was used for sandwiches - I swear the turkey had to be 35 pounds!

Other familiar signs that Christmas was near included the large Santa Claus at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus. As we took trips up and down Route 17 you'd see the Santa come to life - first the boot, then the sack of toys, then the waving arm - it was easily one my favorite decorations as a child!

Above is the actual postcard of this famous decoration - the chimney remained all season long and normally had the words "Garden State Plaza" on each side but it came to life at Christmas and delighted 1,000's.

Seeing Santa Claus "himself" was a big deal for me - we seemed to have good Santa's in Bergen County back then! Ugh, I took it so seriously - rehearsing in my head what I was going to tell him - I was never scared but always nervous! Lionel trains, baseball stuff and a football ranked high on my list of requests! Then of course my cousin Carolyn told me the truth one day - I was so bummed!

Above, me visiting Santa Claus probably at the Garden State Plaza or Bergen Mall.

In Ridgewood, the approach of the holiday season could be seen in other ways. The big tree at the end of E Ridgewood Ave by the tracks, Arthur's House of Beauty and the street lamp decorations.

Above is a great photo - Christmas 1969 - approaching the tree on E Ridgewood Ave. Photo is property of and used courtesy of Beth Hagler Colombini.

Here is a fantastic photo of a Ridgewood gem! They had so many decorations and lights for this place that they kept many of the pieces stored on the huge ledge you see in the photo. Truly a Ridgewood classic! Photo property of and used with the courtesy of the Ridgewood Public Library.

Here's a 1950's look down E Ridgewood Ave with street lamp decorations and shoppers. Photo property of and used with the courtesy of the Ridgewood Public Library.

Above photo is Graydon Pool in the winter. Ice skating at Graydon was a big deal - a place to meet up with friends regardless of whether you could skate or not. Photo is property of Anthony Bruno Jr.

At school during December, there was always talk about whether we'd get a big snow that year - the early 60's never seemed to disappoint us.

Above photo shows Glen School at Christmastime 2008 after a snowfall!

My classmates and I would also talk about the best route to take to and from school to avoid getting hit with snowballs by the 6th graders! Regarding snowballs Chic Voorhees remembers:
"Don't forget the winter snowball fights with the 6 graders on the hill. I remember I nailed one of the 6th graders in the face from down the hill, and he chased me down and washed my face out with snow!"

My sisters took great pleasure in building up my anticipation of Santa Claus and had me believing that it was Santa making the noise outside or who caused the moving shadows under my door - it was very exciting! These memories would lead to Caryn and I making memories with our own kids - one year I stuck a small piece of torn red felt on the fireplace and my son Ricky upon finding it, thought it was incredible!

There was the annual trek up to the attic with my dad to gather the outdoor house decorations. I'd help dad check out the bulbs and hold the ladder for him while he hung them on the house!

Above is a 1960's photo of the front of our house on Auburn Ave. My red wagon is in the lower right corner! We had some nice trees around our house - just the right amount - but today they're all gone!

In class we'd make decorations, talk about the coming Christmas vacation and of course there was the Glen School Christmas show in the gym with the choir and the orchestra. Songs would include: "Up On the Housetop" and "Let There Be Peace On Earth" (which is Beth Daly's all-time favortie song!) The words to this classic song are posted below! A separate detailed story about our 1966 Glen School Christmas Show will immediately follow this one!

Beth Daly recalls: "I was in choir and I remember learning to sing the song 'Let There be Peace On Earth' - it is still a favorite of mine and I still remember all the words!"
The lyrics to "Let There Be Peace On Earth":
Let there be peace on earth; And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth; The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father; Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother; In perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me; Let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry step I take; Let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment, and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth; And let it begin with me.

My sisters always took me shopping for my parents presents and I remember the time I took to be sure I picked out the right ones! I'd bring all my money - mostly coins - and spend a lot of time trying to pick the right gifts! I remember buying toy soldiers for my dad at Gimbel's and kitchen things at the "Gadget Bar" in Bamberger's for my mom!

In our house, we decorated the tree Christmas Eve when friends and family would stop in. Almost always, my dad can be seen in our home movies turning his pockets inside out as if to say "Christmas? I'm broke!" or passing out pointsettas to all the ladies!

More often than not when I was little we traveled around visiting on Christmas Day - open the presents then out the door to visit both grandparents and an uncle's house. My sister Ginny remembers: "It was fun when mom & dad started hosting Christmas. We didn't have to go anywhere, everyone came to us! Men in the kitchen and women in the den!"
My sister Sharon recalls: "Waiting to see who on the block would put their lights up first. The magic of walking into Mount Carmel for Christmas mass........the creche created a special feeling! My firends and I walked around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols. There was the Christmas concert at Glen School, the Christmas concert at RHS, the windows at Sealfons and MacHugh's. Mom would buy her special chocolates and ribbon candy and hide them til Christmas."
Ginny also remembers: "Mom would always sing along with the (christmas) music. She had a really beautiful voice!".
I also recall the time when my sister Sharon took me into the city to see the tree at Rockefeller Center - what a thrill! We also checked the windows at Lord & Taylor and all the famous stores.
My parents would always throw a big party for neighbors, friends and family. The music, dancing and chatter seemed to go on all night! My dad was at his best when we entertained guests - he loved it!
That's me in the above photo around age 3 Christmas 1958! When I was a little older, I received a printing set for Christmas and on Christmas Day I spilled all the black ink on our living room carpet - wow! My mom was amazingly good about it! We got new carpeting later in the new year!

Above are my sisters (l to r) Ginny and Sharon. Ginny is posing with one of my most favorite toys ever - my fire truck pedal car! (See photo below!) My dad would make the egg nog, my mom would be wrapping last minute gifts and Christmas music would be on all day!

That's me summer 1959 in my fire truck pedal car I received the previous Christmas - loved it!!
If you lived on Roslyn Road, Norgate, East Gate or Westbrook Roads there was the tree lighting and the arrival of Santa Claus to the neighborhood. Margret Silver's dad Earl Silvers - affectionately known as "Sam" - was an executive with the Grand Union supermaket chain and would annually arrange to use the Blue Stamps float to come to the neighborhood where a neighborhood dad would play Santa. Some remember Vinnie Nunno as one of those dads.

Of this memorable ritual Beth Daly remembers:

"Mr. Silvers worked for Grand Union. They had this flat bed that we could borrow for this Christmas thing. The deal was that parents would drop presents off in the Dorsey's garage - their kids were like 18, 20, 22, something like that - (each present) clearly marked with each child's name. This would, of course, be kept secret from the children. Then usually on a Sunday early evening the flatbed would roll down Roslyn with Santa ho-ho-hoing - I do not remember who this was probably a Dad, maybe even mine, who knows! We would be drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies. Parents would be drinking something warm, probably alcoholic and Santa would call out the names and we would each get a gift. It was a really exciting kick-off for the Christmas season for the kids. We would anticipate this day all year long. It was fun for the kids and fun for the adults!"

