Thursday, December 17, 2009

R.I.P -- David Giesa

This piece of sad news came in this morning on the NPHS Alumni Grapevine. From Noel Marks to Carol Mingione to Emily Polskin Zylber. Noel wrote Carol to report that he had received a Christmas card from Pat Giesa, David's wife. The card said that David died last summer after his struggle with ALS (aka....Lou Gehrig's disease). Noel hadn't talked to David in many years but they did exchange Christmas cards. David had been living in Tampa. He had two daughters. From Mingione: "A very sweet man." She added that he grew up in the East End. David graduated with the class of 1969.

If anyone has a photo of him or a fond memory, I would be glad to post.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

2009 NPHS Hall of Fame Inductees

From left to right: Danny Caruso, accepting on behalf of Terry Silverlight (music), class of 1975; Dr. Joseph Scarola (medicine), class of 1965; the Reverend Doctor Grover G. DeVault (Military, Ministry and Community Service), class of 1948; Beverly Gaston Kochard (education), NPHS class of 1969; and Carol Pines, accepting on behalf of her sister-in-law the late Ethel Abrams (education), class of 1935.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

And from the NPHS Class of 1970....

From left: Claire Cox (maiden name) andCarl Delgyer

Claire Cox and Ruth Shapack. They traveled together from North Carolina to attend Ethel Abrams' induction into the NPHS Hall of Fame. Ruth knew Ethel from her college days and was one of her oldest friends. Claire and Ruth see each other often in North Carolina.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Honoring Ethel Abrams, NPHS Hall of Famer

Gerry Garatino Burns provided the night's most stirring moments with a powerful, emotional and dead-on accurate assessment of what Ethel Abrams meant to her students. (Gerry above with NPHS principal Jerard Stephenson and Ethel Abrams' sister-in-law Carol Pines.) Gerry recapped Mrs. Abrams' career (and she will be forever Mrs. Abrams -- not Ethel -- in my mind) starting with her first job as a social investigator for the New Jersey State Board of Child Welfare in Newark. Never knew that. After a few more fascinating biographical details, Gerry launched into the meat of her speech.

She was an extraordinary woman who loved and cared for every student who crossed her path. She always saw the good in everyone. She had such compassion for those who suffered and always extended a hand or shoulder to those in need. She was a teacher whose day extended long beyond the classroom. Always there whenever a student needed to talk, needed some guidance, or needed a friend. She taught us to never give up, set goals and reach for the stars.

Ask me who my favorite teacher was...I'll answer Mrs. Abrams. And I've heard that answer over and over from many NPHS graduates. It was Mrs. Abrams who brought me out of my shell, encouraging me to get involved outside the classroom and join clubs. It is because of her that I had the confidence to become a leader in high school, pursue a career as a nurse and later become a community leader in North Plainfield.

Why Beverly Gaston Kochard Was Inducted into NPHS Hall of Fame

A few of you have written me asking about Bev's accomplishments. So here's why she was such an outstanding addition to the NPHS Alumni Hall of Fame. (Above: Beverly with Dick McKenna, who introduced her and showered her with praise, and NPHS principal Jerard Stephenson.) She is Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Moravian College. That means she's responsible for Moravian's residence life, which! Greek life, career development, student activities, student conduct, campus safety. To be inducted, one must be distinguished in the fields of medicine, education, the military and community service, music and entertainment.

Other classmates of ours who made the NPHS HOF include: Glennda Dove, Vince O'Neil, Gerry Garatino Burns, Dr. Charles Gomer, Richard Searl, Dr. Paul Auerbach, Maria Mijares (class of 1970 but she was at the dinner Saturday so let's mention it), Jan Leah Cooper Lamb, Virginai Rojas, and Harry Lewis.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Singing Praises to the Great Caruso (Mario)

Mario Caruso (above at the conclusion of the dinner)is the president of the NPHS Alumni Association and he did a great job pulling together Saturday's dinner. He deserves a big shout-out. The dinner, by the way, honored Ethel Abrams, Grover DeVault, Beverly Gaston Kochard, Joseph Scarola and Terry Silverlight. Mario and his brother Frank ran the coolest barbershop in the area back in the day. The place oozed testosterone. It felt more like a speakeasy than a barbershop and there was even a sexy manicurist who filled my head with all sorts of...well...non haircutting types of activities. Frank and Mario are still in the business, but it's my understanding their salon is a hive of NPHS alumni activity. And best of all....they're still cool!

