In Memory Of...
Listed below are all the known names of our Classmates who have passed on. Please take a moment to remember and honor them in your own way. You can now read tributes for two of our classmates by clicking on the names in blue.
Last / Married Name
Remembering Billy Miller (September 12, 1945 – January 16, 1987)
I thought I’d do a change of venue for this article. Most of you know me as someone to be or try to be humorous, but with this article, I would like to take the opportunity to write about a person who was part of my life and our Colonel White experience. So, I thought to remember my cousin, William (Billy) Benjamin Miller. Although Billy died 16 years ago from complications related to AIDS, I still remember Billy very well or as well as my 58 year old brain will allow!! As many of you may recall, Billy was my first cousin; his Dad was my Mom’s brother. Billy was a handsome, charming and gregarious kind of guy. The girls liked Billy because he was handsome, engaging and funny. When Billy was funny, he was very funny but when Billy was mean spirited, well, you know what I want to say.
Our association as cousins was made convenient by virtue of the fact that our homes were about 1 block apart and our family’s were close. Billy’s family lived at 439 Marathon and my family lived at 312 Brookside Drive.
As kids, Billy and I were sort of thrust together because we were in the same family and we were the same age; our birthdays were one month apart. As kids, Billy and I always had fun…just laughing and acting like, well, for lack of a better term, “idiots.” We found a simple bonding between two kids who just wanted to have fun and “test” the edge of the “parental control envelope.” We’d spend our Saturday afternoons together going to science fiction movies like the titles shown in this abbreviated list of movies:
1. Them (giant ants ruin picnic)
2. Forbidden Planet (Altair IV and Robby the Robot)
3. The Creature From The Black Lagoon (Gil man attacks and is killed)
4. Tarantula (Giant spider in Arizona)
5. The Creature With The Atom Brain (Would this be our class valedictorian?)
6. Cult Of The Cobra (Faith Domergue is a beautiful lady who turns into a snake)
7. This Island Earth (Faith Domergue travels to Metaluna)
8. The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (Watch out for the mind-stealing pea pods)
9. It Came From Beneath The Sea (Faith Domergue watches super calamari attacking San Francisco)
10. I Married A Monster From Outer Space (Sounds like many marriages today)
11. Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman (I wish)
12. The Day The Earth Stood Still (George W. Bush speaks in coherent English)
The actual number of movies Billy and I saw far exceeded the movies listed above. Considering how much time Billy and I spent watching all the movies we did, I would have to admit that we were fascinated by the novelty of the stories or some other bizarre aspect of the films. Thinking about how many movies we saw together, I am incredulous at how much of my life I spent in the movie theaters. Typically, we would go to the Victory, Loews, Keiths, Dale, Davue, Salem, Ames or Colonial Theaters and munch on popcorn or eat JuJuBees or Milk Duds. Occasionally, we would go to the Salem Drive-in for the really bad Roger Corman science fiction movies as well.
We’d have our usual places to go eat like Goody’s, Sam’s Pizza Cottage, or Frisch’s. For refreshments, typically we’d go to Brawley’s Drug store on Salem. They would make the best Nectar Phosphate sodas there or we’d get sundaes, shakes or just ice cream. There was Marion’s on Main and Hudson where they served a “frosty malt” (very much like a chocolate Dairy Queen shake) which was likely a precursor to the Wendy’s drink of the same name.
As a young kid, Billy always had an “advanced” sense of style and appreciation for things related to personal appearance. Billy could also be critical of other kids for reasons having to do with the way they looked or the way they behaved. Speaking of the way kids behaved and how Billy reacted to them; I remember going to summer camp with Billy during the summers of 1956 and 1957 at Camp North Star in Hayward, Wisconsin. During the summer of 1956, Billy was in a cabin next to mine in the junior camper village; Billy was in J5 and I was in J6. We both came to know a kid who was in my cabin named Ricky Levin. Ricky was, for lack of a better description, a real spoiled “shit.” Billy sort of teased me for having to put up with the likes of somebody like Ricky. I was trying to be “nice” and Billy had other ideas. Let me tell you, Ricky virtually received a “care” package from his folks every day. I mean this kid grew up in Chicago and the kid’s parents kept sending him stuff while he was at camp to try to make camp seem like home. Billy and I recognized that there was something peculiar about Ricky in that he had this high level of attention from his parents. So, as is often the case with boy’s camps and the fact that “boys will be boys,” Billy and I plotted a “joke” to play on Ricky. We had a trading post where we could go after dinner to get candy bars, tooth brushes, mosquito repellant and other items for our “creature comfort.” Well, Billy and I thought our “joke” should involve something that Ricky wouldn’t easily forget. What we plotted was to give Ricky some really fine chocolate; aka Ex Lax. Well, yours truly “shared” chocolate with Ricky. As I recall, Ricky accepted the offering not knowing what the “treat” really was. By the way, Billy’s camp cabin was adjacent to mine and his window was right across from mine. Normally, the windows are open in the summer so sounds from one cabin are easily heard in the adjacent cabin. After we all turned in, I was in my bunk bed which was right next to Ricky’s bunk bed. Ricky started to feel the “effects” of the Ex Lax. Meanwhile, Billy was on the look out for any signal I might offer to let him know what was going on. Well, I didn’t have to give any signal because the moans from Ricky and the “ultimate explosion” were so audible that Billy knew from the commotion in my cabin that it was “mission accomplished.” Of course, I was sort of the unlucky one. After all, my bunk was adjacent to “ground zero.” There wasn’t a “natural flow “like that since the time Mt. Vesuvius erupted and buried Pompeii! This stunt was not well thought out…as I remember it. My counselors were always on the look-out for me after that and Ricky Levin didn’t speak to me for at least two weeks!!! Ricky’s mattress and bed sheets were incinerated at a camp bond fire that weekend. No! Campers didn’t “do smores” on that particular bond fire!!
