Clifton Merchant Magazine - December 2009

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

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Letters to the Editor

Clifton Merchant Magazine 1288 Main Ave. Clifton 07011

A thankful Navy veteran: I recently came home from my second tour in Iraq. While away, there were many things to worry about: bills, health of family and friends and, most importantly, the emotional well being of the ones you love. Well, who would of thought that a local business owner, who I didn’t really know, would make that extra effort to pitch in back home? I’d like to give a hats off, round of applause and a salute to Joe Argieri, owner of Baskinger’s Bakery and Deli. While I was away, every time my girlfriend, Caroline Meza, would stop in, Joe would always ask how I was doing and more importantly, how she was doing. Joe offered to buy us lunch when I returned. It’s good to know that there are people out there willing to make a difference in the lives of strangers. Joe Argieri is truly a friend and a patriot. He backed up his lunch offer not once, but twice. And then in last month’s magazine, I saw he contributed to the Thanksgiving Dinner in town. What a person. Thanks, Joe. Thanks Baskinger’s.

The memories you dredged up in me with the story, A Week in November 1961 by Rich DeLotto were incredible. I remember that plane crash vividly. I was on that same aircraft, which took me to basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. On the way down, we had a smoke condition and fire in a cabin fan, which was doused by a glass of water thrown on it by the stewardess. We got there safe. The plane went back to Newark Airport and picked up the next load of recruits, and crashed on the way down to Fort Jackson. We missed death by one flight. The capper is, until I read this article, I didn’t know that a friend from high school, Vernon Griggs, was killed in the crash. I was in basic training down in South Carolina, so I never saw the Clifton area local newspapers to see names. All we knew was that the plane we came down on crashed. Vernon was an intelligent, civil, gentleman in high school, and lived in my general neighborhood. A shame of a loss, but now I know.

Joseph A. Barra, HM1(FMF),USNR

Greg Baron, Clifton

1288 Main Avenue Downtown Clifton, NJ 07011

I would like to commend you for all the fine articles you include in your magazine. Of special interest to me was the story about Brian Fopma’s successful efforts to quit smoking and the promotion of the Great American Smoke Out on Nov. 19. It is important to encourage smokers to quit and support their efforts because they can eventually succeed. I was a smoker for many years and finally quit for good six years ago after several attempts. I applaud Mr. Fopma on his success and the Clifton Merchant Magazine for sharing such stories with us. If anyone would like help in quitting, they can call the Passaic County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Prevention at 973-473-3366 x 101. Paulette Posey, Youth Coordinator Passaic County REBEL

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays Welcome to another edition of our magazine. It’s Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all rolled up in one column. We have a lot going on in this month’s publication, from nostalgia, tradition and religion (a kickoff to my church’s 100th anniversary) to schools, sharing and shopping. The cover photo of that little girl looking into the eyes of Santa back in 1971 seems to sum it all up—believe! She is unidentified as I actually found the photo in a file that had been buried here for some time. If anyone knows who she is, I would like to meet her, so please ask her to call our office.

This month’s cover also features Mustangs Brendan Guzman, Igor Petrovic, Victor Manosalvas and Oscar Gonzalez. They led the CHS Soccer team to a near victory in the State Championship in mid November. In this photo, they are pulling double duty—helping us to remind you to Shop Clifton First!—and also serving as the opener for our Mustang Sports section. In a tribute to their great run, the entire team can be seen on page 92. Both photos are by Derek Teixeira. Then there is the classic circa-1950’s photo of those two boys under the Christmas tree, which looks like something out of Little Rascals. To find out who those kids are, turn to page 14. That writer’s story is part of a 35 page section in which readers share stories of their holiday memories and traditions. As we get ready to turn the page into 2010, and into the 15th year of our publication, I want to say thanks to you, our reader. I am thankful that you appreciate the beauty of the written word, and enjoy the mix of photos and stories we provide every month. Seeing people waiting for us to deliver the magazine on the first Friday of the month and watching the magazine fly off our racks is a great feeling. And to my advertisers, I appreciate your business. It’s funny that some of you think I say or write that as a cliche. But I mean it sincerely. By purchasing ads and paying your bills promptly, your funding allows me to do my thing, writing about Clifton and its people. That is a great gift, so thank you for your investment. To Cheryl and my family, your support, trust and love keeps me going and means so much. And to close, here’s a quote from a favorite story teller, Garrison Keillor: ‘Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.’ —Tom Hawrylko

Merry Christmas and many thanksfor for and many thanks continuedsupport support your your continued

Surrogate Bill Bate 6

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Thanksgiving came and is now a memory, but it always provides my family and I a chance to stop and say thanks to all of you for your support. From the right, Tom and Cheryl Hawrylko and our children: Joe, 24, Thomas Jr., 22, Casey, 19 and Carly, 14. In between the two girls is Mam—Marie Angello, Cheryl’s mom. And to the right is our hound, Bob Marley, dressed and waiting for Santa to come down Washington Ave. during his tour of the city.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

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Santa Tour de Clifton

Circa 1971


e flys through the streets of Clifton perched aboard a parade float and has created a legion of believers, like that little girl on our cover. For the past 39 years, a team of elves has been making the magic of Santa come alive in our city every Christmas Eve. So if you’re a newcomer, don’t be alarmed on December 24 if you hear the wailing of sirens and see your neighbors standing curbside waiting for a cavalcade of trucks blaring carols to pass through your neighborhood. The history of this tradition begins on the following page... December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


For approximately six hours, between 3 and 9 pm–after which all good children should be safely tucked into their beds—Santa does his annual circuit of the city, escorted by the wailing sirens of police and fire vehicles. And while the line-up of trucks and patrol cars and other emergency apparatus can change by neighborhood, Santa will be seen high above the group, aboard his own personal float, tossing candies, waving to the kids, wishing all the best of the season. Santa’s Christmas Eve ride through the town was founded by Mike Novack and Tom Insinga in 1971. Today it is a group effort, coordinated by Mayor Jim Anzaldi and a host of other elves. While no longer a Clifton business owner, Novack said it was a group effort that started the tradition— with support from many—the Athenia Business Association, Ploch’s, Al Sabah, Joe Podolak, Frank Melito, Chuck Ranges, Jerry Zecker and others. The pre-mall Clifton of those days was different, too. Main Ave. was full of well-know locally-owned stores, as were Botany, Athenia and Valley Rd. Back then, each shop owner or business association would contribute money for games and toys that Santa would hand out. With stops in the the retail neighborhoods, his route was a lot different then and a lot longer. “We used to start at 10 am and we’d have designated stops in town where kids could climb on Santa’s sleigh and visit,” Insinga recalled in 1998. “There would be little toys and games and candy canes given out. And sometimes the children would even have a present for Santa. After the stops, Santa and company would ride throughout the city until about 10 pm,” Insinga explained. In those early days, a young Anzaldi dressed as an elf and would ride on the float. Now he is content to ride in the lead police car, directing which streets they will drive down. As time went on, Insinga explained, it became more difficult to maintain the stops, due to the large number of children waiting to see Santa. So instead, they cut out the stops and decided to just ride through the city, sirens blaring, waving to the curious residents. Incidentally, they put on about 56 miles every Christmas Eve. 10

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Santa 1998 Although his drive through the city is in its 39th year, Insinga noted that the town is changing and new people in the neighborhood are not familiar with this tradition. What first begins as concern turns into wonder. “They don’t expect this, when they hear the sirens. They come running out of the house with babies in blankets. Then they see us and they like what we do,” he said. The caravan starts at the DPW garage in Lakeview. From there, it goes through Botany, then up to Clifton Center and Dutch Hill, through Athenia, Rosemawr, Delawanna, Richfield, Allwood, Montclair Heights, Albion, and finishes back in Lakeview. Anzaldi noted they try to retain the same route and times each year and go up and down all streets, except dead-ends and cul-de-sacs because the float doesn’t back up.

In the 1970’s, the float was built with Department of Public Works equipment in a body shop owned by Joe Podolak (now owned by Lou Borbas and renamed Nash Park Auto Body, near Hot Grill), said Insinga. Anzaldi added that they have never missed a single Christmas Eve outing since the route’s inception. “There were nights of bitter cold and still we kept on. Once we had a flat tire on the float, but we fixed it right away and lost only 15 minutes,” Anzaldi said. Nevertheless, this group of holiday wellwishers enjoys their annual trek through the city.

Above in 1978, Mike Novack and his daughter Kerry. On previous page, that’s Santa’s elves back in 1971, from left, Bob Lyons, Mike LaCorte and Donna Ruppert. At right, also in 1971 near the intersection of Main and Clifton Aves, Novack, Chuck Ranges and Officer Paul Graupe.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Everyone celebrates the holidays differently. And with each passing year, there are many more memories. The readership of Clifton Merchant Magazine represents the diversity of the community we serve. Our readers hail from all types of backgrounds and many different ethnicities. This year, we asked you to tell your story or share your memories and traditions. On the following pages, you’ll find these nuggets of days past. Some also told us of things they look forward to that make this time of year so special. We hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as we did collecting them.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Decades of Memories How readers celebrate their respective holidays

As a young Jewish child, Dr. Barry Raphael remembers the holiday season a bit differently than everyone else. While most of his friends celebrated Christmas, Raphael and his family observed the eight days of Chanukah. “My mom, Bobbi, had boxes of decorations,” recalled the orthodontist, whose practice is located on Broad St. “Shiny dreidel and star ornaments hung from the ceiling tinsel down the staircase, blue stockings over the fireplace. My father, Jerry, built a large wooden Menorah with lightbulbs for the front lawn.” Raphael’s parents didn’t celebrate their faith in such an outward fashion during their childhood. Growing up Jewish in a Christian country made it hard for young children to understand why they did things differently in the last week of December. “When they were young, they even had a Chanukah bush,” recalled Raphael. “It wasn’t so much a way of fitting in as it was keeping the children from feeling so different and left out of Christmas.” But by the time the Raphaels had their own children, they did away with the bush, as they became more secure with their identity. Raphael fondly remembers all of the home cooking that goes on during the one of

The late Bobbi and Jerry Raphael, and their granddaughter, Kim Puleo, lighting the Chanukah candles in 1998.

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Magic in a Four Room Apartment When my brother Donald and I went to bed on Christmas Eve during the 1950s, our four-room apartment above a grocery store in Jersey City looked exactly as it did on every other night of the year – with one exception. Just before climbing into our beds at exactly 8 pm, we would hang our Christmas stockings on the mantle over the sealed-off fireplace in the living room. That was the one concession my parents, Walter and Cecelia, made to the holiday season. They were traditionalists, but delighted in surprising us on Christmas morning, We’d lay awake for awhile in our bunk bed, whispering excitedly about what we hoped to find when we woke up next morning, which always seemed to take forever to arrive. And we were never disappointed when it did. As soon as Santa slammed the living room window shut at around 6 am (he couldn’t use the chimney because of the sealed-off fireplace) we’d trip over each other as we jumped from our beds and threw open the door to an explosion of colors, sounds, and smells. Our usually dull middle-class living room had been transformed overnight into a Christmas wonderland that went far beyond our adolescent dreams. A fully decorated live Christmas tree stood glowing in the living room alcove, colorfully wrapped packages carefully laid beneath its lowest branches. Christmas carols rang out from a Magnavox console in the corner of the room while a Lionel diesel chugged around a brightly lit miniature village. The smell of percolating coffee, sizzling bacon, and cinnamon-dusted French toast filled the apartment. My brother and I rifled through our very own stacks of Christmas treasures, giving no thought whatsoever to the effort my parents put into creating this magical day each year.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Story by Joe Torelli

After mom and dad transformed their home, that’s Donald and Joe Torelli on Christmas morning, circa 1953.

My dad worked 11 hours a day on split shifts in the grocery store beneath the apartment, while mom worked part-time in a wallpaper book bindery, lifting 40-pound rolls of paper onto a cutting machine. Beginning in early December, dad spent many of his afternoons in the basement, securing the model train tracks to a four by eight sheet of plywood and wiring the lights in the dozen or so village buildings. He’d then carry it all up two flights of stairs to the living room, after having already fetched and hauled the tree from its hiding place on our next-door neighbor’s garage roof. All of this took place after he closed the store at 10 pm. Mom and dad would then decorate the tree, do the lastminute wrapping, and get the rest of the place ready for the 6 am onslaught. I don’t know exactly when my brother and I stopped believing in Santa Claus. It was probably later than most kids though, because of our parents’ determination to make Christmas so special. When we finally did stop believing, I’m sure it was a bittersweet day for them. Despite the incredible amount of extra work it took to pull off the Christmas surprise each year, I know they got immeasurable joy from the happiness they saw on our faces.

the most important holidays for those of the Jewish faith. “What Jewish holiday doesn’t focus on the food?” he said. “Fresh potato latkes (pancakes), deep fried, with apple sauce or sour cream. I think five of them is a minimum requirement, hence my figure!” Raphael also recalled the joy of being a youngster receiving gifts. At the start of Chanukah, his parents would lay out eight gifts for each of their three children on the table. “Each night, we’d pick one package and take turns opening,” he said. “I remember rockets and Davey Crocket hats and Vac-UForms and Mickey Mantle autographed bats. My sisters’ got Barbies, tea sets, clothes and other boring stuff.” “But nothing was opened until we lit the candles and said the prayers,” Raphael added. “We hugged and kissed each and every member of the family and attending friends with a big ‘Happy Chanukah!’”

Ginny and John Kostisin on their wedding day in 1958.

Ginny Kostisin loves Christmas so much, she tries to make the spirit of the season last over the course of a month. “We have an artificial tree now, maybe for the past five years. Before that, we always had a real one,” she said. “I changed it so I can have it up longer.” In the Kostisin household, the Christmas season begins right after the turkey hangover is gone from Thanksgiving. The tree gets assembled and stays up as late as mid-January. That also means that holiday music is blasting everywhere in the house. Kostisin has a small radio in her kitchen and has her satellite radio tuned to Christmas stations in her car.

