Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's a Bobashela?

WHAT'S A BOBASHELA?    MEMORIES OF TRENTON HIGH SCHOOL


Last year, my son and I went to Trenton High School to interview the varsity basketball coach, Gary Grant, for a video that we produced for the Colonial Valley Conference end of year basketball banquet.  We interviewed most of the coaches from the conference about their remembrances of Jjm Valvano, the late basketball coach from North Carolina State, who passed away 18 years ago from bone cancer.  It was my first time in the building.  
According to Wikipedia, "Trenton Central High School (TCHS) opened on January 4, 1932 and was formally dedicated on January 18 amid a crowd of five thousand. Hailed as “an ornament to the city” and “one of the show places of Trenton,” TCHS was one of the largest and most expensive high schools built in the country. The Chambers Street fa├žade stretches broadly for almost 1,000 feet (300 m), nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall. The cost of the building, including land and furniture, totaled $3.3 million."  
Through the years, I had followed the ongoing debate of whether to renovate or rebuild the Grande Dame.  So, the first time I entered the gymnasium, I took in everything.  I thought back to how majestic that gym must have been when the school opened.  It struck me as more of a college gym, with the benches built on concrete, instead of the more modern folding stands.  I thought of all of the great athletes that have played in that gym.  What I didn't see were the collapsing ceilings and the general disrepair.  Then, last week in the Trenton Times there were pictures of the crumbling track and the criticisms of the current city administration's renovation priorities.
Last spring Arthur Finkle sent me  a photo of the second graduating class of TCHS at Mt. Vernon.  It's a wonderful picture and I've re-posted it below.  Arthur's uncle, Maurice was a member of the class of 1933. 



A few weeks ago, Art sent along 5 more images from that yearbook.  I was a little stumped when I saw the cover.  After all, what's a Bobashela?  An Internet search yielded the chart below, the genealogy of a racehorse that was born in 1925.  

Then I found an entry from the Trenton Historical Society, which cleared everything up.   The TCHS yearbook has been called Bobashela and has been published since at least 1918.  Trentonia at the Trenton Public Library has an extensive collection of the Yearbooks but is still missing a number of the years.  If you click on the link above, you'll see which ones they are missing.  Apparently Millsaps College in Mississippi also calls their yearbook Bobashela, as does a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Decatur (GA?)  Any other background on how the yearbook got its name would be appreciated.

The pictures that Art sent are from the 1933 Bobashela.  Arthur's uncle Maurice (above) recently passed away.   I needed a little clarification and asked him whether he was also related to Anita Finkle, who is pictured on the same page.  Art replied, "My Finkle family was (at one time) was  enormous).  Anita was a member of another Finkle family  (nice folks but unrelated). Much smaller family.  Art also was kind enough to add to the TJP with his recollections of his days at Trenton High School.   





 Trenton High: Recollections
by:  Arthur Finkle
Trenton Central High School was one of the best times of my life. The variety of activities and the variegation of the student body were there for the picking. I graduated in 1959. ALL of my first cousins (David Popkin, Joel Popkin, Bernard Levy, Marilyn Hayfer, Florence and Leatrice Klatzkin graduated Trenton High) as well as my Aunts and Uncles.
My classes were the “X” classes (now Advanced Standing) in which we had about 30 students, half of whom were Jewish.
The Jewish student body was close. Although most were form Jr. 3, there were those from Jr. 1, 2 and 5 to my knowledge. He kept ourselves together in outside organizations like AZA, the YMHA, HSTY and USY. We also attended Tallis and Tfillin Club sponsored by AZA.
My activities included the Band, the Orchestra, Choir, Chorus, Rock ‘n Roll group (‘The Off keys’), the Forum Club. I belonged to the Red Band one year and the Black Band for two years for famous Sports Night. My main interest was the Debating Team with Mentor Saul Rossein. We went all over w Jersey and came in second for the state Championship.
I remember participating in the last Operetta, “Show Boat ‘ as well as in the school plays.
I remember Christian Herter coming down the aisle with a heavy cane before he spoke to the assembly. (Trenton High taught approximately  3,000 students. Lawrence High School was not built until 1965)
Friends then and today remain Al Downing, Frankie Aaronson, Dorothy Fizer, Eddie Berkelhammer (recently passed), Albie Stark, Mark Nath, Ellen (Mann) Somerstein , Russ Petranto, Larry Trachtenberg,  Bruce Lubitz, Stan Saperstein, Terry Rosenfeld, Larry Siegel.   Half of these students went to Cadwalader School.
Later in life at a 60th birthday party for the leader of the Red Band, I got to know Mateo Giammario, our great orchestral conductor. He taught to appreciate one the genius’ the 20th century – Aaron Copeland.
Trenton High prepared me for the social and intellectual life that I have experienced.

Editors notes:   Last week, I mentioned that the bench that the Saperstein Brothers were sitting on in the entry from October 24th was inscribed with a plaque commemorating the 50th anniversary of Albert and Anne Hirsch.  Well, this week I received an e-mail from Robin Hirsch, who lives in Los Angeles.  Her Aunt, Estelle Bogad, told her about the blog and Robin reports that Albert and Anne were her grandparents.

"Would love to know more.  I have many memories of Trenton.  My parents are both buried at Greenwood Cemetery and  we visit about once a year when we are East."

We'll see what we can do, RobinTell us about some of those Trenton memories.  




Ed