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Beverly High School Class of 1960
Classmate True Stories Page
Don't you have a story you'd like to share with your classmates?
Write it up; send it in - see introduction for details.
William F. Nisbet, true story of 1959 trip to Bermuda
<== 06/11/18 New
Judith (Potter) Durgin, wonderful Eulogy from workmates
Richard "Dick" Robbins checking in after 52 years
Xmas Letter 2004, 31 Yrs. in Alaska, by Dick Hajdys
Survivor's Account of Fatal Accident, by Don Stetson
Go to the bottom of this page
This page is the place where true stories from our classmates will appear. My hope is many will write something up and
send it in. At this point in our lives, don't you have something to tell your classmates?
You can email your story to the Webmaster, either as
plain text in the message itself; or as an attachment such as an MS Word document or other file; or on a floppy disk or
CD-ROM by traditional USPS mail. If you have to send typewritten pages because you have no computer, send them anyway, and
I will convert your documents to pictures, which is the form of the Judy Potter eulogy below.
Remember, photos make your story special - please suggest captions. The subject can be anything, as long as it is true,
and is about your life, your family, or the good old days at BHS. Unusual life incidents, personal nostalgia type
reminisces, and interactions with other classmates (back then or nowadays), especially welcome.
Your story may be edited, but you will always have an opportunity for final approval before it is published here. Physical
photos may be sent to the USPS address here. If it were me I
would never trust the originals to the US mail, but this is up to you. As far as I know we haven't lost one yet, but there
is always a first time.
We, your classmates, are looking forward to reading what you have to say.
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June 11, 2018 <- - - First Posted Here, true story:
First Flights(or how I survived the
trip to Bermuda, Spring 1959)
I finally experienced reality at age 16 when I went to Bermuda with the BHS '58 football team in the spring of 1959.
I was in BHS ’60, and would be a senior in the ’59 team in the coming fall. In the airplane photo, my head is just
under the wing, by itself, outlined against the sky. I cannot remember for sure where the photo was taken, probably
Logan, maybe just before the Bermuda return. In Boston, Fidel Castro's plane was parked on the tarmac about 100 yards
away from ours, surrounded by uniforms with submachine guns. If this was Boston, we were about ready to take off on
my first airplane ride, accelerating down the runway toward the harbor only to go into emergency braking, stopping a
very short distance from the end of the runway. I was way too dumb to be upset. We were sitting there, looking at the
water, until we turned around and went back for another try. After whatever it was they did, we successfully took off.
After passing the point of no return and nearing the island, we caught up to a violent thunderstorm on our heading.
The plane began to vibrate, slam into rough air, violently rise and fall hundreds of feet without warning, all
the time with thunder booming continuously. Many opted for an airsickness bag. Stewardesses were crawling
down the aisle on their knees while grasping the seats, handing them out. Soon the plane reeked of vomit. This fragrance
assault triggered a fresh round of requests for doggie bags by some not yet airsick.
Approaching the Bermuda airport, still in the worst of the storm, the pilot announced we had to prepare for landing
under dangerous conditions, since we did not have enough fuel to circle around and wait for the storm to pass.
Nothing was visible out the windows apart from black clouds lit by lightning flashes. We touched down and immediately
rolled into brilliant sunlight. By the time we were parked the storm caught up to us.
We could not see anything again, this time due to torrential rain like I had never seen before. Before the engines were
completely shut down, the stewardesses opened the main doors to air out the cabin. Instead, engine fumes rolled in,
triggering yet another round of barf bags, some for newbies and refills for some others. We sat there for at least an
hour without the situation changing, hot, humid, no air conditioning, waiting for the rain to let up so we could at
least walk to the terminal
Next we embarked on a bus ride from the airport on St. David’s Island to the Belmont Manor near the southern shore of
Hamilton Harbor, well over halfway down the island, perhaps 14 - 15 miles by road and about an hour and a half due to
traffic, narrow roads, and the island-wide 20 MPH speed limit. We probably looked like casualties in need of an
ambulance, actually. One of us spent the entire bus trip lying on the floor under some seats, moaning and dry heaving,
much as he was on the plane.
It is an odd thing about me, that despite my unpleasant first time flying experience, I never lost my desire to become a pilot,
yet I'm terrified of heights when connected to earth.
