Sailor's Handbook





Illustrated above are the three editions of the Oceanside High School Sailor's Handbook in effect for our high school years from September 1957 to June 1960.  These were retrieved from the fantastic scrapbook kept by one of our classmates, Marta Watts, which she so kindly provided for material for this website.

These little, pocket-size booklets were given to us each year "in order that you may have readily available information which will be of service in planning your high school career more successfully." They contain a wealth of information that, although it may seem trivial to many, upon close examination, reveals a great deal about the social and educational values of our time, and even how they were changing as we moved from those of the 1950s to the 1960s.

The following series of questions and answers, prepared by our classmate, Ed Chilton, highlight some of the more interesting (and, interestingly, some of the less interesting) points contained in the Sailor's Handbooks of our high school days.  

Some of these will surprise you, and many will have you rolling on the floor!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(Infrequently Asked Questions)

by Ed Chilton (now deceased)

  1. Q. What was the full, formal name of the Oceanside school district?
A. From 1899 onward, it was called the “Union Free School District Number 11” (of Nassau County) but nobody ever told us why.  Even Dr. Boardman’s fine work, The Story of Oceanside, says nothing more about it.
  2. Q. What was the name of the tune to which our alma mater was sung? Who wrote the lyrics?
A. It was sung to the tune of “Sweet Genevieve” – but this was rarely admitted. Music teacher, James Roby Day, composed the lyrics.
  3. Q. Who was Glennwood Terrell?
A. The Handbooks list him as the Board’s Superintendent of Buildings, but only during our sophomore and junior years. [He must have been promoted only temporarily from his earlier job as Terrell Avenue. HL]
  4. Q. What were the OHS telephone numbers?
A. ROckville Center 6 - 6600, 01, 02.
  5. Q. For at least three years, what did Mr. Ralph Schuman do for our school district?
A. He was the Census Enumerator.  (Who, then, was our E-denominator?)
  6. Q. What was Robert Sodemann’s job?
A. According to the Handbooks, he went from being a Vocational Coordinator (of the "Work Experience Program," according to the 1958 Spindrift ) to a Central Treasurer of Extra-Curricular Funds to a Student Council Advisor.  Our 1960 Spindrift lists him as G.O. Advisor.  (Does any of this sound like a full-time job, and does anyone know what he actually did?)
  7. Q. When you filled out your Schedule Card at the beginning of the school year, and deposited it with the front office, how were you supposed to write your name?
A. As it appeared on your birth certificate.  (Before you applied for a driving learner’s permit, had you even SEEN your birth certificate?  How would they know if we cheated?)
  8. Q. We had morning announcements over the PA system. What were they called?
A. In military fashion, they were called the “Order of the Day.
  9. Q. If you were an orphan and absent from school, whom could you get to sign your written note of explanation? 
A. Nobody.  The rules said it had to be a parent’s signature.  (Curiously, a child’s guardians were allowed to sign the form when a 16-year-old decided to quit school.)
10. Q. From whom and when could we obtain permission to leave the building during the day?
A. Officially, only from from Mr. Cunningham and only before the start of the day.  (Apparently, those of us who went out for lunch without such permission were scofflaws.)
11. Q. When snowstorms closed our school, how could we learn about it on the radio?
A. The Handbook, trying to be helpful, tells us to tune in radio stations WHLI or WRCA – but it doesn’t say where on the AM dial the damn stations are located.  (“Nope, wait a minute, Eddie, those are school closings in Buffalo… .”)
12. Q. Also, if the schools were to be closed for snow , the Fire Department would blow the local air horn system at 7:45 a.m.  What was the signal for school closing?
A. It was eight blasts “in uninterrupted succession.”  (Two sets of four blasts didn’t count.)
13. Q. 1960 was a Leap Year.  What, therefore, was scheduled to happen of note on Monday, February 29th ?
A. Nothing, but on the following Friday, the schools were closed due to a snowstorm, causing us to miss “Dress-up Day.”   (Shame.)
14. Q. What room number was assigned to the terrifying Pupil Personnel Office?
A. 149
15. Q. When was the only time a student could leave school for religious instruction?
