Clifton Merchant Magazine - August 2015

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Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Table of Contents

What’s Inside? 12 Clifton, 1932-1949 A Timeline of People & Milestones

24 At the Quarantine Station We Saved Endangered Species

38 Doubles of White Castle


Sliders Created Lifelong Bonds

1943 Heisman Trophy Clifton’s Angelo Bertelli

60 We’re Down to 16 Lanes From Bowlero to Garden Palace

80 Dinosaurs on the Mountain Jurassic Park began on Valley Road

86 Aloha! Clifton’s Tiki Culture PuPu Inn, Lee’s Hawaiian, Jade Fountain

98 Clifton’s Storyteller

96 Birthdays & Celebrations

Clifton Merchant at 20

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4 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Subscriptions by Mail $27 / year / $45 for 2 Call 973-253-4400 Contributing Writers Tom Szieber, Michael Gabriele, Jack De Vries, Joe Hawrylko Irene Jarosewich

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Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Enjoy a summer day in Downtown Clifton... That’s what generations of Cliftonites did from 1932 until 2006. The photo here is from when that 2.5 acre oasis was known as Rentschler’s Pool, which opened on Memorial Day, 1932. Over the decades, it was the Clifton Pool or Bellin’s Swim Club. What follows is a story from that last summer, in 2006, and photos from our archives...

6 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Lifeguards Sal Farino, Anthony Calo, Jennifer Montanile, Sergio Roa and Rizkullah Dogum at Bellin’s Clifton Swim Club on Main Ave. in August 2005.

Located near the Passaic border on Main Ave., it was originally named Rentschler’s Pool and would sometimes attract up to 2,000 people on a Saturday. Admission to the pool was a nickel— an oasis in a town where the only other relief from summer’s heat came from air conditioning inside the Clifton Theater. Within the property were volleyball and basketball courts as well as plenty of room to have a picnic. And of course, there was that expansive body of water. In 1942, the late George Bellin Sr. became the pool’s manager (son George Jr. was born that same year). He purchased the pool in 1965. After converting the pool to a membership-only facility in 1970, Bellin’s Swim Club had enjoyed both prosperous and lean periods. Opening the pool to out-of-towners, Bellin’s drew nearly 800 members in the mid-1980s. But with lean economic times later in the decade and through the early 1990s, membership declined. As real estate prices increased over the years, that strip of land was looking like the perfect place for the next big development. Since 1999, there had been talk of the pool being a site for senior housing or a retail development. “The sale for the place is in the works, that’s true,” George Bellin Jr. confirmed in the summer of 2006. Clifton Merchant • August 2015


“But we’ll definitely be here this summer until Labor Day,” he continued in 2006. “I can’t predict the future and when the sale will happen. There are always obstacles, and when they come up, you get delayed—sometimes six months, sometimes a year.” Bellin had mixed emotions about seeing the pool close. But at age 64, he felt it was time. “The people have been wonderful,” he said about his many customers. “They come to grill, relax and enjoy themselves— from kids to grandparents. We put out 115 outdoor sets with George and Diane Bellin with their son Chris, at left,in 2006. umbrellas and tables to make them comfortable. But the pool is a dinosaur—they don’t make pools like this anymore. But it’s a good place, one that’s enjoyed… then and now.”

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8 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

So that makes two dinosaurs that you will read about in this month’s edition... As far as the Bellin family, they did sweat through the ups and downs of the sale of the property, but it finally came through. George and Diane retired and their son Chris became a teacher in northern New Jersey. After its demolition in 2009, the site became a retail development, opening in 2014. And Bellin’s Swim Club is another summer memory packed within the pages of this edition of Clifton Merchant Magazine.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


10 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


In April 1928, big shovels could be seen on the Nutley/Clifton border. Hoffman-LaRoche outgrew its New York offices and was breaking ground for a new plant to manufacture a wide range of pharmaceutical products. It was the first of some 40 structures on the campus and the place where generations of scientists, and workers on the line, provided the world with drugs to help calm nerves or fight the battle of cancer. But by 2013, Roche closed its campus and ended the careers of some 1,000 workers.

The good news is that by the Fall of 2017, the 100+ acre campus of the former Hoffman-LaRoche will be the site of the first private medical school (a joint venture between Hackensack University Medical Center’s parent company and Seton Hall University) to open in New Jersey in 50 years. That update and historical photo of Roche is the first entry as we begin with The Roaring Twenties and continue the timeline of our community’s history up until the end of World War II. To help us contrast our history with the not so distant past, the photo at left is of the 2008 Mustang Girls Track Team. They are among the inductees to the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame. Turn to page 70 to learn their names and read of other inductees. 12 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Expanding Forms of Communication

Communication always had a way of changing rapidly. In Jan. 1929, in the old Brighton Mills building in Allwood, Charles Freshman and Joseph David Roth Freed (above) had some 2,500 workers manufacturing 1,000 radios a day. But by October of that year, new technology produced less expensive radios and eroded the demand for high end models. The company went into receivership and assets were auctioned off in 1930. A few years prior to that, in 1926, the homegrown Gus LaCorte began publishing The Clifton Leader newspaper, which he published at 1414 Main Ave. until 1950.

1926: The Clifton Democratic Club is officially established.

June 11, 1927: Clifton Assembly 16, Rainbow for Girls, organizes.

1926: Henry L. Peto opens a Real Estate office in Passaic. In 1934, he relocates to Lakeview Ave.

1927: Textile magnate Samuel Hird donates land at Clifton and Lexington Aves. for a park.

1926: Beth Israel Hospital starts in Passaic on Madison St. in what had been a single-floor senior home.

1927: Plog’s Garage opens on Piaget Ave. and Seventh St.

Jan. 15, 1927: Clifton Chapter of the Order of DeMolay organizes. Jan. 30, 1927: Daughters of Miriam Home for the Aged relocates from Paterson to Hazel St. Feb. 24, 1927: Clifton Chamber of Commerce is incorporated. April 17, 1927: First Evangelical Lutheran Church is dedicated. 14 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Oct. 4, 1927: Clifton’s Board of Education gives land surrounding CHS to the City to build a park. 1928: Mahony-Troast Contracting Co. is established by Paul L. Troast and Arthur C. Mahony on Bloomfield Ave. in Allwood. 1928: Botany Building & Loan, later Clifton Savings & Loan, is established.

1928: Tobin Paper Co., makers of twine, bags and containers, is established at 55 Lakeview Ave. 1928: Rutt’s Hut opens for hot dogs on River Rd. in Delawanna. June 19, 1928: Three electrical lamps are installed at Central and Delawanna Avenues. 1928: The Diamond Real Estate Agency opens to the public. Oct. 30, 1928: Athenia Switching Station of Public Service is constructed on Mt. Prospect Ave. Dec. 1, 1928: Falstrom & Tornqvist move from Passaic to Crooks Ave. and continue ornamental metal fabricating and iron cornices.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Dec. 15, 1928: The Union Ave. Clifton Post Office becomes independent, no longer a branch of the Passaic Postal Service. Jan. 1929: The Clifton Public Library relocates to 68 Union Ave. Jan. 29, 1929: Clifton Lodge 1569, Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks, organizes with 64 members at Brook’s Hall. A building is purchased at Clifton and Colfax Aves. Feb. 12, 1929: The Claverack Chapter of the Daughters of the Americans Revolution is organized. 1929: Conveyor Engineering Co. is established on Hobart Pl. Nov. 11, 1929: The Clifton War Memorial on Main Ave. is dedicated in honor of Cliftonites killed-inaction in World War I. 1929: The Allwood Community Church is organized on the James P. Speer homestead, at Bloomfield Ave. and Brighton Rd. The church was constructed in 1932. The Speer house, built in 1838, would eventually become the White House Coffee Shoppe before being razed by American Colortype in 1950. 1930: U.S. Census: 46,875 residents live in Clifton. 1930: Peter Zarcone opens a shoe store in a garage in Lakeview. 1930: Construction begins for School 1 on Park Slope. The new elementary school opens in 1931. July 1930: Newspaper articles report new recreational activities for the public, such as miniature golf, endurance contests for bicycles and roller skates, tree perching, flagpole sitting and block dances. 16 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

1932: Wessington Stadium on Main Ave., opposite Doherty Silk Mill, is completed and used for football and special events. If you belonged to the Wessington Athletic Club, (their football team is pictured above) you dreamed big dreams. From their clubhouse in the Botany section of Clifton, the Wessingtons would think nothing of challenging the powerful Doherty Silk Sox on the baseball diamond. When Fall came, the Wessingtons would don their football uniforms and look to take on tough opponents—including the New York Giants, whom they lost to in a 1929 preseason exhibition game at Passaic Stadium. However, the Wessingtons captured much of their fame on a rough plot of land on Main Ave., now the Passaic Valley Water Commission. At Wessington Stadium, they battled such opponents as the East Orange Tornadoes and their star, Cliff Montgomery, the former collegian who led Columbia University to an upset Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. “They threw up a high wooden red fence and some stands, and called it a stadium,” says sports historian Harry Murtha. “They did have big events there, but it wasn’t a first-class facility. A rite of growing up in Clifton back then was digging under the wall, sneaking in and watching a game.” Clifton natives also made their mark at Wessington Stadium. Art Argauer, a former great athlete at Clifton High and later a coach at Garfield, served as the Wessington’s football coach, and “Chief” Agnello served as the Wessington’s team manager.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


1930: Avato’s Department Store opens in Albion Place. “Avato’s was just about at the center of everything,” wrote Floyd B. and Rae Hill Vollinger, formerly of Beantown and residents of Spring Hill, Florida, who asked us to publish a note about the Aug. 31, 2004 closing of this unique store. Here it is... Marion D’Ettorre of Avato’s (at left in 2004) has seen Albion prosper for over seven decades. She grew up in the apartment above the store her parents founded and then she and her husband raised their four girls there as well. For more than 74 years of service, Avato’s sold top quality men’s and women’s fashions, as well as children’s clothes, shoes and an array of accessories. It was, she recalled, the place to shop for every season. In the late 50s and early 60s, Avato’s stayed connected with Clifton by sponsoring fashion shows and Clifton Midget League baseball and bowling teams. During the early 50s, the store became an official U.S. Post Office station. “The men came back from WWII and the town was growing,” recalled D’Ettorre. “We needed a post office in Albion.” And being one increased the foot traffic through the store. Reflecting on the growth of mega-stores and big box retailers, D’Ettorre said: “I couldn’t compete with the malls, discount stores and outlets. But when people came here, they knew they were getting good merchandise. Over the years, I’ve had to cut a lot of my lines.” March 20, 1930: Wanaque Reservoir is dedicated and gates are opened for portable water. In August 1930, teams of youths organized to ride night and day around selected blocks in Clifton. One such group, the Clifton Corps of Endurance Bicycle Riders, was composed of Peter Kuczuda, Mike Boyko, John Milalko and Mike Yuhas. The Corps kept on riding after passing 938 continuous hours on the saddle, thus becoming local champs. A block dance was organized to raise funds in support of the endurance effort. The Clifton Corps peddled on Van Riper Avenue and, despite the 100 degree heat of those summer days, the boys kept going... Nov. 23, 1930: Trinity Methodist Church, organized in Passaic in 1909, relocates to De Mott Ave. and Second St. in Clifton. Dec. 3, 1930: John Zanet appointed Clifton Fire Chief. 18 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Even though in the final years, Avato’s did not carry as many items as it once did, D’Ettorre saw to it that care was taken to provide high quality merchandise at fair prices. At the time of the closing, Avato’s joined a list of other classic Clifton merchants moving on. They include Jerry Posner of Starr Tire on Getty Ave. (which became a Commerce Bank now a TD Bank) and the Cloverdale Restaurant, across from City Hall, which was transformed into a Dunkin’ Donuts. 1931/32: Doherty Oval, the former home of the Doherty Silk Sox, is used for athletics by CHS. March 1931: The Order of Eastern Star, Acquackanonk Chapter 267 and Clifton Chapter 269, are organized. April 1931: Irving Kanter, of Kanter’s Chevrolet in Passaic, opens Lexington Chevrolet in Clifton. 1931: Charles H. Reis begins construction of 400 Allwood homes on the former Brighton Mill Property. April 10, 1932: The Clifford Lodge at Broad St. and Van Houten Ave. is gutted by fire, with eight being injured in the blaze. It is not rebuilt. April 13, 1932: Improvements on Weasel Brook Park by the Passaic County Park Commission begin, starting at Lexington Ave. and extending to Paulison Ave. Sept. 10, 1932: Post 142, Veterans of Foreign Wars, is formally instituted.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


1932: The Allwood Woman’s Club is founded with 50 members. The book exchange program eventually leads to an Allwood Library. 1932: Wilson’s Liquor Store opens at 117 Lakeview Ave. 1932: The Lexington Floral Shoppe on Lexington Ave. opens. 1932: Sadewitz Auto Electric Service opens at 315 Clifton Ave. Dec. 24, 1932: The Richfield Firehouse is opened at Broad St. and Van Houten Ave. It becomes Fire Headquarters on Nov. 3, 1950. Sept. 1933: The old Public School 3 at Clifton Ave. and First St. is closed. A new Public School 3 is opened at Washington Ave. and Seventh St. The old building became the Clifton Board of Health. 1933: Bashlow Brothers coal dealers opened a yard at Central and East Madison Ave’s.

John J. Majka Fuel Co. opens a coal yard at Svea and Colfax Aves in 1932. A photo of one of their first coal delivery trucks is shown above.

Feb. 14, 1934: A record low temperature of -14 degrees is recorded. Frostbite is common among children walking to schools. 1934: Sisco Dairy Co. renovates its milk processing plant at Colfax and Mt. Prospect Avenues. Those who passed could watch the cows graze and did so for decades to come.

Clifton Police Motorcycle Squad, 1932: From left: Lt. Marino De Mattia, Ptl. R. Havenstrite, Ptl. John De Greet, Ptl. Benjamin Keller and Ptl. Joseph Diani on their Harleys in front of the old City Hall and Police Station, which was on the corner of Main and Harding Avenues until 1980.

