*Members: If you have any announcements that you would like to post on the ROBS web site, please contact Nick Siciliano at News2@robsny.org. Announcements will be posted each month on this page.
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you can view them at the Archives page of this web site. You can also read more news in our Newsletters. In addition, if you have
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One focus of the Brentwood Historical Society is the preservation and restoration of the original octagonal, one room school house which was built in 1857 and remained in use until 1907. The Modern Times octagonal schoolhouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Ellen Edelstein, president of the Brentwood Historical Society, just got word that Sen. Boyle got them a $50,000 grant to start stabilizing the building. Now they need to raise enough money to match the funds and keep going.
Please help them save this iconic piece of Brentwood history. You can donate through its crowdfunding site or you can mail a donation to the Brentwood Historical Society, 34 Second Ave., Brentwood, NY 11717. Thank you!
EILEEN KELLY MEMORIAL POSTED 1/5/16
South Middle School will host a memorial for Ms. Eileen Kelly on Wednesday, January 27th at 7pm in the South Middle School auditorium. More details will follow
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Why did we do it? What was our purpose in taking on such an open ended “History Project”; for which we evolved a script of questions and got answers from over 150 subjects for two decades?
We couldn’t answer the question in 1994 when people would ask “What are you going to do with the interviews?” All we could say was that for educational purposes we had to document our record now or lose the chance to preserve so many poignant accounts, funny stories and touching tales told by exemplary educators. We knew these dedicated public servants might shortly, for reasons yet unknown, be leaving Brentwood for good.
So, we decided to let time sort out the details. We began scheduling appointments. We asked questions and listened saving for generations the essence of what it meant to have been an educator or employed, in this large public school system during the second half of the 20th century. Brentwood remains an exemplar to all others; a diverse microcosm of America reflecting 124 districts on Long Island while simultaneously resembling thousands across the U.S. We’ve accomplished something here to be proud of. Whether we were interviewed or not, ours is a claim of service that few professionals in the State of New York or elsewhere have positioned themselves to share in the way we have. INITIALLY the practice of sitting with a subject for an hour and giving them a hundred percent focused attention seemed somewhat daunting to a number of friends and colleagues. So much so in fact that many declined our repeated invitations to speak with us as they left careers or retired from full employment. Despite all assurances that we were not about investigative journalism or invading privacy, they deferred. Now, twenty years after we began, some are saying they may be ready. “Better late than never” we say. However, to all among you who were willing to share not only your classroom experiences and personal stories, but precious memories from your lives along with your fondest hopes for the future, we say “Thanks”. Thanks for allowing us to continue the process by paying it forward as we share these interviews with the Brentwood community and countless professionals and researchers near and far. Through an acceptance of ROBS offer of collaboration with Archivist Dr. Geri Solomon and The Long Island Studies Institute at Hofstra University our History Project lives on in academia as well as in the collection of the Brentwood Public Library, thanks to Director, Thomas A. Tarantowicz.
Enjoy unlimited visits to www.robsny.org where you can watch and listen to segments from featured Interviews in the ROBS History Project Section on our Announcements Page each month. Return here to listen and learn again and again.
THIS MONTH'S FEATURED HISTORY PROJECT
Edith Filosa - Nurse Edith Mildred Kretchman Filosa was born in Ozone Park, Queens in 1928. Her family moved with her to Lake Ronkonkoma on Long Island in 1937, where she attended school in a four room structure. They had summered there as a family for years prior to their move arriving by means of the Vanderbilt Parkway which ended at the Lake. Edie’s maternal German American family name was Haase. She had an extensive family history dating on Long Island back to1863 in the Lutheran Cemetery.
She was a consummate daddy’s girl. Her father had been orphaned at an early age and for most of his life worked long 16 to 20 hours a day until President Roosevelt introduced a 48 hr work week during his New Deal. Her father was remembered by his children as pushing education having been denied a formal education himself. He wasn’t a disciplinarian but a talker and astute problem solver who taught by example. Edie’s maternal grandmother had been a practical nurse and she was most likely the person who most influenced the choice of Edie’s career. Theirs had been a close family with a father who was deeply involved with his children. Edie had two brothers; Roy who was older by 12 years and served in the Merchant Marines until he retired in ’85 or ’86 and had died twelve years prior to her interview which took place on July 28, 1998. She retired from Brentwood in 1989 four years after her husband Al had retired. She did so without a NY State incentive almost ten years prior to her interview. Her decision made to go, she told Gary Mintz at the time she didn’t sleep all the following night. At that point she and Al had been married since he was 49. Their son Sandy became a Special Ed. Teacher in Brentwood. Edie’s other brother (younger by 5 years) was a Navy pilot assigned to the FAA in Florida. From both brothers she learned to be outgoing and active.
