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.