Central High School of Philadelphia
DIRECTORY OF THE 226th CLASS OF
Harvey Abrams' Page
created January 5, 2013
updated June 6, 2015
updated July 9, 2015
updated September 16, 2015
updated March 23, 2017
updated April 4, 2017
Updated July 2, 2020
Updated November 29, 2020
Updated April 9, 2021
There are many ways you can do this -
write as little or as much as you want!
My VITA is available if you want to know all the things I have done in teaching, all the articles I have written, etc. But I am not looking for a job, lol. A small portion of my VITA is not available.
You should send YOUR vita and I can either include it within the text of your personal page or use it as a link. See Eddie Weber's page for another way of sending something.
I plan to upload all the photos in our Yearbook, so each of you will eventually have your own page with at least your class photo! I would love to have a recent photo so it can be compared to 1971. Please feel free to send me other images - your family, your kids, the title page of your latest book you may have written. I have unlimited size on my website, so send as much as you want.
Add information about other guys in the class, too. Send a story about an old friend -- I especially need your help writing about deceased classmates. If you have obituary notices, details of their lives, photos - please do share. As the self-designated class historian - feel free to send anything, including material NOT for the website or publication - it will go into a special Abrams family archive "record group" devoted to Central High School (and therefore a permanent addition to our family archives).
ALSO send anything about other classmates for whom you have details.
The revised edition, 2020-2021
The original version, slightly different, is down below.
I was born in March 1950 in South Philadelphia. My parents were Max & Miriam, my sister was Sheila (1945-2020, Girl's HS). I thought for many years that I was the youngest in the class. HOWEVER I learned in 2014 that there were at least three or four other guys who were born after me, including one guy whose birthday is one day later. I had gone to F.S. Edmonds elementary school and then Morris E. Leeds Junior High School in West Oak Lane before attending Central. That meant I had to take the "S" bus to school every day until my parents allowed me to drive their 1962 Comet to school my senior year. I used to pick up Barry Denenberg and we went to school together.
I graduated in 1967 but did not attend graduation with you guys because I started Penn State before the ceremony was held. I really haven't seen 481 of you until the 40th Reunion in 2007. Mike Valoris is the only classmate that I have seen in all these years on a fairly frequent basis - our parents were pretty close. In no way to offend any of you - I did not attend any of the reunions because I did not join the Alumni association to keep in touch. After college my main concern was making the US Olympic team wrestling. So I lived and worked where it was best for me to train.
Life has been an adventure for me -- on the whole it's been good. Certainly I have had more experiences than most people -- but I am still here to tell about it. I have had several "close calls" and recovered each time. The big one was in West Berlin and I thank the US Army doctors for bringing me back, so since 1986 I am living on what I call "bonus time." Hence my motto -- "carpe diem." And this was my motto long before Dead Poets Society.
I was a rather frustrated little guy in high school. I felt somewhat overwhelmed by having so many bright people and great athletes surrounding me. I always got cut the first day of baseball practice, (thank you Mr. Coleman), was too small for football and nobody ever grabbed me and said "you are going to be a gymnast -- now get to practice." I do remember one time when Eddie Weber grabbed me at the YMHA on South Broad Street and took me through a swimming practice. I loved swimming and I was a good swimmer. But after we were done he invited me to come to team practice. I said "no!" I didn't think that all that hard work was much fun at all. I was simply too young, I guess. Ed does not remember this story, either.
My fulfillment came in college -- and later -- so I guess I was one of those "late bloomers." My obsession with sports consumed my career. I started Penn State in Architecture so I could be the next Frank Lloyd Wright. I was going to design great houses and great stadiums. I remember sitting in Monsieur Boni's French class scribbling drawings (which got me into trouble) but I was designing a great sports stadium years ahead of it's time. My idea was to put a roof on the Roman Colosseum and create a baseball stadium for the Phillies and I was shattered when I learned they were building something like my design -- the Houston Astrodome. That was MY idea! Bummer.
