Class History: 1967


 
A General History of The Wheatley School Class of 1967
 
Life Before Wheatley
Most of us were born in 1949, the same year as Emanuel Ax, John Belushi, Richard Gere, Gloria Gaynor, Maurice and Robin Gibb, Billy Joel, Mark Knopfler, Patti Lupone, Archie Manning, Benjamin Netanyahu, Bruce Springsteen, Meryl Streep, Twiggy, and Tom Waits.  Harry Truman was President of the United States, and he “lost” China.  The first Volkswagen Beetle arrived on our shores.  Rodgers and Hammerstein's “South Pacific” opened on Broadway.  Jerome Robbins conceived “West Side Story” (as a Catholic-Jewish conflict set on the Lower East Side and entitled “East Side Story”).  George Orwell's “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” were published.  The New York Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, four games to one.
 
We were members of the “Baby Boom Generation” (1946 to, roughly, 1964).  Many of our parents were born in New York City; lived through the Great Depression; fought in World War II; moved out to (what was then) the fastest growing county in the United States (Nassau, whose potato fields were soon growing “split levels”); and commuted on the Long Island Railroad or a parkway built by Robert Moses to an upper-middle-class, managerial, “white collar” job (or were married to someone who did).  Some of our parents were born in a soon-to-be worn-torn Europe; and some had deep roots in the communities in which we grew up (especially East Williston and Mineola).  Most of them lived an “Ozzie and Harriet” life.  They gave us names like Stephen (or Steven) (13), Richard or Robert (10), Leslie (or Lesley) (8), Susan (7), James or Michael (6), David, Judith, Kenneth, or Linda (5).
 
We are too young to remember the Korean War but old enough to remember Sputnik and the start of the “Space Race.”  Back in “the City” the Avenues became one-way, the old “Els” were torn down, and “jay-walking” became illegal.
 
In 1954 our Roslyn Heights contingent began kindergarten at The Willets Road School, with Harriet B. Smiley as Principal, and our Albertson, East Williston, Mineola, and Old Westbury contingents began kindergarten at The North Side School, with Walter Wesley Wathey as Principal.  In 1956 Mr. Wathey left to become Wheatley’s Assistant principal, and Frank Heroy (a bombardier in World War II) took the helm. Six of us were twins: Tim and Tom Boland; Fred and Larry Hanft; and Charlie and George Short (the last two sets identical).  Willets Road was so crowded (due to the post-war “baby-boom” and the residential development of Roslyn Heights) that first-grade classes were held at Temple Sinai in Roslyn Heights.
 
On March 2, 1957, a large area of North Side was destroyed in a fire that began in the art room, apparently because a kiln was left on all night.  For the rest of the school year we attended Willets Road, which was split into morning and afternoon sessions, or had classes at The Community Church of East Williston.  Still, intermingling between North Side and Willets Road students was mostly limited to “summer recreation” sessions (highlighted by an annual cookout); “Field Day” at Wheatley (often pitting Fred and Larry Hanft and Robert Rico of North Side against Shep Messing and Joe Sciortino of Willets Road); an annual soccer game (Willets Road won the last one, 1-0, with a goal against Jimmy Smith or Richard Friedman); The Roslyn Country Club (swimming and tennis); and some religious institutions, particularly Temple Sinai (“Reform”) and Temple Beth Sholom (“Conservative”).  Willets Road was so heavily Jewish that on the major religious holidays Joe Sciortino and Phil Kane would play “catch” in the gymnasium all day long. Many of the North Side students attended Williston Park’s Saint Aidan’s Roman Catholic Church or East Williston's Community Church (ecumenical, with Presbyterian practices). 

At North Side in Fifth Grade, the three finalists in the Hurley-O’Connor Division of the Boys’ Gym Class Arm-Wrestling Championship were Richard Friedman, Fred Hanft, and Dennis Newman.  Dennis beat Fred and then, fatigued, lost to Richard.  The three finalists in the Greenberg-Chwat Division were Art Engoron, Larry Hanft, and Courtney Keister.  Courtney tied Larry and then, fatigued, tied Art.  (After almost fifty years of being racked with guilt, Art and Richard are finally going public with their little secret; they did so well because they had been arm-wrestling against each other for years, whereas many other kids were doing it for the first time).
 
Fred Astaire Studios held ballroom dancing classes at North Side in 5th and 6th grade.  Some of our parents were aghast.  Howard Kirchick and Janice Giarracco received the Best Dancer awards.  We could purchase the weekday New York Times for a nickel, and we went on a “field trip” to The Gray Lady’s huge headquarters just off of what used to be called Longacre Square.
 
At the start of the new decade Newsday, a local paper, welcomed us to “The Soaring Sixties.”  In March 1960, when we were in Fifth Grade, the North Side School Chorus performed Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore,” and when we were in Sixth Grade it performed their “The Mikado,” with Kenny Lang, Madeline Tolmach and Mark Friedberg in the leading roles.
 
In our “senior year,” Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy engaged in the first televised debate of major-party presidential candidates.  Kennedy was generally considered the winner, helped by an alleged “missile gap” and by Nixon’s light-colored suit (which blended into the background) and dark-colored face (he had “five-o-clock shadow”).
 
