GOING FIRST CLASS .....
THE WILLIAM FLOYD HIGH SCHOOL
Class of 1960
The little group above of 71 kids plus Wally were the first ones to take the then 127 year old Union Free School District # 32 (founded 1833) into a new territory. What they probably didn't realise was between the years of 1956 - 1960 they were taking others like myself into new territory also. I know I didn't at the time, however I seem to have a small talent for remembering what many would say are small details.
Those who are here for just a nostalgic look back, I would suggest just open your '60 yearbook. What I'm going to attempt here is something a little different. A look at the first William Floyd High School graduating class, starting from 1956 their freshman year as seen from someone, none of them would of ever had any reason to notice or know and who also would only be graduating from 8th grade that June of 1960,
Being in music for most of my life and starting to teach myself guitar in 1956, I have selected a few tunes to add in to these pages because they trigger some specific memory for me during that time. They are by no means favorites (to do that would take up all the available web space) or a sample of greatest hits or misses. They are just songs we all heard in school and out. To hear them just click on the title. They will open in a new page and play with Quicktime. To continue reading while they play just minumize their window.
Note: If you have a slow modem the mp3 song files probably will take too much time to load. On a cable or DSL connection they should start to play instantly.
THE FRESHMEN OF 1956 - 57
On Tuesday, September 4th, 1956 I found myself for a second time in my short scholastic career in a brand new school building. The pastel paint on the classroom cinderblocks was not only still fragrent, it was still soft and rubbed off. The first time I was on these premises, was four years earlier in the fall of 1952 when I got to christen the very first William Floyd School kindergarten class. Now here I was back again after 3 years of reading and writing and 'rithmatic in the old Moriches Annex, in a brand new wing that was hastily added to try and keep up with the population explosion in the Mastic - Shirley area brought on in part by the real estate selling skills of one Walter T. Shirley.
There were two big changes for me that year. By skipping the 4th grade which was still on split sessions at the Moriches Annex, I was now in class with 26 other kids one to two years older than me and we were all surrounded by all these HIGH SCHOOLERS. Looking at them now, they didn't look that scary, but back then it was basicaly keep your head down and stay out of their way. For some reason Miss Rosado's 5th grade class got seperated from the all the other 5 & 6th grade classes that were holed up over in the original building that was pretty far away. We were connected only by a cafeteria, a courtyard and a long hallway. So even though we were in one classroom all day save for lunch, recess, and bathroom breaks, there were times where you would find yourselves out in the halls with what for the first year could of passed for a group of extras in the movie Blackboard Jungle especially the guys. Cuffed Levis, garrison belts, and engineer boots with taps, along with leather motorcycle jackets for those who could afford them. And for a short time SIDEBURNS! courtesy of that kid from Memphis whose fashion statements were catching on as quickly as his records were. Sideburns were the first to go because of the make it up as you go dress code imposed by Mr. Jim Coles the assistant principal / guidance counsler. Two kids in my 5th grade class had motorcycle jackets, John Stewart and Randy Cruise, neither would pass for JD's though. Randy's sister Marlene was in the future class of 1960.
In June of 1956 my sister graduated in the last class of Mastic area kids who needed to go to Center Moriches for high school. She had a boyfriend all through school who dressed like Brando in the Wild One and in their senior year Elvis. The fact that my brother Butch and I really looked up to Dennis and got to hang out with him somewhat, I think took the edge off some of my trepidation of the "hoods in the halls" at Floyd. Although I don't recall ever talking with any of them, and I still remained wary of the biggest and the baddest looking ones. I think I really wanted to be like them though. I know I was probably more influenced by those older kids than I was of the ones I spent most of the school day with. This only seemed to increase for me as each year at Floyd as one higher grade was added leading up to a complete high school. I know it was further enhanced when my brother entered the realm of high schoolers in 1959 and I got to hang out with him and his friends in the mornings before the first bell. This got curtailed in 1962 when he left to join the Navy, but by then the class of 1960 was already long gone and I was a sophomore.
Funny They Don't Look Scary At All Now
Perhaps it's 'cause the photographer got them to say cheese. But that guy in dead center of the last row ...... Ralph Perra,* ....... trust me he could of been sent by central casting as leader of THE JETS,,,,then there were the tall ones like Einfeldt & Van Tassel who looked like Jim Arness in the hallway. Believe it or not one of the toughest was the kid in the center of the second row in front of Perra wearing the glasses, Bob Rutigliano. Notice there are NO GIRLS in grade 9-2! I think they may of segregated all the freshman classes hoping to reign in raging hormones....they may as well of tried to keep the locusts from eating the entire woods behind the school that year.
* I stand corrected! Got an email today (Feb 2005) from another Class of '60 member, Frank Saverese. Frank who is wearing the flannel shirt on the left of Bob Rutigliano wrote to say that is not the irrepresible Ralph Perra in the rear but one John Barbagallo ..... It's always good to hear from folks out there who were "there when it happened" especially when they have something to add or correct . Below is a senior year photo circa 1959 -60 of Mr. Ralph Perra who I heard went on to quite a distiguished career in National Defense.
I still recall my first day in school that year. Suddenly there were all these kids I had only seen from a distance on the playground at the annex in class with me. They still seemed to be at a distance however as most of them knew each other and I felt like an outsider with them. But the thing I remember most that first day was getting on the bus to go home. I had purchased at the school store (a closet under the north stairway of the original building) a jacket patch (50 cents?) and a pencil for a nickel. When we came out the front door there was Mr. Coles looking like a young Bud Collyer, the quizmaster on TV's Beat The Clock, barking directions into his bullhorn. I didn't know who he was, but he looked important and smart so I went up to him and asked him if he knew what it said on my newly purchased patch. It was the school motto in Latin "Lux et Veritas." He told me "Light And Truth " and immeadiatly went back to yelling out orders to the mob to board their buses. I found mine and stopped about halfway down the aisle and took a seat cause a whole bunch of older kids had turfed off the back seats. I felt excited, enlightened and even better when I saw my big brother coming down the aisle to sit with me.