Saturday, February 13, 2010

Glen School's First Principal - Art Linden!

Sometimes a school is tied to its principal and sometimes the principal is tied to his school - for the Glen School kids it just seemed you couldn't have one without the other. Arthur Valfred Linden, Jr. was the first and longest serving principal at Glen School and had he lived he may well have been its last!

Above is the main office where Mrs. Larsen and Mrs. Flechtner worked as secretaries at Glen School. Mr. Linden's office is the door to the left. "Hey Mrs. Larsen, we need 100 ditto sheets!"

Even though opening day at the school was wednesday September 9, 1959, Art Linden and other town brass officially dedicated the school at 3pm on Sunday January 31, 1960. There were 184 kids enrolled at the time. Along with Mr. Linden there were 8 teachers and 4 staff members serving the students at Glen School.

Personally, I remember Mr. Linden as a sharp dresser with a raspy voice. I also recall - looking back now - his utter dedication to both the students and teachers of Glen School. He really was the type of principal who was connected to his school.

Above is Mr. Linden and members of his safety patrol outside the school. With him are Randy Duvall and Suzy Terhune.

Parents loved him and he always made himself available to all. You always found him at Glen School functions whether it was the Fashion Shows, the Glen School Circus, the Pet Round-Ups, musical shows - he always instilled in those around him spirit in the school and was enthusiastic about everything the school got involved in. That spirit definitely rubbed off on us as well.

Arthur Valfred Linden, Jr. grew up in Yonkers, NY. He was named after his father but he hated being called junior - however his mother was the only one who got away with that! His middle name "Valfred" came from an old family name from the Swedish side of the family. His father was also an educator and served as a provost at Columbia University. His father also worked with John Dewey - a highly respected writer, lecturer and philosopher whose theories had a profound influence on public education in the first half of the 20th century - particularly in the United States. Dewey was a strong promoter of what was called "instrumentalism" (related to the pragmatism of Charles Pierce William James) and the radical reform of the public education system. The books "The School and Society" (1899) and "The Child and the Curriculum" (1902), emphasized the interests of the child and the use of the classroom to cultivate the interplay between thought and experience. You could almost say that at when Mr. Linden was principal, that these practices were in play at Glen School.

Art's grandparents - Phillip and Elvira Linden - had 5 children.

At a young age, Art became a huge movie buff and was president of The Irene Dunne Fan Club at one time. His love of film and hollywood was undoubtedly influenced by his Uncle Eric Linden who was a movie actor in Hollywood and would have roles in 33 films over a career that spanned 10 years.

Above is Irene Dunne in her heyday - Art was president of her fan club!

Eric Linden - Art's uncle - was the youngest of Phillip and Elvira's kids and during his movie career had earned the part of the "amputee case" in the film "Gone with the Wind". His part was whittled down to 30 seconds in the film and he was disappointed to learn that his choice scene with Vivien Leigh ended up on the cutting room floor! As Mr. Linden's son Chris recalls, Eric's career had made the family proud. Eric Linden passed away in July, 1994.

Young Eric Linden - Art Linden's young uncle and movie actor!

Upon graduating high school, Art attended and graduated from the University of Denver where he also earned his Masters degree.

After graduating college, Art took an elementary school teaching job in Coronado, CA. It was there in Coronado where he met, fell in love with and married Mary Feeney.

Shortly after getting married, he and Mary moved to West Germany to teach at the US Army's civilian school in Bad Toltz. It was in West Germany that their first child - Mark - was born.

Above is George Washington School where Art Linden would teach before becoming Assistant Principal at Travell School.

Art and Mary would return from West Germany with Mark in tow and settle in Ridgewood NJ. It was about 1956 when Art started teaching at George Washington Junior High school - although at the time GW was also an elementary school. In 1958, he became Assistant Principal at Travell School.

The original program from "Travell-Za Poppin'!"

On March 28, 1958, the parents and teachers of Travell put on a huge production called "Travell-Za Poppin!!" Among those who were in this production, were my sister Ginny and Assistant Principal Art Linden! There were also so many other familiar names like Terhune, Pelley, Bruning, Van Nostrand, Carlson among many others. My sister played the part of a collegiate girl and Mr. Linden played the part of one of 3 Village Commissioners. Mr. Linden was always in his element with shows like this and always loved taking part in them.