The “Ricky Levin” event occurred in the summer of 1956 and it obviously made a lasting impression on me.
I also remember Billy being sort of a catalyst for me to act out my feelings of disdain for authority. As I mentioned previously, Billy could be funny and charming, but in other ways, he could be very “devilish.” As it happened, Billy almost was a coach for my challenging authority; aka my Mom or teachers in grade school, or to test the bonds of friendship. I remember writing letters to a girl I met in the spring of 1957 when I was at North Star during the following summer. The girl was Cheryl Kenis (attended Colonel White till our sophomore year). Cheryl and I had become “friends” before my going to Camp North Star in the summer of 1957. Upon my return to Dayton from camp, Cheryl observed my behavior had “degenerated” (imagine that!!!) and became sort of angry with Billy because she thought Billy corrupted me while we were together at camp. No! I didn’t give Cheryl the “chocolate candy treatment!!”
As I think about Billy from time to time, I remember our school time together from nursery school at Huffman’s on Salem Avenue (circa 1949), kindergarten at the church on Main Street (1950) near Parkwood Street (Don Thompson, Karen Gephardt, Steven Bach, Jane Garrison, Tom Heil, Jim Krueger were in that class!) and then on to EJ Brown School (1951-1959). (Editor’s Note, check the Library, Brown K-12 pictures) I think the E.J. Brown School administration must have known something about Billy and me because we were in only one class together; the 3rd grade class with Miss Harter. Notwithstanding our separation in the classroom, Billy and I still “pal’d around” and were just kids doing what mischievous kids would do. When Billy and I were in the 8th grade, we were patrol boys at the corner of Norman and Wheatley. Many of you know the routine. As kids would be coming to school, you waited till the traffic was clear and proceeded out into the street holding the “STOP” flag pole and allowing the kids to cross the street. Well, Billy and I did this except Billy would occasionally use the pole to lift girl’s skirts. Why didn’t I think of that??? Billy was fun and could get a reaction out of most people.
After Brown School we arrived at Colonel White and went through the high school chapter of the adolescent growth phase of our respective lives. As I remember this period, it had both its good sides and very painful sides in terms of identity and feelings of acceptance by our peers. Billy always knew how to “hang out” while I was always more uptight due to a sense of lacking self-confidence. Again, it may very have been Billy’s advanced sense of things social and his adeptness at just being good company; especially to the girls.
Billy always had a talent for writing. He was truly gifted with language in a very artistic way. Billy could capture emotions with words very well. To me, that was a talent. We all feel things but to express “feelings” with words is a gift and I think Billy could do that. As our high school days at Colonel White progressed, Billy and I were not as inseparable as we were while kids at Brown School. I really don’t know how life was for Billy, but I am guessing Billy’s realization or attempting to come to terms with his identity was becoming more a part of his life. I was trying to just get along, if you call what I did “getting along.” Even with our respective adolescent or identity crises, we still managed to find an occasion to just laugh at the daily routines we went through in school or being with the kids we grew up with. We had our “gang” to be sure. There was Billy, me, Bobby Spaier, Skip Shaman and Alan Schriber. Skip Shaman, Alan Schriber and Bobby Spaier went to Fairview, so some of you might not know them.
Another funny story about Billy and me at Colonel White comes to mind. During our junior year, Billy and I were in gym class with Jim Eby as the teacher. This would have been during the spring of 1961. We were outside running around the old cinder track getting timed for a 440 yard run. Jim Eby had a stop watch and was timing the kids as they ran once around the track. Well, I remember it was my turn with two other guys to run around the track. My group did that and Eby timed us with his stop watch and made some comments like, “You could do better” or “You might want to practice more to get your time down.” Well, when Billy and his group’s turn came to run around the track they started the run and Billy was the last one to finish the run. Jim Eby upon timing Billy said to him, “Miller, my grandmother could run around the track faster than you!” Billy responded with, “Yeah, but your grandmother doesn’t smoke two packs of cigarettes a day!” I guess you could say Billy always had a presence of mind to respond to people.
