This was written two years ago for posting on a blog that Paul Hennessy created in honor of Wheatley's 50th anniversary celebration. It is lengthy. Thank you Paul for giving us the opportunity to post our thoughts. Should you see a (?) following a sentence, it means I’m unsure of what I wrote.


In any case,



Light the corners of my mind

Misty water-colored memories

Of the way we were

Scattered pictures,

Of the smiles we left behind

Smiles we gave to one another

For the way we were.


So sang Barbara Streisand. Barbara Streisand is the same age as many in Wheatley’s class of 1960. She was born on April 24,1942. She graduated though in 1959. The reason for the disparity is that she chose an accelerated program. Miriam Golub was a member of the class of 60, but she too chose to graduate early and was not there for our senior year. Miriam Golub meant a lot to me. She was very nice. One Friday Night in 9th grade I went to her house. Her parents gave us some privacy, some. We watched TV on a couch. You know what? She had braces. You know what? I had pimples. You know what? We kissed. You know what? She was the first girl I ever kissed. My world was never the same. I didn’t walk home that night from Roslyn Heights to my home in East Williston. I glided. Thank you Mimi.


Miriam was quite attractive to these eyes. I like pretty women and have been looking at them all my adult life. In retrospect, walking the halls of Wheatley were the best looking girls I have ever seen, ever-Marty Corbett, Lucy Mullman, Pat Birkhead, Arlene Bach, Linda Beattie, etc., etc. As the song lyrics went-“Hey little girl in your high school sweater.” Beautiful! And they still, periodically, cross my mind, pretty as ever…and as elusive and unattainable as ever. Too bad.


Speaking of the halls of Wheatley I can remember that when it first opened its doors there was much hoopla over the fact that there were to be ¬no locks on the student lockers. I never gave it too much thought and throughout my 4 years in the building I simply took it for granted that there was no need to use a lock. What forethought and vision on the part of the school board, administration and faculty. They broke the mold and it is a splendid example of the successful effort of so many people to create something different, something special in that new little high school in Old Westbury. I wonder if there are locks on the lockers now?(?) I hope not.


If there is one season that I identify most with Wheatley it is fall. Perhaps because it was when school started, friendships were renewed and routine replaced summer vacation randomness. Or more probably because it was when football ruled. For some high school students, then and now, nothing in the life of an adolescent was more important, more grand, more life altering because for the first time in your life you were now part of something bigger and more important than you, that became an experience that added far more to your character than you expected when you first “went out for the team.” Even though but a game, it was a sudden introduction of very naive teenagers to the seriousness of life. There were many other sports that did the same but perhaps none with the intensity for young boys being overwhelmed by triple shots of testosterone.


And before we all donned the feared red and white uniforms of the Wheatley School the class of 60 played a momentous game on the playing fields of I U Willets School on a clear October Saturday morn. With the creation of a new school district and the building of Wheatley the students from Northside spent their 8th grade with the students from I U Willets Road. On a personal note I had moved from Williston Park to East Williston at the end of 7th grade and was a “new” student at I U Willets knowing no one. And in fact it was an easy transition for me, as it was a melting pot for all, as two schools were combined and one half of the student body did not know one another. In any case, after 6 weeks new friendships were made and a challenge football game was made-East Williston/Northside vs I U Willets/Roslyn Heights, a civil war if you will. Our squad trekked up Roslyn Road via foot or bicycle where we met our feared classmates from I U Willets. Oh and the equipment we had-everyone used old helmets (perhaps leather in some cases?) and beat up ratty shoulder pads covered with assorted sweatshirts. The game was played on half grass and hard dirt. The East Williston squad won, quite handily as I remember. The score escapes me but I suspect John Moncure, the keeper of the tablets for such events, would know.


Girls from the class attended the game. I remember what many of them wore. They had on long tan/camel colored overcoats. Were they cashmere? Couldn’t be. Must have been wool. Were they called anything in particular (?). Many of the girls had them. I found them incredibly stylish. What they did not know is that they created at that juncture of time a fashion trend far ahead of its time. The Preppy Look was born. I loved those coats. When my granddaughter is old enough I shall seek one out and buy it for her. I’m sure she will say thank you Papa, while thinking what the hell crossed his mind this time.


Certainly that game was fine training for future efforts at the high school level. But there was another venue that helped us in our preparation for gridiron glory. It was the infamous “Pony Field” which was essentially a small, sloping hill/mini canyon located next to Pete Krumpy’s house on School Street and provided many, as that popular song of 1955 and 56 said, “Moments to Remember.”