20 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton became New Jersey’s 12th city in 1917 when the citizens of Acquackanonk Township voted to incorporate. At that time, they chose a Mayor-Council form of government, dividing the city into five wards with two Council members representing each ward. Executive power was centered in a Mayor and terms of office for both the Mayor and the City Council were set at two years. Elections were conducted on a partisan (political party) basis and were staggered, with five Council seats up for election each year. After twice failing to change this system of government during the 1920s, residents in 1934 voted, by a 4,343 to 2,657 margin, to adopt a Council-City Manager form of government. That system is still in place today. Executive duties were transferred to an appointed City Manager, and a non-partisan sevenmember Council (elected from among 34 candidates), who serve consecutive four-year terms. William A. Miller was appointed Clifton’s first City Manager on July 3, 1934.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


De Luxe Cleaners is founded in 1936 by Joseph De Lora. Now, in its third generation of ownership by the DeLora family, siblings Linda and Patrick, the building on Main Ave. looks much the same as it did when the Art Deco structure was constructed in the 1950’s.

1934: Weston Biscuit Co. opens at 2 Brighton Rd. 1934: Passaic County Parks purchases Lambert Castle. 1934: Mazzarino’s Jewelry Store opens on Lakeview Ave. 1935: The Delawanna Post Office, on lower Main Ave. at Delawanna Ave., across from East Ridgelawn Cemetery, is designated an independent post office. 1935: The Clifton Woman’s Club is founded.

22 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

June 19, 1935: Patrolman Joseph Sastic is honored for his work with Clifton youth, serving as head of Clifton Junior Safety Patrol. Sept. 1935: A Wild West rodeo is held at Clifton’s Wessington Stadium. Sept. 1935: The pilot of a plane that ran out of gas makes a landing, and after refueling, a take-off, at Nash Park. Feb. 8, 1936: Clifton attorney and State Senator John C. Barbour, is sworn in as Governor of NJ as Governor Harold G. Hoffman underwent surgery. Barbour, a Republican who was born in Haledon, served in the U.S. Army during World War I, was an Assemblyman from 1929-32 and in the State Senate from 1933-1936. March 18, 1936: Cretona Print and Dye Works is liquidated and assets are sold to satisfy tax and other liens. April 25, 1936: The 16th annual dance and reception of the Fireman’s Mutual Benefit Association is held at Rentschler’s Hall on Main Ave. near the Passaic line. May 8, 1936: Clifton’s Kasper quadruplets are born at St. Mary’s Hospital. They become the first healthy quadruplets in America and make national news. May 8, 1936: Johnny Rohrig, a former NJ Diamond Gloves champion and Clifton resident, makes his professional boxing debut versus Joey Ray of Trenton. May 16, 1936: The building at Main and Washington Avenues is dedicated as Clifton’s Main Post Office. June 16, 1936: The Quentin Roosevelt Post 8 of the American Legion holds a walkathon at Wessington Stadium from June 16 to Aug. 20.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


What were 34 Muskoxen doing in Clifton in September, 1930?

Being Saved from Extinction The mighty looking beast at the right is a muskoxen. The shaggy, curly-horned creature can weigh anywhere from 440 to 900 pounds and is ideally suited to live in the brutal and unforgiving conditions of the Alaskan wilderness. So why were 34 of these rare animals in Clifton during the Fall of 1930? In 1900, the muskox was thought to be extinct in our nation’s most northern state. Realizing the impact that the extinction could have on the ecosystem there, the U.S. Congress decided in May, 1930 that it needed to repopulate Alaska with muskoxen by taking some from Greenland. The U.S. Biological Survey was awarded with $40,000 to acquire a heard of muskoxen from Greenland, one of the few places that these rare animals still existed. The team captured 19 female and 15 male muskoxen by August, 1930 and the animals were taken by boat for the start of an incredible journey.

24 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

After a month’s voyage, the oxen passed under the Statue of Liberty on Sept. 15, 1930. The next stop? The Clifton U.S. Animal Quarantine Station. Established in 1884, the site on which City Hall now rests was once home to the nation’s largest US Animal Quarantine Station. Every foreign animal that entered the United States had to first visit Clifton, where the creature would stay until inspected and certified. The station’s function was to prevent any disease outbreak by properly inspecting and quarantining all animals. All 34 muskoxen were housed in the brick and wooden barns and would be exercised on the sprawling grounds of the quarantine station, at Clifton and Van Houten Aves.

These illustrations by Jack Tulling may remind readers that thousands of animals of various species and sizes ‘visited’ Clifton before being shipped to various destinations across the nation. The U.S. Quarantine Station officially closed in 1980.

Reports from scientific journals stated that the Fall heat was unbearable for these prehistoric beasts, which panted constantly and drank a massive amount of water. The oxen were also given salt licks to rehydrate. All the oxen ultimately survived the 33-day Clifton visit and were next on a train to Seattle, where they then took a seven day voyage on a steamship to Seward, Alaska. From Seward, the Alaska Railroad transported the animals to Fairbanks, arriving at the Alaska Agricultural College and School of

Mines (now the University of Alaska) on Nov. 5, 1930, after four days in a railcar. The muskoxen remained at the college in a fenced complex for a few years as workers there tried to get the animals to reproduce. Eventually, the oxen were again introduced into the wild on the island of Nunivak, where the animals flourished. Today, the original herd on the island has grown to about 620 oxen strong. From that herd, several others were started at other locations, with 23 located at the mainland east of Nunivak Island, 64 at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 72 at the Seward Peninsula and 70 in northwest Alaska. It is an incredible story of how humanity realized the error of its ways and set out to thwart the extinction of a magnificent animal. It was history in the making and Clifton played a significant role in this chapter. Clifton Merchant • August 2015


June 3, 1936: The reigns of the city are assumed by youth counterparts as a part of Boy’s Week. June 27, 1936: Eddie Mayo Day is celebrated at New York’s Polo Grounds with NY Giants members. July 15, 1936: The 8th annual union Sunday School excursion is sailed to Kingston, NY via Jersey City and Poughkeepsie. July 16, 1936: Clifton’s Silver Grill Diner opens at Main and Madison Avenues. on the site of the former Capitol Diner.

Dec. 24, 1936: St. John Kanty Polish Catholic Church (at the corners of Wesley St. and Speer Ave. in a recent photo), conducts a Midnight Mass and a simple Blessing of its new building. While the corner stone was laid on July 26, 1936, the church was formally dedicated on April 25, 1937.

Aug. 12, 1936: John P. Hamil’s Silk Throwing Mill at 512 Valley Rd. is completely destroyed by a suspicious explosion and fire. Oct. 10, 1936: Members of VFW Post 142 dedicate new headquarters on Piaget Ave., near Main Ave. On Dec. 10, 1936, 800 guests attended a dinner at Rentschler’s Hall to honor Freeholder Ernest Scheidemann. He is pictured here in 1981 with his wife Florence. He served as a Freeholder for two terms, from 1932 to 1942, and as a Councilman from 1950 to 1954. He also holds the distinction of being the first and most likely only Clifton Poet Laureate, earning that title in 1967.

26 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Oct. 17, 1936: Abe Sperber’s Grill & Night Club at 67 Center St. holds a new grand opening of redecorated facilities. It originally opened in 1918 and seats over 500 patrons. Nov. 12, 1936: Foodland opens at Clifton and Lakeview Aves. Dec. 2, 1936: Passaic offers its Alms House on Mt. Prospect Ave. to Passaic County and then to the

YMCA for a summer camp. Residents object to both arrangements. Dec. 12, 1936: VFW Post 142 holds a beef stew supper using mess kits at its new building. Jan. 1, 1937: New Jersey begins semi-annual auto inspections. March 1937: The old School 3 is converted into a City Hall annex. March 19, 1937: The last White Line trolley makes the run from Paterson to East Rutherford via Crooks and Lakeview Avenues. March 1937: Plans are approved by the WPA for a Clifton City Garage on Wabash Ave.

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Clifton Merchant • August 2015


March 25, 1937: Joseph & Oscar Conrad Hosiery Co. at 958 Main Ave. announces plans to enlarge its plant to house more equipment. April 6, 1937: The City Council considers plans for a Delawanna Airport, where a runway and hanger had been built. 1937: Clifton’s first ambulance. 1937: The Clifton Republican Club opens headquarters at Piaget Ave. (then Route 6) and Seventh St. May 9, 1937: As it demolishes its first sanctuary, parishioners are on hand to watch as the leaders of St. Paul RC Church break ground for a building at the site of its old church, at the corner of Union and Second Avenues in Downtown Clifton.

Next to today’s Garden Palace Lanes, on Lakeview Ave., was the Hygrade Sylvania Corp, shown during the era of fluorescent lamp development, which was 1935-1938. The company manufactured lamps under the Hygrade name and radio tubes under the Sylvania name. Note trolley tracks on the road.

A no left turn restriction is put into effect on Oct. 28, 1937 for the intersection of Main and Clifton Avenues. Meanwhile, work continues on the new $250,000 Clifton Theater with an expected opening of Dec. 30, 1937. Photo by Mike Corradino.

28 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

April 16, 1937: Excavation begins for the $250,000 Clifton Theater at Main and Clifton Avenues. May 5, 1937: The Clifton Board of Education approves plans whereby all grade 9 pupils would attend School 10, a High School annex. May 18, 1937: Mayor Wilson Brower schedules Youth Week. June 12, 1937: Barnum & Bailey Circus in Main Memorial Park. June 22, 1937: The NJ Excavation Commission denies Delawanna an airport for safety reasons. 1937: Peter R. Barna Real Estate & Insurance Co. is established. July 4, 1937: A fireworks ban for individuals is put into effect. July 15, 1937: Sunday Schools of Clifton, Garfield and Passaic visit Rye Beach for the 9th year in a row. July 22, 1937: The 250-foot chimney of the abandoned American Colortype plant is dynamited.

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Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Summer 1937: Clifton youths are accepted in the US Citizens’ Military Training Corps. program. Aug. 21, 1937: Clifton Sokol boys and girls participate in the gymnastic competition in Bridgeport, CT. Nov. 2, 1937: Four-acres on Third St. are zoned industrial to expand Dr. Kleber’s chemical plant. Nov. 17, 1937: Garden State Bus Co. vehicles are stoned in Passaic, Delawanna and Belleville by strikers. Nov. 24, 1937: Weasel Drift (for driftway) renamed Mountain Park Dr. by Passaic County Freeholders. Dec. 1, 1937: NJ Highway Route 6 is opened from Bendix

Ave. to Lexington Ave., a 4.4-mile addition. Dec. 2, 1937: Eight Ford V-8 1938 automobiles are put on sale at Brooks Motor Co., 308 Clifton Ave. Dec. 14, 1937: A boxing extravaganza is held at Clifton Arena. World Heavyweight Champions Jack Dempsey and Tony Galento are introduced. About 250 Christmas baskets are filled from proceeds. Dec. 30, 1937: The Great Notch Lodge on Valley Rd. closes and owners declare bankruptcy. Dec. 30, 1937: Dr. William Gourley’s Dollymount estate on Valley Rd. is purchased by a Gourley nephew.

Van Houten’s Queen’s Diner

Imagine a place where hamburgers cost a nickel, while John’s Delicious Clam Chowder and Helen’s Famous Rice Pudding were always fresh. For over 30 years, Queen’s Diner, on Van Houten Ave. in Athenia, was such a place. Owned and operated by John ‘Mack’ Macaluso, his wife, Helen and their family, the diner offered many a good bite to eat and a place to catch up on the neighborhood news. Their son, Joseph ‘Smoky’ worked in the kitchen with Neil Sabitini, while Helen and her daughters were waitresses. 32 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The business relied on employees from Manhattan Rubber, Veleray, Weston Biscuit, Reynold Springs and other factories. But many families also patronized the diner. During the war, it was a place for a G.I. to catch up on old times over a steaming cup of joe. After WWII, the diner stayed open 24 hours a day and Smoky then worked nights with short order cook Steve ‘Chic’ Danchak. After 30 years, in 1968, John and Helen sold the business and retired. Both have since passed away. Now, in its former location, stands a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Jan. 21, 1938: Garden Palace Lanes, formerly of Passaic, opens on Lakeview Ave., near Clifton Ave., with 16 bowling lanes. Feb. 1938: Clifton Woman’s Club is organized by 25 women at the home of Mrs. Mortimer D. Smith. March 1, 1938: Clifton City Hall Annex, formerly School 3, is remodeled and staffed to house Clifton’s relief agencies. March 4, 1938: Employees return to work at the Conrad Full-Fashioned Hosiery Mill following a strike. March 15, 1938: Clifton Hotel closes. March 28, 1938: The Clifton Public Library moves from Union Ave. to Clifton Ave. behind Clifton Trust. Dec 30, 1937: The Clifton Theater, at Clifton and Main Aves., hosts a grand opening. Today, the property is a Walgreens.

34 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

June 6, 1938: The Garfield Gunner, Tippy Larkin, at left, beats Clifton’s Johnny Rohrig in a 10-round match at Wessington Stadium.

May 8, 1938: Lester R. Dunham Real Estate & Insurance Agency formally opens for business.

May 19, 1938: The Allwood Library opens in the Allwood Community Church, as a project of Allwood Woman’s Club. May 19, 1938: Clifton’s first package air mail closes at 1 pm. It is trucked to Teterboro and flown to Newark and beyond. May 24, 1938: In city politics, Edward Birmingham gets more votes by the citizens, but City Council members think differently and select Wilson Brower as mayor. He is Clifton’s seventh mayor since the city was founded in 1917. May 28, 1938: The Ben Franklin 5 & 10 cent store opens on Main Ave. 1938: The Passaic Alms House (Poor Farm) on Mt. Prospect Ave. is closed. Its function is relocated to a roomier Hopedell site. Aug. 1, 1938: Curtis Propeller moves to Lakeview Ave. 1938: Standard Textile Co. on Clifton Blvd. is closed and sold. Federal Sweets & Wafer Co. purchases the building and begins the making of cookies there.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Dr. Vernon Grounds, shown here before his death in 2010, was once a Clifton preacher who is often cited as one of the founders of the evangelical movement in America.

