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

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

  1. Hi, Alumni
    I was a transfer student that attended JHS 44, forevermore in 1963. Mr. Nicholas Chichetti, was our principal. I remember our sadness when the announcement of President John F. Kennedy assassination shocked us young students.
    Mr. Salta, was our band teacher. In 1964, I was in the orchestra and played timpani drums during our graduation ceremonies at Roosevelt, HS.

    In later years, I graduated from Queens College, with a B. A.
    Fordham University, with a M. S.

    2004, I retired from the City of New York
    I am currently a Recording Artist and Independent Music Publisher

  2. Sorry it took so long to approve this! I must have missed the notification in my email that you had written.

    — Jack Love

  3. I attended 1944-1947. I was squeezed in between Dr. Salk and Oswald. The movie studio was not in use when I was there. For a while, later, a friend’s father operated it as a gymnasium. At one time it became known that Kim Novak was there shooting a movie. The students were all excited and there was little attention to education. The school invited Ms. Novak to come to speak to the students. She accepted. She spoke to them in a beautiful way in the auditorium after which education continued. Remember Ms. McGreevey who monitored the schoolyard? When Dr. Salk became known for his Polio vaccine, reporters showed up at the school to learn more about him and Ms. McGreevey was there to greet them. Of course, she said, she remembered Jonas. A nice boy. When Oswald became infamous, reporters showed up again and Ms. McGreevey was still there and of course she remembered Oswald also. (Nobody ever showed up to find out about me). I lived at 871 E. 178th Street, which was the same block as PS.67 between Mohegan and Honeywell.

  4. I assure you, just about everyone finds this spot on the ‘Net by accident. But I am happy to throw out the welcome mat to you!

  5. I came across this site by accident. I started teaching mathematics at 44 in Sept. 1960. My job interview with Principal James Dooley was the most honest one I ever had or conducted. ” How do you do, sit down. If you work out we will keep you, if not we will let you go.” He kept 6 of the approximately 15 who were hired.
    I taught math until Dec. 1969 when I was appointed Assistant Principal.
    In Sept. 1973 we moved the entire staff to the new IS 167 at Tremont and West Farms Road. I transferred to P.S. 92 in 1979, IS 193 in 1982, and took early retirement in 1991.
    I noted the names of many former students and teachers at 92. Principals Jim Dooley, Nick Cicchetti, Martin Roberts, A.P.s Sarah Weiner Schertzer, Bea Mangin, John Ryan and Ed Ferraro with whom I worked.
    The day JFK was killed is a most memorable one, but possibly for another time.

  6. Dear Julius,

    Thanks for your comment! From this and an article that appeared in the NY Times 11/20/2013 I learned a few details about Oswald’s stay in the Bronx. There are some creepy parallels to my family’s sojourn there. Oswald first lived on Sheridan Ave–that’s exactly the same street my parents moved to when they came to the Bronx. He then moved to 825 E. 179th St, the address you mentioned. We lived (several years later) at 778 E. 179th St. Bizarre, no? Anyway, I have never claimed that I sat at Oswald’s desk. All I can say is that the name “Lee Oswald” was carved into my desk, and I first noticed it the day after the assassination.

  7. Oswald did not graduate He was only in New York for one year in 1953and he refused to go to school. I know because I was his next door neighbor at 825 E 179th street.He was a constant truant.

  8. I’ll email you and when you reply, I’ll send your email address to Jerry. Trying to respect everyone’s privacy.

  9. Thank you.
    Is it possible to get Jerry Millman’s email address so that I can connect with him directly?

  10. Al and Jerry, thank you for sharing these brief but poignant comments! Al, so sorry to learn of your brother’s untimely passing. It’s been more than half a century now and I’m sure those bitter moments are still vivid in your memory. May his name serve as a blessing.

