Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Glen School Gym, Recess, Summer Rec & More!

Glen School definitely holds a lot of different memories for many of us. Some of those memories concern what we did at recess, gym class, after school and during the summer between school years.

We had gym class twice a week as I remember it, recess just about everyday and a lot of us either hung out after school or went home to get changed before going back to school (we all wore good clothes to school!) We'd use the baseball field, playgrounds, ride our bikes around or climb onto the roof and sometimes get kicked off the roof by Mr. McFall! Climbing the walls at Glen School was so easy! The outside walls have this unique block system that allows you to easily maneuver yourself to the roof. It seems Mr. McFall spent half his time kicking us off!

Be sure to click on all photos to emlarge.


As I recall, recess was a fairly segregated thing - the kindergarten had their own playground, 1st - 3rd graders had theirs and 4-6 had the blacktop for kickball games.

Kindergarten was basically a free-for-all once we were let out the door! All classrooms had a door that led directly outdoors.

In the above photo, the shed still remains where all the toys including the tricycles were stored. That's our kindergarten classrom to the right. Photo was taken December, 2008.

In my kindergarten class there were these 2 huge green tricycles that we all fought over and lots of sand toys for the large cement sandbox that also had this very-difficult-to-climb-down-from contraption called the wave - at least that's what everybody called it. Once you climbed up it, it was difficult to climb backwards or change direction in order to climb down - I'm sure kids must have fallen off it many times!

Above is a picture of "the wave" - a jungle gym that was easy to climb up and difficult to climb down! My wife Caryn is pictured on it circa 1995. It has since been removed and replaced with a tree! (See below)

Amazingly in the above picture are other playground apparatuses - monkey bars, etc but there's no fence protecting it from E Glen Avenue!

The kindergarten playground was divided by a line of hedges and on the other side was a larger playground that consisted of the cool stuff - a really huge swing set, monkey bars, a neat looking but very lame slide, a see-saw and a checkerboard that was gigantic that to this day I have no idea what it was intended for - but its still there! The swings were the best and was what we all wanted to do during recess in 1st - 3rd grade - 4 swings 35+ kids - it was a mad race! Margaret Silvers remembers playing tag on the checkerboard (at least some classes used that thing!) and Margaret remembers the great swing-set!

Above is an aerial view of what the playground looked like in 1959 - complete with the checkerboard - just before it was completed.

Above is a picture of the playground as it looks today - not much to it. This view is from the hedge line separating the sandbox.

Me & Bruce Meneghin on the swing set at his house. I lived in my RBA shirts!

Me standing in front of our old 3rd grade classroom - Miss Beattie's class! My daughter Jennie (15) took the picture December, 2008 - how weird and wonderful to be there with your kids! Our lives are busy but wow when you take the time to pause and step back onto your old school grounds (even BF or RHS) - well its just feel good stuff!

Around the corner from our 3rd grade classroom was the blacktop - here's where the real action was - kickball! It seems to me its all we ever played outside at recess from 4th through 6th grade. It was fun and we always picked teams via the captain system. As we all sweated it out - hoping not to get picked last or even close to last - the teams were picked by the 2 assigned captains. Always the classic red ball - there seemed to be an endless supply of these balls at Glen School!

Above is where we used to play kickball - Salem Lane to the left.

It was also here that you started to talk a little more out in the open about girls and girls about boys. You'd talk about the hot tv show of the day. It seems either Katie Knight or Ann Rimmer started this thing where they would go around pulling "fink tags" off our shirts - these were the sewn-in loops on the back of the boys shirts - if they spotted yours, they chased you (which wasn't a terrible thing!) and pulled it off - amazingly not ripping your shirt! Not sure what they did with them once they got them though! But I would swear that Katie probably got more than anybody!

Beth Daly fondly remembers singing Monkees songs, jumping rope, playing tag and hopscotch during recess.

According to Margaret Silvers kickball was "just the best!"

Cynthia Wganer recalls getting picked early by captains for kickball - even before a lot of boys! Her sister Diana Wagner remembers getting hit the face and seeing stars one time! She also recalls playing in that gully (probably below the checkerboard) - boys against the girls (I guess we all did that!). There are also memories of the kickball always rolling down into the Wright's yard on Salem Lane.

For Judy Davies she remembers "absolutely loving kickball" at recess.

Katie Knight remembers the fink tags of course (She must have been the ringleader on that!) and hopscotch.


