Yeah, I’m rough, I’m tough, I’m mean. I belonged to a gang! I’m a “gangsta.” Better run and hide when you see me. Better lock your doors when I come strutting down the street. Beware, because one of the members of the T-4 Gang is here!
Ah, if you’ve been reading my blog you know this is all a lie. Well, the rough, tough, and mean part is a lie but not the T-4 Gang part. I’m proud to say that back in 1970 I was one of the founding members of the T-4 Gang. I think this gang lasted for just the two years I was in Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY. When the members of the Gang graduated and went their separate ways the T-4 Gang was gone.
Back in 1970 New York City started something called “Open Enrollment.” What that meant was that anyone who graduated high school in 1970 would be guaranteed a spot in a college. Maybe not the college of their choice but they would go to college if they chose to. “Open Enrollment” lasted just that one year.
Needless to say practically every high school graduate decided to attend college. I went to Kingsborough Community College (KCC). It’s located in Brooklyn in an area known as Manhattan Beach. Where I despised high school in KCC I learned to love education.
Kingsborough was an army base before it became a college. With open enrollment the number of students went from about 2,000 to about 5,000. The college couldn’t house all of us so they rented a floor or two of a nearby Synagogue. On the main campus, instead of regular buildings the school put up temporary buildings. I think temporary meant that the first major hurricane could bring the buildings down. That never happened.
There were five temporary buildings: Temporary Building 1, also known as T-1; Temporary Building 2, also known as T-2; and on it went. Guess where my gang hung out. You’re all so brilliant – yes, Temporary Building 4, T-4. The T-4 Gang was formed.
The T-4 Gang wasn’t part of the popular crowd, they hung on at T-2; we were more like, well, the outcasts. We didn’t know anyone at college, didn’t have any friends in college, most of us probably got into Kingsborough because of “Open Enrollment” but we found each other and became fast friends for two solid years, including summers.
Yep, we’d all sign up for a summer class just so we can gain entrance to the college so we could hang out all summer at a great campus with a beach right there, and pizza parties every Friday.
The gang members along with me were Marlene S., Sandy T., Obnoxious Richie, Sharon’s Richie (yes we were an item), Mark S., Glenn S., Marlene N. (she and Obnoxious Richie were an item), Linda someone or other (I forget), Elaine T. (her family owned the Kosher butcher store in Brighton Beach), Jackie K. and her boyfriend Norman something or other, and a few others whose names I forgot. Look, we’re talking 1970, I can’t remember everything but I do remember some things.
The T-4 Gang were nuts and we had a reputation. Psychology students would come into the T-4 Lounge to watch us so they could write papers on what we were doing.
Mark S. and I wrote on the college newspaper and since Mark and I were there a few times a week the rest of the T-4 Gang joined the newspaper in some form or another. The T-4 Gang stuck together.
Sandy T. was a very religious Jew. She wouldn’t eat or drink anything but water because no one was sure how Kosher the food was at KCC. Sandy was so religious that when she came to my house she only had water and my home was Kosher. I was brought up an Orthodox Jew but Sandy decided to play it safe and just have water at my house because she wasn’t sure how Orthodox I was.
But I need to talk about Glenn S. Everyone loved Glenn. The girls wanted to date him and the boys wanted to be him. Even students outside the T-4 Gang wanted to be in his circle but Glenn was loyal, only T-4 Gang member allowed as his close personal friend. But Mark S. was his closest friend.
Glenn had an incredible sense of humor. He always made us laugh with his sarcasm. He wasn’t mean just a little sarcastic. He was very funny. Glenn also almost started minor race wars a time or two in the T-4 Lounge. Racially, things were very turbulent back in 1970 – 1972 and everyone of all races kind of had to watch what they said in front of others.
But Glenn had a quiet side that not many of us saw. I know Mark S. saw that side and from what I could tell I was the only girl he showed this side to.
Once Glenn and I were talking and he told me he wanted to be a Monk and run off and live in a cave. I was surprised to hear this because Glenn didn’t seem to be the cave dweller type.
After two close years we all graduated Kingsborough and went our different ways. Sandy T. opened a bridal shop, Linda, Marlene, and I went on to Brooklyn College. I was there for a BA in English, Linda and Marlene were there for a husband. The three of us got what we wanted.
Mark S. went off to somewhere or other. A few years after I graduated college I ran into Mark S. who told me that Glenn S. became a Priest. Even though Glenn did tell me that he wanted to be a Monk I was surprised that he actually did go into the Priesthood. He didn’t live in a cave though.
Last year I Googled Father Glenn S. There are even a few YouTube videos of him preaching to his congregations. The thing is, I don’t know if this Father Glenn S. is the one I went to KCC with.
I looked at the video’s and I couldn’t quite recognize him. But then, 40 years changes people. I even closed my eyes and listened to his voice. I still couldn’t figure out if it was him or not. I suspect it might be Glenn though because of his sermons. They were interesting and he spoke and held the interest of his congregation. The Glenn I knew would be the same way. Also, Father Glenn is in Upstate, NY and according to Google, he’s from Brooklyn. I’m almost positive it’s him.
As for the other members of the T-4 Gang, I have no idea where they are. Marilyn and Maureen are either happily married, miserably married, or divorced. Sandy T. still has her bridal shop. Elaine T’s parents sold the Kosher Butcher shop and for all I know Elaine is still living on Kings Highway in Brooklyn. My Richie and Obnoxious Richie are long gone but I have a feeling that Mark S. and I are friends on Facebook. I should check to find out if it’s the same person.
I miss my T-4 days at Kingsborough Community College. I came out of my shell and I was accepted and actually liked by the others. My two years at Brooklyn College were boring compared to my two years at KCC. Brooklyn College was a lot harder than Kingsborough but I got my BA degree and I guess that’s what counts.
But I often think of Father Glenn. Is that him in Upstate NY giving sermons? Maybe Mark S. knows. But if someone ever meets Father Glenn tell him Sharon from KCC says “hey.”
To see more of my childhood memories go to S.A.K. Remembers on my blog.