You're over 60 if you remember the…

  East Islip Rangers

A local baseball team coached by Rick Tenza.  Not little league, not Babe Ruth league, and not high school. Just a local bunch of teenagers who would pile into Rick’s fifty something green Packard and take on the likes of the Islip Midgets, the Islip Terrace Orioles and the hated Babylon Clippers coached by a very intense individual named Bernie.  The Clippers were the only team with full uniforms, which made it easier to dislike them with such passion.

  East Islip H.S. Redmen – B-1 Champions

In 1957, the EIHS basketball team, coached by Mr. Mike) Durso won the B-1 division and went on to play against Bridgehampton in a tournament playoff. The game was held at a neutral site, the Bay Avenue gym in Patchogue. It was one of the classic match ups. I remember sitting next to Dr. Bernhart, whose son Noah was one of our star players.  He watched the entire game with an unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth. He said it helped him to relax. The Redmen were beat that night by a score of 44-41 (as close as I can recall).  Bridgehampton had regularly scored point totals in the eighties during the regular season, so this was a moral victory of sorts. Did I mention that Bridgehampton’s leading scorer that evening, scoring thirty points or so, was none other then future Boston Red Sox outfielder and Hall of Famer, Carl Yazstremski.

  East Islip H.S. Redmen –  First Ever Football Victory

It took several years, but victory was finally ours. On a Saturday afternoon in 1958, the Redmen won their first game ever, at home against Smithtown. The final score was 7-6 and E.I. was on the football map. Smithtown was not your basic powerhouse, but a victory is a victory. That evening, we invaded enemy territory, as we honked our way through downtown Smithtown…such as it was.

We have it on good authority that the above may be slightly incorrect. Andy Slawson, Newsday High School Sports Historian advises: "East Islip’s first victory was at the old High School on Main Street in East Islip.
The Redmen did play Smithtown and defeated them 12-7. This was the fourth game of East Islip's inaugural season, 1954." This is the rest of the 1954 Season:

1954 1-6
10/2     Home, EI 0---Westhampton 32
10/9    Away, EI 7---East Hampton 32
10/16   Away, EI 6---Southampton 20
10/23  Home, EI 12---Smithtown 7
10/30  Home, EI 0-Northport 27
11/6    Away, EI 6---South Huntington 13
11/13   Away, EI 12-Greenport 26
Totals:   EI---43, Opponents---157

  Gym Classes with Coach “Pete” Rogers

Coach always had us marching for the first ten minutes of class. He would tell us how someday we would be grateful for these marching lessons.  He always mentioned how past graduates would come home on military leave and thank him for these valuable lessons.  I don’t know if he realized it or not, but all graduates going into the military vowed to return and offer their thanks. This guaranteed the perpetuation of these drills much to the delight of the graduates. Unfortunately, he retired before I could come home and thank him. 

East Islip Fire Department Bazaar

Each summer they set up booths behind the fire department.  Basically, they were all games of chance. You would plop your nickel on a particular color and watch, as the big rubber ball would be released, bounce off the ropes surrounding the indented colors, and hopefully come to rest in the color you selected.  Also, there was the coin toss targeting the red bull’s eye on the Lucky Strike pack of cigarettes. I can still hear the spinning number wheel as the rubber stops clicked against the wheel’s spokes. There was always the raffle for the “basket of cheer”.

  Labor Day Parade and Tournament

This was a day of mixed emotions. The excitement of the parade down Main Street followed by the tournament on Greenwood Avenue and in later years on Railroad Avenue. Mr. (Joe) Slanec, Mr. (Ambrose) Bazely and, Mr. (Eddie) Fialca were neighbors on Division Avenue, and I remember them marching in the parade. Mr. Bazely was the Grand Marshall in the last parade I saw. At the tournament, it seemed we were always being reminded that school was about to reopen. Mr. Pernasiglio would sneak us free tickets for another  hot dog and soda, which would help erase that thought. The tournament had the same announcer year after year. “On the line,  Isssssssslip”, he would call to thundering boos. The Islip “Wolves” and Bay Shore “Red Devils” were usually tournament winners. My favorite team name was the “Suicide Squad” from Bohemia.  I had always looked forward to the announcer giving baseball scores throughout the afternoon, as long as the Giants were winning, and the Dodgers were losing. 

  Clergy and Staff of St. Mary’s

I remember Fr. Heaney at Sunday mass speaking on the death of Babe Ruth.  The clown prince, Father MacNamara, disrupted daily classes much to the chagrin of the nuns.  The Irish brogue of Fr. Brennan, and the administrative excellence of Fr. Code, and Fr. Kirk chastising those that left before Benediction.  The all-girl’s school choir was lead by Sr. Elmira. Sr. Claudia was a fixture as the first grade teacher.  The notorious Sr. Andrina administering daily beatings with her unending supply of thick rulers. Last, but not least was church sextant Charlie Brady who also served as crossing guard for the school.

  Games We Played with a Pink Rubber Ball

“Punch Ball” was the game of choice at St. Mary’s. Games would begin before school and carry over through recess and lunch.   “Hand Ball” games were popular off the side of a brick wall belonging to a local business at the entrance to Conlu Park. On Division Avenue, we would congregate at the Newman’s house after supper for games such as “I Declare War”. Going through the “Old Mill’ was the consequence of a loss.

  East Islip Rollerdrome

Here was something new, roller-skates without keys.  Many a Friday night was spent there, and I can still feel those horrible friction blisters from the one-piece skates. I believe the Catalanoto family from Great River opened the Rollerdrome on Railroad Avenue. They also owned a beauty parlor, which I think replaced the old post office and the original Fortunato pharmacy.

  Tastes of Winter

Enjoying a roast turkey dinner at Bronco Charlie’s restaurant in Oakdale. Taking a quick taste of the virgin snow before unleashing that first snowball.

Sights of Spring

Division Avenue was a virtual tunnel of green with its green facade.  Viewing the brilliant colors of our cherry tree was a special treat, while scary looking was the initial Board of Regents exam.

  Sounds of Summer

The waves splashing against the wooden float at East Islip beach as cannonballer after cannonballer continue their assault on the Great South Bay. The sound of a ball meeting a bat at Halloran’s Field and the rhythmic sound of a push type lawn mower.

  Smells of Fall

The Carleton Avenue bakery had its array of freshly baked pastries, pies, and delicious crumb buns. There was Thanksgiving with all the trimmings, but the best smell of all…burning leaves.