The Auditorium: fond memories
by Michael Elliser
I have particular recollections of P.S. 150 because we lived across the street from it on 41st Street. Even before I was old enough to be enrolled there, I had joined our next door neighbors to see their son perform in the dramatization of Robin Hood. It was my first attendance of a live performance, but equally intriguing to me were the murals on both sides of the proscenium arch of the stage area. These paintings were imaginative scenes from old fairy tales; I'm guessing now that they were done by artists supported by the work projects of the Roosevelt Depression period.
That stage continued to get my attention, but not only for the murals. In 1948, the actor John Payne appeared there to greet the students, some of whom were disappointed that he wasn't John Wayne. Mr. Payne apologized pleasantly and I thought that he was a very nice man. In my more mature years, I realized that Mr. Payne was in New York for the opening of Miracle on 34th Street, which has since been one of my favorite films. Still later, my research revealed that Mr. Payne's ancestor was John Howard Payne, who wrote the poem which includes the oft-quoted line, "...be it ever so humble there's no place like home." It is assumed that the historic little house in East Hampton, L.I., is the source of that sentiment; J.H. Payne did reside in East Hampton, but it is now believed that he didn't actually live in that house.
Another memory of that auditorium includes the Principal, Mr. Hyman Birnbaum; I remember him for being especially endearing as he recited Sandburg's poem Fog for the auditorium filled with kids. He was actually teaching the poem. Many years later, when I was a teaching intern, I was sent to a junior high school in College Point - and there was Mr. Birnbaum as principal. When I said that I remembered him well from P.S. 150, he surprised me by saying, "And I remember you, too, Michael." When I was finishing my time there, he then told me to call him when I was ready to accept a job. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I intended to work in Nassau County.
My family moved from Sunnyside to Bayside in 1952. I still reflect upon the "progressive" education and experiences I enjoyed at P.S. 150. The different museum trips and outings and the dedicated teachers made the school experience richer.
Boys: left to right: John, Daniel Levy, Robert Silver, Eugene Turitz, Ezra Kaplan, Peter Greenblatt, Michael Elliser, ? Liebowitz, Teddy Becker, Leslie Greene, Herbie Engler, ??, ??, George Beck, Stephen Hammond, Billy Herndon
Girls in rows nearest boys, front to back: Laura Ingber, Mary Jean Metcalfe
Eileen Farenholtz (girl looking sideways), Nancy Newman, Bette Jean Blake, Susan Steinberg
Back four across, left to right: ??, ??, Irene Orcutt, Maralyn Lowy
Middle Row, front to back: ??, Susan Vladeck, girl to left ??, girl in Girl Scout uniform ??
Girls: on the right side of the aisle, front to back: Phyllis Hamberger, Brenda Kugler, girl to the left: Susan Chertok, to the right: ??