Friday, September 18, 2020

Tribute to SWCS teacher Harry Robie

 JAMESTOWN, NY - There's a move afoot to put together a book of remembrances about the late Harry Robie, spearheaded by a 1970s era SWCS grad and debate club member, Jennifer Schlick.

Here's what she emailed to me:

    "Recently, a Zoom Reunion of 1970s era debate club folks was held. We caught up on each other's lives, and shared with each other several Harry and Laura Robie stories.
We have decided to put together a book of memories, stories, expressions of gratitude, etc.  for the the debate club, Great Books, and the Robies have meant to us over the years. We will present the book to Laura.

     If you would like to contribute, email your story to swcs1974@gmail.com and I will pass it on to the editor of the book."

   Harry Robie figured big in my life, which I have already written about about twice.


 And Jennifer's email prompted even more memories. We'll see if I can remember them long enough to get them down on paper... (Paper?)

If you have something you would like to pass along about Mr. Robie, please give Jennifer a shout.




Saturday, September 12, 2020

Classmate Linda Hetrick has passed away

Classmates:

The Jamestown Post-Journal published the following obituary for Linda Hetrick, one of our Class of '66 classmates.

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Linda Hetrick Gill, 71, formerly of Lakewood, passed away Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, in Asheville, N.C.
She was born Sept. 15, 1948, in Jamestown, a daughter of the late Daniel and Edith Brooks Hetrick.
A 1966 graduate of Southwestern Central School, she later graduated from Jamestown Business College.


She was employed by Jamestown Community College as an administrative assistant.
While living in this area, she was a communicant of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
She will be remembered as a kind and generous person who enjoyed spending time with her daughters and grandsons.
Surviving are her husband of 41 years, Timothy Gill, whom she married Sept. 1, 1979; two daughters: Diana Zilich and Cristina (Jim) Zilich, both of Lakewood; two grand-sons: Robert Gardner and Logan (Hannah) Alexander, both of Lakewood; two great-grandchildren: Toby Gardner and Brinleigh Alexander, both of Lakewood; two stepdaughters: Michelle (Christopher) Brigman of Asheville, N.C., and Amy Galloway of Weaverville, N.C.; step grandchildren: Amanda and Dallas Brigman of Asheville, N.C., and Aaron (Lindsey) Galloway of Weaverville; step great-grandchildren: Evan and Heidi Galloway of Canton, N.C.; nephew, Stephen Hetrick of Jamestown; great nieces and nephews: Stephanie, Heather, Michael and Shelby Hetrick; two brothers-in-law, Paul (Paula) Gill and Christopher Gill, both of Dunkirk; two sisters-in-law, Charlane Gill and Kay (David) Randazzo, both of Dunkirk; and a nephew, Michael Gill of Gowanda, N.Y.
Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by a sister, Alice Hetrick.
A private memorial service will be held at the convenience of the family.
Visitation will not be observed.
Inurnment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to American Heart Association, 300 5th Ave., Suite 6 Waltham, MA 02451 or Lupus Foundation of America, 2121 K Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20037.
You may leave words of condolence at www.lind funralhome.com.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Column about friendships across the decades


Classmates: 

     I published this column Friday and posted it on Facebook.
I thought it might be of interest to folks not on FB or the Finger Lakes Times email feed...
     Stay safe. See you in 2021 - at a Class of '66 Reunion I hope.

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Finger Lake Times (Geneva, NY)
August 28 2020
Write On column

