After my father retired from the Air Force, he went to Syracuse University, both to teach and to work on a PhD. We moved to 103 Michaels Drive in the DeWitt suburb of Syracuse. The purchase process was less clear than our previous home purchases, with a lot more hunting around before settling on something. Perhaps this was just because we had the luxury of having time to look and only living about an hour away, unlike our previous moves from out of state where my father had to start work right away.
The house was on a 1/4 acre lot which seemed small compared to our previous 1 acre with pool in Rome and our 3-1/2 acres with tractor in rural Maryland. However, my room was probably the largest I ever had to myself, easily allowing me to have the usual two twin beds as well as a wall of bookcases and still have my entire LEGO layout setup on the floor. There was a green/blue shag carpet that worked well to create a ocean around my LEGO island and very large and amusing green and blue interwoven pattern that matched on the wall.
Although the yard was small, there was a lot of fruit growing. There was an apple tree and a pear tree and the area below the back porch was enclosed with a trellis on two sides covered with grape vines. In my experience this was all more trouble that it was worth, especially when you had to mow the grass. I'll note that a later owner seems to have removed the fruit trees and put in an above grown pool instead.
The main room in the basement was only partially finished. The walls had been paneled but the floor and ceiling where undone. We put down a square tile linoleum floor and a drop acoustic tile ceiling, although with square tiles, not the usual full rectangles. Our Seequa Chameleon computer was down in this basement along with an upright piano left by the previous owners. The wood stove from Maryland was also put into use in the basement.
While looking for this house we had seen a similar one that had access from the garage to the basement that my father had really liked. Eventually my father got around to putting one in himself. We rented a concrete cutter and cut a whole in the floor of the garage and dug out room for stairs and opened up an entry into unfinished back basement area that contained the furnace and water heater. As often the case with out house projects, it was finished soon before we moved out. The main use of the stairs was removing the upright piano out of the basement when we got rid of it.
I actually started at the J-D Middle School about a week before moving into the house on Michaels Drive. It was an hour drive each way from our old house Rome which fortunately did not last long.
The current Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School Family Handbook has a nice map of the building on page 10 which I used to find the room numbers for the various teachers below. Note that the Kim P listed in the handbook under Visual Arts is none other that the Kim K mentioned below.
I met Donna C and Dave H my first day, as they were other new 7th grade students in House II. Dave and I were both dumped into second year Spanish without any prior experience, diving right into conjugating "gustar" and "querer" without even basic vocabulary for basics like colors.
Some other people I met early on were Samantha M and her younger brother Ben who lived at the top of my street. Even though Samantha and I were both in the same grade, we never really crossed paths much at school. She was in House III and I was in House II. She took French and I took Spanish. Later on in high school when we would be in classes together, but I ended up friends with Rebecca D who was a bit of a rival of Samantha's. We did have one mutual friend, Stephen S, so I hear about her periodically. Perhaps in a different life we would have been closer friends, I hear she ended up living in Cambridge, MA, married to an MIT graduate.
Coming to J-D ended my youth soccer experience. I had played in various youth groups from 2nd grade to 6th grade but when I showed up to J-D there were tryouts, something I just didn't have any experience with. I walked out onto the field not knowing what I was doing, probably having missed the first day or two because of moving from Rome, getting shouted at by the not so friendly Coach Shipley. It just seemed to turn something fun into something that was just unpleasant. It didn't help that the tryouts were while I was still commuting from Rome, making for a very long day. So I bailed on the whole thing, not even sticking around long enough to see if I would make the cut. Looking back this was probably a big mistake, I missed out most of the organized team sports experience in school, although in high school I did indoor track one winter and often played weekly pickup games of Ultimate Frisbee.
After 6th grade with Mr. Troutman for all my subjects, it was nice to go back to rotating to different teachers throughout the day. For each grade in a given house, there were four teachers for four academic subjects which all the kids in that grade in that house would rotate through.
For 7th grade social studies in House II we had Mrs. Schleicher (room 202). I also had her for homeroom and study hall. I used to get into mild trouble with Rich S in study hall on occasion, but in general Mrs. Schleicher was very nice.
For English we had Mrs. Culhane (room 203). She was a little less friendly that Mrs Schleicher, although I often didn't get along English teachers since I never really knew what they were looking for. I reread The Light in the Forest, which I had previously read after receiving it as a gift from my Aunt Martha. However, even reading it twice couldn't give me enough insight to satisfy Mrs. Culhane's expectations to receive an "A". We also read Cheaper by the Dozen, which at least appealed to the nerd in me.
We had Mr. Ramsden (room 205) for math, he was a pretty strict disciplinarian. He went on to be principal at the middle school, including when my sister attended before moving to Concord, MA.
For science we had Mr. Spofford (room 212), who was sort of a goofy guy, certainly a fun teacher. He had the joy of teaching a bunch of co-ed middle school students about sexual reproduction. The House II guidance counselor was Mr. Erwin (room 213), although had a few brief meetings with him, I guess I just wasn't a enough of a problem child to get much attention. It's still not entirely clear to me what guidance counselor's, especially middle school ones, do on a daily basis, but I probably don't want to know.
We ventured outside of House II for our other subjects. All of the foreign languages were in House I along with the fifth graders (since then a new House 4 has been built for the fifth graders as school enrollment has increased). I had Miss Pierce for Spanish (room 102?). My Spanish name for class was Benito. Stephen S was Esteban. Of course, David H was simply David, although pronounced with an accent. Miss Pierce loved giving and grading worksheets. I had convinced my mom to give me a quarter for each A I received, and Miss Pierce became a large source of my income. I learning Spanish words for family with the help of Paco and how to make guacamole from avocados to learning cooking terms, although I never really liked the stuff until I moved to California. When I ended up traveling to Spain, I made my parents take me to see the Segovia aqueduct that was on the cover of my middle school Spanish book. I also got to experience the New Years Eve in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid, something else I learned to thanks to Miss Pierce. (I just learned in January 2009 that the now Mrs. Barbara Pierce Marshall was a member of the J-D class of 1961.)
Back in those days, there was an expectation that schools have art and music programs. For art, we had Mrs. Homan (room 24 and 25). She made a trip to the Mt Everest base camp and we watched a presentation of her slides, perhaps in the large group room (room 18). For music we had Mr. Sipley (room 16), who was almost as intimidating as a music teacher as he had been during soccer try outs. Class activities included such oddities as listening to a piece of classical music and being asked to identify the instruments, not that we had any preparation listing to the individually ahead of time. Perhaps this had been taught to people in fifth or sixth grade, but I wasn't the only one to have trouble with this. We also did some simple music appreciation, putting names and some history to such pieces as as Flight of the Bumblebee.
All boys and girls were required to take both shop and home economics. For shop we had Mr. Horan (room 9) and we made clocks. I know Stephen recently recalled to me in late 2008 how good these clocks came out, they were just as nice as a Bulova clock I received as a wedding present. I tried to make mine have a built in radio, which hadn't worked out so well, but Stephen did a nice one with a pendulum. In seventh grade home economics Miss Pierson (room 15) taught us how to sew. I made a small navy blue duffel bag which I could attach to my bicycle with a Velcro handle closure. I used for paper payment collection. Starting in college, I used to store my soldering supplies. We also had a technology class which was located next to shop, led more than taught by Mr. Wells (room 8). It pretty much up to us what we did. The most memorable thing we did was making an episode of Divorce Court. It had been recently revived as a popular TV show in 1985. Every student got involved. We had actors to play the couple, judge, witnesses, bailiff, etc. We created a set. We wrote a script and had rehearsals. We video taped the performance. That said, I have forgotten what my role was, although Amy K played a major role in the production.
Soon after moving to DeWitt I started working again as a paper boy, working for the local distributor Mrs. Jordan. I did a short route that included my street, Michaels Drive, as well as Eden Roc Circle, and the first block of Ardsley Drive. I delivered the Syracuse Herald-Journal in the afternoon Monday through Saturday as well as the Sunday morning paper, the Herald American. The route was not flat like in Rome, so I took to walking more than riding my bike.
I bought a Realistic Pocketvision 3 handheld 2.7" LCD TV from Radio Shack (catalog number 16-153) when the price dropped to $99 that I tried watching cartoons on it while walking around doing deliveries without too much success. Both the TV and the NES are still around and working, although poor R.O.B. is missing a part from one of his hands.
Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim lived on Eden Roc at the time I was paperboy. Usually I when I went to collect payment I would see his then wife Elaine, occasionally with their daughter Elizabeth. They one of the better tippers on the route, giving me 50 cents instead of the usual quarter that other people would give me. During this time when he lost the 1987 NCAA Championship Game due to a last second basket by Indiana University. It was felt a little awkward delivering the paper the day after that with the cover story of his loss.
Some other memorable people on my paper route included the O'Briens across the street whose wife was a town councilwoman, the town council women across the street, the couple without kids whose husband was the ski instructor at Labrador, the guy across the street from them that hunted and frequently had dead deer around, the woman with a Corvette who worked nights and was never around to pay, Mike D's family next to her, the young family with the baby, Mrs. Haas who was a J-D music teacher, the family that yelled at me for walking on the grass to go between houses but yet still wanted the paper delivered to their door, and the people next store to them with the big flag pole and old, loud German shepherd.
In 2008 I learned that this paper route was taken over by my friend Adam G and his brother Josh when I moved to Woodside road. Its amazing to find out after over 20 years! It was interesting to swap stories about my old customers and hear about how that baby grew up.
I occasionally did yard work for some of my neighbors on my paper route, mostly just raking leaves for some of the elderly single women. One of these neighbors was the lady next door on Eden Roc. One day she locked herself out. However, an upstairs window was open so my dad got the extension ladder out and for whatever reason I was sent up the ladder to open the front door for her. How is that for customer service?
One of my closest friends in middle school was Jason D. We often hung out at his house on Butternut Drive over by Shoppingtown Mall, playing games, even talking about girls. He also had an NES so we used to play together, a particular favorite being Pro Wrestling. We were in a few classes together, I sat next to him in the back of Mr. Ramsden's 7th grade math class behind Megan H. Unfortunately we grew apart in high school when Jason dropped out of the honors track and avoided nerdy extracurricular activities.
Another middle school friend was Richard S who lived on Kittell Road near the old Waldenbooks and Track and Racquet club, where Rich did in fact play racquetball. We had a bunch of mutual interests including computers, chess, rockets, and airplanes. He was a Tandy Color Computer hacker, I think he had a CoCo 2. He wrote a pretty cool side scrolling graphics demo before there was Commander Keen on the PC. Rich and I used to play chess at school, which almost always ended up with him beating me handily. He came with me when I first launched my model rockets off in an old quarry off Nottingham Road, which now seems to be full of houses. We grew apart in high school, for similar reasons as with Jason, but we occasional had classes together. I particularly remember sitting behind him and Mike V in Mrs. Quinn's biology class junior year and I think we took some of Mr. Jerald's computer classes as well, and perhaps some architectural or mechanical drawing.
The suburb of DeWitt had a large Jewish community, with at least three temples I recall attending on various occasions and there were certainly others as well. Of course being 7th and 8th grade, this meant one thing: bar mitzvahs. Being the new kid, I missed out on most of these, the first one I was invited too was for fellow House II classmate David G. I was quite excited to go, having heard about the goings on at the sometime outlandish receptions and having seen people wearing bar mitzvah t-shirts, often styled like rock tour t-shirts, with the names of the guests replacing the list of cities. Talk about adding to middle school social pressure, in-lists were printed on shirts that were warn around school.
David's bar mitzvah began with the service at the temple which included the traditional elements such as the reading of the Torah and was immediately followed by a small social reception. Then later in the day, there was larger sit-down dinner reception, similar in scale to a wedding reception. there was a large head table with two rows for seating all of David's peers. After dinner there was a DJ and dancing. I hung out with Richard S and Amy K during the dancing. I was friends with Amy after this, often talking with her outside her locker in House II, probably the first girl I would have considered a friend during these awkward middle school years.
Another friend was was Ariel B. He lived on Jamar Drive near Richard S, I think they were neighborhood friends because of that, not sure but I'm guessing I probably met one via the other, just not sure which way. Ariel was a funny man which often got him into mild trouble. I went to Ariel's bar mitzvah as well and we remained friends into high school, when I actually moved closer to his neighborhood.
Stephen S is a life long friend from my middle school days. My parents had looked at buying the house next to him on Terese Terrace when we were moving to DeWitt. We lived close enough together that we could get to each others houses without much difficulty, although avoiding the main roads required some cutting through one undeveloped areas and made using bicycles troublesome. He liked to come help me smash up my LEGO city using a weapon devised of the 6 large Techic tires from my LEGO sets #952 Farm Tractor and #8860 Car Chassis. We also played a lot of NES, especially Russ'n Attack. After I inherited some model rockets from my cousin Richard C, Stephen and I used to launch them off without adult supervision at the middle school. While experimenting with different launch angles to compensate for wind, we ended up turning a couple rockets into dangerous projectiles. One was a space shuttle model that traveled almost level a great distance across the field and the other was a simple but large diameter rocket that ended up in the brush east of the school. We had sleep overs at my house where secret crushes were revealed under the pretext of "if you had to pick a girl to marry". Although I moved out of the neighborhood in high school, we remained close friends and Stephen was a groomsmen at my wedding. I now try to see him whenever I'm down in Los Angeles. By the way, that house my family at looked at next door to Stephen belonged to Ross Y's family, a close friend of Stephen and David G, and I later cross paths with Ross at MIT.
Two other friends from middle school were Peter E and David Y. Its hard to talk about them separately because they had apparently been friends since Kindergarten. Some twist of fate apparently tried to test this friendship by putting Peter in House II and Dave in House III, so where I saw them together was at lunch, usually with another friend of theirs, Eric P and I think Chris S, a friend of Eric's. Peter and Dave did go separate paths at college, and I've stayed in better touch with Dave, visiting him in college at Dartmouth, at medical school in Syracuse, and now as doctor in Bakersfield. I have be glad to see Peter as well, once when he was at Stanford GSB, at Dave's wedding, and most surprising to me at the J-D Class of 1995 10 year reunion.
One person I could have been nicer to was Gigi T. She road my school bus home in the afternoons headed to a house on Jamesville Road. She wrote me a note revealing some feelings for me and gave it to me on the bus where someone else saw it. I was embarrassed for no other reason that I was a twelve year old boy. I made a pretty public statement on the spot stating that I did not like her. I've forgotten the details, but I'm sure I could have been nicer.
One time my friend Brian G from Rome came and visited. His father was a lawyer and was over in Syracuse for business. In the evening, we took my old dad's old telescope up Hamilton Parkway to vacant lot just on the left on Westerly Terrace, a place where I used to cut over to Stephen S's house on Terese Terrace. Troopy came with us, off leash as usual. Unfortunately, when we were heading down from the vacant lot, Troopy got a head of us, running out onto Westerly and a car coming on Westerly literally ran over her. There was a loud yelp. The car slowed down but kept moving and drove away. Remarkably Troopy had survived. She was a small dog and had not been hit by a wheel, but was knocked down and passed under the car. She was in pain, particulally on one side where I guess she may have broken a rib, but she wasn't bleeding. Brian and I took her home but I never told my parents. At the time, I figured they would blame me for Troopy running out in the street, although the only time we ever leashed her when taking her to the vet or in and out of the car or RV when we were traveling. In retrospect, it seems silly to have hidden it from my parents, I don't think they would have gotten angry with me. I'm pretty sure I pointed out the soreness to my parents, disavowing all knowledge of how it happened. They decided not to take her to the vet and fortunately Troopy recovered and was with us for many more years.
Another investment of my paper route money was my Deluxe Set which included R.O.B., the Robot Operating Buddy to play the included Gyromite and, more importantly, the Zapper gun to play the included Duck Hunt. I carried the huge deluxe set box back from the KB toy store in Shoppingtown Mall on my bicycle. I had a number of the other launch titles such as 10 Yard Fight, Excitebike, Ice Climber, and Kung Fu as well as many other games. One Christmas in the Michaels Drive house I found where my mom hid two NES games she was going to give me. I deviously swapped the cartridges out with some older games and played Balloon Hunt this way long before Christmas. I was a bit paranoid my mom would notice so I turned off the game if she ever came around when I happened to be playing. The NES is currently hooked up to my basement TV for a little retro gaming. Unfortunately poor R.O.B. is missing a part from one of his hands making Gyromite unplayable. I'm also missing my Zapper gun and a few games, probably in the possession of my high school neighbor Alok G. I still have a few games that don't belong to me, presumably as collateral from Alok.
I was briefly into playing chess in middle school. I signed up for a chess class after school, I believe Rich S was also in it. I got the Radio Shack Computerized Portable Sensory Chess (catalog number 60-2187) set and used to use that to practice by myself. Rich S and I tried to use it to play chess during Mrs. Schleicher's 7th grade study hall a few times, but in the end she frowned on us using it. Later, in eight grade, I made a two sided game board of my own unique design with knock hockey on one side and a white and gray tiled chess board on the other.
I did start spending a lot more time skiing in DeWitt. I went frequently to Labrador starting in 7th grade. Their head ski instructor was on my paper route (neighbor of Jim Boeheim actually), and he would ski with me occasional and give me some tips beyond my lessons. In 8th grade I got a Saturday season pass and I think this is when my dad started skiing as well, giving me some regular company on the chair lift.
Although I spent some time using our Seequa Chameleon down in the basement, including playing the original, non-id Software Castle Wolfenstein game, I also spent time with my father down at the Syracuse University computer lab, which had a lot more variety of computer to play with. There was an IBM PC XT with a hard disk that I used for Turbo Pascal. There was also a strange IBM PC AT with an APL keyboard. My dad was there to use a Symbolics Lisp machine and let me play with the similar TI Explorer Lisp machines, where I first first learned to car and cdr.
There was a hobby shop at the end of Jamesville Road in the same strip mall next to the Carvel Ice Cream store. It was a quick ride from the house and I would often waste my paper route money there. I ended up with quite a fleet of model rockets, many of them purchased at that store, although I'm guessing the Estes Aerospace Club model was Richard C.
October 1985 train trip with Uncle Fred New York Susquehanna & Western Railroad engine 3000 (picture at http://gold.mylargescale.com/Scottychaos/susquehanna/) (last day as NYSW 3000 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ottomatic77/3099953315/) (engine is now WNYP 430) http://www.flickr.com/photos/14629221@N00/312298406/ http://www.ginosrailpage.com/DOS/NYSW3000_07_22_83.jpg http://www.ginosrailpage.com/DOS/suzy3000.jpg http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?road_number=NYSW%203000 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xd7C5hh72U http://www.calclassic.com/alco/century.htm http://www.railfan.net/railpix/submit/subphoto.cgi?scotlawrence/WNYP-C430-430-6.jpg
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster happened on 28 January 1986 when I was in seventh grade. It is supposed to be one of those reference points for people like the JFK assassination, with people asking, "Where were you when you found out?" I was in Mrs. Culhane's English class. Someone must have come in because we found out in the middle of the period. That day in class we were doing some activity in small groups, as opposed to in the more usual lecture format, so it both let the news spread quickly since we were allowed to be talking, but at the same time masked the source of the news because most of us never saw the door open and someone come in. The next class I had was Mr. Ramsden's math class. Mr. Ramsden had brought out a small radio and we sat and solemnly listened to a news report about the disaster.
As a kid I had always been a big NASA junkie. Although the Apollo program was over before I was born, I was very aware that the Apollo 11 landing was on the same date as my birthday, as well as that the Viking 1 Mars lander, which landed on my third birthday. One of my favorite pre-school books was SkyLab - America's First Space Station, which was a Hallmark pop-up book. I watched the first space shuttle launch from home and then watched many of next ones along with the rest of my classmates at Mount Harmony Elementary School. I had been at Dulles International Airport to see the arrival of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. NASA had such a string of successes that such a catastrophic failure was unthinkable. It was especially troubling when reports came out that Morton Thiokol had overruled engineers concerns about the effect of that mornings sub-freezing temperatures on the O-rings of the solid rocket boosters. I vividly remember my own father, an US Air Force colonel at the time and former pilot, telling me at breakfast that they would never launch that day given the amount of ice that was visible even to those of us watching morning news programs. Apparently the shuttle Rockwell engineers had similar reservations, but Rockwell managers downplayed these concerns to NASA. Regardless of the cause of the disaster, it would be nearly three years before any more shuttle flights, a huge blow to the US manned space program.
One of my favorite childhood memories was visiting the original, and at the time only, LEGOLAND in Billund, Denmark. I found a receipt in my souvenir guidebook that dates this to 9 August 1986. I burned through lots of film trying to take pictures of everything in Miniland. My favorite two scenes were the space shuttle at the launch pad atop its mobile launcher platform and the canal with working locks and boat traffic. At the gift shop I decided to buy Technic LEGO something I hadn't seen in the states, namely the #8851 Excavator, which included a pneumatic system for moving the excavator's arm. At thirteen years of age, this would be my last LEGO set for a long time, probably until I bought myself the #8880 Super Car set after college in California. I never ended up using any of the excavator's parts in any of my later high school projects so it remains assembled to this day, now residing with my foreign travel souvenirs in my bedroom.
For social studies we had Mr. Sorkin (room 203), a large man that was very passionate about history. Later on in high school I would have his relatively tiny wife Mrs. Sorkin for Spanish. Both were great teachers, but it was hard to imagine the two of them as a couple.
For English we had Mrs. Renee Solow (room 209). She was one of my two favorite English teachers, perhaps just because I seemed to understand what she was looking for in her assignments. I got an A+ on a poem I wrote entitled "Dinner" but I liked another poem I wrote entitled "The Nomad" better.
Hey Mom, what are we having for dinner?
Whatever it is, I hope it's a winner.
Possibly sweet and sour pork over rice?
How about chicken with Cajun spice?
How about some spiced hams,
and a side of boiled yams?
How about basic meet and potatoes,
or possibly even bacon, lettuce, and tomato.
And for dessert while we're watching MASH,
we could have some Heavenly Hash!
What did you say we're having for dinner?
You say we're having chopper liver!
Suddenly I lost my appetite.
(Actually I think I'll go out and grab a bite!)
Every calls me the Nomad,
Because of all the paces I go,
From Bonn to Bangkok to Baghdad,
From desert to eternal snow.
I have been many places,
Where some people act peculiar,
They say we have the same faces,
How come that sounds familiar?
But if my heart should ever yearn,
I just get my harmonica,
And play a song that I once heard,
About my own America.
