Thursday, July 28, 2011

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!

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