4/25/74-5/9/74

Wow, we almost lost a classmate in a fire on Druid Hill back in April ’74.  You understand that I need to leave the name out, but at about 5:50 a.m.,  police drove by this particular home and noticed smoke pouring out of the second floor.  They and firemen rushed in and had to wake four boys who could have easily perished.  The parents were away and their two sons had some friends over.

Switching gears, taxes were set to rise 6%.

I didn’t realize that back in 1971, Kent Place School and Pingry hatched a merger plan, with a new campus to be built in Bernardsville.  But by April ’74 the plan was scrapped and Kent Place went on with its own expansion plans.

Former Prospect Hill resident William Simon was appointed Treasury Secretary by President Nixon.  Back in 1964, LBJ had named John T. Connor for Commerce Secretary.  Connor was also a Prospect Hill resident.

A full meal at the Hunt Club was $4.95.

During the heart of the ’74 energy crisis, the Summit school system saved 100,000 gallons of fuel through conservation.  I remember our classrooms were like 42 degrees.

Dizzy Gillespie gave a concert at the high school for a DARE benefit.

Summit baseball struggled in Willie Wilson’s senior year.  The Hilltoppers got off to a miserable 1-5 start in Suburban Conference play before turning it around.  By May 9, they were 3-5, 6-6 overall.

The issue was lack of hitting.  Wilson hit .439 through the first 12 games, but George Gross and the rest got off to slow starts, though Gross was heating up with a couple of 4 RBI games.  For his part, Wilson was 16 for 16 in the stolen base department.  At this point, all the talk still centered around Willie going to Maryland on a football scholarship, though the baseball scouts were coming out in droves.

Classmate John Merchant pitched a shutout in his varsity debut, a 9-0 win over St. Mary’s of Elizabeth. Gross and Bob Miller pitched well but their records didn’t show it due to the lack of offense.

In tennis, after losing its first five matches the boys won five of seven.  Among the key members were Peter Lizotte, Jeff Gamwell, John Lax, Alex Colton and Brad Cabibi.

The boys track team ran its record to 4-3 by the end of this period.  Aside from Ernie Gwathney, who ran a 10.1 in the 100, key performers for Summit were Bill Binford, Bruce Atkinson, Mike Paytas, George Duffy, Mike Cook, and John Downer.  [I’ll catch up with the rest next time.]

Bob Piana aced the second hole at the Muni!  And Todd Gibbons shot a 38 for the Varsity in a loss to New Providence.  [Todd ended up being my big brother at Wake Forest and is married to the best baby doctor around, Alice.]

Marco Polo finally received approval to proceed with its expansion plans.

And at The Strand…Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in “Magnum Force.”

Next installment, Jan. 14.

BT

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