NPHS Hall of Fame Awards Oct. 3, 2009

This is the first of several dispatches that I'll post over the next week about the 15th annual North Plainfield High Alumni Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony. It was held Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Italian American Club on Somerset Street.

Five NPHS graduates were inducted, but -- and this is truly no slur against the other four -- what drove me to drive from Manhattan to North Plainfield was to honor the memory of Ethel Abrams. She was one of those teachers who helped me find my North Star. Simple as that. Her sister-in-law Carol Pines attended, as did one of her oldest friends, Ruth Shapack, who flew in from North Carolina with Claire Cox (I'm using maiden names here). I'll have photos later in the week.

Beverly Gaston Kochard, NPHS Class of 1969, was also inducted. That's her in the red dress (uh....lots of red dresses....I guess someone sent a memo out earlier in the week) walking to the podium after Dick McKenna (yep....that Dick McKenna) reeled off her accomplishments. Quite impressive. She didn't pick up those skills in NPHS shop class that's for sure. Look for McKenna photos later in the week plus a video clip of his speech.

Some of our classmates were in attendance as you can see from the picture above with Lorraine, Gerry, Claire (class of 70 snuck in there....have to speak to Homeland Security about that) and Adrienne. Class of 1970 was also represented by Maria Mijares and Carl Delgyer. Pictures to come. Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

NPHS Classmates Meet in San Francisco

Video from a summer of 2009 NPHS class of 1969 semi-reunion held at a restaurant in San Francisco. Classmates include Andy Thomson, Paul Auerbach, Carol Mingione Greene, Barbara Green Elbeze and her husband Fernand. If I hear more details about the get together, I will post.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hello from Barrie Dempsey, NPHS Class of 1969

Barrie Dempsey, NPHS class of 1969, sent me this image last week. He's shown in a helicopter aboard the USS Midway in San Diego. His stepdaughter just joined the Navy. Barrie lives in California and is considering relocating to central New Jersey. Barrie was one of the first to grow his hair long and play in a rock band.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Final NPHS Reunion Video

Here's the six-minute epic that captures (hopefully) the spirit, joy and poignancy of our May 2 reunion. It's a combination of images old and new, some scanned photos from the 1969 yearbook and video I shot with a Flip video camera on May 2.

So now the NPHS Reunion blog will go to sleep for a few years. However, feel free to bring it from its slumber with news or photos of your adventures. Please send to

Thanks for being such a good audience.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Greetings from Jeff Tobey

Just returned this afternoon from a trip to North Plainfield/Watchung where I had a great lunch with Jeff Tobey. (And with Jeff, that is the only kind of lunch you'll ever get. A skillet in his hand is like an angel with a harp.) Saw him and his lovely wife Ginny at their beautiful home in Watchung just off Johnson Drive. It was like a vacation in the country for this city boy. He sends his regards to all. We had a blast going through the really brought him back to the day. Back then, we cracked open a lot of frosties in the basement of his parents' home on Tappan Ave, which was the all time great high school party house (with its own entrance for kids tucked in the rear of the house). I'll save those stories for the next reunion. Good seeing you Tobo. You and Ginny both looked great. The above picture was taken about 1:30 p.m., May 31, 2009, in his back yard.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blog Update

I'm beginning to work on a three-minute reunion video that I hope to post before the end of May. Unless you have images you want me to post or information you want to share with other classmates, I don't anticipate blogging much over the next ten days. Many thanks for following the blog and your support.

The Year We Got Rocked

Check out this award-winning series of articles and photos featuring the sights and sounds of 1968 from AARP's website. Yep...that's right.....AARP. The editors have done an amazing job drilling into one of the most disruptive and transformative years in our nation's history and we were all there at ground zero. Some of us were full-fledged participants in the turmoil, a lot of us dipped our toes into the scene, and there was also a group of us who had absolutely no clue what was happening. Oh well, I guess even orgies have wallflowers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

We Rocked the Crowne Royal!

