Clifton Merchant Magazine - August 2006

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A date which will live in infamy...

December 7, 1941... Story by Jack De Vries

Photo Courtesy of Mark S. Auerbach


arry Murtha was inside a soda shop next to the Clifton Theater when he learned of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Like many, 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

Harry Murtha, CHS Class of 1942.

the movies. Between features, they’d show Movie Tone News, and we’d see films of the soldiers.”

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 Aves., 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. ☛

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On Dec. 8, 1941, 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 “fivecents-a-look” binoculars were removed because it “enabled anyone to survey the entire vital Paterson defense area scene.” 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 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, incase of attack. In the months that followed Dec. 7, Clifton and the rest of the nation transformed itself to support the war effort. Factories operated on a three-shift, 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

OFFICIAL NOTICE Due to the Labor Day holiday, the September edition of Clifton Merchant Magazine will be distributed on September 8.


August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

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

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 adds. “We needed to be united. In the first months of the war, we took a terrible beating.”

Soldier’s Story Cipriano “Chip” Zaczagnini and his father were at their Botany home when news of the sneak attack came over the radio. “As soon as I heard the Japs hit Pearl Harbor,” Zaczagnini remembers, “I said to myself that I was going to join the Navy.” In 1941, Zaczagnini was working in the Botany Mills. He remembers the mood in Clifton just after the attack. “There was a lot of anger because the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor out of a clear blue sky,” he says. “A lot of men lost their lives that day.” Including civilians, the Japanese killed 2,403 Americans at Pearl Harbor and wounded 1,178. Eighteen U.S. Navy ships were

The attack on Pearl Harbor kills 2,403 Americans and wounds 1,178. sunk or damaged. The Japanese lost 185 men in the attack, along with 29 planes, five midget submarines, and one large sub. Three weeks later, Zaczagnini went to Church Street in New York to enlist. “I had everything ready and took the papers home to my father for him to sign, since I was only 17,” he says. “But my father wouldn’t. He served in the Italian Army in World War I and didn’t want his son going off to war like he did. My mother had passed away a few years before, and it was only the two of us. “A few months later, I turned 18 and was drafted into the Army.” After going through basic training in Florida, Zaczagnini was sent to Army bases in Arkansas and Alabama before being shipped overseas. “We left New York and went over on a convoy to England,” Zaczagnini says. “I was part of the 66th Infantry Division. On Christmas Eve, 1944, we were boarding a troop transport, a Belgium ship called the Leopoldville, to go to France to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. “Just before we left, my Company commander, Captain Cain, told me to go with the LST transport. I was a machine gunner, and there was a jeep on the LST with a machine gun on it.” 16,000 MAGAZINES are distributed to hundreds of Clifton Merchants the first Friday of Every Month. MAILED SUBSCRIPTIONS $15/year in Clifton $25/year out of town CALL 973: 253: 4400 entire contents copyright 2006 © tomahawk promotions

Cipriano “Chip” Zaczagnini

As Zaczagnini sped toward France aboard the LST, the Leopoldville came under attack in the English Channel, torpedoed by a German sub, struck in the spot where Zaczagnini’s company was riding. Cain and 800 other men died as the Leopoldville sunk. “If I had been on that ship,” says Zaczagnini, “I wouldn’t be here today.” When the 66th reached France, a switch was made because of the heavy losses caused by the sinking. “They sent us to the ‘Forgotten Front’ and sent the 94th Infantry to the Bulge.” The Forgotten Front was a pocket area around the French towns of St. Nazaire and Lorient. Trapped in the area were over 30,000 German troops—with the sea at their backs and Allied troops in front of them. Zaczagnini spent the rest of WW II fighting the Nazis and was later awarded the Bronze Star for his actions. “Everybody’s scared in combat,” Zaczagnini says. “What you see in battle is no joke. You know what they say, ‘war is hell.’ And that’s the right word, it is hell. I lost a good part of my friends there, either in battle or on patrol. The Germans had those big guns, the ‘88s.’ If you heard them, you were safe, when you didn’t hear them, that’s when you had to worry.”

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August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Brother’s Sacrifice On Dec. 7, Frank Niader was 10 years old and living in a Hickory Hill, Pa., a rural coal-mining town. His family, which included older brother William, 15, and sister Olean, 17, would be deeply impacted by the events following the attack on Pearl Harbor. “My parents understood what war was, what terror was.” said Niader. “They were fearful. My brother, sister, and I didn’t understand. We felt isolated—a world away from Pearl Harbor.” That would change. After Niader’s 42-year-old father contracted “miner’s lung,” the Niaders moved to Clifton in Oct., 1942 to live closer to family. “Clifton was much different then,” says Niader, “big, open, full of farms. I remember everyone getting involved in the war effort. We’d bring scrap metal to the factory on Lisbon and Van Houten.”

William Niader with his parents at home in Clifton.

Niader’s brother William became a welder for the Trowbridge Company near Mt. Prospect and Van Houten Avenues. He wanted to join the Marines, but his parents wouldn’t let him.

At 18, he tried to enlist, but was rejected because the welding had affected his eyes. A few months later, his eyesight improved and William became a Marine. Niader says that late in the war, his brother

Our Deepest Sympathy... to all of John’s Family, Friends & Co-Workers, past & present John H. Ross came to our Clifton office after retiring from the Nutley Police Dept. He quickly became one of our most respected agents, and no matter how many new hires came after him, he was always affectionately known as “The New Guy”. John was a member of our Commercial Division and was extremely proud to be one of the few Coldwell Banker Commercial Certified Agents. John had this at his desk to guide him: God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.

John H. Ross

John leaves behind 3 wonderful children.

“The New Guy” We’ll Miss You John

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973-778-4500 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

A Memorial Education Fund has been set up for them in his name. Please call 973-778-4500 to donate. Checks to: Ross’ Children’s Education Fund

Clifton’s WW II story is of service and sacrifice, loss and growth... was fighting with the 7th Regiment of the First Marine Division, trying to capture a hill on the island of Okinawa called Kunishi Ridge. On June 12, 1945, while attempting to rescue a wounded Marine, a mortar shell struck William. He died without ever regaining consciousness. “Two days before the war officially ended,” says Niader, “we got the news. I was around the corner on Orono St., playing with my friends. My Aunt Annie came for me and said, “You better go home. Your brother’s been killed. “What happened next was like a dream. I remember going home and seeing my parents crying, but I can’t recall much more than that—it’s like I blocked it out.” Since then, Niader has done everything he can to remember. He’s contacted 40 Marines who fought at Kunishi Ridge, learning about the days leading up to William’s death and the memorial service the Marines held for him on a hill overlooking the East China Sea. His research has also assisted writer Stephen Ambrose, author of Band of Brothers and many other military books. “I am incredibly proud of my brother,” he says.

Life Interrupted Mario Giunta heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the dance floor. “I lived in Passaic then and was 18 years old,” the former Clifton Police detective says. “A group of us would chip in a nickel for gas from the Merit station in Passaic and go to the Meadowbrook on Sundays—for $1.25, you got a lettuce, tomato, and cold cut sandwich, and dancing from noon to four. “I don’t remember which band was playing, but they stopped the music and announced the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. Then the music started again. What happened didn’t really sink in until we were riding home and talking about it.” Giunta and his friends then went to New York to join the Marines as a group. Giunta was accepted, but his friends failed their physical for a variety of reasons. Next, they tried the Navy. Again, Giunta passed, but his friends were rejected. “Finally,” he says, “we got to the Coast Guard, and I said this was it for me. I passed, and they failed, so I joined. They later got drafted in the Army and got jobs like radiomen where things like bad eyesight wouldn’t affect them.”

Mario Giunta and his future wife, Marie Vullo, circa 1941.

Heart and Soul The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed the lives of many on the home front—including the life of Clifton High’s first drum majorette and Mario’s future wife, Marie (Vullo) Giunta, who is pictured on the cover of this month’s magazine. “I was home when I heard the announcement,” says Giunta. “My mother, aunt, and father all had tears in their eyes. I said, ‘What’s all the crying about?’ My mother said, ‘You don’t understand about war. A lot of young boys will be killed.’” Giunta’s father understood the fear of war better than most. He arrived in this country at 18 from Italy. To become a U.S. citizen, he enlisted in the Army. He was aboard a troop transport heading for France when World War I ended. Giunta would soon learn about war. Upon graduation from Clifton High in Jan., 1942 (students graduated in June or January then), she took a job in Wright Aeronautical in Paterson, starting first in the mail room, them moving to secretarial work. “I worked six, sometimes seven days a week,” Giunta remembers. “They encouraged us to work as much as we could. I worked with many mothers whose sons were serving in the military.” Working in a room with rows of typewriters, it was Giunta’s job to transcribe the notes of engineers testing airplane engines.

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


“I wouldn’t type the swear words,” says Giunta, “because I was afraid they would get in trouble. Then one day, an engineer named Doc Graninger told me, ‘Type what I tell you. Put in all the swear words. We need them to tell what’s happening.’ And he was

right. They’d use a term like ‘goose’ the engine, which sounded funny to me, but meant something to them.” Giunta, who worked at the defense plant until the war ended, remembers the spirit of the time. “Flags were always flying,” she


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

describes. “No matter what you did, you asked yourself if it was helping the boys. People were always looking to help.” Giunta’s contribution to America’s war effort did not end with her day job. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, she helped lift spirits by singing with the Duke Collins Band as vocalist “Mary Miles,” performing at places like President’s Hall, the Polish Home, and the Passaic Armory. “On stage,” she remembers, “I’d look out and all I could see was uniforms. Hundreds of soldiers would be there.” Giunta became a friendly voice back home to many service men. “They would write to Duke when they went over seas,” she says. “One day, he said, ‘My wife has two small children to care for, and she doesn’t have time to answer all these letters.’ I told him to give them to me. At lunchtime at Wright’s, I’d eat my sandwich with

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August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

On a Saturday in September, 1938, Drum Majorette Marie Vullo led the first Marching Mustang Band onto the Wessington Stadium field during the Clifton-Dover game. James Moscati was the director and Nicholas Persel was in charge of drills.

one hand and type letters with the other. They’d send me back little gifts, like military emblem patches and other cute things. I saved all their letters and have them today. “I also began corresponding with a girl, Lilly Stevens, in Bristol, England. My brother-in-law Paul stayed with her family since there were no barracks for many American soldiers. We’ve continued to write to each other all these years—all because of the war.” The war also impacted Giunta’s personal life. Though she was in love with future husband Mario, whom she’d known since age 14, her family would not permit the couple to marry and Giunta waited for him to finish his service. “Some girls got married right away when they knew their boyfriends were going into the service,” Giunta says. “My family wouldn’t allow that. They were afraid that I might become a widow, maybe with a young child.”

“Now I’m the one with the tears when I think about things like the World Trade Center or fighting in Afghanistan. And my grandchildren don’t understand why.”

Changed Forever Like the September 11 attacks, the bombing of Pearl Harbor will never be forgotten. That single day and the war that followed not only saved the free world, it changed everything. “Pearl Harbor and World War II had a dramatic affect on Clifton,” says Murtha. “Back then, this was a blue-collar town and most kids never gave college a thought. That changed with the GI Bill—one of the greatest pieces of legislation we ever created,” Murtha continues. “When the soldiers returned, they got their high school diplomas and went on to college because the GI Bill paid for them to do so. The resulting flood of lawyers, doctors, and other professionals would have

never been possible without it. And these people changed Clifton.” Murtha also notes the other impact of the GI Bill—the incredible amount of Clifton homes built. “This used to be a rural community,” he says. “I remember working on a farm during the summer to pay to go to my prom. But after the war, that changed. Steve Dudiak built so many of those ‘salt shaker’ homes in Clifton because people could afford them with a mortgage through the GI Bill.” Over 60 years ago, the events of a quiet Sunday morning changed the world—much like the events of a bright, blue Tuesday morning did in September of 2001. Initially, we were fearful, then came unification and the desire to bring forth justice. Through the stories of those who lived through Pearl Harbor, the present generation has a fine example to follow as our nation responds to its own day of infamy: September 11, 2001. August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Merchant Magazine

Letters to the Mayor Thorburn’s heritage: My soon-to-be 10 year old son, Samuel Grant Thorburn IV, was proud to see his great, great, grandfather, Clifton Mayor S. Grant Thorburn (1925-1927) pictured in the July edition. While my husband “Butchie” Thorburn died six years ago, my father-in-law (the mayor’s grandson) lives in Missouri and I will send him a copy of this edition. Thanks for the history lesson. Debbie Thorburn, Garfield

Delawanna dreamin’... During the Depression, Clifton grammar schools sponsored baseball teams and School 8 was coached by Clifton Patrolman Cornelius “Casey” Vander Wende. We played on the Cemetery Oval, which was at the end of High St., adjacent to

Prospero Pangaro at the Airport Oval in Delawanna, back in 1942. 10

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

1288 Main Ave. Clifton 07011 tomhawrylko


Corrections & Clarifications: Our mail box was full of notes and info but first we need to clean up some details from the July timeline... Ernest Scheidemann Sr. was elected to a one-year NJ Assembly term in 1932. He ran for freeholder in 1933 and was re-elected in 1936. Scheidemann also ran for Passaic County Sheriff in 1939 and lost. 1913: The Robin Hood Inn was opened by the Jacobs family on Valley Rd., near Montclair State University. It was purchased in 1998 by the Russo family and became The Valley Regency, wedding and banquet hall. 1913: The Orchard Rest, a Valley Rd. hot spot for sports celebrities, political figures and others, is opened by the Buttel family. It was later purchased by Harry Burns Sr., whose family operated the eatery until 1998, when it became Alexus Steakhouse. On pages 84 and 85, we printed photos of students from the CHS Class of ‘76 (for an upcoming reunion) and stated they were still active in Clifton today. Unfortunately, we have learned that Vic Salvaterra and Allen Soroka are deceased. We apologize for this error. East Ridgelawn Cemetery, hence its name. Today, it’s a housing tract. We also had our own social club, the Delawanna Independents, and our team, the Delawanna Indes, played teams like the Passaic Colored Pontiacs. Joe Latiano and my brother Frank managed boys like Johnny Gladwell, Mario Felici, Tony Filipone, Dominic Pissano, my other brother Louis, and Orie Dekker. In WWII, Orie was with the 69th Division and one of the first US soldiers to join up with the Russians at the city of Torgau on Germany’s eastern front. Later on, the city built the Airport Oval on what was the Delawanna Airport at Rutherford Blvd., used the fill for Route 3 and left a valley where an industrial park is today.

All of us old Beantowners appreciate your great work on Clifton history. Thanks for last month’s article on Avato’s Department store. I would like to add a footnote about my dad, Albert “Chick” Vollinger. Around 1916, he started the first bus service between Montclair and Paterson, along Valley Rd. and between Bloomfield and Paterson along Bloomfield Rd. (now Broad St.). In 1919, he purchased 75-77 Valley Rd., at the corner of Fenner Ave., and constructed a two-story frame building which had living quarters and a two-bay auto shop, the first gas station on Valley Rd. Finally, I hope Cliftonites will stop procrastinating, adopt an affirmative attitude and get that damn school situation straightened out.

Prospero Pangaro, Nutley

Floyd B. Vollinger, Spring Hill, Florida

Delivered at your door: I lived on Second St. in Clifton Center and regard this magazine as a treasure... Please mail me a year’s subscription. I’d also like to note that my dad was a De Graaf Dairies milkman; can you tell us a little history? John R. Donkersloot, Hackettstown

De Graaf Dairies was at the corner of Van Houten and Mt. Prospect Ave’s from 1921 to 1976. Founded by Pete, Bernie and Sam De Graaf, the brothers and other independent distributors like your dad delivered milk, cream and other products to the stoops of their customers. The second generation took over— John, Danny, Billy and Bernie Jr., Junie to old timers—continuing the family business with home delivery until around 1976. It was then that the processing plant was sold to Sisco Dairy Farms, operated for a time as the Plant Store, but eventually gave way to yet another Walgreens, just a few years ago.

New to the neighborhoods: Since I am not originally from Clifton, I would appreciate it if you could clarify in a future issue the names and boundaries of the neighborhoods of our community. Joan Lynyak, Clifton

On July 14, 2006, Clifton lost a friend, a leader and good man in Les Herrschaft, who passed away at the age of 80. He fought at the Battle of the Bulge, came home from World War II, and was active in the community in a number of different ways, perhaps most notably as the manager of the Styertowne Shopping Center. He served as Councilman, Board of Education President and was a Passaic Valley Water Commissioner. Les was an old friend of Clifton Merchant Magazine and will be missed for a number of reasons, including his handicapping of the City Council elections. Despite his declining health, Herrschaft showed the sharp wit that defined his character by accurately picking most of the candidates that won this past May (CM April 2006, p. 28). We’d like to express our condolences to his wife Dot, their boys Skip and Peter, and the entire Herrschaft family.

Editor’s note: We agree. Although it may be difficult to define specific boundaries, we will, beginning in Sept., provide coverage on each of Clifton’s distinct neighborhoods. Kudos from Clifton: The enclosed check covers the renewal of my subscription. This is a publication that Tom and the staff can be proud of. Theresa Tierney, Clifton

A Clifton life: It’s always a treat to see my dad, former Acting Chief of Police Marino De Mattia, in the magazine (CM July 2006, p. 69). The Clifton Police Dept., where he served from 1920 to 1959, was his love, besides his family. He started the Clifton Police Band with James Moscati, wrote a section of Scott’s History of Passaic and Its Environs and at the June 26, 1939 World’s Fair in New York, won the Best Pistol Shot in the World award. His picture appeared in all the New York papers and his plaque is at the entrance of City Hall. He even wrestled “Bull Montana” at Racy’s Pond for a charity extravaganza. What a life! Nancy De Mattia Ressetar, Clifton August 2006 • Clifton Merchant



August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Back in 1946, these kids in the Albion (or Beantown) section found a spraying fire hydrant a cool place to enjoy a hot summer day on a new cul-de-sac near Maplewood Ave. and Albion Park. Eileen Quinn and her husband Joe Dodd provided this photo; note the construction of the new homes in the background. Dodd said upon the urging of Michael Quinn, the developer of the ‘Bobbink Village’

housing development, Steve Dudiak, had agreed to create Albion Memorial Park on Maplewood Ave. to replace the old Albion Hawks field, which was on the corner of Concord and Valley. “That park is my father-in-law’s legacy,” said Dodd. On the following page, the evolving story of our community—and of folks like Quinn, Dudiak and others—continues in 1938, the second part in our history series, written primarily by the late David Van Dillen.

Fun in the sun, 50 years ago...

Summer, 1946, in the developing ‘Beantown’ section, just off Valley Rd...

Meet the Federle Family Ron, John, Jim & Sal

72 St. James Place • Clifton • 9 7 3 . 4 7 3 . 4 8 3 0 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Oct. 26, 1938: The trolley tracks are removed from Main Ave. Feb. 1938: The Clifton Woman’s Club is started by 25 women at the home of Mrs. Mortimer D. Smith. March 1, 1938: The Clifton City Hall Annex, formerly public School 3, is remodeled to house Clifton’s relief agencies. March 4, 1938: Seventy employees return to work at the Conrad Full-Fashioned Hosiery Mill following a brief labor strike. March 15, 1938: The Clifton Hotel, built in 1895, closes. May 8, 1938: Lester R. Dunham Real Estate & Ins. Agency opens. 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 p.m. It is trucked to Teterboro and flown to Newark and beyond. May 24, 1938: Edward Birmingham gets more votes, but Wilson Brower is named Mayor by the Clifton City Council.

Jan. 21, 1938: Garden Palace Lanes, pictured above, formerly of Passaic, opens on Lakeview Ave., near Clifton Ave., with 16 bowling alleys. May 28, 1938: The Ben Franklin 5 & 10 cent store opens on Main Ave. June 6, 1938: Johnny Rohrig and Tippy Larkin, pictured above, fight in a 10-round match at Wessington Stadium. Larkin wins. Aug. 1, 1938: Curtis Propeller moves from Buffalo Ave. to Lakeview Ave.

March 28, 1938: The Clifton Public Library moves from Union Ave. to a Brooks building on Clifton Ave. behind Clifton Trust, near Main Ave. 14

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

1938: Federal Sweets & Wafer Co. purchases Standard Textile Co. on Clifton Blvd. and begins the making of cookies there. 1938: Clifton Camera Shop opens on Main Ave. near City Hall, where it remains until 1945. 1939: The Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) improves Weasel Brook Park and the Vanderhoof (Westervelt) House and two dozen other projects. March 12, 1939: Vernon Grounds, a Clifton poet, orator and evangelist, is selected as the preacher at the Paterson Gospel Tabernacle. April 19, 1939: Samuel Shyowitz, Clifton’s Supervisor of Recreation, plans programs for seven summer play centers at five Clifton Schools and two city parks. May 23, 1939: VFW Post 142 arranges for Eddy Brothers Circus to perform 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.

May 18, 1939: Nicaragua President Anastasio Somosa, at left, 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 Korea, it produced thousands of cars for military needs and export across the globe. Magor also produced by the thousands sugar cane cars, which perhaps explains Somosa’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.

Dental Health Associates of Clifton • 973-778-5006 July 23, 1939: St. Christopher’s shrine for blessing autos is dedicated at St. Clare’s Church, with over 10,000 cars blessed the first week. Aug. 15, 1939: Clifton 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. Fall 1939: Middle Village apartments are open to 165 families, renting 2, 3 or 4-bedroom units. 1939: Scarpa Funeral Home opens. Fall 1939: CHS football games are away ; there is no Clifton stadium. April, 1940: The Allwood Library moves from Community Church to the firehouse. April 28, 1940: American Clothes Inc. opens at the corners of Clifton and Lakeview Ave’s. May 26, 1940: St. Andrews 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 franchise at 853 Lexington Ave. June 1, 1940: Dr. Kaplus’s Animal Hospital open at 851 Main Ave.

