≡ Menu

The Class of ’55

[Click any image to enlarge.]

[Saviano] New Building: Riverside Ave. Staples High School was named after its founder, Horace Staples, a “savvy Yankee trader”.

Staples opened for business in 1885. The very first graduating class was the class of 1887, making us the 69th.

[Saviano] Riverside Avenue: Old BuildingConstruction of the school was completed in 1884—the original free-standing brick structure on Riverside Avenue we called the “old building”. [Let’s be honest: if you were a little kid, wouldn’t this gothic horror scare the bejeesus out of you…?]

[Rounds] Aerial view of "old" Staples.In 1958 Staples’ new home on North Avenue opened its doors for business; the “old” building along with the “new” building became the home of Bedford Junior High. Below is an aerial view of our old school grounds, courtesy of Tippi Rounds (class of ’53). More history at wikipedia.com.

Strange that no class photo seems to have been taken… Or was it? Maybe the class was too big…?

Staples graduating class, 1955…

For the ages here we is as listed on the commencement program—each and every one of us who received a diploma on Friday, June 10, 1955, at approximately 8:15 pm. (Getting the name exactly right as between the commencement program and the Yearbook was guesswork on my part.) Classmates with “High Honors”6 are shown in red:


Staples High School—Class of ’55
Graduate Graduate Graduate
Agranov, Robert Frederick Freeman, Madelyn Oreste, Palma Josephine
Alcott, Tama Lou Frey, Sanford Philip Ottinger, John Christopher
Allen, Bernice Ann Gault, Julia Palazzo, John Anthony
Allen, Richard Steve Giannitti, Theodore Anthony Palmer, Betty Elizabeth
Anastasia, John Robert Gilbert, Richard Olmstead Papagno, Marie Carmel
Armitage, Gail Gilbertie, Anthony Thomas Peterson, Carole Whitfield
Audley, Edwin Alan Gill, Pamela Whiting Plocar, Patricia Ann
Baker, June Rae Green, Christopher Rainey, Carol Ann
Ball, John Harold Gutman, Brook Darrow Restieri, Philip Lee
Banks, Charles Green Jr. Hackley, Lyn Reuss, Barbara Elvera
Bannon, Mary Suzanne Hammer, Jo-Ann H. Reynolds, Margaret Dyer
Barnett, William James Harding, Lynn Rice, Shirley Ann
Bartek, Dorothy M. Hardy, Sandra E. Rippe, Mary Jane
Basta, Deanna Madeline Hartley, Barbara Roberts, Lawrence Gilman
Beck, Richard Stevenson Harris, Charlotte Dorothy Roeder, Kenneth Paul
Bennett, Francis Leroy Hayes, Melvin Ruckert, David Norton
Bennett, Gloria Gertrude Helferich, Suzanne Ruggles, Martha Franc
Benson, Pamela Eleanor Hesse, Carol Ann Saviano, Thomas John
Bertasi, Diane J. Higgins, John Christopher Scofield, Shirley Elizabeth
Blundell, David John Isaacs, Jules Gilbert Schick, Martha Ellen
Boland, Joseph Louis III Johnson, Mary Ann Seagle, Gale
Booth, Frances Eleanora Jones, Robert Haydon Jr. Sedgwick, Thomas Joseph
Bregy, Robert S. Keehan, Mary Jane Shoemaker, Martha Jane
Brubaker, David B. Keene, Emma Marguerite Smith, Fraser Wood
Burke, Muriel Anne Kent, Bruce John Smith, Herman Edward
Butner, Mary Ann Kenyon, Hazel Virginia Smith, Tyler Jay
Call, George Everett Kline, Marion Suzanne Soderlund, Walter Charles
Campbell, Harriett DeGarmo Kouns, Judith Hinchman Speidel, Linda Moore
Carpenter, Hilary James Kunin, George Meyer Spero, Robert Joseph
Carson, Christopher Morehouse Landes, Gail B. Spooner, Samuel Owen
Castiglia, Noel F. J. Lehn, Mary Elizabeth Studwell, Marion Agnes
Chadwick, Henry Dexter Leopold, John Sutton, Michael
Clark, Elizabeth Ann Levin, Karen Louise Thomas, Gordon Jean
Cleary, Michael P. MacGregor, Ethel Ann van Dernoot, Susan R.
Clifford, George Towne MacLeod, Orrin Wood Van Duyn, Ruth Bartlett
Cooper, Robert Craig Macon, Karl E. vonLiebermann, Donald Michael
Cotton, Dudley Page Jr. Malkin, George Edward Wahrlich, Janet Ida
DeAngelis, Howard J. Malone, Ronald Francis Walker, Leann
Delaney, Patrick Ennis Manning, John Thomas Walton, Robert Prentiss
DeMattia, Gloria Maurer, Georgiann Margaret Wardell, James William
Dennert, Mary Ann McAlarney, Marianna Weber, Constance B.
DePierro, Vincent Kenneth McCluckie, Jacqueline Reid Weisheit, Warren Taylor
Dexter, Shirley McMahon, Joseph David Weiss, Joan Marie
DiBlanda, Charles Eugene Mead, Beverly Ann Weisman, Judith Arline
Doino, Rose Marie Merryman, Heather Ann White, Norman Bennett
Dow, Alicia Fay Mills, Homer Lawrence Whitehead, Cynthia M.
Ellis, Patricia Ann Morehouse, Virginia Ann Whittaker, Linda
Eskey, Leonard Osborne Mullen, Peter John Wiberg, Bjorn Storesson
Faltings, Mary Jane Nappa, Barbara Ann Wilson, John D. Bruce
Farr, Helen Tremain Needham, Nancy Christine Williams, Norman Edward
Ferrone, Marie Angela Nichols, Judith Nancy Zeoli, Marilyn T.
Finneran, Nancie Lee Odell, Alexa Lou Zimmerli, Sara Jane
Fitzgerald, Richard Thomas Oliver, John Lee ZweckBronner, Stanley L. Jr.
Follett, Ethel Edna Ornstein, Robert