The poetry unit was suprisingly fun, she even put together a collection of the poems. Another student, Jim P, won second prize in the Herald-Journal Poetry Contest for his poem "Teenage Tango". Although I ended up hating most books I was forced to read on a classes schedule, some how she didn't ruin "To Kill a Mockingbird" for me. I got an A on my paper about the book, even though it wasn't too far of some stuff in found in the Cliff Notes. Unfortunately, Mrs. Solow was diagnosed with breast cancer while we were students. It did go into remission, but for most of the year we ended up with a substitute, Mrs. Carlson, who was mom of a J-D student and lived over on Maple Drive, as I would sometimes see her driving near our Woodside Road house. The substitute was a good teacher as well, but it would have been nice to have Mrs. Solow all year.
For math we had Mr. Chengerian (room 208) who in the honors class taught us 8th graders the NYS Regents Course I material meant for 9th graders. Mr. Chengerian came from a family of award winning Christmas tree farmers and I would often seen prize winning Chengerian trees at the New York State Fair. I often wonder if he ended up retiring to Chengerian's Tree Land.
For science we had Mr. Esslinger (room 201) who was a little more quiet and reserved that Mr. Spofford had been. Perhaps he had to be more serious because we actually were playing with fire. We melted and burned things with our Bunsen burners, mostly just melting the zinc out of pennies and burning magnesium, but one girl managed to light her big 80's hair on fire. We also used electrolysis to separate hydrogen and oxygen in water, after which we lit the hydrogen with a match. Hydrogen power here we come!
For Spanish, I once again had Miss Pierce. However, this time I was bumped to the honors class which would allow me to skip freshmen Spanish in high school if I could do well enough. Not bad progress after missing the sixth grade year of Spanish the other kids had, although I still think I've always been weak on my Spanish vocab because of missing that first year.
For art in eight grade we had a young student teacher, Mr. Jazinski. For music, we had more of Mr. Sipley. It wasn't too long after this that he ran off with another teacher to Texas, leaving two surprised spouses behind.
For home economics, Miss Metosh (room 17) both tried to teach us cooking and life skills. All that stuff about balancing checkbooks was fine and all, but the real fun was learning to make candy. I actually continued making the hard candy recipe I learned through out high school. Probably the more important thing I learned from her is that it is actually a good idea to clean the sink after you are done in the kitchen. In 8th grade shop we have us a little more latitude on picking our own projects. One of his suggestions was a knock hockey table which I customized with a chess board on the back. My mom took me down to a tile shop on Erie Boulevard to get the white and gray I used. I have hope this woodworking masterpiece still survives in my parent's house. We didn't do anything too exciting this year in Mr Wells technology class, probably because we were doing computer stuff, which wasn't that novel to me. We did have lots of fun playing Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, which was arguably educational.
All the students in Mr. Chengerian's eighth grade honors math class participated in an New York Mathematics League math contest. I received a "Superior Achievement" certificate, probably because I was one of the top people in our school, which led me to be interested in math team in high school. One math award I would not be getting was admittance in to the "300 Club" for people who received 100% on all three math regents exams. I blew it my first year getting a 98% on the Course I regents. Mr. Chengerian reassured me saying that at least this took the pressure off subsequent years. I went on to get 98% every year on the regents. The only one I ever aced was Earth Science. I also took the SATs in middle school in order to qualify for the CTY summer program even though I did not go until after freshmen year of high school.
Middle school brought my first serious crush, a House II girl that I knew from class. A few of my more trustworthy friends such as Jason and Stephen knew about the crush but I was too afraid to ever really plan on acting on it. I mean I did talk to the girl in school and she even talked back, so this wasn't just some nerd pining after some cute girl that didn't even know his name, just some nerd pining after someone who would at least acknowledge his existence. One evening Jason and I went to see a musical at the high school, although I'm pretty sure it was the middle school musical production. Jason and I ran into the girl there and the three of us ended up sitting together near the back of the auditorium. I thought the girl and I were getting on pretty well, perhaps she just was laughing at my jokes or something. During intermission I concocted a plan that perhaps only makes sense to the mind of a thirteen year old. During the second act, I would leave to go to the bathroom. Jason would reveal my infatuation, pretending that I didn't know he was going to do this. After I returned, Jason would signal me positively or negatively if I should make a move. Well, I returned, the signal was negative, and the second act was awfully quiet. The girl was a little more distant in school for the remainder of the year, or perhaps I was just a little more distant myself. It even took me some courage to ask her to sign my yearbook, but she did, unfortunately noting in it that she "only liked me as a friend". Eventually the two of us did become friends again in high school, although we never spoke of that night throughout during our high school years. However as our senior year was wrapping up I must have mentioned the old story to her because in my senior yearbook she says she didn't remember that she "totally crushed my life" in middle school!
In the summer of 1987 my father did something relatively impulsive and bought a used RV. We set out on the road the very next day to Seattle, Washington. My friend Stephen filled in for me on my paper route during this long trip, as he often did when I was on vacation.
Our goal was to reach Seattle in time to attend the AAAI-87 artificial intelligence conference, which was held from the 13th to 17th of July. I often sat in the front seat acting as navigator and DJ, swapping cassette tapes on a regular basis. The overall trip took about three weeks. After visiting some family friends in western side of Michigan, we crossed Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin on the S.S. City of Midland 41. Back then, the Badger still had an external ramp for loading and unloading regular cars and our RV had to be loaded on the lower rail car deck with other large trucks. We took a northerly route on the way west, traveling thorough North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. In North Dakota, we visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park/a> at 10:52am on 14 July 1987, according to a receipt I found in our "Auto Tour Guide along the South Loop Road", so we didn't reach Seattle for the opening day of the conference at the very least.
In Montana, we saw the family of one of my mom's cousins living south of Butte. Although we had tried calling them, we talked to them ahead of time about our visit. We weren't able to find their ranch when we arrived and it was starting to get dark. My dad had the good idea to ask in a local bar and sure enough someone was able to tell us where they were. We tracked down the location of their house that night but waited to drop in on them until the next day. It turned out that we never were able to reach them because the telephone lines only reached the corner of their ranch property, not to their house. I was housed in a shed of some kind and there was an answering machine on the line. My mom was not one to leave messages on answering machines, but even if she did, it was not so frequently checked that they knew we were coming. So we surprised them in our RV that morning. My mom's cousin was actually back east working building houses on Cape Cod, but we had a good time visiting with his wife and many kids out on the range.
Driving west from Montana, we crossed Idaho on I-90, winding down the mountains into eastern Washington. We got off the interstate and stopped to see Grand Coulee Dam, after which we continued on to Seattle for the conference.
After the conference, we drove south toward San Francisco. We visited Mount St. Helens, just seven years after its major eruption. Many areas surrounding the volcano still seemed totally devastated. For example, there were still hillsides that consisted of just knocked down trees in ash. Much of the touring was in our RV on very narrow dirt and gravel roads which weren't very wide and had no guard tales. Sometimes it was a little frightening being in the passenger seat and fearing the front wheel was going to go off the edge. This was made worse when we volunteered to push another vehicle that had stopped working, since often we would move to one side or another to try to nudge the powerless vehicle to stay on the road itself. In the end we survived the winding exploration of the volcano, marked only with a gray coating of ash on the RV picked up from the unpaved roads.
On the way though northern California we spent some time driving the RV on the winding curves of CA-1 where I recall seeing a beautiful sunset. I believe we stopped at Muir Woods and also explored the hills above the Golden Gate bridge. In San Francisco, we parallel parked the RV in front of a Wendy's on North Point just above Ghiradelli Square, after which we walked down Polk to Beach and went down to see the cable car turn around there. We walked through Fisherman's Wharf to Pier 39. We also took the RV up to Coit Tower but it was prohibited on the infamously crooked Lombard Street so I walked down. We spent the night on Treasure Island naval based where I woke up to celebrate my fourteenth birthday. We took I-80 east out of town visiting a Vacaville house where my dad had lived when stationed at nearby Travis AFBafter graduation from the Air Force Academy.
Further down I-80, we crossed the Great Salt Lake Desert. There was a point where our Rand-McNally atlas said there was 68 miles between exits and since our RV could only get about 200 miles per tank, I made sure we refueled before heading out since who wants to walk across a desert with an gas can?
From Salt Lake, we headed to a series of national parks and monuments. The first was Dinosaur National Monument along with a trip to Dinosaur, Colorado, so I could check Colorado off my list of visited states, which was my only visit to Colorado until I returned with Jennifer after we were married. From there saw the Grand Tetons on our way to Yellowstone. On the way in to Yellowstone we stopped the RV to see a moose surrounded being stalked by many tourists. Later after seeing Old Faithful we were driving out in the dark and came around a corner to find a parade of Bison crossing the road in front of us, a true Yellowstone experience. After Yellowstone we traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota where we saw Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse Memorial. We also saw the Badlands on our way east from the Black Hills.
For such a long trip, there is a lot of miles where there is not much I recall specifically. We did stop and see many family friends and relatives both ways, but since we took many road trips, its hard for me to be sure who we saw on this trip. I know we took a ferry across Lake Michigan once, and I know we took the RV on a ferry at least once, but I'm not sure if those where the same even and on this trip or on a later trip to we made to Minnesota. We might have visited our family friends the M in Puce, Ontario, as we did on at least two summers, one of which was in 1989 for sure, but the other times I'm not so sure of.
I went to the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse with my family when my Uncle Fred was in town. Going to a canal museum with no actually canal was a little disappointing compared to the Erie Canal Village that I had been to in Rome, NY. It was like going to a train museum in an old train station without real engines and cards.
Just before I started high school, we moved to a new house at 5009 Woodside Road. It was conveniently located a half mile from the J-D High School although that wasn't the primary goal in moving there. The Woodside Road house was pretty similar to the house we had in Rome, having a ranch style layout with the main living areas and bedrooms on the main floor, but also with a full size basement, although the basement was not finished like it was in Rome, although there was a fireplace in the basement for our wood stove. It also was on an acre lot like the Rome house, although without the pool that made Rome so cool. The driveway had a parking area on the left side where we kept the RV. There was a shed in the back left corner of the lot under a big willow tree where we kept the Opel (or was it the Plymouth Horizon?) until we finally got rid of it. The tractor was kept on the flat bed on the right side of the house. We installed our old basketball pole in the corner where the parking area met the main drive. My room was smaller than it had been on Michaels drive so a lot of things had to stay in boxes in the basement, and as I was going into high school, LEGO city was finally put away, not to see the light of day again until 2008.
My father never semed to tire of house projects. One project on the inside was installing a spiral staircase. We actually got the stair case from a company, The Iron Shop, that I frequently had seen advertised in Popular Mechanics. Before installing the stair case, the only way to reach the basement was through concrete steps that were outside the kitchen door, basically in the garage. He added the new staircase in a former closet to the left of the living room fireplace. This allowed access to the stair case from the living room or the den which had been on the other side of the closet. However, when we moved out he took it all out and put it back as it had been before. We had used it for easy access to the basement fireplace where the wood stove was installed.
In another project, he added a door from the bottom of the stairs to the basement to the backyard. This involved digging out the back yard surrounding the door to enable access to the lower level, not unlike the Arlington driveway project, but on a much smaller scale. He also ended up replacing the septic tank drain field in the back yard not that far away from the doorway project.
The RV was a new source of projects as well. My father rebuilt the engine and I was very impressed when it started again the first time he tried it. He also decided he wanted to be able to park the RV in the garage. The plan was to add a second garage door to the back of the garage. In order to accommodate the height of the RV, he would both lower the floor, angling it down toward the and raise the roofline on the back of the garage. Although I spent some quality time with a sledgehammer breaking up the old floor, I don't know what became of this project because I went off to college before it was completed and the house was sold while I was away at school.
My father and I built our own computer desk for the den in this new house. It wasn't that fancy a design, but the main work area was wide enough for two large computers to be side by side. We used kitchen cutting board material so it would be durable. It had a shelf below for holding the tractor feed paper for our dot matrix printer that would be on desk itself. There was a small book shelf on the top. It was finished with nice big casters on the bottom. It has held up pretty well over the years and my dad still uses it as a computer desk in Concord, MA.
Next door up the street was Alok G who was a year behind me in school. He also had an NES so we would play and swap games sometimes. I particular loved to play R. C. Pro-Am at his house, but I don't think he ever let me borrow it because he liked it a lot as well. Alok had too little sisters, Nandita and Neha. Being closer to our age, Nandita used to get in a lot of trouble with us, while Neha was just a sweet little girl.
The next house up the street belonged to the Martins, who we knew from Holy Cross Church. My freshmen year that had an exchange student from Mexico, Eduardo A, who was from outside Cancun on the Yucatan peninsula. I hung out a fair about with Eduardo. He taught us some Spanish vocabulary that words our Spanish teacher certainly did not appreciate hearing in her class room. I took him skiing and he really took to it quickly. He was barreling down the hill with no fear by the end of his first day.
A later owner has made significant changes to the house. The garage was moved to the left and the old garage apparently remade into living space. An above ground pool was added behind the house along with an addition surrounded by a patio.
Current aerial View of our Woodside Road house.
Note the driveway that now goes to the left in the front and the above ground pool, patio, and addition on the rear.
COURSE SEM PERIODS DAYS ROOM INSTRUCTOR GLOBAL STD 9A2 F 01-01 ALL 0104 MR KILBRIDE ENG 9 AI F 02-02 ALL 0030 MRS LEWIS EARTH SCIENCE L F 03-03 T 0004 MR DALEY PE 9 F 03-03 MWF WGYM MR ELLISON STUDY HALL F 03-03 R ECAF MRS NYE ADVANCED ART F 04-04 ALL 0115 MR BENEDICT EARTH SCI A1 F 05-06 ALL 0006 MR DALEY LUNCH F 07-07 ALL ECAFE MR HAVENER MECH DRAW I 3 08-09 ALL 0002 MR DEORIO COMP PRPG 1 C 08-09 ALL LC3 MR JERAULD SPANISH II A1 F 10-10 ALL 0212 MRS SORKIN COURSE II ACCL F 11-11 ALL 0210 MR BUGAJ INT RELAT SEM F 12-12 R LGGR MR MONTEROSSO
Student Schedule for Freshmen Year
As you can see, I have my freshmen year schedule among a number of high school papers my mom preserved and gave to me. She gave me some others as well, although some were preliminary schedules that changed through the year. However, my freshmen schedule is exactly how I remember it.
Not shown on the schedule is home room where we collected to start the day with taking attendance as well as hearing announcements. I had homeroom with Mr. Monterosso. Homeroom assignments were done alphabetically be last name, so I had homeroom with people like Shelley B, Donna C, Andy C, etc. Locker assignments were similarly done alphabetically, and they did attempt to locate them near our homeroom. My locker was next to Donna's and Andy's in the hall outside Mr. Monterosso's classroom. Shelley's was not too far to the right of ours. I believe another later friend Rebecca D had her locker near there as well freshmen year, until she unilaterally moved her locker upstairs near Mr. Daley's classroom, although Rebecca, with her last name a little later in the alphabet, was in different homeroom across the hall from ours.
Mr. Kilbride's first period social studies class was conveniently next door to Mr. Monterosso's room. On the first day of Global Studies, he showed us a documentary of an indigenous tribe that had only recently made contact with the outside world. There was lots of giggling at the sight of topless women. Most days were not so exciting, as Mr. Kilbride had a very rigid way of lecturing. He had a very hierarchical outline for the years curriculum which he revealed line-by-line as he lecture and we all took it down line-by-line in our notebooks. He used to spice things up with the occasional pop quiz at the start of the period, which was not a great way to start the day. Note on the schedule that the class is marked A2, which was because there was no A1 honors class for freshmen social studies. That said, most of the people I remember from the class were in fact honors students, including Amy K, Brian H, Rebecca D, and Christian T.
From Mr. Kilbride's classroom I had to haul myself upstairs and to the far end of other wing for Mrs. Lewis's English class. Although I wasn't a fan of the class, I have some good memories of Romeo and Juliet. We read portions aloud in class, most memorably a reading of Act I, Scene I in which there was much biting of thumbs of people. Seth C and Alan G where similarly amused, and were seen "biting thumbs" at people as they went down the hall after class. As part of Romeo and Juliet, we also spent two days watching the West Side Story movie, after which we were all either humming or compulsively tapping out the rhythm of the song America. We also read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and I believe we watched the Jack Nicholson movie as well, although I might have just rented it on my own, watching it on our recently acquired VCR. Another memorable novel was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which upset my mother when I showed her the rape and sex scenes. We also got to choose our own book to review, subject to Mrs. Lewis approval. I picked Catch-22, which she thought was an excellent choice, which warned me that my review wouldn't live up to her expectations. Even though I liked the book, my write up disappointed Mrs. Lewis as expected. I was worried that my lackluster performance my hurt my chances of getting into the Humanities honors program in sophomore and junior year, which combined both English and social studies, but I survived Mrs. Lewis class well enough to continue on the honors track sophomore year. It was all made more bearable with the help of my friends Ariel B, Rich S, Sasie T, and Jennifer T.
Where I went third period depended on the day. Earth science lab was a one day a week supplement to earth science. I'll talk more about that later, but I will say I loved playing with the earth and water table. I got to relive all my experiences building damns in streams around Owings, MD, in miniature. PE was always not very fun freshmen year, it was single sex and combined with the sophomores. Unfortunately, the sophomores had first pick on activities, so as freshmen we often didn't get to do what we wanted. Fortunately freshmen year was the last one for square dancing. I don't remember going to study hall much, I typically got a pass out from Mr. Daley to go and do something else, such as going to the library.
For fourth period I had Mr. Benedict for "advanced" art. Advanced art was really an elective for non-freshmen who had already taken the required one year of art class. However, because of scheduling constraints several freshmen were dumped in to Mr Benedict's class including myself, Geeta D, and Kim K. We were thrown in sink-or-swim, there wasn't any formal lecturing or even group instruction, just Mr. Benedict walking around talking with people about their work. Unlike the other freshmen art classes, this class was not a social experience; Mr. Benedict did not let us talk amongst ourselves as we worked. At the beginning of the year I did pencil drawings. One was of a Dutch wooden shoe. Another was of a battered metal water bucket. Later in the year I did an oil painting. I wanted to do a painting based on a photo of a sunset over the Pacific when my family had driven down the coast of California in the summer of 1987. However, Mr. Benedict wanted me to paint something in the classroom. The most colorful thing was a pair of leotards that hanging on the wall. It is hard to imagine, but I believe those were the only three works I did that year, not even finishing the painting, which I abandoned unfinished in the class room. Others in my boat did better than I did. Kim did a pencil drawing of the faucets and pipes over the large sink we used for cleaning our paint brushes for which she won an award.
Most periods were 40 minutes long. However fifth and seventh periods were only a half hour for lunch. The sixth period was basically a filler period to pad out the shorter periods to accommodate an full class. So students either had fifth period lunch followed by a class in the 06-07 period or a class during 05-06 period followed by seventh period lunch.
Freshmen year I had a 05-06 period class. Fortunately, it was one of my favorite classes in my entire life, Mr. Daley's, soon to be Dr Daley's, earth science class. Mr. Daley was co-author of our textbook, Earth Science: A Study of Changing Planet , something I would see a lot at MIT, but not something rarely seen in high school. Despite the fact that he wrote the book, he never issued assignments from it, preferring instead to teach the material through lectures supplemented demonstrations and the occasional movie. On particularly memorable movie was the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. If you haven't even seen the video, I highly recommend watching it. Below is a color version from YouTube, in high school we watched a black and white newsreel version.
Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse
Another cool thing we did with Mr. Daley was to take a walk to an old quarry behind the high school. While on the walk he pointed out many things including some poisonous plants to avoid for our own sake and some endangered plants to avoid for their sake. At the quarry he pointed out lots of different things about the different rocks as well as the structure of the cliff side. The quarry really was a cool place and I would take other friends back here in the future and several times climbed to the top.
Some people I remember being with in Mr. Daley's class were Amy K, Samantha M, and Erin S. Erin was a tall, athletic, and popular girl who was a class officer. I knew her from church school at Holy Cross. Erin's mom was from Germany and our mother's seemed to have bonded over both being immigrants. They knew each other better than we Erin and I knew each other. My mom would often try and stop and visit Erin's mom when she was in DeWitt to deal with issues when we were renting our old houses after they moved to Boston. Surprisingly, I don't recall who I shared my two person desk with, it might have been Chris S, who was later my chem and bio partner, and I did sit with junior year for sure. Peter E probably was there as well, and perhaps Rebecca D, since I remember comparing test grades with them.
Although Mr. Daley required us to do a science project of some kind, I don't recall what I did. One previous student's experiment had been to count the number of times Mr. Daley said "OK". I don't recall the results of the experiment, such as whether some days were more "OK" than others. What I do remember is that Mr. Daley had a large wooden sign consisting of the letters "OK" at the front of his room next to his chalkboard to commemorate the student's project.
For 08-09, which really was just a regular period, I had two different electives. For the first half of the year I had Mr. DeOrio for mechanical drawing. This kind of pencil drawing was more my style. Although AutoCAD was available on personal computers, at the time we were still taught the old school ways on drafting tables. We did a series of assignments through the course including hand lettering, a top down view of an athletic field, isometric projections of mechanical objects, and a cutaway view. I still prefer to draw arrowheads as two curved tangent lines as I learned from Mr. DeOrio. I believe Rich S was in the class with me, certainly Rich S and his friend Mike V were in a couple of Mr. DeOrio classes with me over the years.
The second half of the year I had Mr. Jerauld's computer programing class. In this first course, we did structured BASIC programming on some flavor of Apple II. Since I clearly far ahead of the material presented, Mr. Jerauld gave me extra work to do. One extra assignment was to implement arbitrary precision integer addition by using strings to present numbers. Note that I have no idea why "PRPG" was used to abbreviate "programming" on my class schedule above, but I assure you it is not a transcription typo.
For 10th period Spanish I had Mrs. Sorkin, wife of Mr. Sorkin, my 8th grade social studies teacher. I managed to skip into Spanish II thanks to surviving honors Spanish in 8th grade, so there were a few sophomores in my class. One was Kim W, daughter of the middle school technology teacher. The other was Matt E, brother my friend Peter E. J-D seemed a very small world sometimes. Geeta D from art class and Amy K were also along from the ride in Spanish.
11th period was the end of the day. Fortunately, I didn't have to walk far, only next door to Mr. Bugaj's class room for Course II math. I had a lot of fun in math with Jennifer T and Dave Y. Jennifer sat next to me and always had fruit snacks which she shared with Dave and I. The downside of this sugar rush was that Dave used to poke me in the back from behind, although he always denied it. I often got the math homework from the day from Rebecca D, so I often spent the time in class finishing the homework, if I hadn't already.
At first, the move from middle school to high school at Jamesville-DeWitt did not seem like such a big deal. Only one middle school fed into the high school, so we knew most of our classmates. Although academic classes had been split into House II and House III in middle school, people knew each other from classes such art and foreign language as well as the music or sports programs, not to mention the lunch room.