Here's a great find! Above is one of the original invitations to the Salem Ridge Christmas celebrations! You have to read the invitation below - its a classic! My sincerest thanks to Else Ege for donating this great item! This was when the celebration was held at the McDaniel's house - everyone would gather at their big tree on 854 Norgate Drive. The house has since (gulp!) been torn down and a new one built in its place but the memories live on!

Above is one of the original invitations - please click on the image to make it larger - its a classic!

Margaret Silvers remembers:

"......... all the parents would give Santa a labeled present ahead of time. The float would come to the McDaniels house on Norgate. They had a big Christmas tree in the front yard. There would be hot chocolate........It was really quite an event. I think it extended around the Roslyn Road, Westbrook, Norgate, Eastgate rectangle."

Margaret continues:

"I think Mr. Nunno played Santa Claus on the float at the Roslyn Road Christmas party. I never really knew who Santa was. In fact, I thought for a couple of years that it really was Santa - it was early, not his "big" night. He had time and how else could he know our names when we weren't at home - we were at the McDaniels, in the street, singing carols!

".............there was nothing like walking up onto the float on the long walk-way to Santa - a proud walk. I was on stage!

"But one year, Santa arrived in a Volkswagen bug - whoa! What was that all about? Such a big guy in a small car. It seemed strange, and even though everyone was happy, I felt badly for Santa. It seemed embarrassing for him. I thought.....something is different now.

"Over the years, we moved to the Ege's (house), and by then I was more looking forward to skiing than toy gifts. It was still fun. The best hot chocolate in the world - no lumps! And we were always bundled up. Tons of smiles."

Santa would make his way through the neighborhood bidding all to follow him where they would end up usually at the McDaniel's house. They had a large tree in their front yard which would then be lighted (man where was I during all this?!)

Families participating included the Silvers, the Knights, the Dalys, the McDaniels, the Hencklers, the Stanley-Brown, the Eges, the Bennetts and many more!!

Jeanne Stanley-Brown recalls: ".....the Grand Union float would come to the neighborhood with Santa impersonated by a neighborhood dad. Gifts would be passed out - (Santa) calling the children by name. David (her son) patiently waiting for his name to be called, concern coming over his face until finally being giving his present to his utter delight!"

Above is the Silver's home much like it looked in the 1960's! The Roslyn Road families and families from the surrounding neighborhoods would move the Christmas celebration to the Silver's and Ege's houses as the kids got older. Photo was taken by Margaret Silvers November 7, 2009!

To this day Beth Daly annually hosts a similar celebration in her Ridgewood neighborhood. On the 1st or 2nd Sunday preceding Christmas, Santa arrives in Beth's neighborhood where he makes his way around ending up at Beth's house. Beth provides the hot chocolate, coffee, juice, donuts, bagels and other treats to give with the children's presents. The neighbors then have a cocktail party that night at someone's house. Its great fun and the street right now has about 40 kids! Its the best thing about happy memories - we always pass them on and make new ones!

On Gateway Road and E Glen Avenue, Cara Worthington recalls the Gateway Association would also host a tree lighting and sing Christmas carols on Stanish Rd. She also has wonderful memories of ice skating on the Yingling's pond.

Ann Rimmer remembers that she used to be bummed that they didn't celebrate Christmas as well as Hanukkah. As she tells it: "I was kind of bummed we didn't celebrate Christmas. I do remember when I was in high school, my parents were traveling and I got a little 'Hanukkah tree' for the house. My dad came home...........had to get rid of it immediately! Now I can have a tree every year!"

As for Katie Knight, memories of hers include "........going to West Side Presbyterian Church for Christmas service, lights on trees and houses in the neighborhood, big family meal on Grandmother's china, being together with family and friends...snow!"

On our street - Auburn Ave - we always looked forward to sleigh-riding and tobogganing - there were some really great hills in the area where we would go at night when we got a little older. We always made extravagant igloos, forts and snowmen and had great snowball battles. I did try my hand at ice skating at Graydon Pool - failed miserably! Skiing was more for me - though I started skiing in my teens. I used to think "What's all that commotion on Roslyn Road!!!"

Above is Ricky Flannery sledding after a big late 50's snowstorm on Auburn Avenue!

The Holidays in Ridgewood hold fond memories for many of us but also sad ones for others. My heart goes out to special people like Jan Potdevin, Carl Vrabel and the Lavery and Kramer families especially at such a special time of year as this. I consider myself lucky to have the memories I do. It's the appreciation of these times that help us create new memories and traditions with our own families.

If anyone has any Christmas, Hanukkah or winter photos from when you were a kid - PLEASE email 'em so I can include here!

Thanks to all who contributed various memories and corrected facts to this story.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mr. Kennedy Goes To Paramus NJ!

John F. Kennedy - so much has been written about him - many authors disparaging him and/or his policies, others praising him without apology. In truth he's probably somewhere in the middle but he undoubtedly had incredible political courage and put humanity and environment among other things at the top of his list of priorities.

I confess, I am a JFK fan - not in the pop-culture sense, I mean I have read a great deal about JFK and his time in office. My personal library boasts over 300 volumes on Kennedy. I have come away with the opinion that - during his 1,000 days in office - he did all he could to stem the problems that came with the cold war - missile crisis, Berlin Crisis, Vietnam, big business, etc. He met incredible resisitance both politically and militarily.

Above is the official JFK portrait hanging at the White House.

He stood tough yet was able to hold dialogs with Nikita Khrushchev and yes Fidel Castro - though much of the talks were through the back door (read the book "JFK and the Unspeakable" for a fascinating look his administrations quest for peace) - he was for co-existence not annihilation. Yes, publicly he held the line against Russia and Cuba but he conducted secret negotiations with both countries - both Castro and Khrushchev while understanding Kennedy's desire for a constructive peace and needless conflict, also realized that all 3 leaders were up against political resistance on all fronts.

He ushered in the space age - who doesn't remember the excitement we felt as kids watching the exploits of the 7 Mercury astronauts as they slowly began to push the envelope of space exploration - every minute of every space flight - it seemed - was on tv and we were impressed!

He fought for civil rights - though politically he navigated it carefully. He held big business up to higher standards than they held themselves to and his biggest achievement was probably the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963. While the test ban treaty succeeded it was not without incredible political maneuvering - but all great political acvhievements are never met without passion and hard work.
Above l to r: Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, President Kennedy and Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen during negotiations for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Dirksen, Kennedy and Mansfield would work very closely together much to the chagrin of Kennedy's critics.

JFK once said, "If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live." He said this in an address at Harvard University in 1956. There is something to be said about intelligence in politics - an appreciation of history and events past - of reflection about one's intent - not reacting in a way that has regrettable results.

Please forgive my digressing about JFK here - opinions are held strongly about his presidency and I promised myself that I woud not write a blog to express my opinions particularly when they might be political. I simply want to lead into a memory I have of Septemeber 1960.

