Monday, January 8, 2018

NPHS Reunion Interview: Fred Legg, Class of 1968


Fred Legg and Marianne Legg, his wife of 39 years.  

Fred Legg retired in 2015 after 35 years as a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA).  He became a COTA in 1976 after a career in the Navy where he served about the USS Kittiwake ASR for four years. He lived in the Plainfield area for a number of years before moving to Florida, where he presently lives in Indian Harbour Beach.    

What was your sense of community in your class/in the school at NPHS?  
We all had our groups of friends and activities.  I was on the JV basketball team and swimming team.   When you’re good at sports you’re accepted by many.  I worked since I was 15 years old at a movie theatre, so I did not go out for varsity teams.   

What experiences in high school, positive or negative, helped to shape you as a person? 
Each teacher affected me positively.  I was quiet and a solid "C" student – even though I could and should have done better.  I enjoyed classes and learned a lot.  I loved Miss O'Brien's English class where she had us study music and cultures from around the world  We were also encouraged to read newsmagazines to expand our minds and learn new words.  Sports played an important part of my high school years.  I also loved shop.

Do you have any regrets about your experiences during your high school years? 
Not applying myself in high school.  After the Navy, I used the GI Bill to go to college and I graduated with a 3.8 GPA.  I wish I could have juggled work and sports but my family needed the money so work won out.  I wish I had been more respectful to the teachers; they have a tough job educating and molding young minds.  

Now, 50 years later, has your perspective on your high school years changed at all?  If so, how? 
Of course, I would have been a lot more involved with learning and growing as a person.  Because the Viet Nam war was peaking when I was graduating there were three options for the immediate future: college, service (the mandatory draft), or Canada.  I did not have the grades so I enlisted in the Navy for four years.  I see now the importance of education and the opportunities it creates.  

What is your fondest memory of your years at NPHS?
Participating in all sports, especially with Mr. Porter and Mr. Rowe in basketball,  I loved every sport.  I also loved hanging out with my friends during and after school and evenings.

What was the craziest or stupidest thing you did in high school?
I was not a crazy for a stupid kid.  I was just there.  Sounds dull but it wasn't.  

What was your proudest accomplishment in high school?  
Graduating.  Receiving my diploma.  And, of course, getting that edge level on a piece of wood in Mr. Wienen's shop class, after a trillion tries.   

Who was your favorite teacher? 
Mr.  William Van Wienen (Shop), Miss O'Brien (English), and Mr. Porter (Gym).

What was your worst class?
History 

What is your most powerful or haunting memory during your years at NPHS?
Realizing that many of our graduates were going to be drafted and fight in the jungles of Viet Nam.  Many served (including me). Many wouldn't return.  To this day, tears come in my eyes when I see their names carved in The Wall at Washington, DC, and the way we who wore the uniforms were treated by the media.

How did growing up at a child of the 60s – and all the social baggage and impact that it may have entailed – impact you at the time and in your young adult years? 

Wow - that is a great question.  Assassination of JFK…The Beatles…the British invasion… music…drugs…Woodstock… sexual revolution…racial strife…space race…entertainment… money…friends.  In 1968 I went in the Navy as a child and came out a man and little wiser. I went back to college, became a therapist, married (40 years in April), have two great kids, grandfather of five, and teach art classes.  I loved the 60s.  We were not staring a iPhone.  We were living everyday and learning so, so, so, much. 
Gunners Mate 3rd Class, Fred Legg
College graduation picture

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

NPHS Reunion Interview: Dave Millar, Class of 1969

     
Like a rock:  Dave Millar at Pearce Rock, Quebec.

After graduating from Bucknell University in 1973, Dave Millar spent seven years in retail operations in Connecticut.  He relocated to Greenville, SC, started taking computer programming classes, and on June 1, 1982, he began his “final” career with Southern Bank & Trust as a “programmer trainee”, and worked with financial institutions lasting 35 years, when he retired on June 2, 2017.  The last 29 years were spent working in Charlotte, NC, with Wells Fargo and predecessor banks (Wachovia and First Union).  His technical skills enhanced from mainframe programming to data analytics and data mining, in corporate audit services, specializing in wealth and capital management, and retirement services.      

