Don Bosco Tech — Yesterday, Today, Forever

I took a trip yesterday … literally and figuratively. I journeyed 234 miles to stroll down memory lane from 50-plus years ago.

dbtDon Bosco Tech, Paterson, NJ. It was my high school home from 1961-65. It’s been closed since 2002 after a 53 year Salesian run that transformed thousands of boys into young men. It was sold to Paterson Public Schools, who now run it as Don Bosco Technology Academy — a nice touch keeping the history — housing middle school ESL students from Schools 5 and 27. It is slated for demolition, possibly as soon as the end of the school year.

That brings us to the journey. Thanks to the efforts of Jason Velante (Class of  ’95), currently an English as a second language teacher for Paterson Public Schools, a tour for DBT alumni was arranged for Saturday. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

The school has certainly changed since the days I roamed the halls. Gone are the chapel, the third floor residences and Savio Hall — the technology building — is boarded up. But you could still feel the spirit of students as over 100 of us DBT alumni toured the halls, cafeteria and gym.

I was certainly the oldest, coming from the Class of  ’65. The closest senior meI could come up with was a couple of yearlings from the Class of  ’69. The rest were from the 70s, 80s, 90s and up to 2002 when the school as we knew it closed.

I tried getting in the Linwood Avenue gate. The road was just a little more pothole — okay crater hole — pocked than the day. But the gate was closed and a portable building stood on the other side. Two additional portables buildings took up pretty much the rest of the senior parking lot where our days started and ended. It’s also where some students went to cram, blow off some steam and possibly sneak a smoke or two.

That's my Dodge on the left

That’s my Dodge on the left

I started my parking experience with my mom’s 1962 Chevy Impala until I could afford my first car — a 1956 Dodge Coronet. Cars in the lot ran the gamut from clunkers to classic 64classics. One fellow senior, Tommy DiStefano — okay, his name was Frank, but I started calling him Tommy as a freshman and it sort of caught on from there — had the sweetest Lincoln and best buds Bernie Spirito tooled around in a mid-50s {56 I think} DeSoto and Carmen DeRosa an early 60s Ford Falcon (1960 I think). I can still all those cars in the lot. Oh, to have almost any one of them today.

handballAs I walked toward the courtyard, I couldn’t help but remember the countless games of handball played against the gym wall. Of course, some of us pitched baseball cards or coins — until one of the brothers gently chided us about the evils of gambling.

2015-03-07 13.56.09We actually got to tour three floors of the main building at 202 Union Avenue. Most of it is pretty much the way I remembered it, with well-scuffed wood floors and classroom upon classroom. The memory may be a little fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure Room 4A– renumbered now to 214 — was site of my famous burger and shrimp snacks {an earlier post, https://wisdomfromafather.com/2013/01/07/heres-to-teachers/, Jan. 7, 2013 explains the escapade in a little more detail}. I vividly remember History Teacher James Boyle’s uncanny knack for hitting non-listening students with an eraser while his back was turned. Sure, there was always some collateral damage, but typically the target always had a badge of an eraser image on his shoulder.

I seem to recall brick walls, but today they were plaster. Unfortunately, the deterioration of the plaster along with missing ceiling tiles, leaks, windows that don’t close tight and exposed wiring were more of a testament the building has a date with the wrecking ball.

The first floor chapel is gone — more classrooms — as is the woodworking shop — also now classrooms. Ditto for the second floor library — although, remarkably, many of my fellow DBT alum, including myself, remembered very little of the library. It, too, is now class space, as was the priests and brothers residences on the third floor.

From the main building, we snaked our way through the kitchen and into the cafeteria, which, remarkably, has not changed all that much. One change was the wall separating the cafeteria from the gift shop is now gone, although you cold tell where it was because of the different tile on the floor. I can still see in my mind’s eye the tables where we shot the bull, played finger games and, yes, even ate some lunch. I can still smell the hamburgers — my usual fare du jour. (Everyone knew me as Wimpy after the hamburger-devouring Popeye character).
2015-03-07 15.15.49Then it was into the gym, where a Paterson City League game was being played. It hasn’t changed much … the wooden bleachers, the balcony and most notably the DBT Ram emblazoned in the gym floor. It’s still there … 50 plus years later.

