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The Fette Family is Bullish about Clifton, Our Hometown. Founder Henry Fette would be proud of our new Infiniti building going up at the intersection of Routes 3 and 46. Henry was a showman and always proud to promote and invest in Clifton, our hometown. Three decades ago when he and his son Larry purchased the former Bowlero building, it was a sign that the Fette Family is here to stay. Today, third generation owner John Fette said he and his family are proud to grow with and invest in Clifton... our hometown.

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Table of Contents From the Editor Over the past 17 years, we’ve had the privilege of being Clifton’s story teller. It was with this theme in mind that we set out to publish Merchant Favorites. Over the following pages, you’ll read some classics about the people and places that make up Clifton. The stories are published as they appeared ‘back in the day’ with a brief update for each story. We hope you’ll enjoy...

What’s Inside? 6

Look Ahead to Election Day Chris de Vinck Ponders the Options


Pro Football or Dentistry? Dr. Paternoster Chose a Clifton Life

20 The Castle on the Hill Dutch Hill Landmark Remembered


28 Billy Kilroy Ramoth From Clifton to On The Waterfront

Some housecleaning... On page 76 of our July edition, we mistakenly identified a photo in the Class of 2002 section. “It is Dave Conway and myself, Charlie Stauhs, not Neil Wilson,” wrote Stauhs. “This photo was at Project Graduation at 5 am in the morning June 27 2002. They just closed the pool and Dave and I jumped in splashing everyone. Best part was he had his cell phone in his pocket and ruined it!” On page 56 of our July edition, we misidentified the CHS ‘82 Fighting Mustang holding the football as Paul Pomfred. He is actually Paul’s co-captain, Lou Mastriano.

38 Miss New Jersey 2009 2002 CHS Grad Kaity Rodriguez

44 Miss New York City 1952 1951 CHS Grad Joan Kuzmich

50 Since the Summer of Love Sherry & Barry Rosenfeld

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Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko Business Manager Cheryl Hawrylko Graphic Designer Ken Peterson Staff Writer Joe Hawrylko Contributing Writers Irene Jarosewich, Carol Leonard, Rich DeLotto, Don Lotz, Jack DeVries

52 Secret Agent Principal The Life of Gregg Dickey

58 Nina Arianda Matijcio 2012 Tony Award Winner

64 Clifton Schools in the Summer Building Skills, Practicing Arts

70 Vito is Off The Hook Son Peter Takes Over the Business

72 Wolf Song Cliftonite & Author Frank Smith

73 Events & Briefs Happenings Around Town

77 Vecchi Amici Club at 75 Botany’s Old Friends Beneficial Club


Birthdays & Celebrations Which of Your Neighbors is Celebrating?

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Moments of Grace

Election Day, Tuesday November 6 What it Means to be an American Essay by Chris de Vinck

As we turn our nation toward another election we are, once again, asked to define who we are as citizens of the United States. The iconic America poet, Carl Sandburg wrote in his poem, “The People Yes,” that we will always return to the nourishing earth for rootholds. I touched the mist of Niagara Falls, and stroked the thick bark of the redwood trees in California. I snapped photographs of the buffalo in Texas and swam in the blue waters off the coast of Florida. I’ve seen the Rocky Mountains and the wide plains in Nebraska. I loved the cotton fields in Alabama, and sat at a roadside restaurant in Vermont and poured fresh maple syrup on my pancakes.

6 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Robert Frost reminded us, “Young or new, we must be something.” Who are we as a people? We are Gettysburg. We are Thomas Edison. We are Amelia Earhart. But people are afraid these days. They look at the cost of food, calculate their dreams and look over at the children, and dread the future. The future of America is not floating in oil wells or bank accounts. The future of America resides in our will to innovate and redefine ourselves each day. Scott F. Fitzgerald knew that Gatsby, the great Gatsby, was just a simple man from the Midwest with a dream about the future. His love for Daisy eluded him, but he reminded us to stretch out our arms farther with hope just the same.



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but we have three grown children, a cat and books on Fitzgerald defined what it means to be Americans: a our shelves. The neighbors have been kind. I feed the people who “beat on, boats against the current, borne squirrels. I have been privileged to live in the greatest back ceaselessly into the past.” country in the world, a land of contradictions, yes, a My father, a writer and college professor, died at 100 land whose people are divided at the moment, yes, but years old last week. Before his death, I asked him if he strip away the rhetoric of the conservatives and the libhad any advice as he looked back over his past. “Live erals, and we all return fully,” he said emphaticalto what makes us a sucly. In one of his books he Both parties, during times of national cessful people in the wrote, “The more we free world. know how good are life distress, revert to what is good for the people Babe Ruth had it and love, the harder it is to — yes, for all the people, not what is good right. “Never let the fear bear our present condition for individuals and their stock portfolios. of striking out get in in which we find them in your way.” such limited and imperChrista McAuliffe, fect form.” the teacher who lost her life in the Challenger space We struggled as a nation with our imperfections to shuttle disaster, had it right. “Sometimes when things attain a good life and to love, but Abraham Lincoln get kind of frantic, it helps to call my husband, Steve, was clear about his vision for America. He wrote in because I think he’s got a real good sense of where 1859, “Republicans, on the contrary, are for both the everything’s gonna be in a few years.” man and the dollar; but in case of conflict, the man If you want to know what this next election means to before the dollar.” our country, it is all about finding the candidate who Anthony “Tony” Campolo, an American  pastor, reminds us not to be afraid of striking out and who can sociologist, author and speaker, wrote, “The reason tell us with conviction and wisdom where everything why I buy into the Democratic Party is because there ought to be in a few years. That is the person we should are over 2,000 verses of Scripture that deal with vote for in November. responding to the needs of the poor.” I am looking for the candidate who lives by the final Lincoln had it right. Campolo has it right. Both parwords of Carl Sandburg’s great poem, “The People ties, during times of national distress, revert to what is Yes”: good for the people — yes, for all the people, not what … There are men who can’t be bought. is good for individuals and their stock portfolios. The fireborn are at home in fire. Walt Whitman had it right. “Other lands have their The stars make no noise. vitality in a few, a class, but we have it in the bulk of You can’t hinder the wind from blowing. our people.” Time is a great teacher. We are in the throes of a class war in our nation. It is Who can live without hope? obvious to anyone who dares to simply say that the king has no clothes. We are a nation that claims we believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, and yet Christopher de Vinck is the we watch the poor languish, the rich tan and the middle Language Arts Supervisor at CHS class forgo a new baseball mitt for the new Little League and the author of 13 books. His best season. We need to remind ourselves that our country’s known work is The Power of the vitality rests inside what is best for all the people. Powerless a frank reflection on the I’ve been a schoolteacher for more than 30 years. struggles and joys of loving his My wife and I live in the same house we bought in severely disabled brother. To order 1977. While my salary increased over these past three his most recent work, Moments of decades, so did inflation and the cost of everything. We Grace, call 1-800-218-1903 or look live no differently than we did when we first married, for it in bookstores or online.

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


of ne,” arry was test neeld up .”

Merchant A Clifton Life FAVORITES March 2000 Before Bobby Boettcher, Ray Malavasi and other Mustang legends, there was Angelo Paternoster. Just 5’11 and 200 pounds, he was the first true Fighting Mustang on the gridiron. In 1936, the program was no shining star but Paternoster —who sports historian Harry Murtha recalled ‘stood out on the field like the Statue of Liberty lit up at night’—was recruited heavily. He went on to Georgetown, then studied dentistry, served in the Navy during World War II and played one year in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. By the late 1940’s he returned home, married and raised his family. Doc Paternoster, who passed away on July 6 of this year, gave up a football career to not risk his future as a dentist. He was a kind soul who shared warm words and enjoyed a good cigar. This story captures him perfectly.

In a favorite portrait from our files, the late Doc Paternoster with son Rick, who took over Doc’s dental practice on Getty nd clifton Aves. in 1996. Below left, with his daughter Patrice, who passed in 2008.

A Clifton Life By Jack De Vries “I think living in the same town your whole life is a good idea,” remarked Dr. Angelo Paternoster in a May 2000 story we did. “For example, I walked into a cigar store today, and the guy behind the counter said, ‘Are you Paternoster?’ Then he went on about my high school and college playing days, and also about my career in dentistry. Obviously, he was a football fan, but, geez, he knew all about me. That’s gratifying, being remembered in your hometown.” It’s been over 60 years since he played football for the Fighting Mustangs, but people still can’t forget “Doc” Paternoster. 8 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites Before players like Bobby Boettcher and Ray Malavasi, he was Clifton’s brightest star – a 5’11”, 200-pound, two-way lineman like a man among boys. “He was the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ on the Clifton line,” states sports historian Harry Murtha. “Doc Paternoster was one of the Mustang’s greatest players – of any era. As a lineman, he stood out on the field like the Statue of Liberty lit up at night – he was that good.” Born February 20, 1919, Paternoster grew up on Hadley Ave., near the future site of Bellin’s Clifton Pool, the child of Italian immigrant parents. Angelo was the baby of the family and had an older sister and brother. Before his second birthday, tragedy struck the family. His father, a conductor and brakeman for the Erie Railroad, was killed in a train accident, leaving the family with only the dad’s railroad pension for financial support. “All the men in my family were railroad men,” Paternoster says. “My Uncle Tony was an engineer and my Uncle Mike was a mechanic.” Like other neighborhood kids, young Angelo was drawn to sports, playing baseball and football for his

10 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Above is Doc Paternoster on the line at Georgetown in 1940 and at left at Clifton Stadium in 1936.

local block team, the Hadley A.C.s. “We used to play on Olympic Field,” Paternoster recalls, “where Corrado’s is today, against the South Paterson teams. We also played on a baseball diamond on the corner of Clifton and Lakeview Ave. where the Rite-Aid is now. On

Main Ave., where the old HeraldNews building (now a Passaic Public School) is, was another baseball diamond, and I remember playing doubleheaders there.” Paternoster attended No. 10 school, where his principal, Mr. Adams, and Phys. Ed. teacher , Mr. Donnelly (Clifton’s head football coach from 1926 to ‘34), encouraged him to try out for the high school team.

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Merchant Favorites “As a kid, I’d go watch the high school team play in hard-charging linemen. Playing their home games at front of Christopher Columbus, then later at Wessington Wessington Stadium, the Mustangs of the 1930s drew Stadium (now the site of the Passaic Valley Water crowds of nearly 3,000 to each contest. Bigger and Commission property on Main Ave.).” He says, “I was stronger than most of the players, Paternoster became impressed by Jack Lennon – he was an ace, a good one. Clifton’s most feared performer. Steve Linzenbold was a strong tackle, and I wanted to fol“We didn’t have weight lifting then,” he says, “but I low in his footsteps. Johnny had a hard job during the sumWantik was another good mer that improved my player – a real tough guy.” strength. I worked unloading Paternoster played a bit as freight cars full of big drums a freshman, then earned a varof maraschino cherries.” sity letter during his sophoThe Mustangs were not an more year. “Coach Al Lesko elite team during Paternoster’s really got me going in my juncareer, playing under .500 ior and senior years,” he football. He remembers remembers. “He had much to Paterson Central and Nutley do with making me the player having strong teams and the I became later on.” talent of one particular runner Playing guard on offense on the East Orange squad. and tackle on defense, “I played against (future Paternoster starred in a game baseball Hall of Famer) that featured leather helmets, Monte Irvin,” Paternoster no facemasks, and a single laughs. “I remember him The Paternoster Family, circa 1975: Mary and Angelo, Fred, Valerie, Patrice and Lisa. wing offense powered by going by me.”

12 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites Another rival team came from Clifton’s neighboring city. “When we played Passaic,” Paternoster says, “it was a big game – not to them, but to us. I’d go head-to-head with Iggy Seminara, and we ended up becoming dear friends, right to this day. They had some great players – Jimmy Castiglia was a big, tough fullback, Augie Lio was an outstanding guard, and Bobby Topchik and Joe Gyorgydeak were other good backs.” “Back then,” recalls Gyorgydeak, now a Clifton resident, “we didn’t have scouting reports on other players. We got information about our opponents from the newspapers. But Coach Pickett and his assistants were aware of Paternoster, and warned us about him before the game.” In the contests between the two schools, Gyorgydeak found out why. “He was Clifton’s best player. ‘Pat’ was terrific on both offense and defense – strong, aggressive, and fast for a player his size. He was also a tough, hard hitter.” In 1936, Paternoster became Clifton’s first player to be selected for the First Team All-State squad. He earned letters in baseball, basketball, and track as a shot putter, while also excelling in the classroom.

Colleges lined up with scholarship offers for the Mustang star. Fordham, a college football powerhouse of that era, sent three of its legendary “Blocks of Granite” linemen to Paternoster’s house to persuade him to join the Rams football team. Villanova and USC also recruited Paternoster. With some prodding from former Passaic rivals Lio and Castiglia (who already enrolled at the school), Paternoster began listening to offers from Georgetown University, then one of the nation’s premier football schools. But to get Paternoster to attend, the school had to sweeten its deal. “They offered me a scholarship,” Paternoster says, “but I said, ‘Gee, I’d really like to go to dental school.’ They said they could make that happen if my grades were good. So I got an eight-year scholarship. They treated me awfully good at Georgetown.” Gyorgydeak, who also went to Georgetown on a football scholarship, recalls the friendship of his former CHS opponent. “Pat was so kind to me, as were Castiglia and Lio,” he says. “They were considerate and guided me through my first few years there. Pat became a true friend in college.” Coming from the losing Clifton program to Georgetown’s winning one invigorat-

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Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites ed Paternoster. The Hoyas were undefeated for two years before losing a game to Boston College in his junior year. Paternoster played on their nationally ranked 1941 Orange Bowl team and was selected for the All-East squad in his senior year. After graduating, Paternoster enrolled in Georgetown’s dental school, working toward a dream that had been born in high school. “There was a Doc Weber in Clifton,” he recalls, “and he was my dentist. He always talked to me about going to dental school, and, with his encouragement, that’s what I decided to do. That was my calling – I truly enjoyed my career.” While in dental school, Paternoster decided he wasn’t through with football yet. Because of WWII, the NFL held its team practices at night, letting players satisfy their wartime obligations by working during the day in a

defense factory or shipyard. With his nights and weekends free of classes, “Doc” Paternoster signed to play for the 1943 Redskins for $250 a game. “Sammy Baugh was our quarterback,” Paternoster remembers. “I met him in a hotel suite when I signed my contract. He and George Marshall, the owner of the Skins, were there, and Sammy okayed all players. Imagine that, having a star okay the team’s players, but that’s what he did.” “We had a good team that year,” Doc says of the 6-3-1 Redskins, who lost to the Chicago Bears in the NFL’s championship game. “The caliber of play from college to the pros was a big jump, and the training was more intense. It was also a rougher game.” Paternoster’s NFL career ended after he enlisted in the US Navy. He served stateside as a lieutenant during WWII and graduated from Georgetown soon after.

