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ARTI-FACTS: Babe Ruth, BFS’ First Asian-American Grad, and Derek Lynch!

The Brooklyn Bambino?

Babe Ruth is one of those characters in American history that could just as easily be fictional as he was real. A huge, lumbering baseball player—with spindly legs—who was the greatest pitcher in the game before he was the greatest hitter in the game. He often hit more home runs in a single season than entire teams and often ate more hot dogs in the dugout than the most voracious fan. However, Babe Ruth was all-too real, as were his 714 career home runs, and in 1938—the former New York Yankees’ legend, who had already been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown—was named first base coach of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was the only time in his life Ruth had served as a coach in the majors. He was paid $15,000 to coach from June through September, and was brought to Brooklyn for what team president Larry MacPhail called, “inspirational value.” The Dodgers were really bad at the time, languishing in seventh place, and were hoping that the Babe would bring in some fans to Ebbets Field. He did, and Brooklyn’s attendance did rise, even though their position in the standings did not. Back at BFS, another type of baseball player—and young man entirely—was serving as captain of the Friends’ squad. Robert MacCrate came from a prestigious family in Brooklyn, as his father sat on the New York Supreme Court for 35 years. Robert would go on to graduate BFS in 1939, from Haverford College in 1943, and went on to be a lawyer—serving as presidents of both the New York Bar Association and the American Bar Association. In 1999, he received the New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal, its highest honor. Meanwhile, back in Flatbush, while MacCrate was making his mark on the diamond at BFS, Ruth was less than a Hall of Famer as a first-base coach. His interest in relaying signs was non-existent—so he simply didn’t do it. Perhaps the oddest thing of all was the sight of Ruth donning the Brooklyn Dodgers’ uniform. One interesting note—perhaps—is that he did not wear his legendary No. 3 with the Dodgers, instead wearing No. 35. In 2012, a Babe Ruth Brooklyn Dodgers’ jersey was auctioned off for more than $300,000. The truth is, Babe arrived here about 20 years too late—the Brooklyn Bambino? That would have had a nice ring to it. Robert MacCrate, however, was right on time. As a senior, he won the most comprehensive award BFS handed out—the Morris Bacon Jackson Memorial Prize—which was awarded to the BFS student who “best represented the ideals of the school.” Along with the honor, Robert received $10 in gold—worth just over $200 in today’s money. Safe to say Robert MacCrate was a Hall of Famer, as well.

Honoring BFS’ First Asian-American Graduate

BFS’ annual AAPI Community Dinner in 2024 was a true community event. Nearly 100 years earlier, in September of 1926, 5-year-old Mitsuko Takami probably could not have dreamed of such an event. On that morning, she joined her new kindergarten classmates in line to enter Brooklyn Friends School. It was the first time she had done so, and the sixth time an Asian-American student began a school year at BFS. Mitsu knew the other five well—they were her older siblings. “My five siblings all transferred to prep schools around the fifth grade, and I was the only child fortunate enough to remain at Friends,” she said in 2009. “At the time of my graduation, there had been a Takami in the school for 27 years.” Mitsu’s father, Dr. Toyohiko Takami, was the founder of the Japanese Mutual Aid Society, an organization that evolved into The Japanese American Association of New York. She had no idea at the time, but Mitsu was on her way to be a pioneer as the first Asian-American graduate of BFS. By the time she was in sixth grade, Mitsu was unanimously elected to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Junior Life Magazine. In Upper School, she excelled in many areas—starring for BFS in tennis, basketball, and field hockey, which she captained. She was the President of the French Club, Class Treasurer, was the Secretary of the Student Council, and Assistant Editor of the yearbook, where she was described as “congenial, unaffected, and wins the hearts of all she meets.” Mitsu went on to attend Goucher College in Baltimore, one of the first Asian-American women to do so—graduating in 1943. She went on to be a social worker, working with children for her entire career. At one point, she was named the Associate Director of Child Care at a hospital on Long Island. “I have always felt that my years at Friends not only helped me through the happy times, but during the difficult periods of my life and I will be forever grateful,” she said in 2009—two years before she passed away. “It has been amazing to see how much Friends has grown into new buildings and offering such an enriched program for the children. They are so fortunate to be at Friends.” One thing is for certain, nearly a century after first stepping foot into the small school building on Schermerhorn Street, Mitsu Takami’s spirit has been—and always will be—a part of our Brooklyn Friends School.