Where do you live now?  Where have you lived since graduating?
My wife, Jan, and I currently live in Concord, NC (home of NASCAR, but not avid fans), about 25 miles northeast of Charlotte, since January of 1988 (we met in Greenville, SC, in 1986 and married on May 23, 1987).  Since we have both retired in 2017, Concord will be our final home, literally and figuratively.      

What was your sense of community in your class/in the school at NPHS?  
My family moved to North Plainfield from Saddle Brook, NJ, before I started seventh grade, so, I did not have any significant history, and not many close friends in North Plainfield before I started NPHS.  It was primarily through playing sports (soccer, basketball, and baseball) and involvement in service clubs (Key Club and Hi-Y) that I developed a number of “peripheral friends.”  I probably hung out” and had as many friends with my brother, John, who was two grades ahead of me.                  

What experiences in high school, positive or negative, helped to shape you as a person? 
Actually, I recall the class that I feared the most was Mrs. Blevins’ Junior Speech class, and giving my initial speech probably caused me the greatest anxiety, given my extreme introverted personality.  However, it probably proved to be the one class that best prepared me for adult life, and I have felt comfortable ever since giving speeches and talks to all types of audiences.          

Do you have any regrets about your experiences during your high school years? 
Although sports precluded my trying out for the class play, I wish I could have been involved in the drama club.  I am still in awe of how actors and actresses can remember all of their lines!!! 

Now, 50 years later, has your perspective on your high school years changed at all?  If so, how?
I did teach Junior Achievement Project Business for five years at Concord, NC, in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, attempting to instill a sense of managing your income and expenses, and preparing a “personal budget” (maybe I was somewhat successful as my stepdaughter has become so fiercely independent and fiscally responsible).  What amazes me now is how we had to learn all of our arithmetic tables longhand with memorization, and type up our term papers on the manual typewriter.  Today’s students only know about personal computers, iPads, smartphones, and even the calculator has become obsolete.            
  
What is your fondest memory of your years at NPHS?  
Making the varsity soccer team in my first year trying out for the sport, and NPHS making it to the state quarterfinals, losing to Glen Rock 3-0.  I started as goalie at Bucknell my junior and senior years, and I believe I played against Russell Pollack when Bucknell competed against Cornell.  Yes, my four years at NPHS prepared me well for college and ultimate adult careers.   

What was the craziest or stupidest thing you did in high school?  
I fell asleep and snored in Mr. George Teets’ U.S. History class.  If those of you who remember having Mr. Teets for a teacher, you can understand the possibility of this happening to you.

What was your proudest accomplishment in high school?  
I was elected to the National Honor Society in my Senior Year.  Also, I was awarded the Senior Athlete of the year in 1969.   

Who was your favorite teacher? 
As I perused my high yearbook, I guess the two teachers who made the most positive impact on me at NPHS were Mr. McKenna  (Sophomore Biology) and Miss Bellino (Junior Chemistry).

What was your worst class? 
I guess trying to learn French for three years from Mrs. Johnson with her “southern accent”, who attended Claflin College in South Carolina.  

What is your most powerful or haunting memory during your years at NPHS? 
Although I did not know Bob Gardner that well, his death from an automobile accident in October of 1968 was my first experience of death, and has forever haunted me but prepared me for family tragedies.  In the fall of 1979, ten years after high school, I lost my brother, John (class of 1967) to Hodgkins Disease, and four weeks later (on December 7, 1979), my sister, Michele (four years younger than me), was killed in a one-car automobile accident.  My dad took his own life (bi-polar depression) on July 3, 1988.  I do not know how my mother carried on with life for myself and my youngest sister, (Marilyn). Now, Mom is currently battling severe dementia, with Marilyn (my ultimate saint) as caregiver.   
       

Tossing a rock: Dave Millar's no-hitter  against Watchung, spring of 1969.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

RIP Dave Mills, Class of 1969



Dave was named class athlete and was celebrated in this yearbook photo.

