My dad, Jule Silverstein died in December, 1995. He was born (1925) and raised at 103 Hudson Avenue in Haverstraw, NY. He attended Haverstraw High School. After graduation, he enrolled in the Navy in 1943. He married in 1950 and started teaching in the Haverstraw (later North Rockland) School District in the early 1950s. He taught social studies in the District until his retirement in 1989. He had a family of five sons of which I’m the oldest. Dad died in Lake Worth, FL of a cerebral hemmorage in December, 1995.
In 1996, my brother Marc called with news that the North Rockland Sports Hall of Fame intended to honor my dad as a junior varsity tennis and basketball coach, charter member of the Hall and a lifetime North Rockland sports fan. At the Hall’s inductee dinner on January 18, 1997, I made these remarks about my dad:
“Honoring the memory of the dead is a cherished belief in our culture and most, if not all of the rest of the world. Therefore, it is an especially blessed thing you do tonight for my Dad. I don’t need to tell you how much North Rockland and its sports teams meant to him. But I do need to tell you what a good deed you have done for him and for us, his family, by inducting him into the Hall of Fame. He would be so very proud of what you’ve done!
I want to share some of my memories of my Dad, related to the High School and its sport programs. Because I attended kindergarten in the High School annex, I often ate lunch with Dad in the teacher’s lunchroom and spent time with him in the high school building. One of my oldest memories—I might have been five at the time (which would make it around 1957)—is of sitting in the back of his classroom on a tall stool and watching him teach. Of course, I couldn’t understand much of what was being discussed, but I had an overwhelming sense of warmth and pride in seeing Dad teach these young people and seeing their attentiveness to him.
As with many fathers, he found it hard to bond with his sons. He was a warm person, but I think his emotions and feelings for family were things he kept within himself. This is, of course difficult for children who need love and affection. But the one situation in which I bonded best with him was at sporting events. Because, in our culture men tend to identify sports with manhood (my apologies to women athletes, whose participation in sports I do not in any way mean to denigrate), it’s natural that fathers and sons find this to be an easier way to communicate and share with each other than through emotional intercourse.
While my Dad loved baseball, football, tennis and golf–I think that basketball might have been his favorite. I remember sitting in the high school gym with him and watching a Junior Varsity basketball game. How proud I was to sit with my Dad in that gym and to watch him root so passionately and enthusiastically for North Rockland! My brother Marc tells me that Dad brought him and Jamie as well to basketball games. During intermission, he would look the other way as his two kids ran out on the court to shoot baskets. It was a happy time for them as well as for me.
My Dad liked to bring us boys to the Madison Square Garden Holiday Invitational College Basketball Tournament. Once in 1968 (I believe), we watched in awe as an overmatched Princeton team captained by All-American, Bill Bradley, played against Michigan, whose star player was Cazzie Russell (they would both later play together with the Knicks). Bradley was brilliant, playing heroic basketball, and Princeton was ahead until he fouled out in the last quarter. Then the superior height and power of the Michigan took over, and they eventually won the game. These are the kinds of games of which lifetime memories are made. To see my Dad rise from his seat, cheering boisterously after an especially beautiful shot, and to join him in his exuberance…I don’t know of many emotions more powerful for a child.
Please allow me to thank you again for cherishing his memory with this wonderful ceremony.”