  11. Jerry,
    Great to hear from you. Yes, my brother Bernie died in WWII on Feb 12, 1945. That was the same date as my birthday. I was 10 years old at the time. Glad that you remembered that I was called Albie. Brings back lots of memories. Like the Dorin’s who lived on the 1st floor. I’am 86 now so you should be in your 90’s. Have 3 children and 8 grandchildren who all live in Calif.
    Hope you are doing well and got your Vaccine shots. We did

  12. Wow Albie Lelchuck. This is jerry millman of 864 e.175st. lived on 4th floor. I remember when your brother was killed in WWII MY BEDROOM had window in alley facing Louise Orenstein’s window. Attended 44, 1943-45 then Clinton & CCNY.

  13. Hi Alumni,
    Went to 44 for 1st & 2nd grade then to PS 61 for 3rd thru 6th. Then back to JHS 44 for 7th thru 9th grade.Graduated Jan 51. Then Haaren High School, Hunter College, Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and went to work in the Defense industry in California. Now Living in Las Vegas in retirement and plating golf. The only teacher I remember was Mr. Gambell. My best friend in school was Zane Marsh. BTW I also lived at 854 E. 175th St. Apt. 21 but don’t remember Jerry Millman.

  14. I graduated PS 92 in 1952. Spent the next three years at 44. My favorite teachers were Miss Drill (science) and Mr. Bernstein (SS). My good buds were Edmund Gallo, Frankie Carlo, and Claude Johnson. My music teacher was Mrs. Lehman. She was very strict, but she opened up a world of music for me that I didn’t know existed.
    Bob Blumenthal

  15. Shapiro was my home room and English teacher. Umlas got pregnant and her French class was taken over by Wilensky who failed me. There was a Stanley Henderson in my SP class who wore bow ties. Sorry don’t recall you.

  16. Hi Jerry Goldfarb. We had some classes together. I remember Mr. Shapiro was the music teacher and taught us great songs like “Give Me Some Men, Who are Stout-Hearted Men”. We also learned the fight songs of a bunch of colleges. I remember having to learn a square dance for some show. I loved Mrs. Umlas’ French class. I believe Mrs. Wilensky was the typing teacher. I remember playing hooky once and a student named Stanley and I when to Crotona Park where he fell in the lake. We both got detention. Ah, what an innocent, joyous time!

  17. was in the 7th grade at JHS 44 in sewing class when it was announced that President Kennedy was shot. When we returned to school we learned that Lee Harvey Osborne had attended 44 in the 50s. I also learned where he had lived and that I at one time lived about a block away and probably walked past his apartment building at the time he lived there on the way to my grandparents apartment.

  18. I also went to jhs 44 in the bronx many years ago. Good memories there. I wonde if the hand ballcourts are still across the street.

  19. I attended SP classes 51-52. Remember teachers Shapiro Baron Umlas Wilensky. Classmates Martin Goldstein Lloyd Glick Steve Harr Miriam Fonda Judy Rosenthal Joan Braun Henry Scher Melvin Reiner Gerald Izbutsky Stanley Henderson Barbara Haberman

  20. Great Bio. I attended in the late 50’s. Of all the names you mentioned, I recognized one– Gibney, the librarian. Enjoy the rest of your retirement!

    WJR

  21. Hi Jerry. Of course we were (practically) neighbors. Our tenement was 778 E 179th street–between Prospect and Mapes.

    — Jack

  22. Hi All! Sorry it took me so long to get to this, but I had two spend a day getting my hip replaced at our great UTennessee Medical Center. I’m home now and starting the recovery process, but so far it looks like I can use my computer and the keyboard. Anyway, I know we all love seeing these comments. Thanks to some new info contributed by other friends, I hope to have a post or two adding to the knowledge here and even some photos!
    — Jack Love

