Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reflecting ----- Again!

So I'm looking at myself and wondering "Why do I still write this blog?" - honestly, how much can one say about an elementary school - about one's life when they were a preteen?

It is fun but it is like thereapy I guess - I loved that time (growing up) - I loved my teens - I love my current life - yes, I have fitfully progressed! There have been sad times but I never tried to dwell on those, yet life can be cruel sometimes - like when my dad became ill suddenly. He loved to golf - he never had much time to do it but he loved it. When I was a teen I was embarrassed to be with my folks - they didn't understand me, etc - it's not true of course, its just what I was thinking as a teen in search of myself. Embarrassed about my parents(!) - can you imagine!!?? How terrible and how incredibly patient were my parents to let me ride it all out. I would be crushed if my kids thought that about me!

Well when I finally broke out of those teen years - I saw the light. I was in retail before changing careers and I thought, "Gee, Dad is retiring, how cool would it be to meet up for lunch every 2 weeks or so and golf together once in a while" - to laugh about our lives together - to say sorry without saying it but showing my dad this was the real me - to hoist a drink together. Then he got sick - it was devestating.

Maybe this (the blog) is a way for me to revisit a time when my folks were around and I was psyched about it - not embarrassed - who knows.

Am I really becoming this deep - me of all people!? Most times in my life have been incredible - truly. My own family - having children, wow! There have been the tough moments to - losing my folks obviously - a friend who lost a young child to a freak accident - worst wake I have ever been too (love you Sally) - losing uncles and aunts, some whose lives were cut too short - Carl Vrabel's dad (it took me a while to get over that) - Jan Potdevin's mom - Jim O'Brien - how did I never say anything to you about losing your dad so young? There have been difficult moments for others and some I won't share here but I have thought of you - but yes during all these bad moments I felt terrible - in fact that's why for me I DID feel so selfish about Jan Potdevin showing up unexpectedly at our Glen reunion - what an unexpected special moment - the best kind - I know she didn't want to do it - but she did it - all by herself - an hours drive not knowing what to expect - I understood but how happy I was when Terri said "Guess who's here!" - I didn't even get to say thanks and goodbye to Jan that night....Gayle Allard - man, some of these people didn't know me well - but I knew them - and seeing them every day, being around them - something I will always remember. 

I would write this blog even if I thought people wouldn't read it - but knowing that people you've grown up with might read something you wrote - is both liberating and somewhat nerve-racking - they might see an honest and sometimes heart-on-your-sleeve expression of yourself. I can't imagine doing this in any other format - blogging gives you license and allows you to be yourself - as Annie once said a year ago or so "You're like the confessor" - I swear I don't get lost in this stuff - but I truly am who I am as a result of so many things not the least of which was attending Glen School.

I also struggle at times that I still haven't reconciled Artie's death - it is truly the most inexplicable thing to me. How can you go from such a high to such a low so quickly? Yes - it is selfish of me. My reconnecting with him and losing him just as quickly - was crazy. How can you not see someone for so many years and feel like this is family that has passed away(?) - how is it possible that losing someone like Artie can effect you in such a way? Artie's family had scattered mementoes of Artie's life in the rooms where his wake was held and had asked us to feel free to take one in his memory - I so regret not taking one of Artie's mementoes - you feel funny at the time but.........

