August 30 was the first day of school in Granby and many kids were excited to get back to school to see their friends. The kids saw a clean school, a school that looks almost new, because of the silent workers—the school custodians who worked hard all summer preparing for the new school year. I say silent workers, because they do the dirty work, clean up the messes at school, all the floors, and all the desks. They also clean all the bathrooms as well as change light bulbs and other things needing to be fixed.
Fifty years ago, when I was a student at Kelly Lane School, Dan Martino was our custodian. He was at the school when we arrived for classes and he was still there when we went home from school.
Martino, a quiet man with gray hair, was about five feet six inches tall, and always went about his business. He never got in the way of classes or students. He was responsible for keeping the school clean every day, making sure everything was fixed and mowing all the grass around that school. Martino did the job for 26 years, retiring in 1988. I found out later he was a World War II veteran. Not only did he serve his country, but he served his town as well, as a custodian at Kelly Lane for over a quarter century.
Another custodian who got his start at Kelly Lane and later moved to the high school, was Barry Stulpin. My children were students at Kelly Lane when Stulpin was there and I always appreciated the great rapport he built with the students, making sure they students didn’t forget things and telling jokes. Stulpin would grouse about the work he had to do; however, he was quite proud of what he did so the kids would come back to school the next day to a clean and safe school. Stulpin recently retired from his many years of custodial work and is devoting his time to his family, which includes babysitting his young granddaughter. If he can find any spare time, he goes out fishing. Happy retirement, Barry!
One last custodian I would like to mention is Juan Carlos Subiza, who emigrated from Cuba to make life better for his family. In 1994, Subiza left Cuba in a raft and covered the 90 miles to the United States to gain freedom from the oppressive government there. Subiza was aided by some non-profit groups to live here in the United States and he ended up in Granby.
He worked a variety of jobs before eventually becoming a custodian at the high school. The courage it took Subiza to come to this country is extraordinary and his dedication to both his work and his family is admirable.
While there are many more folk who keep our schools in order, Dan, Barry and Juan are great examples of dedicated workers who keep students safe in school, all the while taking care of their own families. I encourage everyone to thank school custodians if you get the chance, as they provide a safe and clean environment for our students to thrive in.
To learn more about Granby schools, join the Salmon Brook Historical Society by calling 860-653-9713, or go online at salmonbrookhistoricalsociety.com