Written by Stu Kushner

Midnight Sun Online v01n03 October 1996

Volume 1, Number 3, October 1996

-The Online Newsletter for Robert E. Peary High School Alumni-


Greetings Huskies:

Some last-minute sad news. Gail Melanson-Carr (’76) just informed me that Gayle Annis’s (’76) father has just passed away. There is a memorial service being held this evening (October 21) at Glenmont United Methodist Church. Details are unknown.

I’m happy to announce a web site that’s been created that centers on this newsletter and e-mail distribution list. It’ll continually be updated. You can get this and past issues of the newsletter and an updated e-mail listing of fellow alumni at the site. So point your browsers to http://www.clark.net/pub/pearyhs and take a look when you get a chance. It needs some work, so bear with it please!

Bob Lau, Class of ’76

From: Neal Lee Pizzano (1976) npizzano[AT]erols.com Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1996 Subject: Jim Gazenski’s Passing

Dear Classmates and other Alumni:

I deeply regret having to inform you that class of 1976 classmate, Jim Gazenski, passed away suddenly, of an apparent heart attack on either Wednesday or Thursday evening September 18th or 19th, 1996. Jim lived alone in Germantown, MD and was present at our 20 year reunion. Details are not known as of this writing, but I will forward them as soon as I learn of them. I received the call from Tracy Havens-Katoski around 10:00 AM today, Saturday, September 21. Jim’s brother, Tom, was good friends with Tracy’s sister Wendy (and her husband John Cannon), and that’s where Tracy received her information. I will send out details about Jim’s funeral when I receive them.

Until Then… Keep the Faith

Neal Pizzano

From: Gerry Adcock (1976) Gerry_Adcock[AT]freddiemac.com Date: Mon, 23 Sep 1996 Subject: Farewell to a Classmate

Dear Classmates,

For those of you that have not heard, I have sad news to pass on of the loss of another of our classmates. Jim Gazenski passed away on Friday September 20 of an apparent heart attack. Jim lived in Germantown, MD.

The arrangements at this time are viewing on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 3-5pm and at 7-9pm at Collins Funeral Home (500 University Blvd., West, Silver Spring, MD – a few blocks down from the intersection of University and Rt. 29/Columbia Pike a/k/a Four Corners). His service will be on Wednesday Sept. 25 at 11:00 am with interment following at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Aspen Hill, MD. Contributions may be made to:

Children’s Hospital 111 Michigan Ave., NW Washington, DC 20010


From: Neal Lee Pizzano (1976) npizzano[AT]erols.com Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996 Subject: Jim Gazenski’s Passing

Dear Classmates and other Alumni:

With our respect and condolences, Maureen DiFulgo-Bladen has sent flowers on behalf of the class of 1976 for Jim Gazenski’s wake. Anyone wishing to contribute or help pay for the flowers can send checks to:

Maureen Bladen 24416 Cutsail Drive Damascus, MD 20872

Thanks, Neal

From: Rudy & Barb Porter-Lauer (1976) rporter[AT]alf.tel.hr Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 Subject: Greetings from Mr. Zero

Dear Neal, Bob, and Art (I’m not sure who gets this):

It was great to hear from you. I received issue 2 of Midnight Sun Online from my sister who you found through a web page about her bagpipe band.

I was sincerely hoping to get to the 20th reunion, but couldn’t make it there. I wanted to be in the running for alumnus who traveled the furthest.

My wife, Barb, and I have lived in Zagreb, Croatia since New Year’s. I’m the director of an American labor union training center, and Barb works for the International Rescue Committee in eastern Croatia, where they are recovering from war. You might say we like something different.

There are benefits though. The Croatian coast is fantastic (the nudist capital of the world), and we can reach Vienna in 4 hours, Venice in 5 hours, Budapest in 6 hours, and Rome, Istanbul, Athens, Prague, Warsaw, or Berlin by short flights. We try to see as much as possible.

For the three years before this, we lived in Moscow, Russia. We lived right across the river from the Russian White House, which I watched being shelled by tanks in October ’93. I was one of those stupid people you saw on CNN watching as if we were at a baseball game. I traveled for work to the Russian Arctic, Siberia, Georgia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Estonia, and also had some great vacations. Somehow I escaped without an addiction to the massive quantities of vodka I was required to drink. If you’re interested, I’ll write about some weird experiences (ice fishing in the Arctic on July 1 at 1:00 a.m. in broad daylight), but I’ll save that for another time.

My brother sent the Post article by Jim Hage. I’d love to send him a note. I’m a runner myself now, but in 2:15:52, I’m just finishing lacing up my shoes – not finishing a marathon.

Keep up the good work. I’d be glad to hear from anybody, and plan to write to a few on the list you sent.

