In 1963, John Holland answered to ski bum. Sheila Cieszynski Grzebien was known as the “frisky redhead.” Michael Naumoff thought he might become a doctor.
They were top teens at Niskayuna High School. Fifty years later, they remember ski trips, dances, stage plays and football games and life inside the classrooms on Balltown Road.
John, Sheila, Mike and other “Niska nifties” from the Class of ’63 will gather for 50th anniversary parties this weekend. They’ll be at The Stockade Inn on Friday, tour the high school Saturday morning, dine and dance at the Mohawk Golf Club on Saturday night and eat brunch at The Desmond in Colonie on Sunday morning.
They’ll get their 1963 stories straight this week. Grzebien said she and her friends used to gather at Kay’s drug store on Union Street. Like other drug stores of the era, Kay’s had sodas and ice cream. “That’s where the boys were, too,” Grzebien said. “Don Leach’s father owned the place.”
Kids also visited Newstead’s on Van Antwerp Road for refreshments and packed the Mohawk Drive-in on Central Avenue near Route 155 for movie nights. There were drag races on River Road and, for the romantically inclined, “submarine races” near Lock 7 off Rosendale Road.
They learned how to dance by watching “American Bandstand.” “I still dance,” Grzebien said. “But I do country line dancing instead.”
Naumoff — now the longtime owner of Slick’s tavern in Schenectady’s Stockade section — was a center on Niskayuna’s 7-0-1 football team that outscored its opponents 283-59. He said a lot of his friends were athletic on ski slopes, and weekend bus trips to Vermont for hills at Mount Snow, Killington and Stratton were major social events.
“There was a lot of joking and kidding,” Naumoff said. “And a little making out on the bus.”
Holland was president of the ski club his junior and senior years. He remembers sock hops in the gym. He remembers driving his parents’ blue miniature auto on the stage during a talent show, for an optical gag that had bunches of guys exiting the small car. “We almost wound up in the orchestra,” Holland said.
More information about the Class of ’63 reunion is available by calling Lynne Lazarow Margolius at 877-5412.