And then on to Wheatley football. It was there we met coach Jack Davis, a teacher that influenced and touched me forever. We all have our parents, and some of us are blessed to be them as well. Yet there are limitations to child raising and to our control. There remain things we are incapable of doing. It is left to friends and teachers to fulfill those roles and responsibilities and it is why teaching has and remains a most critical profession. And most all student athletes, male and female, secondary and college often are touched, influenced, and molded by a coach or coaches.

For many of us at Wheatley, Jack Davis was that person, an icon whose lessons still reverberate around many of our aging personalities.


Besides being the consummate motivator and teacher he had one technique which was way ahead its time. In the country’s recent history, school prayer has been a political hot potato. Jack had it solved. Flashback for many reading this. Football game. On a Saturday afternoon we would do our warm ups, maybe a half an hour-stretching exercises led by our captains, Jack Davis taking his backs through certain plays, Bill Lawson, another great coach, berating us dumb linemen. 5 minutes prior to kick-off we would all assemble in an end zone. Jack would get us all in a circle on one knee, with helmets off, and he would say this-“For those who pray say a silent prayer.” For those of us who did, we would. After 20 seconds Jack would say, “Amen, now get up and give them hell!” I have done my share of public speaking and on occasion have been asked to say an invocation. I always prefaced it by saying “For those who pray….” I don’t think too many people could object, even Supreme Court Justices. Thank you coach.


In the first full season of varsity football Wheatley had an undefeated football season. That incredibly talented class of 1958 led it. How loaded they were! There were no playoffs in those years but there was a strong possibility that the Wheatley football squad led by those players from 58 was the best in Nassau County that season. After that football season the basketball team also had a fabulous run. As I recall, there were basketball playoffs with no classes based on student enrollment. Rather Wheatley, given our small size, was seeded last and we had to play Hempstead the first seed in the first game. It seems to me Lary Nagler, as was his wont, shot the day lights out of the ball and we lost by a hair, almost pulling off a momentous upset (?).


A leader of that class was Steve Perlin, a ferocious quarterback and a man-child on the field. In 1965 I was out of college and was a 2nd Lt of Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA. I had a weekend off and with my new wife went for a ride up the Pacific coast. We were in Laguna Beach, a seaside haven for artists, bohemians, and Marines. We were stopped at a light on a 4-lane highway when a car full of Marines pulled up alongside us. I looked at the guy riding shotgun and saw a large scar on his cheek. I half heartedly said-“Perlin?” He turned, looked at me and said-“Martino?” The identifying scar of course was caused by a near fatal car accident on a curve on Bacon Road, not more than a mile from the school. In any case, that afternoon we pulled our cars off the road and reacquainted ourselves. I was surprised and flattered that Perlin remembered me. Steve was a Marine jet pilot and stationed at El Toro Air Station. As many of us know, a few years later, while flying in the reserves, he was killed in a training accident. I believe it was near Albany, NY. Semper Fi Marine.


I have been a fan of high school football for many years. It helped that both of our sons played the sport in a small, upstate New York school the size of Wheatley. It is called Adirondack High School. The Adirondack…Wildcats in fact. And over the many years of watching countless games I have never witnessed a more talented tandem in the backfield than Matt Sanzone and John Votano from the class of 59. Incredible talents. Scary.


John Votano, to me, always had an air of mystery about him. Handsome and talented he seemed to be 16 going on 25. And he had a tattoo way before they became fashionable. To the best of my knowledge, he was the only guy at Wheatley who possessed one. (?) And truly challenging my memory the tattoo consisted of three letters. Were they the letters W H O with the W upside down? (?)


One afternoon we were running laps toward the tail end of practice. On the north side of the campus there was a chain link fence and on the other side of it were a few apple trees. The many ripe apples caught the eye of Tom Kull. After practice and showering Tom Kull, Hugh Drummond, and myself walked to the fence, scaled it, went to a tree and ate some fresh apples. Delicious. And as I reminisce my mind recognizes how pretty the Wheatley campus was. As a teenager, the ground’s beauty was the furthest thing from my mind. Now, in my later years, nature’s splendor is a prized treasure. What lovely grounds surrounded The Wheatley School building. How fortunate we were.


Hugh Drummond. Bulldog. Class of 61. Iconoclast. Fiercely independent. Good man. He too, passed over, way to early. I suspect that I was the last classmate to see him. It was in the late 60’s and I was out of the Marine Corps and enrolled in graduate school at San Diego State. One night I received a phone call and was pleasantly surprised to hear from Bulldog. He had graduated from UVA, had accepted a commission in the Air Force and was stationed at a base close to Los Angeles. He wanted to get together and we did two weeks later as he flew down in his own airplane. It was small, red, a two-seater and he was very proud of it.