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Christmas 1972:

A Day at the

Saigon Zoo

It wasn’t exactly a traditional Christmas, but it was memorable none the less. Roy Stesko, who for years owned and operated Uncle Roy’s Tavern on Van Houten Ave., recalled the holiday he spent in the Saigon Zoo in 1972. Stesko, a US Army Sergeant, was nearing the end of his one year tour of Vietnam. The unpopular war was dying down and Stesko, like most servicemen, was counting down the days to his discharge. He had been in the service since 1970, and in ‘Nam since 1971. As Stesko recalls it, there was one soldier who pined for action and requested that his superiors transfer him to the front lines to get some combat experience. Stesko and others tried to persuade him to stay in the relative safety of Saigon, but to no avail.

Seeing that this one GI wasn’t about to change his mind, Stesko took it upon himself to send him off properly. “When his orders finally came down, we wanted to do something special,” he recalled, noting that it happened to be Christmas Day. “We went off base, got in a cab and told him to take us to the Saigon Zoo.” Stesko and the departing soldier spent several hours in the zoo, which was still in operation despite the battles raging on just a few miles away. “It was like going to the Bronx Zoo in the City” said Stesko, who was stationed at Saigon Airport and worked in an Army office that managed transient funds. “People that lived there were walking around like it was normal.” “Saigon is actually like New York City, only more crowded,” he continued. “Once you drive in Saigon, driving in Manhattan is a piece of cake. People drive little scooters and they cut in front of cars and trucks.” After seeing a variety of animals, Stesko and the GI toured the local bars and infamous haunts of the the former South Vietnam’s capital. Next day, the soldier was sent “in-country” and Stesko ended up being discharged about three months later. Though he never learned of what happened to his comrade, Stesko is glad that he got to share Christmas day at the Saigon Zoo with him. by Joe Hawrylko



Our community’s diversity is truly our strength. Celebrate Clifton. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. Councilman Steve Hatala 16

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


around Clifton with a full entourage Kostisin inherited the annual Christmas celebration from her grandof fire fighters. mother and usually has 16 people at her “The kids used to stand and wait house. The food selection is generally all night,” she said. of the American variety for Christmas. Fazio also had a more unique “My family has been here too long for Christmas experience, thanks to us to have much ethnic food,” said Rena, her daughter Lisa’s dog. Kostisin. “The food from John’s side “I had wanted my kids to do (Carpatho Russyn) we do on New something for somebody else and Year’s Day. Keilbasy, perogi, stuffed not get paid,” said Fazio. cabbage, ham and rye bread.” That’s how the family started The Christmas meal begins light, raising Seeing Eye dogs. Each child with homemade chicken noodle soup, took on a dog for 18 months of traincorn and cabbage. The main course is ing before giving it back to the Carol Lo Gioco holds a pumpkin turkey, with sides of cranberry, stuffing agency. and other traditional American dishes. chiffon pie, a family favorite. Rena was still young when During the opening of presents, the Christmas rolled around in 1976 and younger children enjoy English crackers. The snack was a little bit confused when her masters brought in comes in a cardboard tube that makes a pop when a large tree to the living room. opened and is packed with candies and a present. “The dog though it was their tree and it was mass The evening concludes with an all-American panic,” laughed Fazio. “I was yelling at Lisa to grab desert: Apple pie. “Oh, I love Christmas,” said her dog and it was running around the house.” Kostisin. Eventually, the tree was roped off so that Rena would stop marking her territory. Fazio also made sure to time the arrival of the new puppies. Janet Fazio fondly remembers the aforementioned “It worked out that we’d get the dogs in the late annual tradition of seeing her three children rush out spring or early summer,” she laughed. of the house to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus riding


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Dollars from the Black Hills of Dakota In the 40 plus years that the family Christmas dinner was held at her old Union Ave. home, Sally Montanio has accumulated a lot of fond memories. One of her favorites took place some 25 years ago, when her son, Mickey, now 57, shipped a unique gift from his home in the Black Hills in South Dakota. Some 20 family and friends had gathered at Montanio’s home that Christmas in 1984. The celebration began at 10 am with hot chocolate, tea and coffee and eventually progressed to the unveiling of presents. Mickey had moved out to South Dakota a few years earlier, but always made his presence felt with gifts that he mailed to Clifton. However, the present that year was unique. “It was large box and the instructions after you took the paper off said to turn it upside down, shake well and put it back on the floor to open,” recalled Montanio. She followed the directions as written, along with her husband of

Story by Joe Hawrylko

Sally Montanio and her daughter Liane DiMartino, a Navy veteran, at the Avenue of Flags on the City Hall campus on Veterans Day. The two had purchased a flag for Montanio’s late husband, Michael, who served in the Marines during WWII and during the Korea War.

48 years, Michael, who passed away in 2001. The box tore open and out poured thousands of styrofoam peanuts and 200 one dollar bills. The reaction of the children in the room was predictable. “The kids all went nuts, scrambling to see who could grab the most money,” laughed Montanio. “He wasn’t able to get home for Christmas, so that was his way of doing something special.” After the chaotic scene, the day progressed as normal. Some family members left to visit in-laws and returned later that afternoon for the traditional Christmas feast. The Montanio family Christmas was held each year on Union Ave. until she and her husband moved in 1999 to the Williamsburg South Condos on Grove St. But the family tradition just passed a generation, with the responsibility shared between her two daughters and their families: Liane DiMartino of Clifton, or Beth, who resides in Fayson Lakes. 20

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

When you celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas, there’s never a shortage of food. “My husband [Peter], he’s Catholic, and I’m Jewish, so we had Chanukah and Christmas,” said Helen Abbate. “Chanukah was at my house and we used to spend Christmas by my mother-in-law’s.” Christmas Eve was traditional, with no meat on the menu. Instead, the family gorged on large offerings of sea food. Fresh fish filet, shrimp, clams and other delights. The family would then attend mass and after midnight, the second feast commenced, this time, with meat offerings on the table, including pasta with meatballs and sausage and more. The Christmas Day foods includes plenty of pasta with gravy, lamb and plenty of other filling meals. While Abbate enjoyed the food cooked up by her in-laws, nothing beat her homecooked Jewish food. “We did it in our house, usually just amongst us,” she said. “One night, I invited all the Catholics who wanted to come because we have potato pancakes, pot roast brisket, chicken soup... we have no time limit with the Jewish people.” Though the family celebrated all eight days of Chanukah, Abbate said the first few were when she would cook up endless servings of food. “The main dish was potato pancakes and applesauce— homemade, nothing out of a can,” she said. “You’d sprinkle a little sugar on the pancakes and put on some grape jelly.” Desert included poppy seed cake, poppy seed tart, sponge cake and walnut sponge cake. Similar to the Catholics, Abbate also served up lots a fruit and wine. Abbate also shared her recipe for noodle pudding, which is also known as noodle kugel. “It’s a big casserole of broad noodles with pot cheese, sour cream and cinnamon. It’s a big deal,” she said. “You don’t serve dairy and meat because most people in those days were kosher.”

Former Clifton Police Chief Frank Lo Gioco and his wife Carol tend to celebrate Christmas in a simple, quiet manner, with up to a dozen close family members gathering together. While the location of the December 25th celebration moves each year, Christmas Eve is held at the Lo Gioco household in West Milford. The festivities begin in the kitchen, where Carol prepares several dishes which are placed out on the dinning room table for a buffet. “Turkey, a big dish of lasagna, Swedish meatballs, deviled eggs and a whole bunch of vegetables,” said Frank Lo Gioco, the former chief of the Clifton Police Department. “Just about anything you might want to think of, we’ll have on our table. My wife is really quite a good cook.” The lasagna is for Frank’s Italian heritage and the meatballs are a nod to Carol’s Swedish ancestors. “We usually have deserts, pies, cookies and stuff of that nature as well,” added Frank. In addition to the food, Carol also goes to great lengths to decorate the entire house for the holiday. “My wife is a Christmas person. She does every nook and cranny in every corner of this house, village scenes and everything” said Frank. “It takes her weeks to put everything together, but it really looks great when it comes together. Christmas is her holiday.”

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Even though they’re in Las Vegas, Bob and Carol Van Der Linda have a very subdued Christmas. The former Cliftonites from the Lakeview section moved out to Sin City about 13 years ago to be closer to their son and their two grandchildren. Christmas is a small event, with just six attendees. The Van Der Lindas start off their celebration on Christmas Eve with a ham, rutabagas and other small sides. One unique platter is creamed herring, traditionally a Jewish staple. “It’s from my grandmother. That’s how we always did it,” said Carol. “My husband adopted the traditions we had in my family.” Rye bread is also a staple, and Bob lamented how he’s been unable to find a baker as good as the Village Deli on Piaget Ave. After dinner, the Van Der Lindas open presents and attend services at their Lutheran church. On Christmas Day, the family gathers for another feast, this time with turkey as the main dish. After that, it’s time to lounge around with family, chat and watch some football. “That’s what it’s all about: family,” said Carol. Ken Mooney’s Christmas is a bit warmer since he moved to Florida in 1993. But as much as he hates the cold weather and the snow, he still fondly remembers the holidays he spent back in Clifton. “We always had it at our house, my late wife, Audrey, and I,” he explained. “We usually had the inlaws and stuff like that. It was usually nine or ten people max.” The founder of Ken Mooney’s Service Garage on Clifton Ave. often worked long hours, even during the holidays but the holidays were a time to take a breather Mooney’s family used to come to his Olga B Terrace home on Christmas Eve, where Audrey would mix some of her Swedish heritage with American foods. “Swedish meatballs, turkey or prime rib, something in that order,” said Mooney, who is a Lutheran. “We went to mass after and did presents that night as well.” Attending church is part of the day but worrying about falling snow is not. “Now we just have it with some close friends,” Mooney continued. “I can’t go north anymore. I really can’t handle the cold weather, but the kids are always welcome to come down here.” 22

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant



December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

In the Sichel home on Rutgers Place, Christmas Eve is a dual holiday, since it also marks Sharon’s (above) birthday. To commemorate the occasion, her husband, Bill, started a dinnertime tradition. “Since the kids were born, we always have lobster,” he explained. “She always wanted lobster on her birthday.” With the fire roaring, the family of four starts prepping for the meal. “It’s a family tradition and everyone gets into it,” he explained. “Each person cooks something or goes out and buys stuff.” Following dinner, Bill’s sister and mother come over for coffee and presents. On Christmas Day, it’s time to head over to mom’s place to gorge on good food again. The main entree is usually either turkey or ham. “There’s pickled beans, which are out of this world,” said Sichel. “She picks the beans in the summer time and pickles them. She also makes lima beans.” After the feast, it’s time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. “We basically just sit around the house, watch football and talk,” said Bill. “We hang around her house until the evening is over.”

For Roy and Helen Berkenbush, pictured above, Christmas is a little bit more significant, since it happens to fall in the same week as their anniversary. “We go to restaurant row in New York City. We never get tired of them,” said Helen, who will celebrate 52 years with Roy on Dec. 28. The couple visits all of The Big Apple’s Christmas attractions, including the famous tree down in Rockefeller square. Seeing Broadway productions is also an annual tradition. “Last year we went to see Mama Mia,” said Helen. But while in Clifton, the couple also has another tradition. Since their two sons, Peter and Bill, are single and live in North Carolina and Indiana, Helen and Roy don’t have any family members over for the holidays. About ten years ago, the couple started a new tradition: inviting their tenants in their two family home down for dinner on Christmas. “Did you ever meet somebody that you liked instantly?” asked Helen. “That’s the way we hit it off with out tenants. Both girls are cantors at Catholic churches

I heard the bells on Christmas Day, Their old, familiar carols play and wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Councilman

Peter C. Eagler Paid For By Eagler for Council 2010, 32 Greendale Road Clifton, 07013

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


and they come down and celebrate Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, depending on their schedules.” The tenants, Valerie and Lori, live on the second floor apartment in the two family home Helen and Roy own in Botany Village. The meals for Christmas vary year to year in the Berkenbush household. “It just what my husband has a taste for,” laughed Helen. “For Thanksgiving this year, he asked for a ham.” In past years, she’s served up turkey breast, ham and meatloaf with baked potatoes. The only consistent plate each year is dessert. “Nine times out of ten, it’s a chocolate cream pie because that’s his favorite,” said Helen. “I make my own chocolate pudding, put it in chocolate gram cracker shell and put topping and he just loves that. It’s nothing big really,” she added. “It’s just simple.” Every Christmas Eve we went to St. Agnes Church in Paterson the church that was build with Quarry from the Thomas Family Quarry on Valley Rd. (Thomas Street is named after my late Grandmothers mother’s family) The Mass was always at 5 pm and after, we returned to my late grandparents home (Florence and George Trinkle on Valley Rd) Just as the first course began the familiar sounds of Clifton’s Santa sleigh—actually sirens—could be heard in


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Memories of Christmas from the Trinkle Girls: Rosemary, Dianne, Kimberly and Georjean.

the distance. My three sisters and I would dart to the porch of our grandparent’s home to watch Santa and his sleigh come through our neighborhood. This was the highlight of the night. Grandma Florence Trinkle got especially excited to wave at Mayor Jimmy Anzaldi, one of her favorite students. During my first Christmas in Seattle, I called home— all I wanted to know was whether or not Santa’s Sleigh made it past my grandparent’s house.