A. “During last period, on Wednesdays.”   
16. Q. How did church obligations relate to school obligations? 
A. “Church obligations should interfere with school attendance as little as possible.”  
17. Q. According to our dress code, what three items were girls forbidden to wear?
A. Girls could not wear slacks or dungarees nor come to school in curlers.  (Boys apparently could wear curlers.)     
18. Q. At OHS, what were “losers” allowed to do in the library?
A. They could identify found items as theirs and then claim them.  “Finders” had to schlep these things to the library.  
19. Q. In the school parking lots and roadways, what was the official speed limit?
A. It was 8 miles per hour, not 7 mph or 9 mph.  (How did we – or law enforcers – determine this?  Did your speedometer show an 8?) 
20. Q. What was the alarm sounded for an “alertness drill”?
A. It was five short rings on all school bells.  (We were to get out of our stained seats and exit the classroom when the second set sounded.)
21. Q. According to state law, of what offense was a person – other than an OHS student – guilty for entering the school building or loitering in the grounds?
A. Disorderly conduct.  No kidding.
22. Q. Concerning the Rules of Conduct, what rule was enforced primarily by Miss Kinkade?
A. Rule F“GUM CHEWING IS NOT PERMITTED IN THE SCHOOL.”  (This was the only rule displayed in all capital letters – obviously the most serious infraction imaginable "The idea!!".)
23. Q. The “Commercial Education” diploma was awarded to students who completed courses in typing, shorthand, and business math.  What kind of diploma did one get, then, for taking coursework in retailing?
A.  A diploma in “Distributive Education.”
24. Q. Were boys allowed to take Home Economics courses?
A. Yes. There were three choices.  They were titled: a) “Chef Course for Boys,” b) “A Man’s Contribution to the Family,” and c) “Personal Appearance.”  (Do you know anyone who took them?)
25. Q. What action was necessary for January graduation?
A. “Any senior who is planning to graduate in January should see Miss Kinkade at once.”  (“Hello, Miss Kinkade?  Sorry to bother you at home this late hour, but ….” )
26. Q. What official form did papers we submitted have to take?
A.      SUBJECT:                                                          NAME:
       PERIOD:                                                           DATE:      
27. Q. The Guidance Department served five functions.  The fifth one had nothing to do with school.  What was it?
A. “The Guidance Department serves as an official agency under Selective Service.  It registers and advises students when they reach their 18th birthday.”   (What advice did you get?  Victor Leccese told me to run for it.) 
28. Q. For the Honor Day Awards held each May, what did the Oceanside National Bank give to the outstanding student in Social Science and Business subjects?
A. Five bucks apiece held in a “thrift account.”   
29. Q. What special prize went to the Valedictorian?
A. A one year’s subscription to Reader’s Digest.
30. Q. What was the AAA Trophy?
A. The American Automobile Association of New York gave this award “to the best senior driver.”  (Does anybody know who determined this and upon what basis?  What did this trophy look like?  Why did they stop awarding it in 1959?)  
31. Q. At what time did the Mother-Daughter Teas begin?
A. 3:30 p.m.  Each year.
32. Q. When were our senior portraits taken for the yearbook?
A. From September 21 to October 4, 1959.  No wonder we looked so young. 
33. Q. If a teacher caught you cheating, in whose hands did your fate lie?
A. Those of Murdoch Cunningham “who will have an interview with the student and decide what the outcome will be.”  There is no mention of any appeal or other due process.
34. Q. How many times was the musical South Pacific scheduled but not performed at OHS?
A. At least twice.  The play was announced in the 1958-59 Handbook, but instead, we put on Paint Your Wagon and again in the 1959-60 Handbook, but we put on Bells Are Ringing.   (Was South Pacific ever performed at OHS?)
35. Q. Faculty members were provided with lounges for when they had free time.  What restriction applied to the use of the faculty lounges?
A. There were two separate faculty lounges, one only for women near the gymnasium and one only for men clear on the other side of the building by the auditorium.  It is unclear whose virtue was thus protected. 


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Use your BACK button to return
to wherever you were.


TO 1960Sailors HOME PAGE



Copyright © 2000-2007 by Howard B. Levy and 1960 Sailors Association Inc.  All rights reserved.