Rye Lifer is a MyRye.com series that introduces you to people that have spent their lives in Rye – people who have grown up in Rye, worked in Rye, come back to raise their family in Rye. Do you know someone we should profile for Rye Lifers? Tell us.
Today meet Dino Garr. Garr is the head coach of the Rye High School Varsity Football team. He will be coaching “The Game” on Saturday, September 2nd at 1:30pm – the 96th meeting between Rye and Harrison football.
MyRye.com: Why are you a Rye “Lifer”?
Garr: My Aunt, Josephine Garr, bought the white stucco house at 15 Wainwright Street in 1935 during the Great Depression. She lived there until she passed away in 1979. In 1951, at the age of three, I was sent to Rye from my birthplace in Mondaino, Italy to live with her. My aunt, who was my father’s sister, adopted me after my mother passed away. Rye became my home for the next 72 years.
I worked for 42 years as a middle school/high school social studies teacher/coach from 1972 until my retirement from teaching in 2012. I have continued being the head coach of the Rye Garnets Varsity Football team.
Tell us about the street in Rye you grew-up on.
Garr: My neighborhood was the beach area of Wainwright, Beck, Horton, Rosemere, Orchid, Brown, and Ward’s Park off of Forest Avenue. Some of the neighbors were the Potters, Jordans, Hymans, Yusis, Gedneys, Balls, O’Dells, Morans and Badalotos. The homes were mostly bungalow cottages, summer dwellings, many of which have been remodeled and expanded. One of my neighbors across the street was the owner of Gus’s games in Playland. Gus gave me my first job at the age of 14 working at the games.
My childhood activities included playing stickball, touch football and baseball on Beck Avenue, which was the widest street in my neighborhood. Every Summer, I spent my days at either Rye Beach and/or Playland. During that time, people would travel by ferry boat to Playland Pier and spend the day enjoying the amusement park and beach.
Child entrepreneur that I was, I became quite successful at mooching unused tickets from visiting patrons upon their return to the ferry. This gave me endless joy of experiencing all the rides and enjoying all the delicious foods, especially funnel cakes, vanilla soft serve custard and candied apples on a stick—my favorites! (I hear there are plans to reestablish the ferry service. I’m very happy to see this as it brings fond memories of my childhood.)
My best childhood friends were Carl Marasca from Palisade Road (Milton Road), Victor Muzzillo from Fairlawn Street/Milton Point, and Jimmy Noble from Meadow Place/Indian Village. We all attended Resurrection Elementary School together from grades 1-8, Class of 1962.
What made Rye so special for me was that you could ride your bike everywhere and be everywhere with your friends — beach, Playland, town park/duck pond, nature center, high school fields and stadium. Halloween was an especially fun time as there were endless neighborhoods with sidewalks and you would get tons of wonderful goodies. One of my neighbors, the owner of Gus’s, gave away shiny new quarters every year to the trick-or-treaters.
Where in Rye do you live now?
Garr: My wife Cathy and I currently live on Dale Street, off of Sand Street and Milton Road, which is within walking distance to work (RHS), the beach, town park, and downtown Rye—pretty much everything we still enjoy. One of the things that attracted me to our home is that the architectural style reminds me of my family house in the little mountain village of Mondaino, in Northern Italy where most of my family still lives.
Who was your favorite teacher at Rye High School and what year did you graduate?
Garr: Two of my favorite teachers at RHS were Joe Donnelly, my social studies teacher, and George Maier, my lifelong mentor and high school and college football coach. Both sparked a love for social studies and coaching that impacted my career and life. I graduated from RHS in 1966.
What in your view are the two or three greatest Rye traditions—current or past?
- When it comes to the great traditions in Rye, I must admit I am biased. Number one for me is the Rye-Harrison Rivalry Game (“The Game”), a tradition that started in the late 1920s. I have been fortunate to have been directly involved with this special Rye tradition as a spectator in my youth, a player and coach for over 60 years.
- Being part of the first Rye Boys Baseball League/Little League — and being selected to the All-Star team. I played for the “Wonder Bread Chiefs.”
- The Rye Men’s Softball League. Played from the age of 17-64 with a great bunch of guys. “Fives”-“Kelly’s”-“Shamrocks “
What about the great Rye institutions—community organizations, shops, restaurants. Which ones are or have been part of the Rye fabric?
- Woolworths 5-and-10 on Purchase Street soda fountain
- Rip’s Luncheonette (a popular hangout)
- Alfonso’s Pizzeria (always packed after school games)
- Prep and College Shop (where everyone bought their Levi jeans)
- Mark’s Saracino Shoe Store (Weejuns loafers)
- The Paddock/Mug ‘n Ale (now The Rye Grill & Bar) – a favorite watering hole and eatery
- Rye Canteen/Rec — The Casuals was our local band that played popular music of the time, mainly The Beatles.
- Beachcomber/Cove East — Oakland Pool area, where they had bands and dancing.
- Wally’s 5-Points — where I tended bar at the age of 18-19. Jerry McGuire, a Resurrection School classmate, bought Wally’s 5-Points and renamed it Kelly’s Sea Level after one of his daughters. A Rye favorite.
- Giaquinto’s Rye Beach Pharmacy & Luncheonette — ice cream sodas for me; medicine and nylon stocking for my Mother. The Pharmacy is now a top-rated pharmacy in Westchester.
- Larry’s Meat Market — favorite butcher
- Butler Brothers/Lenny’s Grocery (now Playland Market) where everyone in the neighborhood bought groceries. My mother often sent me there for a loaf of Italian bread.
- Pat Macri’s Barber Shop — where I went for my grooming, i.e., buzz cut.