By Michael J. Fitzgerald, staff columnist

     A cascade of memories about friendships and growing up in upstate New York washed over me like a tsunami this past week.
     Fellow newspaper columnist and good friend Greg Awtry sent the wave my way via his recent column in Michigan’s Alpena News.
     It was a poignant tale chronicling a visit with a childhood friend, talking about their decades of friendship, shared adventures and what it’s like today in the fourth quarter of their lives.
     But he had me when he wrote about duck hunting.
     As I was growing up at Lake Chautauqua, one of my uncles would reluctantly take me duck hunting in the fall, despite my lack of shooting prowess and my teenage unwillingness to listen to his advice.
     Those supposed-to-be bonding expeditions ended abruptly one foggy morning when I broke a cardinal rule of duck hunting. I tried to blast a duck bobbing on the water, instead of shooting while it was airborne.
    Duck hunters reading this already guessed what happened.
     My normally lousy aim was straight and true that day. But instead of hitting a fat mallard, a 12-gauge shotgun blast turned a floating decoy into splinters. It was one of a dozen decoys my uncle had carefully hand-painted in his basement the winter previous.
     Still sorry about that, Uncle Gordy. Still.
     But that particular memory led to thoughts about boats and adventure-filled summers on Lake Chautauqua, the good and bad of high school and even striking out for California in 1970 in a VW van.
     Most of all, memories of friends over the decades started popping up like dandelions.
     Faces, experiences, triumphs and tragedies have been occupying my thoughts.
     Names? They don’t come so easy.
     But every so often there is a “Eureka!” moment.
     Just now, Chester Anderson leaped into my mind, his amazingly freckled face and the 25 cents I lent him to buy milk one day in the high school cafeteria.
     He never paid me back.
     As his name sprung up, so did my college roommate’s — J. Douglas McDowell. I lost touch with him when I left Villanova University, as well as contact with another Villanova classmate, Mark Strodel, who introduced me to books by Norman Mailer.
     Reading Mailer’s works and a biography of Jack London (given to me by my duck-hunting uncle) led me to a life of writing, journalism, and interest in what we call “social justice” today.
     In recent decades, many of my Finger Lakes friends came together with common environmental concerns such as the threat that was posed by the now-defunct proposal by Crestwood Midstream to store liquid propane gas in unlined salt caverns near Watkins Glen.
     Common cause forges strong friendship bonds.
     Thinking about those Finger Lakes’ friends — too numerous to mention here — reminds me how much I have missed my annual summer travels around the Finger Lakes, completely thwarted by the pandemic. Emails, social media communiques, occasional Zoom calls and snail mail letters are no substitute for sitting with friends on a Seneca Lake dock, lunch at a lakeside restaurant or listening to music at Rasta Ranch Vineyards' Monday Night Blues in Hector.
     Yet, that’s what we have right now. And I am thankful we live in an age where we can keep the friendships’ connected.
     As this column has been written, the notebook on my desk has been filling with names of people to contact along with scribbled notes about just-remembered anecdotes to share with them.
     Mercifully, the recalled anecdotes and memories lean toward stories that should generate smiles and a good laugh or two.
     One of those notes will head to Greg Awtry and the Alpena News, to say “Thanks for the memories.”
Fitzgerald has worked at six newspapers as a writer and editor as well as a correspondent for two news services. He splits his time between Valois, NY and Pt. Richmond, CA. You can email him at Michael.Fitzgeraldfltcolumnist@gmail.com and visit his website at michaeljfitzgerald.blogspot.com.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Classmate Greg Bachelor has passed away


CELERON, New York - SWCS Class of '66 classmate Greg Bachelor has passed away. (Thanks to Sue Siecker-Saullo for sending along the information.)

Greg's photo from our SWCS yearbook is below as is the obituary from the Jamestown Post-Journal
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Gregory L. Bachelor, 72, of Celoron, passed away Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, at the home of his daughter, Jennifer, in Celoron.
He was born Dec. 2, 1947, in Jamestown, a son of the late Stanley and Elizabeth Myers Bachelor.
A 1966 graduate of Southwestern Central School, Greg served in the U.S. Army from 1967-69 during the Vietnam War.
Prior to retirement, he had been a sales representative for Phoenix Metal. In earlier years, he was employed by Jamestown Metal Products and Bush Industries.
Greg was a former member of the Celoron Volunteer Fire Department and the Celoron American Legion. He was also a great Cleveland Browns fan.
Surviving are two daughters: Jennifer Bachelor-Phelps (Isaac) of Celoron, and Lisa Woodmansee (Gary) of Lakewood; seven grandchildren: Payton Phelps, Amanda Moore, Kayla Michael, Katlyn Michael, Alexis Michael, Emily Michael and Danny Michael IV; six great-grandchildren: Hayden, Ashton, Benton, Abel, Gracie and Cameron; and a brother, Gary W. Bachelor (Marcia) of Celoron.
A private family service will be held, led by the Rev. Michael Childs. Burial will be in Sunset Hill Cemetery. Visitation will not be observed.
Memorials may be made to the Celoron Volunteer Fire Dept., P.O. Box 328, Celoron, NY 14720-0328; or the Chautauqua County Humane Society, 2825 Strunk Road, Jamestown, NY 14701.
To leave a condolence for the family, please visit www.lindfuneralhome.com.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Jamestown Post-Journal story/tribute for Gordy Puls

   
   JAMESTOWN, New York - Given that I often criticize the Post Journal's news coverage, I have to say the newspaper did a nice job on a story about the passing of Gordy Puls. 