We all finally graduated high school and went our respective ways. After our high school graduation, Billy’s and my association sort of stopped. It certainly wasn’t like the relationship we had as kids growing up together. Billy went to the University of Michigan while I started college at the University of Cincinnati. I would see Billy from time to time while we were of college age and a few times after we graduated college. But, for all practical purposes, our association ceased to be as it was when we were kids. Billy made his way to New York and did writing for various ad agencies, I believe. He was gay and New York was where he could live and be free to do what it is he wanted to do without anybody’s judgment. In 1984, Billy became infected with the AIDS virus. Approximately three years later on January 16, 1987, Billy died.
So, to those who may remember Billy Miller, I just thought to offer some of my remembrances of him. He was a significant part of my life as a kid and we shared a lot of time together. We had good times, that is for certain. I cannot forget that…and I won’t!
Leslie Mark Mayerson
July 1945 - January 1981
By Paul Kottler and Bruce Hulman
PAUL KOTTLER’S RECOLLECTIONS OF LESLIE M. MAYERSON
The world is a truly strange place to live in. It seems so big and yet it so small. There are such an infinite number of things to think about and yet, sometimes the same thought occurs to many people simultaneously. Last month, Bruce Hulman emailed me that he was thinking of writing his next article about Les Mayerson. I wrote back that it was quite a coincidence, since I too was thinking of writing about Les. We were trying to decide who should write what, when, lo and behold, Sam Kurtz publishes his article about Les and the Jefferson School basketball team. Bruce and I decided then, that since he was on all of our minds, maybe you guys were thinking of him too, and we decided to add our thoughts to Sam’s. So here goes.
When I started Jefferson school kindergarten in 1950, I met a lot of kids who would be in my life for many years. Among others were Phyllis Benkel, Linda Weine, Joel Goldman, and Leslie Brody.
Now, Les lived nearby, on Kumler, and as it was on my way home, it was only natural to walk with him to his house as I made my way to mine (as you may remember, school buses had not yet been invented, so even 5 year olds were expected to hoof it home). Over the course of a couple of million of these walks, Les and I became good friends. A couple of years later, his dad having died, his mom remarried and Les sported the name of his stepfather, Al Mayerson.
Les and I spent many a night at each other’s house. We learned to play basketball and football, and to watch sports on TV together. I remember when his dad gave him his football jersey from high school. Les was excited as can be and wore it for days. At that time, seeing Les’s delight, I decided that if I ever had a football jersey I would be sure to save it for my kids. (I did, and they could not have cared less. I told you life was funny).
One day Les’s dad, who owned a deli at Forest Park, piled us in the car and said he was taking us to see the greatest new thing in food. We drove up Salem were we walked up to an outdoor window and ordered a bag full of burgers from Burger Chef (burger, fries and a coke for 45 cents). When you stop and think about how amazing the prices were; a burger for 15 cents, but no place to eat it and no one to bring it to you. What an idea (I was sure it would never catch on).
Sometime around third grade, we finally got big enough to wildly fling a basketball ten feet into the air. We all got immediately addicted to basketball. Les’s neighbor, two doors down was Larry Patterson. Larry had a court, with lights, and a basket on an actual pole, away from the house so you didn’t have to finish a lay-up by crashing into a brick wall. Larry’s house became the center of the universe for the Jefferson school boys and stayed that way all through high school. Everyone played there, Neff, McCoppin, Stockstill, Tim March, Me, Jeff Udis, Sam Kurtz, Joel Goldman, everyone in the neighborhood. In the winter we shoveled snow to play. In the summer we played in the evenings, after it cooled down. Of course, Les and Larry were the central figures, having the home court advantage and all. Larry’s dad was in the scrap iron business, so we had weights to lift made from weird junkyard pieces. When the CW coaches taught us about isometric contractions, Les built apparati from scrap iron. We played and worked out there constantly.
Place your cursor over a picture for Name and Position Played
In high school, Les and I were members of Phi Epsilon, a fraternity for Jewish boys. Phi Epsilon was organized primarily for social purposes but many friendships developed which remain today. During this period of our lives, Les and I worked out, played basketball at the YMCA on weekends, and had many a late night poker game. After a couple of years I quit running with the Phi Epsilon crowd and Les and I took different paths in our social lives. However, we were on the football team together and stayed good friends. Les was an all-city guard. Les was the most driven guy I ever knew. Before every game, while we were dressing, you could hear him in a stall puking his guts out. He was so afraid of failure that it made him physically ill. Then he would pull himself together and play a great football game.