Dave died November 11, 2017.  Services will be held Friday November 17, from 4-6 p.m. at Saul Funeral Homes, 3795 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square, NJ 08690.  Phone number: 609-587-0170.  Remembrances from classmates are welcome at the service.  Here the link to his obituary.
Dave at the 2009 reunion.  He was looking forward to the 2018 reunion and wanted to attend.
Dave snags a pass for the NPHS Canucks in this clipping from  The Courier News.


Friday, November 3, 2017

NPHS Reunion Interview: Janice Hansen Lake, Class of 1969

"Lab" partner: Janice earlier this year with her Labrador Retriever Harley.
What was your sense of community in your class/in the school at NPHS?  
Janice Hansen Lake:  It was great to be part of the Class of 1969.  We had a really fun and diversified group of kids in our class.  We had an extraordinary number of talented and gifted people and a general appreciation and acceptance of everyone, regardless of their personalities or interests.  1969 was a time of change and, like the rest of the world, we felt the need to be part of the change.  I felt proud of our class and will always be grateful to have known everyone!

What experiences in high school, positive or negative, helped to shape you as a person? 
Janice Hansen Lake:  Being accepting of everyone and friendly to all who wanted to accept my friendship has served me well through the years in all facets of my life.  My extracurricular activities at school, church volunteer activities and community volunteering during High School made it easy to continue being active to this day, which is probably why I enjoy planning our reunions.     

Do you have any regrets about your experiences during your high school years? 
Janice Hansen Lake:  Tough question.  I don’t have any regrets.  However, I do know that I could have made wiser choices in some instances.      

Now, 50 years later, has your perspective on your high school years changed at all?  If so, how
Janice Hansen Lake:  Not really.  I have very good memories. 

What is your fondest memory of your years at NPHS?  
Janice Hansen Lake:  I have many fond memories of High School as well as North Plainfield in general.  My family has been in NP since 1870, I raised my daughter there, my sister was the Principal at West End School and some of my family still lives in NP today.  As far as my High School years, I have the fondest memories of the friendships I formed.

What was the craziest or stupidest thing you did in high school?  
Janice Hansen Lake:  I did a lot of crazy and stupid things, some actually quite fun, but most of which I prefer not to put into print.  Thankfully, I didn’t get caught doing any of them!

What was your proudest accomplishment in high school?  
Janice Hansen Lake:  Trying out and being selected as our NPHS Mascot with Anne Proli.  Loved the experience!

Who was your favorite teacher? 
Janice Hansen Lake:  Ethel Abrams was the best and most personally supportive teacher at NPHS and my all-time favorite, hands-down!  She always had a smile, was never too busy to listen and brought the best out in everyone.  I had her as an English teacher three of my four high school years and am grateful to have known her.

What was your worst class? 
Janice Hansen Lake:  Spanish with Mr. Kianese. Although he was a great teacher and very kind to me, after 5 years of Spanish I could barely count to ten. I do remember a few words today which have helped me in our travels, but I really wish I had been a better Spanish student.  On the other hand, I loved my math and science classes.  I always thought Mr. McKenna made his classes interesting and was a good teacher.  Of course, if he caught you chewing gum in class, he made you run the track after school.  I imagine teachers aren’t allowed to make kids do that today!

What is your most powerful or haunting memory during your years at NPHS? 
Janice Hansen Lake:  I actually have two.  The first was JFK’s assassination.  I was in Miss Tirney’s 7th grade English class when the announcement was made over the PA system.  The second was the death of our classmate, Bob Gardner, in October 1968. I still remember how Mrs. Abrams gave us the entire class period to discuss anything we wanted about the car accident and helped us make some sense of the tragedy. It was a very difficult time for everyone in our class.

Did you own a pair of bell-bottom jeans in high school?
Janice Hansen Lake:  Yes, but couldn’t wear them to school.  Do schools still have dress codes?   

What was the first rock concert you attended while in high school and where was it?
Janice Hansen Lake:  I think it was Paul Revere and the Raiders, but I wouldn’t swear to it.  No idea where.  




Janice flies the school's colors as a mascot back in 1969.