Stories Old and New

Here we'd like some of your longer stories about MHS and beyond.

...all those great teachers?  Memorable events?  Wild and crazy happenings?  Dances in the gym?  Sports events?  Great parties? Unforgettable moments? Life-changing reconnections with people from your MHS days?  Interesting chance meetings?  Those six-degrees of separation encounters? 

Please tell us your stories here.

Add a story of your own!
Memorial Day Parade

I always loved marching in them as a Cub Scout.  We'd all form up in front of the fire house, then march along Larchmont Avenue, which was lined with people waving flags and applauding.  The route took us through Larchmont village and across the railroad bridge to the war memorial in the park where Murray ended.

When we got older, we'd ride our bikes along the route with playing cards attached to the wheel forks with clothes pins to make them sound like motorcycles.

Everything seemed so simple then.

Michael Luftman

One night while supposedly at the Larchmont Movie Theatre a bunch of we girls decided on pulling a Chinese Fire Drill out in front of 'Washington Arms' we were about 8 in number and as we were circling the car laughing out loud, Diane Veglia yells to me, 'OMG Fran, it's your father'!  All I can say is thank goodness he was going in the opposite direction or I wouldn't be writing this today!  Well behaved Miss MHS!!!

Fran Abbate DeMarco
The concept of the car phone started here!

John T. Masterson drove what he called his Jesus Chrystler, no offense meant to anyone. Inside the car he had rigged up a bell that sounded like a phone. He also had a handset from a home phone with a cord in the car. Pulling up to a light with the windows down the ringer would sound and either he or the passenger would pick up the phone, say hello, look out the window to the car next to him and say casually to the person: "It's for you!" Most times the look of shock on the person next to the car would be enough to send us into spasms of laughter as they took off with a look of shock on their faces. Thinking back I am now sure that some enterprising person who encountered Dr. Bucky and his merry makers took the idea to his creative team and there came the birth of the car phone.

Royalties!!!!! Please!

John (Steve) Madey
Bobbi (Part 1) by Lana Barrett Owens

One summer day when Bobbi Mac Laggan and I were 16, we were cruising the Long Island Sound in my Boston Whaler. We ran into Jerry Sobel and Billy Carr, two of the wildest and craziest guys we knew. They were in Jerry’s red speedboat and asked if we would spot for them so they could water ski. We tied up the Whaler at Orienta Beach Club and went with them.

When it was Bobbi’s turn to ski, I watched her put on her life preserver. She was all freckled and tanned and would have looked like any other adolescent girl in a bikini were it not for her abundant double Ds. As always, she was smiling and ready for anything. She had obviously forgotten about Jerry.

The wind had picked up and the water was choppy. Big swells in the wake made skiing a bit of a roller coaster ride but Bobbi held on fast while Jerry towed her around in circles at erratic speeds trying to make her fall.

We saw the Fort Slocum Ferry approaching in the distance, but never dreamed Jerry would think it funny to tow Bobbi straight across its path at the last minute. When he did, Bobbi looked up terrified at the encroaching ship just as the ferryman blasted a warning. She fell. 

She’s down! I screamed over the sounding of the horn. Jerry whipped the boat around and floored it. To this day, I have never seen anyone handle a boat as well. Bobbi was in the water floundering, trying to get her skis off so she could swim. But the ferry was too close for her to escape and too big to slow down or alter its course. The ferry pilot continued to lean on his if it would make a difference. Horrified passengers gathered on the deck pointing at Bobbi in the water below.

Bobbi (Part 2) by Lana Barrett Owens

Jerry raced full speed into the path of the ferry passing a dangerous a few feet from Bobbi, whipped a U-turn and yelled to her, “Grab the rope, turn on your back!” There was no time to stop Jerry’s boat and bring her on board; the ferry was upon us. Engines groaning, it loomed above us with it’s enormous bow parting the water in its course. In seconds, Bobbi would be run over. Now the people on deck were screaming too. Jerry rammed the boat in forward and, in an amazing display of nautical prowess, slowed the boat at just the right time for Bobbi to grab the handle at the end of the fifty-foot towrope and flip over as instructed.