The Knicks, BFS, and the Great Derek Lynch!

There is an unmistakable energy on the streets of New York City these days—and it has everything to do with basketball. You may know Derek Lynch, who happens to be a current parent here at Brooklyn Friends. You may also know that he is an alum, graduating in 1989 as BFS’ all-time leading basketball scorer with 1,420 total points during his career. That record stood for 14 years, before Kyle Neptune came along and scored an incredible 1,650 points. For those of you who are not big basketball fans, scoring more than 1,000 points during a high school career is quite a feat. Derek was the second to do so in BFS history, and is one of only nine to reach the milestone in our school’s history. For those of you need to know, the first to reach the mark was Billy Miller, who graduated with Derek’s brother, James, in 1981. Why all this basketball talk though? The BFS basketball season is long over. Yes, but this city comes alive when the New York Knicks are making a playoff run. I know, I know, we are in Brooklyn and our team is supposed to be the Nets—but, with all due respect—most of us of a certain age grew up with the Nets playing in New Jersey and their decade-long relationship with Brooklyn is still something that is hard to grapple with. Fans who are even older remember the Nets playing on Long Island, so their identity has not been in one place forever. Of course, the Nets are now a Brooklyn team, and BFS is all about Brooklyn, but let’s be honest for just a second—NYC rocks when the Knicks play like they’ve been playing, and winning the ways that they’ve been winning. There is a lot of enthusiastic chatter on the streets of Downtown Brooklyn about the team across the river. “There’s nothing like it,” Derek said. “You see it on the streets, you see it on the train, people are actually friendlier. It’s an amazing feeling.” And yes, it is OK to live and work and LOVE Brooklyn, and still root hard for the Knicks. “New York is a Knicks town and, yes, it’s OK to be from Brooklyn and support the Knicks because they embody the essence of the City.” Just to tie things together with a nice little bow—this current Knicks team is led by Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo, all of whom attended Villanova University. While they were all at Villanova, their assistant coach was—none other than BFS all-time leading scorer Kyle Neptune.


This year, many of the Arti-Facts have paid homage to the 50th anniversary of BFS fully moving to Pearl Street. After 100+ years of calling Schermerhorn Street home, BFS began moving into Pearl as early as 1970, however it was not until the 1973–1974 school year that the entire school opened a school year at the new location—formerly home to Brooklyn Law School.

Below are separate short stories about the history, which were released as the Arti-Facts column, each Sunday in The Weekly—BFS’ weekly digital newsletter.

History of the History of Pearl Street

Before we begin to talk about the history of Brooklyn Friends School on Pearl Street, we really need to go a little farther back and look at the history of Pearl Street itself. While there is not much documentation on our Pearl Street here in Brooklyn, it stands to reason that it shares a similar history to our sister Pearl Street located just across the river in lower Manhattan. That fact is confirmed in the book Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names. The history of Pearl Street goes all the way back to the early indigenous inhabitants of this area, the Lenape. Historians know that the Lenape ate copious quantities of oysters because oysters were plentiful and the shells lasted a very long time. Tremendous piles of thousands of oyster shells have been found throughout the New York City area. Archaeologists call them shell middens. One such mountain of oyster shells gave Pearl Street, originally on the waterfront in lower Manhattan, its name. It stands to reason that the Pearl Street we inhabit today—which also originally extended all the way to the East River, was named for the same reason. In fact, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the two Pearl Streets were actually once one Pearl Street, separated by the East River. There are many streets right in our vicinity that have been confirmed as Lenape walking paths, including Fulton Street, just blocks from our front door. What Pearl Street looked like exactly when it first was named is left to our imagination at this point. It is that same imagination that allows us to look forward with wide eyes to all of the great things that BFS students on Pearl Street today will accomplish.