In 1993, when Artie grabbed the mike at our 20th high school reunion and asked all the Glen School students present to gather for a picture (there were 14 of us there) - we did it automatically and we thought wow, yeah this is cool. You know, you graduated high school with so many people - but the kids you went to elementary school with - it's different, its more intimate and here was someone else being the first one to express that (you wouldn't do it for fear of seeming corny). About gathering for the picture, it was so much better (at the reunion) than trying to make fake talk with people about what you're doing, where you're going, where you vacation, etc (all the things that make reunions such a drag). I honestly didn't know what to expect at that particular reunion - almost didn't go to it in fact - I didn't want it to be "this is what I'm doing, what are YOU doing" - I wanted it to be special - and it was. Karen's hug was perfect....perfect (don't laugh) - it made my evening, it convinced me that this was a reunion I couldn't miss - she was the very first person I really saw from the Class of '73 and it was the best. Is it why I hung out almost exclusively with Cara Worthington (whom I was crushed for that night - her husband had just passed away) and Karen Eide that night - I felt so comfortable with them - don't get me wrong - it was incredible seeing everyone I graduated with - then you leave and continue with your life but it was nice ya know? It's a bond - Artie couldn't explain it and neither can I and therein lies the beauty of it. My wife Caryn had come with me in 1993 - she understood and was so accomodating to me - thanks......

Fast forward to the 2009 Glen School reunion - when Artie signed on early as a blog reader and as a booster for all this stuff, complete with his utterly unreadable text messages(!) - I was psyched! Wow - here was a guy I loved growing up - he never knew it though - but here he was signing on to what I was envisioning because he felt the same way - hell he always felt the same way. "A Glen School reunion Artie, but at the school!" "Yes!" he would say - "We can make that happen!!"

When I read about Margaret Silvers' and Doug Terhune's successful attempts at gathering their old Glen classmates AND Mr. McFall - I was hooked - that was also in 1993!

Maryanne Vaz told me recently - you were so quiet in school - indeed I was, painfully so sometimes - it's tough when you're trying to fit in - its so difficult when you're younger and I was in some cases almost 9 months younger than my classmates. But here we are - at this age writing so fondly about one's time growing up - and I demanded that Maryanne come to the reunion (You just have to come!) and she did (all thanks to Rusty Wescott) - how cool is that - Maryanne Vaz - who would have thought it possible to find her - thanks John! No apologies - I got probably more out of it than anyone.

Just want to say thanks to all who understand and who share this special affection for one's class.......looking forward to the BF reunion and absolutely can't wait for the RHS 40th reunion.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coming Soon: Life in Salem Ridge!

I've put together some great stuff about growing up in and around Salem Ridge thanks to Else Ege and Margaret and others. That will be coming soon!

Summertime at Glen School!

The Endless Summer - it was a great surfing movie but it's also how we all felt as summer was about to begin during Glen School! These days its all about Block Island for me - a little heaven on earth as far as I'm concerned, but when I was little the summer was everything!

As we approached the last day of school each year, we'd clean out our flip-top desks - the windows in class would be wide open with the breezes and the smell of the summer air and it would be near impossible to concentrate on anything but the 2 1/2 months of fun that lay ahead!

Above is our actual 2nd grade classroom as it looks today. Each classroom had an inside door to the hallway and a door that led directly outside which is the door we used for recess and to leave for lunch and the end of the day. The windows were huge and I remember cutting myself once on the sharp metal corners. There was no air conditioning like today. We'd sit and daydream about the summer while our teachers would try and make those last days interesting!

Starting with our last day of school each year, my garndfather would take me and one of my cousins to Palisades Park where he'd let us do whatever we wanted - we went on everything and spent a lot of quarters. Then usually a couple of days later another cousin (Carolyn) and our families would go to Palisades Park and do it all over again. What a blast - we must have done that for 5 or 6 years in row.

Above is a photo of a busy Palisades Amusement Park.

At Glen School, I was in the summer recreation program for several years - you know, we made things - tons of things - pot holders, laniards and popsicle stick-whatevers. Lots of games and sports. It was definitely a lot of fun.

Karen Eide when asked if she was in the Summer Recreation Program recalls: "Yes! How many laniards, pot holders and popsicle stick creations did my mom endure!?"

Ken Merrill remembers: "......every year - enjoyed it very much! Lots of arts and crafts and sports!"

Beth Daly too remembers: "Yes I remember summer rec - my mother had boxes of things made from popsicle sticks! All of us (there were 6 kids in my family) went to it at one time or another. There is nothing like that here anymore but what a bonus for our parents!"