However within the first couple of weeks, it was clear that a big difference between middle school and high school were the after school activities. As freshmen we were suddenly submerged in social activities with sophomores, juniors, and seniors. This probably wasn't as big a deal for people who had been on the middle school sports teams, because they had probably played with at least some of the sophomores, but to me it suddenly widened my social circle to people with similar interests.
One activity I started was math team with Mr. VanSiclen. Probably the nerdiest of all possible nerd activities. We didn't meet regularly or have practices. We did have home and away meets with the other local high school math teams. Meets involved sitting in a room and several rounds of math problems. Each round consisted of two problems with a fixed time limit. Giving us two problems per period forced us to figure out how to manage our time, whether to just focus on one problem or try to tackle both. Afterward, the home team would typically provide snacks! Our rank for the season was determined by how many points we earned in each match. I did well enough to earn a trophy at the county level at least on year in high school. The best people from the county also went to compete at the state level competition. They year I went our county team won most improved, making me glad I hadn't gone the previous year. There also was a yearly time written test competition in each county. Freshmen year I managed to take 6th place in the county. Unfortunately, Mr. VanSiclen was transferred to the middle school before I had him as a teacher in class. He really seemed like a great guy. After his departure, Mrs. Reed took over as math team adviser junior year.
Mock trial was a new activity at Jamesville-DeWitt my freshmen year, advised by my homeroom teacher Mr. Monterosso. The basic idea of mock trial is that two teams of students act out the roles of attorneys and witnesses, with one team acting as the plaintiff and the other as defense. Local lawyers and sometimes even judges decide the case based on efforts of each team. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of roles to play and as a reserved freshmen I didn't have a formal role. However, for fun I acted in the unofficial role as bailiff during a couple of trials and it was fun to work with the team as it went to the semi-finals that year.
My favorite club freshmen year was PAC, the Political Affairs Club. This club was also advised by Mr. Monterosso, who seemed to have too much free time! Unlike math team which only met as needed and mock trial which was small and new, PAC was a large club with officers, weekly meetings, fund raisers, trips, and even a weekly newsletter, the PAC News. In one way it was even nerdier than math team, as members in good standing even received course credit, as noted on my course schedule where it notes that on Thursdays during the after school 12th period I was taking the international relations seminar. This probably was a better description, since most of the focus of PAC was on participating in Model United Nations.
When I moved to J-D I stopped going to boy scouts. I went to a couple of meetings in 7th grade but the troop seemed to be mostly about fooling around playing games in the gym that working on badges and going camping, although I think Robert T did stick with it and made Eagle Scout. However, during junior year in high school did get involved in the Explorers program which was affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America. I participated in two programs.
The first was focused on aviation and had activities sponsored by The 174th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard out at Hancock Field. Allen S went along with me. The most memorable activity was riding in an old Vietnam-era Huey helicopter, which had visible patches over the old bullet holes. We also saw the wing's newly arrived F-16A Fighting Falcons, although I thought the recently departed A-10 Thunderbolt II planes had more personality.
The second engineering program was focused on computers. It was sponsored by one of the big companies out by Carrier Circle, perhaps Carrier, but it also could have been GE, which at the time still had a presence in Syracuse. This was a much smaller group that the aviation group, we actualy had some hands on time with some older terminal style computers. They made the mistake of teaching us how to chat between the terminals and then they had trouble getting us to focus on the other activities.
Rebecca came to the first aviation meeting with me, or perhaps it was a general Explorers kick off meeting before we started the invidual special interest groups. She made a stink about the fact that the application involved accepting at least a version of the Scout Law, which requires reverences towards God. Rebecca didn't understand why the membership paperwork for a career program would have any such language in it. I'm happy to see they have specifically removed some of this baggage with the creation of a new parent organization Learning for Life. They still have a focus on character and ethics, but it seems the religious basis has been dropped.
One final activity I had freshmen year in high school was CCD, also known as church school. One morning a week my mom would take me to Holy Cross Church for religions education. Afterward, a very strange thing would happen, a public school bus would show up to take us all to the high school, where we had missed part of the first period of the day. I've never quite understood why the public school did this for the Catholic church. In middle school, I saw many Jewish kids ride the regular school bus to a Hebrew school never my house on Jamesville Road, but it certainly wasn't a special bus and they didn't miss any academic time to attend! In middle school, I forget the details, but I think we just had the usual after Mass Sunday school. I had a couple of friends in CCD. One was Brian B, who lived up Hamilton Drive from me in middle school. Another was Kim K, who I was in several classes with. Several of the more popular kids were also in CCD such as Mike D, and the twins Jenna and Robin F, although that didn't seem to make them act any more Christian to me or each other. Robert T, who we all expected to be a future politician, was also in CCD as well as being a church usher. My favorite person in CCD was Erin, the girl I mentioned from Earth Science class. She loved to raise such fun questions such as "Why couldn't women be priests?" and "Were all of our Jewish friends going to Hell?". The later question caused a controversial answer from the over zealous lay person that was filling in instructor at the time, leading to his replacement with someone a little more knowledgeable of church doctrine, the new young priest in the church.
One off campus activity I did was Junior Achievement (JA). In our JA program, we create an ran a small business named Futura Enterprises. We held our meetings at East-Syracuse Minoa high school, and our chapter was sponsored by Carrier, maker of air conditioners, at the time a major employer on the east side of Syracuse, who also provided our advisers. Freshmen year we made and sold first aid kits. If I recall correctly, everyone bought shares which provided the working capital for the company. The shareholders then elected the senior management including the presidents and vice presidents of sales, finance, quality assurance, etc. I was Assistant VP of Quality Assurance and helped make sure that all the kits contained the proper items and were properly packaged. Everyone also acted as salesmen. I received a pin for selling $400 dollars worth of kits. Donna C was also involved, I believe she might have been VP of Sales and got us a table to sell the kits at a mall on the west side of Syracuse around Christmas time. In the end I'm not sure we did much more than break even, using what little we made to throw a party at the end of the year, but it certainly was a fun learning experience. We were the #1 sales company for Carrier. People were a lot more motivated to sell stuff when it was for their own company than the usual fund raiser.
Speaking of fund raisers, PAC did a annual car wash fund raiser at a gas station on the corner of Erie Boulevard East and Kinne Road. They also sold M&M's, and Amy K noted in my yearbook that I was excellent pusher. Another fund raiser I did was an American Diabetes Association Bike-a-Thon along the Erie Canal with Stephen S.
Freshmen year I went trick or treating with Dave C. I went dressed in a low effort hobo costume, basically dirtying up some old poor fitting clothes with some dirt and charcoal. I got dropped off at his house on Jamesville Road near Patsy Lane, which itself was not that far from my old house on Michaels Drive. We didn't get very far really. He headed up Hamilton Parkway until we reached our classmate Shelley B's house just past Westerly Terrace. There we spent the evening in Shelley's dining room just hanging out. After that I became good friends with Shelley, we ended up talking on the phone almost nightly about homework, music, gossip, crushes.
In November I went to my first Model United Nations conference as a part of PAC. It was the Hilton MUN held a little over an hour west of us in a suburb of Rochester, NY. I had joined PAC because of the people, but had no idea what to do with myself in committee since I was afraid to get up and speak. What I ended up doing was passing notes with people in committee, usually our specially designed for the occasion notepads with custom letterhead with some horrible pun about our country Turkey, probably put together by one of my friends like Adam L who worked at DECC, the school district print shop that was located at the high school. Besides talking to other people from my high school that were representing other countries in the same committee, I also ended up talking a lot with a girl named Michelle. Apparently she had a little crush on me, she actually even wrote a letter or two to me during the rest of the school year hoping we'd coordinate to see each other at future conferences, especially at next years Hilton.
My friendship with Shelley continued to grow throughout the fall. I exchange Christmas gifts freshmen year. She gave me the Joshua Tree album by U2 on cassette tape which I still have for sentimental reasons, even though I have the same album on DVD and ripped to MP3s.
January was the date for the next big Model UN conference. This one was CNYMUN and was run by our rival high school to the east, Fayetteville-Manilus. It was held at Syracuse University so we didn't have any fun bus ride. However it did give us a chance to explore the university area without much adult supervision during our breaks such as lunch.
Shelley and I exchanged carnations during the Valentines Day chorus fund raiser, one of their numerous holiday fund raisers, the first time I ever bought flowers for a girl, even if it was a prearranged "just friends" gesture.
In February NAIMUN, the North American Invitational Model United Nations, was held in Washington, DC. PAC sent a large group, renting a charter bus for the overnight trip, but it was fewer people than attended Hilton and CNYMUN. At NAIMUN we represented New Zealand. Since we only represented one country as opposed to the handful at the regional conferences, each committee had two students. I was paired with D'Vorah B, who was PAC president, and later in the year had the title role in our high school's production of Peter Pan.
During the NAIMUN trip, We usually had one morning free and I went with my roommate Chris M to visit the Organization of American States (OAS). We first went to visit a relative of his that worked in the OAS office building. We then proceeded to a tour of the Pan American Union building, the headquarters of the OAS, which faces on The Ellipse in front of the White House.
At NAIMUN, in addition to the usual UN General Assembly, committees, and Security Council, they also used to hold an Inter-Nation Simulation (INS). I never participated in INS at NAIMUN, Jessica D was frequently our representative, but as I understood it, participants would act out the roles of various nations to a crisis situation. Actions were not limited to UN activities, but could include any form of diplomacy, including military action. I believe that the INS organizers would decide on the results of each participanAt's actions as they tried to resolve, or perhaps escalate, the crisis.
Chris M ran his own personal INS my freshmen year in high school. Although the name was derived from the NAIMUN INS, it was more along the lines of combining D&D and Risk. Chris's INS was set in the ancient archipelago of Greece. Players started out on different parts of the world, only aware of their own immediate surrounding neighbors, without even a full map of the world. Players had a treasury, income from taxes based on their land, and expenses in the form of maintenance, largely based on the size of their army. Each week players would hand in their turn, which was a written set of instructions of what to buy and what actions to take in terms of exploration or interaction with other players. Chris as "dungeon master" would then decide the results of the interactions of all the players. I was unfortunate not to get in on it at the beginning, but followed vicariously though others friends that were playing such as Stephen S. Later other people ran their own INSs, including my friend Dave C. Later I tried to run my own, using our solar system as the laid out on a polar graph paper as my map. My game was not as popular because my military units were not that original and people were frustrated about planning ahead to where planets would be so that their fleets would arrive at the right place at the right time.
One day, just like that, I became friends with my classmate Rebecca D. I had known Rebecca mostly as a friend of Donna C from middle school. I had been in House II with Donna, but Rebecca was in House III so we didn't overlap in any academic classes. However, Donna and Rebecca knew each other through chorus, in fact I think I recall them performing a vocal duet together in the middle school auditorium.
Now that I was in high school, Rebecca and I were in several classes together. We had Mr. Kilbride for first period social studies and I believe Mr. Daley for earth science before lunch. We also were both in Course II math with Mr. Bugaj and English with Mrs. Culhane, although in different periods. At first, we mainly knew each others as a group competitors for the top scores in math and science, where everyone was always trying to ace the tests. In the end, Peter E won the overall class rank with Rebecca a close second. I never was a real contender outside of math and science, especially after the "bad" influence of Christian T in late sophomore year.
Rebecca and I were also in a number of clubs together, notably PAC and math team. Math team was what probably turned us from us from competitors to friends. One day after an away meet after school, Rebecca's mom was late coming to pick her up. Since I walked home anyway, I waited with her to keep her company. We actually ended up walking down to the corner on Edinger Drive and hung out there waiting for her mom to show up in her white Ford Taurus station wagon.
After hanging out that afternoon waiting for her mom, Rebecca and I started having a more social, although still competitive relationship. We started talking on the phone about homework, gossip, etc. When the weather got nicer, she invited me to come along to the pickup Ultimate Frisbee games up at the high school which were largely attended by the high school musical theater community.
On Saint Patrick's day, my sister Rachael came to live with us. While technically a foster child at the time, that was the day that Rachael joined our family. She was 4 at the time, but about to turn 5 in May. I came home from high school early that day to meet Rachael.
My parents had tried to adopt a child since we were in Arkansas. They even explored adoption of an Amerasian when we were in South Korea. However, moving every couple of years often placed us low on the list for children. When we finally were in one place for more than two years, it wasn't too long before Rachael came along.
It was exciting to have a little sister after having been a only child for over fourteen years. I gave her piggyback rides as well as rides on my back. She had brought some toys with her from her former foster home. One of them was a very annoying monkey that made lots of noise which was triggered by either noise or motion. I would try to hide the monkey to have some peace and quiet because it was distracting even when it was in Rachael's room next door. I'd often just bury it under other things in her closet so I couldn't be accused of taking it from her. I think she also brought with her a less annoying blue talking robot with buttons on the front where some kind of learning cards could be inserted. However, Rachael doesn't recall this robot toy at all!
Rachael had these toys from the Woods, her previous foster parents, who lived south of Syracuse off of I-81. The Woods were an older couple who took care of many foster children simultaneously until they could find permanent homes. Rachael was fortunate to spend most of her life before us with the Woods and never had to deal with being bounced from foster home to foster home. Still, it did make it a big transition to move in with a new family, leaving behind people she had known all her life. My parents did take her to visit the Woods periodically while they still lived in Syracuse, although I never went along on any of these trips.
Rachael's social worker was Candice "Candy" Allen. She was the person that brought Rachael that Saint Patrick's day and came to check on her on several occasions to make sure she was settling in. She also had a talk with me once about adopting a sibling, I'm sure all in the course of moving forward with the adoption. She also was there when we went to family court appearance where Rachael's adoption was made final. I believe I was there that day in case I was needed but required to wait outside during the family court proceedings, never entering the judge's chambers.
Even though we got rid of the junker upright piano when we moved out of Michaels Drive, during freshmen year we inherited a 1935 Kimball baby grand (Serial #409480). It had belonged to my grand aunts Lily, Lydia, and Alma Carlstrom in Dubois, PA. When I was a preschooler, Lily had taught me to play Chopsticks and Mary Had a Little Lamb on the piano. When my dad and uncle moved Grand Aunt Alma up to nursing home in western New York, my dad brought home the piano.
I took piano lessons with two different teachers when I was in DeWitt. The first teacher was a man who lived over near James Street in Syracuse. I had a book of popular music and learned to play Foreigner's I Want to Know What Love Is. After that it was around Christmas as I learned a version of the The First Noel. However, I was not with this teacher long before be moved away. The second instructor I had was a woman off of East Genesee Street near Nottingham High School. She wrote sheet music for me to learn from. I first learned Genesis's Invisible Touch but then spent a lot of time perfecting a performance of the theme from the TV show Cheers, Where Everybody Knows Your Name. Alas, I was never going to be a virtuoso and eventually my mom let me stop taking lessons. After the many years of various school and private music lessons, I was able to learn to play a simple melody with my right hand by sight reading, but never able to play both with both hands simultaneously without a significant amount of practice. Friends like Rebecca who could do be piano accompanists without much practice have always amazed me.
Later in the spring I went and ruined my friendship with Shelley by telling her I liked her when I knew full well that she infatuated with a cute guy from the football team. I'm not sure what led me to reveal my secret, but I can imagine that my friendship with Rebecca had gone strong enough that she convinced me to open up to Shelley.
It always seemed to make sense to me to want to date girls I was friends with but the odds seem to be against it. Of the eight relationships I've had, I was good friends with four of them before dating, which at 50% might sound like good odds. If however I add in all the friends that were girls that I failed to turn into girlfriends, it start to seriously erode that statistic.
With Shelley no longer a close friend, I spent more time talking to Rebecca, especially as summer approached. In time, I grew to have feelings for Rebecca as well. Having been burned twice, once in middle school and once with Shelley, I kept these feelings to myself. Fortunately, this was made easier by the fact that Rebecca was usually happily involved with upperclassmen, which made it seem pointless to share my feelings with her. For example, towards the end of freshmen year she went to the senior prom with Geoff S, with whom I believe she had some romantic attachment at the time.
At the end of the year I ran for the credit officer position in PAC. The credit officer had the role of actually taking attendance and filing out report card sheets for students that were eligible for International Relations Seminar credit. Not exactly as exciting a role as president, vice president, treasurer, or secretary, but it was still something. To run for office we had to write a letter of intent and then speak at the PAC meeting, which ironically was something I had never been brave enough to do. Unfortunately, even though I survived the public speaking, I lost to Alex V in what I was told was a close election. Although I had been friends with Alex, who was a close friend of Matt E who I knew from Spanish and PAC, this would be the first step in Alex becoming my secret nemesis.
As part of the end of the year activities, the school held an awards ceremony on 2 June 1988. I received awards for Computers, Mathematics, and Service. I'm not really quite sure what I did to receive the Service award...
The end of the year also brought the delivery of our "Hilltop Echoes" yearbooks. Unfortunately, after mine had been signed by a number of my friends, it was stolen. However, since the entries from my friends would serve to identify, the thief quickly ripped out all the pages, even the inside cover pages, and threw them out in a library trash can. Fortunately, the librarians knew me and recognized the pages as mine and got them back to me, so I still have the most important part of the yearbook. In addition, the yearbook people managed to get me an extra copy and I don't think they even made me pay for it. Sophomore year I wrote my name in red on the side of the pages so traces of my name couldn't be so easily removed.
In the summer of 1988 I went to my first residential summer camp. It was part of the Center for Talent Youth (CTY) of John Hopkins University. Unlike your stereotypical lakeside outdoors summer camp, CTY camps were on various small college campuses and students took college level classes during the day, ate in college dining halls, and stayed in college dorms at night. You even had to take the college board SATs as part of applying to get into the camp. Those that attended CTY were under no delusions that this was a typical camp and it was often described by campers as "Nerd Camp", as in the Slate article My Summers at Nerd Camp.
However, in many respects CTY had the most important elements of a summer camp. It was a place away from parents dominated by kids and run largely by college students who were often former campers. No matter what activities were on the official schedule, the main focus of camp was on the less unstructured leisure time where friendships were made and summer romances were sparked leading up to the ritual filed weekend dances where many would make their first move.
I recently heard the NPR story Are You Ready For The Summer? Camp, That Is which pointed out that camp is a place where you can reinvent yourself. I think I subconsciously realized this before I even went. I twisted my mom's arm to get some new clothes for camp. I had signed up for Creative Writing even though I was math and science geek that largely hated English class, probably because I thought I would meet more girls that way, probably on the advice of Rebecca D and David G would had previously attended CTY.
My first CTY summer I went to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. My parents came with me to my dorm room where we met my roommate Mike P. I didn't do much with him socially, but he had the album containing the song Electric Blue which I liked to listen to. I did develop a group of friends on my hall, a couple of nights we broke curfew and hung out together. One night we used the backlight from my handheld TV (mentioned earlier) to play cards by.
The campus was nice but sometimes felt a little spread out. Looking at the campus map, I crossed from the residences in the upper left corner of the center of campus to the academic quad across College Street for class. In the morning, I used to walk with some other guys a little toward the center on our way to the HUB for breakfast to meet up with some girls we knew from the lower quad. In the afternoon, I would often cross Cherry Street behind my dorm to go down to the pool in the athletic complex. And although I had forgotten the name of the Anita Tuvin Schlecter (ATS) Auditorium, I remembered its distinctive architecture and immediately placed it on the campus map. There were dances held at ATS as well as the talent show which included performances of "Castle on a Cloud" from Les Miz and a sing along version of Day-O, the Banana Boat Song, which had been in the recently released movie Beetlejuice as well as a slide show accompanied by the then hit "Don't Worry, Be Happy".
The Creative Writing class itself was, well a lot of writing, as well as a fair amount of reading. One of the books on the reading list was "The Little Brown Reader". The class itself was often workshop like, with people reading the work and receiving comments. Unfortunately, I wrote a lot of on nerdy topics such as flying and space, not hiding my geekiness before the fair ladies of the class. Fortunately, it did make me friends with a similarly spirited guy as well as some of the nicer girls in the class.
Speaking of flying, I took part in a paper airplane contest during some "mandatory fun" time. I actually won the distance contest using a relatively basic dart design. My secret weapon was getting a friend with a good baseball arm to hurl it. It basically hit the dorm on the other side of the area being using for the contest and no one else could touch that.
One strange thing about the Dickinson College is that it was the Washington Redskins summer training camp. I had been a Redskins fan since they won Super Bowl XVII when I lived in Maryland and it was a little weird to see them wandering around the dining hall. Although they had a separate seating area, we'd often run into them coming and going to lunch. They played some sort of preseason game while I was at CTY that I got to go to, picking up a Redskins Super Bowl XXII champions shirt.
What I remember most was the dances. It was all about finding your friends, gossiping about who was dancing with who, especially during the slow dances, and trying to alternatively goad your friends to get them to ask people to slow dance and trying to get your own courage up to ask someone to slow dance. The song choices were highly ritualized, and apparently not just over short periods of time, but over years. For example, every dance playlist included Forever Young, Stairway to Heaven, and American Pie and now even years later this is still the case, now enshrined as the Carlisle Canon.
After dragging my feet for three weeks, I finally managed to get the courage up to ask a girl to dance myself. Her name was Shali B and she wasn't from my class, but someone who I had been hanging out with, probably a roommate or hallmate of someone from class. The song turned out to be U2's With or Without You and as we walked out on the floor, I realized I had not thought this out. I had never slow danced with a girl before and I had no idea what to do. Fortunately, Shali quickly realized this and showed me how to do a simple shuffle dance. We mostly just made small talk during the actual dance after which we returned to group dance with our friends for the final songs.
Leaving camp was hard as I really had just started to really come out of my shell and have some real friends. Ironically I didn't even realize how some people felt about me until the end. It was a CTY tradition to have a book for exchanging addresses and writing yearbook like entries to your friends. I surprised at how touching a lot entries were, which just made it harder to leave these people behind. I did correspond with a number of my camp friends over the the rest of the summer but things slowed down once the year started.
Later in the summer after CTY, we headed to St Paul, Minnesota for AAAI-88. We attended a outside reception at the zoo and thinking Minnesota was a pretty hot place to be in August. We visited an old couple who were distance Carlstrom relatives while we were there, Minnesota having lots of folks of Swedish decent. They gave my sister Rachael a stuffed animal, a rabbit I believe, that was a favorite of hers for a long time. On this trip we also went up to Duluth as well as to the Iron Mountain Iron Mine near the Minnesota Michigan border.
