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.
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!
He sailed the Union fleet right up the bay
He won the battle at Mobile that day
Dear Old Salamander
We praise thy name
Our hearts with love aflame [maybe]
Honor thy great name
Though soon we will graduate
Reply to Jerry Waldman,
About the Gilbert and Sullivan……that’s how I learned all the lyrics from The Mikado……Three Little Maids and the rest!
Hi Roseann Orenstein,
Thank you for your post regarding Sandra Heit. I graduated in 1958 and you’re right about Mrs Heit being among one of the great teachers. I can still remember the catcalls and guffaws when she told us that we would be studying Shakespeare and a week later had us enthralled in Julius Caesar. I didn’t remember Mr Dooley” slogan, but do remember some of the other fine teachers: Mrs. Grossman, our music teacher who would put on a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta each year. Also Mr Brown who taught history and Mrs. Umlas our French teacher.
Thanks for contributing this–I hadn’t heard that motto before, but it bears repeating!
— Jack Love
I graduated JHS 44 in 1959, having spent two years in the SPs with Mr. Melillo as my homeroom teacher and the wonderful, inspiring Mrs. Heit as my literature teacher. (Yes, making students memorize soliloquies is a good thing to do!) Actually, some of my teachers, like Mrs. Heit, were among the best I ever had, despite my continuing on to Bronx Science, CCNY and then Syracuse University for a PhD.
The principal during those years was Mr. Dooley. His slogan still crosses my mind from time to time: “We want you to be a blessing in your home, a credit to your school and a valuable member of your community.”
Thanks for your comment! Glad to hear another success story emerging from our rather strange and quirky part of The Bronx!
I attended JHS 44 from 1968 – 1971. Went on to Central Commercial in midtown, Bronx Community, School of Visual Arts, Columbia College and University of South Carolina.
Thanks for the reply. One of life’s little mysteries has been solved. Sounds like she had a great career.
Wow! Thanks so much for posting about Ms Byrne!
Born September 24, 1927 in Brooklyn she was the daughter of Patrick J. and Ruth (McKenna) Byrne.
Evelyn B. Byrne was an American who in 1967-70 ran a program for New York City’s Elizabeth Barrett Browning Junior High School, where she asked major literary and artistic figures (including J.R.R. Tolkien) of the time to write back with their recollections of what books inspired them while they were teenagers. An assortment of their responses were collected into the book “Attacks of Taste”.
Miss Byrne was indeed a teacher at JHS 44, and taught English and Social Studies there. She was my teacher in 7SP2 and 9SP2. Miss Byrne became quite famous for the horde of letters she accumulated from major literary figures. • The more than 600 letters by leading literary and artistic figures of the late 1960s eventually made their way into the James S. Copley Library in San Diego. The letters, in five binders, were auctioned off by Sotheby’s in 2010 for $32,500 with buyer’s premium. “Gone but not forgotten” and dear to hearts of her students.
I’m pretty sure her name was Byrne, first name Evelyn. JH boys are prone to getting crushes on attractive teachers. She was single, she invited the home room to an EOY party in her apt. in the West Bronx, near Sedgewick?
Could she have gotten married and changed her name?
I bet if Ms Byrne (Baron) is still walking this earth, she’d be tickled to read these comments!
I believe the blonde teacher you refer to is Ms. Baron. I also was an SP and went on to the School of Industrial Art, now renamed Art & Design.
I also am older then most of the commentators here, and followed the same path, from K-2 at 44, then PS 92, finishing up at JHS 44 (SP classes) and graduating June 1956. Then onto to CUNY-Baruch for BBA and graduate studies and the CPA designation.
The one teacher I remember is Miss Byrne, who I had in homeroom and 9th grade. Nobody here ever mentions her. Beautiful blonde women. I had a crush on her.
I appear to be a little older than the oldest person in these memos. I started kindergarten at JHS44 and went through the 2nd grade there. I then went to PS 92 through the 6th grade. Returned to JHS 44 and spent another 3 years there until June of 1950. From there I went to The School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan and from there to Pratt Institute where I received my degree in Interior Design in 1957. Went into the NY National Guard for 6 months and finished my active duty in December of that year. Married my wife Terri in March of 1958 and now looking forward to our 65 wedding anniversary coming up in March 2023.
After several years of working for various design firms, I started my own firm which I retired from several years ago. The firm is known as Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers and is now located in Livingston, NJ. The firm employs 66 people at this writing and is now operated by my two sons.
My name at the time of attendance at 44 was Marvin Jarmolowsky, prior to graduating from Pratt, with my father’s permission, I shortened my name to Jarmel.
My favorite teacher was Gwendolyn Umlas who was my homeroom teacher when in the 9th grade. As it turned out, Mrs. Umlas’ husband was an assistant principal at Industrial Art, proving it is a small world.
I lived at 673 E. 176th street, just two blocks from the school. I have lost contact with most of my boyhood and neighborhood friends through the years, but fondly remember the days at 44. I would love to hear from anyone who attended the school the same years I did.
Friends, I just realized that I have been remiss with letting you all know about the passing of a good friend, Mitchell Turbin. Mitch was a graduate of JHS 44, Class of 1966. He retired to Portland, OR and left us in November, 2021 at the age of 69. Mitch was a brilliant political scientist who possessed a wicked sense of humor. We do miss him terribly. May his memory be bound with ours so that he lives on forever through us. Blessed is the True Judge.
Dear Oswaldo. I wish I could be of better assistance, but at least you’ve arrived at the only place on the ‘Net that is concerned with JHS 44. If anyone googles the school, they wind up here, which is probably how you got here!
