De la Salle Christian Brothers

who stole all the desks from st. gabriel’s?

St. Gabriel’s, on 97th Street in East Elmhurst, was such an exceptionally good parish, including a school. The Sisters of Charity, De La Salle Christian Brothers, and lay faculty members ran quite a tight ship but they were entirely likable and fair too.  One would think, logically, that nothing of any significance could possibly go wrong there. There was one incident when I was a kid, though, that boggles people’s minds to this very day. Sister Rose Eugene, my first grade teacher, was quite a tall, imposing looking lady. Back then the Sisters of Charity wore old fashioned black habits and bonnets, and Rosary beads as belts. To this very day I still remember my very first day at St. Gabriel’s, as a student of hers. We youngsters all got the shock of our lives when we first showed up on that otherwise fine September morning so long ago. My neighborhood friends and I all got off the Q 19 B, the local utility bus, and walked through the schoolyard in order to enter our new school.  Uncontrollable shock and chaos set in the instant we first walked through the school’s doors. The children arrived for the first day of school to find that there were no desks in any of the classrooms. Being six years old at the time, we youngest kids didn’t know what to think.  “Maybe Martians took them,” said Dale.  Upon hearing such a claim, Jo Anne whined, “Oh shut up! Everybody knows Martians don’t even have butts so they can’t even sit anyway!” After the shock had all somewhat subsided, the principals, Sister Dolorita and Brother Andrew, got us all together for an assembly, so they could explain how to deal with our most unprecedented problem. They ended up deciding that they couldn’t let us stay unfortunately. Being kids, we were all so very happy to be allowed to go home. Our very first day at our new school ended up having to come a week late because of all the problems that were involved with finding new desks. To this very day no one has any idea what could possibly have happened. It wasn’t a result of anyone’s negligence and there was no criminal activity involved. It was just a weird quirk of fate.  Even now my oldest friends and I still always talk about it, often wondering which of us may have perhaps been the guilty party. 

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Annunci

that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone

peabodyThere were several episodes of the television show “The Twilight Zone” that dealt with a character’s  traveling to a bygone era, whether before he was born-the most famous was the one about Willoughby-or to his much younger days.   Those episodes always depicted drooling over the past as a nightmarishly dysfunctional thing, characteristic of a dissatisfied overwhelmed adult who couldn’t cope with his real life.   If I could go back to an earlier part of my life, I should like to revisit any part of my school days.    Although I most certainly recognize quite well that the time I spent in school wasn’t all one long halcyon era, looking back upon it has always been quite an enjoyable experience for me.    By conventional standards I was never the least bit popular in school.    In a way I was the kind of kid who could be classified as a square.    Then, as now, I neither liked, nor was good at sports.   My sense of humor was, and still is, entirely offbeat.  When I was at St. Gabriel’s, in East Elmhurst, Queens, I was an altar boy and a member of the glee club and bowling league.   The Sisters of Charity, De La Salle Christian Brothers, and lay teachers on the faculty were quite exceptional and the kids I knew were really good too.   Then came two weeks at Copiague Junior High School, immediately followed by two years at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst.   I’ve always remembered that part of my life as my especially uncomfortable transitional time, though I enjoyed it quite a bit.   In high school, at St. John the Baptist, in West Islip, I had such a good time bluffing my way past the Dominican and Franciscan Sisters and laity on the faculty, and the kids I knew were really good too.  I was involved with the chess club and student council.   The time I spent at S.U.N.Y. Farmingdale was also quite exceptional.   The professors and students were very good people and the campus was one of the nicest looking places I’ve ever seen.    I lived in Lindenhurst all throughout my adolescence, as well as for most of my adulthood.     From the point of view of negative constructive criticism, I should like to go back as a somewhat less shy, more confident kind of character.    The neighborhoods I grew up in were quite fine too.  Jackson Heights was populated by quite a cast of colorful characters, and approximately two thirds of the people in my neighborhood were Italians who spoke only Italian, and Hispanics who spoke only Spanish.    Everybody was forced to get to know everyone there.   Lindenhurst has always been noted for its emphasis on peace and quiet.   My neighborhood there, known as the American Venice, was on a very small island that was perfect for someone like me who enjoys a relaxed environment.   In each neighborhood the business district was very close and there were very many activities available.   Everybody knows about the grandfather paradox.   It’s a condition on time travel.   Nobody can undo the very significant events of  his past, or of the past in general.   If I could go back to my past, I’d tell young Larry to loosen up a bit about all the hard parts, and that ultimately everything works out.   I’m now back in touch, on Facebook, with many people from my youthful days.   I’ve seen a lot of them in person over the course of my adult years too.    I can’t literally go back to the days of my youth but there’s no harm in sneaking a peek or two at my younger persona every once in a while.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/prompt-turn-back-time/