Oct. 26, 1938: The trolley tracks are removed from Main Ave. 1938: The Clifton Camera Shop opens on Main Ave. near City Hall, where it remains until 1945. 1939: The Federal Works Progress Administration provides funds to improve Weasel Brook Park and the Vanderhoof House. March 12, 1939: Vernon Grounds, a Clifton poet, orator and evangelist, is selected preacher at the Paterson Gospel Tabernacle, a post he will hold for 10 years. Born in Jersey City, Grounds (1914-2010) became a noted theologian, Christian educator, Chancellor of Denver Seminary and is cited as one of the founders of American evangelicalism. April 19, 1939: Clifton’s WPA Supervisor of Recreation, Samuel Shyowitz plans programs for five Clifton Schools and two city parks.

The Vanderhoof House in Weasel Brook Park, built in 1736 as a saw mill and home, seen in 1938 before a renovation would take place in 1940. Photo is courtesy of the Library of Congress.

36 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

May 18, 1939: President of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza, above, is welcomed to Clifton’s Magor Car Co. by Mayor Godfrey Meyer. Established in 1902 off of Van Houten Ave. at the main rail line, Magor employees manufactured about 1,500 cars a year. During the World Wars and the Korean War, Magor produced thousands of cars for military needs and export across the globe. Magor also produced sugar cane cars by the thousands, which perhaps explains Somoza’s visit. In a book about the company, author Edward S. Kaminski notes that while Magor was not the largest builder of American freight cars, it played a significant role in American railroad history. Magor made tanks, cabooses, flat beds, box cars... many still in use around the world today. Magor was sold in 1964 and the firm closed in 1973. The property, upon which it was located, was developed for housing by the Cupo Companies.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


By Tom Hawrylko

For a time in 1993, there were actually two White Castle buildings on the corner of Main and Piaget Avenues. The original, pictured above on right, was demolished that year and the newer structure on the left, remains. Clifton was the site for the 8th White Castle in the Garden State and opened for business on Sept. 17, 1933. Officials from the Ohio based firm said that the store was remodeled in 1956. It was replaced when the current building opened on Feb. 25, 1993.

Back in the early 1960’s, the old White Castle on Main Ave. was the place to hang out. In fact, for Kenneth Donnelly, Richard Cattani, Jeffrey Grotsky, Robert Havasy, Thomas Jordan, William Lemke, Michael Libin and Thomas Menegus—their hangout on Main Ave. was the place where a lifelong journey of friendship began. Was it the steam-grilled taste of the little square hamburgers that kept these graduates from the CHS Class of 1962 and their families, known collectively as the Clifton Adult Delinquent Society (CADS), still together after all these years? Who knows, but thanks to their devotion to those unique burgers, they’ve stayed close friends despite miles of geography between them. They even made up special stationery for correspondence within the group—it features the Mustangs Maroon and Gray colors and the outline of the legendary White Castle on Main Ave. Their devotion to White Castle is well-founded. Each CAD now owns a piece of the foundation of the original White Castle building on Main Ave., which was demolished and replaced with the current structure in 1993. Whenever they reunite, they are sure to include White Castle—logo merchandise, herbs planted in hamburger cartons, stops at restaurants on road trips... the list just goes on. The year they met in the Catskills; however, may have gotten the CADS into the record books. At that reunion, one couple smuggled in some White Castle burgers, then warmed them up on the skillet in their room as a surprise for the rest of the group.

38 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

William White, James Garner and Woodrow Garner as they took a break in 1940 from serving up White Castle burgers, at the corner of Piaget and Main Avenues, which, as you may note by the sign, were then just a nickel. Photo at left courtesy of Walter N. Pruiksma.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


News of their love and the extra effort they exerted to incorporate White Castle burgers into their get togethers made it to the worldwide headquarters of this organization in Columbus, Ohio, which operates 357 restaurants in 11 states. As a result of their devotion to the specialty burgers, the CADS were inducted to the White Castle Cravers Hall of Fame in a ceremony on May 9, 2002 at the White Castle corporate offices. The CADS were one of the six inductees from the more than 1,800 nominations received for the 2002 induction. Their entry into the Cravers Hall of Fame is White Castle’s way of honoring those “cravers” who put forth the extra effort to celebrate their devotion to the unique, steam-grilled taste of the little square hamburgers.

40 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

In 2012, the CADS and White Castle Hall of Famers from left, standing: Ed Miedema, Bill Lemke, Mike Libin, Tom Jordan, Jeff Grotsky and Tom Menegus, Seated are Bob Havasy, Dick Cattani and Ken Donnelly.

To the CADS, their entry into the White Castle Cravers Hall of Fame is another milestone in a journey of friendship. The CADS was formed by 10 Clifton guys in 1982. Nine graduated from CHS and one from long gone Pope Pius High School in Passaic.

Bill Lemke graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson and retired from a career in industrial sales. Ed Miedema has been a commercial pilot for the past 39 years and is a Rock & Roll impresario. Ken Donnelly, a Carnegie Mellon graduate, has become an industrial display designer. Mike Libin graduated Northeastern University and spent a career with The Equitable. He died in July, 2014. Bob Havasy graduated from the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD and has been a real estate developer on Long Island. Tom Jordan graduated from Bridgeport University and retired as an owner/operator of a Best Western Motel. Jeff Grotsky graduated from Kutztown State (PA) and is an Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Baltimore. Tom Menegus, a graduate of Tampa University, has been involved in industrial sales to the federal government with the Tennant Company. Dick Cattani graduated from Paul Smiths College and became Chief Operating Officer of Restaurant Associates. RA is the food service provider for the U.S. Tennis Open, the Ryder Cup and others.

Bill Lemke

Ed Miedema

Ken Donnelly

Michael Libin

Bob Havasy

Tom Jordan

Jeff Grotsky

Tom Menegus

Dick Cattani

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Clifton Merchant • August 2015


The outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 posed a serious challenge to US neutrality, since Americans' sympathies lay overwhelmingly with Great Britain and its allies. The task of remaining neutral became even more formidable in mid-1940, when it appeared as though Hitler’s Germany might actually win the war. Public sentiment overwhelmingly favored staying out of the war, yet at the same time most Americans believed that a German victory would pose a threat to national security.

May 23, 1939: VFW Post 142, hosts the circus in Main Memorial Park. July 12, 1939: The 11th annual Union Sunday School Excursion for Clifton and environs visits the NY Worlds Fair & Rye Beach. July 23, 1939: St. Christopher’s shrine for blessing autos is dedicated at St. Clare’s Church, with over 10,000 cars blessed in first the week. Aug. 15, 1939: A City Council ordinance forbids carnival operations.

1939: Mac Messner opens a sporting goods shop on Parker Ave. 1939: Henoch Oil Co. relocates to Broad St. in Richfield near Grove. Early Fall 1939: The Middle Village apartments are occupied by 165 families, who each rent 2, 3 or 4-bedroom units there. 1939: Scarpa Funeral Home opens. Fall 1939: All CHS football games are played away because Clifton did not yet have a stadium.

The 1942 CHS Volunteer Draft Board personified the ready and able spirit.

42 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

November 1939: Magor Car Co., located just off of Van Houten Ave., manufactures its millionth shovel as the largest shovel maker in U.S. Diversification began in 1934. April 1, 1940: The Allwood Library moves from within the Community Church to a firehouse. April 28, 1940: American Clothes Inc. opens for business at Clifton and Lakeview Avenues. May 26, 1940: St. Andrew’s R.C. Church building on Mt. Prospect Ave. is dedicated. The Passaic Poor Farm had been used temporarily. June 1, 1940: Howard Johnson’s opens at 853 Lexington Ave. June 1, 1940: Dr. Elliot Kaplus opens an animal hospital at 851 Main Ave. June 11, 1940: Mandarin Oriental Restaurant holds opens at Main and Piaget Ave. Chow Mein was made hourly and served for 25 cents. 1940: A&P opens at 315 Clifton Ave. 1940: John Zozzaro starts a recycling center off of Hazel St. July 15, 1940: 25 acres of Weasel Brook Park facing Paulison Ave. are dedicated by the Passaic County Park Commission.

With Great Pride, We Recognize the Clifton Office’s Highest Achievers. May 2015 Award Winners

Alma Bilings

Lesia Wirstiuk

Lesia Wirstiuk

Top Lister

Top Producer

Top Sales

Lesia Wirstiuk

Agent of the Month

Ryan Carbone

Weichert Pride

June 2015 Award Winners

Alma Billings

Top Lister

Paula Benus

Patrick Moore

Top Sales

Top Producer

Carlito Chi

Agent of the Month

Lesia Wirstiuk

Weichert Pride

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Aug. 20, 1940: Ground is broken for an 85-home Sunset Manor development on Rutherford Blvd. by builder Morris Herman. 1940: F. Paul Marschalk opens a Real Estate Insurance Office. Sept. 1, 1940: Samuel Shyowitz, Clifton’s WPA Recreation Director, schedules 22 dances, 21 movies and 8 pet shows for the community. Sept. 20, 1940: The Doherty Silk Mill on Main Ave. is sold in a sheriff’s bankruptcy foreclosure sale. Oct. 1, 1940: Two Selective Service Draft Boards are set up in Clifton to enroll residents in military duty. One board is located in the Richfield Firehouse and the other in the old School 3 building. Oct. 31, 1940: The new District Court in City Hall is dedicated. Fall 1940: All CHS football games are played away again. Nov. 6, 1940: The Daughters of the American Revolution, Claverack Chapter, places a tablet on the refurbished Vanderhoof House. 1940: School 2 in Richfield is condemned by NJ Department of Education as a fire trap. Pupils are transferred to School 5 in Albion. 1940: Clifton Laundry Co., established in 1918, builds a new plant at Main and Sylvan Avenues. Nov. 15, 1940: A new rectory is occupied at St. John Kanty Church. Nov. 28, 1940: Clifton sends 16 men to military service in the first call of selectees. All 16 were volunteers. Nov. 28, 1940: A 33-mile per day rural postal route continues primarily in the Richfield and Delawanna sections of Clifton. 44 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The Ideal Christian Community In early 1941, Reis Allwood Homes were being marketed in regional newspapers as an “Ideal Christian Community.” Located near the intersection of Allwood Rd. and Bloomfield Ave., the streets (“wide and slightly curved and of concrete construction as are the sidewalks and curbing”) included Orchard Drive, Cottage Lane, Englewood, Burlington and Woodridge Roads. The Cape Cod homes were touted as being “park like in character and ultra modern in construction.” They were being sold for “$7,950 complete” or buyers could pay “$69 per month with the Reis All-In-One Payment Plan.” A typical advertisement continued: “Allwood is as thoroughly improved as the finest suburb in the United States. Through its center runs the recently completed State Parkway S-3.” (Following the construction of Route 3, State Parkway S-3 would become Allwood Road).

The ads also spoke highly of the “300 foot wide traffic circle—only one other like it in the country.” With a railroad station within walking distance, there were 27 daily trains offering “excellent commutation service to New York.” As America was entering the automobile age, the ad also noted that “Twelve minutes of driving takes you into the heart of the Oranges.” Reis Allwood Homes offered membership into a Country Club, (the former Penguin Inn, above, which was most recently Rick’s American Pub before being demolished to make room for a Walgreens at the Allwood Roundabout), a supervised children’s playground and a horseback riding club, all on premises. Strong social bonds were important to the builders. Allwood was innovative, the ad continued, with “the best of schools,” and welcoming, with “a well rounded community.” Residents of those homes today will agree of those words, even some seven decades after construction.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


A date which will live in Infamy...

Photo Courtesy of Mark S. Auerbach December 7, 1941: Communities across America adopt a war status following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Rationing, recycling and civil defense program are initiated in most every city. What follows is a recollection of the events of that day—a date which will live in infamy, said President Franklin D. Roosevelt—as the news unfolded in our hometown... Harry Murtha was inside a soda shop next to the Clifton Theater when he learned of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Like many, Murtha recalled in 2011, he returned home to gather with his family to sit by the radio and listen to the news. “Outside of newspapers, we followed the war through the radio. Announcers like Gabriel Heater, Raymond Gram Swing and Lowell Thomas—and of course Walter Winchell—became household names. The only time we saw the war was at the movies. Between features, they’d show Movie Tone News, and we’d see films of the soldiers.” 46 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The first wave of Japanese attackers swarmed over Hawaii just before 8 am that Sunday, making it 1:30 pm on the East Coast. When the bombardment began, the Clifton Theater, at Clifton and Main Avenues, was packed with moviegoers, fans were watching the Paterson Panthers play in Hinchliffe Stadium, and couples filled the dance floor of the Meadowbrook in Cedar Grove. But everything stopped as the terrible news was announced—news that would change lives and cities for generations to come. On December 8, Clifton and the surrounding towns mobilized for war. The Herald-News reported reservists being summoned in Nutley, a defense group meeting in Passaic and armed guards “increasing 300 percent” at the Curtiss-Wright Propeller Division Plant in Clifton. On Garrett Mountain, the “five-cents-a-look” binoculars were removed because it “enabled anyone to survey the entire vital Paterson defense area scene.”

In response to the attack, Americans of Japanese heritage were under suspicion. Here in Clifton, an unnamed government representative ordered the Clifton Police to seize control of the Takamine Plant at 193 Arlington Ave., which produced vitamins and chemical products. Eben Takamine, son of a Japanese scientist Dr. Jokichi Takamine, who discovered Adrenaline, and an American mother, operated the plant. W.A. McIntyre, the plant’s vice president, told the Herald-News the company was “entirely American controlled” and was confident he could convince the soon-to-arrive federal agents that “their position was incorrect.” Fear of an air attack gripped New Jersey. Air raid sirens were made ready, and Clifton Fire Chief James Sweeney told his men to prepare their equipment and know where emergency water sources were, in case of attack.

Joseph Sperling was the first Clifton serviceman killed in World War II. He died at Pearl Harbor while serving aboard the USS Curtis.

