"Last week I was having lunch in one of my local "watering holes" and an older gent sat down next to me. We struck up a conversation and it turned out that he was from the south shore and lived near Wolf's Pond back in the day. I grew up just a few blocks away so we compared notes and traveled down memory lane, reaching back over 60 years for some of these nuggets from the past. He asked what I did and I told him I was still in business doing architectural drawings for builders and realtors. I'm also active in the local art scene and exhibit in a couple of galleries. I asked what he did and his answer nearly floored me. He was a retired principal from, you guessed it, Tottenville High School! His name is Jeff Preston. What are the odds on me having lunch with a Tottenville H.S. principal? I wonder who I'll run into next on this very small planet. Stay well everyone. I know we will all miss our classmate, Werner- -the original Owner and Publisher of The Trumpet".

George Hess
Class of 1960 THS

Terror at 6000 Feet

Call me paranoid if you will. But I sometimes suspect that my kids are trying to kill me. There is no motive that I can discern, they have no notions of the billions I have concealed, however I often find myself placed in hazardous situations. A recent one occurred in late 2013.

Late in the summer, I received an E-mail from Daniel. “How would you like to kayak the Everglades this fall? The weather will be cooler and we can camp out and live on invasive Burmese Pythons”. How could I resist?

In mid November, I boarded a flight to Norfolk, VA. Dan met me at the airport and drove me to his home. On the way he told me,” We leave in four days but I have booked a skydiving session for tomorrow. I would like you to come with me but of course you won’t have to dive unless you want to.” Although I was 71 at the time, there was evidently enough testosterone in my system to make it impossible to refuse. For the next twelve hours, my predominating thought was,” What the hell am I doing?”

The follow morning we arose early, and after breakfast began the drive to the airport, about an hour away. As we drove Dan explained further, “I researched a number of companies. This was the least expensive.” My earlier thought resurfaced. It was reinforced when we arrived at the business office in a strip mall. The motto over the door proclaimed, “Everything will probably be alright.”

What followed was about an hour of filling out questionnaires and disclaimers of one sort or another. The instructor seemed seriously concerned with my, “advanced age.” Throughout the numerous briefings he constantly kept telling me, Thumbs up Ed.” Finally we were issued out flight suits and had out photo taken. Then we climbed into their car and were driven to the small airport. Throughout the drive I was reminded, “Thumbs up Ed.”

At the airport we were ushered into a hanger and introduced to our pilot. Then out on the tarmac to the plane, a small one disturbingly reminiscent of my first car. Here we rehearsed entrance and (shudder) exit procedure. The exit consisted stepping out the door onto a small step on the wing strut. After a close look at the plane, I thought perhaps jumping out would be safer than landing in it. What followed was a short video interview, beginning a video that would continue throughout the jump. Once again I was reminded, “Thumbs up Ed.” I decided that if I heard this too many more times, I would put my thumbs up a place he wouldn’t like. Then we entered the plane and took to the air.

There were no seats. I knelt to the right of the pilot and Dan was in the rear with the two instructors. We gained altitude and I saw the shoreline of the Chesapeake recede below me. The instructor had a wrist altimeter and I watched the numbers rise to above 6,000 feet. Finally the pilot announced, “Five minutes to drop zone.” The instructor opened the right door and asked me to face forward. He then clipped on to fasteners on the back of my suit and we waited for the moment.

Dan later told me that the most traumatic moment of the experience was watching his father step out of the plane at over a mile altitude. My experience was more basic. As I stepped out onto the step I encountered a wind of hurricane force or better. Then my instructor followed and we were in free fall.

Other than fear of death, my primary concern had been how I would react to being over a mile in the air with no support. I shouldn’t have worried, it was exhilarating. With the wind rushing past my face I looked down on the Virginia shoreline far below. The bays and peninsulas were spread below me like a map and I had it all within my view. I spread my arms as in flight and attempted to say how wonderful it was. The words were torn from my mouth by the rushing air as we fell earthwards. Shortly, the instructors chute opened and the moment of ecstasy was ended. We drifted toward earth at a far slower rate, the runways of the airport rushing toward us. Our rate of descent was still rapid, but the exhilaration of free fall had ended. We drifted, or rather were directed to a grassy area between the runways. As previously instructed, I raised my legs and landed on my bottom. A few moments of confusion followed as I grasped the line above me and we were released from the chute. Dan and his instructor landed moments later and we proceeded to the hanger as the plane finally landed behind us.

I was ecstatic and told the instructor I wanted to do it again as quickly as possible. He, on the other hand, still nervous about my age, advised me to investigate indoor, fan supported free fall instead. At that moment, I promised myself that I would return for another dive in 2023 when I turn 81.

The following day, we met Mike at the airport, and a few days later started our drive to the Everglades. But, that’s another story.

Ed Howland
Class of 1960 THS

Hi to all!

If you have your own "Small World Experience" that you would like to share..please send it to me -Ellen '60 at

Thanks, Ellen '60