Rob Buscaglia and I took the kids to Lake Nicaragua in Granada the last night of our service project. One year a group of Nicaraguan teens stood around their old Chevy (I think) like us, looking at the sunset. I wanted to photograph them but couldn’t find the intro. Since I didn’t speak much Spanish, my camera was my means of communication. But it was silent with these teens until one looked in my direction and waved. I approached. We talked, I shot photographs. I told them how tomorrow I would be leaving Nicaragua and I was sad. One kid looked at me, extended a high five and said’ “It’s the people, man.” I told him how right he was about it — the people, friendship.
Most nights as I lay awake I reflect. Sometimes it’s plans for the future; often its memories from the past. Friendship. Focus on the guys. I went to Nazerth Academy in Northeast Philadelphia for three years — no neighborhood friends. In fourth grade I transferred to Saint Mark’s in Bristol. My earliest recollection of local friends were Pete Callahan and Jerry Kline (both lived on Mill Street) and a kid Buddy Dixon who lived in Maple Beach — a stretch of isolated land near the Bristol Burlington Bridge. Jerry and I are currently FB, lunch friends and he recently put me in touch with Henry Leung — another of our Mill Street group. Henry’s family ran a cleaners on Market Street. Of course there were cousins, Bill Mignoni and I were very close; Franny Profy and I had some contact (he was older and hung out with the firehouse crew — status). The Delaware House (King George today) was a frequent destination. John Mundy’s parents ran the restaurant and they lived on the second floor. John moved to Bristol when we were in elementary school and we would both go to HGP. We remain friends today.
When I got involved in Boy Scouts, I developed a number of close Bristol friends — Lew Dopson, Sym Landreth, Billy Matthews, Eddie Nolan, Leo Coffman, John Younglove. Then there were the Romano boys, Vince, Chris, Andy and Michael. Andy, a year younger than me became a best friend. My other best friend in late elementary, early high school was Mark Rolston. Mark lived out on Bath Road, several miles from home. But somehow we clicked and spent a lot of time together. Small town — his younger brother, Scott, and my siste Vicky had a brief marriage. Mark got a girlfriend pregnant when we were in college. Mark disappeared from my life after college and died years ago.
During my high school years at HGP, I developed several different groups of friends. There was the basketball team– Ed Smith, Bob McIntyre, Charlie Howard, Chuck Spezzano, Dick Faley, George Afflerbach, and Joe Henry are names remembered. Eddie Smith was the only one at our 50th reunion this June. I am connected with Chuck and George through FB. George was inducted into the HGP Hall of Fame and we met for a drink at the Dog and Bull in Croydon earlier this year. And HS cemented my friendship with John Mundy and another Bristol HGP student, John Paglione. Paglione had attended St. Ann’s, the Italian Catholic parish and school. Mundy and I went to St. Marks, the Irish parish. So I really didn’t know Paglione until HS. Today he is my closest male friend. Diane and I shared a New Hope house for four years with Barbara and John Paglione. During the past few years we visited them in Ann Arbior and took several trips with them. More planned for the future.
Then off to BC. There wasn’t enough dorm space as the college expanded in the 1960s. Freshman were given the names of off campus families willing to rent rooms. I ended up in Newton Center about 10 miles from campus. We hitchhiked back and forth. There was also an MTA station that would lead into Boston. I had seven house mates. Jerry Alonzo and Ted Fuery shared a room. They were from the same Prep school in North Jersey. Jerry came from a conservative background and may have been the steady hand in the group. I recall he borrowed a paisley tie on a trip home, shocking his father who expected regimental stripes. Ted was the trend setter, clothes, music, just style. Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point) writes about trend setters. Ted did stand out. Most Freshman wore jeans — ignoring BC ‘s doomed dress code. Somehow the Dean of Discipline singled out Ted for an infraction. Tom Glynn, a cheerful red head from Pleasantville, NY had a private room. Mike Honan, from Albany shared a room with John Glantz. Tom and John became close. Justin and Jay the last two in the house shared a room and Jay’s big American car christened the “squid mobile.” Squid being girls which I don’t think they ever picked up. They were the odd couple in the group. Mike Honan also came off as a quiet, loner, seemed to always tag along after us. I had a small two cup coffee pot and one night Mike wandered in for a cup. We stayed up for hours drinking coffee, listening to Bob Dylan and sharing bits of our life. Mike remained a quite loner but we became best friends. Unfortunately he dropped out Freshman year and joined the Navy. I am still close with Mike and Jerry (my best man, present at Jenny’s birth, and even visited recently in the Rehab Center). Through FB and email I am in touch with Ted and Tom. And I just got an email from Ted Fuery about getting together sometime.