COURSE SEM PERIODS DAYS ROOM INSTRUCTOR SPANISH 11 A1 F 01-01 ALL 0207 KUON CHEMISTRY A1 F 02-02 ALL 0214 STOPHER GLOBAL STUDIES F 03-03 ALL 0004 KILBRIDE ENG 10 HUM A1 F 04-04 ALL 0115 SPILLANE LUNCH F 05-05 ALL COMP PRPG 2 A 06-07 ALL LC3 JERAULD COMP PRPG 3 B 06-07 ALL LC3 JERAULD PHYSICAL EDUCAT F 08-08 MWF WGYM SANTANGELO STUDY HALL F 08-08 TR 0107 SCHMITTER MATH III 10 ACC F 09-09 ALL 0209 NYE CHEMISTRY LARGE F 10-10 MW LGGR POLICHEMI STUDY HALL F 10-10 TRF 0216 ROMANO POL AFFAIR F 11-11 R LGGR MONTEROSSO
Student Schedule for Sophomore Year
In an experiment sophomore year traditional homerooms were eliminated. In their wisdom they didn't reassign lockers, so some people had quite a trip from their locker to their first class.
I started off first period each day in Miss Kuon's Spanish class. Miss Kuon always seemed a little grouchy, but friends like Kim K in the class made it more bearable. We survived the New York State Regents Spanish exam somehow.
Second period took me down to the end of the hall for Mr. Stopher's chemistry class. The first day I tried to get a seat in front of my friend Kim K but some guy I didn't know beat me to it and I got stuck sitting to the right of him instead. After Mr. Stopher made the days seating assignment permanent, I was even more livid. Who did this guy think he was? I wasn't even sure who he was. His name was Scott S and he seemed familiar, but it turned out he was a new student to J-D. He was just so friendly it was hard to stay mad at him and we became fast friends, soon best friends, and later Scott was best man at my wedding. We can thank Kim for bringing us together. Even so, I didn't end up as chemistry lab partners with Scott, but instead with another friend Chris S. Some other friends in the class included Geeta D who was friends with Kim and might have sat behind me and Rebecca D who sat in the back vaguely behind Kim. Christian T might have been there too, causing trouble off to the left.
Third and fourth period were scheduled together for the honors humanities program of sophomore and junior year. Half of us had English followed by social studies and the others were the opposite order. Occasionally we would meet together for a double period and, when preparing for the humanities festival, we would also meet with the juniors in the program as well.
For third period we had Mr. Kilbride for a second year in a row for the second year of global studies. Peter E was in the class with me. A lot of people didn't like Mr. Kilbride as much as the colorful Mr Monterosso, who we would have for US History the following year, but I loved the very organized, very logical outline presentation of material.
It was odd moving between third and fourth period because the whole class moved en masse from Mr. Kilbride's class room downstairs to the English classrooms at the end of the other wing upstairs. Half way through we would meet our opposite half, marching from English down to social studies.
For fourth period English we had Mrs. Spillane, the other of my two favorite English teachers. The main book I remember reading that year was The Last of the Wine, which was an interesting piece of historical fiction. Looking back I'm surprised they had us read something so prominently featuring homosexuality. It did include the philosophers Socrates and Plato as historical characters, which tied into our humanities unit on philosophy. I had to present about the Stoic philosophy of Zeno, not to be confused with the earlier philosopherZeno, who had all the cool paradoxes.
After fifth period lunch, I had the two semester sequence with Mr. Jerauld that led to the AP Computer Science exam. We used Borland Turbo Pascal, but not the PC version like I had at home. Instead, we used the CP/M version running on a Apple IIgs with a Microsoft Z-80 SoftCard! Mr. Jerauld imparted a couple of rules on me which I still follow: Never compare a Boolean value to true or false and never use a constant other than 0 or 1 in your code without giving it a name.
Eighth period consisted of gym days alternating with study hall. Mr Daley graciously provided me with passes to get of study hall to do more interesting things.
Ninth period brought me to Mr. Nye's math class. I have many good memories of this class with Christian T, Scott S, Kim K, Geeta D. Christian used to antagonize Mr. Nye, often calling him Marsh, occasionally swearing, more than once getting himself in detention. Scott got in more than one arguments with Matt W, a lacrosse player that was in the class. I forget what trigger these arguments, but Matt's face would literally turn red from anger. It was especially comically when Matt would get angry while wearing a huge brace to stabilize his head and neck from some sports injury. Christian would make fun of Scott to try and annoy him as well, never quite sure why Christian thought so lowly of Scott, perhaps it was just fun to try to make him lose his temper.
Two days a week the day ended with Mr. Polichemi, the other chemistry teacher, doing large group instruction. Sometimes these large groups sessions involving both chemistry classes were used for taking test, always a fun way to end the day. On other three days I had study hall, I seem to remember using this to go home early on occasion, although on Thursdays I would to stick around for PAC.
I was a member of mock trial but was even less involved this year. It had started to grow in size and I was still too timid to really get involved so it wasn't really much fun for me. Junior year it continued to grow in size and I stopped going, focusing on other activities.
I did do Junior Achievement again sophomore year. I moved up to the VP of Production role and Donna had a new role as well. This year we decided to make beeswax candles and perhaps some other items, but I found them to be much harder to sell that the first aid kits. That said, the first aid kits had been a pretty easy sell, we suggested people by them for their car and many people bought more than one and even bought them as gifts for their grown kids. On the other hand, most people end up with more candles than they will ever really use, so although the might make a pity purchase, they did not buy a lot of them, and the per item cost was much lower.
One thing that made Junior Achievement more fun was Tina H. Tina lived on Maple drive just past Edinger Drive by my house. I think we met because we noticed each other walking home from school. I dragged in her into JA with me as well as PAC. Dave C was convinced she had a crush on me but I was too chicken to do anything about it and by the time I might have had the courage to do something about it we were close enough friends for me to know that she was interested in other guys. We remained friends during my sophomore year but grew apart as she moved into different activities, with her leaving behind JA and PAC for the more mainstream clubs like SADD.
The November 1988 election brought a bigger emphasis on politics. A Teen Age Republicans (TARS) club was formed co-chaired by Robert T and Matt W, which I attended a few times. People often think that its called Young Republicans because of Alex P. Keaton, but that is for college students, not high school. As part of both TARS and PAC, I went with other students to several campaign events. In the congressional race, both Republican Jim Walsh and his Democratic rival, a woman who's name I forget, came and spoke to parents and students in the large group room at the middle school. We also saw several presidential candidates. We saw George H. W. Bush give a short daytime stump speech at The Galleries of Syracuse. We went to a huge Jesse Jackson evening event at the War Memorial. We went to a Michael Dukakis town hall event where TARS co-chair Robert T beleaguered the governor with questions about what he would do improve the issue of teen age drinking with colorful anecdotes about things he supposedly had seen at our school, such as kids showing up under the influence in the morning.
The first time Scott and I talked on the phone we talked about girls. This was quite unlike my past experiences with friends, were getting them to talk about girls was like pulling teeth. Not only that, but Scott actually had a girlfriend, Michelle, back in Congers in Rockland County, NY, where he had gone to high school freshmen year. Scott quickly guessed that I liked Kim K based on the way I had acted in chemistry classes as well as his own appraisal of her.
However, after my unsuccessful wooing attempts of 8th and 9th grade, I wasn't going to bet the farm on a one girl strategy. Instead it was more of a horse race of potential love interests, a strategy Scott referred to as "keeping your options open". So while Kim might have held the number one position on the list, I also was hedging my bets with Tina H, another new freshmen Laurie R, Rebecca D, and Lisa W. Some like Laurie R never went anywhere more than the crush stage as there was little in to develop a relationship. Others like Rebecca were more on what we referred to as the "back burner" once they were dating other people, as happened with Rebecca and Travis C. What amazed Scott and others about my "keep your options open" strategy is that the pragmatic possibility of an actual relationship factored into it; other people had lists of who they though the cutest girls and cutest boys were, but my list was really about trying to focus my efforts on getting an actual girlfriend, while broadening beyond the chase one girl at a time approach that hadn't worked for me in the past.
Scott and I can up with a chemical system for discussing women while bored in chemistry class. Mostly the code focused on encoding my own list, so it focused more on my interests than Scott's. We would often joke about the potential strong bonds a group 17 element with 1 missing electron in their p valence shell, such as my myself represented by bromine, could form a strong chemical bond with group 1 elements with 1 matching electron in their s valence shell, such as lithium, potassium, and rubidium.
Chemical shorthand for people.
See the periodic table of the elements.
In the evenings when we were on the phone supposedly doing homework, but really mostly discussing girls, we would also further multitask by listening to music. Two particular songs sort of became theme songs for our pursuit of girls. When things were not going well, the favorite was George Michael's melancholy Kissing a Fool. When things were going well, Boy Meets Girl's upbeat Waiting For a Star to Fall.
We didn't just talk on the phone but also got together on the weekends. Scott's house technically had an address on Lansdowne Road which is where the front door was located, but for all practical purposes the house was located on Erie Boulevard, sharing a parking lot with the Fairchild & Meech Funeral Chapel. Scott was a fan of Def Leppard and he had a prominently displayed Hysteria poster on his wall, as well a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon poster, although he seemed to listen to The Wall more often. My parents never had cable so it was always fun to watch music videos such as Pour Some Sugar on Me when I was over at Scott's house.
At some point Kim K started dating a junior, Alex V. I was in shock. Not only had this guy beaten me in the PAC election the previous year, but now he was dating the girl I liked. As weeks passed, this didn't seem to be a short term affair, so Kim would have to move to the back burner, causing a shake up of the list, where Kim had been in first position for some time.
In the meanwhile Scott had become friends with Donna C. This had led to me getting to know both Donna and her friend Lisa W better. Secretly Scott was interested in Donna and Lisa had moved to the top of my list. So it was both exciting and awkward when the we became a platonic foursome. We went to movies together and even more often we went to the Friendly's on Erie Boulevard. Lisa would always pick three flavors that were an eclectic match to say the least. Once on an extreme post-ice cream sugar high, Lisa started honking at cars while we were waiting out front for one of our parent's to pick us up. We usually went out on Saturday nights, Lisa spent Friday nights at home watching her sister Lora while he parents were out for Shabbat. I spent many of those Friday nights sophomore year chatting with Lisa on the phone but kept my romantic feelings to myself. It was just as well, by the time I did tell her after sophomore year had ended, it didn't effect our friendship, and it was certainly easier to hear that the major problem was that I wasn't Jewish, whether that was true or not, than just about anything else.
Scott started working as a cashier at the now replaced Wegman's grocery at the end of Maple Drive not long after starting school. I hadn't had a job since my paper route in 8th grade and I soon joined him. I took a job pushing carts in the parking lot, skipping the cashier's training Scott had done. I pushed carts for six hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays, with a half hour for lunch and two ten minute breaks. The weather was pretty lousy in the winter with snow turning to nasty sludge in the parking lot. I worked such fun days as Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. I used to get in trouble for listing to the radio while working, although on the coldest days, it was easy to hide a tiny mono earplug and wire under my hat and neck warmer, with the small radio in my pocket. I didn't last too long at Wegman's. I eventually got tired about them complaining about all the time off I was requested. Besides school MUN trips in November, January, and February, my parents basically wanted to travel out of town during any school vacation, missing two weekends for Thanksgiving week and another two for February winter break. Perhaps I would have been better off if I had done the cashier's training like Scott. He was inside where it was warm and he got to talk to people and make friends, something that didn't happen working by myself in the lot.
That winter I got sucked into the indoor track team by Dave Y and Peter E. Dave's parents required that their kids get A's, play a musical instrument, and play a sport. Dave's siblings had played on the tennis team but Dave was going to do indoor track instead. Peter, who rarely did an activity without Dave went along for the ride, probably thinking it would be a good idea to round out his college applications with a sport as well. Somehow a bunch of us nerds ended up on the team that season including Stephen S, David G, Faramarz S, and Philip G. Another friends of mine, Allen S, who actually could run unlike the rest of us, was on the team as well. Daily practices were not so bad since we all got to hang out together, but meets were pretty embarrassing since most of us were as slow as molasses, especially when they put four of us together in a relay race. I was always happy not to be the slowest of four legs! One meet I bailed on a meet because there was some concert at school that meant Stephen, Peter, and Dave would all be missing that evening. The coach was skeptical that I was in the band, but I claimed to play the trombone, not mentioning that had been for one year in fourth grade. My dad, a former high school tracker star who also ran in college, would be disappointed by my short track career. The next year the only nerds who stuck it out on the team would be Peter and Dave.
The Hilton MUN conference was again in November. This year I roomed with Scott. We annoyed girls by calling to serenade them on the phone. Our poor friend Donna got a lot of renditions of the song Donna, which recently had been made popular again due to the 1987 movie La Bamba film about the singer Ritchie Valens. Another popular song to sing was You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', made popular by the 1986 movie Top Gun, where Tom Cruise specifically sings it to try to win the girl's heart.
During Thanksgiving week I went to US Space Camp's Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama. I had wanted to attend the Space Camp since I lived in Maryland. A few times my mom had even checked availability but it was always booked. As I now know, summer camps typically need to be booked the winter before to guarantee availability but my parents never plan that far ahead. My interest was renewed after the SpaceCamp movie that I saw with my father the summer before freshmen year at the Shoppingtown Mall. I don't know what finally prompted my parents to decided to send me, but it turned out that was an opening Thanksgiving week and they signed me up. We drove down to Huntsville in the camper and they dropped me off at the camp while the rest of them went to the Florida panhandle on a weeks vacation.
Rachael and I both got to miss school, since we only had Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving week off. That is okay, I more than made up for any lost class time by nerding out ahead of time reading the Space Shuttle Operator's Manual . This turned out to be very important because on of the first things they did when we arrived was to take a pop quiz of our space knowledge, much of it about the space shuttle. They used the results of the test to place us in our roles. I had the second highest score and got to be commander of one of the two missions. It was actually surprising to me how many non-geeky kids were there considering this was a Space Camp for older kids over a holiday week, but this was before I learned from Jennifer how many parents use camps as 24/7 baby sitting over vacation.
One weird thing about being at Space Academy for Thanksgiving week was that we had the whole facility to ourselves. There were not any other groups of camper. We didn't have to wait in any long lines, often got to use equipment more than once if we wanted. One particularly cool thing is that we got to go to the IMAX theater adjoining United States Space & Rocket Center multiple times to see all of the space movies they had such as "Hail Columbia!", "The Dream Is Alive", and "Living Planet".
While the first commander flew their mission, I was assigned to a mission control supporting one of the mission specialists. However, I followed along with what the commander and pilot were doing, noting all the locations of switches they needed to use in my Space Shuttle Operator's Manual. When it came time to do my own mission, I was very on top of all the procedures, including covering for my pilot when he was assisting with using the robot arm. I also handle several alarms before mission control have even noticed them on their end. However, one alarm did surprise us. There was an actual smoke alarm going off and they had to take us out of the simulator during the landing part of our mission. We could smell the distinct odor of an electrical short. I didn't feel too bad about missing the landing, we had already done one in a practice mission earlier in the week.
Although square dancing was behind us, sophomore year brought us something less corny but perhaps more terrifying: ballroom dancing. In square dancing the nerdy boys like me often got stuck dancing either with another boy or some very unhappy girl, but either way there was minimal contact for both parties. Ballroom dancing was a little more up close and personal and I was just dreading it the awkwardness of some partner that didn't want to dance with me. When it came time to find partners, they lined the boys and girls up across from each other in the gym. But unlike they had done some years in square dancing, they didn't just match us up one-by-one. They just turned us loose to find a partner. Instantly the gym was a mob of people trying to find other people. I was caught off guard by the mob and people were rapidly matching up around me and I had no plan. Suddenly Kim K materialized out of the crowd and asked if I would like to be her dance partner. I was so shocked I don't even know how I indicated yes. Here was the girl I had liked asked me to dance. Sure she had a boyfriend but she had singled me out of the crowded gym, certainly that didn't put me at the bottom of her list of friends that were boys. I wasn't deluded enough to think that Kim had any feelings for me but those few weeks of dancing with her were a major boost to my self esteem.
With winter came skiing. Sophomore year I switched to skiing at Toggenburg. I got a Friday night season pass so I could go along with my friends Stephen, Dave, and Peter. We got out of school around 2:30pm, it took about an half an hour to get down to Tog, so we ended up skiing from 4pm to 10pm. Night skiing was pretty fun with all the lights. I hate to even think about night skiing at Tahoe because once the sun goes down over the mountain it suddenly feels a lot colder.
In January I represented Kampuchea in the Energy, Science, & Technology (EST) committee at CNYMUN. I hoped the themes of EST would make me more interested in actually getting involved in the committee, but it turned out that politics could make anything dull, at least to a fifteen year old. However, I did received a Certificate of Recognition for help to fix a real technology issue with the microphone.
The next month we headed to Washington, DC, for NAIMUN. I sat next to Tina H on the bus ride down on the 15th. I had hoped we would stay up all night and have a deep life altering conversation, but instead she just tormented me by sleeping cutely next to me. It was probably just as well I got some sleep because my roommate Robert T had gotten us tickets for an 8:30am White House tour on the 16th. Robert had no doubt flashed his TARS affiliation when requesting tickets for us from the Hon. Jim Walsh. Our delegation represented Romanian that year and I was in committee with Peter E. Our whole delegation went to visit the Romanian embassy where we each received a hard cover book written by the now infamous (and late) Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu. Thanks to Peter we won best delegate in our committee. I wouldn't really feel like I earned a best delegate award until ESMMUN.
Around February or March I started working on crew of the high school's production of The Music Man, which was lead by the chorus teacher Mrs. Nye, ex-wife of my math teacher Mr. Nye. Many of fellow honors classmates and PAC members were involved in the musical either because they were in chorus or in band such as Christian T, Erica H, Alex V, Samantha M, Rebecca D, Matt E, Jennifer T, Kim K, Amy K, Jessica D. My first involvement was when I was invited along one weekend afternoon to help with set construction. However, I quickly focused on the more technical work of lighting and sound crew. Lighting was lead by juniors Adam L and Steve M and also included freshmen Steve W. Sound was lead by Chris M but because he was also house manager, I ended up running the sound board for the shows. During the final show the stage crew pulled a number of pranks on the cast. One was to insert some adult material into the book props used during the "Marian The Librarian" number, which would occur to me later during my college production of "Sunday in the Park with George".
By this point Alex V was my secret nemesis. He had beaten me in the PAC election. He had gotten the girl. However, I decided that he was not going to beat me again in the annual county math contest. I borrowed the 11th grade precalculus book from Mr. Nye and read it in my own free time so there wouldn't be anything he had studied that I had not. I got as many old of the old contest questions as I could and, with the help of my father, I made sure that I could solve all of them. When the results came out, I found that I had not just beaten Alex, but I took first place in the 1989 Onondaga County Mathematics Teachers' Association (OCMTA) contest, receiving the largest trophy I ever have won.
Later in the spring, I got to also travel by bus with the Onondaga County team to the state math competition in the New York City area. Although we were not one of the winners that year, we did win an award for most improved team, a perhaps dubious honor for people that were on the team the previous year, which fortunately didn't include me.
In April I went on trip just with my Dad to Spain because Rachael's adoption not finalized and could not take outside the country beyond Canada. We flew into Rota but no car rental place was open, took a bus, and got stuck at a little town on top of hill and daylight was running out. We managed to catch another bus down before the end of the day, and eventually got somewhere where we could get a car and made it to drove to Britain the the form of the strange land of Gibraltar. Later we worked our way east along the Mediterranean coast to Malaga where and went skiing nearby in Granada at the Sierra Nevada National Park. We first tried taking the road from the south side of the Sierra Nevada National Park from Capilera, only to find it closed near the top. We were running low on gas at that point, so we coasted most of the way back down the mountain! The day we went skiing, 20 April 1989, I tried to use my Spanish to buy lift tickets before realizing the French woman selling tickets at Sierra Nevada Ski Resort spoke better English than my Spanish. Oh well!
In May, Rachael's adoption was finalized. We all went down to the family court in downtown Syracuse. I was there in case they wanted to talk to me but I ended up just waiting out in the hall.
One afternoon during Mr. Nye's math class I had a life changing conversation with Christian T. Christian, who happened to live across the street from Rebecca D, advised me that if I wanted to get a girlfriend I needed to let up on my nerdy obsession with beating everyone on math tests and not continue down the path of being a technical theater geek. I never forgot this advice and started prioritizing my social life over my academic life, which probably brought me a lot of happiness in the big picture during high school and even college.
At one point I revealed my crush on Rebecca to her through a game of twenty questions. She was sad because she was between boyfriends and bemoaning that no body liked her. I spoke up and said that I knew somebody that did. When it was clear she thought it was sweet but did not have an reciprocal feelings, I led her to believe it was something in the past of freshmen year so as not to make things too awkward. I have to say it was a much less traumatic experience that the last two crushes I had revealed. In fact, the revelation only seemed to bring us closer, as she promised to do what she could to find me a girlfriend the next summer at CTY. In the meanwhile, Rebecca would start dating Matt E, removing any temptation to actively pursue her.
With the end of the year came the annual J-D awards, this year on June 1st. I won again for Mathematics and Computers, which wasn't too surprising since I had won the county math contest as well as received a 5 on the Computer Science AP exam.
My academic competition with Rebecca continue, with both of us vowing to beat each other on the chemistry Regents exam. However, it was not to be. The morning of the exam, June 20th, the NY Post printed the first page of the answers on its cover to highlight how easily available copies of the exam were in New York City. The exam was canceled state wide, I believe we found out after we started to take the exam. For more on the story, see Anger but Not Surprise Follows Regents Fiasco and The Post's exam answer story.
I ran for PAC credit officer again this year. Unbelievably Alex V ran for reelection. This was quite unorthodox, typically current officers ran for higher level positions, they didn't simply stay in the same position. Fortunately, this year I won the election over Alex. This coming on top of my math team victory over Alex was making me feel pretty good. Then even more unbelievably Alex and Kim broke up. Apparently Alex had initiated the breakup, but there was no longer any reason to treat Alex as my secret nemesis. Kim was suddenly available which shook things up on my list considerably, but there was no time left in the year to do anything about it.
Lisa W turned 16th on the 25th of June and had a birthday party at her house. It was one of the few times we had an event at her house, usually I was just there to drop her off or pick her up. One of the things I remember about her house was her parents' collection of matchbooks in a big bowl on their coffee table. We hung out in Lisa's basement at the party, which included not just the usual suspects from J-D but also Lisa's friends from USY, such as Erika R.
With the end of the year came student departures. It was strange for me to have friends moving away instead of me being the one to be leaving. The first departure was permanently with my friend Dave C moving to California. The second departure was temporary, with Christian T going to England junior year. He would come back senior year with a Cockney accent.
