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We know you’ve probably wondered if there really was going to be another issue of Patriots Post. Well for a while there, so did we... Although our best intentions were to send out another issue out no later than the end of spring, other responsibilities led us in other directions. Much has happened since our last issue and even if you liked his music, you might be a little tired of the coverage of Michael Jackson’s passing by now. It would be difficult not to note Farrah’s departure and strangely and sadly enough, on the very same day (June 25, 2009) that of one of our own, John Giase. By now you’ve probably noticed that we have a new format. We hope you like it! Patriots Post needed to evolve primarily out of necessity for a medium that would allow us to continue to grow, while hopefully at the same time, keep up with the latest technology. Personally, I stopped trying to be all that high tech a long time ago although I still count myself at least somewhat tech-savvy. I don’t give a twit about Tweeting… (It’s something like that, isn’t it?) I closed down my Facebook page because I hadn’t even looked at it since 2007. And I can’t seem to locate my password for MySpace, so hopefully I’m not missing out on something big happening there…. I caved in, and though I thought I would never, ever see the need for a PDA type device, I now cannot live without my iPhone. I’ve downloaded about 75 “apps” so far, but really

only seem to use about four or five that I actually need or like. One of the apps I use the most is GPS, which is another gizmo I told myself that I just didn’t see the need for and would never have one. Oh well, life is change, isn’t it? We cover a lot of ground in this issue, and we personally want to thank several of you who took the time to contribute, including: Joel Berman Steve Solop Mike Armstrong Bob Hendrickson George Miller And last but certainly never, ever least… Linda Hacker Rasimowicz As always, the future of the Post depends entirely on each and every one of YOU. We look forward to receiving your updates, photos, and other items from your attic that you might stumble across and thank you for taking the time to share them with us. We hope you like, and we’re anxious to hear your reaction to our new format, so please let us know what you think! (Like we were worried that was going to happen?)

Regards, Mitch Fahrer fahrside@yahoo.com and Lucille Mazzarella Haley lhaley@panynj.gov


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The Summer of 1969

7

Bob Hendrickson

9

Mike Armstrong

11 Hello from Botswana! 13 Remembering Rodney Fernandes 15 A Photographic Look through the attic of Steve Solop 20 Survey Says‌? 21 From the Archives School 22 Commencement Program From 1964 33 End of one sweet Institution


By Linda Hacker Rasimowicz Every time I hear Bryan Adams sing the words, “those were the best days of my life”, my thoughts go drifting back to 1969. It was a different world than it is today. Middle school, or Junior High as it was known then, was a learning experience far above what was taught by teachers and absorbed from textbooks. It was a time of growing up, of forming values, and opinions, and personalities. I think that there was a lot more innocence forty years Rodney Fernandes and Ellen Lucas ago, when we were there, than this generation of middle school students know. This story is about some of those simpler, gentler times. Ellen and I became friends at the beginning of 9th grade. She lived down the street from me, and we would walk to school together, to Avenel Junior High. Opposites attract - she was the vibrant, confidant outgoing to my shy, self-conscious introvert. Our friendship grew stronger, and she became my best friend. At AJHS we were blended with kids from two different elementary schools in Avenel, and several schools in Colonia. Ellen wanted to give a birthday party for a guy in our German class that she had a crush on. She had a small house, and I had a large basement rec room, so the party was held at my house. That night was magical – at least for me. It was the first boy-girl party I’d ever been to, let alone hosted. There was no fancy theme, no hired entertainment, no catered meal.

Jeff Rumage and Lorraine Wells


John Murphy and Steve Warshany

There were snack foods and soda, birthday cake, and the hit of the menu – do-it-yourself sundaes. Everyone brought his or her favorite 45’s, which were played on a portable record player – I didn’t have a stereo. And I’m sure for many of us at that party it was the first time we’d danced with the opposite sex. I’m transported back in time to that night whenever I hear “Cherish” by the Association, “Traces” by the Classics Four, or “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. That party was on March 15, 1969. It was the start of our “Family” of friends – Ellen Lucas, Richie Olah, Rodney Fernandes, Bill Mahr, Sandy Fyke, Joann Corrao and Louise Roseman, among many others. It was the spring of 9th grade, our last year in junior high. There was seldom an afternoon, or weekend, that all or a part of our Family were not together. Of course, at fifteen years of age none of us had a license or a car. Who needed one? We walked – everywhere. From what used to be the Main Library on Rahway Avenue, to Dunkin Donuts on St. Georges Ave., to Colonia Shopping Plaza or Bradlees or Korvettes. With a transistor radio in hand, tuned in to WABC or WMCA – AM – it wasn’t the destination, it was the journey, with friends. Joann Dangel and Sandy Fyke


