Leonard Bernstein is part of Brooklyn Park history


March 05, 2000|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE HISTORY of Brooklyn Park can be more interesting than one might think. During the course of meetings of the Brooklyn Park High School Alumni Association, Pearl Carpenter (Class of '57) mentioned that Leonard Bernstein had performed there.

Leonard Bernstein? In Brooklyn Park? At the high school? That was my first reaction, but -- believe it or not -- he was. If anyone has any doubts, just ask Carpenter.

In 1956, Bernstein performed with the National Symphony in a young people's concert there. Carpenter said the performance electrified the student body. "It thrilled everybody -- even people who weren't interested in classical music. It sent chills up and down your spine." Those were the early days of rock 'n' roll, and Carpenter said many students weren't interested in going to a concert of classical music.

"I kept hearing, `We have to go to this?' But they changed their minds after the concert began. He explained the music to the students and told us about the instruments."

Carpenter was on the staff of the school newspaper, The Beeline, during her junior year, and was tapped to interview the famed composer. After the performance, she was escorted backstage to meet him.

"I didn't know what to ask," Carpenter recalls. "But Mr. Bernstein took care of it. He was very cordial and helpful and told me about himself. I really didn't have to ask too many questions. I guess he was used to working with young people and led me along. He gave me his address and I sent him a copy of the interview. But I forgot to ask him for his autograph."

The concert had a lasting effect on her life. Carpenter not only developed an interest in classical music, but is forever able to tell the world that she interviewed one of the great American composers.

"Whenever I saw him on television, I told everyone that I met and interviewed him," she said.

Alumni association members are convinced that Bernstein's appearance is not the only interesting event in the school's 36-year history -- not that a happening had to involve an Oscar-winner celebrity to qualify as memorable.

There are the personal memories, maybe hearing the Beatles for the first time while at the Chicken Roost after school. Perhaps it was scoring that winning touchdown, or earning a hard-won "A" that had a marked impact on your life.

If so, the alumni association wants to hear about it as it researches the history of the school. The findings will be published and presented to faculty and pupils of the new Brooklyn Park Middle School.

All alumni, faculty or staff who can recall school-related events that helped shape their lives are encouraged to become a part of the process. The tales can be sent by e-mail to salut@erols.com, or by fax at 410-789-1884.

Information: 410-636-3269 or 410-789-7214.

Tales for the season

Spring Storytime programs will be held at the Brooklyn Park Library at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and 7 p.m. on Thursday, beginning this week and continuing through April 27.

Preschoolers and their caregivers are invited to welcome the season with stories, songs and crafts. Themes will include "March Madness," "April Showers," "Gardens," "Sing into Spring," "Sweet Dreams," "Yummy Stories," "A Horse of Course" and "Bunny Friends."

The library is at 1 E. 11th Ave.

Information: 410-222-6260.

Skate night

Children from kindergarten to seventh grade are welcome to join the staff of the Townsend Avenue Baptist Church in Kids Skate Night Thursday at Pasadena Skating Rink on Mountain Road.

The cost is $2, plus $1.65 for skate rental. Reservations -- including bus transportation for those who need it -- may be made by calling the church office at 410-355-0347.

Parents are welcome to join their children for the evening of fun and exercise. The group will leave from the church parking lot at Fifth Street and Townsend Avenue at 6: 15 p.m. and will return at 9: 30 p.m.

Shrimp night

American Legion Post 34 sponsors a steamed shrimp night from 6: 30 p.m. to 8 p.m. the first Friday each month at the post home, 5526 Belle Grove Road.

The cost is $4.95 for a half-pound of steamed shrimp, and $5.95 for a platter.

You need not be a member to attend; everyone is welcome.

Information: 410-789-9682.

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