  23. Hi Fellow Grads,
    my name is Jerry Millman and I attended 44 1943-1945. Went on to Clinton & CCNY. Returned to 44 in 56 as a shop teacher. Fond Memories as a student. Great faculty included Mr. Shapiro & Rosenberg Phys. Ed., Mrs Brody English, Mr Dicker Language, Mr Lewis woodshop, Mr. Cortellini shop, Mr. Hagen metal shop, Mrs Gibney Librarian, Meyerwitz asst. principal,Mrs. Mattis, social studies etc. While teaching there the Cross Bronx Expressway under construction, the whole bldg. shook. The North side windows startedto break and pipes leaked in the bath rooms. As a kid i lived at 854 E. 175th st. 3 blocks from the school. also lived at 1791 Prospect next to Crotona Pk. N., Side note( Bob Green, my best man and husband of Anita Bryant attende 44 as well with me. unfortunately he passed a few years ago. To the individual from Boynton Beach, we moved there in 1986 and lived in Aberdeen at the Moorings. Lots more another time.

  24. I can’t believe I discovered this site just weeks after cleaning out old documents and finding a class photo of my Farragut graduating class of 1950.

    There are some folks I haven’t thought about for decades and yet their names sprung immediately to mind. Maybe some of you know what’s become of any of them: Sid Levithan, Jerome Lepow, Hyman Sternlicht, Rich Biondi, Itsy Goldenberg, Elaine Seplowitz, Fleurette Cohen, Ronnie Goldberg, Marilyn Cass, Millicent’s Reale, Aileen Simon, Kay Major, Julian Siegel and so many more.

  25. I just discovered this blog, googling JHS 44 and Evelyn Byrne, who was my homeroom teacher and social studies teacher in the 9th grade. I graduated in June 1956 and then went to Bx Science and Baruch. I remember watching them build the Cross Bronx from the window one afternoon a week. We lived at 775 East 175th street, down the block from the Biograph Studios, back when it was still a somewhat distinguished looking double wing building. It eventually was destroyed during the bad times and the site now is part of a large Sanitation Department facility.

    I vaguely remember Mr. Salter the music teacher, I know he was involved with an early television show.

    The only student I remember is David Lopez. I think we either put on a play or rehearsed one that was filmed for a TV show but it is all a fuzzy memory.

    I live in Boynton Beach Fl. now but come up to NY for 5 weeks every tax season;I always try to block out time to visit the old neighborhood but it just never works out.

    This is a wonderful blog, hope it keeps going.

  26. Wow a blast from the past..I am still singing that song.
    Great teachers prepped me for Bronx Science

  27. Not sure if this will post I also posted 10/7/09 last. Responding to Harvey who posted 3/5/2010. I also was in 7th grade and graduated 1966. Believe I had Mr Schaefer for history and Mt Savitsky for music. Would love to get in contact

  28. i attended ps 44 in 1965 .2 buses ,no lockers all your books carried to and from school every day.had sp classes then finished jr high in 2 years.

  29. Fascinating comments, thanks for sharing. Looks like you had to go around (or through) Crotona Park to get there. Oswald’s name was carved into the desk where I sat in one of my classes. Obviously I don’t know anything about his attendance record other than he apparently was there long enough to practice whittling. 🙂

  30. Attended Farragut from ’58 to ’60 as an SP. I grew up in the Claremont section of the Bronx, and it was a really long commute. None of my teachers at 44 strike me as having been extraordinarily inspiring, but certainly competent, with the exception of one English teacher who, looking back, I’m pretty sure was some kind of a right wing radical with a distorted world view. On the other hand our Guidance Counselor was super. To this day, I’m still guided by the memory of his wise advice, principles and insights.

    As for the Lee Harvey Oswald thing, he did apparently barely attend Farragut for a short time in the early ’50’s, but was a chronic absentee
    and by the age of 12 was already being described as having serious psychological problems by NYC Board of Ed psychologists.

  31. Mr Salzman wrote school song
    Biograph Studio made Butterfield 8 with Liz Taylor
    Series Eastside Westside with George C Scott
    Another movie with Marlon Brando & Anna Magniani where they made a fire & burnt a set for the movie

  32. I went to JHS 44 from 1957-1958. It was a good school, but was a long distance from where I lived. Had to take a long bus ride to get their.