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Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites Doc returned to Clifton to start his dental practice, opening a small office on Main Ave. near the intersection of Union Ave. “After I came home, I never played sports again,” he says. “It was a matter of risking my career as a dentist if I got injured.” Paternoster did make one exception. On Wednesdays, he would go to Clifton High practices and work with the linemen for his friend, Coach Joe Grecco. In 1946, Paternoster married his first wife, Mary, and purchased his mother’s house on Harding Ave. In 1951, they moved to his current home on Lincoln Ave. where he has lived ever since. The couple had four children – Rick, Valerie, Patrice and Lisa. With the outbreak of the Korean War, the young dentist’s career had to be put on hold. In 1952, Paternoster was called back by the Navy and served in Washington, D.C. during the conflict. “It was a disruption having just established my practice,” Paternoster says of his tour working in a Navy hospital, “but I enjoyed it.” In 1966, Paternoster opened a new office on the corner of Getty Ave. and Clifton Ave., close to the sandlots where he played as a boy. His son Rick followed in his footsteps, going to Georgetown and also becoming a dentist, taking

18 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Merchant Favorites

over Doc’s practice when he retired in 1996. In 1981, Mary Paternoster died. Four years later, Paternoster married his second wife, Patricia, who passed away in 1997. Today, Doc spends his days playing golf “when the weather is good,” watching sports on TV, reading, and traveling, often to Florida to visit friends. He also eats lunch with friend Sam Monchak each week and dines often with a group of golf buddies at different area restaurants. Though he never played beyond his one season with the Washington Redskins, the lessons from his athletic career have stayed with Paternoster his entire life. “Sports gave me the discipline to train to get things done,” he says, “no matter how hard they appeared to be.” Another lesson Doc Paternoster learned was to always be loyal – especially to your hometown. “This is a good city,” he emphasizes, “always has been. Clifton’s been very good to me.” Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant The Castle on the Hill FAVORITES August & September 2007

The Castle

on the Hill by Joe Hawrylko

In August of 2007, we ran a story about a large and luxurious home overlooking Weasel Brook Park known as the Clifton Castle/Castle on the Hill. Former Passaic resident Mark Dauphars snapped some photos and grabbed pieces of memorabilia found in the rubble from the landmark as it was being demolished more than two decades ago. In 2007, he stopped by our office to donate his ďŹ ndings, which led to writer Joe Hawrylko contacting Clifton Tax Assessor Jack Whiting, who supplied further information. After that, we turned the story over to our readers, who, as usual, did not disappoint. Leads, tips and photos poured in from nostalgic Cliftonites, all eager to help in the search. Word of the story even reached Denny Kleber, 1974 CHS grad and great-grandson of the couple that occupied the Castle on the Hill. This combination of Clifton history, reader input and journalistic sleuthing has made this tale a favorite in our office. 20 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant


Merchant Favorites

For three quarters of a century, it sat atop a steep hill overlooking Weasel Brook Park and the rest of Dutch Hill. Covered by trees and shrouded in mystery, the Castle on the Hill—or the Clifton Castle if you prefer—was the center of many urban myths. But now, all that remains are just a few tattered love letters, some photos and a weather vane modeled after the Egyptian Goddess Isis, after the Castle on the Hill was demolished to make way for the Highland Terrace condominiums. Clifton Merchant Magazine takes a look back at this landmark and tries to uncover the mystery of the Clifton Castle, thanks to help from one of our readers. In the summer months, this massive home was almost invisible to the eye, thanks to the thick foliage surrounding the 6.3 acre property. The only inclination that a non-resident would have of the Castle on the Hill would be the two gates—one on Highland Ave. and another on Third St.— with two massive pillars in front of them. Shrouded in mystery due to its seclusion from the rest of the neighborhood, the Castle was the focus of many urban myths. Some residents will recall

Love letters found amongst the rubble, photographs scattered in the debris and other memorabilia give us a glimpse into what was once called the Castle on the Hill. Sitting on three wooded acres, the estate, its servants quarters and guest home looked out over Weasel Brook Park, near Third and Highland Aves. Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites of the castle could be shared with the residents of Clifton. Thanks to Dauphars and Clifton Tax Assessor Jack Whiting, we were able to uncover some of the mystery surrounding the Castle. Built in 1908, the original owners of the Clifton Castle are unknown, as it is not documented in city records. The earliest name attributed to the Castle is Marie Kleber Baylis, who purchased the property in 1944. The names Clifton Castle and the Castle on the Hill are derived from the unique architecture of the three buildings on the property, more specifically, the large tower that was featured on the main building. In total, the trio of buildings came out to 4,208 sq. ft. (2,962 sq. ft. in the main building, 550 sq. ft. in the guest house and 696 sq. ft. in the servants quarters/garage). One of the WWII-era love letters found Mark Dauphars, who supplied photos of the Clifton Castle. by Dauphars on the property may shed light on the original owners of the property. rite of passage for Clifton kids. However, that came to Written in 1943 by Jack S. Baylis, it is addressed to an end in June 1983. Mrs. M. K. Thienes, presumably the former name of Just a mere shell of its former self, this dilapidated Marie Kleber Baylis, whom the property was entitled to. Clifton icon of the past was in the midst of demolition in that year. The large hill which it once sat upon was being leveled and trees were being cleared to make way for the Highland Terrace condominiums. After hearing of the Castle’s impending fate, former Passaic resident Mark Dauphars took to action and headed over to the site with a camera to make sure that he would be able to preserve a part of Clifton history. After snapping some photos from various angles on the property, Dauphars toured the empty building, which is how he got a hold of some photos and dated mail. In his scavenger hunt, he also located the very peculiar weather vane which sat atop an obelisk near the gate. It would seem that the Thiemes family may have been “They were tearing the place down and it looked the first to live there. loose,” recalled Dauphars. “I hit it with a stick a few It is interesting to note that the letters sent to the times and it fell.” For over two decades, he held on to the historical property had no address on them, just simply ‘The items. This past month, he contacted the Clifton Castle on the Hill’. Even postmen knew of the iconic Merchant office to donate his collection so that the story home by name alone. sneaking onto the property as kids, only to be chased out by dogs that resided just over the perimeter wall. Such treks onto the property seemed as if they were a

22 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant



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Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites

The Follow-up Story which appeared in September 2007 Our story last month on the Castle on the Hill has generated a wide variety of responses from our readers. Thanks to their comments and contributions, we have lots of new information on this iconic Clifton residence, which was in Dutch Hill. Based on personal accounts of those who lived nearby, some reports do conflict with others. However, just before we went to press, Denny Kleber, the grandson of Marie Kleber Baylis, called us after receiving the magazine from a relative. He was able to confirm much of the information supplied by readers.

Bob Kovalycsik in front of the Highland Ave. entrance to the Clifton Castle on the Hill in 1955.

24 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Marie Kleber Baylis did indeed inherit the fragrance factory directly next door (now the Clifton Skatezone) from her father Dr. Clemens Kleber, who adopted her. He had founded the Clifton Chemical Co. (also known as the Fritzsche Brothers Co., the property later changed hands several times) in 1906 with family members from Long Island. However, there was a discrepancy as to when the Castle was built and if there was anything predating it on the property. Joan Statzer, a resident who grew up right by the Castle and was friends with the family, said there was a much smaller home on the property in 1908, right by where the Castle’s obelisk stood. She claimed that in 1915, Dr. Kleber had the castle built and the original home was remodeled into the guest house. “The inside of the house was art deco. They didn’t have it in 1908,” said Statzer, backing her claim of the age of the castle. “Not even those glass cubes on the wall.” However, Denny Kleber, who based his information on his father, Jack ‘Hans’ Kleber—who was Marie’s only son—said that construction began in 1906. The numbers 1915 that sat atop the servants’ quarters was the date when all of the structures were completed, possibly explaining the difference between his and Statzer’s accounts. However, he added an interesting fact about the property. “My great-grandfather was friends with the man (Catholina Lambert) who built Lambert Castle,” said Kleber, a 1974 CHS grad who starred on the ‘72 and ‘73 undefeated football teams. “They decided that they would build their castles on opposite ends of Clifton.” It is also important to note that Statzer—and Kleber—said that Marie Baylis’ name from her first marriage was Thienes, not Thiemes as we had reported in last month’s edition. She added that Jack Baylis was also in his second marriage and was a Commodore in the Coast Guard up in Skaneateles, NY. Statzer was also able to recall what the magnificent home was like on the inside. “There were also secret passages in the walls,” she claimed. “One went from the bathroom in the basement to the library on the first floor to the master bedroom suite.”

Merchant Favorites Statzer then began speaking about Marie, whom she idolized growing up. “She was like a mentor of mine, but much older. She more or less adopted me as a young friend,” recalled Statzer. “I grew up going in and out of that house.” Marie worked for the Red Cross in Puerto Rico during WWII, where she taught English over the radio. There, she received a Lhasa Apso from an Admiral as a gift, which she brought back to the United States. She said the canine was one of the first of its kind in the country and a prized possession of the family. Over the years, Baylis also owned a Scottie named Max and a gray Great Dane named Rope. Denny Kleber, who now lives in Charlotte, NC, added that his grandmother also owned a number

of Collies throughout the years, including one which he said was of the original sons of the TV Lassie. Statzer said that Baylis was also involved in the Paterson Operatic

Society and that she had a lovely singing voice. Kleber added that his grandmother also sang in Manhattan at one point. Even though he now lives in

An interior of a room at the Castle on the Hill, which was recovered at the Highland Ave. site by Mark Dauphars prior to its demolition in June 1983.


Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites Middletown, Dominick DiDonato still remembers the Clifton Castle. “I used to live with my parents Joseph and Katherine in the house to the left of the Castle entrance,” recalled the former Clifton resident of 64 years. DiDonato and his family were friends with the family caretakers, John and Tess Bilowith.

Although he has not talked to them for some time, DiDonato said he last recalls the Bilowiths living in a senior community center on Van Houten Ave. The DiDonatos were also well acquainted with the Baylis family. The family members were regular guests at the Castle on the Hill,

Let’ s Do Lunch! nd

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Join us at the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 11:30 am for a new topic of interest!

Hosted by: Dante P. Liberti, CFP ®

Tuesday August 14, 2012 Role of the Clifton Boys & Girls Club Guest Speaker: Robert Foster, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Club of Clifton

Dont forget it’s the 2nd Tuesday at 11:30 am Complimentary lunch is provided Free Lunch but Suggested Donation: $5 To benefit the B&G Club of Clifton. Make check to the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton

Please RSVP Dante Liberti at 732-734-0053

so we have enough good food for everyone!

41 Vreeland Ave Totowa, NJ 07512 Securities offered through Securities America, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC, Dante Liberti Registered Representative. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc., Dante Liberti, Financial Advisor, Dynasty Advisors, LLC., Robert Foster, with Boys and Girls Club of Clifton, and the Securities America companies are not affiliated. Representatives of Securities America do not give legal advice.

26 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

and DiDonato remembers many dogs, including a Great Dane named Shatsu. He also recalled the massive valerium, complete with tropical plants and a fish pond, as well as the spiral stairway passages. DiDonato said that Marie would come down once a year for his mother’s peonies flowers, which she used for the centerpiece on her tables at her annual barbecue. According to Mike Russinn, who knew Hans through his brother, the parties included many recognizable names. “All the stars went there, even the Rockefellers,” he claimed. “In the basement, there were autographed pictures of all the stars, including Clark Gable. That lady was very influential.” Kleber confirmed what several readers had claimed: Baylis was friends with the Roosevelts and the famed First Lady Eleanor was even in her wedding. Kleber added that his grandmother had a distinct fashion taste, only driving Cadillacs. She also had about 12 fur coats in a walk-in closet. These items remained family heirlooms for years. “But they were very nice people,” summed up DiDonato. “Not snooty or anything like that at all.” This follow up would not be possible without the help of our readers. The individuals who aided in our search include: Denny Kleber, Joan Statzer, Dominick DiDonato, Ernest Fodor, Kim Puzzo, John Nouhan, Mike Russinn, Bob Kovalycsik, and Francis Nouhan Florentine.

Stop in to Shop. Always a Good Price & Free Advice from CBS.

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Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Kilroy Was Here FAVORITES February 2008

Story by Jordan Schwartz

d n e g e L g n Boxi l a h s r U.S. Ma t e o P & r o Act Clifton Cop 28 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Those of a certain vintage may recall drawing a face and fingers hanging over a wall with the writing Kilroy was Here! Thus, when we heard about boxer Billy Ramouth some years ago, who would have thought that phrase may have had its origins in a Clifton character? In February of 2008, writer Jordan Schwartz tracked down Ramoth (aka Kilroy) at his Toms River home to get his story. A boxer, veteran, Clifton Police Officer, movie stuntman, poet and much, much more, the man known to many as Kilroy was a person of legendary tales and famous friends. But Schwartz also recounted how Kilroy was equally as fond of his lifetime Clifton pals and the years he spent here. Kilroy passed away in Toms River in April of 2011 and his tale of good fortune lives on, to be told once again.