Jerry gunned the boat again. Bobbi plowed through the water on her back and held on despite the pull of acceleration. With her arms out straight above her head, a deluge of water poured over her face. It ripped off her bikini top leaving her large breasts exposed to the crowd on the ferry deck above. Later, she said she couldn’t look at the boat; it was too scary. She kept her eyes on the passengers above her, some screaming, some laughing when her top came off and all cheering when she cleared the path of the bow.

The ferry pilot blew his horn in protest well beyond the sight of Bobbi safely in the wake behind his stern. Bobbi released her grip on the rope and waited in the swells. When Jerry pulled the boat around, Billy and I hauled her in.

Once in the boat, Bobbi set upon Jerry flailing her fists and yelling. I joined her.  We cursed and cried and punched while he held up his arms, laughing. We finally collapsed in the back of the boat and clung to one other shaking. Jerry smiled in satisfaction. We demanded to be taken back to the Boston Whaler so we could go home. Our day was over; in our minds, we had seen Bobbi die that day.

Lana Barrett

Bobbi (Part 3) (by Lana Barrett Owens)

They say a miss is as good as a mile but this miss could have been measured in feet, and that stayed with us. There were no pictures, no injuries, no consequences and no words to explain to anyone what happened that day. The "what ifs" were extreme and calling them up was always sure to stir our emotions: fear, awe, laughter, and thankfulness.

Almost a half a century later, the memory remained so visceral that sometimes even talking about it scared us. More often, it served as fodder for jokes. At the end of our last tearful conversation a few weeks before she died, Bobbi hit me with this: The ferry is coming back for me.  It may not sound funny now but we laughed like hell.


As I recall the idea for painting the bridge came out of an evening of boredom and beer, lots of beer! Phil Cory (RIP) and a few others, who due to the potential for prosecution from the authorities will remain nameless here but can add to the details later if they like, were bored one evening when the brilliant idea to paint LIONEL on the Fenimore Road bridge was hatched. Phil was driving his fathers new car, a metallic blue Mercury, and he also offered to "borrow" both paint and a roller from his father. With nothing to lose except our lives off we went. Some of the others involved were posted as lookouts at various corners close to the bridge to watch out for the police and either sound their horns or set off fire crackers to warn on the possibility of incarceration from the local constabulary.

Phil and I made our way to the bridge by climbing the bank next to it. Unbeknownst to us in those days the gaps between the railroad ties were open to the street below and one misstep could have sent us down to the street or robbed us of future procreating had we landed the wrong way. Do you know how difficult it is to navigate railroad ties, inebriated, carrying both a paint tray, roller and a gallon of paint? I leaned over the side of the bridge painting LIONEL while Phil held onto the tray and my legs. Needless to say that we made a mess especially when we felt the tracks vibrate with the threat of an oncoming train. Once done we made our way down the embankment to the car, thew the paint, tray and roller in the trunk and took off to do, what else, drink some more beer.

I believe that Phil had a difficult time explaining the mess in the trunk of his fathers new car but it really didn't amount to much.

A tag to the story: We painted it white on a black background. The New Haven RR painted it over with silver paint, notified the police about the incident and posted a guard to watch for "wags" coming to repaint it. Again Phil and I with the help of others showed up one evening, distracted the guard long enough for us to "paint it black" (hey, that's where the stones got the inspiration for that title) over the silver as shown in the Herald Tribune photo I sent previously.

And that, as they say, is the story.....or at least as much as I can remember.

John (Steve) Madey
The Wall
The Wall

I’m not sure which of us had the idea originally, but I know I was there.  
Considering “senior-cut-day legends and wondering about the Class of ’64’s 
legacy, someone said “let’s close the school.”  But how?  How about a wall?!  
We’ll wall off the parking lot so the faculty and students have nowhere to park.  
They’ll have to leave and go to the beach!
And so we did. On the morning of, in the predawn hours, some of us visited construction sites and “borrowed” carloads of cinder blocks. Others visited the Yacht Club and secured a length of heavy, quarter-inch chain and a lock. We rendezvoused at the parking lot entrance, stacked the blocks, ran the chain through them and locked it…and disappeared into the night. How we weren’t busted during the night I’ll never know.
Of course, we had to come to school to find out what happened. The maintenance crew had been unable to move the wall. Our sign – School Closed Today Courtesy Class of 1964 – was still in place. Went to our sparsely-attended classes feeling smug. Until, the word came down from the principal’s office: Dr. McClean wishes for those responsible to meet him forthwith in his office. Failure of the perpetrators to appear will result in the cancellation of the senior prom.
One by one we arrived at Dr. McClean’s office. He shook his head. “OK boys, take it all back to where you found it and do it now.” We did, and that was the end of it, although the looks on the faces of the construction workers as we returned their cinder blocks were amusing.