Sweet Memories: My mother, Marie, and her sister-in-law, Eunice Meister, created a long-standing tradition that my sisters still perpetuate: The making of Christmas cookies. The favorite part for all the kids was the Christmas cut-outs which we decorated. It’s a tradition that will always stick with me. Mom makes pecan puffs and datenut swirls; my aunt does almond macaroons and Dutch Krakelingen. My sisters have tried to make the Krakelingen, but only my late Aunt Eunice could do it. Melt-in-your mouth butter and sugar, light crunchie figure eights. Very hard to make, but oh what a wonderful Christmas treat! Of course, we also love the December Lesson and Carols service at our church. It ends with the congregation holding lit candles up in the air while singing the second verse of O Come All Ye Faithful! Just beautiful! by Emily Rose

Returning as a resident to Clifton in 2001, I heard Santa’s sleigh for the first time in many years while at the Children’s Christmas Eve Mass at St. Andrew’s Church. I panicked Oh No! Will I miss sharing Santa on his sleigh with my daughter and husband? Not to worry! After church as we pulled off of Allwood Rd and pulled into our driveway, I heard Santa’s sleigh coming and all the magic was back again. I whisked my then 3 year old daughter from the car to the corner to watch Santa’s sleigh. What a wonderful tradition to share with her and my husband. I also learned that year who really was dressed as Santa on the sleigh. For all the years we waited on my grandparent’s porch for Santa I never knew he was in fact our neighbor Tom Insinga (see page 10). Our parents never disclosed his true identify. And now many years later, I still wait for Santa’s sleigh to come up Allwood Rd on Christmas Eve and the sounds of the sirens and the sight of the sleigh stir up many wonderful emotions of family and Christmas Eve at my grandparent’s home. Santa’s sleigh is one of the great Christmas Traditions in Clifton that lives on and on. by Rosemary Trinkle Baran

1578 Main Ave Clifton, NJ 07011

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My German Grandmother lived with us from the first day my parents moved into our home in Clifton in the Fall of 1954 until the day she died in July 1975 at the age of 82 when I was 19 and a half years old. From my earliest memories, I remember Grandma making these simple butter cookies every Christmas. She used these very old and simple cookie cutters to make them into about four shapes like stars, bells, wreaths, and the biggest shape that my two younger twin brothers and I fought over—lions! Before they were baked into a golden brown, she would put on a nice layer of jimmies, those tiny multicolored dots also called nonpareils. They added a cool crunchiness to the cookie. Long before Grandma passed, my Mom started making those simple butter cookies and they became an extended Klump family favorite. Every family got its own tin for Christmas. My wife Lisa has taken over the baking for the past few years and now my cousins’ wives come to my Mom’s house or our house to learn too. My daughter Melissa is also helping out so she is the fourth generation of Klumps! When I eat one—more likely about 25 at a time with cold milk—it brings back some of the greatest memories of my wonderful childhood and indeed of my entire life!! GOD Bless! by Frank A. Klump, DMD


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

When Christmas rolls around, all Teddy Harsaghy can think about is the great food he’s going to eat. It means it’s the time of the year for the blending of his Hungarian culture with American cuisine. However, the meals served up on Christmas Eve vastly differ from what is cooked the following night. As per his Catholic faith, Harsaghy does not eat any meat on Christmas Eve. “We have the mushroom soup, made with sauerkraut juice and the little noodles,” he recalled fondly. Harsaghy noted that the traditional soup recipe is a sure fire remedy to a New Year’s Eve hangover. That’s if there are any leftovers, of course. Filet fish is always on the menu for Christmas Eve as well. However, the special treats are babalky, which are dried dough balls that are put in water and then coated with honey and poppy seed. As early as he can remember, Harsaghy said that the menu always included the same dishes. It was that way when his family used to gather at his aunt’s home in Passaic. “We all had it. It was a big deal, being by my aunt’s house and all,” he said. “It was on Jefferson St., but they knocked that house down. But we were there every year for Christmas. I didn’t see my grandparents because they were in Europe.”

Christmas Day traditionally is the largest feast, and meats are back on the menu. Harsaghy’s family usually includes more American servings for this dinner. “Roast beef, roast ham... It’s American stuff for Christmas Day,” he said. However, the one rule that Harsaghy observes is a superstition that prohibits birds at the dinner table. “You can’t get anything with scratches,”

he laughed. You’ll be scratching all year.” The Christmas Day menu has evolved to include a little bit of an Italian flavor, a nod to Harsaghy’s wife of 55 years, Filomena. “We have lasagna, macaroni, a lot of greens,” he said. “We used to have a lot of family over, but now it’s all broken up. It’s just my wife and I. The kids are all gone here and there, but we still have that.” Peter Eagler blends cultures and traditions. For the past 30 years, the Clifton Councilman has portrayed St. Nicholas at the Hamilton House, Clifton’s historic museum on Valley Rd. He does it on or near Dec. 6, St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 19th in the Orthodox Julian calendar). Dressed as a Western Rite bishop, Eagler greets children at the Dutch farmhouse, infusing his appearance, discussion and gift giving with traditions from Eastern Europe and Holland. To many, St. Nicholas is the holy man who came long before Santa Claus. As far as the 18th Century Dutch gambrel-roofed homestead, it was presented to the City of Clifton by the developers of the property of the late Harry Hamilton. The Museum is opened for tours on Sundays from 2-4 pm from March-December; there is a fee. Tours at other times may be made; call 973744-5707. Membership to the Hamilton House also help to fund the operation and makes a nice Christmas gift. On Dec. 4, tour the Hamilton House by candle light. Then on Dec. 6, St. Nicholas, pictured with Sophia Refinski, Jacob and Julia Evanina, greets children of all ages.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Christmas on Barkley Ave. by Adeline DeLiberto DeVries

Every Christmas I go home to Barkley Avenue.. My childhood house was located one block from Piaget Avenue and Main Memorial Park, and near Christopher Columbus Junior High School, then Clifton’s high school. The library was on First Street in Clifton Center, as well as the high school annex where freshman attended. My brother Joe DeLiberto and I would go to the “racey,” the pond in Clifton Memorial Park to ice skate. Though we’d never become Olympic skaters, Joe would go on to be a beloved postman in Clifton. My home at 45 Barkley Ave. was a two-story white house with a long narrow driveway – just big enough for our green Nash Rambler to squeeze through. I lived there with my brother Joe, big sister Sarah, and our parents Joseph and Vincenza DeLiberto. Barkley Avenue was a tree-lined street of older houses. Where the telephone building now stands was once an old mansion with a beautiful rose garden (I sprinkled my sister Sarah and Fred Lombardo’s wedding path with those rose petals at their 1946 marriage). Many of the homes are gone today, replaced by more modern structures. In the forties and fifties, people of all ethnicities lived on our block and we were all compatible. Near Barkley Ave. were the shops and businesses of Main Ave. The Russo family owned a chicken store opposite the Deluxe Cleaners, and I’d walk my small nephew Joey Lombardo to the store to see the live chickens. You could select one, purchase it and pick it up ready to roast. Joey went on to be the valedictorian for his graduating class at Clifton High School in 1965 and eventually a successful doctor in New York. My most special memories of Barkley Avenue were of Christmas. Whenever we put up our tree (a live one, of course), the pine aroma filled the house. As a young girl, I’d creep downstairs in the early morning, sit next to the tree and breathe its fragrance. It was a beautiful time; all was right with the world. Each December, I’d pick a picture from a Christmas card and paint it across our front bay windows. I remember one particular picture of two boys kneeling at Jesus’ 30

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

manger. I always tried to incorporate God’s love in the paintings… the true spirit of Christmas. My mom, who’d later become the crossing guard at St. Paul’s School, loved my paintings, and I repeated them every year. Houses were decorated up and down the street with bright lights, candles, and Santas everywhere, but only ours had that personal touch. My dad was a bus driver for Public Service. Though he missed many Christmas mornings driving the #112 bus from Clifton to Newark, it never diminished his spirit. He loved putting up the tree. While we’d re-acquaint ourselves with ornaments from the past, Dad would string the lights. After they were in working order, we’d step back and “ooh and aah” at our own tree-lighting ceremony. On Christmas Day, my grandparents would arrive to a sumptuous meal. Grandpa was Italian, so no matter what tradition dictated, spaghetti was always part of our meal. Soon our house was filled with aunts and uncles and cousins… all celebrating the Savior’s birth, as well as the importance of family.

Adeline in a 2006 photo, with her ‘Magnificent Seven’ grandchildren. Clockwise: Jessica, Sami. Christopher, Michael, Allyson, Kimberly and Joey. The inset is her latest grandson, Aiden. On the facing page is Adeline and her dad, Joseph V. DeLiberto, Sr. in 1948, a Public Service bus driver who ran the 112 route into Newark. They are in front of the School 3 Flag pole, which still stands today, near the intersection of Washington Ave and 7th St.

St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church was our parish. I joined the choir and would walk the dark streets from Barkley Avenue to the church for choir practice. Excitement would build as we practiced Christmas carols for midnight mass. On Christmas, the church would be resplendent in bright lights and poinsettias. I can still see Monsignor Joseph Hewetson bustling about to make sure all was in order. I remember one year when we exited the church, the first snow of the season was falling. How wonderful…it really felt like Christmas then! Now, many Christmases have past. My childhood home is still there, but no longer do paintings adorn the windows. The house has been renovated and sold at least twice. Christmas is commercialized and, at times, impersonal. Reflecting on simpler times, I still remember my small, personal contribution to the magic of Christmas – the painted windows of my home. Christmas on Barkley Avenue will always be in my heart.




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Chiesa Italiana Del Sacrocuore Di Gesu To Joseph Pampanin, the photos on these two pages tell a thousand stories. “It speaks of heritage and history, sacrifice and a community coming together to establish their tradition for future generations. It’s a prideful tale he wants all of Clifton to know. Like Pampanin, who is 86 years old, and most of the parishioners of Sacred Heart Church at the turn of the century, they hailed from the Dolomites region of Italy, which is in the northeast, near the Alps. They first came to America in the 1890’s, working in the Botany mills and factories. Like other immigrants, they brought their unique culture and religious beliefs and soon constructed a church. “The first Sacred Heart Church (Italian: Chiesa Italiana Del Sacrocuore Di Gesu) was dedicated on Sept. 4, 1898 off of Durant Ave. on property purchased from the Botany Worsted Mills,” he explained. However, over time, the original site of the Sacred Heart became inadequate for the needs of the parish and plans were made to purchase additional property construct a new church and rectory. In 1916, they began a campaign to raise the money through bazaars, subscriptions, dances and entertainment. One of the fundraisers was a play staged by parishioners, which told the story of gypsies seeking a home. Rev. Felice Sandri, the first pastor of Sacred Heart, staged and directed the play and was assisted by a music and voice teacher. The cast included (from the back row) Carlotta De Luca Sagui, Rosa Tonon Ossi, Anna Tomea, Sabina De Sandri Perrini, Severina De Sandre Lo

Biondo, Giuseppina De Lotto Pordon, Marta Menegus De Ghetto, Brigida Magnoli Tomea, Lucia Palatini Massarotto, Annetta De Luca Bertoni, (Joseph’s mom) Teresa Martinelli Pampanin, Marina De Lotto Ossi, Giuseppina De Sandre Belli, Ida Costantini Morris and Adele Magnoli. Eventually, enough funds were raised and on June 8, 1918, the cornerstone of the new Sacred Heart Church was laid at the corner of Clifton and Ackerman Aves. However, with World War I raging on and resources at a

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Joseph Pampanin holds a photo that dates back to around 1916. It contains the members of the church that helped produce a play to raise funds for a new Sacred Heart Church, which was dedicated on May 15, 1920.

179 Randolph Avenue Clifton, New Jersey 07011

premium, the City of Clifton put a moratorium on all unnecessary construction. The ceasefire in Nov. 1918 ended the construction ban, but the cold weather forced construction crews to delay work until March 5, 1919. Just over a year later, the long awaited church was completed and on May 15, 1920, Bishop John J. O’Connor of Newark dedicated the new building, which still stands today. Sacred Heart

Church has served the community for 90 years at the very same location. The parish has always been a part of Pampanin’s life. He was born in 1923 and baptized there. Pampanin and his late wife, Magda, were wed in Sacred Heart on Oct. 7, 1961. Thanks to the ladies pictured above, the church remains the center of the community. Pampanin wants them remembered for their contributions.

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In Lakeview, 3 Days of Love & Fun My holiday memories all have their roots in the uniqueness of our family. My mom was one of four sisters who grew up in Lakeview. Each married and settled down and raises their own families within blocks of one another in that same section of town. So cousins were more like brothers and sisters; we went to the same schools, played and cheered for the same teams, and spent all of our holidays together. My dad had only one brother, who also married one of the sisters, so we even had the same grandparents and extended families on both sides! Each sister was assigned a holiday—ours was Christmas. And none of the holidays in my family lasted one day. Thanksgiving was the day and the day after. Christmas was the eve, the day and the day after, which also happened to be my mom’s birthday. So my Christmas holidays always began the same way, which I will remember and cherish forever. On Christmas Eve morning, I would wake up to the delicious smells of a big Italian three-day feast being prepared, among the chatter of the four sisters. I would lie in my bed, taking in the aroma of the gravy (meat sauce) simmering, mixed with the smell of fresh roasted coffee brewing, listening to the chit-chat of four women who nudged and poked and laughed with each other as only those who are very close can. I would anticipate the next three days, knowing that they would be filled with 20 or 30 people constantly in and out of the house, eating, drinking, game playing, singing and telling jokes that were sometimes so silly, including reenactments for special effects that were so ridiculous, that we would all end up wiping away tears of group laughter. 34

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

by Ellen Nunno Corbo

In 1991, from left: Laura Gulli, Marge Nunno, Ellen Nunno, Lucy Sorbello. Below: Stacey Corbo walking, behind her is Brianne Moore and her mom Paula. At left, Ellen Nunno Corbo, Ronnie Gulli, Michele Nunno, Betty Pizzulo, Lucy Sorbello and Ellen’s Mom, Ellen Nunno.

We would exchange real gifts, but we looked forward even more to the exchange of gag gifts that had become a family tradition. On Thanksgiving, we would each draw a name out of a hat. Then we would have to buy a funny gag gift, specific to that person, to exchange on Christmas Eve. Newcomers would know that they were really part of the family if they were included in the grab bag. There was lots of secret nameswitching and bargaining behind

the scenes, depending on what had gone on during the year. The inside jokes among us were always changing with new experiences providing new opportunities for teasing one another. I guess you could say that the Nunno family tradition for Christmas was three days of love and fun with a big group of people you knew intimately and loved unconditionally, followed by five days of rest, before you got together and did it all again for New Year’s!

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


From left, Clifton High School 1978 grad Greg Chananie waits for snow; Councilman Peter Eagler was the 2008 Pulaski Parade Grand Marshal; and former Temple Beth Shalom rabbi, Stanley Skolnik, now serves at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield.