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Fall 1940: All Clifton HS Football games are played away—again. June 11, 1940: The Mandarin Oriental Restaurant holds a grand opening at Main and Piaget Ave’s. Chow Mein was made hourly. Lunch is 25 cents. 1940: A&P opens an early supermarket at 315 Clifton Ave. 1940: John Zozzaro starts a recycling center off Hazel Street. 1940: School 2 in Richfield is condemned as a fire trap by the NJ Department of Education. Students are transferred to Albion’s School 5. July 15, 1940: The 25-acre Paulison Ave. unit of Weasel Brook Park is dedicated by the Passaic County Park Commission. Aug. 20, 1940: Ground is broken for an 85-home Sunset Manor development on Rutherford Blvd. by builder Morris Herman.

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Nov. 28, 1940: Clifton sends 16 men to military service in a call for volunteers. While a declaration of war is still over a year away, the mood of the nation is cautious. This photo is from the Athenia Canteen, which was a place where soldiers and sailors could relax while on furlough. They often returned with momentos from their service. See story on page 23. Oct. 1, 1940: Two Selective Spring 1940: Clifton Recreation Department is established, with Service Draft Boards are set up in William Shershin as director. Clifton to enroll residents in military duty. One board is located n 1940: F. Paul Marschalk opens a the Richfield Firehouse and the Real Estate Insurance Office. other in the old School 3 building. Sept. 1, 1940: Samuel Shyowitz, Oct. 31, 1940: The new District Clifton’s Recreation Director, Court in City Hall is dedicated. schedules 22 dances, 21 movies, 8 pet shows in 1940. Nov. 6, 1940: The Daughters of the American Revolution, Claverack Sept. 20, 1940: The Doherty Silk Chapter, places a tablet on the refurMill on Main Ave. is sold in a sheriff’s bankruptcy foreclosure sale. bished Vanderhoof House.

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

At Clifton Savings, it’s more than a slogan – it’s a commitment. Always has been; always will be. Our founders made that commitment more than 75 years ago when they opened the doors of our first branch. They were there to serve their community’s banking needs. They knew and cared about the financial and social well being of the people who lived around them – their neighbors.

What was true then is just as true today, and this commitment has been the key to our enduring success as a financial institution. How do we achieve this enviable standard? By knowing the people we serve. People who want to work with a bank that understands their needs and knows how to help them achieve their dreams. People like you. Clifton Savings. A bank that lives by the commitment that experience pays.

Serving the community since 1928.



August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Acquackanonk Gardens

A photo from spring of 1941 of one of the first standard designs used for housing in Acquackanonk Gardens. The buildings were built by the federal government during WWII to temporarily house workers from nearby defense plants. After the war, many of the homes were sold or rented to returning veterans. Today the area is still a viable and evolving Clifton neighborhood.


ith Germany and Italy reeking havoc across Europe and mighty Japan laying claim to much of the Pacific, the prospect of the United States joining WWII seemed inevitable and the government took steps to prepare for war in early 1941. Defense plants began sprouting up across the country, ready to start pumping out tanks, planes and other devices of war. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequent declaration of war, there was an exodus of young men enlisting, leaving behind job openings in everything— from factories workers to cab drivers—to be filled by women or men who were unable to serve in the war. President Franklin Roosevelt once remarked that these workers were equally as important to the war effort as soldiers. He was correct: throughout the war, no country could even compare to the American indus-

try production levels, which allowed the U.S. to produce more war machines and overwhelm her enemies. For their contribution to the country, workers from local plants were granted free stay in Acquackanonk Gardens in Clifton for the duration of the war. A small, quiet neighborhood located between Valley Rd. and Van Houten Ave., construction on these 350 homes began in April 1941. Designed and constructed by the federal government, these one to four family homes housed workers from across the country that migrated to our area to ply their trades in nearby defense manufacturing plants, such as Wright’s Aero, Curtiss Wright, US Rubber and Raybestos Manhattan. Residents, many of whom worked together in the local factories, took a liking to their little community and did their best to improve it when not working.

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1941-1946: 5,500 Cliftonites serve in US Armed Forces during WWII. From our archives, we found the following account of the Acquackanonk Library.


n 1944, Mrs. Estelle Pardy Fuller and Mrs. Nell Talmidge, activities directors of Acquackanonk Gardens, formed a library in a room at The Barn, which is on the site of the present VFW Hall on Valley Rd. The library opened with over 300 books, with many local families and businesses donating books, and the remainder being acquired from the Trenton Library. Over time, the services of the Library expanded. In a 1998 letter written to this magazine by former resident Marilyn Murphy, whose mom, Mrs. Estelle Pardy Fuller, helped found the library, Murphy detailed some of the services. They included a day nursery, baby keep-well station, home nursing courses, summer play school, and a Garden newspaper, The Log. Before long, a Tenants Association was also formed. Following the end of the war in 1945, many of the returning veterans were in need of a job and a roof over their head. To help them assimilate back into society, the government decided to make the Acquackanonk homes available for rent or sale, with priority going to the vets and then to defense plant workers and others. Those who purchased property had to agree to several stipulations created by the feds to ensure the area would remain true to its original design, mainly that no lot shall be subdivided into smaller buildings or lots.

Nov. 15, 1940: A new rectory is occupied at St. John Kanty Church, 49 Speer Ave. Nov. 28, 1940: A 33-mile per day rural postal route continues to serve the Richfield and Delawanna sections of Clifton. 1940: Clifton Baking Co., organized in 1924 by Andrew Tkacz, uses five trucks and two cars in the delivery of baked goods. 1940: Clifton Laundry Co., established in 1918 by Peter Nauta, Sr., builds a new and modern plant at Main and Sylvan Ave’s. 1941: Walter J. Harring purchases land in Allwood from Charles Reis. He would go on to construct 500 homes in that neighborhood prior to the start of World War II. Aug. 13, 1941: Center Savings & Loan of Clifton Ave. in Clifton Center is chartered. Dec. 7, 1941: Clifton and the nation adopt a war status following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Rationing, recycling and civil defense program are initiated. 1941-1946: The Clifton Chapter of the American Red Cross trains residents in First Aid, conducts war relief fund raising and collects blood.


August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


November 11,1942: The first of 12 Honor Roll billboards erected. In 1944, Mayor William Dewey officiated at the dedication of the Honor Roll at the Italo-American Circle of Albion Place, Valley Rd., one of 12 such structures which were posted in Clifton neighborhoods to show support for the 5,500 men who shipped off to war. Pictured from left are Chester Bartoli, Tessie Pascrell, George Toscano, Mayor Dewey and Norma Bartoli. A photo of the actual billboard is shown below; note the names highlighted. They are the young men who were killed in action, just six of the 269 Cliftonites who would die during World War II. Ralph Eodice provided the top photo and the other was given to us by Joe Dodd and Eileen Quinn.



August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


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1942: The Allwood Library moves from the firehouse to School 9. 1942: The Clifton Service Canteen is established by Clifton Moose. 1942: An addition is constructed at Clifton City Hall to house additional police services. 1942: A Clifton Police Reserve Unit is established for emergencies. 1942: Uehling Instrument Co., manufacturers of barometers and thermometers, is established on the Clifton-Paterson border.

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Oct. 26, 1942: Following a series of arson fires, the old and tired Clifton Grove Hotel at Main and Madison Ave’s. is razed. 1942: Air Raid wardens regularly hold “black:out drills” with hearings on infractions. During WWII, 65

Clifton Civil Defense zones exist. 1942-1945: The purchase of War Bonds by Cliftonites results in the delivery of a much-needed ambulance, an Air Force bomber and a US Navy P.T. craft to our Armed Forces and those of our allies.

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August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Pitching in back on the home front...

The Athenia Canteen


f you weren’t in the service during WWII, you waged a campaign on the home front, collecting scrap metal, buying war bonds and doing everything possible to support the ‘boys over there’. The late Stanley Zwier, who served as Clifton Mayor from 1958-1962, did just that as he and others helped to launch the Athenia Canteen at 754 Van Houten Ave. in 1942, a group that would eventually become the Athenia Vets Post. “Most of us had family in service. We wanted to do something nice for the boys from Clifton who were home on furlough or getting ready to ship out,” Zwier said in an interview back in 1998. His three brothers, Robert, Henry and Michael, were all in the Army. “We gave each serviceman a carton of cigarettes. We would also

On furlough, back home, relaxing in Clifton, circa 1944, from left Joe Menegus, Billy Bogert, Steve Kalata, Jerry Agnello, and Ed Riuli. Photo below, that’s some of the organizers of the Athenia Canteen, including Stanley Zwier at right.

give them theater tickets and took them out for a snack.” The organization also published the Canteen News, which was mailed to Clifton residents around the world who were serving in the military to keep them abreast of hometown happenings. Zwier said Clifton’s version of a USO Club wouldn’t have been possible without the many financial contributions from the business community and private citizens, as well as the efforts of his fellow members on the Athenia Canteen Committee, including Rose Bucaro, Margaret Svec, Frances Mirabella, Mary Bieganowsky, Steve Kleaha, Marie Van Acker, Bob Colvin, Basil Zito, Jean Luszkow, and Irene Zwier, among others.

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


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That’s Willie Zawisha, who was bed-ridden most of his life, dictating a letter to his niece which will be sent to ‘Clifton boys’ serving across the globe, back during World War II.

In an article published in Oct., 2003, readers were introduced to Willie Zawisha, who was homebound during World War II because of arthritis of the spine. With the help of his niece, he published a wartime newsletter that kept his Clifton chums connected despite scattered overseas assignments. Today, these classmates and veterans call themselves the Sag-A-Bits, and still meet yearly. Izzy MacDonald, daughter of Sag-A-Bits member Charles Manella, saw the article and provided pages from Zawisha’s old newsletter, which were found among Manella’s belongings after he died on Sept. 19, 2003. Here are two excerpts...

Sag-A-Bits member Joe Menegus estimated these letters were written after June 6, 1944 (D-Day). According to Menegus, Bill Tomea was never found and Gerry Agnello, who asked to join Zawisha’s group, survived the war but is no longer alive today. August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


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August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Oct. 1943: St. Philip the Apostle Parish is separated from Paterson’s St. Agnes Parish and will be organized in Richfield. The photos above are at the groundbreaking for St. Philip’s first church at the corner of Valley Rd. and Van Houten Ave., presently the home of the Paterson Diocese newspaper, The Beacon. Seen in the top photo are the roof tops of homes in Acquackanonk Gardens as the view is from the top of Valley, facing east. The second photo is of building committee members and Monsignor Louis.

August 6, 1945: The atomic bomb ‘Little Boy’ dropped on Hiroshima.


y New Year’s Day in 1945, it had become apparent that the Axis Power’s control over Europe and Africa was slowly dissipating, as Italy was liberated and Germany was thrust back towards her border. By Feb. of that year, with troops positioned just 40 miles outside of Berlin, the Allies held the Yalta Conference to discuss post-war plans, including the formation of the United Nations. Now faced with insurmountable odds, the German war machine crumbled beneath the Allies’ will. With Berlin under siege, Hitler and his wife committed suicide on April 30, 1945. The surrender of all German troops followed on May 7, with V-E Day celebrated the next day. The focus was now turned to the Pacific Ocean and Japan. With Japan losing ground steadily, the Allies began to plan an inva-

sion of the island. However, fearing heavy casualties, the US presented the Manhattan Project. On Aug. 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped the Little Boy atomic bomb over Hiroshima, annihilating

the city. The Japanese refused to surrender and on Aug. 9, Bocks Car dropped the Fat Man on Nagasaki, convincing the Japanese to finally surrender on Aug. 15. Clifton boys soon began returning home. Of the 5,500 young men that left their hometown, there was 269 who never returned. Although no longer on this Earth, their sacrifice was never forgotten by Clifton. Situated in Main Memorial Park, the Clifton War Monument stands a constant reminder of the price that all of Clifton’s deceased war heroes have paid. Hundreds of names of Cliftonites are inscribed on the monument... men who died during WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam. And most recently the addition of the first name in 34 years—US Army Capt Michael Tarlavsky—killed in action in Najaf, Iraq on Aug. 12, 2004. ...the timeline continues on page 45

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August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


We Cliftonites love to read local news...

Telling Clifton’s Story Story by Bob Massielo


lifton has existed as a city for less than a century but it has a heritage of local journalism that predates its 1917 founding. In the Directory of New Jersey Newspapers 1765-1970, published by the New Jersey Historical Commission, about a dozen Clifton newspapers were identified, with the oldest being the Weekly Echo. Founded about 1869, the Weekly Echo long has been absent but it was the first in a long line of hometown publications originating in what is now known as Clifton. The only remaining general interest weekly newspaper serving the city, the Clifton Journal, traces its roots through purchases and mergers to when The Journal of Acquackanonk Township made its appearance in 1914. In the 45 years between the debut of the Weekly Echo and the birth of the Journal, a number of publications rose and fell, trying to fill the news gap left by the daily newspapers in Paterson and Passaic. Some publications were offshoots of the Passaic-based rivals, General Advertiser and Independent. The Clifton & Athenia Weekly News, which published between 1895 and 1906, was the result of the merger between the Athenia News and the Clifton Independent, both of which were started by the General Advertiser in 1887. The Independent’s next contribution to Acquackanonk Township was the Clifton & Lakeview Press, which lasted from 1900 to 1902. 28

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Above, the Clifton Leader, Dateline Clifton and the Clifton Journal lay behind a charcoal illustration by Jacquie Kiernan dubbed “Clif Hall,” a J. Seward Johnson statue actually entitled “Point of View” which was on display in front of city hall.

The 1890’s also saw the publication of the picturesquely titled Grumbler, perhaps a predecessor of today’s national tabloids, which gave way to the Township Record and Weekly Grumbler, that seems to have folded in 1899. Another paper, the Clifton Weekly, appears to have had only a two year run, from 1896 and 1898.

Into the second decade of the Twentieth Century, two new publications came onto the scene. Clifton Times, started in 1912, lasted until 1937 when it was cut down by the Great Depression. It was owned by the Herald News of Passaic. Clifton Press, first published about 1913, was out of business by the start of the Roaring Twenties.



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Hometown Papers The Journal of Acquackanonk Township, which was started around 1914 and is an ancestor of today’s Dateline Clifton, was owned by Col. Charles F. H. Johnson. He had served in World War I, was president of Botany Mills and also owned the Clifton Printing Company, located at 699 Main Ave., which is now 1088 Main Ave. Following the township’s incorporation as the City of Clifton in 1917, the Journal changed its name to The Clifton Journal. During the 1920’s, Augustine La Corte edited it but he would soon begin his own publication, The Clifton Leader, and create a rivalry that lasted more than a half century. Following Gus La Corte’s departure, Col. Johnson brought in Max Kroll, an itinerant special editions developer who was working on a project with Paterson’s Morning Call, recalls George Kroll, Max’s son and later editor and publisher of the paper himself. Max eventually purchased the paper in 1938. Kroll noted that his father covered everything in town, from sporting events to City Council meetings, and he knew everyone. George and his brother Seymour joined their father in the business, with George’s interest primarily on the journalism side, while his brother focused on production. Brothers Seymour and George Kroll with their dad, Max Kroll of The Clifton Journal, which he purchased in 1938.

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Max Kroll and Gus LaCorte both edited The Clifton Journal. In 1947, the Kroll brothers bought the Clifton Printing Company from Peter Van Lenten and Peter Baker, who themselves had purchased the firm 10 years earlier. Clifton Printing continued to print the newspaper through World War II, and then the Kroll brothers acquired the printing company. Kroll noted that his father was editor, publisher and principal reporter for the Journal and the paper continued to add pages and prosper as Clifton went through a booming growth period after World War II. His father also wrote the Old Timer column that was popular with local readers. Max Kroll became ill in 1959 and turned over the operations of the newspaper business to his sons before he died in 1961. George Kroll took on the newspaper full time, while his brother took over the printing company and ultimately bought George’s share. George began his heavily followed As I See It column, in which he kept close tabs on public officials. “Following the war, Clifton enjoyed a tremendous boom with home construction and new businesses quickly filling

up former farm and dairy land in the city,” he recalls. “There was a lot going on and I kept an eye on public officials. I made sure that they remained accountable to public opinion, but not in a mean-spirited way as some publications did.”

Terry LaCorte with his dad, Gus, the founder of The Clifton Leader, which began in 1926.

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In 1981, Tom Hawrylko is named the editor of Dateline Clifton. In 1975, Kroll acquired a competitor, the Clifton News, which was operated by insurance executive Richard DeMarco. Seven years later he merged the Journal with the Matzner publica-

tion, Dateline Clifton, which launched in 1981 with a 23-year old Tom Hawrylko (founder and currently editor and publisher of Clifton Merchant Magazine) as editor. Harold Matzner ultimately sold

all of his newspaper holdings to the company that had purchased The Herald-News and George Kroll retired from the Dateline-Journal in 1985. From there, he went on to serve as a sales representative for The Jewish Community News.

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At 1414 Main Ave., a few blocks from where the early Clifton Journal was printed at the Clifton Printing Company, Gus La Corte set up North Jersey Press in 1941 to publish his paper and do printing for businesses, other publications and individuals. He was the editor, publisher, principal reporter and everything else at the small paper, except book keeper. He entrusted that duty to his wife, Sarah. The Clifton Leader came into being in 1926, when Gus La Corte went out on his own after serving as editor of the Journal. The first 15 years were a great struggle for the young editor, who had dropped out of Clifton High School to help his family, despite his wish to become an attorney.

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Alex Bidnik was perhaps too dogged in his news gathering... Indicative of his single-mindedness, La Corte did earn a law degree in 1935, despite the pressures of a growing business and a family. Much like Max Kroll, La Corte too had an interesting road to success. After doing odd jobs around the Passaic Daily News, Gus La Corte became a reporter at the age of 15. He studied Journalism at New York University part time and then was offered the editor’s position at The Clifton Journal. He remained there until starting the Leader. The paper was first printed in Paterson, but as time went on, La Corte determined that he could do the job more cost-effectively himself; he acquired a hand-fed press and operated out of a number of Clifton locations. Later he bought a web-fed press but because money was tight, he could not afford to move the press to Clifton and printed out of Hackensack. Finally in 1941, he incorporated North Jersey Press at 1414 Main Ave. With both Clifton Printing Company and North Jersey Press now located on Main Ave., a commercial and journalistic rivalry grew. In an effort to gain more market share, La Corte, in 1950, converted the Clifton Leader into a daily publication called the Morning Leader, but that venture lasted only about a year. George Kroll recalled that when Gus La Corte was elected to the City Council in the 1950’s, the Main Ave. rivalry became a bit more heated. The rivalry was not so intense, however, that after his brother Seymour’s death, George Kroll had his publication printed by North Jersey Press.

The masthead of The Independent Prospector’s final edition, which published on Dec. 30, 1982.

Reflecting on the past, both George Kroll and Gus’s son, son, S. M. “Terry” La Corte, noted that the 20year post World War II period was one of great growth and activity for their families’ publications. They attributed this to the booming post war economy, a time when local neighborhood stores were the main source for consumer items and weekly newspapers were often the main source of information.

A Discordant Note A history of newspapers serving Clifton would not be complete without a note on The IndependentProspector and its editor and publisher, Alex Bidnik Jr. Begun in 1933 as the Jersey Prospector, Bidnik purchased the paper in the mid-sixties from Paterson’s Patrick Dwyer. Bidnik, like La Corte and Kroll, rode the crest of Clifton’s heydays, the late 60’s, right up to the final edition of the IP on Dec. 30, 1982. Even among those that have incurred his wrath, many would agree that Bidnik had talent and was dogged in his news gathering style. His downfall came when his doggedness 1799

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led him to pursue advertisers too aggressively. Bidnik was convicted of extortion charges in connections with alleged attempts to force local businesses to take ads with the paper and that footnote often overshadows any good he did for the community. In his final column, appropriately titled, “The Pleasure Was All Mine, he wrote, “I’ve been at bat many times in the past 20 years. I’ve pitched and fielded and occasionally threw a curve, although unintentionally.” Going into the Seventies, the environment changed drastically for weekly papers. Daily publications began covering local news more aggressively with their regional sections and offered other media options.

1981, Matzner Publications, owner of Today Newspapers, which served other Passaic County communities, launched Dateline Clifton. The formula to its success, it seemed, was that it was mailed to 31,000 homes weekly, insuring delivery, an attractive selling feature to advertisers.

Evolving Media Options Page counts were steadily decreasing for the weeklies and as a result, the Leader ended its nearly 55 year run in 1980. But in Dec. of

The second edition of Dateline Clifton, which was launched on Dec. 2, 1981, with Tom Hawrylko as its editor.

By the end of 1982, Bidnik’s Independent Prospector had folded. The Clifton News-Journal was acquired by Matzner Publications and merged with Dateline Clifton to become Dateline Journal. Around the same time, the Paterson News folded and the Drukker family sold the Herald News to Media News Group, a company owned by Dean Singleton and Richard Scudder. In the mid-eighties, Matzner sold Dateline Journal and all other Today papers to a national concern which allowed out-of-towners to manage the publications. Late in the 80’s, these papers were again sold to Singleton’s Media News Group. In the nineties, the Herald News, Dateline Journal and its sister publications in Passaic and Bergen counties were purchased by Macromedia, the parent company of The Record of Hackensack. Throughout those changes, Dateline’s editor, Albina Sportelli, continues in that position.