I went to JHS 44 My name is Oswaldo Lucky Perez from 72-75 I have a lot of fond memories of that school I did a lot of things it was a wild time for me ? wish I could get in touch with all of my friends from there God bless you all ? hope all is well with you guys one love ?
The only first-hand experience I have is that the desk I sat at had Oswald’s name inscribed on it. I have no idea if he really did it, of course. This issue has come up a few times. Certainty is elusive, but it seems like he *very briefly* attended the school during a period when his mother was moving around.
Any 1952 graduates who can actually confirm going to school with Lee Harvey Oswald? Apparently no one has ever been found that can place him there and he may not have actually been there…
I had a similar situation. My family moved from E. 179th St (near Southern Blvd) to the Soundview section of the Bronx. Because of that, I attended JHS 44 for 7th and 8th grades, then JHS 125 for 9th. As I’m sure you know, today PS 44 is just K-5th.
Sad to say that the PowerPoint presentation that Mort Sternheim created of the 2006 reunion in Delray Beach is no longer available. The server which housed that presentation is no longer online.
Hope you get some results. One thing I’m sure about at this time–there’s no better place on the ‘Net to be looking…
I graduated in 1962 and I had attended PS 92 earlier. I am looking for any friends that I knew back in the day.
Someone who reads this post does have a yearbook which dates to the early ’60s. Hopefully they will reply to you.
My dad, Peter Poulakis, taught there in the ’60’s. I’ve been looking for old yearbooks from around that time on eBay.
Dear Mort–welcome to our little club. Given that JHS 44 is now ancient history, Entropy is turning this into a very small club.
But I’m glad you made it!
The reason I’m writing is that I had a similar disaster. My daughter’s wedding was recorded by a guest on her camcorder and she mailed me the one and only copy. A couple of months later, I copied another camcorder file into that directory without realizing the filenames were identical. You can guess the rest.
I graduated un June 1947 and went to Bronx Science and got degrees from CCNY, NYU, and Columbia. I am a retired University of Massachusetts physics professor, I attended the 2006 reunion in Boca Raton and created the slide show somebody mentioned. Unfortunately the server which housed that PowerPoint is no longer online and I do not have a copy. The reunion was a lot of fun!
Thanks for your contribution!
I attended ’56-’58, just after Errol Reiss. Didn’t know any of the people he mentioned nor the teachers. Mrs. Grossman was the music teacher who instilled in us a fondness for Gilbert and Sullivan. Sandra Heit was our English teacher.
When she said that we’d be doing Shakespeare, the boos and jeers were loud, but we were spellbound when she read Julius Caesar to us.
Friends were Harriet Kitover, Joyce Miller, Rhoda Chamsky, Gloria Morales, Dorothy Weinstock, Chuck Strouchler, Marvin Rosen, Arthur Goldstein, Larry Moss, Arthur Shushan Mike Sternberg, Ray Powell (sorry for spelling errors.)
Hope that Arlin S Weingold can get the 2006 reunion to open so we could see it.
Attended JHS 44 from ’53 to ’55. I was in 7SP2 and 9SP2. My friends there were: Burton Schall, Martin Sklar, Joel Sandak, Dan Pochoda, Jack Mazelis, and Henry Spanier, Michael Wassen and Michael Weber. Girls in the class were Francine Pike, Arlene Klein, Harriet Katzman, Dollie Smid. Two teachers taught most of our classes: Mrs. Delia Drill (Math, science), and Ms. Evelyn Byrne (English, Social Studies). Mrs. Drill was serious and strict and loved the music of Glenn Miller. Ms. Byrne was very pretty, smart and vivacious. I liked her a lot. I can’t remember the name of our music teacher but she was very effective and taught us the Lord’s Prayer, and music of Gilbert and Sullivan. I loved school and had many friends there. We all thought we were very smart and would do great things in our lives. It is too bad that the Cross Bronx Expressway broke up our neighborhoods, and that the City had so little respect for JHS 44 that there is no official recognition of the school’s history. Thanks to the person who keeps this site alive so that a part of our history is not completely forgotten.
Sorry this took so long–I usually get notified of new comments, but for some reason I didn’t see this one.
I went to PS 67 on Mohegan Ave,I graduated in 1946 then went to JHS 44 and graduated in 1948 before attending Roosevelt HS.. There was a wonderful JHS 44 reunion of all class years in Delray Beach in 2006 with a great slideshow, but I can’t get it to open anymore.
Those were simpler and very gratifying times and I think back fondly of my childhood growing upm on Vyse Avenue and 178th Street.
Jerry Millman, was PS 67 the one in West Farms near the subway? If so, that’s where I went to Kindergarten!
Thanks load for 44 coverage. Attended there 1943-45. Had mr dicker, gambella, Mrs Brody, miss strumwasser, mr Schapiro, Rosenberg. Asst. Principal mr meyerwitz. Came back in 59 as I.A. TEACHER. Taught wood and metal shop for 3 years then went to L.I. LIVED AT 854 E.175 ST. GREAT MEMORIES.USED PRYLUCK PHARMACYANY TIMES. Was MEMBER OF THE NEPTUNES AT PS 67 COMMUNITY CENTER. WENT TO CLINTON TIL 49 THEN CCNY, LEFT FOR KOREAN.Conflict. Great neighborhood and memories.
Dear Cliff. First of all, my deepest sympathies on passing of your mother. May her memory serve always as a blessing.
Second, I don’t know what you mean by “donate,” but if you scan the photo you can post it here and it will be here for as long as the blog is maintained.
Finally, welcome to our blog, one of the few places on the World Wide Web which maintains the memory of JHS 44.