I spent the next five days putting 428 miles on my Puch (French) moped rental, "flying" around an island that stretches
some 22 miles in length and is about a mile across. Once I did get stopped by a cop on a BMW motorcycle. I received a
verbal warning for speeding. I was doing about 35 MPH downhill, with the throttle pinned, in a 20 MPH speed zone, coming
up on a traffic circle (roundabout). All the other moped rentals had a governor (engine RPM limiter) set for 20 MPH on a
level road. Mine was hot-rodded by the guy running the moped rental place. He got really upset when I insisted on renting
his. In the picture below (left) my bike is the spiffy looking blue one, parked next to a tourist grade motorized bicycle.
That is how my first bike happened to be an almost brand new Puch (French) moped rental in Bermuda (1959). All I wanted
to do was ride. Unfortunately, several times I was forced to dismount and resentfully join the others on a bus to visit
tourist attractions. My last bike (above right) happened to be a 1985 Kawasaki Concours (I sold it in 1994). In the intervening
35 years were approximately 200,000 miles, much on secondary roads going as fast as I dared, rather than limited access
highways. Motorcycles were my thing through the rest of my life until then, and I find it unbelievable that those
days are over. It never occurred to me that they would ever end. One cannot explain the attraction to the unenlightened
who usually never understand. Following is the best attempt I've found.
Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values: “In a car you're always in a
compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just
more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You're
completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
The flight back to Boston was quite the opposite from ours to Bermuda. It was perfect flying weather. The plane was
larger too, so there was space for a small lounge on an upper deck at the head of narrow carpeted stairs. Those of us
who wanted to check it out went up for a quick tour in small groups of five or less, always under the resentful gaze
of several couples, probably newlyweds returning from their honeymoons.
We were flying into a beautiful sunset. Anyone who wished was invited to spend a few minutes on the flight deck
accompanied by a stewardess. The first officer gave us a verbal tour of the instruments and controls. It was the
most spectacular vista I had ever seen up to that point in my life, and reinforced my desire to become a pilot. There were
beautiful colored clouds ahead, and doubled by the sunset reflecting off the ocean. It has stayed with me ever since,
after all those years.
I did not get sick on the plane to Bermuda, not during the disgusting overheated wait on the
tarmac breathing in engine fumes, and not on the lack of air conditioning on the bus ride to the hotel.
The closest I ever came to being a pilot was flying a piper cub by myself at age 24 under the watchful eye of a flight
instructor for about a half hour. I bought my first motorcycle the very day I turned 21, when I no longer needed
copyright William F. Nisbet June 2018
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July 25, 2012 :
I've been going through
file folders, file drawers, and the like here at home, shreadding as I go. Naturally I look first, and I found this wonderful
tribute to Judy (Potter) Durgin from "L.K.L.", one of her friends at New England Biolabs where Judy worked from 1979.
Very impressive and I thought I should share this with everyone. [I hope I find more things like this as I continue]
W. F. Nisbet, Webmaster
Judith (Potter) Durgin, died 03/16/2000, at home, following a long battle with cancer.
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July 01, 2013 :
Hey, I'm not "missing"!
Yes I've been away from Beverly since 1960 and out of contact with BHS since graduation, but my last 52 years have
been pretty good ones and I'd just as soon get off the "missing" list!
In looking up the name of an old acquaintance, a miss-spelling brought up "Hinda Katz" and then led me to the BHS
50th Reunion site. It's easy to understand why you folks never got a proper address for me since locations after
college and a tour in Vietnam have included Worcester and Sterling MA, and Hamilton Ontario in Canada. After retiring
from a 33-year career with Paul Revere Life Insurance Co., my wife Judy and I retired to the coast of Maine (Newcastle
and Round Pond), followed by moves to some wonderful spots out West including Prescott AZ, and Dixon NM. Currently
Judy and I split our time between Tucson AZ and Pagosa Springs CO. Our son lives and works in Phoenix, so we're likely
to stay put for awhile in the West.
As I write this in late July 2012, the days are pretty comfortable at a 7500-ft. elevation in southern Colorado, so I
hope that folks back East are getting some relief from the heat and looking forward to many future BHS reunions.
And thanks for taking me off the "missing list"!
