Dandola is the author of ten-and-counting mystery novels set entirely or partially in 1940's West Orange. He is also a biographer and  historian with a reputation for impeccable research. On the local level, not only has he written about West Orange town history, he is the historian of both the West Orange Fire Department and the West Orange Police Department. His memoir about the town's municipal pool (he was the youngest and longest-tenured lifeguard then assistant manager) also details the history of the West Orange Recreation Department. With those credentials, several former classmates approached Dandola and asked if he would be interested in possibly writing a brochure to hand out at their reunion. Instead, thoroughness compelled Dandola to come up with a book.

"This is history. History is not always pretty," Dandola explains "Ours was the second class to be bused to Mountain High. That busing resulted in the derogatory ‘up-the-hill, down-the-hill' discrimination which still grips the town. I had remembrances. My mother was a P.T.A. president. My family knew most, if not all, of the prime players involved in town government and within the school system at the time. We had discussions around the kitchen table at dinnertime. Those were unique insights which I could draw upon. As is my normal procedure, my research dug deep. I didn't rely only on my personal experiences. I relied on the personal experiences of others—students, teachers, and politicians. I relied on newspaper articles from the time and a firsthand knowledge of how things have always worked in West Orange. Nothing in the resulting book was skewed. Nothing was left out to prove one point over another. Everything was scrutinized in its entirety. Everything is presented accurately. This is one of those cases in which the story can only be interpreted one way and that is how I have presented it. As I said, it isn't pretty but it's a part of West Orange's local history which should always be remembered."

Dandola's penchant for truthfulness and accuracy is why he has never been appointed the "official" town historian. He simply will not slant or fabricate facts for the convenience or advantage of politicians who place no value on proper research or professional writing skills. So how will his latest accuracy about the coming and going of both high schools be accepted?

"Well, the politicians will rankle the same way as they always do. First, they'll pull their usual ploy and claim that what I'm reporting is untrue. Then they'll get personal and spiteful. I've had a mayor named Parisi accuse me of lying about my professional credentials and accomplishments (all of which are easily verifiable). He simply couldn't fathom any individual possessing multiple talents or having had success within those multiple talents so he attempted to degrade. As part of that, he went so far as to claim I never held a highly visible position at the municipal pool for ten summers (during high school, college, and beyond) even though he was physically present and had personal interaction with me during those years. It became so utterly childish on his part. He then stooped to claiming that I've lied about being related to my own family—that one is so monumentally moronic that I can't even begin to make sense of it. Only a politician could utter such idiocy. The bottom line is that politicians always fall back on trying to paint truth-tellers as liars. Since politicians lie so easily and so pathologically, they automatically assume that everyone else lies about everything. I learned a long time ago that it's better and easier to be truthful since the truth can always be verified."

As with all of Dandola's histories, this book is quite a read whether the politicians like it or not and the Board of Education surely won't like it either.

Up the Hill, Down the Hill  is 146 pages, generously appointed with vintage photos and maps,  priced at $16.95 plus S&H.

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The Lost High School of West Orange, New Jersey, Finally Gets a Voice
PRLog  (Press Release) — February 1, 2022 — In 1960, because of over- crowding in West Orange High School due to the Post-World War II Baby Boom, a second high school was built. Twenty-four years later, in 1984, that second high school was eradicated and its name never spoken again. The original West Orange High School building was sold and students were moved to the newer 1960 building which was then re-christened West Orange High but the school colors and emblems of both previous schools were changed. The sports banners and sports trophies of both schools were discarded. It was as though the town wanted to make sure that no previous school legacies remained. Well before the current craze of tearing down statues to fictitiously make over the nation's history, West Orange was ahead of that curve.

When West Orange author and historian, John Dandola, was in talks about his high school reunion, it raised the unavoidable subject of why his school, Mountain High, had become so ostracized. Even the building's current principal knew nothing about the details of Mountain.
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