After the success of that first party, and with June approaching, the plans for graduation parties began in earnest. I think they started in May, and just kept going right through July. It was always the same circle of friends, always good, simple fun. Throughout that summer our Family stayed in close touch. My parents, bless their hearts, had an “open rec room” policy. There was often a crowd there, playing records, dancing, talking, laughing. We kept Drakes Ring Dings, Wise Potato Chips and Coca Cola in business that summer. We had a Monopoly Marathon that literally lasted three full weeks. It was hard to say who won, Rodney by his ruthlessness or Richie by his charm (with a little bit of cheating thrown in for fun!) Ellen was at my house more than she was at her own, spending many July and August nights at sleepovers on the pullout couches in my rec room. September came, and with it our introduction to Colonia High School. I remember the first day – it was raining so hard you could not see out the bus windows. When we got into the building it was like using some inner radar system – somehow, in the madness of fivehundred-twenty-something sophomores we found our friends, and joined in the cafeteria to see who would be in our classes. Those of us from Avenel Junior High were a bit intimidated, I think, because there were so many more Colonia Junior High students. I remember feeling very lost in that big school among so many strangers. Soon, though, all of the new experiences – football games, clubs, classes and lunches with upper classmen – helped to bond the Colonia kids with the Avenel kids. Of course, this added a new dimension to our Family’s infamous parties. My rec room

was again put to use, this time as Campaign Headquarters for Student Council and Class Officer elections. Victory/Defeat parties after the football games, and the Halloween party at Joann Corrao’s house were a bit more crowded than before, but we still had the same good, simple, fun times, and made many special memories. You might wonder why I’m writing about life forty years ago. I guess, since finding out about Ellen’s passing, and losing Rodney a few months ago, it was natural to remember the times that were so very important in my past. As our high school years progressed our Family did drift, each with different goals and more broadening interests. Some of us went on to college and some went on to get jobs. One thing that we all had in common, though, was that as adults we were all good, successful people, comfortable in the paths that we chose. For so many of our classmates, their paths on Earth have come to an end; but for me, the memories of those very special friends, and the Summer of ’69, will live on forever.

Jimmy Peterson and Richie Olah


If you know of Patricia’s whereabouts please have her contact Deborah Falken at d.falken@att.net .


Left to right: Rich, Dave, Lisa, Pop and myself

Four years and counting‌ At the end of 2004, I was contemplating some major changes in my life. After 29 years of owning Sensible Auto Service I was thinking it's time to move on as the stress of not only running the business but being the main technician was beginning to take it's toll. I had already undergone a pioneering heart procedure in 03 and I felt I needed more downtime. I had been head-hunted by some top people at Standard Motor Products (an aftermarket giant) to work for them as either an instructor giving their pro tech seminars or helping run their tech support desk. Both offers were very nice financially as well as a nice stroke for the ego. Since I already had an offer on the table for the business, I thought here we go. I also hoped that more free time would allow me to start flying sailplanes again and even do some vintage racing as a driver rather than mechanic. Little did I know just how much my life was about to change‌


people and enjoying just being alive. I have rediscovered the joy of long abandoned hobbies. I have started building model cars again...mostly vintage race cars and collecting, repairing and restoring American Flyer S gauge toy trains. I hope to build a railroad layout in the family room as soon as real estate and trackage rights are negotiated with the wife. Some would say that I have entered a second childhood, while others might argue (successfully) that I never left the first. My wife, Mary Kay, and I have also done some traveling that my previous schedule did not permit.

