Categorized | Community, Page 1, Schools

The Diamonds of Pierson

Posted on 12 October 2012

By Amanda Wyatt


When George Boziwick graduated from Pierson High School in 1937, big bands were all the rage. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president, and though it was thousands of miles away Sag Harbor teenagers could feel tensions brewing in pre-World War II Europe.

It’s been 75 years since Boziwick left the halls of Pierson, but he — along with nearly 70 other alumni — will soon return to their Alma mater for the Diamond Club Reunion. The luncheon, which starts at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 14, is for alumni who graduated between 1925 and 1955.

The Diamond Club Reunion is a continuation of the Pierson Centennial in 2007, when a special luncheon was held for those 80 years old and over.

“People who went requested that we continue it and do it every five years,” said Emilie Renner Bennett (Class of ’87), of the Centennial Committee. “We lowered the age limit to 75 years old, since 75is the Diamond Anniversary.”

According to Bennett, Pierson’s eldest alumna is 104-year-old Alice Miller Osborne Ham of the Class of 1925, who currently lives in East Hampton.

Bennett went on to say that the reunion would provide alumni with “a venue and a time for them to get together to rehash old stories and share their memories.”

While some alumni are traveling from as far as North Carolina to reunite with their classmates this weekend, a number of Pierson alums still live in Sag Harbor and the surrounding area.

Many are looking forward to Sunday’s reunion, including Gabe and Diane Schiavoni. Although Gabe Schiavoni left school shortly before he would have graduated, he is still attending as a member of the Class of 1955.

“It was a great place to go to school. I can’t say enough about Pierson,” he said.

A former football player, Schiavoni has fond memories of his high school days. He remembers going sledding on the Pierson Hill — which was much steeper during the 50s, he says — and holding competitions on school grounds to see who could build the biggest bonfire.

At that time, everyone knew each other in Sag Harbor, and parents were often close friends with Pierson faculty.

“If I did something wrong — which I did a lot — [Principal William] Crozier would call up my mom,” Schiavoni said.

Once, when Principal Crozier caught Schiavoni smoking a cigarette at school, “he called my mother and said, ‘I got rough with your son.’ And she said, ‘You didn’t hurt him, but I will!’” He laughed.

His wife, Diane, is a member of the Class of 1957 and will be attending the Diamond Club Reunion as his guest.

A former cheerleader, Schiavoni remembers going to sock hops as a teenager.

“You had to take your shoes off and dance,” she explains. “That was fun.”

“I was the treasurer of the class from the ninth grade to the twelfth grade. And today I’m the bookkeeper for the John Jermain Memorial Library. If there’s money, Diane’s there,” she joked.

Boziwick, one of 27 members of the Class of 1937, said he is “looking forward to [the reunion]. I think everyone is.”

When he was growing up, Sag Harbor “was more rural than it is now. I think it was a quieter period. I knew most everybody in the high school,” he recalled.  “It was just a real homey atmosphere.”

A “quiet kid,” Boziwick enjoyed math, playing clarinet in the band and performing in school plays.

Like Gabe Schiavoni, he went home for lunch and walked to school. And many of today’s electives and new extracurricular activities were nowhere to be found.

“And there were just the same ordinary classes — math, English, history and language, and that was about it,” he added.

At the time, Boziwick said, “there was a roller skating rink in Southampton, and you met a lot people there,” he remembered. “That’s where I met my wife.”

“When I first got out of high school, I worked — as it seems everyone else did — at Bulova Watch [Case Factory], and then I joined the Navy in 1940,” he said.

When asked if he was excited about the current renovation of the Bulova building, Boziwick said, “I certainly am. I think it’s going to be a great boon for Sag Harbor, financially and otherwise.”

While Boziwick and other Pierson alumni noted that the village and the school had changed considerably over the years, they still felt that Sag Harbor had managed to hold onto some of its small-town feel.

Sag Harbor “remains a quiet village and that’s what’s really nice about it,” said Bennett. “I tell my kids all the time to appreciate where they are.”

“I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” agreed Diane Schiavoni.


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