* PROF. ASHER J. MATATHIAS *
REDISCOVERED RUMINATIONS, CIRCA 1995 ... RELEVANT STILL ...
Ruminations While on Educational Sabbatical at NCCC, Spring, 1995
March 2, 1995
The last experience with a person of color was similar to the first encounter, 39 years ago. That is to say, open to the possibilities for sharing and learning. Then, as a teen, newly-arrived immigrant, I was befriended by Larry, another seventh-grader at the newly-inaugurated George Gershwin JHS 166, Brooklyn, NY.
Unaware as I was of the incipient turbulent civil rights era, in 1956 the Brown decision desegregating public schools was merely two years old, I regularly sat with Larry in the cafeteria --- sharing an isolation that became apparent with time. He was a black boy, and I a Jewish, non-English-speaking newcomer. During that winter and on several occasions, we were jointly subjected to snowball-throwing and petty harassment.
One day, Larry invited me to have lunch at his home, across from the school. At the appointed hour, we walked to the high rise, my first introduction to the uniformity of public housing. Like a man of the world, he proceeded to open his door with his own key, held on a string around his neck, perhaps the prototypical, yet to be coined, latch-key child. For me, such independence was unheard. My mother was always home, preparing meals, and present to send us off to school, as well as to receive us upon our return. Larry's mom worked outside the home. Lunch the day of my visit was prepared by Larry; his facility with the architecture of the kitchen quite self-evident. The eggs were good, too!
Recent interactions include subscription to the class on African Civilization (I am the only Caucasian present), and a visit with noted archeologist Dr. Yosef A.A. Ben Jochanan, addressing the students of Nassau Community College. He has appeared in a recent television series for ABC's Like It Is. Quite apart from his provocative scholarship, he has unique personal attributes: an Ethiopian father and a Puerto Rican mother; a member of the segment of Black Jews tracing their ancestry to Biblical times; the father of 12 natural and eight adopted children, and the grandfather of 47!
March 7, 1995
The celebration of Women's History Month at NCC began with the opening of the Women's Studies Office, 351 Harmon Avenue, where light refreshments and entertainment mingled with serious talk about the aspirations of female students who filed in. They and other visitors as well, were warmly greeted by Dr. Barbara Horn, Coordinator of the Women's Studies Project, who introduced several members of the English Department and college administration.
Throughout March there are displays at the Holly Patterson Library. Tanya Indiana (Lowenstein) of the Marketing Department, has examples of women's domestic altars from various cultures, an ALTAR'D EGO, as it were. Examining gender in math, science, and technology, a display highlights an NCC Ford Foundation grant and features notable women in these fields.
By far, the most dramatic event has been the featured appearance of Minnie Bruce Pratt. This award-winning poet spent a day in selective readings from her works, engaging in spirited conversation, and otherwise enthralling her audience with insights into her own evolution from sheltered existence in the deep South to modern day velvet revolutionary. You see, she has come a long way from an unhappy marriage, the mother of two boys, to the realization of her lesbianism, the determination to further education, the loss of custody of her young children, and her triumphs as much-sought-after college teacher and lecturer --- now a celebrated published poet (Crime Against Nature, Yours in Struggle: Three Feminist Perspectives on Anti-Semitism and Racism, and the current S/he, a book of prose poems about gender boundary crossing.) Much food for thought and the tummy!
March 14, 1995
Abortion remains an incendiary issue, its opponents ready to harass, and even assault with deadly force those who would counsel, or practice the procedure. The U.S. Supreme Court's sanction of abortion, through an opinion issued in 1973in Roe v. Wade, has opened the floodgates to legal abortion (one in five women); it has forged a political Party with national pretensions, Right to Life; made possible the misdirected effort to circumvent the Court's ruling through the promotion of a Constitutional amendment to ban abortons (except for very strictly defined conditions); and let loose people who for religio-political motives are prepared to terrorize, bombing abortion facilities, or murdering the doctors who administer them.
