January 29, 2011

Q & A with Sandy Kelly Mincher, class of 1961; enjoyed her teachers and taught for 34 years

Where did you live in Levittown, when did you move there and where had you lived before:

I was born in Everett, MA and lived there till my dad got a job as a cameraman at NBC in NYC. I believe it was 1951. I was seven years old and going into third grade. We first rented a house on Cornflower Lane. After a year we bought a house on Honeysuckle Lane. We lived there till I was in ninth or 10th grade (I have no memory for dates or numbers). We then bought a house on Haymaker Lane.

What were some of your earliest memories of Levittown:

My earliest memories are of catching fireflies in the backyard on hot summer nights, rides along the parkway to look for rabbits and enjoy nature (we came from a city environment), spending all day at Jones Beach, climbing the tree in our front yard, the smell of honeysuckle and roses, playing in the neighbors backyards, walking to the movies, pool, and Village Green, and sledding at Bethpage Park.

Who were some of your first friends:

I was a very shy and quiet child and did not make friends easily. My earliest friend was Sally Mann. We met in Girl Scouts, I believe. Her mother was our leader. Since I was a nature lover, I loved camping with the Scouts. Sally and I were also in band and chorus together. She did not live in my neighborhood, however, so we were limited to occasional visits. Her parents were very good to me and took me places I wouldn't have had the opportunity to go to otherwise.

The kids on my street were all younger as far as I could tell. I was the oldest child in my family. My mom went to work when I was 11 or 12 and I had a lot of responsibility after that. My brother, David, and sister Karen were frequently in my care.

When we moved to Haymaker Lane I lived next to Daria Marusevich who was also in the class of 1961. This was a lucky break for me. Since Daria is so outgoing and cheerful my experiences were broadened a bit. We had a lot of good times together listening to records, going to the beach, and spending time at each other's house. We went to football, basketball, and even wrestling matches a few times. I loved watching our teams play.

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

I have fond memories of Division Avenue. My teachers were good, at least for the most part. It was a shock to me that I could no longer get away with not studying or doing homework. My favorite math teacher was Mr. Simes. He taught geometry in a way that I, a weak math student, could master and even enjoy.

Mr. Reggio made biology interesting and he taught me how to organize information and take notes. I felt like he cared about me as an individual, something I needed as a student. Miss Eisenhauer intimidated me but I learned papers had to be turned in on time or you would pay dearly. She liked my papers so I didn't fail, as she had threatened, but I got a poor final mark.

I enjoyed Mr. Chapman's English class. That was my best subject and I liked the way he taught. My favorite teacher of all was Mr. Streb. Anyone who can make history enjoyable to me gets my approval. His classes were fun and sometimes funny. He made history relevant and allowed for good discussion.

Playing trumpet in the band and orchestra was my favorite activity. Not following through with that is something I have come to regret. I had a great trumpet teacher. I can't recall his name.

A highlight of your high school years:

Winning a top mark of A and a medal at the Music Association's competition was a highlight for me. I played "Bugler's Holiday" with Jeff Rasmussen and Bob Larson.

Did high school prepare you for the real world:

Probably not, but I'm not sure that is possible. I did a lot of maturing though, as well as learning better study habits.

What did you do immediately after high school (job, college):

Due to my parents separation and divorce my mom had no money to help me with college. A stroke of good luck came when someone did not use their Regents Scholarship and I got one. Some donations from my brother and grandfather bought my first books and I was able to attend Nassau Community College. I took a bus, train, then bus to get there. Afterwards I took another bus to Times Square Store and worked in stationery until 10 PM. This gave me a good work ethic. I finished my education at Oswego State College.

Is there anything you would like to mention about jobs you have had:

The most adventurous job I had was working at Schrafft's in New York City the summer after high school graduation. Daria and I lived in her grandparent's apartment and got jobs there as waitresses. We had some interesting adventures. I also learned I am not a good waitress.
I worked one year as a social worker before I began teaching elementary school. I taught for 34 years.

Where do you live now, and how long have you been there. Where else have you lived:

My husband and I moved to Palm Coast, Florida in 2004 after snowbirding here since 1999. Previously we lived in Oswego, NY.

Family--spouse, children, grandkids:

My family includes my husband, John, my daughter Kelly (my maiden name), and two step-daughters. We have no grandchildren.

If you are retired, what do you do keep busy:

Two things I love are my Tai Chi and organ classes. I also do some ministry at my church. John and I also square dance. We love to eat out and travel whenever we can. We go to performances of various kinds, especially theater, at the local auditorium. When it's in season, we go to Jackie Robinson Ball Park in Daytona Beach to watch the Cubs class-A team. We love to walk the town's many trails and along the beach. Visits from our northern friends are enjoyable as well.

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

I was divorced, then widowed by age 32. I have been married to my first college professor at Oswego State for 34 years.

Anything else you would like to add:

I find it interesting that I couldn't wait to leave Levittown and find a smaller place to live. Now we live in a place that has many similarities to Levittown and those are the things we love here. Palm Coast was all planned and laid out in the late 1970s. It is designed into neighborhoods and the streets are laid out like Levittown's. It is large with a small town feel.

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