During our interview she spoke of living with grandparents, her childhood friends, her room, chores, her first paying job, and memories of being a spotter during WWII. She remembered VJ Day, the beginning of the war in 1941 and hearing about Pearl Harbor.
She was always a morning person and once received ‘Baby Wet Doll’ as a gift. She remembered the aroma of Lilly’s of the Valley, new books, crayons and the first day of school. She attended Rapid Advance classes in PS 108, PS 142 in South Jamaica in the 8th Grade and Sayville High School from which she remembers Mr. Prucci her Health teacher, participating in track, developing the life-long practice of reading obituaries, Mr. Wink, Mr. Rogers, Dr Ingersoll, her favorite period LUNCH and her favorite classes. Science and Physics. Even before she graduated she’d been a girl scout, a reporter – which she expected to become later – and was a club joiner. She spoke of her 8th grade teacher, Walter Dunham, and having practiced the Sr. Kenny’s method of treatment for polio while volunteering with patients during that epidemic.
She worked in Brooklyn Hospital, Kings Park, as part of a three year program and passed the State Boars after three years in 1949, emerging as an RN, living in Elmont working in local hospitals and at St John’s as a Public Health Nurse.
It was about that time she met Tom Hastings who with Fred Weaver, offered her a job teaching in Ross High School, Brentwood, in 1958. She spoke of Fran Cairns and remembered her teas. While at Ross, she met and worked with Janet Gorman with whom she organized and sponsored the Future Nurses of America (FNA) without pay.
One of her first emergencies as a nurse happened the day she heard screaming in the hall only to discover a student running toward her and yelling at the top of his lungs, “I cut them off”,…”I cut them off”, followed soon after by Dave George the Wood Shop teacher who had the boy’s fingers in a towel and was shouting, ”I’ve got them….”I’ve got them.” Then there were the pregnancies, issues surrounding 1st amendment rights, controversies related to nurses uniforms, parenting skills, bereavement and dieting, While Edie taught Health, she also worked with kids as well as the faculty. She was active in the Air National Guard and that’s how she met Frank Spenser who had been a reservist with the Guard. Among her main student contacts she remembers Ray Perez, and Vinnie Carnevalle,
Her early association with The Brentwood Teachers Association came while Charlie Grey was still it’s President. She took over Good and Welfare from 1960 -1961 and when Shirley Hodges was looking for volunteers to become building delegates for the BTA, Edie stepped up again. She worked with Bob Wellman, Les Black, Gary Mintz, Fred Weaver, Dennis Hickey, Stan Yankowski, Maurie Burns, Max Spearer, Jack Zuckerman and was present the day Bobby Kennedy visited Brentwood High School landing in a helicopter on the football field with the Governor of NY State and H Lee Dennison, Suffolk County Executive.
Edie and Al began their new life by traveling everywhere by military aircraft, to which her military career entitled her. They had been to Spain in Sept of that year. She was proud of the influence she had through her Nursing, was eventually assigned to the Sonderling Building where she enjoyed an air conditioned office. She left Brentwood with 35 years credit and the memory of having earned less than $2,000 her first year. She remembered Fifth Avenue when it was only two lanes and Entenmann’s wasn’t there. She remembered the “boom years” when the district was bursting at the seams with 23,000 students. She was witness to the filming of the movie “Challenge of Change’, in which Martin Sheen had an early role, the publication of “Coming of Age in America” by Edgar Z. Friedenberg and his chapter about Brentwood titled, “The Cradle of Liberty”, and Manny Vega’s production of “Brentwood is Many Kids.”
Today she loves reading mysteries and watching her favorite movie, “Gone with the Wind” something she was forbidden to do as a student by her father, who considered it far too racy for a young girl to see.
Times have changed from the introduction of Day Care at the High School to courses in suicide prevention for which she got push-back to the considerable anti teacher rhetoric of today’s headlines and the need for tax relief for seniors due to the manner in which education is unfairly funded by New York State.
You can also view any of these past interviews by visiting History Project Interview Archives :
Baker Bazata, Eleanor
Baker Bernhardt, Ruth
Laub, Dr. Herb
Sustrin, Letty and Sheila
Walker Lloyd, Shirley
The Town Crier" was set up a number of years ago so that the retirees of the Brentwood School District could have an email center to stay in touch. Since I began to send out all sorts of information, retirees from all over the country have sent me their email addresses. Some have asked, "Do you have any idea where so and so is?" Others have sent proud news of their accomplishments, their family news, photos,etc. and sadly, we often get bad news. Many retirees whom I have never met write me to thank me for keeping this connection going, as everyone remembers the Brentwood years with warm feelings.