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.