John Thornton Masterson
From the Other Side of the Tracks... (Part One)

Looking through the website, I noticed that most of the stories and photos have been posted by alumni who came to the junior high from Chatsworth, Murray Avenue, and Central Schools…few, if any, from Mamaroneck Avenue School.   So to bring a different voice to the party, I offer my observations of life in my Mamaroneck neighborhood on the other side of the tracks.  Otherwise known as The Flats.

The Flats in the fifties and early sixties was a neighborhood of smells. Within a three block radius, we had Pure Food company making Chicken and Beef Bullion cubes, the live chicken market, two Italian bakeries, Blood Brothers junk yard, swamps at Columbus park and the Village garbage dump.  Italian families cooking Sunday dinner heavily laced with garlic, and black families with collard and other greens boiling away.

The live chicken market was a bit scary for a young kid in the fifties. It was Kosher, operated by religious Jews who ran most of the local markets, always closed early Friday nights and on Saturdays for the Sabbath, but open all day Sunday.  Being Kosher, the chickens were always alive and well but slaughtered in front of the customer to prevent switching to an already dead bird.  My grandmother would buy the necks and feet from the chicken market, as that was the cheapest. I thought a chicken was just a long neck and two feet, with nothing in between.  I used to tell my kids I never knew what a chicken looked like until I was 14.  On special occasions, Grandma would get an entire bird plus necks and feet to feed five adults and one kid me, usually for several meals.

The fish market was an exclusively Italian thing, for clams, lobsters, eels, and other fish were caught and sold locally. The market was on the back of a horse drawn cart and the owner was called Pesciole--that was what he sang out on his rounds. Loosely translated, it meant “fish for sale.” The horse was an old swayback mare that had seen better days and was probably headed for the glue factory before Pesciole bought her.  My maternal grandfather grew up in Castle Mare Del Golfo, Sicily in a family of commercial fishermen and boat builders. At least ten months a year, every morning at 4 am he would wake me up and we would go to Harbor Island, take out his 18-foot inboard to tend his lobster pots, and fish or dig for clams if the tide was right. I was about eight or nine at the time. He would sell the fish to the fish vendor with the provision that what was unsold he would return to us to eat. If the harvest was good, we ate lobster every night until we were sick of it or gave it away. Blue fish, black fish, flounder, bass, blue crabs, eels, hard shell clams, soft shell clams, razor clams--we ate anything that he could pull up or dig up.

Anthony T. Catanese

From the Other Side of the Tracks... (Part Two)

For my friends and me, fun consisted of playing on the streets, raiding some neighbor's garden for a quick lunch, being loud and in general a royal pain in the ass to the more sedate locals.

Our playground was Blood Brothers Auto Junk Yard on a Sunday, where we would climb over the fence and roam the yard looking for treasures.  Pulling out the back seats of the cars for lost change, then going to Fenimore Road Deli where Gabe would make us a roast beef wedge on an entire loaf of Italian bread for $1.50, which we would then all split. That training started us on the track of getting some spare parts and rebuilding junk cars for our pleasure. It was a common occurence to find an abandoned Ford Model T or 1940 style flat head in some yard with the owner willing to let us have it if we took it away. WW II surplus motor scooters, motorcycles and Jeeps ranged from five bucks to fifty. Parts were available at our Sunday playground, free for the taking, as long as Mr. Blood Sr. was not around; when he was we ran like hell.

Life might not have been easy for us but it was educational. After we got the junkers running, we would cruise the back streets with the cars full of us passing around the hat for pocket change to get some gas. Our destination was Larchmont, where we would tear up and down the neighborhood streets with almost no mufflers, six heads out the windows, being as loud and obnoxious as we could be.  We would stop at Kilmer Road and the home of our transplant friend John Deuth.  John's family was very tolerant of us, and let us use their garage for our meeting place. We would, of course, keep the Deuth family cars in top shape as repayment.