Just as we always played kickball on the blacktop, we almost always played dogeball or "bombardment" as we called it in gym class. I loved playing that! Some people were very good at it. Rob Silvers remembers Phillip Knies being exceptionally good at it - he'd have 2 balls - he'd throw one in the air and while a prospective target looked up to try and catch it (if you caught the ball the person who threw it is out) - he'd nail the unsuspecting kid with the second one!

On gym days you always had to remember to either bring or wear your sneakers - if you didn't Mr. Bookstaver would either make you sit out (which was devestating) or you'd have to play in your socks which was no fun. Inevitably, there was always someone who sat out.

Our gym teacher Charlie Bookstaver as he appeared at a 2001 award dinner honoring his many years of service as a soccer and basketball official.

Of course those ropes that hung from the ceiling were there for a reason and most of us dreaded the days we had to attempt climbing them to the top in front of everyone - man that was humiliating. I could not do it. Margaret agrees they were very humiliating. On the other hand there were those that could do it and do it easily! Judy Davies was one who could scramble to the top and come back down like it was nothing! Cynthia Wagner recalls trying to climb the ropes but just not having the upper arm strength to do it. There was one guy in my class who did it without even thinking about it - Corey Duvall. Here was a guy that you weren't jealous of but you admired and were easily impressed with.

On other days there were these funky looking scooters - I actually don't recall them for some reason but the Class of 1969 (Glen 6th grade) had a blast with them! Here's what Diana Wagner had to say about them: "Mr. Bookstaver would have a hard time controlling us cause we would be swooshing across the floor not paying attention to what he was telling us he wanted us to do with them!"

There were other things we did in gym - I remember once playing softball on the field closest to the gym and we did some square dancing. Square dancing was fun cause you got to hopefully do it with the person you had a crush on but if you were nervous - as it seemed everyone was - you or she would get clammy hands which was so embarrassing - you thought "oh my gosh - she'll never like me now!" I remember square dancing with Karen Eide - and I think we did a performance at night in front of our parents! I am sure I had the clammiest hands of my life that night dancing with Karen - I was happy and nervous at the same time! Judy recalls enjoying the sqaure dancing in 5th and 6th grade. Diana Wagner too looks back on the square dancing as great "fun - holding hands with a boy!" and the "sweaty hands - his, not mine!"

Each year we would also be evaluated for the President's Physical Fitness Award - John F. Kennedy had renamed the award the "President's Council on Physical Fitness" and Lyndon Johnson changed it to the "President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports". It was indeed a prestigious award to try and achieve but not many of us achieved it (I was horrible at chin-ups and rope climbing!) However there was one guy in our class who seemed to outdo us all when it came to physical fitness of course - Corey Duvall. If memory serves me right Corey had to have won this award every year he was at Glen - at least it seemed that way! There was just nothing he couldn't do - he had incredible arm strength even in 1st grade!


Field Day was an end-of-the-year event where we all competed - in our good clothes - in running, jumping and softball throw competitions up on the field. The best would compete in the town meet held on Vets field across from Graydon Pool.

Cynthia Wagner remembers that there were probably groups of 4 or 5 kids that would compete against each other.

Judy Davies recalls "training for field days"! Well, it must have paid off cause Judy still has her ribbons to show for her hard work!


How can you forget getting a license plate for your bike! When you were little, getting your very own metal license plate from the police department was exciting and it was a way for the police to have a captive audience to teach you what to do and what not to do when riding your bike.

Above is my bicycle license from 3rd grade 1963. Along with your "license" you also received a very official looking metal license plate for your bike - of course only when you successfully passed the riding test! The police officer wrote "no night riding" on the top of my license!

Each year you received a different color plate and you were given your license card which had your name and address, expiration date and signature.

It was quite a formal affair that included a special safety course with cones. Riding your bike to school was one thing I couldn't wait to do - it gave you independence. Margaret remembers her registration process doing hand signals with a very stern policeman!

Diana Wagner and Judy Davies remember the course they had to maneuver was set up by the gym. I myself remember it as a really big deal - couldn't wait to have my new license put on my bike!

We never locked our bikes either! Actually someone locked Margaret's bike to the rack once and she tearfully waited while Mr. McFall hacksawed it free!

Sometimes not having a lock was unfortunate as Tina Ege learned one time when she forgot to bring her bike home from school - the next day her bike was found on the school roof!

I remember the 6th graders in the safety patrol (or was it 5th graders?) telling me to "stay off the grass"!, "walk your bike"!, etc - exerting their new-found authority!

You always ran the risk of getting your nice pants stuck in the chain of your bike too - I often remember coming home with grass stains and grease on my pants! I'm sure my mom was pleased!