Thanks, Deanna, for preserving the commencement program , as reproduced here:
[Basta] Staples High commencement program, 1955, p. 1[Basta] Staples High commencement program, 1955, p. 2[Basta] Staples High commencement program, 1955, p. 3[Basta] Staples High commencement program, 1955, p. 4

Student Government…

Here were the select few we voted best suited to “govern” our arguably ungovernable class:

Student Government
Yearbook Classmate Office
[Yearbook] Robert Walton

Bob Walton President
[Yearbook] Vincent DePierro

Vince DePierro Vice President
[Yearbook] Constance Weber

Connie Weber Secretary
[Yearbook] Heather Merryman

Heather Merryman Treasurer
[Yearbook] Don vonLiebermann

Don vonLiebermann S.S.O. President (Secret Service Office…?)
[Yearbook] Stanley Zweckbronner

Stanley Zweckbronner Senate President
[Yearbook] Martha Ruggles

Martha Ruggles Chief Justice

Funny thing about the choice for president. Were it not for a chance conversation between yours truly and John Leopold at the 50th Anniversary picnic at Compo Beach, this little item might have been lost to history for all time! Here—for the very first time in print!—was how that choice actually went down back in the fall of 1954:

John told me that it was he, himself, who had, in fact, been nominated or at least asked to run for class president. For reasons I have forgotten, he told the then senior class power brokers that he could not or would not take on the responsibility, but that he knew someone who might be acceptable to the class and available: i.e., our very own warm and cuddly Bob Walton…! And the rest, as they say…

(Now, if—by outing this long-lost senior class factoid—I have betrayed a closely held class secret or trampled on somebody’s feelings, I will perhaps burn in hell.)

But not quite yet… :-)


[Staples Website] Wreckers' mascot.Staples has a “new” mascot, designed by a graduate of the class of 1980.

Ever wonder how Staples teams acquired the name, “Wreckers”? Once upon a time Staples teams were called the Minutemen. However, all that changed during the Roaring Twenties. Here’s how, according to the writeup on Staples website.

At that time, Norwalk High School was having a great undefeated season on the gridiron. They specifically chose Staples to play during their Homecoming game, knowing that Staples was an ‘easy’ win. Unfortunately for Norwalk, the Staples football team came in and crushed the ‘undefeated’ team. Headlines the following day read, “Staples High Wrecks Norwalk’s Homecoming!”

Since that time, Staples High School teams have been known as

Note that our Yearbook had no writeups and photos of the baseball and track teams for the 1954/1955 class year— just the team composition as it stood in 1953/1954 (did it run out of funding in ’55…?).5 Here were the Yearbook photos of the track and baseball teams. Note class of ’54 athletes: Bradley, Burke, Rast, Marcroft, Greiner, King twins, et. al.

[Yearbook] Baseball team - class of '54 (?).

[Yearbook] Track team - class of '54 (?).