By the time we were in high school, most of us had afterschool jobs. Mine was at Custom Wood Furniture Company, almost opposite Central School on the Post Road.  the owner, Harry Peal, was a disabled WW II vet who was a museum-grade wood carver. Harry was a religious Jew who taught me Yiddish by calling me every conceivable derogatory Yiddish name for a non-Jew during the three years I worked there. He was one tough man but appreciated my help. I appreciated what he taught me about life.

It was there on a somber November day in 1963 that the radio announced the shooting of President Kennedy and the end of innocence for us all.  Some days we will never forget. Harry closed the shop and cried like a baby, then prayed for a day.

Anthony T. Catanese

From the Other Side of the Tracks... (Part Three)

Distracted by jobs and other things, many of us just squeaked by, graduating high school--not for not trying, but for being none too motivated to learn.  The threat of not getting into a good college was ludicrous for those of us whose families barely made the rent. Our best courses were often all the Industrial Arts and Mechanical Drawing classes. We got bored easily and distracted by anything and everything. A few good educators noticed out inherent potential and tried to make a difference with our group.

The teachers who did understand us were a tremendous influence whether we knew it or not at the time.  For me it was Joe Markowitz and his American History class on Harry Truman, who started his career on a farm and became the only man who had the nerve to drop the bomb.  Harvey Ury, who actually let us build something useful in Industrial Arts. (Fourteen years later, after he became terminally ill in 1978, I took over teaching his Industrial Arts class for the year.)  Dee Da Bramo, of all the educators at MHS, knew us the best for we were just as he was when he was in school.  Frank Tolve, Mechanical Drawing, and Steve Bullock, Metal Shop, also get special mention.

Most of the teachers, unfortunately, are a blur to me.  It felt like they never really cared about kids from my neighborhood--which probably was why we didn't pay much attention to them. 

Without college deferments, some of us were among the first group to get drafted and sent to Viet Nam. The fortunate ones who did get a higher education still went to Viet Nam. Some became old men at age 25, having witnessed first hand the worst that life can dish out. Some stayed in the neighborhood. And some left and moved on to other places and pursuits. As it turned out for me, it was my destiny to make my way in the world beyond the Flats. Still, Mamaroneck is home. 

In the immortal words from the writers of Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get." As I see it, the key is to continue to pick at the box until you get what you want, no matter how long it takes.

Anthony T. Catanese

Seeing Geoff Haegar's Corvair convertible reminded me.

Not an MHS story but still fun.  My Dad had a white Corvair Monza Spyder convertible he used to commute in to Manhattan.  One day a friend was riding with him and my Dad was telling him about a race he'd won that Sunday.  His friend remarked how amazing it was that my Dad was still winning races in his early 40s.  My Dad looked at him and said, "The old hand never fails."  He then smashed into the car in front of him.

It gets better.  Flash forward a week or so.  He gets a call from my mom telling him "The motor fell out of the Corvair!"

"Idiot!," he says. "Motors don't fall out of cars."  Wrong again.  What he didn't know was the Corvairs had only three motor mounts; two in from and one in the rear.  The later motor mount must have been fractured in the crash and finally let go.

Dad ate humble pie about that one for a long time.

Mike Luftman
The Continentals in motion

Click here to see the video.

Lionel Picture

To whet the appetite, here is a picture of the second painting of the Lionel Bridge on Fenimore Road. Story, or as much of it as I can recall given the inebriated state that we were all in. Story to follow.


Stephen Madey
Madame Hoenig: Le Petit Chaperon Rouge


Little Red Riding Hood




Yvette's story about her mother brought back many memories of my time at Murray Avenue. I have attached a photo of the production of Little Red Riding Hood or Le Petit Chaperon Rouge directed by Madame Hoenig in French. From Left to right you have Jeff Bellows as a hunter (I think we were all hunters at one point or another in this production), Susan Engle as the grandmother, the Murray Avenue sweetheart Kathy Ross as Red Riding Hood, Diane Horstman as her mother, and Bill Benedikt as the wolf.


Stephen Madey
Murray Avenue in the news

Here is a newspaper article about a presentation of songbooks at Murray Avenue by a relative of Stephen Foster.


