A Syosset Scrapbook 

 Part Twelve

 

Syosset Stories

Look for thesigns to see the latest additions, as of  July 2014.

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Syosset Stories

 

 

Charlie Diel

by Florence Kwiatkowski Sendrowski

I need to tell you about a special person who lived in the village of Syosset circa 1940s-1950s. Born with Down's Syndrome in 1920, his name was Charlie Diel.  He lived with his sister Frances and her husband Raymond Smith on the corner of Jackson and Whitney Avenues.

Charlie was free to move about the village unattended with approximately 200 eyes watching over him.  He wore a thin type military cap and vest festooned with ribbons, buttons, badges and he carried maps. When the volunteer firemen went out of town for a competition they always brought back a pin or badge for him to add to the collection.  When we walked in the village and met Charlie he would pull out a map and show where the firemen were going or came back from.  A fireman would take one of his maps and circle the place.

Our parents never taught or explained how we should treat Charlie. We merely imitated their compassion.

Some of the (touch your heart) stories of Charlie's community service:
 
When the siren went off at the firehouse on Muttontown Road, Charlie would race over to the intersection of Split Rock, Oyster Bay, Jackson and Muttontown Roads and stop all traffic . He could backup traffic really well and drivers had learned not to move.
Charlie would slap the side of any car that passed him by. On racing to the firehouse in their cars firemen knew Charlie was directing traffic.

Charlie loved paper and the United States Post Office.  Residents couldn't understand why they were getting subscriptions for unwanted magazines.  He would dig thru the paper waste barrel in the post office and take the thrown away unopened mail.  Went to the side counter and checked off items, resealed them in postage free envelopes.

I guess he was told not to do this by his family and figured out if he put the envelopes in drop boxes on me streets he could  succeed.

If a child, including myself, was crossing Jackson Avenue with items from the A & P (this store was in the middle of town, north of the tracks) Charlie stepped off the curb, walked into the street and again stopped cars. I guess we could have called him Syosset's first crossing guard.

Back in those days you could leave your sleeping baby in the carriage and go into any store.  Charlie would keep watch while you shopped.  If the baby awoke and started to cry he would rock the carriage trying to console.  Only problem, the louder the baby cried the harder he rocked.

If you look at some of the parade pictures you see OUR Charlie in the background .

Dear Charlie,
It was a pleasure to have known you.  You were truly an angel in our midst.  Florence


 

 

Christiano's

by Florence Kwiatkowski Sendrowski

It was a bad snow storm around March 3/4th 1960.  I was a little over 18 years old and when the barometer dropped the fidgets would take over.  The need to get out of the house was compelling.  So, I walked from Church Street down the middle of Split Rock Road to my Aunt Mary's on Jackson Avenue.  Not a soul or car in sight and so beautifully silent.
 
Aunt Mary and I, arm in arm, walked across the tracks to Christiano's.  Sat at a table in the back on the right.  There were a few other customers.  We had the best ever pizza and martinis.  Remember the oil and hot sauce and cheese that would take the skin off the roof of the mouth?
 
Walked Aunt Mary home and found my father, loaded to the gills,  at the Village Tavern.  Talked him into going home and once outside found his flat bed truck plowed in at the triangle gas station.
 
Can you believe I could drive a standard shift truck?  Rev-ed up the engine and 'dove' thru the snow bank and fished-tailed toward the old post office plate glass windows.  That got dad's attention real fast.  "Slow up Susie, " Hello, my name is either Baby or Florence.
 
We went home to back road and down Church street crossing Berry Hill.  Beney had a funeral with lots of cars parked.  Dad said, "Looks like Beney has a live one tonight".  Came down the hill and crossed Split Rock without braking or stopping.


 

 

Baseball Story 

by John Delin                         

It was a May night in 1954.  After dusk, the ball field at the Syosset School Union Free District No. 12 (later known as the Split Rock School) was full of shadows. The Little League game between the lowly Specialties (we won the pennant in 1955) and the Bankers was in extra innings and would probably be called if no one broke the tie soon.

The Specialties were up in the bottom of the inning.  There were two outs.  Ace pitcher Charley Jameson was on the mound. Charley was an extremely fast and accurate side-armed right hander.  Then he faced Gerry Freund who batted over .500.  It was no surprise when Gerry singled.

