March 19, 2011

Jack Jacobsen, class of 1962: his memories could fill a book


His Division Avenue High School yearbook photo and a recent one

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

I was kind of fortunate having lived in three sections of Levittown and getting to know so many people. We first moved to Crabtree Lane in 1953. This is where I played ball with many of The Natives...Doug Duffy, Ira Nerzig, Al Williams, Bob Spadafore and John Stahlberg.

Then we moved to Restful Lane where I hung with John Kinstrey, Jimmy Anderson, Ross Patten, Bobby Joyce, Bob Cassidy and Buddy Weston. From there it was off to Ridge Lane where Don Kanarvogel and I did our impression of Mutt and Jeff. We had moved from Brooklyn, good old Flatbush where I had a deep fondness for the Dodgers. Went to many games at Ebbets Field where my neighbor (Gil Hodges) was the star first baseman.

I also made my mark on Troy Avenue by falling out a four-story window, missing a wrought iron picket fence by several inches and landing on a laundry bag in the basement. According to my parents it explained a lot of things.

What were some of your earliest memories of Levittown?:

The first thing I remember was the decorating of the pine tree in the front yard at Christmas time. Everyone had a tree in the front yard and I thought it was very spiritual during the holidays.

The fact that I could play ball on grass was another fond memory. In Brooklyn we played on pavement all the time with bases painted on concrete in the park. Other things that bring great memories were: finding a potato in the lawn, our first dog Pudgy, the concrete block that helped with opening and closing the attic door, our Bendix washing machine, the Dugan and Krug delivery and Joe the ice cream man.

Who were some of your friends?:

In my early years it was mainly the guys I mentioned above, but I also remember the girls: Susan Padgett, Kathy Armstrong, Susan Kilbride and Karen Parbst. The Connelly brothers were always good friends who bailed me out of several predicaments with the rock and rollers.

In junior and senior high school Bobby Henn and I sat next to each other in homeroom and became very good friends and have stayed in touch in recent years. He was also in several of my classes and probably instigated many of my exploits.

Also, John Kinstrey and I were good friends and spent many a day roving around on our bikes with many trips to Carvel in East Meadow. As mentioned before Don Kanarvogel was a good buddy. Paul McCarthy and Cuzzy Delfox were my beer drinking team. And there was Eddie Rotker, Chez, the Hill brothers (Pat and Mike), Carl Thompson, the late Butch Murphy, Skippy McCarthy, Jon DuBeau and Jimmy Silvestri.

You hung with The Natives at the North Village Green. What was that like, who were some of the kids you remember best?:

Before they were known as The Natives we were just kids who loved to play baseball. Many of the games were played at the North Green, but also played on empty lots along Newbridge Road and behind the LILCO building. It was always fun to hit against Bobby Lombardi because he was ambidextrous. He could strike me out from either side! Ken Taylor and Vic Lawson were also regulars.

I moved to Restful Lane and started to play ball at Redwing Field with the guys that went to Northside Elementary ( I went to Summit) so although I still went to junior high with many of The Natives and remained friends with them I found new people and venues to play ball.

Then onto high school where we started hanging out at the North Green and The Natives became well established. We had many great games of football, stickball and the knock rummy games for a nickel were very competitive. So I spent a considerable part of my early life at the North Green and remember the faces and some of the nicknames: can anyone remember who the "Moose" was or who the "Animal" was?

Tell us about any teachers you really enjoyed?:

Well my most enjoyable educator was Mr. Aiello. He was my phys. ed. teacher in elementary school and became my "discipline" coach in high school. In my senior year he gave me a library pass for all classes when it appeared I would be a disturbance in class which usually was math since I had a very poor relationship with Mr. Simes.

Other teachers who left a positive impression on me were Mr. Reggio (good bye Jake), Mr. Lasker and Mr. Graham. I also had the support of Mr. DiMaggio and Mr. Amen who never forgave me for quitting basketball in my sophomore year. I just couldn't get along with the JV coach.