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In the nineties, Dateline and the Herald were purchased by the Record. Clifton Merchant Magazine was launched in Oct. 1995, as a monthly publication by editor & publisher Tom Hawrylko. The goal, he said, was to create an independent monthly that could tell Clifton’s story in ways a weekly or daily newspaper could not. For the first two years of its existence, Clifton Merchant was a skinny little throwaway publication which was mailed monthly to 31,000 homes. In short, it was a lot different than the publication which is in your hands today. In Oct. 1997, Hawrylko converted the magazine into a glossy, magazine wrap finish, added pages to better feature photos and stories, and cut the print run to 16,000. It is now distributed monthly at local stores and mailed to subscribers. Since then, the magazine has grown significantly, averaging about 90 pages, and the quality of its news content has improved drastically.

The photo above of Tom Hawrylko is from a profile written about Clifton Merchant Magazine in the Record’s Business section on Aug. 29, 1997.

Helping to keep the market competitive, the most recent addition to local news is the bi-weekly Clifton Insider which began on Dec. 15,

2004. Publishers are Nick Veliky and Joe Raitano with Veliky serving as editor of the tabloid, which averages 12 to 16 pages.

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August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Federal Mortgage Offers Senior Citizens A Reverse Mortgage


or some 33 years now, Anthony A. Accavallo, shown here, has been helping make the American Dream become a reality, right here in Clifton. As President of Federal Mortgage & Investment Corp. at 1111 Clifton Ave., Clifton, he and his firm have written millions of dollars worth of mortgages which have allowed people to purchase homes. And while that work has been fulfilling, Accavallo said he is getting his greatest satisfaction these days by helping senior citizens with reverse mortgages. A reverse mortgage is a special kind of mortgage loan for seniors. “It is a safe, easy way to turn your home equity into tax-free cash,” he continued. “Unlike a home equity loan, you do not

have to make monthly payments. Instead, a reverse mortgage pays you. More importantly, you do not have to repay the loan for as long as you live in the house. It’s a great way to keep your home and get money from it at the same time.” The name “reverse mortgage” describes exactly what the mortgage is — it is the exact opposite of a conventional mortgage. That is, with a conventional mortgage the borrower pays the lender but with a reverse mortgage, the lender pays the borrower. In the past, a senior citizen in need of money would have to take out a loan against their house and immediately start making monthly payments again or sell their home. But a reverse mortgage allows seniors to borrow against the equity they

How do I qualify for a Reverse Mortgage? It’s simple. You and your co-borrower must be at least 62 years old. You must own your home free and clear or have just a small balance on your existing mortgage. Best of all, there are no income or credit requirements to satisfy. How can I receive my money? You can receive it in several ways: •Equal monthly payments as long as you live in your home •Equal monthly payments for a certain period of time •As a line of credit you can draw upon as needed, for whatever reasons •As a lump sum draw at closing •A combination of the above, to meet your requirements. When must I repay the loan? You must repay the loan if you no longer live in your home. In the event of your death, your heirs can choose to repay the loan and keep the house or sell the house and repay the loan, What are interest rate charges & fees? •An adjustable rate of interest is charged on reverse mortgages •Closing costs are typical for any mortgage closing and all may be financed •No out-of-pocket expenses at closing Are Reverse Mortgages safe? •Yes, FHA and FannieMae guarantee the payments you receive •FHA and FannieMae also guarantee you will never owe more than your house is worth — no debt left on estate

already have in their home... and they never have to make a monthly payment. Each reverse mortgage candidate is required to attend a free counseling session with a local independent housing agency approved by FHA (Federal Housing Administration). Candidates are encouraged to bring other family members with them to help in the decision-making process. “This process ensures that the borrower understands the program fully and aides them in determining whether or not a reverse mortgage is for them,” said Accavallo.

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August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Here’s a view, from pre-Little League (and pre-Nike) days, of the 1949 Lakeview Lions. Top, from left: Charles Matt, Bill ‘Red’ Posednic, Ed Zych, Emil Kilianski, Bob ‘Harry’ Santin, John Van Tuyle and Alex Bidnik. Bottom row: ‘Birdie’ Zirger, Stanley Kaminski, Lou Williams and Bob Grimes. Not pictured: Joe Bioler, ‘Greek’ Kabash and Ed Looney.


or many, Clifton Merchant is more than a magazine. It’s a chance to go home again. One who travels back is Lakeview native Lou Williams, who now lives in Hackettstown. Born on the kitchen table at 72 Piaget Ave., Williams loves reading about his hometown. A few years back, he sent in this picture of his 1949 Lakeview Lions, a team run by classmate and former newspaper publisher Alex Bidnik. “Alex was always the captain,” Williams recalled. “He organized the team, signed up the players, and handed out the schedules—total control. Alex was a regular George Steinbrenner…before there was George Steinbrenner.” As a boy, Williams remembers the temporary U.S. Army base set up at Nash Park during World War II, and playing in foxholes left behind on the hill overlooking the Passaic River. 38

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

With friends like Bob Zschack— the former Voice of the Mustangs and a retired CHS teacher—he would spend nearly every summer day at the park, playing baseball games like ‘One Old Cat.’ “We loved it,” he said. “Playing like we did, we got to bat 30 times a day. In Little League, the kids only get to bat three times a game.” Another Nash Park memory was playing for Post 8 and catching balls off the bat of the great Billy DeGraaf. “Joe Popek was our coach,” he recalled. “I was a little guy, trying to make the team. I was in the outfield when Billy came up to hit. He knocked this ball way back into dead centerfield. I ran after it, crashed through the forsythia bushes, and slammed into the fence making the catch—best one I ever made in my life. “As I held up the ball to show I caught it, I heard Popek yell, ‘Great hit, Billy!’”

Though his catch was ignored, Williams did get a chance to shine because of Billy. Once when DeGraaf missed a game, Williams took over for him behind the plate. “I guess that makes me Billy DeGraaf’s back-up,” he laughed. Williams also remembered nights at School 11 when a sheet was hung outside and 16 mm movies and cartoons were shown. While this magazine lets him go home every month, there is nothing like a trip back to Clifton. Recently, Williams took hisgrandson to see Nash Park and the home where he was born. “We had lunch in the Hot Grill, which he thought was the greatest place in the world. In fact, I have to go back to get him a tshirt.” Until he does, Williams will continue to go home every month with Clifton Merchant Magazine. “I grew up during a wonderful time,” he stated. “I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.”

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Building a City through Football...

Coach Joe Grecco... by Jack De Vries & Joe Hawrylko


ith the Japanese surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, American soldiers began returning to Clifton—a city that would rapidly evolve over the next several years. And 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. “We gave Clifton people,” Grecco said, “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. 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, hurt by a controversial play when an apparent Boettcher touchdown was waved off. However, with their great season, the Mustangs had given Clifton an identity and a focal point. Stung by being


August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

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. And, 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. Coach 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 twice chosen 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.


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Fighting Mustang Coaches

Carlton Palmer (1921)

Art Donnelly 1926-1934


While Clifton’s football legacy has been one of state championships and packed stadiums, it’s also been one of rocky fields, political bickering, and disappointment. Eighteen coaches have lived through those seasons, all leaving their mark on Clifton’s football history. On these pages are the photos of those coaches who have guided generations of young men on the gridiron... Below are the names and dates of service of two Clifton Football coaches that pictures are not available for: Clifford S. Hurlburt (1922-1923) Steve Holster (1925)

Harry Steinmark (1924)

Al Lesko (1935-1940)

Vic Dragon (1941-1944)

Joe Grecco (1945-1963)

Bill Vander Closter (1964-1979)

John Lischak (1980-1981)

Jack Jones (1982-1984)

Dennis Heck (1985-1987)

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Alex Kaplanovich (1988-1989)

John Iannucci (1990-1992)

James Kelly (1993-1997)

James D. Hill (1998)

Chet Parlavecchio (1999-2003)

Ron Anello (2004-Current)

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May 1946: An ACME Supermarket opens at Main and Madison Aves. 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 growing membership roll. Jan. 30, 1946: A newly formed Veterans of Foreign Wars Post holds its first meeting in the Allwood Fire House. Feb. 8, 1946: Clifton’s Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans is chartered and installs officers. Feb. 12, 1946: Clifton Memorial Post 347 of the American Legion installs officers and initiates all of its 155 members. 1946: Price & Lee publishes the first Clifton Directory since 1937. June 2, 1946: Albion Place Memorial Post 7165, Veterans of Foreign Wars, installs first officers. June 1946: The Goodlatte Plant in Delawanna is sold to Hoffman-La Roche for use as a storage building. The Goodlatte Oilcloth went bankrupt in Nov., 1936 and was resold by Clifton to Roche.

1946: Shulton, Inc. opens executive and manufacturing buildings at Colfax Ave. and Route 46 for making Old Spice, cosmetics and other nationally known goods. Shulton ceased operations at the plant in 1991. In 2001, Town & Country began construction of a 637-unit housing development there. June 4, 1946: Emergency housing is made available for 70 veterans in Clifton by using Civilian Conservation Corps barracks at Passaic Ave. and Route S-3 trucked to Clifton in from out-of-state. 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 plant in the old Doherty Silk Mill. The Doherty Mill was used by Western Electric during WWII. Fall 1946: Clifton High School home football games are played at Hinchcliffe Stadium in Paterson during this season.

On July 5, 1946, Mario and Emma Barilari Sr. marked the first year anniversary of Mario’s Restaurant, at 710 Van Houten Ave. Mario’s was the first restaurant to bring pizza into the Clifton-Passaic area, part-owner and the couple’s daughter, Aurora Bellini said recently. In December, 1998, Mario Sr. (at left) passed away and in July, 2001, Emma (at right) died. The couple’s four children—Aurora, Aulo, Mario Jr. and Alba and their spouses and the founder’s grandchildren—now steer the daily operation of this Clifton dining institution. August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Fall 1946: CHS football games are played at Hinchcliffe Stadium. Dec. 7, 1946: The undefeated Clifton High School football team loses to Granby H.S. of Norfolk, Va. in the Oyster Bowl in a questionable play. However, the controversial loss is often considered the impetus for motivating the Board of Education to complete construction of the Clifton Schools Stadium.

Dec. 13, 1946: First services are held in the Clifton Jewish Synagogue at 300 Clifton Ave., east of Main Ave.

1946: Nick Mikula Sr. (at right) establishes a contracting company on Luddington Ave. The firm offers excavation and demolition services to a growing community and eventually relocates to its present location on Route 46. The company is now in its third generation of service.

Dec. 20, 1946: The Clifton Board of Education signs contracts for the completion of the Clifton Schools Stadium stands.

Dec. 15, 1946: Oneida Paper Products Co., established in New York in 1926, moves to a new building on Clifton Blvd. Over 500 workers are employed to make wax paper, cellophane bags and more.

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 Clifton City Council approves a lease of city land in Lakeview by the US Navy for the construction of three temporary steel Quonset huts to be used for training in the US Naval Reserve program. March 1, 1947: Michael J. Shershin, Councilman and former Mayor, dies. March 8, 1947: Eastern Corrugated Container Corp., founded in Brooklyn, NY in 1922, celebrates its silver anniversary. One hundred employees took park in festivities at its Clifton Blvd. plant.

From left in the truck, Ryan Mikula his brother Dennis in front and their dad Dennis of Mikula Contracting, Inc.

April 14, 1947: On opening day of the 1947 Major League Baseball season, Clifton’s Eddie Mayo has a single and a double for the Detroit Tigers in that club’s win over the St. Louis Browns.

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April 22, 1947: The Clifton Memorial Post 347, American Legion, is officially granted its charter at a meeting at Domyon’s Hall. Five hundred people attend the installation of the Post and Auxiliary officers, including Mayor Nutt and city officials. May 1, 1947: The Athenia Post Office opens at Van Houten and Mt. Prospect Ave’s. 1947: Donner & Hellegers Painting Supplies, founded in Passaic in 1905, relocates to Clifton Center, Clifton Ave., east of Main Ave. 1947: A. Horowitz Bookbinders moves from Passaic to Allwood Rd. 1947: Athenia Mason Supply opens on Clifton Terrace. Aug. 20, 1947: Ground is broken for a $500,000 Richfield elementary school on the Fishbach tract on Van Houten Ave. Sept. 28, 1947: A new children’s cottage and a $500,000 wing are dedicated at the Daughters of Miriam home.

Sept. 17, 1947: The Peter Tramontin Motor Sales company of Lakeview presents a dual controlled Pontiac to the Clifton Board of Education for the newly established Driver Education Program. Dec. 1, 1947: Barbara Mearns is made director of the Clifton Library. Jan. 1, 1948: The growing Air Cruisers company relocates to Parkway South and Park Ave. in

Delawanna from its former location on Bloomfield Ave. in Allwood. A variety of rubber products like weather balloons and rubber boats continue to be manufactured.

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In 1947, the Clifton Boys Club has its humble beginnings...

It was something to cheer about when Clifton Industrial Television donated a black and white tv to the club in Dec., 1950.


ack in the late 1940’s, the organization known today as the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton was just in its struggling infancy, unable to meet the needs of a rising post-war population of young kids eager for a place to call their own. It wasn’t until after it got a push with a donation by the the Clifton Kiwanis that the Clifton Boys Club really began to grow into what it is today. The Boys Club of Clifton began in 1947 as a branch of the Passaic Boys Club but residents and organizations wanted to have a place Clifton youth could call their own. To get things started, civic organizations stepped forward. In a large way, the Club owed its existence to the membership of the Clifton Kiwanis, which recognized the need for a program in Clifton that would provide a home base for these boys. Most of the Clifton Boys Club directors were Kiwanians as well. Under the leadership of David Walker and the guidance of people like Stephen Dudiak, John Celentano, Martin Parian, Bob Peare, Les Floyd and others, a capital fund drive was started to secure funds for the building. With a donation of $500 from Clifton Kiwanis and an assurance of school board cooperation, club activities 48

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

began in the summer of 1948 in Athenia’s School #13 on Van Houten Ave., where the attendance was over 375. In 1949, the growing Clifton school system needed space and the growth forced the club and its 680 members to move to School #7 on Randolph Ave. Also in 1949, the Boys Club was listed within the groups which would benefit from the $222,974 to be raised as part of the Neighborhood Community Chest, with $6,650 budgeted for the launch of the Boys Club. But by November of that year, many doubted if Clifton was ready for its own Club. The failure of the Neighborhood Community Chest Drive to raise its quota of $222,974 led many to worry if the club would have enough money to operate. The future of the Clifton Boys Club looked uncertain, since there was no permanent home for it. More citizens had to become interested to make the dream a reality. Newspaper reports from the Herald & News during December, 1949 brought the appeal to the public. The stories told the many benefits of the club, reporting items such as that 75 boys went to the West Milford Passaic Boys Club Summer Camp Ocawasin for swimming and recreation.

1948–Geo. Palino named director. 1950–The Boys Club moved to 67 Center St; Frank Niader named assistant club director. 1951–Clifton Boys Club recognized by Boys Clubs of America. 1956–Al Abruscato named director. 1958–Moves to 820 Clifton Ave. 1962–Camp Clifton acquired 1965–Equal Rights! 663 women sign a petition with the goal of creating the Girls Club of Clifton. 1966–The Girls Club was founded by Donna Aiello, a first for New Jersey. Charles Manella offers his East First St. home as headquarters. The first official home of the Club was 1241 Main Ave. Eventually, the group purchased an old post office on the corner of Van Houten and Mt. Prospect Aves. 1968–Provisional membership certificate for the Girls Club issued by the national organization; full membership in 1970. 1974–Dolores Colucci named director of the Girls Club. 1978–Clifton’s first after-school day care is opened at the Girls Club, with 30 children. 1979–Teen center and social hall dedicated at the Boys Club. 1983–A pre-school program is launched at the Girls Club, with 24 children enrolled. 1986–Girls Club building is sold and the two clubs consolidate and become the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton, at 820 Clifton Ave. Dolores Colucci named director. 1997–A $4.2 renovation expansion begins to include a competition sized pool, a computer room, learning center, counseling area, library, nutrition center and an expanded gymnasium.

There were also stories of 20 hot dog nights arranged by sponsoring civic clubs, including the Kiwanis, which seemed to spearhead the effort. One report recalled how for the Christmas of 1948, over 150 Clifton boys were guests for a party at the Robin Hood Inn. The citizens of Clifton, recognizing the pressing need for a Boys Club in a growing community, got behind the movement and gave financial and material support.

Kiwanis members were not alone. Many civic groups such as the Optimist Club, the Moose, Lions and the Rotary joined the Kiwanis in lending a hand to the cause, making large contributions with the investment of Clifton’s youth in mind. By the end of 1949, the membership grew to about 325. The Boys Club received a new “permanent” home at 67 Center St. in October 1950. In 1958, it moved to its present location at 820 Clifton Ave.

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In 1948, service on the 190 bus line from Beantown to NYC is inaugurated...

Spring, 1948: A photo of the Albion Place Improvement Association members taken at the corner of Fenner Ave. and Valley Rd. (across from today’s Bogey’s Sports Pub) after successfully petitioning for the inaugural bus service between Manhattan and Albion Place. Michael Quinn, fifth from the right, was the president of the group. Photo provided by Eileen Quinn and Joe Dodd. March 22, 1948: Following the failure of the Board of Education to proceed with construction of concrete stands in the Clifton Schools Stadium, 950 temporary bleacher seats are purchased sospectators may view for baseball and track competitions. Once again, the Fighting Mustangs’ football schedule would consist of away games only.

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April 15, 1948: The Board of Adjustment grants variances for Albert A. Stiers’s 300 garden apartments on a triangle of Allwood land bounded by Bloomfield Ave., Allwood Rd. and Market St.

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May 4, 1948: The Clifton City Council approves construction of a Richfield Trunk sewer on a proportional cost basis. Final approval on May 8, 1948 calls for immediate construction. May 19, 1948: The Clifton Board of Education closes the Clifton High School cafeteria following a Passaic County Sheriff’s sale of cafeteria equipment to satisfy a lien against the concessionaire. June 2, 1948: The Clifton Board of Education votes $267,000 towards the completion of the Clifton Schools Stadium. June 12, 1948: Joseph J. Brunetti proposes to the Planning Board his construction of garden apartments on a 108-acre tract of farmland located at Allwood Rd. and what is now the Clifton Ave. extension. June 15, 1948: The Clifton City Council approves the erection of a new Clifton Fire headquarters at Madison Ave. and First St. June 20, 1948: Ground is broken for the construction of an eight room parochial school for St. Brendan’s Church parish. 1948: Industrial Stationary opens on Main Ave. between Clifton and Harding Ave’s. It remains in business there 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 rented by neediest vets through the Veterans Alliance. Aug. 1, 1948: Steve Dudiak builds 300 homes on Livingston & Edison Sts. priced at $8,990. He also builds Bobbink Village on Valley Rd. 54

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

May 19, 1948: Officials at ITT—the International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation—at the Nutley/Clifton border, hold a press demonstration of the new 300 foot microwave tower. The structure was built for testing TACAN—the original aircraft directional finding equipment. The landmark gave those at the top a panorama view of about 100 miles. The property also featured a man-made pond at its base. In its heyday, ITT employed over 2,000 people, which included many Clifton residents. They worked in design, development and production of electronic systems for military aircraft and ships of the United States and allied governments. But the end of the Cold War changed all that, as ITT experienced layoffs, and the tower was demolished in April, 1996. In July, 1997, the City of Clifton— with opposition from Nutley—approved plans to turn part of the old ITT and the adjacent ADP sites along Route 3 into a 285,000 sq. ft. retail and entertainment center, comprising a 16-screen movie theater, a 70,000 sq. ft. supermarket, 130,000 sq. ft. of stores and two restaurants. The developer is Related Clifton Corp., an affiliate of the NYC-based Related Companies. The complex, called Clifton Commons, is the initial phase of a larger mixed-use development that the firm states wll eventually occupy the combined sites, and include up to 750,000 sq. ft. of hotel, office, housing and retail uses.

The Free Public Library is 30 feet wide and 130 feet long...

The spirit of the recently ended war was evident when Mayor Walter F. Nutt issued a proclamation making the month of November, 1948, “Clifton War Memorial Month... in an attempt to raise sufficient funds to erect a World War II memorial in the form of a public library.” A year earlier, the City Council appropriated $100,000 to the building fund and designated that the structure be constructed in Memorial Park on Piaget Ave. at the end of Third St.

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As Clifton boomed after the war, the requirements for library services expanded and the need for a permanent building was more apparent then ever. In the period from 1947 to 1952, the book collection had grown from 10,000 titles to more than 33,000 and the circulation leaped from 64,000,books lent in 1947 to 146,376 in 1952. This photo above, of a story hour during book week on Nov. 19, 1948, was conducted from a rented 30 foot wide by 130 foot long facility on Clifton Ave., near Main Ave.

May 20, 1949: Noll’s Milk Bar opens on Broad St... Sept. 1948: Allen B. DuMont Laboratories purchases the 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. 31, 1948: Route S-3 opens from Passaic Ave. to Rutherford. Feb. 7, 1949: A long sought traffic light for Route 6 (now 46) at Day St. is approved and put into operation. April 6, 1949: The Clifton Board of Education awarded a contract for the construction of a $50,000 field house in its stadium. April 17, 1949: The Howard Johnson Restaurant on (the former) Route 6 suffers $250,000 damage from a fire. Customers and staff filed out with no injuries. It is rebuilt. April 24, 1949: Ground is broken for the construction of the $70,000 New Apostolic Church at 65 Clifton Ave., in the Botany Village section. April 25, 1949: The Clifton Trust Co. & First National Bank of Clifton are sold to First National Bank & Trust Co. (Paterson). April 27, 1949: Groundbreaking is held for the Clifton School Stadium Fieldhouse.

On Dec. 14, 1948, the Clifton Jewish Center receives a charter from United Synagogues of America for the 300 Clifton Ave. Synagogue. On July 27, 1949, Rabbi Eugene Markowitz (pictured above in a 1998 photo) is named spiritual leader of the Center and assumes his duties on Sept. 1, 1949. On Oct. 30, 1949, ground is broken for the Clifton Jewish Center at Barclay Ave. and Delaware St. with a formal dedication on Nov. 2, 1952.