The next batter was me.  Gerry and I were 11 and Charley was 12.  But I faced  Charley all the time at pick-up games at Waldron's Field off Split Rock Road.  That didn't mean I could hit him with any consistency.  Like Al Simmons, I had a tendency to pull away from the pitch, a condition known as "foot in the bucket."  I had no fear at all of being hit and it was just a habit.  I  had a .375 average that year.

It was rapidly growing dark.

Charley put every pitch over the plate.  I fouled off two.  Then three...four...five.. then everyone lost count.  He would put it over, and I would pull away and get a piece of it, over and over, the balls ricocheting off the school wall.

Maybe Charley was getting frustrated or tired.  I didn't notice.  Finally, I hit a hard bouncer toward Charlie McCall, the second baseman. The ball bounced over his outstretched glove into right field.  It should have been a single.  But...

The right fielder never saw it.  In fact, the ball wasn't found that night.  Since I never kept track of the score, I just kept running.  Gerry scored the winning run.  I was credited with a triple.  As I crossed the plate, I was mobbed and roughed up by my teammates.  Nothing was better than that.

The next day, I faced another Jameson.  I had an appointment with my dentist to fill some cavities.  I had lots in those candy and fluoride-less days.  I sat down in Dr. Henry Jameson's chair.

"Hello John."

"Hi Dr. Jameson."

He gave me a serious look.

"I saw the game last night.  You beat my son's team."

He had the drill in his hand. And I never asked for Novocain; that was for sissies.

I guess I was a little afraid.  Not only was he Charley's father, he was an ADULT. After all, this was a DENTIST APPOINTMENT.  And I got the hit off his son and helped beat his team. 

"Good hit.  You never gave up." 

Syosset had a lot of fine people and Charley and his father ranked with the best.

And my eyes have always been much better than my teeth.

 


 

Seth and Pete 

by Jane Ziegler  (Feb. 5, 1951March 3, 2009)                         

(contributed by Audrey Schwartz)

I returned to Syosset in the summer of 2001.  Still homesick and the only place I go on vacation, to find that my little town was having a face lift. All the streets and shops on Jackson Ave were in disarray. 1 was totally out of sorts. “What the heck is .going on?"  Stuck at the light in town and a couple of rush hour trains later, I turned up Ira Road to go the back way thru town. As I turned the corner there it was or should I say; "there it wasn't." The Great Sweet Shop Wall STUCCOED!!!. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE?  My heart was broken right then and there.

Anyone who was anyone showed up on that ''wall''. Years of expression wiped out in an instant. Two names had always stood out: it was" SETH AND PETE 4 EVER" Someone wrote, “ who are?" Someone wrote, "are burnt." Nobody knew who they were. Which was a major accomplishment in itself. The fish pond was larger than I thought. We were all just the small-fish.

It was a sad day for me as I watched the workers cover the graffiti. (The graffiti was erased in 1997. —Ed.) Gone forever in just one swipe of plaster. I thought for sure everyone knew that Pete was my brother. Right in the heart of town for years, forty years, to  be exact. .How could they not have known who they were? Then I realized only a few people knew that story. I happened to be one of them.
 
During the early sixties The Sweet Shop had occupied that corner. There were two Sweet Shops, that one and one over the tracks next to the jewelry store. I forgot which one was named "Syosset Sweets," (Peak Sweet Shop was on Jackson Avenue and Ira Road while the Syosset Sweet Shop was at 18 Cold Spring Road. —Ed.)  My older-brother Peter was a “soda jerk.” He mostly was a jerk.  However, he did make great egg creams and not because he’s my  brother, he was the most handsome boy in town. He worked there to.save and buy a red convertible Corvette. Can you imagine? Thank God for grandmothers. She eventually came up with the money and Peter became larger than life.
.
Peter was a lady killer. :But there was only one girl who really caught his eye. She turned heads wherever she went. A true blonde bombshell in every sense.  Bridget Bardot or Kim Basinger had nothing on her. She was far from dizzy or dumb.  A svelte Jennifer Aniston look-a-like. My father even had a  crush on her. Peter carried  her picture in his wallet. My whole family adored her: Andrea’s ' hard life made her much wiser than her young seventeen years. She had it all. She oozed with sex appeal however never used it, she didn't have to. She had brains too. We had the.same white eyelid angel tops and matching pedal pushers.  She never treated me like the little girl I was. She was my hero.
 