Bob and wife Mary Kay

In March of 05, after a routine medical procedure ( angioplasty ) I suffered a massive heart attack. If I had not been in the recovery room already I would certainly have died... as it was the doctors told my wife I might only have 72 hours to live. They inserted a balloon pump into my heart to circulate my blood and allow the heart to heal. I spent the next 4 days tethered to an assortment of machines pumping and monitoring my blood flow and breathing oxygen through a cannula. Thank God for morphine...did I mention that heart attacks can hurt like the dickens?. Since I couldn't move or do much of anything I had a lot of time to think and realized just how short tempered, stressed out and angry I had allowed myself to become. Not a pretty picture. It was obvious my days of turning wrenches were over. I no longer had the energy to even go to work much less actually do physical labor. With no viable business to sell, Sensible Auto closed it's doors for good on June 7, 2005. This month marks 4 years since that life changing event and I'm happy to still be here annoying

We enjoy road trips, especially when we can take our dog Bullet. We've gone to Michigan to visit friends, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Kentucky, Williamsburg and Pigeon Forge in TN to name a few. We hope to continue seeing the USA as long as my health permits. My hopes of flying or racing have been quashed however. I can no longer get the required medical certificates...oh well. I am still adapting to my medically forced retirement and the opportunities it presents. For example I can now go to the shore on weekdays to fish or hang out on the beach and avoid crowds. I can also spend more time with the dog or my hobbies. I finally broke down and bought a digital camera...A Nikon D40x SLR. I had still been using some of the cameras I used for the yearbook. Now I'm even more of a shutterbug. Without having to wait or pay for processing I can shoot to my hearts content. In November 2007 at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion in Daytona, I shot over 800 pictures in one day....wooohooo. And yes I am still an unabashed gearhead... I guess gasoline does run through my veins. I hope all of you are well and please don't take my route to retirement.


Hello Class of 1972, The efforts made by Mitch and Lucille are very much appreciated for the Patriots Post project. It's nice to occasionally read about the success stories of our former classmates. Sadly at the time of our graduation, I was absent because my wife of 36 years now had her graduation from J.F.K. on the same day. I opted to attend her's instead of my own. I picked up my diploma the following day but forfeited the opportunity to say some final farewells. That makes the Patriots Post updates even more enjoyable for me. After a good number of years in the manufacturing industry with General Motors and others, we have relocated to a nice adult community in Florida and now think of ourselves as semi retired occasionally working at Walt Disney World. We take pride most in the accomplishments of our daughters. We have three grandsons from one and a law office in New Jersey from another. (www.jdarmstronglaw.com) As the years roll by we find ourselves looking back and counting our blessings for those who were

part of them. It always surprises me how many names we remember from so long ago. We wish everyone a pleasant future and continued success. Best regards,

Michael & Diane Armstrong (formerly Diane Keller)


George Miller took these photos recently at the Kharma Rhino Sanctuary while stationed in Botswana. George continues to travel the world with the Voice of America having spent time in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Greece, Kuwait, Cyprus, Rhodes, Bahrain, UAE, Djibouti & Burkina Faso, to name a few‌..


By Bob Hendrickson of his true opinions. He really enjoyed I first met Rodney at Avenel Jr. High in playing the role of devil's advocate. the fall of 1966. Woodbridge Township Underneath this gruff exterior was a employed homogeneous grouping of heart of gold. He once drove to classes at that time and there were only 8 Alabama and back to pick up a traveling guys in our class, immediately branding us as nerds and making us targets. As if that wasn't enough Rodney, coming from a parochial school background, wore ties and jackets to school often. After several bullying incidents he took one of his ties and Bob Hendrickson, Linda Hacker Rasimowicz, and Rodney at the imbedded a 35 Year Reunion in 2007 cluster of pins in the end, friend whose car had broken down. sort of a cat o' nine tails and struck back. While I have made many friends and While not very effective, it proved his enjoyed some long lasting friendships point that he was not to be easily over the years, my friendship with dismissed or trifled with. Rodney was very special. Rodney really cherished and loved his close friends and As I recall he also knocked a fire their joy was his joy and their pain hurt extinguisher off the wall to hit one of his him as well. When my Mom and my tormentors. He often adopted a gruff children died he grieved as I did and exterior, but as Linda posted, his bark made no effort to hide his tears or was always worse than his bite. He also sadness. liked to take contrary viewpoints during conversations to spark debate, regardless


