Ken Kraft’s Port Memory

From July 2015, when a group of classmates from the Class of ’63, ’64 and ’65 from Paul D. Schreiber High School got together to celebrate 52 years.

I saw your article in your paper this morning regarding nostalgia from days gone by and that reminded me of my buddy’s 50th birthday party some years back when I took everyone back to 1960 and Manorhaven in Retrospect: Somewhere around the summer of 1960, I remember playing basketball at Manorhaven Beach with a kid who had a two-handed jumpshot and was going to be a priest.

This would be the beginning of a friendship between Robert, myself and a bunch of great people from a small village on Manhasset Bay where everyone knew each other. Those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer during the early ’60s were spent at the beach, at Sousa Jr. High fields, and in my grandmother’s garage/basement area where we all danced “till a quarter to three!”

You could do a variety of things in those days, such as stop in Joe’s Candy store on Manorhaven Blvd. to admire the capes and jackets of the Manorlords, Gents & Chessman Lads while the 1959 Seeburg jukebox played; eat a pound of that delicious macaroni salad from Milhaven’s Deli for lunch or dinner; listen to the acapella sounds of Fatizzi, Palmeri, Buda and company in the echoing sounds of the men’s room at Manorhaven Beach; ice skate at Slager’s Pond or Lederman’s Pond; sleigh ride by the tunnel; go crabbing in the swamp (now covered by pool parking lot); walk from Manorhaven Beach to Manhasset Isle (Weller’s Dock) at low tide; camp out in the woods and swamp near Sousa Jr. High or at King’s Point with our boats (without parental supervision), or just go to Andy’s for pizza. You could walk anywhere without getting lost (alphabetical streets except for Dune’s Lane!?!), hitchhike or take the bus uptown, skitch [also known as bumper hitching] behind cars in the winter on Cambridge Avenue or try out your throwing arm with snow balls from about 100 feet up at Manorhaven School.

What about crime? Sure, we had fireworks and there was plenty of fun on Mischief Night! We would even play pranks on the lifeguards at Manorhaven Beach by moving the lifeguard chairs offshore only to be pummeled days later by those very same lifeguards! Disagreements were often settled with words and/or fists—apparently times have changed!

Thanks to a great community of friends such as Brown, Reiner, Maynard, Agate, Cifarelli, Gregory, Miller, Blenk, Malone, Colon, Milhaven, Heinz, Hassler, Solomita, Sciallaba, Kayser, Jarvis, Mullen, Hamilton, McNamara, Fakelmann, Formisano, Gonzales, Kurecka, Kulick, DiBari, Strockbine, Wrobel, Lamberti, Maloni, Bonnie, Roberts, Baliotti, Pippitone, Zahn, Bianculli, D’Antonio, Dermody, Botta, Schettino, Meyran and a few I might have forgotten, we experienced some wild and crazy times during the best years of growing up with “Rock ‘n’ Roll!”

Robert and I shared some common interests during those years: Fun packed summer days and nights, all the sports we could fit into each day, cars that didn’t always work right, fight fires, racing, and playing softball with the Flower Hill Hose Company “Runts” and “Lollipops” and Port Washington Fire Department.

We were drafted into the military around the same time-Robert started on the Navy Basketball Team in California while I learned how to speak Vietnamese! With our lifestyles, it’s easy to understand why we enjoyed Forrest Gump so much!

I graduated from Paul D. Schreiber High School in 1963 and have been running our reunions every five years of so since 1983. We even have an informal summer get-together every July for any classmates from our class of surrounding classes (’61 to ’65+) at my American Legion Hall in Glen Head. I can be reached at my email address:

  —Ken Kraft

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