On thursday morning September 15, 1960 my mom and I took a trip to the Bergen Mall - I didn't go to school that day - we may have been off or perhaps my kindergarten class was just afternoons? In any event, John F. Kennedy was running for president and he was visiting Paramus, NJ - in particular the Bergen Mall - to make a speech and rally the local Democratic troops.

Above is a cropped version of a Bergen Mall postcard from the 60's.

Obviously at the age of 4 (almost 5 - I started kindergarten early) - I have no memory of actually seeing JFK, hearing him, etc. but I do remember my mom being handed a JFK button and clearly remember going the mall that day.

I have always had an amazing memory for most things - and I remember years later telling people the story of my mom and I going to see JFK at the Bergen Mall. Many told me that it simply didn't happen - I don't why - some were adamant about it. JFK at the Bergen Mall?! They said he never gave a speech there but he certainly did.

A funny story about the presidential campaign of 1960 is that my mom was a staunch Nixon supporter - yet she was willing to hear both sides. My dad had told my mom that he was voting for Nixon - however he later confessed to my mom that he actually voted for Kennedy. It wasn't that my mom expected my dad to vote the same way as she did but she did assume he voted for Nixon! My father was a thoughtful man - he had common sense (I'm not saying he had common sense to vote for JFK) - I'm just saying that my dad was not part of the herd - he gave thought to those running and made his decision - he was crushed like so many when JFK was assassinated.

I write about JFK here because this past November 8, 2010 marked 50 years since JFK was elected president! Wow - things like this always help to remind you how old you are!

Our early Glen years were clearly marked by the JFK administration - kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade and part of 3rd grade. The thought back then was that as a country the possibilities were limitless and that the future held incredible potential for us as a nation. For us kids at that time, the space program was easily how we saw JFK's challenge to always reach for greatness.

On November 22, 1963 - the day JFK died - I recall coming home from school with friends and talking about what we thought we just heard.

For me - when I got home - my mom basically gave me a snack and pushed me out the door where I hooked up with the usual friends, the Meneghins, Pomeroys and Jim O'Brien - we played football as we always did til it got dark. Cindy Pomeroy probably sat on the curb and watched as she did so often - Cindy even at that young age was my Winnie Cooper - we had promised each other that we would get married one day! My mom tried desperately (almost to a fault) to protect me from such painful things as the death of JFK depsite my already knowing about it and despite the fact that I had so many questions about it. Of course from friday through monday you couldn't avoid the coverage about JFK.

The following year me, Cindy Pomeroy, Maryanne Pomeroy, Melanie Teasley and Bruce Meneghin (and Mark, Kent and Brian too!) ran a fair for the neighborhood kids to raise money for the JFK Library. We had all sorts of games, baked goods and toys for sale - we had a lot of business but raised $5.35 - it was a lot of nickels and pennies!

Below I am reprinting the speech Kennedy made at the Bergen Mall on September 15, 1960. It is supplied by the JFK library in Boston.

This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two texts of the speech, a reading copy and a press release of excerpts, exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library. This transcription is based on the reading copy. The parenthetical notes at the end of the speech are as they appear in the original reading copy.

The above photo is NOT JFK giving his speech at the Bergen Mall but during the campaign at one of many similar locations around the country.

His Bergen Mall remarks are below:

"Governor Meyner, David Amster, Thorn Lord, and candidates for Congress James Dobbins and Vincent T. McKenna: I've been complaining in California and Texas. People settle there because they were not satisfied with things as they were. You came to Bergen County because you wanted to build a better life for your children. Americans are never satisfied with things as they are. They never settle for second-best.

People in California and Texas are worried about their farms. You are worried about your homes, your children, your schools, medical care for your aged parents, and the growing pains of an exploding population.

What unites us all, in every section of the country, Democrats and Republicans alike, is concern over our nation's position in the world. I am not talking about world politics. I am talking about peace - our future - and our children's future.

Everywhere I go in this campaign I find people asking: What's the matter with America? Why are we slipping? Why are we losing friends around the world? Why are we losing the lead to Russia? Why aren't we meeting the communist challenge - from Cuba to the Congo, from India to Indonesia?

Four years ago the cold war was being carried on thousands of miles away. This year it spread to within 90 miles of Florida, to Cuba. And next week when Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Castro arrive in New York they will bring the cold war to within 12 miles of the Bergen Mall.

And yet the administration has told us that all is well.

In the 1930's while England slept, Hitler armed.

Today while we stand still, Khrushchev moves.

We must learn to face the truth about our situation. You can't stand still in the eye of a hurricane. And hurricane winds of change are sweeping the world.

It is tempting to try to hide in the storm shelter - or the bomb shelter - tempting to try to escape the winds of change. But it cannot be done. We have to act - and to act along new lines. Francis Bacon tells us, "He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils, for time is the greatest innovator."

How can we reverse direction? How can we move ahead?

First, we must set our own house in order. A nation that intends to lead the world must live a creative national life at home. We must re-establish and extend the rights of man - the right of workingmen and businessmen to earn a decent living; the right of children to a decent education in the American tradition; the right of older people to an old age free of the cost of chronic ill health; the right of immigrants to enter our land; the right of all of us to think as we please, say what we please, worship as we please, and go where we please, whether to schools or jobs or lunch counters.

Second, we must stop deluding ourselves about our situation abroad. The collapse of the summit, the fiasco in Japan, the hostile mobs around the world - these are not diplomatic triumphs for America, they are diplomatic disasters, and we may as well face the unpleasant unpopular truth. For as Demosthenes said, "If you analyze it correctly, you will conclude that our critical situation is chiefly due to men who try to please the citizens rather than to tell them what they need to hear." I think the American people want to hear the truth.

Third, we must rebuild our defenses on land and sea, in air and space. The Russians understand strength. It is not a question of quarreling with Mr. Khrushchev. It is a question of making ourselves stronger than Russia. Talk is cheap.

Fourth, we must help the rising peoples in the underdeveloped regions of the world to find their way to free self government. We must range ourselves on the side of freedom, not the side of dictatorship. And we must remind the rising peoples - and remind ourselves - that it is not Karl Marx's manifesto but the American Declaration of Independence which said, "We hold these truths to be self evident - that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men."

Fifth, on a broad front ranging round the world we must seize the initiative in the cold war with bold imaginative programs launched with good will and launched from strength. We need to launch missiles, yes; but we also need to launch programs for freedom and justice and peace.
When Woodrow Wilson was pleading the cause of the League of Nations in 1920, he said, "My clients are the children; my clients are the next generation."

It is for our children, for peace in our children's world, that I plead in this campaign.

It is up to us to win it.

The New Frontier is not what I offer you. It is what sacrifices I ask you to make for your country."

My classmates and I started school in September 1960 - we were known as the space age kids. As kids there was nothing we thought this country couldn't do. We were leaders in everything - education, business, space, technology, building - we were living the American dream - JFK saw this and wanted us - wanted the nation kids to strive for more - to be better, to be stronger, to be leaders in a world full of fears - I do remember those first few school years as ones that were exciting and fun - we believed that anything was possible.

