School started Sept. 4, but not a lot was happening in town, not that we really cared in those days. It was all about us. President Nixon had resigned and inflation was running rampant so you had one-year CD rates at 7 1/2 percent. There was also a severe nursing shortage at Overlook that forced management to close a large wing. [This lasted about six weeks.]
Summit only had 1.54 inches of rain in July, but on a Saturday in August, we had 3.9 inches in 2 1/2 hours which caused a little damage.
A Summit resident was featured on NBC Nightly News because she had done research into a lead poisoning case where a 6-month toddler got it after the kid’s fruit juice had been stored in a ceramic pitcher (the glaze leached off). I seem to remember that about then everyone stopped keeping liquids in pitchers of this kind.
Wrapping up the summer, the Suburban League baseball team won its crown with a 14-2 record as Bob Cotterell had six wins on the mound and a record 92 strikeouts in just 58 innings. Other big contributors were Mike Tarashuk, Rich Rosen, Rob Guida, Scott Leisher, John Merchant and Dave Connolly.
But on the fall sports scene, this of course was the post-Willie Wilson era, Howie Anderson’s 19th at SHS, and he was trying to figure out how to keep it going after Willie and crew had produced a 25-1-1 record in his three years. So as Summit prepared for the season opener at Piscataway, focus was on the backfield with senior Chuck Wiebe, juniors Bob Kimbrough and Andy Nestler, and sophomore Jeff Hunt expected to get the bulk of the carries, while at quarterback, it would be junior Chris Teare or senior Bob Miller.
The offensive line of Facchinei, Carbone, Sperco, Wrisley, and Ruppert was in the 170-180 lb. range with the exception of Sperco, who weighed in at 210.
Summit was actually ranked 12th in the state, pre-season, but in the first contest we got dismantled, 20-0, as Piscataway outgained the Hilltoppers 387 to 86 yards. The only bright spot was Bob Kimbrough’s 18 tackles at linebacker. The fans had been spoiled.
The news was better for the Summit soccer team, which was trying to improve off a 11-2-1 Suburban Conference record from the year before but flameouts in both the County and State tourneys. Summit would be led by seniors Matt Bowyer, John Combias, Doug Colson, Bob Owen, Phil Rogers, J.P. Dunn, Don Minkler, Jim Atwood, and Brad Evers, with juniors Jeff Smith and Mike Cook contributing as well.
And the soccer team got off to a great start, 3-0 over Verona [Smith, Cook and Minkler tallied the goals] and 4-0 over West Orange [Bowyer (2), Atwood and Minkler]
Lastly, the cross country team was attempting to better the previous year’s 12-3 record behind senior Peter Nix and juniors Paul Reich, Jeff Newell, Wolfgang Name, and Woody Cornog. Out of the gate, we went 2-1.
Some final tidbits:
Jim Gwathney was finally getting a chance to star at running back for Montclair State in his junior year and taking advantage of the opportunity.
Per pupil costs for 1973-74 were $1,694 for senior high students.
There were six burglaries in one week on Whittredge, Lennox and Essex roads.
There was also a rash of bicycle accidents. Seems we all were forgetting our safety lessons and insisting on riding the wrong way.
Ken Berry was starring at the Paper Mill Playhouse in “The Music Man,” while Pat Paulsen was at the Meadowbrook in Cedar Grove.
But on the big screen at The Strand… “Walking Tall.” I may be the only classmate who has actually been to the Sheriff Buford Pusser home and museum in Adamsville, Tenn. [Near Shiloh battlefield, for you history buffs.]
Lastly, guess what tradition ended at noon on October 2nd? The 3 blasts from the firehouse, which had been a tradition since World War II. The 5:00 blasts continued for a while. Turns out the EPA forced the move for noise abatement. Boy, growing up the 5:00 blast was a key signal to begin thinking about heading home.
Next installment, Nov. 11, possibly a little sooner.