At North Side, Linda Caterino, Art Engoron, Stevie Fliegel, Lauren Jacoby, Bobby Scandurra, and Mitch Stephens were among those who debated in support of Kennedy.  Regulation-yellow school buses emblazoned with the words “Pierce Country Day Camp” took us on a field trip to The United Nations headquarters in Manhattan (as they took us to school every morning).  The “Safety Patrol” included Seth Bardo, Mark Friedberg, Howard Kirchick, Robert Rico (calling themselves “The Untouchables,” they guarded the gym equipment room), Debbie Siraco, and Ethel Dowdell.  All the K-4 teachers were female.  The Fifth Grade teachers were Mss. (Marie) Hurly, (Elizabeth) O’Connor, and Berlow (nee Greenberg), and Mr. Chwat (who later “came out of the closet”).  The Sixth Grade teachers were Mss. Batchelder and Sherman, and Messrs. (Robert) Foerschner and (Wilbur) Walling (later a Lutheran Minister).  Wheatley mom Mrs. Brescia was probably the most frequent substitute teacher.
 
The 1961 East Williston Little League All-Star Team included Chuck Bell, Jimmy DeGroat, Scott Geery, Ken Markham, Dennis Pensa, Richard Price, Bobby Scandurra, John Warde, Dennis Zacharcow, and “pitcher-shortstops” Fred and Larry Hanft.  Chuck Bell won the North Side “Sportsmanship Award.”  Over at Willets Road, Mitch Stephens’s mother, Lillian, was a substitute classroom teacher; Cynthia Shapiro’s mother (who is still living in the same house in Roslyn Heights!) was the librarian (she later became the Wheatley librarian); and Larry Greenberg’s mother, Miriam (currently 96!), was the art teacher (with a ceramics annex in her family’s garage).
 
At the North Side prom Abbe Levine was The Belle of the Ball, with a marvelous bee-hive hairdo.  Afterwards, many of us headed for Hilderbrandt’s, Williston Park’s quintessential ice cream parlor.
 
Life During Wheatley
We entered Wheatley as seventh-graders in September of 1961, the year the outgoing President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, warned of the growing power of the “military-industrial complex”; the incoming president, Kennedy, was inaugurated, imploring us to ask ourselves what we could do for our country, not what our country could do for us; Bob Dylan arrived in New York City; The Beatles first performed at Liverpool’s Cavern Club; Adolf Eichmann’s Jerusalem war-crimes trial began; Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth; the Bay of Pigs invasion began (and, within two days, ended); the “Freedom Riders” headed south, where they were beaten and arrested; and Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris of the New York Yankees chased Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record (Maris succeeded*).
 
Many of our all-time favorite teachers were already members of the Wheatley faculty:  Ms. Auerbach (English), Mr. Davis (physical education),  Ms. Feindler (foreign languages), Mr. Kuriloff (art), Mr. Pagliaro (history), Mr. Rosenstein (science), and Mr. Wheeler (math).  Fred Hanft was Class President; Steve Miller was Vice President; Judy Berkan was Treasurer; and Mary Ann Young was Secretary.
 
From the start the English Department had us reading “The Great Books.”  Some of the more memorable ones, roughly in order, were “The Call of the Wild” (Jack London), “Death, Be Not Proud” (John Gunther), “A Death in the Family” (James Agee), “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (Mark Twain) (8th and 11th grades), “The Yearling” (Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings), “Of Mice and Men” (John Steinbeck), “David Copperfield” (Charles Dickens), “The Child Buyer” (John Hershey), “Great Expectations” (Charles Dickens), “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Harper Lee), “The Member of the Wedding” (Carson McCullers), “The Agony and the Ecstacy” (Irving Stone), “The Crucible” (Arthur Miller), “Romeo and Juliet” (William Shakespeare), “Hard Times” (Charles Dickens), “Walden” (Henry David Thoreau), “Spartacus” (Howard Fast), “Julius Caesar” (William Shakespeare), “The Old Man and the Sea” (Ernest Hemingway), “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” (William Shakespeare), “The Scarlet Letter” (Nathaniel Hawthorne), “Lost Horizon” (James Hilton), “Lord of the Flies” (William Golding), “Macbeth” (William Shakespeare), “My Antonia” (Willa Cather), “Freedom Road” (Howard Fast), “Billy Budd” (Herman Melville), “The Pearl” (John Steinbeck), “The Jungle” (Upton Sinclair), “Call it Sleep” (Henry Roth), and “All Quiet on the Western Front” (Erich Maria Remarque).
 
In Eighth Grade we had a “Class Council” that included Lauren Jacoby, Phil Kane, Ilene Kornblath, Mike Mahler, Kathy Sterritte, Wendy Weil, Donna Wohl, and Dennis Zacharcow.  A new teacher (another favorite), Ronald Metzger, was our advisor.  Richard Friedman captained, and Eugene Taslitz coached, the Mathlete team; Benjy Ross was its highest scorer.
 
In ninth grade the Class Council added many new members: Karin Ashley, Leslie Buckner, Linda Caterino, Debbie Friedman, Kathe Goldenberg, Amy Pasternack, Dan Silver, Alane Spielberg, Nancy Stevens, Larry Weiss, and Carl Wirth.  Jimmy DeGroat and Dean Sheppard were on the varsity wrestling team.  Seth Bardo was President, Bobby Silverstein was Vice-President, Howard Kirchick was Treasurer, and Alane Spielberger was Secretary of the Junior High student government (the “General Organization” or “G.O.”).  Stuart Deaner, Gina Harman, and Larry Weiss  made up the judiciary.  Jack Wolf was in the Chess Club.  The prom had a “South of the Border” theme.
 
