*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.
If you miss any previous month's announcements,
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
your own web site, and would like to share it with other members, let us know and we can include the link on the ROBS site.
BOOK READING/SIGNING BY LETTY SUSTRIN AT ROBS MARCH MEETING POSTED 3/4/16 Photo courtesy: Ronda Brooks
At today's March 4th ROBS general membership meeting, Letty Sustrin did a Book Reading/Signing of the latest book, The Teacher Who Would Not Retire Loses Her Ballet Slippers, that she and her late sister, Sheila coauthored. As she read from the book, the audience participated by repeating one of the reoccurring phrases in the book. There was a drawing for a copy of the book, and each attendee received a "Mrs. Belle Souvenir." All books were discounted to $13.00 for ROBS members. It was a most enjoyable meeting.
On Saturday, March 12, Letty will be a guest speaker at the Barnes and Noble Bookfair sponsored by Girl Scouts of Suffolk County Troop 988. She will be doing a reading and signing of her latest book. You can view and download the flier here with event details.
Sheila and Letty retired from the Brentwood School District in 1998, and began their new career as authors. Please read their full biography here. You can also view their ROBS History Project interview that appeared on the robsny.org website in November 2015.
TAKE A TRIP TO MILAN POSTED 3/22/16
Charleen Keeley, who retired from Twin Pines in 2003, is planning a trip to Milan in September 2016. She has worked as a travel agent for over 25 years, and a number of current and former ROBS members have gone on her trips.
View the flier below for more details.
SAD SHARING POSTED 3/25/15
Saturday morning, March 19, Claudia DeBellis's, son Darryl, Jeff's youngest, died of heart failure. He had apparently just collapsed and died just then. At this time, that is all we know. 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
Vincent Carnevale - Social Studies Interview Bio: Sep 30, 2009 Retired July 30, 2000
As the ninth child of Italian born American immigrant parents, Vincent James Carnevale came into the world a twinless twin prematurely in the family home at 4 lbs.3 oz. on VJ Day 1945, at 1268 Prospect Place, Bedford Stuyvescent, in the Crow Hill Section of Brooklyn, NY. His sister died at birth thus making of him an instant and accepting member of that large collection of twinless twins that included Elvis Presley and Heather O'Rourke among many other notable celebrities. According to researchers the effects of such a sibling loss are felt long term, permanently effecting the psyche and contributing, some say to feelings of survivors guilt and responsibility for the event causing the desire to henceforth provide nourishing concern and caring for people in their immediate lives. It may even have been a contributing factor for Vinnie’ s choice to teach and his embrace of public education. Named after Vigencina, a 98 year old aunt who was still living at the time of his interview his large, extended Italian American family included several generations on both sides of the Atlantic in spite of his having lost six of his own siblings within the last seven years, it still encompassed eleven first cousins near Naples in Italy where he recently visited while honeymooning months earlier. His roots in the old neighborhood held to many memories associated with family history and names familiar to all of us. Jackie Gleason and Al Sharpton called Bed Sty their home. His first days up to the 4th Grade were spent attending St Matthews and Bowling Green Elementary School, near Prospect Park. It should also be said that, being a man who insisted on his way or the highway, Vinnie confessed how he “played hooky” the first day of school (something he never did again), once his father got wind of his truancy.
His father had emigrated from the same little town in Italy as did the first of two girls he married. He learned to speak English in the military during WW1 entering service as an (EMT) He saw active duty fighting in the Battle of the Somme and the Argon Forest. He married after the war, had 3 children and took up ice and coal delivery as a business using a horse and carriage. His first wife died and at the request of her family he went back to Italy to find another bride – which he did, met VJ’s mother and our Vincent James became the last of nine children and a change of life baby named for the US victory in Japan at the end of the War 1in 1945. He had gone to school to become a pharmacist but instead became an elevator operator in the J P Morgan Building in NYC. Eventually, he opened a lawn maintenance business which he passed to his youngest son at retirement The father’s business never became Vinny’s vocation. That was teaching. His father died in 1961 when Vinny was 15 years old and in the 10th Grade in Brentwood HS. His favorite season of the year was winter because it gave him time to be home with his family and not working in the business that became his own and kept him busy the rest of the year. Two of his oldest brothers served in WW2, one brother near Korea’s Chosen Reservoir and another in the US Navy during the Korean War. Theirs was a military family having contributed a two star General. Lots of his family members lived on L.I., where he had a couple of nieces and nephews teaching in Brentwood – a brother went to Julliard, another into service during Korea, while music was a family gift, a thirst for higher education, sports, and baseball were qualities and talents shared by all. As with most Italian families, he said, “They forget everything but the grudges’ He called it – “Italian Alzheimers”,
