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Re: Exploring the 6th floor at P.S. 217

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Posted by Nate on Monday, September 25th 2017:

In Reply to: Re: Exploring the 6th floor at P.S. 217 posted by tony s on Monday, September 25th 2017:

Tony, I remember Mrs. Mandenberg; she was my home room teacher in the Fall of 1956; I never had any problems with her. I don't know if she became ill, (the school never informed us what occurred), but after only one or two months, we never saw her again, and we had numerous substitute teachers, including Miss Cibeli, and at least five other teachers, who names I can't remember. They were all good teachers, but unfortunately, they were just temporary. Since we were the last 8th grade graduating class, we were not chosen to go to the new Ditmas JHS. In Feb., 1957, Mrs. Prentky took over our class, and remained our teacher until graduation on June 25, 1957. It is hard to believe that was over sixty years ago! Our class held one reunion in 1990. Regarding the male teachers, Max Proshan was not a bad teacher. Unfortunately, because he was timid, he was harassed by some of the students. I felt sorry for that guy. On the other hand, regarding Max Kaminsky, the shop teacher, I'll refer to the pejorative term, which I won't repeat, which was used this past weekend, in referring to some athletes. Kaminsky was exactly that, as he used to publicly humiliate students, whose shop skills he did not like. I've never been able to understand why students were forced to take shop for two years, including sawing, smoothing and polishing wood. I remember that there was a photo of Kaminsky standing next to Dorothy Bildersee, the Principal (taken in 1949). Regarding Bildersee, in 1955, she authorized that all of the male students in my 6th grade class be made to stand outside of her office, against the wall, facing the wall. I don't remember how long we had to stand. It was collective punishment, as someone set off a firecracker in the clothes closet. To this day, I don't know who did it. However, those esteemed administrators assumed that we knew who did it. Even if I did know, there was no way that I was going to talk, as my classmates would have waited for me on Westminster Road, and would have retaliated. The tactic which Bildersee and her ilk employed, was totally illegal, and would not pass muster today. Incidentally, the first floor, which was sometimes referred to as the basement, was also used on election day, as a voting precinct. I remember that there were some classrooms there, and I remember a rest room at one end. I think that some of the guys actually smoked in that room, but were caught. There was a circular staircase leading from the basement up to the second floor, near the Principal's office. Also, there was a staircase nearby, which led to the auditorium. Regarding the staircases, there was some sort of heavy wiring separating the glass panes (which could not be seen through). Hence, if we were doing upstairs, we could see the shadows of pedestrian traffic going downstairs. One last thing, I remember about 217. There was the so-called Guard Squad. They were fellow students, who reminded me of rent-a-cops, as the authority seemed to go to their heads. In addition to the teachers blasting those loud whistles in the school yard, at 8:45AM, and again, at 12:45PM, those guards would delight in pulling people out of line, for allegedly talking. I could never understand why they were there, since the teachers on duty, maintained control. I also remember the low flying commercial propeller planes flying overhead on their way to LaGuardia Airport. Unfortunately, that portion of the school yard facing Westminster Road, is long gone, because of an extension to 217. I have some fond memories of that school yard, as we had softball games there. One time, as I was leaving school, I was being chased by two older, larger bullies in that school yard, who running after me, and were closing in on me by the fence on Westminster Road. I don't know who they were, or what their beef was. All of a sudden, from a scene out of "The Karate Kid" (when Mr. Miyagi trounced five bullies, who were chasing Daniel LaRuso), my older cousin, who was several grades ahead of me at 217, came on the scene, and knocked both of those bullies to the ground, in an instant. It happened very quickly. Those two miscreants never knew what hit them! I don't remember what he did to them afterwards, but I'm sure that they regretted the incident.

Reference ID: BK95115


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