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Monday, July 7, 2008

Fast Times at Demarest High

July 7, 2008

When Demarest Middle was a high school, it had an unforgettable principal, Artie Stover, a nice man the students secretly admired but in the way of high school kids everywhere, tried to find something about to ridicule. Turns out the funniest thing about him was his shoes.

Some say he had squeaky shoes you could hear coming down the halls. Other say he wore those silent sneakers before everyone in the world wore them. My pen pals from the 1950's have different things to say about him, but they can't forget Mr. Stover.

"The Rabbi" Maloney writes: "Lately I have seen people refer to Mr Stover as 'Artie.' To this day he will always be Mr. Stover to me. We never referred to him as Artie. Now think for a moment.

"Would anyone have the patience that he had? Look at all he put up with trying to keep teenagers on the path of the straight and narrow. OK!

"We joked about his shiny gray suit and those squeaky shoes that he wore. During a fire drill you could hear him upstairs walking, squeak, squeak, squeak, down the hallways. I seriously doubt if anyone ever heard him holler at any one person and chew them out.

"His gray hair was always combed nice, and he conducted himself properly as a principal all those years. On a Saturday you would see him in a pair of overhauls doing plumbing work in a building that he owned and it would seem that he was above doing that kind of work.

Here I am, doing the same thing, meaning plumbing work on my own house. He would change locks. You might say he was a handyman during the weekends.

Slezak's version is a little different, with some off-the-wall idea that the "rabbi" might have been one of those Mr. Stover was trying to keep on the straight and narrow:

"Mr. Artie Stover as you know was principal of DEMAREST HIGH SCHOOL...a fair and honest man, a man who should be remembered for his knowhow and love for the students, and his winning football team...and the lovely CHEER LEADERS and MAJORETTES that always was the highlight of the many parades we had in Hoboken. they dont have parades anymore DO THEY? How sad. MR .STOVER was the owner of many brownstone houses in Hoboken and he did all the repairs himself. He offered me a brownstone building on 7th and Garden for $12,000. I thought that was too much....HOW WRONG I WAS. The editor of Newsweek Magazine bought it. It’s worth today $$$$$? No regrets...things happen for a reason...if I stayed in Hoboken i would not have what I have now...a large and lovely family...AND A PARKING SPOT FOR MY CAR.

"Mr. Stover always wore them goofy rubber soled shoes...and you never knew if he was coming, if you were doing something wrong. I’m sure he’s gone by now, but he will always be remembered.. DENNIS (the rabbi ) MALONEY pulled a few stunts back then, putting pigeons in the piano during a Stover speech to the students...and tying condoms to all the door handles of the school one morning, causing a delayed opening. Mr. Stover had to remove them, very carefully. Dennis the Menace never got caught, but we all knew he did it."

I'll leave it to Dennis, or his friend "Anonymous," to confirm or deny Slezak's allegations here. Fun to read about and remember -- whoever did it. If anyone knows better, let him or her step up now and tell us the story. Pidgeons in the piano? That must have been a difficult job.

14 comments:

DownTown Chick said...

I remember Mr. Stover (not Arti) it was the '50s) We called ALL adults by their surname, I think I called my grandparents Mr. & Mrs.

Bobby, I was a good little girl who began high school at 12 yrs. old. My parents didn't allow me to run with you ragamuffins. I came home from school at 3. No staying out or sleeping over friend's houses. That came about when I was 14... after my sophmore year. So essentially, I had 2 social years of high school.

I remember the pidgeons in the piano and thought it was the most daring thing I've ever seen. No special effects in the movies then.
The music teacher was a soft, round, bald man Mr. Kohl??? I think he was sitting at the piano when that happened.
Some say Mr. Stover wore black galoshes over his shoes because he only had one pair of shoes and they were brown, so if his wardrobe needed black shoes....on went the galoshes.

So many wonderful, weird teachers.
Miss Marnell taught English and she really knew how to teach.....to this day I remember her slogan: Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should, not LIKE a cigarette should. Madison Avenue was dumbing down the English language all the back into the early 50s.
She was a true eccentric, shiny black suit that had faded YEARS AGO to a purplish blue. All that notwithstanding, I can still indent a paragraph with the best of them.

In four years, I only had a passing incident with Mr. Stover (because remember, I was a good little girl). It was St. Patrick's Day.....a BIG cut school day. Rumors went around the school, hehehehe, when I think about this.....the rumor was....he would be standing at every bus stop on Washington St. all 14 at the very same time.......God, I was gullible.
We cut school, went to the parade & Mr. Stover was nowhere to be found. I think little things like that.....not believing everything you hear is a wonderful and painless part of growing up.

Slezak said...

I must say them girls at Biggies had a way with words...when the uptown guys in their cars were whistling their MATING CALLS.

Biggies is still in business to this day.

Age 12 and going to DEMAREST HIGH SCHOOL? You must have been the school MIDGET...you walking to school on a rainy day wearing your yellow GALOSHES your mom made you wear. (IT WAS A KODAK MOMENT) But you were a good little girl, and time has not changed you.