Your pal,

Rudy Porter-Lauer

From: Neal Lee Pizzano (1976) npizzano[AT]erols.com Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 Subject: High School + 20 recap

Here is a recap of my last twenty years after high school. I am doing this to encourage all of you to recap your lives after High School. I know some of you have become VERY successful. My hat is off to you! You know how to reach me…and you know how to reach the Midnight Sun Online.

Ciao for now..

Neal Pizzano Class of 1976

High School PLUS 20…

I thought I would let everyone know what my life was like after High School to give you a different perspective and better understanding of just who I am. Try not to get too bored, please.

Upon graduation, I had made up my mind not to pursue architecture and take the challenge of meteorology. (I also decided to go with my best friend, Bill Clark, to a local establishment (Gentleman Jim’s) every night after work and have two beers and a hamburger in hopes of gaining some weight. I was 6 feet tall and weighed 135 lbs. I could turn sideways and all you’d see was my nose). I also didn’t have a lot of money and decided to go to Montgomery College in Rockville. By the end of the first semester, I had joined the “Meteorology Club”, and by the second semester became it’s president. The rest of college remains a blur, with the exception of a couple of things. Art class, where I did OK; taking a 6:30 AM class in basic computer language, (I still don’t know why I did that); soccer in PE (I didn’t join the school team, as a job and making money seemed a little more important); coming out first in our in class fencing tournament. (I felt fencing was good for a goalkeeper to strengthen his legs and sharpen his reflexes); and last, but not least, taking a course called “Acting for TV and Film”. It was the best course I took. During all this time I was also working. In 1978 I worked for Bloomingdales as a receiving clerk. I had a chance to learn fashion and quality. I also had a chance to meet my first wife. She was working the sweater bar on the third floor. And I was the first person to pronounce her name correctly on the first try. (It was Greek to me – and to her). I left Bloomie’s to work in a bank until I could start working for the Federal Government. January, 1979, I became engaged and started working for the USDA as a cartographer’s aide. In January, 1980 I started working for the National Weather Service in Camp Springs, MD. By April, I was married and living in Gaithersburg. I tried out for the “AM WEATHER” television show with the backing of the Man In Charge of the Forecast Office. My audition was great, but I lacked credentials. That made me pursue higher levels of education through the government. In 1981, I met a guy named Keith Allen, who asked for my assistance in providing weather forecasts over the telephone. It was a small unit based in his home. I would call and record the info to be played, while others called the number to listen. I told him then that his idea was so good that if he played his cards right, he could be doing it for C & P Telephone (Now known as Bell Atlantic). I, also in 1981, decided to change positions in the weather service. I went from a position where I was decoding upper air data, plotting high level wind data, and drawing charts for pilots to brief from, to a position where I was now encoding upper air data, taking observations and using the charts to personally brief pilots. I moved to Dulles International Airport in January 1982, just days before the “Air Florida” crash. My wife and I also moved to Herndon, VA then, where we purchased a townhouse with the great rate of 16 1/2 % interest. In 1983, I separated from my wife, moved to Manassas, VA and did my first weather broadcast on the radio as a substitute for the new kid in town over at Channel 9-WUSA-TV, Bill Kamal. I substituted on WINC Radio. During my stint at Dulles, I was privileged enough to brief weather for the Goodyear Blimp, USAF Generals at the Pentagon, The NASA Space Shuttle Program, Resort Owner Pete Bryce (Bryce Mountain Resorts of Bayse, VA) and even AIR FORCE ONE as it was on approach during a rain storm. I also proved weather information for television productions, studios, and movies, like 20/20, Lorimar Productions, and the movies DC CAB (portions filmed at Dulles) and (?)ST. ELMO’S FIRE (the one in Georgetown). I moved to Sterling, VA for five month’s, back to Manassas, and finally back home to Rockville, MD, from September 1983 to February 1984. I started jogging with the teacher who taught me that “Acting” class in college and signed up for a modeling class. (It was worth learning about, but not worth the money). I reduced my weight, which had at one time reached 206 lbs, (I was no longer on that beer and hamburger diet, either) down to 167 lbs when I met my second wife. In 1985, I left home again and moved, this time, to Temple Hills, MD. I also left the Federal Government (tried insurance for a month) and went to the Airline Industry. What a full circle! ( I worked with weather in the aviation branch of the weather service, I briefed pilots on an international basis, and now, I get to work in the airline industry using my weather background.) I actually started as a customer service rep (at Dulles) for Presidential Airways in January 1986. During the year, I ended up moving within the company to a dispatcher position, moving from Temple Hills, MD to an historic home in Fort Washington, MD, and getting a dog (her name is Scuzzie). I also worked on the 1st Class of 76 reunion. In 1987, I traveled with a co-worker to Los Angeles to see the super bowl. It was great being at the Rose Bowl, sitting amongst the Bronco and Giant fans. Unfortunately, it was difficult to see the TV screen the fans had, as we didn’t have tickets to get inside. Yes, I watched it on TV from the Rose Bowl Parking Lot !! 