Stephen Madey
Before Cars

I moved to Mamaroneck in 1960, into the Bel-Aire Apartments right next to Walter's. Most of the fist friends I made (and maybe the last) lived nearby. Billy Kelly was upstairs from me, Johnny Tucker and George Delano were in the Acres. Jay Paldin was in Knotty Knowles, Dave Porterfield was just down from us towards town. Mike Moran and Paul Schuler were nearby on the other side of the railroad tracks. We were all 14 years old and naturally had to walk everywhere. Larchmont was the usual destination and a bunch of us would meet at the corner of Richbell & Palmer Ave. On the way to town we would pick up Dave, then Mike and Paul at Weaver Street. Once we all got to town we would be joined, usually in the bowling alley, by Johnny (Rabbit) Splendido, Johnny (Bullfrog) Torre, Donny Treganoun, Frank Turbin, and if it was a day trip, hopefully a bunch of the girls would show up.

From there it was mostly just hanging out. Where the hell could we go? We browsed the Corner Store until we were asked to leave, which usually took about 20 seconds. Of course there was always Neilsens ice cream parlor, but we were usually asked to move on from there also. If the timing was right we could mosey over to Lorna London's dance studio (across the street from Lauren O'Neill's house) and peek in the windows to watch Jane Bauer and Lauren dancing in tights. That was a special treat! Often times a huge group of guys and girls would go to the movies. Some were maybe dating, but that wasn't a requirement. After the movie, we possibly wound up over at Patty Delano's house, which was right across the street. If it was a trip at night, it usually started at the alley's and ended up with a game of ring-a-leevio in the railroad station park. We took our ring-a-leevio very seriously and usually there was blood on someone before the night was over from someone running into a tree, or slipping on the rocks. The game never stopped for the wounded! For some reason, and I don't get it to this day, one week the cops would come and break up the game, but at other times we'd see them just ride on by. But the games took place practically every weekend - cops or no cops. 

It seems to me now that there was a core group of us that just walked everywhere and never gave it a thought. Parties in Orienta or the Manor. Ann Baker's house on Rockland wasn't too far for a party. A group of us walked to Peter Bell's house at Flint Park for Sunday breakfast week in and week out. 

I think back now about how much we all could not wait to drive, never thinking of how a very special connection to so many at once would be put behind us in favor of 4 guys in one car, 5 in another, cruising to nowhere on the Boston Post Road. Not that the driving days eliminated friends and fun, but my memories of those days of walking with your best friends and the experiences shared are the most special to me now. 

Raymond Fleming
Mr. Nagle

Imagine my surprise to see our 6th grade class at the top of the photos!  So there I was - WORKING for my 6th grade teacher (after working for my third grade teacher: Miss Stack, at Murray!) as a Science Aide.  What do you call your old teacher who is now your boss?  Bob? What a lovely man he was...

Liz Whitney Stone
Teen Idol

One summer day, Dana Zell and I hid in the back of Jimmy the mailman's truck to get to Sal Mineo's house on Flager Drive to ask for an autograph. We lept out when Jimmy was delivering someone's mail on the other side of the street, ran to the house and rang the bell. Unbelievably, Sal answered the door. We were all a twitter trying to ask for the autographs whe we heard Sal's mother in the background yelling, "Sal, get away from that door, they'll rip your clothes off!" He was yanked away and the door slammed in our faces. We looked at each other stunned, we hadn't considered ripping his clothes off. We had come for an autograph, not to see his ding dong. We were leaving when we heard a "Psst!" from the side of the house. A woman in a maid's uniform furtively beckoned us from a path between the bushes. She handed us two beautiful 8x10 glossy autographed pictures and said, "These are from, Sal."  I still have mine.

lana owens
Letter to my Murray Avenue School Brownie/GS Troop

Note: This letter summarizes the results of a long-term (50 year) memory study I conducted a few years ago with my former, Murray Ave School Girl Scout Troop, in my capacity as a research psychologist.

January 4, 2012

Dear Troop Members,

Happy New Year, 2013!   Wishing you all health and happiness!  I don’t want to let another year slip by without responding to Patti’s pertinent questions from last December: Was I happy with the memory study? Was I able to contact everybody?

