I was a member of that pioneer class of ‘66. I left BK in the middle of my senior year, for reasons I’m not sure almost anyone knew. I wasn’t very good then at letting anyone know. During the summer before senior year, my parents moved near Syracuse – McFarlin’s Clothing had opened a store there and my dad was asked to be manager. I spent the summer of ’65 living in Syracuse, but my parents were great and didn’t want me to interrupt my high school years, so they generously made arrangements for me to stay in Rochester, living with a family friend. So, okay.
Meanwhile, I visited back and forth a lot. Not least of which, for the reason that their new neighbors in Syracuse had a daughter my age – a high spirited girl from an Irish Catholic family who was smart, pretty, funny, and she liked me. So, I transferred to the public high school she was in. To make a long story short, we went away to college together, where we really got to know each other, and after college, she became my wife.
We both moved to New York City in 1971. We were married for more than 17 years. We have both moved on, but remain transatlantic friends (she lives in London). I’ve had a variety of interesting careers in New York, including owning an art gallery in Greenwich Village. I’m semi-retired now. I do consulting work in the area of fundraising and audience building for music and performing arts organizations.
In 1998, I was diagnosed with a very serious heart condition that I nearly didn’t survive. I was rushed by ambulance to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. An incredible doctor there – Dr. Mehmet Oz (yep, that guy on Oprah) saved my life. I had open heart surgery performed by both Oz and the chief of transplant surgery (they thought I could end up needing a heart transplant) to repair an aortic dissection about an inch from my heart. They went ahead with the surgery after telling me and members of my family that there was about a 20% chance of survival. That was an interesting time for me. I made peace with facing the end and I prayed. No moment of my life has been the same since – every minute has new meaning. My roommate after surgery was a Jesuit priest who lives in Princeton, recovering from quadruple bypass. We’ve become close friends, and still support each other in our health to this day. I’ve been blessed.
So, back to BK and what was I doing roaming around your great web site late Saturday night? I was home and I was watching PBS’ production of the Royal National Theater’s “Oklahoma” directed by the great Trevor Nunn. I love this production because it’s real and a little raw, rather than Broadway polished, and the performances are great – including Hugh Jackman as Curly. Well, it started me on a trip down memory lane. To me, there have never been better high school musical productions than the Oklahoma I was in during Junior year (the chorus) and Brigadoon the next year (I came back to see it after leaving BK – drove from Syracuse with my future wife).
I started thinking about the cast of Oklahoma – I know there were alternating casts – but the standouts in my mind were Randy Macksamie as Curly, Mary Jean Mannion as Laurie, Dan Oberst as Will, and a feller named Greg Wroblewski (!!) as Jud. For some reason, I kept thinking about Dan. Somewhere I had stumbled on the fact that he was at Princeton and I googled him first. It really hit me in the gut to see his obituary and I read as much as I could find. The phrase kept coming up for me “he had every gift, but length of years.” God rest his soul. I bet he’s doing great – playing and singing in some band.
So, all the names from 40 years ago kept showing up, including Andy Langkopf (the roll call in homeroom was always Langkopf, Larter, Macksamie) – Tim Mellon, Dennis Muoio, my friends who were with me in the chorus. And then seeing the blog from Dan Young, one of my best friends dating back to grammar school. See, I knew so many because I started at St. Salome’s, then we moved closer to St. Margaret Mary’s, and then the parish was split off to make Christ The King. So, there are a lot of memories. Thank you again for all you do by this wonderful web site.
Although my picture is in the yearbook, I am not technically part of the graduating class. Part of me is sorry I didn’t stay to graduate from BK, but hey, I kinda like to embrace it all, or at least think I should. I think everything has its reason and its purpose.