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.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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