1987 also brought about the marriage of my second wife and I. We traveled to Hawaii for our honeymoon. It was great. In October, our daughter Lauren (named after actress Lauren Bacall) was born. My poor wife went through 36 1/2 total hours of labor before the c-section was done. I guess I felt pretty bad that she had to suffer so much, so I delivered a kidney stone 3 weeks later myself. We had also purchased a townhouse in Temple Hills (at the end of September, AND with a much better rate 10 1/4). Presidential Airways began to suffer drastically in 1989. That was when I decided it was time to try for a new job. I hooked up with World Airways, Inc. of Oakland, CA. They were moving to the Washington area. It was my international weather experience, and the fact I wrote training materials for pilots and airline dispatchers, that weighed heavily in my favor for job consideration. I went to Oakland, CA for six weeks. I learned about dim sum in Chinatown, and that Sonoma was the better wine area for it picnic-like atmosphere when visiting wineries. I learned about DC-10 aircraft, too. After training was over, I found myself working in the old Presidential Airways offices. They now belonged to World. Three weeks later, the Bay area was struck with its’ most recent major earthquake. Later in the fall of 89, I tried out for a position on Channel 7’s weather team. It was a contest in which there were 10,000 applicants. Only 32 were chosen for audition. I was one of those. I didn’t make it past the first audition, but I got to keep the tape. My wife and I tried for a second child in 1990. Unfortunately, we fell victim to miscarriage. On an upbeat note, Sue Palka, weather persona of the local Fox-TV network, encouraged me to try out for a Richmond station that was looking for a weekend weather person. Having no prior experience and only a try-out tape from the year before, I gave it a shot. Everyone told me that I didn’t have a prayer without experience. Actually, I did have a prayer or two up my sleeve, and landed the job. I went on the air in January of 1991. I did eight weeks of weather broadcasts, and then I was let go. To this day, I have no regrets for I accomplished much more than anyone was willing to give me credit for. My wife and I also experienced the birth of our son, Robbie. This time she went through 42 1/2 hours of labor. (Robbie was delivered naturally). And this time, I felt worse, so a few weeks later I thought I’d have another kidney stone. But, to my surprise, I gave birth to Diverticulitis. (I had the kidney stone a few months later). Now faced with this correlation of “Have Kid, Have Kidney Stone” infiltrating my life, I decided to do something about it. I got fixed. (That’s a tough male subject. Unfortunately, it didn’t work the way I had hoped it would. I’ve had more stones, but no more kids. Maybe I should of had a Kidney transplant instead. Hmm.) I also found myself deep into Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I was dispatching civil aircraft into the area to deliver troops and supplies. At the end, I was given a certificate of recognition for my role, by the United States Air Force and by the United States Civil Reserve Air Fleet Command. It may not compare to being there first hand like some of you, but it made me feel extremely proud to be an American. The last thing to note for 1991 was that I was now doing the weather for the Bell Atlantic. In 1994, my wife decide to quit her job and go into business with her brother. She is now the CEO of a great computer company that teaches pre-school and elementary school age children. Something I support her in strongly to this day! (I also did my first WMAL broadcast in which a mild winter was forecasted for 1984-1985, opposite the advice of many other experts.) Then in July of 1995, I decided it was time to move again. This time I was the only one to move. I separated from my wife, but pledged to never divorce myself from my children. I have continued to call my kids every single evening, since the day I left. I tell my daughter I love her, to have sweet dreams and don’t let the bed bugs bite, and make 3-4 kissing sounds with the lips before telling her goodnight. I tell my son “ER-ER-ER”, which is our way of hugging each other over the phone (a romantic thing my wife and I developed for each other in our early years), I love you, I’ll never forget you, and whispering “I LOVE YOU IN MY HEART” (which is something he came up with on his own). We say the same things to each other. I also see them overnight every other Friday, and currently coach my sons soccer team at the school where they attend. That means I see them on Tuesdays and Thursdays for practice, and Saturdays for their games, too. (The divorce is pending, but my wife and I are amicable towards each other for the best interest of the kids. I will state that she is a great mother, and I will always love her, I am just no longer in – love with her. It is agreeably better this way.) In 1996, I was called upon several times during the harsh winter to go on the air with weather forecasts to the WMAL audience. I was then invited down to the studio in the spring, and in the fall, to go on the air, live, with the Trumbull and Core show, featuring the new addition to the team, Brooke Stevens. I also helped chair our 2nd Class of 76 Reunion.