Good questions!   I was driven by the impetus to locate the whole troop and came close. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to receive calls or letters, sometimes after many failed attempts. It took letters to admission offices, ex-husband’s and other ploys to find some of you.

What a miracle when I finally heard Happy Jackson’s voice on the phone and reached Janet Verdick, Kathie Ross, and Rosemary Stark. (Forgive me, if I refer to everyone by maiden names). In addition to the above, who were difficult to locate, I was thrilled to hear from Susi Ashner (sadly deceased during the study), Miriam Daniel, Nancy Dunbar, Patti King, Monica Oppenheimer, Roberta Ward, Lisbeth Whitney, and Sandy Wolf.  Also, I recruited two mothers who participated in the study: Rose Wolf and Alberta King, our troop leader!!!  I never could find Jeanne Christie, Lynn Bennett Cavanaugh or Betsy Duffes, though I tried hard. Virginia Martin, unfortunately, was deceased.  I’m enclosing a contact list. I hope you will contact each other, now that the study is over. (I apologize if any of the contact info is out of date. Please send me any corrections and I’ll distribute them). Another miracle was the amazing photos and news clippings you sent. Many thanks!

As to what I learned:  The study was in part a tribute to my mother, Malvine P. Hoenig (Mimi). Not everyone may be aware that my mother, who died in 2001, wrote and directed the French plays, Little Red Riding Hood (3rd grade) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (4th grade), as founder of the French program at Murray Ave.  (See newspaper article about the first play. I know there was an article about the second play, showing the seven beds, but I’m afraid I misplaced it). At one of our MHS reunions, several people told me they remembered my mother and the French plays.  I would have liked do a large memory study for those plays, each involving 120 children, but was disuaded by not having the scripts.

Letter to my Murray Avenue School Brownie/GS Troop (Part 2)

I did find a script for a play, “Farewell Little Souls,” my mother wrote for our troop for International Day (5th grade), complete with the assigned parts for 17 girls. That discovery prompted me to solicit you for a memory study. I didn’t expect too many to remember the play because we didn’t rehearse it much, and it was 50 years ago.  I believe we read from the script in a performance for our parents. We were also supposed to perform it for the whole school. I remember, we sat through assembly in our costumes and were never called up to the stage! There had apparently been a lack of communication somewhere. That made the play extra memorable for me, because I felt bad for my mother. I think Alberta King may have been away during this time. I didn’t expect many people to remember the GS play, but I decided to test it as well as other things about our troop—like friendships, names, faces, and activities--because one rarely has the opportunity to study memory over such a long interval.

Indeed, the GS play sparked very little recognition. Surprisingly, however, Janet Verdick correctly remembered dancing with Ginny Martin, who wore a Tyrolean outfit. Rosemary Stark remembered singing an English lullaby and feeling nervous about performing. Nancy Dunbar rated the play as completely unfamiliar, but guessed her scene correctly because she remembered being introduced to a piñata at Murray Ave. School. There were no photographs of that play, probably another factor in its being forgotten, but the novelty and emotionality of performing in some of the scenes seem to have made those scenes, if not the whole play, memorable for a small number of you.

In contrast, many more of you remembered the French plays, especially the first one, for which many photographs exist. Patti remembered carrying a poodle, Lisbeth Whitney recalled waving a French flag with a big bow on her head, and  Kathie Ross remembered playing the role of Little Red Riding Hood, (all captured in photos). Sandi Wolf and her mother, Rose Wolf, both remembered the hunter’s song (sung to the tune of  “Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf”) and could still recite the words in French! They remembered how funny the hunters were.

Rosemary Stark and Happy Jackson both remembered playing the role of Snow White in the second French play. (NB there were several Snow Whites, a different one for each scene, to give more children a chance to star-- that’s my mother!).  Rosemary’s memory was probably aided by the excitement of  “eating the poisoned apple,” which is what she recalled doing. Happy remembered the play because of an unusual circumstance. She remembers that she came down with the flu the day of the play and felt sick. As Snow White, she got to lie in the bed, to her great relief!  Emotionality is supposed to be a key factor in long-term memories, as is the existence of photos, and conversations about an event.

