Letter written by Lloyd Albin (’50), dated Friday, December 7, 2018:
“In reading the magazine [BAM Fall 2018/Winter 2019], I was taken back to my roots, both in high school and in college, at 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue. Today’s date rings many bells.
“On the morning of December 8, 1941, all the students and faculty of Townsend Harris High School and CCNY Downtown filed into the auditorium. We focused on a single small table topped with a radio in the middle of an empty stage and heard President Roosevelt announce that a state of war now existed between the U.S. and the Empire of Japan.
“When the lunch bell sounded, many of us rushed across the street to the post office to purchase war bond stamps. Most of us didn’t have sufficient money to buy the full bond, so we gathered our change—and, in some cases, our lunch money—to purchase the special war bond stamps. On accumulating the stated number of stamps, we brought them back to the post office, where they were exchanged for a bond.
“This was the era of the ‘Red Hunt,’ when Communist faculty were being uncovered in the educational system nationwide. The Rapp-Coudert Committee uncovered several Communists on the faculty of CCNY, and pressure was brought to bear on Mayor LaGuardia to close Townsend Harris. I recall working with a committee of alumni who were fighting to save the school and spent hours stuffing envelopes with actor Edward G. Robinson (who always played the “bad guy” in films). Ultimately, Mayor LaGuardia did close the school [in 1942], and I was transferred to DeWitt Clinton High School, from where I graduated.
“Returning to my home away from home on 23rd Street, I was greeted by the popular elevator operator of the 1940s, Harry [Hager], as I began my CCNY Downtown education in the same building where I had attended high school [now the Lawrence and Eris Field Building at 17 Lexington Avenue]. Townsend Harris occupied four floors of the CCNY building, the ninth through the 12th.
“After classes, I would head to the subway to get to my part-time job, working for Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.* Her son FDR Jr. was running a Special Election in New York’s 20th District for congressman. It was an amazing experience working with Governor O’Dwyer, Senator Lehman, and other Democratic dignitaries. FDR Jr. won the election on the Four Freedoms Party. Mrs. Roosevelt personally invited me to attend a meeting of the UN, then located at Lake Success on Long Island, where she delivered a speech on the trafficking of children and women in the Middle East. More than half a century later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a similar speech at the UN’s New York facility. After all of that time, nothing has changed!
“These are but a few of my life experiences that were brought to mind by the 50th anniversary edition of the alumni magazine. I recalled the wax paper–covered sandwiches in the cafeteria, getting locked in Gramercy Park during final exams, lunches at ‘Hows’ and at the automat (where we reserved seats by disrobing), watching the big clock on the Metropolitan Life Building during classes, the breakfast special at Nedick’s 23rd Street (orange juice, two donuts, and coffee or hot chocolate for 10 cents). But, I could go on. As Bob Hope would say, ‘Thanks for the Memory.’”
CCNY Downtown ’50