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REMEMBERING BROOKLYN: The old gang takes a trip down memory lane

The program of my graduating class from PS. 115 on East 92nd Street in Canarsie came up while I was going through some old papers on orders from the boss (my wife). I had to make some room I the closet. It was only a life time ago and perhaps some reader of “Remembering Brooklyn” my spot his or her name. Awards of medals and prizes- Scholarship… 1- Sylvia Lefkowitz; 2- Gerad Visone; and 3- Lillian Luri. Service… 1-John Dale; 2-Max Lerner. Honorable Mention – Isadore Sipelstein Sewing… 1- Rose Brucato; 2- Anna Slutsky: 3- Harriet I. Brodsky. Shop work… 1- Abraham Goldberg; 2- Clifford Sise. History and Civics… Helen Baker Penmanship Award… D. Nogoro Valedictory Address… Sylvia Lefkowitz School Song- Salute to the Flag, Star Spangled Banner Presentation of Colors to the class. Recessional… Board of Education, City of New York; George J. Ryan, President William J. O’shea, Superintendent of schools; Local School Board, District 1; James C. Fogarty, Chairman; Dr Gerson Wolk, Secretary; John Lomax, Ana Bloom, Johanna Hayes; Margaret P Rae, District Superintendent; Edmund C. Westervelt, Principal; and Helen J. Mckenna, Assistant to Principal. It was some time last year that a former classmate who now resides in Tennessee wrote to me. A friend living in Canarsie sent him a copy of “Remembering Brooklyn”. That was the answer to my surprise when Stan Vreeland contacted me by mail. Stan was the kid who sat next to me in the class. Stan also received another copy of the column from a friend living in Bay Ridge, a friend who reads THE BAY RIDGE COURIER, one of our many Courier-Life papers that cover Brooklyn. Stan’s friend thought that Stan might know me from his early days in Canarsie, and he did remember me. The decades that passed since we shared space in the old wooden school house that was P.S.115 in its infancy did not dim the recollections of names and places of classmates. Where but in Brooklyn can such friendships endure? Stan finally contacted me and a chain of letters between us began. Fortunately, Stan has a daughter living not far from Brooklyn, in Valley Stream, LI and he was intending to make the trip into town to see his daughter. The idea for a meeting came up and we decided to meet at the American Legion Hall in Canarsie on East 92nd Street. As I entered the building, I wondered if I would recognize Stan. The moment I saw him sitting on a bar stool, I knew it was him. The one big difference was his sipping a beer instead of a soda in fort Myers candy store. I walked up beside him and ordered a beer too. We looked at each and in unison we shouted each other’s name. It was a great reunion, one that spanned more than a half century, a few wrinkles and some hair loss, but his boyish smile endured the passage of time. Stan suddenly was the same kid I knew. We began a lengthy discussion, the subject, the classmates we knew. It was a revelation to discover how many details we could remember about people who had not even been a remote thought in our minds before we met in the legion hall. We recalled the baseball games that decided the championship of the eighth grade and I felt a pang of regret that I felt when I struck out in the ninth inning and it cost us the game. Such disappointment linger longer that one can imagine in our subconscious. The name Lurie came up and I remembered that name instantly. The Luries lived on Rockaway Parkway, a block from my house on East 98th Street. I remembered Dan Lurie as a boy. Dan, as most Canrsiens know, was a famous sports figure involved in all types of bodybuilding equipment. Another Lurie is well known to the veterans in Canarise through her association with the JWV Cohen Lurie chapter of the Jewish War Veterans of America. This Lurie is known as Millie Cohen formerly, Millie Lurie who was a class mate of ours. We spoke about Millie at length and recalled her fondly. We remembered our principal Mr. Westervelt and the assistant principal, Helen McKenna. These names needed no memory search as those two people were so very important in our days at P.S 115. It is amazing how the mind will react to a slip of paper with writing on it. A case in point was the letter from te president with the heading “Greetings”. This letter drafted many Brooklyn youths into the services and they found themselves far away from home in both the ETO and in the Pacific. One of the best good news letters I received was the one that surfaced recently and was postmarked Tennessee. That was the letter that inspired this week’s column.

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