A Note from Jon "Birdie" Ames

Well, well, well!!!  Not sure why I was drawn to Google “ Cherry Lawn School ” the other day but when I did……I’m sure I had the same feelings many of you did.  All of a sudden memories started flooding back of my two years at CLS ’67-’69. 

 I discovered a few things.  First thing I discovered was that I was missing.  Who knew?  I have taken care of that misfortune with an email to Mike Manners.  So now consider me ‘found’!  If I had known of my state of limbo I would have rectified it a long time ago.  Sorry.

 I was afraid that nobody would remember “Birdie” until I was looking at the posted messages and discovered that Laura Schoen actually mentioned my name a while back in one of her posts that also hinted at my disappearance.  Thanks, Laura.  At least I know one person remembers me.

 I also started remembering things about that period.  So many things began flowing through my head that I don’t know where to start.

 What do I remember?

 I remember not wanting to be there when I first arrived.  But then I was made to feel very welcome by all of you.  I never felt like I fit in in Public School and didn’t feel it would be any different at CLS.  I was wrong.

 I remember having to wear a tie to dinner and I still can’t stand wearing one now even though I have to every day.

 I remember sitting in morning meetings and other times out on the benches and whistling bird calls that, because of the acoustics, sounded like they could have been real birds.  Could that be why people started calling me ‘Birdie’?  Maybe…..

 I remember having the munchies so bad one night and all that was left in Eugene Haberman’s care package was a can of asparagus spears and a tin of Vienna sausages.  We started to eat them but couldn’t finish; they were so bad.  To this day I still can’t stand the idea of asparagus on my plate.  Eugene didn’t know we took them but I probably owe him a buck or two plus interest for the canned goods violation. 

 I remember playing a baseball game on the athletic field when I hit a ball into the tree in deep center field; across the driveway coming in from Brookside Road .  Several people said the ball was still climbing when it hit the tree.  Wow!  You probably don’t care about that but I think it was pretty cool.

 I remember the night of the fire(s) in Stein House.  I remember running the gamut of emotions that night watching from the safety of Boy’s House.  I remember being afraid for those in the building and when the fire was supposedly put out and everyone was okay, it mysteriously started again.  Now I was really scared.  What the hell was going on here?  I remember that all of a sudden the commons was filled with people who didn’t know what to do or where to go.

 I also remember the people from the neighborhood standing across Brookside Road who didn’t seem to be too upset at the situation.  I could swear I heard some of them cheering on the flames.

 I remember a day or so later being volunteered by Mr. Cosby to go with him and four others (I can not remember who the others were) in a flat bed truck to some camp in upstate New York to pick up a load of bunk beds and mattresses that would be used to set up a makeshift dorm in the commons for the displaced boys from Stein House.  Two guys sat up front with Mr. Cosby and three of us sat in the back of the truck. To call this trip wild and woolly is an understatement.  It started off simply enough but when we ended up driving on a runway at  Danbury airport it should have been a clue.  We eventually got to this camp (in Brewster , NY , maybe?) and began stacking the mattresses on the flat bed truck until they had to be at least 12-14 ft high.    Only problem now was where were those of us who couldn’t fit in the cab going to sit?  The answer was laying down on top of the mattresses.  That’s right! Three of us on top of the mattresses 14 feet above the roadway.  Not strapped down in any fashion; just clearing overpasses by what seemed like inches.  Holy mackerel!!!  Around curves the guy on the inside would have to lean over and grab the guy on the outside by the back of the jacket and hold or he’d have flown off the truck.  AND THIS WAS WINTER!  Have no idea how one of us didn’t get killed.

 We used to play stickball on the side of Boy’s House and try to hit the ball over the little house that was down the little hill there.  Susan Dube seemed to be the head cheerleader.

 I remember being one of the first guys suspended for refusing to get a haircut.  What a rebel.  I needed a vacation anyway.  

And I’m still waiting for Dave Pearl and Hope Americo to pick me up in a borrowed (stolen?) motor home to go to Woodstock .  Pearl ’s comment?  “We didn’t think you wanted to go!”  Oh, brother!  Anyway, I heard it rained the whole time.  I probably didn’t miss anything.

 I’m sure I could go on, but I’ll move along.  I went back to Long Island and graduated from Commack South in 1970.  Then off to Franklin Pierce College in Rindge , NH for some more educational fun.  I lived in Boston after that from 1976-1981 when I married Cynthia and moved to Los Angeles where I still am. 

 It was unintentional but I ended up pursuing an acting career which then also led to some 15 years working free-lance in film and TV production as an assistant director and casting director.  Along the way I spent 5 seasons as a stand-in and glorified extra on the 1980’s TV series “Moonlighting” with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd.  By glorified extra I mean that basically I was featured as part of the on-camera office staff but they let me talk once in awhile which was a lot of fun.  If you follow this link:




you can read an interview that I did for a “Moonlighting” website a couple of years ago.  It has some stills from the show and also a more recent pic of me.  Be nice, I’m not as young and cute as I used to be. 

 As I was getting older it was becoming harder and harder to find work in show biz and I was forced to finally accept that it was a youth oriented business and since I was no longer considered such I decided to try and get a ‘real’ job with paid vacations and benefits and such, so for the last year and a half I’ve been working in the operations department of a Merrill Lynch brokerage office in L.A. It’s a job but it’s nice to be getting a regular paycheck.   I could probably stand it for 10 years or so.

 So here I am almost 54 years old (Yikes! Remember when that seemed so old?)  and I find my mind wandering back to a time that was really pretty special.  A time when the past 35 years was still ahead of us.  It is certainly within the realm of possibility for me to attend a reunion next year (2006).  As I said I now have paid vacations.  Wow! What a concept !

 Anyone who wants to email feel free.  My home email is mrnoodles@earthlink.net


 Jon “Birdie” Ames


Submitted 12 - December -2005