David Farragut Junior High School (JHS 44) Bronx, New York

Note: A few extra notes and corrections as a result of correspondence with several alumni of JHS 44: Mitch Turbin, Rob Slayton and Larry Pryluck.

Due to a family move between the 8th and 9th grades, I attended two Junior High Schools. My 7th and 8th grades were located within the ancient (19th century) halls of Junior High School 44 which had taken the name of David Farragut, America’s first Rear Admiral and a hero of both the War of 1812 (having enlisted at the age of 12!) and the Civil War. Those of us in the Bronx didn’t know much about New Orleans, so the tales of David Farragut were my first introduction to that exotic place.

jhs-44-bronx

Much to the chagrin of the school, its most famous graduate was Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President of John F. Kennedy. Most of us who lived through that event recall exactly where we were at the moment we heard the news. I was in JHS 44′s Wood Shop when the announcement came over the school speaker. I think we went home early that day, although I don’t recall that clearly. Some time later I noticed that one of the names carved into a desk where I sat was Lee Oswald. It may have been the prank of one of my contemporaries, who knows.

If I remember correctly, the school had two graduates more worthy of recall. Dr. Jonas Salk, the inventor of the Polio vaccine, and Hank Greenberg, a rare example of a Jewish major league baseball player.

On a visit to New York City a few years ago, I found myself close enough to 44 to take a walk over and see how the old building was faring. I was surprised (actually) to see that it was still in operation, but it is now an elementary school, grades K-6. It was a little sad. Not exactly my fondest memories to begin with, no one seemed to have the remotest interest in talking about the school’s former glories. So I left without much to show for my interest other than the dying embers of a few more synapses. It turns out that JHS 44 was at least in part an elementary (K-6) school even in my day. Larry Pryluck actually attended K-1 there. I don’t know how many other schools were like this in New York City, combining the youngest school children with middle schoolers, but it would be interesting to discover. Larry then joined me in Mrs. Mitchell’s 2nd grade class at PS 92.

Larry reminded me of another of JHS 44′s distinctions, although it was hardly a credit to the school so much as the neighborhood. Strange as it may seem now, that crumbling part of the Bronx was home to a televsion studio-Biograph Studios. Biograph was the home of Naked City and Car 54 Where Are You? Naked City was a bit before my time, but I remember Car 54 very well. The cast included Joe E. Ross, Fred Gwynn, Al Lewis and Nipsey Russell (!). I don’t know how often these guys were seen around the neighborhood, but a few of my family were in the background of scenes shot on Southern Boulevard. Naked City is easily available at this time, but unfortunately Car 54 is out of print as I write this. There is a movie by the same name, but it has the distinction of being rated the worst film since Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space so I wouldn’t recommend it.

David Farragut JHS had a somewhat well-known school song which celebrated its namesake. Although just about every High School has a school song, Junior High songs are not common, and good ones are rare. JHS 44 had had a good music teacher who came up with a song I’d bet would be a candidate for “best in show”. The one time that Google has failed me in recent years is the time that I put in some of the words expecting to find that one of my classmates or teachers had uploaded the words to the song, but nothing turned up. There are gaps in what I recall, so here’s my first attempt. If others can help me fill in the gaps, I’d post a music file to preserve this little memory of a Bronx backwater.

Lets give a cheer for dear old 44

For all the boys and girls who’ve gone before

Lets cheer the green and white

And shout with all our might

For David Farragut!

[gap]

He sailed the Union fleet right up the bay

He won the battle at Mobile that day

[gap]

Dear Old Salamander

We praise thy name

Our hearts with love aflame [maybe]

Honor thy great name

Though soon we will graduate

[more gap]

JHS44 in 2010

PS 44 (No longer JHS!) in 2010

83 thoughts on “David Farragut Junior High School (JHS 44) Bronx, New York

  1. Sorry, I didn’t leave my e-mail, for the Prylucks or anyone else to contact me:
    marsh@zahav.net.il

    Also, I got to this site because I just took out a Target card, which enables you to donate about 1% of purchases to a school of your choice. Since I don’t have kids — in school or otherwise, I thought of designating 44, and wanted to make sure it was still there :-). How about making 44 the recipient of our cards, and thus helping the struggling school to do better?