In the months that followed, Clifton and the rest of the nation transformed itself to support the war effort. Factories operated on a threeshift, 24-hour day schedule. Bowling alleys opened all night to accommodate late-shift workers, and movies opened at noon and ran long past dark. In the years following Pearl Harbor, Murtha and other students got a living history lesson. “I was part of the first class to graduate from Clifton High after the bombing,” he says. “One of my classmates, Ray Zangrando, who also played football for the Clifton Arlingtons, was one of the first from my class to join the fight, enlisting in the Navy. “There was no way to describe the unity in this country,” Murtha recalled. “We needed to be united. In the first months of the war, we took a terrible beating.”

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1940: Clifton Baking Co., organized in 1924 by Andrew Tkacz, uses 5 trucks and 2 cars in the delivery of baked goods. Spring 1940: Clifton Recreation Department names its first director. 1941: Eastern Corrugated Container Corp. relocates in Clifton. Aug. 13, 1941: Center Savings & Loan is chartered. 1941-1946: As WWII progresses, over 5,500 Cliftonites serve in the US Armed Forces. 1941-1946: The Clifton Chapter of the American Red Cross trains residents in First Aid, conducts war relief fund raising and collects blood. $70,000 is raised in war fund drives in 1945. April 3, 1941: The first of 350 government constructed Defense Workers’ Homes are built in Acquackanonk Gardens, near Valley Rd. and Van Houten Ave. 1942: The Allwood Library moves from the firehouse to School 9. 1942: Clifton Service Canteen is established by Clifton Moose. 1942: An addition is made at City Hall for additional police services. 1942: A Clifton Police Reserve is established for emergencies. 1942: Uehling Instrument Co. for barometers and thermometers is established on the border of Clifton and Paterson. Oct. 26, 1942: Following a series of arson fires, the Clifton Grove Hotel at Main and Madison Avenues is razed. 1942: Clifton census shows an estimated 52,000 residents and 10,200 dwelling units. 48 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

November 27, 1943: Angelo Bertelli walked from the corrugated steel Quonset hut on Parris Island, wiping tears from his eyes. He had just finished listening to the radio, hearing his beloved Notre Dame lose to Great Lakes Naval Station—beaten in the last 33 seconds on a desperation pass for a touchdown. The 1943 undefeated season—one which Bertelli led the Irish to victory in the first six games—was history, the final loss apparently killing any chance of Notre Dame winning the national championship. Bertelli imagined the dejected look on his teammates’ faces and the sorrow in Coach Frank Leahy’s heart. He was so far away, unable to throw his long arm around Johnny Lujack’s shoulders, the kid who replaced him, and tell the sophomore quarterback to keep his chin up. The loss also reminded Bertelli that he might never play football again. After finishing his Marine boot camp, Bertelli was going overseas to fight an opponent who was a hell of lot more dangerous than Michigan, Illinois, or all of the schools combined. Suddenly, a jeep roared up and a corporal hopped out with a telegram. Opening it, Bertelli learned that he had just won the Heisman Trophy, selected as the nation’s best college football player—the first time the award was ever won by a player from Notre Dame. What followed was much different than what happens today. When a modern college player wins the Heisman, we see his happy reaction broadcast by ESPN. If a football star turned U.S. serviceman won the award, it would be a recruiter’s dream come true. The military would love seeing an athlete accept the legendary award in his dress uniform on national TV. But it was a far different time in 1943. Bertelli wasn’t going to the award ceremony in New York City. America had a war to win and every soldier was needed. When the Downtown Athletic Club called, the Marines sent the following response on Bertelli’s behalf: “Regret to inform you impractical to grant request for presence of Pvt. Angelo Bertelli at Downtown Athletic Club. Bertelli now undergoing training at Parris Island… any absence for even a limited time materially affects his chance for selection (into officer candidates school)… in view of which is necessary to disapprove request.” The Heisman would have to wait. Pvt. Angelo Bertelli, USMC had appointments in Guam, Iwo Jima and ultimately Japan. Humble and unassuming, the late Angelo Bertelli’s life is a great American story. In addition to starring for Notre Dame and winning the Heisman Trophy in 1943, ‘Bert’ fought at Iwo Jima, built a successful business in Styertowne Shopping Center, raised a family and lived most of his life in the place that became his beloved home, Clifton.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Building A City Through Football Remembering Coach Joe Grecco By Jack De Vries & Joe Hawrylko Following the Japanese surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, American soldiers began returning to Clifton—a city that would rapidly evolve over the next several years. One of the most influential people during these changing times was Joe Grecco, teacher and football coach of the Clifton High School “Fighting Mustangs.” Taking over a downtrodden program in 1945, Grecco began building his team. The first year he had 17 players on his squad; by next season, there were 33. Wins became common and Grecco’s influence began spreading far beyond the gridiron and classroom. Before Grecco’s arrival, “Clifton” was considered to be confined to the downtown area around Main Ave. Other city residents considered themselves part of Delawanna, Athenia, Botany, or Lakeview first, Cliftonites second. Grecco brought them together. Soon, crowds of more than 10,000 would come to watch the Mustangs play. 50 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“We gave Clifton people,” Grecco said decades later, “a feeling of community.” His persistence and commitment to success, especially in the classroom (he insisted on checking his players’ report cards), won over many parents, teachers and students. In 1945, Clifton went 6-2-1; the next season, the Mustangs made history. Led by All-American runner Bobby Boettcher, the Mustangs flew out of the gate in 1946, stomping Paterson Central 19-0. More victories followed—including an incredible comeback at Nutley. Trailing at 13-0 halftime, Grecco told assistant manager Andrew Sventy to bring the team bus around—the Mustangs were going home because of their lack of effort. The players pleaded to stay. After the coach’s fiery speech, the Mustangs broke down the field house door and beat Nutley, 18-13.

From left in 1999, Grecco’s Fighting Mustangs, Bob Smith, Coach Bill Vander Closter (who followed Grecco as coach in 1964), Larry Kolk, Bob Gursky, Pete Lehr, Mike Novack, George Telesh and Bob Leciston. In front, that’s Rich Imhoffer and Ernie Niederer. Inscribed with the 1957 win over the Montclair Mounties, the wood was actually taken by Imhoffer’s father from a seat at Montclair’s stadium when the Mustangs whipped the Mounties.

Clifton finished its undefeated year by demolishing Garfield, 37-0, for their first win ever against the Boilermakers. After the season, Grecco’s Mustangs were invited to play in the Oyster Bowl against Granby High School in Norfolk, Va. They lost, 6-0, some still recall it as a stolen game when a controversial call from the hometown ref waved off a Boettcher touchdown. However, with their great season, the Mustangs had given Clifton an identity and a focal point. Stung by being called “the team without a stadium” at the Oyster Bowl (Clifton played its home games at Paterson’s Hinchliffe Stadium), the city built the Mustangs a $600,000 stadium. In 1950, Clifton opened “Clifton School Stadium” with a 19-6 win over Dickinson in front of more than 10,000 roaring fans. Change wasn’t coming anymore— it was here. During this period, developer Steve Dudiak began replacing old Clifton farms with housing. Veterans, taking advantage of the GI Bill, earned college degrees and bought these homes, changing Clifton from a rural town to a prosperous city on the rise.

Each Fall Saturday afternoon, Clifton’s citizens flooded into their new stadium to watch the Fighting Mustangs. Grecco’s record includes four undefeated seasons in 1946, 1957, 1959 and 1962; 12 state sectional championships and three Newark News unofficial state titles. What the record doesn’t show—which is even more important to the coach’s legacy—was the many players’ lives Grecco changed by guiding them on to college or simply setting the standard for excellence in their lives. Joe Grecco’s coaching career ended in 1963 with a lifetime 137-38-3 record. He was selected as the New York News All-Star Coach in 1956, 1957 and 1962, and was chosen twice as the UNICO “All-Star High School High School Football Coach in the Nation.” In 2000, he was chosen as The Record’s “All-Century Coach” from Passaic County. Just before his death on Dec. 18, 2003, the field at Clifton School Stadium was named in Coach Joe Grecco’s honor. It’s a fitting tribute to a man who helped build a city. Clifton Merchant • August 2015


1942: Engle Oostdyke Transportation Co. is active in trucking. 1942: Air Raid wardens hold “black:out drills” with hearings on infractions. During WWII, 65 Civil Defense zones exist. November 11, 1942: An honor roll in memory of Cliftonites serving in the Armed Services is dedicated in Main Memorial Park. 1942-1945: The purchase of War Bonds by Cliftonites results in the delivery of an ambulance, a bomber and a naval P.T. craft to our Armed Forces and those of our allies. 1942-1943: Enough tin cans and foil is collected by school pupils to fill more than 7 railroad cars with flattened metal. 1943: The Clifton Public Library relocates to 99 First St. Oct. 1943: A Jewish Congregation on Thorburn’s Hall at Main and Clifton Aves plans to build a Center. 1943: International Telephone & Telegraph begins construction of offices and research facilties on the former Yantacaw Country Club site in Delawanna and Nutley. Oct. 1943: St. Philip the Apostle Parish is separated from Paterson’s St. Agnes Parish and will be organized in Richfield. 1943: O.E. Linck & Co. makes millions of pounds of DDT during WWII. 1943: Clifton’s Stadium construction is halted during the war with only a wall, a track and a ballfield. May 25, 1944: A city-wide drill is held by civil defense units. 1945: An organ for St. Andrew’s R.C. Church is purchased from the John Ringling estate in Ringwood. 52 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Cisternino and their son, John listen to a radio report of the Clifton-Granby game broadcast from Virginia on Dec. 7, 1946. Bob Cisternino, another son, was on the field in Norfolk, playing end for Clifton.

Dec. 1945: Clifton Memorial Post 347, American Legion, is organized in Botany with temporary officers. Jan. 2, 1946: The 7th consecutive war bond drive in Clifton goes over-the-top by 150 percent, with $3,058,031.50 collected. Jan. 13, 1946: The Athenia Veterans Post receives a charter and adds 12 veterans to its membership roll. Jan. 30, 1946: A new Veterans of Foreign Wars Post holds its first meeting in the Allwood Fire House. Feb. 8, 1946: Clifton’s Disabled American Veterans receives a charter and installs officers. Feb. 12, 1946: Clifton Memorial Post 347 installs officers and initiates all of its 155 members.

March 20, 1946: Joseph Grecco is officially named the Clifton High School football coach. 1946: Mikula Contracting Co. of Luddington Ave. is formed. 1946: Price & Lee publishes the first Clifton Directory since 1937. May 1946: Acme Supermarket opens at Main and Madison Aves. 1946: Shulton, Inc. opens executive and manufacturing buildings at Colfax Ave. and Route 6 (today’s Route 46 which is the Cambridge Crossing condominiums) for making Old Spice, cosmetics and other nationally known goods. June 2, 1946: Albion Place Memorial Post 7165, VFW, installs its first slate of officers.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


June 1946: The Goodlatte Plant in Delawanna is sold to Hoffman-La Roche for use as a storage building. Goodlatte Oilcloth went bankrupt in November of 1936. The building went to the city in a tax sale and was resold by Clifton to Roche. June 4, 1946: Emergency housing is made available for 70 veterans who moved to Clifton from out-ofstate by using the Civilian Conservation Corps barracks at Passaic Ave. and Route S-3. June 19, 1946: Albion Place residents welcomed home veterans from that section of Clifton with a dinner at Donahue’s in Mt. View. July 1, 1946: A change in zoning permits the Passaic Valley Water Commission to take over Wessington Stadium for the construction of storage and an office. Aug. 15, 1946: Public Service Coordinated Transportation Co. initiates Route 128 Bus Service from Paterson to Newark via Broad Street in Richfield. Sept. 1, 1946: Allen B. DuMont Laboratories locates its oscillograph manufacturing in the old Doherty Silk Mill which used by Western Electric during WWII. Fall 1946: CHS home football games are played at Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson that season. Dec. 7, 1946: The undefeated CHS football team loses to Granby H.S. of Norfolk, VA. in the Oyster Bowl. Dec. 13, 1946: First services held in the Clifton Jewish Synagogue at 300 Clifton Ave., east of Main Ave. Dec. 15, 1946: Oneida Paper Products Co., established in New York in 1926, moves to a new 54 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

April 14, 1947: On opening day of the 1947 Major League Baseball season, Clifton’s Eddie Mayo made his hometown proud with a single and a double for the Detroit Tigers in their win over the St. Louis Browns. Despite a career interrupted by WWII, Mayo spent nine seasons in the majors with the Tigers, Boston Braves, Philadelphia A’s and New York Giants, hitting a lifetime .252. Playing second base for the Detroit Tigers, the 1927 CHS grad and former peanut vendor for the Doherty Silk Sox led the Tigers to the American League pennant, hitting .285 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs. For his great play, Mayo was chosen by as The Sporting News’ AL Most Valuable Player. Born Edward Joseph Mayoski in Holyoke, Mass., Mayo was the son of Polish immigrants who changed their name to Mayo and resided in Clifton. He retired from the Philadelphia Phillies, where he was the team’s third base coach from 1952 to 1954.

building on Clifton Blvd. Five hundred workers make wax paper, cellophane bags and more. Dec. 20, 1946: The Clifton Board of Education signs contracts for the completion of the Clifton School’s Stadium stands. Dec. 28, 1946: The City takes over the 70-unit, $375,000 Veterans’ emergency housing project in Allwood. Feb. 20, 1947: Cairns & Brother, Inc., founded in New York City in 1836, manufactures of fire fighting helmets and other firemen equipment, opens a plant at 854 Bloomfield Ave. in the Allwood section of Clifton. Feb. 22, 1947: The Athenia Steel Co. observes a 40th anniversary with a dinner for its 350 workers at Passaic’s Ritz Restaurant. Feb. 25, 1947: The City Council approves a lease of city land in Lakeview by the US Navy to build three temporary steel Quonset huts to be used for training. March 1, 1947: Councilman Michael J. Shershin, who served as Mayor in 1945 and 1946, dies. March 8, 1947: Eastern Corrugated Container Corp. celebrates its silver anniversary with a party for 100 employees and family members at its Clifton Blvd. plant. April 22, 1947: Clifton Memorial Post 347 is officially granted its charter at a meeting at Domyon’s Hall. Five hundred people, including Mayor Nutt and other politicians, attend the affair. May 1, 1947: The Athenia Post Office opens at Van Houten and Mt. Prospect Avenues.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


1947: Donner & Hellegers Painting Supplies, founded in Passaic in 1905, relocates to Clifton Ave., east of Main Ave., near Getty Ave. 1947: A. Horowitz, Bookbinders, moves from Passaic to Allwood Rd. 1947: Athenia Mason Supply opens on Clifton Terrace in Athenia. Aug. 20, 1947: Ground is broken for a $500,000 Richfield elementary school on Van Houten Ave. Sept. 17, 1947: A dual controlled Pontiac auto is presented to the Clifton Board of Education for the Driver Education Program.