Kennedy's gravesite at Arlington Cemetery in winter.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our 4th Grade Classes - 1964-65!

1964-65 - our 4th grade school year. The Beatles were as hot as anything. The Mercury space program would give way to the Gemni program and be even more exciting with docking and space walks. As kids we would build model rockets, build space mobiles and save Life magazines featuring space exploits.

Above photo, the Gemini space program would set up the moonlanding for the Apollo program and launch its first mission in the spring of 1964.

The Yankees would lose the World Series in 7 games to the Cardinals that fall and wouldn't win another pennant for 12 years.

The New York World's Fair would be around for 2 years (1964-65). Vietnam would start to become a nightmare and protests would start becoming big news at college campuses - 800 students were arrested at the University of California after storming the administration building there.

Above is the 1964-65 New York World's Fair in all its glory.

The Ford Motor Company would introduce its first Mustang that year. It was a school year that had as much pop culture as it did current events.

The hot new Mustang - women liked them as much as the guys did!

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Beach Boys, The 4 Seasons & The Kinks would be among tons of other groups that would dominate the airwaves and our record collections. Both boys and girls would collect Beatle cards, Beatle books, Beatle clothes....Beatle everything!

Beatlemania would hit the USA hard! After JFK died, it was a welcome release!

As we always did at Glen School, we had 2 of every grade. My 4th grade teacher was Pat Prescott and the other was ? For some reason I was not present when our class photo was taken - probably out sick! How disappointed was I when I saw the photo of our class only to find myself not there - bummer!

Our classroom was located across the hall from the library.

Prescott's 4th grade classroom!

Our cloakroom - in the winter how did we fit everything?! There were 31 of us just in Prescott's class alone!!!!

Pat Prescott is remembered as one of those classic Glen School teachers - I always thought she was nice - she was one of the original Glen teachers when the school opened.

She always corrected us when we tripped up on our words or when we used words incorrectly - she'd make you repeat your sentences and try desperately to get you to stop using the word "um" between your words as you stood there talking before the class - a nervous wreck only causing you to use it even more!

She was big on us giving presentations in front of the class whether it was to talk about our work or simply to give "show and tells" - how I dreaded when it was my turn although when you did a "show and tell" it was a cool way to share a hobby or collection of yours with your classmates. I recall John Petrik sharing with us an extraordinary storyboarded cartoon he created! Prescott was tremendously impressed with his imagination and talent as were we all!

I thought she was a fair and patient teacher.

Getting promoted to 4th grade meant moving over to the black-top side of the school - the kickball side. It was a more mature part of the school and we were becoming the older kids!

Ann Rimmer would join us that year (1964) - a little late due to illness but she fit in fast! Everybody liked her and she became fast friends with all the girls and would quickly become a guy favorite. Others joining us that year would include Maryann and Martin Vaz (twins), Tommy Skinner, Wayne Bond, Susan Anderson, Irene Williams and Jim Smethurst - sorry if I left anybody out! This would also be Corey Duvall's last year at Glen School as he moved across town - we would catch up with Corey again at BF Junior High.

Mrs. Prescott's class was completely 4th grade kids while Miss (?) class was a split 3rd and 4th grade class.

If there are any members of the Prescott family out there please get in touch - there's so much we want to ask you!

Enjoy the photos below and please help with any names that are missing if you can! My sincere thanks to Artie Brierley and Ann Rimmer for supplying these classic photos!

Above photo was taken in the courtyard of Glen School (behind us is the pond which had been turned into a garden - it used to have fish!)

Front Row l to r: Robbie Wittemore, John Petrik, Corey Duvall, Frank Fortino

Second Row l to r: Susan Andersen, Lisa Faeth, Ann Rimmer, Sue Nunno, Mrs. Prescott, Cara Worthington, Beth Daly, Katie Knight, Barbara Durheimer.

Third Row l to r: Karen Eide, Lynn Malley, Kara DeGraw, Beth Perdue, Martin Vaz, Greg Rehe, Betsy Kline, Linda Breitkruz, Irene Williams, Jennifer Rudy.

Back Row l to r: Bruce Meneghin, Ken Merrill, Bobby Stewart, Wayne Bond, Gary Vukov, Jim Smethurst, Alex Kramer, Chic Voorhis

Missing is ME!!

Above photo taken the same day - the second 4th grade class combined with 3rd grade too.

Front Row l to r: ?, ?,?, Bill Corcoran, Mike Rogers

Second Row l to r: ?, Lis Ege, Penny Ward, Pam Bennett, Miss ?, Carey Hoff, ?, Maryann Vaz, ?

Third Row l to r: ?, Paul Vaccari, Bill Lavery, Randy Sharp, Jill Neandross, Artie Brierley, Carl Vrabel, Jan Koper

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Grammar School Reunions - A Trend?

It's been a year since our Glen School reunion - an elementary school reunion - and suddenly I have found it wasn't an idea exclusive to us!

Students from schools around the country have emailed me over the course of the year asking how we managed to find the teachers and former classmates that made up our special reunion last year. They read how great we thought it was, saw the photos, saw that many of us really wrapped our arms around it. Margaret Silvers-Myatt (Glen Class of 1969) even shared an article with some of us recently from the Wall Street titled "The Last Reunion" which nostalgically recalls a grammar school reunion held by a group of former students and how when they had their 64th reunion - they declared it would be their last. Please check out this short but wonderful article by Byron Wien that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in October at:

I've realized happily that we are not the only ones who share such pleasant memories. Many people harbor the same affection for places and people they knew growing up.

I love the fact I'm leading a busy life and take the time to reflect on the past and try and preserve it. I am a hopeless romantic - a sentimental person and I blame my Irish roots for it!

As we gear up for the BF reunion in the Fall of 2011 - I constantly think about our good friend Artie Brierley - how he would have loved this 2nd chapter leading up to our killer 40th reunion. Artie always looked upon his past fondly. He loved life even when life dealt him some tough hands.

Above photo of what is now known as Ben Franklin Middle School - courtesy of

We still all lead very busy lives - we're sending or about to send our kids to college - yet we have managed to catch up with each other - it's great! We haven't intruded on one another yet we have reconnected in various ways - some have re-established friendships, others check in from time to time and all seemingly can't wait for the next party!

I find myself in this forum called a blog - telling a history but also at times confessing and confiding that yes I looked up to some of these classmates, had crushes on them and really thought the world of them - you certainly don't go around telling people this - surely at that young age you're not even really thinking too much about that - its just there and when you get into your 40's you wonder how people like Greg Rehe are and Penny Ward - where has life taken them - you hope life has been good to them. Its pleasing that - among others - both of them have been in touch and hope to come to future reunions.

I remember a time when I tried to be indifferent - you know, have the kind of attitude where nothing phases you one way or another - I mean there was a time when I tried to look at everything that way - but I finally asked myself - who was I being that way for? It certainly wasn't me but it was a defense mechanism to be sure - defense against the letdown.