Here's video proof that we totally rocked the Crowne Royal. Some of us got out on the dance floor and cruised into a groove. Sure, we weren't lithe and supple like the teenagers we were back in 1967 at a Canteen, but those of us who danced the night away deserve a big hand.

Antonese and Thomson; Tuorto; Bersch and Perslin; Krawitz and Naz; and Many More

Jim Antonese (left) and Andy Thomson.
I'm with the band: And the drummer for the Blue Notes, Jeff Tuorto from the NPHS class of 1968. Watch for the band video that I'll post this weekend.
Colleen Bersch Brown and Wendy Perslin.
Gimme five! Patti and Karl Krawitz, Brad and Lori Musson, and Jim Nazemetz.
Give Peace a chance: Barbara Green Elbeze with Jolaine Dow Peace and John Peace.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Video of The Breakfast Club

Here's a rough one-minute unedited shot of the May 3 breakfast at the Crowne Plaza. Please excuse the awful camera work (shot on a $100 Flip camera), but if you weren't there, you'll get a flavor of what you missed. See if you can identify most of the classmates at the breakfast.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kretschmer and Hansen; Cecchini; Melhorn and Benassu; Abbruzzese and Brown; and many more

Dennis Cecchini and his wife Geralyn.
Carl Melhorn (left) and John Benassu. That's Bob Munzer in the middle background.
Steve Abbruzzese (right) and Jon Brown.
Mike Maresca (left) and Mark Goldstein. Michael runs 30 miles a week in Florida. I heard Mark just landed a fascinating consulting project in the Middle East.
Tom Hughes and Barbara Brodzik Tomalo from the NPHS class of 1968.
Carol Martinez Weber and Beat Steiner. Prior to second grade, I lived across the street from Carol on Myrtle Ave. and the Polskins were always close to her family. Her parents came to my wedding and gave me and my wife a beautiful salt and pepper set that we use to this day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Who Attended from the NPHS Class of 1967 and 1970?

Michael Spadafora (center with dark shirt) and Claire Cox recall these days together as members of the NPHS class of 1970. Michael and his family lived next door to us on Willow Ave. They had an ill-tempered black dog that terrorized me every time I took the garbage to our backyard cans. That's Randy Blaine on the far left in the wonderful white suit (wonder if he ate the pasta with red sauce Saturday night), and Laraine Cox Reedy and Jeff Grand on the far right.
Jim Duffin, NPHS class of 1967, was a special attendee. I always remember him with other members of the great 1967 football team hanging out in the furnished basement of the Tobey house on Tappan Ave. I admired the skills of the burly football players who visited the house. They could also drink prodigious quantities of beer and I had trouble finishing a can of Fresca. (Sorry for the lousy photo Jim.)

The Breakfast Club (May 3 NPHS Reunion Breakfast)

A hard rain's gonna fall: here's what the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Route 27 in Edison looked liked at 11 a.m. on May 3. A cold rain pelted central New Jersey, but the gloom couldn't wash away the warm memories of Saturday night.
Rosemary Fineberg (left) and Dale Schwartz Hosfield look like they have plenty of energy after the previous night's festivities. That's Carol Martinez Weber on the far right.
Bill Thompson, Roberta Meiser (center) and Judy Nazemetz. Judy took the spotlight Saturday night and rocked the house by singing several songs. She's an actress and lives in North Hollywood.
All in the family: Robert Polskin (left, NPHS class of 1968) poses at the Sunday breakfast with first cousins Emily Polskin Zylber and Howard Polskin. Bob flew in from Dallas just for the reunion.
Beverly Gaston Kochard and Beat Steiner take a moment Sunday morning to pose for this quick snapshot.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kelly, Thul, Gilbert; Feigenbaum; Triole; Heib and Medinets; Grand and Burke

Power pow-wow: Bob Kelly (left), Nick Thul and Gail Gilbert Spinner look like they're solving the problems of the world.
Good buds: Alan Feigenbaum and Carol Mingione Greene.
Joyce Triol Blanding.
This Bud's for you: Janet Medinets Doctofsky and John Hieb.
Jeff Grand and John Burke. In the NPHS class of 1968, they had the easiest names to spell. Or was it Jeff Grande and John Burk?