That night Bulldog, my wife and I met friends at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Officer’s Club. Sitting at the table with my buddies was an attractive girl whose name was Carol. She was very pleasant and lived in a small cottage in La Jolla, a block from the ocean. She liked to entertain and often served Mexican food so her nickname was “Taco Carol.” Bulldog fell in love with her. He would fly or drive down from L A every weekend. Carol was divorced and had two small children. Bulldog took to all three. He told me one night, perhaps a month before he was to transfer, that he was in love with Carol and had never been happier in his life. I thought his friends reading this would appreciate how happy and content he was in his last days. His plane crashed in, I believe, Tennessee as he was flying across country. Carol was devastated. I have lost track of her but hope that she is well.


We were blessed to have such an outstanding faculty at Wheatley and I find it difficult and unfair to name a “favorite.” Let me just name two who had a marked influence on my future. They were Mr. Doig and Dr. Wills. Mr. Doig sparked my lifelong interest in history. And Dr. Wills cajoled me into chorus where I developed a lifelong disinterest in singing. Their strong suit was their enthusiasm. I became a teacher-middle school for 2 years, high school for 3, and college for 19. My strong suit? Enthusiasm. It often hides weaknesses, but can also frequently, carry the day. Thank you gentlemen.


I cut school twice. The first time was when a bunch of us decided that if the ponds froze we would all go play hockey. When a cold front came in we tuned into the radio stations and between rock and roll songs on WINS, WMCA, listened for weather forecasts. With temperatures forecasted to be in the teens along with an inch of ice already formed many of us cut class one January day and showed up at Westbury Pond. We loved hockey. Goals were made out of 3 to 4 foot long branches. Only equipment we had were hockey sticks and skates. Oftentimes girls from the school would show up and we would form a long line holding hands and start skating as fast as we could and the first person in line would make a hard turn with the intention of making the people at the end go very fast. I think we called it the “whip” or was it the “snake”(?).


And then there was the hockey game that the erstwhile Charlie Zimmerman set up to be played at the rink in Roosevelt Field. Somehow or other he met some guys from Valley Stream (?) that had a team and Charlie laid down the gauntlet. We all showed up with our equipment, the above named skates and sticks. No jerseys, no pads, no helmets, which the other team had in abundance. We sort of warmed up and watched the other team go through totally organized routines and a very deep apprehension set in on the boys from Wheatley. Paul Mann was our goalie. Two of us got had to get on either side of him and assisted/pushed him in front of the goal. Paul Mann, our goalie, could not skate.


Be that as it may, the puck was dropped for the face-off and somehow it got to Gary Zebrowski who wound up and took a slap shot. By some incredible luck it trickled through a bunch of players including their goalie and we had scored a goal. Was this to be the precursor of a famous game to be played 20 some odd years later-The Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid? Nope, not at all. The other team scored the next 21 goals, no typo, 21 and we lost 21 to 1. Looking back on it, at least it was not a shutout. The shell-shocked Paul Mann was never the same. Don’t laugh. It could have been you in goal. Many of us thought that this incident, and others, pushed Paul toward a career in psychiatry.


The other time I cut school was on our senior skip day. As was the tradition, a week or so before graduation, many of us skipped school and took off for Jones Beach. Ah Jones Beach! What a great place. Most teenagers and young people of the day always congregated at one of the 9(?) parking lots found there. I can’t remember but I think we use to go to parking lot 3 or was it 4. (?) The beer, the sunshine, the camaraderie produced many a great afternoon. On that particular day I left the parking lot and got into a fight in the parking lot. It was my first fight, and to this day, my only one. Although somewhat of a jock, and relatively big and strong, I did not know how to fight. I still don’t. Unfortunately I picked a fight with a guy who turned out to be one of the toughest guys on the South Shore. He truly kicked my ass-blood all over my face, stitches, nose rearranged a bit, quick visit to doctor’s office, and a very embarrassed last week of walking the Wheatley halls.


It was I believe 1968 and my wife and I had flown east from San Diego to visit family for the holidays-Christmas in Virginia and then New York for New Years. While on the Island I was curious to see if the Picture Lounge, our main watering hole, was still open. It was so I took my wife there for a drink. The bartender that night was, I believe, Dick Pensa, class of 61. (?) I ordered a couple of beers and Dick said, “Martino-do you remember the guy you got in a fight with at the beach?” I said, “Yes, how could I forget?” At which time Pensa replied, “He was killed in Vietnam, 101st Airborne.”


My lower jaw dropped a half an inch; I was dumbfounded. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I said, “I am very sorry to hear that.” I have been to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall probably 10 times. While there I have paid my respects to many I know engraved on it including that soldier from the South Shore I met in June of 60. May he and I both see the day when we sit around another campfire. Rest in peace, brother and brave warrior.