It's like at the very first RHS reunion I went to - 20th in 1993. I wasn't sure about going - afterall who's gonna remember me after all these years? Will I sit there and wonder why I came? I decided to go - Caryn went with me - and I was determined to be indifferent - ya know, not have a care one way or the other. Then when we arrived in Mahwah, NJ, walking across the parking lot - someone yelled out "Rick Flannery - how are you?" - and you think, hey wait a minute, I'm trying to be indifferent here but also you think "Hey somebody remembers me!" Well when we got inside - Karen Eide was the next one I saw and when she said "Ricky!" well, I was done in - I was happy I came! The night flew - Artie got the Glen crowd together for photos - others started follwoing suit with their own grade schools - it was such a blast! Indifference be damned!

When John Wescott arranged a mini reunion of some of our varsity football players and coaches and - ME?!, it was an honor to be included - though I didn't pretend that I should have been. Showing up at RHS that Saturday morning and meeting up with everybody was so cool! As we awaited Roger Sweeney's arrival from upstate New York, Dave Burdick's mom pulled up to drop off Dave - she wanted to see some of the "boys" - wow talk about a cool moment and one that made you suddenly feel younger - we all called out "Hi Mrs. Burdick!" Dave Vanderbush gave us the VIP tour of the school (how could you possibly be anything but excited about it!) "Wow that's my homeroom!" (see the details of that day at - the 2010 varisty football sqaud paying tribute to a very surprised and an obviously appreciative Coach Sweeney one by one and then lunch in town - it was special! Indifferent?! No way!

When Cara recently had her article on Iraq recently published - I was thrilled for her - how do you explain that? Cara and I didn't hang out together growing up yet to learn what she's been up to - to share in special moments like that is special to me.

To see what Karen Eide has accomplished in a field she so loves is so great! You must check out her website and blog at

To see Ann Rimmer's inability to age like the rest of us - it's just downright frustrating!

We do have a unique alumni - all so different, all so perfect in being different.

Looking back on my awkwardness in 6th grade - I recall how painful it was for me at times - trying so hard to suddenly fit in with these people that I liked so much. The weight of that at 10 and 11. I remember with a laugh that I thought at the time "I'm not supposed to be awkward at this age!!" (though you're not using that word then - you don't even know the word, you just act it!) - you feel the frustration and lack of confidence. But we all had our own struggles growing up and therein lies the joy of all of this - we got through and it all comes around - so I'm psyched to be sitting here in 2010 writing about it and helping to plan what I hope will be another awesome reunion in 2011!

We'll have a date early next year so you'll have plenty of time to plan - life is too short - make sure you come to the BF reunion!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Coming Soon - Boy Scouts & Girls Scouts!

Many of us were Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies and Girl Scouts. Some didn't last too long others went far with it. Either way it was another part of growing up in Ridgewood.

Did you know Carl Vrabel's mom was a den mother? Or that Karen Eide auditioned for and filmed a Girl Scouts tv commercial? The story is coming soon.....................stay tuned!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Glen School Window Wall Gets Face Lift!

Above photo shows that work has begun to replace the old window wall of the Glen School gym. Photo was taken August 21, 2010.

While I'm sure the famous window wall of our old gym needed a face lift, it's tough to see familiar landmarks go especially when it was of a specific architectural design. Hey many of us were there last fall (2010 reunion) and you could tell it needed some fixing but it'll be just another wall when completed! But in the scheme of things - not a big deal.

Above photo is a good comparison of the old and new window walls.

Recently I went down to Ridgewood to meet up with John Wescott, Jim Ranton, Arne Olsen, Dave Burdick, Roger Sweeney, Bob Groat, Stacey Williams, Fern Gomez and Dave Vanderbush. Before I caught up with them at our old high school, I stopped by Glen to snap a few photos to mark the change.

Above photo shows the detail of the new window wall complete with regular windows at the bottom.

In the end, it's probably a good thing - the gym will be more insulated from the weather - but I'm still sorry to see it go!

I wanted to show a picture that highlighted the window wall as a backdrop - the above photo shows Beth Perdue's 3rd grade class 1963-1964. Check other posts in this blog where this picture was already used - the names of the kids are listed there.

Above is great shot of the wall on a bright sunny Saturday - November, 2009 - the day we had our reunion.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The New Kid in School!

Probably the one thing kids hate most about moving to a new town (or in some cases across town) is attending a new school. It can be an intimidating experience leaving you self conscious and unsure of yourself.

So for many kids, moving to a new school can be the hardest part of a move. Switching schools means making new friends, getting to know new teachers and figuring out how to deal with a whole new system.

When I was little I definitely did not want to be the "new" kid - you know, the kid that moves away, loses all their friends and goes to a new school. There were a few of us who were always there year after year - Gary Vukov, Karen Eide, Artie Brierley, Kara DeGraw, Linda Pursiano, Jill Neandross, Cara Worthington, Greg Rehe, Bruce Meneghin, Lisa Faeth, Carey Hoff and myself. Through the years at Glen School, some kids would move away (some just across town) and others would move in and become the "new" kid!

In our case, it was always exciting to see who was going to be the "new" kid in your class - usually the kids moved to the neighborhood in the summer so they could start school with the rest of us - it was obviously a lot easier. As far as we were concerned we wanted to know "Were they into baseball?" or "Were they cute?" (as in my case - I'm not alone!) It always worked out!

Sometimes though, the "new" kid would move to the neighborhood in the middle of the school year. "Class, this is.............." and the kid would cringe and hope they'd be accepted by his or her new peers as we all sat at our desks staring at them, wondering!

Katie Knight was one of those kids who came to Glen School in the middle of the year.

Katie recalls: "I actually went by Katie but then when I transferred in the middle of second grade from Ridge School (ironic, right?!) to Glen School into Mrs. Cook's class, I wanted to go by Katherine. That didn't last long, especially since my brothers insisted on still calling me Katie."

Above photo, Katie Knight (in 6th grade photo). Katie was already living in Ridgewood but moved to the neighborhood while in 2nd grade. She made an easy transition - there was no one who didn't like or have a crush on Katie Knight!

In fact, Katie did go through a stage that first year where she called herself "Katherine the Knight" - while she doesn't remember this, I have proof in a letter she wrote to my dad! Katie says, "I don't remember calling myself Katherine the Knight! Kind of embarassed about that one!" Soon though it was simply "Katie" all the time.

I wasn't alone but as a boy you secretly hoped the new kid was a girl - sorry Ken Merrill! We weren't disappointed - Knight, Daly, Rimmer, Perdue, Ward, Malley - it seemed there were more new girls than guys! Where the guys were concerned, it was always great if you had common interests like baseball and bike riding and baseball and fishing and baseball...........

Other "new" kids like Ann Rimmer moved to Ridgewood from Lexington, MA. Like most "new" kids she at least wanted to start the school year at the same time as the others but got sick right before the first day of school and started late.

