GENERATIONS: Evan Hazard: Once there were four of us
Four friends graduated from Peter Stuyvesant High School in New York City (in Carnegie Hall, no less) in June, 1947: Bob, Bruno, Johnny and Evan. Two are now gone, and Janet, Bruno's widow, has asked Johnny and me for memorabilia for a celebration of Bruno's life, an excuse here for some informal autobiography.
Bob died in May, 2016, in Palo Alto, Calif. Bob had also been my Cornell University roommate. Cornell, in Ithaca, N.Y., westernmost Ivy League school, is perhaps also the most scenic. (Like the Big Ten, the Ivy League is basically a college football conference, but also comprises eight top-notch schools.)
Bob later earned both a doctorate and a medical degree, specialized in renal physiology, taught in med schools, met his wife Marie in Utah, and eventually became research director for pharmaceutical companies, most recently in Palo Alto.
Bruno died recently, also in the Bay Area. He had stayed home to study chemical engineering at Columbia, later switching to geochemistry. While at Columbia, Bruno also married Dody; they met at a dance while she was at Hunter College. He earned a doctorate at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, did two post-doctoral years at Oxford, and eventually became a professor at Brown, in Providence, R.I., where he had a distinguished career, both in teaching geology and studying diffusion in solids under temperatures and pressures found deep in Earth's crust. Dody died of cancer in ’81, as did one of Bruno's younger colleagues.
Eventually, Bruno married Janet, that colleague's widow (a cellist and later author of a fine series of guides to Yellowstone). After retirement, they escaped Eastern winters by settling in the Bay Area, not far from Bob and Marie. Bruno and Janet made up a blended family: his two daughters, and her three.
A third Stuyvesantian, Johnny, also stayed in New York, attending Brooklyn's Pratt Institute for electrical engineering. Unlike Cornell, Columbia, and Brown, Pratt is not an Ivy League school, but a fine school for engineering. Eventually, Johnny went to work for R.C.A. in Camden, N.J., just across the Delaware from Philadelphia. He and wife Jeri live in Philly. They have no kids.
Johnny still plays tennis, and weighs what he did when he walked across the stage at Carnegie Hall.
At Cornell, I met Elaine. Many of you read about her in two columns about our life together in March and May 2011.
How did we four meet? First, I met Johnny in third grade at P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village. Our fourth-grade teacher was a tyrant, but Mrs. Adler, in fifth grade, was splendid. Bob joined us in fourth or fifth grade. For some unknown reason, the tyrant switched to the sixth grade when we became sixth graders. That may be why his mom moved him to Walt Whitman Junior High, which then comprised grades 6-8. Bob went from there to Stuyvesant in ninth grade. I visited Bob occasionally at their apartment on Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street, once the home of Mark Twain.
Johnny and I started JHS 3 in seventh grade, going from ninth grade there to tenth grade in Stuyvesant. Bruno, from Chelsea, the neighborhood north of the Village, had joined us in seventh grade. We four became fast friends at Stuyvesant, often getting together at Bruno's apartment on West 26th Street. Why there, when we had to take the IRT subway from the Village? Space, mostly.
Bob, Bruno and I were only children; Johnny had a younger brother. None of our apartments were spacious. But Bruno's parents, once he got to high school, rented an adjacent apartment for Bruno's use. So we had a place to hang out. Maybe Bruno's folks supplied the milk we drank.
One summer we also had work, “Jack's Bags,” in a vacant room in Bruno's building's basement. This is over seven decades ago, and I remember no details. Bert, Bob's mother, worked at Macmillan Publishing, but was also a sculptor. I'm guessing she was our contact with Jack in the Village. Never saw his shop, but he sold purses, and we assembled them, with rivets of some sort. Piece work (I was slowest of the four).
Though neither Johnny nor Bruno was headed for a biological career, we all enjoyed nature, and were members of Stuyvesant's biology, nature and medical clubs. Bruno also became sports editor for the Stuyvesant Spectator, perhaps partly because he knew the value of that on a Columbia University application.
Nominally Catholic and clearly Italian, he also knew about quota systems some universities had then, so joined the evangelical church next door on 26th Street. Doubt he ever pretended to worship there, and am not worried about his or Bob's salvation.
Evan Hazard is a retired BSU biology professor.