  2. I went to JHS 44 many years ago. My district school was actually Herman Ritter JHS 98 but I was sent to JHS 44 because of the SP classes. My friend Donna and I used to walk home after class and we watched the filming of Car 54 many times. We were “silly” JHS girls and used to giggle because the filming did not include voice and many times Fred Gwynn and Al Lewis would mouth their lines and no sound was heard. One day my friend Donna decided she wanted an autograph but we had no paper with us so she picked up a dirty piece of cardboard off the sidewalk and went over to Fred Gwynn and asked for his autograph. He looked at her strangely and then wrote, “tell your mother to use Beacon Wax”. I never forgot that. We saw filming of Naked City and other shows as well, but Car 54 was our favorite.

  3. Went to JHS 44 from 1956–1959. It was a funny and happy time. The neoghborhood was a different place then. Went back there in 2005, took pictures. Still live in the Bronx!
    Email is Alanemm@Verizon.net
    –Alan Mandel

  4. I started teaching at faragut in 1952. I remember when the news of Dr. salk
    came out and the sect. there said she knew him when he went to Faragut. welooked up his ld records in the basement and saw that he had average grades. I taught the electricity shop till 1959 then left to work in a 600 school.
    I retired from NYC shools in 1981 and worked in florida shools till 1988. I am86 yrs old and enjoying a wonderful retirement.many hobbies and great family.

  5. I went to PS 44 when it was a Junior High School back in 1967 thru 1969, I am looking for classmates, Aixa Rivera sister Maria Ortiz, Samuel Gonzalez, Basilio Vega (Bee), Jesus Garcia, Jose Sanchez, please if anybody knows anybody or are friends with thes on said:

    I lived in Crotona Park North between Crotona Avenue, close to Calmado Crespo Grocery Store

  6. I went to PS 44 when it was a Junior High School back in 1967 thru 1969, I am looking for classmates, Aixa Rivera sister Maria Ortiz, Samuel Gonzalez, Basilio Vega (Bee), Jesus Garcia, Jose Sanchez, please if anybody knows anybody or are friends with thes on said:

    I went to PS 92, 3 thru 6 grade – 1968 thru 1970 PS 44, looking for classmates, I lived at 701 Crotona Park North (close to Grocery Store Crespo) between Crotona Avenue, cross the street from Crotona Park
    e-mail msalej@mdpd.com

  7. I went to PS 44 1968 thru 1970, 7 thru 9 grade, before that I went to PS 92 for 3 thru 6 grade
    I am looking for classmates
    Maria Salej

  8. I also went to school thru 1969 and Aixa Rivera was my best friend. I found Aixa a year ago after 40 plus years. We have visited each other and maintain contact. She will be visiting nect week. I remembet Mr. Culhane, Mr. Fennel who were our Gym teachers. Also Classmates Gary and Clarence, Yvonne Crespo and Gladys Rodriguez just to name a few. Does anyone know where they are?

  9. I attended PS 44 back in 1966-1967. My best friend was Socorro Lugo. We kept in contact when I moved to Germany but then lost track of each other. I would really like to hear from her.

  10. I attended P.S. 44 JHS between 1967-1969 and had Ms. McKinley as my home room teacher… Would be nice to reconnect with others who where there at the same time.

  11. I recently purchased some odds and ends and in one of the boxes was a framed picture of the Farragut JHS 44 class of 1944, all the students in one picture. Is there someone who would be interested to have it to distribute to your friends? Please contact me and I’ll gladly pack it and ship it from Long Island via UPS. – Doug

  12. I am looking for Maritza Suarez and Gladys Rosario. We went to 44 frim 1967 to 1969 aling with Si a Rivera Maria Ortiz, Yvonne Crespo. Does anyone have contac with any if these friends. I maintain contain with Aixa and Maria but with to know about the others. Anybody?

