Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Glen School Checkerboard!

Yes, I know this is a fluff story - but I was at the school recently (passing through as usual) and taking photos. Roamed around behind the school and saw that the checkerboard is still there - well kind of. It's a bit over-grown. The original (I think) alternated between cement (white) and macadam (black) and had a corner that was filled with sand - the sand is still there too but grass has filled in.

Above a photo of Glen School just before it opened in 1959 as construction was winding down. You get a great view of the checkerboard as it looked when new! We probably played some sort of game incorporating the boxes. The large white box at the top corner was sand. The perimeter has now filled in with trees and brush over the years.

The perimeter that has a little slope used to be wide open and led to a small creek where we used to hang out looking for salamanders and turtles. The perimeter has been completely covered now. Like all things, our playground seemed so big back in the day but is pretty small - it was a lot of fun though! If I remember right we had an amazing swing set, a well-made, colorful slide, see-saws and monkey bars. Just about every good weather day would be spent out there!

Above is the checkerboard as it appears today (August, 2011). I was psyched to see it still there despite being over grown.

Above the back of Glen School from the checkerboard. The three doors you see represent our first, second and third grade classrooms (left to right).

Above the checkerboard during the winter - photo was taken in December, 2008.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Grace Hensley: A 1st Grade Class Update!

The blogosphere - there are so many blogs out there - some for politics, some to talk about one's interests. Then there's this kind! I'm not saying this is the best kind but I started this almost 3 years ago and never expected much from it but selfishly it has brought a lot to me. I mean imagine my excitement when my first grade teacher - Pat Mercer emailed me back in early 2009 and said "This is Pat Mercer" - whoa!

Well the good things keep coming! This next story is one of those you wouldn't think would happen but hoped would. It's an update to an earlier story about our first grade class - you can find the original story  about our class using the search box on this blog.

Grace Hensley - born Grace Mulligan - she probably would've given anything to be a teacher but for one school year - Glen School 1961-62 - she was just that! She was my first grade teacher's right hand that year.

You have to understand our first grade class was huge - 32 kids in all and Pat needed help! Well as luck would have it this was the year Grace - age 50 - was looking to go back to work and applied at the Ridgewood, NJ Board of Education. They immediately sent her to Glen School.

Above is our first grade class - Pat Mercer is on the left and Grace Hensley on the right!

Above photo: back row l to r: Raleigh Hensley's sister-in-law Bertha, Grace's husband Raleigh Hensley, Grace's daughter Jane, Grace Hensley. Front row l to r: Kathy's cousins Sally and Jimmy, Kathy Hensley. This was about the same time Grace would have been assisting Pat Mercer in our first grade class.

I regretted not having enough information about Grace and as with other favorite Glen School teachers who have since passed away - I always hope a family member will Google their mom's name and find the blog and that's exactly what Grace's daughter Kathy did!

With the help of Kathy, here is a wonderful and heartbreaking update to the Grace Hensley story.

Grace Hensley was born and raised in Jersey City, NJ and graduated from Dickinson High School. Grace always had fun telling everyone that she attended school with Frank Sinatra - which she did, though Sinatra was younger.

Above is Dickinson High School in Jersey City, NJ as it appeared shortly after it was built - this is where Grace graduated. A truly impressive building.

Above is Dickinson High School as it appears today - gone are the rolling grassy slopes and in it's place - parking lots of course!

Grace met her husband Raleigh at an Uncle's house and they were married in 1943. Raleigh was from Kentucky and was in the Army at the time. He was stationed in Paramus, NJ (he manned a searchlight for an anti-aircarft group - yes in Paramus, NJ!)

Above is Raleigh Hensley in the Army.

Upon getting married, Raleigh was shipped off to Europe where he served in the war.

As a young wife, Grace came to love interior decorating - much to Raleigh's dismay. At least he got to paint - but then Grace started hanging wallpaper (which she was quite good at!)

Grace also loved to cook and entertain family and friends - she loved her family more than anything.

Grace and Raleigh would settle into domestic life and had 2 daughters - Jane born in Jersey City, NJ in 1948 and Kathy born in Ridgewood in 1952.

The Hensley's would reside in Jersey City (Grace's hometown)  for a while after Raleigh's return from the war until Raleigh was discharged from the army.

The Hensley's would move to Ridgewood, NJ in 1950 and bought 108 Circle Avenue! Can you imagine the cost of that house in 1950? $9,000!!!! It's just crazy what our folks paid for their homes in those days! Anyway, Grace and Raleigh truly made this home their own and Kathy recently took a picture of it when passing through during her reunion weekend in 2010.

 Kathy's own 2 children would be born in Ridgewood as well despite the long trip from Vernon, NJ which is where they lived!

About being assigned as a teacher's assistant Kathy's says of her mom:

"....I know she loved her I said, that first year was the best. What a wonderful way to get back into the have a job she adored!"

Above is the Ridgewood, NJ Board of Education offices where Grace worked from 1962-1977. The 1961-62 school year would be the only one that Grace would be in a classroom, but she would remain with the Board of Education in Ridgewood as a secretary until her retirement in December 1977 when she and  her husband Raleigh left Ridgewood for Hamburg, NJ.

Above Raleigh and Grace Hensley.

After she moved away from Ridgewood, Grace kept in touch with the many friends from work - she truly missed working there.

Kathy also says: "What she did miss the very most was being in your class and working with Pat."