In the summer of 1989 I returned to CTY for a second time. Some things were different this time around. First, I was going to Franklin & Marshall (F&M) site in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Second, I was going with someone I actually knew and had been to the site before, my friend Rebecca D. Third, I gave up the pretense of caring about the liberal arts and dived into their most advanced computer class, Computer Science 3.
F&M seemed like a much better location for CTY than Dickinson. There seemed to be much more of a central quad that unified the camp than Dickinson. I also don't recall having to cross streets at all, while Dickinson campus was broken up by a few roads. I was in Buchanan 206, which I recall being at the end of the quad with the dining hall on the left. The F&M campus map and Lancaster RealCTY page shows the Marshall-Buchanan building, or Marsh-Puke as it was called. My RA was Stephane Latour.
But certainly what probably made the F&M experience better than Dickinson was going with Rebecca. It is one thing to go to camp to reinvent yourself, but its another to have a co-conspirator! Before CTY Rebecca and I had been friendly competitors but I think CTY is what actually cemented our friendship.
Unlike at Carlisle where I had to start out meeting people from scratch, at Lancaster I not only started out knowing Rebecca, but Rebecca had a group of friends from previous sessions. Her brother Joel was also attending this session and another J-D middle school student, Adam G, was also there. Rebecca had promised me to introduce me to her female friends and let me hang out. Fortunately I don't feel too guilty about this arrangement as I managed to meet my eventual girlfriend before Rebecca did and I managed to introduce her to her boyfriend Gabriel T who was in my class.
Since it was soon to be my birthday, my parents left me with some helium balloons, which turned out to be pretty useful. One of the first nights, my roommate and I could hear the girls above us talking, mostly because of a gap from where the fire sprinkler feed pipe went between the floors. Once we got their attention, mostly by taping in the pipe, we then talked through the floor. Mostly we were complaining to each other about the noise, us to them for talking, them to us for banging on the pipe. Eventually, we thought of the idea of sending the balloons up out the window as another way of interacting with the girls, which seemed to amuse them.
After a few days we started to have a regular group of people hanging out consisting of various friends, classmates, and hall mates. One I remember very well was Kira M, who I think was friends with Rebecca from a previous session and I would go on to see later on a Model United Nations conferences, as well as her friend Owen B who was part of our Frisbee group. There were quite a few other nice ladies in the group including Alice C, Wenchy Wendy (B) with the Whips, and Yoko K.
One afternoon before heading down to dinner, some of us were tossing Frisbee around at the end of the quad in front of Marshall-Buchanan. Eventually I ended up talking to some of the girls and discovered that two of them, Aimee S and Jane W, were the upstairs neighbors that my roommate and I had been harassing. Uh oh. Well, it turned out that it was more amusing to discover that we had been hanging out with the people from upstairs without realizing that any negative feelings were soon overcome from the novelty of discovering the identities of our neighbors.
What happened next sort of surprised me. One of the upstairs girls, Aimee S, apparently had taken a liking to me. I don't recall the exact progression or time line of things or the role of other actors in the development of my relationship with Aimee, but I do remember some key events. Mostly Aimee was not subtle which helped since I often have been painfully slow to make the first move, as I had been asking a girl to dance at CTY the previous year and with my middle school and freshmen year crushes. My first clue was that Aimee liked me is that she start hanging out with me whenever possible during "mandatory fun" time, meals, etc., always making sure to sit next to me.
My attitude indicator Swatch that Aimee wore as a symbol of our relationship
From Swatch and Beyond.
Aimee's next step was even less subtle, moving to some hands on flirting, basically basically turned into a game of taking my watch. The watch she took was a Swatch which made it cool at the time, but actually was made to look like a airplane's attitude indicator, which made it secretly nerdy which is why I liked it. I took her watch in return, I recall it being a Swatch as well, something gray with some red or white highlights on the hands and numbers. In any case, I'm pretty sure this Swatch swapping is is what led to hand holding, under the pretense of each of us trying to get our watches back. In the end, the Swatch swapping ended up being a symbol like going steady, in leiu of such traditional items such as class rings and letterman jackets.
The lead up to the Friday dance was very different this time around. Thursday was my sixteenth birthday and I had never been happier. I had an actual girlfriend, there was a dance the next night. However as Friday arrived there was not the usual question of who to slow dance with, but the big question was would Aimee and I move beyond hand-holding to kissing. Would this be the night? Apparently it would, Aimee led me out of the dance early and talked a bit and found a quiet corner, sitting on a stone wall beneath some trees behind a dorm. We sat there for a while, I think we could hear the dance music still off in the distance, and I started to realize two things: first, time was running out since the dance would end soon and we'd have to be back in our dorms and, second, I had no idea how to kiss a girl, just like the year before when I had no idea how to slow dance. Finally after much inching closer, we finally kissed and after a second I burst out laughing because I was not ready for the experience of a French kiss. Clearly Aimee had prior experience with this sort of thing. After a moment to regain composure and profuse apologies to Aimee for ruining the moment, we kissed again and this time I didn't laugh.
Aimee and I spent most of the rest of our free camp time annoying our friends with constant extreme levels of PDA, including marathon make out and back rub sessions in the Marshall-Buchanan 'Pit', as the lounge area between the wings was called. (Apparently the next year in October 1990 the Pit was turned into the F&M Children's Center! The horror...) At one of the weekend off-campus activities we went to go see the recently released James Bond movie, License to Kill, and we didn't really see much of the movie, joking afterward "Movie? What movie?", but staring Timothy Dalton, it apparently wasn't one of the better Bond flicks anyhow, so we didn't miss much.
Dale, as Adam G was known in CTY circles, had a crowd of CTY friends having been at Lancaster for a session in 1988. They used to sit around in the Marshall-Buchanan entryway playing the card game Mao, many with towels ready to travel the galaxy, and occasionally wearing bathrobes, but that might have only been on Thursdays. Because they were in the entryway, they would often be asked what time it was by people passing through, to which they had a series of answers such as:
I did learn to play Mao with them (as well as Owen B.) and enjoyed their love of all things Hitchhiker's as well as general obnoxiousness to people refusing to wear a watch.
Despite all the fun time with Aimee, I was ostensibly at CTY to take a class. I had signed up for Computer Science 3 (CS3) "Introduction to Computer Science and Automata Theory", since I had already done the programming coursework offered in the CS1 and CS2 classes, one of which Rebecca had taken a previous year using the "Oh! Pascal!" book.
Since I was taking a computer class, I had convinced my dad to let me bring our Sharp laptop (see more on my machines page) loaded with a copy of Borland Turbo Pascal as well as our dot matrix printer. Of course, I probably had a copy of Falcon and Beyond Zork as well, although I don't recall ever having time to play any games, except to show someone that Beyond Zork was not entirely text only. This was all contained in his old Air Force footlocker so I could keep it locked up and chained to the bed in my room when not in use.
CS3 turned out to be based on the Cinderella Book, aka the "Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation" by Hopcroft and Ullman. It was taught by two TA's, one from CMU and one from MIT's 6.045. This was hard core computer science theory, not computer programming. There were five of us that signed up for the class including myself, Gabriel T, David B, Jacques, and one other. None of us were expecting what a change this would be from our prior computer programming experiences.
It was common to joke about S&M at F&M. Well, the 5 of us CS3 students certainly felt that we were masochists and our TAs sadists. When I later took this class in my junior year at MIT, it was after taking such prerequisites as 18.063 Discrete Mathematics and 18.01 Calculus. At least I was not alone in being overwhelmed, the TAs eventually lowered the bar on the homework difficulty. During class, they changed to only covering a lot of material at a high level, only got into selected details. For my final project I originally started writing a program to construct the finite automata from a regular expression but in the end just performed the construction proof in class. All of this gave me a very negative impression of computer science as a major. It was after this that I would shift my focus back to aero-astro, which would have a major impact on college selections the following year.
One thing I did learn how to do that summer was juggle. Gabriel T from CS3 knew how to do some basic juggling and was working on improving his own skills during while hanging out on the quad. I had a red, white, and blue stripped Koosh named Trillian that I used along with some other items while learning to juggle two balls and then three balls. I'm a bit rusty now, but I could do okay though most of high school, which was kind of neat.
Ironically I'm not sure it was as hard to leave camp this year as the last. This year I had few regrets. Sure CS3 had become sort of a cruel joke but that was more than made up by my time with Aimee, Rebecca, Adam, Kira, etc. I had a lot of fun hanging out, playing Frisbee, learning Mao, and being with Aimee. Rebecca had an excellent picture of Aimee and I in front of Marshall-Buchanan at the end of camp where I am just smiling and happy even though Aimee's expression makes it clear that she not looking forward to camp being over.
Don't get me wrong, I certainly missed camp, especially Aimee. One thing that made it a little easier was talking to and hanging out with Rebecca during the rest of the summer. We would often talk about camp and share from letters we received from our friends. A few times we went down to a park on Lydon Road along the old Erie Canal and wrote letters together to camp friends. I think it really helped to have someone that was there as witness that I could reminisce with.
After getting back from camp I, I got my driver's permit. That evening my mom took me up to the high school to drive our 1976 Dodge Aspen SE station wagon around the parking lot. The next day my dad had me drive our newer 1989 Dodge Dynasty to Buffalo, NY, which was quite a change from the high school parking lot.
In fact, after I got my permit, my parents pretty much had me drive them everywhere they went. However, my dad didn't want me to get my driver's license until I finished a driver's education class to minimize the car insurance costs. Instead, he said I could work on getting my pilot's certificate in the meanwhile. On 16 August 1989 I got Medical Certificate 3rd class and Student Pilot Certificate after a medical exam from Dr. Grossman, who coincidentally lived on Woodberry Lane near my house. The exam was upstairs in the old SAIR hanger where I would also take my private pilot lessons.
Picture of SAIR hanger
Note the old control tower sticking up in the rear
The next week we headed out to Detroit, Michigan, for IJCAI-89 which was taking place from August 20 to 26. I took a tutorial entitled "Expert Systems for Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing". While we were there, we parked at the summer cottage on Lake St Clair in Puce, Ontario, that belonged to our family friends the M's. Jamie M was my age and we had fun listening to music, swimming in the lake. One day we all rented a boat and I tried to water ski but only managed to get up on a kneeboard. While we were there my family drove up to Ann Arbor to tour the University of Michigan since it was on my short list for college applications. We also went to visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Detroit which Jamie came along for. I remember that Jamie and I bought one of every flavor of stick candy which was way too much for Jamie, Rachael, and I to consume. I remember that Jamie wanted to ride the carousel and that I wanted to ride the steam train and that really in the end that the carousel was probably more entertaining.
COURSE SEM PERIODS DAYS ROOM INSTRUCTOR MATH IV A1 F 01-01 ALL MRS REED ELECTRONICS 1 02-02 ALL MR WILSON ASTRONOMY 2 02-02 ALL MR WILSON QUANT ANALYSIS 3 02-02 ALL MR POLICHEMI QUAL ANALYSIS 4 02-02 ALL MR STOPHER ENG 11 HUM A1 F 03-03 ALL MRS ADAMS US HISTORY A1 F 04-04 ALL MR MONTEROSSO PHYSICAL EDUCAT F 05-06 TR STUDY HALL F 05-06 MWF LUNCH F 07-07 ALL ARCHITECTURE A 08-08 ALL 0002 MR DEORIO DATABASE B 08-08 ALL LC3 MR JERAULD BIOLOGY A1 F 09-09 F 0211 MRS QUINN SPANISH AP LANG F 10-10 F 0212 MRS SORKIN
Best Guess At Student Schedule for Junior Year
First period was Mrs. Reed's precalculus class. I had read the book the previous year as part of my preparation for the math contest so I didn't find the material particularly challenging. Chris S was in the class with me.
Second period was for senior science electives, which I took even though I was a junior. They each were one quarter long so you could take four per year. First quarter I took electronics with Mr. Wilson, who was the physics teacher and head of the science department. We built a working radio receiver after learning all the fundamentals of how it worked. Second quarter I took astronomy, also with Mr. Wilson. We learned there was a secret stairway to the roof of the school and went up their to look at sunspots. Third quarter was quantitative analysis with chemistry teacher Mr. Polichemi. As the name suggests, this was a very mathematically oriented class were I learned a lot about the significance of orders of magnitude and how to properly use my scientific calculator. The fourth quarter was the more fun qualitative analysis chemistry class taught by Mr. Stopher. We had fun with titration, magnetically mixed beakers, Bunsen burners, and random chemicals. In the end we used our lab skills to follow a decision tree procedure to identify an unknown chemical substance. Senior Chris M from tech theater was in these two chemistry electives with me.
Third and fourth period were the humanities honors program, as it had been the previous year. This year I was in class with Rebecca D, Stephen S, Scott S, Lisa W, and Shelley B. Third period was US history with Mr. Monterosso, who it turned out was a very big film buff. What stuck with me most was been the influence supreme court cases we learned about. Fourth period was Mrs. Adams for English. We read a range of American novels to complement US history including The Scarlet Letter, All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Mice and Men, The Catcher in the Rye. We had to do public readings occasionally and I remember a particularly passionate one by Shelley B from Of Mice and Men which shocked us all because we couldn't really picture the strong language coming from someone who usually was such a quiet girl. The humanities festival seemed significantly larger scale this year, and involved us transforming the library into New York City. With my new found set construction experience, I helped build an entrance way that would simulate people entering as if from a subway station. The class put together an issue of the New Yorker as part of the project as well.
05-06 period was gym followed by 7th period lunch. Junior and senior year we only had gym twice a week and had a greater choice in what to do. Some of my favorite activities were archery, indoor hockey, badminton, and tennis. I started eating lunch outside the backstage door with a number of other people from musical theater, but mostly because Rebecca was there.
For the first half of the year, eighth period was my architecture class with Mr. DeOrio. After learning some basics about architectural plans and residential design, we each did our own housing design projects. I did something based on our Woodside Road house, although slightly simplified in some of the details. I only took the class one time so I didn't do any architectural models like other kids that were taking it additional times like Mike V, who I remember working in the back on his three dimensional house model.
For the second half of the year, eighth period was an independent study class with Mr. Jerauld. I learned dBase IV programming. The project was to do a database to track statistics for a car racing league. Mr. Jerauld had some idea that this might be something of value to an actual local league but I never focused that hard on it. Apparently dBase IV was a disaster compared to its predecessors, ranking #10 on PC World's list of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time, but fortunately I didn't run into any problems.
Ninth period was Mrs. Quinn for honors biology. I was lab partners again with Chris S and sat with him at a shared desk behind Rich S and Mike V. I really enjoyed biology, both the hands on experimentation with increasing complex creations such as parameciums, hydras, and frogs as well as the more textbook material on the Krebs cycle and DNA. One thing that has always stuck with me was the Miller-Urey experiment, the classic experiment that explained how amino acid building blocks of life could have been generated from the more primitive substances of water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen simply due to effects of lightning. It impressed me so much that some of us, including Stephen S, thought about trying to reproduce the results as part of a science fair experiment but in the end we had other things to do.
Tenth period was Mrs. Sorkin for AP Spanish Language. I was accompanied by Stephen S, Jennifer T, and Kim K. In the end, I'm not sure any of us did very well on the AP exam, although I at least got a 2 and not a 1.
My main new activity junior year was Science Olympiad. Dr. Daley has been involved with the regional Science Olympiad organization but J-D had not had an organized team before. Although we threw together a team to participate in the quiz bowl type events on Saint Patrick's Day sophomore year (see Mr. Daley's comment in Town Talk), we hadn't participated in the events that required advanced preparation.
I did start cutting back on activities junior year. Donna C continued with Junior Achievement, get elected as president and dragging me in as VP of Marketing, but I started losing interest after our dismal sophomore year experience. I also dropped out of mock trial, which I really had faded out of sophomore year. I also disappeared from TARS, although it never was a very regular activity. I did stick with my favorite activities of math team and PAC.
I was an officer in PAC so my involvement naturally increased. I now attending officer meetings at president Samina C's house, which was over near my old Michaels Drive house. Peter E use to give me rides to the meetings. He was vice-president and lived across Maple Drive from our current Woodside Road house. He had his own Saab bought with money earned from his stock market activities. This was before he tired of the Saab and upgraded to an Audi senior year.
One other new activity that I started sometime junior year was Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Donna C had joined along with a friend of hers from Marcelles Diane E, and Diane's brother Pete. I was pretty excited about CAP, which a civilian auxiliary to the US Air Force. I had met some adult members of CAP at SAIR during my private pilot training and they were always interesting and fun to talk to. They encouraged me to get involved in CAP. However, the student CAP was very different than the adult CAP. It was much more like the boy scouts on steroids with military discipline. Most of the weekly activities, which were at the armory in downtown Syracuse, consisted of PT (physical training), uniform inspections, and marching. Bonus activities consisted of guard duty. Although I didn't have trouble with the written aerospace and even leadership tests, the student leadership was not impressed by such book learning and I felt my advancement through the ranks was limited and I didn't reach far beyond Cadet Airman . Most of the student sergeants seemed mostly interested in bossing around the airman rather than doing anything constructive. I do think that my time in CAP was worthwhile, mostly because I think it gave me an appreciation of what my father went through in terms of wearing the US Air Force uniform, leaning to drill, PT, etc. Certainly it was not at the same level as he went through at the US Air Force Academy, which I can only imagine was more intense.
Bridget L was a new kid in school my junior year. She was a sophomore and I remember being introduce to her by someone I knew that was showing her around the school, which might have been one of those non-class days where you meet with guidance counselors and the like. Rich B was another new kid in school that I became friends with junior year. He was a junior that lived not far from Scott S. He didn't stay long, I think he may have even left soon after the new year, but we certainly had a lot of fun with he while he was around.
Adam G from CTY also started high school my junior year. He even was briefly in my precalculus class and although he dropped back to Course III, it was cool to be in a bunch of activities with him. Adam also joined the new Science Olympiad team. Other members of the team were mostly people I knew from math team and PAC, but there were a few people I didn't know as well such as sophomore Sarah N.
I certainly recognized Sarah from around school. She was in the school orchestra so had played in the Music Man the previous year. But Science Olympiad was the first time I remember really talking to her and pretty soon afterward I had a crush on her. My usual modus operandi was to call a girl I liked a few times, usually starting with some pretext about looking for some information on a homework assignment, eventually working up to inviting them to some party. I'm not sure what pretext I used as I usually would call to ask about some classwork but since we were in different grades, we didn't have any classes in common. Fortunately, during the call, I remember one my parents came to my room to tell me there was a segment on some TV show about Science Olympiad, so I turned that on, which gave us something in common to talk about for a while. Our talk that night seemed to go well and before long I moved on to part two of my M.O. by inviting her to a party at Rich B's house.
The party itself was pretty low key. I remember sitting around Rich's living room listening to music, probably we rented a movie and had some drinks and snacks as well. I don't quite remember who was there but it certainly included Rich, Scott, Sarah, and myself as well as number of the other usual suspects. I'm pretty sure Sarah's friend Rachel B was there as well, and I think there was some brief relationship between Rich and Rachel around this time. Curiously, I don't remember any parental units around, which was pretty rare for one of our parties.
I remember sitting next to Sarah on the floor when we heard a bunch of giggling and conspiratorial whispering. Apparently people there was a plot excluding Sarah and I afoot. Sure enough, at the start of the next song everyone got up and left the room, with a number of them even going outside. The song that happened to come on next was Madonna's "Crazy For You" which would thereafter become our song. While our friends were gone, Sarah and I talked about our friends conspiracy to get us alone and moved from just sitting extremely close to holding hands to the amusement of our friends when they returned.
The home coming dance was coming up in a week or two so I asked Sarah to go with me and she said yes. It was the first time I asked a girl out on an actual premeditated date. I remember telling my mom that I was going to the dance and she asked me if I was going with someone and surprised when I did not immediately answer no. I had gone to a dance or two freshmen year but never with someone.
Most of my time leading up to the dance was worrying about a possible first kiss. However, on the afternoon before I flew for the first time with my instructor Dave Conklin. My one hour introductory flight was in Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk with registration number N23913. I got to take off from Syracuse Hancock International Airport It was quite an exciting to go my first flight to my first date!
The dance was on Friday, 13 October 1989. Although I remember that it was in the main gym at the high school like most dances, I forget most of the other details about the dance. For example, I don't know if we arrived separately or my parents and I drove to pick her up. I don't remember most of the actual dancing, although there certainly was that. I do remember two things. The first is that as usual I procrastinated making a move to kiss the girl. The second was that as we were slowly leaning in and finally about to kiss at the end of the last dance, Assistant Principal Brinkerhoff threw on all the lights in the gym which startled us and ruined the moment and we were all soon ushered out of the gym. We would not be having our first kiss that night.
However, the weekend was not over yet. Saturday morning we went to the actual homecoming game. It was pretty cold as it was already October. While I probably had my arm around Sarah for some mutual warmth, I didn't try to kiss her because a priest from my church, who knew me from confirmation classes and yet somehow always called me Chris, was sitting next to us in the stands. That was okay, the football game didn't seem like the right time to kiss anyway.
Picture of Sarah and I with the priest in the stands at the homecoming game.
From Hilltop Echoes 1990, page 13.
Later in the afternoon we went to see the movie "Look Who's Talking" at the Fayetteville Mall. I remember the opening scene being a bit awkward as it featured an animation of eager sperm competing to impregnate an egg. After that it did settle into being a amusing romantic comedy. At some point I finally made my move to kiss Sarah only to forget my own experience with Aimee and try a French kiss which she was not expecting. In the end, she didn't seem to mind and afterward we went to the Friendly's at the mall, where we both ordered Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundaes. See how much we had in common!
Soon after my homecoming weekend with Sarah, I went away for a confirmation class retreat that included Scott S and Kim K. Although I had just started dating Sarah, I had spent the previous year with a crush on Kim while she had been dating Alex V. However, Scott had developed his own feelings for Kim in the meanwhile. He was pretty annoyed with me for sitting next to her on the bus on the way back from the retreat but it really helped bring a close to my crush on Kim. We talked about her and Alex, me and her, me and Sarah, and Scott. It was very cathartic, letting me talk about the past year, my new relationship with Sarah, and to put in a good word or two for Scott. It wasn't too long until they were dating as well.
My confirmation was on 29 October 1989. It seemed like every year they kept pushing back the age of confirmation in the parishes I was in that I really didn't believe it would finally be over. The last year they started making us go to extra evening confirmation classes as well, I remember Kim was in my group for that. We had to pick confirmation names. Scott picked David, making his full name Scott Michael David S. I liked David too but was frustrated that it was already my middle name. In the end, I wondered, why did it have to be different? So I stood up and told the Bishop Frank Harrison to confirm me as Brian David David Carlstrom.