Here are the class leaders by team:

Sport Yearbook Team Leader
Baseball [Yearbook] Melvin Hayes

Melvin Hayes, Captain1
Boys’ Basketball [Yearbook] Jack Higgins

Jack Higgins, Co-Captain
Football [Yearbook] John Ball

Jack Ball, Co-Captain
[Yearbook] Jack Higgins

Jack Higgins, Co-Captain
Girls’ Basketball [Yearbook] Harriett Campbell

Harriett Campbell, Co-Captain
[Yearbook] Sandra Hardy

Sandra Hardy, Co-Captain
[Yearbook] Diane Bertasi

Diane Bertasi, Co-Manager
[Yearbook] Gale Seagle

Gale Seagle, Co-Manager
Girls’ Hockey [Yearbook] Georgiann Maurer

Georgiann Maurer, Co-Captain
[Yearbook] Shirley Rice

Shirley Rice, Co-Captain


[Yearbook] CheerleadersHere is our old crew in pyramid formation. Listed below, by popular student vote, is the talented threesome what ran the show. I think I was in love with all three of them. For years…! Where have the years gone? Sigh… :-(

Yearbook Team Leader Position
[Yearbook] Deanna Basta
Deanna Basta Captain
[Yearbook] Harriett Campbell

Happy Campbell Co-Captain
[Yearbook] Constance Weber

Connie Weber Co-Captain

School clubs…

After all these years—memory perhaps somewhat dimmed—I am amazed at how civilized and well-behaved all this constructive student activity appears to be as suggested by the sheer number of school clubs (see list, below)! Is this what we did after school hours: go to a school-sponsored club and participate in some wholesome activity…?

I ask you: Was there no inmate rioting? Were there no protest marches for “social justice” (whatever that is…)? No student “liberation movements”? No schoolyard rumbles? Student walkouts? No gang wars? Drive-by shootings…?

Hard to believe…

Then again, perhaps I (among many—you know who you are…!) suffer lasting brain damage from too much after-school bad coffee down at Jack’s Diner…

School Clubs
Club Classmate Officer
American Legion Oratorical Contest No officers
Bowling No officers
Ceramics [Yearbook] Carol Hesse Carol Hesse, President
Chemistry [Yearbook] Chuck Banks Chuck Banks, President
Driver Education No officers
French [Yearbook] Madelyn Freeman Madelyn Freeman, President
[Yearbook] Barbara Reuss Barbara Reuss, Treasurer
[Yearbook] Muriel Burke Muriel Burke, Program Manager
Future Nurses [Yearbook] Pat Ellis Pat Ellis, President
Future Teachers of America [Yearbook] Tama Alcott Tama Alcott, President
[Yearbook] Diane Bertasi Diane Bertasi, Vice President
Golf No officers
“I Speak for Democracy” Contest No officers
Library No officers
Math [Yearbook] Larry Roberts Larry Roberts, President
Photography No senior officers
Projectionists [Yearbook] Gordon Thomas Gordon Thomas, Head Projectionist
Radio – TV Workshops [Yearbook] Joel Boland Joel Boland, President
[Yearbook] Larry Roberts Larry Roberts, Vice President
Rifle No officers
Tennis No officers
Weightlifting No officers

Music Department…

[Yearbook] ACapella ChoirI think we participated in the state a capella choir competition the year before—the year we were juniors. I recall the near-professional voice of soprano, Dorothy Babineau, class of ’54. In any case here we wuz (in the photo) in senior year, perhaps not quite as good without Dorothy and some of her classmates…

Also the band, orchestra, boys’ and girls’ glee clubs:

[Yearbook] School Band [Yearbook] School Orchestra [Yearbook] Boys' Glee Club[Yearbook] Girls' Glee Club

Music Department
Organization Yearbook Officer
A Capella Choir [Yearbook] George Malkin George Malkin, President4
[Yearbook] Chuck Banks Charles Banks, Vice President
[Yearbook] Deanna Basta Deanna Basta, Secretary
[Yearbook} Tyler Smith Tyler Smith, Treasurer
[Yearbook] Constance Weber Connie Weber, Librarian
Band [Yearbook] Hilary Carpenter Hilary Carpenter, Student Conductor
Boys’ Glee Club [Yearbook] George Clifford George Clifford, Student Conductor
Girls’ Glee Club Unknown, Student Conductor3
Orchestra [Yearbook] George Clifford George Clifford, Student Conductor

School Publications…

Not sure how these people got picked. Looks like half the graduating class. I thought both Inklings and Soundings were impressive efforts for a bunch of 17-year-olds. In charge of organizing all that talent were:

Pub Yearbook Officer
Inklings [Yearbook] Rose Marie Doino

Rose Marie Doino, Editor
[Yearbook] Gail Armitage

Gail Armitage, Feature Editor
[Yearbook] Marion Kline

Sue Kline, Advertising Editor
[Yearbook] June Rae Baker

June Rae Baker, Copy Editor
Soundings [Yearbook] John Leopold

John Leopold, Editor-in-Chief
[Yearbook] Pat Ellis

Pat Ellis, Senior Editor
[Yearbook] Martha Ruggles

Martha Ruggles, Senior Editor
[Yearbook] Martha Schick

Martha Schick, Exchange Editor
[Yearbook] Barbara Nappa

Barbara Nappa, Art Editor
Stapleite [Yearbook] Harriett Campbell

Happy Campbell, Editor-in-Chief
[Yearbook] Constance Weber

Connie Weber, Editor-in-Chief
[Yearbook] Deanna Basta

Deanna Basta, Assistant Editor
[Yearbook] Carol Hesse

Carol Hesse, Art Editor
[Yearbook] Mary Jane Rippe

Mary Jane Rippe, Business Manager
[Yearbook] Joel Boland

Joel Boland, Advertising Manager
[Yearbook] Norman White

Norm White, Photography

Some trivia, just for the hell of it…

Here are some interesting tidbits about our class. [A disclaimer of sorts: Many of you may not find this “interesting” at all. But that is because your minds may not yet be broken like mine. To those of you who find this trivia of little or no interest—or just plain dull as a Civics class in June of senior year—I have this to say: “Just wait… :-)!”]

  • Size of class 161.
  • Men (ok, boys…) 75.
  • Women 86.
  • Oldest classmate Tom Sedgwick, we think.
  • Youngest Tom Saviano (who knew…?).

Oldest classmates…

The only birthdates we have come from obituaries, some of which may be linked from the Deceased page. We only have a few obituaries: less than half. In other words there may be classmates, dead or alive, older than those listed below. Based on such skimpy data, however, Tom Sedgwick appears to be our oldest classmate, but I’m guessing Gordon Thomas is up there, too. Quite alarming that they are all now gone…

If you have any updates, please forward (see Contact page).

Yearbook Classmate DOB Comment
[Yearbook] Thomas Sedgwick Sedgwick, Thomas 1-22-36 Deceased.
[Yearbook] Shirley Rice

Rice, Shirley 4-13-36 Deceased.
[Yearbook] George Call Call, George 5-24-36 Deceased.
[Yearbook] David Brubaker Brubaker, David 7-28-36 Deceased. From class of ’54?
[Yearbook] Joseph McMahon McMahon, Joseph 7-31-36 Deceased.
[Yearbook] Fraser Smith Smith, Fraser 8-8-36 Deceased.
[Yearbook] Orrin MacLeod MacLeod, Orrin 9-8-36 Deceased.
[Yearbook] Dorothy Bartek Bartek, Dorothy 11-13-36 Deceased.
[Yearbook] Patricia Plocar Plocar, Patricia 12-31-36 Deceased.

Youngest classmates…

Again classmate birthdays are largely unknown.7 With the exception of Diane Bertasi’s obit, the only way I know the birthdays of the other worthies listed below, is that I know them. (And, by the way, I also know what they are capable of…)

Another note: although not a Staples graduate, it is possible that the honor of being the youngest graduate belongs to our one-time classmate, Terry Meguire, whose family moved to Germany in senior year. She graduated from the American School in Frankfurt, Germany (assume June, 1955). At age 16!

Yearbook Classmate DOB Comment
[Yearbook] Thomas Saviano

Thomas Saviano 7-14-38 Retired in Westport, cursing new downtown storefront construction everywhere!
[Yearbook] Diane Bertasi

Diane Bertasi 2-7-38 Deceased.
[Yearbook] Robert Walton

Robert Walton 1-13-38 Retired, Civil War collectibles now rivaling Smithsonian…
[Yearbook] George Clifford

George Clifford 12-29-37 Retired, still hoping to get career advice…
[Yearbook] Noel Castiglia

Noel Castiglia 12-25-37 Retired, running out of places to visit he hasn’t been. Next up: Kathmandu, Nepal…?
[Yearbook] David Ruckert

Dave Ruckert 12-19-37 Retired, at home full-time annoying wife, Suzanne…!

What’s in a name… ?

“Award” for the longest (known) name goes to Donald Michael vonLiebermann (wouldn’t you know it?) and Christopher Morehouse Carson (26 letters). (But then, we’re not sure of Noel’s two middle initials… :-). In 2nd place: Theodore Anthony Gilbertie: 24 letters. There are seven with 23 letters.

Our shortest (known) name is another tie: Lyn Hackley and Gale Seagle (10 letters).