Above - we would do a lot of the art stuff here under the overhang in the courtyard when we belonged to the summer rec program.

Above is a sampling of the classic potholders we all made!

There was camp at the YMCA in town which included swimming, archery, games and great hikes.

Above from l to r: Ricky Flannery, Randy Sharp, Kent Meneghin and Bruce Meneghin on the first day of camp.

My friends and I would bike all over the immediate area around Glen School and when I got a little older we even rode with our canteens and pocket knives to Saddle River and Woodcliff Lake!

When I was 6 and 7 there were annual trips to the circus with the neighborhood kids!

Above - my dad took us all to the circus twice. We all got dressed up for it! From l to r: Randy Sharp, Kent Meneghin, Jimmy O'Brien, Ricky Flannery and Bruce Meneghin. This was Spring 1962.

Another big event of course was the Fourth of July - Dad marched in the parade. Ridgewood always had the biggest parade around and like Artie Brierley I would count the fire trucks - there was an endless line of them - the coolest part was the simultaneous sound of all the sirens at once - it was awesome! I'll never forget too - just like my sister Ginny - going to Vets Field for the fireworks with friends and seeing family and relatives - "OMG really - must I sit here? What if someone sees me?" - I'm trying to be cool ya know! The things you do when you're young.

Above l to r my uncle Ralph (Carolyn's father - my favorite cousin!) and my dad after marching in the parade!

There was also a  memorable trip to Lake George one year when we went to just about every childhood theme park in that area including Frontier Town, Storytown, Gaslight Village, Magic Forest, North Pole among others - I remember our station wagon was covered with cardboard bumper stickers that they'd put on your bumper with metal wires. I remember the motel we stayed at showed first-run outdoor movies by the pool at night and one night we got drenched in the middle of the movie!

Above my sister Ginny and I at Frontier Town - for a few years I lived in my holster!

There were weekly crossings of Route 17 to Grand-Way to buy model kits, records and trading cards. Can you believe as little kids the amount of times we'd cross a busy highway like that - and we did it when we were really young because in 1967 they built an overpass which made it safer to cross but by that time we were 10 and 11 years old!

One year I went camping with the Meneghins which was a great time!

Above the Meneghins and I somewhere I think in Pennsylvania - it was a lot of fun!

We'd go fishing at Hall's Pond, Saddle River and the Duck Pond.

Above Ricky Flannery feeding the ducks at the Duck Pond!

Bar-B-Ques at the Menghins or the Flannerys - Cindy Pomeroy would usually be there too!

Above is a bar-b-que at the Meneghins. Cindy Pomeroy is there. It was probably a year later that I asked Cindy to go steady and gave her my id bracelet which I gave to her between throwing the baseball around on Auburn Ave! My Winnie Cooper! I remember playing spin-the-bottle once in a friend's tent and Cindy and I would redirect the spun bottle to hers or my direction - yes it was fixed and all inocent too - there always seemed to be a crowd around us!

We'd swim whereever there was a pool and we always joined Graydon every year. My sister would be on the grassy or "cool" side and me on the sandy side! Lessons in the early morning when the water was at its coldest - blue lips and all. We held our breath under water, learned the "dead man's float", kicked a lot and floated on our backs non-stop for 40 minutes or so.

Above Graydon Pool at sunset - photo is from the Ridgewood Blog and is the property of "Alan" (there was no last name). Photo was taken in 2010.

Above, me and my best friend, my cousin Carolyn. We were like glue for nearly 20 years!

The Meneghin's and Jimmy O'Brien and I would play never-ending board games, we'd plan bike trips, sleep outside in each others yards, play baseball, football, kick the can at night. I would cut the Meneghin's lawn when they went to the Cape and get paid for it and they would do the same for us.

