In those days, the 60’s my father was also very involved in politics. Long Island was primarily a Republican strong hold. My dad, and therefore me, was a Democrat. He was very active in the Democratic Party and i spent many days campaigning for local Democratic candidates. I remember when we finally won an assembly race and then the County Executive race. It was probably 1963 64 and it was a big deal in my household.
As for me as the 60’s went on I struggled. I remember being terribly upset in November 1963 when JFK was killed. I was in fifth grade and I took it very hard. In 1964 I was in sixth grade and struggled badly in school. My teacher Mr. Fitzsimons reminded me of JFK. He was young and charismatic and pushed me to work hard. But I really didn’t.
The next two years in junior high school were terrible. That was 1965 and 1966; 12 and 13 years old. During those two years I was bullied mercilessly. I had and least 7 or 8 fist fights and I was always picked on. I was a psychological mess.
On top of that I was preparing for my Bar Mitzvah. I was a big gawky kid on top of everything else. So I got picked on because I was Jewish. I got picked on because I was big and over weight. And I got picked on because I never backed down. If someone started with me, I did not back away. But I never, ever went looking for trouble. In fact I would go out of my way to avoid trouble. And I never lost a fight. I could handle myself. But I was a wreck. Why was I being picked on? Why were people doing this to me? What had I done wrong to deserve this treatment? I had no answers.
My parents were besides themselves. I would come home from school just out of my mind. There were a number of times I was so distraught that my mother was extremely concerned for me. And my learning was effected. I tried to pay attention in class but I was always looking over my shoulder. Who was coming after me next? I even got in fights right in the middle of some of my classes.
But I did make it through my Bar Mitzvah studies. And except for tearing all the ligaments in my knee a month prior to my Bar Mitzvah that was about the only happy event in my life in 1966
Something had to change. And it did. At the end of eighth grade in May – June of 1967 my parents decided we had to move from Bethpage and the Island Trees school district. For one thing the curriculum there was not college oriented. It was more directed towards the trades. I always knew for an early age it wasn’t whether or not I was going to go to college, but where I was going to go to college. Only 25% of Island Trees graduates at that time we’re going on to college.
So in August of 1967 we moved to Roslyn, specifically 32 The Birches in Roslyn Estates. We moved into an old English Tudor style house that was originally built in 1928. It was a charming grand home with a lot of character but no real functionality. I loved the house and my bedroom off the kitchen was the only room in the house with air conditioning. The previous owner was the village clerk and my bedroom had been the village office, so I had an air conditioner.
From August of 1967 my life and well being improved dramatically. For one thing Roslyn High School which I entered as a Freshman that fall was much more academically oriented. 95% of graduates went on to college. Academics were still difficult for me but I was definitely bound for college upon graduation.
And Roslyn was predominantly Jewish. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed as though at least 80% of the students at Roslyn High School were Jewish. I didn’t have to worry about being picked on because I was Jewish. My mind was at ease for all my high school years. There was no more looking over my shoulder. You have no idea how comforting that was.
Roslyn was so important to me, that with the exception of college, law school and our first home in Plainview between 1983 and 1988 I lived in Roslyn most of my life. My children even graduated from the Roslyn Schools. We’ve been members of the conservative Jewish congregation Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn since 1967 or 53 years. Safe to say the Roslyn community has been a very important part of my life.