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Xmas Letter 2004
December 14, 2004 :
Well, it is that time
of year again. HO HO and MERRY XMAS. Just remember, Scrooge got a bum rap! The Grinch was just misunderstood! Anyway,
here is how my year went:
January through April, I was in Thailand on my annual holiday. As usual, they said I had a good time! Many of my friends
there are from Europe and hate Bush. I told them, "...next time you are in trouble, call someone else." Well, the food was
great (and cheap. I can eat all day on $6.00), the beer was cold, and the Thai ladies pretty. In April, I came back to
my mountaintop house in Idaho. Most of May was wet and cold. By June, I was back in Thailand!! It was raining (monsoon
season), but warm. I took a trip to Trat by the Cambodian border to visit some Thai friends. After a week, we all drove
back to Pattaya (where I stay). We also loaded the trunk with local fruit before we left. I received an email from my
neighbors in Idaho saying it was hot and dry. I left for the USA right after July 4th. It was another good trip. I
already have my ticket for Thailand, packed my SCUBA gear, and have the visa form filled out. 2005 will be my 15th year
in Thailand. I leave January 25th.
Note: These photos are from Dick's 2002 Thailand vacation.
In August, I made my last trip up the Alcan Highway to Alaska. It is now paved most of the way. In 1973, it was gravel
road almost all the way! I fixed up my old cabin I had built in 1974 and turned it over to a real estate outfit---31 years
in Alaska was long enough!!! It was an adventure. I hunted geese, ducks, ptarmigan, spruce grouse, moose, deer, caribou,
mountain goats, and Dall sheep. On Kodiak Island, I tagged Kodiak brown bears, checked on the herring fleet, and counted
the salmon runs. I fished for halibut, too. My biggest one was 175 pounds! Between the fire-fighting and other jobs, I
got to see most of the state. I also met a lot of real fine people. Yeah, a real fine adventure. In November, the cabin
sold, so I am out of Alaska.
Ko Chang Island
||Living the Dream
By September, I had a bumper fruit crop (apples, pears, and plums). In November, four of us hunted whitetail deer, and one
guy fished for steelhead on the Clearwater River. Everyone saw plenty of deer, and we managed to take three bucks and two
steelhead. Many adult beverages were consumed! I just bought a new computer with all the bells and whistles. Problem:
I don't know how to ring the bells or blow the whistles!!! Solution: grab the first twelve-year-old you see---they know
all this stuff!!!!
||Mist in the Mountains
||On a Clear Day...
I hope 2005 is good to you and everyone stays safe and healthy.
The Hajdys Family (me, all the local critters, and my neighbor's two dogs)
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Survivor's Account of Fatal Accident
by Donald Stetson
October 13, 2008
Bill, 1st thank you for the time, effort you put in being the webmaster for our class; I do appreciate it! Your email did
take me by surprise but it's OK to write up the story and post it. Please let me know when you have posted it. Feel free
to edit whatever you think is necessary!!! Bill, after the web site was 1st started I heard from Richard Smithson. He had
lived just 30 miles from us in Muncie for 18 years; business he worked for closed and they moved to Maine. Web sites of
this type can be very helpful. I do very much hope you are happy and healthy!
Jack Egan and I had attended a dance in Salem and were hitchhiking back to Beverly (We hitchhiked all over the North Shore
- who hitchhikes today?) when Jack's cousin picked us up. I think Dick Perkins was his cousin. They wanted to get some
beer so we drove to Revere to look for someone to buy it. Paid someone to purchase beer, he came back with warm beer which
was not very good.
After drinking a couple of beers we headed back to Beverly. Dick was driving very fast. When we got to the Lynn Drive-In
Movie, it was just getting over; our lane was blocked by cars. Because Dick was driving so fast he had to go onto the
medium strip and hit several reflectors in the process. When we got near the entrance of Salem hospital the tire blew out,
car went into the ditch and hit the telephone pole. (I do not remember this).
The first thing I remember is someone talking to me, telling me everything will be OK and that help was on the way. I
could not see because of the blood and an injury to my eye. Individual kept talking to me until I was put into the
The first thing I remember in the Emergency Room was the doctor saying I was going to lose my eye and the other doctor
saying lets wait a day. (Many thanks to the second doctor because today I have no problems). The second thing I remember
was hearing a nurse talking with an AP reporter and telling him that two had died.
I was then put on a gurney to be taken to a 3rd floor ward (8 people in this ward; times have changed - no hospital has
wards today). In the elevator something happened to me which is hard to describe; I "saw something in the lights" and
tried to grab it. I fell off the gurney onto the floor - the two student nurses panicked because they had forgot to strap
me down. They had a hard time getting me back on the gurney and I started to bleed again. They pleaded with me not to
tell anyone because they would get kicked out of school. I said OK and did I get great service from all the student
nurses for the next several weeks.
