I asked Vic if anyone was giving a speech and he said "No." In writing this tribute to our class, I discovered I should apologize to a classmate who was voted Class Clown in our Senior Superlatives - Skip Skinner. I too received votes for Senior Superlatives, but they couldn't print it in the yearbook. I was voted "Class Wise-Ass". Someone said they were the same thing, but I know otherwise. A Wise-Ass is a clown who is better looking and wears half the make-up!
About 34 years ago, some very important events happened. The Woodstock music festival was held, the Stones were touring, astronauts landed on the moon, Sesame Street aired for the first time, the first ATM was installed in Philadelphia, the VCR was developed by SONY, aerobics was started by the Air Force, the cordless battery phone was developed and in New York City, the 911 emergency system was installed.
All of these events have had an impact on all of us here tonight. But the most important event that happened in 1969 was that a group of kids left their grammar schools in the Beach, Bay Head and Lavallette to form a unique group of people knows as the "Class of '73". For the first time, many of us walked a path with new friends and acquaintances who would affect us for the rest of our lives.
We played sports, we joined the band, we joined the clubs, we learned from teachers, we passed some tests, failed some others, cut some classes, found some sub-groups, or as they were know, cliques. We only partied on occasion, but we all had the same purpose in mind: to get the hell out of school!
World events were going on around us all the time. The first Earth Day was in 1970, Nixon increased bombing on Hanoi, IBM invented the floppy disk and a boxer named Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Another American boxer named Jim Vescovi punched me in the locker room for dating Lisa Franzoso. And the Boro beat us again in football.
In '71, the voting age was lowered to 18 and Jim Lacey began mapping out his political career starting with the student council. And the Boro beat us in football. That same year, Archie Bunker taught us what a bigot was, and Texas Instruments invented the calculator. This prompted Mr. Grocella and Mr. Adams to declare them prejudiced items that could not be used on tests.
In '72 the Greenpeace organization was founded and senior Vanessa Cherry led a protest that stopped all bonfires at Point Beach for the next 27 years. Thanks Vanessa, for your school spirit. The Boro beat us again in football, but the girls avenged us by winning the Powder Puff game.
That same year, Atari invented the video game called Pong. This, coupled with the previous floppy disk and calculator inventions prompted Mr. Patterson and Miss Bernhardt to declare "some idiot is going to put a TV on our typewriters and put us all out of a job." Mrs. Weiss quickly replied, "save your own job. People always have to eat. Other than McDonalds, where else will you be able to get fast food to feed a family?"
Also that year, Jim Vescovi and I became friends as we discovered something we were both interested in and also the love of his life: fishing. Oh - he also discovered his other love - Ann McDermott. Me and Lisa were free at last. Then she dumped me. I was so depressed, I went searching through the freshman girls where I met my soul mate and wife of 24 years, Wendy Sherman.
Our Senior year, 1973, had arrived. Nixon was bringing the boys home from Vietnam, the Rolling Stones were still touring and Richard Leakey found a skull in Kenya prompting Mr. Oxenford, Mr. Leask, Mr. Darnell and Mr. Kelly to collectively shout "We told you Darwin was right!". Bob Barker started on the Price is Right, Susan Lucci lost a 3rd Emmy for soaps and a guy named Bill Gates prompted Mr. Patterson and Miss Bernhardt to collectively shout "We told you we were right!" Joe Walsh was secretly guarding Mr. Thawley at the Pep Rally, the Boro still won at football, and again the girls saved us by winning the Powder Puff game.
The strangest coincidence of the year was the opening of a theme park in Jackson that seemed to sum up our 4 years of high school together and a sign of what was to come after high school: Great Adventure!
The biggest impact of the year was obviously the lowering of the drinking age to 18. Most of us still chose to abstain from the use of alcohol except for medicinal purposes. This change in the law of course prompted Mr. Reichardt to exclaim "Finally, I can send a student to Point Liquors to get me supplies for the Art Storeroom." This change also prompted Mr. Hartman to complain "Great now the little bastards can legally buy me a drink at the Marion!"
This also set the stage for the greatest graduation party of all time at Ted Smith's grandma's house on the beach. It was here we realized this may be the last time we see each other.
Many things about town have changed since then. The Cock-a-doodle Dinner where we helped Burt steel the chicken is gone, But Mr. Kelly's neighbor still has the Mexican and donkey statue we put on his lawn Mischief night.
After December, you won't be able to get a Beach Plum ice cream at Hoffman's. But you can still get a good sub at Jersey Mike's and meet local athletes which both stores employed for years. CiCi's pizza is gone, Jenkinsons put in a bigger pool, but you still can't swim m in it. Pete Skoko's still has good burgers, but at outrageous prices.
The train station has changed it's location and the high school looks a little different, but they are still here. So are all of us in this room. However, some of our friends and classmates and teachers who were once with us have the only valid excuse to not be here. They have passed on to another adventure in a new life. I believe those classmates are with us in our hearts and are therefore with us tonight. As for those classmates who were physically able to attend, but chose not to well Mr. Hartman would have said it best ."Piss on 'em!"
It was great seeing everyone this weekend. Nothing is more fun that Beach football on Thanksgiving. The Shore Conference should be thanks for giving us an easier opponent than Manasquan - Point Boro! Of course some things never change, Point Boro won Thursday's game and the Rolling Stones are still touring this weekend. But, there is no more Powder Puff football to help us save face, and Admiral Joe Walsh is keeping the North Atlantic safe for holiday travel.
I was inspired to write this in honor of my favorite teacher who gave me straight A's in Composition and Short Story, while sleeping through his last period classes on the fourth floor of the Annex - Mr. Hartman.
Now, how about a big round of applause to the man that gave us more than ample opportunities to gather this weekend and put this all together, Vic Suskevich!
November 29, 2003