On Friday, November 22, 1963, a solemn voice on the school’s public address system announced that President Kennedy had been shot and, a short while later, that he was dead.  We were sent home, stunned, silent or weeping.  We still remember where we were, and we still mourn.
 
On February 9, 1964, in their first live appearance on American television, The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Their first set, right after Ed’s intro, consisted of “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You” (featuring the Beatles names imposed on the screen, with “SORRY GIRLS, HE'S MARRIED” under John), and “She Loves You.”  Late in the hour they returned to perform “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”  CBS paid them $4,000.
 
On April 16 the Rolling Stones released their eponymous debut album.  In June, 22, 1964 we graduated (or “moved up”) from what Wheatley considered “Junior High School.”
 
On one particular day at around this time the school administration announced that all students would be required to recite daily “The Pledge of Allegiance.”  Several pupils refused and faced disciplinary action.  The press reported the story, and the school had to be vacated due to several “bomb scares.”  Meanwhile, the East Williston School District placed a “bond issue,” seeking to raise money to expand the school, before the voters several times.  Despite strong support from families with children in the public schools, it consistently was defeated, reflecting a sociological divisiveness that still exists.
 
At the 1964 Republican National Convention, Barry Goldwater, paraphrasing Cicero, famously declared that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”  Benjy Ross co-opted this as “Extremism in defense of the Mets is no vice,” and he, Dan Silver, and Mitch Stephens painted it on a huge bed sheet.  Dan, Mitch and Art Engoron paraded this with 1,030 other banners at Shea Stadium on “Banner Day” and won first prize (television sets provided by Macy’s).  A subsequent banner, “Is Ed Kranepool Over the Hill?” – he was 18 at the time – was written up in Newsday.  Founded in 1940, Newsday, read by many of us back then, still exists, albeit under outside ownership; its competitor, The Long Island Press, is long gone.
 
In Tenth Grade several students were surprised to see that “Ozzie” Stewart, their popular sleep-away camp counselor, had become Mr. (Irwin) Stewart, their biology teacher.  A “regular guy,” he remained popular, once giving a 30-question multiple choice quiz with “(d)” as the correct answer for every question.  Several students figured that not ALL of the answers could be “(d),” so they wrote in other letters, thus learning an important lesson the hard way.  Mr. Stewart’s dramatic descriptions of human cell structures led to the phenomenon (infra) of naming literary periodicals and sports teams after the golgi reticulum.
 
The Class Council included Doug Brautigam, Gil Dick, Lorraine Eisner, Steve Kornfeld, Joe Sciortino, Jimmy Seaton, Dan Silver, and Paul Stein.  Our advisor was Thomas Cuatela, who stayed with us through senior year.  George Krauss and Dean Sheppard (clarinet), and Leslie Buckner and Cynthia Shapiro (violin), were prominent in the school orchestra.  Linda Caterino and Laura Jarett were on the school literary magazine.  Art Engoron, Mitch Stephens, and Larry Weiss were on the student government budget committee.  Richard Brodkin, Joan Forero, Linda Furst, Bobby Jacobs, Phil Kane, David Krauss, Leslie Metzger, Dinah Pedowitz, Patti Polansky, Merrill Stanton, and Shirley Vogl were student government legislators.  Ken Markham, Bruce Orvis, and Steve Rosenthal were in Mr. Wheeler’s(!) Cycling Club.  Joe Tartaglia was on the Stage Crew.  Merrill Stanton was already a Varsity Cheerleader.  Dominic Foresto and Bobby Scandurra were varsity wrestlers.  John Stedman was on the Fitness Team.  Scott Frishman was on the Cross-Country Team.   We went on a field trip to Stratford (Connecticut, not England) to see Shakespeare performed.
 
On August 15, 1965, The Beatles played at Shea Stadium, with Mara Danziger, Dinah Pedowitz, Susie Schnelwar and Roz Wald attending.  On November 9, 1965, “The Northeast Blackout” darkened parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, and New Jersey.  That November also saw the first issue of “The Forum,” a Wheatley journal of opinion containing “social criticism, political activism, and general rabble rousing” designed “to fill the void in communication between adults and students that is evident in this school district.”  Mike Frank and, later, Seth Bardo were the Editors.  Over the years, Review Board members included Mike Abrahams, Bob Bordiga, Steve Miller, Jimmy Seaton, and Dorothy Silver (Class of 1969).  Mr. Doig advised.  The rousing, rabble and otherwise, was a hint of what was to come in our first year in college.
        
In Eleventh Grade Eve Brunswick, Manny Casamassima, Michael Frank, Andrea Kemler, Don Lansky, Rose Mok, Henry Pullman, and Sandra Watkins were on the Class Council.  Bonnie Krafchuk was the Treasurer.  Ethel Dowdell, Linda Furst, Gina Harman, and Judy Orgel, joined Merrill as cheerleaders.
 
Mark Friedberg, Eddie Goldstein, Shep Messing, Henry Pullman, Robert Rico, and Bobby Silverstein were varsity soccer players.  Larry Baum, Tim Boland and David Rissmeyer were varsity basketball players.  Richard Olney joined Bobby Scandurra on the varsity wrestling team.  Joe Sciortino was the starting quarterback on the varsity football team (until he injured his knee).  Laura Davis, Ethel Dowdell, and Ellen Neely were on the field hockey team.  Chuck Bell, Jeff Carroll, Phil Fea, Scott Frishman, Barry Gold, Eddie Goldstein, Fred and Larry Hanft, and Joe Sciortino, were on the baseball diamond.  Richard Abbott, Lewis Dimm, and Ken Markham were on the little known, short-lived Wheatley Swim Team, coached by Mr. August.
 