Sept. 28, 1947: A new children’s cottage and a $500,000 wing are dedicated at Daughters of Miriam. 1947: Clifton Boys’ Club, formerly a branch of Passaic Boys’ Club, organizes for to raise capital funds. Youth activities are based at School 13. Dec. 1, 1947: Barbara Mearns is made head of Clifton Library. Jan. 1, 1948: Air Cruisers relocate to Parkway South and Park Ave. in Delawanna from its former location on Bloomfield Ave. in Allwood. Rubber products like weather balloons and boats continue to be used.

March 22, 1948: Following the failure of the Board of Education to proceed with construction of concrete stands in the Clifton Stadium, 950 temporary bleacher seats are purchased for baseball and track. The 1948 football schedule would consist of away games only. April 15, 1948: The Board of Adjustment grants variances for Albert A. Stiers’s garden apartments on a triangle of land bounded by Bloomfield Ave., Allwood Rd. and Market St. Three hundred apartments are planned.

From High Tech Jobs to Housing & Retail... May 19, 1948: ITT—International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation holds a press demonstration of their new 300 foot microwave tower. Built just off Route 3 on Washington Ave. in Nutley, the tower is used for testing tactical air navigation systems, commonly referred to as TACAN—a navigation system used by military aircraft. The massive landmark structure (as seen from Route 3 at left) gave those at the top a panorama view of about 100 miles. The property featured a large man-made pond at its base, which was about at the center of ITT’s campus on the Clifton/Nutley border. ITT employed around 2,000 people at its peak, many of them Clifton residents. They worked in skilled fields such as engineering design, development, producing electronic systems for military aircraft and ships of the United States and allied governments. In the mid-90’s, ITT sold off most of its property along the Clifton/Nutley border to Clifton for a future development project. The ITT tower was then demolished with much fanfare in April 1996. The land that the tower directly sat upon was developed for a sprawling condominium development. A bulk of the ITT property in Clifton, which was facing Route 3 East, was developed by the Related Companies for Clifton Commons, a 285,000 sq ft retail center that features a movie theater, numerous stores and restaurants. However, a portion of the Clifton property that was to be used for this project was bought back by ITT and still remains near Clifton Commons, on Kingsland Rd., where employees are still doing research and development in the energy, transportation and industrial markets. 56 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


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May 4, 1948: The City Council approves construction of a Richfield Trunk sewer on a proportional cost basis. Final approval on May 8, 1948 calls for construction. May 19, 1948: The Board of Education closes the CHS cafeteria following a sheriff’s sale of cafeteria equipment to satisfy a lien against the concessionaire. June 2, 1948: The Board of Education votes $267,000 toward the completion of the Clifton School’s Stadium. June 12, 1948: Joseph J. Brunetti presents plans for construction of garden apartments on a 108-acre tract of farmland at Allwood Rd. and Clifton Ave. Today it is the sprawling Richfield Village Apartment complex. June 15, 1948: The City Council approves the construction of a new Clifton Fire headquarters at Madison Ave. and First St. June 20, 1948: Ground is broken for an 8 room school for St. Brendan’s Church on East 1st and Lakeview. 1948: Industrial Stationary opens on Main Ave. between Clifton and Harding Aves. It remains in business on Main Ave. in Downtown Clifton until 1994. July 8, 1948: The sale of Acquackanonk Gardens defense homes is conducted. Acquackanonk residents have the option to buy their homes at $4,550 for a single family to $9,975 for 4 families. July 8, 1948: Veterans Emergency Housing on Speer Ave. in Athenia is created, giving priority to the neediest WWII vets. 58 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The Clifton Elks have long been associated with the good work of the Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy Center, as this parade float in Botany illustrates. Ground was broken for the center, on Main Ave. between Park Slope and Vreeland Ave., in July, 1949. Today, the center is known as the North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency, serving a broader spectrum of need.

Aug. 1, 1948: Steve Dudiak builds 300 homes on Edison and Livingston Sts. priced at $8,990. He also builds Bobbink Village Mall. Sept. 1948: Allen B. DuMont Laboratories purchases the old Air Cruisers building on Bloomfield Ave. to manufacture cathode ray tubes. Nov. 16, 1948: Harry Deverman’s Nursery is saved from frost damage with the help from other North Jersey nurserymen. Dec. 14, 1948: Clifton Jewry is in receipt of a charter from United Synagogues of America for the 300 Clifton Ave. Synagogue. Dec. 31, 1948: Route S-3 opens from Passaic Ave. to Rutherford. Feb. 7, 1949: A long sought traffic light for Route 6 at Day St. is approved and put into operation. April 6, 1949: The Board of Ed. awards a contract for the construction of a $50,000 field house in its stadium on Day St. and Piaget Ave.

April 17, 1949: Howard Johnson Restaurant on Route 6 suffers $250,000 in fire damage. Customers and staff filed out with no injuries. April 24, 1949: Construction begins for the $70,000 New Apostolic Church at 65 Clifton Ave. April 25, 1949: The Clifton Trust Co. & First National Bank of Clifton are sold to First National Bank & Trust Co. of Paterson. April 27, 1949: Ground is broken for the CHS stadium fieldhouse. May 20, 1949: Noll’s Milk Bar on Broad St. is opened. Spring 1949: Steve Dudiak completes 300 Bobbink Village homes and plans to erect 400 Maple Valley homes before Christmas 1949. That entry leaves us on the cusp of 1950 and so much more Clifton history to share. We will continue this mix of photos and tidbits in October. If you have photos or info to share, call editor Tom Hawrylko at 973-253-4400 or email

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


g n i k Mar

ory t s i H n o t Clif

By Madison Molner & Ariana Puzzo

When Athenia’s Van Houten Lanes closed in mid-May, it became another chapter in the recreational landscape of our city. In the not so distant past, Clifton was home to a number of bowling centers, boasting nearly 150 lanes. For decades, families, workers and friends met at bowling alleys, after work or on the weekend, to pass the time or compete in a league. Kids met there for birthday parties or for end of the school year celebrations. However, things have changed over the decades and that is why, on the following pages, we look back at the history of bowling in our hometown. 60 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Bowlero offered ‘round the clock bowling on 50 lanes, with parking for 1,000 cars. Calling it the ‘Bowling Showplace of America,’ an expensive colorful brochure offered directions from NYC to the intersection of Routes 3 and 46 when Bowlero opened in Clifton in 1953. ‘Gleaming polished lanes, inviting approaches, comfortable bowlers’ benches, softly padded spectator seats and carpeted promenade—all in a spick and span motif—greet the bowler and fan alike at New Jersey’s fabulous Bowlero.’ Bowlero was state-of-the-art: air conditioned along with new AMF Automatic Pinspotters— as opposed to spares being manually set by pinboys. Intimate booth sections surrounded a two level cocktail lounge (above) with a rotating center island where Eddie Waine performed at the Hammond Organ. Bowlero’s pro shop was run by Angelo (whose last name we could not find), a man with a mountain of patience, recalls Karen Molner who participated in the Saturday morning girls’ league in her youth. “He would venture out from drilling holes in balls to provide bowling tips to those kids who showed some promise. “Years later after Bowlero closed, I bowled on a company sponsored summer league at Parkway Lanes,” continued Molner. “Angelo was still sharing approach and release tips to the grown-up bowlers — I can still hear his enthusiastic voice and picture his bespectacled face and toothy smile.” For reasons unknown, Bowlero closed in the mid-1970s. After a renovation, the intersection of Routes 3 and 46 became the location of Fette Ford Kia and Infiniti since 1977, a Clifton destination in the automotive world. Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Marking Clifton History

The Pezzanos in 1999, from left are Chuck Jr., Curt, Craig, Clay, Chuck Sr.

First Family of Bowling The Pezzanos have long been bowling’s first family in Clifton. The clan was headed up by Chuck Pezzano Sr., a member of both the Professional Bowlers Association and American Bowling Congress Halls of Fame, two of the highest honors the sport can bestow. Chuck Pezzano Sr. was the first national collegiate bowler to bowl an 800 series while a student at Rutgers University in Newark. He captained some of the most successful teams in New Jersey history and was one of the 33 pioneers who formed the Professional Bowlers Association in 1958.

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A sportswriter who specialized in bowling, Pezzano Sr., wrote for more than 50 publications around the world and 12 books on the sport. He took part in more than 1,000 network TV bowling shows and served as president of the New York, National and World Bowling Writers Associations. His bowling skills and contributions to the sport earned the 40–plus year Clifton resident election to seventeen halls of fame. Sons Chuck Jr., Craig and twins Curt and Clay have carried on their father’s tradition. All were varsity bowlers at Clifton High School. While at Clifton High, their teams won league, county and state championships. Clay posted the highest average ever for a high school bowler at that time, 205 in 1980. Meanwhile, Curt rolled a 299 single game. Curt was named all–county four times and Clay three. They were also named high school athletes of the year by the North Jersey Old Timers. Chuck Jr. went on to star at Pace University, Curt at the University of Miami and Clay at William Paterson University.

Now, Chuck Jr. conducts the Junior Bowlers Tour, a tournament group in which young bowlers can win scholarships. Craig operated the bowling pro shop at the recently closed Van Houten Lanes. Curt is the general manager of a bowling center in Delaware, while Clay was an outstanding pro until sidelined by back surgery. The Pezzanos are in the bowling record book as a family, the first father and four sons to all have rolled a sanctioned 300 game. The tradition continues with Amanda Pezzano, daughter of Chuck Jr., who made the all–country bowling team as a freshman at Hawthorne High School. When Bowlero (now Fette Ford) and Astro Bowl (then RizzutoBerra) opened in the 1950’s, they drew much attention and publicity as the leading bowling centers in the area. Chuck Pezzano, the most famous and prolific bowling journalist of all time, passed away in January, 2015 at the age of 86, but his bowling legacy continues with the work and success of his sons and his granddaughter...

which means Tomahawk Jr. is trained and nationally certified in restorative water drying methods by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, also known as IICRC. Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Rizzuto-Berra Lanes in Styertowne 1959 For two Yankee Hall of Famers, Clifton held the key to their next venture. Now off of the baseball diamond, they were onto the polished lanes of a new bowling alley. The lanes of Astro Bowl, then Rizutto-Berra lanes, made their debut in 1959 with famed Yankees Lawrence “Yogi” Berra and Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto along with nine other investors at the helm. Rizzuto enlisted his brother Fred to manage the lanes on a day to day basis making sure the borrowed shoes came back and got sprayed and bar counters were cleaned. Rizzuto-Berra Lanes quickly became the pride of Styertowne with Yogi making guest appearances behind the baseball diamond shaped Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra at the ground breaking for the Rizzuto-Berra bar or rolling balls with patrons as Lanes in Styertowne in 1958. At right is developer Albert A. Stier. Rizzuto charmed customers with small talk. Past patrons remember the characteristic “stadium seating” behind each lane so team members and competitors had a good view as the balls quickly glided towards the crashing pins. However before the doors opened in ‘59, Robert Stier, son of Styertowne developer Albert A. Stier, recalls the sound of pile-drivers digging into the ground as the structure for the 40 lane alley was taking shape. Stier says the ground was mostly quicksand and proved to be a nuisance for early construction in 1958. Aside from the famously owned bowling alley, Albert Stier built the 344 unit Styertowne Apartments and the rest of the Styertowne Shopping Center, which continues to provide jobs for hundreds, Stier’s original vision. Robert Stier, a bowling pinsetter in his younger Shortly after opening, Berra and Rizzuto took a step years, also looks back as Astro Bowl was being transback and sometime later the name changed to Astro formed into stores in that each lane was cut into three Bowl. In 1981, a few lanes were taken out and convertsmall pieces. The chopped alley was then sold to coned into Ashley’s Restaurant. struction outfits, who used the reclaimed wood to furAstro Bowl maintained oiled lanes and quick pinsetnish tables, chairs and home flooring. ters until the Spring of 1999 when it shut its doors. In Today A.C. Moore Arts and Crafts, Lucile Roberts: 1999, the Stier family also sold the Styertowne The Women’s Gym and Sherwin-Williams Paints now Property, which is now owned by Jacob Enterprises, stand in place of Astro Bowl. Inc. of Clifton. 64 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant


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66 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Marking Clifton History

Then There Was Just 32 Lanes The next casualty for Clifton bowling emporiums was Van Houten Lanes, which closed this past May. For over 80 years, the Clifton icon stood strong in the Athenia section, attracting customers with its nostalgic, no frills atmosphere and affordable game prices. Opened in the 1920’s as the 10 lane Pin Boy Bowling Center, Van Houten Lanes did not expand to its 16 lane glory until the late 1950’s as the bowling craze took Clifton. Along with the additional six lanes, then owners Marty and Vera Budnicki, also added a bar and snack counter. In 1977, the Brady Sheft Corp. purchased the business and in 1985 the Sheft family took over and hired Eric Sudhalter as the general manager, a position he held until the end. Sudhalter began working at the lanes as a teenager, fitting in shifts after school. From setting pins to oiling lanes and sweeping under tables, he worked hard to maintain Van Houten Lanes. Over the years Van Houten Lanes remained a training ground for CHSl bowlers, a place where Passaic County USBC Hall of Famers broke records and where the Pezzano family continued their bowling legacy. For many patrons, the closing of Van Houten Lanes is not just a loss of yet another bowling alley, but of the no-nonsense places of the past. Van Houten Lanes was a classic and that is why people continued to come. On Wednesday nights, for a meager $4.50, customers got a game, shoe rental and a mug of draft beer. And for a few extra cents, one could spring for a song


In 1999 at Van Houten Lanes, Eric Sudhalter, at left, with his daughter Ashley and Rick Lamonico with his son Skye.

