In 1963, Fred Cantor’s parents moved to Easton Road from Queens. Two years later he graduated from Coleytown Elementary School, just down the street.
To mark that 50th anniversary, a small group — Fred, Nancy Saipe, Leslie Schine, Andy Lewis, Jeff Wilkins, Dan Magida and Cherie Flom Quain — arranged a literal stroll down memory lane. Principal Janna Sirowich and her assistant Carol Borrman helped them take a tour of the current school on Tuesday. Here’s Fred’s report:
Coleytown was K-6 during our time there — the peak years of the baby boom era. Our 1965 photo shows 97 kids in 6th grade. We had 3 teachers, so that’s 32-33 students per class!
Most in our group had not been back inside in decades. Some long-lost or fuzzy memories were jogged during our visit.
There was no formal auditorium at Coleytown. The gym with a stage on the side doubled as the auditorium. We had an annual Christmas concert there. Parents sat in rows of folding chairs on the basketball court.
The gym/stage space brought back memories of a graduation ceremony. Boys and girls walked in from the playground. We were lined up by height, from shortest to tallest.
Walking down the corridors and visiting old classrooms evoked other images from the distant past:
- Nap time in kindergarten, where kids stretched out on giant towels.
- A particularly unruly 3rd grader who was disciplined regularly by having his desk placed in the hallway.
- Developing a newspaper-reading habit for current events discussions, by clipping stories on topics like civil rights and space exploration.
Everyone remembered recess fondly. Popular games were 4-square and “maul the ball carrier” (tackling the kid with the ball — an activity schools might not embrace today).
Report cards have certainly evolved over 50 years. Our 5th grade math classes were divided into “fast,” “high average” and “low average” tracks. We were also graded on “penmanship.”
At this stage of life, thinking back on those early childhood years elicits thoughts of classmates and friends no longer with us.
Those feelings were particularly poignant this week. Our classmate Andy Lewis — who looked very forward to the tour — died of an apparent heart attack just days before he was to head to Westport.
My last email exchange with Andy was about our Coleytown experiences. He said he’d walked home for lunch “if the menu was bad, like fish sticks.”
Andy’s sudden death is also a reminder that we never know what the future holds. We should be grateful for every opportunity to reunite with old friends.