Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fred (Rubino) and Frank (Freeman)

One sad story about Fred Rubino (A Giant is Lost) is nagging at me and I'd like to get it out.

I first heard of Fred Rubino from Frank Freeman, one of his best friends from when they both began teaching at IS 318.  I got to know Frank through my old pal Bob Baratto from Another View (the first political group I worked with) when we all car-pooled together from Rockaway (my school was about a half mike away).

Bob taught at IS 318, along with many others in Another View --- really IS 318 was a sort of radical hotbed in the early 70's with Lew Friedman and Bob Norman, along with a liberal ex-priest named Tom. They had some real support in the school. And a sort of warfare broke out there -- Howie Tames was also at that school along with future principal Al Fierstein, both of whom were part of UFT kingpin Mario De Stefano's crew, who introduced himself to me in 1970 with these words: "I'm going to kick your ass." So you can see things were a bit rough. But I digress (Another View in relation to IS 318 deserves a separate post.)

Back to Frank Freeman and Fred Rubino. I believe they either co-taught special ed or started together and were real pals. I know Frank use the words "me and Fred" very often. They were both kids -- early 20's.

Frank was born and bred in Rockaway and ended up teaching at IS 318 I believe due to the fact his dad was a teacher at another middle school in District 14. Frank was a real athlete --- you know those Rockaway guys are born swimmers. At one point Frank did triathlons.

Well, at some point --- maybe mid to late 80's, Frank had some problems with Fierstein who had become principal and one thing led to another, he left the school with some bitterness towards all, even Fred. They never spoke after that as far as I know.

Frank went on to teach at Midwood HS. We used the same gym so I saw him around. He was a tall, gangly guy, very strong and lithe. As I said -- an athlete. My memory is vague as to dates but at one point Frank told me he was taking a sabbatical to go to Thailand. Six months later he was back but told me he was leaving to move there permanently.

And he did. A few years later --- maybe 2 or 3, the awful news came that Frank had died. From what, it was not clear. The family was told it was a heart attack. Really hard to believe given his athleticism. But who knows? Frank was 37 years old.

A few years ago I mentioned Frank to Fred. He got a real sad look on his face. "One of the big regrets in my life was what happened with Frank," Fred said. He indicated that there was some contact at some point but I am not sure of that. But he seemed sure that if Frank hadn't died so young they would have become friends again.

For an atheist to say the following is blasphemy:  but if you are a true believer, believe that that friendship is being renewed again.

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Previous Ed Notes on IS 318: Ed Notes Online: In Defense of IS 318

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