The Yachi Hughi Fraternity
A letter to Bellmore Life:
STILL ALIVE AND KICKING
The Yachi Hughi Fraternity, founded on September 21, 1938 at Wellington C. Mepham High School, had its 60th Reunion during the Mepham-Calhoun football game on October 17 .
Of the original 12 members, 11 are still alive and kicking. Henry Mayer was killed during World War II. Only one member, John Lackos, still lives on Long Island, in Seaford. Other frat brothers live in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, and California.
Seven of the group were members of the Mepham band, under the legendary George Pritchard. Mr. Pritchard introduced Glenn Miller to several of the Yachi at the Glen Island Casino, along with other musicians who played for the school dances in the Jolly Rogers dance orchestra. Another brother, Jack Nuding not only played played trombone along with Henry Mayer, Harry Betzig, and Dick McCallum, but also became an intimidating fullback for the Mepham football team. He was good enough to earn a football scholarship to the University of Michigan.
The Yachi Hughi produced three engineers, two professors of English, both PhDs and two colonels. One member, Russell Smith, is a champion skier, senior grade.
The fraternity's founding was inspired by the new high school building in North Bellmore and a young energetic faculty who were responsible for Mepham's obtaining the third highest New York State Regents average.
The fraternity was benefited by being given their own building. Vince Savona's father made a concrete block chicken coop available. It was used both for meetings and weekly parties. Members generally dated girls from a sorority in Freeport High School.
Members attended the Saturday football game, met-to-eat, and visited establishments in New York City featuring live, swing music.
The group was available for autographs after the game, free of charge.
From the October 1994 newsletter of the Classes of 39/40/41, Fran Kotlarz Walton '39, Editor:
(Ed. Note:) I tried to get some input from other Yachi Hughi's, but response was minimal. One question I had "Does anybody know the whereabouts of Harry Kiefer?" Also, "How did the name Yachi Hughi come about and do the words have any special meaning?" Still no word about Harry Kiefer. Re Origin of Yachi Hughi--READ ON!!!!
RUSSELL SMITH: Harry Kiefer was taking French Horn lessons --- and had recently read a book on South Africa. Yachi Hughi (spelling is obviously subject to interpretation) was a term he had read in a novel concerning African tribes which meant (there is no other verification than Harry's) GOOD FRIEND. This seemed a suitable enough start for a tribal handclasp and so it was. And so we were GOOD FRIENDS, one and all!
JACK NUDING: I remember the Jolly Rogers trip to the Glen Island Casino. I cut the bottom of the menu off after I had gotten Glenn Miller's autograph .... About Harry Kiefer--he would be in hog heaven today. When we were playing, the guitar was part of the rhythm section in the back row. Nowadays its front and center.
Several of us from the Jolly Rogers formed a smaller band to play for hire in the area. One night, playing the North Merrick Firehouse, a mousy little guy came up to the bandstand and asked if we were members of Petrillo's musicians union. When he found out we weren't, he threatened to break up our instruments. Before we could throw him out a couple of the firemen did it for us.