Merchant Favorites Most 80-year-old men have a scrapbook lying around their house somewhere, documenting accomplishments of a lifetime. Some, more successful men, may have two books. Billy ‘Kilroy’ Ramoth has four. During an interview on a mild January afternoon at his Toms River home, the octogenarian leans over the dining room table, flipping through the volumes that illustrate his life. There are clips of his boxing triumphs in the ‘40s over the likes of Sal Belloise, Gene Boland and Rocky Castellani. Pictures of his days as a Clifton cop and movie stuntman in the ‘50s, brushing shoulders with Marlon Brando and Paul Newman. And even a 1966 letter from a First Lady thanking him for his beautiful poetry. As he readies to narrate his legendary tales, Kilroy ignores the offer to sit — he’s always been more comfortable on his feet.

“A Real Sensation” The first binder tells of Kilroy’s days as a fighter. Born in Wallington in 1927, the pugilist grew up in East Rutherford and began boxing when he was just a sinewy teenager. “I was always a rough kid,” he said. By the time he was 15, Kilroy was already on the circuit, training at Whitey Plunkett’s gym in Paterson and being featured in seven amateur fights at Kantors Auditorium in Passaic. “He fought in the Diamond Gloves and was a real sensation,” said New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame President Henry Hascup.

Like many in his generation, a 17-year-old Kilroy enlisted in the Navy during World War II. Stationed out of Jacksonville, Florida and working as a radio operator, Kilroy continued to box, becoming an All-Service Middleweight Champion. By this time, Billy, whose real last name is Ramoth, began fighting under his mother’s maiden name of Kilroe. Some changed this to the similar-sounding Kilroy, after the WWII pop culture expression “Kilroy was here.” Legend has it that during his first bout in the Navy, those in attendance began chanting the phrase and it stuck. That’s one version of how Kilroy got his ring name. There’s another story about a sports writer misspelling ‘Kilroe’ in an article, and that leading to the alias. Ramoth can’t remember which tale is true, but from that point forward, he was Billy Kilroy. After he was discharged from the Navy in 1946, the boxer turned pro. “I was a stand-up fighter with a fast jab and a good right hand cross,” recalled Kilroy. “I was pretty fast,” he added, “and I would make my opponents miss quite a bit so they would get tired.” That became a winning strategy as Kilroy went undefeated through his first 24 professional fights, scoring victories in gyms and halls from the Jersey Shore to Hudson County. Kilroy eventually lost to Tommy Marra and Rocky Castellani in a rematch, but he said his toughest fight came against Walter Cartier on Jan. 20, 1948 in White Plains.

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites “My beat was the whole city of Clifton,” he said. “That was the hardest I was ever hit and they “The roughest parts were down Main Ave. by the stopped the fight.” Paterson border.” Kilroy remembered being knocked down six times When Ramoth first joined the force, he was shown before the match was called and he lost a TKO. “He was the ropes by Casey DeGroot, father of Det. Sgt. John a beautiful puncher and I left myself open and he got DeGroot, who was tried and acquitted of the infamous me.” 1966 Judi Kavanaugh murSeven months later, Kilroy der. fought Charley Zack in A few years later, Scranton, Pennsylvania. Ramoth returned the men“Charlie and I had a war toring favor when Ira and I hit him with a good shot “Cook” Van Dorn started and he collapsed in the ring with the CPD. “He had the and had a cerebral hemornicest personality of anyone rhage,” Kilroy said. “He was in the police department,” paralyzed and never fought said Van Dorn, who went on again. I started thinking that to become a lieutenant. could easily be me.” The two became great After delivering the devaspals and the Ramoths would tating blow, Kilroy appeared frequently attend parties on just six more cards, getting thrown by Van Dorn and his TKO’d in the first round of his wife Anne at their Sylvan final fight against Georges Ave. home, a few miles Chappe on May 20, 1949 at away. Being a cop and an Madison Square Garden in ex-fighter, Ramoth was New York City. somewhat of a celebrity at “I didn’t realize that in Former business associates and old Clifton Police these family gatherings. fighting, you had to get hurt buddies Ira ‘Cook’ Van Dorn and Billy ‘Kilroy’ “Billy was the nicest guy no matter how great you Ramoth are now neighbors down in Toms River. in the world, you just didn’t were,” said Kilroy. “Sooner want to fight him,” said Cook’s nephew John Van Dorn, or later, you’re going to get hurt in that game and when a Clifton firefighter and former boxer. “To look at him, you start thinking like that, you can’t fight. I started to you would think he was a poet.” have the wrong thoughts in my mind to be a fighter.” “It’s a privilege to know Billy,” said Ira’s son Pete, So Kilroy retired from professional boxing with a who lives on Huemmer Terr. in Clifton. record of 35-7, including 21 knock outs. At one point Cook and Billy developed such a close relationship, during his career, he was ranked the 13th best midthat in the ‘70s, they joined with four other men to open dleweight on the planet, but at the age of just 22, Kilroy the Neutral Corner Bar at Highland Ave. and Second St. turned in his gloves for a pair of handcuffs. near the Passaic border. Walking the Clifton Beat Two decades later, the old police buddies even In 1949, Billy Kilroy purchased a home on Dawson retired down to Toms River at the same time in 1996. Ave. in Richfield with his wife Doris, a high school Back on the force, Ramoth was as much of a hero as classmate whom he married two years earlier at St. he was in the ring. Following a bad rain storm in early Joseph’s Catholic Church in East Rutherford. 1962, an elderly woman in a car got stuck on a flooded On the first day of 1950, Ramoth took the oath as a road down by Styertowne Shopping Center. “He Clifton Police Officer and thus began the second scrapruined his uniform going through the water, but he got book of his life. her out,” said Doris, pointing out a picture in the photo 30 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Merchant Favorites album of Mrs. F. Schwartz, who was planting a kiss on the man who saved her. Kilroy had a lot of admirers during his time walking the beat, but it wasn’t just for his bravery.

Big Screen Stuntman The third book in the life of Billy Kilroy began a few years after joining the Clifton Police. While off duty, Ramoth took a ride to Hoboken where he heard former heavyweight boxer Anthony ‘Two Tons’ Galento would be for the filming of a motion picture titled On the Waterfront. Drinking a beer and sporting a leather jacket in a local bar, Ramoth caught the eye of Elia Kazan, the movie’s director. Kazan thought Ramoth looked a lot like the film’s star, Marlon Brando, and he hired the ex-boxer to act as Brando’s body double in the picture’s fight scenes. At the age of 27, Kilroy reprised his stage name for his new career. He got to meet Brando as well as co-star Eva Marie Saint on the set of the movie that the American Film Institute last

Will the real Marlon Brando please stand up? Billy Kilroy (at right) did some of Brando’s fight scenes in the 1954 movie On the Waterfront. At left, Billy escorts a federal prisoner in 1964.

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites year named the 19th greatest of all time. After On the Deputy U.S. Marshal Ramoth Waterfront won the Academy Award for Best Picture in After 12 years and eight months of service to the 1954, Kilroy’s buddies back on the force teased him by Clifton Police, William Ramoth left the department to giving Billy a baseball trophy that they dubbed ‘a replijoin the U.S. Marshals Service. This, after newly ca Oscar.’ On the beat, women began approaching the appointed District of New Jersey Marshal and former officer to get his autograph. Paterson politician Leo A. Mault suggested he make the “All the girls loved him,” said Doris, his wife of 60 move. years. Shortly after joining the Marshals in 1962, Ramoth But the Clifton cop’s brush with Hollywood didn’t went to work on the trial of Teamsters President Jimmy end there. He acted in fight scenes and worked as a Hoffa, during which he guarded defendants. technical adviser in 12 other movies, appearing as Paul Ramoth also worked the trial of John Butenko, who Newman’s stunt double in Somebody Up There Likes was accused of spying for the Russians. Butenko was Me and The Hustler. found guilty of treason Some 50 years later on Dec. 2, 1964 and in his Toms River home, there’s a picture of Kilroy flips to a page in Ramoth escorting the his scrapbook with a handcuffed spy within picture of Newman in a the pages of his fourth wheel barrel while Billy scrapbook. looks on laughing. The Deputy may have Kilroy tells a story of even played a small role how the actors spent in the infamous Rubin their down time on the ‘Hurricane’ Carter case. set joking and smoking. In his autobiography, “In between takes, The 16th Round, Carter Paul lost a card game claims he was warned in and he made me go to advance by a dozen the bank to get him policemen that the Clifton Officers Agnoli (at left) and Harry Sims (at right) look $100 in pennies to pay authorities were out to on as Kilroy kisses a trophy they gave him after On the off the debt to another get him. Waterfront won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1954. Kilroy man,” recalled Kilroy. appeared in the movie as Marlon Brando’s stunt double. “Quite a few people While filming The who I could call my Hustler, the Clifton patrolman ran out of vacation days friends were lawmen,” he wrote. “There was Billy and Chief Joseph A. Nee wouldn’t give him any more Kilroy, a U.S. marshal and an old friend...” time off so he couldn’t complete the movie. Newman Ramoth just smiles and laughs when asked if this is heard this and personally phoned City Manager William true. “I knew Hurricane from Tex Pelty’s gym in Holster to ask him to give Billy more time. Kilroy said Paterson,” he said. “He’d come to our house in Clifton Holster’s secretary nearly passed out when she realized sometimes.” “I can’t see Billy tipping off anybody,” said Clifton who was calling. defense attorney Miles Feinstein, who represented Kilroy went on to make guest appearances on a numArthur Dexter Bradley, one of the witnesses who testiber of television programs such as I’ve Got a Secret and fied against Hurricane. To Tell the Truth. Feinstein, who was also John DeGroot’s lawyer durBut in 1962, Kilroy left the entertainment world and ing the 1966 Kavanaugh murder trial, described traded the company of national celebrities for that of Ramoth as a decent, very soft spoken man. international criminals. 32 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites

Ramoth and five business associates opened the Neutral Corner Bar at Highland and Second St. in 1975. From left, Jerry White, Ronnie Bouse, Ray Nolan, Billy, Ira “Cook” Van Dorn and former Canadian welterweight champion Fitzie Pruden. Inset Did Ramoth tell his friend Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter that the cops were out to get him?

“One time he invited me to go to the veteran fighters dinner in Brooklyn with his boxing buddies Fitzie Pruden and Tippy Larkin,” Feinstein said. “We picked up Rocky Graziano too, which was a thrill for me because my father and I were big boxing fans.” Ramoth said he utilized his experience in the ring during his time as a Marshal. As a former fighter, he was able to identify with the prisoners. “A lot of people get the wrong impression of them, but they’re just guys who got themselves into jams,” said Ramoth. “Most of the prisoners would always rather be guarded by me than anyone else.”

“The Bard of Federal Square” While serving 18 years as a Deputy United States Marshal, Ramoth began writing poems about the inmates he would transport from jail to the courtroom and back again. He became so well known for his verses that HeraldNews writer Les Plosia once labeled Ramoth “the Bard of Federal Square” in a 1973 article. 34 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

But the poet wrote about more than just prisoners. His pieces also explored his days as a fighter and his love for his country. In 1966, Ramoth sent a poem about beautification to the First Lady. “The preservation and restoration of our Nation’s beauty is indeed an appropriate subject for poetry, and I appreciate your sharing your creative efforts with me,” Lady Bird Johnson replied in a thank you letter to Ramoth. Old Billy Kilroy doesn’t write much poetry these days. The one-time local celebrity has been out of the limelight since 1979, when he was inducted into the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame. That same year, the city of Clifton drafted a resolution recognizing his boxing achievements. In 1996, Ramoth and his wife left the town that had been their home for 47 years, and moved south to Toms River with their good friends Ira and Anne Van Dorn. Not too many people hear from Billy anymore except maybe his daughters Nancy and Irene. He keeps to himself aside from the occasional lunch with his old pal Cook. But ask Kilroy about the glory years, and he’ll be more than happy to fetch the four scrapbooks and put up his dukes for a picture. He’s still got it.

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Clifton Beauty Queens FAVORITES December 2008 In November of 2008, as we were preparing our December magazine, we were contacted by Kaity Rodriguez, who had recently been crowned Miss New Jersey USA. The 2002 CHS graduate was preparing for the 58th Annual Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas, and sat with us for a wide ranging interview before we took her for a photo shoot across town. In that same edition, we introduced readers to Joan Kuzmich who competed as Miss New York City in the 1952 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. A Marching Mustang majorette, Kuzmich was a Rockette by 16 years old and enjoyed a long and successful career in show business. The two beauty queens from Clifton, separated by more than half a century, made for a memorable read in that December magazine.

36 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Miss New Jersey 2009 FAVORITES December 2008

Miss New Jersey 2009

2002 CHS Grad has two Degrees & a Platform Story by Joe Hawrylko When Kaity Rodriguez takes the stage at the 58th Annual Miss USA pageant on April 19 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, she’ll be hard to miss for a number of reasons. Standing at just 5’4”, most models tower over the 2009 Miss New Jersey winner by a good five inches. Her curved, voluptuous body is in stark contrast with the impossibly skinny look that’s featured in every fashion magazine in the checkout aisles of grocery stores. Rodriguez, crowned Miss New Jersey USA on Oct. 19, was the third AfricanAmerican winner in the history of the New Jersey, and will be one of just a handful of ebony models in the big walk on April 19 next year. She also happens to be an outstanding scholar—Rodriguez received her master’s in social work from New York University in 2008 after graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of South Carolina with a degree in psychology. So much for the notion that models are anorexic and clueless. Stereotypes and hearts—Rodriguez breaks plenty of each. The 2002 CHS grad is proving that beauty isn’t limited to what’s found on the pages of the latest issue of Cosmo. “I want to spread the message that real beauty is about accepting your flaws and learning how to make them work for you,” said Rodriguez. “The picture of me placed on the (Miss USA) website is airbrushed. Since I was a teenager, I struggled with acne.” Since winning the title of Miss New Jersey USA on Oct. 19, Rodriguez has set 38 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

out on a quest: Shatter all the stereotypes associated with beauty pageants. “While there was a lot of beautiful, tall and slim girls in the pageant, I had to say, ‘This is Kaity, this is who I am,’” she recalled. “I have to like myself for who I am. That’s why I want to redefine the standard of beauty, because there are so many different definitions.”