Almost two decades ago, Rachel, my sister, was still rejoicing the experience of new motherhood, when she ran in tears to our parents. Unplanned, she nevertheless has conceived merely nine months after her first pregnancy. She and her husband had not scheduled their family's further expansion so soon. My sister's approach to our parents was by way of seeking approval for a contemplated abortion. Without hesitation, our Mom spoke first: "You have the baby, dear daughter, and if you need financial support, we shall be able to assist!" This sentiment was unanimously shared in the family, even though freedom to choose the option of abortion, as a social policy, is also readily agreed to by us.
The pregnancy was normal, and in time it became necessary to deliver this bundle of joy. The physician had his hands full, pulling a girl from the uterus, when he appealed for calm and more cooperation from the mother, for a boy was coming out as well! Apparently, the position of these twins did not permit early detection of their joint existence in the womb.
March 16, 1995
A particular intellectual stimulant for the academic community is the periodic appearances on campus of personages who dramatically present the issues of the day. One such occasion was the presentation of Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the former surgeon-general of the United States, at Nassau County Community College. Though late, hundreds patiently awaited to hear her message of pain and hope.
Dismissed from her position by President Clinton, for her controversial positions on the possible decriminalization of drugs and explicit sex education, Dr. Elders offered a dismal picture of contemporary life, advocating specific ways to ensure The Future of the American Family. The mythical '50's nuclear family, replete with clearly-defined gender roles, is a vanishing model today. Poverty, hopelessness, lack of education, are the scourges facing an increasing number of people.
Government, and each one of us, should realize that in seeing to it that all children have quality education and good health care, we immunize ourselves against future crime and imprisonment. Her message was repeatedly interrupted by sustained applause, her compelling sincerity emotionally moving, bringing tears to dry eyes.
Challenging the committed audience to political action, Dr. Elders suggested teaching responsibility to an increased teen population that is more than ever sexually active, especially the young men, so they learn that "donating their sperm" is not what makes them men. Early childhood education is a must, complete with medical care, to prevent future traumas. Let teens have comprehensive education of what parenthood entails, including access to contraceptives. Facing this reality is the way to reduce unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.
March 21, 1995
Language to remain viable must be vibrant, changing, adopting. The popularity of modern English is a testament to this truism, helped in large measure, by the accident of imperialism --- including the enormous success of its former colonies in North America. Unlike the French, no official bureaucracy protects American English from foreign intrusions, or perpetuates its pristine condition. We glory in the absence of pomposity that the latter would surely usher, and actively welcome the former, thus, enriching our vocabulary and our lives.
Still, who has not been told that there exist words and phrases that we should never utter in so-called polite company? Which girl has not been subjected to the immediate second hypocritical statement, alluding to proscription from certain usage, even if the boys (being boys) periodically entertain the gutter vernacular?
Such double standard appeared to exist among adults, if the writers happened to divide according to gender. While liberation has finally arrived in the editorial suite, it is amusing to list the terms forbidden in public writing, then not permitted to women journalists, and now widely encountered. Damn, Ms., gay, "bad ass," pee, are some of the slang words then to avoid. Of course, the mainstream press has caught up to tabloid exposes --- in content and language, employed by men and women.
I chuckle at the thought that for a long time I was perceived the proverbial "choir boy," for not being heard to use expletives, in colorful American English. Instead, I might say something of rough equivalence in … Greek! My wife, Anna, early in her upbringing learned to utter a series of nonsensical phrases to relieve her anger, and/or frustration. I also recall how I blushed the first time I heard one of my daughters say the "s" word in a telephonic conversation, when I accidentally picked up the receiver believing it to be available.
March 23, 1995
In lieu of a formal session today, the class met in the Student Union Lounge. As part of the week's intercultural festival, IBBU OKAN was to offer a command performance. In due course, a group of eight women appeared, with their instruments (mainly various drums). The collection of artists, ranging in experience from the formally-trained 28-year-old Jenny, to the one with 40 years in the trade, who had received a rare waiver to come from Cuba, and are on a barnstorming tour of the northeast.
