10/13/2016 1:42 PM


Xxx xx.

Akin Toffey, 1936,



Learning more.."P.S. 17: A School apart"

There were no public address systems in those days to carry school announcements. This posed no problem for Gen. Brensinger. He took the military approach and appointed a "bugler of the day" to run through the halls playing the appropriate call for such things as assembly, doctor's call and officers' call (teachers' meeting).

The fife, drum and bugle corps ushered us into the auditorium for the weekly assembly and played a number midway through the program. The close of the program was marked by a bugle call. Just what it was I never learned, but at the final note we all jumped to our feet and slammed up our wooden seats. The resulting crash reverberated from the metal ceiling and echoed from wall to wall. The corps then u

The highlight of the year was the Memorial Day drama, created around the song "Just Before the Battle, Mother." Between stanzas sung by a boy soprano, the soldier marched off to war and then prepared for battle. Then the climax: Four senior guards with Springfield rifles fired off a volley and even the upperclassmen, who knew the script, jumped. The soldier's inert body was then carried in on a stretcher and the sounding of Taps closed the drama.

Gen. Brensinger died while I was in my senior year (eighth grade). I'm sure he would have been pleased at the final tribute to him. The funeral procession, which made its way along the Boulevard to the First Baptist Church on Emery St., was led by the fife, drum and bugle corps playing "Nearer My God To Thee", and followed by the guards.

I was glad I was in my senior year. The general's successor obviously showed little interest in the school's military trappings and I knew that sooner or later P.S. 17 would become nothing more than just another ordinary unit in the Jersey City school system. I didn't want to be there to see it.

"Dad; William Vermilye Toffey III"

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