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In Memory

Paul Pastan

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11/03/15 07:11 PM #1    

Philip Chin

Paul was my friend, he accidently ingested a poisonous substance and passed away on January 29, 1975.
Brookline High School has a Memorial Scholarship in his memory.



11/04/15 10:48 PM #2    

Maggie S. Frank (O'Connor)

Thanks for posting Phil.  Paul was in my homeroom.. He was quiet, but we were friends.. He had the science bug - it was great - I loved it.. I was not aware there was a scholarship for him, but I will make a donation.  That was a terrible tragedy. I will never forget him.

- Maggie

11/05/15 10:36 AM #3    

Philip Chin


I remember you from High School.
Paul was one of our "Lunch Bunch".
He had a great sense of humor.

I can still see him now, walking the halls of BHS in his lab coat.

11/05/15 11:44 AM #4    

Alice Connorton

I was in Paul's homeroom too; we were all shocked when we heard what had happened, and when he died. I have a question for my classmates: if you have told someone in later life about the freak occurrence of Paul ingesting cyanide by accident (he also carried sugar packets with him that he ate for quick energy--he swallowed the cyanide thinking it was sugar, and then ran into Akers House yelling what he'd done), how did they react? All too many times, in my experience, people who didn't know Paul scoff at the idea that this was in fact a freak accident. Has anyone else had a similar reaction?




11/06/15 09:43 AM #5    

Philip Chin


I also remember you (Still a "Purple Freak"?).

Paul had this thing for staying busy and getting things done.
He didn't have time for breakfast, so he put a spoon full of sugar in a neatly folded paper packet (kind of like origami).  He would have that in a cup of water in the morning for "Quick Energy".

Unfortuneately he also had a thing for chemicals.
I didn't hear about this until after his passing, that his uncle thought that it would give him a thrill to have a "Highly Dangerous Substance" in his possesion.

Q:  What kind of Uncle would do such a thing??

The loss of a life is nothing small.
Paul was a good kid, and he had a HUGE potential to be a Nobel Prize worthy Scientist.

RIP Paul.

11/06/15 11:23 AM #6    

Linda Marks


I was in Akers house when Paul's tragic accident occurred.  He ran in to Akers house and proclaimed "I've just made a horrible mistake," and then ran out to the hall and collapsed as those of us nearby were trying to figure out what to do.  I was truly stunned, in shock actually when he collapsed on the floor and died.

Paul had borrowed my notebook that had all my notes for whatever science class we were both in shortly before the accident, and I remember feeling awful even considering how I would get them back after he died.

Perhaps because I was right there when it happened and it was very clear Paul had meant to eat the sugar and NOT the cyanide, I have had no problem having listeners believe this was an accident when I have related the story,  a common response HAS been, "why would he be carrying around cyanide in his pocket?"

What a tragic end to a promising young life!  Paul's love of science was palpable.

11/06/15 12:55 PM #7    

Alice Connorton

Yes, Phil, I'm still a Purple Freak--or as I usually phrase it, still monochromatic.

When people sneer at the idea that Paul could have ingested cyanide by accident, I do back up my account with Linda's description of what she witnessed, as well as the letter sent to my father (he was on the School Committee), relating what had happened. Sometimes they are convinced, sometimes not. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

A friend of my family worked at the lab which supplied the cyanide; we were recalling Paul not long ago. And those of us who remember the tragedy of Paul's life being cut short don't need convincing.

If anything, the reactions I sometimes get to this remind me that even though it's often a good idea to take things with a grain of salt, you never know when someone might be telling the truth--however unbelievable they sound. It doesn't hurt to keep an open mind.

As for the uncle's involvement--wow. I didn't know that. I feel  terribly sorry for him at the same time I wonder what the hell he was thinking. Another indictment of good intentions, perhaps?

As sorry as I am that this is how Paul is remembered, I'm glad he's still in our hearts and minds.








11/08/15 01:33 AM #8    

Maggie S. Frank (O'Connor)

Hi All!  Yes, Phil - the Breakfast Bunch, and Alice, Purple has totally become my favorite color to wear!  I just wore an "all purple" outfit to a dinner tonight.. I'll email you a picture some day soon.  I hadn't known about the uncle, or exaclty about the sugar either - although I knew it "seemed" to be an accident.  At the time people talked about Paul being quiet and a loner, and maybe it was suicide, but in our homeroom, he was fine and friendly, and I just knew him as a science genius, and that he was known to have lots of checmicals at home for his home science projects - so that's where I thought the cyanide came frome.. I'm glad we're talking about the details..  Yup, Akers 144 (I think!)..  For sure at our "young" ages, we hadn't seen or known of too many kids our age dying - so it was defintiely something I have never forgotten, and Alice, I'm sure I have told the story, and people have looked at me with that "are you sure?" look.. but - it's good for all to be reminded of the truth - that horrible day - and realize that even a genious could make a terrible mistake.  The sugar packet thing makes the whole thing more understandable - I might have known it then, but long forgotten about it - but for sure he was eccentric so that type of habit does not surprise me at all.  I totally remember that he had basically a whole science lab at home.. maybe that's where the uncle came into play.. Linda - what a horrible thing for you to have witnessed.. I can't imagine.  I remember seeing some boys (totally unrelated) that had been in a big fight - and even that was something I had never really seen before, and it stayed with me.  Can't imagine what that must have been like for you.. I hope it helps that we are talking about it - and getting more details to the picture of that terrible day.

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