"Mary had a little lamb" chants John Hayes, Charles Scimeca, Harold Brucker, Charles Parr and Leroy Havekost

“Mary had a little lamb” chants John Hayes, Charles Scimeca, Harold Brucker, Charles Parr and Leroy Havekost

It was also where we were initiated as freshmen …

 

 

 

 

 

Man, all this for six seniors' names!

Man, all this for six seniors’ names!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

shine cars

 

 

 

 

tar amd feathersshine shoes

 

just for laughs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… and initiated as seniors.

our tun limboour turn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

our turn bunny hopour turn goo

 

 

 

 

The pats, smacks and whacks were all in good fun and ultimately brought us together as a community.

 

 

 

 

electronics 64
We didn’t get a chance to visit Savio Hall — the Technical part of Don Bosco. I was on the third floor in electronics for four years, but the building also housed drafting, graphic arts, machine shop, print shop (where they actually taught students how to use a linotype) and auto shop. Ah, the memories from there. I could write a book.

bowlingAs for me, my life was pretty ordinary at DBT. I don’t remember a lot, just fragments {hey, 50 plus years ago is a loooong time}. I was involved in cross country, baseball (as a freshman and manager), bowling (team captain), basketball (manager), altar boy, Savio Club, Student Council, National Honor Society, yearbook staff and debating team.

 

Notice the commitment ... my running shoes

Notice the commitment … my running shoes

 

 

 

 

 

forensic league

 

 

 

goldwater
I wonder how many of our plans back in 1965 actually panned out? Mine certainly changed, with different twists and turns. I started in electrical engineering and ended up at newspapers … which is probably a good thing because electronically, if I engineered something the toilets would probably flush. My stint as a correspondent for basketball and baseball at DBT opened the door to the Sports Department at the Paterson News, then sports editor at the New Jersey Herald, then production manager/vice president at the Belvidere (IL) Daily Republican/BelRock Printing, then as associate publisher of the Toledo (OH) Catholic Chronicle, then as editor of the Washington (DC) Catholic Standard and now as publisher of the Reveille/Between the Lakes in Seneca County, NY

65As I scanned my yearbooks, I remembered the characters of the Class of 65 that made us unique. Over the years, we lost touch. I don’t know how many of us are still around. I know we lost a couple of faculty members in the last year. It would be nice to connect again.tradewindsWe chose the World’s Fair of 1964-65 as our graduating theme … “The fair adventure of tomorrow.” Our yearbook epilogue was: “Countless millions of hands have gone into building yesterday, and many millions more are required just to hold today together. Yesterday and today have been accomplished. We have seen their works, and learned their wisdom and their folly. But what of us? We will put our hand to tomorrow. Not alone as one hand holding back the wind, but joined to those of our fellow men in the enterprise of making tomorrow a day of hope.”

So, here’s our gigantic Class of 65: Joe Barrise, Danny Barteluce, Robert Beck, Andrew Bello, Dennis Besida, Rich Bottino, Harold Bruckner, Richard Connor, Rich Daken, Joe Dapassano, Carm DeRosa, Mike Dillard, David Dillon, Frank (Tommy) DiStefano, Larry Dolan, John Dowling, William Endres, Leo Fitzsimmons, Joseph Fusco, Jack Galoyan, Mario Gillio, Bob Glinka, Frank Goss, George Hamlin, Frank Hanna, Den Haraka, John Hayes, Bart Iurato, Dennis Kaczka, James Kelly; William Klein, Ray Konopinski, Ed Korczynski, Ken Korndorfer, John Leibrecht, Ray Leszczynski, Mike Maggi, Robbie Maimone, Bruce Matthew, Ed McBride, Stephen Menconi, Tom Murphy, Tim O’Brien, Tom Palinski, Charlie Parr, John Paul, George Raineri, Dan Rankin, Doug Ruland, Joe Sapinski, Matt Scheer, Ken Schroeder, John Scillieri, Charles Scimeca, Vincent Seminara, Dan Sheridan, Randy Shope, Al Simmons, Robert Simons, Leo Sopuch, Louis Spinelli, Bernie Spirito, Ray Tahan, Stephen Varcadipone, William Vogel, Michael Watson, Joe Wos, Jim Yamroz, Fred Zahn and, of course, yours truly. Hopefully we did our part in making our tomorrow a day of hope.