But I dropped architecture and became a Physical Education teacher instead. I did not want to sit behind a desk the rest of my life. Still too small to play football I became a manager for Penn State football for two seasons. And yes - I got to know Joe Paterno very well. But I left the football program and went to wrestling the same year Jerry Sandusky came to PSU, so I never knew him. I hated cleaning muddy footballs but I got to see first hand how great coaches work with athletes -- and I was standing next to Mike Reid when a photographer took his picture just seconds before we won the Orange Bowl in Miami in 1968. This photo was on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED magazine but I was cut out, lol. I was also a manager for the PSU gymnastics team and the coach did try to teach me gymnastics! But I had a hell of a time getting over the vault. The floor exercise was my best event, but not good enough to make the team. I studied some martial arts including Karate and Judo. I was vice-president of the college student council and succeeded in getting a separate class of anatomy for PE majors because the pre-med students killed the curve and we were always flunking.
He was not wrestling that night -- but he dragged me to Rec Hall to watch the meet. It was the night I found a sport for little guys like me. And suddenly - voila Monsieur Boni - I became a wrestler. Actually, there is are stories behind this too, but you have to read my autobiography to get the rest - too many stories to put here.
For the next 16 years I trained and set my goal on the Olympic Games. I tried out for the US Olympic freestyle team four times -- 1972 Munich, 1976 Montreal, 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles. I took a 2nd place in 1972 and 4th in 1976 at the Olympic trials, went to Munich and Montreal to watch - and I have many more stories about these experiences.
Harvey at the 1976 Olympic Wrestling Trials, Binghampton, NY.
4th place finish
The 1970's - European tour & Munich 1972 - Master's & Ph.D
In 1972 I was at the Olympic Games in Munich with my roommate/teammate but we started with a six week trek through Italy, Austria, Germany, Holland, Belgium, England, France, Spain and Switzerland. This was the typical college-kid backpack, sleeping bag, Eurailpass trip with a $5 per day budget. Heck, the airfare was $202 round-trip! My first taste of Europe and I fell in love with everything except the flies in Spain. At my first bull-fight we learned NOT to root for the bulls because several hundred people suddenly turned with dagger-eyes to kill us. We left quickly. In London we were wined and dined by a professional boxer who wanted us to introduce him to Mohammed Ali but we were so drunk the next day we forgot where to meet him and never saw him again. At Munich we climbed over the fences at the Olympic Village like lots of other athletes, got caught and got kicked out. It was a blast but we had to leave early.
Flying back to the USA from Munich I went to Southeast Missouri State University for an MAT in Physical Education while also coaching wrestling. I drove from Philly to Cape Girardeau, Missouri in 23 hours, arriving just 30 minutes before I had to teach my first class. The department chairman was furious with me. During the drive all hell broke loose in Munich. By dinner time the Israeli Olympians were dead. The Olympic Games have not been the same since. This affected me personally as I began to specialize in martial arts and a possible military career.
As part of the MAT program I studied Comparative Physical Education in Canada, Sweden, Finland and Germany in the summer of 1973, then left SEMO for work in the Philly area. I started the Philadelphia Amateur Wrestling Club in late 1973 as a non-profit corporation and tried to promote wrestling in Southeast Pennsylvania. The club grew fast with over 300 members but in 1977 I had to make a decision. Pennsylvania started to require school districts to only call certified teachers in the subject area in which they were substituting. Neshaminy called me every day for everything -math, science, shop classes and the Phys Ed teachers were never absent. But suddenly they said they had to stop calling me in all those subject areas - too many unemployed teachers in Pennsylvania needed work. So I looked at two options - Law School or Ph.D. Because Mike Valoris was in law school - I spoke with him. He talked me out of law school because all the graduating lawyers were working as taxi drivers - there was no work. If you recall this era - there were also toilet paper shortages and gasoline skyrocketed from 19 cents a gallon upwards. I swore I would get rid of my car at 50 cents a gallon. I then went back to Penn State to study History of Sport for a Ph.D.
My teenage interest in history focused on World War II, the Holocaust, family genealogy. But with my new sport of wrestling I studied the history of my sport - wrestling - then ancient history, then expanded to all sport history and finally focused on the Olympic Games. Many more stories and I started a small book business (1979) with a specialty on sport and the Olympic Games. As I started to build my Olympic collection and book business inventory it grew to include 17 languages and I fell in love with all of them - except Finnish. Wow - that is hard!!
