Arti-Facts: BFS History Nuggets

Each week, BFS Arti-Facts will examine a moment in history
from the Brooklyn Friends Archives
Updated June 1, 2022


Gatherings of Yesterday

Can I Take You to the Prom?

Bravo to our Facilities Team

Thanks, Coach!

Each week, BFS Arti-Facts will examine a moment in history from the Brooklyn Friends Archives. This week, we head out to the baseball diamond of yesteryear to look back, not at a former student-athlete, but at a former well-known BFS coach. We have noted in past Arti-Facts’  that Alan M. Hughes coached multiple sports at Brooklyn Friends School for many years, including the 1925 championship boys basketball squad. This week, as we kick off the 2022 baseball and softball seasons, we remember that Coach Hughes led the way for the 1922 BFS baseball team, pictured here. While his players surrounded him with nothing but serious game-faces on, the dapper Coach Hughes—not looking any older than his players—almost had a glint in his eyes and the start of what might have been a smile in the corner of his mouth. Perhaps he knew that exactly 100 years after this photo was taken, coaches like himself would still be leading BFS to victories. Perhaps he knew that 100 years later people would be remarking that he looked more ready for the Queen’s Ball than a baseball game at Friends Field. Perhaps he was just happy because after the photo shoot he was heading to Ebbets Field to watch future Hall of Famer Zack Wheat and his Dodger teammates take on the New York Giants? Perhaps he was just excited that baseball and softball season was back! Just like we are! Go, Panthers!

The Curious Case of Señor Frizzle

Each week, we will examine a moment in history from the Brooklyn Friends Archives. One of the absolute best aspects of BFS is the diverse and interesting stories our current colleagues have. We will be looking at many of those in the coming weeks and months, not as Arti-Facts, but as feature stories on our website. This week in Arti-Facts, however, we look back into the late 1940s and remember a specific teacher who spent a short, but well-respected time at BFS. Mr. Arnold L. Frizzle was a Canadian-born student of French, Latin, and Math, but taught Spanish at BFS. Featured in a March 22, 1948 article in The Life newspaper, Señor Frizzle was described as “that stock-well-built man seen lumbering into Room 20 every day at about one o’clock.” It was clear from the tone of the article, penned by then-senior Paul R. Browner, that Señor Frizzle was very much liked by his students. A graduate of Teachers College of Columbia University, where he received his M.A. in French, Frizzle would return to the school to qualify for his Ph.D., which he would receive in 1950, two years after leaving Brooklyn Friends to teach modern languages at the college level. In addition to his love for languages, Frizzle made fine acid etchings, built furniture, and loved to work as a farmer, which he had done early in his life in Canada. According to the student journalist, “the students of Friends enjoyed and benefited from his teachings.” Just a quick snapshot into what was going on at BFS nearly 75 years ago!

Photograph and Memories

Each week, we will examine a moment in history from the Brooklyn Friends Archives. This week, we focus on a photo that was sent in to us by a friend of the school who is both a sister and mother of a BFS grad. Thank you to Lois Berseth Hedlund, whose son Magnus Hedlund graduated in 1991. This specific photo, however, was of her brother—John T. Berseth—and his BFS basketball teammates from the 1940s. It is always exciting to see a photo from someone’s personal collection, and this was clearly a happy day in the Schermerhorn Gym, following what was a victory for Brooklyn Friends. The coach in the photo is Walter Longley, who also used to run a summer camp on Staten Island where John and his friends would often serve as counselors. Not only was John on the basketball team, but he was the editor of his class’ yearbook and loved to collect books about New York history—specifically Brooklyn history. Sadly, John passed away in 2016 at the age of 84, but thank you to his sister, Lois, for sharing this fantastic photo and keeping her brother’s memory alive and well here at BFS!

