Northport Memories: Looking Back on the "D-Row"

The year was 1959 and Detroit automakers were on their continued design quest to make cars look like space ships.

The year was 1959 and Detroit automakers were on their continued design quest to make cars look like space ships. At least three years before John F. Kennedy's challenge to reach for the stars, Harley Earl, famed GM auto stylist was conjuring up the next “Jetson” concept that would allow American commuters to become “six-lane space pioneers”. All that glass and those huge fins were seemingly a prelude to the challenge of placing a man on the moon. Mr. Earl's '59 Cadillac classic tail fin design marks the design pinnacle of the “automotive space race”.   Average yearly wages were $5,010.00, a gallon of Gas was 25 cents, Fidel Castro became the new premier of Cuba and “the music died” when Buddy Holly's plane crashed in an Iowa cornfield.

Meanwhile, the education machine was in full swing and our new temporary quarters would be the newly built East Northport Jr. High School on 5th Avenue, a facility that seemed to rival Idlewild Airport for sheer size and confusability. It was the ninth grade and my first elective language course would be Spanish I, starring Mr. Bosco, our teacher. He was a diminutive man with horn rimmed glasses who taught us exploratory language in prior years. Latin, Spanish, German, Italian and French. He taught them all. In Spanish I, we learned to trill our R's (as in Senor-addah) and to pronounce our D's with some kind of a “th” suffix as in Feliz Navidad-th. It was all foreign to me, but then we were after all learning a foreign language. As I recall, we started with a little reader, the Spanish equivalent of “Dick & Jane” entitled “Qunito y Pepe”. I wasn't considered a preferred Spanish scholar and couldn't even muster a “Gentleman's C”. Easily qualifying as a dunce, I produced a predictable “D”, hence I sat in the designated and disgraced “D- Row”.

I suppose the strategy of Mr. Bosco was that we “dunces” who defined the D-Row would be humiliated into achieving better grades but I don't think he took into account the mindset of a 13 year-old. On the plus side, I had a reasonable window view with only the “F-Row” to block my vista. I sat in front of one of the hottest chicks in the school and I could never be accused of being a “book worm”. Of course not all these benefits were appreciated by the “powers-that-be” but I was learning to trill a little and use the “th” suffix here and there. Conjugations, the infinitive and gerunds kept me firmly in my sweet spot, the “D-Row”. You might say the desks occupying real estate over by the windows was the “poor side of town”.

One day, all the kids in the class regardless of their scholastic achievement decided by prior arrangement to make a show of defiance by lurching forward with their desks at a pre-defined hour/second on the wall clock at the front of the classroom. In unison, 30 students with their desks and chairs all moved forward squeaking and groaning as the furniture closed in on the teacher who stood at the head of the flock. At that particular point in time, the “haves” and the “have-nots” worked as a symphony of anarchism. The teacher stood in shock as this wave of protoplasm, steel and wood closed in, but in the final analysis, he must have been dumbfounded to know that this body of students could be so cohesive.

Back in the day, the “have-nots” took responsibility for their own position in life as the “haves” moved forward in their own agenda. In the end, most of the “have-nots” improved their position while a few of the “have's” fell short. Looking back, boredom was mostly misdiagnosed by our educators as low intelligence. I have learned over the years that the will to succeed has allowed a generation to thrive. In spite of what early educators may have thought, most of the “D-Row” moved on to become productive citizens. The hot chick who sat behind me went on to Harvard and earned her law degree. Don't ever count anyone out. Now, well over 50 years later I still consider her to be a true unwavering friend without compromise. And for those who may be wondering, she's still hot, too! To her, I dedicate this piece. Yo te amo.


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Jason Molinet July 20, 2012 at 06:25 PM
@Dave Great to see you back.
just1nptmom July 20, 2012 at 07:07 PM
omg I had Bosco for French in '67-'68, couldn't stand him. My dad's 1960 Chrysler had bigger fins & satelite tail lights. We called it "the tank" & we all learned to drive in that thing. lol
Dave Bruyn July 20, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Thanks, Jason and to just1nptmom........o as a amos ais an
just1nptmom July 20, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Vous savez que vous êtes de Northport si.....
The Brock July 20, 2012 at 08:32 PM
I had Dr. Norelli for Spanish there, she stuttered. Try to learn a foreign language with someone that stuttered. LOL
Dave Bruyn July 20, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I'm laughing out loud! Must have been a tough budget year!
Tom Fisch July 21, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Thanks again, Dave! Wonder if any of you out there knew that Mr. Bosco was an excellent Golden Gloves boxer of years past. I saw him in action. I liked him.
Dave Bruyn July 21, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Tom, that's amazing. I never would have guessed!
just1nptmom July 22, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I'm with Dave on that one! Could not picture that at all.
Ken Clerke July 22, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Ken Clerke July 22, 2012 at 04:16 PM
just1nptmom July 23, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Who is Karen? Was that his wife?
Ellen July 24, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Dave, so glad to read your column again. Love these accounts of our school days in Northport.
Grace August 02, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Hi Dave, I found your blog while researching a television show called Filbert the Flea, which you mentioned in passing in another post. If you have any memories of the subject matter of the show, especially any episodes that dealt with Cold War issues (defense, atomic weapons, security, civil service, etc.) I would love to hear about them. You can reach me at 1950stvproject@gmail.com if you feel like sharing. Thanks, Grace
Dave Bruyn August 02, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Hi, Grace, I thought my brother and i were the only viewers of Filbert the Flea! I honestly can't remember any of the episodes. I think they only ran for about 15 minutes. I'll keep my eyes peeled and if anything comes up, I'll let you know. Dave
Ginny Parker October 08, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Hi Dave - new computer and lost the direct link to Northport Memories Blog Can you post it on FB again. Thanks Ginny Parker
Dave Bruyn October 08, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Hi, Ginny thanks for you comments. i will post the link to my blog on Facebook. I'm in the process of putting together an e-book of vignettes from when life was so uncomplicated. I haven't settled on a title yet, but I think I'll call it" Petticoats and Poodle Skirts".
Carla October 08, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Mr Dave, once more you have diverted my attention from the modern mayhem and hyerbole of this 21st century. Of course the Cadi tail-fin did't hurt either ! [very sharp]. Mr Bosco, not to be confused with the chocolate additive, was still functioning in the mid 60's a bit after your reign at the window, where we subsequently took occupancy. By then Bosco was relieved of the many languages he taught and Miss Dahm taught German, other notables like Mr. Zukas, Coach Stump, Mr. La False, Mr Calabrese, and Mr Cushman, filled the very memorable years of "splendor in the class."
Dave Bruyn October 08, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Karl, Thanks for the mini-stroll back to the "splendor in the class" Very nice adaptation. Those names don't ring a bell except for Coach Stump. He had a baritone voice and during roll call, he would mispronounce Pete Voss's name as" "Voce". Funny how you just couldn't teach those teachers anything!


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