The memories of Wheatley go all the way back to Northside School because they are all a part of the same experience. 


            I will try to do them chronologically but may be off here and there.  They almost all involve a great deal of camaraderie and laughter – except for the first part.


              I was left back in 6th grade.  Mrs. Sherman told my parents I was “the runt of the litter”.  My birthday is in April (04/17/1942), so I was very young for that class. Clearly, I was not as physically developed as my classmates (including Johnny Vatano).


            When I entered my new class, I was determined to keep my mouth shut (not necessarily easy) and try to do the best I could in athletics because being the runt of the litter meant being picked last when teams were comprised (academics, unfortunately, were secondary for a good deal of my Wheatley experience).


            I fondly remember:


     Dance class in 6th and 7th grades.  I loved to dance (not cool).  The most fun was running down to Hildebrand’s afterward.  The girls, in their pretty dresses, got rides from their fathers while the boys ran – perhaps a mile.  The guys would arrive in a lather with our shirts out, laughing and jostling.  No wonder the girls sat in separate booths;


      Walking down Fairview Avenue toward Dixie Howell’s house one fine, fall evening.  Glenny Roth was with us and we were kind of setting him up – telling him about bad things that had happened on that road, etc.  As we passed a big pile of leaves (owners piled leaves at the curb), Hennessey jumped out with a shout.  Glenny jumped in the air, shrieked and was last seen flying down one of the side streets;


      We played tackle football in Dixie’s “pony field”.  We would play all Saturdays in the fall.  Two distinct memories from those games come to mind.  First, the Tough Guys – Dennis Hunt (who shaved for Christ’s sake) and Dennis Lyzak amongst others.  This is when we were faced with real hitting because those guys enjoyed inflicting pain.  I particularly remember Lyzak carrying the ball and coming right at me, in the open field, and I knew all my teammates were watching.  It was the first time I went “to them and through them” as Mr. Davis would say – even though I had no concept of what that meant.  All I remember was that everyone was watching, I really didn’t want to get killed but I had no choice (perhaps that has been my motivation throughout my athletic career – peer approval).  I remember a really good collision and, after it was over, being surprised that I wasn’t dead.  I had laid him out – the first time I ever did that and he was very slow in getting up.  But of course, the best memories of the pony field football contests were the co-ed tackle games.  Jack Langlois was, I believe, the best tackler of co-eds Wheatley has ever had.  In addition, after the tackle, in order to ensure that the tackle was secure, Jack would make several aggressive rolls with arms, legs (and presumably, hands) flailing.  A true gamer!


The girls started getting smart and wore heavier and heavier clothing to these contests.  One could see the disappointment in Jackson’s demeanor – no more post-tackle rolls.


Finally, the girls were so heavily padded that it sort of became a unisex game – and all the fun went out of it;


     When we attended I.U. Willetts, there was the famous football game between Northside and Willetts.  It was the first time we got really pumped up for a game.  The girls came, not as cheerleaders but to cheer and, of course, that made the peer pressure even greater.

Bick had had his heart murmur, couldn’t play and he was sort of the coach/manager.  I don’t remember the quarterback but it probably was Dixie because he was the leader of the pack then (though I don’t think he really cared).


I remember playing halfback and scoring twice.  I think the score was something like 28 to 7.  We were exhilarated and pulled down the goal post – which hit Bick on the head on the way down.  Whenever I hear “the day we tore the goal post down” in the song, I think of Bick lying there;


      During Dr. Wills music class at Willetts, Dixie yelling “Air Raid” whereupon we all dove under our desks causing Dr. Wills to weep.  I was ashamed.  Later, we had a nice visit with the principal;


      Sophomore year (the undefeated football year) was the year that set the standard for the rest of our athletic experience at Wheatley.  Dixie played a little varsity football but I think the rest of us just sat in awe of such physical prowess.  Doug Kull was my hero.  Doug was not a gifted athlete.  When he ran, as he gained momentum, he resembled a suitcase falling down the stairs.  He was inelegant but tried harder than anyone on the field.  He had so many wonderful character attributes.  He was nice to us and he was President of the G.O.  I think, then, I decided I wanted to be just like Doug.  He became a priest, I became a lawyer.  One of us maintained his selfless character;