Peter’s best friend was cute little Seth.  Cute little Seth was anything but.. My mother swore "he had grown horns and a tail", if you know what she means. Seth didn't care for Andrea's girlfriend Judy. She towered over him and that was the end of double dating. I'm sure Judy didn't notice her strange love attraction. However, she was all in. Peter and Andrea were quite the couple,
Their striking good looks only added to their love affair, Nothing else mattered as long as they where together. They were in love.
 
Then there was Peter and Seth They were inseparable, Their common denominator was GIRLS, GIRLS and more GIRLS! This equation was causing Andrea lots of grief. Seth was surely the devil. Be wouldn't go away. Something had to be done. So one hot summer night in 1963 or ‘64 Andrea and Judy went to work.  (According to a telephone conversation I had with Andrea in 2008, it was Barbara Kneffing who co-authored the graffiti. —Ed.)
 
They did some damage. They both laughed and laughed all the way home. Hence “Seth.and Pete 4 ever” (Andrea said “Seth+Pete. —ed.) I am assuming she meant for Peter to think about the direction of their romance. Or was it a warning , an ultimatum?  Perhaps a joke? Did Peter get it? (According to Andrea, writing the graffiti was their retaliation for the boys’ neglect of them. —Ed.)  He finally retaliated too little too late. He climbed the water tower on Convent Road as if he were Stanley Kowalski". “I love A. A.”  appeared in bold white letters. You could see it for miles. The stunt didn't work. Andrea was in the wind, Short; sweet and very innocent the graffiti artists parted ways. Months later I was sitting in St Edwards Church at Andrea's wedding . Peters friend, Jimmy R.  swept her off her feet. I was glad she dumped my brother for the way he treated her. I cried my heart out. I somehow knew I'd never see her again. 

She never looked back

The rumors of Seth's whereabouts were never validated. I heard he was some kind of motorcycle outlaw. He rode his Harley off into the sunset. Never to be heard from again. (Was a biker; died young at another's hands.  —Ed.) Peter married a Syosset girl, bought a house in Syosset. Raised three kids in Syosset. He still lives in Syosset. Married a second girl from Syosset and moved to another house in Syosset. (Jane died in 2009 and Peter in 2010.  —Ed.) 

Andrea was seen on the back pages of magazines as a Breck Shampoo Girl. A cancer survivor, a mother, a grandmother, a poet and the real story of  "Seth and Pete 4 ever".She married the love of her life and lives happily somewhere in New England. Andrea made Syosset the place I'll always be hornesick for, now and 4 ever. 


 

 

Night Raiders 

by Florence Kwiatkowski Sendrowski

On a  very late summer night, you could hear the wailing of a fire truck siren coming from the direction of Jericho Turnpike.  It would be the Night Raiders coming home from a local tournament.  Folks would run out of their homes and bars to see the trophy won by the team.  The trophy would be held high by a fireman atop the truck.  People would cheer and wave as the truck passed by.  There were times when nothing had been won but a fire hose nozzle was held in the air.  For security reason, on occasion, firemen would be secured by ropes to prevent them from falling off the truck. Remember, there was no traffic and if you passed a car
on the way to or from Hicksville it was an event.


 

 

Vic Tanny's 

by John Delin

Vic Tanny opened his first health club in 1935.in Rochester NY and moved it to Santa Monica CA in 1939.  He started expanding in the mid-fifties and his first move to the East Coast was to South Oyster Bay Road in Plainview, c. 1959.

I was training with weights at an early age beginning c. 1951 when a neighbor lent me a homemade barbell.  Weights came to Syosset High School in 1957 and I eagerly took to working out, purchasing a set of weights for my use at home.  I trained at home and at friends' homes as well as in the school.

I was very interested in Vic Tanny's.  A classmate, Bill McCartney, joined the club. My parents couldn't afford the membership fee but I did get to work out there occasionally in 1959 via guest passes provided by Bill.  Tanny's had mirrors, carpets, sun and steam rooms, chrome barbells and dumbbells of all weights so you didn't need to waste time by changing the weight and even some basic machines and pulleys.  I didn't care about the fancy accoutrements; but I sure liked not having to "change the weights!"