I started my Ph.D. program in 1977 at Penn State and left in 1982 for West Berlin, Germany, taking with me my unfinished dissertation on the 1904 Olympic Games. I was off to West Berlin for a teaching position in a German school. My adviser was very angry that the dissertation was not finished -- but I needed money of course -- I needed a real job. My Jewish family was furious. Nice Jewish boys do not pack up and move from Pennsylvania to Germany. But I did -- and I liked it. My two year contract was renewed for three more years. I lived there from 1982-1987 and if you think the wall came down because of Ronald Reagan -- well, you need to read my autobiography when it's in print - I hope I had something to do with it - after all, I was not just a teacher.
I found the love of my life at the age of 34 and got married in West Berlin. We honeymooned in London, one of my favorite places in the world, and we moved back to the USA. We had two great kids, the joy of my life -- then we got divorced. We shared custody and the boys are adults today - I am incredibly proud of them but remain guarded due to some of my previous government work. In 2012, after two decades, I allowed my image to be published -- that is me below!
Harvey Abrams, 2012
Few of us had a plan from "day one" that allowed our dreams to come true. Life is an adventure! My life has been an unplanned adventure and continues to be an adventure, sort of a Walter Mitty meets James Bond adventure. I do have an autobiography in the works that I am not eager to publish just yet, too many chapters are active. I am not eager to write any sequels, either. Bonus time is not endless.
Life is short guys. Looking back over fifty years I cannot believe all that has happened. We had Beatles's haircuts and Texas Instruments calculators that were forbidden in class. Today our little notebooks are more powerful than the computers on every space shuttle we ever launched. Our school was boys only. That changed in the 1980's. We watched Startrek and Captain Kirk in college and thought it was great imagination - while those cute little communicators became today's cell phones..."beam me up Scotty." We struggled through Vietnam and were called "baby killers" and today we have Iraq and Afghanistan and call our soldiers heroes. Can you remember the first time you used a microwave? My hamburger was disgusting and tasted like rubber. We have lived a lifetime and many of you guys have already retired. A few of us will probably keep chugging along like the Energizer bunny. I cannot retire - I have too many unfinished projects. I went off to Europe to coach a wrestling team in Prague, but I ended up living in Vienna instead. So if you read this, have a passport, contact me so we can meet in Prague, Vienna, Munich or Berlin - places I will be spending a lot of time. I maintain a nice supply of great beers, red wines and Sekt (Champagnes) so visit and join me for a meal. And, ust my opinion, French wine and champagnes are highly overrated. For me Italian wine, Czech beer and German Sekt are much better.
As I research the lives of classmates it makes great reading - many have made names for themselves and reached high marks in their professions. Even if we were not good friends in school, or friends over these past decades, share your life and story with the rest of us.
Everyone has a story -- we need to hear some of yours.
Share it with us -- share what you can, share what you want.
I promise not to print anything in public that you do not want on the page.
My best wishes to all of you,
(USA) tel: (814) 321-4018
(Austria) tel: ask for it via email)
This short version was originally on the front page of the CHS site and was relocated here on September 16, 2015.
If you do not remember me here is a short introduction.
(Above): Here is the first official portrait of me taken after living in the shadows for many years. Published in the summer of 2012 just prior to the Olympic Games in London.
(Below): Here is a photo of me as a kid in South Philly...
My photo from our Central High School yearbook in 1967 and my Penn State yearbook photo 1971.
You can send similar images for your personal page - send as many as you would like.
A rather frustrated little guy in high school -- I felt somewhat overwhelmed by having so many bright people and great athletes surrounding me. I always got cut the first day of baseball practice, (thank you Mr. Coleman), was too small for football and nobody ever grabbed me and said "you are going to be a gymnast -- now get to practice." I do remember one time when Eddie Weber grabbed me at the "Y" and took me through a swimming practice -- I loved swimming. But after we were done he asked me to come to team practice and I said "no" because I didn't think that all that hard work we just did was much fun at all -- I was simply too young, I guess.