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40 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Merchant Favorites Realization of a Dream “I always wanted to do it from the time I was a little girl,” recalled Rodriguez. Like so many young girls, she idolized the beautiful women that she saw in ads and fashion magazines. However, there was just one small problem: Rodriguez had no idea how to even get her foot in the door. She was just a high schooler chasing a pipe dream, and gave up. It wasn’t until Rodriguez was At the CHS 2002 Sports Awards, the Mustangs girls track & enrolled at the University of field team, from left: Sylvia Santelli, Lizzie Bakarich, Nermina Feratovic, Nicole Zayatz, Megan Kogit, Kaity South Carolina that she saw an Rodriguez and Kimberly Biason. Inset is Kaity in the 2002 advertisement to register on the CHS Yearbook. Miss New Jersey website. Rodriguez wasn’t always this comfortable in her own Suddenly, that far-fetched dream of being crowned skin. Like most teenage girls, the models featured in pageant queen became much more realistic. fashion magazines represented something Rodriguez But Rodriguez knew that she couldn't just enter the thought she could never be. Miss New Jersey contest without any experience. On paper, she saw tall, slim models with perfect Luckily, USC was sponsoring a small, campus-wide skin. But in the mirror, she saw a face spotted with acne, pageant, and she signed up. belonging to a young, developing girl who was much too “There were 10 girls in the campus pageant and 106 short and too thick to become a pageant queen. girls in Miss New Jersey,” recalled Rodriguez. Though Rodriguez was inadequate, or so she thought. The she ultimately did not win, the 2002 CHS grad got her USC pageant showed that she might potentially have first taste of competition, and used it as a stepping the beauty and brains to compete with the best in the stone to bigger things. Garden State. “I knew what I needed to work on,” added “When it comes to building confidence, there’s nothRodriguez. “Building confidence was part of it, and ing better than forcing yourself to do things that are our having the right coaching and what not.” of your element,” explained Rodriguez. Although she exudes plenty of poise now,

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Merchant Favorites

Kaity attended the former and now defunct St. Paul RC School on Main and Washington Aves. Here in 1987 is the Grade 7 class: Top, from left: Christian Santiago, Elaine Sanchez, Panitta Prasarn, Kaity Rodriguez and Paul Urena. Middle: Mrs. Diane Shagawat, Shane Biason, Karleen Jayme, David Thorton, Jamie Farley, Nicole Wells and unidentified. Seated: Marc Dulay, Megan Clarin, Kimberly Biason, Keith Reisenger and Shannon Banquecer.

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Merchant Favorites To prepare, Rodriguez hired a coach to get her ready for the Miss New Jersey USA contest. “Wardrobe, walking on the stage, the question and answer segment, confidence building, make up, hair,” she said. “They pretty much help with everything.” The support refined her natural talents and prepared Rodriguez for her biggest competition to date: Miss New Jersey, which took place on Oct. 19. “I’m a very competitive person, so my expectations were to place in the top five or win,” she said. “But I was still shocked to hear my name. You don’t think about it then, but now, it’s actually reality.” “My closest friends were so proud of me,” added Rodriguez. “I’ve been hearing from a lot of people that I haven’t talked to in years. People are contacting me on Facebook and stuff. Everyone’s just so happy to hear that this is happening to me.” But as much as being crowned Miss New Jersey is a personal achievement, Rodriguez knows that the position wields a considerable amount of power. However, not every pageant queen has upheld those expectations. Just two years ago, the Miss New Jersey USA winner was stripped of her crown after becoming pregnant at the age of 20. There’s also been national scandals involving underage drinking and indecent photos. But that’s exactly why Rodriguez is different. Those issues don’t even surface as a concern with her. “You’re a role model, and that’s part of the reason why I decided to do it. Pageants are an excellent opportunity to be role models for young girls,” she explained. “It’s also an excellent opportunity to advance your career.” Rodriguez isn’t just saying the right thing at the right

time. This is who she’s always been. Before she was ever on the Miss New Jersey radar, she was making a difference in her community. In 2007, Rodriguez founded R.O.S.E.S. (Reaching Out Supporting Every Sister), which aims to support young women between the ages of 18 and 25. “We strengthen and empower women through sisterhood, mind body and spirit,” explained Rodriguez. R.O.S.E.S. started as a small group of friends and now has grown to over 15 members. “I think that there’s a tremendous problem within the community of women. We tear each other down instead of lifting each other up,” she said. “So the vision was always larger than just my group of friends.” Faith has also played a large role in shaping Rodriguez into the woman she is today. She serves as a youth leader at her church, Agape Christian Ministry, in Paterson. “A lot of what I’ve done in psychology has to do with working with youth,” added Rodriguez. She currently works as a youth group facilitator for the Passaic County Family Support Organization, and with the Essex County Educational Services, providing instruction for home bound students. “I think having someone concrete, literally there, speaking to you, it makes it so much more real,” explained Rodriguez. “When you have someone from your area that you may even know, it makes it real.” Her ultimate goal is to open a group of charter schools. “I think that there’s an achievement gap with urban school districts and their suburban counter parts,” said Rodriguez. “I want to get resources for urban youth.”

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Varieties • Potatoes & Cheese • Potato • Sauerkraut • Pot Cheese • Mushroom • Pot Cheese & Potato • Broccoli • Spinach • Pizza • Apple • Prune • Cabbage • Apricot & Cheese • Broccoli & Spinach

NEW! Great for Parties... Hot, Homemade Empanadas! Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Our Almost Miss America FAVORITES December 2008

Our Almost Miss America Before Kaity, Joan was Clifton’s First Pageant Queen Story by Jack DeVries

In 1952, Joan Kuzmich went from Clifton to the Miss America stage.

Lying in her hospital bed, freshman Joan Kuzmich knew she was in trouble. Visiting her was Mr. Applegate from Clifton High School. He had just told Joan’s mother Helen that, with her appendicitis and hospital stay, combined with the many school days she already missed, Joan might have to go to summer school. 44 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Her mother was confused. Yes, Joan was in the hospital for a bit, but she hadn’t missed that many days. She’d gone to school every morning and returned home each afternoon. Mr. Applegate had to be mistaken. He wasn’t. Unbeknownst to her mother, young Joan’s showbiz training was also taking place during school hours.

Merchant Favorites

680 Rt. 3 West

973-471-7717 www.ihop.com “About six or seven times that year,” remembers Joan (Kuzmich) Nicholas, “I’d write a note from my mother excusing me from school. Then I’d catch the bus on Main Ave. to New York City to go to the clubs on Broadway and hear the big bands play. I’d go all by myself and get back in time like I’d gone to school.” Nicholas was used to going to the city. After traveling to New York to perform on radio and the stage for years, along with participating in countless auditions, she was comfortable walking the city streets alone. “I’d go to see Vaughn Monroe, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and other bands,” she says, “and think nothing of it.” Nicholas’ mother might have been shocked but was probably not surprised her daughter felt compelled to study great entertainers. Since she was age 3, Joan had been putting on shows in the family’s living room, inspired after seeing Shirley Temple on screen in a Passaic movie theater. Recognizing her daughter’s passion for performing, Helen Kuzmich became a willing and enthusiastic supporter and her daughter’s round-the-clock driver, to and from their Colfax Ave. home. Her dedication would be rewarded in 1952 when Joan would participate in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City and contend for the coveted crown. And though she would wear a sash that read “Miss New York City” and use the stage name “Joan Kayne” when she walked upon the Convention Hall stage, she would always be Joan Kuzmich – former head majorette of Clifton High.

enter from Allwood Rd.

Rising Star Helen and John Kuzmich were originally from Passaic, where John owned a small electronics repair store on Market St. The family, which also included a son John Jr., moved to Clifton when Joan was in the third grade. “Clifton was very rural then,” says Nicholas, “and I don’t remember many kids living near us.” Having few playmates suited her as Nicholas’ days were filled with lessons, starting at the Ruth Cater School of Dancing in Passaic. Cater had studied with Broadway and film star Eleanor Powell, known as the “Queen of Tap Dancing.” Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites Joan also studied voice and dramatics. “I think my mother paid about 50 cents a lesson,” Nicholas says, “and $2 for a private one.” Along with lessons, there were auditions. Work followed, and Joan was soon singing on the Saturday radio program Rainbow House with future opera star Beverly Sills. “I also vaguely recall being on a TV show that was in the testing phase,” she says, “Though I can’t remember its name. I do remember having to wear blue lipstick.” After the sixth grade, Nicholas left school in Clifton and began attending the Lodge Private Tutoring School in Manhattan. Though she was able to concentrate more on her performing skills, she missed the seventh grade (the school only had an eighth grade class). When she returned to Clifton to enter her freshman year of high school, she had fallen behind her classmates academically. “School was never easy for me,” she says. “With all I was doing, it was hard to keep up.” During her time at Clifton High, Nicholas’s life became more hectic. She continued to perform in and around New York, including in summer stock productions. At CHS, she became the head majorette and was part of the band’s performances during Mustangs football games. “I loved watching the games then,” she laughs, “but wouldn’t know the first thing about football today.” Says classmate Lou Poles: “My father was Joan’s orthodontist, and that’s how I first met her. Joan had it all – she was so talented. And no matter how successful she became, she never changed. She was nice to everyone. “Years later,” he continues, “we’d go to New York and see her perform and she was still the same person we knew in high school.” At 16, Nicholas attained the dream of countless girls throughout America: becoming one of 36 Rockettes dancing on stage at Radio City Music Hall. For her seven-day-a-week performance schedule, she earned $47.92 a week. “My father would give me $10 of my pay,” she laughs, “and a paid bus ticket for the week.” Nicholas says being a Rockette was great training. “We were so disciplined,” she says, “practice all the time. Between shows, we’d be working on the routines for next week. “You also had to be absolutely exact – your costume, the way you danced – they watched you all the time. If 46 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Above, Joan at age 15, teaching a dance lesson, as a CHS Majorette, and on facing page, a recent photo of Joan (Kuzmich) Nicholas.

your arm was three inches higher than the other girls on a step, they’d let you know.” Classmate Jack Celentano remembers, “It was like going to school with a star. She was a big deal, a standout and well-liked by everyone.” “On the night of my prom,” Nicholas says, “I was performing at Bill Miller’s Rivera. I went to the club (in Fort Lee, N.J.) after the prom, performed, changed back into my prom gown and joined my classmates (including date Ron Plaza) in the audience.” After graduating from Clifton High, Nicholas continued her career, becoming a dancer at the famed Copacabana nightclub in New York City, modeling, and studying acting with famed coach Lee Strasberg. And through it all, her mother kept making the drive to bring her daughter home safely each night. “At 2 am,” says Nicholas, “I’d come out of the Copa and my mom would be waiting.”

Merchant Favorites Boardwalk Bound Nicholas’ career would get an unexpected boost in 1950 when she caught the eye of Grace Downs, who ran a modeling school in New York City. Downs thought Joan would be an ideal contestant for the Miss America pageant. But instead of competing as Miss New Jersey, Downs believed Nicholas would gain prestige by competing as “Miss New York City,” a title she won by beating out 265 of the Big Apple’s most talented and beautiful girls. “I began living in a ‘girls club,’ a four-story building that Grace Downs owned near the Plaza Hotel,” recalls Nicholas about how she established city residence. Downs also helped her train for the competition by having her live at her country estate near Wykcoff where Nicholas ran and exercised. The New York World-Telegram reported, “Girl Trains Like a Fighter to be a Beauty.”

The Miss America competition was held during a five-day period in September 1952 in Atlantic City. Marilyn Monroe made her only Miss America appearance as the opening parade’s grand marshal, and crowds of up to 15,000 packed the Atlantic City Convention Hall to watch the competition. “Up to that point, Convention Hall was the biggest place I’d ever seen,” recalls Nicholas. During the competition, Nicholas made Clifton proud. She won the talent award for her dance performance to the song “Dancing in the Dark” and was selected as one of the final 10 contestants. “I did my best and did well,” she says, “but remember perspiring big pearls on stage.” The final five contestants would be interviewed on stage by the judges – a prospect that terrified Nicholas. Though most believed she would be selected as a finalist, when the judges announced their decision, Nicholas was not among them, missing out by a fraction of a point.

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Merchant Favorites “My sponsor and mother were upset,” she laughs, “but I was secretly relieved – that meant no questions on stage. I learned later from one of the finalists that one of the judges had a relationship with another finalist, which she told me was the reason I wasn’t selected.” Newspapers wrote the judges felt Nicholas was “too professional” in her performance. Neva Jane Langley, representing Georgia, was ultimately crowned Miss America 1953. Throughout the contest, Nicholas’s good showing generated gossip column news. The mother of Shirley Talbott, the Miss New York City runner-up, wrote to columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, alleging Joan never actually lived in Manhattan. Columnist Walter Winchell picked up the story but later reported Talbott was actually from Washington D.C., ending any controversy. That’s Joan, second from left, in Some Like It Hot.

