Don Bosco Tech … Another Visit

It took me just under 50 years to revisit my alma mater — Don Bosco Tech in Paterson, NJ. Saturday, I made another trip there. Unfortunately, it is likely to be my last.

2015-03-07 15.15.49The Salesian school 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 was slated for the wrecking ball last year, but lack of funding spared the bricks and mortar. Jason Velante (DBT Class of  ’95), currently an English as a second language teacher for Paterson Public Schools, set up the tour of the building last year.  As he did a year ago, Velante arranged for a second tour this year.

I walked down Memory Lane a year ago {}. I took another stroll this year.

The DBT experience transcends graduating classes. We are family. We are brothers. We share the Salesian experience and grounding that spanned from 1948-2002. Despite our graduating year, we shared similar stories. The cast of characters may have been different year to year, but the script was pretty much the same.

classroomI don’t think there were as many alumni this time around. But there was a big difference — I was able to hook up with an actual, breathing classmate, Jim Schillari, and a friend a year behind, Joe Rendzia. So, as we toured the three floors of the former mill-turned school, we could reminisce about actual names and experiences. The walls talked to us. The classrooms came alive. In fact, the original {like in the mill} oak flooring was still intact and you could see the ghost trails of chalk dust from many target practice by our teachers. We still couldn’t get into the tech building (asbestos and off limits) but from the third floor of the main building, we could see the remnants of our lab through the windows. And we could “hear” the lathes of Machine Shop and Industrial Woodworking or the idle — and sometimes revved up — engines in Auto Mechanics. And vividly remember our class trip to the World’s Fair. Our graduating theme — as outlined in Tradewinds, was “The fair adventure of tomorrow.”

I'm flanked by Jim Matthews and Jim Schilleri Saturday

I’m flanked by Jim Matthews and Jim Schilleri Saturday

Along the way, we connected with other younger alum. Jim Matthews — a decade or so years my junior — recognized me from the blog, so we had a chance to visit in person. He brought his daughter Tara with him to the old stomping grounds, and I sensed there were more spouses and children this time around.

Jim was valedictorian. I was ranked somewhere in the top 10 — I don’t remember, but it might of been four or five — and we got a chance to visit with another classmate, Charlie (Rev. Charles) Parr, retired priest of the Diocese of Paterson. He, by the way, was ranked sixth in our gigantic graduating class of 70. So the trip to the past was extended well beyond our two-hour walk-through to about a seven hour trip back in time. And the stories we shared …

front doorI actually had seen Charlie about 23-24 years ago while he was attending classes at Catholic University. I was working at the Catholic Standard in Washington, DC.

The three of us reminisced about our experiences Jim and I noted we were taught by example and trial and error. Projects didn’t always work out, but Fr. Jim (Chiosso) and Brother Don (Leach) made sure we learned by our mistakes.

Jim went to Stevens Institute of Technology and became an engineer in California. When the market slowed, he opted for UCLA Law School and began a career in law. Now retired and living on Long Island, he is thinking about applying to the New York Bar.

Bill Endres, Carm DeRosa and I make sure Dan Rankin, Tom Murphy, Mike Dillard and Bernie Spirito don't get into too much trouble at the World's Fair.

Bill Endres, Carm DeRosa and I make sure Dan Rankin, Tom Murphy, Mike Dillard and Bernie Spirito don’t get into too much trouble at the World’s Fair.

Charlie, of course, followed his dream of the priesthood and spent a lot of time in education — from kids to young adults to adults and even priestly formation. He wasn’t in Electronics, but opted for Woodworking. In Charlie fashion, he looked at us, pointed to Frank and said, electronics … lawyer, then at me, electronics … newspapers. As for himself, “I followed Jesus, a carpenter.”

I put my electronics skills to good use. 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.

tradewindsLife had taken us in different directions, but we all agree out roots were firmly planted at 202 Union Boulevard.

As is often the case, through the years, we lost track of each other. Coming from a wide geographic area didn’t help. I have just six Facebook classmate friends and maybe eight or nine total from DBT.

But as we tried to piece together the fragments of the past 50 years, we noted we’ve lost many … others we know are quite sick. But in our hearts, they are all friends.







So, here’s our gigantic Class of 65 and where they were from at the time of graduation. If anyone can provide any updates, I would love to know.