The next day my sister Rachael was baptized by Father Robert Kelly. I was the godfather and my cousin Christina D was the godmother. As Christina was in town, she actually was also my confirmation sponsor, a last minute sidelining of Mr. McGowan who was someone in our parish from Eden Roc on my old paper route.
Another early dating event for Sarah and I was a Halloween Party at Donna C's house, the same weekend as my confirmation. We went as a themed couple, with myself as a pilot, probably wearing my father's old flight suit and Sarah as a stewardess. I recall being in the garage at least for part of the party, which was unusual since I remember being in Donna's living room and dining room for most events at her house. Lisa's USY friend Erika R was also there as well as the usual suspects.
Sarah's and my life continued to intertwine. She joined math team. She joined PAC along with her friends Rachel B and Sara D, little sister of Rebecca's friend Jessica D. My social circle expanded to include her friends, for example, I remember early on going to a party at Rachel B's house and remember hanging out with Rachel and her new post Rich B boyfriend, Mark K, while they were waiting for after school buses. Over time I also got to know many of her friends better, many of which were siblings of my own classmates. Besides Sara D, who I mentioned was the little sister of Jessica D, there was Suki K, little sister of Kim K, and Sara T, little sister of Sasie T. Sarah also became friends with new student Bridget L, who was with her in orchestra in addition to honors classes, PAC, and Science Olympiad.
Sarah's birthday was coming up pretty quickly. It was actually on the first Friday of the Hilton MUN conference which we were both going to. Given that we wouldn't be going to regular school Friday, I was able to get her mom to agree to let me have a birthday party for her on Thursday night. Even more, it was a surprise party in the sense that she was not expecting anyone to be at my house besides my family. Instead she arrived to find not only her friends from J-D but also a friend from her old apartment complex that she had mentioned to me during our phone conversations. For this first special occasion, I gave her a silver bracelet I had bought at the Service Merchandise that used to be down at the end of Maple Dr where the new larger Wegman's is now. The bracelet was the first time I ever purchased jewelry for a girl and turned out to be a pretty good gift, as Sarah wore it not only while we were dating, but even on occasion after we broke up.
The Hilton trip was more fun than usual with Sarah to keep me company on the ride there. It was good to see Kira M from CTY, I believe she was in committee with Rebecca D. Sarah and I didn't have much time alone at the conference being busy with our separate committees and not having much time between getting of the bus to the hotel before having to be in our separate rooms. The ride home was the best part of the weekend when we finally had some quiet time for just the two of us in the back of the bus on the way home.
My second student pilot flight was the Wednesday after the Hilton MUN trip, 22 November 1989. However after that my flight training lapsed until around the day after my birthday the following summer when I also started classes for the written pilot exam, which I passed junior year.
Sometime in the fall of junior year I took the PSAT exam. It was not very stressful for me given that I had been taking the SATs for years, but it was necessary since it also served as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Unfortunately, I didn't do well enough to win a merit scholarship, although I received a Letter of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Program. Rebecca D aced the exam with a perfect score on verbal and math.
I original bought a ring for Sarah for Christmas to match the bracelet I had given her from her birthday. My mom refused to let me give it to her because of the symbolic nature of giving a girl a ring, so I was forced to return it. In the end I bought Sarah the cassette tape of the New Kids on the Block Christmas album, which she had specifically requested. I've always been amused that Sarah liked Christmas music even though she was Jewish. In return Sarah gave me a cassette single tape of the song Lambada as well as a mix tape which contained some music from the Fine Young Cannibals among some other then popular music.
In addition to the New Kids album, Scott and I also pulled an all nighter in the winter cold outside Shoppingtown to get Billy Joel Storm Front concert tickets for us and Sarah and Kim. The concert was on February 2 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY.
Scott and I also exchanged presents. Scott gave me a Radio Shack DUOFONE-166 speakerphone with 32 speed dials (catalog number 43-604, page 147) since I was such a heavy phone user. I got him a mini Walkman-type cassette player. I don't know what happened to his cassette player but I still use the phone he gave me in my office.
On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall "fell". We were in West Germany soon afterward, I believe on Christmas break, and looking for some place to go. I suggested going to Berlin. My dad had to think about it, it a little strange at first for retired US colonel to think about driving through East Germany, but in the end he threw caution to the wind and we were off. We entered the DDR through Hirschberg, which was one of the approved border crossings to West Berlin. We then started a rather bleak trek across the East German autobahn. Everything just seemed so gray and lifeless compared to West Germany. Eventually we arrived to West Berlin through Checkpoint Bravo between Drewitz in DDR and Dreilinden in BRD.
In West Berlin we went to see the wall at the Brandenburg Gate. People covered the top of the wall to get their picture taken. People had started hacking pieces off the wall chisels and hammers. There was a opening on the right hand side where there was some East German guards making an effort to regulate, although not restrict travel through the gate. Occasionally they would futile yell at people to get off the wall. I collected a few wall fragments as a souvenir for myself, which are currently at my parents house.
We also went to see the old official crossing between East and West Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie. We also visited the nearby Checkpoint Charlie Museum. Probably the strangest thing I saw were the Soviet soldiers guarding the Tiergarten Soviet War Memorial. Although located it West Berlin, just west of the Brandenburg Gate, the Soviet soldiers would come over from East Berlin to serve as an ever present honor guard at the memorial. Apparently the Soviet soldiers no longer guard the memorial, which is now maintained by the city of Berlin.
After our visit to Berlin, my father observed that we had been from the beaches of Normandy to Berlin in two trips to Europe that year. We certainly covered quite a lot of World War II history.
The Billy Joel concert at the Carrier Dome was great. It was my first rock concert. I remember we sat on the right hand side of the Carrier Dome facing the stage, the seats were not too bad. When I say we sat there, I should say we stood there, since we were on our feet for almost the entire performance. We got cool, but expensive, T-shirts to commemorate the experience that I probably gave to my sister along with all my other cool T-shirts after I graduated from college.
By the time Valentine's Day rolled around, my bank account was empty. Sarah and I went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Fayetteville for Valentine's day abut we had to go dutch on the check. Sarah and I never really went out much anyway. Most of our time alone was spent in the basement of her mother's and stepfathers's house on Thomas Road, not far from my old Michaels Drive house. There was a TV and we occasionally might watch a movie, but most of the time we just played games. One game we played a lot was the card game Spit. We also used to play Trivial Pursuit, but often in just degenerated into each other just reading the questions to each other out of nerdy curiosity. Of course being in the basement gave us the opportunity for other teenage dating activities, but those were mostly kept in check my Sarah's mom, who always took advantage of doing the laundry to come downstairs at very irregular intervals.
The NAIMUN conference was right after Valentine's Day. In previous years I had used my free time for trips for political tourism to the OAS or White House. However, this year I went to Silver Spring to see my old girlfriend Aimee S. We had planned to see each other when I was down for NAIMUN since we had parted the previous summer. We had never formerly broken up but had stayed in occasional letter and phone contact. I hadn't told her about Sarah, mostly I just talked about what was up with Rebecca and other CTYers we had heard from.
On Thursday I rode the red line out to Silver Spring, Maryland, with some apprehension about what was going to happen. She and her mom picked me up at the station and we drove home to her house. She was playing hooky from school to see me since my only free time was during the day. We went down to the family room in her basement to watch Adventures in Babysitting. Now if I wasn't feeling awkward enough about secretly hanging out with my ex-girlfriend, now I was watching a movie where the female lead is being cheated on by her boyfriend and ends up babysitting a girl named Sara. My visit didn't last too long. I think we took a break from the movie to have some lunch upstairs and before I knew it I was back on a Metro to DC. Our sporadic communication decreased after that until it eventually stopped. I was too old to be returning to CTY and we probably would have little occasion to see each other in the future. Indeed, I never saw Aimee in person again.
If that wasn't enough extracurricular drama for one trip, I had also made plans to go see my friend Jaime M. Scott accompanied me on this escapade out to suburbs of Virginia. Either Jaime or one of her friends must have had a car and a license because I don't remember seeing her parents that day. Scott and I just hung out with Jaime and some of her friends. We were at her school in the afternoon then went somewhere to grab something to eat. I think we had talked about going to a dance at her school but then decided that would be lame.
I probably forget most of what happened on our visit to Jaime because of the storm we walked into when we came back to the conference. We had skipped out on the usually boring keynote speaker dinner. Unfortunately that year they someone of note that actually had a security detail of some kind. We had been warned to make sure to have our conference ID with us since they would be security people making sure people were on the list to attend the dinner.
Scott and I had never thought it would be a big deal to skip out on the dinner. Certainly we generally were not checked up on throughout the day and there certainly were times where we were permitted to leave the conference unchaperoned. However, apparently when we didn't show up for the dinner, our trip chaperon, gym teacher Mr. Santangelo, was informed. When another J-D student saw us upon our return, we were warned that we were in trouble and that Mr. Santangelo was looking for us. Eventually he caught up with us in our room where we were probably getting ready for some evening social function of our own, perhaps the delegate dance.
We were confined to our rooms for the evening while they figured out what to do with us. I felt bewildered because I still didn't know what I had done wrong. My parents knew I was going to see my family friend Jaime. Indeed, my parents had listed her parents as my emergency contact. If they had actually tried to contact my parents or my emergency contact, they would have known where I was.
In the end, nothing much happened to us on the trip. When we returned, Mr. Monterosso was given the job of delivering our punishment which turned out to not be at all what I expected. I expected the usual punishment of some number of days of detention. Instead Scott and I were barred from holding any PAC office our senior year, quiet a strange punishment from my US History teacher and advocate of democrat process in international relations. Scott and I had planned to seek appointed roles as PAC News editors, but it was not to be. The whole experience left me feeling very awkward around Mr. Monterosso, a teacher I had to see every day in class, and one that I had been one of my favorites for three years.
That year our high school basketball team was on fire. Scott, Dave, and Peter were in the pep band and I would often sit with them at the home games. These games became such big events that they even had a few with dances after them. Some people I knew on the team were Andy C, with the locker next to mine, and Matt W, Scott's "friend" from math class. The star of the team that year was Bernard B who, as of 2009, still holds the the record for the most points scored in a single game for New York State, among other records. Bernard went on to play college ball at St. Josephs, where he set a number of team records, but did not continue on to professional play.
One one rare outing to Shoppingtown Mall, Sarah and I stopped by the lower level McDonalds for a snack. This is when she introduced me to dunking french fries in chocolate milk shakes. At first I was a bit revolted to think about it, but it did taste pretty good, and now its something I do whenever I have the occasion. Later on I learned that the shake has more salt that the fries, which didn't end up surprising me.
For spring break my family traveled Space-A to Europe. After catching a hop to Germany on a big cargo plane, we ended up catching a small executive-style plane to Hellenikon Air Base in Athens. My mom was a little concerned about the security situation, since she remembered attacks a number of terror attacks associated with the airport. In Athens we went and saw some sights around Athens such as the Parthenon. However, we spent a fair amount of time in our room, which was a suite with a beautiful view over the sea. Unfortunately, I spent much of this time working on my humanities term paper for Mr. Monterosso, which was due immediately after spring break. I had lugged my dad's Sharp laptop which basically filed my whole backpack to type my paper. I did play hooky one day and watched the John Cusack movie The Sure Thing which was part of a library of movies along with a VCR in the suite. One negative experience was ordering a salad for dinner one evening, only to find out a Greek salad consisted of a bowl of tomatoes and cucumbers, neither of which I would eat at the time.
We had quite a bit of trouble finding a flight back from Athens. First, there was bad weather on the east coast that canceled many flights. After that, the backlog of passengers was pretty long and with my dad as a retiree, we were the lowest priority for a space. Eventually, we tried a trick to get some seats. On April 23rd we took a flight to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey knowing the plane would then turn around and come back west and we hoped there would be fewer people waiting. The gamble paid off and we got out of Turkey almost as quickly as we arrived. In fact, the Turkish immigration officer was a bit disconcerted that we were leaving so soon after our arrival. We flew back to the US via NAS Sigonella, Italy, but since we were booked through to the US, we couldn't be bumped even with the stop over. We arrived back in the US on April 24th. The upside of our travel delays was that I had a few more days to work on my term paper. When I did end up back at school and turned in my term paper, Mr. Monterosso asked me to give my presentation on term paper, something I had completely forgotten about and was unprepared for. Fortunately, he gave me a deferral to the next day so I wouldn't have to just wing it.
Junior year's musical was Guys and Dolls and was definitely my favorite musical of the all the productions I have ever been involved in. This year I was sound director and Adam L was lighting director. Because Adam L also played the role of Big Julie in the show, we were lucky to have three other people on lighting crew including Steve W, Stephen S, and Adam G, allowing us to always have someone to run the board as well as to cover the two spot lights. Sarah played the violin in the orchestra, although the rarely rehearsed with us until near the end, so I didn't see her much during my work on the show. Fortunately Sarah never discovered that one of the "responsibilities" of sound director was helping actresses put on their wireless microphones. One girl had to wear the the microphone bodypack strapped to her leg under her skirt and occasionally I had to change the batteries during the performance while she was still in costume.
At some point Adam G's house became the place to be, I'm guessing it was after he got to know a lot more upperclassman through his work on the show. If there were no other scheduled birthday parties or special events going on, there was almost assuredly a gathering at Adam's house. Adam's basement was the perfect teen hangout with a large TV with a huge movie library, a pool table, snacks and soft drinks, and parents who stayed upstairs, but were always home to satisfy other parents. This is where I got to know Pete S, Adam's lifelong friend who I also used to see in Boston when Adam was at MIT, and now is in Chicago with Adam.
Sometime before the end of the school year, Rebecca developed a thing for Adam. They started dating which ended up lasting through the summer, even with Adam's time at CTY.
The middle school musical was held in the high school auditorium. Stephen S and I got paid to do lighting work for the show. As an extra bonus, Sarah came and visited me in the lighting booth and we got to experiment with the strange barber shop like chair that was in front of the lighting board, something that I previously had seen demonstrated when I walked in on Adam L and Samantha M. I also got paid one time to run lights for an anti-drug rock concert. This was even during school hours, so I got paid by school to miss school. It was crazy fun to because we got to do all sorts of crazy things with the auditorium and spot lights which we would never do during the typical rehearsed theater production. Probably the best gig I ever had was doing lights and sound for an Indian cultural festival one Saturday. Not only did we get paid an above normal rate, something crazy like $20 an hour, the people running the show also gave a big tip, not realizing that we were already getting paid higher than normal rates. I also did some other free work such working on sound for the high school Cabaret show junior and senior year.
This years first organized trip to Science Olympiad brought some rewards. My main focus was to build a vehicle powered by a mousetrap the farthest distance possible. My father and I cooked up something mostly out of my Expert Builder LEGO and a few odds and ends. We showed up to face off against teams with carefully constructed custom vehicles. We did okay against these bigger monsters, which turned out to share our design of having a lever arm attached to the mousetrap slowly unwind a string wrapped around an axle. Unfortunately their larger size meant longer lever arms and therefore more pull. We were smaller and perhaps lighter, which helped us a bit, since we could coast after unwinding. I believe we got fourth place, but we were not at all close to the first place winner, who I believe traveled the entire length of the gym in which we were setup to do our trials. Apparently I also competed in some biology event, receiving a certificate in that as well.
In addition to attending MUN conferences, this year PAC actually managed to host two of its own at the high school. The first was a small affair in November, referred to as MiniMUN, which I pronounced Min-I-MUN, not Min-E-MUN, to go along with our take on pronouncing CNYMUN as Sin-I-MUN instead of like the word cinnamon, which was the official F-M pronunciation. This was a single day affair, perhaps only a single afternoon, with only local schools such as ESM and F-M invited. Later in the year in May we hosted was I believe to be the first UNYMUN which while still one day, was larger scale and involved more schools. So don't let those people running the current UNYMUN let you think this was something new for the 21st century. And yes, I pronounced it U-NI-MUN, not Uni-MUN.
On May 3rd I was inducted into the Nation Honor Society (NHS). There was a ceremony at the high school led my Samina C, president of the outgoing senior class NHS, as well as Mrs. Quinn, who was the NHS faculty adviser. I had been quite surprised in the application process how much emphasis there was on community service, not just academic achievement. Suddenly I appreciated all the volunteer work I had done with my mom at the church such as sorting and packing groceries for donations as well as work I had done as part of the confirmation program such as working at the Dorthday Day House emergency shelter for women, etc.
The big end of year event was the Junior prom on 12 May 1990. When I formally asked Sarah to be my date, she wanted to know what she should wear. I immediately responded a short, strapless black dress. Ariel B rented a limo which we crammed four couples into including myself and Sarah, Scott and Kim, Ariel and his date, and Stephen S and his date Shin-Pei T. Before the prom we had dinner reservations at Decker's Veal and Vintage. We arrived in our limo to find that there were people picking the restaurant for serving veal. The protesters felt sorry for us and let us through after we promised not to have any veal. Instead Ariel tried to gross us all out by ordering escargot. After dinner, we returned to the fabulous night spot of the high school gym, where at least the theme of "Forever Young" was appealing, even if the locale was not.
Scott S picking up Kim K for the junior prom.
Kim K, her father, Carrie S, Scott S, ?, ?, Rose S, ?.
I have to think that I'm there somewhere behind the camera in the limo.
The end of the year J-D Awards were on 7 June 1990. My pickings were pretty slim this year, only receiving an Architecture award from Mr. DeOrio. I blame listening to Christian T's advice from the end of sophomore year.
One final end of year memory came courtesy of Jennifer P, a graduating senior that was a friend of Meg K, older sister of Kim and Suki. She was taking on of Mr. Jerauld's classes during my independent study period. When Scott found out, he was a little surprised that this attractive upper classman would even talk to me. Honestly, something about having a significant other makes it both easier to talk to the opposite sex as well as for them to talk to you. Near the end of the year she was listening to You Can Leave Your Hat On on her walkman, which she thought I would find amusing and insisted on playing for me. When I told Scott this, he was just slack-jawed, thinking back to Kim Bassinger's scene in the movie 9 1/2 Weeks. I think to make it worse for Scott to believe, Jennifer even wore a cute little hat with some short skirt and blouse outfit, but perhaps that is just memory playing tricks on me.
During the summer I took an economics class through the Lemoyne College Summer Scholar Program economics class with Stephen, Peter, and Dave. This got us out of having to take the course senior year, leaving more time for senioritis activities.
One of the highlights of the summer was the Montauk Marine Biology trip. Scott, Donna, and Stephen had gone the previous year and had a lot of fun. Sarah, Dave Y, and Steve S went as well. It was a fairly long bus ride from Syracuse to Montauk at the end of Long Island and, unlike NAIMUN trips where we had chartered a nice bus, we were all packed in a traditional yellow school bus. We were followed by a smaller bus driven by our biology teacher, Mrs. Quinn. Sarah and I sat in the last row of the bus on the right, with Dave across from us. We could see Mrs. Quinn following behind us and we dubbed her "Quicky Quinn" for some of her surprising driving.
Our activities were based out of Theodore Roosevelt County Park during our week in Montauk. Many of the activities were in Third House, which was head quarters of Camp Wikoff where Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were quarantined after the Spanish-American War. We stayed in small cabins behind Third House. Dave and I were roommates in one room of our cabin, along with two other boys in another room. With beds and running water including a shower, we weren't exactly roughing it.
Third House in Teddy Roosevelt County Park
Aerial View of Third House showing park cabins to the north.
Dave and I were in the cabin closest to the house in the west of the road.
We did a number of diverse activities during our week at Montauk. One day we went to the beach and collected clams, which later our became clam chowder for dinner. We also spent time looking at creatures in tidal pools such as the usual starfish. We went whale watching and did manage to see a number of whales. During our cruise Sarah was doped up on Dramamine to avoid seasickness, which fortunately didn't turn out to be a problem. One afternoon we had just a fun beach day and Sarah was jealous of the attention Dave and I paid to some of the other girls in their swimsuits, in particular of redhead that was part of our group. Mostly it was just me being a wingman to Dave's interest in Colby and Stephanie. We also toured the historic Montauk Lighthouse. The previous year Scott and Donna had said that a large group of students had snuck out at night to walk to the lighthouse at night. Knowing we would never hear the end of it from Scott if we didn't attempt a similar expedition, Dave and I and a fairly large group of other students walked out the three miles down Route 27 to the lighthouse. The next day we berated the J-D girls, including Sarah, for laming out and not joining us. Sarah did sneak into our cabin for a while one night to make up for her earlier.
I made a lot of progress on my private pilot certificate during the summer. I took a ground school course to help prepare for the written exam which can from July 21st through October 6th. It covered material such as found in the the FAA's now online Airplane Flying Handbook.
I also put in a fair amount of flight time as well to prepare for my first solo flight. One time while climbing out of Syracuse toward Oswego in the north, I found that my seat was not quite adjusted how I usually like and I thought I'd make a quick adjustment. The seat adjustment on the plane was like that of many cars, a simple lever under the front edge allows you to slide the seat back and forth. Unfortunately, if you are doing this while climbing in an airplane, gravity will pull the seat back quickly, and you along with it. If you are the pilot and holding onto the control yoke, it also has the effect of having you pull back on the yoke and increasing the rate of climb which can lead to a stall. Fortunately when this happened to me, after a second I quickly realized I should let go of the yoke, which caused the plane to level off, and allowed me to avoid the stall, adjust my seat, and then resume my climb. My instructor pilot was very amused at this sitting in the right seat laughing at me after I had recovered. (Apparently I'm not the only one to make this mistake... Gizmodo CNN)
Finally, on 31 August 1990, I flew my first solo flight doing touch-and-goes on runway 24 at Oswego County Airport in a Cessna 152. During one of my trips through the pattern and indicator light came on which required me to recycle the magnetos. The procedure was something my instructor had drilled into me but yet I had never seen in my own experience. I ended up doing a full stop landing to confer with him about the indicator light before continuing to do more touch-and-go landings. My solo flight time was half of an hour that day, after around 24 hours of total flight time. I ended up reflecting on my solo flight experiences in MIT essay material the next fall.
Aerial view of Oswego County Airport
After my solo flight we flew back to the Syracuse airport where my dad was waiting. My flight instructor, following solo tradition, cut out back of shirt to decorate and and hang on wall. Such decorations usually include pilot name, date, aircraft tail number, instructor signature. On mine I was also given the nickname "screaming eagle", which my instructor gave me for my approaches that were always a little too fast. I blame too many hours in Microsoft Flight Simulator for this bad behavior.
At the end of the summer I joined Stephen at a job working in DECC, which was the school district's "communications center" located at the high school. Mostly it acted as the district copy shop. During the summer we handled a lot of orders for teacher handouts for the upcoming year. We also did a lot of laminating and trimming of random letters and shapes to decorate elementary school class rooms. Occasionally we did some binding as well, both using comb binding and thermal binding. We also made custom notepads, such as PAC used at MUN conferences for notes, using glue applied to a brush to pages held in a vice.