So when Bill told me and two other friends, Gary Lindenbaum and Sam Powers, of a deal wherein we could deliver circulars door-to-door in Syosset and in return receive a month's free pass to Vic Tanny's, we jumped at the chance.  We went to the gym, obtained the circulars and the written agreement and set out to deliver them.  We worked hard and at the end of the day, dumped the remaining circulars down a sewer because there were far more circulars than homes in Syosset.

The gym was three miles from my house in Greenway Circle, Syosset.  I walked and I showed up at the gym with my agreement.  I was told that I would get a two week pass, not a month.  This was my first experience with fast talking gym operators.

I went home and told my father of this injustice. Of course I didn't mention that we dumped some of the circulars.   Helmer Delin was a quiet man with a strong athletic background.  He was a national level four wall handball player, a semipro football player, a relief pitcher and first baseman in a Brokerage house league which played at Ebbet's Field, a 200 average bowler and a fair golfer.  In his youth, he worked out at the Brooklyn Central YMCA.  Charles Atlas worked out there, too.  Vigorously. With weights.  Dynamic tension was a scam to make Atlas rich.

My father went back with me to Tanny's and demanded a month pass.   I got it.  I usually walked the three miles to Tanny's and back during that summer.  I never joined because we still couldn't afford it.

Vic Tanny's was a forerunner of the modern gym but went bankrupt.  By 1965, Tanny's in the Plainview Shopping Center had become a night club, Danny Mazur's Cat and Fiddle, and, later, Mazur's My House, where Billy Joel and the Hassles got their start.


 

 

Gus's Frozen Food Store

by Florence Kwiatkowski Sendrowski

Gus's Frozen Food Store was on Jackson Ave, on the triangle across from the Wencko Grocery, 10 Jackson Avenue (later Syosset Lock).

Gus was considered a forerunner in bringing frozen food to customers.  The store was also a deli and the hip high freezer bins were against the outer walls.  As you walked in there was a step down to the left which contained the freezers and a soda cooler with water and ice (I think it was red).  You would flip open the top of the soda cooler and reach down and fish for your favorite brand.  The water was so cold your hand and arm would start to ache before they went numb. The best ever treat was a Pepsi in a "glass bottle", an orange creamsicle and a small bag of Wise potato chips. Total cost about 45 cents, maybe a little less.


 

 

Memories of Downtown Syosset in the 1950s

by John Delin

When the 1950s began, there was still a foot path from my neighborhood, Greenway Circle (formerly Syosset Hills), which ran through the woods parallel to Convent Road and ended near the old Cheshire house on Jackson Avenue at the present site of the strip of stores just south of Ira Road.  That was my first route to downtown Syosset.  I would later ride my bike down Convent Road and make the right turn past Moran and Kyles (later Kyle and Morans) and the Sunoco Station.   Across Jackson Avenue was Gus Kleiss’s blacksmith shop, Puccio’s service station,  Puccio’s Distributors and Puccio’s Barber Shop.  Mr. Kleiss also repaired lawnmowers. There was no Ira Road.  Moving north on Jackson, the old Brower Boarding House was still occupied by rental tenants and I do remember a little grocery just south of the Rail Road station where I would buy some things for my mother.
 
Crossing the tracks, I would stop in Weinstock’s variety store, 57 Jackson Avenue (which I called the “Everything Store” and the National 5 and 10 at 25 Jackson Avenue.  I still have a Santa Christmas ornament that I bought for a few cents in the 5 and 10, c. 1953.  Boslet’s Restaurant at Jackson and Whitney was still in operation c. 1951 and my father would stop there for one beer after his commute from the City.  After Boslet’s closed, he would stop at Moran and Kyles, Jackson  Avenue and Convent Rd.   I remember the fire c. 1953 which started in the electric shamrock sign in front of the old Moran and Kyle’s,  which destroyed it.  The new building which still stands soon replaced it.
 
Robert Boslet was the Postmaster.  I thought the Puccios and Boslets owned Syosset.  Weinstock’s became Weintraub’s in early 1953 and then came the Washington’s Birthday fire which destroyed much of the inventory.  Until Weintraub’s reopened I was lucky to be able to go inside Boslet’s, which by that time had closed.  The Weintraubs set up a counter there where I could buy baseball cards, candy and comic books.  Boslet’s was ancient but fascinating, and I loved going there.
 
