Retro RFH Irish Sweater Society Parading

RFH Irish Sweater Club teens of 1980
Photo/Daily Register/clip, courtesy of Chris Rowett

In light of Sunday’s Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade, we are reprising this popular Retro Pic of the Day, originally posted on Feb. 28, 2022. There was an Irish Sweater Club marching with a host of mini sweater wearers on the parade route. But, back in the day …

Well, St. Patrick’s Day is looming. Considering the Irish festivities that have abounded lately in the spirit of the day, thoughts turn back to a club that took the chill out of the winter’s gala holiday — the RFH Irish Sweater Society of 1980.

Yes, there was such a thing. Back in 1980, this featured crew of RFH Irish revelers, or at least celebrators of the day’s grand festivities, gathered for a photo opp. Each sporting his or her own version of the classic, crew-necked, cable knit Irish sweater, they smiled and said “Ireland” with their Irish eyes — or at least sweaters, or something …

We’re not sure exactly what they did all year long, besides wear these sweaters and huddle close when the chill hit the air. We can guess, of course, by the posts on this photo. Ahem. But, it’s a sure bet they had some sort of fun to associate with the donning of the sweater of the Irish day.

You see, the “society” folk went on a classic trip to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. Yes, they did. They sure did. And, somehow, all came down with what one of the parents (Ahem … Fair Haven’s Mr. Kneuer) dubbed “a touch the Bubonic plague” as an excuse for their absence the day of the parade.

How this crew survived the excursion, no one really knows, but they still wonder about it, according to their own thread on the subject.

“My mother was the president of the PTA,” said one of the Sweater girls. “She wasn’t happy that made the paper. Fun day though.”

Yes, lots of fun. Though, all got detention after they returned, the fun was done, memories made and they posed for that pic in the local paper. Despite, “my Dad’s excuse note for going to NY” citing that touch of bubonic plague, Society member Anne Kneuer said, “Can’t believe I got detention anyway!”

The infamous Mr. Kneuer, his daughter said, is still pretty funny and amused at his fame on Facebook over his plague excuse note all those decades ago.

“A miracle we survived,” Society member Leslie Gunther said.

And they did, and lived to brag about it decades later. Who got this crew of RFH seniors busy concocting this secret society and its excursion? They say it was John McMahon. It had something to do with his covert “career of brewing beer on his mom’s stove.” Ahem … McMahon told the Daily Register that the Society was a “loosely knit” one. OK, then.

And there were 80 — RFH juniors and seniors who made their way via train to the parade in NYC. This is just a shot of a few reps. And, all 80 got that week’s worth of detention. Oops. But, oh, those memories …

Don’t try this at home, kids. But, if you do, be sure to look up Mr. Kneuer for that special brand of absence excuse note!

Were your parents or one parent ever complicit in one of your madcap school days schemes? The note? Let’s start small. How about those “get out of gym” notes? Anyone get very good at forgery for those notes? Wait. Did I say that? Yeah, I did. Mr. Kneuer?

Here are the innocent Irish sweater wearers and marchers of today, courtesy of the Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee …