A Reunion of Memories Part 2. “The 59ers”

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John Baur ‘60:  “Ellen, I do believe The ’59ers have arrived.”


Ellen ‘60:  “Yes, John, their memories are echoing throughout our hallowed halls.”


Herb Bradley ‘59:  “Hi Ellen, Hi John, Walter, Harry.  Walter certainly hit on the mark with his memories.  One thing I remember in addition to Mrs. Vogt carrying a big stick was another teacher – Mrs. Bubb who substituted for Mrs. Vogt occasionally. She became irritated with me on several occasions (I don’t know why, because I was such a sweet boy) and would grab one of my ears and give it a vigorous shake while she shouted various instructions at me.”


Walter Kristiansen ’59:  “Herb, Harry Daniels and myself got our start as freshmen in September of 1955.  Mrs. Vogt introduced us to two brothers, Vince and Joe Lombardi.  They started Herb and I on trumpet and Harry on metal clarinet.”


Harry Daniels ’59:  “The Lombardi studio was located in Concord.  I used to take the 103 bus, get off at Hylan and  Clove and walk up most of Clove Road to take a half-hour lesson for two bucks!  They eventually moved to Great Kills, two blocks from my house.  That Christmas I got my own clarinet.”


Herb: I remember on one occasion I was walking through one of the basement corridors and had a pair of drum sticks with me. As I walked through the hallway I was drumming a cadence on the tile walls. Upon hearing this, Mr.Cabellero (The Aeronautics Teacher) popped out of the Aeronautics shop and stopped me. He asked me the name of my home room teacher and I answered by saying the name Gentile. This only aggravated him further and he put me up against the wall and, poking his finger at my chest, he said to only refer to her as MISS Gentile. Then he proceeded to take the drum sticks out of my hand and beat a cadence with them on my head. After that he sent me on my way with firm instructions not to be beating on the walls any more. That must have made quite an impression as I remember it to this day and never again did I beat upon the hallowed walls of  THS.”


Harry:  “I remember band practice first period every morning, the great marches, Sousa et al. For some reason “In a Persian Market” just came to mind  (bump, bump, bump, ba-da – bump bump …). We played for the assembly every Friday morning, as well as the Christmas and Spring concerts.


Ellen:  “Many of the students participated in the Chorus. Some would practice both during and after school for the Christmas and Spring Concerts.  The parents, grandparents and other family members packed the auditorium. We always had a full house. Along with the Band, we raised money for band uniforms and sheet music, as well as instrument purchase and repair. Many of our instruments were donated by Alumni.”


“Mrs. Bubb did a great job preparing us for Chorus, as did Mrs. Vogt for the Band.  Between band practice, choral practice, and music class in which we all participated, as well as the parades and concerts, they really had their hands full. Tottenville High School’s musical activities were enjoyed and appreciated throughout the communities on the South Shore of Staten Island, from Great Kills to Tottenville.”


“Our band participated in the citywide marches in Manhattan, as well as on Staten Island. I must say our boys and girls, or should I say young men and women (the upper classmates) looked real spiffy.”


Arlene Rahtes (Hansen)'60 :


I remember one year coming home from the Columbus Day Parade in the City. We were asked to play on the Staten Island ferry. What a treat. It was even written up in the Advance. One of the songs we played was Blaze of Brass; however the paper wrote it as Blades of Grass. I never forgot that.


Harry: Oh the Memorial Day parades in those hot uniforms! My first parade was that freshman year and I had an experience that I have laughed about and shared with many of my students over the years.”  


“We marched with two white sousaphones on each end of the front row. At the last minute one of the players was a no show. Mrs. V grabbed me (lean and mean, but small) and said to ditch the clarinet and just carry the sousaphone, DON’T TRY TO PLAY IT! Well that worked.  I just wiggled the valves and managed to keep in step. It was hot, the horn was heavy, but I knew I looked spiffy.”


“We were marching through Pleasant Plains, just about to pass beneath the railroad bridge, when I heard a knock in the bell of the horn, and felt it rock just a bit.  I looked up to see some kids throwing what turned out to be crab apples. One hit the bell just right and rolled round and round and in like a pinball – definitely worth triple bonus points!  Upon returning I had to stay and clean it up. Oh well, I think Mrs. Vogt gave me an extra five points on my report card for instrument maintenance!”


Walter:  “We took turns marching with both the Tottenville High School Band  and the South Shore Band.  The South Shore Band had a player from Staten Island Academy (Barbara Gloede) who eventually became Miss New York in the Miss America Pageant.  When marching with the school band, we usually had the twirlers marching with us, a really nice benefit!”


John:  “I remember Barbara Gloede ‘Miss Staten Island’  ‘Miss New York State’ and ‘Miss Congeniality’ in the ‘Miss America Pageant.’  I remember her playing ‘The Glory Hymn of  The Republic’ every Friday morning at the assemblies at P.S. 8.  No wonder Walter enjoyed marching with both the Tottenville and South Shore Bands.”


