Jon Breen letter to MVHS 8-20-04

The Jon Breen Memorial Fund

Mount Vernon High School

100 California Road

Mount Vernon, NY 10552


August 20, 2004


Dear Friends and Classmates,


Well it’s been a few months since the last Jon Breen letter. At that time spring was emerging and the political season and its choices were rounding into form. So here we are in late mid August and the next stage of this quadrennial exercise in freedom is about to take place. Boston has never had a political convention until this year, so the recent afterglow of the Yankee – Red Sox fireworks had to take a back seat. Luckily for an old political junkie like myself, I have my two activist children living in Brookline and they both worked at the convention. Jon took the week off and had tickets to the first three nights. He was awarded the tickets by raising the second most amount of money on the Internet, out of 8000+ entries, in a contest earlier in the year. Dana, who works for the Kennedy School at Harvard, has been in the heart of much political action is a volunteer at the big happening. All of the volunteers had to go through an elaborate vetting process as a consequence of our new era of “added” security. From a social perspective, they had many, many parties and social events to partake in. Sounds like it was great fun!


With regards to the Jon Breen Essay contest, this year’s topic was Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, Has the spirit of the landmark Supreme Court ruling been realized? There were many excellent essays submitted and this year, but because of “end of the year” time constraints and other scheduling problems, I chose the winners as I had done three years ago. This coming academic year, because of these factors, we are going to schedule the new essay contest earlier and be able to get our assembly and cable program organized without year-end competition and interference. The top winners were. Camille Adamson, going to Princeton and Nicholas Ciana, off to Harvard. As I had mentioned in the April letter, if you are interested in my perspective on Mount Vernon from those days, and wish to read MVHS Change and Legacy 1963-2003, please e-mail me at I will then e-mail you a copy. I would appreciate hearing your personal perspectives on that era and your comments on what I had to say. Also you can find that article and old Jon Breen Fund letters at my site:


As the years add up, (Linda and I just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary) and therefore seem to pass with greater rapidity, I hear more and more about our fellow classmates disconnection with their high school friends and acquaintances. Fewer and fewer of us keep some contact with childhood/high school friends as time and space continue to widen from those Mount Vernon days. That seems sort of natural to me, and it is reinforced by my off-repeated question to many of our fellow classmates, “whom have you heard from lately?” Invariably the answer is the same, “I haven’t heard from anyone new!” Along that path, I have often gone into website and always check to see if any of classmates have joined. I assume that many of you have done the same thing!  I myself speak and communicate with my core group of old friends that have remained from childhood and high school, with a few others that have been added to that list over the years. So all in all, we are all normally spinning further away from each other as time and family needs intervene. If you feel inclined to make a contribution to the John Breen Fund, which sponsors the awards for both the essay contest and the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize, please send a check to me at the below address. Also I must report some sad news. I received, this past week, a letter from Joe DeVito’s wife Gail a very tragic and horrible story. Joe, who had recently attended our past reunion, was the victim of a murder-suicide committed by his son. Joe, a psychologist, and his wife were taking care of their son, who had emotional problems. If you are interested in more details, please e-mail me and I will forward to you copies of the correspondence.  





Richard J. Garfunkel



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