The daughters of the leader, assistant leader, and cookie mother (Patti King, Janet Verdick, and Nancy Dunbar) remembered everyone, possibly because of extensive mother-daughter conversations.  Kathie Ross’ mother was an assistant leader, too, for a time, and Kathie remembered almost everyone. Alberta King said she remembered all her girls, but not necessarily by name. She was able to match all first and last names correctly, and her self ratings showed a memory, often vivid, for each girl. She had a picture of our troop on the wall by her bed, which probably reinforced her memory.

Letter to my Murray Avenue School Brownie/GS Troop (Part 3)

The analysis of friendships was reassuring. Reciprocal ratings showed that everyone had one or more mutual friends. Brownies and Girl Scouts clearly fostered friendships and generated long-lasting memories of good times together.

Those were some of the highlights of the study for me. I distributed a draft write-up earlier.  If anyone wants a copy, let me know. I received some positive comments when I submitted it to a conference, but there were sufficient short-comings noted (especially, limited amount of data because of small number of subjects) that I decided not to try to publish it-- also the fact that I retired and am no longer active in the field.  As an exploratory study, I think it’s really interesting and from a personal point of view, I was gratified to learn that we have so many valuable memories that pay tribute to the volunteers (our mothers) who gave so much of themselves for our enrichment and enjoyment. Which leads me to one of the most exciting parts of the experience—finding Patti’s mother, our troop leader Alberta King, alive and well at age 92 and finally getting to visit her at 96 on the Cape. The funny thing is that both of us had the same fear—that we wouldn’t recognize each other. We laughed about it afterwards because our fears were unfounded. There was instant recognition and connection. Alberta was warm and engaging and spoke fondly of “my girls." I was so glad I made the effort to visit Alberta (I still want to say Mrs. King), at her assisted living residence. Before returning home, my husband and I passed by her house on the ocean where she spent so many happy years with her dog and, in summer, with her extended family nearby. Sadly, Alberta passed away after reaching age 98. 

I hope I have answered Patti’s questions and yours as well.  Feel free to write or email me with any questions, comments, additions or corrections.

Let me know if you’ll be visiting Boston or Maine. (We now spend summers on a lake in the vicinity of Acadia National Park.) You have an open invitation in either place. Keep in touch! 



Red Bridge

It was Sr day to duck classes and do our thing.. A bunch of us headed outto the Red Bridge (not really red... I don't know why it's called the Red bridge).. It was at Premium Mill Pond.. infront of Walter Slezak's house.   It was  Phil and Jameson, and I think Bucky, and perhaps Steve Morris...  we went swimming off the bridge and "smoked cigarettes!!!!!"   drank beer... etc...  But the Truant officer caught up with me and a few others I think...  First person called was Phys Ed Teacher Evelyn Close.... and so the beat went on.

Bob Close
Pink Mansion

Across the Red Bridge from Riki Slezak's gorgeous place, were many old homes built in the 20s before the great crash.. An initiation into boyhood was when you were taken to the Pink Mansion, and taught to smoke... and heard all kinds of weird stories about the mysterious estate.

The Mansion was back in the woods, overlooking Premium Pond... it was Pink, all right. Overgrown with vines, as it was, there were still the remnants of the Great Gatsby lifestyle... a huge empty swimming pool and enormous windows (all broken as I remember) that faced the pond and Long Island Sound...  inside were rooms you didn't dare go into...because of ghosts or whatever tales my brother and his friends would scare us with.  I returned to the mansion in High school, with friends to get away, drink beer from the Deli up the hill on the New Rochelle side and tell tales of our own...

There were many a rumor about the sexual conquests of young men there... not really sure if any were true, but perhaps some of you could shed some light... 

Bob Close
'Pumpkins Everywhere!'

One I'd prefer to forget: one morning the 'Abbate Clan' woke to their entire front lawn and stairway completely covered in 'spooky, creatively decorated pumpkins' a private patch not very welcomed by my Dad but my sister and I thought it was a riot, (date gone wrong?_) For days afterwards children would walk by and cry' that's my pumpkin!' We had no clue who pulled this prank and it went unmentioned for several years. People actually came and photographed this hilarious sight! GUESS WHO DID IT???? Would hate to rat out this very dear friend (or his accomplice)  but a small hint, 'he sells pumpkins during the Fall months, and I still love him! Another MHSer!

