Spring 1979:
Each morning
COs gave
candy to
Rikers Island
inmate buses

Holding a candy, one child boards the bus from Rikers while Correction Officer Manfred Hundertmark reaches in the bag for candy to give to the next youngster. Photo ran with April 1979 The Pen back-page story on DOC transporting children to classes during the 3-month school bus strike.

Headlined OPERATION KIDDIE LIFT, the story took all of the DOC newsletter's Page 8 (back page) and continued inside on Page 4. Text begins below:

The Department answered the Mayor’s call for help in transporting handicapped children to and from schools throughout the city during the school bus strike.

Inside the bus an officer helps a child board it as Correction Officer Manfred Hundertmark reaches in the bag for candy to give to the next youngster.
Warden Frank Colavito, Deputy Warden Albert Montemagno, and ADW Frederick Nash realized that many personal sacrifices would have to be made, so they asked for volunteers.

These 20 men deserve a standing ovation.

They are:

Captain David Delaney, Captain James Garvey, C.O.’s Thomas Alanzo, Leonard Arena. Frank Carello, Ronald Dawson, Frank DeCastro, Pasquale DeSimone, Armondo Estrada, Jerome Fant, Angelo Gallo, Philip Grub, Manfred Hundertmark, Chauncey Jones, Raymond Leslie, Joseph Patrissi, Douglas Riddick, Michael Romolo, Peter Salerno and Walter Stewart.

The story's headline "floated" with text above it and on both sides of it. The headline was positioned and centered atop the two photos, below which story text also appeared.
Captain Garvey coordinated the entire effort, but he is quick to say that he really didn’t do anything. He gives complete credit to the men.

A steady 4 p.m.-Midnight man, Garvey’s tour was changed to a 5 a.m.-1 p.m. tour. He arrived on Rikers lsland each morning at 4:30 a.m. to dispatch the buses organize the runs, and to make certain everyone left on time.

He acted as a liaison between the Board of Education and the Department. At the end of the day, he checked the vehicles in, did the paper work and logging for our records, and finished his day at 7:00 p.m. With pride, he says they had only three mechanical breakdowns, no accidents, -- not even a single “fender bender” in the five week operation.

The two photos, side by side, appeared below the "floating" headline and shared a single caption that read: "It only took a few seconds and handful of candy for CO. Manfred Hundertmark to develop a good working relationship with his pint-sized passengers."
Captain Delaney took over when Captain Garvey returned to his steady tour.

The Officers picked up their buses on Rikers Island at 5:00 a.m. and reported to precincts throughout the city to pick up their routes. By 6:30 a.m. they were rolling.

C.O. Pasquale DeSimone transported emotionally handicapped children, ages 8-10 years old. The children lacked coordination and had to be picked up and helped onto the bus. The first day the parents and children were very nervous.

Some of DeSimone’s children were Italian, so when one mother berated him in Italian for being late for his pickup, he answered in Italian, “Look, these buses don’t have seat belts. I want to drive as carefully as I can so nothing happens to the children. I am late because I drive slowly. I have to be careful.”

The next morning when he arrived late, the woman was waiting for him with her child and a cake she baked for him. Another morning she baked him fresh donuts. DeSimone fondly refers to the children as “my kids.” He missed them so much after Kiddie Lift ended that he now spends a few hours on his day off visiting the children in school. He takes his wife with him. The~ are both greeted with hugs and kisses.

C.O. Walter Stewart had two schools in Queens. One youngster became so attached to him that he told Stewart, “When I get big I want to be just like you.” The Correction Officer responded to the flattery by telling the child, “When that time comes, we’ll work it out together, but in the meanime, I need a partner on this bus. I need a seat counter.” For the duration of Kiddie Lift, this youngster faithfully carried out his assignment.

The cartoon by C.O. James Vann, a spoofing contradiction of the thrust of the article, appeared separately, on Page 6, not on Page 8 where the photos appeared and story text began, nor on Page 4 where the story text continued from Page 8.
C.O. Douglas Riddick worked with two schools in Staten Island. He transported physically handicapped teenagers who were in wheel chairs, and had to be lifted into the bus. He also had mentally retarded youngsters between the ages of 6-13, who, though retarded, "were very bright,” according to Riddick. One young girl had a beautiful singing voice, and upon request, she sang to and from school. “My kids,” Riddick stated with the pride of a parent “had talent.”

“The kids didn’t talk to you at first,” he observed. “They had to get to know you - to trust you. The younger children were afraid of loud noises. Honking the horn might upset them. You had to be aware of this. They might be given to violent outbursts and tantrums. You had to have a lot of patience and understanding. It wasn’t hard.”

C.O. Manfred Hundertmark drove children from the School for the Deaf in Manhattan. His youngest rider was three years old, but posed no problem for Hundertmark. The C.O. simply put him on the lap of his oldest passenger who was 16, and everyone was happy.

The staff box or masthead of the DOC publication.
The school provided him with a manual alphabet card so he could fingerspell, and with the assistance of the older children, he had no problem communicating.

Hundertmark relates a story about a 13 year old girl he fondly nicknamed “The Tour Director.”

She knew who was supposed to be on the bus, who was missing, where everyone lived, and the best way to get everyone home.

The Officers were unanimous in summing up the rewards and pleasure derived from this unusual assignment.

“This was the most beautiful thing that ever happened to us.”

“There was some- thing very special about these childrçn."

“Either they didn’t talk to you, or they kicked you, or they hugged you and hung on to you.”

“Knowing they are out there changes your life.” You appreciate your own healthy kids.”

“It opens your eyes and your heart.”

“I’d do it again in a minute.”

The New York City Department of Correction reserves and retains all rights
to its texts, its images, and its illustrations that it used in its departmental publication
The Pen including those reproduced above from Pages 8, 4 and 6 of the April 1979 issue.
The New York Correction History Society retains and reserves
all rights to the design of this web version of the original printed article,
including additional text explaining the background and context of the original.

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