In the Polish and Slavic tradition, we always gathered for Christmas Eve supper. Days of preparation would go into it because the night before Christmas is considered even more important than Christmas dinner. The symbolism involved in Christmas Eve dinner goes back hundreds of years. There’s the meatless dinner with mushrooms from Europe and bread that you can smell baking in the house for days. It’s a fast day, so you’re sitting down to eat and you’re waiting to eat that supper. As kids, we’d look outside for the first stars so we could eat. Everybody would bring food. My aunt would start baking on Columbus Day to get ready for Christmas. There would be like 2,000 cookies. It varied over the years how many people would attend. At my grandparents’ home in Garfield, there could be 40 or 50 people. Santa, played by my father, would visit on Christmas Eve, so we didn’t have that Christmas morning experience. Santa would come for us after dinner and then we’d go home and go to bed, so our parents could go to midnight mass. On Dec. 8, which is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, my mother would always take my brother John, my sister Virginia and me to the Radio City Christmas Show. After church, we’d get on the bus and go to New York. At that time in the ’60s, there was a movie after the stage performance, so it was a big three-hour thing. We’d also go to Levy Brothers in Styertowne to sit on Santa’s lap and take a picture.

My family and I took a trip to Israel in 1983 to visit my daughter who was studying there. We were in the ultra orthodox west Jerusalem neighborhood of Meah Shearim. At the end of the Sabbath services, the residents exited the synagogue into the darkness of the night and lit Chanukah candles outside their homes. They started filling the street with light that hadn’t been there. That was a beautiful memory of sharing the miracle together. At temple Beth Shalom in Israel, we enjoyed bringing the parents of the religious school kids in and having a Chanukah party, during which everybody got to prepare the latkes. It was a whole morning of activities. The smells were extraordinary and the tastes were outrageous. We also used to take a group to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was a fun tradition for us Jewish people around Christmas time. It also made sense because the portion of the Torah read around Chanukah is about Joseph. When we were living in a small town in Maryland, in order to get to the synagogue, we had to pass through the downtown. The kids were little and they didn’t know anything about other cultures. People had begun to string Christmas decorations around Thanksgiving time and there was a Santa with a reindeer sleigh hanging up and our kids didn’t know what that was, so we told them it was Old King Cole and his donkeys.

as told by Peter Eagler

as told by Rabbi Stanley Skolnik


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


For those who say it doesn’t snow like it used to, they may be right. At left is Charles ‘Skip’ Kazer on Wonham St. in the snowstorm of 1962. Note the steeple of St. John Kanty Church in the background. Above, Fr. Thomas Abraham is pastor of St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church on Third St.

It must be in 1992 when I celebrated Christmas mass for the first time as a priest at St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church on Third St., said Fr. Thomas Abraham. “I also love getting my family together and getting gifts and giving gifts,” he said, adding: “We follow the traditional customs with the only difference being that we serve special Indian foods such as beef cutlets.” I would like it to snow more in town because it looks so much cleaner, said Craig Chananie. “I’ve been a maintenance worker at the Clifton Board of Education for 30 years, so it’s more work for me but I don’t mind. When it does snow, we have to get in early to start cleaning the 48 school busses before 6 am, so they are ready to go. But looking back to when I was a kid, I remember the whole town being shut down when it snowed, and we’d all head up to Garret Mountain to go sleigh riding. I don’t think kids do that anymore.”


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

One of my favorite times was going to Racy’s Pond in the winter to ice skate. I grew up a few blocks away on Maple Pl.,” recalled Berkeley Cooper, at left, who now lives in Columbia, South Carolina. “ I’d skate with my sister, Wileeta Cooper Wigfall, and my best friend, Johnny Lavin, and his family. We just had so much fun playing and racing around the pond in front of Christopher Columbus Junior High School. Being that my birthday is on Dec. 24, I got my birthday gifts and Christmas gifts at the same time. Another Clifton holiday memory that I remember was the Mustang football games on Thanksgiving.”

The blizzard of 1996 was so fun because it gave true meaning to the dream of a white Christmas,” said Kristen Sabestinas. “Snow was everywhere and you could barely get out the door of the Richfield Village apartments in which my family lived. My mom made a snow chair for me and my sister to sit in, like we were princesses, along side the apartment building.” Every year my mom, sister and I would bake cookies from Thanksgiving until Christmas to bring to family and friends, wrote Jamie Wohr. “I have continued this tradition with my children making cookies, breads and candy to share with our family and friends and as a way to say thank you to everyone who lent a hand throughout the year.” On Christmas Eve, after the stores are closed and most everyone is in bed, I walk. Nowhere in particular. I just enjoy the quiet streets, and the memories. My grandmother, sitting in an easy chair on Christmas Eve, sipping a hot toddy, then later getting up and doing an Irish job. By the way, what’s a hot toddy anyway, grandma? During the walk, I see my father, looking a lot younger than the very last time I saw him. He’s coming through the front door with a Christmas tree trailing behind him, pine needles in his hair, laughing. There’s my daughter, all of two days old on her first Christmas. We bring her home and place her under-

Casey and Carly Hawrylko Belgrade Ave., 1998.

neath the tree. You done real good this year, Santa. I see the smile of a nephew, feel the hug of a former love, smell a long-gone turkey roasting. The wind picks up now, freezing all the senses for a moment. It’s all there, everything, and then it’s gone. Until the next walk on Christmas Eve. A favorite old essay by former staff writer Robert Wahlers.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Raise a glass, raise a ruckus: The Hafelfingers have a very longstanding tradition here on Madison Ave in Dutch Hill. It began in Maureen’s (Hoey) childhood I believe, of bringing in the New Year by going outside at midnight and banging pots and pans on porches and on the street. We neighbors joined in a few years back, adding musical instruments and some bubbly.

Greetings from Dutch Hill! One Rose family tradition that I kept from my childhood is candles in each window at Christmas. (I even use the electric candles from my parents; though I’ve started to replace them with ones that have switches on the cord, so we don’t have to unplug or twist the bulbs each night.) I’ve attempted, though it hasn’t happened each year, to make the candle lighting special and not so timeconsuming, by beginning on Dec. 1 with lighting one candle for each night up till Christmas Day. It helps to have 25 windows! The Gwyn family addition is the evergreen swags that grace our porch each year with red bows (that’s husband Jim Gynn) on the porch columns. We’ve been doing both for the 18+ years we’ve lived in Dutch Hill. by Emily Rose

View The Giblin Report Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Channel 76

Happy Holidays to All! Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin 1333 Broad St., Clifton, NJ 07013 office: 973-779-3125 1814


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

98 Homecooked Christmas Meals For 98 year-old Lee Danko, the holidays are all about enjoying a homecooked meal with family. This year she spent Thanksgiving with her nephew and his family in Mountainside, and for Christmas she will be in Fairfield with her niece and her family. The spry soon-to-be centenarian can remember the big family gatherings she enjoyed on the holidays as she was growing up, which included her parents, her two brothers and sister as well as aunts, uncles and cousins. “My mother always made homemade macaroni and ravioli, and all kinds of delicious cookies and cakes,” she said. “We always ate at home. We never went to a restaurant for a holiday meal.” The Passaic native also remembers the whole family going to midnight mass together on Christmas Eve. “In my day, we all lived close by, so we would always be all together for the holidays,” she said.

Photo & story by Carol Leonard

“Today, families live all over the place and sometimes circumstances don’t allow them to come home for the holidays.” A widow since 1992, Lee still decorates her Rosemawr home for the holidays with Christmas flowers and a wreath in the window. “I don’t do as much as I used to, but I try to make it cheerful,” she said. Although sending out Christmas cards was always another one of Lee’s favorite holiday traditions, she won’t be writing out any cards this year. An increasing problem with macular degeneration has made it difficult for her to see well enough to write out cards and address envelopes. With the use of a magnifying glass, Lee can read newspapers, books and her mail, so she is still looking forward to receiving a lot of holiday cards from her friends and family.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Kirkuk Christmas As a Christian in Iraq, Razzuk Faraq, 61, didn’t experience much religious oppression in his private life. But the computer programmer recalled that his Christianity impeded his ability to grow in his government job. “As a Christian, you can’t get higher ranks in the army or the government,” explained Faraq, who worked as a computer programmer for the Iraqi government. While Iraq is primarily a Muslim nation, Iraq’s Syriac Christian minority represents roughly 3% of the population, most of hwom live in the northern region. That’s down from a high of about 10% in the 1950’s. But with two wars since 1990, the numbers are in constant flux.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays...


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

“The origins of Christianity in Iraq starts 300 years after Christ,” Faraq proudly said. “We are from those people.” Faraq and his family lived in the Kirkuk region in Northern Iraq until 1999, when they came to the United States so that his elder son, Sinan, could escape the country’s mandatory military service. “We settled in Ocean Township and moved to Clifton six years ago,” he said. Faraq lives on Sixth Ave. with his wife, Manal, and his sons, Sinan and Layth. They regularly attend St. Ann Melkite Christian Church in West Paterson, where they’ll be on Christmas Eve. After services, they return home to eat with family and friends. “We cook a lot of foods common to our culture,” said Faraq. “Maybe she [Manal] will cook a stuffed rooster. Also we have Indian foods, like viyani, which is rice and Indian spices.” The holidays can often be difficult for those who have recently lost a loved one. But Marrocco Memorial Chapel on Colfax Ave. offers family members a place to go and remember those who have died. “We started it back in 2000 and we invite all our families and anyone from the public who has had a death in the past year,” said manager James J. Marrocco. “It’s very difficult for people spending their first Christmas without the person they lost.” The Dec. 9 Holiday Memorial Program begins at 7:15 pm as a guest speaker shares some thoughts on loss. A five part candle lighting ceremony is next with candles being lit to represent grief, courage, memories, love and hope. That’s followed by a video remembrance featuring photos of those who have passed. Reservations are not required, but requested, so that photos of the deceased can be included. The program concludes with family members being called up to receive Christmas ornaments. “It’s not a cure all, but it helps them get through the holidays,” said Marrocco. “It helps the healing and gets them into the holidays.” To participate in this free Holiday Program, call 973-249-6111.

Oasis of Light: St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Parish Celebrates 100th Anniversary For generations of Clifton families and their neighbors, the parish of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church has been a spiritual anchor and at the center of their community. Established in Passaic in 1910 by 38 families, the parish kicks off a yearlong celebration of its centennial on December 6, the Feast Day of the church’s patron saint, St. Nicholas. Located between Lexington Ave. and Hope St., the church building stands on the crest of a small hill, its warm gold-tone brick and gold gild around the icons above the main door seem to reflect sunshine even on the gloomiest of days. Co-chair of the Jubilee Committee, Marion Hrubec, a member of the parish for more than 60 years called St. Nicholas “our little oasis of light on President Street.” Stories by Irene Jarosewich Photos by Mychail Newmerzyckyj December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Parish Elder—Perhaps Eldest—Julia Ressetar Julia Ressetar has lived in Clifton since 1926, first on Ackerman Ave., and then for the past 63 years, in the Lakeview section. She celebrated her 100th birthday on October 11 with an open house for 150 guests and even more flowers. “It was beautiful! Can’t tell you how many people said they loved me!” she chuckled. The eighth child of 15, she came to Clifton with her family from the coal mining town of Ramey, Pennsylvania. Many of the original founders of the parish moved to the area from Pennsylvania in the first decades of the last century. In the factories and farms along the Passaic River, they hoped to find a better life than the one offered by coal mines. “St. Nicholas was the center of our life,” she said of the church. “My parents never spoke English, and during the Depression, everyone helped each other.” She was an active member of the Ladies Auxiliary for decades, and “finally gave in and joined the church seniors,” she added with a wry smile. “I love to hear the parishioners go from house to house caroling,” she said, “though not me – no! no! – I don’t have a voice!” and then turned around and began to sing a beautiful Ukrainian Christmas carol. During the World War II, Julia worked at the Western Electric facility on Main Avenue and later at Bendix Corp. in Teterboro, assembling units for the top-secret Pershing Missile project. She cheerfully shared a favorite memory from her time at Bendix, as if it were yesterday. “One day I brought one of my Ukrainian dishes to work—potato pyrohy (pierogies) with browned onions. I wanted to heat them up for the girls for lunch and used the hot plate I used for soldering, which we were not allowed to do. “Just then, one of the engineers who worked on the design of the Pershing Missile was on tour at the plant. He walked into assembly room with my boss where the smell of warming pyrohy, butter and onions filled the air. Boy, was I scared I’d lose my job! “I told my boss I knew what I was doing was wrong. I really began to apologize, but the engineer told me to stop. He was German and said he hadn’t smelled anything so good since he left his mother’s kitchen. So quickly, I gave him my pot for lunch. My boss came back later and told me that I was off the hook—the engineer complimented me on my work and on my cooking! So guess who he was?! [Wernher] von Braun, the engineer responsible for making the Pershing Missile!”

The property also includes two brick homes where clergy live, a school and a hall where the varenyky ladies still make and sell the handmade dumplings five days a week. Behind the hall on the macadam parking lot is where the church members gather the first Sunday after Labor Day for their annual parish picnic. Around the corner on Hope Ave. is the Ukrainian Center, or “Uke Center” - a social organization which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Also on Hope is a branch of the Self Reliance (NJ) Federal Credit Union, a Ukrainian financial institution.

The neighborhood is now also home to a Mexican community and other people of Hispanic descent who often rent the halls from the church or the Uke Center to celebrate birthdays, baptisms and other events. And while many of the post WWII Ukrainian immigrants who first settled in the neighborhood now have moved to Clifton, or upper Passaic and Morris Counties, there are still many who live within continued on page 50


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Sacred Art: Opening Hearts... to be Closer to God... Icons, sacred images that are either painted or composed of mosaic tiles, glass or textiles have been an important part of the religious traditions of Eastern Catholics for centuries. Of the more than one billion Catholics worldwide, about 21 million are Eastern Catholics, approximately five million of which are Ukrainian Catholics who follow the Byzantine rite. So, when St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church began to undergo restorations several years ago, the parish council decided that to prepare for the 100th anniversary of their parish, new icons should adorn all the walls and the ceiling of the church. “Filling a church with iconography is part of our heritage,” noted Helen Newmerzyckyj, cochair of the Jubilee Committee, “and this effort was undertaken consciously to be completed by our centennial.” All the new icons are being painted. However, much of the original iconography made from other materials remains, such as tiled mosaics of the Mother of God and St. Nicholas on either side of the altar, large stained glass windows, and the iconostas, a screen of carved wood and icons that separates the sanctuary from the nave. Besides icons, intricately carved dark walnut wood gilded in gold accents will frame the icons on the walls of the church, as well frame the iconostas, and will provide a unifying element throughout the church.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

The history of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the 20th century is a tortured one. In 1946, Soviet authorities banned the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukraine and arrested most of the Church’s priests and bishops. Church buildings were confiscated, religious artifacts destroyed. Ukrainian immigrants throughout the world, however, including at parishes such as St. Nicholas, sustained their traditions. “It is the careful transmission of tradition from generation to generation that is the strength of the Ukrainian Catholic Church,” emphasized Rostyslav Pohorilets, who along with fellow artist Ihor Derevianiy is now working on placing icons on the ceiling of the church. Planned for the central ceiling dome is an icon of Christ Pantokrator (Ruler of All), one of the most well known of Byzantine holy images. “It is specifically in the Ukrainian tradition of icon painting to use lots of blue around images of the Pantokrator,” said Pohorilets, “the outer edges start dark blue and fade into a bright light blue around the head of Christ, symbolizing ‘I am the Light’.” The icon will fill the entire dome and be completed by year’s end.