The Pre-Party -- Photos from Bob Kelly

Sue Henry and Nick Thul recall the good ol' days of the NPHS class of 1968.
Mike Watson (left) and Rick Coleman share a quiet moment before the festivities.

Linda Shebey (left) and Nancy Waller. Still tight after all these years. And check out Shebey's color-coordinated bracelet that matches her black and white dress. Betcha that didn't happen by accident.
David Thompson (left), John Burke (center) and Nick Thul gather about an hour before the reunion for a special pre-party. John's sister Patti (NPHS class of 1971) has turned into a devoted follower of this blog.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The NPHS Blog Will Be on Hiatus for Two Days

I'm off to Savannah with my wife to hang in Savannah for the weekend. Weather will be warm and sunny. I hope to get in some kayaking (that's me in the tidal flats near the Savannah River in early March 2008) and get in a swim in the ocean. I'll be back online Sunday night with more photos including a batch Bob Kelly sent me. I'm also working on a special NPHS reunion video. Stay tuned! (And thanks to Maggie Gabler King for the photos she sent today from Saturday night.)

More Couples

Emily Polskin Zylber and Andy Thomson. They went to the junior prom together. Andy lives in San Francisco. Em lives in Boston.
Lou Carlucci and his wife Marybeth.
Linda Loalbo Chehade and her husband Sami. I think they danced more than any other couple at the reunion.
Maria Mijares (left), Carol Mingione Greene and Ned Fitzgerald. Maria and Ned ran together in high school. Maria is a talented Plainfield-based artist (check out here website here).
Robin Roselle Oratio and her husband Albert.

Jan Cooper Lamb and her husband Dennis. They flew in from Grand Junction, Colorado.
Dave Schmedes, Kathy Dame Schmedes and Maggie Gabler King.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More than a Couple of Couples

So happy together: Kathy Miller Senna and Rich Senna, NPHS high school sweethearts. I bought my first beer in a bar with Rich in March 1969. We had tickets to see Steppenwolf with Screaming Jay Hawkins at the Filmore East, on Second Ave. and St. Marks Place. We stopped in for a quick pop at a dive on Second and Fourth Street. The bar was filled with unsavory characters and it was terrifying to a kid from the NJ suburbs lost in the big city. Rich was cool, though. Still is....
Angela DellaVentura and Rick Coleman. They were voted Most Sophisticated 41 years ago and they haven't lost a beat. The rumor was Angela's gym uniform was designed especially by Prada. Before school dances, we'd drink Foxhead beer in Greenbrook park, while Rick would probably drive up to Wally's in Watchung for vodka Martinis with imported seared tuna belly as an appetizer. Rick came from Texas to the reunion and wore some very cool snakeskin boots.
Tom and Rita Sullivan.
Suzanne Dumont Millan and Rob Millan. The red dress works just fine, especially when you're drinking red wine and trying to cross a crowded room full of tipsy, dancing boomers.
Michael and Gerda Maresca. He works in Tampa as a chef at the T.P.C. Golf Course. Michael jogs 30 miles a week, so he's quite fit. Sunday morning he got up before breakfast and went to the gym where he ran into Barbara Green Elbeze. These are clearly the people who will be going strong at the 60th reunion.
Nancy Waller and Doug Williams. They aren't an official couple, but they look good together so I thought I'd include this photo. I told Doug I recalled that the number of his football jersey was 12. That floored him. Sometimes I can't remember the names of my children, but this I remember!
Robyn Waldron Massey and her husband Chuck. They came from San Francisco. Robyn and I recalled some wonderful moments with Mrs. Abrams. We also wondered about the whereabouts of Pam Young. On Sunday morning, Chuck told me he flew helicopters. Something tells me he's got some good tales to tell. (CORRECTION: It was Steve Greene, Carol's husband, who flew helicopters. But Steve AND Chuck are good guys and I'd welcome the chance to sit down and hoist a few frosties with them any day.)
Ed and Laine Adams. I believe Ed was horsing around with a basketball during the reunion. No dishes were broken.
Beverly Gaston Kochard and her husband Dale. She works as Vice President, Student Affairs, Moravian College.