My fulfillment came in college -- and later -- so I guess I was one of those "late bloomers." My obsession with sports consumed my career. I started Penn State in Architecture so I could be the next Frank Lloyd Wright. I was going to design great houses and great stadiums. But I became a Physical Education teacher instead. Still too small for football I became a manager for Penn State football for two seasons. Yes, I knew Joe Paterno very well, but I worked daily with the quarterbacks and Coach George Welsh. I hated cleaning muddy footballs but I got to see first hand how great coaches work with athletes -- and I was standing next to Mike Reid when Sports Illustrated took his picture just before we won the Orange Bowl in 1968. I was also a manager for the gymnastics team and would have been a gymnast myself if only the Phys Ed teachers at Central would have grabbed me and said "you're going to be a gymnast!" I would have stuttered "yes sir." But Penn State is where I became an athlete. I studied some martial arts. I was vice-president of the college student council and succeeded in getting a separate class of anatomy for PE majors because the pre-med students killed the curve and we were always flunking.
Then one day I saw a wrestling mat being set up in Rec Hall and asked a friend "where are the ropes?" Coming from Central and Philadelphia I had never seen wrestling. We didn't have wrestling in any Philadelphia schools. I thought it was the TV stuff -- and I hated it. But my friend, who was a fellow PE major, said to me "are all you kids from Philly that stupid?" I retaliated by stating how I could not believe college kids were stupid enough to do that TV stuff. He stopped, looked at me with dagger-eyes and said "I'm a wrestler." "Really?" I suddenly felt....stupid.
He was not wrestling that night -- but he dragged me to Rec Hall to watch the meet. It was the night I found a sport for little guys like me. And suddenly -- I became a wrestler. Actually, there is are stories behind this too, but you have to read my autobiography to get the rest.
For the next 16 years I trained and set my goal on the Olympic Games. I tried out for the US Olympic freestyle teams four times -- 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984. I took a 2nd place in 1972 and 4th in 1976 at the Olympic trials, went to Munich and Montreal -- many more stories about these experiences.
Then teaching, coaching wrestling, becoming an International referee -- more college degrees in Southeast Missouri and back at Penn State. Studying in Sweden, Finland, Germany. Traveling to the Olympic Games in Munich with a six week trek through Italy, Austria, Germany, Holland, Belgium, England, France, Spain and Switzerland. My teenage interest in history focused on World War II, the Holocaust, family genealogy. But with my new sport of wrestling I studied the history of my sport, then ancient history, then expanded to all sport history and finally focused on the Olympic Games. Many more stories and I started a small book business (1979) with a specialty on sport and the Olympic Games.
Ph.D at Penn State with a dissertation on the Olympic Games in my luggage -- and off to West Berlin for a teaching position in a German school. Advisor very angry that the dissertation was not finished -- but I needed money -- a real job. Family furious -- parents, sister. Nice Jewish boys do not pack up and move from Pennsylvania to Germany. But I did -- and I liked it. My two year contract was renewed for three more years. I lived there from 1982-1987 and if you think the wall came down because of Reagan -- well, you need to read my autobiography when it's in print. I was more than just a teacher.
Found the love of my life at the age of 34, got married in Berlin and moved back to the USA. Had two great kids, the joy of my life -- got divorced. We shared custody. So many stories follow -- I can't begin to tell here. But my life is more of a continuing adventure than any soap opera in existence. In September 2015 I am heading to Europe to coach a wrestling team in Prague. I will live in Prague and work in several places including Vienna and Berlin, so if you want to connect in Europe, contact me. The best beer in the world is in Prague.
So -- there's a bit about me. Very informal. No vita here -- maybe when I add yours -- I will add mine.
Life is short guys. Looking back over forty-seven years I cannot believe all that has happened. Everyone has a story -- we need to hear yours. Share it with us -- share what you can, share what you want.
PO Box 732
State College, PA, USA 16804
tel: (814) 321-4018 (cell phone)
email: Olympicbks@aol.com http://www.harveyabramsbooks.com
PO Box 26580
Philadelphia, PA 19141-6580
tel: (215) 927-9550 -- fax: (215) 276-5823