Michael Abrahams and Robert Bordiga were on the student government.  Lee Fein and Vicki Schwartz were on the yearbook staff.  Brian Feldman and Marian Stern were on the literary magazine.  Richard Cohart was a Mathlete.  Richard Friedman and Arthur Brown were members of the Chess Club.  Andy Morris was in the World Affairs Club.
 
The “Varsity Review” (the school’s annual talent show) included Doug Brautigam, Jeff Carroll, Mike Cave, Tom Doyle, Scott Geery, Larry Greenberg, Doug Martin, Bobby Scandurra, Richard Schwarz, John Stedman, and Frank Vedder in “Shinsplints”; Stu Deaner, Dean Sheppard, Nancy Stevens, Larry Weiss, and Jack Wolf in a “Jug Band”; Art Engoron and Mitch Stephens’ movie of failed pick-up attempts in Times Square; and Jimmy Byrnes and Arthur Ernst playing live Rock & Roll in The Ravens.  Our Junior Prom, on May 21, 1966, with music by The Knack (presumably not the The Knack), was called “Kon-Tiki” (after Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s South Pacific raft, book and movie).
 
Karin Ashley, Michael Frank, Wendy Samberg, Jane Smerling, and Jack Wolf headed off to college a year early.
 
The school administration refused to allow, without some type of “guided discussion” afterward, the student government to show “Nothing But A Man,” a 1964 movie (supposedly Malcolm X’s favorite) about an African American man in the American South who wants to be treated as “nothing but a man,” instead of a “boy.”  The film may eventually have been shown in some history classes.
 
Our Senior Class had 251 members, Wheatley’s largest to date.  We were joined by two students who theretofore had been members of the Class of 1968, Linda Berg and Steve Saletan (whose exploits will otherwise be recorded in that class’s history).  Most of us took Educational Testing Service’s two-part (English and Mathematics) Scholastic Aptitude Test; some of us took American College Testing’s competing exam.  Benjy Ross and Howard Kirchick tied for the highest math grade: 796 (out of 800).  We also took ETS “Achievement Tests” (among several “perfect” scores were Art Engoron in physics and Mitch Stephens in biology).  Many of us won “New York State Regents Scholarships.”
 
The American Field Service placed three popular foreign exchange students with us:  Rosanna Every (who later was present at our 30th-year reunion) from Australia; Dalia Grenga, who lived with the Harmans (and later became a lawyer), from Italy; and Rubens Strosberg, from Brazil.  We gave as good as we got:  Andrea Kemler spent part of her junior year and most of her senior year in Japan; and Kathe Goldenberg spent her entire senior year in Italy.
 
James Erviti was School Superintendent.  Walter Wathey was Principal.  Colin Bentley was Assistant Principal.  The “Curriculum Associates” were John Devlin (math), Joan Feindler (foreign languages), Robert Gorman (guidance), Warren Loring (history), Paul Margolf (practical arts), Paul Nodell (athletics), Elizabeth Simendinger (science), and Harold Wells (English).  The English Department included such popular teachers as David K. Israel (who taught at Wheatley for some 42 years, 1965-2006); Richard Nixon (later Wheatley’s principal); Robert Nolte (still involved in education), Betty O’Connor, Ruth Rockmore, and Ted Tchack.  The History Department included such “heavy-hitters” as Stewart Doig, Steve Ehre, Lawrence Levin, Helmut Ressmeyer and Bernard Seiderman.  The Science Department included Elito Bongarzone (physics), Bob Platt and Melvin Rosenstein (chemistry), and Martin Tierney (biology).  The Mathematics Department boasted Erma Bogert, Earl Ewing, John Hogan, Joseph McCormack, Eugene Taslitz, and Herb Wheeler.  The Foreign Languages Department included Michael Agatstein, Joseph Fradkin, and the particularly popular Sylvia Zimet; it offered courses in French, German, Latin, and Spanish.  Godfrey W. Wills was the music master (as he was long before and long after).  Classic coaches on the boys’ side included Irwin August, Jack (“Cat”) Davis, and Bill Lawson; and on the girls’ side Audrey Erickson, and Loretta Wilson.  Sheldon Maskin and Carolyn Wilfert were our “guidance counselors.”  Ethel Staples was the school psychologist.  Joe Goldwasser oversaw the film and slide projectors.  Martha Mikelbank was the school nurse.  Mazie Plain fed us.  Mss. Gobin, Maniello and Zacharcow forestalled food-fights.  Wheatley mom Alice Rutenberg was the librarian.
 
Bobby Silverstein was Class President; Joe Sciortino was Vice-President.  Carl Wirth was student government President.  Dan Silver was Editor-in-Chief, Mitch Stephens was Managing Editor, Linda Caterino was Features Editor, and Art Engoron was Sports Editor of the student newspaper  (“The Wheatley Wildcat”) (the one active 10th grader was future New York Times Editorial Board Member Dorothy Silver).  Gina Harman was Editor-in-Chief, Alane Spielberger was Copy Editor, Jeff Kraman was Photography Editor, Judy Berkan was Art Editor, Ken Markham was Sports Editor, and Bonnie Krafchuk was Business Editor of the yearbook (“Aurora”).  Susan Altman, Beth Jacoby and Laura Jarett, advised by Mr. Nolte, were the editors of the school literary magazine (“Vintage”).  David Nathanson founded and was Editor in Chief of “The Golgi Review,” a “monthly magazine dedicated to the conscientious review of literature, drama, and the arts,” with Larry Weiss as Drama Critic, Dan Silver as poetry editor, Mike Abrahams as Book Editor, Bob Bordiga as Music Critic, Benjy Ross as Press Reviewer, and Ms. Auerbach as Faculty Advisor.  Merrill Stanton was Captain of the Cheerleading Squad, which now included Betty Baer, Leslie Buckner, Ethel Dowdell, Helene Feiner, Joan Forero, Janice Giarracco, Gina Harman, Beth Jacoby, Amy Pastarnack, Kathy Saunders, Kathy Sterritte, and Linda Stone.  Steve Baderian, Mike McGrane, Andy Summers, Carl Wirth, and Bob Zwicker were in the Chess Club.  The Class Council included Jeff Cohen, David Jonas, and Jeff Kraman.
 