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July 1949: Land is purchased from the New Jersey Flour Mills for the construction of the Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy Center. The property is located on Main Ave. and the cost is $9,000. In Aug. 1950, a ground breaking ceremony, pictured here, was held. It is interesting to note that the fourth child from the left is Loraine Krowel, who was one of the first students of the Center. For the past 37 years, Krowel has been an employee of the CP Center, where she still works as a member of the business office staff.

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Oct. 14, 1950: Clifton School Stadium is formally dedicated...

Main and Madison Aves. in the old “Clifton Center” was at the center of it all in 1952 when Henry Fette, founder of Fette Ford, established his car dealership there. The building is now the home of Clifton Electrical Supply. Fette soon moved near the Allwood Circle, where the Auto Zone store is today, across from Rick’s Pub. Fette Ford & Kia moved to the firm’s current location, at the intersection of Routes 46 and 3, in 1977. Spring, 1949: Steve Dudiak completes 300 Bobbink Village homes and plans to erect 400 Maple Valley homes before Christmas 1949. June 7, 1949: The Clifton Lions Club elects its first state of officers at a luncheon at the Clifton Casino. July 30, 1949: All dial telephone service for the Passaic area starts. Aug. 16, 1949: The stockholders of both Clifton National Bank & Passaic National Bank & Trust Co. vote to approve the merger. Aug. 31, 1949: The $610,000 School 2 in Richfield is dedicated. Oct. 13, 1949: The Passaic-Athenia Bus Co. purchases Comfort Bus Line and Olympic Bus Line, adding the Rutherfords to its routes. Oct. 26, 1949: The Bank of Allwood, 505 Allwood Rd., is chartered by the State of New Jersey.

Nov. 7, 1949: Ground is broken for the construction of Allwood Theater on Market St. Some 1,140 seats are planned. Dec. 26, 1949: Timely Homes and Steve Dudiak begin the construction of 103 ranch style homes along the Notch Rd. between Broad and Grove Sts., designated Highview Estates. 1950: Fashion Carpets is opened on Van Houten Ave. in Athenia. 1950: Aljo Hardware is established on Route 6 (now 46) near Notch. March 22, 1950: Irving Kanter announces plans for a showroom for Lexington Chevrolet at Main and Washington Ave’s. in Clifton Center. April 19, 1950: Ground is broken for a 10-room addition to School 5. May 28, 1950: Clifton Memorial Post 347, American Legion, dedicates its new Post headquarters building on Center Street.

May 30, 1950: Clifton Swimming Club at Rentschler’s Pool opens for the 20th season. June 26, 1950: Ground is broken for an addition to School 9. Sept. 15, 1950: Nash Park is cleared of debris and dedicated. Oct. 14, 1950: The 7,200-seat Clifton School Stadium is officially dedicating during a CliftonBarringer football game. Oct. 15, 1950: A new Clifton Boys’ Club home at 67 Center St. is officially dedicated. Oct. 25, 1950: Clifton Library registers its bookmobile. It is dedicated on Nov. 11, 1950. Feb. 27, 1950: Following a lengthy campaign before the City Council, and after raising funds and services from “industrialists” and othersources, the Library Board is granted a total of $224,056 to build.

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Sept. 22, 1951: Clifton Optimist Club chartered... 1951: The Clifton Branch of Hadassah is officially organized. April 15, 1951: The Passaic County Elks $100,000 11-room Cerebral Palsy Treatment Center on Main Ave. is dedicated and opened. 1951: A Clifton Girl Scout Council is officially established. June 13, 1951: Richfield Village streets in the Joseph Brunetti apartment complex are accepted by the Clifton City Council. June 22, 1951: The Passaic-Clifton National Bank branch opens at Van Houten Ave. and Lisbon St., Athenia. July 1, 1951: William Shershin resigns his position as a director of Recreation to devote his full time as Superintendent of Schools. He will replace George J. Smith. July 16, 1951: The newly formed Clifton Rotary Club organizes. A Charter Night is scheduled at the Moresque for Oct. 17.

Aug. 31, 1951: George J. Smith, Superintendent of Schools, retires after serving the Clifton schools for 44 years. In 1907, he taught every class in Clifton High School. Sept. 22, 1951: The new Clifton Optimist Club is chartered. The organization holds weekly luncheons at Clifton Casino. Oct. 21, 1951: A 35th Anniversary is celebrated by Assembly 162, Slovak Catholic Sokol, at Cyril & Methodius Church Hall on Ackerman Ave. It promotes annual Sokol Youth Movement Activities. Nov. 11, 1951: Delawanna Memorial Park at Main Ave. and William St. is officially dedicated. Nov. 1951: Wo-Pe-Na Archers celebrates 11 years of organization with a dinner at Schweissguth’s Tavern. Nov. 25, 1951: Athenia Reformed Church dedicates its sanctuary at Clifton Ave. and Clifton Blvd.

Jan. 1, 1952: John J. Fitzgerald, Clifton’s second City Manager, (above) and Edith Marion, City Clerk, are sworn into office. Feb. 22, 1952: Lexington Chevrolet opens a new showroom at Main and Washington Ave’s. March 6, 1952: Clifton School 14 is opened off St. Andrews Blvd.

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April 6, 1952: Ground is broken and construction immediately begins for the Clifton Memorial Library at Third St. and Piaget Ave. Planning for the building began in 1947, but it was not until Feb. 1951, that the Council approved additional funds, a total appropriation of $224,056 for construction and equipment. Even after receiving the funds, Library Board President Henry Fette of Fette Ford wrote in the program, the group took to the “task of cutting down and eliminating to save money.” Donations were received by groups and individuals, including the Wartime Salvage Committee, which provided furnishings for the reading room. Residents saw the library quickly become a reality and by December, the task of moving from the old location at First and Clifton Aves. were done in three weeks. “The city now owns its own public library,” Fette concluded, adding it was built... “in memory of the young men who gave their lives for their country.” The Library was formally dedicated on Jan. 31, 1953.

October 1-4, 1952: Styretowne, America’s first suburban strip mall, opens. 1952: The Nevins Division of Union Camp Corporation opens in Clifton with the making of cardboard cartons and containers. April 10, 1952: Mahony-Troast moves its offices in Passaic to 78 Bloomfield Ave. in Allwood where its equipment is kept. April 15, 1952: The Clifton City Council agrees to purchase the Albion Place firehouse on Valley Rd. from the Albion Place Fire Co., where the city is renting the building. April 23, 1952: The Slyvestrine Benedictine Order of Detroit purchases five acres of land on Route S3 between Broad and Grove. May 6, 1952: Levy Brothers’ Department Store in Styertowne Shopping Center opens with a breakfast for city officials and guests. Oct. 1-4, 1952: Albert A. Stier, pictured above, developer of the Styertowne Shopping Center, hosts a “Hollywood-style” opening. With 16 retailers on two levels and offices on the second floor—plus parking for over 1,600 cars—Styertowne was hailed as the first “modern suburban strip mall in America.” Ever the showman, Stier brought in bands, clowns, an animal act, as well as pony rides and free mechanical rides for the kids.

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Jan 20, 1953: Brighton Rd. rezoned from residential to allow industrial use. June 2, 1952: The Athenia Veterans’ Post organization purchases 22 city lots on Huron Ave. for $102 on which to build a headquarters. June 5, 1952: Erie Railroad agrees to replace Clifton’s burned depot. Oct. 1952: Clifton Masonic Temple Association purchases land from Acquackanonk Gardens.

Oct. 22, 1952: The Clifton Board of Education awards contracts for the construction of School 14 Richfield Village. Nov. 2, 1952: The Clifton Jewish Center building at Barclay and Delaware Ave’s. is dedicated. Nov. 4, 1952: Ground is broken and construction is begun for the

Oct. 16, 1952: Thousands view the motorcade of General Dwight David Eisenhower, candidate for President of the US, as it passes through Clifton. The motorcade slows but does not stop as it passes Clifton City Hall at Main and Harding Ave’s. and continues into the center of Passaic, where “Ike” is pictured above. Photo provided by Jim Marrocco. 64

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

building of School 14 off St. Andrew’s Blvd. Dec. 29, 1952: The Clifton Memorial Library is unofficially opened at 292 Piaget Ave. 1952: Botany Woolen Mills reports a poor financial picture due to a loss of military contracts and inventory accumulations. Jan. 3, 1953: The cornerstone is set in place at the convent at St. Brendan’s Roman Catholic Church in Lakeview. Jan. 4, 1953: Ground is broken for the Sylvestrine Benedictine Monastery (Holy Face of Jesus) seen from Route 3 in Richfield. Jan. 4, 1953: A section of the Garden State Parkway between Route 3 and Hazel St. is opened without ceremony. Jan. 5, 1953: New Jersey Highways are being renumbered statewide. US 46, because it has a number, becomes the common designation for NJ Route 6. Route S-3 becomes Route 3 as no letters are to appear on state highway markings. Jan. 20, 1953: Land along much of Brighton Rd. is rezoned from Residential A-3 to Industrial. Feb. 11, 1953: The newly rebuilt Clifton depot of the Erie Railroad at Getty and Madison Ave’s. is formally dedicated. Feb. 1953: St. Andrew the Apostle School is completed. March 8, 1953: Walter F. Nutt, former Mayor and CHS Principal, dies. March 25, 1953: The Richfield Village Shopping Center, at Clifton Ave. and Allwood Rd., opens. May 12, 1953: Youth in Government Day features counterparts for city officials, lunch and visits to industrial sites and city and private offices.

Spring 1953: Henry “Hooks” Brower and his wife Eva (pictured below) established the Clifton Midget League in Albion Park, opening the door for generations of kids throughout Clifton to get their first exposure to team-based sports, including baseball, bowling, cheerleading and football.

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May 15, 1953: The Gardner building at Main Ave. and Park Slope is ready for occupancy. May 12, 1953: Allen B. DuMont Laboratories’ instrument division is moved from the old Doherty Mill on Main Ave. to 760 Bloomfield Ave. in Allwood, adjacent to its cathode ray tube manufacturing facilities. Television transmitter production is expanded at the Doherty Mill site. May 28, 1953: Chester A. Calvert Insurance Agency is opened at Main Ave. and Park Slope. June 6, 1953: Hart Buick Agency opens at 423 Lexington Ave. in temporary showrooms. It moves to Allwood Rd. on Jan. 8, 1954 where its permanent facilities are built. Hart recently closed in early 2006. 1953: Foundation and frame for the Athenia Veterans’ Post building are constructed on Huron Ave. 1953: Takamine Laboratory on Arlington Ave. on the Erie Railroad

in Lakeview is purchased by Mills Pharmaceuticals. The plant was established in 1915 by Dr. Jokichi Takamine, a Japanese entrepenuer who developed Adrenaline. July 14, 1953: Frank Cosgrove is named Recreation Director, having served in that position as acting director since Aug. 1951. Aug. 1, 1953: The Osborne Co., calendar printers in Allwood is sold to Kemper-Thomas of Cincinnati effective Nov. 1. Aug. 5, 1953: The Entin Industries Terminal in Delawanna is dedicated at River Rd. and South Parkway. Sept. 21, 1953: Clifton Ave. extension from Van Houten Ave. to Allwood Rd. is opened to traffic and formally dedicated on Oct. 28, 1953. Sept. 26, 1953: School 14 on St. Andrew’s Blvd. is dedicated. Oct. 7, 1953: Garden State Bus Lines which operated through Clifton from Paterson to Jersey City, go out of business.


Nov. 11, 1953: A 10-acre site for a Junior High School on Van Houten Ave. (now WWMS) is purchased from Emil Wittman at Route 46. On June 16, 1954, the Clifton Board of Education approves plans for the $1,650,000 project. Jan. 1, 1954: Ground is broken for the construction of the North American Van Lines office building located on Passaic Ave. between Allwood Rd. and Route 3. Jan. 7, 1954: NJ Transportation officials approve for the placing of a traffic light at the intersection of Van Houten and Clifton Ave’s. 1954: Clifton Ornamental Iron Works is opened on Franklin Ave., near Main Ave. in Clifton Center. March 15, 1954: Over 200 homes in Lakeview and Albion Place are moved or demolished to allow construction of the Garden State Parkway. Some properties, such as Richfield Farms on Van Houten Ave., are literally cut in half

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May 18, 1954: The city announces it plans to purchase the Quarantine Station.


nyone over 40 who grew up in Clifton has stories to share about the Quarantine Station. For over 80 years, the land on which the Clifton Municipal complex and High School sit today served as the USDA’s Animal Quarantine Station. From 1900 to 1980, nearly 95 percent of all imported animals entering the nation passed through the Station’s gates. Served by an easy rail line which connects to the Hoboken piers, the Quarantine Station was another little wonder which put Clifton on the map. Common farm animals such as sheep, goat, deer and cattle passed through the property. For decades, Cliftonites would line the center’s tall fence to catch a short glimpse of the “circus” that would parade past their eyes only to disappear into one of the 18 barns housed on the acres of green grass. Many exotic zoo animals also passed through Clifton, too. Antelope, giraffe, camels and zebra, on their way to zoos across the United States, had to make a stop here. And after 1949, the Clifton Quarantine Station also served as a temporary roost for birds and other flying creatures of major collectors. Champion horses were flown in and out to be inspected before racing and show events. It was not uncommon for expensive animals under quarantine to

Illustration by Jack Tulling Story by Tom Hawrylko be bought and sold while in Athenia. The caretakers inside could parade animals before prospective buyers who peered in from outside the Colfax Ave. fence. The Quarantine Station was quite self sufficient. The Superintendent and his family lived in the large home facing Clifton Ave., which was restored and is now used by a non-profit group. The entire facility drew its water from an artesian well on the rear of the Quarantine Station, which is still in use today and is located behind the recycling center.

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The city acquired 15.5 acres from the Federal Government in 1955 and another eight acres in 1959. The 23.5 acres were used to develop Clifton High School, which opened in 1962. The purchase of the remaining 27 acres occurred in 1966, though the actual possession of the land could not take place until a new site was found for the Quarantine. It eventually was relocated to Stewart Air Field in Newburgh, NY. The total cost of the purchase of the 50.5 acres was $667,900. It was not until nearly the end of 1979 that the Federal Government had fully vacated its Clifton site and the construction of the current City Hall could proceed. The Municipal Complex was dedicated on Sept. 14, 1980, relocating City Hall and the Police Department from the corner of Main and Harding Ave. in the section what was then called Main Mall. But the move was not without controversy. On the historical front, a growing number of residents spoke out against the project, saying that the Quarantine Station should remain untouched and be preserved, perhaps as a museum. For several years, the CCCA or Committee for Civic Center Alternatives, opposed this project for what they said was a needless waste of taxpayers’ money. Members pointed out the detrimental effects the construction would have on the historic value of the Quarantine property. Special

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“We feel that, in their overzealous haste to obtain federal public works monies to begin construction, the council members advocating this project are failing to preserve a tract of land that is of obvious historic importance to the city,” said William Wurst, CCCA Chair, in Jan, 1977. “Because of its natural beauty, it (Quarantine site) is the pride of many of our citizens.” Over 1,200 Clifton residents had signed a petition opposing the construction of the site and recommended the expansion of City Hall along Main Ave. But the move was already underway and City Manager William Holster labeled the CCCA’s statement “sabotage.” The loss of city hall and the many people it brought to the merchants in the shopping district would have a dramatic impact on Main Ave. commerce. After the move, stores such as Industrial Stationers, Carolina Jeans, Moe & Arnies Mens Shop, Epstein’s Department Store and others closed, one after another. Years after his retirement from government, Holster was often seen on the corner of Clifton and Main and in conversation said he regretted moving City Hall from Main Ave. and admitted the move caused the decline of what is now Downtown Clifton. On May 9, 1978, the land on which Clifton’s Municipal campus now sits. along with the homes, and the brick barns which once housed a variety of animals, were listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

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Oct. 29, 1954: Grand opening of Bowlero at Routes 3 and 46.

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March 16, 1955: The Tichenor tract off Grove St. is selected by the Clifton Board of Education as the site for School 16. Plans and budget are approved on Oct. 25, 1955 for this school. 1955: Dollymount Home for the Elderly opens on Valley Rd. in Albion Place. It had been the home of Dr. William Gourley. May 27, 1955: The Garden State Parkway Bridge over Passaic River and the section from East Orange to Route 3 opens. May 31, 1955: A Sunday Raffles Bill, sponsored by leaders at St. Phillip’s Church, is passed by the Clifton City Council. June 1, 1955: Police Chief James N. Marsh retires from the force. He had served the Clifton Police Department for over 42 years. 1219


May 25, 1954: St. Phillip the Apostle parish dedicates its new $1.3 million center on Valley Rd. In addition to a new church, facilities include a school, a rectory, a convent and a recreation building. Dignitaries present include Archbishop Thomas Boland, Bishop James McNulty, Rev. Thomas Malloy, Sen. Frank Shershin, Gov. Robert B. Meyner and newly sworn Mayor John Surgent. Oct. 22, 1954: The Bank of Allwood opens an office in the Richfield Shopping Mall at Clifton Ave. and Allwood Rd. Oct. 23, 1954: Clifton Chapter 2, Disabled American Veterans, dedicates its new Post headquarters at 315 Hazel St. Dec. 5, 1954: Ground is broken for the construction of the new $300,000 SS Cyril & Methodius church building. 1954: Passaic County Needy Children’s Shelter is started. Jan. 4, 1955: The Garden State Parkway opens in Clifton from Route 3 to Hazel St., though East Orange to Route 3 is incomplete. Jan. 19, 1954: The Garden State Parkway is opened from Hazel St. to Lexington and Randolph Ave’s., and also to Route 20.

June 5, 1955: St. Clare’s RC Church announces plans to build a school, auditorium and convent. A building fund is initiated. June 23, 1955: A Clifton Boys’ Club building fund is started. 1955: Maple Valley Park and Mt. Prospect Little League fields opens. June 28, 1955: Acme Steel Co. opens a sales office and a warehouse at 454 Allwood Rd. This combines a New York City office and a Brooklyn warehouse. July 5, 1955: The City Council authorizes the $65,000 purchase of over 15 acres of Quarantine property along Colfax Ave. The Council also appropriates $250,000 for the construction of a new Department of Public Works garage to be built next to the old garage on East 7th St. in Lakeview

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Sept. 1955: Clifton Public Schools convert to a 6-3-3 grade structure.

Two High Schools? A

n urgent need for the immediate “embarkation” on a $10 million school building program at the junior-senior high school level was outlined to the members of the Board of Education by Supt. of Schools William F. Shershin at a special meeting in March, 1956. The members heard the superintendent expound his views on the needs for the expansion of the facilities for nearly two and a half hours, the Clifton Journal reported, but took no action on his proposal. Instead, discussion was withheld until Monday, April 9, when another special meeting will be held to discuss the matter fully. In brief, this is what Shershin proposed: The conversion of the new Woodrow Wilson Junior high school into a senior high school, the conversion of the present senior high school into a junior high school, the building of a new senior high school on Park Slope on what is now a part of Main Memorial Park, construction of new junior high schools on the Robin Hood Park site and in the Rosemawr section and the construction of a new elementary school on the Quarantine site. When these steps are taken School 13 could be reconverted completely to an elementary school again, making the ten classes in that building now used for junior high school purposes available as additional elementary classrooms and Schools 7 and 10, now used as temporary junior high schools, could be abandoned. Each of the two senior high schools would have a student enrollment of about 1,500 students and each of the junior high schools an enrollment of about 1,000 students. In addition facilities in the present senior high school could be used to accommodate about 400-500 students in a technical high school program, which could be added to the course of instruction, the superintendent stated. The present high school enrollment of 1,650 is expected to hit 1,900 in Sept., 2,300 by Sept. 1957 and reach the 3,000 figure in a few years. Shershin said that the second senior high school must be ready by Sept. 1957 or the school will have to go on part time. Shershin envisioned the “Education Center” formed at the Main Memorial Park through the erection of the new senior high school there as “one of the finest education centers in the East.” It would include a grammar school and senior high school on Park Slope, the high school stadium, the junior high school (present senior high), the Public Library and the Memorial Park. Shershin suggested a mall running from Main Avenue to the present high school. One of the features of the program proposed by Supt. Shershin is the equality of facilities that would be offered to all students. At present there is considerable criticism of the fact that the students attending WWMS have the best of facilities, while those attending the other junior high schools have woefully inadequate facilities.


August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

July 7, 1955: An Albion Place water main is opened, which, with the tank reservoir on Garret Mountain, provides adequate pressure. Aug. 8, 1955: Henry L. Peto moves his Real Estate and Insurance business from 266 Lakeview Ave. into a new building at 1058 Clifton Ave., on the new Clifton Ave. extension. Sept. 12, 1955: The Clifton School System, using a slightly delayed school opening date, converts to a 63-3 grade structure. Elementary schools taught up to grade 6, middle schools housed grades 7 - 9 and the high school would now teach grades 10, 11 and 12. Sept. 26, 1955: Public Service Electric & Gas Co. begins a move for its electrical distribution unit from Paterson to a new building at 150 Circle Ave. The move is completed on Nov. 23. Oct. 1955: Construction of the $2.5 million Beth Israel Hospital in Passaic is resumed after delay. Nov. 21, 1955: Rec Director Frank Cosgrove submits his resignation to assume a position in Michigan. 1955: Fastener maker ParkerKalon Division of General American Transportation opens its new building for 1,000 workers. Dec. 3, 1955: Woodrow Wilson Junior High School, in use since Sept., is formally dedicated. Jan. 3, 1956: Interstate Highway 80, with a potential Clifton rightof-way, is aligned in Paterson, East of Market St. Jan. 17, 1956: Construction bids for School 16 come in “over estimate.” Bids were re-advertised. Feb. 1956: G & J Poydinecz begins construction of 109 homes between Broad and Grove Sts. and between Notch Rd. and Route 3.