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68 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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on the jukebox. Van Houten Lanes was always the place for the Tuesday Morning Cerebral Palsy League and of countless birthday party celebrations (including this writer) that were never complete without a slice from the adjoining pizza restaurant.

16 Remain


Through all this darkness there is a light: Garden Palace Lanes. Across town, Garden Palace remains a bowling fixture for some 77 years, opening Jan. 21, 1938. Located at 42 Lakeview Avenue, the building was once part of a huge industrial complex. Lanes were added as the years went on, until it reached its current size, also 16 lanes. In the late 1930’s and 1940’s, Garden Palace was a hub of major league bowling activity. It housed the North Jersey Major League and hosted head to head matches, featuring all time great Hall of Famers such as Junie McMahon, Eddie Botten, Lou Campi and Lindi Faragalli. All of the top bowlers in the state rolled there, as well as many of the nation’s best staged clinics and exhibitions. Nationwide Bowling took over in 1977 and Bob Cumming was hired as general manager. He has spent his entire life in bowling and has a special love for the game. He has also had great experience as a bowler and bowling official. So much so, that for his contributions to bowling, Cumming was inducted into the Passaic County Men’s Bowling Association Hall of Fame.

At right in 1999, General Manager Bob Cumming with Andy Stone, Assistant Manager, of Garden Palace.

Today, current manager Ricky Pinto continues to cater to bowlers of all ages and tries to keep the center as busy as possible. Because the place is comparatively small to other Nationwide Bowling centers, each employee must be able to perform multiple tasks, such as know the desk operation, the lane maintenance and something about the machines. Employees must also be willing to use a mop and towel to clean up spills. This past March, Garden Palace installed new scoring systems and monitors for an even better customer experience. Buff your balls and shine your shoes and keep the bowling balls rolling in Clifton by coming for a game or two at Garden Palace Lanes. Call 973-478–5750 for information on programs that are offered there.

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For the first time in five years, the Clifton Athletic Hall of Fame is inducting new members. The list includes eight record-setting individuals and three storied teams across five sports. Over the next few pages, we highlight the accomplishments of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees. To attend the induction of these Mustangs on Oct. 11, call the CHS Athletic Department at 973-470-2280. To place an ad in the Commemorative Journal, call 973-253-4400. Stories by Tom Szieber

Emily Urciuoli By the time she had finished her athletic career at Clifton High School, Emily Urciuoli had arguably become one of the top ten most decorated athletes in the history of Mustang sports. She was truly a model student-athlete—self-motivated, talented and dedicated to performing well in both the classroom and the pit. Ironically, it was all due to what Urciuoli referred to as a “lucky accident.” A gymnast for 12 years, Urciuoli developed an interest in track and field following a conversation between her father, former Clifton Board of Education commissioner Mike, and then-Clifton girls track coach Andy Piotrowski. The latter had learned about Urciuoli’s athletic background, and suggested to Mike that she might enjoy his summer pole vault camp during the summer before her freshman year. The rest, as they say, is history. “Coach Piotrowski always said that gymnasts and 70 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

soccer players made great pole vaulters,” Urciuoli recalled. “I had a productive summer, but needed quite a bit of work. Luckily, I liked it enough to join the indoor track team after [my freshman] gymnastics season ended. My parents wanted me to participate in a sport every season, and my brother was a member of the track team, so I happily obliged. After a few weeks, I fell in love with the sport and quit gymnastics.” The change seemed to work out for her, as, by the time she finished her career in indoor and spring track, she had broken records and accomplished more than any girls track athlete before her. For her many achievements in Mustang maroon, she will be honored with one more this October—a spot as an inductee in the Clifton High School 2015 Athletic Hall of Fame. As a junior in the spring of 2009, she added that perhaps the greatest feather in her cap was winning an individual state title and a gold medal at the state Meet of

The 2001 CHS Hockey Team. Top left, Chris Lorenc, James Cosgrove, Adam Wojtaszek, Chris Phillips, Mike Iracki and Chuck Malyuk. Middle left, Kelly Tierney (manager), Jason Zuck, Eric Burghoffer, Pat Tierney, Mike Santosuosso, Jacek Skowron, Don Reonieri, Mike Kuzmuk, Stephanie Fraunberger (manager), Kathy Peter (manager). Bottom left, Jason Grifo, Dave Monico, Ben Malyar, Assistant Coach R. LaDuke, Marcin Dziubek, Bryan McGuire, Coach Tom Danko, Paul Janiec, Ed Ligas and Jon Donini. Not pictured, Assistant Coach Ralph Cinque.

Champions. She set a MOC record of 12-6. As a senior, she came close to repeating, ultimately taking second. She earned a silver in the pole vault during the winter season as a 12th-grader, as well. The Star-Ledger named her a First Team All-State vaulter twice and she also won the Passaic County Coaches’ Association’s Athlete of the Year award in 2010. Overall, Urciuoli earned nine placements on the AllPassaic County First Team (seven for indoor and spring track, one for girls volleyball, one for gymnastics). After graduating from Clifton, she competed at Yale University, never missing a meet and graduating with a double major in psychology and economics. She now works for Time, Inc. as a human resources coordinator.

Even with all of her successes away from the land of the Mustangs, Urciuoli still credits her hometown with preparing her for any challenge she may face in her life—making her induction into the Hall of Fame even more satisfying. “Growing up in Clifton was the best thing that could have ever happened to me,” she said. “It was just luck of the draw, so I feel lucky. It made me into the person that I am today. I learned more in my time in Clifton than I did in college.When you grow up in Clifton, you have a good idea of what the world is like—from a diversity perspective, as well as from the things you learn in the classes. The support I received from CHS was wonderful, too. It is a place where teachers and administrators really, truly care.”

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


The Girls Track team during their 2008 season, front, from left: Michelle Telofski, Elba Medoza, Sarah Mendoza and Stephanie Mcleish. Middle from left: Yunmi Zaccaro, Brooke Mullen, Tara Anton, Josephine Blanco and Sarah Weiss. Rear from left: Shuruq Alfawair, Kristen Venning, Susan Martinez, Joan Orejuela and Sabina Weglinska.

2008 Girls Track Heading into the 2008 spring season, then-girls track coach Andy Piotrowski knew his Mustang team had the potential to be very good. It had, after all, been dominant in dual meets during the previous two years. However, getting over the hump would be tough. The Mustangs, though, surprised even themselves, riding some old-fashioned grit and a talented core group to rewrite the history books. For starters, Clifton won all 10 of its dual meets—to earn a third-straight perfect season in two-team matchups. It proceeded to cruise to an NNJIL Division A championship and won the Passaic County Relays and Passaic County Invitational meets by 22 and 54 points, respectively. Additionally, they unexpectedly won the Morris County Relays by just a half-point over Randolph, and later they bested the Rams in the North I, Group IV title meet, 76.5-63. Among the stars of the group were seniors Susan Martinez, Kristen Venning and Michelle Telofski, juniors Eloisa Paredes and Kayla Santiago and sophomore Emily Urciuoli. 72 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

2001 Ice Hockey After going 8-11-3 in 1999-2000, CHS ice hockey surpassed everyone’s expectations by going 20-8-2 and winning the 2000-2001 New Jersey public school state hockey championship. The 2-1 victory over Bayonne was the program’s provided the Mustangs’ first tourney title since winning back-to-back Handchen Cups in 1989 and 1990. Clifton was led by head coach Tom Danko, whose game management and in-season moves helped earn him state Coach of the Year honors from the StarLedger. Among those moves was inserting freshman goalie Jason Zuck into the starting lineup. The Mustangs’ shoddy defense was instantly improved and Zuck was as big a reason as any for Clifton’s run to the championship. Junior Mike Kuzmuk proved himself to be one of the top forwards in the area, providing leadership and scoring, while senior Marcin Dziubek proved to be an allstate caliber player, as well. Freshman wing Chris Lorenc was another ninth-grader that burst on the scene to provide a championship spark.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


The CHS 1986 wrestling team, kneeling from left: Steve Pilione, Robin Zurwawa, John Honan, Steve Banya, Fred Goldbach, Tony Bonafede, Todd St. Laurent. Standing, Coach Steve LePage, Gary Bartholomew, Rich Ceynowa, Dave Szott, Brian Smith, Mike Novak, Ron Weiss.

Pete Lehr: Football (CHS Class of 1958) Pete Lehr may be one of the most exceptional leaders in the history of Clifton sports. Still, lauding him for his leadership almost seems to disrespect what an exceptional football player he was. Lehr was a dominant guard on several Clifton football squads that were among the best in program history. Going 19-7 during Lehr’s sophomore, junior and senior years, the Mustangs’ most enduring achievement during that span was a win over rival Montclair in 1957 that was Clifton’s first (they had lost 10 straight meetings with the Mounties before then). The 1957 Mustangs went 7-1 and won their first North I, Group IV in four years (its first unshared crown in a decade). Lehr’s leadership allowed the Mustangs to get over the proverbial hump, as it had trouble doing over the previous several seasons despite the presence of greats like quarterback Roger Fardin (program record 1,399 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns in 1956) and 74 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

offensive lineman Dave Bosson. As a senior, Lehr and his offensive line compatriots paved the way for the title season on the legs of the talented backfield punch of George Telesh and Larry Kolk. Kevin Szott: Football, Wrestling (Class of 1981) Athletes are taught to overcome adversity, but to say that Kevin Szott did would be an understatement. Born with normal vision, Szott lost most of his vision by age 10 due to a genetic condition. Still, he became a major part of the Clifton football and wrestling teams. He became a first team All-State, All-Passaic County and All-NNJIL center on the gridiron, and was a key part of the 8-2 playoff squad of the 1980. His junior team made the 1979 North I, Group IV finals in legendary coach Bill Vander Closter’s final game. Szott won district and county championships for Clifton wrestling, as well. CHS 1986 Wrestling Team Clifton wrestling’s recent success has created an awful lot of nostalgia about the 1986 Mustangs. That team finished 17-1-1 and won the North I, Group IV title. Its win total was a program record for victories that were not broken until 2013-14 and its single loss is tied

Corey Bleaken: Wrestling (CHS Class of 2006) Corey Bleaken had a tough act to follow when he entered the wrestling gym at CHS. His older brother, Craig, was a Mustang stud, finishing his career with four Passaic County and District XV titles, not to mention three Region IV crowns and 117 career victories. Corey never let the pressure of being a Bleaken wrestler get to him—in fact, he used it to make himself better. He was a sponge, absorbing as much knowledge as he could from Craig and his coaches, and eventually became a star himself. By the time he graduated from CHS, Corey had taken home second-place and third-place medals in Atlantic City at the NJSIAA state individual tournament (in 2005 and 2006 respectively), not to mention, three Passaic County championships of his own. By the end of his career, he had also accumulated 143 career victories, which stood as a Passaic County record until being broken by Passaic Valley’s Ryan Dunphy in 2010. (with the 1966-67 team) for the fewest for a Mustang team. Heavyweight Dave Szott won a state title that year, while 185-pounder Rich Ceynowa finished in second (behind only Warren Hills’ Ben Oberly). Mickey Soccol: Football, Boys Basketball, Baseball (CHS Class of 1989) In a day where many athletes choose to specialize in one—or possibly two—sports, there are not many Mickey Soccols. Soccol was so gifted in all three sports he chose to play—football, boys basketball and baseball—it is difficult to determine which was his true “number one.” As a football player, Soccol was a wide receiver during his first three years at CHS, playing in then-head coach Dennis Heck’s spread system. He moved to running back as a senior, and was an All-NNJIL and AllPassaic County player in new coach Alex Kaplanovich’s Wing-T. Soccol ended up with roughly 1,300 all-purpose yards during his final season (1989). Also an all-league and all-county player in basketball, he was a top-flight distributor for the Mustangs, averaging right around eight assists per game as a senior.

He was a cog in late-80s Clifton baseball, as well, leading on the mound and in the outfield. Soccol led the Mustangs to the North I, Group IV title game in 1989, going 6-0 with a 2.10 ERA that season. It was his complete game effort that led Clifton past Passaic County Tech in the sectional semifinals. As effective as he was as a pitcher, he was also lauded as an exceptional player in the field, called the “best defensive center field in Passaic County in 1989” by one local writer. Joe Hathaway: Football, Boys Spring Track and Indoor Track (CHS Class of 2005) Urciuoli is not the only former Yale Bulldog to find herself in the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame. Joe Hathaway made a name for himself as a tight end/defensive end for the Clifton football team, breaking into the lineup in 2002 on defense. He was a two-way starter as a junior, as Clifton finished 6-4 and broke a sixseason playoff drought. By his senior year, he was one of the better players (and Division I recruits) at his position across the Garden State. He was the primary passing target for the 2004 Mustangs, who went 5-5—it was the first time Clifton had finished with back-to-back .500-or-above seasons since 1996 and 1997. Clifton Merchant • August 2015


However, it was his boys track accomplishments that elevated him from alltime standout to Hall-of-Famer. First, as a senior (2004-05 season), he broke the CHS indoor (winter) record for shot put, with a 53-9 throw. That spring, he did the same with the boys spring shot record, as his 55-6 throw broke the mark of former Mustang football and boys track great Bob Boettcher. That record was the oldest in CHS sports, at the time. Mike Lombardo: Baseball, Football (CHS Class of 1991) Mike Lombardo’s stat line while playing varsity baseball for Clifton High School was impressive, but his ability to perform under pressure was a key facet of his game that didn’t show up in the numbers. In the 1991 Passaic County final, that skill was on full display. Trailing Lakeland with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the seventh inning, Lombardo crushed a home run to tie the game. Darkness caused the encounter to be replayed the next day, and the Mustangs crushed the Lancers, 15-4, for the crown. A star catcher, Lombardo led the Mustangs to the North I, Group IV title that year, batting .417 and hitting seven homers. For his troubles, he became a first team All-Passaic County, All-NNJIL and All-State player.

