As some of you know, I have a strong affinity with the wonderful community of Bayside, the heart of Queens County. I may have been born in Corona, but we moved to Bayside in 1947 when I was seven. So it was Bayside where some of the most indelible memories of my life were forged, and where I was lucky enough to make friendships which would last a lifetime.
I wrote about some of these friendships in my coming-of-age bio-fictional novel, Be Bop A Lula, which covers Bayside in the mid-1950s. And, I’ve written several poems about Bayside for my poetry book, On The Road To Here. But I’ve never written about “the early years” in Bayside – which were some of the most formative times. Well, I did touch upon the subject in a recent blog, which included playing baseball with my schoolmates. While researching that blog, I dusted off some ancient file folders and re-discovered a few cherished photos of my days at Sacred Heart School. And, of some of my classmates who combined forces to drive the good Sisters of Mercy to probably question their vows about “mercy” while providing Father Sherman and Pastor Sharkey, in the confessional, with some interesting topics of conversation – if they were only able to “tell.”
Unfortunately, I’ve lost touch with most of my classmates, but I can tell you they were a great bunch of guys and gals. People like Tony Matich, Pete Lupario, Larry King (who went on to become Bayside’s leading saloon keeper, Roger Schehr (the long-time bartender at The Old Forge), twins Bernie and Mike O’Neil (sons of the owner of O’Neil’s Bar on Bell – seems to be a strong relationship between my classmates and alcohol), Mike Ciavarella, Margaret Hayes, Janet Beitter, academic leader Reina Byrnes, Neil DeVita, Rudy Hertlein (son of the owners of Hertlein’s German Bakery on Bell) and so many more.
So, in honor of my old classmates, I’d like to share some memories of Sacred Heart School in Bayside (where, by the way, my grandson Frederick Louis now attends).
The attached photo compilation is of the Class of 1954 graduation party. In photo #1 Mike Giacento dancing with Maggie Hayes. #2: Albert Hazel singing "It's the Same Old Shillelagh". #3: Fred Smith dancing with one of the 8th grade beauties, while Richard Manning (left) is up to something, #4: Ah, that’s what Richard is up to – a great impersonation of James Cagney, while Roger Schehr (left) seems lost in space. #5: the formidable Sacred Heart 8th Grade Football Team, with a backfield of myself (left); quarterback Tony Matich and Pete Lupario (right). Front line includes (from right) Ed McCabe, John Clark, Rudy Hertlein, Mike Ciavarella, Al Hazel, Tom McCarthy and Frank Hudock – if memory serves me right! By the way, that sandlot playing field in the photo where out team practiced was at the corner of Bell and 35th Avenue, where the dinner and The Milk Farm are now located.