David Shapiro and Dan Silver, adorned in tuxedos, were the Masters of Ceremonies of The Varsity Review, entitled “A Comic Book Review.”  Fittingly, when they stepped out from behind their twin podiums at the end of the evening, the audience could see that they were not wearing pants, only undershorts.  Dan and his three brothers, Jon 1965, Ted 1971, and Michael 1975, accompanied on piano by Larry Weiss, also sang several numbers, including “Guys and Dolls” (from the show of the same name).  Other talent included Leslie Buckner and Janice Giarracco in a guitar duet; Paul Stein, Nancy Stevens, and Larry Weiss in a Jazz Trio; a “Backwards Film” by Art Engoron and Mitch Stephens; comedy routines by The Varsity Club; and live Rock & Roll by The NuTones, featuring Kenny Lang (lead guitar and vocals), Phil Kane (rhythm guitar and vocals), Howard Kirchick (bass), and Bobby Jacobs (drums).  The major theater production was George Bernard Shaw’s “Major Barbara,” with long-time Dramatics Club advisor Bernard Seiderman overseeing Eve Brunswick, Beth Jacoby, Dean Sheppard, Dan Silver, Larry Weiss, and Larry’s future wife, Wendy Aibel (1968) (as the Major).
 
Shep Messing was goalie and Robert Rico was center halfback on our 11-3 soccer team (the top scorer was junior Steve Orlins); Dave Rissmeyer and Jimmy Smith were our big men on the basketball boards; Shep Messing and Dean Sheppard co-captained the wrestling team, with Richard Olney, Bobby Scandurra and Dom Foresto winning consistently; and Scott Geery was our pitching ace.  Dr. Irwin August had perhaps the most successful year of any Wheatley coach ever: in the fall, his Cross-Country Team, with seniors Richard Rasmussen and Tim Boland, were first in the county and second (by a whisker) in the state (the following year they won it all); in the spring, his Physical Fitness Team, with seniors Seth Bardo, Art Engoron, Mike McGrane, Dick Olney, and Bobby Scandurra, were second in the state and fifth in the nation.
 
In intramural softball, The No 'Titions (co-captained by Richard Brodkin and Richard Friedman, with Larry Baum, Mark Friedberg, Ed Goldstein, Ken Janowitz, Howard Kirchick, David Krauss, Ken Lang, Steve Leicht, Louis Strenger, and Dennis Zacharkow) (think of the New York Yankees), The Golgis (with Seth Bardo, Gil Dick, Ken Markham, Bruce Orvis, Henry Pullman, Benjy Ross, Joe Sciortino, and Dan Silver) (think of the New York Mets), The Trolleycarls (with Richard Abbott, Kenny Hare, Jimmy Smith, Joe Tartaglia, Lenny Weiss, and Carl Wirth [after whom the team was named]) (think of the New York Mets before 1969), and The Dills (with Steve Asquith, Mike Cornfield, Scott Frishman, Steve Galan, Peter Kaplan, Gil Katz, and Bob Zwicker) competed with elan.
 
Thanks to Helen Sparks, the Young Rascals played a classic Rock & Roll concert in the Gym.  During mid-winter break, Jimmy Byrnes, Barry Gold, Eddie Goldstein, and Joe Sciortino piled into Barry’s new Barracuda and drove straight through to Miami Beach (neither it nor they have been the same since).
 
Seth Bardo conceived, and Carl Wirth prevailed on Mr. Wathey to institute, a “Freedom of the Grounds” program.  The History Department staged a mock “Repblocrat” presidential nominating convention, and the World Affairs Club, run by Mitch Stephens, staged an intermural Mock United Nations.  The football team was 0-8; but members of our class hand-built the school’s first large sports scoreboard.  Linda Caterino, Steve Rosenthal, and Larry Weiss won their first match, and an encyclopedia for Wheatley, on the TV quiz show “It's Academic.”
 
Mr. Doig and an Esalen Institute psychologist named Dr. William Schutz ran a “T-Group” program (“T” as in “therapy,” training,” or “transactional analysis,” take your pick) (“T-Groups” and Schutz both have Wikipedia entries).  Participants (including Rose Mok, Karen Mudick, Joe Sciortino, Jimmy Seaton, Cynthia Shapiro, Merrill Stanton, John Stedman, and Donna Wohl) were divided into an “Experimental (or “T”) Group” and a “Control Group.”  According to one participant, the program “was based on the premise that better communication about our feelings for one another would promote a more effective learning environment.” According to another participant, the Control Group “was to be compared to the T-Group to see what kind of academic differences would result if the class got to know each other and the teacher in a personal way.”
 