I would occasionally go into the old Van Sise General Store at 11 Berry Hill Road.  I found it dark and foreboding.   I remember buying rock candy. 
 
One day in the early 1950s, I bought a Junior Police badge, wallet and fake parking tickets in the 5 and 10.  We kids formed the Junior Police and we kept watch on the town, studying the FBI wanted posters in the Post Office, which was at 20 Cold Spring Road.   Mr. Boslet, who had two children of his own,  never objected to our presence.   Should one of these criminals come to town, we intended to turn him in by informing the town policeman stationed at the booth at the junction of Berry Hull and Split Rock Roads.  Of course, Syosset was crime-free.  We wished to built a headquarters for the Junior Police in back of Herbert Pecheur’s Real Estate office, which was a small one room edifice at 30 Cold Spring Road,  near the Post Office and the old High Street,(which ended at the parking lot near the RR.)  We lacked wood, hammers and nails.  So even though Mr. Pecheur had no objections to our plans, nothing ever came of this.
 
My friends and I lacked money.  But in the summers of the early 1950s we were always thirsty, especially after baseball at the Syosset School (later called Split Rock School) field and Waldron’s Field (off Split Rock Road and Elliman Place.)  So we went all over town and collected bottles to redeem deposits.  As soon as we had a nickel apiece, we would go to the Syosset Sweet Shop, just south of the Post Office,  My favorite was a “small vanilla”, soda water and vanilla flavoring.  A dime would get me an egg cream.  But why buy one egg cream when you could get two small vanillas or a coke.  Then we would search for more bottles.
 
Sometimes we would park out at the triangle at Jackson Avenue and Cold Spring Road.  With pencil and paper, we would note all the different state license plates we saw come by.  We never saw all 48, but sometimes it was close.
 
I would get my hair cut at Fred’s Barber Shop.  Eventually Tony, Fred’s son, became my only barber.  I would get a “flattop” which I kept till my late teens.  I always thought I might lose my hair but Tony assured me that I would keep my hair until at least 35.  That gave me some comfort; I still have a full head of hair at 66 and maybe the flattops helped.
 
And I remember the wonderful Memorial Day Parades. We kids looked forward to riding our red, white and blue crepe decorated bikes in the parade and getting free hot dogs and soda at the VFW afterwards, a custom which has continued into the Twentyfirst Century.
 
As I got older, I would still patronize the stores on Jackson Avenue. I would buy bicycle tire repair kits at Tom and Marty’s Star Auto Store at 117 Jackson Avenue but I eventually abandoned my old bike and left it in the basement of the old Lang Hotel at the triangle.  I went everywhere on foot.  I began working out with weights and reading science fiction books.  I would buy a quart of chocolate milk at Bahnhof’s Delicatessen, 33 Jackson Avenue, and a loaf of rye bread at the Syosset Bakery and walk home finishing both, to gain muscle.   I would go to the Peak Sweet Shop off Ira Road, Weintraub’s and Rexall Drugs, 35 Jackson Avenue,  all places that sold paperbacks, and buy any sci-fi book on sale.  They cost usually 35 cents each.  I walked home via the new Ira Road and Sherman Drive.  In 1958, I had my first pizza at Christiano’s and I have never forgotten the pepper beef steaks and hamburgers at Weintraub’s and the Syosset Sweet Shop.  I also remember enjoying the air conditioning, having none at home,  in the Hub Supermarket at 8-12 Cold Spring Road.
 
In the late 50s, I bought my high school gym uniforms at the Fieldwood Men’s Shop at 41 Jackson Avenue and purchased my first suit there, to wear in my Syosset High School Senior picture, in the fall of 1959.
 
Now when I walk down Jackson Avenue in the Twenty-first century I feel the memories and because I know exactly where everything used to be, I am transported back to my childhood.  I don’t really notice the new stores and the banks; I feel the old places.  I still feel at home.