Pearl is Born

Let’s fast-forward to 1927, when Brooklyn Law School was looking for a new home. On June 3 of that year, Brooklyn Law purchased the title to the lots of 373–381 Pearl Street for $261,000. In today’s money that would be approximately $4.5 million—a bargain. The building firm of Thomas O’Reilly & Sons won the contract to build what would be known as 375 Pearl Street. The seven-story building, constructed of brick, limestone, and marble—to be known as Richardson Hall—was dedicated on November 10, 1928. It was designed by the architect firm of Mayers, Murray, & Phillip. Just one year after the project was started, more than 3,000 onlookers were at the dedication ceremony, as William Payson Richardson—the co-founder and first dean of BLS—laid the cornerstone of the building that would bear his name. Little did a small school a few blocks away on Schermerhorn Street realize that someday, it would become their beloved home. At that same time, thanks to a major gift by Dr. William Snyder—the school’s physician and a BFS parent—Brooklyn Friends had just added a third floor to its own school to accommodate expanded enrollment. Head of School Dr. Guy W. Chipman—who led BFS from 1918–1931—finally had an office big enough so that he could “put his feet up on his desk.”

Those Iconic 7th-Floor Windows

When BFS purchased the building, there was a significant amount of construction done inside to transform a law school into a building that was appropriate for an independent school for children of all ages. Recently, thanks to a trip to the Brooklyn Law School archives, we were able to learn what each floor was used for prior to BFS’ arrival. We know, for example, that there was a large auditorium on the main floor, located just behind the elevators. We will have more on that in a future Arti-Facts. Today, we focus on what is possibly the most distinctive characteristic of 375 Pearl Street—the beautiful arched windows on the seventh floor. Now divided into many Lower School classrooms and offices, the seventh floor was originally one huge room that spanned the entire width of the building, and served as Brooklyn Law School’s library. With incredible natural light streaming into the room high above Pearl Street, the library opened in 1928 with either 14,000 or 50,000 volumes, depending on which BLS history book you believe. While the number of volumes in the library might be up for debate, the number of women in this photo is not—in fact, if you squint, you can see both of them among the nearly three dozen intense law students studying in the early 1930s! Today, 95 years later, BFS’ first, second, and third grade students learn in classroom spaces where the solid oak tables—each with room for four students to do their work—once stood. The elaborately-decorated ceiling beams are long gone, but the arched windows serve as a forever reminder of what once was.

Mortgage Burning Time!

By the time the 1970s drew to a close, BFS was—for the most part—settled in nicely at 375 Pearl Street. Believe it or not, in 1980 the school was still doing renovations. They had owned the building for a decade and used it—in earnest—for most of those years. The move from the original building on Schermerhorn Street had been hard for some, but according to the former Head of School, Stuart Smith, “The move—like most events in the past 10 years—was considered by most as just another day in a vital learning community.” These words were written by Smith in the May, 1980, edition of The Life newspaper—two years after he left BFS. “Many considered it just another logical step for a school that was dedicated to taking risks that often involved change.” One thing that was very much celebrated that same month was the fact that BFS paid off the mortgage on the new building. There were many joyous “mortgage burning” events held at BFS and throughout  Brooklyn in the spring of 1980, including theatrical performances in the Pearl Street Meeting House and a special brunch at the famous Brooklyn steakhouse which had been in business nearly as long as BFS—Gage and Tollner—with invited guests Mayor Ed Koch and Governor Hugh Carey. Over the past decade, BFS had done everything it could to raise the money for all of the renovations the building needed to make the transition from Brooklyn Law School to Brooklyn Friends School. One of those little-remembered circumstances was the fact that during the early 1970s, before the entire school had moved in and occupied Pearl Street, BFS sublet parts of the building to tenants. The usable sections of the sixth and seventh floors were utilized by the MTA, while parts of the third, fourth, and fifth floors were used by the New York City Civil Court System. By the fall of 1972, construction was completed on the sixth and seventh floors, and the Lower School was able to fully move in—and thankfully—51 years later—they are still there! The Lower School, that is, not the same students, they are much older now! 🙂