What actually occurred in classes (sessions?)?  “We used to sit facing each other and tell each other how we felt using ‘I’ language.”  How did that make them feel?  “Some of the T-Group did not do well with the experience; there were lots of tears and upset.”   Says a participant: “Psychobabble favors ‘I’ - for example, when you say, ‘I feel angry at you’ versus ‘you make me angry,’ it's somehow not supposed to piss the other guy (or gal) off, because you are supposedly taking responsibility for your feelings rather than blaming the other person.  I must say, though, it's never worked nearly as well for me as the theory says it should.”
 
So, was it successful?  Opinions are mixed.  “We shared some very personal experiences, and many students were visibly upset during the process.  Our social studies class did not do meaningful academics for most of the year.”  One student opined that the T-Group students “were more difficult to teach, as I guess a certain kind of distance between teacher and student had been removed, and none of us had the slightest desire to learn anything and no longer ‘feared’ Mr. Doig - I guess a little fear is a good thing!  All in all it was a very interesting experience both educationally and from a psychological point of view.”  Another participant says that “my mother blamed T-Group for my demise into a snippy, confrontational 16-year-old.”  That mother wrote Schutz a scathing letter (which he included in one of his books).  One T-Group member claims that “we did get close and did well as a class in our studies together, and it was determined that we did ‘better’ than the control group.”
 
At the very least, a certain camaraderie developed.  “A group of us would go to the diner after school with either Mr. Tchack, Mr. Seiderman, or Mr. Doig.  We all felt very grown up and would talk about ‘important’ things.”  The “highlight” of the T-Group “was a weekend retreat on Montauk where we stayed up all night and revealed our deepest feelings and emotions.”  Even after all these years (over forty) one participant “would love to be put in touch with some of the other alumni from T-Group as they emerge.”  Another seeks “a complete list of T-Groupers.”
 
Some of us had after-school jobs.  Our class cornered the “usher” job market at the Roosevelt Field Century Theater, with Richard Abbott, Steve Baderian, Laura Davis, Melissa Davis, Mike McGrane, Ron Pierce, Jimmy Smith, Carl Wirth, and Bob Zwicker in on the gravy train.
 
“Senior Day” saw us running through the corridors wearing blue jeans or shorts (verboten back then on other days) and heading to Jones Beach.  The Senior Prom was at the Monaco Beach Surf Club in Lido Beach; The Blues Project got us dancing.
 
Out in the real world, masses marched against the Vietnam War; Martin Luther King, Jr. denounced it; Benjamin Spock and Allen Ginsberg were arrested protesting it; Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted for it; and Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-MN) announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party presidential nomination to challenge incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson over it.  “Be-In” events in Golden Gate Park and Central Park helped solidify and define the Hippie Era.  Montreal had a World’s Fair (“Expo 67").  The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the first Super Bowl (which was not sold out).  The Doors (named after Aldous Huxley’s “Doors of Perception”) released their eponymous debut album.  Aretha Franklin covered Otis Redding’s “Respect,” to huge acclaim (including from Otis).  Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu were married in Las Vegas.  Tennessee repealed its law prohibiting the teaching of evolution.  The Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  Israel won the Six-Day War against various neighbors.  The United States Supreme Court quashed state laws prohibiting interracial marriage.  Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American on The Court.  Monterey hosted a “Pop Festival,” featuring Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin.  Great Britain decriminalized homosexuality.  Race riots occurred in Newark, Detroit, and Washington, D.C.  The Jimi Hendrix Experience released “Are You Experienced.”  “Hair” opened off-Broadway.  Christian Barnard presided over the world's first heart transplant.  An astronomer coined the term “Black Hole.”  Edward Hopper, Langston Hughes, Jayne Mansfield, Brian Epstein, Jimmy Foxx, Woody Guthrie, Che Guevara, Otis Redding, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Jack Ruby (and with him his secrets) died.
 
We graduated on June 25, 1967 in “The Quadrangle.”  Tradition was the order of the day:  the processional was “Pomp and Circumstance”; The Wheatley School Orchestra played the “National Anthem”; Rabbi Ario Hyams gave the Invocation and Reverend Leland Hogan of St. Aidan’s gave the benediction; the Wheatley Mixed Choir sang Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone”; and we all sang Dr. Wills’s Alma Mater (“May loyal hearts in memory . . . .”).  Beth Jacoby delivered her Honor Essay, “The Final Piece,” and Dean Sheppard delivered his Honor Essay, “Our Role in the Technological Society.”  Laura Jarett, Benjy Ross, Dean Sheppard, and Judy Berkan (respectively) were the top-ranked students.
 
Life After Wheatley         
By September of 1967 over 90% of us were attending college.  Eventual Ivy League graduates include Joseph Sciortino (Brown); Art Engoron, Steve Rosenthal, and Larry Weiss (Columbia); Lewis Dimm, David Jonas, Amy Pastarnack, and Henry Pullman (Cornell); Benjy Ross and Dean Sheppard (Harvard); Leslie Buckner and Bobby Silverstein (Penn), and Seth Bardo, Judy Berkan, Michael Frank, Jimmy Seaton and Dan Silver (Yale).  Seven Sisters graduates include Janet Epstein (Barnard); Eve Brunswick (Bryn Mawr); and Laura Jarett (Wellesley).  We also have degrees from Goddard College (Stephanie Fliegel), John F. Kennedy College (Carl Wirth), Slippery Rock State College (Ron Koch), and Wittenberg University (Jeff Carroll).
 