Ken Kurnath: Contributor A 1950 Clifton High School graduate, Ken Kurnath’s love for Mustang sports and devotion to helping maximize the accomplishments of all students are what made him Hall of Fame worthy. He was a two-year varsity baseball player for the Mustangs, and not a bad one, playing solid defense in left field and providing a trustworthy bat. Still, Kurnath’s main impact on Clifton sports would come decades later. He always recognized the impact athletics could have on students’ success in life and in the classroom, and began supporting CHS sports immediately after his 1989 election to the Clifton Board of Education. He pushed for competitive athletic budgets and coaching stipends, and made himself a regular face at CHS sporting events. He played a role in the hiring of multiple championship-winning head coaches and was a catalyst behind the 1996 reestablishment of the Athletic Hall of Fame, dormant since 1983. The Mustang Athletic Hall of Fame dinner is at noon, Oct. 11 at the Brownstone. Tickets are $45; call the CHS Athletic Department at 973-470-2280. To support the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame, with an ad in its journal, contact Jack Whiting at 973-253-4400.

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Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, include e-pens, e-pipes, e-hookah and e-cigars. Collectively, they are referred to as ENDS – electronic nicotine delivery systems. E-cigarettes are most commonly battery-operated. They use a heating element that heats e-liquid from a refillable cartridge. The outcome is the release of a toxic chemical-filled aerosol, or vapor. “While cigarette use has decreased among youth, e-cigarettes have tripled in use among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2013,” said Stanley H. Weiss, MD, Professor of Medicine at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “Cartoon characters and candy flavors are two industry tactics used to lure children into the false comfort that e-cigs are harmless.” 78 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Another dangerous aspect of e-cigs is that few people truly understand that they are exposing dangerous toxins to their bodies. However, the public’s lack of awareness is aided by the scarcity of evaluations done by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has yet to determine the safety of the chemicals in e-cigarettes. Therefore, there are no requirements on what ingredients are disclosed on the labels of the nearly 500 brands of e-cigarettes. One of the most common myths is that e-cigarettes do not have nicotine, added Dr. Weiss. “It is easy to understand why people believe the myth,” he concluded. “With no FDA regulations, companies are not required to list nicotine levels accurately or at all.”

MYTH: E-cigarettes don't have nicotine. FACT: Almost all e-cigarettes contain nicotine — including many that claim they are nicotine-free. A 2014 study proved that there is nicotine in e-cigarettes and that there is a discrepancy between the nicotine levels that are listed and the true composition of the e-cigarettes. MYTH: E-cigarettes can help smokers quit. FACT: No e-cigarette has been found by the FDA to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit. Smokers who use e-cigs have been found to continue smoking traditional cigarettes. What’s more, studies have found that e-cigs users who never smoked often, progress to smoking traditional cigarettes. MYTH: There's no secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes. FACT: E-cigarettes expose others to secondhand emissions. “The aerosol (vapor) emitted by e-cigarettes and exhaled by users contains carcinogens, such as formaldehyde, according to early studies. Little is known about these emissions or the potential harm they can cause.” MYTH: E-cigarettes aren’t marketed to kids. FACT: E-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2011 to 2013. Cartoon characters and candy flavors are two industry tactics used to lure children into the false comfort that e-cigarettes are harmless. Studies have also indicated that teenagers smoke e-cigarettes more so than they do traditional cigarettes. MYTH: E-cigarettes are safe. FACT: E-cigarettes are unregulated tobacco products. There are nearly 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigs despite the non-existent FDA regulations. But studies indicate that there are toxic chemicals in e-cigs. Among them? An ingredient used in your cars’ antifreeze and formaldehyde, commonly used for embalming the dead!

If you are ready to quit smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or talk with a doctor about using one of the seven FDA-approved medications proven to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit. The Essex-Passaic Wellness Coalition (on the web at is made possible by a grant from the NJ Department of Health’s Office of Cancer Control and Prevention to Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where Dr. Weiss is Professor of Medicine. The EPWC implements the New Jersey Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan (see in Essex and Passaic Counties. The EPWC also receives in-kind support from Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and other organizations. You can contact the EPWC at 973-972-4623.

It’s Against The Law Only three Clifton businesses— Jamie’s Cigar Bar, Kamil’s Restaurant and La Ziza lounge— were permitted to offer indoor smoking when the State-wide Smoke-free Air Act Initiative was approved in 2006. Since then, the Clifton Health Department has issued over $70,000 in fines to establishment owners and most of these offenses are related to indoor hookah smoking. Both patrons who are observed to be smoking and establishment owners can be fined up to $1,000 for smoking indoors. Clifton Merchant • August 2015


By Jack De Vries

They were hungry and searching for a meal. And they were running through Clifton.. No, not the lunchtime crowd at the Hot Grill – instead, these creatures liked their meal fresh, raw and walking. Spotting their prey, they would race as fast as 30 mph on two legs and trap their victim, holding it with claws on their front arms. Then they’d bend their dual-crested crocodile-like head down – like a Cliftonite eyeing “two-all-the-way” – and devour their frightened lunch. Welcome to Jurassic Park, Clifton Most city residents believe the closest they will ever come to a dinosaur is at a museum or watching one on screen at a showing of Jurassic World at the AMC Clifton Commons. It turns out that dinosaurs are much closer than Clifton’s population might think. On Sept. 26, 2010, retired high school teacher Chris Laskowich was searching for their evidence at the former quarry overlooking Clifton, before it became K. Hovnanian’s Four 80 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Seasons at Great Notch Spa & Club in Woodland Park. The once mighty mountain that once framed the Clifton skyline had been quarried for decades – most recently by its owner Tilcon which mined the land for basalt that is used in road making. Laskowich had been searching the future Hovnanian site for decades, permitted by the former quarry manager to roam and look for his scientific prey. “The site,” he said, “has evidence of a large number of species

In 1998, Dr. Barbara Smith Grandstaff was on the site of what would become K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons at Great Notch Spa & Club managing the excavation of dinosaur prints. Below her is the cover of our August 2004 magazine. At left, the print being readied for shipping to the NJ State Museum in Trenton.

from dinosaurs to reptile to insects.” Laskowich had discovered his first dinosaur tracks in 1973 near what is now Yogi Berra Stadium on the campus of Montclair State University. “Before they played baseball,” Laskowich said, “that field belonged to the dinosaurs. There were so many tracks, it looked like they were doing a square dance.” While actually located outside the city overlooking Valley Road, the mountains that once stood on the quarry were of great significance to Clifton. History says that in 1867, Mrs. Charles D. Spencer, while helping a committee choose a name for their home, looked up to the rock cliffs and announced: “There are your cliffs and the name shall be Clifton.” When the city was incorporated in 1917, the name stuck. What Mrs. Spencer didn’t know was buried below those cliffs were prehistoric treasures yet to be uncovered. On that day in 2010, Laskowich looked down and found a foot-long eubrontes track, a fossilized footprint

dating from the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic (an earlier find in May 1998 had also yielded a eubrontes track). Laskowich’s find is believed to be from a dilophosaurus, a dinosaur from the early stage of the Jurassic period. “Providence placed it there,” Laskowich told The Record after the discovery. “When the area was blasted, it could have gotten destroyed. I saw it in a boulder pile, it was upside down. The caterpillar bulldozers might have rolled over the top of these boulders, making this rock useless [scientifically]. There are so very few tracks of that size in New Jersey.” As The Record described in a story of the find: “The image on it is clear and it is on a stone containing lava, sandstone and metamorphic rocks – all factors that can provide an abundance of information about life and conditions then.” What Laskowich discovered was a three-toed claw footprint of what was believed to be a 25 ft., 1,000 lb. monster that lived 220 to 190 million years ago – a monster that was a screenwriter’s dream. Significant City Clifton has always been proud of its history. For some 1,200 years, the Lenni-Lenape tribe of the Algonquin nation occupied the lands in and around Clifton until white settlers arrived in the 1600s. Clifton would become a land of farms, and its owners would play an often forgotten, but still signif-

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


In October 2004, the magazine hired a small plane to fly over Clifton for aerial views of the K. Hovnanian project.

icant, part in the Revolutionary War, welcoming General George Washington’s troops across the vital Acquackanonk Bridge as they beat a hasty retreat from the British in 1776. The farmers supported Washington’s moving of the bridge, forcing the British to ford the river at a timeconsuming distance away. Near the site of Laskowich’s discovery was “Washington’s Rock,” a 600-foot high outpost where, legend has it, Washington (or his sentries) used as a lookout to spot the pursuing British. Washington’s Rock gazed over Clifton for decades, located above St. Philip’s R.C. Church and the former Paul VI Regional High School until it was quarried from the landscape in the late 1980s. After Washington’s victory, the new nation rolled on like the great Clifton Mustang teams on the gridiron. That land that would become Clifton would be once home to a racetrack, amusement park and magnificent ballparks. After its birth in 1917, the city’s growth intensified – changing from rolling farmlands to a thriving city, a more than a worthy rival to its bordering urban neighbors, Passaic and Paterson. Throughout world wars, the Depression, Woodstock and a new millennium, Clifton grew – expanding, changing and 82 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

always reinventing itself. However, what lay beneath the rocks of its namesake cliffs remained buried. Clifton’s Wayback Machine The history of Clifton and very civilization is but a blink compared to the time of the dinosaurs. David Parris, a curator at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, noted Clifton was a very different place when the dilophosaurus roamed. “The environment back then, 200,000,000 years ago,” Parris said, “was non-marine, a sediment-filing basin with mudflats, perfect for preserving trackways.” His colleague, Dr. Barbara Smith Grandstaff, agreed. “New Jersey,” she said, “had a much different climate. It was farther south during that time and closer to the equator. It was warm and wet, with leafy plant vegetation and many animals – a place full of life.” “We jokingly say,” Parris added, “that New Jersey was at the ‘center of the world,’ because the continents were positioned together as Pangaea. What was to become New Jersey was effectively adjacent to what would become Europe and Africa. Bipedal dinosaurs were among the dominant lifeforms and dilophosaurus was a large one with a track that was literally one foot long and a stride (two steps) of eight feet.”

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


In April 2010, Parris and his crew, which included Smith Grandstaff and Geologist Paul Hanczaryk, assisted by Dr. William B. Gallagher, spent several days at the site, casting the specimen, trimming it with a jackhammer, and getting it ready for transport. “We needed a front loader to lift it in the box van,” Parris remembered. “The area is perfect for preserving footprints,” said Smith Grandstaff, “because of the muddy red shale. But because red shale has a lot of oxygen in it, bodies are not preserved well. That’s why we find footprints, but not many skeletons.” Avinash Subramanian shows a Eubrontes track that was collected in 2010 with corporate permission during Hovnanian's development of Four Seasons at Great Notch (formerly the Dell Quarry). Discovered by Chris Laskowich, the multi-ton track was delivered to its current location in front of the New Jersey State Museum because of the generosity of Betts Environmental of Butler. (The company donated staff time and equipment to move the giant specimen.)

84 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Along with Hovnanian’s cooperation and assistance, the team moved the giant specimen to the New Jersey State Museum. Parris and his team also collected other specimens at the site before building took place. The last evidence of the dilophosaurus’s stroll through the Clifton area now rests at the museum in its natural history collection under Parris’s watchful eye. “It was a significant find,” the curator says. “As soon as we got it, we took it on tour around the state. Not only can you see the track, but evidence of rain drops from millions of years ago.” Dilophosaurus Eats Newman While the scientific world was happy to welcome the dilophosaurus track, the dual-crested dinosaur had already been enjoying fame since the opening of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in 1993. In the movie, Spielberg took poetic license and downsized the dilophosaurus so not to confuse it with the movie’s marauding velociraptors. He also gave it the ability to spit black gooey poison. “The dilophosaurus was the only dinosaur in the movie that they made smaller,” says Parris. “All the rest they made bigger, like the velociraptors that are usually little squirts. The dilophosaurus was a big animal, one of the biggest of its time, and it certainly didn’t spit poison – that was for the movie.” In one of the film’s most terrifying scenes, computer programmer Dennis Nerdy, played by the actor Wayne Knight (famous for his role as the meddling Newman on the TV

show Seinfeld) confronts a curious dilophosaurus in the midst of fleeing Jurassic Park with stolen dinosaur embryos. Unfortunately for Nerdy, the dilophosaurus becomes curious and hungry, flashing his quivering dual head crest and mauling him in his marooned jeep. It seems the dilophosaurus did what Jerry Seinfeld could never do – rid himself of Newman, once and for all. While Jurassic Park and Jurassic World are movies, people

waking or driving on Valley Road can look up at the townhomes where the city’s namesake cliffs once stood and imagine a time very different than today – when ferocious monsters roamed the jungle earth looking for their next meal. And, if those people listen carefully, they might just hear the sound of the dual-crested dilophosaurus, hungrily stalking its prey – a faint echo from Clifton’s prehistoric time, some 200 million years ago.

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Bamboo bars & blowfish lights no longer hang as we take a look into...

