Monday, June 19, 2017

Farewell to St. Anthony: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

JERSEY CITY, NJ -- It was billed as a FINAL get-together.

The students, alumni, faculty past and present, and friends would gather. The last class received their diplomas. The grades were in the books. All that was left was to say goodbye one last time.
This past mid-June Wednesday evening, they gathered one last time at St. Anthony High School. The mood was anything but somber. The feeling was decidedly celebratory for those meeting at the venerable institution in Jersey City. Entering the school you passed alumni gathered outside to enjoy a warm night, not twentysomethings, but those a few (to be kind) years older enjoying the chance to reminisce.
The entire school was open, and visitors could move about through the halls visiting the classrooms. Inside, the activity gravitated toward the auditorium. There was a buffet, but the tables receiving most attention were the ones with basketball trophies and memorabilia.
Coach Bob Hurley talked informally with visitors about where each trophy was headed. Former assistants and players gathered with fellow alums to recall their memories behind the hardware.  The awards were not limited to the outstanding boys’ program. The girls have had their success, and their plaudits were recognized as well. Cathy Meyers O’Callahan started here before Montclair State. She came back to coach St. Anthony for years, and presently the head coach at Dickinson, she enjoyed catching up with her former players. In the classrooms, small groups would gather and chat. Some even signed their names with their year of graduation on the blackboard. During the course of a school year, students and teachers alike occasionally welcome an early dismissal. Not on this night.
The event was scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. There was not a doubt it would last longer. All attending did not want to see the evening end. They all wanted to hold on to something they considered a valuable part of not just their schooling, but their lives as well.  
Well after 9 p.m., there was a final call that the building would soon close for the night. In the cafeteria, alums from the late 1960s and early 1970s shared beverages from a cooler as well as Friar stories from the old ‘Horseshoe Conference’ days.  
Basketball was a prime topic. Not the only one. Memories of classes, funny or not so funny at the time, incidents, and general catching up with one another was the order. In the auditorium, Coach Hurley posed for pictures and accepted thank-yous from so many gathered on this night. The words of gratitude from so many centered in part for his outstanding contributions on the Friar sideline. Of greater importance was grateful acknowledgement for the years of devotion Hurley gave the school.

Wins and titles are finite. Hurley’s commitment to St. Anthony was infinite.

Ray next to the statue of St. Anthony, which greeted all those who entered:
Hall of Fame head coach Bob Hurley, shown here with fellow Friar legend Jerry Walker:
With classes and final exams having been concluded, textbooks were collected one last time:
Coach Hurley alongside former St. Anthony girls' standout Mariah Tarawally:
A successful program on both sides, here is one of the Friars' girls' basketball championship trophies:
Coach Hurley with Donald Copeland, his former point guard who is now an assistant at Wagner College:
Former Villanova guard Dominic Cheek with assistant coach Ed Malloy:
More Friar hardware on display in the principal's office:
Friar alumni of past and present:
A prophetic senior prom notice:
A final memento left on one of the classroom blackboards:
Perusing the memorabilia:
The banner says it all:
In the cafeteria, alumni of the 1960s and 1970s held court:
The end of an era:

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