  13. My Father and his six siblings each attended P.S.44 from the years of 1912 thru 1927. The family (nine total) resided at 670 E. 176th Street. The name of the building
    was “San Pietro & Paolo” and was right within walking distance of the school.
    The building was razed in the early sixties.
    Often, and into his early ninties, he would reminisce about P.S.44 and he would sing
    the school alma mater. He also sang a song that was sung by the summer school
    children which went like this “Three hours of fun and games and singing and then its home again.”
    My father’s older sister had an autograph album signed by her teachers in 1917.
    I have misplaced it in moving, but I do remember some of the names in her book:
    Miss Crabtree, Mr. Peterson, and the Principal and assistant Principal Mr. Flood
    and Mr. Stevens. When I locate the album I will post the other names.
    My Father would assist Mr. Peterson in the Printing Shop and received a certificate
    of merit in 1927, which was also the year that he graduated.
    Also, from the years of 1932 thru 1992, my father’s business was located on
    East Tremont Avenue not far from P.S.44 and he would always mention that one day he would like to actually go in for a tour to see if anything would look familiar.
    I know that this wonderful sight that I happened to come across today would have
    made him smile from ear to ear.
    May God Bless all of you who have made this possible, and I hope to read much
    more in the days ahead.

  14. im 11 years old and my time in that school is up ive been there since pre k all the way to 5th grade i just wanted to know the history in the school ive been in for a long time some people say that it was a bome shelter

  15. I went to jhs44 from 1967-1969 7th through 9th grade. I lived up the block at 805 Fairmount place. I can remember maybe two classmates Geraldine Saunders, and Debra Voss. If anyone knows who I am please email me. Thanks.

  16. Nice site. I graduated from 44 in ’47, when the school principal was Irene S. Taub. Under the direction of a very nice English teacher named Dorothy Furman, we started a mimeographed newspaper called The Farragut Log. It was the first of many publications I’ve written for since then.
    Regarding Oswald, one correction. He was registered at 44 in 1953, I believe, but it is probable that he attended classes for only a couple of days. One thing is certain: He is not a graduate of 44.

  17. Does anyone know about Mr. Culhane, Mr. Fennel – both gym teachers and Mrs. Berkowitz who was my teacher the year John Kennedy was assassinated?

  18. Doug Wohl offered above a picture of the 1944 graduating class at J.H.S. 44.
    However there is no address there. Please, Doug, send me something–
    a phone number and/or email ID so I may reach you.

    Thanks.

  19. I went to Junior High School 44 from 1953-1956. My favorite math teacher was Mr. Gilbert Bloom who I had for Algebra in the 9th grade. Anybody go to that school during this time.

  20. I went to JH school 44 from 1966 to 1968. I lived around the corner on 175th Street between Prospect and Clinton Avenues. I often drive drive through my old neighborhood and relive my many memories of growing up. Some of my old schoolmates were marilyn williams, carol williams and rosa santiago. Has anyone kept up with them?

  21. I also attended JHS 44. I remember it was Friday afternoon (1963) when JFK got shot. They sent everyone to their home rooms that day to hear the sad news. That day we were all dismissed early. The teacher that broke the sad news was either Mr. Richardson or Mr. Saperstein. I still remember singing the old school song. A lot of fond memories. I live in Texas now. What a long journey.

  22. When I went to JHS 44 it was 7-9 and K-2. My favorite teacher was my Algebra Teacher, Mr. Gilbert Blum

  23. Graduated in 1971. I remember Ms. Moser, Mr. Khouri, French teachers., the bowling team. eatting lunch on Tremont at the old ice cream parlor, pizza shop.