At the age of 9, Kathy remembers her mom talking about our first grade class - telling stories about us painting with straws and Pat Mercer's classic, funny ways to get us to remember things like the order of the planets! Pat's way always made Grace smile and laugh - she loved it!

Pat and Grace got along incredibly well and Grace would often refer to Pat as her "third daughter".

At the end of our first grade school year, Pat married Rennie DiLauro. Kathy remembers this about Pat's wedding:

"I remember at the end of the school year when Pat & Rennie got married and my parents went down to Margate (NJ) for the wedding. I don't remember my mom ever looking forward to a wedding as much as Pat & Rennie's!"

Kathy also recalls Grace - having returned to the Board of Education - hearing about Bruce Cuneen's passing (he was a young boy in my class who was sick and passed away at a very young age) and the untimely passing of our principal Art Linden and his wife Mary and how sad she was about it.

Kathy fondly remembers babysitting for 2 of Pat's 3 kids - Joanne and John when the DiLauro's lived on Spring Avenue in Ridgewood.

After Grace and Raleigh retired they enjoyed their 6 grandchildren - daughter Jane would have 4 children and Kathy had 2 - Taryn and Patrick. It truly breaks my heart to write that Kathy's beautiful daughter Taryn was killed in a drunk driver accident in 2004. I just don't have the words Kathy................Grace too would pass away in 2004 and Kathy took comfort in knowing that her mom never knew about her granddaughter's accident.

Above, Kathy's beautiful children - Taryn and Patrick.

Above, Kathy's daughter Taryn.

Grace was 92 years old when she passed away. Grace & Raleigh were able to celebrate 53 years of marriage together. Kathy and her sister Jane are graduates of Ridgewood High Scool - Jane was Class of 1965 and Kathy Class of 1970.

Above: a stunning Kathy Hensley - Ridgewood High School yearbook photo - 1970. How many yearbooks did she sign!

I am very grateful to you Kathy for going out of your way to contact me. Kathy recently got together with our first grade teacher Pat DiLauro. I hope you can crash one of our reunions!

Grace Hensley contributed so much to our first grade class and the combination of her and Pat as a team are a major reason why that class is so memorable.

Kathy in front of 108 Circle Avenue in Ridgewood, NJ 2010 - where she grew up!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The "Can't Get Lost In Bergen County" Signs!

Remember when you got your permit - your license in Ridgewood NJ? It was exciting to be sure - for me being so young I didn't turn 17 until November of my senior year but when I got my license - whooo - had wheels with my girl!

I was driving around in a '65 Rambler which looking back was actually a pretty cool car - though I didn't think so at the time. I remember when Paul Adamo got me a "good" deal on an 8-track tape player - I hooked it up under the front seat for some reason - I guess to keep the radio untouched.

Driving around Bergen County - I knew my way around pretty good - but Bergen County towns had these great signs - they were at every major intersection - they would list 4 towns - all different directions, sometimes not - you would look quickly and say "Oh, yeah, just go this way". You could not possibly get lost in Bergen County.

Whoever came up with that idea - thank you! Many late nights the signs bailed me out!!

They used to be black & white but recently I was down in Ridgewood (trying to find Jill's house) and I was pleased to find one of those classic "can't get lost in Bergen County" signs (now green & white) - happy to see they still do them!

You Gotta Come to the BF/GW Reunion - Here's A Growing List!!

Hey I'll post an ongoing list of who's coming to our reunion - we don't even know cost, etc yet but it will be at a hotel in deference to those flying in.

Please check out the BF/GW blog for current details and the list of who's coming - you can find the blog at

Details will be posted everywhere so you can't miss them. Also we'll set up a temporary BF blog so you can check the details and maybe a couple of stories - I will also search for BF teachers - Rusty I'll need your help!

Saturday November 12 is the date - mark it down - awesome people are coming! I will make personal appeals to everyone in the next week! Beth Perdue, Diane Coleman, Jan Potdevin(!), Daun, Appleton, O'Connor - you've all got to come -

Who's Coming So Far:

Ann Rimmer
Katie Knight
Karen Eide
Cara Worthington
John Wescott
Terri Dimodugno
Penny Ward
Ken Merrill
Maryanne Vaz
Margaret Silvers
Gayle Allard
Cathy O'Neill

You wanna have a great weekend - come to this!

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Glen School Candids!

Here's some more candid Glen School era photos! Thanks everybody! Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge!

Above is part of my class during a field trip to the Central Park Zoo. Photo courtesy of Katie Knight. From l to r: Lisa Faeth, Suzy Nunno, Carl Vrabel (ready for lunch!), Beth Perdue, Penny Ward riding the statue and Jill Neandross peeking in from behind!

Above from l to r: Ricky Flannery, best friend Melanie Teasley and Skipper Hartman in my backyard.

Above is a photo of Margaret Silvers' 1966 birthday party. Mags didn't get the opportunity to celebrate her birthday at home too often because her family always left for Maine. I will add the names later but that's Margaret first one on the left in the first photo and that's her in the second photo. Photo is property of Margaret Silvers.

Above from l to r: Virginia Flannery and Cynthia Pomeroy (Cindy's mom!) at a bar-b-que at the Menghin's house.

Above me in my bedroom - folding my pants??? - the box in the photo on my dresser is filled with good baseball cards!

Above photo is of later Glen School kids programming the Commodore PET 2001 computer - what an antique. There are actually clubs where members own and get together to talk about and use their Commodore PET computers - wow!