Mary Linden earned her degree in childhood education from Oswego State Univeristy. Mary also helped to start and manage the nursery school at the Ridgewood YWCA. She made sure it was accredited by the state as well. This was probably circa 1959 or so.

The Linden's would have 4 children altogether - Mark, Chris, Patrick and Kelly. Pat Mercer (1st and 2nd grade teacher for a time at Glen School) recently said of the Linden's parenting: ".....devoted parents would be an understatement!"

Pat goes on to say: "The Linden's were fun people. They were probably my first "adult friends" - boy did I luck out! They had many parties for all of us. They lived in Blauvelt NY when I first met them and returning from their Christmas party one night, I saw my first oppossum - a big deal for an "ocean girl"!" (Pat grew up at the Jersey Shore in Margate NJ - attending Atlantic City High School).

Chris Linden was born the first day that Glen School opened in September, 1959. Art Linden spent a hectic day waiting for THE "call" at George Washington Junior High hanging out with Dr. Bill Cobb who was principal there and wondering whether it would be a boy or a girl. Chris, Patrick and Kelly were all born at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood.

The Linden's regularly attended sunday mass at Mt Carmel and I remember seeing all 6 of the Linden's at church often and being excited as a 5 year old when he would go out of his way to say hi to me!

Above is an aerial view of Mt. Carmel catholic church in Ridgewood, NJ.

The Linden's made their home on Monroe Street a couple of blocks from the Women's Club in Ridgewood NJ. The Linden kids attended Ridge School (which opened at the same time as Glen School) and George Washington Junior High before joining up with the rest of us at Ridgewood High School. Mark Linden graduated in my high school Class of 1973.

Mr. Linden loved his teachers. Anita DeYoungh, Nancy Cook, Pat Mercer and Pete Gauharou were all good friends of the Linden family and the Linden's were known to throw fun parties and gatherings. They loved to entertain their friends.

For the annual teacher's convention in Atlantic City the Linden family always stayed at Mr. and Mrs. Cook's apartment that was located in Ocean City, NJ.

One of Art Linden's favorite people was our school custodian George McFall. Chris Linden recently recalled this about our beloved and longtime friend George McFall: "Mr. McFall was so cool! We played in the gym while my dad worked weekends....He'd (Mr. McFall) always say hi. He used to dry orange peels by hanging them from the ceiling of his office, then grind them up for his tea!"

Above Mr. McFall's office as it appeared in November, 2009 - the same day we honored his memory at the Glen School Reunion. It was here that George would hang his orange peels and grind them up for his tea!

At Glen School in 1962, Art Linden, a number of teachers and a huge number of parents took part in the original musical production titled "No Space Like Home" which was an offbeat musical with a space-age theme. Art played the part of "Mars". The show's first scene took place in Mr. Linden's on-stage office and the conclusion found everyone back in Mr. Linden's office after having set out on an amazing space-age adventure! Art loved this stuff and his enthusiasm for it was infectious to all the others who took part.

Art having his customary cigarette before getting in costume for "No Space Like Home". This room was directly across from the office and was used as a music and art room.

Art Linden as "Mars" at the lectern on stage at Glen School for "No Space Like Home".

Art Linden and two others in costume for "No Space Like Home" (Art is center). The above 3 photos are courtesy of Hank Henckler.

Recalling Mr. Linden's devotion to his staff, Pat Mercer had this to say: At Glen School "...the teachers were all very close to one was a social time and we all got along. Art Linden was a fun person and we all loved him."

Off all the staff members, George McFall and Agnes Larsen - his devoted secretary - were fixtures at Glen. Mrs. Larsen seemed to have her hand in just about everything. She ran all the mimeographs for everybody, took care of the attendance, field trip planning, Home & School Association details, PTA - she was all over the place and was always a friendly voice in the office. For a story about Mr. McFall please scroll further down in the blog.

Above is Agnes Larsen (Art's faithful secretary) and Art Linden. Photo was cropped from a faculty photo taken during the 1968-69 school year. Photo courtesy of Dr. Bill Montick.

