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Posts Tagged ‘springdale’

At this juncture, I have forgotten most of what took place during my two years in middle school.

And what I have not forgotten, I am hard at work on, using all the tools at my disposal. (Chiefly, rye whiskey.)

Elementary school is a fond memory, and high school’s good too. But those two years where the early stirrings of puberty collided with a primitive definition of social cool  … mmmmm, let’s not get into those.

I skipped my 20-year high school reunion and fully expect to skip the rest, because … well, what’s supposed to appeal to me about seeing people who remember me when I was 13?

I wish them all the success in the world, but what they haven’t forgotten, I don’t care to know.

XXXX

Me (at center, with Fender Precision, big ears and high-water jeans), early 1987, at Bay Trail Middle School. The kid at right played drums in my high school garage band, and is one of maybe three classmates with whom I still correspond.

What has all this angst to do with my grandfather?

Not a huge amount, really. But this week’s calendar entry captures a rare thing — a community institution that’s still extant, in the same place it was when my grandpa mentioned it. I always like to spotlight those when I can find them.

And that institution just happens to be a middle school.

April 17-19, 1962.

April 17-19, 1962. The Mets still haven’t won a game yet.

Dolan Junior High School, opened in 1948, would have been less than 10 years old when my dad attended in the late 1950s. My aunt would have been going to school there in April 1962, when the above calendar entry was made.

I didn’t ask either of them for their memories of middle school; I didn’t want to stir up that muck any more than I want someone to stir up mine. I know my dad was active in whatever passed for Dolan’s music program, anyway.

I don’t imagine my grandpa spent more than a few hours inside Dolan Junior High. I know my dad and aunt were the sorts to take care of business, so I’m sure my grandpa never had to go there for disciplinary reasons.

I know he stopped by for special occasions, with his camera in hand:

Dolan Junior High, 1958.

Dolan Junior High, 1958.

The Dolan Junior High Band prepares to march. Presumably my dad is somewhere in this pic. 1958 again.

The Dolan Junior High Band prepares to march. Presumably my dad is somewhere in this pic. 1958 again.

1958 again. I don't know much about this, except that my dad is at far right in the white shoes, a la Billy Johnson. Two drummers and two bass players must have made for some serious free-form exploratory jamming ... or so I can dream.

1958 again. Concert at Dolan. I don’t know much about this, except that my dad is at far right in the white shoes, a la Billy Johnson. Two drummers and two bass players must have made for some serious free-form exploratory jamming … or so I can dream.

Today, the school is known as Dolan Middle School. It boasts of being “nestled in a hard-working residential area of Stamford.” (Not sure what that’s code for; I’ll leave the significance of that to a more experienced Stamford-watcher.)

The website also says that Dolan has “evolved over the years” from a traditional junior high to “its more recent middle school curriculum model.” Not really sure what that means either … but I suppose it’s only natural to expect the school to do business in a different way than it did in the ’50s and early ’60s.

(The school also appeared as a setting for the 2007 movie Reservation Road, in case anybody out there wants to see what it looks like. I missed that one, myself, but I don’t see too many films, anyway. Cove Island, which has previously appeared in this narrative, also shows up in the movie.)

The current Google Earth view of Dolan.

The current Google Earth view of Dolan.

I dunno whether they still host jazz jams at Dolan like the one pictured above. But, the school is putting on an adaptation of “Legally Blonde” as its annual musical, so we know there’s still music in the halls.

I can only imagine how many middle-school moments this old school has seen — how many I-made-the-team-and-you-didn’ts, or how many that-outfit-was-cool-last-years, or how many I-changed-my-mind-and-want-to-go-to-the-dance-with-Joeys.

If Dolan Middle School could write a book, it would either be fascinating, or hellishly boring in a same-crap-different-decade kind of way.

No matter. It’s kinda cool that it’s still there in some form, a physical tie to the Stamford my grandfather knew, and the Stamford my dad and aunt grew up in.

The faces (and the clothes, and the hairdos, and the names scrawled on the folders) may change. But the building is similar, and so is the experience — no longer a child, not yet an adult.

I imagine the same is true at Bay Trail Middle School. It’s expanded since the mid-’80s to include sixth grade, all the better to suck additional kids into its vortex of social discomfort.

Good luck to the Bay Trailers, and also to the Dolanites. Ride it out: Things will get better with time.

If they don’t, well, there’s always rye whiskey.

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One of my most loyal readers, Maryanne, said last week she enjoyed seeing pictures of the Springdale Methodist Church before and after it partially burned in 1967.

That got me thinking:

– I’ve got a whole lot of my grandfather’s old pictures, many of which capture sights around the Springdale neighborhood of Stamford.

