A long over due collection of tribute pages to the individuals who accepted the challenge of educating us.
Richard Flechtner is feted here by more than a few of his students from the 1970s
Mr. Richard Flechtner
Mr Flechtner was the RHS Althletic Director in my day and the Head Lifeguard at Graydon Pool. He took his commitments very seriously and we were all the better off and safer for his efforts.
Kurt Flechtner, class of 1978:
My Dad used to love telling this story. If he caught a kid with a pack of smokes, Mr. Barkocy used to crush the pack in his hands. One kid, trying to trick Mr. Barkocy, cut out a block of wood in the shop and put it inside a an empty cigarette pack. Well, word got back to Barkocy, so he waited to confiscate the pack until class was over, tossing the pack in his desk on the way out the door and telling the kid to come back after school. After school, the kid comes back in, but Mr. Barkocy had been down to the wood shop himself in the meantime. So he holds up the cigarette pack, tells the kid, “You know what I think of these things,” and crushes it. Sawdust falls out on the floor.
I had him for gym class junior year. The class was gymnastics and he took the teaching of it very seriously. Just so happens there were a few varsity athletes in that class with me so we took it seriously too. Dave Andre, Frank O’Connor, maybe one or two others. We had to create our own gymnastics routine. It was great and I learned a lot about what it takes to be a gymnast.
I worked for him for 5-6 years at Graydon. He ran that place the way it needed to be run. We drilled and followed his rules and kept a very dangerous place as safe as possible. I rode in an ambulance with him with a body that had been pulled off the bottom of Graydon. That was I think only the second such incident he experienced in 30+ years? What a record. That turned out to be the thing that kind of ended it for him at Graydon. He retired that year and we had the party at my house. We took one of the small stands and put it in the back of a pick up to put up near the front door of my house. We had some of the old crew there at the party too. I never saw him laugh so much talking old stories with those guys.
For some, at that time, he was a little bit old school but he was fair and took the responsibility given to him as father, husband, teacher, AD and pool manager. And one more thing that just popped into my head which I haven’t thought of in 25? years. He used to cut his wife’s hair. She told everybody she used to get her hair cut at Chez Richard. He loved telling people that joke.
And one more…at a banquet he was up there speaking and he said something like, “I saw Jane Smith earlier tonight. She is a Graydon regular and I have never really seen her anywhere but at Graydon. So when I saw her I said, “Oh Jane, it’s you. I almost didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.” That was classic “Fleck.”
As Paul noted, my Dad ran Graydon for all of my childhood. It’s interesting to read Paul’s perspective on Dad’s management style and remember Dad’s thought processes during those years.
First, some thoughts about Graydon. As Paul observed, during the time Dad was in charge, there were no fences at all. There it sat, acres of natural swimming pool, in the middle of a town of 25,000, in the middle of a county of several hundred thousand. Now think about that: you can’t put a 15’x25′ pool in your yard without a fence, but Graydon was surrounded by nothing but sandy beaches and grassy banks, in the midst of as dense a population as one might find west of the Bronx.
Well, Dad took his responsibility for the safety of Graydon swimmers very seriously. He was responsible for everybody on that piece of property, and he had very little control over who wandered onto the grounds. I remember one day a small child fell off the wall and under the water, while his mother chatted on the beach. Dad scooped him up, but came home haunted by the fact that he had seen it happen before the child’s mother. That was the nature of the time, and Dad accepted the responsibility. But it also forged his adherence to rules and regulations. Ironclad rules were his mechanisms for accepting responsibility for a big swimming pool in the middle of town.
Later on, when I became a lifeguard, I learned to appreciate Dad’s approach to rules. It removed the arbritary nature from the job. Rules are rules, and nobody can throw sand, not even your buddy from school. I learned a lot about leadership, responsibility and consistency from Dad. I learned many years later from other former guards that he taught the same lessons to just about all that passed under his leadership at Graydon. (As an aside, one summer I also learned to decline the advances of an “older,” probably mid-20s, married woman – wheee!!)
At RHS, Dad merely demonstrated and administered his authority. At Graydon, he took the opportunity to teach it. I wish more people could have known the teaching side of Dad.
Richard Flechtner Richard Bennett Roger Sweeney Tony Napier
Jack Van Yperen Chuck Johnson Charles Bookstaver
Deans Of Girls
Dr. Lois B. Knox (1919-1954) Wilma J. McVeigh (1954-
Alan Bennett Larry Coyle Amy Emmers Loren Leek Stuart Postle
Kitty Batterson Jacob Brown Debbie Paul Jeff Yearing
“Uncle” Harry Ahearn Laura Fleming Charlotte McCane Milo Okema Medha Kirtane Harold Vaughan
Faith Colton Arthur Deeks Helen Towle
Donald E. Bowler George Murphy Arthur Rispoli
C. Betram Harmon John Lochner Robert Whittemore
Principals & Assistant Principals
John McCutcheon George Egli Frank S. Foley William C. Leach
Irwin B. Somerville George Neville John Archibald Basil Pizzuto