THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES...
fit four full decades into as many hours - and with over 400 people attending -
is a logistical impossibility. Still, the attempt was made on June 8, 2002.
Condensing a remembrance of that evening into, say, four
sentences - or even four paragraphs - is equally absurd. Still, a compendium is
hereby and humbly offered. - -
remember things as we see them, but how we see and recall people and events can
depend on the circumstances of our lives - or even of a single weekend. We
usually have confidence in our own memory, and we're often convinced it can
record details efficiently. Actually, human memory can be a very delicate and
fragile mechanism. Our experiences don't stay totally intact in our memory,
because there are other forces - external and internal - that affect the
original memory of an experience, a person, or an object.
saw many we hadn't seen in decades - longer than some of our children have been
living. People tend to change naturally with the passage of time. Even a
structure, and even if left intact and unaltered over the years, will still
appear different to us. Surroundings, too, have a bearing on our
interpretation, and the impact, of what we see; those of us who visit the NY
Aquarium again, even years from now, will be unable to do so without
remembering that reunion. In 1966, the undersigned got to know a building (now
an interpreters' college) in Germany in which Napoleon's troops were once
quartered. Though the edifice itself hadn't changed by the time this writer
returned for a visit after a 20-year absence, it still appeared different
because he now saw it through eyes that had benefited by the learning,
background, maturity and perspective of the intervening two decades. The
experience was pivotal and, in a word, a revelation.
a given that time passes. With certain kinds of motivation, or when interfering
or contradictory facts appear, our memory traces can change or be transformed -
and we're usually not even aware it's happening. By extension, in certain cases
(and more often than we think), we can actually have recollections of events
that never really happened as we "remember" them, and to believe in memories of
things that never really existed. We also tend to invest others with qualities,
both positive and negative (as with lovers and perceived enemies, respectively)
that they may not actually have. These very human tendencies may be a criminal
lawyer's nightmare - but like it or not, that's the way of things.
SBHS 40-ish Reunion, though, wasn't a day for technical definition to guide us.
It was a day for personal pleasure and social enjoyment in which all of us
there engaged. Many of us tried to remember what we'd nearly forgotten, and
some of us actually tried to forget some of what we had remembered - but all of
us experienced that day, and will recall it very fondly. To feel sentimental,
nostalgic and wistful is not "to regret" - so it would be very surprising if
anyone, even the initially skeptical, truly regretted having been there on that
we're all older now - but time has enabled an evolution and accomplishments for
us that were not only impossible but actually inconceivable to us forty years
Without exception, the teacher and mentor I most enjoyed seeing again, and who,
during my crucial formative years, was effectively responsible, in large
measure, for music being a pervasive feature of my entire life: Lee Sevush.
teacher who couldn't attend and who I most missed seeing - but with whom, very
thankfully, I'm now in touch, whose insight is enviable, and who quite
unknowingly played a small but significant and memorable role in stimulating my
young imagination so long ago: Doris Lesser.
people whose premature passing caused me great sadness when I learned of it
during my search for our teachers: Edward Williams, who left us in 1988 at age
62, and who with literally geometric logic could easily, clearly and
successfully explain to any student the most complex matters of the subject at
hand; and Dr. Murray Plissner, who left us more recently and who remains in my
memory as among the sanest and most enlightened of all the sometimes convoluted
folks I've ever met, before or since.
Without exception, the absolutely superb lady I most enjoyed seeing again, for
the first time in four decades - years which, when I saw her, seemed to
evaporate as though they had never even passed, since her appearance had
changed but little - and with who I was totally out of touch until only
recently: Marilyn Shattls.
Without exception, the gentleman I most enjoyed seeing again, for the first
time in several years but still a close friend with whom I've been in
consistent touch ever since SBHS, and who that evening was still instantly
recognized even by those who hadn't seen him at all during the interim: Bruce
lady I didn't recognize (a matter of my perception, not of her appearance)
until she turned to me and showed me her name-tag and yearbook photo, but who I
was positively delighted to see again: Linda Jaslove.
gentleman I didn't recognize (again, my eyesight...) until he re-introduced
himself to me after so many years, and whom I had known even at PS 206: Ron
lady there I most regret not having seen, whose exponential adorability factor
I've always remembered, and who soon afterward allowed me with the pleasure of
meeting with her: Anne Gallagher.
gentleman who seemed to do more than any others combined, for both the
committee per se and for everyone else, and whose middle name should rightfully
be, Selfless: Stan Weilgus.