They did not find Jack Egan until the wrecker truck was getting ready to tow the car away. Some how he got trapped behind
the gas tank and they did not know it until he came to and screamed for help and in pain. I am not sure how long he was
there before they found him.
When Jack got to the ward he did not know about the other two so I told him. At that point he was in so much pain he was
unable to express any feelings. Other then given Jack some pain medicine his injuries had not been treated - not sure
they knew what to do and were waiting for other doctors.
My injuries: they were mainly concerned about saving my eye but I kept telling them the greatest pain was in my left leg.
Several days later after my leg had swelled in sized did they get concerned about the blood clot. (Had this problem 20
years later, same leg and location). Now comes the part I hated the most - three times per day just before each meal a
nurse would come to draw blood. It wasn't long before they couldn't find a vein. Started taking it from toes, eyes
and other body locations. To this day I have an extreme concern about needles.
Jack spent several months in the hospital and lost so much school time that he had to attend school the next year and
graduated with the class of 1961. I had to attend school every day until the end of school (4:00 p.m.) to make up my
time. My class picture was taken on my first day back to school and I didn't have time for a hair cut - when anyone
sees that picture today I have to explain that was not my hair style.
You mentioned the Phil Carlton conversation with Dick about the tires*1. The tires
were all very bad. During this time period you had to get a safety sticker every year for your car. Just that week Dick
had his car inspected and got his safety sticker. Later, the state found out he paid the garage to over look the bad
tires telling them he was going to get new ones soon. The state police sent in undercover individuals with cars that
had safety problems and everyone got their cars OK'd. He was arrested, found quilty. I do no know what sentence he received.
Some additional items regarding this event:
I was sitting in the back seat of the car, right side. This was a two door car with small door windows. The police
were puzzled on how I got thrown from the car, they knew I did not go out the front window. After several hours of
questions it was determined the following: I had become very nervous and started to twirl my ring (which I now do all
the time) and dropped it on the car floor, while looking for it the tire blew, hit the pole, and I was in the 'perfect'
position to go out the side door window. The police said because of the window size the exit had to be just perfect.
Police did find my broken ring.
1961 was the last time I saw Jack Egan until 1970 after graduating from college and working three years for the Providence,
RI. YMCA. It was our last day in Providence, we were waiting for the moving truck to load up and move us to Ann Arbor, MI.
I was waiting in a bar in Cranston, RI for my wife to get out of her last day of teaching when someone came up from behind
and hit me on the back - it was Jack Egan, he lived in Providence and was working for Goodyear Tire Co. We only had a few
minutes to talk. Over the years I had tried to contact him with no success. From your email I now may understand why
My 1st day working for the Ann Arbor, Michigan YMCA an individual who was teaching quitar to kids at the Y walked up to me,
asked if I was the Stetson from Beverly, MA and was I in a car accident in Salem. This was the individual who talked with
me while I was lying in the grass after the accident (this is now 10 years after the accident). Later that night I met him
in a college bar he owned with a partner. Spent several hours talking about the accident and the North Shore etc. Later
that night while he was driving home he fell asleep at the wheel, crashed and was killed. (He did not drink).
I graduated from college in Minn (2 other Beverly grads followed me to MN) and University of Michigan. Worked for the
YMCA 36 years living in Providence, RI., Ann Arbor, MI., Knoxville, TN., and ending up in Muncie, IN. Two children; son
Mike works for INSight Corp selling software to Ohio colleges & govts; daughter Natalie is a physical therapis at a local
hospital. Four grandchildren ages 2 - 17. I am still healthy and strongly state life has been very good.
Don Stetson, October 2008
Phil Carlton recently [September 2008] told me a relevant anecdote about this. He
said he had a conversation with Dickie while standing next to his car, across Colon
Street from the high school, where we all parked. Dickie told him that his father
had given him the car, and that it was in perfect condition except for the bad tires.
This conversation was the day before the accident. Phil thinks it was a high speed
blowout that caused the car to go out of control. According to Phil, the vehicle
was a 51 Ford. Now that we've heard from Don, Phil's recollection appears correct.
Bill Nisbet, 10/17/08
Jackie Egan is rumored to still living in Beverly. He is on our BHS '60 "Missing" list
because I do not know how to contact him. No one has come up with an address or phone
number, and I have not heard from him. We have a "Do Not Contact" list, too, but I
need someone, either Jack himself or someone close, to tell me to put him on that list.
Bill Nisbet, 10/17/08
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