      When Perlin had the auto accident and almost killed himself.  The stitches on his face only made him more intimidating.  He looked (and sometimes acted) like Frankenstein;


    Eddie Kritzler flashing a full gymnasium of girls, all of them acted scandalized but were peeking through their fingers;


   In class, Mr. Rosenstein kicking the guys’ feet which were sticking out – saying something like “Oh, excuse me”;


      Mr. Rosenstein’s pre-test admonition, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be but this, above all else, to thine own self be true”;


      One chemistry lab with a substitute (big mistake).  She was short and Martino was my lab partner, I believe.  He concocted a small explosion or diversion and we all circled around an imaginary body.  The substitute was so short, she couldn’t see – and Martino said “Billy, Billy, get up, get up.”


The substitute said “Oh my God” and fled the room.  I think we then had a nice visit with the principal;


      Barry McNutt (Beebs), one of the funniest and nicest guys in our Freshman class.  This was in Ms. Bodnar’s class and we had long rows of chairs, front to back.  I was sitting in the second seat from the front and Beebs was in about the fourth seat, in the next row.  Ms. Bodnar would go up and down the rows, leaning over to comment, privately, on each student’s work.


Ms. Bodnar was going down the row next to Beebs and he was facing forward, towards me.  I tried to engage him in whispered conversation to distract him and finally said, “Beebs, do this hard”, swinging my right hand, palm facing back, away from my body.  He did – and hit Ms. Bodnar hard, right on the bottom.


I immediately faced forward and all I could hear was “Barry!”, and he said, “Oh, oh” and started laughing.  Well, to her great credit, she did not overreact and eventually started to laugh also.  She was a good sport and a GREAT English teacher;


     Locking Mr. Ouchi out of his room.  He was so short , all you could see was his little fist knocking on the glass.  After about a minute of laughter, someone opened the door and we all felt bad;


     In Dr. Scheinen’s Spanish class, Hennessey going into her closet, up front, before class.  I put the piece of wood in the runner, which in essence, locked the door.  When she came in and started to take attendance, there was silence at Hennessey’s name, though I was laughing so hard I had my head on the desk.  Finally, after about 10 minutes, there was a tapping, a gentle rapping, at the closet door.  She opened it and, after remonstrating Hennessey, started to laugh as well;


      Mr. Porcino’s “Time will pass.  Will you?”  He wrote in my yearbook “Keep laughing.”  I’m not sure that was intended as a positive comment;


      Senior year one of our favorite stunts, in the crowded halls, was to wait until a freshman boy was walking behind a Senior girl, at which point we would grab his arm at the elbow and push his hand onto the girl’s bottom.  Irate, she would turn her anger on the freshman who dissolved into a puddle of embarrassment, as we excused ourselves and passed by.  That stunt didn’t last too long as the girls caught on and we were busted;


      Perhaps one of my favorite stunts was with Martino.  I don’t know who originated it – I think he probably did but we both did it all Senior year.


We would wait until after practice, as parents were arriving to give rides.  We would all linger in the lobby waiting for a parent to drive up.  When a car arrived, Martino (or I) would ask a freshman, “Want a ride?” and he would say “Sure”.  We’d say, “That’s my mother there.  Just hop in and say I offered you a ride home.  I’m running to my locker to get a book I forgot.” 


It worked every time.   The unsuspecting freshman would say, “Hi, Mrs. Moncure.  I’m Joey.  Monk said you would give me a ride home.” The reply, inevitably, was something like “Who is Monk?”

It worked all year long and, I’m sure, we had a lot of freshmen really pissed at us;


      Driving opened up a new world of potential trouble for us.  Cruising on Friday nights with Charlie Zimmerman driving.  We would pool our resources and come up with about $2.00.  We would buy a six-pack of “big boys” and spend the rest on gas.  I remember Charlie driving into a gas station, with the attendant standing there (they had attendants then).  Charlie drove over the attendant’s foot and, as the guy was hopping up and down in pain, Charlie said, “$0.83 worth or regular, please.”