“It is specifically in the Ukrainian tradition of icon painting to use lots of blue around images of the Pantokrator,” said Rostyslav Pohorilets, “the outer edges start dark blue and fade into a bright light blue around the head of Christ, symbolizing ‘I am the Light’.”

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


“Now,” says Rev. Andrij Dudkevych, pastor of St. Nicholas, “the restoration and expansion of the iconography throughout the church, is to prepare the church to serve the parish for the next 100 years.” James J. Marrocco, proprietor of Marrocco Memorial Chapel on Colfax Ave., whose family has been in business in Clifton since the beginning of the 20th century is funding the central icon of the Pantokrator. “We’ve been serving the parishioners of St. Nicholas for decades,” said Marrocco. “I wanted to thank the parishioners and support the parish. I have been to Europe many times. I have seen many churches with beautiful artwork. Many churches in Italy have beautiful paintings and mosaics and a certain image of this icon drew me in particular. When traveling in Italy, we saw this beautiful painting in Sicily, in a cathedral built by William Second in 1173. In the cathedral, in the city of

Monreale, in the central dome was a painting of the same icon of Christ that is now being painting at St. Nicholas.” Art historians have long known that some of the finest examples of this Byzantine icon are in Italy. Many icons from the times of the Byzantine Empire were destroyed during the Ottoman invasions. Centuries later, Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and Russia destroyed major churches, as well as the icons within them. However, in certain regions of Italy, where examples of Moorish and Byzantine influences remain, ancient images of the Pantokrator can still be found. Throughout the centuries, the formal and dramatic beauty of icons has drawn people to reflection and prayer. “People receive God’s spirit in many ways,” commented Rev. Andriy Dudkevych, pastor of St. Nicholas, “through music, through prayer, as well as through icons. Iconography is part of our religious tradition and in our church we want to re-establish this tradition— to open people’s hearts so that they can be closer to God.”

St. Nick’s interior top left during services in April; bottom, as parishioners worship today, above, the scaffolding installation. 48

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


walking distance of the church and the community remains. Many who left return often to the “old neighborhood” with constant movement on weekends between the Uke center, the credit union, the church, youth group meetings and Ukrainian Saturday School. “St. Nicholas was the center of our life,” said Julia Ressetar, one of the oldest members of the parish. And, like Julia Ressetar, “the center of our life” are the exact words that Helen Newmerzyckyj of Montclair Heights also used to describe the parish at St. Nicholas. As the other co-chair of the Jubilee Committee, she along with her husband Mychail, who now serves as the church and school secretary, have been active members of the parish for decades. As the daughter of post-war immigrants in the 1950s, Helen said, “St. Nicholas is where I grew up, went to the school. The school was a huge support for immigrants. Our parents went to work and the sisters (nuns) cared for us a great deal. We received a wonderful education and could keep our religious traditions.” One of the traditions that is being fully revived at the church is the restoration of icons on all the walls and ceilings. “As Ukrainian Catholics, we are Byzantine rite, and icons are an important part of our religious heritage,” said Newmerzyckyj. Several years ago, the parish council decided to undertake this project and launched a campaign to gath-

er contributions from parishioners, as well as donations from the community, to undertake the project. A music teacher at Clifton’s Christopher Columbus Middle School, Sonya Capar, who sings in the parish choir, is preparing the centennial history book that will be distributed next October at the banquet to culminate the yearlong celebration. continued on next page

Fr. Andriy Dudkevych, his wife Mariya and their son Ivan at the Baptism of their daughter, Marta Maria, on Nov. 30, 2008.

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

The Ukrainian Center Inc. 240 Hope Avenue, Passaic We are proud to be at the heart of the Ukrainian Community for the past 50 years—and we look forward to generations of service to come. Our spacious Banquet Hall with a band stage & dance floor is perfect for weddings and other events. We also offer a smaller Party Room. Open to all—you do not have to be a member to rent our facilities.

For info, call 973-473-3379 Vera Czyrniansky • Stefan Zurawski Organization for the Defense of Lemko Western Ukraine, Branch No. 4 The ODLWU, Inc. honors and seeks to foster Ukrainian language and values and embraces the idea of an independent, unitary Ukrainian State embracing all ethnographic Ukrainian territory. Wasyl Harhaj, President • Anna Harhaj, Secretary CYM—Ukrainian American Youth Association, Branch No. 4 To organize, nurture, and educate youth in the spirit invoked by the ideals God & Ukraine. Emphasis is placed on one’s role as a citizen of one’s country and one’s role as a member of the Ukrainian community. Roman Andrach, President • Suzan Skala, Secretary

The Ukrainian American Veterans, Post 17, Passaic We send packages to Ukrainian American Soldiers. If you know of any soldiers or service members abroad, please call 973-225-3648. Commander James Fedorko

Ukrainian National Home Foundation Proud to be serving and aiding Ukrainians worldwide. Walter Rudakewycz, President • John Czuczak, Secretary

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School was established in 1921, and today, the tightly interwoven relations between the church, the parish school and youth organizations are still strong. According to records, “the very, very of Ukrainian immigrants, those that first mass for this parish,” she said, “was arrived after 1991 following the colheld in Clifton, on Lakeview Avenue, in lapse of the Soviet Union. Today, more 1910.” After that, events moved quickly than 400 families are registered at St. and the first church building on Van Nicholas, mostly post-war immigrants, Buren St., which is off Hope Ave. in their children and grandchildren, and Passaic was completed in 1911. with each year, the new wave of immiThe parish began to expand in the grants is steadily increasing parish late 1940s with the influx of post-war numbers. Rev. Andriy estimates that immigrants and under the dedicated more than 50 percent of the parishleadership of Rev. Walter Bilynsky. He ioners are Clifton residents. is remembered as a strong leader who Over two generations ago, the served the parish for 34 years. During parish council saw the future of its that time, St. Nick’s acquired several community among its children. Back properties and in 1972, the present in 1921, with more than 500 families church on President St. was completed. registered with the parish, among them Nearly four decades later, a mix of close to 250 school-age children, the The Van Buren St. Church, circa 1950. old and new generation of parishparish council voted to establish St. ioners are investing in their landmark church again. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School. “Now,” said the pastor, Rev. Andriy Dudkevych, with The tightly interwoven relations between the church, a smile, “the restoration and expansion of the iconograthe parish school, and Ukrainian youth organizations phy throughout the church, is to prepare the church to could be seen on a recent evening at a meeting of parserve the parish for the next 100 years.” Arriving from ents at the Richfield home of Clifton residents Daria continued on page 54 Ukraine in 2003, Rev. Andriy is among the latest wave and Orest Temnycky.

Founder Joseph T. Bizub who in 1923 established Bizub's Funeral Home at 205 Third St. in Passaic. For three generations, our family has proudly served our community. Tim and Toby with their dad Tom.

“As we reflect on the past & consider the future, we hope you find peace & health in the New Year.”

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

1313 Van Houten Avenue Clifton, NJ 07013 Phone 973 546-2000 Timothy J. Bizub, Mgr.

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45 Years of Sacred Song: Professor Wasyl Yadlowsky the parish held a testimonial dinner for him in 1986, and the plaque was permanently placed to commemorate his service to the church, which began in 1941. Wasyl Yadlowsky’s nearly five decades of service is still remembered whenever a choir member sings a liturgy, baptism or funeral. Yadlowsky is pictured in an undated photo, with his daughter, Nadia. The tradition of the cantor or diak goes back to the villages of Ukraine. An experienced singer who, while remaining a part of the congregation, leads the people’s singing of the responses during liturgy – that is, the formal, public worship of God. In many cases, the diak was the village school teacher but his primary role, however, was to lead the singing in church, and remind the faithful of the music for each hymn.

Like sacred art, music is an important part of the Ukrainian Catholic liturgy. And for those who celebrate services in the choir loft at St. Nicholas, they may notice a small a plaque marking an incredible milestone. For 45 years, Wasyl Yadlowsky served as the cantor or diak and choir director of the church. Always referred to as Professor Yadlowsky, he was honored for his service when

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Now all four families have sent and are sending their children to the church school. “At St. Nicks, we received an excellent education, and so have our children,” said Halaburda Patti, who served as church secretary, school secretary and parish trustee. “The school offers a solid foundation and St. Nick’s students later often appear on honor rolls, take AP classes.” In fact, her daughter Alexa was the CHS November Student of the Month. “The school and the church are essential to providing the continuity in our community,” said D. Temnycky, who along with husband Orest, a banker, values the preservation of Ukrainian tradition that both the church and school offer. Each year the Temnyckys are part of a group of parents who bring their children to the homes of parishioners during the Christmas season to sing traditional Ukrainian carols. In addition to maintain their unique Ukrainian Catholic heritage, “It’s also important that our children are grounded in universal Christian values that they then bring into middle school and high school, which can be Orest and Daria Tymnycky and school children continuing the Ukrainian tradi- morally challenging places for kids tion of Koliada, the visiting of parishioners homes to sing Christmas carols. these days,” added O. Temnycky.

They were joined by Lecia Peltyszyn, Daria Halaburda Patti and Oksana Hnatczuk, all also of Clifton. D. Temnycky, Halaburda Patti and Peltyszyn, second generation Ukrainian Americans, are graduates of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School, which has always offered classes K-8. Hnatczuk, originally from Detroit and O. Temnycky, of Newark, are graduates of Ukrainian Catholic schools in their hometowns and felt immediately comfortable with St. Nicholas.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Many Ukrainian churches and schools were built from the sale of varenyky, a Ukrainian dish also called pyrohy. It is a tradition that continues at St. Nick’s today, thanks to these ladies and others who volunteer to make the homemade dumplings. Pirogies and babka are for sale at the Church Hall on President St., 9 am to 3 pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Call 973-778-9734.

Peltyszyn, who teaches at the school, does not find it surprising that she is part of the same community for decades. “Our parent gave us very deep roots here. We value this. This community is where we stayed and grew, and now we’re passing this on to our children.” This feeling of roots is something Capar understands perfectly well. After decades of traveling the world with her husband’s job, in 1987 “I returned to my roots,” she said, “and came back to Clifton.” The St. Nicholas school graduate now lives with her mother Irena in Montclair Heights in the house built by her father Antin. The history of the parish reflects the complex history of so many residents in Clifton. On one hand, there were brutal wars, the trials of immigration, economic hardship, on the other, the love of family, comfort of community, joy of celebrating traditions.

Like kolach, the traditional Ukrainian braided bread, for the past 100 years, the parishioners of St. Nicholas wove these separate strands of history together into their own golden braid of faith and community.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Parish Teen: CHS November Student of the Month Seventeen-year old Alexa Patti received one of the top honors given in Clifton High School, that of Student of the Month. Nominated by teachers for a combination of scholastic achievement and school and community activities, Alexa was chosen from among more than 680 CHS seniors. A Clifton native who lives in Montclair Heights with parents Daria and Joseph Patti, older sister Larysa, now in medical school, and younger brother Christian, a CHS freshman, Alexa is an honor roll student. While her AP classes keeps her busy, Alexa also finds time for track, the Marching Mustang Band, in which she plays the piccolo, and the school orchestra, in which she plays the flute. Though she really loves music, it seems her passion is math and science, especially biology, which she hopes to study in college. A graduate of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School, Alexa credits a number of sources for her success. In addition to the teachers and staff at St. Nick’s and CHS, she believes her involvement with the Ukrainian scouting organization Plast and her family, especially her grandparents, Clifton residents Anna and Rostyslav Halaburda, with helping her understand and appreciate her Ukrainian heritage, as well as learning to speak the language. She said the ability to communicate in Ukrainian is a special treasured skill. “I love hearing stories from my “baba” and “dido” (grandparents), hearing about how they lived in Ukraine, what it was like then and now seeing what is like today.” In the summer of 2007, Alexa attended the International Jamboree of the Plast scouting organization that was held in Canada. “It was one of the most incredible experiences I ever had,” she said.

Alexa Patti with her grandparents, Rostyslaw and Anna Halaburda, who she cited as mentors in life and heritage.

“More than 5,000 Ukrainian scouts from around the world came to Canada. We met in Toronto, then broke off into groups to camp for 10 days throughout various parts of Canada.” All the campers returned to Ottawa for the closing ceremonies, where several more thousand people came, she explained. “I got to meet people from everywhere, from all over the US, from Australia, from Spain,” said Alexa, noting that her ability to speak Ukrainian makes the world a little more familiar place. “We understand each other because we all have Ukrainian backgrounds, so we had something in common. I made many friends that I stay in touch with. I text them and it feels like they live next door, even though they live many miles away. I’m very proud to say that I now have friends all over the world.” The next jamboree will be held in Ukraine in 2012 to celebrate the organization’s centennial. “I would really love to go,” said Alexa, and then sighed, “but I’ll probably be too busy with college.”