March 6, 1956: Clifton joins the national observance of “Youth Week” scheduled for May 12 to May 19; Charles Epstein is Chair. March 7, 1956: The Takamine Laboratory is officially absorbed by Miles Pharmaceuticals, Inc. March 13, 1956: The City Council takes steps to create a six-acre park at Clifton Ave. and St. James Pl. March 16, 1956: Golden anniversary of Clifton High School. March 22, 1956: Henry Lam opens his House of Lam Restaurant within the Bowlero Alleys. April 1956: Bank of Passaic & Clifton. now has offices in Allwood and Richfield due to its merger with the Bank of Allwood. April 14, 1956: Clifton Savings & Loan opens in a new building located at 1055 Clifton Ave. April 1956: Victory Gardens at the US Quarantine are continued to be permitted, a tradition which began before World War II.

Circa 1956: The growing Bank of Passaic & Clifton, which is today Valley National Bank, was rapidly expanding during the 1950’s. At a ribbon cutting ceremony opening a Clifton branch, pictured from left, are Ira Schoem of the Clifton Chamber of Commerce, Bank President Sam Riskin, an unidentified man, Don Collester and Botany Village jeweler Marty Parian.

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1958: The Board of Ed & City Council agreed to build a 3,000 student high school. May 3, 1956: Polymer Chemicals Division of W.R. Grace & Co. opens an applications laboratory between Route 3 and Allwood Rd., fitted with instruments for molding plastic parts. May 12-19, 1956: Clifton’s first Youth Week observance is declared a success. May 30, 1956: A cooperative dedication of William Dunney Sr. Park is conducted by the Delawanna Memorial Park Committee and the Board of Recreation. June 8, 1956: The Clifton Board of School Estimate approves an additional $42,792 in construction funding for School 16. The total cost is set at $632,792. June 1956: St. Andrews Church on Mt. Prospect breaks ground for a six-room addition to its school, bringing the total to 14 rooms. July 1956: Frank Gersie completes 42 years in postal service. He is appointed Postmaster for the second time (in 1928 and 1956). July 1956: The Herald News purchases part of Pitkin-Holdsworth property at Main and Highland Ave’s. for a $325,000 plant. July 29, 1956: Ground is broken for the construction of School 16 on Grove St. in Montclair Heights. It will have 13 classrooms. 1956: Passaic’s Grace Church, organized in 1889, relocates to Clifton. Aug. 26, 1956: Beth Israel Hospital on Parker Ave., Passaic is formally dedicated by Gov. Robert Meyner. 1956: Max Greenwald opens a travel agency on Market St. Oct. 21, 1956: Maple Valley Park, off of Van Houten Ave., in Richfield, is formally dedicated. 74

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

1956: St. Phillip’s the Apostle Church constructs a $368,000 addition to its school and convent. Oct. 25, 1956: A city-wide Civil Defense alert is conducted. These are held from time to time as an active Civil Defense is maintained. Civilian shelters are used in such occasions. Dec. 11, 1956: Wheels Inc. dedicates a main office and a warehouse at 300 Allwood Rd. The company makes wire and steel wheels for automotive, marine and small gas engine use. It exhibits a wheelwright history dating from 1876. Dec. 28, 1956: John J. Fitzgerald, City Manager, takes terminal leave. William Holster is renamed Acting City Manager. March 1, 1957: William Holster takes office as City Manager. March 6, 1957: Plans for a 13room addition to School 2 are approved. It is to cost $462,728. April 1, 1957: Walter Sidor is named Director of Recreation. April 1, 1957: The Clifton Boys Club selects a site on Clifton Ave. near Colfax Ave. for its “club house.” April 7, 1957: A new wing for the Daughters of Miriam Home on Hazel St. is dedicated with 1,000 in attendance. April 22, 1957: Botany Mills acquires United Supply & Mfg. Co., a leasing distributor for oil and gas equipment. Such diversification gives Botany its first profitable year in four years. It earns $3 million profit in the first half of 1957 and also shows a third quarter profit. April 28, 1957: Over 500 youth participate in the Clifton Midget League parade from St. Phillip’s Youth Center at Van Houten Ave. to Albion Memorial Park.

Despite the recommendation of Supt. of Schools William F. Shershin to construct two smaller high schools, the Clifton City Council and the Clifton Board of Education in 1958 (then a group appointed by Mayor John Surgent) agree to build a single 3,000 student high school on Colfax Ave. May 18-25, 1957: The second observance of the National Youth Week celebration is held in Clifton. June 1, 1957: Forstmann Woolen Mills on Randolph Ave., which at one time had 500 employees and continues to employ 2,000 workers, is sold to the J.P. Stevens Co. 1957: Glamorene Corp. opens a rug cleaning products factory in a new building in the Entin Industrial Terminal in Delawanna. 1957: Former East Ridgelawn Cemetery Property is developed by the construction of 144 Gregory Manor homes off Passaic Ave. 1957: J & G Podyinecz constructs the 40-home Plymouth Rock Village development between Broad and Grove Sts., south of Van Houten Avenue in Richfield. Sept. 9, 1957: School 16 opens in Montclair Heights with 330 pupils. Sept. 26, 1957: The Clifton Jewish Center announces plans to build nine classrooms, a gymnasium and an enlarged synagogue. A $250,000 fund drive goal is established. Oct. 1957: American Loose Leaf Corp. opens in a new plant in a 23acre industrial tract in Delawanna. 1957: One and a half miles of Erie & Lackawanna rail lines are merged, allowing the industrial development of Kuller Rd. off Hazel St.

Jan. 24, 1958: The Herald News relocates to 988 Main Ave., near Highland Ave., Passaic. April 16, 1958: Capt. Joseph A. Nee is named Acting Police Chief. April 27, 1958: A monument to honor volunteer and exempt firemen of Clifton is unveiled and dedicated in Main Memorial Park. April 28, 1958: Former NY Yankees Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto open their 40-lane bowling establishment in Styertowne Mall. April 29, 1958: New Jersey Bank & Trust Co. is created through a merger of County National and Passaic-Clifton National Bank.

June 26, 1958: The new Clifton Boys Club building on Clifton Ave. is formally dedicated at a beefsteak served in the building’s auditorium. The photo here is actually from a 1962 social at the club. May 17-24, 1958: The third observance of National Youth Week series of activities is held by Clifton officials and their counterparts. May 27, 1958: Stanley Zwier receives the most votes in the election and is named Mayor by the Council. June 24, 1958: An urban redevelopment program with Passaic is proposed by Charles F. Hahn, Chair of the Clifton Planning Board. July 13, 1958: Ground is broken for the educational building at First Presbyterian Church to house two

offices, a chapel, twenty classrooms and several utility rooms. Sept. 25, 1958: Five hundred Clifton Midget League youth between ages 8 and 12 are placed on 72 bowling teams, and 200 boys are organized into an eight-team football league, as the fall programs are set for the year. Oct. 15, 1958: St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Broad St. plans a new sanctuary. Oct. 21, 1958: A 13-room addition to School 2 is dedicated.

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An evolving corporate community, on Brighton Rd...

Forty years of Pfizer, 1958-1998

On Sept. 8, 1958 , Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, officially opened a sales and distribution center in Clifton at 230 Brighton Rd. Pictured above, from left, are Dee Phillips, Ann Vinciquerrra, Eileen Klingman and Marilyn Palm. Pfizer employees recently held a reunion at Mario’s. Pictured below, from left, Cliftonites Evelyn Donley, Lorraine Martin, Bernie Liskiewicz, Ann Vinciquerrra and Ron Meola, who was the last person to leave the Brighton Rd. plant in 1999.


t was like a Hollywood premier,” recalled Ann Vinciguerra, who was part of the team, that on Sept. 8, 1958, converted Pfizer’s 178,000 square foot industrial building on Brighton Rd. into a royal blue and pink ballroom, the firm’s official colors. “Everything was covered, from drapes to table clothes, ceiling to floor,” she said. It was truly a grand opening, with employees, politicians, pharmacists and doctors all mixing it up with Pfizer executives. The opening of the 9-acre Clifton Eastern Distribution Center, the largest of Pfizer’s six facilities nationwide, was the next step in the company's $60 million expansion program. Founded in Brooklyn in 1849, Pfizer is currently the producer of wellknown household products such as Rogaine, Listerine, Viagra and much more. 76

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

However, in 1958, the product line up was much different then it is today. There was recognizable early versions of modern products, such as Visine, however, there were also plenty of other more obscure items.

For motion sickness, Bonadette dissolvable tabs were available. There were also cold tablets called Candettes and even TM-5, a special animal feed mix.


August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


When it was first opened, the workforce on Brighton Rd. served four divisions: Pfizer Laboratories, J. B. Roerig & Co., Chemical Sales and Agricultural Sales. There was 115 employees in 1958, many of whom transferred over from the company’s Brooklyn headquarters. The staff handled nearly 14,000 accounts.

Twenty years later, in 1968, the Clifton Distribution Center celebrated another milestone. Over 100 current employees, plus a number of retirees, attended another party at the Brighton Rd. facility, along with high ranking staff from the headquarters. Telegrams poured in all day from other branches of Pfizer, offering congratula-

At top of page on the left of the team, that’s Clifton’s Tom Miller who also played semipro baseball in 1958 in the Easton League. At left on bottom of page, other Cliftonites who worked for Pfizer and attended the recent reunion at Mario’s include, from left: Evelyn Kovacs, Lesia Albizati, Jan Fuschini, Arthur Paris, Cathie Bannon, Tom Miller, Dot Andrusko and an unidentified individual. 78

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

1958: Some of the 300 Pfizer products offered for medicine, industry & agriculture.

tions to the employee for creating the flagship of the company’s many distribution centers. The Clifton Distribution Center operated for another 20 years, as services and employees were relocated in 1998, with the final day sometime in mid-1999. While the Brighton Rd. facility is now a part of history, many former employees have fond memories. In fact, almost 100 former and current Pfizer employees, (the company has offices in NYC and a plant in Parsippany) attended a reunion in June at Mario’s to celebrate the bond they shared. “The emphasis was placed on creating a family atmosphere,” recalled Tom Miller, a longtime employee. “We appreciated each other and the company.”

Cliftonite Lorraine Martin, pictured right, served as editor of the Clifton Clipper, which kept employees connected.

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December 31, 1958, on the way to the Rose Bowl...

Traveling Marching Mustangs by Joe Hawrylko


hat do Clifton’s Marching Mustangs and Cuban President Fidel Castro have in common? Both were making history on New Years Day in January 1959—about 3,000 miles apart from each other. Shortly after Christmas of 1958, the Marching Mustangs were aboard a train enroute to Pasadena, California, getting ready to perform in the Tournament of Roses that year. The Tournament is an annual parade seen by millions on TV that traditionally is held the day before the Rose Bowl, a major college football bowl game.

Drum Majorette Diane Reichardt as seen in the Newark Evening News magazine in 1959. At left, the front page of the Jan. 1, 1959 Anaheim Daily Bulletin, which detailed the latest news about the Cuban Revolution.

This group of Mustangs were listed in the First Chair of America, a yearbook honoring the top 200 high school and college bands, orchestras and choruses in the nation. The highly touted ‘59 Marching Mustangs, who were under the baton of Saul Kay, consisted of 82 members and were one of 20 high school bands—the first ever from the Garden State—selected to participate in the Tournament. In short, it was a memorable honor for these Clifton kids and as the Mustangs crossed the country, chaperones Peter and Helen Abbate, whose son, Donald, was in the band, made sure to save keepsake items from each stop. 82

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Among the items they saved was the Jan. 1, 1959 Anaheim Daily Bulletin, which detailed the latest news about the Cuban Revolution. Fidel Castro, the then-rebel leader of the 26th of July Movement, was on the verge of taking control of Cuba on New Years Day, after General Fulgencio Batista fled into exile. In addition to saving this historical newspaper, the Abbate’s held on to several other items to commemorate the trip. The Herald-News had daily articles that followed the band on their trek, which were saved by the Abbate’s. For the cross country train ride, which was a two and a half day trip each way, they saved all of the Erie Railroad brochures,

The Mustangs field program was the state of California. At right, William Bowers on tuba.


which gave the day’s menu, news and some words of encouragement. Once in California, one of the more memorable moments was upon arrival, when the band was greeted with a 35-foot telegram from 805 Cliftonites—newspaper reports said it was the longest telegram ever. After their performance, the Mustangs also attended the annual Rose Bowl and watched Iowa defeat California 38-12. The band visited many points of interest, most of which was documented by the Abbate’s. The students visited

places such as Disneyland, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Knotts Berry Farm and several other California landmarks. To finance the trip, the Clifton Mustang Band Tournament of Roses Committee, Inc. did a lot of fundraising—the trip cost about $30,000. It must be noted that this information would not have been available had it not been for the Abbate’s, who gave us this time capsule of Clifton and national history shortly before they moved to Alabama and their son, Donald relocated to Key West.

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The first rank seargent of the International Band Festival Champion 1970 Mustang Band salutes all of you who carry on the proud tradition. Hail to “The Marching Mustangs!”

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Marion Van

Beverly Rand

James Kennedy

The following are members of the color guard, majorettes and twirlers: Evelyn Abele, Nancy Anschuetz, Jay Coponigro, Barbara Casagrand, Roberta Casini, Cindy Elbeck, Barbara Fornelius, Patricia Graff, Carole Kaiser, Gloria Majewski, Karen Pavan, Diane Reichardt, Pat Retherford, Barbara Svec, Dorothea Vanak, Betsy Wakefield, Maxine Weisfeld, Gloria Yaycehnik, Flora Constantino and Lorraine Jacob. While generations of Mustangs have marched with the Musangs, here are some other milestones from this era: In 1955, the Mustangs became the first high school band in the country to play on the steps of the Capitol in Washington as the guest of Rep. Gordon Canfield (R8th Dist). They also repeated their concerts in 1956 and 1957. The Marching Mustangs also placed third in 1957 among 90 competing bands in the National Safety Day parade in Washington and won first prize in the Bamberger’s Thanksgiving Eve band contests in Newark in 1955 and 1956.

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There were 52 boys and 30 girls that made up the group that traveled to Pasadena. They are as follows: Donald Abbate, Paul D’Angelo, Jeffrey Anderson, Jeffrey Ball, Robert Baum, William Bower, John Brudzinski, Robert Davis, Dale Lorenzo, Kenneth Douglas, Penny Dyer, Steven Fazio, Henry Grilk, Leonard Grossman, Fred Huber, Donald Hugo, James Kennedy, Daniel Kopcha, Daniel Leslie, Ronald Lewkiewicz, Marylou Lowry, Vincent Lupinacci, John Maguire, Briant Marsh, Leslie Marsh, David Marsh, Edward Meade, John Minnella, JoAnn Minardi, Robert McGruther, Barbara Novak, Dennis Paris, Albert Pitoniak, Peter Pizzi, Barbara Plog, Beverly Rand, Sheila Rnad, Phillip Randazzo, Arthur Reimer, Dennis Sabaday, Doublas Sabady, Barry Sachais, Paul Sanders, Thomas Schwend, William John Sholander, Paul Stefko, James Sura, Donald Sweet, Robert Tiedemann, Fred Truntz, Maron Van Son, John Van Winkle, Ray Walsh, Edward Waysek, Joel Wilson, Donald Zaentz and Kenneth Zaentz.


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Marching Mustang Directors S

James Moscati (1938-1950)

ince 1938, the Marching Mustang Band, the Showband of the Northeast, has been delighting people all over the world with its electrifying field shows and outstanding musicianship. The band has won distinction and honor for its members, as well as Clifton. In addition to current Director Bob Morgan, the Mustangs have had the visionary leadership of the four dedicated men pictured here. Also noted is the years they served. To all of the illustrious Directors—and the scores of Marching Mustangs who have represented Clifton so well—we offer our thanks.

Stanley Opalach (1950-1956)

Saul Kay (1956-1970)

Patrick Curcio (1970-1972)

Bob Morgan (1973-Current)

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Sept. 1, 1958: Ray DeBrown Music Capital opened on Van Houten Ave. That’s Ray at the left of the photo. Jan. 1, 1959: Joseph A. Nee is named Clifton Police Chief. Jan. 12, 1959: The new Athenia Post Office at Mount Prospect and Van Houten Ave’s. is dedicated. Feb. 22, 1959: Dedication of Allwood Community Church addition. March 15, 1959: A ribbon cutting ceremony is held at Marta Hall, the Educational addition to First Presbyterian Church. It is officially dedicated on April 29, 1959. April 11, 1959: Saveway Cleaners is opened to the public at Clifton Ave. and Allwood Rd. April 22, 1959: A Bank of Passaic & Clifton branch office in the Route 46 Shopping Plaza opens. May 1, 1959: The Delawanna US Post Office at 266 Main Ave. opens. June 2, 1959: Henry Holt & Co., publishers, occupy a new 52,000 square foot Allwood Rd. warehouse. 86

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

June 4, 1959: Aheka Council, Boy Scouts of America hold a Camporee at Nash Park on the Passaic River. June 9, 1959: One-man police patrol cars are made permanent and expanded from daylight to 24 hours.

Aug. 1959: The Union Building & Contracting Co. is extensively quarried trap rock from Garret Mountain. Blasting has reduced Clifton’s cliffs (above) and sprayed nearby homes with rocks.

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1960: With 81,953 residents, Clifton is 7th most populous city in NJ.

Summer 1959: A natural gas pipeline is constructed through Allwood and Delawanna under the public service high lines. Aug. 13, 1959: Ground is broken at 14-30 Barclay Ave., near Main Ave. for the construction of the NJ Bell Telephone’s dial central office. The exchange (today used by Verizon) is ready to open on Aug. 6, 1961. Sept. 26, 1959: Police Patrolman Joseph Sastic retires after 40 years of service. He is responsible for Clifton’s School Safety Patrol Program and its success. Oct. 1, 1959: The Lackawanna Railroad tie yard for the creosoting of railroad ties is being sold. March 23, 1960: Romolo Zangrando is appointed Clifton Fire Chief. Former Chief John Zanet retires. April 26, 1960: Consulting engineers are appointed by Passaic Valley Water Commission to develop the Pancake Hollow (Point View) Reservoir. A $5 million bond issue is approved. May 23, 1960: Clifton voters approve a $5.8 million referendum for the construction of a 3000-pupil Senior High School, on a 21-acre Colfax Ave. site, formerly US Quarantine property. 88

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Feb. 17, 1960: Clifton’s most devastating fire occurred when the Velveray Textile Printing Corp., a four story, block long structure on Walnut St. on the Passaic border in Athenia, was completely destroyed. The first alarm sounded at 9:02 am and both Passaic and Clifton Fire Departments responded; by 9:25 am, a general alarm was sounded bringing all remaining Clifton and Passaic Fire companies, and units from Paterson and Garfield. Two homes on Pleasant Ave. had extensive damage; one was completely destroyed. Drazin’s Bar & Grill on Walnut St. was also damaged and Velveray’s tenants— Howard Zinc Auto Seat Covers, Bartman and Bixer curtains and Private Brands packaging—were lost. A 1951 Clifton Emergency Truck (above right) was demolished in the rubble and a second vehicle was heavily damaged. Passaic Firefighter William Jackson lost his right leg when a wall collapsed on him; he died two weeks later from a blood clot which migrated into his chest. Clifton Deputy Chief Romolo Zangrando suffered injuries as did many other firefighters from both cities. Fire Historian Ernie Rodrigues said insurance carriers ranked the $6 million fire which costs 935 workers their jobs, as the greatest loss of property in the nation that year.

June 14, 1960: Paulison Ave. is extended from Clifton Ave. to Hazel St. and Route 46 with an official opening. It is not until Sept. 22, 1960 that a traffic light is put into operation at Clifton and Paulison Ave.’s. June 28, 1960: A nine-acre pure organic farm, owned by Carl Lanz on Grove St. is sought for park use. Negotiations begin. Sept. 15, 1960: US Senator John F. Kennedy visits Clifton City Hall on Main Ave. in a “whistle-stop” Presidential campaign tour. Oct. 4, 1960: US Vice President Richard M. Nixon passes through Albion Place on a presidential campaign visit to Paterson. Fall 1960: A new Master Plan for Clifton is approved, following a series of hearings. Issues regarding high-rise zoning are left undecided. 1960: The Richfield Christian Reformed Church is settled on Clifton Ave., a move from Passaic.

Oct. 26, 1960: Tom and John Foukas open the Mid-Town Grill at Main and Barrington Aves. The brothers operate the eatery until Dec. 1999 when they sell their secret Hot Texas Wiener recipes to Jimmy Doris and Jerry Dimitratos. Nov. 10, 1960: The Clifton Water System is sold to Passaic Valley Water Commission for $5 million. A contract, negotiated for 32 years, is approved on December 6, 1960. 1960: The Reformed Church of Clifton plans a $150,000 addition.

Dec. 30, 1960: Texstyle Corp., located on Clifton Blvd., is closed with a loss of 130 jobs. Dec. 30, 1960: Eureka Printing Co., Paulison Ave. is closing after 80 years of operation. Some 270 workers will be laid off.

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WWF Hometown Favorite Nick Russo... aka Tony Martinelli...