I never saw either Les or Larry after graduation. When I heard, years later of Les’s suicide, I was stunned. Then several years later, when Larry took the same path, I was doubly stricken. I often wonder what led them to end their lives. I wonder if they knew how many friends they had, and how fondly they would be remembered many years later. I wonder if they had known if it would have made a difference. I know that I remember them both fondly and often, and wish that things had turned out better for both of them. Life can be hard sometimes but it’s all we’ve got. Oh well, I guess this just proves my point about what a strange world this is.
BRUCE HULMAN’S RECOLLECTIONS OF LESLIE M. MAYERSON
I came to know Les Mayerson when I was a sophomore at Colonel White. Les and I became members of Phi Epsilon fraternity. We were “pledges” together and I really did not spend much time with Les early on. But, as time passed and our pledging duties became paramount, Les and I got to know each other better. As pledges in Phi Epsilon you had to “generate revenue” for the fraternity. Phi Epsilon’s method of revenue generation was to go around the neighborhood and sell light bulbs. Other organizations generated the needed revenue by selling raffle tickets for a prize, but Phi Epsilon did it with light bulbs. So, you have these 15 year old kids going out selling light bulbs to friends, family and neighbors. Our fraternity meetings usually were sort of a controlled chaos in that “yours truly” still didn’t know how to keep his mouth shut when somebody else was talking and was always doing things for a laugh. Les rallied at my ridiculous humor and I guess he found some sense of ease in knowing me because I am “easy” and like to have fun.
I became aware of Les’s athletic prowess as a co-member in Phi Epsilon when Bob Klein and Les, along with John Wolfe would be talking about football practice and such. Bob Klein, as many of you may remember, was a determined soul (Hint: this is an understatement) and he worked out as hard as anybody at just being Bob Klein. Les was not as big as Bob or John Wolfe, but Les did not let his size deter him from what he thought he needed to do in football. To say that Les was “energized” would not do justice to how he handled life. Les was highly emotional and could fixate on that which he set his sights on. As I recall his mental acuity was very high in the areas of special interests.
Les and I socialized quite a bit during our junior year at Colonel White. We partook in card games…I just hung out because I couldn’t sit still long enough to play a hand. You all remember the weekend rituals; football or basketball games, going to see, listen to and dance to Huncie and the Entertainers on Gettysburg Avenue, Goody’s, Sam’s Pizza Cottage, Frisch’s, or Vic Cassano’s. Les and I did all those things together. During our senior year, Les and I continued our friendship and really “bonded” by going to the YMCA during the winter of 1963 to seriously lift weights. Les already could lift weights easily and I had to work at it. Les was a good lifting buddy and we worked out very hard at the YMCA. We used to have fun and just laugh and carry on. Les was trying to stay in shape and I was trying to get in shape.
When our class graduated from Colonel White, Les and I became roommates at the University of Cincinnati. Les was enrolled in liberal arts as was I. I can tell you that I really didn’t have the foggiest as to what I wanted to do and, as I recall, Les was interested in chemistry. I didn’t do well in college and dropped out. At that point, our lives separated. I ultimately finished my college at Ohio State and Les finished his college at Wittenberg University. During the college years; say the mid to late 1960’s, Les was dealing with personal emotional issues that were surfacing. When I was finishing my undergraduate degree in geology, I remember hearing about some of the personal difficulties that Les was having from mutual friends. I went to see Les and I sensed life was not too kind to him. It was like life was always a struggle for him and he had to work twice as hard as everybody else in order to achieve something. To me, it just wasn’t fair!
As the 1970’s passed, Les worked in the scrap business. He developed an understanding of various types of specialty metals. Our paths crossed again in the late 1970’s when he was living in Columbus, Ohio and I returned to Ohio State for yet another college degree; my civil engineering degree. This would have been around 1978-1979. During this time, Les met a lady who he wanted to marry. Her name was Jackie. Les found a lady who appreciated him for his considerate ways and could be of comfort to him when his emotions would rise. I thought Les was lucky to have found Jackie. During this time, Les and I would play handball at the Columbus YMCA and get together on the weekends. It was nice to do. I left Columbus after I graduated with my engineering degree and returned to Dayton. I would hear from Les from time to time but not with any consistency. Then, in late 1980, Les was undergoing some treatment for his depression or other emotional ailments. Sadly, Jackie called me in January 1981 to inform me that Les had committed suicide.
I cannot say much more to you other than to tell you that I feel that Les thought of me as one of his best friends toward the last days of his life. I do think about him from time to time and remember how we were in Phi Epsilon, at Colonel White and just generally as friends. Further, my memories of Les are with emphasis on the good times and how much we laughed and carried on, especially me. I am grateful to have known Les Mayerson and remember him with much affection.