The women, all of them of color, have a repertoire of dancing and singing that reflects the African origins of much of the Cuban population. Additionally, religious aspects incorporate the Animist and polymorphic images of Africa in the Christian Catholicism that was imported to Cuba by the Spanish conquistadors. Upon request, they even performed a selection that is unique to religious practice in the Caribbean called Santeria.
Significantly, they explained, through a translator, that women are paid equally to the men; opportunities to perform abound; that their own families were supportive of the artistic aspirations they wanted to pursue; and that they wished to return to the U.S. for more gigs.
Political questions were off limits, by prior agreement; however, it was clear that images of the American people remain positive. Political ferment is brewing everywhere, and it is not too much to expect that the liberalization process will one day infect Cuba.
March 28, 1995
Much about work is the news. Monthly statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor reveal the unemployment figure, which has been declining. One would think this is good, except when it's bad, for inflationary pressures may be lurking about. Sloth is frowned upon, perceived to exist in women --- mainly single, of color, and poor --- who enjoy adding to the middle class tax burden by having more babies. The word from Washington is that welfare eill be turned to workfare, the better to build a culture of self-reliance, and free enterprise.
Ever since the expulsion fro Eden, work as a punishment has been a constant feature of life. Among the dreams of mortals are the notion of quick riches for the purpose of immediate retirement, and the thought of true living (however defined) in the absence of any and all labor. Drudgery, exploitation, and bloody workers' revolutions are images associated with the advent of industrial society. The dignity, sense of accomplishment, and social contributions that accrue from worthy activity are lost sight.
For me, life, love, and work are favorite four-letter words. Characteristically, it is with great difficulty that I voluntarily absent myself from work, even when not feeling well. I love creativity, challenge, apparent competence, appreciation, and thrill of achievement that's part of the gestalt of work. Wistfully, I hearken back to the teen years I spent --- as a junior high school student --- delivering prescriptions for Alben Pharmacy during my lunch hour, for dimes and quarters per package. Then, afternoons and weekends serving behind the counter, trusted to even operate the automated cash register.
An eye-opener for me was the time a customer came to ask for a pack of Trojans. Not familiar with the product, I asked one of the owners for assistance. He proceeded to the stock room, emerging moments later with the desired item. Following the transaction, and after the customer had departed, I was amazed to learn the commodity purpose; and, given the strictures of the period, could not be legally openly displayed!
March 30, 1995
Norma Rae is a film, and the name of its heroine, a textile worker in a non-union factory in the South of the 1970's. Living at her parents' home, with two children from an early casual relationship (the father is indifferent about visits or support), existence revolves around the one industry that provides the town with wages. The company is also the center of social and recreational outlets through softball games and picnics. Families have multi-generations affiliated with the processing of cotton into the fibers that end up being worn in our backs.
To this environment arrives a union organizer from New York --- educated, dedicated, and Jewish (the last juxtaposed for the movie's historical insights, compassion, and humor). It is not easy to win the confidence of folks, even if deep down they know the gravity of the issues: low wages, poor health, unfir work space (especially the noise). To this list can be added the fear of summary dismissal, and one readily sees how the company has been able to retain control and passive worker loyalty.
Nevertheless, the organizer persists --- most effectively able to win workers' admiration through the visual staring down of the bosses on the matter of fair or, really, unfair practices. This includes the petty negation of the right to have a worker bulletin board. The employees clearly have not experienced having the company brought on the carpet, threatened with the sanctions of Federal law, including contempt. Norma Rae, a free-spirited outspoken woman, is clearly the best catch and model for the labor organizer, and incipient local labor movement.
This commitment brings her at odds with the culture of the South: assertive to her husband, engaging in a "man's" activity, collaborating with African-Americans, taking direction from a Jew. The challenge transforms her and the town. Ironically, companies go off-shore to avoid unions.