Ann remembers: "I moved from Lexington, MA. I also remember I had bronchitis when we moved so I had to start the school year late which was really scary at the time!"

Ann would prove to be pretty cool - someone you immediately liked - you'd be caught under the Rimmer spell! She quickly became popular and beat out equally popular Gary Vukov for class president in the 5th grade!

Above photo, fashion icon Ann Rimmer in her first class at Glen School - Mrs. Prescott's 4th grade class!

Ken Merrill was a "new" kid in 2nd grade. He recalls: "Mrs. Cook was my first teacher that I rembered teaching me at elementary school."

Nancy Cook and Pat DiLauro (aka Mercer) were the 2nd grade teachers that year. Ken adapted quickly to life at Glen School and remembers times there as great fun and made some of his happiest memories there.

Above photo, a young Ken Merrill in a 3rd grade photo. Next to Ken in the bow tie is David Stanley-Brown.

All in all the "new" kid experience turned out great for everybody! You realized that there were other kids out there from other towns, other states. You hated it when they moved away though.

You also developed new crushes on girls - I had a lot of crushes. "Mom a girl named Beth Perdue came to school today - she is cute!" I had a crush on Ann - I even gave her a ton of my baseball cards (now that's serious!) - she had them up until the time her parents moved! I didn't give my cards to just anyone!

Looking over our class photos you can see that there were more "new" kids than us originals (K-6). As for myself, being younger, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the experience of being a "new" kid - you always want to be accepted, be liked by your peers but when you're little being "new" can be pretty intimidating.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gay Blades Ice Skating & Else Ege Story!

In 1964, Gay Blades came to Glen School. While it sounds funny today, Gay Blades was a fun and very popular afterschool ice skating club. It seemed to go on for years - and in fact it existed for about 14 years all because of one mom's dedication! Ask anyone who was a "Gay Blade" - and they'll tell you it was one of the happiest memories of life at Glen School! Everybody wanted to be part of it - there were 100+ kids participating in Gay Blades at its peak - if you know Glen School that's a hec of a lot of kids! Can you imagine the carpools?

Above is a photo of Else in her Mahwah, NJ home in February, 2009.

If you don't know Else (her name is pronounced Elsa Egga) and come to meet her for the first time, you like her immediately. As a child - to us she was a magnet! She was so much fun and always shared an interesting or funny story! Every kid - no matter the grade - knew who Else Ege was! A little over a year ago I sat down and spoke with Else in her Mahwah home and we reminisced about Glen School, Roslyn Road and life in Ridgewood. I followed up on the phone this past Spring (2010) and as recently as August, 2010 and she recalled everything with great fondness. She certainly was a tireless mom and committed to 100's of Glen School kids, but first I want to share a little about where one of Glen School's favorite moms grew up and came to be in Ridgewood.

Else was born Else Lindstrom in 1928 in Bergen, Norway - a coastline town that has so much rain that the locals say their children are born with golashes on their feet! It easily rains 300 days a year there. Bergen had once been the capital of Norway but Oslo became its capital in 1299. Bergen is also known for its local hospitality - with locals flying flags denoting they are home and neighbors are wlecome to come visit.

Above is a modern-day photo of the coastal city of Bergen, Norway where Else was born.

From Bergen, Else moved to Oslo at the age of 4. She lived on Holmenkollveien about 3 miles away from the famous ski jump used in the 1952 Olympics. They have recently begun construction on a huge new ski jump. Else spent 3 months there this past summer and tells of a very bustling city getting for the ski championships there. The view from the jump site is tremendous. Oslo of course was the site of the 1952 Winter Games which Else remembers well.

Oslo in Winter. Norway is truly a beautiful country as are most Nordic countries.

Above is the original ski jump first used in the Oslo Winter Olympic Games in 1952 - just about 3 miles from Else's home on Holmenkollveien!

Above, the same site with a new ski jump under construction Summer 2010.

She is one of 3 siblings - Fredrik, Else & Jan. Her younger brother Jan passed away at the age of 49.

When Else was a little girl, the town soccer field (across from her home on Holmenkollveien) was flooded each winter to form an ice rink and it was there that Else would learn to skate - and become a talented skater. It was also here that Else learned a game that she loved called "Bandy" which is incredibly popular and similar to football as far as rules are concerned and hockey using a ball instead of a puck on the ice. Also known as Ice Football, the game is usually played on a frozen football field. The objective is to score as many goals as possible in 90 minutes. All players carry wooden sticks to hit a small rubber ball into a goal. The origins of Bandy go back to early England where they played an informal game of hockey on frozen ponds in the nineteenth century. It became incredibly popular in countries like Norway and Sweden.

Above is a young boy in the early 1950's playing "Bandy" - a game just about every Nordic child grew up playing.

Above are samples of "Bandy" balls old & new.

In addition to her talent as a skater Else learned how to ski at a very young age and still skis to this day. She recently skied in Park City, Utah in 2008 and at Camp Gaw Mountain in Mahwah, NJ in 2009. Else would share her love for skating and skiing by teaching the neighborhood kids when she & Hans lived in Ridgewood. To teach the kids to ski, they would use a small slope of a hill that would start at the Knies' house and the Roslyn Road kids or "Roslyn Road Runners" as they were affectionately known would end up skiing into the Samson's driveway. The Knies' lived on Westrook Road as did the Samsons. The kids would also set up homemade ski jumps that would add to the fun!

Above are Margaret Silvers' brothers Reed & Peter skiing at the Samson's. Photo is property of Margaret Silvers-Myatt and used with permission.

Above photo shows Reed & Robbie Silvers doing ski jumps at the Samson's house. Photo is property of Margaret Silvers-Myatt and used with permission.

In the photo above (l to r) Margaret Silvers and Karey Samson hot dog it with their homemade ski jump in front of Karey's house on Westbrook Rd. Photo is property of Margaret Silvers-Myatt and used with permission.

As the kids took to skiing, Else would then take them on local ski outings to places like Camp Gaw Mountain, Sterling Forest or Silvermine at Harriman State Park. Those who went on these various ski outings included: the Knight's, the Henckler's, the Daly's, the Silvers', Lis & Tina Ege of course and many others.

Above is a 1960's photo of a busy Silvermine Ski Area at Harriman State Park, NY.

The photo above shows Silvermine Ski Area as it looks today - abandoned and unused for quite a few years. The weather-beaten ski lift still stands today - waiting for skiers like it did back in the 60's.

Some of The Roslyn Road Runners - and there were a lot of them - would take ski trips to Pleasant Mountain in Maine. The above photo shows a late arrival back to Ridgewood after getting snowed in. Dad's that would go on these trips included Sam Silvers, Bill Knight, Bob Samson & Paul Knies. Photo is property of Margaret Silvers-Myatt and used with permission.

Photo above left shows Bill Knight cooking and feeding the boys - photo on the right is Phillip Knies. Photo is property of Margaret Silvers-Myatt and used with permission.

Chowing down on the Pleasant Mountain ski trip are l to r: Bobby Bennett, Ricky McDaniel, Hank Henckler & Karey Samson. Photo is property of Margaret Silvers-Myatt and used with permission.

