SuperDee's House

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sal Scala

Sal Scala died today. Sal was my dad's best friend. They taught together at Elmont High School in Queens, NY for about 35 years - Sal was the band director, my dad was the orchestra director. They shared a small office and grappled with the annoyances of teaching music to rough kids who didn't necessarily care at all. But, they had music, in general, and each other to fuel them along for so many years.

About 6 months ago, they found a brain tumor in Sal's head and announced that the end was near.

Sal helped my father when he was dealing with a difficult divorce at a young age. My mother had to pass Sal's inspection before my dad could propose to her. As they continued down the path of life, Sal and his wife Eileen and my mom and dad were very close friends. Sal and his band played my Bat Mitzvah party. Sal and Eileen drove up to NY from Florida on a motorcycle for my sister's wedding. He really was just the coolest guy. Eileen took one look at the grand piano in the center of the cocktail hour room and took over. I've heard through the grapevine of my family that my parents *gasp* smoked some green with them on one occasion!

I am thankful that a couple of years ago, when I was in Florida for Phish/Miami NYE, I got to have lunch with Sal and he could see where I am as an adult (sort of) and be proud. I had the opportunity to spend some time with someone that I always just thought was so damn cool. We talked about yachts (he sold them), music (was I still playing? was he?), the olden days...

I always loved to observe the relationship between my father and Sal. My dad is not one of those people that has tons of acquaintances that he keeps on - but just a few very close friends. Sal was a very very very special man that was very dear to my dad's heart. It makes me sad to think that my dad's close friends are starting to fade away. I am glad that they had a chance to say goodbye but my heart aches at the thought of the gaping hole that is left now that he is gone. Perhaps we can fill it by recounting the memories and being thankful that he was a great part of our lives at all.

6 Comments:

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2:42 PM  
Blogger Francisco said...

Sal was my music teacher in 7th grade. This was way back in 1987ish. He taught me the foundations of what I know today. I was in my living room yesterday listening to music to play later on, and my feet began to tap. It reminded me of Mr. Scala because he would always yell, TAP YOUR FEET! so we could stay in rythm.

He was cool. I told him at the end of the school year that I wanted to switch from the trombone to the drums and he said, listen if I see you next year on those drums youre going to get it from me!. He knew I had potential with that trombone and that he ment, he did say it in a nice way.

I am sad to know that he has past away, especially four years ago, because I tought that maybe I could have payed in a visit somewhere. I left the legacy of music in me and he was an A+ teacher. After more than 22 years he is the only teacher that I can remember by last and first name. Again, so sad to not have met him to say thanks. How old was he when he died? Any pictures?

Blessings,
Francisco

5:28 PM  
Blogger John said...

Hello,
Several years after this post, but just found it when looking up Mr. Scala.

I attended Elmont 1976 - 79 and loved regular and Stage Band with Mr. Gillman and Mr. Scala - it was the best part of the day.

I remember Mr. Scala giving a few of us extra tutoring (trumpet) and spending weeks re-scoring a Chicago song for the Stage Band after I suggested it might be a good one for us.

I also remember Mr. Gillman's working with and directing the full band - so much energy and really expected we could meet his expectations. (We didn't always do so, but surely gave it a shot!)

Good times.

9:59 AM  
Blogger J C said...

Just looked up Sal's name and found this.Sorry to hear of his passing..I used to cut class, smoke pot and hang out in the music dept. at Elmont Mem. all day. I never graduated and have been a professional musician all my life. I've played on countless records, have toured or played with dozens of very well know artists/TV shows movies etc. Made an outrageous amount of money. Lived the high life in Manhattan with a penthouse/beach house etc. and am now living in Hawaii...Who says crime doesn't pay? These guys ( Sal and Floyd) were an early inspiration for me..I was glad that while I was a touring musician, I got to see Sal in Florida and show him that I actually made something of myself in the music biz. We all thought he was so "hip" in high school. I think they both knew that telling me to "hit the books" was pointless and just let me do my thing.... thanks Sal Scala and Floyd GIllman...
Joe Caro

1:39 PM  
Blogger Dan Robinson said...

Agreed - Mr. Scala was great --- he and Mr. Gilman helped me immensely- especially when this young man needed guidance, a kind ear and support. May he rest in peace

11:59 AM  
Blogger Dan Robinson said...

Cool story -they were the best most definitely.

12:02 PM  

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