* DAVE SPINDELL *
I was brought up in East New York, Brooklyn, where I should have but never learned to keep a secret.
My first blunder came when my father took me to a woman-friend's house. I could not wait to tell my mother how much fun I had watching cartoons, eating all kinds of candies, and watching my father dancing with a beautiful woman in a sexy red robe.
I should have learned....
We lived in a big apartment house owned by the mob's bail bondsman whom I'll refer to as Mr. Nameless. Whenever a mobster was arrested, the first person they would call was Mr. Nameless. Mr. Nameless would put up the apartment house to cover their bail to get them out of jail fast.
I was in my apartment where some of our neighbors got together to sign a petition to force Mr. Nameless to clean up his filthy apartment house and give more heat. Mr. Nameless took me to the toy store and got me a new bike. I gave him the names of all tenants on the pilot.
Living in East New York, I was lucky to escape the wrath of my loose tongue, but I'm here today writing this.
* AL CINAMON '55 *
DRIVERS MED COURSE
A driver over 65 is likely to never drive drunk. Unfortunately, alcohol is only one drug that impairs drivers. Older drivers are the most likely to drive while under the influence of multiple medications. Drugs typically affect people differently at age 60 than at age 20. With age, people tend to gain weight and lose muscle tone, which changes the way chemicals are absorbed. An older body can also take longer to rid itself of drugs.
So if you are taking medication, should you be driving? Most likely, yes. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that it’s best to be absolutely sure before you get behind the wheel. While most medications don’t affect driving ability, some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can cause reactions that may make it unsafe to drive. These reactions may include sleepiness/drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, slowed movement, fainting, inability to focus or pay attention, nausea, and excitability.
Driving while on medication can also be a legal issue. State laws differ but in New York driving under the influence of certain medications (prescription and OTC products) could get you in the same kind of trouble as people caught driving under the influence of alcohol.
Knowing how your medication – or any combination of them – affects your ability to drive is clearly a safety measure involving you, your passengers, and others on the road.
Products that could make it dangerous to drive include some anti-depressants, some cold remedies and allergy products, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, pain relievers, diet pills, drugs containing stimulants such as caffeine, or codeine. It’s also important to know that you should never combine medication with alcohol, which would create a synergistic effect (a greater effect than if each were taken separately).
If you must drive, don’t stop taking your medicines unless told to do so by your doctor. Do talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects of the medicines you take.
It would also be advisable to carry a list of your medications including names and dosages, just in case of an emergency.
On a beautiful Saturday night in Delray Beach, at 6:30 on the evening March 22, 2014, forty Jeffersonians gathered at Hunan Gardens. Approximately 30 of the 40 were people I had never met before, graduates from 1945, l951, 1958, 1963, etc. At the entrance to the restaurant, orange and blue balloons swayed in the breeze as a reminder of our school colors. Everyone was thrilled to be there and reminisced about their days at Jefferson and how lucky we all feel to have grown up in Brooklyn, most of us poor but, in reality, very rich. It was a very nostalgic evening for all.
All agreed the food was great and the service excellent. Mingling was a little difficult since we did not have a private room, but on a Saturday night in season in Florida, it's quite impossible to get a private room. Upon leaving at about 9:30, everyone thanked me for organizing the evening, expressed they had a great time and wanted to know when we could do it again. Kidding, I said, how about tomorrow for brunch. Realistically, I will be going to Long Island May 9th and probably won't be back till mid-September. And so the great memories of Saturday night in Florida will have to linger at least till October when I return.
I want to thank Natalie Sisselman Lefkowitz for her assistance and Dolores Rosenhain Geringer, our photographer of the evening. I also want to thank Thea Alpert, our Class Administrator, for promoting the event in various media and for distribution of invitations. And thanks to all who helped make this a memorable night.
by:Irma Sherman Latinsky
Dave Spindell: It was nice being with Thomas Jefferson graduates. They were very warm and cordial and easy to be with. We heard stories about the old neighborhood. All Jeffersonians landed on their feet and are lovely people today.