Help me here. I have often believed that our school newspaper, “The Wheatley Wildcat,” was published weekly. Was it? (?) Even if it was bi-weekly or monthly for that matter, what an incredible feat! 4 complete pages and often more. The layout, the content, the writing-what standards, what effort! The “Wheatley Wildcat” is to me a great example of what a special school Wheatley was. Kudos, especially to faculty and staff that made it possible.


In the early 70’s my wife and grew tired of California and decided to relocate to Virginia to be closer to her family. I had picked up a free real estate magazine in a 7-11 specializing in rural properties. We found a photo of a home that grabbed our fancy. It was located in Farmville, Virginia approximately 2 hours from my in-laws. I called up the high school there and asked if they had any openings in social studies. They said they did and we set up an interview.


We drove across country with much hope and excitement. Approaching Farmville I saw a roadside sign demarking the county. It said, “Prince Edward County,” and I turned to my wife and said, “Honey, I’m not sure but I believe this is where the former Wheatley School Superintendent went to after he left our district. He was right in the middle of the desegregation fight.” I was interviewed and asked the High School principal if he knew Dr. Sullivan. He said certainly and we had a brief discussion about Dr. Sullivan’s tenure. It seemed to me, for whatever reason, the principal was reluctant to speak much about Sullivan.


I was offered a job at Farmville but did not accept it. As I wrote this part of the blog I took time out. Hello Google, where I found the obituary of Dr. Neil Sullivan.


For one more time, let us walk down Hillside Avenue. Starting at Northside walking west toward the tracks. Right across from Northside was the side street that Pat Birkhead, Bev Burroughs, and Sally Campbell lived. Also, I believe Bob Holly of weatherman and Forestport, NY fame. One further block finds School Street. Take a right on it and you head toward Malm, Hennesey, Krumpey, Dixie, Linda Beattie and Marty Corbett among many others. Continuing down Hillside we cross Roslyn Road and then past the Community Church where the wonderful Mr. And Mrs. Schaeffer and children lived. Some of us attended that church. Greetings to YP and Ms. Fish.


Then Sue Holzweiss. Where is her cousin Tom Holzweiss (?). And then Bickey, and of course his barn, the home of as a good high school blow out you could ever imagine. The barn also was headquarters for the Spartans. Yes Wheatley was again ahead of its time as we were the first school on the North Shore to have, dare I say it, a gang. The Bloods and the Crips had nothing on us-crime, a stolen fire extinguisher, and violence-John Moncure’s big and short fight in the little East Williston park (? What was it, the park, called (?). In any case, the administration made short shrift of the Spartans as we were all summarily called into Mr. Whathey’s Office (?). There we hastily promised to mend our ways.


Continuing our walk down Hillside Avenue we cross the tracks. The first shop on the north side of Hillside was I believe Judd’s Jewelry store (?) where many a guy dropped a few bucks-remember ID Bracelets-didn’t our girlfriends have to have one from us to prove our fidelity to them. (?) On top of Judd’s store was a sign. It said this-“Welcome to Williston Park. Go slow see our shops. Go fast see our cops.” Next to Judds was Nassau Business Machines. This was where my father made a living selling and fixing typewriters. He made friends with a father of one of the guys I mentioned earlier. Steve Perlin’s dad sold Encyclopedia Britannica, which often required going door to door and also having marketing literature placed in retail stores. My father had one of those in his store and he and Mr. Perlin often had a cup of coffee together and shot the breeze.


Past that block we pass Mahoney’s where we would periodically see some teachers stopping in for a well deserved drink-often embarrassing both them and us. And then to our final destination-Hilderbrandts. We spent many an evening and afternoon there in our early years. The smells emanating from that store still are with me.


Should some of us be so fortunate to see our 50th and 60th and perhaps 70th class reunions I can see us no longer capable or desiring to meet for a few beers or drinks. Rather we might better assemble at Hilderbrandts. Life is like that, isn’t it? It often comes full circle.


And also a special thank you to Ike. (?) Remember him-head custodian I believe. He and his people kept that place spotless for all us spoiled white kids. I salute you and your staff sir, and hope you are well wherever you are.


What a special place Wheatley was. Our parents, the good Lord bless them, virtually all survivors of the Depression and WW II, made a bold move to the suburbs for a better lifestyle and with school administrators and faculty created Wheatley where we found ourselves in the innocent and halcyon days of the late 50’s early 60’s before drugs, assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, AIDS and then 9-11 simply listening to rock and roll and playing sports and going to drive in movies and drinking black and whites at Hilderbrandts and dreaming of our futures. Hopefully, Wheatley’s class of 2007 will have like memories. They are, after all, like we once were, young.


Thank you all for the memories you gave me.



So it's the laughter

We will remember

Whenever we remember...

The way we were...



Ken Martin