On November 22, 1963, Mr. Linden had the sad task of informing each teacher that President Kennedy had been shot - we were dismissed and sent home - not quite understanding what was going on. For more about that day, scroll down and look for the story of Miss Beattie's 3rd grade class.

The following Glen School students shared these memories:

Rick Flannery Glen School 6th grade Class of 1967: "Mr. Linden would sometimes join us on field trips. One such occasion was when our 3rd grade class made a trip to Seton Hall University to tape a radio show. The show was to be broadcast the next afternoon which was November 22, 1963 - the day JFK was shot. The show started on the air but was quickly interrupted and Mr. Linden came to our classroom to tell Miss Beattie to dismiss us. Looking back, I can also see how devoted Mr. Linden was not only to his school but to us and his teachers as well."

Diana Wagner - Glen School 6th grade Class of 1969 recalls that "Mr. Linden always seemed to be smiling. I mostly remember the smell of printing fluid whenever you'd go into the office."

Who doesn't remember the smell of the ditto machine! This is the actual ditto machine used by Mrs. Larsen and Mrs. Flechtner! Remember sitting at your desk before taking a test and smelling your paper?!

Art Brierley Glen School 6th grade Class of 1967, also related the smell of the printing fluid when visiting Mr. Linden's office delivering the daily attendence sheet!

Judy Wilson Glen School 6th grade Class of 1969 recalls Mr. Linden as always ".....dressed nicely in a sport...jacket and tie and I think a white shirt all the time."

Jenn Marcello Glen School 6th grade Class of 1974: "Strongest memory of Mr. Linden was the first day of kindergarten. Jimmy Rollins did NOT want to be there and needed assistance from his mom and the teacher. That didn't work so Mr. Linden was called and Jimmy either bit or kicked him! Sorry to embarrass Jimmy but that is what I remember. Also remember him as a kind man, not at all frightening or intimidating even to little ones."

Cara Worthington Glen School 6th grade Class of 1967 recalled Mr. Linden " serious, firm but with a good sense of humor. He was serious about his job, but didn't take himself too seriously."

Karen Eide Glen School 6th grade Class of 1967 remembered that Mr. Linden was our "benevolent ruler!"

Kim Vukov Glen School Class of 1969: ".....stern but nice man!"

Other teachers had this to say in remembering Art Linden:

Mary Walker aka "Miss Schmidt": "Art had a ready smile, trusted me to explore developing curriculum and kept family first. Having lost his wife just before I came to Glen, I always saw sadness in his eyes."

Ellen Jackson: "The story of Mr. Linden is sad - I did not know him at his best."

Zita Wilcox: "When Mr. Linden died, Harry Johnson became principal." Like Art Linden "he also was a kind man, child-oriented in every way."

A few years before succumbing to her illness, Mary became quite ill. It was ultimately diagnosed as a brain tumor and Mary would undergo several surgeries as her husband watched the love of his life slip away. Traveling back and forth to the various hospitals she was moved to, working tirelessly at Glen School AND raising 4 young children - took a tremendous toll on Art Linden.

Sadly, Mary Linden passed away on January 20, 1968. Art was devestated. Art and Mary truly loved each other and Art without his wonderful wife was only half himself after that.

In all, Art would serve as principal of Glen school for 14 years. He passed away February 4, 1973.

The school would have 4 principals in all and following the death of Art Linden came Harry Johnson. Sally Hirt would follow and finally Sharon Piety-Jacobs became prinicpal in 1984 and remained principal through 1986 when the school ceased operation as an elementary school and became a child deveopment center. All the Glen students were moved to Hawes School where Sharon also became principal.

Above is Art Linden's old office as it appears today. "Oh Mrs. Larsen?"

Pat Mercer shared this final thought with me. "Art Linden was a marvelous human being with a family he loved dearly. I was very close to his wife Mary and to him even after I left (Glen School) in 1964. Mary's death was a tragedy and in the end, it is my opinion, he died himself from a broken heart. The story is tragic and wonderful but I do not feel it my place to tell his story....just to remember them and smile."

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