Call him the Clifton Cutie... T

hrough the flickering black and white TV images of the 1960’s, Clifton residents may have caught a glimpse of Nick Russo, the “Clifton Cutie.” While he wrestled and was known by several names, the one he made most famous was Tony Martinelli. In a career that spanned 30 years, he made his debut at the age of 17. He went on to become a WWF—World Wrestling Federation—star before retiring in the early 1960’s. During wrestling’s first golden era, the Clifton Cutie held the famous Jim Londas to a draw and had the edge on “Jumping Joe” Savoldi. He was in exciting matches with the likes of Man Mountain Dean, The Swedish Angel, Primo Carnera, Bronco Nagurski and Antonio Rocca. California named him the World Heavyweight Champ, while Martinelli added North American and New York State titles as well as one–half of the World’s Tag Team Champion to his list of honors. The Clifton Cutie came home and opened Martinelli’s Place around 1962. The pub was located at Main and Madison Aves., where San Remo is located today. Nick was married to Philomina Scarfo and together, they had three children— Nicholas, Gary and Debbie. Nicholas and Gary both played CHS football while Debbie cheered on the Mustangs. Although their father never influenced the boys into choosing wrestling as a career path, Gary wrestled briefly while attending a junior college in Maryland.

On Aug. 4, 1978, Nicholas Russo Sr. died and was inducted into the Italian–American Sports Hall Of Fame in 1991. Nicholas Jr. owns the Russo Agency Insurance, which recently relocated to Allwood Rd. Gary, lives in town and is semi-retired and sister Debbie lives in Oradell. Their mom, Nick’s wife Philomina, is now 90 and still lives in Clifton.

Nick Russo, aka the Clifton Cutie, with his boys, Gary at left and Nick Jr, who is putting a headlock on his dad. 1074

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August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

April 29, 1962: The new 3,000 pupil Clifton High School is dedicated. Jan. 17, 1961: The Clifton City Council draws up an ordinance for a new park and playground on Washington Ave. adjacent to School 3, appropriating $50,000, or half of what is needed. Jan. 1961: NJ Bank & Trust Co. constructs a Delawanna branch on Main Ave. to be open June 29, 1961. Jan. 1961: Wilson Sporting Goods Co. a national chain, erects an office and warehouse on Page Rd. Jan. 1961: E.I. Dupont de Nemours opens a small building on Page Rd. in Allwood and plans a 54,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution building at 380 Allwood Rd. The latter is completed on June 20, 1962. Feb. 13, 1961: The Gulotta Co., a division of Bright Star Battery Co. and a manufacturer of reflectors, moves its headquarters and manufacturing from Glendale, Queens to Getty Ave., Clifton. Feb. 24, 1961: Country Club Towers on Hepburn Road opens its first 12-story building to tenants. April 29, 1961: Rural Free Postal Delivery routes from Clifton Post Office are discontinued. Carriers and a mounted route replace it. Rural Delivery from Passaic and Paterson to Delawanna, Allwood, Athenia, Albion Place and Richfield started in 1900. July 17, 1961: Construction begins on the new $300,000 St. Brendan’s Church sanctuary on Lakeview. Sept. 13, 1961: Rival labor Unions taking control of labor negotiations

at Duralite Corp. on Barbour Ave. and riot. Some 5,000 workers are involved in the short-lived uprising. Oct. 1, 1961: A little league base-

ball field is dedicated on William St. in Delawanna. The residents who built the field named it after a local leader, Joe Lowry.

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WWW.800GAMBLER.ORG August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


You know the saying... it means just one thing... you’re hungry for Hot Grill:

Two-all-the-way, Two!


he Hot Grill opened on Oct. 13, 1961 on Lexington Ave., on the site of Gabe’s Drive Inn, an old ice cream and hot dog stand which the former owner—the colorful Gabe Maroon—hoped to convert into an used car lot. But Maroon could not secure the proper city permits so he reluctantly opened a hot dog stand. Soon thereafter, he sold it to four partners—two Italians, current owners Carmen La Mendola and Dominic Sportelli, and two Greeks, Nick Doris and Peter Leonidas, both now deceased—who changed the name to Hot Grill and opened on Oct. 13, 1961. “It was Friday the 13th,” Sportelli said of the opening, over four decades ago, when the landmark eatery was nothing more than a dusty roadside stand with a few stools. “People thought we were crazy but we went on and became an icon in Clifton and home to the best Hot Texas Wieners.”


August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Those are big words in a competitive wiener market, darn near fighting words considering there are many great hot dog joints—the Mid-Town, the New Corral and Rutt’s Hutt to name some Clifton favorites. But Sportelli says his claim is backed by the United States government. Over a decade ago, folklorist from The Library of Congress American Memory oral history project came to the region to determine what puts the Texas in the Hot Texas Wiener. Researchers traced the origins of the all-the-way Hot Texas Wiener back to a Greek hot dog vendor in Paterson in the 1920’s. And then the writers and photographers of the extensive report, entitled Working in Paterson Folklife Project, ended up following their story to Clifton and onto Lexington Ave.

They cited the Hot Grill as perhaps the most authentic of the Paterson region’s Hot Texas Wiener restaurants. So what makes a Hot Grill dog the best? Sportelli said part of the answer is the tube steaks, a blend of veal and pork made by Sabrett, which are then deep-fried in vegetable oil. But the signature flavor is the Hot Texas sauce; some say it resembles Greek spaghetti sauce more than anything cooked up in Clifton, Paterson or the Lone Star state. For many patrons, dogs are ordered two-all-the-way, two!... which means they are covered with mustard, onions which are diced extra small and heaped high and topped with sauce that has character, but is not terribly hot. Since opening in 1961, the Hot Grill has fed generatons of Cliftonites, serving 4,000 or more Hot Texas Wieners on an average Saturday and as much as 100 gallons of sauce. The owners have since remodeled twice—once in 1967, adding booths and stools for 60 and a more recent expansion which can seat over 150 people.

Nov. 2, 1961: New Jersey Route 21 is opened from Highfield Lane in Nutley to South Parkway in Clifton. This section includes the interchange with Route 3. 1961: Samuel Hird & Sons cease textile operations in Clifton. 1961: Urban renewal is proposed for parts of Allwood and Botany. May 22, 1962: The high vote recipient in Clifton’s 1962 election, Ira Schoem, is named Mayor. May 23, 1962: The Clifton Boys Club Trustees purchase a 32-acre camp in Morris County. June 8-10, 1962: The first $100,000 Thunderbird Golf Classic held in Clifton is played at the Upper Montclair Country Club. June 15, 1962: Patterson Brothers, 45 Samworth Rd. in Allwood, erect an office and warehouse for distribution of educational shop supplies. The company moved here from New York City, where it had sold hardware since 1848.

May 1962: CHS senior Micheal Feltman was the Youth Week Mayor in the seventh annual event which matches students with government officials. He is with Mayor Stanley Zwier who served in that position from 1958-1962. June 27, 1962: Ground is broken for construction of the Riedl and Freede building on Route 3 and Passaic Ave. The company also has an advertising agency at 424 Lakeview Ave.

May 18, 1962: Gensinger Motors, Inc. moves from Colfax and Clifton Ave’s. to Valley Rd., in the Notch. Proprietor and founder Ken Gensigner, standing, is shown in a photo taken with Mayor Stanley Zwier who is seated in a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia convertible.

June 1962: A permit is issued to Spiral Binding Co. at Main Ave. and Bridewell Pl. in Delawanna for a 40,000-square-foot building. Aug. 2, 1962: The CHS Marching Mustang Band departs to compete in the World Music Festival in Kerkrade, Netherlands. This trip also includes stops in Cologne, Luxembourg, Paris and London. 1962: Polizzi Towing Co. operates from a yard off Svea Ave. in Athenia. It later moves to River Rd. in Delawanna. Sept. 19, 1962: The former CHS building at Piaget Ave. and Fifth St. is renamed Christopher Columbus Junior High School. Nov. 22, 1962: The Clifton High School football team completes an undefeated season with a victory over Garfield HS. It is awarded the NJ State football championship. Dec. 1962: The Faith Gospel Church, Hepburn Rd., constructs a basement and a frame before completing the building in 1966.

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


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August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

April 1, 1963: Rail service through Main Ave. ends after 131 years.


t was the end of an era at 11:30 am, on April 1, 1963, as the ErieLackawanna Railroad had its first section of track lifted out of the roadbed in downtown Passaic, ending 131 years of service which linked Clifton, Passaic and Paterson and other cities in the region. Rail executives and guests such as U.S Senator Harrison WIlliams, Clifton Mayor Ira Schoem and City Manager William Holster rode the last train to the downtown Passaic station for the event. They and others then attended a luncheon at Gene Boyle’s Restaurant in Clifton. Thousands of citizens—from all walks of life—came to see the last train leave the station, pictured here, many with a tear in their eye. A farewell editorial in The Herald News stated: “They came and they saw the end of a fine epoch and the beginning of one which, the good Lord willing, will be even finer. Soon, there will be acres of smooth parking land, with new businesses, new men and new visions.” Crews almost immediately began excavating the rails from the roadbeds, a transportation system built on Passaic’s Main Ave. almost a century and a half prior. Passaic merchants and politicians had been clamoring for the removal of the tracks for decades, saying the trains caused vehicular traffic in the bustling retail section.

With the advent of inexpensive fuel and large automobiles, trains were growing obsolete and the tracks had been likened to a giant scar running down the center of Passaic. Once the rails were removed and acres of parking were offered to shoppers, merchants envisioned a new and thriving downtown shopping district. Within a year, the land which once held the tracks on Main Ave. was replaced with parking lots, as officials began preparing for a new chapter in economic prosperity for downtown Passaic.

Thanks to the new parking offered on the old rail beds, prosperity did come to downtown Passaic but it lasted just a few years. Times were changing and fickle shoppers wanted to stroll indoors, and instead they began to drive to nearby enclosed malls. One by one, long-established Passaic merchants either closed or relocated and soon the shopping district changed drastically. While the passenger rail beds were removed in 1963, the ErieLackawanna line would continue to offer freight service from Paterson through Clifton and into Passaic. The rail spur ran parallel to Main Ave., and up until the late 1970’s, crossed over Clifton Ave. at Getty Ave., where Commerce Bank is currently located. But when the rail bridge was removed and the old train beds were sold to adjacent businesses, the era of rail service essentially ended for Clifton. August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Flag Day, 1964: Joseph Sperling Park in Athenia is dedicated. April 17, 1963: The Clifton Board of Education votes to end the annual football camp at Silver Lake in Sussex Co. due to hazing and pranks. Training would be held in Clifton Schools Stadium with no overnight sessions. May 4, 1963: Oak Ridge Park on Clifton Ave. at St. James Pl. is formally dedicated. May 9, 1963: A $2 million fire destroys St. Phillip’s Church. Plans for rebuilding begin immediately. June 1 & 2, 1963: Aheka Council, Boy Scouts of America hosts second Nash Park Camporee. Aug. 1963: Ground is broken for a several room addition to School 16. Aug. 1963: Attempts to erect highrise apartments on Benkendorf’s farm off Conklin Dr. and on Route 3-Grove St. in Richfield are ended by residents’ protests. Instead, the builder agrees to construct homes.

Jan. 20, 1964: City Clerk Edith Marrion announces her retirement which is effective June 30, 1964. She is pictured above with City Manager Bill Holster. July 11, 1963: A 16-ton NJ State Museum historymobile commemorating 300 years of New Jersey history is stationed at Gensinger’s Volkswagen in the Notch for the day. It contains maps, documents, dioramas and pictures. On July 15th, the historymobile is visited by 1,100 at Garret Mountain. Aug. 19, 1963: A $250,000 firehouse in Delawanna is approved by the City Council for Main Ave.

Dec. 30, 1963: Joseph M. Gondola (above in a 1999 photo) is sworn in as Clifton Postmaster, succeeding Frank Gersie who retired after 50 years of postal service. Five hundred friends attended a testimonial dinner for the latter on Jan. 9, 1964. 96

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

1963: Interchemical Corp. moves into its new multi-million dollar research center at Route 3 and Garden State Parkway. It manufactures industrial finishes with products for packaging, publishing, textiles and lithographing. March 18, 1964: William Vander Closter (above) is named CHS football coach, replacing Joe Grecco. During his 16-years at the helm, 1964 to 1979, Vandy led the Mustangs to five state championships and a 108-28-7 record.

Dec. 3, 1963: The Clifton Board of Education votes $9,000 for the demolition of School #10. Jan. 2, 1964: A New Jersey Tercentenary flag raising commemorating 300 years of state history is held at City Hall, accompanied by the CHS Concert Choir and the CHS Mustang Band.

This column was originally started by our founder, the late Murray Blumenfeld. In his spirit, we continue its publication. e hope you had a wonderful Independence Day weekend and an enjoyable July. August will hopefully bring as many beautiful days to all of you.


Now that the heat of summer is upon us, stylish ladies are wearing their ankle bracelets... if one is good, two is better! Layering your anklets is very chic and at the height of today’s fashion trends. We carry a variety of styles available in both white and yellow gold. They are hot sellers this summer and we continue to carry styles both with and without gemstones. We had a great time at the JA Summer Jewelry Show in NYC. We picked out some beautiful new jewelry, found some exciting lines, and we are eagerly awaiting their arrival in time for the holiday season. We’ll keep you posted on some of our new additions in the coming months. This month we welcome Swarovski’s “Flowers in the Garden” collection. The Swarovski design team, inspired by nature, myth and tradition, created three special flowers: an iris called “Damboa”, a lily name “Dillia” and an orchid, “Dorora”. In the language of flowers, the iris represents faith and wisdom, the lily symbolizes gratitude, and the orchid is a facet of pure elegance.

Rodeos and Dance Marathons: The Passaic Valley Water Commission property on Main Ave. was once known as Rooney’s Oval. It was used as the home field for the Wessington Athletic Club’s professional football team, which played many of the outstanding pro teams in the country and attracted thousands of fans from all over the region. Rooney’s Oval was also the scene of rodeos sponsored by the Northern Rangers, a group headed up by ringmaster Henry Fette, pictured above. Fette, founder of the Ford dealership at Routes 3 and 46, arranged for cowboys from all over the country to come and compete for prizes by wrangling wild steers and Brahma bulls. The big field was also used for traveling carnivals and, according to the late historian David Van Dillen, was one year used as the site of a dance marathon in which “dozens of young men and women shuffled around for weeks in a sleepless nightmare for cash prizes and gifts.”

The birthstone for August is Peridot. These beautiful green stones were highly prized in ancient Egypt; they were used both as currency and as personal adornments for the Pharaohs. Legend has it that peridots were only mined at night, since they were believed to glow in the dark like lanterns. They are thought to prevent sorrow and fear. Today, most of the world’s peridot is mined in Arizona. Have an awesome August and we’ll see you next month.

JEWELERS RICHFIELD SHOPPING CENTER 1354 CLIFTON AVE • CLIFTON • 973.777.4329 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant



Grown at Ploch’s – Clifton’s Oldest & Largest Farm The last remaining large parcel of agricultural land in the area

F r uits


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our tomatoes, corn, peaches and other produce are grown in Clifton on our Grove Street Farm and fresh-picked every morning so it’s top quality on your dinner plate that evening!

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A Clifton Tradition Since 1867 Hours: Tue.-Fri. – Noon to 6pm • Sat. 9am to 5pm • Sun. 10am to 4pm 98

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


1964: Clifton Elks Lodge burns, is razed and built anew. March 22, 1964: It’s “Clifton Day” at the New York World’s Fair as part of New Jersey’s Tercentennial. June 14, 1964: Betty Lutz is named Clifton City Clerk. Summer 1964: School 7 in Botany is razed. Aug. 4, 1964: A ceremonial ribbon cutting is held at Village Bakery at 386 Piaget Ave. Sept. 22, 1964: A 7-story Senior Citizens facility at Daughters of Miriam on Hazel St., is approved. Oct. 5, 13 and 23, 1964: All purpose rooms at School 5, 8 and 16 are formally dedicated. Nov. 1, 1964: Gov. Richard Hughes is the speaker at the opening of the Clifton Jewish Center on Delaware St. Nov. 9, 1964: With 1,000+ members, Clifton’s Democratic Club is named New Jersey’s largest such group. 1965: The Northside Christain Reformed Church congregation sells its Passaic church on Myrtle Ave. and Burgess Pl. and relocates to Grove St. near Conklin Dr. Feb. 19, 1965: The Werksman Library of the Clifton Jewish Center on Delaware St. is dedicated. Aug. 17, 1965: Singer Frankie Randall, who was born Frank Joseph Lisbona and is a 1955 CHS grad, is honored by local UNICO National Chapters at the Central Theater in Passaic. Randall’s movie, Wild on the Beach in which he stars with, among others, Sonny & Cher, is shown. He also performs on stage for 45 minutes.

July 1, 1965: Ground is broken for the construction of a new church building for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The church’s 450 pound bell – once used at old Clifton School No. 3 – is removed from the circa 1899 St. Peter’s Church as the old building made way for the new, in this photograph taken in 1966 by Gaston Tallet.

March 8, 1965: Clifton Fire Chief Romolo Zangrando, begins a terminal leave prior to his June 18, 1965 retirement. Steven Lendl is named Acting Clifton Fire Chief. May 4, 1965: The City Council approves the Brighton Rd. Allwood Urban Development project, a 7.5-acre site. Four frame buildings housing 32 garden apartments are razed in favor of a firehouse, library and a park. May 16, 1965: Ground is broken for the construction of First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Van Houten Ave. and Grove St. The old church on Washington Ave. is sold to the St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox congregation. Sept. 21, 1965: The Passaic County Citizens Planning Commission presents an urban renewal plan for a 29acre section of the Botany. The Clifton City Council approves the proposal in its meeting on Sept. 27. Oct. 1, 1965: The Williamsburg Apartments East and West on Grove St. near Route 3, are nearly completed. Nov. 14, 1965: A badly needed main Post Office for Clifton is planned at Paulison and DeMott Ave’s.

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


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In 1965, Father John Wehrlen of St. Philip’s Church pioneered the way...

For People with Disabilities I

n the year 2006, it is relatively easy to find a support group for a mentally challenged family member. Society generally accepts these people and many accommodations have been made to help the disabled. However, it was not always this way. Years ago, people were not as willing to accept these people into the community. Over the years, there was, however, a large movement in society to remove the stigma attached to mental retardation and other developmental disabilities and one of the pioneers of it was in Clifton. In 1965, Father John Wehrlen, the pastor of St. Philip’s Church on Valley Rd., brought to the attention of Bishop Casey and the community the growing number of children and adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. He felt that there was not enough being done to help those with disabilities or their families and saw the need for the involvement of the Catholic church At the time, mental retardation and other similar disabilities carried a stigma, even public schools had no obligation to educate mentally retarded children until federal law mandated it in 1973. To address the need, Wehrlen founded the Department of Persons with Disabilities (DPD), a notfor-profit social service at the corner of Van Houten Ave. and Valley Rd., now the current location of The Beacon Catholic newspaper. Original services included religious education, family support services, a summer camp for children and adults and pre-school for children with disabilities. The DPD was a pioneer program, since many of these people were not really accepted by society in 1965, as they would be today. As the program expanded, Wehrlen recognized the need to house these individuals, since they could not do so on their own. In 1971, the DPD opened the Murray House in Paterson, a 10-person house that was a wonderful success. However, furnishing and preparing the house to live in was quite a task. The original facility was a vacant 150 year old building in downtown Paterson which needed massive repairs and refurbishing. It was restored beautifully through the efforts of volunteers from St. Philips and other churches, as well as many civic organizations, policemen, firemen, business people and even high school students.

Bishop Lawrence Casey, Fr. John Wehrlen and a DPD student.

The Murray House, which relocated in 1992 to Allwood Pl., is now the longest existing group home in New Jersey. Thousands of people from all walks of life have helped through the years to make the Murray House a great success. The United States Congressional Record even recognized it, describing it as a program that had a positive effect on the community acceptance and integration of individuals with disabilities. Today, 75 people are living in the residential programs under the auspices of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Paterson in a total of eleven homes. Each home is staffed 24 hours a day, with the goal of having the group learning and living together as a family unit, while growing as an individual. The hard work of the DPD over the last 41 years taught many people with disabilities vital work and living skills, reassuring that they are worthwhile human beings, bringing happiness and fulfillment, not to just the individual, but to the program staffers as well. For more about the services of today’s DPD, call 973-697-4394. August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


May 27, 1966: The old Athenia train station is opened as a bank...

While it is now the office of Dr. David Moore, back in 1966, the New Jersey Bank & Trust Co. (today’s Midlantic Bank) opened a branch in the refurbished Erie-Lackawanna railroad depot. They also opened a drive-in branch across the street, on Clifton Ave. at Cloverdale Rd. This historic illustration of the Athenia Station by Mary K. and Barry Shiff is on display in the office of On Track Rehabilitation, 850 Clifton Ave. Owner Dr. David Moore, Chiropractor, refurbished the station and its surrounding grounds earlier this year to create a chiropractic and physical therapy center. In addition to the above illustration, Dr. Moore has various photos of the former station, from the years 1873 to 1965, when it served Richfield, Athenia and the former adjacent US Animal Quarantine Station. Fall 1965: The Passaic Valley United Givers Fund for the support of the 43 health, welfare and youth agencies is formed. It replaces local United Fund drives in Passaic Co. cities. From 1965 to 1966, $672,037 is raised, and a goal of $800,000 is sought for 1966-1967. Dec. 7, 1965: The new Delawanna firehouse is to be erected on lower Main Ave. at the intersection of Allwood Rd. March 6, 1966: The First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Clifton dedicates a new sanctuary on Van Houten Ave. and Grove St. 102 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

1966: Stephen Gaal Paint Co. is sold to Michael Brandl. April 25, 1966: Work is started on a Public Service Gas Distribution center off Kuller Rd. for its clients in Clifton, Passaic and Paterson. 1966: The Fireside Restaurant opens at 912 Allwood Rd. May 26, 1966: Mayor Joseph Vanecek takes the Oath of Office. July 29, 1966: The Clifton High School Mustang Band departs for Kerkrade, Netherlands to compete for the second time in the World Music Festival. The Mustangs win concert, marching and overall.