The Lucky Break

Each week, we will examine a moment in history from the Brooklyn Friends Archives. This week, a photo found on eBay has sent us down a rabbit hole of excitement. At first glance, it is what it is, a really nice photo of a BFS performance of The Lucky Break in 1933. However, what was on the back of this photo was even more exciting. Stamped in ink, at a very hasty 45-degree angle, it reads “Photograph by KENNETH M. SWEZEY, 161 Milton Street, Brooklyn, NY.” As it turns out, Kenneth M. Swezey would go on to become a well-known journalist and Science writer for the New York Sun newspaper, and other well-known magazines, such as Boys’ Life and Popular Science. His bio explains, he would “often illustrate his articles with photographs he shot himself.” Perhaps this photo from BFS was originally to go along with an article of some kind? As an aside, Swezey has an unending fascination with the work of Nikola Tesla and even wrote a cover story about him for Time magazine. So here is where things get sort of interesting—the photo was found in a collection of photos kept by former New York Supreme Court Justice and U.S. Representative to New York, John MacCrate. Interesting, but why would he have this photo? Well, it turns out that the Hon. John MacCrate’s son, also John MacCrate, attended Brooklyn Friends School at the time the photo was taken—and appeared in the cast of The Lucky Break. Just as an aside, he was also the Editor-in-Chief of The Life newspaper at BFS his senior year of 1933-34. Here is where the story gets sort of even more interesting—the MacCrate’s lived at 134 Milton Street and there is no doubt there is some kind of a connection between the Swezey and MacCrate families. Milton Street was not then, and is not now, all that long. In fact 110 Milton and 161 Milton are a stone’s throw from each other. Nearly a century later, however, the connection to each other is that they both appear together in “Arti-Facts.”

Color Me Confused

Each week, we will examine a moment in history from the Brooklyn Friends Archives. This week, we focus on one of the most iconic aspects of BFS—the school colors. Just to be clear, there is no actual, specific reason that the colors of Brooklyn Friends are blue and gray. When the school was founded in 1867, the best of our records show that in the spirit of Quaker simplicity, the colors were selected to be white and gray. However, in the early 1900s, when BFS began competing in athletic competitions, the decision was made to embolden the look of the school sports uniforms and the colors were changed to blue and gray. It seems like the story would end there, as those are our current colors. However, an article on the front page of The Life newspaper in 1934—the official paper of BFS from its earliest days (and the current school magazine)—throws a wrench into the works. Under the headline of “Friends Furnishes Teams New Uniforms,” the article reads: “New equipment has been purchased for both the football and field hockey teams this fall. The boys have received new jerseys, with numerals on them…and new helmets, which have been painted orange and black, the team colors.” To add to the mish-mosh, an article the following week in 1934 announced that the junior and senior girls had selected an official sweater color for the seniors, which would be light blue. Color me confused.

Blue Pride

Each week, we will examine a moment in history from the Brooklyn Friends Archives. This week, we focus on the true spirit when it comes to supporting our school’s boys and girls basketball teams, as Brooklyn Friends student-athletes approach the playoffs. “It is of utmost importance that the student body gets behind the school’s activities, both indoor and out. Do not  permit your teams to take the field (or courts) without proper support from the sidelines; do not expect good teams if you yourself make no effort to play the game.” All of that applies today, of course, HOWEVER that was written back in October of 1931 in the school newspaper, The Life. It is always interesting to be reminded that the more things change in life, the more they stay the same. Ninety one years ago, BFS student-athletes needed their school’s positive energy behind them. This coming week, our current student-athletes need that same energy! Blue Pride, Friends Forever! Go Panthers!

The Summer of 1972—and 1922

Each week, we will examine a moment in history from the Brooklyn Friends Archives. This week, we look into the past and ahead to the future—simultaneously! It is taught to all students on the very first day of the very first journalism course that anyone takes, at any level—never put yourself in the story—ever! Having said that, let me tell you a little bit about myself: I was born in March of 1970, the son of a teacher and a dentist. But enough about me. It just so happens that “The Life” magazine published an issue in March of 1970, which caused me to take a closer look and see what was going on at BFS the day I was born. Turns out, that is the first time it was announced that Brooklyn Friends School was going to have a brand new Summer Program, starting in the summer of 1970. As you read earlier in THIS edition of The Weekly, BFS is excited to be considering a launch of a brand new BFX Summer Program, bridging the gap in June between the end of school and July. If you happened to miss the note above, please go back and check it out! The BFXploration program has been extremely successful this year and this proposed two-week program promises to be fun for all. Maybe not as much fun as the surprise birthday party that someone is hopefully planning for me, but again, it is not about me.