  33. I believe someone who has posted here does have that yearbook.. Perhaps they can get it scanned for us.

  34. I attended 63-66. Was in sewing when it was announced that pres kennedy was shot. Remember when we returned to school that Lee Harvey Oswald’ had attended the school. Does anyone have a copy of the 1966 yearbook.

  35. Hi All,
    I attended PS # 44. 1964-1966. I often think of the people and teachers I met there. I live in another state but came to NY last summer to the 911 Memorial. I did get the opportunity to ride by the school remembering all the big snow fights and the wonderful musical that were performed. I’m now a retired first grade teacher who enjoys volunteering at a local community hospital, working in my yard, working in my church, traveling, knitting, and enjoying family and friends.

  36. I was in the SP class and believe graduated 1952 Mr Shapiro was English and Home Room.

  37. Attended PS44, K-2nd grade from 1951 to 1953 then onto PS61 for grades 3-6
    Returned to PS44 for grades 7,8,9,
    Graduated from grade 9 in 1959

  38. I also attended 44 from 1950-1951. It was not my district J.H.S. but the closest one to have the “S.P. Classes. The Biograph studios were once movie studios, my friends and I would go there on lunch breaks. It was exhilarating and frightening at the same time. There was a long, winding staircase covered in spider webs, and old abandoned sets with remnants of discarded furniture. Great fun!

  39. Hi! Yes, there is some sort of a problem with my scanner. The photo is incredible. I will see what I can do about posting it.

  40. I just found a class photo of JHS 44 Farragut from 1944 in an old album. I was able to identify my father who passed away many years ago. I am fascinated by it. This year would be the 90th birthday of the kids in this picture. I wish there were a way to identify some of these people and piece their stories together. I know my dad went on to graduate from James Monroe High School, also in the Bronx but I am not sure if that was where everyone from Farragut went or if the family had moved. Any information anyone can share with me about this time period at JHS 44, I would be most appreciative. Thanks.

  41. Hello M. Finkelstein. Sorry you had some bad experiences. I suspect most of us had experiences both good and bad–I know I had a few things happen I’d love to forget. But I also made some life-long friends there and learned enough to get to Bronx Science and several first rate universities. So there’s that. In any case, thanks for sharing and welcome to our very small club.

  42. I went to JHS 44 in 1957-58, then on to HS of Industrial Arts, I hated that school, I had to take two city buses to get there and walk through Crotona Park, what bad memories I had of going there,

  43. I went to kindergarten through 2b and then transferred to PS 92 for grades 3-6 and then back to 44 for grades 7-9, finishing in June of 1950. From there I went on to the School of Industrial Art and then onto Pratt institute where I earned my BFA with a major in Interior Design. At the time, my name was Marvin Jarmolowsky. Prior to graduating from Pratt, I changed my name legally to Marvin Jarmel. Since then, I worked in several NYC design firms and then became the facility director for Automatic Data Processing. After 6 years of building some 82 facilities, I started my own firm in 1975 and have had great success.. Today, I am a retiring principal of Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers, Inc. My two sons have taken over the firm and the firm employs approximate 63 people and has a very and strong reputation in the design community.

    While at JHS 44, my favorite teacher’s name was Gwendolyn Umlas….she was both my home room teacher and French teacher. It was she who encouraged me to follow my dream to become a designer. Her husband just also happened to be the vice principal at my high school SIA in Manhattan.

    Going back to the history of JHS44, one is grateful to have had the opportunity to attend that great school. Irene Taub was principal when I attended.

  44. Hi admin,
    Yes, I knew you didn’t have the web site.
    But there are many people here who’ve posted memories of 44. If you do turn it into a web site, I’d be glad to help.

    Thank you and regards,

    Jerry (Class of 1958)

  45. Hi Jerry! I assume you put “official place” in quotes because you understand that there is no such thing. Apparently I am the only person who thought our experiences in this wonderful place were worth memorializing, and I’m happy to give it a home. When I have a bit more free time, I might try to turn it into a real Web site.

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