Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Hamilton High School Odyssey
I drove by the place the other day. Something made me go around the block and drive by a second time. As I rounded the corner of Park Avenue and South Clinton, I decided to stop and take a closer look. I pulled over to the curb, parked, and for a minute or two, just stood on the sidewalk, closed my eyes and savored the moment.
One of my favorite movies of all time is the 20th Century Fox production of "Twelve O’clock High." You may remember the opening minutes of the film, as an aging Dean Jagger journeys back, alone in time, to the very spot where he spent a very memorable period of his life, with very memorable people. The background music, the prop wash from the B-17s readying themselves for another mission, the almost ethereal sound of male voices coming from out of the past in song:
Bless them all, bless them all The long and the short and the tall…”
Dean Jagger was on a nostalgia trip; a mental journey, if you will, into the past. Such a journey may be taken by anyone who has pleasant memories, just sitting there; awaiting recall. As I stood in front of Hamilton High School, thinking about "Twelve O’clock High," I became aware of the warm spring breezes rustling through those familiar Sycamore trees on the front lawn of Hamilton High School. I took a seat on the settee at the base of the equally familiar Hamilton High flagpole. My thoughts of the movie vanished, and were replaced by pangs of bittersweet nostalgia ... sort of a melancholy feeling that I had been here before ... right here, on this settee ... with a lovely girl ... the girl I would ultimately fall in love with and marry. It was spring. It was 1951. I was a senior at Hamilton High.
A strange, almost supernatural sound came to my ears as the breezes whispered through the trees. "Good morning... Hamilton High School ... Yes, this is Miss Gropp. Yes, Mr. Hesser is in ... he's in a meeting. Mr. Coursen? Yes, one moment please.
"Richard, Did you read chapter two of "David Copperfield?" "Yes, Miss Cornwell."
"If you read it, Richard, which is highly doubtful, I would think you would have gotten at least one question correct."
"Yes, m’aam," came the plaintive reply.
I pass Miss Cornwell's English class...pausing at the entrance way to Mr. Bird's history class: "Listen, you birds, tomorrow we will have a quiz on chapter 14. Be sure you study."
"Mr. Bird, these shoes are too small."
"It doesn't matter. I can get you any size you want."
"OK. Get me 8-D's in brown." Mr. Bird is moonlights as a shoe salesman for Mason Shoe Company.
As if on a magic carpet, I am standing outside the Park Avenue door of Hamilton High. It's a very cold winter day; too cold to go out past the third telephone pole for a cigarette. I have one cupped in my right hand; my hand is in my pocket.
"Thomas, put that cigarette out and come with me." It's Wendell Phillips. One of his assignments as a teacher is to police the "first," "second," and "third" lunch periods for those of us who choose to break the rules of the school. Mr. Phillips is a small, slight, man. He is very soft-spoken, and at the same time, a strict disciplinarian. He wears rimless glasses, and is impeccably dressed. He has a super white, stiffly-starched white shirt, and shoes so shiny, one's reflection can be seen. His uncanny ability as a faculty detective constantly takes us by surprise. He leads me into the office, and matter-of-factly tells Mr. Miss Gropp to write me up for "five hours" of detention. Detention; How we despise it! We miss the bus, and it's a long walk home; especially in the rainy weather.
And now I'm out in the athletic field. It's Friday afternoon, and the end of another week. Don Devine, Kip Breese, and Joe Bartlett are supervising intramural sports. We're playing softball. My team is batting ...I'm up. At home, when we play softball at Plaag's Grove, I smack the ball a country mile. Why is it when I'm playing high school sports, I can't get a hit? For that matter, I can't field too, either. I don't understand. I'm facing Buddy Rick. Rick is good at all sports. He looks in at Art Perry and winks…..a windup, a stinging underarm fastball….. another….. then a third. I'm called out on the third strike...I'm embarrassed. I didn't even swing at one of them. I'm such a wimp!
Gene Grauer's up next. As I hand him the bat, I hear somebody say something about a barn and a snow shovel. I mumble something about a sore shoulder. I have to have some kind of excuse ...I mean ...three straight strikes...not only that they all saw me miss that fly ball out in right field ...hell, I would have one-handed that if we were playing over at Plaag's...how come? I'm confused.
