Jon Breen letter to MVHS 4-22-1999




April 22, 1999


Dear Friends of the Jon Breen Fund,


Once again a year has passed since the last Jon Breen Memorial Fund essay contest. As you can readily see on the opposite side of this letter, the fund has been able to increase its awards this coming year. Over the past five years or so, the fund has raised over $15,000 and currently has over $10,000 in its account.


The winners have been a fine group of scholars, and it has been a genuine pleasure to attend the award ceremony and to meet the honorees. We have tried to select a subject that will stimulate some provocative yet introspective thought. Last year we selected  “Trial by Jury,” in the wake of the Simpson and Tyson trials. This year I thought that the subject of Presidential conduct would be appropriate in response to our country's past experience with the Ken Starr investigation and the impeachment hearings and trial. John Alberga, head of the Social Studies Department at Mount Vernon High School, and I ate lunch this past Friday, and we discussed the award's process in depth and future projects.


This past year proved quite exciting with our great 35th reunion get-together and its marvelous turnout. As you all should know, we are having a mini-reunion event on the weekend of May 22nd. As a reminder, there is an “Oldies” concert at Westlake High School and an optional dinner at Sir John's in North White Plains after the show. The next day we are having a picnic at the Glen Island Park off Shore Road in New Rochelle. I hope that all of you who are within shouting distance make an effort to attend. Let your hair down, and have some fun! Over the past 6 months we have established a Class of 1963 Fund. We have been able to raise money through the sale of a video tape that encompasses some of the events of the 30th and 35th MVHS reunions.


Since  our reunion, we have established an internet website for our MVHS Class through the expertise and generous work of Pierre Malraison. Along with all of that, I have had the fun of communicating with Lee Jackel Egan, Peter Altieri and others through the exchange of “humor” via e-mail. Speaking of our class, my wife Linda and I had the pleasure of being treated to dinner by our classmate Armel MacDonald, who flew into Westchester from his home in Omaha. It was great seeing and talking to him after a 35 year hiatus. Our joint memories of Henry Littlefield made the eveing extra special. Recently I attended services at the old CBI Synagogue on Crary Avenue in Mount Vernon as a guest of Alan Rosenberg. Alan celebrated the 40th anniversary of his Bar Mitzvah, and chanted his haftorah beautifully. Speaking of synagogues, Free Synagogue, where I was a member, has been torn down for a senior citizen living complex, and a smaller building is being constructed.Temple Emmanuel on Lincoln, has become a Baptist Church, and the congregation has linked up with Genesis in Tuckahoe. Meanwhile for all of you Holmes' school people, one of my neighbors and early playmates was one John Petrillo. Noting his father's death notice in the      newspaper, I decided to wander down to the Yannantuono Funeral Home on W. Lincoln Avenue in Mount Vernon. There I met the whole Petrillo family! Though all six children attended Catholic schools, Anthony and John, my contemporaries, did attend the public schools in the lower grades. They are both practicing doctors, and their mother still lives in their pink house on Lorraine Avenue. It was quite a reunion in the most unlikely of places. I had not seen any of that family since 1961! Frank Engel, of Portland is due in the weekend of May 8th and will be our guest for at least one night.  I also was able to visit with Joel Zalvin in his new offices in the MetLife building. For all younonattendees at our past reunion, Joel looks great and is in marvelous shape.


The Jon Breen Award will be given out at MVHS in mid-June, and I look forward to reporting on that event. As a reminder, reflective of my role as the Chairperson of the Jon Breen Fund, this is a charitible effort that helps perpetuates the memory of a friend and an outstanding member of our class. Only by investing in the present will we be able to have some control over the unpredictable future. The leaders that come forth from today's generation will have a great deal to do and say about a future America. As I wrote here last year, if we want the next generation to come forth with the same intellectual vigor that Jon possessed, we should encourage it with as much help as possible. There are worse things that you can spend your money on! No check will be refused, and it can be sent to either the address at the top or the bottom of this letter. Also special thanks to Ronnie Breen for her continued support.




Richard J. Garfunkel