Stuyvesant High School from
1977-1981. Stuy is one of the specialized high schools in the NYC Public
School system (you had to take a test to get in; the focus of the schools
is math and science).
now located in a new, hi-tech building in the Wall Street area; way
back in the day it was located on 15th Street near 1st Avenue in Manhattan.
the 1981 yearbook.
McCourt, from the 1981 yearbook. At least his picture is unflattering
10th HS reunion in 1991.
McCourt hadn't written Angela's Ashes yet. I don't recall
if he had retired from teaching by this reunion.
me and my classmate and best friend Carole Brown.
Frank in 2000:
McCourt was in Durham, NC in January 2000 to promote 'Tis.
I was asked, as a former student of his, by a local bookstore to introduce
him before a crowd of 2500 people who turned up to hear Frank speak
at a fundraiser for one of our magnet high schools.
great to see him; I went backstage before he went on, and of course
he didn't recognize me from the last reunion, but I brought my trusty
'81 Indicator (he recognized me in that context), the pix you see above
from the 10th reunion, and my copies of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis
for him to sign. I didn't get any decent pix from the event, or I'd
have posted them! He was a real tale spinner and was mobbed like a true
celebrity after the event!
the introduction I gave that evening:
evening. Frank McCourt was one of the most popular teachers at Stuyvesant.
Everyone I knew hoped that they would see his name on their program
card at some point during our four years there. By the luck of the draw,
in the fall of 1980 I had the pleasure of being in his Creative Writing
class. Why was he popular? Aside from his charm, ability to spin a good
yarn (and sing), he engaged us in feisty discussion. He encouraged us
to read (oh, Hamlet!), to write and to share those written experiences,
dreams and flights of fancy. We had to keep a journal, and on each Friday,
a few of us would be called to read journal entries aloud. What I most
remember, as I look back now, was the loving, constructive criticism
he gave our work, and the open, unstructured environment he created
for us to excel in. By the way, I received a 93 in his class, so I guess
I was actually paying attention. When Angela's Ashes came out to much
acclaim, some of my classmates and I discussed Frank's amazing journey
into the limelight and we all thought how success must embarrass and
dismay this humble man, and how he must think he doesn't deserve any
of it. But of course he's bonkers. We're glad you decided not to stick
that manuscript in a drawer, because you saved your most truly amazing
yarns for publication to share with the world. And now Frank McCourt...