In her late teens, Else attended the state Art School in Oslo where she would perfect her skill as an artist. Please see photos below of some of her artwork and fliers that she did for Glen School events.

In 1952, Else would meet Hans Ege through her brother Fredrik - where did they meet? On the slopes of course!

In September 1953 at age 25, Else & Hans married in Oslo and would eventually make the big move to the United States. Hans was private secretary to the US Ambassador to Norway Charles Bay under President Truman's administration. When General Eisenhower became President in 1952, Charles Bay would return to the United States but he asked Hans if he and Else would return with him - Hans agreed and this is how they came to the United States, settling in New York City.

Above, US Ambassador to Norway Charles Bay and his wife - Charles would ask the Ege's to come to the States with him!

In April 1957, they would move to 877 Roslyn Road in Ridgewood, NJ. This wonderful, sprawling neighborhood street would quickly become active with new famlies with lots of kids! Despite living in Ridgewood, Else would return to Norway every summer and still does.

Above photo is a great shot of life on Roslyn Road in the 1960's - compare it to 2010 and you can appreciate how greatly it has changed. It was such a sprawling, open neighborhood and is now covered with and heavily shaded by the mature trees - the redone homes sometimes hard to recognize. Drive slow and you find yourself saying things like, "There's the Silvers' house!" or "Isn't that where Katie lived?" The photo above shows an Easter egg hunt that was a neighborhood tradition at least for a few years. Photo is property and courtesy of Roslyn Road Runner Hank Henckler - who's mom Muriel incidently still lives on Roslyn Road!

The above photo is a classic! My sincere thanks to Else for sending it. It shows a very young Lis Ege in front of her home at 877 Roslyn Road in winter - note the classic wooden skis! Lis is one of those important Glen School kids who today runs a successful business in California called - importing MOEN Bells of Norway. has been licensed to market souvenir cheering bells for the Olynpic Winter Games in Lillehammer (1994), Salt Lake City (2002), Torino (2006) and Vancouver (2010).

For Else there would be no PTA - she didn't want anything to do with that - but she wanted everything to do with working with the kids at Glen School and when her daughters Lis and Tina started school Else quickly became a very active mom.

She would become a "book mender" at the school library - though the libraian and Else would clash over silly issues like Else wearing slacks - the libraian told her it was inappropriate! With that Else elected to take a box of books home each week and mend them there!

She would also help teachers during class. One of her favorite tasks was teaching the kids about Norway. She would show them Norwegian costumes and how each costume would denote what part of the country you were from. She would involve the kids in making Norwegian vests, share music, traditions and a kids favorite - the Trolls Dance. She also would sometimes knit her own Norwegian sweaters and would often remember her firends and neighbors by bringing back handmade sweaters from Norway - Katie Knight and her mom Rene recalled that they had each owned a handmade sweater from Norway.

Above a sample of what traditional Norwegian clothing looks like - the vest would denote what part of the country you were from.

Another interest close to Else's heart of course was art and she revelled in teaching the kids about artists and their artwork - pointing out artwork and prompting the kids to tell her who the artist was. She loved how excited the kids were when they would take a field trip shortly afterward to various art museums in New York City and how interested they were as they pointed out the same artists and paintings.

Then the idea of skating as an afterschool activity was put to a number of mom's and Else gladly took the cue and said "I can do that!" The idea was to make skating available to all the kids who thought they'd want to give it a try - it was both a great learning experience and a major social event each week. So starting in about 1964 for 13 weeks each year - basically from November to February - nearly a 100 kids would sign up and be carpooled to & from the Fritz Dietl Ice Skating Rink in Westwood, NJ. Even Dorothy Hamill made the trek down from Riverside, Connecticut in the early 70's to the Fritz Dietl rink (among other ice rinks) to hone the skills that would lead to her Olympic gold medal in Innsbruck, Austria in 1976!

Above we find Fritz Dietl himself (on the far left) and various skater kids in front of his ice rink in Westwood, NJ. (Sorry for the poor quality)

Fritz Dietl Ice Skating Rink as it looks today - unchanged!

Above, the adorable Dorothy Hamill upon receiving her gold medal and winning the hearts of 1,000's! Hamill would use the Fritz Dietl ice rink to practice.

For $13 your child could skate every wednesday afternoon for 13 weeks from the beginning of November til the middle of February. Each session was from 3:30 pm-5:30 pm. Can you imagine that? 2 hours of skating each week for 13 weeks for $13?! It was made available to all kids at Glen School - from kindergarten through 6th grade. Some would bring their own skates while others would rent them. Perdue's Sport Shop was a popular place for the kids to get their skates - the classic, rustic wooden Perdue's sign still vivid in our memory - not to mention Mr. Perdue's classic Woody. Perdue's sold skates but also rented them as well as part of their skate & ski exchange.

Here is part of the description as written by Else on the 1969-70 season flier:

".....We invite mothers and fathers to skate if they wish. It is a great way to get a little exercise and have an afternoon of fun with your youngsters.................."

Above is one of the many Gay Blades fliers handed out to every child at Glen School in October every school year for 14 years.

Part of another flier read like this: "Come skaters, do not wait - there is still time, why be late? Send in your application quick, remember Gay Blades starts the 8th of November..........."

Above is a phone book advertisement of everybody's favorite sport shop - Perdue's! Now in Westwood too!

There were also plenty of chaperones. Some would help on the ice while others like Jeanne Stanley-Brown were always ready for an emergency. All would be picking up gloves and hats and coats and shoes - trying to keep everybody's things from getting misplaced and helping kids to lace up!

Above l to r: Lis Ege (Else's oldest daughter) and another classic Glen School and Ridgewood mom - Jeanne Stanley-Brown! Photo taken by Terri Dimodugno.

The moms who drove would pull up to the circle in the Glen School parking lot with their big Town & Country station wagons (no seat belts of course!) and as school let out theirs and up to 6 other kids would pile in and follow the caravan to Fritz Dietl!

Above is the classic circle in front of Glen School as it looks today where our moms would pick us up on rainy days and of course Gay Blades!

The boys would skate a little - they would be known as circle skaters but would always look forward to playing hockey on a section of ice cordoned off for just that purpose. The girls would dress in their sweaters and special outfits like Ann Rimmer - dressed in her fuzzy pink sweater over a black skirt - proud to have been selected as a leader - the ribbon pinned to her sweater denoting such a responsibility! As Annie recalls: "I loved Gay Blades!...........I felt very important!" The girls would skate the whole afternoon - doing twirls and jumps and spins which the boys in large part, wanted nothing to do with! But the girls would also join the boys in their hockey games sometimes.

Nope - not a Glen girl - just a stock photo! But you get the idea.............

Else always supplied the pucks and sticks for hockey and would take on the role of "Skating Guard" complete with a whistle - trying to keep everybody safe - preventing collisions and pile-ups on the ice.

