Brooklyn Technical High School was founded in 1922 to meet the needs of a science, engineering and math curriculum in the wake of the first world war. It moved to its present location (pictured above) in 1930. Brooklyn Tech was a highly selective school with a rigorous entrance exam.
Richard Fariña excelled on several levels at Brooklyn Tech. He
finished 14th in a class of 197 and had an impressive list of distinctions
under his yearbook portrait (shown at left). I shall attempt to explain what
some of these distinctions mean:
Electrical: Fariña's major. "This course is one of the most
popular that Tech offers. It is a unique
combination of theoretical and applied electrical science that ranges in scope
from the principles of basic circuitry to the intricacies of frequency modulation
equipment. This theoretical work is closely coordinated with projects in applied
electricity shops, where each student builds a soldering iron and an electronic
kit of his choice."
From the yearbook: "The very heartbeat of Techtown is the General Organization. Formed as a student council, the G.O. is made up of delegates chosen from the class presidents of the respective grades. The council governs and controls the extracurricular life of the Techtowner. President Dick Farina, and Vice-President Bob Greco direct the operation of the G.O. with the help of the Honorary President, Mr. Longo. Secretary Sylvester Vassalo and Social Coordinator Larry Tetenbaum implement the work of the Council."
From the school newspaper, The Survey: Candidates are "chosen on a basis of weighted average, record, appearance, English mark, and the specific ability exhibited in the time allotted them."
According to the yearbook, "Aristas membership constitutes the core of Techtown's intelligentsia." Members had to have an 82% weighted average, have a good after-school activity record, and character endorsements from teachers.
If you look closely, you will also find Fariña in this two-page cartoon spread from the yearbook:
Detail of the cartoon:
|The Survey was a four-page newspaper published every three weeks. Richard Fariña was on the staff, and became assistant features editor in the Fall of 1953. He also had a regular column called "Dick's Dilemmas." He apparently had free reign to write about whatever he desired. The few extant clippings I've had the privilege to read reveal quite a variety of subjects, including a review of an off-Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac directed by José Ferrer, an interview with Vanessa Brown (who was then starring in the Broadway production of The Seven Year Itch), a report of a trip he took to the British Isles in the summer of 1953, and several farcical pieces. These farces are narrated as real events but they're obviously fiction, such as his report of alien impersonators among the faculty, and an announcement that girls would soon be admitted to Brooklyn Tech (the school did not actually become co-educational until 1970, but the column humorously anticipates Fariña's participation in the 1958 Cornell demonstration against repressive co-ed policies). Although this glimpse into Richard's high school days reveals a more conventional Fariña than we might expect, the "Dick's Dilemmas" columns exhibit several qualities that abound in his later work--imagination, variety, and humor.|
Cyrano de Bergerac
Brooklyn Tech did have a literary magazine, Horizons, but Fariña seems not to have been involved with this publication, as he surely would have included it among the distinctions listed in his yearbook. His own column in The Survey apparently gave him the creative forum he needed. I have not found any issues of the Science Bulletin, to which Fariña also contributed.