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Merchant Favorites What’s Most Important After her appearance in the Miss America pageant, Nicholas’ showbiz career continued. She became part of the famous June Taylor Dancers, featured on TV’s The Jackie Gleason Show. Gleason said of all the dancers, Nicholas had “the best legs on the show.” Her legs were often tired, as the June Taylor Dancers would rehearse eight hours each day and were given just a five-minute rest each hour. “When we’d get our break,” says Nicholas, “and we’d lie down and put our feet up against the wall to get some relief.” After a season on the Gleason show (leading to an appearance on the cover of Life magazine), Nicolas toured in her own dance act, billed as “America’s Personality Dancer.” Along with performing across the U.S., she danced abroad, appearing in England, Scotland and Ireland. In addition, she was seen on The Milton Berle Show and as a solo performer on The Kate Smith Show. Nicholas also appeared on Robert Montgomery Presents in a dramatic role, and made one film appearance in Some Like it Hot, starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe.

After 1956, Nicholas moved to California. She continued to dance and thought of becoming a full time actress. However, she was not prepared to make the sacrifices a film career demanded. “To be a successful actress,” she remembers, “you had to be a lot more aggressive than I was. In the end, all I wanted to do was dance. I also knew that while I loved performing, there was more to life – marriage and family especially.” With fewer opportunities for West Coast dancers, Nicholas took a job at Ben Blue’s famous nightclub. There, she met her first husband, Blue’s manager Sidney Fields, and the couple had three daughters, Rebecca, Joanna, and Judith. After her divorce, Nicholas married her husband Fred, a prominent attorney and land developer. Together for the past 35 years and living in Beverly Hills, the couple has 10 grandchildren between them. When told about Clifton’s Kaity Rodriquez following in pageant footsteps more than a half-century later, Nicholas offered this advice: “Be proud, be confident but remember that it’s not the most important event in your life. It’s an experience to remember.”

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Merchant Since the Summer of Love FAVORITES February 2008

Since the Summer of Love by Jordan Schwartz

For many years our February edition has been dedicated to Clifton love stories. Of the many we’ve published, there have been several memorable ones. But for a few reasons, Barry and Sherry Rosenfeld’s tale of romance is one of those that stands out. The couple met in 1968, but it wasn’t until the Summer of Love that they began dating after Barry ditched a trip to Woodstock to go be with his future wife. They later married and took over the Rosenfeld family business, Dundee Floors, which is now located on Broad St. Sadly, Barry passed away suddenly in December of 2011 but Sherry continues to run the business on her own today. Barry Rosenfeld could have gone to Woodstock. On Aug. 15, 1969, the 23-year-old hippie should have been standing in the mud at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York, swaying to the music of Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez. But, instead, he was three hours north in Lake George, dancing at a church social with his future wife. Sherry Secula and Barry Rosenfeld met the previous year when they were both working at Sears in the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne. Sherry was the manager of store displays and Barry was a carpet salesman. One day, Sherry came into Barry’s department to hang some rugs on the wall as part of a display. “I was completely tongue-tied when I first saw her,” recalled Barry. But he didn’t need to say anything. “I saw him waiting there and I knew right then that was it,” said Sherry, who grew up in Boonton. The couple didn’t start dating right away, though. After several months of talking, Barry was left with that fateful decision one weekend in the summer of ‘69. He was traveling with a friend who was open to either 50 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Sherry and Barry Rosenfeld in 1969 and in 2008.

attending Woodstock or playing the part of wingman as Barry went to meet Sherry in Lake George. Barry chose the latter. Following that weekend, the courtship really began. The pair would often go on hikes together in the woods of North Jersey. “We were spiritual,” said Barry. “We didn’t hug trees, but we snuggled them a little bit.” In addition to their work at Sears, Sherry was an aspiring artist and Barry worked at his father’s business, Dundee Floors, on Main Ave. None of this, however, put a great deal of money into their pockets and so the couple’s dates weren’t very elaborate, admitted Barry. “We liked to ride up the coast to Cape Cod and on into Maine,” he said. But it didn’t really matter what they were doing, as long as they were together. In fact, Barry enjoyed spending time with his Sherry so much, that he thought he might as well do it for the rest of his life. Barry first asked his girlfriend to marry him in the early part of 1970. Sherry deferred her decision at that


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time because she thought they should know more about each other. After the first proposal didn’t take, Barry eventually got up the courage to ask her again. This time, Sherry said yes. The Rosenfelds were married by a judge in Paterson on May 30, 1970. Just six people attended their reception at a Paterson restaurant. “We were broke,” Barry said. The newlyweds first lived in West Paterson before buying a small $19,000 house in Lake Hiawatha. Their first child Ben was born in 1975. Three years later, Barry and Sherry welcomed their second son Jed. Life was pretty much perfect for the Rosenfelds until a minor household task led to a major lifetime problem. One day in 1979, Sherry was mowing the lawn outside the family’s Lake Hiawatha home. A landscaper the Rosenfelds had just hired recently laid herbicide down on the grass and dust from the plant killer poisoned Sherry. She passed out and was transported to the hospital. For the following decade, Sherry had trouble breathing, a sensitivity to smells and suffered from depression. “Before the incident, I was Superwoman,” she remembered. “Afterwards, I couldn’t even drive.” “My wife used to be a ‘tool belt diva,’” said Barry. “She wasn’t Superwoman anymore and I had to accept that. In the end, it brought us even closer.” Shortly after Sherry got sick, the family moved to Glen Ridge. At this point, Dundee Floors, which Barry claims is the oldest floor covering store in New Jersey, moved from Main Ave. to Rt. 46 in Clifton. In 1997, the family relocated the business to Broad St. and moved in above the store.

“We turned into his parents,” said Sherry. Barry’s mother and father lived above Dundee Floors when they opened the store in Passaic in 1927. Son Ben and his wife Ilona moved in up the street from his parents, but after having their first child Xavier on July 7, the couple is now considering leaving Clifton because they’re not happy with the school system. The Rosenfelds other son Jed works at Dundee Floors along with his parents. Barry, meanwhile, is currently working on establishing his own law office at the store. He credits his wife with helping him recently graduate from law school. “I’m very high strung and she helps calm me down,” Barry said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else other than right here with her.” Not even at Woodstock.

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Merchant Secret Agent Principal FAVORITES November 2008 From 1975 to 1995, Secret Service agent Gregg Dickey guarded dignitaries such as President Gerald Ford at this rally in Union on Oct. 13, 1976.

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Before he walked the hallways of School 11 as Principal Dickey, Secret Service agent Gregg Dickey worked the shadows and corners of events peopled by US politicians, diplomats and undoubtably, some subversives. After attending college to become a teacher, Dickey changed plans after being inuenced by his FBI agent and neighbor. He joined the Secret Service in 1975, embarking on a 20 year career that saw him protect presidents and their families, as well as a near brush with death in the 1993 Twin Towers bombings. In 1995, Dickey returned to education, starting at West Orange High School. He then became the vice principal of the new East Wing at Clifton High before taking the job as principal of School 11, where he still serves today. 52 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

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Principal Dickey dreads the phone call he’s about to make. A parent isn’t happy about something that happened to her child at school and now Dickey has to resolve the issue. After a 10 minute conversation, the principal hangs up and lets out a sigh of frustration. “Whenever things get tough, I look at this picture,” Dickey said while picking up a clear plastic frame from a shelf behind his desk, “and I realize how lucky I am to be alive.” The photo is of a wrecked Mercury Grand Marquis GS. The car is completely covered in soot and concrete debris and the roof is caved in. All the windows have been blown out and the engine is in the back seat. This is what happens when a 1,500 pound urea nitrate-hydrogen gas enhanced bomb explodes 20 yards from your automobile. On the morning of Feb. 26, 1993, United States Secret Service agent Gregg Dickey left work in Manhattan to go pick up his first new car in 17 years from a dealership in Long Island City. As he drove the Grand Marquis back to the agency’s

New York City Field Office at 6 World Trade Center, he began planning out the rest of his day. Dickey had to go to St. Vincent’s Hospital to see if it had a sufficient supply of Vice President Al Gore’s blood type, in case something terrible happened during his upcoming visit to SoHo. “I was the lead agent in the protection squad at that time, so I had to coordinate the sites he was planning to attend,” said Dickey. Those also included the Guggenheim and a cocktail party on Fifth Ave. At 12:15 pm, the 18-year USSS veteran parked his new car—which now had 25 miles on it—in the underground B-2 garage of the North Tower. Dickey took a shortcut to the elevator bank, walking right past the six maintenance workers who would soon be killed by a massive explosion. At 12:18 pm the elevator reached the first floor. Ding. “The door opened and that’s about the last thing I remember,” said the retired agent. At that very instant, a Ryder truck filled with explosives—which was parked just 60 feet from the


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Merchant Favorites new Mercury—detonated, sending Dickey flying across the lobby until he landed beneath a pile of cinder blocks. He would spend the next three days at New York Downtown Hospital, clearing his lungs of dust and dirt. “I missed it by three minutes,” Dickey recalled. “If I had been standing next to that car, I’d have been dead.”

The Invisible Middle Gregg Dickey was born in East Orange in November 1947, but he spent most of his youth in Livingston. “I was a wallflower,” he said. “I got good grades, but growing up, I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence.” When Gregg was in second grade, his father moved the family to Minnesota because he got a job there with Prudential. But that only lasted a few years and so the young Dickey returned to New Jersey, eventually graduating Livingston High School in 1965. Gregg attended St. Francis University in Pennsylvania with a Spanish major and an English minor. He wanted to be a teacher and so he got his master’s in administration at Kean. In college, Dickey had a professor that spoke about ‘the invisible middle’ — a term he used to describe average students who don’t receive as much attention as the top or bottom of the class. Gregg saw himself fitting right into that category. After getting his degree, Dickey secured his first job teaching Spanish and freshman English at Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights, but after a short time there, he began considering another career.

“I got bitten by the law enforcement bug,” said Dickey, who admitted becoming enamored with the idea after watching his FBI neighbor stride down the walk with his badge everyday. The teacher applied to the Bureau first, but when that didn’t work out, he sent a resume to the Secret Service, which was looking to bolster its ranks following two assassination attempts on President Gerald Ford in September 1975. The department was also searching for foreign language speakers, something Gregg believes gave him a good shot. So, after a number of interviews and exams, Dickey received a phone call on Dec. 4, 1975 offering him an appointment as Special Agent. He would now become the invisible middle between criminals and the people they were trying to harm.

Reagan, Nixon and Tom Bodett During his first four years on the job, Dickey was assigned to the forgery squad. Just two weeks in, he got into his first physical altercation when it took eight men to subdue a large felon resisting arrest. In 1978, Dickey fired his weapon for the first and only time in his 20-year career. It was during a counterfeiting raid in Carlstadt. “A red Cadillac was coming right at us and I don’t remember pulling the trigger,” he explained. “I put a bullet underneath the rearview mirror and the glass shattered.” The car eventually crashed and the perpetrators were apprehended. When investigators asked Dickey

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Merchant Favorites Dickey’s first wife, Nancy, in a scrapbook dedicated to her husband’s first year in the Service. A week before the ’76 election, Gregg drove Betty Ford from Newark Airport to Eatontown and back, where he picked up Rosalynn Carter and took her to the Jersey City Armory. “Mrs. Ford was visibly tired and suffers from severe arthritis,” Nancy wrote. “Rosalynn Carter was warm, bubbly, and chatted freely with Gregg, asking about wife, family, etc. After her reception, as she left the limousine she gave Gregg her dozen red roses to give to me as an apology for keeping him out so late!” In January 1977, Agent Dickey with President Richard Nixon at his Saddle River home, 1983. Dickey was in Washington, D.C. for President Carter’s inauguration. He whether he meant to just break the glass or if he was stood post at the Sheraton Park Hotel and on actually shooting at the driver, the agent didn’t know. Constitution Ave. for the Inaugural Walk. He just reacted. The next Commander in Chief under the New During his years with the forgery squad, the agent Jerseyan’s watch was Ronald Reagan. Dickey was in would often be called away for protective assignthe Great Communicator’s detail beginning in January ments. The first of which came on Feb. 12, 1976 in 1981, and just two months in, he was on hand for one advance of a Jimmy Carter campaign stop in of the most historic U.S. events of the 20th century. Brunswick, Georgia. On March 30 of that year, the agent was interviewing Two months later, Dickey was responsible for someone on Connecticut Ave. in D.C. when shots rang escorting President Ford’s son, Michael, and his wife, out near the Washington Hilton Hotel. Dickey rushed to Gayle, to the Capitol Mall Cinema in South Trenton to the scene of the Reagan assassination attempt, but the see, ironically, All The President’s Men. president was already on his way to the hospital and “Poor Gregg nearly had to borrow $3.50 from John Hinckley, Jr. had already been arrested. Michael to pay for the cost of the ticket!” wrote

Clifton Merchant • August 2012



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The School 11 principal said had it not been for the ricochet, someone in the Secret Service would’ve been able to take the bullet that pierced Reagan’s lung. “You make yourself the target,” said Dickey, adding that he didn’t really think about it after a while. In October 1982, the agent was reassigned to expresident Richard Nixon at his home in Saddle River. That was until the former leader became the first person to end his own Secret Service protection in 1985. The final 11 years of Dickey’s tenure in federal law enforcement were spent in the New York field office, where he said he enjoyed himself the most. “There was a lot of fast action moving from squad to squad. I was in protection, intelligence, and firearms.” Dickey even found himself in hotel management. “There were so many agents coming into New York City that I was in charge of reservations for eight months,” he said. “I was the Tom Bodett of the Secret Service.” But Dickey still saw his share of action. In 1991, he was part of a group that traveled to Cali, Colombia on a counterfeit case. The agents busted a production ring and confiscated $25 million, but they nearly got killed along the way. “Colombia is lawless,” said the principal. “It’s like the Wild Wild West. Shootings are common because there’s competition between cartels.” One night, the Americans went to a restaurant called the Red Giraffe. While eating, they were confused as to why there were no walls in the establishment, and instead, just drapery stapled to the floor. “It turned out that’s where the Cali Cartel hung out and the owners got sick of replacing the sheet rock after all the machine gun shootouts,” Dickey explained. Soon after, the Colombian police told the Secret Service men that they had been made and so they immediately headed for the airport. Four years later, Dickey had another brush with death that left him wondering whether it was time to leave the Service.