Joe Barrise (Paterson), Danny Barteluce (Maywood), Robert Beck (Clifton), Andrew Bello (Jersey City), Dennis Besida (Saddle Brook), Rich Bottino (Little Falls), Harold Bruckner (Teaneck), Richard Connor (Rutherford), Rich Daken (Totowa), Joe Dapassano (Totowa), Carm DeRosa (Paterson), Mike Dillard (Totowa), David Dillon (Belleville), Frank (Tommy) DiStefano (East Paterson), Larry Dolan (Maywood), John Dowling (Paterson), William Endres (Fair Lawn), Leo Fitzsimmons (Paterson), Joseph Fusco (Jersey City), Jack Galoyan (Paterson), Mario Gillio (East Paterson), Bob Glinka (East Paterson), Frank Goss (Hackensack), George Hamlin (East Paterson), Frank Hanna (Paterson), Dennis Haraka (Clifton), John Hayes (Union City), Bart Iurato (Paterson), Dennis Kaczka (Lincoln Park), James Kelly (Paterson); William Klein (Wayne), Ray Konopinski (Bloomingdale), Ed Korczynski (Passaic), Ken Korndorfer (Rochelle Park), John Leibrecht (Paterson), Ray Leszczynski (Jersey City), Mike Maggi (Totowa), Robbie Maimone (Clifton), Bruce Matthew (Kinnelon), Ed McBride (East Paterson), Stephen Menconi (Clifton), Thomas Murphy (Maywood), Tim O’Brien (Paterson), Tom Palinski (Wayne), Charlie Parr (Paterson), John Paul (Clifton), George Raineri (Paterson), Daniel Rankin (Jersey City), Doug Ruland (Little Falls), Joe Sapinski (Paterson), Matt Scheer (Passaic), Ken Schroeder (Wayne), John Scillieri (Little Falls), Charles Scimeca (Fair Lawn), Vincent Seminara (Clifton), Daniel Sheridan (East Paterson), Randy Shope (Saddle Brook), Al Simmons (Maywood), Robert Simons (Kearny), Leo Sopuch (Paterson), Louis Spinelli (Paterson), Bernie Spirito (Clifton), Ray Tahan (Paterson), Stephen Varcadipone (Wayne), William Vogel (Paterson), Michael Watson (East Paterson), Joe Wos (Garfield), Jim Yamroz (East Paterson), Fred Zahn (Clifton) and, of course, yours truly (Totowa). Hopefully we did our part in making our tomorrow a day of hope.

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

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Time heals almost everything — give time, time. Pain will be less hurting. Scars make us who we are; they explain our life and why we are the way we are. They challenge us and force us to be stronger.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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7 Responses to Don Bosco Tech … Another Visit

  1. chrisbroz says:

    Thanx for the great article an trip down memory lane, Frank….Jim Matthews was one of my students when I taught there (History ’76-’78)….Thanks to Face Book I’m back in touch with many of my former students (now chasing me age wise) and fellows teachers…Just found a Power Point Presentation the other day via FB which I downloaded and saved. Both my brothers graduated from DBT – I went to DePaul – but wound up there in ’76…great memories of both students, faculty and the facility…so sad to see it set for demolition…wish I could’ve been there but I live in FL and getting anywhere further than 40 miles north or south on the I-95 corridor is difficult…Just thankful I had the time at DBT…and the memories now….As a freshman at DePaul in ’63/64 we went to the World’s fair for our (only)class trip…I think the presence of Michelangelo’s Pieta at the Vatican Pavilion was the excuse for the trip…great memories from there as well…still have a couple of souvenirs that managed to survive all these years…again, thanks my friend…BTW – the name of Fr Parr sounds vaguely familiar to me…was he ever a chaplain at Seton Hall University, Paterson Campus??? Mebbe I’m just gettin’ old…ER


  2. John pfefferkorn says:

    Loved reading it… What a great place DBT was… Both my brother Joe (class of 1972) and I (class of 1973) graduated there…. Probably took it for granted at the time… But in retrospect what a great time and built the base for the lives we lead now…

    I was in electronics program there, but would up with a career in finance… But the fundamentals of that education and the standards they set live with me daily…

    By the way, I know Jim Matthews well…. He lives in my town and is a member of my church… I tried getting there with him Saturday but am on business in the U.K. this week…

    Thanks for taking he time to write that short article…


  3. Glad this triggered some memories. DBT was, is and will always be a special place for so many of us. Jim started following the blog … Saturday was the first time we had actually met in person.


  4. Jim Bober says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article after accidentally stumbling upon it. Without a doubt, the people who ran the ‘old mill’ made me who I am and I will never forget my time there (Class of ’73). How fortunate we all are to be DBT alumni.


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