Harry:  I have good memories of the South Shore Band.  After high school when I attended Wagner, I marched with them on Memorial Day.  I loved the uniforms: champagne cap, red zippered windbreaker, white shirt, tie and gray slacks.  If it was really hot, we bagged the jacket.  By then I was playing tenor sax and I loved the Sousa marches because I played the trombone parts, those wonderful counter melodies.  And the fingering was a lot easier.”


“My first job after college was as a math teacher in Rye.  Living in White Plains, I joined the Westchester Symphony.  There were excellent musicians in that group, but I was able to play third and sometimes second clarinet.  But that was it.  Alas the horns gathered dust over these many years.  I have a good friend with a grandson who shows signs of interest and musical talent.  I offered my instruments to him and he was ecstatic.”


“I do know that no kid today will have to trek five miles through the snow, sleet and rain, up and down hills both ways, just to take a half hour lesson.”


Ellen: “I hear footsteps;  I think we have some new arrivals.”


John:  “Yes indeed Ellen, I believe it is Les Walter, Class Editor ’59. Les, I see you have some ‘Fellow Time Travelers’ with you.”


Les Walter, Editor for Class of ’59:  “Yes John; Lee Shake ’57, Dee Whitman ’56 and Tom Doty, ’69.”


Lee Shake, Editor for Class of ‘57 : “Hi Herb, Walter, Harry.  Herb, I know  your Dad, Bob Bradley Sr. founded ‘Troop ’61 of The Boy Scouts’ in Great Kills and Eltingville.”


Herb:  “Yes, 61 was the number of our house on Dent Road where we first met.  After that we had our meetings at St. Albans Church in Eltingville.” Walter and Harry, and later John were members of this troop also.”


Harry:  “I remember the troop had an arts and crafts display to raise some money.  Whenever I played the clarinet at home my dog Tuxie (Tuxie because he was black except for his white chest) would point his snout straight to the ceiling and start to howl, quite frequently in tune with the clarinet.”


“I decided to enter ‘Tuxie The Singing Dog.’ The tune was ‘Polly Wally Doodle All The Day.’ It brought down the house and we won the blue ribbon.”


Dee Whitman, Editor for Class of ’56:  “Speaking of The Boy Scouts, did you know that is how the South Shore Band got its beginning?  But I am going to let Mr. Beflat, Nick Filimon, tell you about that at our end of December or Early January meeting.”


John: “Tom, I know Herb, Walter and Harry played in the South Shore Band;  about how many other Tottenville Band members went on to play with South Shore?”


Tom Doty ’69 Current President of “The South Shore Band:”  “John, there were at least two hundred, and ten of these are still active.”


John:  “Tom, I believe they are all worthy of  ‘Honorable Mention for Service to School and Community.’  We cannot list them all, but who are the ten who are still active?”


Tom:  “They are:”


Nick Filimon . . . .  THS ’44
Richard Walsh. . .  ’44
Herb Bradley. . . .  ’59
Karen Sportiello. .  ’64
Tom Doty . . . . . . ’69
Carole Santarsiere  ’71
Gerard Cummings  ’81
AnnMarie Leonard  ’88
Margaret Arena . .  ’88
Ken Callaham. . . . ’96


Email addresses may be requested from  Tdoty924@aol.com  or http://www.southshoreband.org/   


Tom:  As you can see – the South Shore Band spans all age groups – demonstrating the universal nature of music in which we all share a common bond.


With so many still currently playing with our community band, and the countless others who have come to the South Shore Band after having played with the Tottenville High School Band – it is a true tribute to Tottenville High School, it’s music program, and it’s sense of ‘camaraderie and community spirit’ that THS instilled in so many of us.”


John:  “Thank you Tom. We are all looking forward to meeting Mr. Beflat  in Part Four of ‘A Reunion of Memories.’ Les, can you tell us a little about Part Three?”


Les:  “Yes John, we will visit with Patti and Irene Mazurek and Karen Van Velson and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.”


Harry:  “We shall also declare ‘Open House’ and receive a visit from Carol (Cooke) Schwamberger and Kathy Holden THS ’58 and many of the Class Editors.”


Ellen:  “Our Publisher, Werner Feldhaeusser will be here and we will learn of the many cheerleaders who also participated in the Twirlers or the Color Guard.”


Harry:  “We will also learn something about some of the ‘Dance Combo Groups’ that existed, such as ‘The Statenaires’ and ‘The Added Touch.’”


John:  We will also take a look at some of the popular tunes of the ‘fifties’ found on ‘The Juke Box’ discovered by Johannah (Hughes) Turner. Patti Mazurek and Lila (Mauzy) Shaw will help us select some of these tunes or ballads.”


“Finally, we will learn something about our closing ceremony and ‘Taps,’ by Fontaine Piper, and we will ‘HONOR’ those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for Community and Country. ‘The Grand Marshall Himself,’ John Philip Sousa, will be here for the ceremony.”