Yes, Don Bosco Tech as we knew it may be crumbling, but the spirit and camaraderie across decades proved Saturday the DBT spirit is alive and well … no matter what year you graduated. We all had “Remember …” moments.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

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About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in Friends, growing up, Memories, New Jersey, relationships, reunion, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Don Bosco Tech — Yesterday, Today, Forever

  1. Dave Seyer says:

    Hi Joe,
    It is always great catching up with you through your writings, they are always enjoyable.
    I remember playing in the Christmas Basketball tournament at DBT in my freshman year at PV, 1972?
    Remembering how big it seemed as a freshman.
    Enjoy your day,
    Dave Seyer

  2. Bob Conklin says:

    Joe,
    Just saw myself in the Freshman Initiation picture of the Conga Line. I’m the guy on far right with the birthmark on his left arm. Thanks for the memory. Bob Conklin USN (Retired) DBT 68.

  3. Hi Joe,
    Man, the memories.. getting sent back for ‘Squealing Wheels’ leaving the parking lot and Brother ??/ (Barrel chested Redheaded Irishman the ‘Dean of Discipline’).. He would stand behind the tall Cedar bush near Union ave and if he thought you were going too fast, would calmly walk out into the middle of the road behind the school and just with folded arms make you stop and return to the parking lot, turn off the motor, restart the motor and ‘leave like a Gentleman… Handball, detention on Saturday’s in the Auto shop *just a coincidence that the shop was full of ‘paying customers’ cars Really great memories!

    We lost Fr. Jim last year,Brother Bernie not long ago.. Fr. Jim con-celebrated my wedding mass in 1973.

    Thanks for the ‘walk’ down Memory lane. God Bless Them and watch over us ALL!
    John Schulte DBT ’70

    • Glad you enjoyed your stroll down memory lane. I was glad I went. Despite the span in graduating years, all of us mixed and mingled and shared memories of our four years at DBT. Names may have been different, but the spirit was the same.

  4. Ray Shupak says:

    Ray Shupak – Class of 73′
    Joe,
    Between Grammar School and College if I had my choice to do redo any segment in my life over, it would be High School at DBT. I am so appreciative of that four years of memories and special times and friends. To see it on the chopping block for the second time kills me…. Glad to see and hear from alumni like you. God Bless you and all the many graduates of DBT!

  5. Hi Joe – I was tolling around the ‘net and saw this. I went to DePaul in Wayne 1965-69, but before that, in 6-7-8th grade, my mom and some friends went to a lot of DePaul basketball games and of course, some were at DBT. Wow, lonnnng time ago! Anyway I seem to recall that DBT in your era had three male cheerleaders at the basketball games, a different thing to say the least in high school. Am I remembering that for real? Anyway … good wishes to you, sir.

    • I don’t remember “cheerleaders” but we had a few character who would get the crowd going. That, of course, would be up to the 1964-65 season, my last year at school. It’s amazing when you look back at how many memories there were during those high school years. Best to you!

