2007-02-09 / Editorial/Opinion

From The Editor's Desk

FRHS Class Of 1957 - Fifty Years And Counting
Commentary By Howard Schwach

FRHS Class Of 1957 - Fifty Years And Counting
Commentary By Howard Schwach

When the Email came from Linda Stone, FRHS Class of '57 that the class will be holding a reunion on June 23, I did a double-take.

First of all, I was a member of that unmemorable class and second of all, I hadn't thought about the fact that this is the 50th anniversary of our graduation.

Fifty years... who'd have thunked it!

The reunion will be held at the Marriott Hotel in Uniondale, next door to the Nassau Coliseum, on June 23. It is expected to draw more than 100 alumni from throughout the nation.

I looked at the names of those who have already signed on for the party and it brought back memories of football games and classrooms, of teachers hated and teachers admired. The class president is there and the class valedictorian. So is the captain of the cheerleaders and the most likely to succeed.

There are many who will not be there to celebrate their fiftieth reunion.

One of those is Artie Levocove who, to me, represents the worst of what happened to that generation.

Artie, although diminutive, was the captain of the basketball team. The son of a prominent surgeon, he was a bright, articulate member of the class, an Arista member destined for medical school and success. He was one of those that we were sure would be the most likely to succeed.

I lost track of Artie after graduation in 1957, and didn't find him again until the early 1980's, when I moved back to Rockaway from Connecticut.

I needed a locksmith to put new locks in my Bayswater apartment and looked in the Yellow Pages. The name "Dr. Lock" popped up and I called.

When Dr. Lock peddled up on his bicycle with his locks and tools in a bag over the rear wheel, I did a double-take. It was Artie Levocove.

We shook hands and renewed old acquaintances and he told me his tale of drugs and mental problems, of never getting ahead and becoming a locksmith. Over the intervening years, I used Artie a few times for jobs that needed to be done. He died last year.

To me, he represents the generation of "Tune in, Turn on, Drop out" espoused by the culture of the times.

I will miss Artie at the reunion as well as all the others like him from the class of '57 that got sidetracked on the road of life by that destructive mantra.

When I started to think about the reunion, I went back to the Dolphin from that year and looked at the photos of the graduates. Today, we would call them thumbnails. They brought back memories, but there were many of my classmates of whom I have no recollection of at all. I also pulled the bound volume of the 1957 Wave to look at what happened that year.

Some things have changed over the intervening 50 years, others have not.

The lead story was about a Hammels man who tried to kill his wife by setting her on fire. Murder then, murder today. Different motivation, different people, but murder all the same.

The new municipal parking lot on Beach 116 Street was opened to great fanfare and a hope that it would revitalize the shopping district. It hasn't and much of that parking lot is now taken up by a new station house for the Transit Police.

There was a strike of Green Bus drivers, tying up the community and forcing people to walk where they once rode. Today, the Green Bus is gone, replaced by the MTA.

The date was set to begin the slum clearance project that would eventually become the Hammels Houses and Dayton Towers.

The new school in Broad Channel, PS 47, was dedicated.

Far Rockaway Auto Sales was selling new Ford automobiles for $1,799.

Bohack's Supermarket in Far Rockaway was selling turkey at thirty-three cents a pound and a pound of bacon for eight-one cents.

The Park Theater on Beach 116 Street was featuring Tony Martin and Vera Ellen in "Let's Be Happy," with the B movie being Barry Sullivan in "Dragoon Wells Massacre."

The Edgemere Theater on the boardwalk at Beach 33 Street, which was later wiped out in a hurricane, was showing "Little Hut" with Stewart Granger and Ava Gardner, along with "Lizzie," starring Eleanor Parker.

Playland was open for the season and was looking for young women 18 to 26-years-of-age for a "Miss New York Sweater Girl" contest later in July. The winner got some publicity, her photo in The Wave and $100 as a prize.

Stevie Berman, the premier pitcher for the Far Rockaway baseball team and the quarterback on the football team as well, set city records for his senior season, winning six games and losing only one. Berman gave up only 18 walks in 48 innings pitched, gave up 26 hits and struck out 87.

The largest crowd ever was expected for the July 4 weekend if the weather held, exceeding the 1.5 million that came to the beach on July 4, 1956.

If there are any other Far Rockaway High School 1957 graduates out there who are interested in attending the reunion, they can contact Linda Stone, one of the organizers who lives in California at StoneofNY@aol.com or Gail Bookvar Jurrist at doubledgrafs@ aol. com. Part of the tentative plans call for a tour of Rockaway to see old haunts and rekindle memories, as well as to see what is going on in their community that contains their young adulthood. The affair at the hotel is expected to cost approximately $100 per person. Deposits of $50 a person to hold a slot should be sent to Lucille and Marty Moskowitz, 7137 Wind Chime Drive, Fort Worth, Texas, 76133. Or, you can contact me, because I am one of the few left in Rockaway and I will be there.

After all, how often do you have a 50th high school reunion?

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