We'd probably go to 5 or 6 drive-in movies every summer at the Paramus Drive-In or the Route 17 Drive-In in Upper Saddle River. That was so much fun especially when you're little. Pajamas, pillows, snacks, 2 movies, intermission to allow you to que up at the refreshment stand and seemingly all the time in the world! 2 minutes till showtime!

Above is an actual shot of the Paramus Drive-In. Its from my personal collection.

Then there was the Jersey Shore. We spent many summer vacations at Long Beach Island when I was little. You couldn't wait to hit the Parkway - the anticipation always so exciting!

One year when I was in 7th grade we went to Chadwick Beach which is the same island as Lavellette and Ocean Beach among others. Vacation does something to you - it gives you confidence you don't normally have at that age - people don't know you but you're all on the same page when you're away. On that vacation I remember seeing a girl on the beach during the day - you know, you're like 11 or 12 and you're with your family - I'll never forget asking her quickly if she would meet me at the beach that night - she said yes and we met at around 8pm on the beach - it was wonderful! My parents were great about it and ultimately knew what I was doing but allowed me this wonderful shot at independence. We just sat on the sand and talked about what else - our families, school, where we were from - then a simple kiss goodnight - wow enough to make you sail through the rest of the summer - we wrote for a little while, but you know, your life goes on - you don't forget these things though! Vacations always allowed you the freedom to just be yourself.

The Jersey Shore was also where I first discovered head shops where I bought black-light posters, beaded necklaces and bracelets and I would always stock up on a supply of Archie comics on vacation too! I wanted to surf in the worse way - but never gave it a try.

Above Ricky Flannery on one of the many beach vacations we took in Long Beach Island - circa 1962!

The ice cream trucks today play the silliest music but when we were little the Good Humor guy rang these loud bells and you could here him coming in the distance as soon as he turned onto your street. Like clockwork he would come during the dinner hour - mom or dad would give up a quarter and you'd run outside, see everybody else coming out their doors, try to be the first one in line, get your ice cream and put it in the freezer for after dinner!

Above - an american classic - the "Good Humor Man". He was the most popular guy of the summer and nothing would get you out of your house quicker than the sound of those bells!

We also went for family "rides" - this was such a baby boomer thing - it meant driving all over the place - to no place special! We'd seemingly visit every town in Northern NJ and NY State - "Oh look that's where Major Andre was hung for treason during the Revolutionary War!" - but we'd always end up at Terwilliger's for ice cream - lines out the door but worth the wait. (Now that's another thing, can you imagine telling poor Major Andre "Hey, 200 years from now people will drive by your monument, look and then go for ice cream!) Van Dyk's was our baseball ice cream place and I'm psyched that they're still in town - I was sad to see T&W's close - my accountant's office is right door to where it used to be.

Above - the counter at T&W Ice Cream - circa 1950's.

And then there was Labor Day weekend - this was always the last weekend of "freedom" before returning to school. The week leading up to Labor Day you'd go "back to school" shopping and always try to get clothes that made you look cooler than the year before - or in my case not! I'll never forget my first attempt at trying to look Mod - wow!

Summers are a wonderful time of year and probably the one time of year when you make the most memories but now I look forward to spending them with family, coaching and watching my son Ricky play baseball! It all goes way too fast and THIS Labor Day weekend, instead of trying to buy "cool" clothes we'll be taking my daughter Jennie up to URI for her freshman year - and that's near BI!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BF Reunion Coming in November 2011!

Hey the BF reunion is coming in November. It looks like it will be held at a hotel for more "quality" time with everyone. We will know more details shortly. It will probably be November 12.

Hope everyone can make it! Then its 2 years to the big one!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Girl Scouts at Glen School!

Among the outside activities many of us took part in at Glen School was the Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts or as Artie Brierley used say (regarding the Cub Scouts) - "the boys in blue".

By the time the girls at Glen School reached 2nd or 3rd grade, a lot of them would join the Brownies. Being with your firends and the chance to make new friends made this a fun experience for many. Brownie life was made up of meetings, dues, refreshments, games, baking, crafts and trips to nursing homes and more.