lady who couldn't attend and whom I thusly didn't get to greet, whose natural
bearing was absolutely regal even as a girl, and who honored me with the
exquisite pleasure of seeing her not long afterward: Dianne Beacher.
gentleman with whom I literally grew up - we lived right next door - but whom I
hadn't seen in twenty years or more: Fred Simon.
lady whose whereabouts couldn't be established even by the combined efforts of
the FBI, the CIA, Sherlock Holmes, and every known yenta, and who thusly I also
didn't get to see. She represents the star atop the tree, never within reach -
but as a genuine heart-stopper who got me catatonic when I'd see her, who
caused butterflies in my stomach and my knees to weaken, and who could actually
change my metabolism on any given day (well, so it all seemed then), she
remains virtually unique in my memory: Laurie Sher.
gentlemen with whom I wasn't close back then, but each of whom is most likely
now a better man than I: Stewart Levine and Stan Perla.
lady who e-mailed me before the reunion that I shouldn't expect too much in
anticipation of seeing her, but whose sweetness quotient hasn't changed at all
and whose appearance is still positively riveting: Carol Berk.
two gentlemen who didn't attend but who I'd like to have seen there: David
Assael and Lowell Bodger, both still my close friends.
lady I met shortly before the reunion but who I have the pleasure of seeing
often since we live near each other, whose smile and warmth of personality seem
to bring the sunshine with her even on dark days, and who as the gem in the
setting of new friends I so regret not having known back then: Holly Stander.
gentleman who was an absolute whiz at chemistry and who, except for graying
hair, has changed so little that I recognized him from a distance: Ira
Three exceptional and singular people: Shelly Brandman (knew him well back
then), Robert Schwartz (knew him slightly back then), and Alan Wilk (didn't
know him back then). Bob Schwartz and his efforts are the cement that bonded
the event's components in preparation - to such an extent that even when he had
to let go of the reins two days before the reunion, the team continued
functioning without a hitch or breaking stride. Shelly & Alan are
effectively responsible for enlightening me about the wisdom of reconsidering
my initial decision, which was not to attend. I have no regrets about their
having prompted me to change my mind, and to them goes a major share of the
credit (A) for influencing me to re-think my original conclusion, (B) for my
own enjoyment of the event, (C) for letting me realize I still don't know
everything, and (D) for making me sometimes wonder if I actually know anything
at all in the first place.
gentleman who long ago lived for a time on my street, whom I hadn't seen in
nearly three decades, but whom I recognized immediately: Gene Atamer.
lady whose personal sparkle, natural charm, and extraordinary appearance have
remained intact even after all this time, and whose particular in-person luster
makes her seem to be illuminated from within: Erma Massa.
the sake of balance and symmetry: People being as they are - which is to say,
only human - there were those who when they saw me thanked me for notifying
them about the reunion, but who hadn't even bothered responding to my
communiqué about it. Some couldn't be located at all and were thus
unaware of the event; yet others were aware of it but were still unable to
attend, and yet others had planned to be there but had to cancel at the
eleventh hour. My sympathies are with them. Still others were apprised but
evidently felt that attending a function like a high school reunion is beneath
them. These folks, who will never know what they missed, are from various walks
of life, some live in foreign countries, and are of various persuasions:
they're the ones I frankly didn't miss and who get from me only my best wishes,
but they were few and their names are better left unsaid, at least by me. They
shot an arrow into the air - and where it fell, I do not care.
friends I've made, or older friendships I've renewed, in whatever form and
proximity, since I joined the reunion cadre. I'm glad, even thankful, that a
connection was made - which I hope will continue - between me and the good
people I've mentioned in this remembrance of things past: Barbara
Adelman-Seidman, Richard Baratz, Joy Chase, Ed Cypress, Vivian
DiSpezio-DeMarco, Janice Felix-Greene, Joanne Frankle-Altman, Mark Goldberg, Ian Jagoda, Naomi
Gross-Storz, Geraldine Hochman-Rosenthal, Robert Kagan, Beth Korn-Levine, Sheryl Levy-Glick,
Lenore Makler-Blumer, Joan Marchese, Janet New-Morgan, Pearl Nutik-Glassberg, Sharon Reich-Weinberg,
Mike Roth, Ken Salzinger, Gail Scholder-Brown, Nancy Schwartz-Lake, Margaret
Valentine, and Sally Wald.
can go home again - - but only for a visit.
SBHS Class of 1961