Living downtown you had to be careful where you walked. There was no POOPER SCOOPER laws back in them days I'm sure you took that POOPER SLIDE more then once, and scraped it off on some poor slob's bumper. YES WE HAD BUMPERS ON OUR CARS IN THEM DAYS. Ahhhh them were the good old days. Artie Stover (R.I.P.). Be careful, he's still taking names...stay well.

Jim B said...

I talked to my younger brother about uptown and downtown and he remembers it like I do, Lipton was uptown toward 14th street, and Observer Highway was always downtown. I never heard anyone call it any other way, but maybe there was an entire world west of Willow Avenue. I do remember the pigeon shops on first street and how a lot of people had pigeon coops on the roofs. They would usually fly the pigeons each day in great big circles. On first street there was a great fish market and you could find a lot of unusual things there including live chickens and rabbits. There were always lots of stray cats around, and lots of people had dogs. On Washington, you had Geismars for school and dress clothing, a pork store which was something very German, with all sorts of wursts and bologna. Schoniengs bakery (not sure of spelling but a German bakery) was opposite City Hall and we used to get hard rolls there on Sunday after Mass.There were many small stores, one sold WW2 items, another sold old comic books. There were two news stores on 11th and Washington, Matthews on the NW corner, and Kletter's right next to Helmer's.

Anonymous said...

The pidgeon caper was pulled by 3 of us. We bought the pidgeons off a store on Willow and Observer Hwy. They were what they used to call "Rat Pidgeons." In other words, the kind that they could not train to race. I think we paid something like 25 cents a pidgeon!!
We chipped in and bought twelve of them! Each of us had four under our coats and sneaked into the auditorium and put them into the little grand piano, because we knew that there was a assembly that day. We would say the Pledge to the Flag and Mr. Kolb would sort of march off the stage and play the National Anthem. Well, when he lifted the piano lid, the pidgeons flew out! We started yelling, "Bats!" Some girls went a little nuts and started wanting to leave. Mr. Stover, very calmly walked to the mike and said, "Mr. Maloney, Fisher, Howe, please report to my office as soon as possible." He could not prove we did it, and he was even challanged to ask the pidgeons who put them there, but he somehow knew. One teacher gave me a pat on my back and told me that was the best one pulled yet!

Dennis Maloney said...

How the pidgeons got caught was another matter. We had a maintenance person who was kind of short, real short. They gave him a scoop with a net in it to catch the darn things. It was right out of a comedy show to watch. Laugh is not the word to see this. It was better then a movie!!
Here it is a half century later and still being talked about.
Oh! Bobby Tag, that was me that dropped the bucket of water on you in the hallway stairs.

Mary Lois said...

The pidgeons in the piano story deserves a movie all its own! But it was much funnier in real life, I bet.

Hope you've done some daring deeds in the intervening years, Mr. Maloney, but I doubt if you ever topped that one. Anybody got any more Dennis Maloney stories, or mysterious water bucket stories, or any other incidents at Demarest you'd like to add?

Anonymous said...

This is like reliving my youth, my mispent youth that is. I think a lot of us can tell tons of stories about Hoboken, some maybe better left unsaid. The humor then was instantanous. It was that spir of the moment stuff that some people dream of. To see it come full blossom was the prize! To get caught was another matter. You paid the price, and kept your mouth shut.

Mary Lois said...

And some of you stay Anonymous in fear that Mr. Stover will figure out who you are and you'll really get it! If not THE Mr. Stover, then somebody in sneaky shoes, with a lot of power.

Keep sending me these Hoboken stories -- you guys had quite a life. Teenagers today should be so lucky.

Anonymous said...

This is a story about Artie Stovers legacy. My mother took my
sister to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital for a neurological checkup--it was a clinic for people without means. The neurologist who helped her was a wonderful black doctor who told her that he graduated from Demarest HS and would never be where he was in life if it wasn't for the help and encouragement of Mr. Stover. This was the 1950's--so I think Mr. Stover was ahead of
his time!

Anonymous said...

Yes, looking back some of us did have a good time during our teen years, short they were, but we left something for others to build on. The teenagers before us left us something, such as the famous Submarine Races, Ice Cream Parlors, Fabian Theatre. It breaks my heart when I see the old Hamburger places going out of business. There are no more drive-ins to sneak into, no more Fabian to sneak into. Nothing left to the imagination. OOPS! forgot my darn password. This is Dennis

Mary Lois said...

I thought that must be you, Dennis.

Lots of food for thought in these old Hoboken stories. I'm glad they're out there for all to enjoy now. Until this blog, the stories were only known to those who lived them.

Anonymous said...

Do you remember the name of the German Pork Store that was in Hoboken prior to the 1970's on Washington?
Ramirez

slezak said...

PORK STORE...we had many in the old days. What street was it on ? On 10th and garden there was one, on my corner. We just called it the butcher shop. Another was on 10th and Bloomfield street. HUMM, sorry. I'm not much help.

realbigal said...

I lived in Hoboken from 1940 to 1956 and went to Demarest High for 2 years , and some of the things I recall are the U.S. movie and Singers Jewish Deli. At around 8 years old we would sneak on the ferry and walk around down town Manhatten.

Al