Farewell to an Old Lunch Pal

As we celebrate these past 50 years of BFS on Pearl Street, we say goodbye to one of our longtime friends who has been here with us from the earliest days. Well, at least we say goodbye to its corporate identity. For more than five decades, Blimpie has served our community on the corner of Pearl and Willoughby streets. This past week, it officially changed its name to Sam’s Pearl Street Deli, Inc. I know Sam—and much of his crew—friends like Alex and Dolly, along with several others. They greet me by name everytime I enter, and Alex makes a really good breakfast sandwich. I have been assured that the food will be even better than in the past, and that shedding the Blimpie franchise tag was inevitable for the corner deli due to financial details I really didn’t understand. Here is the thing, that was the last Blimpie in Brooklyn—there are no more. The first Blimpie store opened in Hoboken in 1964 when three high school friends decided to open a sandwich shop. The “Blimpie Best” was one of the first sandwiches in history to have a name. I learned that on The Food That Built America on the History Channel. At its height, there were more than 150 Blimpie’s in the tri-state area, but today there are just several scattered around Long Island, Queens, and the Bronx. Other chains such as Subway, Jimmy John’s, Jersey Mike’s, and just your good-old local deli, deflated Blimpie just enough to make the brand obsolete. Still, Sam’s Pearl Street Deli, Inc., will no doubt continue to serve this street proudly. “Same food, same people,” Dolly told me proudly from behind her register. Still, what if I want to re-live the late-night college craving of that long, flat, 12-inch “Blimpie Burger” with everything on it? I think the safest answer to that question is to simply go to sleep.

Hiding Right Out in the Open 

Sometimes, we don’t notice the beauty that’s been right in front of us the entire time. Of course, I am speaking of 375 Pearl Street. There are so many interesting aspects of this building that we pass by every single day, yet hardly notice. Of course, we all acknowledge the “golden doors,” the iconic hand-operated elevators, and—as mentioned in an earlier Arti-Facts—the stunning arched windows located on the seventh floor. Some, more savvy daily visitors, might notice that carved into the wall above those golden front doors, is not the name Brooklyn Friends School, but the name of the building’s original tennant. There are carved works of art surrounding the entrance, depicting legal scenes throughout time. However, the odds are that you have never noticed the really beautiful—and plentiful—artistic, dark brown square panels that adorn the outside of the building between each floor. What you definitely don’t know is that these carvings were put into place long before a single brick was put into place, or one concrete delivery was made to this building’s construction site. In fact, if you look at the close-up of the photo here, you can see that other than steel beams, those panels are the only things that adorned the new structure. Since this was nearly 100 years ago, there is no one around to ask why this is—but perhaps these were very heavy, and/or needed to be notched into the walls themselves. Still, it seems like an odd order of operation.

Head North, Young Pearl! 

We are extremely grateful for our newly paved version of Pearl Street—yes, it has been paved! So this seems to be a good time to look back at the Pearl Street of yesteryear. This photo, from nearly 100 years ago, is simply amazing and the first one like it many of us have ever seen—a view of Pearl Street, leading away from BFS, heading north. Today, this photo is one of the very few still in existence to show what our school’s street looked like—heading toward the East River—long before Brooklyn Friends moved into the neighborhood. You can clearly see 375 Pearl Street on the right—at the time the home of Brooklyn Law School—and so many other things that no longer exist. Past the school on the right, which is now NYU, you can see the large warehouse and showroom of desk manufacturers, A. Pearson’s Sons. Their street address was 247 Myrtle Avenue, a section of Downtown Brooklyn which, in the late 1920s, was becoming an important wholesale furniture center, according to The New York Times. Myrtle Avenue used to run between Adams and Jay Street, and beyond. It is now made up of pedestrian walkways and—further down—MetroTech. You can see the Myrtle Avenue Elevated Train Line, which was torn down in 1969. Remnants of that line remain as the M. You can also see Pearl Street disappear into the distance. Today, we all know that Pearl Street ends just past BFS. The truth is, however, it doesn’t end. Less than a half a mile away, straight as an arrow, heading north, Pearl Street picks up once again, and heads all the way to John Street Park, on the edge of the East River. In the days this photo was taken, you could have taken Pearl Street all the way to the water, unhindered. Today, you need to navigate a lot of obstacles, including the Marriott Hotel, and a whole lotta other stuff. By the time BFS moved onto Pearl Street, things had changed and today we only have blurry photographic evidence of all of this. Thank goodness for old photos.