Fran Abbate DeMarco
Larchmont, NY circa 1953… My childhood years

(A historygram to my granddaughter... for later)

Growing up in Larchmont in the 1950s is a distant memory of a world that seems so far off as to have been a dream.  My earliest recollections were of my father and his friends, Nick and Hugh, all building boats in their back yards. I remember the warmth and comradery of these young men recently back from the war.  Dad, built a 27 ft sloop, and a small sailing dinghy that I learned to sail on. We’d row down Premium River, under the Red Bridge and set sail in the pond that separated New Rochelle from the Larchmont Manor.  Sometimes he’d bring a crab net and we’d catch blue crabs off the bridge, bring them home and cook them over a fire on my grandfather’s stone fireplace in the side yard.  The winters were hard with lots of snow, but our house was warm with a coal fired boiler in the basement. The coal man came every few months in the winter, so it seemed.

In the mornings mom would bring the bottles of milk in from the back porch, where the milkman left them. Often the cardboard caps would be sprung up with frozen cream which surfaced the milk. On occasion the Dugan  truck would stop and Dad would get some muffins or doughnuts as a special treat. In the summer, of course there was the Good Humor ice cream truck, which also stopped by the Manor Beach for the anxiously awaiting line of kids, quarters in hand.

We attended Chatsworth Elementary and I remember the big pink paper mache elephant head that was mounted on the wall of the kindergarten room… and there were these huge blocks to play with and wooden cubbies for our naptime blankets.

Papa lived with us then. He was a civil engineer and built skyscrapers in NY City.  One year he went to a reunion at Harvard and brought back all sorts of amazing things… Papa would take me and my brother to Hughes Pharmacy, on the post road for ice cream. There was a long counter with seats that spun around… I liked the sound It made, but not so much Papa and Mr. Hughes. Mom shopped for Meat at Tony’s meat market, next to the 5 & 10 on Chatsworth Ave. Tony would always give me a slice of veal bologna and pat me on the head…

Our neighbors were the Brodersons who had a delicatessen on Palmer Ave, just around the corner from Dr Picker’s office, my pediatrician. Her father invented the medical X–Ray and she had one there. Mr. Brody would give me some pretzel bread when we came in for coldcuts, which served as Sunday suppers, and I can still taste the salty, chewy delight. We would always go to the Corner Store, on Chatsworth and Palmer, for our Sunday papers. Down the street was a hobby shop that my dad loved, but told me not to tell my mom when we stopped there. He made some beautiful wooden models.

In the corner of Larchmont Avenue and the Post Road was Kelly’s fish Market… on a rare occasion, Dad would get some lobsters and clams that we cooked outside… across the street was Gristedes Market where the wealthier clients would get their food delivered… I later found it to be a fantastic source of take-out sandwiches for when I crewed on the Internationals in the late 50s and 60s.

I can’t forget, Charlie's Sport shop on the Post Road.  Charlie fitted us with skates and hockey sticks every winter, and I later worked there in High School years sharpening them for the next generation of young pond players. In the summer he kept us in hooks and sinkers for our fishing off the rocks in the Manor Park.

We road our bikes to school or walked, as we did to Flint Park for Little League and the beaches to swim. Most families only had one car and Dad took it to the station or to work.  Mom was a teacher so she would drive Dad to the train station at 6:30 to catch the New Haven into Grand Central then hoof it to Rockefeller Center where he was a technician at NBC.  At Christmas I got to go to the big Christmas parties there, where Buffalo Bob and Clarabelle would entertain us and other celebrities came to visit with our family.

Life was easy for a kid, then; sledding down Hartley’s Hill in the winter… swimming on the team at the Manor Beach Club… I heard my first electric guitar played by a neighbor out back; it was a pale green Gretsch with a wawa bar. We had forts in the woody vacant lot behind us and played Ring-a-levio in the streets outside in the sultry summer nights. Had to come in when the street lights came on…  Our bikes had big balloon tires and we used clothes pins to attach playing card to the frame which sounded like motorcycles when they hit against the turning spokes… I remember lying in the grass of the park across the street with my black cocker, Penny… looking up at the clouds….. Not a contrail in sight, thinking how wonderful life is.

Bobby Close


Bob Close
(800) 965-9020
Fax: (954) 241-5054
Copyright © ClassQUEST Corp