The family moved to Brentwood in 1951. David Robert Llyon Gardiner, was the Real Estate Agent that showed them property and introduced them to land in Bay Shore and Brentwood. They bought both properties ultimately settling in Brentwood where they built a house in 1954. Vinny went to St Anne’s school and later transferred to the public school but there, his father had to apply pressure to get him in due to overcrowding. There were 60 students in his 4th grade class. He graduated from Ross HS in i959, matriculated to Suffolk Community, Dowling, Adelphi graduating with a BA from Dowling and a Masters from Adelphi. His 1st paying job had been working for the Brentwood school district, helping Mr. Klein and his staff doing the census. With Buildings and Grounds he found himself being invited by Peter Vlaun, to accompany him to his upstate home. There he was surprised to see plenty of the Districts equipment being used. He thought they were building a school. Mr. D’Andrea was there and suddenly, Vinnie was asking, “Should I be talking about this?” He worked with the Varsity Club during his early years as a teacher. Among important family holidays were Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving. His after school interests were girls and sports in that order. For a while he worked at the 5th Ave Shell (Jack’s Pine Aire Service Station) for Jack Sockin from 1962-1963 taking care of his pigeons. Jack had a big name in Brentwood back then having strong ties to the community. He was a “Jewish guy from Brooklyn” who looked like, Edward G Robinson. He remembers taking home $70 to his mother after 2 weeks, keeping $5.00 and giving the rest to his mother. Mr. Frank in the Guidance Dept. said, “Why do you want to go to college? Right now, you’re making more money every week than most teachers are.”After college he took a teaching job at Roslyn Junior High where kids, he was told, were Jewish, motivated to succeed and from upwardly mobile homes. When pink slips began to be issued he re-thought his decision and accepted an offer from Mr. Siler in Brentwood to return to his first community. He came back due to the uncertainty that accompanied a teaching position back then as well as the security that he archived through the contract he was offered. He devoted 32 ½ years to teaching American Studies I and 2 as well as European Studies. There were many names that came back to him as we spoke. He smiled broadly as he remembered Guy DiPietro calling the high school from home on a snowy morning at 4:30 am and Vinnie answering the phone to tell him the parking lots were already clear of all snow thanks to the guys from Buildings and Grounds. The impact of people like Tony Felicio, Mrs. Rosenthal, Vinnie DiRiggi, Gary Mintz, Fred Weaver, Berle Knott, Bob Hickey, Frank La Chicotte, Dick Simmons, Bill Lane, Mr. Cummings, Mr Siler, his first and most inspirational history and Sociology teacher, Everett Reece, Jack Zuckerman who nurtured his interest in history, a disseminators of stern discipline, and clear expectations, some of whom had the “Board of Education” in their office – cannot be overstated. The expectation that discipline was going to be relaxed as he made the transition from parochial to public school was found to be less pronounced than he might have imagined. “Those were different days then”, he said.
Vinnie spoke of his first marriage to Valerie, which lasted 32 years and ended in divorce with 3 children, his son Steven, a NYC Highway patrolman, one of 400 of 38,000 NYC police officers, their son Greg in San Antonio Texas, KSAT TV a Research Analyst who was happily married to a 35 year old schoolteacher he met who had never been married (like him), and their last son who had inherited the landscape contracting business Vincent inherited from his dad in the 50’s – who’d given him his first grandchild Dean Vincent, (named after his daughter-in-laws father’s memory and his own name). Then there was his marriage to Jackie in North Carolina about which he spoke glowingly.
He remembered the BHS first graduation of 1,200 students at the L.I. (Commack) Arena that sat 3,000. He shook his head thinking about the hostage take over at East Junior High, and the time when he threatened a student for mouthing off to hang him out the window, although the worst days were those when a young girl was faced with a decision whether or not to abort a life or keep the baby herself. He loves running into students today who thank him for his service or call him in Hilton Head to play a game of golf.
His last of 32 ½ years was in the Sonderling Building where he began teaching for $5,400 annually and ended his career making $98.000. Why and when did he retire? He had health concerns at age 55 when he retired on July 30, 2000.
You can also view any of these past interviews by visiting History Project Interview Archives :
Baker Bernhardt, Ruth
Baker Bazata, Eleanor
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.
SAD SHARING POSTED 3/25/15
The following is an email from Claudia Debelis:
Please excuse our sending you this news as an email. We have so many family calls to make and last minute travel reservations to arrange that this seems the best way to share this news.
Yesterday morning, our son, Darryl, Jeff's youngest, died of heart failure. That is all we know; there will be an autopsy. His girlfriend found him. He had apparently just collapsed and died just then.
We are now on our way home on the ferry from LI (where we were with my mother for her 90th birthday). I will try to call when I can to follow up in a more personal way.
Claudia and Jeff