Now I'm off the athletic field. I seem to be in a shop ...yes..."Hamilton Job Press"...print shop! Who's the teacher?..."Remember boys, FFI and FFL are called ligatures. They are next to each other in the California Job Case. You must learn where each and every letter is stored. Spaces are called "quads "...there are "em" quads and "en" quads.
That Charles Dickens accent! It can only be "Pop" Mitchell ...It is! He sits at his desk with a green celluloid visor over his forehead. It contrasts with what is left of his silver hair. He stops his discourse on ligatures long enough to rebuke one of his talkative students:
"Mr. Wilson! I shall recite a poem just for you. You would do well to listen to every word. I shall be happy to explain it should you not understand the meaning. Are you ready?
Charlie Wilson is a happy-go-lucky guy. He likes Pop, and Pop likes him. Charlie is a good print shop student. He tells Pop he is ready. "Very well, here it is:
A WISE OLD OWL LIVED IN AN OAK.
THE MORE HE SAW, THE LESS HE SPOKE.
THE LESS HE SPOKE, THE MORE HE HEARD.
WHY CAN'T WE BE LIKE THAT OLD BIRD?
Do you understand the poem, Mr. Wilson?" "Yeah, I do, Mr. Mitchell."
"Very well, if you try to be like that old bird you will have very little trouble understanding ligatures. FFI, FFL..."
The voice trails off, along with the hum of the Hamilton Job Presses. And suddenly, I'm seated in the third row, front section of the Hamilton High School auditorium. It's operetta time. We're having rehearsals for the 1951 production of "Tulip Time". Louise Baird is playing the piano, accompanying Bill Baggott. Bill's lovely tenor voice obviously pleases Miss Baird as she plays the piano with a smile of satisfaction. Bill's solo ends and the chorus called to the stage. For the umpteenth time we will go over the one song which seems to need work.
"All right, choir, listen to me." It's Miss Louise Baird. Petite is stature, but with the uncanny ability to demand, and get, attention, and then perfection. "The last time we did this song, some of you basses were growling around off pitch. Was it you, Keith Kauffman?"
"No Miss Baird, it was probably Clark Perry." Clark is a tenor. We laugh at Keith's always present sense of humor.
Miss Baird's glasses are tilted on the top of her head, aviator style, as she calls Saundra Smith in to provide the accompaniment. Miss Baird takes up a position at the front of the stage so she can hear the offending voice, or voices. She taps her pencil for attention, and Sandy begins to play. We wait for the introduction, which by now is more familiar than out national anthem, then we sing:
“..TULIP TIME IN HOLLAND IS A TIME FOR MERRY FUN.
MARKET PLACE IS CROWDED, AND THE JOY HAS JUST BEGUN,
WE ARE HERE TO CELEBRATE, AND WHEN THE DAY IS DONE,
WE WILL NOT FORGET THE HAPPY HOURS...”
Again, the voices fade, and just as suddenly, I'm out of the auditorium. It's a warm June night. School will soon end. It's the last canteen of the year. It's such a delightful evening; almost as if God mandated soft moonlight, rustling leaves, and the heady smell of romance.
"Let's go outside and get some air, Jude."
We hold hands and walk out into the delightful spring evening. I can't explain the vibrant electricity I feel between my hand and hers. I wonder to myself if I'm trembling. She looks fresh and clean as the spring. I'm in love. We face each other ...holding each other's hand. We look at each other and wonder at the strange and beautiful happening. I kiss her. She's soft and fresh, and beautiful. She is becoming a woman ...I'm becoming a man.
And now there's a clap of thunder, followed by a brilliant flash of lightning. It's still June, but it's our big day. Graduation! My brother drops me off at the side entrance to the War Memorial Building. Many of the guys are standing on the sidewalk. All of us feign confidence and composure. Inside, we're all experiencing butterflies. I walk up to Larry McGlynn. "Hi Stony ! ... `be glad when this is over, won't you?" Joe Kasian saunters over; always ready with that smile. Geez! I've gone through 12 years of school with Joe; from kindergarten to senior. I've grown up with him ...and George Morley, Joan Tart, Karen Peterson, Shirley VanMarter, Charlotte Wilson, Ronnie Tarr, Tony Gies, Elaine Globus, Jess Anderson, Don Slabicki…..all those "Kuser Kids"...I silently wonder to myself if I'll ever see them again after tonight. What an unsettling thought. There's uneasiness about this graduation business. The lightning flashes and it rains….hard. We rush for the protective shelter of the huge awning at the side of the War Memorial. My Uncle Charlie Gaudette comes out in his short sleeves and unlocks the doors. He's the superintendent here, and I'm kinda proud that my uncle has such an important position.