Above is a classic photo courtesy of Judy Wilson Glen School Class of 1969. It's Mrs. Cook's class - probably 1st or 2nd grade. You can see some of the girls in their Brownie uniforms which told you they had a meeting after school. While I can't make out everyone, Barbara Demick is first in the front (l to r), Kim Vukov is just behind her, Breitweiser, Janice Avery, Judy Wilson, Margaret Silvers (with head turned) and Karen Stewart I think. Help me if I'm wrong Mags!

The Brownies would work to earn their merit badges badges for a variety of tasks. The badges would be awarded and sewn onto their sashes.

If a girl kept going, after 2 years they would become a Girl Scout. As a scout they would continue earning merit badges for somewhat more difficult tasks.

Above Ridgewood Girl Scouts being honored.

The Brownies and Girl Scouts have always been famous for selling their cookies and our local girls were no different. In fact, I want to say that the cookies back then were actually better - they were made by the Burry's Company. Everyone has their favorites. The girls would sell to family and friends but would also do a lot of door to door selling back then - a time when everyone in the neighborhoods knew each other and it was much safer to sell that way.

Above: Girls Scouts and Brownies banning together to sell cookies for camp.

Above: It's amazing the photos you find on the net. This is what a box of Girl Scout cookies might have looked like in the early 1960's.

Meetings would take place at the homes of mom's who were leaders. The girls would pay their monthly or bi-weekly dues. There would be a variety of activities and refreshments and the girls would continue to work on and plan their merit goals.

Above is a photo that is the property of Patricia Nagy Cove. It is Ridgewood Girl Scout Troop 86 giving a carved pumpkin show at Patricia's house in Ridgewood.

There would also be camp overnights at Pound Ridge, NY.

Above: Another classic photo from Judy Wilson Glen School Class of 1969. It is 1967, Troop 216 camping at Pound Ridge, NY. The girls are from l to r: Diane Delorenzo, Judy Wilson, Amy Vest, Sarah Avery, Debbie Reagan and Pam Morton.

I recently asked a few Glen School alums about their scouting experiences - here's some of what they shared:

Margaret Silvers: "I was Girl Scout Troop 199. I remember because my brother Robbie would tease me about my troop number. It's so hard to say, "one-ninety-nine"...........he tormented me about my troop number! Mrs. Breitweiser was a troop leader I remember. My mother filled in one year and I think she hated it! At that time, Sally Reese would push us to "cut" the thursday afternoon meeting and pocket the .25 cent dues!"

Katie Knight: "I was a Girl Scout. The troop number escapes me. In 4th grade or so, I remember being sad that my brothers all attended a very cool Boy Scout camp (Camp Yaw Paw) in Mahwah (NJ) every year and I sat in a classroom and drew pictures of my family! Mrs. Yingling was the troop leader when I was in 6th grade and she was very cool - we studied flowers, herbs - took lots of hikes, looked at the stars - it was great! I seem to remember her being a Quaker which I thought was impressive!"

Beth Daly: "I was a Girl Scout all through Glen but I can't for the life of me remember who our leader was."

Jennifer Marcello: "I was a Brownie. Can't remember the name of our troop leader but she lived on Van Emburgh. (I have a) vivid memory of making sugar cookies to take to a nursing home. Also remember selling cookies as a Girl Scout back in the day when you could safely go door-to-door alone."

Cara Worthington: "Karen's tv commercial, camping at Pound Ridge and making numerous sit-upons!"

Diana and Cynthia Wagner were both scouts. Cynthia remembers: "Yes, we were in the Girl Scouts with a mother who was a leader (their mom). We went to Travell where my mom had her troop and she even made me become a cadet in junior high school! I got a job as soon as I turned 14 so that I would have an excuse not to join (again)!