      • Nick says:

        Yes those must have been the guys. They were funny. I fondly remember those days … and in looking at your list of your class, I recall Iurato, Dowling, Gillio as basketball players? Man my mom and my friends and I loved going to those games before I entered DePaul in 1965. I also recall the games with the now-gone Saint Bon’s, John’s, Joseph’s and Mary’s. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Best to you also … Nick

  6. Jim Matthews says:

    Joe, It was a great place to find ourselves. An oasis in the tumultuous storms of life. DBT had a certain karma that exuded discipline and focus to follow Christ and the commandments that our Fathers emblazoned as truants to America. Every year I try to walk from DBT down past the Falls into a city that was so close but, yet so far. Thankful to all the faculty and Salesians that faithfully saw Don Bosco ‘s spark. Although some 13 years later I reveled in your story and gift to paint a picture. I do think your have a talent that carries electrical engineering, perhaps the pen is your current. All my brothers and sisters were sent to DePaul , I hailed from Totowa. Fulfilled and charged with lasting memories of Brother Suta in architestural drafting. Vaya con Dios Pisano, Jim

    • Jim, Good to hear from you … DBT was a special place steeped in living history and the priests, brothers and staff were truly “saints” dealing with a bunch of testosterone-filled teenage boys and turning them into {mostly} responsible young men. DBT alumni have a lot to be proud of … whenever they walked the halls and toiled in the classrooms.

  7. Howard Skinner says:

    Hello Joe, nice walk down memory lane at DBT. Love the pictures and the memories that have taken us back to those care free days. I was in the class of 66′ & remember you from the 65′ Basketball team that I was on with coach Deveney (check out page 27, Tradewinds, we are on the same page). I recently visited Paterson from Arizona in July, 2015 and always have to make a drive by DBT. Also met up with 2 DBT Alumni from our 66′ class to talk about the good times at DBT.
    I hope all is well with you and thanks for writing this article.

  8. Walter Trenschel says:

    What a wonderful reminiscence. It brings back many fond memories from my years at DBT class of ’68. The spirit of the time lives on through stories such as yours. Keep up the good work, Joe!

  9. Pete Trotta says:

    Just reading this article reminds me of the High School most Americans experienced, and that I was deprived of. Maybe you guys are just getting old or you just want block out your memories of a Nazi-like concentration camp called Don Bosco Tech.

    Don’t you remember Father Jim and his sadistic ways?… he once had me count the bricks on Savio Hall because I touched the building with my finger while I was leaving school.
    How ’bout Brother Tony with his fist clenched and ready to punch any boy in the chest if he found gum in his mouth. The process was, you put the gum in your jacket pocket and he would haul off and punch you in the heart as hard as his big fat pineapple face could throw. If that happened today, he’d be behind bars where he belonged.

    Don’t forget Brother Suta, the drafting teacher who would sneak up behind you and say…”let me see your brush”…you would hand him your wood drafting board brush, hold out your hands and he would wack your knuckles as hard as possible. By the way, there was no rhyme or reason for this act of sadistic behavior. You didn’t know what you did wrong. He was a refugee from the USSR and was pissed-off all the time.

    I have a thousand horrific stories of the first three years of HS. Thank God I transferred to public school where they had laughter, joy and girls. Get real guys DBT sucked….face it.

  10. Hi Joe, well I am not from the States but from a far off South Africa. Great man, I did that same journey a couple of times and I tell you that it took me back to when I was young and enjoyed life to the fullest. Fought in a war that was not mine to fight, made friends from all walks of life but my truest friend was and still be me.
    God Bless

  11. There will soon be yearbooks for sale for this area on ebay for your viewing.

  12. Lou says:

    Joe ,Mike Maggi from class of 1965 is trying to get a hold of you ..I’m a friend of his and he does not have your email .
    His iemsil is : m777pluto225@yahoo.com
    Thank you

  13. Lou says:

    Hi Joe, not sure if you ever got thru to Mike……he uses the Totowa library computer so he is not on it everyday. I will remind him to check. Anyway if you are ever in Totowa area let us know….We usually have Saturday morning breakfast at Falls Kitchen in Little Falls or a Friday night dinner at Dominicks in Totowa. He is a good friend of my brother and I join then sometimes. ok, take care and God bless
    Lou 201-306-7169

  14. Lou says:

    ooops…I meant to put my email verygood9919@gmail.com

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