 

 

My First Days at Syosset High School

by Lynn DeRosa

One weekend we were invited to visit John's supervisor and friend, Whitey Stormark, in his new home at Huntington, Long Island. Little did we suspect how this outing would change our lives. Driving to Huntington, I noticed a sign, Syosset. I remembered when we lived in NYC, Marge Price, a friend from the Chicago Art Institute called and told me that the Prices were living in Syosset. Jack, her husband, had accepted a teaching post at the high school. At that time I had no idea where the town was located. Thinking it would be enjoyable to see the Price family again, I phoned them, and we were invited to share dinner that evening. Jack regaled Syosset High School asking if I would be interested in teaching there. As I did not show the least enthusiasm at the prospect, Jack wanted to show off his great find. It was late afternoon as we drove by, and I was impressed with the beautiful single floor contemporary structure.

I had been thinking of returning to teaching and the few schools in Westchester were old and sadly not interested in the kind of art program that would utilize my background and experience. Suddenly, Syosset High School had possibilities. John agreed that we could move to Long Island, and he would become a commuter to Manhattan. I said YES.

We prepared for another move. The new Syosset Superintendent was leaving Westchester and agreed to interview me in nearby Mamaroneck. I passed with flying colors. He seemed to be vitally interested in my answer to his query—"Do you approve of using nude models for drawing in high school?" Of course that could only have a very negative answer!

With a signed contract in hand, sadly we packed up to leave our castle that was awaiting "the wrecking ball."

School started in the fall; the teachers, most were young and filled with the excitement of blending the newest concepts in education within the walls of an innovative building, a one level structure spread over a large, flat area, once a cornfield. In 1958-59, the school, built in 1956, served Syosset's grades 7 through 12. At that time it was Syosset Junior-Senior High School. The building revolved around four project areas, designated as A (English), B (Languages), C  (Social Studies) and D (temporary home to the Seventh and Eighth graders.) Between the areas A & B was a short staircase leading up to the Science and Math classrooms. (No stairs at that time. —Ed.) Above the classrooms was an Observatory complete with telescope to scan the celestial heavens. (No Observatory there at that time. —Ed.) Three other oversize teaching areas were devoted to Industrial Arts, Physical Education and Music Education.

Each of the Project areas had its own small library and large central area for group teaching surrounded by eight classrooms. On the main corridor there were two art rooms including a ceramic studio, a darkroom, and a huge supply room filled with every imaginable art paper and tool. Next-door was a media room with two 15" Altec Lansing speakers and turntables with the capability of cutting records. Each room had a large window display area opening on the hall. Another well- equipped art room across from areas C&D. and an additional supply closet, loaded with all sorts of "art goodies," served the talented Eighth graders. The adjoining room, part of Industrial Arts, was filled with large professional drawing tables for classes in architectural drafting.

From the first few months of teaching at Syosset, I was filled with the wonder and the joy of working in this incredible school and the thrill and excitement continued until my retirement, 23 years later. Driving to the Syosset RR station, John boarded the train for NYC and I completed the short drive to the High School.

The school year ended with an enjoyable faculty party at the Officer's Club located In nearby Mitchell Field. John reluctantly accompanied me, feeling this would be a dull party. He was wrong., Never had he seen such a raucous fun loving bunch of drunks since his Army days. The affair took place in an area with a large oval bar which became the obstacle course of the evening. The Physical Education teachers took the lead in leaping over the two sides of the bar, cheered on by ear-splitting shouts of approval, followed by any courageous persons daring to take the risk.


 

 

The Helping Hand Horse Shows

by Elaine Hammond Tucker

Once a year, beginning in September of 1947, the Churchmen of the Community Church of Syosset (now the United Church of Christ) sponsored a horse show. Instrumental in organizing and running the Helping Hand Horse Shows were Harold Van Sise, George Hammond, Walter Kohler, James Petrie and Harold Amateis. The shows were held on the estate of Mrs. Marjorie Hewlett, later Mrs. John McDonald, on Woodbury Road. She not only supplied the facilities but, directed the show. It attracted horsemen from far away who competed for prizes and trophies (the first prize was $1000). It was a popular event with refreshments and fun for all and it continued for several years.


 

Billy Schulman

by Dale Thielker

Woodbury’s own Billy Schulman was just thirteen years old when he starred alongside David McCallum (The Man From Uncle) and Ossie Davis in Teacher, Teacher, a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that debuted on NBC in February of 1969.