Ann Rimmer: "(I was a) Girl Scout for a year or two. I remember going to Girl Scout camp which was a lot of fun!"

A couple of years ago, when I started this blog, Beth Daly had asked me if I remembered the tv commercial Karen Eide did for the Girl Scouts. I remember a lot of things and I was embarrassed that I did not remember this about Karen! I asked Beth Daly more about it and she had told me it was a big deal - the girls all gathered at Karen's the day it was first shown on television. When Beth shared that story with me, I thought "Surely there must be a way to find that commercial somewhere." I actually wrote to a few places - Girl Scouts Organization, etc - trying to found out how one would go about finding a video of a vintage commercial like that. I even wrote to Karen on Classmates but we all slowly stopped paying to be on there. Then Karen found this blog and got in touch. Of course one of the first things I asked her about was the commercial. Karen told me about it and as luck would have said "Yes - I have it on DVD!" I was obviously thrilled and patiently waited for the day Karen would put it on the web. While I don't manage to go on Facebook a lot, I was fortunate enough to be on the day Karen posted the news on her wall and she gave me permission to use it here! The commercial alone makes this story - thanks Karen!

Having viewed the commercial, it definitely looks familiar and while the girls all gathered over at Karen's to watch it, I'm sure all of us were told about it and I can see myself rushing home from school to see it - "Baseball(?) - not now, gotta go, Karen's on tv!"! How cool that it is preserved for all of us to enjoy!

Of the commercial, Katie Knight shared this: "Yes, I was in the troop that tried out for that commercial. I do remember one girl being so upset and crying so hard when she didn't get picked that they let her be in the commercial. I used to watch it at Karen's house when it was on!"

Annie told me: "I totally remember the Karen Eide commercial! She was the perfect pick!"

There was just no better way to conclude this brief story about the Girl Scouts at Glen School then with Karen's actual tv commercial. Just click on the little arrow below and enjoy!

If you have anything you'd like to contribute to this story, please email me!

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Photos from Karen Eide!

Karen recently sent me the following candid photos from her personal collection. These girls have been friends forever! Glen School made friendships that have stood the test of time - despite our busy lives and not being in touch sometimes for years, friendships like these are always there.

Each one of the girls in the photos (maybe except for Pam) have remained in touch with each other. The beauty of school friendships like ours is that nothing is expected from anybody you just pick up where you left off.

The photos are from some of  Karen's birthday parties. About her birthday memories Karen has this to say:

"My mom threw really fun birthday parties. I got to invite 10 girls. She'd always bake my cake of choice and devise fun games like Spiderweb where she'd weave different yarns throughout the downstairs that we'd have to wind up to find a prize at the end - (it was) chaos x 10 little girls! I always got an amazing cake!"

Thanks for sending the photos Karen! If I got anyone wrong in the photos please let me know!!

Above back l to r: Pam Bennett, Jill Neandross, Melanie Teasley, Lisa Faeth. Front l to r: Karen Eide, Jan Potdevin. I think this is kindergarten - Pam was in our class then and Jan was still attending Glen School (Jan had moved across town  a couple of years later and would meet up with us again in high school). Wow I hope you see this photo Jan!!

Above back row l to r: Beth Daly, Beth Perdue, Ann Rimmer. Front row l to r: Katie Knight, Karen Eide, Cara Worthington, Suzie Nunno.

Birthday cake in Karen's basement! From l to r: Ann Rimmer, Cara Worthington, Karen Eide, Katie Knight, Beth Perdue. Button-down collar shirts were the rage that year!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Stories Coming!

Sorry I have been so busy I haven't had much time to update lately! More pictures, a Girl Scouts story and Boy Scouts on the way! Those interested please note we are moving ahead with our BF reunion! It will most likely be at a hotel to make it easier for those flying in and to make it more fun for all! Stay tuned...........................Jill Neandross, Beth Daly, Penny Ward - you gotta make it this time!!!!!!!!