Phil McCrea
Class of 1965

After graduation, I attended SUNY at Albany . I then switched schools in 1966 through the end of 1967. I attended Nassau Community College , while working part-time at Gertz. I worked in the Gertz Record Department, which was right by the front entrance, across from Newberry's. To put it into context-"Winchester Cathedral" and "I'm a Believer" were the top hits at the time. During 1967, I worked as a "floater" in Gertz. Like our former Vice-President, I too had 5 physicals for the army. I had 3 complete ones, and I had 2 spot checks. The presence of a pilonidal cyst made me ineligible for the Army. The military even asked me if I would like them to operate on it to make me eligible, but I thanked them and instead went on to pursue a college diploma in the area of teaching.

Beginning the spring semester of 1968, I started attending Nassau Community College full time, and I began taking things a little more seriously. I considered the course list for an associate's degree in liberal arts to be a checklist. I proceeded to take a full plate of courses in the spring semester; I then attended back-to-back summer sessions and took 14 credits Chemistry 1 and 2 (whatever the course numbers were) along with Economics 1 and 2. In the fall of 1968, “Hey Jude”, "The Beatles"(the White Album) and "Those Were the Days" filled the airwaves. I completed my associate’s degree in January of 1969. I was not accepted at  Cortland State because Albany 's transcript never arrived - I hadn't paid my phone bill!! Therefore, my friend, David Berger helped get me a job in Record World-which was inside Time Square Store on Hempstead Turnpike. I worked there from January of 1969 until August of 1969. I had been accepted at SUNY at Cortland . While I worked in Record World, the first Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, and Blind Faith (studio) albums came out. Also, the Who released "Tommy". The Beatle's singles “Get Back” and the “Ballad of John and Yoko” were released. It was also a period where everyone was doing a cover version of some song from the musical "Hair".

I attended Cortland from September of 1969 until May of 1971 when I graduated. I had done my student teaching my last semester of my senior year, and I had a job before I had graduated. In the summer of 1971, with my brand new Ford Pinto, I began my master's degree and had 9 credits before I started my career as an elementary school teacher in the suburbs of Binghamton , NY . I taught in a relatively small school district (compared to Hicksville ) Chenango Valley Central Schools. I was assigned to 5th grade in the Port Dickinson Elementary School . For me, it was like a step into the past. Relative to Long Island-or even Cortland State , the district seemed somewhat of an anachronism. The custodians were upset it you put the kids' desks into groups of 4 instead of them being left in rows. Rows were easier to sweep. However, after a while, I adjusted to the district and they adjusted to me. I taught 31 years in that district, and only in that district. During my first year of teaching, I continued to work on my master's, and I completed it by the end of July 1972. I believe I was the only teacher in the district to complete his entire master's degree during his first year of teaching. My goal was to jump salary columns and also make up for time I had wasted as a 19 and 20 year old.

I was placed on the proper column at the beginning of my second year of teaching-thus receiving a raise of 14 percent while everyone else-unless they also moved horizontally across the salary schedule-received a raise of 7percent. During my years of teaching, I taught in 3 different buildings and I taught 3 different grades; 5th, 6th, and 4th.

What I am most proud of from my career is the fact that I was given parental permission to take 3 pairs -different years- of students across the country camping mainly at KOA's and taking tons of slides. The first trip in 1975 was not well thought-out, and it only lasted 19 days. Didn't bring enough credit-and didn't familiarize myself with the land head well enough. The second trip was the best. We traveled in my 1975 Pinto 34 days-seeing everything. This was with one student just out of 6th and one just out of 7th. I was friends with their parents. The kids were very bright, and we saw everything. We even went to lovely Nogales , Mexico , across the border from Arizona . In 1979, I figured some states of the US were skippable from the point of view of a student-so we flew directly to Los Angeles at Easter time. What was cool was the fact that area schools in LA had had their Easter vacation the week before. When you go into Space Mountain 7 times in a row, your eyes become acclimated to the lighting. There were 2 more trips to Los Angeles with students.... and then in 1988-being a Beatle fan, flying to the UK in the summer was my next "accomplishment".              

The years from 1989 until 1997 were somewhat consumed with being a caregiver of sorts to my mom, who had moved to the area in 1975-after my Dad had passed away in 1974. She worked in this area-for the county, she retired in 1986, but she developed a lot of illnesses-with a touch of Alzheimer's near the end. A lot of time was spent with her being hospitalized-and juggling my teaching job. She passed away in 1997.

On my own, in 1998, I did the summer of 4 T's. It was a way for me to relax my mind somewhat-and also catch up with people who had left this area. So, I ended up traveling to Arlington , TX , Knoxville , TN , Toronto , Canada and Tucson , AZ. I took 18 airplanes that summer. In the summer of ‘99, I flew to Arlington again and after staying there a few days, took the student whose family I had visited in ‘98 to Valencia , CA . We stayed right across from Six Flags at Magic Mountain , which readers would recognize as Wally World, or they'd recognize the roller coaster from the beginning of Step-by-Step, which has water drawn in, to make it look more attractive. If the show ever returns, notice that the water looks unstable (shaky) in the intro to the show. It's placed over a parking lot, which wouldn't look as attractive.

I retired from teaching in 2002. A friend from Hicksville , Frank DiMaio, who had lived around the corner from me found my website on line and contacted me. He and his wife lived in Beaufort , NC . That fall, at first I took a week's retirement vacation on St. Thomas . Then I traveled to Beaufort , NC . It seemed nice. Going out on Frank's boat seemed nice. When I returned, I thought about spending the winter in Binghamton-not working-with snow all around, along with uncomfortable temperatures. I made and impulsive decision to move to NC. I moved there in January of 2003, and I lived there until February of 2008. After 2 years, the novelty had worn off. Where I lived was considered part of the "Crystal Coast" of North Carolina, rents were high, the beaches were nice; they taxed my NY pension. The closest mall was 45 miles away in Jacksonville, where Camp Lejeune is. That was also the closest theater with stadium seating. Eventually, I realized I belonged back here in Binghamton. If it's cold out - stay home. I live in a nice apartment complex with a pool. The rent is substantially less. I don't have to get the whole baseball package to get the YES channel. And the majority of my friends live in this area. I still keep in touch with David Berger, Charlie Brooks, Elaine Villazon and most recently, Francine Phon. I turn 62 in May, meaning I start collecting Social Security in June. I bought 2009 dark metallic blue Cobalt that looks sporty. It actually looks almost as good as my 1994 black Camaro. It's much more relaxing for me here. The South may work out for some people. It depends what you're looking for.

Considering this is beginning of my second year back, and I'm all settled down, I'm looking at this as starting my retirement over. I keep in touch with former students, on Facebook mainly. I'll most likely be at the reunion in 2010. That would be the first one I've attended.

Thanks for reading this...somewhat verbose synopsis of how I spent the last 43 1/2 years. I left out racing my Dad's 67 GTO (Burgundy) in 1966 and 67. I've left out a lot of friends' names, who I miss, but by listing them, I'll leave a bunch out and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. 

Philip McCrea