Following were the most popular names in our class. Back in our day it’s likely that “John” and “Mary” were the most popular names in every graduating class:

Boys’ Names
No. First Name Surnames
9 John Anastasia, Ball, Higgins, Leopold, Manning, Oliver, Ottinger, Palazzo, Wilson
7 Robert Agranov, Bregy, Cooper, Jones, Ornstein, Spero, Walton
4 George Call, Clifford, Kunin, Malkin
4 Richard Allen, Beck, Fitzgerald, Gilbert
3 David Blundell, Brubaker, Ruckert
2 Bruce Kent, Wilson
2 Charles Banks, DiBlanda
2 Christopher Carson, Green
2 Joseph Boland, McMahon
2 Michael Cleary, Sutton
2 Norman White, Williams
2 Thomas Saviano, Sedgwick

Girls’ Names
No. First Name Surnames
8 Mary Bannon, Butner, Dennert, Faltings, Johnson, Keehan, Lehn, Rippe
3 Barbara Hartley, Nappa, Reuss
3 Carol/e Hesse, Peterson, Rainey
3 Judith Kouns, Nichols, Weisman
3 Martha Ruggles, Schick, Shoemaker
3 Shirley Dexter, Rice, Scofield
2 Ethel Follett, MacGregor
2 Gail Armitage, Landes
2 Gloria Bennett, DeMattia
2 Linda Speidel, Whittaker
2 Marion Kline, Studwell
2 Pamela Benson, Gill
2 Patricia Ellis, Plocar

Staples marriages…

Here is a list of 1955 classmates who married fellow Stapleites. Surprised at how many marriages (11). If I’ve missed any please let me know.8

Staples Marriages
Bride Classmate Class Groom Classmate Class
[Yearbook] Harriett Campbell Campbell, Happy 1955 [Yearbook] Norman Williams Williams, Norm 1955
[Yearbook] Elizabeth Clark Clark, Betty 1955 [Yearbook] Thomas Sedgwick Sedgwick, Tom 1955
[Yearbook] Shirley Dexter Dexter, Shirley 1955 [Yearbook] James Barnett Barnett, Jim 1955
[Yearbook] Mary Jane Faltings Faltings, Mary Jane 1955 [Yearbook] Fraser Smith Smith, Fraser 1955
[Yearbook] Judith Gault Gault, Judy 1955 [Yearbook] Sanford Frey Frey, Sandy 1955
[Yearbook] Carol Hesse Hesse, Carol 1955 No Photo Marsland, John 1954
[Yearbook] Marion Kline Kline, Carol 1955 No Photo Fiore, Anthony 1954
[Yearbook] Marianna McAlarney McAlarney, Marianna 1955 No Photo Renzuli, Joseph 1954
[Yearbook] Shirley Rice Rice, Shirley 1955 [Yearbook] Michael Hyman Hyman, Mikel 1955 (?)
No Photo Salembier, Sandra 1956 [Yearbook] Leonard Eskey Eskey, Len 1955
[Yearbook] Judith Schachte Schacte, Judith 1955 (?) No Photo Malkin, Gary 1955 (?)


1Baseball I am just guessing it was Mel. Yearbook doesn’t say for some reason.
2Track Ditto. Yearbook doesn’t say. (Was there not a girls’ track team back then…?)
3Girls’ Glee Club Yearbook doesn’t say.
4A Capella Choir For the record (I was absent during the voting) someone told me that I had actually won the popular vote for president. I think it might have been Deanna. However, since I was also the Big Dog of the Boys’ Glee Club and School Orchestra, someone (no doubt O’Hanion) thought it might be better if someone else took the job. Just wanted to state that for the record. Future textbooks on American History and all…
5Nick Weiner (maybe a Stapleite) commented that the most likely reason was the need to get the Yearbook to the publishers before spring competitions had taken place and photos taken. See comment, below. This was back then, he explained, before the 90s. Back in Olden Times. Makes sense. Before photography and the printing press…
6Not sure what the GPA standard for “high honors” was: 3.5? Higher?
7I appear on the list because—no doubt like others born around the first of the new year—I was skipped through kindergarten after passing a developmental maturity test of sorts. (I recall the “test” clearly. There I was—five years old in a small town outside Providence, RI, mom standing by—a female teacher/administrator asked me to walk up a flight of mock stairs (five or six steps) as an adult would, i.e., left then right then left, etc. That was it! Today they’d ask me how I felt about my inner adult…) For a time, I believed I was the youngest member of the class. As it turned out, not so…
8Judy Schacte and Gary Malkin became wife and husband probably during or shortly after high school.