I almost always rode my bike back to school after school hours - looking for what friends might be around, looking for a stick ball game (my glove was always on my handle bars) or a baseball game up on the field. We used to play stick ball against the gym wall in the extra parking lot. We'd chalk up a square on the wall and the fence of the first house on Eastbrook above the parking lot was the home run fence. We spent hours doing that. We also tried to gather up other guys - from all grades to get baseball games going.

Andy Wright remembers shooting off firecrackers and getting caught by Mr. McFall - he also recalls climbing the roof to the gym, throwing pebbles around and - getting caught by Mr. McFall!

Andy recalls his routine of riding his green Schwinn stingray through the cut in the hedgeline by the sandbox on his way home from school.

Chic Voorhis and myself remember the utter coolness with which Brian Marchese used to ride his silver stingray - he could do wheelies clear across the blacktop! We looked at him in awe - not quite sure what to make of him but finding him years ahead of us despite probably being the same age! Brian was at Glen only in 5th grade but made it memorable! Chic also recalls the snowball fights with the 6th graders on the hill (man they seemed like teenagers when you're little!) Chic beams when remembering that he nailed a 6th grader in the face but then recalls how the angry 6th grader proceeded to run after him and wash his face in the snow!

From Eastbrook Road, this is the gym from the back. We would play endless games of stick ball against the wall, practice tennis against the wall and play a unique game we called "curb ball" with a rubber sponge ball - a baseball type game. To the left you can see the walls that were so easy to climb - but it was best to start by the kindergarten, cross over the breezeway and up to the gym roof from there!

Bruce Meneghin (Class of 1967) loved climbing to the gym roof to fetch tennis balls that made their way up there from stick ball games - he would later become an accomplished mountain climber as would his brothers!

I probably I rode my bike more than I can remember down Quackenbush to Norgate, Eastbrook, Westbrook, Roslyn, Salem Lane. As I got older I remember a bunch of us riding to Saddle River - we'd grab canteens and be gone for hours! We would try and follow the river.

I also remember going over by the Vukov's - somewhere on their street was this huge oak tree that had a million acorns that we'd collect. North Road - where the Vukovs, Merrills, deGruchy's and Rehe's lived - had the best woods - there was a semi-formal entrance and long path.


Thanks to Andy Wright for this photo of his Summer Rec badge from the 1972-73 season!
In the summer before my family went on vacation to the Jersey Shore in August, we had Graydon Pool and the Summer Rec program. When you signed up for Summer Recreation you were given a solid color badge which you had to wear. Activities included builiding endless amounts of popsicle-stick "things" - rafts, houses, boxes. We also made pot holders for our parents and lanyards. There were games and costume parties. I think those in charge were high school kids.

All the Daly kids: Bob, Tim, Beth, Amy, JoJo and Trisha went to Summer Rec. Beth recalls the endless amount of popsicle-stick gifts that her mom received from the thoughtful Daly clan!

The Wagner girls remember going to Summer Rec during the month of July. Diana Wagner recalls making beeswax candles.

Judy Davies remembers the time she showed up at rec one day and forgot that she was supposed to wear a costume - so she hurried back home and hastily put together an original outfit that included a stethoscope and nurses cap and returned.

Graydon Pool was the best though. It had a certain smell in the summertime. When my family went we spent the whole day there. My sisters used to come too but always shook us off to hang with their friends. I remember having swimming lessons early in the morning and seeing friends there from Glen School and sunday school. One good thing about sunday school - like baseball, scouts, etc - it was the chance to meet other Ridgewood kids you wouldn't see til junior high and high school otherwise. Graydon was such a staple with us that my mom would take us home about 4pm (after getting there at 8am) go home, wait for my dad and we'd go back with my dad so he could get an hour of swimming!

Graydon was such a familiar place - even our gym teacher - Charlie Bookstaver - was a lifeguard there!

The Wagner girls would ride their bikes from their house on Linwood Ave (almost Washington Twp). Cynthia recalls her swimming lessons as a young girl and the water being terribly cold at 8:30 in the morning as she was forced to go in! Once the girls learned how to swim they mostly swam at a friends house on Gateway Road - the Butwinksi's in July and then down to the Jersey Shore in August. Once they got to high school it was always summers at the shore!

The memories are endless but for just about all of us it was so much fun!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I remember when Diana got hit in the face during kickball! there must have been other memorable accidents, though. The playground was the best - swings, chin-up bars, see-saws, the space capsule jungle gym, and a slide. there must have been other pieces. Great job, Rick!