56 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

‘Are you the man that found my mom?’ On the morning of April 19, 1995, Special Agent Gregg Dickey had just returned from Miami, Florida, where he was protecting a Central American president, when news of the Oklahoma City bombing hit. Because his suitcase was still packed, Dickey was chosen along with a few other men to fly out to the disaster area, where four Secret Service agents and two secretaries were among the 168 killed. “We went on a search and recovery mission, but it soon turned into just a recovery mission because the folks we found were all dead,” said the school administrator, adding that it was a significant life changing event for him. “They say there’s a feeling of ownership when you find a dead body, and so we went to the funeral of one of the women we found,” Dickey explained. “I’ll never forget the little boy of one of the women. He tugged on my jacked and said, ‘Are you the man that found my mom?’ The dad asked me, ‘Did it look like she suffered?” That still haunts me.” Dickey worked two nights at the site before acting as a receptionist at the homes of the agents that were killed. The former Montclair resident said he was greatly affected by the tragedy and it made him reevaluate whether or not he wanted to continue in his chosen profession. “The travel was getting to me, the hours were horrible and it’s devastating on your home life,” said Dickey, who has two children, Kim, 35, and Michael, 32, from his first marriage. So, eight months later, Dickey retired from the United States Secret Service and returned to his roots in education.

Not the Last Stop In late 1995, Gregg Dickey interviewed for the Dean of Students position at West Orange High School and was offered the job before he even got home. The pay was less than he was making at his government job, but when combined with his pension from the Secret Service, Dickey had actually increased his income.

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Merchant Favorites The Cedar Grove resident remained in West Orange for two years until he realized he wasn’t truly an administrator. Because of this, Dickey left the position to become vice principal of the new East Wing at Clifton High School. After four years there, he took the principal job at School 11 in September 2002. “The skills, work ethic and ability to endure just about anything I learned from the Secret Service prepared me for this,” said Dickey. Still, he had to take a major crash course in elementary curriculum. But during his six years at the helm of the Lakeview school, he has seen test scores increase from the 50th percentile to the 80th percentile. And even as he turns 61 this month, the principal has no intention of slowing down. “There’s a lot left in me,” he said. “I don’t necessarily want to leave, but I wouldn’t want School 11 to be the last stop on the train.”

Principal Dickey in a recent photo with School 11 students Valentina and Natasha Waslik. The two were among the many elementary students who had their hair cut to support Locks of Love. Over 1,400 inches of hair were donated in the 7th annual Locks of Love Cut-a-Thon on May 21 at CCMS.

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Venus in Fur to Janis in Rags By Jack DeVries Clifton’s connection to Hollywood and Broadway is modest but significant. The city’s first brush with fame came in 1910 when D.W. Griffiths shot his silent movie, The Call to Arms, starring Mary Pickford at Lambert’s Castle, overlooking rural Clifton. The connection grew stronger in 1931 when Herman Hupfeld penned As Time Goes By in the old Robin Hood Inn (now the Valley Regency Catering) for the Broadway show Everybody’s Welcome. The song was later immortalized in Casablanca, providing the soundtrack for war-crossed lovers played by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. In 1967, Michael J. Pollard represented the city proudly in a supporting role in the iconic move, Bonnie and Clyde. Pollard played C.W. Moss and garnered Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his performance. Clifton was the fictional home of Robert De Niro’s character, Rupert Pupkin, in director Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, and showed off its Main Avenue in the movie Donnie Brasco, starring Johnny Depp. The city also provided inspiration to former Woodrow Wilson student David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, who used a few Clifton locations to film his HBO show. But perhaps Clifton’s strongest claim to performing fame has been the career of Mustang John Seda, who has enjoyed a long acting career in TV and movies, recently playing the role of John Basilone in the HBO series, The Pacific. Clifton’s Nina Arianda receiving her first Tony Award for her role in Venus in Fur.

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Nina Arianda Now Clifton’s Broadway and Hollywood reputation is ready to take on added luster because of a rising star – this year’s Tony Award winner for her performance in Venus in Fur, Nina Arianda. While her name sounds like it belongs to a performer, it’s actually the product of a fortunate misspelling by a delivery room nurse. In an interview on Broadway.com, Arianda (born Nina Arianda Matijcio) said an extra “I” was inserted in the name on her birth certificate. Her mother decided to keep it because of the melodious sound it wrought. Luckily, “Arianda” looks great on a marque, too.

Clifton Start People don’t become stars like this – it’s simply too “Hollywood.” Actresses don’t finish school, audition for a part they were born to play and get chosen for a role that shows

off every bit of their unique talent. That’s not reality, that’s fantasy. But that’s the story of Arianda’s life… a journey that begins in New Jersey some 27 years ago. Born in Manhattan, Arianda’s Ukrainian family soon moved to Clifton. Her first stage experience came at age 3 when she recited a patriotic Ukrainian poem on stage at the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Church’s school hall in Passaic. Her performance moved many to tears. “I got crazy applause,” Arianda told The New Yorker. “So I curtseyed. I’ve got grannies and grandpas crying in the second row, so now I’m going nuts with it. Now the skirt’s a little higher. By the end, my skirt was almost above my head. I’m still just loving the fact that they loved what I did.” Her talents can be traced to her artistic mother, Lesia, a painter who studied at the School of Visual Arts. In The New Yorker article, she explained: “Nina had interpretive

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Nina Arianda powers very young. I would explain everything to her. She had an uncanny ability to remember and say it, not in rote but with a certain personal interpretation.” Lesia created fertile ground for her daughter’s imagination. Before attending Les Misérables, Nina’s first Broadway show, the two created paper dolls and acted out the story of Victor Hugo’s classic novel. After seeing the play, the family gained backstage access from an acting teacher who was part of the cast. “It was like Narnia to me,” Arianda remembered in The New Yorker.

Janis Joplin and Nina Arianda.

“Everything just clicked. The ghosts. The history. Everything that lives in this world which is theater: acting, that community, that mind space. I wanted that so bad.” By age 9, she was committed to becoming a professional actress. Arianda also gained inspiration from her hometown of Clifton, walking to the magical Rowe-Manse Emporium in Styertowne and sampling its array of fine and unique wares. With a friend, Nina would try on prom gowns at the store, and the girls would take photos of each other. Arianda is also strongly influenced by what she describes as her “soulful” Ukrainian background. “It’s a very passionate culture in which unconditional love and grudges are both very real things,” Arianda told The New York Times Magazine. “It’s like the Italy of Eastern Europe.” An only child, Arianda received first communion in the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Passaic, was a member of the Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization, and went to Ukrainian summer camp. But some in her Ukrainian community doubted her dreams. One day while attending fifth grade at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian School in Newark, Arianda was about to leave for an audition in New York. Her teacher asked, “You really think something’s going to come of this? You’re wasting your time.” The class laughed and Arianda was momentarily devastated. But she didn’t give up, due to her faith and the faith of others. 60 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

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Nina Arianda finally to the graduate program at NYU, chosen out of a One was Kathleen Kellaigh, co-founder (along with field of 800 students for one of 18 spots in the class. husband Joel Robertson) and artistic director of Action A few months after graduating, she auditioned for the Theater Conservatory, located on Union Ave. in role of Vanda in Venus in Fur. Clifton. Kellaigh, who acted in the CBS soap opera, “I knew I wasn’t going to get the part,” Arianda told Guiding Light, vividly remembers Arianda. the Los Angeles Times, “but “Nina came to ATC stuI loved Vanda so much that I dios speaking only a few figured I have this audition words of English,” Kellaigh coming up in about a week says. “She was always a fast and a half. I can either get study, though, and it seemed all crazy competitive about like in no time she wanted to it or I can just say, ‘You have be playing every role in a couple more days with every story we did.  As she her,’ and make the best of got older, and her talent it.” became as apparent as her Venus in Fur, a two-charenthusiasm, I thought more acter play written by David than once (in a very fond Ives, is the story of an way), ‘We’ve created a monactress auditioning for the ster.’ role of a 19th-century domi“Oh, but what an incredinatrix in a sex comedy. The bly gifted monster she is!” Joel Robertson and Kathleen Kellaigh with Nina. writer-director character – Arianda attended acting recently played by Hugh Dancy, winner of a Drama classes in New York, including an advanced program at Desk nomination – discovers more than he wants to the Herbert Berghof Studio, and enrolled for one know about the destabilizing nature of desire. semester at the Professional Performing Arts High The story, based on an erotic novel, Venus in Furs, School. But her life soon changed. Her family moved blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction to Heidelberg, Germany, following her father Peter’s and power, and love and sex. career as a logistics expert for the Department of What Arianda didn’t know prior to her audition was Defense. casting Vanda was proving impossible for Ives, director “When she moved overseas,” Kellaigh says, “it was as Walter Bobbie and Classic Stage Company artistic though a light had been taken from our children’s group.” director Brian Kulick, who was producing the play. Minutes before Arianda auditioned, Kulick scanned Nina’s brief curriculum vitae, summarizing her theater experience. “This is a waste of my time,” Kulick While a move of such magnitude might have derailed recalled thinking in The New Yorker. some dreams, Arianda’s love for the theater grew – The Clifton actress not only proved him wrong, she despite some setbacks. In New York, she already begun became Vanda. hearing comments from casting directors saying she Many well-known actresses wanted the role, names was “too ethnic looking”; in Europe, she was rejected that could sell tickets. None were right, despite a sixby England’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the month search. Arianda was. Her audition notes read, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. But with a competitive drive she describes as “an “Bold. Sexy. Funny.” A casting director wrote: STW eleven or twelve” on a scale of 10, she returned to the – Straight to Wardrobe. “She made every hair in the U.S. at age 17, determined to succeed. room stand on end,” Ives told the LA Times. “There Arianda began her climb at the American Musical was bedlam in the room when she left, everyone was and Dramatic Academy, moved to the New School and clamoring for her agent’s number.”

Arianda’s Act II

62 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Nina Arianda The play opened Off-Broadway and moved to Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, opening November 8, 2011. It next moved to the Lyceum Theatre on February 7, 2012, running to June 17.

The Next Meryl Streep Like her audition, reviews for Venus in Fur were over-the-top. The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood wrote: “The incandescent Nina Arianda, the sensational young actress is delivering the first must see performance of the Broadway season, a bravura turn that burns so brightly you can almost feel the heat on your face. Ms. Arianda is the best physical comedian the stage has produced in some time.” Linda Weiner wrote in Newsday: “Streisand, Streep… now Adriana. All the hype is true. She really is that special.” Seductive, hilarious, beautiful and mesmerizing, Adriana gave a performance that ranged, as Ives described in the LA Times, “from vulgar to august.” Woody Allen’s sister saw the show and recommended Allen cast her in his next film, Midnight in Paris. The director did, sorry he could not give Arianda a more substantial role. Seeing her former student on stage brought incredible pride to Kellaigh. “What an absolute joy to see her fully blossomed as an actor in Venus in Fur,” she says. “I will never forget the profound depth, detail, and multifaceted gem of her performance.” The production received two Tony Award nominations, including Best Play and Best Actress in a Play, which Adriana captured. Onstage at the Tonys, Arianda also captured the hearts of those watching with her acceptance speech. She stunned presenter Christopher Plummer by calling him “her first crush” after seeing him in the Sound of Music. After acknowledging her producers, director and costar Dancy, she thanked her friends, family and parents. When music played signaling her speech’s end, she yelled in unabashed Jersey: “Yo! I might not do this again! Hold on.” “Watching Nina accept her Tony Award for Best Actress in a play,” Kellaigh says, “I was immediately drawn back to her time with us: there was the little girl

I knew so well, jumping up and down in unbounded excitement! What fantastic energy!" Arianda also starred in Born Yesterday (her actual Broadway debut in April 2011) with Jim Belushi, which closed after just 73 performances but earned her a Best Leading Actress Tony nomination. And she appeared in the film Tower Heist with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. But her next role may be a game-changer. Arianda will star as Janis Joplin in a film about the last six months of the late singer’s life. Though betterknown actresses were considered, Clifton’s own will star in the $20 million film, a role that may prove to be as ground-breaking as Vanda was on Broadway. However, don’t expect Nina Arianda to become the next self-infatuated star. As she told Time Out New York, “I was a hostess, I sold shoes, but I don't function well in jobs that don't have to do with what I love. I have cleaned bathrooms in theaters, I have sold wine in theaters, I have sold tickets, because I will do anything, anything, to stay in this world.” And Clifton is proud.

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Clifton Mustangs

YEAR ROUND EDUCATION Learning Doesn’t End in June for Clifton Students By Joe Hawrylko

Summer programs offered by Clifton Schools are diverse. Pictured above is Mackensie Miller as Cruella de Vil with some of the 101 Dalmations she performed with in an Arts Enrichment course offered at the CHS Annex.