However, the most fun was operating the big Xerox machine. Although we had a small copier for self-service use, the main machines was like something behind the counter at Kinkos that no consumer ever gets to touch themselves. The machine was shaped like a T that had a very long top and a very short leg. At the intersection was computer terminal to control the machine. The short leg was where the glass and feeder were for originals, as well as a tray for the output of proof copies. The middle of the right hand side of the top of the T was where the toner was poured in. The far end of the right hand side where the paper was loaded many reams at a time. The left end of the top of the T was a very tall cabinet that was the collating and stapling unit. The motor to lift the many bins full of paper in this unit was strong enough to break your arm, we treated it with great reverence. Out of the middle of the left side of T was a little conveyor belt, out of which would come the large batch jobs for pickup. Once the year got started, most of our work was on this big monster, where we would work before school, during free periods, and after school.
My work at DECC intersected with my musical theater related work in the auditorium. For example, when I would get paid for setting up microphones for school meetings, the equipment would come from DECC. Before I worked there, they would have to have someone deliver the equipment to the auditorium, now I could took care of that as well. DECC also got us working video taping sports events for coaches. At first I did some work taping a couple junior varsity home football games, one of which was pretty miserable in the rain. However, after that both Stephen and I taped most of the away meets for the women's gymnastics team. Yes, we got paid by the hour to hang out with the women's gymnastics team. Good work if you can get it. It also include such perks as rides home from the boss in his corvette, although it wasn't that exciting since I only lived a half of a mile from the school. Sometimes people teased us about our similarity between DECC employees and AV club members. The big difference was that we got paid to be professional geeks. We were not mere amateurs.
Before DECC, Stephen S had worked at the Carvel ice cream shop near the corner of Jamesville Road and East Genesse Street in DeWitt, in the same strip mall as hobby shop I used to go to. I used to occasional sneak some free soft service ice cream from him. My friends seemed to love working at frozen desert stores. Lisa W worked across the store at the new TCBY store. I don't think she ever got away with giving us free frozen yogurt entirely, but I think she did slip us free extra toppings. Later Dave Y got a job at the Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop at the Carousel Center mall when it opened senior year. He encouraged us to come for free ice cream but it seemed pretty far to spend 20 minutes driving there when Shoppingtown Mall was only 5 minutes away.
COURSE SEM PERIODS DAYS ROOM INSTRUCTOR CALCULUS AP F 01-01 ALL 0109 DONADONI ANAT & PHY 1 02-02 ALL 0211 QUINN BACTERIOLOGY 2 02-02 ALL 0204 LAWTON GENETICS 3 02-02 ALL 0204 LAWTON SENSE ORGANS 4 02-02 ALL 0211 QUINN PE (SEM 1) A 03-03 TR WGYM SANTANGELO PE (SEM 2) B 03-03 TR WGYM SANTANGELO STUDY HALL F 03-03 MWF 0015 MURPHY PHYSICS A1 F 04-04 ALL 0201 WILSON HEALTH A 05-06 ALL 0216 ROMANO STUDY HALL B 05-06 ALL LUNCH F 07-07 ALL CAFE DUPREE PART IN GOV A 08-08 ALL 0105 FELDMAN STUDY HALL B 08-08 ALL DRIVERS ED A 09-09 ALL 0002 ANDREWS CAD B 09-09 ALL 0002 DEORIO SUPA ENG F 10-10 ALL 0020 BECKER POL AFFAIR F 11-11 R LGGR MONTEROSSO PHYS AI LG F 11-11 W LGGR WILSON
Best Guess At Student Schedule for Senior Year
First period was Mr. Donadoni for AP Calculus. One of the more memorable things Mr. Donadoni had us do was memorize a definition of the integral of a function. Our AP Calculus class only covered "AB" level material by the date of the AP exams in May, finishing the remaining "BC" material between then and the end of the New York school year in June. In order to take the BC material with Mr. Donadoni, it was necessary to do an extra unit at the end of the calendar year on your own time to get ahead of the rest of the class, then work independently a unit ahead until the AP exam. After the AP exam, you would have nothing to do until June. I loved this plan because it not only meant I could be self paced, but also gave me made the end of senior year even more relaxing. Rebecca and I both did this, although we were in different class periods, so we really did work independently. Both of us ended up acing the exam without any issues. I did have a few friends in my own class period, namely Peter E and Dave Y.
Second period was for senior science electives. The first quarter I had Mrs. Quinn for anatomy and physiology where we dissected a fetal pig and a grown cat. The second quarter I had bacteriology with Mr. Lawton, the non-honors biology teacher who lived around the corner from me on Woodside Road. I remember growing cultures on agar media but not too much else. Third quarter I had Mr. Lawton again for genetics. We did a number of experiments with fruit flies. I ended up dropping the class because my second semester senioritis was so bad that I couldn't complete my experiments regularly enough. The final quarter I had Mrs. Quinn again for a class on sense organs where I remember dissecting a cow eye.
Third period was gym and study hall. I ran into similar attendance problems in gym as I had in genetics due to my senioritis. I actually had to go in and do some make up gym classes after school to make sure I met the state requirements for graduation. At the beginning of the year I would work at DECC during study hall. Since I did this regularly, I managed to get the teacher to let me go directly to DECC without going to their class first.
Fourth period was physics with Mr. Wilson. The class was focused on the New York State Regents curriculum, but I ended up taking the AP exam without trouble. I got into a senioritis issue with Mr. Wilson due to some unacceptable lab reports. He had originally warned us that if our lab reports were in late we would receive a 50% for the quarter. I did turn them in on time but he considered some to be unacceptable and said I would receive a 50%. Eventually I think he just took off some large penalty, such as 10% of my quarter grade. Immediately after this fiasco he had an incredibly hard midterm exam that he graded on a curve. It look silly when I basically blew out the curve on the midterm exam, which made up a lot for the penalty from the second quarter. I shared my desk with Rebecca D in the front right corner of the room, with Scott S and Kim K behind us. A whole lot of people were in my class such as Seth C, Alan G, Scott G, David G, Stephen S, Jim P.
First semester I had health class 05-06 followed by 7th period lunch. Almost all students took health sophomore year, but it would have interfered with taking the AP Computer Science curriculum so I put it off. I wasn't the only senior in this boat, Brian H was also in the class with me. I sat in front of Jen L who I knew from the music department and Kelly M who was a friend of Scott's sister Carrie who was a sophomore that year. We all dutifully protected our baby egg children.
The second half of the year I had study hall during 05-06. I used the same trick of working at DECC to avoid going to checking with the teacher. In practice what I would often do would be to spend study hall periods 2-3 and 5-8 down on the stage in the theater hanging out with friends. The main activity was playing Hearts with Stephen S, Dave Y, and Erica H. We played a game to 1000 which was always very close. We had a spectacular ended where Dave won by shooting the moon, which was particularly difficult with our rules where you needed to get all the hearts and the queen of spades, but not the jack of diamonds. Other people player other card games, such as Jennifer T who used to play Canasta. Having lunch free for both fifth and seventh period meant that I could see just about everybody for lunch instead of just half my friends. Since most of us had taken to eating down in auditorium it made it a lot of fun, like our own private club house. On nice days we would often go outside to play Frisbee in the field north east of the auditorium, which is sadly now filled with more parking lots.
Eighth period was Mr. Feldman for the required participation in government class. Rebecca and I were both in the class and soon noticed the tests were always from the questions in the back of the book. Not exactly as challenging as AP US History which my friends like Stephen S took. The second half of the year would have been economics with Mr. Kilbride, but since I took it at Lemoyne College the previous summer, I had yet another study hall period.
Originally I had signed up for AP Spanish Literature with Miss Kuon but dropped leaving behind Scott S and Rachael S. I switched to taking ninth period drivers education with Mr. Andrews for the first half of the year. Sasie T and Lydia L were in my class, with Lydia one of the people assigned to my car. The second half of the year I had Mr. DeOrio for computer aided design (CAD). CAD was a new course, he only had a few PCs, maybe 5 of 6. We didn't have something fancy like AutoCAD to use, just something basic, but it let us do some basic mechanical drawing on the computer.
For tenth period I had Mr. Becker for SUPA English. The put the English class at the end of the day so we couldn't leave campus early, which I certainly would have tried to arrange given all my study hall time the second half of the year. Mr. Becker had been my indoor track coach sophomore year. SUPA was short for Syracuse University Project Advance, allowing us to earn college credit for our high school English class. Most of my honors friends took AP English Literature instead, but since I didn't like English, I figured taking the class were I might be more likely to skip out on the college version to be a better trade off. Sasie T was in the class with me, we became pretty good friends from our time together with Mr. Becker.
As a National Honor Society member I tutored other students during senior year. I forget how many hours we had to do total, but there definitely was a quota we were expected to meet. I mostly did tutoring in math but also did a little bit for the computer programming classes. There wasn't really a very good way for people to request tutoring, so often I reached out to people I knew and offered my help on my own. It wasn't a very good system, as done this way people often helped their friends and not the people who needed the most help.
In September of my senior year I broke up with Sarah. It was September as we approached our one year anniversary. In fact, our upcoming anniversary was what caused me to reflect on our relationship and decide to end it. Unlike the previous year where I had really been excited to pick out jewelry for her birthday and to get her a cheesy boy band album for Hanukkah and even stay out all night to get concert tickets for Valentine's Day, I was dreading getting an anniversary gift. When I realized that I was going to be getting a gift because I had to do it and not because I wanted to do it, I knew something was wrong.
What had gone wrong? Nothing really had happened negatively between us. There was no argument or fight. In fact, we briefly rejoined for a week or so, before finally ending of our romantic relationship. I think for me the issue was that I didn't see our romantic relationship as having a long term future. I always looked at high school dating as practice, as a precursor to more serious adult relationships. The end goal was not marriage, but to have some fun while learning about the opposite sex. However, after a year, Sarah and I were in a pretty much steady state in our relationship. We still had fun hanging out, but it was more almost more as friends than anything else. I guess people would say the "honeymoon" phase was over. There weren't a lot of new experiences or discoveries to be made about each other.
One thing that turned out well is that Sarah was very insistent that we remain friends. I admit it was awkward at first but it did work out in the end, despite stupid behavior on my part during the semester finals, which I'll admit to below. Sarah went on to attend Harvard so we did continue to have a friendship throughout college. Since Sarah remained in the Boston area, I've been able to see her and her family through the years when I've been back in town to visit my own family.
Being single, I was back go my old ways of getting in trouble with Scott. Before we were banned from holding political office in PAC, we wanted to take over as editors of the mostly weekly PAC News. So instead, I remember that Scott put together a few issues of his own satirical PAC Newz which I dutifully reproduced for him. In another incident, I broke his kitchen table. We hadn't been doing anything exciting, I might just have sat on it and it just wasn't that strong. It was a round table with a central post with four feet extending from the center, one of them just came off. We tried to covered it up by putting the leg back under but eventually his parents discovered the damage as we got yelled at.
I continued to work on my private pilot certificate during the fall, continuing the momentum from the previous summer. I was signed off to solo in my preferred rental plane, the "Traumahawk", on September 13th after which on the 21st of September I made my first complete solo flight from Syracuse to Oswego and back without any instructor at all. It is kind of amazing that as a 17 year old I could just show up and rent a plane and fly it without any supervision, especially since at the time I didn't even have a license to drive. On the 24th of October I was signed off for my first short cross control solo, which I actually flew on the 27th, flying from Syracuse to Binghamton to Oswego and back to Syracuse. Now that I was flying solo I spent more time talking to Lindy, the woman who worked behind the desk at SAIR, since she would not only handle my rental and payments as before, but also now sign my log book to show the completion of my solo flights. On the 30th I did my first night flying up to the Oswego airport with Dave Conklin. We were in the pattern with this attractive woman pilot that we knew from SAIR and we chatted with her a bit over the radio while we were in the pattern together. On the 3rd of November I did my second short cross country flight. This was very different than my previous flight because it actually involved flying into a strange airport, Utica, that I had never been to before. In fact, I had troubling locating the airport in the late afternoon haze and had to have the control their flash the lights twice before I found a bearing to enter the pattern for landing.
Later in the fall I started going out with my friend Rebecca D. This relationship started out very differently because Rebecca and I had been friends since the end of freshmen year. We had become close friends sophomore year and would often discuss our crushes, relationship successes and failures, break ups, etc. We were close enough that I had even told Rebecca about my own feelings for her. We had even become even closer friends after going to summer camp together, where we were each key in helping the other find their significant others. We both recently had gotten out of relationships, myself with Sarah and Rebecca with my friend Adam G, and of course we both knew all the details of these recent events. So when we started going out, we already knew almost everything about each other, which was a very different experience, at least for me.
Rebecca and I had both seen the movie When Harry Met Sally..., which among other things is famous for the theme that men and women can't be friends. We had often joked that we were the counter example to this rule, but of course secretly I knew that I had wanted to go out with her while we were friends, which actually is the exact reason why Harry first tells Sally that men and women cannot be friends near the beginning of the movie:
Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.So now that we were dating, the whole movie took on a new perspective. Here we were dating a friend, which of course is the final conclusion to the movie as well.
Sally: Why not?
Harry: What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry: No you don't.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: No you don't.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: You only think you do.
Sally: You say I'm having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry: No, what I'm saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: How do you know?
Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.
Sally: What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?
Harry: Doesn't matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally: Well, I guess we're not going to be friends then.
Harry: I guess not.
Sally: That's too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.
On October 13, 1990, the East Syracuse-Minoa high school hosted a small model United Nations, ESMMUN, about the scale of our UNYMUN. Rebecca and I were assigned together to represent USSR on the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee. We actually won best delegate, the first real individual award I won at an MUN. She really showed me how MUN really was supposed to work. Somehow with her I was much more willing to take things seriously. In November, we went on to win an honorable delegation award at the Hilton MUN.
With the fall of senior year came college application season. As part of this came class rank, which was given to all seniors one day during our 10th period English classes. While they were being handed out, I learned that the rank was out of 161 people. I hope to myself to be 16 or higher so that I could check the top 10% box that was on some of the applications. When I found I was in fact 16th, I was quite ecstatic. Peter E ended up being number one with an overall grade point average of 97.0%. Initially Allison H was number two and Rebecca was number three, but Rebecca found a mistake on hers and was able to get hers changed to be number two as well. I don't quite remember the rest of the top ten although it included people such as Dave Y, Scott S, Lydia C. I would guess that other top students like Samantha M would be up there too. Lydia L was right after me at number 17. Now that we had out class rank, and with it the transcripts for our applications, it was time to narrow our choices of schools and start sending in applications.
Over the years I had visited a number of potential schools including MIT, the University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University, and Johns Hopkins. Ever since my bad experience with the computer science theory class during the summer of 1989 I had shifted my focus from computer science to aerospace engineering. My first choices were MIT and Caltech, although my guidance counselor Mrs. Doughty didn't think I had much hope to get into them. My main hope was on the University of Michigan, with other alternatives being Ohio State University, Purdue, Georgia Tech, and finally SUNY Buffalo. My father wanted me to apply to Harvard, but I didn't want to do another essay.
I need to get three letters of recommendation for most of the applications. It was recommended to get them from teachers across a variety of disciplines, particularly in English which would not be the strongest part of my transcript. I asked my sophomore year English teacher Mrs. Spillane for a recommendation since she was the one English teacher in high school that I seemed to like my work. I nervously asked Mr. Monterosso for a recommendation, a little unsure after the junior year NAIMUN fiasco, but knowing that he wrote great recommendation letters. I don't remember who I asked for my final letter. It might have been Dr. Daley who I had known not only from Earth Science but also from Science Olympiad. On the other hand, I can imagine I might have asked Mr. Jerauld, who actually had given me a number of J-D awards. It might seem a little strange that I didn't ask any of the regular math teachers for letters, but I guess I figured my math team awards, SAT scores and achievement test scores spoke enough of my mathematical ability. Most of the math teachers found me a little annoying as well since I often made it clear how unnecessary they were for me to learn the material by working on the homework before the lecture part of class was even over.
The applications themselves weren't too difficult. I had already organized a lot of the extracurricular information for my NHS application the previous year. I extended that with some of my computer BBS activities, such as my Fidonet Ursa Minor Beta BBS, discussed on my machines page, as well as my co-sysop roles at The Mexican Connection Fidonet BBS, The Bassett Fidonet BBS, and Valhalla BBS. I was fortunate to be able to fill out two optional sections on the MIT application. First, I could list that my father was an alumni. Second, I could list mom's cousin Don Duffy as an employee of the Research Lab for Electronics. The essays were most of the work. MIT let you make your own question and answer it so I wrote about my solo flight experience, which I hoped would be entertaining to reviewers than the average essay they would be reading. I wrote some more traditional and forgettable essays for other schools.
Although most deadlines were in December, I applied in November to MIT Early Action as well as to the University of Michigan, which has a rolling admissions. Rebecca also applied to MIT Early Action and we both went on consecutive weekends for in person interviews with a MIT alumni in neighboring Fayetteville. Fortunately, Rebecca went first so I wasn't too worried about what it would be like. However, I probably looked a little silly in retrospect starting the interview by mentioning that I was friends with the girl that had come the week before.
To my surprise, I was accepted to MIT Early Action in December. Not surprising, Rebecca was also accepted. Having been accepted I didn't send in some of my applications such as to OSU, Purdue, Georgia Tech so that we could avoid the application fees. I also got into the University of Michigan and eventually Caltech and SUNY Buffalo, not receiving any rejection letters. Having been accepted to MIT made life relative to my peers very relaxing. While they were still stressing about finishing applications and agonizing over when they might hear a decision, I had been accepted to one of my top schools. For better or worse, it gave me a serious case of senioritis.
I'm not sure if my senioritis was to blame, but for some reason Mr. Romano tried to give me detention for something I did in health class. I had never had a detention in my life and was a little troubled by it. However, it turned out I was supposed to setup the auditorium for that nights school board meeting, so instead of going to detention, I was paid to work for the school. I never ended up serving that detention or any other in my life.
Even though I evaded my health class detention, it didn't keep me out of a bigger self-inflicted fiasco. As a preparation for the final exam, Mr. Romano gave us an assignment to look up definitions for several dozen terms. As part of the new post-dating friendship, Sarah had lent me her notes from when she had taken the class the previous year. Sure enough, it included her copy of all the definitions for the same study guide. Some of my classmates noticed I had this, and asked for copies. It hit on me that I should sell the copies for a few dollars each. I ended up selling quite a few copies and making a bit of spending money. Unfortunately, Sarah found out and was not too pleased. Not only had I not asked her, but I had profited selling her work. I don't think she would take the money I offered, which would have made me feel better. It put a strain on our then tenuous relationship, but Sarah forgave me and I didn't do any such boneheaded things in the future.
Soon after the holiday break, Rebecca and I broke up. Things had got pretty serious between us. Rebecca was talking about how great it was going to be next year when we were at MIT together. This was disconcerting for two reasons. First, I wasn't sure if I would rather go to Caltech over MIT for aerospace engineering. Caltech operates NASA's famed Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and going there seemed like it might be a great way to get involved in a JPL project. Second, I always considered high school relationships to be practice. Indeed this had factored into my not that distant breakup with Sarah. Now I was looking at the very realistic possibility of going to the same college as my high school girlfriend.
In the end, my concerns about the seriousness of our relationship did not precipitate the breakup. However, over the holiday break another close friend of mine was going through some issues of their own. When I found out about this after we were back in school, it shook me up significantly. Understandably, this person had only shared their issues with a few close friends, but Rebecca was not one of them. However, Rebecca picked up on the fact that something was bothering me. Unfortunately, it really bothered her that I wouldn't share what was going on. I know she was only pushing out of concern for her concern for me, but I just wanted to be left alone.
Eventually I was just too overwhelmed by everything going on and broke up with Rebecca. She didn't really accept this and kept looking for an explanation. Finally I just couldn't take it any more. We were both at Donna C's birthday party at her house, probably on the evening of January 12th. She came up to me outside and I yelled at her and pushed her away, knocking her into Kim K who happened to be with her. After that incident I just stopped talking to her cold turkey. Unfortunately, this made sharing a desk with her in physics awkward.
I am not particularly proud of how I handled my break up with Rebecca. I wish I could have figured out some way of coping better than just closing down and shutting her out. She had been one of my best and closest friends during most of high school and now I didn't talk to her at all. Unfortunately, other people also treated her badly after our breakup as well. For example, she might not get invited to social events that I was going to because people didn't want the awkwardness of having us both there. Some people weren't necessarily friends with Rebecca themselves, and had only invited her to things because she was my friend. A couple people that actively disliked Rebecca took seemed to take perverse joy in her troubles. In any case, her social circle became surprising small after our breakup. She ended up becoming good friends with Shelley B, someone she had never been particularly close with before. Rebecca and Shelley becoming close friends senior year provided a strange bookend to my own close but later fizzled relationship with Shelley freshmen year.
I skipped NAIMUN my senior year probably mostly because the events of the junior year trip. However, Scott, my partner in crime in those events, didn't let this stop him. In fact he had an awesome time, coming back having met a new girl Colleen from ES-M. He broke up with Kim and started dating Colleen. The one upside of this was that Kim started sitting in my seat next to Rebecca in physics, allowing me to sit behind the two of them with Scott, ending the month of awkwardly sitting with Rebecca even though we weren't speaking.
Another friend of mine, who will remain nameless, also started dating an ES-M girl named Monica. One on magical evening at an ES-M party, the two of them went off in to a bedroom for some private time. Meanwhile, out in the main room of the party, what would come on the radio but "Will you still love me tomorrow?", which we blared on their behalf. When the couple returned to join the rest of us, Monica's Harvard T-Shirt was on inside out. Oops!
During our February break we caught a Space-A flight from Philadelphia to Aviano Air Base in Italy. What made this flight unique was that it was a a government contract flight operated by a commercial airline, so instead of being in the back of a military cargo plane, we had stewardess and everything. On a previous trip to Aviano we had just done a quick jaunt over to see Venice, however this time we set out for Florence, Rome, Naples, and Pompeii.
On the road to Florence, we stopped in Bologna where we saw their very ownleaning towers. We climbed the taller, but less crooked, Asinelli tower, which is ringed inside with a sometimes scary wooden staircase.
In Florence we saw quite a few sights. The most memorable was the Duomo and its adjacent baptistry. We also went to the Palazzo Vecchio to see the outdoor sculptures including the reproduction of the David. We crossed the Arno River at the Ponte Vecchio, the famous bridge covered with shops. Across the river we went to the Palazzo Pitti and explored the Boboli Gardens behind the palace, which offered an excellent view of the Il Duomo and skyline of the city with all of the matching tile roofs.
