January 8, 2011

Q & A with Larry Bory, class of 1960; Washington lawyer and lobbyist

Where did you live in Levittown, when did you move there:

We moved to Levittown in 1947 and lived on Honeysuckle Lane and then in 1949 when the new models were built, moved to Squirrel Lane.

What were some of your earliest memories of Levittown:

Our first house was on Division Avenue near Hempstead Turnpike. The seepage basin was right behind it. There was no fence and when my mother saw it, she called Levitt and Sons and got us moved to Honeysuckle Lane, a few blocks away. I remember the blizzard of 1948 when we got more than 3 feet of snow and my dad and I had to climb out the back window to shovel the 7 foot drift against the front door. After 1948 Christmas we helped some older kids collect Christmas trees who dumped them in the seepage basin and set them on fire. The flames were 100 feet high.

I went to the Quonset Hut which was the first Levittown school until Gardiners Avenue was built. After that Division Avenue was built and I went there through 3rd grade. Russ Green and I were in class together. Northside was built and I went there for 4th grade. Then Summit Lane was built and I went there for 5th. By 6th grade I was back at Division. Ellen Rees and Karen Balos were in my class, as well as Russ. Ellen, Karen and I had Mr. Flynn and were selected to go to Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s home on the Hudson on a field trip.

Who were some of your first friends:

Tommy Young, Arnie Mark, Russ Green, and Jeph Astman were closest geographically. I was 4 when we moved to Honeysuckle Lane so don’t remember any of the neighborhood kids.

Was attending Division Avenue High School a good experience, any teachers you really enjoyed:

Since I had been there for so many years it was very comfortable and I was happy when they made it a high school. I regret that they created academic tracks and I was in the college prep class, since I didn’t get to know a lot of other kids.

Sterling Morrison, Joan Lucas, Dewain Lanfear, Ellen, Karen and Russ were in the class. I enjoyed Mr. Chenevey best. He was a very good communicator and I admired his no bullshit male style. Also Crane, Ms Coates, Streb, Erath, Reggio and Ms Schatz. Chapman was a great guy;
very funny. Dr. Sherman who did our sports physical had the coldest hands. Also Mr. Freifeld who helped with the Junior Show and Sy Madanick the track coach.

You participated in many activities in high school. What were some of the most memorable:

Junior Show, yearbook, track, Honor Society. Probably one of the most fun things was the insurgent campaign that Russ Green and I conducted to wrest leadership of the GO from Ira Selsky and Iris Orenstein. We ran a great campaign and almost won. That was the best because we shook up the leaders and didn’t have to serve.

What was special about being in the first graduating class:

We created the traditions. We didn’t know what we were doing, but it didn’t matter because we had good advisors who let us lead.

As I recall, your classmate Jeph Astman's dad, Dr. Joseph Astman, got you interested in attending Trinity College in Connecticut. Tell us about this connection:

Jeph was a friend, so I spent a lot of time in his house and got to know his dad. When he found out I was interested in the little Ivy League, he recommended I consider Trinity and it turned out to be a great choice for me.

After graduating from Trinity, you went to law school. How was that experience:

Law School was boring and scary. There was no camaraderie like college. It was very cut throat. When I found out what the business of law was about (bringing in clients and accruing hours on the chance of becoming partner) I lost interest in the practice of law. But I discovered Capitol Hill working summers for UPI Newsfilm and decided the policy of creating the law was very interesting.

You spent many years as a Washington D.C. lobbyist. Did you ever practice law and what is the difference between a lawyer and a lobbyist:

My only practice was as a government lawyer which was mostly boring. I left the Department of Commerce to work in Northern Virginia for local governments and that’s where I first lobbied with the Virginia legislature on a number of issues to benefit local governments.

Lobbyists persuade legislators and agencies to change law or regulations to benefit clients and/or public. Lawyers represent clients on contracts, tax, litigation, land use. Both require becoming specialized to be successful.

What were some of your career highlights:

The highlights of my career were working with engineers, who I respect
greatly (I am really a failed engineer), to accomplish changes in environmental law, infrastructure, tax, liability, that benefits engineers and their clients most of whom are public agencies. My biggest successes were beating the EPA on the Clean Water Act and Superfund, beating DOD on small business procurement, and creating relationships with federal agencies to recognize the important things that engineers do for the economy, quality of life, and the environment.

You are recently retired. How do you do to keep busy:

I’m really only semi retired. I have my own lobbying business and still represent large engineering firms, a midwest city and soon, I hope, a California manufacturer. Hopefully all this will be turned over to someone else in the next year or so, so Marellen and I can travel and do other things away from Washington.

Something that your old schoolmates would be surprised to learn about you:

I still act and sing in community theater and my church choir, although based on my work in the Junior Show, maybe it’s not so surprising. I live in Old Town Alexandria, George Washington’s town and love history, as well as travel to other lands and cultures.

There have been three mini class reunions in the west in recent years. The first one, in Los Angeles, was your idea. There is one planned for Key West in February. Is this the wave of the future for aging alumni classes:

As we age I find myself less interested to wait 5 years and all the work to set up a reunion. I regret I missed the one big 50th reunion this August. But I prefer the smaller group such as we had in Vegas in April. I’ve always liked small dinner parties with good talk and good food, more than big gatherings.


Anonymous said...

It amazes me that I was in the second graduating class, & they made us feel welcomed at Division Avenue H.S.I went from graduating Wisdom Lane in 57 right into the 9th grade at Division Avenue. the years flew by so fast, & bingo I was in the Navy during the Vietnam war, in those days they called it a conflict, some conflict, I lost a ot of pals in a unknown country at that time Viet Nam. Many of the seniors i graduated with never made it home from this so called conflict. So the years keep on going & you sir are a great service reminding me of how it was being a citizen of Levittown. Brian Fisher Class of 1961

Anonymous said...

Great story. So nice to read about the lives of people we only knew as teenagers. thanks Frank.
Jerry Reichert class of 1961