August 30, 2011

History lessons: Why was our newspaper was called The Flame and why are we the Blue Dragons?


It was always exciting when an issue of our student newspaper, The Flame, was delivered to Division Avenue. The only problem was that it only came out about three times a year when our high school was new.

I was the sports editor in the early years, the first place that I saw my byline. More than a thousand bylines would follow in the decades to come, but few were more thrilling to see than the ones in The Flame.

Why was it called The Flame? Duh, I had never wondered why. It never crossed my mind. We were called the Blue Dragons, right? I broached the subject with a classmate a year or so ago who asked, "What comes out of a dragon's mouth?" A flame. Such imagination.

It logically followed to ponder why are we the Blue Dragons? This I had wondered about. And after much discussion with other Division oldtimers, including faculty member Armand Tarantelli, this is the story as I have pieced it together. And it seems valid.

When the subject came up to create a nickname for the Division teams, one if not more of those involved in making the decision had gone to what was then known as Cortland State. It was, and probably still is, a teachers' college with an emphasis on physical education.

The Cortland nickname is the Red Dragons. It wasn't much of a leap to label us the Blue Dragons. My guess is that the Union Free School District physical education chairman, the late Hugh Jack, was the power behind the decision making. He was a Cortland man and is in the college's sports hall of fame.

Hugh Jack, former baseball and football great at SUNY Cortland, was presented Cortland's “C” Club Hall of Fame Award at a ceremony held in his behalf in Tampa, Fla.
Jack is a member of the Class of 1948 at Cortland. A former resident of Rockville Center, Jack was honored by the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, which awarded him its Distinguished Service Award. The Nassau County Basketball Coaches Association gave him their Special Service Award in 1970.
Jack was a physical education teacher and freshman football coach at Hofstra University in 1948, later joined the Levittown Public School System and retired in 1972 as district supervisor of physical education and athletics.
A varsity baseball and football player while at Cortland, he is the first president of the Cortland “C” Club and was the founder of Levittown’s Little League program, serving as its commissioner for two years. For 13 years, he was chairman of fund-raising for Operation Fitness in Nassau County.
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Our next blog post will be about The Flame, including photos of pages from the April 1960 issue.


Anonymous said...

It's time for you to hang out another shingle, Frank. "Investigative reporter" fits you nicely and goes well with historian, teller of tales, spinner of yarns and definitive blogger of our lives (to name just a few). I start my day with your musings and am never disappointed. Thank you for that ray of sunshine. PJMcD

ktray said...

Wow, Mr "T"! A great teacher and human being. I was a complete and utter disaster( nothing was level and nothing ever fit in my products) in Wood Shop, but Mr. T, always kind and supportive, gave me a gentleman's passing grade. I don't think that example of grade inflation hurt Division's academic standing.
Still remember driving treacherous streets of Levittown in Mr. T's Drivers Ed. car learning rules of the road and life.
Long live Mr. T!