"Hi ya Tommy…. 'Ya all ready for the big night? Tell your Mom and Pop we'll be over Saturday". Almost as an afterthought, he reaches into his wallet and hands me a five dollar bill ...then wishes me well.
And suddenly, we're all on the huge War Memorial building stage. We're sitting on bleachers. The kids in the back row are way up there ...I mean way up...near the roof. The program begins. A minister delivers a stirring invocation. Reverend John Oman delivers a short, relevant prayer. The minutes tick away. Feet rustle and throats clear, more out of nervousness than necessity. On cue, the choir takes a place in the front of the graduates, center stage. We look down beyond the footlights and see the friendly and familiar face of Miss Baird, as she begins to lead us in song ...her smile is reassuring:
Our harmony is superb. All of a sudden, I realize the beauty of these lyrics. We've been singing this song for 3 years, and I never understood the full beauty of the thing.
“Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh,
Shadows of the evening, steal across the sky.
Jesus gives the weary, calm and sweet repose,
With thy tenderest blessing, may my eyelids close..”
As I ponder the lyrics, I am strangely choked up; my eyes are glistening ...the end is in view. I cast a furtive glance at some classmates...am I the only one with this intense emotional feeling? There's Judy Britton, Shirley Whitebread, Phyllis Booz, Joan Delowise, Karen Peterson, Charlotte Wilson...all crying. Most of the girls are crying ...what about the guys? ...Geez! I have this lump in my throat ...I feel the tears welling up to overflowing. The song ends. Miss Baird looks up at us, a smile of complete satisfaction on her face. She nods and silently sounds the word "good". We assume our places with the graduates. My nose is running ...I need a tissue, and don't have one. Who would have thought I would have needed one? ...I sniff and swallow.
And now, Mr. Hesser is presenting the class to Mr. Howard D. Morrison. We're on our way! They're handing out the diplomas. The applause, as each name is called, seems to emphasize the popularity, or lack thereof, of the recipient. And suddenly, they're all distributed ...there are no more ...this is the end. Twelve years of school ..this is really the end! Am I glad or am I sad? Mr. Morrison speaks the final words:
"And so, to the class of Hamilton High School, 1951, good luck, and may God Bless each and every one of you."
Suddenly the scene changes. I'm out of the War Memorial. It's September ...I don't know what year...yes I do...it's 1983...a school bus rumbles up to the curb on the Park Avenue side of Hamilton High School. Now they call it "Hamilton High School West". Here comes another bus, and another. They're not Trenton Transit ...not Joe Layton...they're all bright yellow and black. 1983-type school kids hop, skip, and jump to the curb and head toward those familiar old doorways. I'm standing in their midst but they don't seem to see me. Strange! How I envy them! I remember Victor Herbert's song, "Toyland"...how does it go...let's see...
"Toyland, toyland, dear little girl and boy land,
While you are within it, you are ever happy there,
Childhood joy land, dear little girl and boy land,
Once you've passed its portals, you may never return again..."
How true! Look at those Freshmen! Four years of high school still ahead of them! Oh, please enjoy it...Learn! Live every golden minute of it...someone please tell them it's all over so soon ...it ends so fast!
The bell rings; a bell much louder than the bell we had, and they are all in class. The breeze rustles through the trees, and ethereal voices, clear and bell-like, echo through the grand old building and a song mingles with the rustle of those big Hamilton High Sycamore trees….
“The New Years Eve, we did the town, the day we tore the goal post down,
We will have these moments to remember.
The quiet walks, the noisy fun,the ballroom prize we almost won,
We will have these moments to remember..."
----- Original Message -----From: Iamdpw@aol.comSent: Friday, April 17, 2009 11:55 AMSubject: PermissionTom-I sent a copy of an item from your blog to some of my classmates as a suggestion of what we could present as entertainment at our next annual class meeting. It was your piece about "day dreaming" of going back to HHS and recalling pleasant memories of those days.My question is this- Can we have your permission to quote some (or maybe all ) of that article in our presentation at our luncheon in June? We would of course acknowledge that the words are yours.Don Whiteley
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Friday, September 04, 2009
Today I received an email from Audrey Perry Maurer looking for my tribute to Clark. I was amazed to note that I posted it on my www.glover320.blogspot.com blog, but neglected to post it here.