Dennis Pensa and Debbie Siraco (kindergarten classmates!) married each other.  Also marrying intramurally were Leslie Buckner (Richard Strauss, 1965), Phil Fea (Martha Cornfield, 1968), Dominic Foresto (Paula Panzeca, 1969), Dana Keillor (Jeff Fitton, 1963), Abbe Levine (Robin Shedrow, 1966), Steven Prestigiacomo (Rhoda Garfinkel, 1969), Jill Simon (Bob Forte, 1965), Joseph Tartaglia (Anne Marie Flicker, 1966), and Larry Weiss (Wendy Aibel, 1968).
 
On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin walked on the moon.  In mid-August the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held on Max Yasgur’s Farm in Bethel, New York, with Larry Baum, Art Engoron, and Mitch Stephens attending.
 
We’ve had four reunions in 41 years: A 13th (go figure) at Gigi’s in Old Westbury (courtesy of Richard Friedman, Art Engoron, and Mitch Stephens); a 20th at Friend’s World Academy in Lloyd Harbor (courtesy of Larry Weiss, Judy Orgel, and Gina Harman); a 30th at the Great Neck Women’s Club (courtesy of Art Engoron, Richard Friedman, Linda Furst, Amy Pastarnack and Mitch Stephens); and a 35th at The Roslyn Country Club (courtesy of Mary Ann Young, Art Engoron, and Merrill Stanton).  There was no fortieth, which would have occurred within a year of Wheatley’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, the weekend of October 20-22, 2006, with 48 of us attending.  Special highlights of our 30th-year reunion were a welcoming speech by Principal Wathey and the presence (or should we say “attendance”) of faculty members Jack Davis, Earl Ewing, Joan Feindler, David K. Israel, Phyllis Johnson, Paul Margolf, Ron Metzger, Paul Nodell, Helmut Ressmeyer, Ruth Rockmore, and Carolyn Wilfert.  A special feature of our 35th-year reunion was the hot Rock & Roll of Spontaneous Combustion, featuring Kenny Lang on lead guitar.  Ken and his colleagues also played at Wheatley’s 50th.
 
Various friendship groupings have continued after Wheatley.  These “constellations” include (somewhat arbitrarily, and in no particular order) the following:
 
Steve Asquith, Steve Bernstein, Tim Boland, Jimmy Byrnes, Jeff Cohen, Mike Cornfield, Jimmy DeGroat, Gil Dick, Arthur Ernst, Scott Frishman, Steve Galan, Kenny Hare, Bob Hecht, Richard Holub, Marshall Jablon, Peter Kaplan, Ilene Kornblath, Steve Kornfeld, Jeff Kraman, Shep Messing, Bruce Orvis, Dave Rissmeyer, and Howard Senft;
 
Seth Bardo, Leslie Buckner, Rosanna Every, Bonnie Glassman, David Jonas, Phil Kane, Bonnie Krafchuk, Don Lansky, Michael Mahler, Steve Miller, Vicki Schwartz, Cynthia Shapiro, and Chris Srinivasan (1968);
 
Larry Baum, Lewis Dimm, Art Engoron, Richard Friedman, George Krauss, Kenny Lang, Henry Pullman, Benjy Ross, Mitch Stephens, Larry Weiss, and Jack Wolf;
 
Ginny Bindman, Judy Bregman, Lorraine Eisner, Beth Jacoby, Patti Polansky, and Marion Standish;
 
Eve Brunswick, Linda Furst, and Dan Silver;
 
Fred Amato, Doug Brautigam, Scott Geery, Fred Hanft, Paul Nissenfeld, Steve Prestigiacomo, Bobby Scandurra, Susan Schnelwar, Richard Schwarz, and John Stedman;
 
Helene Feiner, Janice Giarracco, Gina Harman, Judy Orgel, Lynn Schwartz, and Merrill Stanton;
 
Janet Epstein, Brian Feldman, Laura Jarett, Karen McGovern, and Jimmy Seaton;
 
Linda Laurie, Angela Mallon, Angela Perillo, and Corinne Zebrowski;
 
Beth Freeman, Leslie Freier, Fern Katz, Pam Ludwig, Donna Margiotta, Leslie Metzger, Rose Mok, Amy Pastarnack, and Jill Simon;
 
Jerilyn Acker and Joanne Schulman;
 
Betty Baer, Stevie Fliegel, Lauren Jacoby, Susan Morganstern, and Lynn Robinson;
 
Sandy Caine and Ruth Theis;
 
Melissa Davis, Kathy Saunders, and Kathy Sterritte;
 
Henry Decsi and George and Charlie Short;
 
Eileen Cornella, Linda Dimmler and Lois Ertel;
 
Ellen Frey, David Krauss, and Ros Wald;
 
Debbie Friedman and Nancy Stevens;
 
Michele Gobin, Ellen Lewis, and Jacqueline Shacklady;
 
Eddie Goldstein and David Shapiro;
 
Jo Anne Dembo and Marjorie Gross;
 
Mark Friedberg and Steve Leicht;
 
JoJo Gordon, Beth Lubell and Linda Stone;
 
Nan Maslow and Judy Wechter;
 
Linda Caterino, Martha Moretti, and Sue Vogt;
 
Marcy Buzen and Dinah Pedowitz;
 
Ellen Neely and Leslie Strachan;
 
Kenny Janowitz and Andy Summers; and
 
Steve Baderian, Chuck Bell, Bob Blank, Phil Celella, George Dreier, Phil Fea, Ed Klumpp, Mike McGrane, Ron Pierce, and Fred Sellerberg.
 