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Sviat Vechir: The Holy Eve Tradition of 12 Dishes Story by Christine Kotlar In our traditional Ukrainian household, the celebration of the Christmas holidays began on Christmas Eve, our Sviat Vechir or Holy Eve, with a special evening meal of twelve dishes, symbolic of the Twelve Apostles. Preparation for this traditional meal still began during the summer harvest and early autumn months as we picked fruit from our cherry, plum, pear and apple trees and dried a variety of mushrooms that would be included in the meatless dishes to be served on Sviat Vechir. Months later, in the days before the big night, my mother commandeered the kitchen, as my three sisters and I were relegated to roles of kitchen help, servers and clean-up committee. When my mother, Johanna, passed away eleven years ago, stunned family members worried about how we would continue this tradition that everyone so looked forward to celebrating together each year. My sisters and I managed to prepare the meal that year—even if the varenyky (pierogies) were stinkers— but we vowed to hone our skills in the art of making the dishes for this special evening. I would make sure to be home the week of Christmas to begin the shopping two days beforehand. Our first stop would be a 9 am visit to Corrados. The place was already packed with people buzzing about, pushing their filled carts into jammed aisles, carrying imaginary lists in their heads as they scanned the shelves for ingredients to use in their diverse cultural holiday meals. We picked up bags of onions and potatoes, lots of flour and eggs, beets for the borscht and plenty of garlic before heading into the crowd at the fish counter, where taking a number was an adventure unto itself.

While I waited my turn, inspecting the fresh cod, my father went in another direction for the mixed nuts—walnuts, hazel, almonds—in the shell for cracking. He meticulously inspected the selection and always found chocolate-covered rum balls that would delight us all. We made our way back home after more stops... the Garfield bakery on River Rd. for the best rye bread and a braided bread, a kolach, as well as a Polish market for fresh herring. continued on page 60

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


The day before Christmas Eve is the big workday in the kitchen, I begin organizing, clearing counters for work areas, assembling items to make the 20 dozen varenyky necessary to satisfy our large extended family. My sisters arrive with huge bags of ingredients for preparing the holiday meal and the work begins. I became most proficient in mixing the flour and rolling it into thin dough for Lesia Kozicky, Christina Kotlar, Julian Kotlar, Petrusia Paslawsky and Nadia Dubanowitz. filling. Two other pairs of While their dad passed away this year, his traditions will be carried on for generations. hands became deft at The celebration blens religious rituals with popular folk tightly pressing the edges of the half-moon-shaped traditions. In the past, in village homes in Ukraine, the varenyky, another sister supervised the boiling pot of host would toss a spoonful of the sticky kutia towards the water, keeping a count of how many dumplings were ceiling, and if it stuck, it meant that there would be a good tossed in and boiled until they floated to the top, before harvest in the coming year. The holiday table is always dropping them on trays to cool and be counted. set with embroidered linens and candles. The evening As this assembly line went on, other important dishmeal should be started when the first star appears in the es were being prepared such as the kutia, a cooked sky, symbolizing the star of Bethlehem that guided the wheat, honey, nuts and poppy seed dish that starts this continued on next page Three Kings. Christmas Eve meal.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

The UNA has 40,000 members in the US & Canada with $100 million in assets. Established in 1894, it provides members with life insurance, annuities & endowments. The UNA supports Ukrainian social, cultural & charitable programs. The above cards are available with a donation of $25 for a packet of 12.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


We would all sit down at a long table that stretched from the dining room into the living room. My father welcomed the family with a prayer and a Christmas carol and then passed a plate of blessed wafers and honey to share. In keeping with a popular folk tradition from Ukraine, slivers of garlic would also be on the plate, one sliver was meant to be eaten and the other put in your wallet so that money would always be in there throughout the coming year. The grandchildren carry on the tradition.

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

After the first toast, the evening meal would begin with the grandchildren counting the different dishes to make sure there we had made the obligatory twelve: various fish dishes, hot and cold; borscht with ushka (tiny mushroom-filled dumplings); varenyky; holubtsi (stuffed cabbage filled with wild rice and mushrooms), ending with a compote of harvested fruits, and other deserts like poppy-seed cakes. Eventually, the brother-in-laws would make their way onto the front porch for a cigar and cognac, while my sisters and I sipped my father’s sweet homemade cherry wine, vyshniak. After the meal, my father settled in with a good cognac and chess game with his grandson. Sometimes, carolers would drop by, sometimes family members and neighbors would come after the late-night Christmas Eve liturgy at St. Nicholas. It was a home filled with family and friends and much love. And will always be remembered as such. On Oct. 17, Julian Kotlar passed away, leaving his four daughters, sons-in-laws, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews to carry on the Ukrainian tradition of Sviat Vechir.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


As you begin running down those items on that holiday gift giving list, we remind you to Shop Clifton First! When you support our local merchants, you’ll be helping our city’s economy. And chances are, you’ll be doing business with someone you know. So here are some ideas, names and numbers to help you in your holiday shopping... Oprah featured these Echo wool cashmere gloves with electromagnetic fabric fingertips on her show. Now you can text without going gloveless. Find them and many more unique gifts, especially silver jewelry at Wheels, on Van Houten Ave.

Music & Arts Clifton Music, 1135 Main Ave. Located across from the Post Office, this Clifton institution founded by the late Ronnie Italiano, specializes in vintage doo-wop, R&B and acappela music from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. 973-365-0049 Eden Music, 1163 Main Ave. In Downtown Clifton, shoppers will find this store, owned by Ernesto Tyczynski, which specializes in Latin tunes, from salsa and meringue to cumbia and Latin rock. There’s also sections on artists from almost every Latin American nation. 973-815-0066

Allwood Bike Shop on Market St. and Clifton Speed Center on Main Ave. is where you want to shop if you getting someone on two 64

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

That skateboarder on your list wants to “Rep His City” so get on down to BlackFlag Shoppe on Lakeview Ave. where their hot item is the shop board pictured here. You’ll also find apparel, shoes and lots of accessories to fit that skater lifestyle. Menconi Music Studio, 309 Lakeview Ave. For lessons on all instruments, including voice, owner Annamaria Menconi and her staff make use of a Grand Piano Room, a Composition Room, a Drum Room, and two additional teaching rooms featuring University Upright Piano. 973-253-7500 American Piano Covers, Getty Ave. While some want a piano to be the center of a room, others prefer their 88 keys and all that ivory covered. With more than a quarter century in the business, Alicia Hasting can create a cover to fit most any piano. For the past six years, she has run American Piano Covers with her husband Rafael and their son Jesse, a 2003 CHS grad. Call them 973-246-9144.

Action Theater Conservatory, 68 Union Ave. Owners Joel Robertson and Kathleen Kellaigh and their staff offer professional training to adults, teens and children. Since 1990, ATC offers all levels of acting, dance instruction, TV and film training, musical theatre, voice over, improvisation and performance opportunities including NYC showcases attended by show business industry professionals. 973-772-6998 Clifton Recreation Center, 1232 Main Ave. The Rec Dept. offers a variety of arts related activities and programs for all ages. Look for a new list of winter programs offering arts, as well as athletic leagues, camps, volunteering, pre-school, rec facilities, special needs programs, family trips and more. 973-470-5956

Lefty’s Sports Academy on Bloomfield Ave. is offering winter clinics and camps for both softball and baseball players. They also have a nice selection of gifts for ball players of all ages. Clifton Community School, held at CHS, offers classes and instruction in many arts, from sculpture and sketching to photography and PhotoShop as well as ballroom dancing, hip hop and music appreciation. A full schedule of winter offerings will be published in early January. To get on their list, go to American Coin on Main Ave. carries items to commemorate the 2009 World Series Champion New York Yankees. This 24k gold overlay coin is a perfect gift for the Bronx Bomber fan in your life. • Echo “Texting” Gloves (on Oprah’s “O” list) • Long Semi-Precious Bead Chains Ruby, Sapphire, Garnet, & more... • Votivo Candles • Liz Palacios Jewelry

973-472-6046 • Open 7 Days December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


The Clifton Arts Center, located on the City Hall campus at 900 Van Houten Ave., is a diverse art gallery open year round with a changing array of exhibits. Buy the art lover in your life a one year membership or just stop in to see what’s new. Call 973-472-5499. Barnes & Noble, the franchise book store, has a two story location in Clifton Commons. Authors often frequent this large location for book signings. Gift cards are also a nice idea. 973-779-5500,

Corrado’s offers gift baskets filled with a variety of items and at many price options. View their selection at Footnotes Bookstore & Learning Center, in the Styretowne Shopping Center, primarily stocks romantic novels. However, they offer a select mix of other titles, both new and used. Call ahead and see if they’ve got what you’re looking for. 973-779-6122.

Bring a box of Mr. Cupcakes next time you’re invited to a house party and you’ll make the A list. See their menu at That’s Johnny Manganiotis and his dad, John at their Van Houten Ave. store when they opened in 2007.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Michael’s, 348 Rt. 3 East in the Riverfront Center, and AC Moore, in Styretowne Shopping Center, is an ideal place to stop when shopping for an artist in the family. If you’re feeling creative, the arts and crafts available make it easy to create your own personalized gift. Info at or

Everything you need to make it a traditional holiday feast!

We’ll Mail Your Order! For two decades our family has run our meat market using traditional recipes, know-how and tender love and care. We begin with the highest quality meats, blend it with the finest spices and offer you food which praises the tastes and inspires the soul. We hope to see you soon! • Pork, Beef & Meat Products • Home Styled Smoked Sausage • Salami & All Kinds of Cold Cuts • Holiday Hams & Traditional Foods • Hungarian Delicacies • Spices & European & Hungarian Sweets

The Jozsa Family Marika, Andrew & Mike

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Pets and Outdoors Corrado’s Pet Market on Getty Ave. is a super store that sells everything for your pets—except live animals. Open seven days and neatly organized from wall to wall, the store is animal friendly, loaded with great merchandise and staffed by knowledgeable people. They have just added professional grooming at the store, so give them a call to find out more: 973-859-2599.

Don’t forget about Fido this month. Angels of Animals offers pet photos with Santa on Dec. 11 and 18 at Petco on Rt. 3. Photos are $8 or two for $15. Proceeds help the group’s rescue efforts.

Ask Joe Hanrahan (you may know him from Infatuation Hair Salon on Market St.) what’s the secret to hauling in a 20 pound, 38 inch striped bass in the Jersey Surf, and he’ll tell you good tackle, rods and reels. So where does he get his gear? “Melters, and no where else sir!”


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Meltzer’s Sporting Goods is owned and operated by Rosemawr resident Billy Meltzer. An avid outdoorsman, he lives the lifestyle that is sold at his Outwater Lane store, which is in Garfield. For hunting and fishing gear and all the friendly and free fish stories you can swap, visit this one of a kind retailer. And as the slogan goes, “Once you shop Meltzer’s, you’ll go no where else sir!” 973-478-7647.

Corrado’s Garden Center, 600 Getty Ave., has completed its winter transformation and offers poinsettias, wreaths, grave covers and more. Call 973-340-3393 or go to Richfield Farms, 1139 Van Houten Ave., has been serving the community since 1917. This family-owned farm and garden center offers Christmas goods and gifts, including trees. Richfield Farms can also deliver firewood. 973-777-7535,

Flowers and Plants There are a number of Clifton florists who can design arrangements for any occasion, including weddings and other events. Poinsettias can be found at any of these fine retailers, as can roping, wreaths and other greenery to decorate your home. Schneider’s Flowers, 879 Clifton Ave., 973-779-7343, J. Michael’s Florist, 315 Parker Ave., 973-546-8787, Clifton Exchange Florist, Styretowne Shopping Center., 9973-594-0700, Bartlett Greenhouses & Florist, 814 Grove St., 973-471-6480

Here’s a great gift idea, a home aquarium kit. Corrado’s Pet Market offers tanks of all sizes, from starter kits and up. And remember, they offer everything for your pet—except live animals.

Ploch’s Garden Center, 1172 Broad St., 973-471-5555 Halka’s Florist, 633 Van Houten Ave., 973-777-0262

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Jewelry, Watches, Collectibles Before heading to one of the chain stores, check to see the inventory at these Clifton retailers. From diamonds, watches and pearls, to rings, precious stones and new trends in jewelry, you’ll find a diverse selection. Corbo Jewelers, 1055 Bloomfield Ave., Lacki’s Jewelry, 625 Van Houten Ave, 973-471-4075 Morre Lyons, 1354 Clifton Ave., Wheels, 1214 Van Houten Ave., 973-472-6046 Tony’s Jewelers, 1173 Main Ave., 973-779-4080 American Coin & Stamp, 1273 Main Ave., has a variety of holiday options, even for non-collectors. Coin sets and engraved silver ingots can commemorate any special occasion. Rare metals, coins and stamps often increase in value over time. Such gifts are great for young children, who can use the investment when they go to college down the road. There’s also a selection of jewelry on hand. Info, call: 973-772-8100,

Miscellaneous Gift Ideas Able Hardware, 745 Van Houten Ave.. If there is a homeowner who is a fixer upper on your list, get them a gift certificate at this Athenia landmark. They carry Benjamin Moore Paints and just about every little item you need to do repairs around the home. No loud speakers in this store—just friendly owners who are there Mon. to Sat. 973-773-4997 Dayton Homemade Chocolates on Market St., has been serving Clifton since 1912. The business got its moniker from when it was located on the corner of Dayton and Highland Aves., in Passaic, still owned by the Mikardos family. Customers come to the store for milk, white and dark chocolates year round as the family continues to operate in the Old World tradition of their founders. 973-574-0444 70

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Homemade Pirogi at 1295 Main Ave., offers pirogies ranging from potato and cheese to prune filled or sweet cabbage for nearly a quarter of a century. The food is always fresh, delicious and consistent. Open six days a week, don’t wait until Christmas Eve. 973-340-0340. Hookah Paradise This holidays season, be sure to visit one on Main Ave. sells or more of Clifton’s bars and taverns. hookahs and all You may even meet Father Christmas! related items. Hundreds of them are on display, in all sizes, shapes and prices. Shoppers can purchase pipes and tobacco for home use as there is no smoking in the store. Also, they cater parties, renting hookahs, tobaccos—even providing an experienced hookah server. The store is open seven days and offers gift cards in any denomination. 862-591-1539. Clifton author Mary Lotorto-Soroka now has two children’s books available for purchase: Catiana Makes a Family and Who Needs Spots Anyway. Lotorto-Soroka is a 1976 graduate of Clifton High School who in 2003 left her 22 year career in accounting to become an author. Lotorto-Soroka and her late husband, Allen, another 1976 graduate and former owner of Dannie’s Pizzeria on Van Houten Ave., adopted their daughter, Catiana, (pictured) from Medellin, Colombia in November of 2000. Catiana was the inspiration for Catiana Makes a Family, which tells the story of her adoption through a child’s eyes. Who Needs Spots Anyway is a story about self-esteem and feeling different. A third book, Memoirs of a Cat, will be published early next year. Write Mary at

The Chopin Singing Society #182 presents its Sixth Annual Christmas Concert on Dec. 6 at 3:30pm at the Polish-American Cultural Center 1-3 Monroe St., Passaic. The chorus is celebrating its 99th anniversary and is directed by Alicja Rusewicz Pagorek. Tickets are $25 which includes a hot Polish buffet. The group is one of the oldest male independent choral groups still active in the United States. The Society was officially organized on March 10,

1910, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Fryderyk Chopin’s birth. The group sings Polish classical, folk and patriotic songs, Polskie Koledy or Polish Christmas carols, as well as American classic and barber shop songs. Singers are all volunteers and newcomers (you do not have to speak Polish) are welcomed to join. For tickets, call Artur Sroka at 973-777-2345 or John Bubzinski at 973-779-4310 or go to

Parrish Durham dreams of becoming an Olympian in Taekwondo but needs some help from his fellow Cliftonites. The 11 year old sixth grader at Woodrow Wilson Middle School will travel to Las Vegas this February to compete in the US Open Taekwondo Championship. The tournament draws competitors ages 14 and under from around the globe. “He’ll be the next Olympic star out of Clifton,” said Kevin Gorman, a member of the Clifton Moose Lodge, whose son trains with Durham. “His father is a single parent. In these tough economic times, he could use the help.” Gorman is raising funds to help send Durham to Las Vegas. For December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


On Nov. 28, about 150 Mustangs from the CHS Class of 1999 made 3 East Bar and Grill their reunion site. Owned by Clifton’s Frank, Joe and Mike Ponte, here are some photos from that night.