Else would always come up with fun skating games like The Whip which was a skating conga line or races back and forth across the ice. There was pairs skating and twirling practice in the middle of the rink. As Lis Ege recalls "......just enough to wear us all out before going home for dinner!"

Margaret Silvers finds it very easy to recall that she almost always had the back of her shirt sticking out of the back of her pants "........and Mrs. Ege would come behind me and go for a ride grabbing onto my shirt!"

Over the course of 14 seasons there would be a typical assortment of injuries - mostly minor - a sprained knee, a broken arm and assorted other bumps and bruises but hours and hours of fun! And of course hot chocolate!

Like all the other fliers and booklets that Else would design for school events and activities, our prinicipal Mr. Linden's secretary Agnes Larsen would always be there with a smile and a helping hand copying all the posters and fliers on the ditto machine for Else!

Yup that's the original ditto machine that Agnes Larsen used to make 100's of tests, quizzes and fliers! We need more fluid Mr. McFall! Mmmmmm that smell................!

Fritz Dietl - who was famous in the ice skating world (Olympic coach, star ice performer, legendary skating partner of Sonja Henie and member of the Ice Skating Institue's Hall of Fame) could always be found at the rink often engaged in conversations with Else about Norway, skating & Sonja Heine who of course won 3 consecutive Olympic gold medals and was born in Oslo, Norway where Else grew up!

The famous Fritz Dietl!!

Oslo's sweetheart Sonja Henie would turn her skating gold into Hollywood gold making movies often highlighting her skating skills. She died at the relatively young age of 69.

Else also gave lessons on the proper way to lace up your skates - spending strict attention to ankle support while not making them too tight using one finger in your skate as a guide!

Lacing up your skates the right way was important for good ankle support and good skating!

Generally the ice skating lessons were given by the moms - many of them beautiful skaters, among them were Else, Anita Bennett, Mrs. Avery, Ruth Glisch and Carol Casey - I'm sure I'm leaving out some too! Margaret Silvers says that Else "..............could skate on hockey skates or figure skates - wow! Beautiful skater!"

The car rides to and from the rink were almost as much fun as the skating. There was a rule about how many kids could be in the car, so when Else would see a police car she'd yell "Duck!" and the kids would laugh hysterically and duck their heads as they drove past him!

Lis Ege recalls her mom's metallic, dark tan 4-door Dodge packed with various kids which any given week could be made up of Karey & Julie Samson, David & Beth Stanley-Brown, Reed, Robbie & Margaret Silvers, Scott, Doug and Stacey Yates, Katie Knight. Lis happily recalls piling back into the family car after skating and on the way home they would drive down a steep hill that had a sharp left turn ".............we'd chant 'straight, straight, straight!' and then mom would make the sharp left and we'd all lean to the right laughing!"

Well its not the Ege's tan Dodge but you get a feel for what it was like - 7 kids piled in the family car each week and Else and the other moms making even a just 15 minute trip in the car a lot of fun!

On the last day of skating, each child would earn their skating diploma. On some nights some carpools would head right over to The Fireplace for dinner on the way home as a special treat.

Above is an assortment of Gay Blades diplomas handed out to the kids who came to the 13th week of skating.

By the mid-1970's, Gay Blades would be renamed Glen Blades (just not the same!) and would last until 1978-1979 - quite a few years after Else's own 2 daughters - Lis and Tina - had already left Glen School!

Over the years Else would be honored on 3 separate occasions for her work and dedication at Glen School and in particular with Gay Blades. Else you have our deepest gratitude for all the time you spent giving us all new and fun experiences growing up!

Note on the above plaque that it says "Glen Blades" - the famous name change!

Above photo was taken in November, 2009 at our Glen School reunion at Glen School - l to r: Margaret Silvers and Else Ege. Else had just received yet another honor - this time from the students of Glen School. Photo taken by Terri Dimodugno.

Over the last 2 years I have asked a few people for some their memories of Gay Blades - their responses are below:

Lis Ege - "Tina was at Glen until 1974 (I think). Mom continued Gay Blades after Tina left too! There was a name change before they stopped. They stopped after 1978-79 because when I came back from college I helped mom."

Karen Eide: "I loved Gay Blades! I begged mom for figure skating lessons! And, of course, my skates came from Perdue's Sport Shop!"

Judy Wilson: "I too went for Gay Blades! Great fun!"

Ken deGruchy: ".....My mom had involved myself and Cheryl with that (Gay Blades) for a time. Do you remember the mean man who ran the place and operated the special machine that prepared the skating surface?............Hot chocolate at Gay Blades was always a treat!"

Cynthia Wagner: "I was a member of Gay Blades - I think in 6th grade only. It was a BIG DEAL that my parents let me sign up for it finally after begging for a few years - money was always tight and this was a luxury. It was one of my happiest memories of Glen School! It was such a treat for me since I was the youngest of 4 children. I really became a very good skater because of it. It was such fun socially - I felt cool that I was part of it."

Diana Wagner: "No - bad ankles and I could never stay warm!!! Cool hands, cold feet, warm heart!"

Beth Daly: "............Everyone went. Mrs. Ege was the one who ran it but I remember huge carpools and moms picking up their kids in the circle at Glen and....all driving up to Fritz "De-whatever" and people having their skates at school on Gay Blades day."

Margaret Silvers: "Yup there must have been carpooling. Mrs. Ege was a chaperone so a bunch of us would jump in her car.........right after school. I guess we took our skates to school. We'd skate for a couple of hours and pile back into the car for the ride home."

Kim Vukov: "I did belong to Gay Blades and loved it! Every Wednesday afternoon at 3:30. We had so much fun. I remember skating real fast and doing some spins in the middle and falling and hitting my head. No hospitals but it knocked me out!"

Ken Merill: "Yes I remember that Susan Nunno and I were photographed by The Ridgewood News lacing up our skates at her house and the photo was placed in The Ridgewood News to announce the opening of skating season."

Artie Brierley: "Gay Blades - every wednesday after school - never could skate. Opted for gym after school!"

Cara Worthington: "I loved it!"

In 2001, Hans & Else sold the house at 877 Roslyn Road - moving to Mahwah, NJ. Sadly Hans Ege passed away on September 22, 2005. Being Irish I am cursed with sentiment (not complaining though!) Driving down Roslyn Road today - it still holds many memories (even for me as friends and I always rode our bikes there and trick or treated there) - the memories are always fresh in my mind - like snapshots - of life in the neighborhoods, the schools and Ridgewood.

Below is a small selection of Else's artwork used for fliers and posters promoting the Glen School circuses, card clubs and fashion shows which raised money for the Glen Home & School Association. Her classic designs reflected the times and could easily rival that of fashion desgners.

Looking back, the name Else Egge is synonymous with Gay Blades - she helped to make growing up in Ridgewood and attending Glen School a memorable time for many of us!

Thanks to all those who contributed to this classic Glen story. Thanks too of course to Else who has been so gracious and patient with my questions. Thanks Lis for the fact-checking help!