Aug. 2, 1966: A $193,000 bond issue is approved by Clifton’s City Council to finance public works equipment, municipal parking near Randolph Ave. and the cr4eation of a park at the School 7 site. Aug. 6, 1966: The Second Annual Thunderbird Golf Tournament in Clifton tees off at the Upper Montclair Country Club on Hepburn Rd. off Route 3 East. Summer 1966: The Red Chimney Restaurant opens on Route 3 West. Sept. 28, 1966: Frank E. Gersie is named Chairman for the city’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

k c a P Back Check y t e f a S at Clifton Chiropractic & Physical Therapy May 19, 1966: Forty-five candidates run for seven City Council seats but Bill Bate, pictured above left, receives 16,035 votes—61 percent of the 26,000 cast and the most ever tallied by a Clifton City Council candidate. Despite the city’s 25-year tradition of awarding the top finisher the mayor’s job, the council members had a different agenda. Joseph Vanecek, right, is named Mayor by the City Council, though he polled 1,200 fewer votes than Bate. Vanecek, along with Councilmen Thomas Cupo and Ira Schoem, Clifton’s “Big Three,” vote against Bate while Doc Surgent and Merv Montgomery took turns voting against him, switching their allegiance during the two council votes. Bate later takes the matter to the courts but fails to overturn the action. Nov. 1, 1966: The Clifton City Council votes $530,000 toward the purchase of the remaining 26 acres of the US Quarantine property. A $100,000 down payment is made. Jan. 22, 1966: Fire completely destroys the Athenia Veterans’ Post; it is rebuilt in less than one year. April 22, 1967: Allwood Boy Scouts plant Red Bud trees and Creeping Junipers on the center island of Allwood Rd, trees which still bloom every spring.

Did you know: •That new research reveals an alarming danger associated with childhood backpack use... •That it is estimated that almost 5,000 emergency visits each year are the result of injuries related to backpacks... •That backpack injuries can be prevented!!

On Wednesday, August 23, at 6:30 pm, bring your school-aged child and his or her backpack to Clifton Chiropractic & Physical Therapy for a “safety check” and a “back to school back-check” all at no charge!

Clifton Chiropractic & Physical Therapy 248 Edison St., corner of Valley Rd., Bobbink Center

973-742-3400 We care for your health,

We thought we could do it but we ran out of room. We thought we could complete the historic timeline of Cliftoncentric events but despite adding pages, we have more to publish. Over the coming months, we will continue our timeline. So if you’d like to share photos or memorabilia as it relates to Clifton from 1967 through the present, send it immediately. Tom Hawrylko, Editor & Publisher Clifton Merchant Magazine 1288 Main Ave., Downtown Clifton, NJ 07011 973-253-4400 •


Siblings Dr. Suzi Schulman & Dr. Jeffrey Schulman August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Story by Jack De Vries

The Babe Comes to Clifton Y

ou wouldn’t know it today—not with Getty Ave. running through its right field and its wonderful grandstand with leather-backed chairs long, long gone. But the area behind the large reddish brick building on Main Ave.—the Doherty Silk Mill—was the original “field of dreams.” It was here, from 1916 to 1927, that fans came to watch the game on a lush carpet of green, surpassed only by the turf at Yankee Stadium. It was a place where mill owner Harry Doherty’s Silk Sox beat great teams, like the white New York Giants and the black Lincoln and Royal Giants. At the Doherty Oval, unlike the segregated major leagues, everyone could play—white, black, or Hispanic—everyone. And, on this diamond, baseball wasn’t played for money. Sure, the Silk Sox were paid—in fact, well paid. Outfielders Jim Eschen, Howard Lohr, and Bibbs Raymond were major league ready but remained in semi pro ball because of good salaries and the opportunity to live with their families year-round. The opposing teams were well-paid, too. And, for every home run hit, Harry Doherty would award any player $5 for the blast.

The Babe literally caused a riot in Clifton at the Doherty Oval when the Yanks played the Silk Sox on April 29, 1923.

104 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

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But every dime earned from the great crowds that packed the Doherty Oval went to the Red Cross. Doherty posted a sign saying so. He also allowed Clifton High to use his beloved ballpark for free and each one of his 1,000 employees was given a free pass to every game Doherty built his oval behind the mill (hailed as the largest individual silk weaving plant in the United States) after his baseball-hating father died. Like everything in life, Doherty wanted it to be the best. “He believed,” son Paul remembered, “money was made to be spent.” Head groundskeeper Henry Fabian, who maintained the Polo Grounds for the New York Giants, was hired to layout the diamond. The results were spectacular. Seeing the 10,000-seat Doherty Oval for the first time, Chicago Cubs manager Bill Killefer said, “Chicago has the best diamond in the National League. I must admit this has it on our diamond.” The Silk Sox players also reflected Doherty’s passion for excellence. During 12 seasons in Clifton, the Silk Sox won more than 400 games, dominating other white semi-pro teams, including the famous Brooklyn Bushwicks. Against great Negro League squads, the Clifton team went 73-61-4. And, although the Sox had a losing record in 33 exhibition games against major league teams, the scores were often close. But it was when Babe Ruth came to town that the Doherty Oval was truly at its best.

A Ruthian Blast On April 29, 1923, thousands of fans waited outside the Doherty Oval, wanting to see the Ruth and the Yankees. The line of people stretched from the ticket booth and along Main Ave. and ended blocks from Passaic. Eleven days before, Ruth had opened his “house,” the magnificent Yankee Stadium to rave reviews, belting a game-winning home run to beat Boston. The Babe had good memories of the Doherty Oval. As a member of the 1919 Boston Red Sox, he blasted a three-run shot in a loss, earning the first money he ever received for hitting a home run. His shot carried some 400-feet and landed on a shed beyond the fence. Remembering his blast, he predicted he would earn $20 from Doherty. 106 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

The Silk Sox starting pitcher was Ridgefield Park’s Milt Gaston. Later that season, he would sign with New York for $5,000, going 5-3 for the 1924 Yankees.

The Yankees arrived on the 11 am at the Market Street station in Newark and had lunch in Passaic before going to the ballpark. Ruth traveled to Clifton in his own car— knowing the roads from trips to friend Jimmy Donohue’s establishment in Garfield near the Passaic River. By 2 pm, the crowd at the oval had snapped up the 75-cent upper grandstand seats and 50-cent lower grandstand and bleacher seats. In a roped off an area, 2,000 stood behind the outfielders ten-deep. The umpires ruled any ball hit into this crowd would be a double. By 2:30 pm, with 15,000 inside, the Doherty Oval’s gates were locked, leaving thousands outsideon Main Ave. During batting practice, the Babe put on a show. After fouling off the first pitch, he slammed the next ball over the center field fence and another over the right field wall. Three more batting practice homers followed. Outside, boys fought to catch the balls, knowing a returned ball earned free admission. After Ruth’s batting practice blasts, Passaic Daily Herald’s Tom Dugan wrote: “The crowd went dippy.”

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Much to the huge crowd’s delight, the Sox and Yankees played an entertaining, high-scoring game, with each team’s offense helped by the short outfield ringed by a sea of fans. With the Yankees winning, 9-6, in the eighth inning, Ruth came to the plate. A fan yelled, “Get five, Babe!” referring to Doherty’s home runs bonus. “I need it,” Ruth shouted back. “Watch me swing!” On the second pitch, Babe smacked a waist-high curve ball. No ball was ever hit in Clifton like that since. The ball flew high over the Doherty Oval’s right field wall and the fans behind it. The blast kept going, sailing over a second fence that kept people off the bordering railroad tracks. Wendell “Windy” Merrill of the Passaic Daily Herald, wrote: “(Ruth) was down to second base before the ball struck the ground.” It’s estimated that Ruth’s blast traveled at least 450 feet.

Crush of Joy After the home run, hundreds of boys raced under the outfield ropes, heading toward Ruth. Adults followed, and the fans surrounded the smiling Bambino in the dugout. Next, they pulled him back onto the field and tried lifting him onto their shoulders. The Babe ended up sprawling in the dirt, covered by children.

Ed Roush, a lifetime .323 hitter, was one of many Hall of Famers who played at the Doherty Oval.

Fearing their star was in trouble, the Yankees led by “Hinkey” Haines, a former All-American football star at Penn State, pushed into the crowd to rescue their teammate. The fans surged forward, knocking the players to the ground. Fourteen city policemen rushed to the players’ aid, pulling fans off the Yankees. A policeman grabbed Ruth and guided him through the crowd— with a young fan clinging to the Bambino’s leg. Other Clifton fans helped themselves to the Yankees’ equipment and collected game-used souvenirs. Throughout the chaos, Ruth had the time of his life.

George H. Greenfield of the Passaic Daily News wrote: “Through all the excitement and crush and milling, the Babe retained a high good humor that made a decided hit with everybody… the broad grin that covered his face all afternoon served to make his popularity grow to even larger proportions.” With the police unable to clear the field, the umpires declared the game over and New York the 10-6 winner. With Ruth in the clubhouse guarded by policemen, “thousands of kids” waited outside. After the police escorted him to his car, the Babe “pulled into Main Avenue and fairly beat all speed records toward Passaic in an effort to get away from his youthful admirers.” In 1924, the Silk Sox would get their revenge against Ruth and the Yankees. This time, the happy riot would engulf the Doherty players and pitcher Harry Harper, not the Babe (read this story in a future issue of the Clifton Merchant). In 1927, with Harry Doherty suffering financial troubles, the Silk Sox played their last game in Clifton. Two years later, the Doherty Oval was torn down to make way for Getty Ave. Clifton’s “field of dreams” was to be no more.

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Story by Jack De Vries

A Hall of Fame History C

lifton is a football town, right? Or maybe it’s a soccer city. That’s what some feel, but if you ask others—especially many enshrined in Cooperstown— they’d say Clifton is a baseball town. From helping one of the greatest players get his start to the long gone “field of dreams” behind the Doherty Silk Mill, Clifton’s hardball past is one that other towns envy. Here’s a few of Clifton’s great baseball stories:

Honus Wagner

A Star Rises in Clifton When Major League Baseball fans choose their All-Century Team in 2000, they picked a shortstop whose career ended 83 years before—the incomparable Honus Wagner. At age 22, “Big Hans” became a rising star on Clifton’s Olympic Field, where Corrado’s Family Affair stand today. Ed Barrow, who would later build Babe Ruth’s New York Yankees teams as a general manager, brought the 22-year-old Wagner to play for his Paterson, N.J., Atlantic League club in 1896. Needing a ballpark, Barrow convinced future U.S. Vice President and Paterson native Garret A. Hobart to build a diamond on the Thomas H. Van Houten property on Main Ave., then part of Paterson. After it was completed in April 1896, the “Olympic Base Ball Grounds” (or Olympic Park as it was known) was surpassed only by New York City’s Polo Grounds as a first-rate baseball facility. Wagner hit .349 his first season, leading Paterson to an Atlantic League championship. The next year, Wagner was sold to Louisville of the National League. During his 20 major league seasons (spent mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates), the barrelchested, bow-legged “Flying Dutchman” hit a career .329, totaling 3,430 hits. Barrow’s Paterson team folded after a few seasons, and Olympic Park became home to area semipro teams, serving Clifton into the 1950s.

Benny Borgman

Better than Michael Jordan Born in Haledon but raised in Clifton, Bennie Borgmann was perhaps the city’s greatest athlete. A member of the National Basketball Hall of Fame, the 5’8”, 160-pound dynamo scored over 25,000 points in a hoops career that lasted from 1918 until 1938. Like the great Michael Jordan, Borgmann also played baseball—although much better than His Airness. A stellar shortstop for Clifton’s Doherty Silk Sox, he attracted the attention of scouts. On the day Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, he was given a tryout by the Boston Red Sox and signed.

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Borgmann refused to report to spring training next year (wanting to finish the basketball season instead) and was placed on baseball’s ineligible list. With a yearly income estimated at $10,000 from playing semi-pro baseball and basketball, he didn’t need the major leagues. In 1929, Borgmann was reinstated and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. In 1933, the 34-year-old hit .340 for the Columbus Little World Series champions and was ticketed to play for St. Louis the following year. “The shortstop job was mine,” he recalled. “(St. Louis shortstop) Charley Gelbert was shot in the leg in a hunting accident right after the season. I couldn’t miss. But then came spring training and there I was, in the same hospital as Charley, with pneumonia.” The Cardinals brought in Leo Durocher to play short and Borgmann never made it to the major leagues. He played and managed in the minors until age 44, later becoming a major league baseball scout, retiring after 50 years in sports.

September 14, 1949, Sanicki made his major league debut with the Phillies in grand style, slamming a home run. Despite his bright start, Sanicki never beat out Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn for Philadelphia’s regular centerfield job. After battling injuries, he retired in 1951 and worked as a special education teacher in Clifton for the next 30 years. He later served as Mustangs baseball coach from 1957 to 1963.

Ed Sanicki

Pass the Mayo Eddie Mayo made Clifton proud, especially in 1945. Playing second base for the Detroit Tigers, the 1927 Clifton High graduate 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 M.VP. 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.

Four from 1950 Though none ever reached the major leagues as players, four Clifton High players from the 1950 season signed pro baseball contracts: Gene Pami (St Louis Cardinals) and sophomores Frank Pecci (Philadelphia Phillies), Billy DeGraaf (St Louis Cardinals), and Ron Plaza (St Louis Cardinals). Plaza reached the major leagues as a coach with the Seattle Pilots, Cincinnati Reds, and Oakland A’s.

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Eddie Mayo 110 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Senior Mustangs football fans say Ed Sanicki was one of the best Clifton football players ever. The trouble was that he played on terrible Clifton High teams. But on the baseball field, nothing could dim Sanicki’s luster. After starring for Clifton High, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. In the minor leagues, he led the Wilmington Blue Rocks to the 1946 Inter-State pennant and a 1947 league championship. On

Billy DeGraaf

Forever Phillies After the Clifton Dodgers (who wore the actual old uniforms of the Brooklyn Dodgers) folded, the legendary Clifton Phillies began playing at Nash Park in 1968 under the guidance of the city’s “Mr. Baseball,” Bob Potts. In 45 seasons, his Phillies won more than 1,500 games, 32 assorted league and division titles, and one state championship in 1959. Athletes who played for the Phillies included 1975 National League “Rookie of the Year” John “the Count” Montefusco, the

However, Gabe’s family loved baseball. In fact, after Maroon went to work, his beloved late wife Connie would sneak their three children to day games at Yankee Stadium. Those trips made a big impression on their son, John, who made baseball a career. After working in the American League Office, John Maroon became manager of media relations for the Cleveland Indians. Several sports positions followed before he landed in Baltimore as media director, where he established a friendship with Hall of Famer Cal

Ron Plaza

Did He or Didn’t He? No player ever officially hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium. Mickey Mantle came close, and it’s rumored that Negro League great Josh Gibson actually did it during a game—though no one can prove it. So who hit the first fair ball out of Clifton School Stadium? Legend says it was Ron Plaza. Teammate Armando Buongiorno and fan Lou Poles swear Plaza hit it out; teammate Frank Pecci says it never happened. Plaza’s take: “I really don’t remember it, but if they say it happened, maybe it did.”

On Aug. 11, 1997 Cal Ripken Jr., Clifton’s Gabe Maroon and Eric Dabis

Chicago Cub’s Willie Prall, and Frank MacCormack, who pitched for Seattle and Detroit. Former National League president Len Coleman played centerfield for the Phillies for nine seasons.

The Ironman’s Right Hand Man

Bob Potts

One of the most well-liked and popular Clifton residents was Gabe Maroon, who died in March 2001. A proud used car salesman and property owner, he loved his family and friends, his business, and “saloons”—in that order. However, baseball was never one of Gabe’s loves. In fact, the quote on his wake’s prayer card reads: “The only ‘sport’ I like is the guy who buys me a drink at the bar.”

Ripken, baseball’s “Ironman.” Two of Maroon’s greatest career accomplishments were handling the press after the tragic boating accident that killed two Cleveland pitchers in 1993 and managing media response when Ripken decided to end his major league record streak of 2,632 straight games played, Aug. 11, 1997. Maroon recalls, “Cal said, ‘This is it.’ I just looked at him—I couldn’t believe it. Then I shook his hand and congratulated him. I think I was the fifth person in the organization (that night) to find out his plans.” Today, the Paul VI graduate serves as VP, Communications & Branding for the Ripken Baseball Group. Gabe would be proud. August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


CHS’s All Century Team In 2000, a secret panel of Clifton baseball experts picked our All-Century Line-Up... Jim Blakemore (1944): Confident, slick-fielding first baseman was also an outstanding left-handed pitcher.

PITCHERS Bill Dobbelaar (1925): Hit more than .600; outstanding shortstop and ace pitcher. Lou Cross (1926): Fireballer never lost a game he started in four seasons.

Jason Celentano (1990): Batted .512 for Clifton’s 25-4 squad that won the NNJIL crown; later starred for Rutgers.

Walt Sidor (1930): Earned AllState honors as a freshman and sophomore.

George Poydenicz (1945) Classy fielding shortstop and good hitter; later played minor league ball.

Jack “Lefty” Slothis (1932): Clean-up hitter’s nine-straight wins led Clifton to a Passaic County championship.

John Donahue (1933): A 1931 All-State shortstop; led Mustangs to 1932 county championship.

Ray Van Cleef (1947): Threw two no-hitters for the Mustangs; became Rutgers University’s first baseball All-American. Gene Pami (1950): Went 10-2, earned All-State honors.

Todd Spreen (1989): Hit 441 as a senior; helped Clifton win two county championships and nearly 90 games during his career. Frank Pecci

Rick Serrano (1970): Won nine games as a starter; no-hit PVC champ Lyndhurst. Rich Waller (1972): Battled through injuries to lead Clifton, starred for Montclair State, and made it to Triple-A for the Boston Red Sox. Mark Tomaskovic (1987): Went 8-2 with a 1.52 ERA for Clifton’s Passaic County Tournament-winning team. Bob Holly (1978): A first team All-State pitcher for the Mustangs. INFIELDERS Ron Plaza (1951): Third baseman was a unanimous choice for AllCentury team; signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for a $10,000 bonus.

Ray Van Cleef 112 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Todd Spreen

Bob Capo (1995): The .440 senior hitter went 10-11 in four tournament wins; led Mustangs to Passaic County and State Group 4, Section 1 championship. Pete Mueller (1979): Line drive hitter who later played Triple-A ball. OUTFIELDERS Frank Pecci (1952): Unanimous All-Century selection; earned Star-Ledger’s All-State honors in 1951.

Ed Sanicki (1941): Led Clifton to a county championship tie with Larry Doby’s Eastside squad. John McClain (1985): Outstanding batter and superb fielder with a gunlike arm; starred for Montclair State and drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. Ed Klimek (1987): Batted .311 and earned second-team All Passaic County honors; later was player/manager for the Met League Clifton Phillies. Doug Kleber (1972): All Passaic Valley Conference selection; hit two home runs clear out of Clifton Stadium; earned All-American honors at University of Illinois. Paul Pignatello (1972): The .475 hitting senior earned Star-Ledger First-Team All-State honors. As coach for the Mustangs, Pignatello’s teams won more than 200 games, three sectional titles, and three league championships. C AT C H E R S

Jason Celentano

Billy DeGraaf (1952): A unanimous All-Century selection, “Billy the Kid” was a great hitter, catcher, and leader. An AllState selection, he became an outstanding pitcher for Cornell University.

Mike Lombardo

Mike Lombardo (1991): Led the 25-4 Clifton squad to Passaic County championship by hitting .420 and setting the school RBI record with 46; earned first-team All-State honors. Bob Boettcher (1948): Gridiron legend was an outstanding AllState catcher who caught both of Ray Van Cleef’s no-hitters.

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Downtown Clifton & Botany Host Thursday Night Events The Kootz Band brings back the ’60s to Downtown Clifton at 7:30 pm on Aug. 10, in the “Music Through the Ages” summer concert series. The concert is in the parking lot at Clifton Ave. and First St. so admission is free, and guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. On Aug. 17, Blue Diamond playing tunes from the ’70s performs in Botany Village Square, while 121Gigawattes covering’80s era tunes performs on Aug. 24 in Downtown Clifton. The concerts offer a mix of family-friendly fun and music, with novelty food vendors, a display of antique and classic cars, and dancing under the stars. For info call 973-253-1455. The Clifton Free Summer Concert Series continues on Sunday evenings at 7:30 pm in Main Memorial Park. It’s polka time with The Ablemen on Aug. 6. On Aug. 13, The Andy Ray Party Band liven things up while on Aug. 20, it’s Total Soul, doing R&B and Motown. The season concludes with the Boisterous Banjos on Aug. 27. Parking is available at CCMS or School 1. No rain dates. For info, call Bob Obser at 973-772-5291. MusicFest 2006 at the St. Peters Episcopal Church, 380 Clifton Ave., will kick-off on Sept. 2 at 7:30 pm with the crowd-pleasing and highly acclaimed Jeanne Lozier Bans. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for teens. Proceeds will benefit St. Peters Haven for Families, the food pantry and outreach program for families in need. Music Fest will showcase blues and jazz artists over the coming months; on Oct., 7, N. Y. blues legends Robert Ross Duo performs. For info, call 973-546-3406.

The Kootz Band brings back the’60s to Downtown Clifton at 7:30 pm on Aug. 10.

Join your neighbors around the campfire to toast marshmallows, perhaps play fiddlesticks and have some family fun at the sixth annual Family Camp Out. This ingenious Rec Dept. sponsored activity lets us city dwellers set up tents and commune with nature and our neighbors in this Beantown park. Beginning at 6 pm on Aug. 25, families can help build a real big campfire and then share tall tales, or take part in one or more of the many organized activities going on that evening.

