I’m a kid from Harlem who went to a Special Progress (SP) Class at JHS 115, combing 7th and 8th grades into one year. In 9th grade, I was encouraged to take the entrance tests for Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, and Tech. I took all three but Tech won out because it had a fabulous pipe organ. I had taken pipe organ lessons since age 10 on a relatively small organ in an old Harlem church. Tech’s was the largest I had ever seen and I was hooked! So I came to Tech and met Clifford Troxell in the Music department, who was in charge of the organ and also played it. He immediately became a mentor when he found I had been taking lessons. I also played the piano for the school glee club which he directed.
Besides music at Tech, I discovered a love for technical drawing/drafting courses with all their mechanical instruments. I thought about going out for track or basketball, but couldn’t do everything and music was my first love. The highlight of my Tech experience was when Mr. Troxell asked me to play the organ at my graduation — the 70th Tech commencement — on Thursday, June 27, 1957. I still have the graduation program; I was second in the lineup, playing the organ solo, “Midsummer Caprice.” I also still have the BluePrint for June 1957, with a picture and message from Principal William Pabst. My pic is on page 54 but a mistake confused my bio with Gordon Allison’s. He was from Queens; I’m from Harlem. Michael Weiss, who is still involved with Tech, signed my yearbook. (Thanks, Mike!) After Tech, I went to the City College of New York (CCNY) and got a part-time job as a draftsman at Rosenblatt & Sons Naval Architects at 350 Broadway. They had so much work from federal contracts that they told me I could work anytime: before classes, after classes, evenings, or weekends. Before I knew it, I was classified as a Senior Draftsman – Piping Specialist and loved the work. By 1959 I was making far more than any classmates in part-time jobs, and by 1960 was putting in more hours on the job than on my classwork.
I took a year off from college to capitalize on opportunities available in marine drafting and design. I was called down to my local draft board because I had has a student deferment. Rosenblatt & Sons contacted the draft board and told them the work I was doing was critically needed for the large defense contract they had with the U.S. Navy. I then got an offer of a lifetime from the draft board: if I accepted a transfer to the naval base in Bremerton, WA as a civilian contractor working for Rosenblatt in New York, and committed to working for five years, they would cancel any draft action and pay me $12 per day, seven days per week, tax free for working for Rosenblatt at the naval base. I immediately accepted and took my first plane ride from New York to Seattle, then a one-hour boat ride to Bremerton, WA. In 1965 I completed my military obligation and was transferred to San Francisco prior to being officially discharged. I then joined Richfield Oil’s Military Fuels and Marketing Division, where I remained for 35 years, and am now happily retired in sunny Southern California. I have three daughters, including a lawyer in Colorado, and five grandchildren – all in college or recently graduated.