By Madison Molner

Bamboo bars and blowfish lights no longer hang in Clifton as the town’s Tiki bars have long faded away. Tiki culture took hold in 1970s era Clifton with Lee’s Hawaiian Islander, Jade Fountain and the New PuPu Inn,. The interest in umbrella garnished drinks caught on faster than the 151-proof rum in a Flaming Zombie and burned out with just as much speed in the early 2000s. Generally, the raising of thatched roofs in the United States started with the 1934 debut of Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, California and expanded more rapidly post-WWII as American G.I.s returned from stations in the South Seas. The romanticized mystique of Polynesian culture brought Americans in carfuls to Tiki bars with not so authentic cuisine and exotic ambiance that allowed them to escape the routine of suburban life. Lee’s Hawaiian Islander opened in 1974 and is arguably Clifton’s most famous. Once located at 635 Lexington Ave., Lee’s Hawaiian greeted Cliftonites with kitschy stage shows featuring dark skinned ladies in grass skirts. Patrons quenched their thirst for fruity, rum soaked cocktails for over 30 years until a fire destroyed the site on July 26, 2003. Lee’s Hawaiian brought in customers from all across north Jersey with its unmistakable vibrant red painted brick facade, expansive oak bar, plastic palm trees 86 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The Pu Pu Inn on Main Ave. and Lee’s Hawaiian Islander on Piaget Ave.

adorned in hundreds of colorful lights and countless orders for heavily sauced egg foo young and the house specialty, barbecued lobster. The destruction of Lee’s Hawaiian was not only a blow to the forever fading Tiki culture, but to Clifton history before America was even a thing. According to Clifton’s former historian, Elvira Hessler, within the foundation walls of Lee’s Hawaiian was a small inscription reading “P.P. 1713”. “P.P.” standing for Paul Powlson, the man who erected the original farmhouse more than 300 years ago. Powlson could never have imagined what his humble home would turn into. Nevertheless, a storied incident from 1777 makes connections to its future. Amidst the Revolution a squad of British soliders searching the home for deserters found none, but left with two demijohns of Applejack liquor, proving that a stiff drink has been apart of the premise for centuries.

Long after Powlson and still before Chinese immigrant Steven Lee opened the Tiki bar, the Lexington Ave. address was home to two other Clifton food icons: Cliftonia and The Norselander. With the return of legalized liquor in 1933, owners Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Cusak began the site’s modern history with the opening of the Cliftonia. The Cusaks renovated by expanding the farmhouse and adding the oak bar and beamed ceilings that continued as architectural features later in The Norselander and Lee’s Hawaiian Islander.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Owner Kurt Ramig, his son Kurt, and Joe Franklin on the set of Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane TV show, about 1958. The note reads: “Ramigs, you are really telegenic! Loved saluting the great Cliftonia for Canada Dry. See you soon, Joe Franklin”

From the menu of The Norselander, circa 1961: The early 18th century and the present are separated by more than 250 years. Yet, here at the Norselander, a connection with this remote era still remains. When Paul Powlson had erected his farm house on the site of what is now the Norselander, he chiseled his initials ‘PP’ and the year ‘1713’ into a stone of the front wall. Today it is still intact as part of our Terrace Room. Historically, not much is known, but in 1777, a squad of British soldiers, passing by, searched the house for deserters. None were found, but they confiscated two demijohns of Applejack which they uncovered during their search. Hard liquor, therefore is no newcomer to these premises. Successive owners added the upper stories to the original house, and in 1933, with the return of legalized liquor, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Cusak began the modern history of this landmark. They renovated what is now the Viking Room, 88 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

by installing an oak bar, and the beamed ceilings as it is presently constituted. The front of the bar became a victim of progress in 1955, but the back bar, with its mirror and side door cabinets, still greets our Viking Room guests to this day. The new venture was named, quite appropriately, The Cliftonia. In 1940, further renovations led to the addition of our present Candlelight Dining Room. At that time, this room was the favorite rendezvous for dancers from the entire vicinity. December of 1944 brought a change of management. Mr. and Mrs. Cusak retired, and the present owners, Mae and Kurt Ramig have guided its destiny from that time on. In 1955 our Smorgasbord table, and a large kitchen was added, and in 1961, ‘The Cliftonia’, in keeping with its new image, was renamed. The menu concluded: One may only conjecture what the next two and one half centuries will bring. For the present, however, The Norselander will continue to serve its guests, as in the past, with fine food and excellent service, amid pleasant surroundings.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


In 1944 the Cusaks retired and sold the restaurant to Mae and Kurt Ramig who transformed the dancer’s rendezvous into The Norselander, a Viking-sized smorgasbord renamed in 1961. The Norselander featured theme dining rooms like the boisterous ‘Viking Room’ and the quieter ‘Candlelight Dining Room’. WWOR and ABC Network’s legendary radio and TV man, Joe Franklin featured Cliftonia and the Ramig family in 1958 on The Joe Franklin Show. It was a local New York show sponsored by Canada Dry that featured big names like John Wayne and Frank Sinatra to regular people Franklin found on the sidewalk to talk nostalgia. A year after the Lee’s Hawaiian fire that called on the help of fire departments from Passaic, Paterson, Little Falls and Montclair, the building was demolished. Today, a Wawa convenience store is proposed to fill the decade old vacant lot. Sailing away from the Vikings and back to the Polynesians, Jade Fountain on 321 River Road sat diagonally across from the stillstanding Rutt’s Hut. Jade Fountain enticed patrons with its Yum Cha all-you-can-eat buffet. The Clifton location of Jade Fountain with its signature sunken lounge and foreign blue and purple lighting is only a memory as the property was demolished in October of 2000. Currently, the lot is home to various businesses that rent retail offices and garage space. Lastly, the New PuPu Inn of 1462 Main Ave. exemplifies the changing cultural scene of Clifton 90 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The Jade Fountain on River Rd. and an ad below, frrom the 1990’s.

as it is since gone and now home to an Arabic restaurant. The history of the New PuPu Inn remains as mysterious as the flaming chemical concoction that lit the center of its namesake dish, but is believed to have opened in the early 1970s as the PuPu Inn and by a 1991 revaluation by the City Clerk renamed to the New PuPu Inn. Days of electric orange sweet and sour chicken and greasy crab rangoon are long gone in Clifton. Mai Tais are now served at backyard “Luaus” that include too many plastic leis, a Jimmy Buffet music playlist and lack all of the wonder they once had. Although these classic tropical landmarks are no more in Clifton, a quick flight to the real Hawaiian Islands has never been faster. Perhaps an easier trip is Lee’s Hawaiian Islander sister restaurant in Lyndhurst.

The finale of the Clifton Public Schools Integrated Summer Enrichment Experience (ISEE) was held on July 30. Students treated their family and friends to a strings and band concert, an art exhibit and concluded with a musical theater performance of Lion King Kids featuring Hannah Kulesa as Simba and Daniel Marriello as Scar.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Planning Ahead The Big Numbers Guy: Harsh Naik graduated from Rutgers Universityon the Dean’s list for his triple major of Economics, (GPA 3.65/4.0), Statistics (GPA 3.62/4.0) and Mathematics (GPA 3.71/4.0). While at Rutgers he served as the Chief Liaison to the International Society for Economics and completed two of the preliminary actuary exams. He is nowworking in the research department of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, with the goal of becoming a FSA certified actuary. His numbers and other activities earned him a Scarlet Scholarship. As a 2000 CHS grad, he was the SGA treasurer and assisted in organizing over 20 student-led fundraisers during his four years on Colfax Ave.

92 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The Friends of the Clifton Public Library members cut the ribbon on July 6 (above) to celebrate the opening of The Friends Gift Gallery. It is there that the public can help fundraise by purchasing gifts ranging from books and journals to handmade goods. However, cutting the ribbon was only their first accomplishment of the year. On Sept. 30, they will mark their 30th anniversary with a festive event at the Clifton Main Public Library, 292 Piaget Ave. Entertainment will be provided by The Mike Luipersbeck All-Star Trio featuring pianist Peter Greco, bassist Ron Naspo and jazz drummer Luipersbeck. Donations are $5 while children who are over 10 and accompanied by an adult are welcome. All donations toward the group are greatly appreciated. Friends of the Clifton Public Library have spent the last 30 years serving the community by raising funds for various programs. One of the programs that they have supported is free Musical Mondays. They have also hosted Creative Writing Workshops. To find out more contact the Clifton Main Public Library by calling 973-772-5500.

St. John Lutheran Church seeks vendors for a Thrift Shop on Sept. 12, from 9:30 am to 1 pm. There will be an assortment of spring and summer clothing along with household items and toys and games at very low prices. The church is at 140 Lexington Ave., Passaic. For information call the church office at 973-779-1166 or 973-777-0322.

St. Phillip Players, formerly Blue State Productions, hosts auditions for the musical Godspell on Aug. 13 and 15. The show will be staged in October at 797 Valley Rd. Detailed character information, as well as any questions, can be answered by writing to the director of the troupe at All inquires will be answered.

Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Planning Ahead

Labor Day Weekend in Botany: Why fight the holiday weekend traffic? Attend the Festival in the Park Carnival on Sept. 3 to 7 from 5 to 10:30 pm. Held in Randolph Park, at the entrance to Historic Botany Village, the event provides rides, games and food for a reasonable price. On opening night, Thursday, Sept. 3, wristbands are $25 and allow those wearing them to enjoy rides all night. Rides at the festival include a Merry Go Round, sandbag slides and many more. To purchase wristbands, arrive at the ticket booth by 8:30 pm. Additionally, to save $10, pick up coupons that are available at Johnny's Hall, Botany Village Pizza, Lydia's Homemade Ice Cream Shop, or Clifton City Hall. The annual Festival in the Park is sponsored by The Botany Village Merchants Association, LLC. Van Houten Ave. Street Fair: With about a mile of the Avenue to stroll, Van Houten Ave’s Street Fair attracts all to Athenia. On Sept. 13, the event will take place from 11 am to 5 pm between Major and Spencer Streets. The street will be lined with vendors, entertainment, rides for kids and food. Go out and enjoy the day’s activities with friends and family. St. John Kanty Parish Picnic at 49 Speer Ave. is also Sept. 13. There is plenty of good Polish food and games of chance as well as entertainment. Help is greatly appreciated in the Parish Center kitchen or at one of the game stands or booths. Call the Parish Office at 973-779-4102 to support the picnic. 94 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Passaic County Community College offers four new degree programs in fields with job demand at all levels and certificate programs in emerging technology fields. Students interested in the environment can pursue an Associate in Science (AS) Degree in Environmental Substantiability, a field related to alternative energy sources, green initiatives, and conservation practices. The AS Degree in Public Health introduces how social factors, population, economics, law, and other fields impact healthcare in our society.

The AS Degree in Medical Informatics prepare students for jobs as IT professionals in the healthcare field. The joint program allows PCCC grads to transfer to NJIT’s Bachelor of Science degree program in Engineering Technology. PCCC’s Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Music Technology offers studies in music, business, and audio engineering to prepare students for jobs in the highly competitive music/audio production industry. Get all the details at

Downtown Clifton Street Fair: Don’t be alarmed if you see ponies wandering down Main Ave. on Oct. 17. It means is that the Downtown Clifton Street Fair is in full swing. The fair will be held along Main Ave. from Washington Ave. to Hadley Ave. from 10 am to 5 pm. For those unfamiliar with the fair, the Avenue will be lined with vendors, rides, food, a DJ and live music by Brookwood. Hosted by the Clifton Downtown Economic Development Group, call Angela Montague at 973-557-3886 for sponsorship opportunities. For street vendor prices and details, email Poetry Reading: ANT Bookstore and Café, 345 Clifton Ave., continues its free monthly series of poetry and music on Aug. 15 at 7 pm with poet John J. Trause and musician Charlie Jones. Trause is the Director of the Oradell Public Library and author of Eye Candy for Andy--13 Most Beautiful Poems for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, among others. Jones has appeared with many of the top jazz and R&B greats and his compositions draw from his diverse musical influences, from rock, pop, and blues to funk, jazz, and soul. An open reading follows. Call 973-777-2704. Clifton Merchant • August 2015


Clifton Milestones

Peter & Christina Kedl celebrate their 11th anniversary on Aug. 21. Their daughter Ottilia turned 9 on July 23 and son Alexander celebrates his 7th birthday on Aug. 28.

Birthdays & Celebrations

Send dates & Margot Villanova................8/1 Kim West...........................8/1 Angelo Greco ....................8/2 Karen Lime ........................8/2 Michael Urciuoli .................8/2 Kevin Ciok.........................8/4 Scott Malgieri ....................8/4 Mark W. Mikolajczyk .........8/5 Christina Sotelo ..................8/5 Ed Gasior Sr. .....................8/6 Sean McNally ....................8/6 Gladys Shefchik .................8/8 Chiara Cristantiello.............8/9 Jean Schubert.....................8/9 Emily Hawrylko ................8/12 Danielle Swede ................8/13 Andrew Cronin ................8/14 Kimberly Mozo ................8/14 Michelle Smolt..................8/14 Yuko Angello....................8/15 Christopher Antal .............8/15 Peter Bodor......................8/15 Emilie Oakley is 22 on Aug. 22 and JoAnn Frances Morici turns 91 on Aug. 10. 96 August 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Andrew Noblett................8/15 Jessica Oliva....................8/15 Maria Pinter.....................8/15 Susan Van Blarcom ...........8/15 Daniel Wolfe....................8/15 Arlene Hard.....................8/17 Bella Bulsara....................8/18 Alexandria Veltre..............8/19 Michael Melendez............8/20 Rachelle Swede................8/20 Cara Cholewczynski .........8/24 Yasmin Ledesma ...............8/24 Joanne Pituch ...................8/24 Robbie Lucas....................8/25

Tom Hawrylko and his bride Lori celebrate their anniversary on Aug 18, Lori’s 57 on Aug. 4 & Tom’s 58 on Aug. 15.

John Martin Traier & Mark Edward Peterson were married at Skylands Manor on July 4.

Joan & Gene Murphy celebrated their 51st anniversary on July 25. Eileen Gasior ...................8/26 Cameron J. Popovski.........8/26 Adam Brandhorst .............8/27 Peter Fierro, Jr. .................8/28 Nicholas Swede. ..............8/29 Michelle “Mish” Choy .......8/30 Joe Rushen.......................8/30 Kathleen McKenny............8/31 Phil J. Smith hit a milestone plus 1 on Aug. 24. Happy Anniversarto Nancy & Mike Ressetar on Aug. 15 and to Bruce & Diane Drake at 45 years on Aug. 22. Clifton Merchant • August 2015


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