Expert Bathroom Remodeling 72

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Thanksgiving Weekend • CHS 99 Reunion at 3 East Bar & Grill

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Since 1905, We’ve Been Helping Families & Friends


ituated on 80 acres, East Ridgelawn Cemetery and Memorial Park are among the most beautiful sites in northern New Jersey. Through the center of the park is a plateau facing east where we now offer prime plots. Nearby is our Mausoleum where visits are unlimited and unaffected by the weather. Crypts are located in the building and convenient for the elderly and handicapped. To discuss these options or those below, call or visit. • •








December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Sharing and


f you are spent with the commercialism of the holidays, then look around to see ways in which you can assist a neighbor, friend or those in need. A gift does not have to be a present or a monetary thing. It can be as simple as a visit to a homebound relative or neighbor. You can also pitch in and help out the community by being a volunteer at one or more of the Clifton organizations which provide an array of services for youth, seniors, cultural or religious groups and other service organizations. But if sending a check is what you want to do, there are many organizations worthy of your support. Thus, when creating your holiday shopping list this year, consider adding a small donation to a local non-profit organization, such as the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton—that’s their pre-school students pictured above at the Avenue of Flags on Veterans Day. The Club provides a variety of services for Clifton kids from every neighborhood and is still a great place for social events, athletic programs, and after school activities. There are plenty of other ways to assist the needy. Several groups conduct toy and food drives during the first few weeks of December so that unfortunate families are able to celebrate, no matter their financial situation. Other charities are year-round programs, constantly in need of support. On the following pages, we’ll tell you about more ways you can give funds or volunteer.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Some Ideas.. • • • • • • • • •

Hot & Cold Buffet Seafood Platters Anti Pasta Platters Hors d’ourves Sandwich Platters Cheese/Vegetable Platters Hot & Cold Pasta Chicken, Veal, Beef Pirogies & Kielbasa

Stop in for a Catering Menu or go to our Website


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

ST. PETER’S HAVEN Located at 380 Clifton Ave., this facility has been serving the community since 1986, when it was founded by members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The Haven provides a number of services, including shelter for 6 to 12 families annually. St. Peter’s also serves as Clifton’s food bank, literally providing hundreds of individuals and families with bags of food staples. Food drives, charity events and donations make sure that the shelves are always fully stocked. The next time you go to the supermarket, make a bag or two of items such as peanut butter, tuna fish, pasta and sauce and other items which can provide those in need a sustaining meal. The folks at St. Mark Landgrebe, Mark Jr. and Tony DenUyl operate The Homeless Bus. Peter’s also do a great job of purchasing TOYS FOR TOTS items in bulk, so a financial contribution also goes far. Clifton Firefighters and the FMBA Local 21 have once Volunteers are needed to help unload a truck of dry again joined forces with the USMC Reserves to collect goods, which comes in at least monthly. Call 973-546gifts for their annual Toys for Tots drive. FMBA 3406 or go to President Bob DeLuca asked that residents provide only new, unwrapped toys, which can be dropped off at THE HOMELESS BUS any Clifton Fire Station until Dec. 18. When purchasThis converted bus is a vehicle that is now in service as ing gifts, buy toys appropriate in one of three catea means to feed and clothe the disadvantaged in New gories: for newborns to five year olds, age 5 to 10 and York City. Tony DenUyl, Aldo Alzapiedi and Mark for kids 10 and into their teens. Info: Landgrebe have been making regular nighttime trips into New York City for nearly 18 years to distribute food, drinks and warm clothing to the Big Apple’s neediest citizens. Their moving story was documented in the December 2008 Clifton Merchant Magazine. The bus was purchased with $15,000 of Landgrebe’s money in 1992, and most of the distributed goods are bought by the three volunteers. With the economy, the project has expanded and serves more people than ever. Call Tony DenUyl at 973-768-4251 if you’d like to contribute, or drop a cash contribution in the jar at Foodies in Richfield Center. Info at

BAPS This non-profit international charity has been in existence for over 50 years. Annually, over 55,000 individuals provide 12 million volunteer hours, organizing events like health fairs, blood drives and health awareness campaigns. On Sept. 20, the local branch of the charity held the BAPS Charities Walk for the Clifton Police Department in support of President Barack Obama’s Service Initiative, ‘United We Serve.’ 201-456-7610, visit

DELUXE CLEANERS Annually, this Downtown Clifton landmark business organizes a holiday drive. This year, the DeLora family is asking for new or gently worn outerwear as they have teamed up with One Warm Coat, a group that will distribute the collected winter wear. In addition to coats, gloves, scarves and sweaters will also be accepted. Drop off items at DeLuxe, 1280 Main Ave. 973-546-1105. Info: or

THE CLIFTON BOYS & GIRLS CLUB The Club has opened its doors to thousands of local youth over the years, enriching the lives of children through countless programs. To continue their rich history of community support, the Club relies heavily on generous donations. The Annual Giving Campaign allows individuals to gift money to the Club, and also features an option for a company to match your donation. 973-773-2697, December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


THE CLIFTON EDUCATION FOUNDATION This group seeks donations to benefit several programs in the public schools. The Marie L. Hakim Scholarship for Future Educators, named after the late Board of Education commissioner and former educator (right), is given to a CHS student who plans to pursue a career in teaching. The Foundation also awards grants to district staff, student groups and HSAs for various projects. For info, call 973-470-2260 or THE JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE CENTER Together with the Riskin Children’s Center of CliftonPassaic, the JFSC provides a number of programs to the community. Therapy sessions for individuals, families, couples and more, discussions and workshops on various topics and referral information for a number of issues. The Center also provides services to victims of domestic abuse, older adults and crisis intervention, and also offers a bereavement and support group for parents who have suffered the loss of a child or spouse. For times of meetings, call 973-777-7638 or e-mail Donations and volunteers are vital to the success of the program. More details at


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

CLIFTON SUPER BOWL FAMILY DAY Attend, sponsor or volunteer for the Clifton Super Bowl Family Day, which is Feb. 7, 2010. Now in its 12th year, the event is an alcohol, tobacco and gambling-free event held at the Boys & Girls Club. Prior to the game, there are parent/child games, an open gym, swimming and two really large tv screens to view the Super Bowl. And while you watch the champions from the AFC and NFC duke it out for the Lombardi Trophy, enjoy pizza, hot dogs, chips, soda and more. Admission is a bargain: to get in, bring a donation of canned goods, which will go to the St. Peter’s Haven food pantry. Volunteers are needed to set up and coordinate the event. To make all this happen, we need to raise close to $4,000 and thus sponsors are needed. Since it began over a decade ago, Clifton Against Substance Abuse or CASA has been a major donor, as have many groups like the PBA, FMBA, the Optimist Club, as well as families, individuals, groups and businesses. Nonetheless, we need to raise an additional $2,100 and we do that by asking 21 groups and individuals to donate $100. Make checks to the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton, note: Super Bowl Party. For info or to become a sponsor, call Tom Hawryllko at 973-253-4400 or write Mail or drop of your check at at 1288 Main Ave., Clifton, NJ, 07011.

LOCKS OF LOVE AT CCMS Christopher Columbus Middle School students will once again participate in the annual Locks of Love CutA-Thon on Jan 25. The event will be held in the CCMS Media Center from 8:30 am to 3 pm and is open to the public. Donors must call ahead to reserve a spot; those under 18 need parental consent. Call Kim Dreher at 973-769-0500 or email THE PHENOMENAL GRANDMOTHERS CLUB The never-say-stop Phenomenal Grandmother President of Chapter 1036, Colleen H. Murray (at right) is always working. The current drive has the Grandmothers seeking motorcyclist or bike clubs to form a committee to ride for a cure for children’s cancer research. Murray was recently elected to the National Federation of Grandmother’s Clubs of American for 2010. Call her at 973-253-9579. THE RED HAT ANGELS This team has already started collecting donations for the 2010 Relay for Life, a walking event to raise money for the American Cancer Society. If interested in forming a team for the 2010 Relay, visit

Gabi Rodriguez, one of last year’s Locks of Love contributors. CCMS teacher Kim Dreher is coordinating a Cut-a-Thon.

STOP AND EAT TO HELP A CHURCH St. Mary Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church at 81 Washington Ave., hosts a pre-Christmas homemade stuffed cabbage (with ground beef and rice) sale on Dec. 19 at the church hall, from 10 am to 2 pm. Prices are as 6 for $9 or a dozen for $18. Potato and cheese or cabbage perogies are also for sale at for $6 per dozen. Orders must be placed in advance on the church answering machine, 973-546-2473, by Dec. 14. Leave a contact name and return phone number with your message. All profits to benefit numerous church repairs.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant




Happy Holidays from all at Nina’s

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

THE UNICO CHRISTMAS PARTY Now in its 33rd year, the UNICO Christmas party for the girls of the North Jersey Developmental Center of Totowa was on Dec. 1 at 6:30 pm at the Brownstone in Paterson. Begun by Michael N. Corradino, who now serves as Honorary Chair, it is currently organized and cosponsored by Frank and Nina Corradino of Nina’s Salon on Valley Rd. To donate, call Nina at 973-278-0356. CHIROPRACTIC CENTER TOY DRIVE The next time you drive to this Styertowne Shopping Center healthcare facility, bring a new unwrapped toy to benefit Toys for Tots. Doctors Joe and Jackie Paz will be accepting donations until Dec. 15, and all gifts will be given to Toys for Tots. All new patients will receive a free initial visit, including an exam, consultation and up to two x-rays. Visit WEICHERT REALTORS TOY DRIVE Weichert Realtors, 791 Passaic Ave., is collecting toys for Passaic County Foster Children throughout the month of December. Donors should drop off a new and unwrapped toy during normal the office hours, which are 8:30 am to 9 pm, Monday through Friday, and 9 am to 6 pm on the weekends. The next pick up date is Dec. 12. For information, call Danielle Coelho at 973-444-1529.

JULIA ROSE YOUNG TRUST Julia is a 16 year old former Cliftonite who was severely burned in a tragic camping accident in March, which left her with third degree burns covering 80 percent of her body. She must undergo several years of extensive reconstructive surgery. Julia is now in Shriners Burn Hospital in Boston, where she has undergone over 60 procedures since the accident. While the services are being provided free of charge, thanks to the Shrine of North America, Julia’s parents Jerry and Michelle, had to leave their jobs and home and relocate to the Boston area. The family’s plight was documented in the Oct. edition of the Clifton Merchant Magazine. To help the family pay bills (they were without insurance when Julia was burned), friends established the Julia Rose Young Trust. To make a donation, send checks payable to “Julia Rose Young Trust” and mail to KBK Wealth Management, LLC, ATTN: Michael Kessler, 29 East 44th St., Suite 1200, New York, NY 10036. SECRET SANTAS Today’s grim economic times are especially hard on families over the holiday season. As unemployed parents struggle just to put food on the table and clothes on their children’s backs, it’s difficult to come up with the extra money they need to buy presents for their loved ones. To help make the holidays a little brighter for these families, groups around town have organized “Secret Santa” projects to identify needy children and provide them with some of the special gifts on their holiday lists. Workers at the Clifton Post Office will be carefully reading all of the letters to Santa that are dropped off over the next few weeks to look for those from kids of families who need a helping hand. Residents who wish to participate may visit the Main Ave. Post Office during business hours to receive up to three of the letters to respond to with the requested

Julia in 2008, with her parents, Jerry and Michelle.

gifts. You must provide identification before receiving the letters. All gifts should be wrapped and labeled with the recipients name and returned to the Post Office for delivery to families by postal carriers. Parishioners of the First Lutheran Church have been working with School 17 Principal Anthony Orlando and his staff since the opening of the school on Lexington Ave. in 2004 to provide holiday gifts each year for needy students. “A letter is discreetly given to families that we know are in need of assistance,” Orlando explained. “If the parents would like to participate, they complete the bottom portion of the letter identifying the name of each child in the family, gender, age, size and gift suggestions. We then forward these to the church and the gifts are returned to the school with the children’s names on them. The parent pick them up a few days before the holiday.” If you’d like to help, call Tony Orlando at 973-458-6017.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gloom of Night... Photos and Story by Carol Leonard

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is traditionally the day when shoppers start heading to the malls and local stores to begin their winter holiday shopping. It’s also the beginning of the busiest time of the year at the Post Office, as people stop in to pick up holidaythemed stamps, mail cards or send off gifts to relatives and friends across the country or around the world. And, let’s not forget the many letters that are dropped off for the big guy in the red suit, whose exact address at the North Pole, we are told, is known only by the highest ranking officials in the United States Postal Service (USPS). Patti Thompson waiting on a customer at the Downton Clifton Post Office.