– My grandfather much enjoyed photography, and would probably have liked the idea that people around the world could see his pictures.

– Nobody’s really going to be disappointed not to read 800 more of my words.

So this week I’m going to post a bunch of my grandfather’s photos from the 1950s through the ’80s. The photo buffs and local-history fans will dig it; others might enjoy a look back in time, not to mention more glimpses of my grandfather’s artistic vision.

Click to see the pix larger, if you’re interested:

1957 or '58. Maybe the Stamfordites in the crowd know where this was taken; I don't.

1957 or ’58. Maybe the Stamfordites in the crowd know where this was taken; I don’t.

Same year, probably same parade; the Dolan Junior High Band. My dad is visible in this pic but I am more intrigued by the young lady in the foreground, who has the gently alarmed look of a double agent who has been discovered.

Same year, probably same parade; this is the Dolan Junior High Band. My dad is visible in this pic but I am more intrigued by the detached (perhaps hostile) young lady in the foreground whose lipstick adds a flash of colour to the proceedings. I imagine her playing Julia in a movie treatment of “1984.”

Circa 1958. My aunt Elaine, newly conscripted into the Eisenhower Youth, stands ready (sits ready?) to ward off attacking Commies.

Circa 1958. My aunt Elaine, newly conscripted into the Eisenhower Youth, stands ready (sits ready?) to ward off attacking Commies.

Model trains, late 1950s. How much to ride on the All-American Turnpike?

Model trains, late 1950s. How much to ride on the All-American Turnpike?

Speaking of trains, this is somewhere in Stamford, 1959.

Speaking of trains, this is somewhere in Stamford, 1959. I think it looked uglier than it really was.

Crowd, Darien High vs Stamford High football game, 1958.

Crowd, Darien High vs Stamford High football game, 1958.

Stamford High football, this time 1959. Not sure who they're playing, but it appears to be an extremely confusing visual matchup of orange vs. red.

Stamford High football, this time 1959. Not sure who they’re playing, but it appears to be an extremely confusing visual matchup of orange vs. red.

Springdale Methodist confirmation class with Pansy, the neighbors' dog.

Springdale Methodist confirmation class with Pansy, the neighbors’ dog.

My grandma at some rest stop somewhere, 1959. I love this pic but couldn't tell you why.

My grandma at some rest stop, 1959. I love this pic but couldn’t tell you why.

Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, Connecticut, 1959.

Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, Connecticut, 1959.

Merritt Parkway, somewhere in Connecticut, 1959.

Merritt Parkway, somewhere in Connecticut, 1959.

Talmadge Hill commuter rail station, New Haven, c. 1960.

Talmadge Hill commuter rail station, New Haven, c. 1960.

Dancing at a Methodist church youth retreat, 1960. Everyone's hands appear to be where Jesus can see them.

Dancing at a Methodist church youth retreat, 1960. Everyone’s hands appear to be where Jesus can see them.

More from the Methodist church retreat. This, believe it or not, is one of the reverends.

More from the Methodist church retreat. This is one of the reverends, believe it or not. Google suggests he went south, joined the Freedom Riders and got arrested a year or two later. Wonder if Little Rock’s finest let him keep his cigarettes?

Cove Island, Stamford, 1960. In the days before pollution controls, lots of big hairy stuff used to just float around in the air.

Cove Island, Stamford, 1960. In the days before pollution controls, lots of big hairy stuff used to just float around in the air.

Springdale train station, probably fall 1960, with a cameo by the New York, New Haven & Hartford.

Springdale train station, probably fall 1960, with a cameo by the New York, New Haven & Hartford. I can’t barely remember the last time I went out into a public place and saw multiple men wearing hats.

Easter sunrise service, somewhere in Stamford, 1960.

Easter sunrise service, somewhere in Stamford, 1960.

This appears to be the sorriest-looking strawberry festival ever held, Springdale, 1963. Several of the people seem to be looking at the camera with outright hostility.

This appears to be the sorriest-looking strawberry festival ever held, Springdale, 1963. Several of the people seem to be looking at the camera with outright hostility.

The same strawberry festival, this time with the Blumenau family Ford in the foreground, shining as if it had just rolled out of a magazine ad.

The same strawberry festival, this time with the Blumenau family Ford in the foreground, gleaming as if it had just rolled out of a magazine ad.

Backyard picnic, Hope Street, 1964. Check out my grandpa, digging into what appears to be a chicken leg, with (as the kids on the Internet say) absolutely zero f--ks given.

Backyard picnic, Hope Street, 1964. Check out my grandpa, digging blithely into what appears to be a chicken leg.

Trip to the beach, summer 1964. That's a lot of Detroit metal right there.