Outside of class I hung out with a group that started experimenting with drugs, heavy into music, exploring the city, some of us were active in the anti-war movement. Phil Dietz (like Ted, a cultural trendsetter) from NYC, Ed Kelly, Phil Calabrese, Jerry Mascola are a few names I remember. Jerry got married after his Sophmore year and when I left home that summer over a wedding dispute with my father, he put me up until someone in the group headed to Haight Ashbury and gave me the keys to his rented apartment –freezer filled with steaks that his Mom provided. Later that summer my father relented and I got married.
Twio years later Diane and I were in Peace Corps training in Bisbee, AZ. We were in teacher training for Libya. Although the trainees were a great group, our program was cancelled and I have not remained in touch with anyone. In 1976 we did visit with Arthur and Suzie Ward in London. We traveled cross country with Arthur and Suzie for several months after PC training and he was my closest PC friend. Several years ago I did have some email contact with John Giordano. He was an in country volunteer helping with our training. Now a professor at a New England college, in Bisbee John ran these fantastic improv acting sessions several times a week.
Many of my current male friends are from my 40 years of teaching at HGP. Ted Grabowski and John Buettler were the old guard. John had been a student a year ahead of me at HGP. We retired the same year and still stay in touch. I liked to say I always needed to make friends with some young teachers. Bill Gallagher and Tom Corley were the first. We sponsored HGP Explorer, taking a variety of camping, hiking and canoeing trips. Together we rented State cabins with our families and socialized quite a bit. Tom and Bill are still close friends. Bill Geiger taught at Ghost for several years and then moved to LaSalle HS. We’ve stayed in touch over the years but haven’t socialized in decades.
The next group of young teachers that remain friends were Mike Gillespie and Rob Buscaglia. The three of us were involved with Ayudanica, the Nicaraguan service project. Although still in touch it has been years since we did anything together.
Other HGP teacher friends includes Chris Nork, who lives in Yardley, we’ve gotten together recently; John DiGiesi, former HFU student as well as HGP teacher. John and I are in constant email and phone contact. In our last few years at HGP, Jim McCullough and I became close, drawn together by age and pipe smoking. There are a number of more recent HGP teachers that I stay in contact with, if only through FB. Brother Joe Cannon, ( would love to visit him in Ireland), Tom Crosky, Matt Jordan, Tom Eckerle, Tony Chapman, Tony Figiola, Dan Ryan, and Bob Vierlinck. I won’t try to mention here the Alumni who have moved from former student to friend but there are a few.
Although I’ve lived in Yardley since the late 70s, I’ve made more cquaintances than actual friends. Closest is Jerry Taylor. I served on Council with Susan Taylor and we vacationed and sailed with them a lot in the 1980s. Still socialize quite a bit. My current neighbor, Kurt Kriven, has become a close friend and I am still in touch with former neighbor, John Dye. When the Dye’s lived next door our families were quite close. Back in the 1970s, Diane worked with David Sears. He and his wife Judy rented in Yardley and eventually moved to Erwinna. We always remained in touch but my friendship with Dave has grown very strong in the past few years. They retired and bought a house on a Maine Island. We’ve been scheduled to visit for the past two years but medical issues with Dave, now me, cancelled both trips.
I read an article several days ago that men don’t make close friends. I count myself lucky. Although quite a few of the guys mentioned can not be called close friends, I stay in touch with many and enjoy recalling our times together. Like the kids in Nicaragua said, ” It’s the people.” Friends.