April 1, 2012

April Fools Day fun...the Jackie Robinson High School announcement was a prank that sparked a hornets' nest of comments

Did you really believe that after more than 50 years, the name of Division Avenue High School would be changed? Some of our readers took our April Fools Day story as being serious. Some were quick to catch on, while others were uncertain.

"I am heart broken about the name change. Maybe we didn't think the name was inspiring, but it defined us and where we lived. That was enough for me," wrote a class of 1963 member. "It will always be Division Avenue HS to me. Once again another precious memory is gone; how sad."

From a class of 1961 grad: "This could open a racist can of worms. Isn't it ironic that Jackie Robinson couldn't buy a Levitt house even if he wanted too (in the late 1940s and early 1950s). They now want to name a high school after him. Maybe some guilt is creeping in?"

"I think that the change of name is a wonderful thing, given that there was racism in the selling of the houses in Levittown in the 40's and 50's," wrote a 1962 graduate. "Jackie Robinson is an icon in the civil rights movement, the Interboro Parkway is now and has been for a long period the Jackie Robinson Parkway. So why not? A team name could perhaps be the Robinson Dodgers."

A 1963 grad commented: "I think it is great name for our school. It is ironic, given our past, but great. I am okay with it as long as we do not forget or deny our past. The history should be taught in civics class. I think we used to call it Citizenship Education. I was certainly surprised to hear about the name change."

From a 1960 graduate: "There is no doubt Jackie Robinson deserves to have at least a school named after him for his grace, courage and abilities. But in Levittown?, one of the last communities in Nassau to fully integrate? Seems a bit absurd." Absurd and ironic were the ideas behind the April Fools prank.

"I like it. Synonymous with pride, courage and character," wrote a Levittown Memorial High alumnus. "Any change would have been good but this is special. Levittown has come full circle." In case some readers did not know, Memorial no longer exists. Now that is sad if you went to school there.

Among the most distressed was a 1968 grad who Facebooked this to friends. "I'm so upset right now, just found out they're changing the name of my high school, after all these years! No more DAHS!!! And they're changing the team name, too!! It's just wrong."

She followed this up with, "I know it seems like a silly thing to be upset over, but a huge part of my life was spent in that school. I have no problem with the choice itself. I have always admired Jackie Robinson and his accomplishments. It's just the emotional tug of there no longer being a DAHS and the Blue Dragons."

One of her friends, also a Division grad, responded with "Idiots just can't leave anything alone." Another friend stated, " Interesting choice, since Robinson (my first baseball hero) wouldn't have been permitted to buy a house in Levittown in the early years because of the restrictive covenant."

A class of 1960 alumnus wrote: "To quote The Bard, 'A rose by any other name smells just as sweet'. Call it what you may, it will always be Division Avenue High School to me. If it must be renamed, Jackie Robinson’s name is quite appropriate. He was a great pioneer, as were we, and he went on to be an inspiring source for change. I think it is a great tribute to a great man I couldn’t be prouder of the name change. Of course, the nickname would have to be Pioneers."

On the other side of the coin, some of our blog readers caught on immediately.

From Jim Healy, class of 1960: "Me thinks this is an April Fool scam."

"I am distraught," wrote Jack Jacobsen. "I just had a Blue Dragon tattooed next to a Terrapin (U of MD) in celebration of the Class of '62 anniversary. Now I will have to have a tattoo placed on my back with #42 sliding into home plate. I am sad to see the name change (not counting the additional pain I will endure). I would have preferred Gil Hodges. Now I think the mascot name should be the Sliders. Happy April Fools Day."


Levittown was built on potato fields. Understanding our town's history and that the story was a put on, Marilyn Monsrud Frese suggested Spuds and commented "I always thought Division Avenue High School sounded like an elementary school (Summit Lane, Wisdom Lane, Abbey Lane)."

Arnie Galeota, a 1961 grad, offered: "How about for the Yankees fans nicknaming the school instead of Dragons, Clippers in honor of the Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio?"

Never for a loss of words, Warren Zaretsky from the class of 1960 wrote, "I think Jackie Robinson HS is a silly name, given the town was so white bread, had no rhythm, its clothing style came from Mays, its main food was Skippy peanut butter sandwiches, and Jackie wouldn't have been caught dead near a town called Hicksville."

Warren came up with a creative nickname, incorporating the potato theme, The Levittaters.

When informed that she had been scammed, one of the most upset people wrote, "I have never been so happy to be fooled on April Fools Day. I completely forgot about it. You got me good." Another who mourned the changes had this to say. "I can't believe I fell for that. LOL. I will get even."

This final comment was aimed, perhaps jokingly, at your blogger: "I say name them Shitheads, after you, for April fooling an innocent idiot like me".


Toni Crescenzo Gelfer said...

Great follow up story...Happily and Proudly still a "68 DAHS grad...Toni in Texas

Anonymous said...

Warren Zaretsky '60 wrote: Good one! You stole home with that one Kiddo!!!

Anonymous said...

From Arnold Galeota, class of 1961: I bought it hook, line and stinker...that's you! Good one...I owe you.

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