The two most famous 1967 graduates are Shep Messing and Amy Pastarnack.  Shep played goalie on the Harvard College and 1972 U.S. Olympic teams.  After turning professional he played with the New York Cosmos (during which time he posed for a nude centerfold in a women’s magazine) and New York Arrows.  In more recent years he has been a professional sports manager and a sportscaster, including analysis for NBC Sports’s coverage of soccer at the 2008 Summer Olympics.  Apparently he is the only member of the class with a Wikipedia entry.  Our class’s other successful athlete is golf professional Joe Sciortino, who won the PGA of America National Match Play Championship in 1989 and beat the great Lee Trevino in a “casual game for money” in 1993.  Amy is best known as the mother of figure skaters Sarah Hughes (2002 Olympic Gold Medal) and Emily Hughes, but is also a prominent breast-cancer survivor and speaker.
 
Professionally, we became accountants (6), actors/actresses (1), administrators (19), architects (3), artists - fine (2), artists - practical (2), athletes (2), bankers and financiers (4), blacksmiths (1), carpenters (2), clergypersons (3), computer workers (4), consultants (2), dentists (2), doctors (8), educators (1), engineers (2), executives (8), firefighters (1), health professionals - mental (4), health professionals - physical (10), insurers (1), lawyers (11, including 2 judges), multi-media producers (2), musicians (1), nurses (7), optometrists (2), park rangers (1), psychologists (8), sellers and marketers (26), scientists (3), secretaries (1), social workers (4), soldiers (1), teachers (11), veterinarians (1), workers - manual (2), workers - service (7), and writers (6) . . . . . and those are just the people we know about!  Law being an easy field to master, two of the lawyers also became accountants (Steve Leicht and Henry Decsi) and one first became a doctor (Michael Frank).
 
Most of us stayed in the US, but Tim Boland and Arnold Louie live in Canada; Janice Giarracco lives in France; Judy Berkan lives in Puerto Rico; and Jimmy Seaton lives in Saudi Arabia.  Janet Epstein lived in Scotland for 12 years and Israel for 13. We’ve spread all across the country, of course: Alaska (1); Arkansas (1); Arizona (2); California (15); Colorado (3); Connecticut (10); Washington D.C. (1); Delaware (1); Florida (13); Georgia (3); Idaho (1); Illinois (2); Indiana (1); Massachusetts  (14); Maryland (8); Michigan (3); Minnesota (1); North Carolina (5); Nebraska (1); New Hampshire (3); New Jersey (11); New York (99); Ohio (3); Oregon (2); Pennsylvania (11); Rhode Island (2); South Carolina (3); Tennessee (1); Texas (2); Virginia (4); Vermont (3); Washington State (1); and Wisconsin (1).  Several of us have or appear on personal or business web sites. 
 
We started dying shortly after we graduated.  To date, fourteen of us have passed away: Lesley Bond, Manny Casamassima, Stuart Deaner, and Larry Hanft died due to motor vehicle accidents; Kathe Goldenberg, Paul Stein, June Symons and Leonard Weiss died of cancer; Paul Tankersley died of AIDS; Douglas Martin, a veteran of the Vietnam War whose wife had just died of cancer, committed suicide; Dan Abby died of respiratory failure; Cydney Gershon died of substance abuse; Pam Siegel died of lupus; Wendy Weil died of kidney failure; and Richard Cohart died of an infection.
 
As we reach three score years old, we are grateful that 80 is the new 60.  Some of our parents are still alive; many of us have children (a total of 369 known); a few of us are still having children (births in 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2008), and some of us have grandchildren.
 
We named our children different, with less conformity, or at least more variety, from how our parents named us.  Some of the more conspicuous trends (subject to  interpretation) are as follows:
 
British - Amanda, Ashley, Ashton, Brittany, Chelsea, Heather, Justin, Kimberleigh, Samantha, Tiffany, Victoria;
 
Celtic - Colleen, Damien, Erin, Kelly, Kerry, Kristen, Kristin, Megan, Patrick, Ryan, Shaemus, Shannon;
 
Hebraic/Biblical - Aaron, Adam, Ariel, Alana, Chana, Esther, Jacob, Jonah, Jordan, Joshua, Levi, Liah, Moishie, Nechamah, Noah, Rachel, Samara, Shmueli, Yoni, Yosef, Zaki;
 
Hippy/New Age - Amiel, Aramie, Chad, Ethan, Heather, Jason, Lena, Lilith Manda, Malia (yes, like Obama), Margot, Marisa, Maya, Morgan, Naoma, Sascha, Shana, Shennan, Shondra, Tia, Tianna;
 
Retro - Molly, Gus, Samuel.
 
Although our original last names are used herein, many of the women, and at least four of the men (now known as Messrs. Green, Presti, Roselaren, and Starr), have new last names.
 
Summing us up, Carl Wirth says that “No matter what our backgrounds were, what our parents did, where we called home, or where we worshiped, we were a class that cared about each other, cared about what was going on in the nation and the world, and tried to make a difference; and many of us are still trying today, which is what out teachers at Wheatley wanted us to do."  Art Engoron responds, “While I agree with Carl about our progressive and humanitarian instincts, for all that, most, albeit not all, of us have led fairly conventional lives.  On average we are modestly successful, introspective, extroverted, and involved with family, friends, and community, as we sail gracefully toward the unchartered territory of ‘old age.’”
 
Updated 2/8/09


 

 

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