Marvin swapped the Bronx for Hartlepool

MARVIN Jacob Sharfin who swapped the Bronx for life at Dyke House Secondary School
MARVIN Jacob Sharfin who swapped the Bronx for life at Dyke House Secondary School

THE Hartlepool area was a bit of a surprise for Marvin Sharfin.

After all, he was used to the bright lights of New York and much busier streets with thousands of bustling commuters for company.

But he soon settled in to the bracing seafront atmosphere of a life at Seaton Carew and a job in the Dyke House area.

The biggest change, he said, was the people of Hartlepool were brave to venture out into the waters.

When asked what he thought of Seaton Carew, he said: “The beaches are swell but the weather is not exactly conducive to sunbathing”.

And then he added: “I certainly admire their pluck and their purple legs”.

Marvin and his wife always wanted to come to England and, when he was selected as an exchange teacher, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to live the dream.

It led to him becoming an art teacher at Dyke House and moving into a home in Lawson Road in Seaton Carew.

When he spoke to a reporter from the Northern Daily Mail in 1962, he was already celebrating a year in England. And while Hartlepool may have been very different from his homeland, he loved it.

He loved it so much he spent his time shaping many families with his penchant for education.

Mr Sharfin was born in the Bronx, went to Creston Junior High and De Witt Clinton High School. In 1942, he completed his education with a degree in Fine Arts at New York University.

He became a draughtsman at the New York Defence Plant before he was called up and spent three years in the Army.

But under new regulations which meant war veterans could get free tuition, he won a state scholarship and studied at evening class while he taught art at Queens Junior High in New York.

He was so good at art that he held several exhibitions, all the while painting in a contemporary style. His talents were certainly appreciated as he won gold medals for his work in his homeland.

It stood him in good stead during his early days at Dyke House. During a look round the school, he happened to come across the art room.

The teacher was in at the time and asked him to try his hand at drawing.

He did and his skills came to the fore. It led to him becoming an art teacher.

Mr Sharfin said it was “very difficult” to distinguish good contemporary art from bad, but he said he thought the public mockery of the art form would change with time.

“They made the same cracks with Picasso”, said Mr Sharfin.

Do you remember Marvin? Can you tell us more about him and the role he played in Hartlepool.

If so, get in touch and fill in the blanks. Did he come a regular in the town and how long did he stay here.

Contact us by calling Chris Cordner on (01429) 239377 or emailing