   LINK: Post Journal story and photo 

    It's not often I am interviewed for a newspaper story. In this case, the reporter/writer must have had a good recorder running when we talked.

   Below is the photo that ran with the story - classic Gordy.



Thursday, April 16, 2020

Gordon Puls, Jr., former SWCS teacher - and my cousin - has died

   CANTON, Ohio - Former SWCS teacher Gordon (Gordy) Puls, Jr. died last night.
     He was teaching math in the junior high wing of Southwestern the last few years of our time at high school.
     I once committed the nearly unpardonable sin of calling him "Gordy" in the hallway as classes were passing. He was my cousin, after all, so the slip was given a pass.
Gordy Puls, Jr.
     He was 79 when he died. And that age difference as kids made him my cousin, but also sort of a grumpy older brother, too.
     From the time my mother and I moved to Lakewood in 1959, Gordy got stuck often with me - taking me fishing, hunting, and boating. All the things a 10-year-old kid from Brooklyn (me!) knew nothing about.
     But he also taught me how to sail, which oddly enough is connected to the post/news yesterday about Lakewood Beach.
     Gordy and his older sister Barbara were lifeguards at Lakewood Beach. And so it was some years later that Kathleen McAvoy (also my cousin and Gordy's cousin) worked at Lakewood Beach as a lifeguard. I joined the ranks about then, too, making Lakewood Beach kind of a family business.
     But after several years of working at the beach I got sideways with the legendary Harold 'Doss' Johnson, father of late SWCS Class of '66 classmate Pam Johnson Berglund and teacher at SWCS.
     I ended up getting suspended for one week without pay for not getting permission from Doss (who ran Lakewood Beach every summer as an administrator) to take a day off from lifeguarding. I had a substitute lifeguard (my cousin Kathleen) step in.
'Doss' Johnson
     The punchline to this too-long, Lakewood Beach-Gordy Puls anecdote is that Gordy let me borrow his Snipe sailboat for the week. He simply said, "Just go have fun." He'd had his own run-ins with Doss.
     I did just as he said and fun cruising all over the lake, including a few passes back and forth in front of Lakewood Beach while Doss watched me from the shore.
     That week, Gordy's sailboat, and his generosity was the start of a life of sailing for me, capped by cruising to Mexico on my 48-foot sloop Sabbatical in 2002.
     Gordy and his dad Gordy Sr. were both good friends of Flash Olsen and Harold Burgard from SWCS. Many times after high school I sat in the kitchen of the Puls house and sipped a beer with the group. Not with Flash - he didn't drink. But the others sure did. Whatever beer was sale.
     My cousin Gordy married and moved to Ohio where he and his wife raised his children. He had a career in education. But we lost touch over the years. The last time I saw him was at his brother-in-law's celebration of life in Lakewood some years back.
     R.I.P. "Mr. Puls." And thanks for letting me borrow the Snipe. It changed my life.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Lakewood Beach won't reopen this summer - thanks a LOT coronavirus!

   LAKEWOOD, New York - Lakewood Beach, the scene of innumerable adventures for our class (legal, illegal and perhaps illicit) will not open this summer, village officials have announced.
    Here's the story from the Jamestown Post-Journal: Lakewood Beach.
    Many thanks to Sue Siecker for sending it along.
Lakewood Beach today
    The beach when the Class of '66 was in its heyday featured a massive slide on a derrick just off the end of the dock.
    It was a dangerous damn thing. At least once a week someone got hurt on it, I remember.
    I remember it vividly because I was a lifeguard there for four years and sometimes had to patch up people who got hurt.
   That doesn't count the people who swam there at night and jumped off the top of the tower.
    But is was a very cool, popular apparatus that gave me two extra weeks of work per summer - one to put it together, the other to take it down.
   The village got rid of the derrick and slide decades ago. Too dangerous to insure, I understand. And, predictably, use of the beach dropped off.
    If anyone has a photo of the slide and derrick, I would love to publish it here.