In Rome, we didn't do all the usual tourist attractions. Although we drove by such sights as the Colosseum and the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, we didn't stop to see them, which always bugged me about the Colosseum, but at least one of my parents who had visited previously assured me I wasn't missing much. We did walk around and see Trevi Fountain the Spanish Steps, and the Pantheon. The Pantheon was definitely my favorite sight in all of Rome, probably because it was so overwhelming and yet I had never seen much about it before my trip. We also headed over to see Saint Peter's Square and the Basilica, although we didn't go on the tour to see such sights as the Sistine Chapel.
Naples was sort of a disappointment, a relatively modern city, not quite the overwhelming tourist destination after Florence and Rome. My main memories are having our rental car hit by someone on a scooter, picking up a Hard Rock Naples shirt, and seeing an amazingly beautiful redhead woman while waiting for my parents at some business.
The skyline of Naples is dominated by Mount Vesuvius. We drove up the mountain in the evening where there was a nice view of the city back across the Gulf of Naples. We were running a little low on gas and with few options for fuel on the side of the volcano we coasted down much of the way. The next day we visited the ruins of the city of Pompeii. This scope of the ruins was a little breathtaking. I had been amazed with the quantity and quality of what I had seen in Rome, but Pompeii is basically an entirely contiguous town that has been preserved. I know that is what we were all told in history class growing up, but walking though the place really makes it sink in. Some of the more memorable parts were the tile mosaics and frescoes, some of the larger structures such as the theater, and finally the plaster casts of the victims.
We returned to Philadelphia from Italy on the 27th of February 1991. After college Rachael stole my Hard Rock Naples shirt and my parents gave me some framed prints of Italy.
In March I started looking for a new my flight instructor. My old instructor had stopped teaching. He worked for Mohawk Airlines and I'm not sure if he had picked up new hours or just relocated. On the 5th of March, I went on a one time flight with a new instructor but that ended up being the only flight I ever did the the person, I don't even remember his name which is too hard to make out in my log book, although I have a vague recollection of what he looked like.
The senior year musical was Roger's and Hammerstien's Carouselwith shows on the evenings of March 15th and 16th and a matinee on March 17th. This year I was the lighting director. During rehearsal's there was a lot of tedious time in the lighting booth waiting for the director and actors work through things. We came up with the idea to run a phone line to the booth. We did this by splicing into an extension in an occasionally used floater office that was left unlocked at the bottom of the stairs to the lighting booth. Helping me with this project was a new freshmen on the lighting crew John H, little brother of Megan H, who we affectionately referred to as "Permafrosh". As an example of why we expected John to be a perpetual newbie freshmen, while I was still wiring the jack on the newly wired phone extension, John thought it would be a good idea to go to Mrs. Nye's office and dial the extension to test it out, giving me a nasty shock. In the end the phone line was not just used for voice calls, but I also brought in my laptop and used its modem to dial into BBSs while running the board, which was less noticeable than talking to people in the auditorium. On a slightly related note, John was able to imitate the screeching sounds of these old school modems, negotiating a carrier detect a the lower speeds such as 110 or 300 baud. After the show as over I had a number of unreimbursed expenses related to the show. Mrs. Nye offered me a Carousel sweatshirt in exchange which I took. My mom was not very happy not to be reimbursed cash.
Science Olympiad in late March, probably Saturday March 23rd. My main focus was on building a contraption to move a egg a certain number of meters without breaking it, using the energy of a brick falling one meter, translating potential energy into kinetic energy. Faramarz S was my partner but most of the hours working on the project were with my dad in our basement. The device was a hybrid of my Expert Builder LEGO and my father's old Erector sets, combine with whatever else we could find. We apparently took the brick thing too literally, other people used weights.
My contraption didn't earn me any honors that year, but I did get an award for physics and for rock and fossil identification. The second place in rock and fossil identification was pretty amazing considering most of my effort was a cram session going samples with Dr. Daley one afternoon in his classroom, although I'm sure I probably went over my old earth science regents review book as well. First place went to a guy from Marcelles whose name I actually recognized. It turned out this girl I liked from Marcelles, another friend of Donna's that I had met, had actually complained to me about this guy that liked her and was always bugging her. As chance would have it, I was going to the Bad Company and Damn Yankees concert with her the next Monday, March 25th, which I was sure to let him know. I was happy for him that he got first place to make up for the fact that I got the girl. In reality, I didn't really get the girl, but we did have fun at the concert at the War Memorial. I drove out to Marcelles to pick her up and take her home, kind of surprising to me now that my parents let me do that on a school night.
April was the time for prefrosh visits. The first was to MIT where I traveled by plane alone to Boston. I arrived to campus via the Kendall Square T stop where I found a campus map across the street. I located Baker House and plotted a course that took me across Killian Court. I was staying in Baker with Adam L, my friend from J-D, who lived in one of the '11 rooms. They had at one point squeezed in five people to his room, and although I think it was only four when I was there, I still slept on the couch. MIT didn't technically have a prefrosh weekend for all students back then, I was really just crashing the Campus Preview/Minority Spring Weekend for women and underrepresented minorities.
The weekend activities actually started on Friday, with me flying in on Thursday night. During the day on Friday I looked around campus including visiting some lectures and classes. I ran into Rebecca outside the small classrooms on the third floor of building 34 where we just ignored each other. I also killed some time playing Risk on Adam's Mac in his room. On Saturday, I mostly hung out in Baker with Adam and some of his friends. I did go to the big Baker party Saturday night which was the annual MBPP party, where MBPP stood alternatively for Massive Baker Party Plus or for Massive Band Party Plus.
My second prefrosh trip was to Caltech during the weekend of the 19th to 21st of April. This time my dad came with me. While he was waiting around for me for this first event to start, another prefrosh came up to talk to him. It was Jason H, my friend from Mount Harmony Elementary School. He had recognized my father and come up to talk to him. He also had gotten into MIT and Caltech. At the time I hadn't made up my mind, but Jason was already leaning towards Caltech. Among other things he was turned off my MIT's acceptance letter than came with a pretentious suitable for framing acceptance certificate. Mostly he learned toward Caltech because he was more interested in science than engineering.
My own mind was made up largely made up by the small student body and very small number of female students. The undergraduate class size was around 200, only slightly more than my high school class which was 161, which compared to MIT's roughly 1000 seemed tiny. Everyone on campus knew who the prefrosh were because they didn't recognize them. I wanted a student body big enough that there would always be new people to meet and new experiences to have, not some place where everyone would know everyone. The male/female ratio was also a major issues. Not only was I following Christian T's advice to prioritize my social life over my academics, but college was were I expected to look for a serious life long relationship. Having so few females didn't seem to help the odds of finding that special someone. Indeed, talking to the other prefrosh, none of the women seemed to be going to Caltech. Apparently Caltech had a policy of paying the travel expenses for prefrosh women, so they were all there for the free trip to So Cal. The one nice Caltech woman, a redhead, that I met was transferring to Harvard the next year.
My opinion of Caltech wasn't helped by the fact that my I barely interacted with my official host, basically just crashing in a scary dark room, which I believe was in Rickets. One positive highlight of a dinner I had in Fleming was learning that the commencement speaker that year was going to be then President George H. W. Bush. I also enjoyed hanging out playing cards with some people in Page, learning a little about bridge, playing Mao, as well as learning a card game called Bulimia. Bulimia, similar to the eating disorder, had two rounds. In the first round you binged to try to get as many cards as possible. In the second round you purged to try to get rid of all of your cards. All this fun card playing aside, my Caltech prefrosh weekend probably ended up making up my mind to go to MIT instead. It wasn't just the social factors, certainly MIT was more diverse in terms of available majors and frankly Caltech didn't have as good of an aerospace program for undergraduates. The academic factors had me leaning to MIT before hand, but the social factors pushed me over.
During the trip to Caltech my father and I also went to visit my friend Dave C who had moved from DeWitt to Tustin, CA. After meeting with Dave's parents at his house and Tustin, my dad took Dave and I down to Newport Beach. Dave and I hung out there for a few hours where I picked a souvenir Newport Beach T-shirt to take home.
I was happy to learn that Rebecca got into Harvard and decided to go there instead of MIT, avoiding 4 years of awkward moments. In the end with both of us going to school in Boston I couldn't help but run into her freshmen year, but that turned out to be a good thing. However, I wouldn't be the only one from J-D to go to MIT. Lydia C and Lydia L both accepted offers from MIT, ending up as roommates in Next House.
This year I managed a third place finish in the OCMTA math contest.
I took my driver's license test on April 15th in our Dodge Dynasty. I almost blew it when I asked at the first intersection which way to turn. The examiner asked me which way I thought I should turn, after which I realized it was a one way street. After recovering my composure after this stupid question, I managed to pass the exam, unlike Stephen S who had to take the exam four times before passing.
After getting my license I had a lot more freedom to get in trouble. When I went out driving I usually took the Dodge Dynasty, since my dad usually used our Ford Bronco to commute to Kaman Sciences in Utica, NY.
One early misadventure was getting pulled by the DeWitt police in Scott's driveway. I say pulled over I had stopped in his driveway before I ever noticed the the police car's flashing lights behind me. I played dumb about the no U-turn sign even though I had turned there instead of the next intersection specifically to beat Scott to his house. Feigned ignorance was bliss and I only received a warning.
Scott managed to accumulate an entourage of freshmen women his senior year. At various points this included women such as Beth L, Sue J, Angela F, Patti B, Amanda M, Andrea M, Lisa S. I ended up being friends with several of the entourage. One time I drove Lisa S and one of her friends, probably Andrea M, down to a party at Rob B house down on the east side of the Jamesville Reservoir. Rob B was a new student that year in that junior class that I knew from math team amongst other places. During this trip I demonstrated my "stealth car" technique, getting going a good speed down the rural road using the V6, putting the car in neutral, and then turning off both the lights and the ignition, coasting silently downhill in the night.
During the spring I started pursuing Bridget L. I say pursue because unlike previous crushes this one did not lead to a simple black and white rejection. Bridget said that her strict parents, mostly her father, did not allow her to date in high school. I learned from Sarah that was "afraid to go out with me" for fear of liking me back and then having to defy her parents. I did manage to talk her into coming over to my house to watch a movie, the forgettable Arachnophobia, but nothing came of it. I did have dinner over at her house one evening, not far from Dave Y's house, and I have to say her father was pretty intimidating to the prospective suitor.
I asked Bridget L to senior ball and she said yes. She had gone to the senior ball with Chris M the year before so I knew there was precedent that her parents would let her go. However between asking Bridget and and going to the dance, it had become increasingly obvious that Lisa S of the entourage was interested in me. We frequently walked home from school together, often just hanging out talking on the corner of Brockway Lane and Woodside Road where our paths diverged. Although it was clear we probably were becoming more than friends, I thought it would be awkward to officially start dating her before going to the ball with Bridget.
It turned out that was a good idea. Scott in the meanwhile started dating a freshmen from his entourage, Beth L, who happened to be Bridget L's younger sister. Beth was a little more rebellious than her older sister, not letting her parents stand in the way of her having a boyfriend. Unfortunately for Beth she would not be coming with us to the senior ball. Scott was already committed to going to the senior ball with our friend Donna. It caused quite a lot of drama when we showed up in the limo to pick up Bridget, since Beth was upstairs annoyed that her boyfriend was taking another girl to the dance.
Bridget wore a cream with peach dress with matching pearls to the ball, while I wore matching peach cummerbund and tie. In the end it was nice to go with Bridget as just friends. She didn't get jealous when I danced with my other friends such as Donna and Lisa W. If I had gone with Lisa S, I probably would have had more romantic ambitions in mind rather than just having a good time with all my friends at this last dance of our high school years.
So Bridget and I didn't end up dating. We had become close friends and corresponded through my college years, at first via snail mail when she was in high school and then via email when she was at Williams. During her time at Williams, even after I graduated from MIT, I got to hear about her courtship with her soulmate Corey. I later met Corey at Sarah N's wedding and he really was quite an amazing guy as she had described him.
Our school had an unofficial tradition of senior wills. Each person could write a will and "leave" things to friends, both graduating and underclassmen. Frequently people would reminisce about various things that had done throughout high school to remind their friends of all the good times they had had. Stephen S and I ended up running the senior wills although we were a little overwhelmed with the financing, production, and distribution. We did get them out though, although sadly I lost my copy and Stephen admits to getting rid of his during one of his moves. Fortunately Scott S found his and handed to off to Amy K to bring to me in California. I scanned it and posted images and a large PDF for everyone to reminisce.
Cover of the Jamesville-DeWitt High School Class of 1991 Senior Wills
From The 1990-91 Senior Will.
The end of the year J-D Awards were on 6 June 1991. In my final year I received a Computer Aided Drawing award from Mr. DeOrio. I also again received the Service award, although this time I imagine it was for my various auditorium work.
Thanks to Steven Nevid for scanning the The Ram Page June, 1991.
Our high school graduation was held downtown at Onondaga County Civic Center. We had actually held a rehearsal there before the main event. Peter E was our valedictorian and gave a speech. I believe the class president may have done the same. Scott had a graduation party which went to, although it was a bit overwhelmed with his family including aunts and uncles and cousins from the area. My parents gave me a nice gold and silver finished watch as a graduation present, so I finally replaced my old Swatch. I still have this watch although the band gave out sometime after college and needs to be repaired or replaced.
Lisa W, Scott S, Donna C, and myself.
Lisa S and I started dating the summer after my senior year. We would often go on walks around the neighborhood, mostly up by the high school, including up to the old quarry in the woods behind the school that Mr. Daley had taken our class to freshmen year. We started holding hands on these walks but I was dragging out the first kiss even more than usual. Finally one day it happened. We were sitting on one of the grassy fields down the hills north of the high school. I think Lisa resolved to sit there until I got it over with.
Lisa's weekend evening activities were curtailed by her babysitting duties for the Boheim family, the same family I had been paper boy for back when I lived on Michaels Drive. Apparently around the same time I had moved to Woodside Road, the Boheims had moved to Holliston Circle, a couple of doors down from Lisa. Apparently it was a pretty rocky time for the Boheims, as described in this Sports Illustrated article.
I often went over to Lisa's house since it was so close to mine. Her mother was very friendly and welcoming. Her father was very nice as well but I felt a little more intimidated by him, as I hope I am to my daughter's boyfriends someday. He had gone to MIT and I was going there so when we talked we usually talked about that or something tangentially related, such as his Bose speakers, which of course come from an MIT spinoff company. He was a VP at GE and although I found that impressive, I also didn't know what someone like that did and never asked him about it. I think I met her older brother on one occasion although he didn't live at home anymore, they certainly did talk about him.
Lisa was the first girl I dated since I got my driver's license. My mom was pretty generous about letting me borrow the Dynasty and we went to many of the exciting local attractions that the area had to offer. One of the places was frequented was the duck pond and soft serve ice cream stand down in Manlius. We also went down to the end of Andrews Drive by Butternut Creek and the AM radio station towers. Most of the time we just drove to parties, such as the ones still frequently held at Adam G's house.
Lisa and I broke up before I went to college. In fact, she was going away to spend the end of the summer with family in South Dakota, so we broke up before she left. I was sad about it, hoping to delay it at least until just before I went away, but it did leave me a single man for the end of my last summer at home.
Later when I was away at college, Lisa ended up dating Adam G. Looking back, Adam and I shared two girlfriends and a paper route, fortunately at different times. We went to summer camp, high school, and college together. He even went with Sarah to her senior ball. Somehow we managed to stay friends through all of this!
My main project for the summer was to get my private pilot certificate. I had a new instructor, Clem Torino, that summer. Our first lesson together was on 24 June and he had to get me signed off all of my solo endorsements from Dave Conklin had expired.
I had a birthday party for my 18th birthday on July 20th, 1991. It was started out outside at my house, with lunch served off the grill on picnic tables to the left of the house. I think we had some activities going on inside later in the afternoon, possible watching a movie or just sitting around listening to music. This made me miss the apparently big scene of Sarah N breaking up with her boyfriend Tyler B who she had been dating the past year.
There were a number of other get togethers with the nostalgic seniors that summer. Jennifer T had a pool party at her house off Jamesville Road, near my old Michaels Drive house. There was a picnic at a park somewhere with a large number of people. A lot of people were doing some last chance yearbook signing and exchanging of senior portraits. I exchanged portraits with Amy K who, as I mentioned above, apologized in my yearbook for crushing my life, although she didn't remember it. There were a number of parties down at Donna C's house on Gordon Cooper Drive in Jamesville. Donna and Scott had become friends with Yvonne W and Jessica S and we saw them a lot in the summer at at the regular parties at Donna's and Adam G's.
I always seemed to tun into trouble driving back from Donna's late at night on Apulia Road. One time a small animal ran out in front of me and I slammed on the breaks, only to have it get caught under my front tire as the ABS breaks pulsed me to a stop. Another time on the same stretch I was driving Scott's minivan home with him in the passenger seat and Stephen S in the back. Scott started fooling around and opening the door and Stephen used Scott's seat belt to restrain him to make sure him didn't fall out.
Scott had a big party one night when his parents were out of town. I don't think his sister was there either, so perhaps they were taking her on a college tour or something. I don't think the party was meant to get that large, but it certainly was pretty loud when his parents called. I don't know how it happened that someone answered the phone. I think that people had been answering because people had been calling to find out about the party and to ask directions. Somehow Scott was not around at the time, I forget if he was just in the bathroom or had gone out to get some party supplies. In any case, someone handed me the phone to deal with the situation. I think I successfully managed to convince them that he was just in the bathroom and that there were just a few of us over for the evening.
Darien Lake trip http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darien_Lake two cars worth of people (Sarah, ...) really bad thunderstorms on the way back hydroplaning scary but we made it back!
In August I made my big push to finish my private pilot certificate. On the 7th of August I made my third short cross country solo flight from Syracuse to Cortland to Binghamton and back to Syracuse. On the 12th of August I made my first long cross country solo flight from Syracuse to Buffalo to Binghamton and back to Syracuse. During the flight from Syracuse to Buffalo I remember flying directly over Rochester airport. Buffalo was probably one of the bigger airports I had flown into and had to taxi quite a distance to get gassed up. The flight from Buffalo to Binghamton was quite scenic and unlike the other legs did not parallel any major expressways so I had to follow along closely on the map and make more frequent use of radio navigation to make sure I wasn't getting lost.
On the 19th of August, my instructor, Clem Torino, signed me off to take my private pilot flight test. The exam was scheduled for the 22nd. Clem was unhappy with who I drew as examiner, apparently he was known to be tougher that the other options. Indeed, although my check ride was uneventful, I was failed because examiner said I didn't rotate for takeoff at the planes Vr rotation speed. I argued that I had been flying the Traumahawk long enough to know it was better to use a higher speed, but the examiner was not convinced.
My instructor gave me another .8 hours of instruction that night and managed to reschedule another test for the next day. On the 23rd the examiner did not make me redo all of the previous days work. He just wanted to see me take off at the correct rotation speed. I attempted to do it by the book, only to have the a true Traumahawk experience. as soon as the plane came out of ground effect, it stalled, sliding to the left. The tail actually came down and hit the runway. Note that this plane is not a tail dragger and has a nose gear. In any case, I pushed the nose down, and got the plane in the air. The examiner passed me, acknowledging that perhaps I did know the limits of the plane better than he did.
So my private pilot certificate was issued on 23 August 1991 with single engine land rating. I had accumulated just under 75 hours of flight time. The FAA minimum was 40 hours, although I made it in within the average bounds of 60-80 hours, which is pretty good given the some what on again, off again pattern of my training. I took my first flight with passengers the next day with two landings at Syracuse, taking my father and my sister each for a ride, for a total of 1.4 hours of flight time. On the 28th I received a Medical Certificate 2nd Class, as my old 3rd class certificate had been tied to my student pilot certificate.
I went to the New York State Fair with Donna's friend from Marcelles, the same one that I had gone to the Damn Yankees concert with. The fair was on from August 22nd through September 2nd that year but I forget exactly what day we went. She brought some friends of hers along, include a cheerleader named Nadine. Donna's friend bailed early, but I ended up spending the day with Nadine. Scott didn't believe I spent the day hanging out with a cheerleader.
New York State Fair 1991
Just before going to MIT, I shared goodbye kiss with Sarah N on the porch swing outside Adam G's house at the one last summer party. It was an emotional separation for both of us but we parted as friends. She game me some Gumby stationary to write her with. I may have used it once or twice, but I usually preferred to call her on phone on weekend afternoons. But I kept the paper including some letters I never sent, including an amusing one where I talk about a girl I met at MIT named Jennifer.
On Thursday, August 29, 1991 I flew to Boston for MIT for freshmen rush and orientation (R/O).
My family usually used to get pizza once a week, most on Friday nights. When we lived on Michaels Drive we used to go to a local place called Athens Pizza that featured square pizzas and was located on Jamesville Road behind the strip mall with the hobby shop and Carvel. When we moved to Woodside Road we used the recently introduced Domino's delivery a few times, but switched to Little Caesars for the Pizza! Pizza! when the opened, although It was a bit of a hike down to the Little Caesars by Liquor Square.
I used to like to go to the Ponderosa Steakhouse next to the IHOP at the corner of Erie Boulevard and East Genesee Street because for its big salad bar more than the steaks. For steaks we starting going to Mr. Steak in Fayetteville, especially for celebrating birthdays since the special person got a free meal. Occasionally we would head to Coleman's Irish Pub in the historically Irish Syracuse neighborhood of Tipperary Hill, which is known for its upside down traffic light with the green on top.
Our real favorite after moving to Woodside Road was the Ground Round at the end of Maple Drive where it hit Genesee Street. It was so convenient and likable that we often went there weekly, especially since Rachael liked the popcorn, kids meals, and the weekly Bingo the Clown, who was played by among others Dave H and Scott S! Before his starring role as Bingo, Scott had worked as a bus boy at the restaurant until that did damage to one of the discs in his back. Scott also had similar costume experience where he once played Clifford the Big Red Dog at the Waldenbooks where he worked at Shoppingtown.
Scott S as Clifford the Big Red Dog with Dave Y
At some point in high school, friends started getting together just to get out to eat. Sometimes it was simply going to the mall to get pizza at Pavones. Or going to Friendly's for ice cream. However when we started going for actual meals, we went to places such as Carmellas on Ceil Drive near Bridge Street and Bennigans on Erie Boulevard. A lot of the cool kids went to The Eggplant, which was open late in the strip mall with the TCBY. My crowd never really went there, but I did go to their new location by the old Chimney's Video store on Bridge Street.
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