2006.10.04 Listen, Stuart, I really should write a book

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Remember Stuart Krichevsky?

How could you forget a name like that? My husband can’t. He loves the names of my high school classmates. Barry Chanofsky. Steve Rotterdam. Bob Bonavida. Hi-ll Na. Fang Kiang Ng. Fei-Fei Chang. Chee-Haw Cheung. Mariusz Wrzesniewski. Fuh-Lin Hsin. And ranking right up there in the top ten of his favorite names among the 822 kids in my graduating class is Stuart Krichevsky.

I mentioned Stuart in a column this summer. I had been reading the acknowledgments in Steven Sorrentino’s memoir, “Luncheonette,” and nearly fell off the couch when Sorrentino thanked his literary agent, Stuart Krichevsky.

I don’t recall communicating with Stuart since we were Aggies—members of the agriculture program at John Bowne High School in Queens, New York. I think I might have mentioned before that there’s all kinds of high schools in New York City. I still remember reading about John Bowne in a book, a directory of sorts, that described all the different programs and schools kids could apply to when they were in junior high. When I read I’d be expected to spend my summers on farms, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I never wanted anything as much as I wanted to get into John Bowne.

I passed up Bronx High School of Science for the chance to collect eggs in the chicken house on the 3.8-acre land laboratory behind the school. Instead of a football field, we had crops like asparagus and tomatoes, individual garden plots and a big white chicken house with 500 White Leghorns. We were members of the largest Future Farmers of America chapter in the United States and we spent our summers on farms and other agricultural establishments.  Many of the kids in the program wanted to be veterinarians and many of them had been advised in junior high that enrolling in John Bowne’s ag program was a ticket into Cornell University. I had no advice. I simply hated New York City and wanted to be a farmer. 

Stuart wanted to be a vet. I don’t know how he ended up in the literary field, but he said he spent a couple summers in his old neighborhood in Queens, working at a luncheonette counter “with a clientele almost as colorful as [Sorrentino’s].” So he could relate to Sorrentino’s story.

I had emailed Stuart a way-too-long letter following his enthusiastic response to my first email. And for a long time he didn’t write back. I would have just let it go, but I want Sorrentino to give a presentation at the library and I thought Stuart could help make that happen. Stuart’s a busy guy, not the best at responding to email or all the content in an email. He finally connected me to Sorrentino, but he had made no comment about my suggestion for a book:

“Hey, all of us should collaborate on a book about our experiences as Aggies working on farms and our involvement in the FFA,” I had written. “I saw Steve at Adrienne's when I was home in April and I was hysterical hearing about his and your farm escapades. People out here are always amazed about my FFA and farm experiences.”

So I brought it up again, asking if he had missed it in my long email or if he had dismissed it altogether.

“Thought you were kidding!” he said. “No, I don't think it's viable commercially. It's more the kind of thing you'd just do for fun (maybe as a website).”

“Kidding!?” I responded. “You always did have a warped sense of humor! Oh well, it's too much work to think about doing it anyway.…"

But then, David and I were having a business meeting with Renée Collins who used to work for the Heritage newspaper chain and now works for Lenawee United Way. In getting acquainted, she asked how I ended up in Michigan.

I gave her the short answer first: My friend Sondra had an application to Michigan State that she wasn’t using—and then the long version. The long version is pretty much outlined above—the FFA/farm life/ag program—and includes the encouragement we received to apply to out of state colleges with agriculture programs and how we were mistaken for gang members when we wore our FFA jackets on the subway.

Renée said something like, “That’s fascinating! I didn’t know there was an FFA in New York City! You should write a book about your experiences!”

If only Stuart could relate.

  - Oct. 4, 2006

 

  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016