the music man

ublt

Because I was born in September of 1959, the first decade of my lifetime was virtually precisely coeval with the 1960’s.    Musically and otherwise the 1960’s have made quite an indelible mark upon my lifetime.    My childhood was filled with all sorts of musical influences.    I was four and a half years old when the Beatles first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.    To this day they’re still undeniably my absolute favorites.     That era was known for musical variety shows like “Sing Along With Mitch”, “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour “, and “The Dean Martin Show”, among several others.     As a kid I was always smitten with the sounds of  songs like Petula Clark’s “Downtown”,   Zager and Evans’ “In the Year 2525”, and  Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days”.    Whenever I’d go to a doctor’s office I’d keep obsessing over songs like Percy Faith’s “Theme From ‘A Summer Place'” and Mason Williams’   “Classical Gas”,  among others that were played in waiting rooms.    The folk, jazz, country and other musical styles of that era have always been quite a major love of my life.    Although I’ve never been even the least bit willing to humor the liberals, I’ve even  always  thoroughly enjoyed the protest songs of that era.     Along with all that I made sure I joined the glee club at my grammar school, St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst, as soon as I was old enough.    Brother Edmond and Brother James, of the De la Salle Christian Brothers, taught us all the then-current popular songs as well as Christmas and Easter songs and show tunes.   Brother James played the guitar quite well and Brother Edmond, with his fine baritone voice, sang an exceptional version of “Edelweiss(Blossom of Snow)”  from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music”.     I even took guitar lessons for a while at one of the local public schools, P.S. 127.    My parents were always quite happy to humor my sister and me about our tastes in music.   They enjoyed country music, Edith Piaf and other standards they grew up with so that widened my horizons even more.     Eventually the 1960′ s became the 1970’s.   That era started out fairly well with  Carole King’s “Tapestry” as well as James Taylor, Led Zeppelin and a few other holdovers from the 1960’s.    Eventually, though, disco started to become popular.   My teenage years saw the rise of tacky styles in music and dress.    There were good singers and bands too, though, like the Doobie Brothers, Elton John, Grand Funk and a few others.    In my imagination, though, gone forever were the days when everything musical was perfect.    Even most of  the then-current music I listened to generally tended to be the latest album by someone like Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin (a variation of the Yardbirds).    I had become such a musical snob and purist.    I continuously picked fights with all the kids in school, as well as the public school kids, defending my claim that even in the best of 1970’s music, there was something missing compared to that of the previous decade.      Unfortunately I’ve never been terribly comptetent musically.   My strengths seem to lie more in writing and story telling.    Maybe that’s why I’ve always so thoroughly enjoyed the songs of the 1960’s.     It was an era that included songs like Joan Baez’s “So We’ll Go No More A-Roving”, based on a poem by Lord Byron, Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus” , based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland”, and Yoko Ono’s “Who Has Seen the Wind”, based on a Christina Rossetti poem.       The music I grew up with has profoundly influenced both my adult musical tastes and even my entire life in general.    Although the singers and musicians of my early days could never possibly get me to agree with their liberal political and social agenda, they’ve most certainly shaped my imagination and given me ideas and interest which I may never have otherwise gotten.

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/daily-prompt-papa-loves-mambo/

i don’t want to leave you now you know i believe and how

St_John_Baptist_Diocesan_H_School_314934 18-lasalle-schoolFor my first twelve years of school I had virtually always gone to exceptionally good Catholic schools in Queens and Long Island.    In grammar school, with the exception of two weeks in Copiague Junior High School at the beginning of the seventh grade, I went to St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst for six years and spent most of my last two years at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst.    After that I went to St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip.   I’ve always really enjoyed keeping in touch with people from those days.    As Hope, one of the ladies from my class at St. John’s, once said on Facebook, just because we were classmates so long ago, doesn’t mean that we should be forbidden to try to be friends again now.    Because of my having spent all my adolescence and most of my adult life in Lindenhurst it’s always been so much easier for me to get back to St. John’s reunions than St. Gabriel’s.    During the very early days of the twenty first century I got back in touch with a few friends from Jackson Heights and I’ve been to a couple of St. Gabriel’s reunions with most of them.    My parents and I got to see a lot of my old friends and their parents and families.     The Sisters of Charity,  de la Salle Christian Brothers and lay teachers who were on the faculty and administration were there too.    I always have a really nice time at St. John’s  reunions too with all the classmates, and Dominican and Franciscan Sisters and lay teachers from the faculty and administration.   The hard part for me has always been having to say good-bye when it’s all over.   Although I understand that the food, music and other circumstances at these events are never objectively any better than they are at other parties or occasions, being back with all the people from my early days, in the same place in which we first got together,  is inevitably quite a thrill.   Over the course of the past quite a few years I’ve been in touch with very many of these people on Facebook and e mail anyway but that’s never struck me as anywhere near as interesting as seeing them in person.    It’s even better when we can get back together on the grounds of the school, though St. Gabriel’s was  recently turned into a public school.     It’s so interesting for me to be able to see how these people and places have turned out over the course of the time that’s passed since I was a kid.  I’ve always been quite smitten by the grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side syndrome.    At least I understand that though.    It wouldn’t be the same if I could see them in person on a regular basis again.   Then it would become a routine chore and would lose all its charm.    Each of those specific times, precisely because they’re so infrequent and so temporary,   is so very hard to let go of when it has to end.    Because I’ve always had both an overwhelmingly good imagination and an intense interest in my past I tend to get really engrossed in times like this.   The bookworm in me sees it  somewhat as if I’m  revisiting a previous chapter in my life story.    Although no one can rewrite anything like that it’s still quite nice to see how all the characters, and the settings,  have turned out.   Each of us, though, has to make sure he leaves before midnight in order to avoid turning into a pumpkin.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/daily-prompt-linger/