Judy Fielder Levine: Tonight we went to Hunan Gardens in Delray. This was my last hurrah before our return home. It was lovely and the food was delicious. Didn't know too many people other than Irma, Natalie, Delores, Nancy and my two friends Iris '54 and Terry '52 Tenner. A good time was had by all.
Please assist us in our effort to maintain a Web presence that performs in the best possible manner. I am here to present you with quality reading material, help navigate your journey through the halls of TJHS and to assist you in re-connecting with long-time friends. Your submissions and suggestions are welcomed! Please direct correspondence to TJHS1961@aol.com
MISSING GRADS - I've received hundreds of requests to locate your friends. Be assured that each request remains active until the person is found. It may take a day, a month, even a year or more, but we are working diligently to find them. Lend a hand -- alert '61 Jeffersonians in hiding to come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are!
PROFILED BUT NOT REGISTERED? - Please be advised that a profile exists for all students of TJHS 1961 including those “Missing.” If this is your first visit to our web page, please do not create a second Student File. First consult the 1961 Class Directory which is listed in alphabetical sequence by last name. It is accessible at the top of our page within the TJHS 1961 orange header.
If you are a regular visitor but have not registered, please do so by assigning your private password. Without a registered password you will not be able to gain entry to your file or edit - nor will you be unable to contact students who elect to maintain privacy - nor will you be able to post messages or become involved with many activities available to those who are. Your Password is confidential - you and the Classreport organization alone maintain such information. Assign your private password: refer to the "Sign In" box (upper right), then click "Lost Password" and, upon prompt, enter your "PW." Then click "Save."
SOCIAL LINKS (i.e. Facebook, et al.) have been added to many profiles by the respective registrants. The links you post should lead where directed. In instances where the link was not added correctly, it leads to a dead zone. Accordingly, we have deleted the invalid link and added a notation in your respective Bios. Please test your links before posting.
ABOUT YOUR PROFILE - We have completed yet another phase in updating personal biographies. Your profile now includes the Honor Societies, Service Clubs and Extra Curricular Activities (ECA) you performed for our Alma Mater. Learn more about your role and those of the young adults with whom you forged friendships in high school because of your services to our school. Check out biographies on Classreport.
PRACTICING EMAIL COURTESY - When you forward e-mail received from others, please delete the forwarding history, which includes the e-mail addresses of EVERYONE listed. It is a courtesy to others who may not wish to have their e-mail addresses sent throughout the Internet. Erasing the history helps prevent spammers from mining addresses, computer fraud, identity theft and viruses. Always use the "BCC" feature when sending e-mail.
Conversely, when preparing e-mail which originates with you, so as to maintain the privacy of those to whom your communication is forwarded, it is necessary that you "BCC" everyone rather than publish private contact information for all to see. "BCC" is a standard feature and represents "Blind Carbon Copy." The feature is an option in email preparation. Please use it.
THE CLASS OF '61 has officially entered the world of TECHNOLOGY . Reunion invitations will be available to you on this web page and via e-mail. If you have not provided us with your e-mail address, kindly add it to your Classreport profile. Now is also the time to update your profile and correct all outdated data. It is your decision whether to go private or public with this information so that others may reach out to you; however, be assured that if you wish privacy, your email address will not be viewable to anyone but the Office; plus, my outgoing e-mails are always distributed as "blind copies." When someone requests your e-mail address, it is my policy to drop you a note requesting permission to share.
Note: Our presence on Classreport will continue strong, as will the continuation of the TJHS Alumni Association and the TJHS Alumni Newsletter. Our newsletter is brought to you by Al Solomon '49, Alumni President; Stu Rothstein'64, Editor and Coordinator; and literary contributions from Alumni members. Tell us of your news ... write your Class Administrator!