      Cruising in Chuck Schneffer’s father’s “clergy-wagon.”  It looked like a hearse except that it said “Clergy” in the back side windows.  We would drink beer and moon surprised drivers from the back window;


      The sweet misery of the wrestling room, after practice, when we had to “make weight” so we kept the heat high and our rubber suits on.  We would lie in close clusters sweating and telling jokes, etc.  However, Hennessey’s favorite trick was to tell a rookie about the guy he had to wrestle in the next match.  He was always “Bill Svaboda.”  Bill was the toughest, meanest wrestler on Long Island, broke a kid’s arm the last match and the rookie’s eyes always grew as big as saucers.  I firmly believe that some rookies didn’t make weight because of this;


      During the same making weight misery periods, Hennessey would always tell the Freshmen about Marty Corbett.  He told them that Marty gave “fuzz wipes” and, sometimes, even gave “half snuffs”.  I would interject, “She gave me the best half snuff I’ve ever had.”

The Freshmen, not wanting to be naive, would inevitably say, “No! Really? Does she really do that?” and we would both say, “Honest.”  Marty’s reputation was forever sullied with those kids – but they weren’t sure how or why;


·      Senior year, when Chuck Gregg, a junior, was wrestling J.V. heavyweight.  Now Chuck was called “Monster” because he looked like Frankenstein.  He was big and looked mean.  Well, we watched his J.V. match as he was getting taught a lesson by a better wrestler.  The guy got him in a “guillotine” which is a painful move involving use of the legs and stretching the opponent.  It was a pinning combination and Monster was clearly suffering.  Suddenly, Mrs. Monster, his mother, came running out of the stands and hit his opponent with her purse.  The ref stopped the match and defaulted Monster (he was going to be pinned).  However, Hennessey and I made his life miserable for the rest of the year.  We would scream, in a high pitched voice “Stop it! Leave my Monster alone!” every time we saw him;


      Riding home from wrestling matches with Walter Brunner doing his “Running Bear” song and dance in the isle of the bus.  Another Walter Brunner story – at the year-end wrestling championships, we all had to suck hard to make weight at the competition site.  Walt wrestled heavyweight and never had to make weight.  He brought a hot plate and made bacon and eggs – selling them at a high price to all but teammates who got discounts;


      The night before I left for Kings Point “Beast Barracks”, Charlie Zimmerman, Phil Gaynor, Hennessey and I went to the drive-in movie with Paul (Fifi) Mann driving his dad’s car, with a case of bottled beer in the trunk.  He parked the car and we placed the speaker on a partially opened back window.  We proceeded to talk about our past adventures and anticipated future adventures.  As we drank more beer, the stories got funnier and funnier, and we became more boisterous.  Finally, someone threw a beer bottle out the other back window – only it was closed.  Fifi did not like that broken window at all and we thought it was hilarious.  He was really pissed off and decided to leave – which he did – without taking off the speaker.  As he dropped me off from the car with two broken windows, the last words I heard him say were “My father’s going to kill me.”


And many more, fun and funny stories.


I want to emphasize the importance of the education I received at Wheatley.  I had more Ph.D’s at Wheatley than at Kings Point.  I learned how to write at Wheatley and I survived Law School thanks to my Wheatley education, more so than my Kings Point education.


My Wheatley teachers had a particularly lasting affect on me.  I had my

“eureka experience” in math with Mr. McCormack in Geometry.  I became confident, and therefore, good at math in his class.  I got really good grades in math, through college, thanks to him.


Mr. Doig, Mr. Mullen and Ms. Knapp sparked my interest in history, which remains my favorite subject.  Mt library is filled with books on history (McCullough is my favorite biographer and I have all of his books).  I taught history and political science at New Hampshire College for three years.


Ms. Bodnar, Colonel Hawkins and Mr. Storm taught wonderful English courses and had us read great literature.  I remember being forced to memorize poems – and can still recite my favorite, “Invictus”.  I was a bad speller though – never got “obfuscate” right.