I currently maintain a data base of over 9700 names. It is a listing of all Peary Graduates from 1963-1984 plus Faculty/Staff. If you ever move, please keep me informed. I also request that you send me the names of your brothers and sisters so that I can cross reference them in the data base.

From: Neal Lee Pizzano (1976) npizzano[AT]erols.com Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 Subject: Teacher Reunion 1996


On Saturday, October 12 (the REAL Columbus Day), I attended a reunion of Peary Teachers and Staff. It was held at the Anchor Inn in Wheaton, MD. Bob Lau was the only other student there (along with his girlfriend, Kristy). Together we sat with Ms. Rosen. It was a blast from the past. There was so much reminiscing going on, one could hardly stand it.

Unfortunately, I could only recognize a few of the teachers. Miss Thomson, Ms. Steinkraus, Mr. Clarke, Mr. Kilpatrick, Mr. Luko, Ms. Dee Rosenberg, Ms. Tigani, Mrs. Zimmerman, Ms. Engle, Ms. Avery, Mrs. Drye, Ms. Mintie Glass, Dr. Dunn and Dr. Brennan were only a few of those I met, talked to, or recognized. I began to wonder if I actually ever went to class. I had no idea who the rest of the faculty members were. I don’t think I had many of those there.

Nonetheless, Ms. Rosen was glad to sit and recall old memories with us. To her, it was great because she didn’t get the chance to attend our reunion. She said she’s been to these faculty reunions before, but she rarely gets the chance to find out how her students have been doing since high school. So she preferred chatting with us.

Many of the teachers told us to call them by their first names. School was a long time ago. But, I remarked that old habits are hard to get rid of.

These faculty members are still somewhat close. I think Peary High School produced a very unique group of people. Both Faculty and Students alike. Hopefully, many of you will try to make the next one. We will keep you informed as to time and place.

From: Bob Lau (1976) blau[AT]clark.net Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 Subject: Update

Very little to update since the last newsletter. I’m still seeking the “perfect” full-time work since my term ended at UM University College last month. In the meantime, I’ve been doing some more of the acting stuff so I don’t lose the house . Kristy continues working and doing homework for her distance education class. We’re celebrating my 38th this weekend – I’m a little later in the year than most of the rest of the 76r’s. I’ve had a couple good interviews/discussions with potential employers, but nothing solid yet.

As Neal Pizzano mentioned, I also attended the Peary Staff luncheon at Anchor Inn on October 12. I, too, hardly knew any of the teachers except for the two I had in 10th grade, Mrs. Rosen (Miss Burstiner) and Miss Thomson (who organized the event). Dr. Dunn and Dr. Brennan were also there – funny, they STILL scare me. Mable Thomas was ill and didn’t attend, but word is she’s out and about and doing okay. I was quite surprised that Mrs. Rosen remembered so many things and people. She has two children(?) – I believe both out of high school already – lives in Gaithersburg and teaches at Rockville High School. She also has fond memories of Lyle Goldberg – the “chatterbox” of the English class we were in… and the Chatterbox of the Class of ’76. I need to get in touch with Lyle (who is a teacher in Philadelphia) and let him know she wants to hear from him.

Since I’ve had some time on my hands, I created a web site for this Peary on-line effort – a place anyone can go to anytime, and a place to organize materials and call our own. Details are at the beginning of the newsletter.

I got a part in the NBC series “Homicide” and shot the scene recently, having the opportunity to work with Richard Belzer, Reed Diamond, and Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro on STTNG) which was fun. The episode, called “Control,” will air in December – when I get the exact date, I’ll let you know. I’ll be in a squad room scene in the last part of the episode, delivering “bad news” to Detective Kellerman (Reed Diamond). I’ll also be working in November for 2 to 6 days in a movie with Jodie Foster called “Contact.” This film is being directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump” director) and also stars Matthew McConaughey, and Angela Bassett. Unlike “Homicide” where I had speaking to do and had the script, I have no idea what scenes I’m doing for this movie and who’ll be there yet.

I might also take on some freelance video editing work I just got called for while I have the “spare” time. Other than that, nothing more to report! I hope to attend Kevin Brooks’s Halloween party on the 26th, but still need to call for details.

See you next month……..

Bob Lau

Past Issues of MSO available:
Volume 1, Number 1 – August 1996
Volume 1, Number 2 – September 1996

Also available:
Article about Ken Brace (Teacher) from the Gazette
Article written by Jim Hage (1976) in The Washington Post


Midnight Sun Online
Volume 1, Number 3, October 1996