"Make the world a bit more beautiful because you have lived in it." Clark did. Rest in Peace my friend, we WILL meet again.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
This is one of my childhood girlfriends whom I met long before meeting my dear wife of 56 years, Judy Britton. most of us guys had a young lady during our years in grammar school who gave us that very interesting emotional malady known as "Puppy Love." Millie Long was one of those grammar school classmates who captured my 13 year old heart. Few indeed are those of us who will ever forget the object of our affection in those grammar school years. The late Mildred Long was one of those lovely young girls who brightened my life when I first met her in 8th grade at Kuser School. I recently went to that big old Sycamore tree in front of Kuser School and looked in vain for the heart that I carved on that tree that I thought would last forever: “Tommy G. + Millie L," but it was nowhere to be seen.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
I have no idea how many Kuser alumni visit this site. However, I would be remiss if I didn't remind those Kuser Kats who are visitors to mark their respective calendars for Saturday, September 26, 2009 from 1 to 5 P.M. for a visit back to the best grammar school in the world! I hope to see you there!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
"we'll meet again, don't know where don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day..."
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
"KUSER SCHOOL: A LOCAL LEGEND" on Sunday afternoon during my regular singalong program. The program will be from 1 to 3 PM in the Kuser Mansion theater. I hope to see you there. Call 890-3630 to reserve a seat or seats.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
For those local residents who were unable to attend the June 4th Centennial Dinner Dance at the Nottingham Ballroom, I will be presenting my onscreen multimedia presentation,
"KUSER SCHOOL: A LOCAL LEGEND" on Sunday afternoon during my regular singalong program. The program will be from 1 to 3 PM in the Kuser Mansion theater. I hope to see you there. Call 890-3630 to reserve a seat or seats.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Sorry to say Richard, the only 1967 HHS post on my website is one revealing the fact that Betty Reed and Herb Griffiths were transferring over to Steinert.
As to requesting using my column, sorry to say my space is too limited for PSA's. I suggest you send one in to the Times' Community editor and if he/she is not the person, to please forward your request.
I will be keeping an eye out for future HHS material from the later years.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Marilyn (Soren) Sailey-Schmidt
Marilyn Louise (Soren) Sailey-Schmidt
HAMILTON - Marilyn Louise Sailey-Schmidt, of Crosswicks passed away peacefully Sunday, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton, after a valiant battle. Born in Trenton she was a lifelong area resident. Marilyn received her Bachelors Degree in English with a Minor in Journalism from Trenton State College in 1986. She began her work life as a bank teller at the Roma Bank, she then worked for the Aim One and Kelly Temporary Agencies for several years. Most recently she was a Client Representative for the Prudential Company in Ewing. Marilyn had several passions including a love for travel and learning. Her greatest passion was writing. She published works in the short story and poetry genres and was the 2006 recipient of the 'Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry' given by the International Society of Poets. Her passion for writing allowed her to become an Adjunct Faculty Member of the English Department at the Burlington County Community College. She was a member of St. James Episcopal Church, Yardville and member of the New Jersey Romance Writers as well as a member of the Romance Writers of America. Marilyn was predeceased by her first husband Douglas Alan Sailey. She is survived by her husband Herbert L. Schmidt; her daughters Karen L. Wira and her husband Michael, Janet McSloy and her husband Mike, her grandchildren Lynne Wiley, Elizabeth L. Bashiti, Christopher and Sean Wira, her sister Gail Shuman, her nephew Todd Shuman and her 5 silky terriers; Max, Molly, Abby, Sparky and Keely. Funeral Services will be held 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at St, James Episcopal Church, 1040 Yardville-Allentown Road, Yardville. Interment will be at the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Arneytown, NJ Relatives and friends may call 5-7 pm Tuesday at the Saul Memorial Home,1740 Greenwood Avenue, Trenton, NJ In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure , 5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250, Dallas TX, 75244. www.saulfuneralhomes.com
Published in The Times, Trenton, on 4/6/2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
If you are going to the Kuser School Centennial dinner dance on Thursday, June 4, 2009, and haven't yet reserved a place or places, call the number above and reserve a place. This affair promises to be a memorable event. I hope to see you there!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
My name is Steve Allen (Class of ’74). Recently we started working on our plans for our F35th reunion to be held on Friday, November 27th, 2009. Specific details regarding place, costs, time, etc have yet to be established. However, as a result of the planning, and since I have my own web/graphic design company, I am responsible for all internet communications. Again, since my company designs websites, we created a site for the class of 74 (www.hhswclassof74.com). It just went “live” this weekend and still have some pages to complete. The reason for my e-mail is to see if you would be willing to mention us in your blog. In return, I have created a link on our site for “Links” which I will be placing Classmates.com, the Official HHSW website and Alumni site and would be more than happy to add your hhs51 blog if you would like.