  24. Hello all,

    I too attended JHS 44 from ’60 to ’61. I was in the SP class which skipped 8th grade. My favorite memories were playing handball every day after school in the handball courts across the street (if they are still there). I lived at 2157 Southern Blvd. across the street from the Bronx Zoo. The zoo was one of my playgrounds and I got to know a lot about the animal world. My best friends were Jimmy Justus and Anthony Schisano. I remember walking to school every day past Moishes the biggest Jewish deli in the world. The only teacher that really stood out for me was my 6th grade teacher in PS57, Mr. Ernest Dimowitz. He was a wonderful teacher and I am only sorry I never looked him up to thank him for all the great experiences. Mr. Dimowitz had a piano in his classroom which he would play daily. He taught us ‘Tzena, tzena, tzena’ which we sang with much gusto sitting on the floor around the piano. After ’44 I went to Roosevelt on Fordham Road until graduation in 1964. I started my first job in 1965 with NY Telephone at the E56 St. central office then got drafted, went to Vietnam and came home in one piece. We were being rocketed one night and I jumped out of my bunk and sprained my ankle. The next day my C.O. and Sgt told me I was entitled to a purple heart. I laughed and refused the medal saying I wasn’t shot. One of the biggest mistakes of my life.

    Enough rambling, thanks for the memories all of you, I really enjoyed it.

    Lou

  25. Anyone remember Mr. Paul or Mrs Pulitzer? I attended 44 in 1951 & 52. I was zoned there because of the SP program. One of my most vivid memories is of an old abandoned movie studio near the school. I wonder if this was later turned into the TV studio mentioned in a previous blog. I was astounded to read about Oswald but pleased to see Jonas Salk’s name. I missed most of my first year at 44 owing to polio

  26. graduated in 1943. Irene Taub was principal. Other teachers were mrs coblenz,Mrs brody,Mr. shapiro, Mr rosenberg Mrs gibney(librarian). Mr. Meyerwitz was asst. principal.Shapiro gave us phys. ed.in Crotona Pk. that included marching drills and simulater parachute jumps from the chain link fence at the entrance to the ball field. Great punchball games in schoolyard.Went on to De Witt Clinton an C.C.N.Y. and Korean war.
    GREAT MEMORIES of stickball on Prospedt Avenue

  27. I attended 44 from 1955-57.
    You’ll be surprised to learn that Gil Blum and I communicate with one another. Gil was my favorite as well, although he was never my teacher-he was the G.O. advisor, one of many activities for which he volunteered. He is happy, married to the love of his life for over 60 years, lives on Long Island and has many happy memories of his years at 44. It is a privilege for me to have known him and to have renewed our friendship after so many years have passed.

  28. I attended JHS 44 from 1966-1967.

    Like many others, I attended PS 92 beforehand. Playing handball at the courts across the street from JHS 44 was a risky business back then. If the ball was hit over the wall, it would be thrown back cut in half. It was a changing time in the Bronx and you had to develop street smarts to survive. Nonetheless, JHS 44 provided a safe nurturing haven. Mr. Goldberg, a wonderful Math teacher would sacrifice his lunch hour to let us play chess in back of his home room. A Miss Torence, who resembled Jane Hathaway from the “Beverly Hillbillies,” taught band and switched me from emitting elephant howls with the French horn to hyperventilating on a Flute.

    I lived at 1970 Mapes Ave. and on the way home from school, I would pass a very active music shop selling all the latest 45 records; mostly the great Motown songs from the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes.

    Posted above, I read an entry from Sonia Jenkins asking about Carol Williams. I remember Carol. She was in my home room and I had a crush on her. It’s taken this long to admit that.

    Thanks for setting up this website. You’ve given us all an opportunity to look back and relive those days in that old school.

  29. I went to 44 as well class of 1969. I remember Mr. Culhane, Ms. Moser (nee Press), Mr. Salter, Mr. Sanchez, and playing handball. I am in Virginia now and never got back up there after I left. Give a cheer for Dear Old 44, written by James Salter.

  30. Upon reflection, my earlier post was incomplete. I read some of the other posts and recognized a name or two. I wonder if the poster Cary Groden is the same guy that was the goalie on the soccer team coached by Mr. Aliotta. I was in an SP class as well and I do remember Mr. Flournoy, Mr. Schaffer, Mr. Ryan, and Mr. Fontana. I also remember the teachers strike we had one year. Perhaps as time goes on more memories will percolate through my brain.

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