Though the regular school year ends in June, education continues throughout the summer at School 17. The district’s newest facility is home to numerous enrichment programs designed to give K-5 students the necessary skills to succeed in the fall. Tony Orlando, who has been the principal of School 17 since its opening in 2004, is the supervisor of the summer programs at the Lexington Ave. facility. His air conditioned school welcomes in some 540 students for ESL courses, language arts and math enrichment classes and the Jump Start program for youngsters entering kindergarten in the fall. This is the sixth year that Orlando has been at the helm of the program after taking over duties from Alice 64 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

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Clifton Mustangs Demikoff. Running from July 2 to August 3, these programs are offered to district students at no cost to parents. ‘The program changed this year. We used to do two hour sessions, with two separate groups,” explained Orlando, whose resume includes 20 years as a teacher at CCMS and 33 total years in the district. “We needed to increase the kids time here, so they’re all here together now from 8:30 am to 12. The program is much bigger this year than in the past because we changed the time.” One of the most popular programs is Jump Start, which is for students entering kindergarten. “After the kindergarten screening, we determine who would benefit from it the most,” Orlando explained. “It makes it easier for them when they come back in September.” Over 140 children will benefit from Jump Start this summer. Not only will the five week course benefit them academically, but for a majority of the kids it will be the first time that they’re in a classroom environment and away from parents. “This teaches them many different things, including how to line up in a row, or just how to eat lunch in a lunch room,” added Orlando. An additional 245 students are enrolled academic support classes that focus on language arts and mathematics. Parents receive a letter from the school before the end of the school year if their child is eligible for any of the programs. “A good percentage of parents take advantage of it,” he said. “A lot of people think this determines who gets promoted or detained. It just provides instruction that strengthens skills for the next school year.” Clifton’s diverse community also benefits from

66 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

CHS seniors helping out at School 17: front left: Sara Abughanieh, Vanessa Lora and Yessica Espindola. Back row: Steven Malo, Andres Zapata and John Rayner.

School 17’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Like the academic support courses, students are identified in the prior school year, and the parents are given the option to enroll them in the five week summer course. The ESL program is also open to parents of district students. More than 20 parents have enrolled in free adult classes this year. “After they drop their child off, they go right upstairs for three and a half hours of instruction,” explained Orlando. A total of 29 teachers comprise the staff for each of these programs, and. Additional help comes from CHS students in Barbara Milewski’s class, hired to help out during the summer. “Her kids have worked here for a few years,” said Orlando. “They’re a big help.”

Clifton Arts Since she came on as the District Supervisor of Visual and Performing Arts in September 2010, Peggy Cioci’s goal has been to reinvigorate Clifton’s interest in performing arts. More specifically, music. A musician by trade, Cioci spent nearly two decades in the classroom teaching instrumental and vocal music. Prior to coming to Clifton, she held the same position in Hillsborough, and was also the Director of Artist in Residence Programming Metropolitan Opera Guild in Manhattan. Her passion has always been music, and Cioci has taken initiatives to ensure that Cliftonites who share the same interests have the means to pursue that type of education in the district. It is with this in mind that the Music Angels program was formed. Students who are on free and reduced lunch, or have other family hardships, are qualified to rent instruments for $25 a year. Previously, the district had a program where donors could sponsor a student for the year so that the individual could rent an instrument.

School 17 teacher Sharon Tynio uses abstract approaches to problem solving, making learning fun.

With this program in mind, Cioci modified it so that the district collects money to instead purchase instruments, and then rent them to students on an annual basis. The money collected from rent then goes towards new instruments the following year.

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Clifton Mustangs All donations are tax Orchestra, visited Woodrow deductible, and contributions of Wilson to run a master class for any size are welcome. the strings students. A total of 80 students in the KAccording to Cioci, approxi5 level took advantage of the mately six students auditioned opportunity last school year. and were accepted into the Thus far, 114 instruments have Greater New Jersey Youth been purchased thanks to generOrchestra Program. ous donations from local busiAnother change that has taken nesses and individuals. place under Cioci’s watch will be “If a student doesn’t have the that Marching Mustang Director money, they can keep on renting Bob Morgan will be teaching it for their whole stay,” added instrumental courses at the high Cioci. Instruments are quite school. “He’ll now have three pricey—the cheapest is a flute at instrumental courses rather than $300, and many new brass instruhis normal band classes and CHS Schools Supervisor of Fine and ments can reach $1,000. piano lab,” explained Cioci. Performing Arts Peggy Cioce. Cioci hopes that the program In addition, the high school will ultimately help increase enrollment numbers in the Madrigals, who previously practiced before school, will Marching Mustangs. now have dedicated class time during the day to hone “We have a high school of 3,500 students and there’s their craft. Cioci said the group will also be participatonly about 75 (performing musician) band members,” ing in competition this coming year. she said. The visual arts selection at the high school has also Cioci has also piloted the fourth grade Informance expanded to include courses for cartooning and illustraprogram. Elementary students come together at the tion, ceramics, digital photo and stage crafters. The Art middle schools to perform in a large ensemble setting Academy program is a group of students who were that is not available at the K-5 level. selected based on portfolios. “These are students who are The visual and performing arts department now also headed towards a career in art,” she explained. “Their has a webpage available in English, Arabic and Spanish. work is showcased at the Clifton Arts Center and dis“I think there’s a language barrier in Clifton,” said played during the year.” Cioci. For more information about any of the Clifton art and The district has also began a new partnership with the music programs, or to contribute a tax deductible donaNew Jersey Symphony Orchestra. This past year, Jeff tion to Music Angels, call Cioci at 973-594-4199 or Grogin, Director of the New Jersey Symphony Youth write to PCioce@cliftonschools.net.

68 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Clifton Entrepreneurs At 65 Clifton Boulevard, Vito’s Towing is marking 30 years of business during 2012. The anniversary will not only be a three decade milestone but will also mark the beginning of a transition of ownership from father to son. Founder Vito DeRobertis sits at the helm of this family business, and is now prepared to pass over the reigns to his son, Peter. “I’ve been here since I was a kid,” said Peter, who first started riding shotgun with his father on jobs before he entered kindergarten. In and out of the family business for several years, life eventually took junior to Colorado, where he set out to make it on his own as an entrepreneur. Eventually, fate brought him back to Clifton and the family business. “I’ve been here for nine years now,” explained DeRobertis. “I came back when my dad had his second heart attack. I had a pizza place out there and sold it to come home and help out.” Now 40, Peter has partnered up with his parents Vito and Carolyn to bring about changes to enable Vito’s Towing to continue to grow well into the future. DeRobertis has focused on securing and expanding contracts with dealerships, and more importantly, government agencies. Previously, his father had avoided working with government agencies due to the paper work and bidding process. “We’ve got a lot of things going on right now at the business. It was kind of stagnant for a while, but you’ve got to go out there and work harder for new business,” explained DeRobertis. “We’ve got Fette now, Crane, Jack Daniels... we’ve been 70 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Vito DeRobertis with his son, Peter, the second generation owner of Vito’s Towing.

doing them for almost 20 years. We’ve got bids on Passaic County but haven’t heard back yet. We put one out on state cars...still pending too. I understand now why dad didn’t want to work for government.” But while the money is in contracts, random vehicle breakdowns are a fact of life. With many different towing companies just a quick call or internet search away, it is imperative to have Vito’s Towing be as accessible as possible. “I’ve got the website going now. I pretty much brought it into the 21st century,” said DeRobertis. “Dad was always old school. Now we’re on Google. If you’re stuck, you’re going to Google towing. It’s important.” These days, DeRobertis runs most of the day to day operations of the business, as Vito slowly begins to plan for retirement. He and his

wife, Carolyn, who holds the position of secretary at the office, have started to look for a home in Florida. Once that is completed, Peter will officially become the second generation owner of Vito’s Towing. But getting to that point over the past decade hasn’t been easy. “It was tough man. His attitude when I came back was that I had to work as hard as he did for 30 years,” DeRobertis recalled. Vito’s Towing is open 24 hours a day. With only one partner, Vito used to work extremely long hours. “It wasn’t healthy, not a good way to run a business. Now there’s different people, different schedules.” With dad moving into retirement, junior can focus on the future. Chances are, next time you call 973-773-2929, Vito will be off the hook and Peter will be on the job.

Students from Action Theatre Conservatory in Downtown Clifton presented a cabaret at the CP High School recently.

For the 12th consecutive year, students from the Action Theatre Conservatory staged a cabaret at the Passaic County Cerebral Palsy High School on Main Ave. in Downtown Clifton. The above photo was taken at the school following the July 25 show. The ATC is under the direction of the husband-wife duo of Joel Robertson and Kathleen Kellaigh. Students from the ATC also attended their annual showcase in New York City at the TBG Theater on Aug. 1 and 2. It is the 15th year that the ATC has participated in the showcase. For info on other programs, call 973-772-6998 or visit www.atcstudios.org.

Clifton’s Historic Botany District Free Summer Concert Series is on Fridays at 6:30 pm at Sullivan Square, Botany Village. At each concert, enter to win a 40” Toshiba LCD TV. A drawing will be held on August 24. There are also be Saturday night concerts in Sullivan Square at 7 pm. Visit www.HistoricBotany.com.

A Summer Teen Cabaret directed by Janet Villas and staged by the Theater League of Clifton, will be staged on Aug. 25 at 8 pm and Aug. 26 at 4 pm at the Clifton Masonic Temple, 1476 Van Houten Ave. For info, visit www.theaterleagueofclifton.com.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 380 Clifton Ave., hosts a market sale on Aug. 4 and 18, from 8 am to 4 pm. Proceeds will benefit the church’s many charities, including The Haven food pantry. Tables are available for rent. Info: 973-886-5105 or carlgin@yahoo.com.

The 15th Annual Clifton Recreation Free Concert Series continues on Sundays through Aug. 19. Shows are at 7:30 pm at Main Memorial Park off of Main Ave. Bring lawn chairs. Info: cliftonnj.org.

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Clifton Authors

Following a Dream Frank Smith is Now an Author By Joe Hawrylko Becoming an author had been a life long dream for Frank Smith. Now, at 44 years old, the CHS 1986 alum can finally say he’s achieved his goal. The Cliftonite recently had his first novel, Wolf Song, published by Amazon’s CreateSpace, and is in the process of promoting. The first in what Smith anticipates to be a trilogy, Wolf Song is a story about a battle between werewolves and vampires set in New York City. He described it as an ‘old school’ story like Van Helsing, Blade or Underworld. “I always liked action movies like Godzilla and King Kong. The idea of two very strong things fight seemed fun,” he said. “There’s a little darker theme too. In life, we get hit hard at times and the real center of the story is what do you do after that happens? It’s just dressed up as a comic book.” Smith, an exterminator for the last two decades, always considered writing a book, but only began working on it after his birthday last year. “I never thought about taking it further because you’re thinking about making a living. But you have this idea in your head for years and it was just like, now is the time,” he continued. “A year later, and I’ve got the book published. I don’t really know what it is that made do it. You just start looking around and you realize you don’t have as much time as you did a couple years ago, so why not get working?” 72 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Cliftonite Frank Smith is a first time author at 44 years old. Wolf Song is the first novel in his planned trilogy.

As a first time novelist, Smith set his goal for his book length at 80,000 to 100,000 words. “I did 1,000 words a day and weekends I would just leave it because I was exhausted from my regular job,” he said. “I did 5,000 words a week and it took me 16 weeks.” Though he had offers from small publishers, Smith opted to go with Amazon due to the cost and because it did not involve a commitment. Since Wolf Song hit the shelves, the Cliftonite has been doing promotions and signing while continuing to work on his second novel. “It is a trilogy. I’m already about 20,000 words into the book two,” said Smith. “The next one is going to take place in Clifton. I figure New York City is more glam-

orous, but I love Clifton and I don’t have to do the research.” Because of the moderate success he’s had thus far, Smith has gained further confidence in his abilities and his pursuit of his dreams. “People tend to steer you away from those dreams because the chances are so small,” he said. “You have to get your feet under you first and get a good life. I’m lucky enough that I can pay the bills... so I try to chase a dream down and even if it doesn’t work, then I can say I tried.” “I got an email recently from someone in the Philipines telling me they liked the book,” Smith continued. “That’s the best thing for me, someone half a world away telling me they like the book. I just think that’s awesome.”

Events & Briefs The Geraci Citizens League honored L’Istituto Regionale Siciliano Fernando Santi with a brunch in Clifton on July 1 before traveling to Trenton to celebrate the 4th of July. The League went to commemorate the Italian hero Giuseppi Garibaldi and American independence. Clifton resident Ninetta Corradino chaired and coordinated the event and Mayor James Anzaldi welcomed several guests from Sicily: Mayor Bartolo Vienna of Geraci Siculo and his wife; Mayor Alessandro Plumeri of Villalba, Dr. Francesco Ascia and his wife; and Marco Luciani, the organization’s director. Mayor Anzadi, who traces his roots to Geraci, presented the key to Clifton and a portfolio of historic two dollar bills to Mayor Vienna as a tribute of the camaraderie between the towns. For info, call Corradino at 973-278-0356.

The Clifton 11 year old softball all-stars earned a spot in the NJ Little League State Tournament with their win over Parsippany. Bottom from left: Kristen Mawker and Celine Bennion. Middle: Britney Santiago, Zaria Smith, Alison Moran, Kayla Nelson, Gianna Casillas, Lauren Brown, Rebecca Friedman, Alexis Camp and Amy Sproviero. Top: Jeffrey Camp (President), Jim Nelson (Coach), Ron Moran (Manager), Carlos Casillas (Coach). Photo by Taylor Camp.


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Events & Briefs The Annual Family Camp Out in Albion Park on Maplewood Rd., begins at 6 pm on Aug. 17 and ends the following morning. Families will sit around a campfire and enjoy a night of camping, games, activities, dinner and desert. Admission is $10 for a family of four, or $3 per person for residents. For non-Clifton residents, it is $20 for four or $6 per person. Pre-registration is required. For more information, call 973-470-5956. Clifton’s National Night Out Against Crime is Aug. 7 at 6 pm at Main Memorial Park. Enjoy free entertainment: a classic car show, an inflatable obstacle course, spin art, finger painting and food with a children’s movie shown at dusk. Call 973-470-2245. The Botany Village Merchants host a Festival in the Park Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, in Randolph Park at Clifton and Parker Aves. Enjoy inexpensive rides and games from 5 to 10:30 pm daily. Call 609-731-5454 or visit www.botanyvillage.com.