This June 10th we will be having our first fundraiser at Applebees on Rt. 33, from 11am till 10pm with 10% of each bill going towards our fundraising efforts. Within the next day or two I will have the flyer online that everyone needs to take into the restaurant in order to get the donations. Of course we would appreciate any publicity your blog could offer as I am sure you have numerous fellow hornets that are avid readers of your blog and would be willing to help out by dining out on that day.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me…
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Many thanks, Carl and Jack!
Every class has one or two classmates who refuse to give in to the ravages of father time and admit that they have aged dramatically from their school years.
If I should be blessed with another reunion for my HHS '51 class,
I herewith forewarn all of my classmates:
As you squint to read my name tag, know that I have earned each and every wrinkle in my 75 year old countenance. Trusting you will forgive my one 50 year old exercise in vanity, when I opted for a man-made hair do, I want you to know that at the golden age of 75, I have no problem reminding myself almost daily that I am no longer a young stud. Don't look for me to do a teenager-type jitterbug, Cha Cha, or polka.....maybe a very slow two step. All the while, remember those eternal words of wisdom from Robert Browning:
"Grow old with me....the best is yet to be.."
THE CLASS REUNION
A reunion is planned; it'll be really grand;
Make plans to attend without fail.
I'll never forget the first time we met;
We tried so hard to impress.
We drove fancy cars, smoked big cigars,
And wore our most elegant dress.
It was quite an affair; the whole class was there.
It was held at a fancy hotel.
We wined, and we dined, and we acted refined,
And everyone thought it was swell.
The men all conversed about who had been first
To achieve great fortune and fame.
Meanwhile, their spouses described their fine houses
And how beautiful their children became.
The homecoming queen, who once had been lean,
Now weighed in at one-ninety-six.
The jocks who were there had all lost their hair,
And the cheerleaders could no longer do kicks.
No one had heard about the class nerd
Who'd guided a spacecraft to the moon;
Or poor little Jane, who's always been plain;
She married a shipping tycoon.
The boy we'd decreed 'most apt to succeed'
Was serving ten years in the pen,
While the one voted 'least' now was a priest;
Just shows you can be wrong now and then.
They awarded a prize to one of the guys
Who seemed to have aged the least.
Another was given to the grad who had driven
The farthest to attend the feast.
They took a class picture, a curious mixture
Of beehives, crew cuts and wide ties.
Tall, short, or skinny, the style was the mini;
You never saw so many thighs..
At our next get-together, no one cared whether
They impressed their classmates or not.
The mood was informal, a whole lot more normal;
By this time we'd all gone to pot.
It was held out-of-doors, at the lake shores;
We ate hamburgers, coleslaw, and beans..
Then most of us lay around in the shade,
In our comfortable T-shirts and jeans.
By the fiftieth year, it was abundantly clear,
We were definitely over the hill.
Those who weren't dead had to crawl out of bed,
And be home in time for their pill.
And now I can't wait; they've set the date;
Our 55th is coming, I'm told.
It should be a ball, they've rented a hall
At the Shady Rest Home for the old.
Repairs have been made on my hearing aid;
My pacemaker's been turned up on high.
My wheelchair is oiled, and my teeth have been boiled;
And I've bought a new wig and glass eye.
I'm feeling quite hearty, and I'm ready to party
I'm gonna dance 'til dawn's early light.
It'll be lots of fun; But I just hope that there's one
Other person who can make it that night.