            And Wheatley taught an SAT course in 1959 – which must have been revolutionary.  I raised my scores by 100 points in both subjects from the PSATs to the SATs.




            For me, any reminiscence of the Wheatley experience is centered on athletics.  Next to my father, Jack Davis had more influence on me, and in my development as a person, than any other person.  He coached me for two sports (football and baseball) for four years.


            Mr. Davis, and athletics, have been and are integral parts of my life and my self-identity.


            A recent article by David Brooks in the New York Times quotes sociologists who say that the role of sports encourages all of the virtues, experiences, affection and interests in many young men – and so it was with me.


            I have omitted from my itemized reminiscences most of my sports memories because there are so many and would bore most of you, except for my teammates.


            I loved football the most and lived for Mr. Davis’ and Mr. Lawson’s approval.  I

firmly believe that it was the peer pressure associated with football that caused/enabled me to become an athlete.


            I desperately wanted to play varsity my Junior year and would do anything to find a position.  I ended up a 155 lb. center, would you believe!           


            We used to have “bull in the ring” where everyone on the team formed a circle and one man was in the middle.  It was a harsh test of courage because the middleman called out one of his teammates to tackle/block one on one.  I always chose Matt Sanzone – the biggest, baddest guy on the team, not because I wanted to get killed but for peer/Mr. Davis’ approval.


            Football gave me the confidence, determination and tenacity in all the sports in which I’ve competed all of my life – and in most everything else I’ve done.  Both hard work to achieve a common goal and the sacrifice of self to team bred a camaraderie I have never had since.  Senior year with my teammates on the football team was something I’ll never forget.


            I loved practice – I loved the sled (yes).  Mr. Lawson saying “Come on, ladies.”  I loved the cool autumn afternoons and, best of all, the games. 


            Wrestling, then, for me was a great sport to keep in shape for baseball.  I didn’t realize it in high school but wrestling was the sport for which I was physically best suited and the one in which I would achieve the most success.


            I loved baseball.  I loved the grass and always played with a blade of grass in my mouth.  I loved catching – with the whole field in front of me – setting players like chess pieces.  Catching Al Jerome, Charlie Napoli at short, Steve Putterman and his pretty swing, Stu Flome and his collision in center field which cost him his spleen and, Steve Buchalter.  Buchy didn’t get to play much and in one of our last games, Mr. Davis put him in as a pinch runner on first base.  We were ragging him from the bench and he started to clown it up – and got picked off.  I fell off the bench laughing – Mr. Davis didn’t think it was very funny.


            Wheatley athletics laid the groundwork for a lengthy athletic career.


                        One year of college football;

                        Four years of college wrestling;

                        Three years of AAU wrestling while in Law School;

Three years of Navy wrestling (two time all Navy champion at 149.5);

                        Two years of Navy flag football;

                        One year of fast pitch softball (Navy Memphis)

                        Two years of slow pitch softball (Navy – Brunswick);

15 years as volunteer assistant wrestling coach – Bowdoin College – until it dropped the program in 1987;

                        8 years of long distance running (an obsessive-compulsive person’s

perfect sport);

                        21 marathons – 4 Boston, 3 New York, P.R. of 2:56:24

                        15 years of squash competition (played in 10 Nationals);

                        1999 to date – volunteer assistant squash coach – Bowdoin College.


            As a result of all the above, my body has, bit by bit, been falling apart.  I am told that I’m an ideal candidate for new knee.


            One of the hardest things about writing this has been to decide how to do it.  I tried to be personal but not too personal.  I’ve left out references to my romances (Linda, Bev and Sandy, may she rest in peace) and the other girls/women of whom I am very fond, not because they weren’t important in my memories.  Actually, at some point in our progress through the years, girls/women took over.  Hormones always prevail.


            I consider myself very lucky to have been educated in The Wheatley School system.  Perhaps even more important than the wonderful education I received are the friendships and relationships formed during that era which have remained with me.  I am fortunate to have known all of you and thank you for making this part of my life so happy.