The Annual Van Houten Ave. Street Fair is Sept. 16 from 11 am to 5 pm. There is a classic car show, food, entertainment, train ride, petting zoo, pony rides and more. Rain date Sept. 23. Vendors are wanted. Call 973-473-0986. The 28th St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church Parish Picnic is Sept. 9 from noon to 8 pm. There will be homemade foods, drinks, children’s games, Ukrainian music and it is all held on the blacktop behind the school grounds at 217 President St., Passaic. Tickets are $3. Call 973-471-9727 or visit www.stnicholasucc.org. The St. John Kanty Parish Picnic is Sept. 9, from 1 to 10 pm at 49 Speer Ave. Admission is $2; kids under 12 free. Music by Kaskada. Call 973-779-4102. St. Andrew’s RC Church Carnival is Sept. 9 to 13 at 410 Mt. Prospect Ave. Hours are 5 to 10 pm Wednesday and Thursday, 5 to 11 pm Friday, Saturday 4 to 11 pm and 4 to 9 on Sunday. Free admission. For more details, call 973-777-7582.

18 time Grammy Award winner Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra had their July 26 concert rained out. He is back in Passaic on Aug. 15 at 7:30 pm in Third Ward Park at Passaic and Van Houten Aves. Call Greg Komeshok: 973-473-5111.

The Clifton Veterans Committee 2nd annual beefsteak fundraiser is on Aug 24 at 6:30 pm at the Boys & Girls Club, 181 Colfax Ave. Tickets are $40 and include beefsteak, beverages and dessert. The event, which benefits the Clifton Veteran’s Day parade—this year on Nov. 4—is being catered by Nightingale’s. Make checks payable to John Biegel Jr., 91 Market St., Apt. 1, Clifton, 070122422. Any questions? Call Biegel at 973-519-0958 or Rosemary Trinkle Baran at 862-668-9151. St. John Lutheran Church, 140 Lexington Ave., Passaic, hosts its next monthly thrift shop sale on Aug. 4 from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Gently used clothing and household items will be for sale, and all proceeds will benefit charities in the surrounding areas. For info, call 973-779-1166.

74 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

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Events & Briefs Janet Mozolewski is gearing up for her ninth Avon Walk on Oct. 20 and 21, and the team captain of Loretta’s Ladies is already starting to receive generous donations from Cliftonites. A cancer survivor herself, Mozolewski will carry the names of 123 survivors and the names of another 77 who lost their battle with the disease. Visit

www.info.avonfoundation.org/goto /JanetMozo or send a check to 78 Scoles Avenue, Clifton, NJ 07012 made out to “Avon Walk for Breast Cancer”. For info, email Janet.Mozolewski@exelisinc.com. The Young at Heart Senior Social Club meets the first and third Tuesday of the month at the

Fellowship Hall of the First Presbyterian Church on Maplewood Ave. at 12:30 pm. On Sept. 5, the Club will take a trip to the Garden State Art Foundation at PNC in Homdel to see Catskill on Broadway. Show is at 1:30 pm. For info, call 973-779-5581. The Phenomenal Grandmothers seek the following items for donation to be distributed to various groups: back packs, school supplies, stuffed animals, new bed pillows, baskets, soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, refrigerators and furniture, as well as new items suitable for teens as Christmas gifts. Call Colleen Murray at 973-253-9579 or Wanda at Oasis at 973-881-8307. The annual Elmer Goetschius Fish n Chips event at the First Presbyterian Church of Clifton, 303 Maplewood Ave., is on Sept. 21 from 5 to 7 pm. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for children. Chicken and take out are available, and admission includes homemade dessert. Call 973-523-1272. The Third Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event is Oct. 13 at 11 am in Jubilee Park, Allwood and Clifton Aves. Men, along with other supporters, will don high heels for a walk around the park to protest rape, sexual assault and gender violence. Registration begins at 10 am. The Passaic County Women’s Center (PCWC) is a non-profit that provides various domestic violence and sexual assault services 24 hours a day. For info, write to Teresa Bivaletz at tbivaletz@njaconline.org or call her at 973-881-0725.

76 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

the festival committee. “We have our meetings and our little parties. You have to have Italian in your background to be a member. Your mother or father. Doesn’t have to be both.” The Club has many legacy members. Rossi’s father, Gaudenzio, was a founding member. His bother, Victor, is the treasurer, while Rossi’s son, Glenn, is president. A members only anniversary celebration will be held on Oct. 6 at The Elan in Lodi. Other events include the two annual fundraisers at the Coop: the La Festa Dei Fiori in May, where potted plants are sold. In October, the Club hosts La Festa Della Frutta. Fruit is strung from the hall rafters, and those ‘caught’ by the Sergeant at Arms taking the fruit are given a ‘fine’. Members meet at Rossi’s Tavern on Parker Ave. on the last Thursday of the month, except for June, July and August. For more information, contact Felix Rossi at 201-445-4214, or stop by his bar.

Keeping traditions alive, the Vecchi Amici’s Christmas party, 2011 above, and an undated photo of club members during a summer outing at the Coop.

In Botany Village, an old group of pals that hang out in Rossi’s Tavern will mark 75 years in 2012. The Old Friends Beneficial Club, better known as the Vecchi Amici Club, was founded in 1936 by 25 men after a friend had died and the family lacked the money to bury their relative. From then on, these friends would come together to support those in times of distress.

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The group was incorporated in 1937, with dues originally at 10 cents per month. Meetings were held at Calligaro’s Tavern on Parker Ave. in Botany Village, which is now the Italian-American Coop. Today, the group gathers at Rossi’s Tavern on Dayton Ave. “Today, we’ve turned more into a social club,” explained Felix Rossi, owner of Rossi’s Tavern and head of Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Living History



The Story of the U.S.S. Ling SS 297

By James Fasino

Looking for something to do as the summer winds down? Just minutes from Clifton, one can take a look at a living memorial to Naval history at 78 River Rd. in Hackensack, which is the final resting place of the Balao class submarine, the USS Ling SS 297. To the uninitiated, this watercraft appears to be a forgotten relic from by-gone days. But generations of men, women and youngsters have donated their time, skills and money preserve the ship through her caretaker organization, the Submarine Memorial Association (SMA)/NJ Naval Museum. Since coming to New Jersey in 1973, the Ling has been referred to as a living memorial. The submarine’s journey to her unlikely resting place in North Jersey began over sixty three years ago on Nov. 2, 1942 with the laying down of her keel at the Cramp Ship Building Company in Philadelphia, and her subsequent commissioning at the Boston Navy yard on June 8 1945 captained by Commander George Garvie Molumphy, USN. The USS Ling is named for a saltwater fish that is celebrated for its fighting spirit, endurance, and intense curiosity. At 412 ft long, she had a crew compliment of 85 men. The ship could also reach speeds of 21 knots while surfaced and carried 21 torpedoes. The pressure hull is constructed of 7/8” thick steel plate with a test depth of 400 feet. Improved electronics 78 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

included the addition of a bathythermograph for detecting thermo-clines in the ocean that could deflect active sonar pings from enemy surface craft. The Ling’s four diesel generators which produced 2,740 horsepower, which fueled a huge 126 cell battery. This gave the ship a cruising range of 11,0000 nautical miles at a speed of 10 knots. She could stay submerged for two days, and her comprehensive patrol endurance was 75 days. Initially based at Submarine Base New London Connecticut, she sailed on Nov. 11, 1945 for the Panama Canal Zone where she operated until being recalled on March 9 1946. She was decommissioned on Oct. 26, 1946 and assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, having made one war patrol and earning a battle star. In March 1960, she was towed to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to become a training ship. In 1972, the Submarine Memorial Association (SMA) acquired the Ling to turn her into a naval museum. A deal was struck with Malcolm A. Borg, publisher of the Bergen Record, to site the Ling on near the Newspaper’s headquarters on River Rd. for $1 per year. The SMA raised funds and brought the Ling to New Jersey in January 1973. It was then restored and opened to the public for tours. The Navy only removed classified equipment from the sub, making the Ling one of the

most complete remaining examples of a WWII vintage submarine. Much of the radio equipment has been restored, and local HAM operators routinely broadcast over it. The sub is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to the submarine itself, the New Jersey Naval Museum houses artifacts that document the exalted history and tradition of the all volunteer United States Navy Submarine Service, beginning with the first submarine to be used in warfare during the Revolutionary War, the Turtle. The Turtle was followed by the USS Holland, the first sub sold to the U.S. Navy, and spans the Fleet submarines of WWI, WWII and the Korean Conflict, through the Nuclear powered Attack boats and Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBMs) of the Cold War and up to today’s Trident missile, Los Angeles and Virgina class boats. Other exhibits that are offered on the museum grounds include memorials to the 52 submarines and their 3500 crewman that were lost during WWII, as well as other casualties of the Silent Service such as USS Thresher SSN 593 and USS Scorpion SSN 589, a Vietnam era


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PBR River patrol boat, the first submarine launched Regulus missile, a Poseidon ICBM missile, Japanese and a German two man submarine. Guided tours are conducted by volunteers, many of whom are Submarine Service veterans and can draw on their own personal experiences and knowledge of submarines to enhance the tours for visitors. In addition, the museum conducts special events such as children’s parties. Group tours are also offered for scout troops, class trips, and corporate or fraternal associations. The New Jersey Naval Museum/USS Ling is a non-profit organization. In addition to conducting tours and special events to financially support the organization, the museum offers a variety of individual, corporate and organizational




memberships that include a yearly compliment of free tours in exchange for stipulated donations that are utilized to maintain the submarine and the museum grounds. The museum is also supported by a relief crew, a group of volunteers who donate their time and talents to upkeep the submarine and the museum grounds in order defray maintenance cost. Volunteers are needed. The museum hosts memorial services are held on traditional patriotic holidays, which are open to the public. The services are somber occasions that are highlighted by a wreath laying ceremony, a tolling of the ships bell and a calling out of the names of those on eternal patrol. For information, visit www.njnm.com or call the museum at 201-342-3268.

Area Rugs



Happy Anniversary


Mon-Fri 9-7 Sat 9-5


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dundeefloorcoveringclifton.com Clifton Merchant • August 2012


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Birthdays & Celebrations - August 2012

Yuko Angello celebrates on Aug. 15. Emily Hawrylko is 28 on Aug. 12. Emilie Oakley is 19 on Aug. 22. Tom Hawrylko turns 55 on Aug. 15 & Charlie ‘Tato’ Stek will be 91 on Aug. 6.

Birthdays & Celebrations

Send dates & names...tomhawrylko@optonline.net Margot Villanova................8/1 Angelo Greco ....................8/2 Karen Lime ........................8/2 Michael Urciuoli .................8/2 Kevin Ciok.........................8/4 Mark W. Mikolajczyk .........8/5 Theresa Raichel ..................8/5 Christina Sotelo ..................8/5 Ed Gasior Sr. .....................8/6 Sean McNally ....................8/6 Gladys Shefchik .................8/8 Chiara Cristantiello.............8/9 Jean Schubert.....................8/9

80 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

Danielle Swede ................8/13 Andrew Cronin ................8/14 Kimberly Mozo ................8/14 Michelle Smolt..................8/14 Christopher Antal .............8/15 Peter Bodor......................8/15 Jessica Oliva....................8/15 Maria Pinter.....................8/15 Susan Van Blarcom ...........8/15 Daniel Wolfe....................8/15 Bella Bulsara....................8/18 Alexandria Veltre..............8/19 Michael Melendez............8/20

Rachelle Swede................8/20 Jacke Neering..................8/21 Cara Cholewczynski .........8/24 Yasmin Ledesma ...............8/24 Joanne Pituch ...................8/24 Robbie Lucas....................8/25 Dolores Bonkowski............8/25 Veronica Tanski ................8/26 Eileen Gasior ...................8/26 Cameron J. Popovski.........8/26 Ann Soltis ........................8/26 Adam Brandhorst .............8/27 Peter Fierro, Jr. .................8/28 Nicholas Swede. ..............8/29 Michelle “Mish” Choy .......8/30 Joe Rushen.......................8/30 Kathleen McKenny............8/31

Former Clifton Fire Chief Joe Colca and his bride Jane (pictured above and below) celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on April 20.

Nancy & Mike Ressetar mark their anniversary on Aug. 15. • Bruce & Diane Drake will be wed 42 years on Aug. 22. • Scott Malgieri turns 17 on Aug. 4. Clifton Merchant • August 2012


Partners in Caring

At the Paulison Avenue ShopRite planning for the annual Partners in Caring promotion: Felix Morales, Joe Russa, Emily Pi, Jerry Trester, Stephanie Pose, Rafael Cuellar, Kristine Dehais and Guillermo Garcia.

The Paulison Avenue ShopRite is once again participating in Partners in Caring to raise funds to fight hunger and benefit local food pantries. While it is a year round effort and run nationally through the ShopRite franchises, Cuellar Family Markets owner, store managers and employees are ramping up activities to bring awareness to the cause. Patrons can participate by purchasing goods bearing the Partners in Caring shelf tag and a portion is donated to the fund. Kristine Dehais and others at the store are organizing charity events, including a PassaicClifton Police Dept. softball game, a movie night, beefsteak and more. Get involved, call: 973-471-0868.

82 August 2012 • Clifton Merchant

The North Jersey Federal Credit Union will host its second annual Passaic County Small Business Growth Summit on Sept. 12 from noon to 3 pm at 711 Union Blvd., Totowa. Admission and lunch is free for all business owners. To register, visit www.njfcu.org. Passaic County Community College (PCCC) hosts a Summer Enrollment Day on Aug. 9 from 3 to 6 pm at the Main Campus, One College Blvd., Paterson. Tour the campus and learn about 60 degree and certificate programs offered. Fall classes begin on Sept. 5. Visit www.pccc.edu or call 973-684-6868.

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Profile for Clifton Merchant Magazine

Clifton Merchant Magazine - August 2012  

Clifton Merchant Magazine - August 2012