Trip to the beach, summer 1964. That’s a lot of kandy-kolored Detroit metal right there (and two representatives from Wolfsburg).

World's Fair, Queens, 1964.

World’s Fair, Queens, 1964.

My grandma and aunt plot their next course, World's Fair, 1964.

My grandma and aunt plot their next course, World’s Fair, 1964.

One of my great-grandma's piano recitals, 1966. Anyone spot themselves?

One of my great-grandma’s piano recitals, 1966. Anyone spot themselves?

My great-grandma, 80 years old, 1967.

My great-grandma, 80 years old, 1967.

1968.

1968.

No beer.

No beer.

A look out onto a surprisingly placid Hope Street, circa 1970-72. Dunno whether the fruit basket was coming or going.

A look out onto a surprisingly placid Hope Street, circa 1970-72. Dunno whether the fruit basket was coming or going.

The three Mrs. Blumenaus, Penfield, N.Y., 1975.

The three Mrs. Blumenaus, Penfield, N.Y., 1975.

My brother, not sure he likes either slides or cameras; Stamford, 1975.

My brother, not sure he likes either slides or cameras. Stamford, 1975.

As verdant a portrait of suburbia as has ever been taken. The family is treated to a swim in the neighbors' pool, summer '75. The garage of 1107 Hope Street is in the background, as is my family's '73 Plymouth Satellite. I am the little kid stood up on the stool, clutching the beach ball.

As verdant a portrait of suburbia as has ever been taken. The family is treated to a swim in the neighbors’ pool, summer 1975. The garage of 1107 Hope Street is in the background, as is my family’s ’73 Plymouth Satellite. I am the little kid stood up on the stool, clutching the beach ball.

In the shadows of 1107 Hope Street, 1983, a year before my grandparents sold the place.

In the shadows of 1107 Hope Street, 1983, a year before my grandparents sold the place. The front door with the glass butterfly leads out onto the porch facing an increasingly busy Hope Street. The house lives on in the shadows of memory; maybe this is a good place to leave off.

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I wonder what woke my grandfather up at 2 a.m. on January 16, 1967. The sirens, perhaps? The smell of smoke? The hum of fire engines?

I suppose it’s possible he slept through to the morning and got the news later.

But I suspect he couldn’t help but wake up as part of the church across the street from his home burned.

January 16, 1967.

January 16, 1967.

As I’ve previously lamented, the Stamford Advocate has no publicly accessible online archives, so I don’t know what caused the fire at the Springdale Methodist Church, now known as the United Methodist Church of Springdale.

(An Associated Press article that ran the day after the fire didn’t give a cause, but said it started in the cellar. The article estimated the damage at $40,000, which is about $282,800 in 2014 dollars, if online inflation calculators are to be trusted.)

The church’s website says the fire destroyed the original section of the church, dating to 1876 — an area including the original sanctuary, the fellowship hall, kitchen, choir room and secretary’s office.

A substantial portion of the church was saved, including the more recently built sanctuary and social hall. The morning after the blaze, a city fire official suggested the more recent wing of the church might be available for the following Sunday’s services, and perhaps it was. (January 16 was a Monday, so they would have had a whole week to get work done.)

My grandpa does not seem to have taken pictures of the blaze as it happened.

Maybe he wasn’t comfortable with his ability to take pictures in such unusual lighting conditions. Maybe he wanted to stay out of the way. Maybe he did take pictures, but threw them out because they didn’t come out to his satisfaction.

(Or, again, maybe he slept through the whole thing.)

He was there to capture the razing and clearing of the fire-damaged parts of the church. The weather looks to have been temperate; you can see the gents from the wrecking company in what appear to be windbreakers. Perhaps those conditions made the fire easier to fight and contain.

 

Church Razing 4

Church Razing 2

Just for comparison’s sake, here are a couple of shots of the church in the years before the fire:

Christmas 1958 or 1959. The portion of the church to the left of the front door was destroyed in the fire.

Christmas 1958 or 1959. The portion of the church to the left of the front door was destroyed in the fire.

1960. I believe the people pictured were leaving on some sort of retreat.

1960. I believe the people pictured were leaving on some sort of retreat.

A church bazaar in 1959 ...

A church bazaar in 1959 …

... and another in 1960.

… and another in 1960. Nice hat on that kid in the foreground.

The church added a new wing the year after the fire, and is still using it.

I think the new section of the church is visible behind my brother and I in the next picture, which was taken in 1975.

My memory, which is not what it used to be, says my grandparents took us across the street to play on a small playground next to the church. Of course the camera went with us.

The architect hired to do the job clearly did not make it a priority to match the look of the existing building. But, however drab or stark it might be, concrete has one wonderful attribute: It doesn’t burn.

1975

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