Billy played the role of Freddie Putnam, a thirteen-year-old who, like himself, was severely mentally-challenged.  Having grown up in Woodbury where he attended special classes at Harry B. Thompson Jr. High School, Billy was one of approximately forty youngsters recommended to the producers of Teacher, Teacher by the National Association for Retarded Children.  Although his mental limitations were more pronounced than some of the other applicants, Billy attracted the attention of the producers with his ability to register emotions and react appropriately happy or sad when told Freddie’s story. 

Billy enthusiastically accepted the challenge of becoming an actor.  His mom, Sandra Schulman, rehearsed his lines with him every evening and again the next morning to help him with his retention. 
 
Teacher, Teacher was an outstanding success when it was broadcast on February 5, 1969.  The critics cheered Billy’s “breathtaking” and “almost unbearably-moving performance.” Billy was awarded a special Emmy and Teacher, Teacher won the Emmy for Best Dramatic Show.  Most importantly, scores of people were inspired by the film, which demonstrated that a mentally-challenged person, through opportunity, patience, love, and understanding, can be taught to lead a useful life.
 
After his triumph, Billy returned to his normal life at home in Woodbury, where his parents put a star on his bedroom door to remind him of his achievement.  In 1973, the Schulman’s moved to Florida, where Billy finished school and got a job working for Goodwill, using two buses each day to get to work.  One morning in October of 1986, after exiting a bus on Route 7 in Lauderhill, Florida, Billy was struck and killed by an automobile as he crossed the road in front of Goodwill’s office. 
 
One year later, Goodwill introduced the “Billy Schulman Award” and, in 1996, unveiled “Billy’s House,” a home where disabled people learn life skills to help them achieve independence.  “Teacher, Teacher” has never been released on video or dvd, but the film continues to attract a following on YouTube and other Internet video sites.  Forty years later, Woodbury’s Billy Schulman is still touching lives! 


 

 

The Community Players of Syosset

by Elaine Hammond Tucker

In the fall of 1948 The Community Players was organized by Helen Hammond with the purpose of raising funds for the Community Church Building Fund and providing entertainment for the community.  She was successful in getting people interested and finding a director, Dr. Philip Rubinstein of Hicksville.  He suggested the play “Dear Ruth” and there were just enough members to fill the cast!  The curtain rose in the Split Rock School on December 10, 1949 with the auditorium filled to capacity.  The production was received so enthusiastically that the players presented it two months later in Oyster Bay.

As interest continued to grow and the plays became very popular, there was the need to secure their own sets.  George Hammond, Helen’s husband, undertook the construction and painting of scenery panels in their basement.  These panels were used in all the future productions.

As the years went on, it became increasingly difficult to secure a public auditorium in which to present being it was a church sponsored group.  Therefore, in 1955, they reorganized as an independent theatre group and became the Syosset Players.  The subsequent performances were for various organizations and as fund raising events.

Some of the many plays they presented were:  “Dear Ruth”, “John Loves Mary”. “The Happiest Years”, “The Curious Savage”, “Blithe Spirit”, “Present Laughter”, and “The Male Animal”, to name a few.  Some members of the casts included: Helen Hammond, Madeline Fritz, Fred Bolk, Robert Petrie, Ralph Green, Herbert Pecheur, Allison Disbrow, Bettye Wells, Eric Lundstrom and Gemma Josephson. 


 

 

Syosset in Spain

by Pamela Boslet

I was running to catch a train in Grenada, Spain, in 1972.  As I raced through the station, I noticed a swarthy, angry-looking young man standing by himself, smoking a cigarette and wearing a skin-tight American Boy Scout shirt (very popular in Europe at that time).  I paused as I passed him; part of the shirt's arm patch was covered by the shoulder strap of his bag, but I did see "set, N.Y."  I was in a great hurry and spoke little Spanish, but I couldn't resist:  I yanked the strap down so I could read the rest of the patch.  He glared at me fiercely and pulled the strap back up, but not before I could clearly see that it said "Syosset."  As I ran off, I pointed at his shoulder and yelled excitedly, "Mi casa!  Mi casa!" and left him maybe wondering, as I certainly was, just how that little boy's Syosset Boy Scout shirt wound up on this angry young man in Grenada, Spain.  


 

 

Go to Part Eleven

Go to Part Ten

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