Middlesex County News

50 Years After RFK Assassination, NBHS Band’s Moment In Spotlight Resurfaces

a7631b9ace78af9c7f6d_IMG_1553.JPG
From left, Nick Santoro, Kathy Krauss-Galtere, Barbara Krauss-Santoro and Russell Marchetta, from the 1968 NBHS band that played as the train carrying the slain Robert Kennedy came through the city Credits: Tom Haydon
6058695f423271485ef4_IMG_1551.JPG
Nick Santoro speaking to the New Brunswick city council about the 1968 high school band that played at the train station 50 years ago for the passing of the slain Robert F. Kennedy. Credits: Tom Haydon
a7631b9ace78af9c7f6d_IMG_1553.JPG

NEW BRUNSWICK - On a warm June day in 1968, 40 members of the New Brunswick High School band stood on the city train platform playing hymns.

It was supposed to be a one-hour performance as they waited the train traveling from New York to Washington, carrying the body of slain presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

But one-hour dragged into two, and then three, as the train was delayed, and all the major television stations continued to film the band for news reports seen across the country.

Sign Up for E-News

“We didn’t realize the impact we were going to have,” Nick Santoro, one of the band members, told the New Brunswick City Council on Wednesday night.

“We received letters from every state in the union. We received money from a shoe salesman in California who bought shoes for everybody in the band,” Santoro said.

As the country this week marked the 50 anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968, the New Brunswick city council recognized Santoro and three other band members who performed at the train station on June 8, 1968, three days after the shooting.

Council President Glenn Fleming explained that the band was expected to play for one hour, but the train carrying Kennedy’s body from New York to Washington D.C. was delayed because of a accident in Linden.

“It was hot. There was no air (blowing) at the train station. There was no water,” said Russell Marchetta, who played trumpet in the band on that day. Many years later Marchetta became an assistant city administrator for New Brunswick. He retired earlier this year.

Santoro’s wife, Barbara Krauss-Santoro, and Barbara’s sister, Kathy Krass-Galtere, were also in the band and appeared at the council meeting. The two women were the daughters of then high school band director George Krauss.

The entire band performance was organized in one day, the band members said. On June 7, one day before the train was coming through the city, a veterans group approached the high school about having the band play at the station.

The school music department rounded up band members. George Krauss, who was head of the music department,  passed out U.S. Army hymnals, the former high school musicians recalled.

 “We just played unrehearsed,” Nick Santoro recalled.
When the band director heard the train was delayed, he called for a student musicians to take a break, but television reporters - who were standing on the opposite train platform - asked Krauss to have the band keep playing while the cameras rolled.

“We were playing 55 minutes then taking a five-minute break,” Santoro recalled.

When the train finally arrived, it rolled slowly passed the station. Barbara Krauss, who played alto saxophone, recalled that news camera footage recorded her father playing “Taps” as the rail cars left the station.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Milltown/Spotswood

City Outlines $340K Parks Improvement Project, Plans To Create One More

June 20, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - City officials today outlined plans to improve to four municipal parks - at a cost of nearly $340,000 - and announced plans for creation of another park on a lot where previously there stood three abandoned homes.

Mayor James Cahill’s office said the city council tonight will consider resolutions allocating $150,000 for an agreement with the private, non-profit agency ...

Thousands Expected in Hillsborough for Sourland Music Festival

June 20, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – The Sourland Music Festival will be held Saturday, June 23 from 3-10 p.m. at the Hillsborough Golf & Country Club at 146 Wertsville Road, rain or shine, to benefit the Sourland Conservancy.

Discounted advance-sale tickets are available online only, Children under 12 are admitted free.

“We’ve got a really powerful lineup of the region’s most ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, July 14, 10:00 AM

Maplewood Memorial Library, Maplewood

Bag-of-Books Sale - Friends of Maplewood Library

Wed, July 25, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sings Conclude with Verdi ...

Girl Scout Seeks Donations of Craft Items Tomorrow

June 7, 2018

Hi, EB Community, 

 
I am Alexandra Gonzalez. I am currently a Junior at EBHS. I am as well a Girl Scout and working on my Gold Award. I am in search of donations and would like to inform you on the issue my project will address, how you can help, and why this is important. 

The project I am working on will be impacting the Special education students in East Brunswick Public ...

What Do TSA Officers Want Travelers To Know?

June 20, 2018

RICHMOND, VA  – You come to an airport checkpoint hoping to catch your flight and arrive at your destination safely and on time. Seems simple enough, but sometimes something you weren’t expecting comes up at the checkpoint and it slows you down.

Meet Deborah Simms and Ryan Seymour, Transportation Security Administration officers at Richmond International Airport (RIC).

Third-annual Juneteenth Parade and Heritage Festival in New Brunswick this Weekend

June 13, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Vulcan Pioneers of New Brunswick, comprising the city's Black Fire Fighters Association, will host the Juneteenth Parade on Saturday, June 16 to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth celebrations are held across the country to mark the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865. That state was one of the last locations to learn of ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...