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Capital Region Scrapbook: Pioneers of ’62

First Bishop Gibbons grads blazed trail for school, but they were typical teens

Monday, June 25, 2012
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From left, student journalists Dugald Chisholm, James Villa and Wendell Lorang look over a copy of the “Crosier,” the school newspaper. Chisholm was the class valedictorian and Villa was the paper's editor-in-chief.
From left, student journalists Dugald Chisholm, James Villa and Wendell Lorang look over a copy of the “Crosier,” the school newspaper. Chisholm was the class valedictorian and Villa was the paper's editor-in-chief.

It seemed everyone gave words of wisdom to Jack Buttridge during his last weeks of high school.

“Jack, best of luck in college basketball,” volunteered Paul LaFleur. “Lay off the babes.”

“Keep in there — right to the elbows,” said Bernie Mango.

“Best of luck to a swell kid,” offered Peter Ross. “Hope to see you in the NBA.”

Buttridge never made the pros. But he made bunches of friends during his years at Bishop Gibbons High School. Jack, Paul, Bernie and Peter were in the first class to graduate from the all-boy Albany Street school on Monday, June 25, 1962 — 50 years ago today.

Bishop William A. Scully, then bishop of Albany, had the idea for a Catholic high school in Schenectady during 1957. Rev. Robert Cronin, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Church, and Monsignor William C. Keane, pastor of St. Luke’s Church, led the fundraising drive to build the place.

Remembering early days

Buttridge and his friends began as freshmen on Sept. 2, 1958. The Irish Christian Brothers handled the teaching — and occasional discipline.

“They were strict,” said Buttridge, who, like other Bishop Gibbons alumni from the era, remembers the ties, dress shirts and jackets that were part of the daily uniform.

The first students had plenty of room when they began their studies in ’58, as they were the only class in the school. But the guys could do little exploring of their new surroundings.

“There were four classrooms on the first floor,” said Buttridge, who lives in Schenectady. “We were not allowed to go on the second floor; it was totally closed. We didn’t have a library that first year because the library was on the second floor.”

Buttridge, a smooth-shooting forward on the basketball team, can also remember a 12-6 hoop record his senior year. He played in college, first at Albany Business College and later at Husson College (now Husson University) in Bangor, Maine.

Drive-ins and burgers

Outside of school, and away from ties and blazers, Gibbons teenagers did what other kids did during the early 1960s. “We went to the drive-ins, mostly for the monster movies and the beach movies with Annette [Funicello] and Frankie [Avalon].”

After basketball games, Percelli’s Pizza on State Street was a hangout. So were hamburger joints.

“The 15-cent hamburger was just coming out,” Buttridge said. “Carroll’s was on State Street, [with] 15-cent hamburgers and 10 cents for a soda.”

School dances were held once a month. Brother Edward Lopez, Gibbons’ principal, was not going to tolerate scuffs on his gymnasium floor. “We had a tarp,” Buttridge said. “It was the infield cover for the old Schenectady Blue Jays.”

Reunion scheduled

Members of the Class of ’62 will celebrate their 50th anniversary with a gathering on Friday, Sept. 7, at Petta’s Restaurant. They will also meet at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School — Gibbons merged with all-girl Notre Dame High School in 1975 — for an afternoon football game on Saturday, Sept. 8. A dinner and dance will be held at the Mohawk Golf Club that Saturday night.

Further information is available by contacting Buttridge.

 

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