A highlight of your high school years?:

Highlight was graduating. Not many people know this but I received a Regent's scholarship, but principal James Reilly refused to announce it to the public because I did not rat on my fellow classmates when we cut school and went to Jones Beach. I got caught hitch hiking on Wantagh State Parkway along with a couple of others. Mr. Reilly also thought I had something to do with the infamous "piano" incident, but I did not. So graduating was a highlight, but I will say that DAHS was a very enjoyable experience for me. I had a lot of fun.

What did you do immediately after high school?:

Realizing I lacked discipline in my life I decided to join the Navy. Originally I was going to join the Marines like by friend John Kinstrey, but my father did not think it was a good path for me. So off I went to Great Lakes, then to Pensacola for communications school where upon graduation they wanted me to extend and go to Monterey for language school. I decided that two years of French with Miss McGuigan was enough language for a lifetime and ended-up in Washington DC stationed at the Naval Security Group and the Pentagon. Played basketball for the Potomac River Command so I had it pretty well knocked.

What were some jobs you had?:

Upon leaving the Navy I worked for Pergament's and LILCO. Then I got recruited from several Agencies. I spent 35 years with the "No Such Agency." It was a very exciting career and never a dull day in my life. NSA was a very excellent place to work and during my path I graduated from the University of Maryland and the Armed Forces Staff College. I retired in 1998 as an executive.

Where do you live now and are you still working?:

I live in Millersville, Md. with my wife of 42 years, Arlene. We have three children (Carrie, Eric and Keith) and five (soon to be six) grandchildren. I still work as a consultant to the intelligence community for SAIC, but only when it doesn't conflict with golf.

What is something your old schoolmates would be surprised to learn about you?:

I'm not skinny. I'm still 6'4", but tip the scales at 200 lbs. As far as what they would be surprised about is what I can't tell them and what I have done, seen, heard during the past 40 plus years.

Anything you care to add?:

I probably could write a book. Levittown was great and I wouldn't want to relive my life anyplace else.

9 comments:

Marilyn Monsrud Frese said...

Hi Jack! Thanks for such great memories! You sure did move around Levittown a lot! My sister lives in our old Levitt house on Boat Lane, and I live almost back to back with her on Furrow Lane. We just never wanted to leave Levittown. You have really got me trying to remember who the JV Ass't. Basketball Coach was in 1961. I'll have to see if Frank can come up with that answer- (unless you want to send me a private message). Frank can find the answer to ANY questions we have! Thanks for the memories!

Frank Barning said...

Great story, Jack. This is one of the best that has been contributed to the blog. You capture the flavor of early Levittown for guys like me who "like to travel around," to quote Dion. That you mention so many names of people many of us knew is a real strength. When I got to the end, I was sorry that it was over. Your memory and story telling ability are amazing. Thanks for sharing. We look forward to more, more, more.

Anonymous said...

From Jim Urban, class of 1961

Great job, Jack. I lived in Laurel for a few years and did some work with both the agency and SAIC. Enjoy retirement!

Kathy said...

What was the "Infamous Piano Incident"?

Anonymous said...

Marilyn,

The coach was Jerry Jewel. He wanted me to play center and I wanted to be a forward. We always locked horns except for track. He didn't know anything about high jump.

Jack

Anonymous said...

Ref. the infamous piano incident. I will not name names, but the piano in the auditorium took a "flying" lesson into the first 5 rows.

Jack

Anonymous said...

Jim,

It's always good to hear from an Urban....the best "soda jerks" in Levittown. Can you still make an Egg Cream?

Jack

Elliott said...

I think the Moose was Ira Nerzig.

Anonymous said...

Jack,

All the time you spent over at my house next to Don Kanarvogel's playing APBA baseball, stinking up the house with smoke (and getting me in trouble for it), eating my food, playing stickball on Gun Lane, and I didn't get a mention as a friend? What's up with that? ... lol. Lost track of you after the navy --I went into the army as a Lieutenant in the Military Police and spent a year in Nam. Email one time, buddy @ jayeffay@aol.com -- like to catch up. Jim Ayres Class of '63