The next morning, Aug. 26, share a breakfast with fellow campers and then take part in more camp stations, from knot tying to to compass reading. Activity fee is $8 for a family of four or $3 per person. This award winning event is sponsored by the Clifton Special Police, the Clifton Fire Department and the Clifton Recreation Department. Register in the Rec Dept at on the second floor of Clifton City Hall. For more info, call 973-470-5958.


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Lots to do this summer... as usual, the Clifton Recreation Department has lined up a summer full of activities, great for kids of all ages. Some programs are run directly by the city, others are done in partnership with nearby organizations. Here is a run down of events... The Girl Scouts’ Art to Wear camp is Aug. 14-18 at the Rec Center in Downtown Clifton Campers will create puppets, sets and act out their own plays. For girls in grades 1-5. Registration is $49. Call 973-470-5956. Skateboard camp is being held at Clifton’s Skatezone. Anyone age 6 and up can come to learn how to skate or to refine their skills. The advanced camp is Aug. 14 to 18, with a beginner's camp from Aug. 21 to 25. Price is $79. Camp runs from 9 am to noon. Skaters are encouraged to bring their own gear, otherwise rentals are available for an extra fee. Call 973-470-5956.

The Clifton Optimist Night with the Jackals is on Aug. 8 at 7 pm at Yogi Berra Stadium. Tickets are $4.50 per person. Call 973-470-5956 for info.

Clowning Around Camp will explore the world of professional clowning. Kids will learn the history of the profession, skills such as plate spinning and how to apply make up. Chips the Clown of the

Zerbini Circus will teach the course, which is held at the Rec Center, 1232 Main Ave. Ages 8 to 12. The camp runs from Aug. 21 to 25 from 9 am to noon. Cost is $79. Perfect for the family clown...

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Can’t make up their minds? Send them to the Clifton and US Sports Institute multi sports camp. Participants try 15 sports, including soccer, pillo polo, bocce, field hockey, lacrosse and much more. The camp is Aug. 21 to 25. Children ages 5 to 14 will attend 9 am to 1 pm for a cost of $115, and kids ages 3 to 5 will go from 2 to 3:30 pm for $65. All activities take place at Sperling Park. For more info, call 973-470-5956. From Suzuki violin courses to a first-of-its-kind Field Music program, the teachers at Menconi Music Studio on Lakeview Ave. can help train or sharpen the skills of a budding young musician. For instance, students ages 8-14 will learn fife and drum music of Revolutionary and Civil War periods in the new Field Music program. Other courses offered include Broadway Jr., Clifton Idol, guitar groups, flute fest, orchestra prep, drums and trombones. Prices and hours vary. Group and individual lessons. For more info, call 973-253-7500. The Space, Science and Rocketry Camp will be held on Aug 21 - 25 from 9 am to noon. Campers will make model rockets and learn what it is like living and working in space. Registration is $125. Call 973-470-5956. Summer Fun With Science Camp for kids in grades 1-3 is Aug. 14-18 from 9 am to noon. Engineering, chemistry, machines, cameras and coded communication are just some of the topics covered in a fun and practical way. Registration is $99. Call 973-470-5956. Radical Robot Camp runs from Aug. 14-18 from 1 to 4 pm and is open to children in grades 4 and up. Kids will build robots and then have the opportunity to run them in Robot Races. Fee $125. Call 973-470-5956. Art Camp for children in grades 2-5 is Aug. 14-18, from 9 am to noon or 2 to 5 pm at the Clifton Arts Center. Campers will be introduced to various mediums. Cost: $79. Call 973-470-5956.

The First Presbyterian Church, on Maplewood Ave., will host an Interfaith Candlelight Service on Sept. 10 at Lambert Castle from 6:30 to 8pm. Planned speakers include John A. Azzarello, formerly a senior counsel for the 9/11 Commission, who lost two brothers-in-law in the attack on the Twin Towers, and columnist Bob Braun from the Newark Star-Ledger. The Passaic County 9/11 Memorial Musicians will play and soloist Orlando Feliciano will sing contemporary patriotic tunes. An Interfaith Choir is being assembled by Clifton City Councilpersons Peter C. Eagler and Gloria J. Kolodziej. To become involved, call Rev. Carlisle H. Dickson at 973 893 9151. Library Tote Bags are back - bigger and better! The Friends of the Clifton Public Library have an attractive tote bag for sale – one that is large, zippered and imprinted with the Friends new logo, recently created by Pura Hernandez. It is sturdy and roomy enough to be put to many uses, such as to pack for a weekend, for a day at the beach, for a day at the park with your children, or for carrying home all those borrowed library books, videos and CDs. The tote is available at both Libraries (Main Memorial Library at 292 Piaget Ave. and the Allwood Branch Library at 44 Lyall Rd), at a cost of $20. Funds raised through this sale will be used to support library services.

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Former CHS B-Ball Coach Pete Vasil’s MVP Basketball Camp for boys and girls ages 7 to 15 will run for two weeks, Aug. 21 to 25 and Aug. 28 through Sept. 1. Held in the air conditioned St. John Kanty Church auditorium, the camp will work the basics and run two games a day. Campers must bring their own lunch. Cost for one week is $135, two weeks is $225. Vasil is now head coach at Plainfield High. Call 973-569-0407.

Youth Weight and Fitness Camp: Campers will learn nutrition, exercise sciences, skills and how to prepare meals and snacks to stay healthy. The instructor is a professional nutritionist and campers will receive a balanced diet and will get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical exercise. Camp runs from Aug. 14 to 18 at St. John Kanty School, 37 Speer Ave. Ages 8 to 12 will attend from 9 am to noon and ages 13 to 17 will go from 1 pm to 5 pm. Cost is $90. Call 973-470-5956.

camp is from 9 am to noon and costs $106. This age group is a competitive program, while the others are not. Ages 6 to 9 is also 9 am to noon and costs $106, while the 5 and 6 year old camp runs from 9 am to 10:30 am and costs $66. Fee includes a Red Bulls ball and t-shirt, and a ticket to a Red Bulls game. Call the Rec Center 973-470-5956.

The New York Red Bulls Soccer Camp is Aug. 14-18 in Clifton at Robin Hood Park. For ages 10-14,

Volunteers are always needed at the Clifton Rec Department, especially during the busy summer months. If you’re looking to get involved in your hometown, this is the way to help make a difference. To help out, call 973-470-5956.

The True Color Winter Guard squad which won the North Jersey Indoor Alliance B Division. Front row, from left: Adeline Augabrite, Sydney Shannon and Sara Shannon. Back row: Joe Nikischer, Angus Augabrite, Jennifer Nikischer, Katelyn Schoelles and Jon Nikischer.

The True Colors Winter Guard seeks members to join their competition squad. Manager Joe Nikischer explains that a Winter Guard is a group of people who use a gym floor to perform a three to seven minute performance using dance moves, spinning flags, rifles and sabres in conjunction with music to create an eye-appealing production.True Colors is made up of six members ages 4 through 8. A second unit for ages 12 to 15 is being planned for 2007. True Colors is open to boys and girls. Team dues are $25 annually. To register, call the Clifton Recreation Department at 973-470-5956 or Joe Nikischer at 973-546-8787.



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Hockey Camp at Floyd Hall Arena for kids aged 5-12 runs from Aug. 21-25, 8:30 am until noon and is $105. Call 973-470-5956.

The Theater League of Clifton will be holding auditions for Agatha Christie’s classic mystery play The Mousetrap on Aug. 27 from 5 to 8 pm, and on Aug. 28 and 29, from 7 to 9 pm. Callbacks will be held on Aug. 30 if necessary. Show dates are in October at Clifton’s School 3, on Washington Ave., Clifton. The cast consists of five males and three females, ranging in age from 25 to 50. Auditions will be held at Action Theatre Conservatory, 68 Union Ave. For info, call 973-772-6998. Bring headshots and resumes. Actors will be asked to read from sides from the play provided at the audition. Day camp for girls: Your daughter does not have to be a Girl Scout to attend Lake Rickabear Girl Scout Day Camp, a 40-acre spring-fed lake surrounded by recreation area and woodland. Girls explore the outdoors through crafts, nature and games. Transportation is included in the camp fee but pricing varies, so call for info: 973-248-8200.

Garden Palace Lanes on Lakeview Ave. hosts bowl with your neighbor on Aug. 11 at 7 pm. According to Angela Montague, the new Downtown Clifton Director, this new meet and greet is designed to get Main Ave. area merchants out in a fun environment. Two hours of bowling, shoes, food and more are included in the package. For more on the meet and greet program, call 973-

253-1455. Through Aug. 29, Garden Palace also offers a a youth bowling camp for ages 8 and up. The program includes two games of bowling and instruction, pizza and soda every week and each person will receive their own customdrilled target zone ball. The camp offers group and individual instruction and is $10.50 a day per person. For more info on Garden Palace activities, call 973-478-5750.

Woodrow Wilson Middle School students and their families had the opportunity this summer to experience the history and culture of Italy. The trip was organized by Harry Meyers, a recently retired WWMS Social Studies teacher. The group visited landmarks and sites in Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Venice, where this picture was taken, near St. George Church. Back row, from left is Daniel Smith, Donald Ferraioli, James Harding and Nicholas Swede. In front is Heather Buchan, Emily Urciuoli, Monica Ferraioli, Patricia Torley, Alicia Ferraiolo, Susan Dietze, Haley Buchan, Danielle Swede, Rachelle Swede and Andrea Villanova.

S ACRED H EART S CHOOL 43 Clifton Ave. Clifton • 973-546-4695 Continuing a Half Century of Quality Catholic Education Pre-School to 8th Grade • Middle States Accredited • Hot Lunch Program • Modern Air Conditioned Facilities • State of the Art Computer Labs

Still Taking Registration for the 2006-2007 School Year August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


• State Certified Child Care (all year round, 6:30 am- 6 pm) • Full Day Kindergarten • Full Day Pre Kindergarten – Pre-School


On Sept. 4, the grounds of the City Hall campus on Clifton Ave. will once become the Avenue of Flags, as our community celebrates Labor Day. With almost 900 on display, the Avenue of Flags was created by Walter Pruiksma, John Biegel and Keith Oakley as a way to honor Clifton’s veterans— deceased or living, from all wars. Among the veterans that we pay homage to is Chris Sotiro.



Sotiro was thrust into WWII in Aug. of 1944, shortly after the DDay invasion, helping his company liberate France and fight on towards Germany. However, his company was ambushed by German troops near Percy in Normandy and he was captured; Sotiro was a POW for about eight months before being freed by Soviet troops. For his bravery and his role in the French liberation, Sotiro was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the President of France on April 28. The Legion of Honor was creat-

ed by Napoleon in 1802 to acknowledge service rendered to France by persons of great merit. Even more than 50 years later, Sotiro’s bravery is still recognized by people thousands of miles away. We can honor vets like Sotiro here in Clifton by adding a banner to the Avenue of Flags, which are posted, dawn to dusk, six times a year on Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, 9/11 and Veteran’s Day. To purchase a flag ($100) or to volunteer with set up, call 973-471-8828.



973-787-3081 120 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

Chris Sotiro, WWII veteran and former POW, showing his Chevalier of the Legion of Honor presented by the French Government.

The Athenia Street Fair is on Sun., Sept. 17. This is the fourth year of the festival, shown at left, which has become a new Clifton tradition. From 11 am to 5 pm, Van Houten Ave. will be filled with entertainment, vendors, rides for children, a petting zoo and pony rides. Rain date is Sept. 24. The event is sponsorsed by the Athenia Business Assocition or ABA. For info or to become a vendor, call 973-473-0986 or 973-773-0802. St. John Kanty Church, 49 Speer Ave., is seeking sponsors for their annual parish picnic on Sept. 10. The church asks businesses and citizens for monetary donations, which are tax deductible, to help defray costs. A sponsorship booklet will be printed to publicly thank contributors. Call 973-779-4102.

We Welcome the Class of...

Educational Childcare Center

973-815-0050 Monday - Friday • 7am to 7pm

The Sixth Annual Festival in the Park at Randolph Park in Botany Village is a four day event sponsored by the Botany Village Merchants. There’s food, rides for all ages, carnival games, raffles, entertainment and plenty of free parking. The event is Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-4, from 5-10:30 pm. Visit



733 Passaic Avenue • Clifton, NJ 07012 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Birthdays & Celebrations! send us your upcoming family birthdays &

Jessica Vasilenko Dave Vasilenko Reaghan Vasilenko turned 30 on July 28. turned 3 on July 30. turns 30 on August 3. Happy Birthday! from Cheryl Curtin to Aunt Shirley Welch who celebrates on August 7.

FREE SUNDAE Buy One Ice Cream or Yogurt Sundae, Get Another

FREE With This Coupon Coupons May Not Be Combined.

2 00 OFF


Any Size Ice Cream Cakes Coupons May Not Be Combined.

Max Joseph Moore celebrates his 2nd birthday on August 6th.

Michael Melendez . . . .8/20 Cara Cholewczynski. . .8/24 Joanne Pituch. . . . . . . .8/24 Robbie Lucas. . . . . . . . 8/25 Eileen Gasior. . . . . . . . . 8/26 Cameron J. Popovski. . 8/26 Adam Brandhorst. . . . . 8/27 Peter Fierro, Jr. . . . . . . . 8/28 Kathleen McKenny. . . .8/31 Happy Anniversary! Nancy & Michael Ressetar celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on August15th. Wishing you many more happy years!



194 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell • 973-403-9968 –– 2 Union Ave., Paterson • 973-595-1647

122 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Congratulations! Andre Olave & Margaret DeMolli were engaged on July 4, 2006.

Karen Lime. . . . . . . . . . . 8/2 Michael Urciuoli. . . . . . . 8/2 Kevin Ciok. . . . . . . . . . . .8/4 Mark W. Mikolajczyk. . . .8/5 Ed Gasior Sr. . . . . . . . . . 8/6 Sean McNally. . . . . . . . .8/6 Charlie Stek. . . . . . . . . . .8/6 Chiara Cristantiello. . . . .8/9 Emily Hawrylko. . . . . . . 8/12 Michelle Smolt. . . . . . . .8/14 Yuko Angello . . . . . . . . 8/15 Christopher Antal. . . . . 8/15 Peter Bodor. . . . . . . . . .8/15 Tom Hawrylko. . . . . . . .8/15 Jessica Oliva. . . . . . . . .8/15 Maria Pinter. . . . . . . . . .8/15 Daniel Wolfe. . . . . . . . . 8/15 Alexandria Veltre. . . . . 8/19

Visit us in Downtown Clifton: 1103 Main Ave • 973-473-4999

We Don’t Sell Parts… …We Sell Service Michele Torelli & Patrick Antonetti were wed on July 28 at Seton Hall Chapel.


Machine Shop On Location No Order Too Large Or Small FREE DELIVERY

Two Stores In Clifton 973-473-1997


802 Van Houten Ave • Clifton Mon-Fri 8-6pm • Sat 8-5pm • Sun 9-1pm

1103 Main Ave • Downtown Clifton Mon-Fri 8-6pm • Sat 8-5pm • Sun Closed

Our Other Locations: 201.843.8040


136 Essex St • Rochelle Park Open Sundays

101 Route 46 West • Saddle Brook Open Sundays



5 Hawthorne Ave • Park Ridge New Location

614 Pompton Ave • Cedar Grove New Location

201. 261.0411 59A E. Ridgewood Ave • Paramus New Location

973.338.9292 1278 Broad St • Bloomfield New Location

973-694-2228 1168 Hamburg Turnpike • Wayne New Location

973-423-1700 93 Goffle Rd • Hawthorne New Location 1036

Due to the Labor Day holiday, the September edition of Clifton Merchant Magazine will be distributed on September 8.

Visit us in Athenia: 802 Van Houten Ave • 973-473-1997 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Guys in Hollywood by Joseph R. Torelli


ac Torluccio and Andy Wilson may never have their names engraved on a star along Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. But that really doesn’t bother the two longtime friends from Clifton, though, because they’ve started to leave their mark working behind the scenes in the film capital of the world. And they love every minute of it. Torluccio is currently a Development Executive at Buena Vista/Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group and played a key role recently in developing the major motion picture, Invincible, which is slated for release on Aug. 25th. The film details the real-life story of Vince Papale, a down-onhis-luck Philadelphia bartender/ substitute teacher with a year of high school football experience, who wound up playing in the NFL for his beloved Eagles after attending an open try-out. “It’s a feel-good film,” said Torluccio. “Papale not only made the Eagles, but wound up playing nearly four seasons as a tremendous special teams’ player.” The movie stars Mark Wahlberg and Greg Kinnear. Wilson is a Literary Manager who now finds himself right in the middle of the horror movie business, representing writers and directors for film and TV. His current clients include such noteworthy filmmakers as Darren Lynn Bousman, the Director of the highly successful horror film, Saw II, and its soon-tobe-released sequel, Saw III, and Jake Wade Wall, screenplay writer for the remake of the Hollywood thriller, When A Stranger Calls. 124 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

CHS 1995 graduates Mac Torluccio and Andy Wilson

The idea of pursuing careers in the movie industry took root in the minds of the two 1995 CHS graduates while they were attending classes in the school’s CAST program, an innovative elective course for students interested in TV and film production. Following graduation from CHS, Torluccio earned a degree in Television and Radio Production from Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications in 1999. Wilson, meanwhile, attended Montclair State University where he graduated with a degree in Broadcasting the same year. Torluccio was the one who hatched the plan to strike out for Hollywood soon after college, and he had no problem persuading his boyhood pal to head west with him. “I first came to California via Ithaca’s Los Angeles Program that allowed me to work and study out here for a semester while interning

at various production companies,” said Torluccio. Wilson, who had never been to California, was working for CBS Sports in New York when his buddy suggested they give Hollywood a try. “I wasn’t crazy about what I was doing at CBS,” he said, “so when Mac talked about heading west, I was ready to go.” Neither had any idea what they’d do once they got to Hollywood. Torluccio said he and Wilson, who he jokingly refers to as his archnemesis from their days as friendly rivals in various Clifton recreation leagues, “moved to Los Angeles with nothing more than two pieces of luggage and a dream,” Wilson said his parents weren’t crazy about the idea of his living 3.000 miles away, “especially since we had no jobs and a crappy apartment waiting for us when we got there.”

Before long, though, Torluccio found a job working with Al Ruddy, the producer of such movies as The Godfather, Cannonball Run, and The Longest Yard, before landing his current position with Buena Vista/Disney four years ago. And in typical Hollywood fashion, Wilson met someone who knew someone who worked in management who was willing to give him a start in the business. Four years ago, he received a promotion and started signing his own clients. Life has become a bit hectic for the two. They are still close friends who share an apartment, albeit, a much nicer one than at first, despite not seeing one another very often. Wilson spends a lot of time traveling to manage the careers of his clients—he’s currently in Toronto with Bousman for the filming of Saw III—and Torluccio often works well into the night on the development process for scripts, visiting sets, overseeing production dailies, and taking part in test screenings. Despite the success, neither has forgotten their Clifton roots. Both were in town recently to participate as groomsmen in a friend’s wedding,and they try to make it home for the holidays each year. Wilson and Torluccio give credit to the CHS CAST program for teaching them the basics of TV and film production. “The program was a terrific starting point for me,” said Torluccio, and Wilson credits then-instructor, Jim Kelly with peaking his interest in broadcasting.

Wilson said his dream is now to come back to Clifton to make a film with one of his clients. Hopefully it will be a film that Torluccio and his company can produce.

Give your child or grandchild the priceless gift of a Catholic School education.

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School 223 President St., Passaic, NJ 07055 • 973-779-0249 • email:


See what a difference we can make in your child’s life. We offer a progressive educational experience: • • • • • •

Pre-Kindergarten – 8th Grade Small Class Sizes Dedicated Teachers Religion Classes Science Lab Computer Classes

• High-Speed Internet, Cable TV’s & VCR’s in Every Classroom • Library Program • Music Program & School Choir • Physical Education • After School Program for Working Parents 1625

August 2006 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton’s Historic Botany District is perhaps the city’s most diverse neighborhood. Located at the end of Clifton Ave. near the Garfield border, the district is comprised of the older commercial and residential area around the square— Botany Village—and the new adjacent Botany Plaza, a shopping center which was constructed in 1999 on a former mill. Working with property owners, retailers, residents and government officials, this diverse group has established a Special Improvement District or SID to help manage and improve the area. In next month’s magazine, we’ll tell you more about Botany, and the people who live and work there.

Lidia Gusciora of Cafe Restaurant Lidia on Parker Ave. serves up good and authentic Ukrainian cuisine in her Botany Village eatery. Read more about this Clifton neighborhood in next month’s magazine.

The Ukrainian flag will be raised at City Hall on Aug. 24 at 7 pm to observe Ukraine’s 15th year of independence from the former Soviet Union, which occurred on Aug. 24, 1991. Ceremonies and a reception will mark the event. St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, 216 President St., Passaic, hosts a parish picnic on Sept. 10, from noon to 8 pm. Food and drinks, kids’ games and live Ukrainian orchestra. The picnic will be held rain or shine. The Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Church on Broad St. hosts its parish picnic Sept. 17, startign at noon. The St. Stephen’s Day Picnic is Aug. 20 at the Hungarian Club, Garfield. Festivities follow the 11 am liturgy at the church. Hungarian food, pastries and games for the kids. For info or details, call Clifton’s Hungarian Hustler Teddy Harsaghy at 973-340-9075.

... & Dr. Moore Chiropractic 850 Clifton Ave. • Clifton • 973-253-7005

Dr. Moore, at right, welcomes Israel Juskowicz who received a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Touro College in New York City.

Some of the services we offer at

On Track Rehabilitation • • • • • •

chiropractic services all new state of the art equipment on-site x-ray facility licensed physical therapist state of the art rehabilitation gym ample parking

126 August 2006 • Clifton Merchant

One more reason to Get On Track!


On Track Rehabilitation is proud to announce the addition of our new Physical Therapist Israel Juskowicz DPT.

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