He helped me survive some very dark times. We also shared some great times together as well. While not a big racing fan, he made a trip to the ‘82 Indy 500 with me to see what it was all about....he compared it to a Roman spectacle...he did love his history.. He also loved to have a good time ( the 70's were verrry good to us!!) but never seemed to totally release his inner child, always holding something back. Perhaps he was afraid it would make him vulnerable. I will always remember Yom Kippur of our senior year. On that day a group of us went fishing, Rodney, Dave Asman, Marc Gietter and me. I guess we must have angered the Gods by fishing with Jewish guys on such a high holy day because we got a hole in the bottom of the boat and barely got back to the marina before the boat sank. I can still picture him playing with our catch, fluke and blowfish, as the water swirled above our ankles.

teaching history. While not always enamored with his students, he was always concerned with their welfare and their grades. If they did not do well he felt he was failing them as their teacher. He especially loved his years as an adjunct at Seton Hall. He was very dedicated to the Hall, his alma mater. When they won in NCAA basketball he would pooh-pooh athletics but you could tell he was secretly proud of his school. Even after being hospitalized his concern was for his students and prepping them for midterms. While I am certain we have all lost friends, relatives and loved ones over the years this has really hit me hard. Rodney was one of those once in a lifetime friends that are so hard to find, like finding a pearl in your oyster. I know he would be moved by the outpouring of concern when he took ill and will be touched by our thinking of him. God Bless.

Besides his friends Rodney loved

Rodney with Rich Olah and Sandy Fyke Foster


A recent photo of the Knapps visiting with the McInerneys in Las Vegas From left to right John McInerney, Patty (Buist) McInerney, Harry Knapp and Joanne (Sabestinas) Knapp. John and Patty recently became grandparents in December 2008. Pictured below is daughter Megan with granddaughter Stella. Still getting together with old friends from CHS??? Send us photos of YOUR mini-reunions!


Some time ago we conducted a little online survey and we asked the following question:

Each of us took away something different from our time as students at Colonia High. Looking back, do you have one particular recollection from those years that still stands out as most memorable? Thanks to those of you that took the time to provide your responses!

Lucille (Mazzarella) Haley

Bob Hendrickson

Having to blow the dust off that side of my brain, the one thing that came to mind was when I took Driver's Ed with Ms. Schmidtke. She made me go for gas (wonder what it cost back then :-) and when I was pulling out, she yells "go - go". I got so nervous, I hit the gas petal so hard that the gravel went flying in the air and the gas station attendant ran back to avoid getting hit by the flying stones. I laugh about it to this day when I think about that moment and I can still hear my instructor yelling LOL.

While I always thought of the draft and military service as some distant bogeyman, when the draft lottery was drawn my birthday came up number six. I can still remember the hollow feeling at the pit of my stomach as the realization sank in. Not necessarily a good memory, but definitely a strong one.

Carol (Smirnoff) Bektas It was Senior year Christmastime. Mrs. Pepe's drama class was doing A Charlie Brown Christmas in the drama room for other classes. Bill Mahr and I felt that the pathetic Charlie Brown Christmas tree was a necessity. We were told we couldn't have a real tree for fire safety. We snuck out by a side door and went and bought one. When we got back we carried it above our heads and ran to the side door and up to the drama room. No sooner did we get safely in the room with the door closed then there was a fire drill! That tree was meant to be!

Diane Bodzioch The week before Graduation it rained everyday and the ceremony had to be brought into the gym. Just as we were entering the gym the sun came out and then we had the power failure during Graduation.

Mitch Fahrer Getting cut during tryouts from the Baseball Team. And yes, Mr.’s Kott, Taylor, and Krieger, I’m still pissed!


Thanks to Joel Berman for providing this well worn piece of history, with an extraordinary look some 43 years into the past that captured the moments of fellow CHS classmates as they prepared to graduate from School 22 in Colonia. (In some places the text in the program is a little difficult to read but you’re still bound to enjoy many of the photos which endured fairly well.)


Vaccaro’s Bakery on Inman Avenue in Colonia apparently closed its doors for the last time in January 2009. For those of us who had a few extra bucks on hand it was never hard to stop at Vaccaro’s on the way home from school, even if it was just to take in the great aromas. All of their bread and rolls were just terrific, but one of my personal favorites were the powdered jelly cookies which I seem to recall being about 6 inches around. Okay… maybe I just wish they were that big…..


On a recent trek from North Carolina to visit family in NJ, I was fortunate to have one last trip to this institution, apparently just months before they were to close. Here’s one last look‌

Patriots Post  

July Issue 2009

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