MSRP of $5849 No monetary value. Winner responsible for all taxes and fees.

Proceeds benefit Clifton PBA members who participate in the 2010 Police Unity Tour. This 300 mile bicycle ride leaves NJ on May 8 to raise awareness of police officers who have died in the line of duty and to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. For tickets, call Clifton Police Officer John Kavakich at 973-470-5897, or or call Tom Hawrylko at 973-253-4400.

Worth over $500 No monetary value. Winner has option of male or female bicycle.

Both Drawings to be held on Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 8 pm at the Clifton PBA 36 Unity Tour Pasta Dinner


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

With the ever-increasing cost of postage, particularly in today’s tough economic times, many people have cut back on the number of holiday cards that they send. “There is definitely much less volume in the amount of regular holiday mail that we handle,” said Clifton Postmaster Mark Rizzolo, a 38-year veteran of the Post Office. “I can remember when I was a route carrier years ago and we used to do two deliveries a day during the weeks before Christmas.” As more and more people use computers and the internet, many are sending out e-cards to their friends and family members instead of paper cards delivered through the U.S. mail. It saves on the cost of postage and, for environmentally-conscious individuals, it’s part of an effort to “go green.” There are still many traditionalists who prefer to mail cards. For those who fall into this category, remember that the cost of first-class postage went up to 44 cents on May 11, 2009. So, if you still have some 42-cent holiday stamps left over from last year, you’ll have to add a two-cent stamp to the envelope before putting it in the mail.

Although the deluge of holiday cards received for delivery by the Post Office has dwindled over the years, the volume of packages that are sent and received through the Clifton Post Office during the holiday rush has steadily grown. “Some of this volume is from customers who now use the internet to order their holiday purchases,” said Sales Associate Patti Thompson, who has been with the Clifton Post Office for more than 30 years. “Many people are finding this to be a more convenient way to shop.” The Clifton Post Office also handles a large volume of international mail over the holiday season. Clifton Postmaster Rizzolo wants to remind customers who are sending packages overseas through the USPS to do so by Dec. 10 to ensure delivery by Christmas. There are three service locations in town: The main Post Office on Main Ave., and substations in the Styertowne Shopping Center and at the other end of Main Ave. in the Delawanna section.

The Main Post Office also offers the added convenience of an Automated Postal Center, which is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Customers can purchase stamps, drop off mail and even weigh packages, print out shipping labels and send out their packages. All shipping supplies, including Priority Mail standard envelopes and boxes are available in the Automated Postal Center, which is set up to be self-service. Here are three other Clifton businesses that offer shipping services: • The UPS Store, 1360 Clifton Ave. (in the Richfield Shopping Center) 973-777-0344 Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8 am-7 pm, Sat. 9 am-4 pm. • FedEx Kinko’s, 780 Route 3 West (next to Petco and the Tick Tock Diner) 973-594-9070 Hours: Mon.-Fri.,7 am11 pm; Sat/Sun., 9 am-9 pm. • Post Net, 377 Valley Rd. (next to Quick Check in the Bobinck Shopping Center) 973-542-8071 Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 am-6 pm, Sat., 9 am-2 pm.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


COMMERCE COMMERCE COMMERCE ¢ At the Nov. 12 grand opening of the Stop & shop at the corner of Allwood and Broad St., from Gary Roe, who was the butcher at this location for almost three decades, John Meglio, part of the night crew who worked at the this store for nearly 38 years, and the new Store manager Christine Lysicatos with her baby girl Madison. Pictured, a few days after, Assistant Manager Ray Matoli manager raising the flag.

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

On Nov. 10, bankers from Japan visited Clifton Savings Bank to study how a small community bank stay vibrant and competitive. While the Japanese guests are unidentified, seated is Frank J. Hahofer, Emeritus Director, John A. Celentano, Jr., Chairman of the Board and Walter Celuch, President of Clifton Savings.

Operating a successful community bank is as simple as having a real live person answer the phone. That’s just one of the many tidbits of advice that Clifton Savings Bank Chairman John A. Celentano, Jr. gave to 18 Japanese bankers who visited on Nov. 10. Executives from Toho Bank came to see the inner workings of this small community bank, which has thrived despite a poor economy and competitive environment. Clifton Savings officials discussed industry trends, financial markets, employee training, gaining customer loyalty and other topics. The meeting lasted for an hour. When Clifton Savings Bank closed out its first year in 1929, the institution had $39,686.79 in assets and $35,500 in mortgages. CSB now has over $1 billion in assets and $488 million in mortgages.

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Name: __________________________________________________________________________________ Address: ________________________________________________________________________________ City: ____________________________________________State: _________________________________________ Zip:______________________Phone:_____________________________________________ Email:________________________________________________________________________ PLEASE MAKE CHECKS TO TOMAHAWK PROMOTIONS, 1288 MAIN AVE., CLIFTON, NJ 07011 December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Making History Fun Former School 5 kid is November’s Teacher of the Month Story by Jordan Schwartz Joe Bell knows what it’s like to struggle in the classroom. The Clifton High School history teacher suffered from dyslexia growing up, and so he had difficulty taking tests. “I had a lot of friends that were in the Talented and Gifted program, so they were extremely smart, and it was hard for me to comprehend things the way they could,” he said. Bell, who lived in the Albion section as a child, credits Ms. Porcaro, a special education teacher who now works at CHS, with helping him overcome his disability while he was a student at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. “She and Ms. Smith gave me tips for test taking,” he explained, adding that this experience has helped him work with children in his classes. “I have a lot of inclusion kids in my classrooms, so it makes it easier knowing what they’re going through.” This type of insight, combined with Bell’s ability to create a fun learning environment, earned him November Teacher of the Month honors, as selected by high school students. “It’s a pretty thankless job because you don’t hear it much, but when they take time out of their day to go to the office and vote, that feels nice,” said Bell, who also won the award twice two years ago.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton High School history teacher Joe Bell with one of his students.

“I seem to have a pretty good rapport with them. We joke around and it’s never a very serious atmosphere. We seem to have a good time while they’re learning.” Bell has taught every level of social studies from freshman World Cultures to sophomore American History I and junior American History II since he became a member of the faculty in 2001. “I try to keep away from specific dates and the stuff that really is never going to matter, and try to focus on the interesting aspects and themes,” he said. “They love learning about wars. It’s not lecturing; it’s more of an open discussion.” History has been Bell’s favorite subject since he was a student at School 5 on Valley Rd. “It’s kind of like a story,” he said. “It’s right there in black and white.” After graduating CHS in 1996, Bell took a year off from his studies and began working full-time at Ploch’s Garden Center on Broad St.

He soon realized that he wouldn’t be able to make enough money doing that for too long, so he enrolled at Caldwell College to study history. This is when Bell decided teaching would be the best career path for him. The former Mustang did his student teaching at his alma mater and during his training, the district offered him a position that had opened up. Bell jumped at the chance to work in a familiar place. “It was comfortable because I knew all the rules; I didn’t have to learn anything about the school itself,” he said. “Clifton’s a great place and I knew all the teachers.” Still, Bell admits there are a few challenges to working in the district.

“The size is the biggest difficulty,” he stated. “In one room, we have so many desks that there’s really no movement about the room. You’re stuck to a certain area.” In addition to his responsibilities as a teacher, Bell served as senior class advisor from 2005-08, helping plan prom, homecoming and graduation. He’s also been in charge of the newly founded ultimate frisbee team for the past two years. But the instructor said he gets the most satisfaction out of seeing his students grow. “Watching them achieve, like when they get towards senior year and tell you that they’ve gotten into a certain college, that’s the best part.”

Save Pull-Tabs for Julia Young Drop off your tabs at

VFW Post 7165 at 491 Valley Road (Between 1pm-11pm) for more information about the pull-tab program please visit

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


‘Tis the Season of Song & Music The holidays provide CHS music students an opportunity to showcase their skills. Students from Concert Choir, Madrigals, Brass Band, Strings and


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Orchestra will perform at various functions around town. The award-winning musical programs will present a diverse selection of traditional and classical songs. The season kicks off with the Madrigals (pictured above), now under the direction Alyn Heim, at right. Heim is in his first year at the helm of the Madrigals and is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and received his Master’s in music education from Columbia University. The group will be performing at 12 public schools; also, on Dec. 4, they will sing at the tree lightings for Botany Village (6 pm), Downtown Clifton (7 pm) and the Hamilton House (8 pm). On Dec. 5, the group will attend the Athenia tree lighting at 5:30 pm, and the following evening at the City Hall lighting at 5 pm. The Madrigals include Al Johri, Brian Bender, Yessaret Cardenas, Ariel De Leon, Christine Diaz, Alyssa Ray Leon, Louie Torres, Mary Kate Wrigley, Heily Guzman, Jeanette Fabre, John Wilson, Cassandra Porter, Katherine Chui, Kurt Irizarry, Sara Malgieri, Matthew Wilson,

Michael Sconzo, Sarah Robertson, Amanda Zaccone, Vlada Koleva, Bhavin Shah and Lianna Palladino. The 102-voice CHS Concert Choir will also perform at CCMS on Dec. 16 and at WWMS on Dec. 22. The strings orchestra is under the direction of Natalie Babiak, directed by Bob Morgan will also perform. Some of those students are also pictured here but are unidentified. For info on the musical arts at CHS, call 973-470-2312.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Eclectic Visions is the theme of the 2010 calendar created by 15 students in CCMS’s Art Homeroom. A sample illustration by the 8th grade students is above. Artists include Natalie Nakhle, Adriana Rakic, Alberto Rodriguez, Melanie Hiromoto, Marcus Puzon, Hailey Meyer, Lillian Ormeno, Dina Moumin, Erick Villamar, Katarzyna Dluga, Katherine Martinez, Aarti Kasabwala, Jashuana Zambran, Emina Lukarcanin. The project is under the direction of art teachers Jeff Labriola and Dorota Luto. The 8 x 10 inch calendars are printed on quality paper and offered at $10. To purchase, call 973-470-2360.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


These Mustangs reached their third consecutive Group 4 Soccer Championship on Nov. 20, but ultimately fell short to Toms River South by a score of 1-0. For the season, the team had a record 19-6-1, with 70 goals scored and 15 goals allowed. The Mustangs allowed one goal in their six state tournament games. Back Row: Art Vespignani, Asst. Coach, Joe Vespignani, Head Coach, Danny Herrera, Christian Castro, Victor Manosalvas, Freddy Hernandez, Alex Guerra, Rob Tomesko, Freshman Coach. Middle Row: Julian Macrone, Valdrin Seci, Matt Olszewski, Brendan Guzman, EJ Egyed, Oscar Gonzalez, Derek Bykowsky. Front Row: Josean Moquillaza, Igor Petrovic, Anthony Tsouhnikas, Jonathan Diaz, Stephen Bienkiewicz. Missing: Alfred Bido, JV Coach, Marcin Blazon, Joey Borrajo, Joel Hernandez, Paul Jadamiec, Marcin Konefal, Danny Lam, Adam Pawlik, Adrian Sanchez.

nder of e are the sons of the fou , a family R.F. Knapp Construction ed in Clifton owned business found the beginning, nearly 50 years ago. Since Siding prodwe have been using Alcoa ens-Corning. ucts as well as GAF and Ow ing, gutters, We specialize in roofing, sid a call and us e leaders and windows. Giv int appo ment to we will gladly set-up an and go over a discuss your job needs . complete written estimate


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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

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December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Some of the Mustangs who call Floyd Hall Arena home. From left: Mike Zawicki, Alec DeGraaf, Dan Bartlett and Jon Nikischer. In the back:Marcin Konefal, Matt Whitford, Vincent Falduto and Mike McCain.

The Mustang hockey team has been on the rise over the last few seasons. Coach Tom Danko’s squad finished with a 13-8-2 record and capped off the 2008 season with a trip to the final 16 in the state tourney. After two straight years of sub-500 hockey, things are once again looking bright for the Mustangs. “We’re returning a good nucleus of kids,” said Danko, now in his 23rd year at the helm. Senior center Matt Whitford will key the Mustang attack this season. The pivot will be joined on the left wing by fellow senior Mike Zawicki, who is expected to log a lot of minutes this season with an increased role in the offense.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Juniors Brian Yip and Ryan Bergan will also be slotted into the top six forward positions this season, based on their past success. “They had very good seasons for us last year,” said Danko of the returning forwards.. Junior Anthony Smeriglio will likely center Yip and Bergan. The lines will likely change over the course of the season, as Danko tries to develop chemistry between these Mustang forwards. Connor Spears (senior) and his brother, Ian (junior), are two returning forwards fighting for playing time. Danko said he expects some underclassmen to contribute up front this year. Some will be new to the team

entirely, while others will attempt to make the transition from the junior varsity team to the big squad. “We have two freshman coming up that look pretty good,” said Danko. Steve Shanely should get looks at left wing, while Chris DiFalco’s versatility will allow him to play any forward position.“We’re going to have to adapt more of a defensive style this year,” said Danko. “We’re in a new league and we’ll start out with a defensive style first to feel everything out and build off of that defensive discipline.” Clifton now plays in the Tri-County Passaic League. “Lakeland is good,” said Danko. “The last couple of years, West Milford has been good, DePaul is very good and Wayne Valley is an up and coming school.” A conservative, defensive approach will help stabilize the goaltending situation. Danko has three netminders vying for one spot. “Right now, it’s a toss up between Dan Bartlett (senior) and Sarah Scrudato (sophomore),” he said. “Tyler Tabaka (freshman) may see time.” Defensively, the coach plans to fall back on the top blue line pairing of seniors Alec DeGraff and Marcin Konefal, two veterans of last year’s varsity campaign. Senior Mike McCain will patrol the Mustang blue line with sophomore Anthony B’anna, who saw some varsity time in 2008. Freshman Ceasar Fonseca is also in the mix. With a good blend of seasoned upperclassmen and talented youth, Danko plans to rotate his skaters on special teams. The play of those units could determine the outcome of the season. “Pretty much everyone can play on the power play and penalty kill,” said coach. “Most of these kids have been playing two to three years, so they’re pretty familiar with the system.”


Hockey Dec 04 West Milford

7:10 pm

Dec 06 at DePaul

5:15 pm

Dec 11 Hudson Catholic

7:10 pm

Dec 12 at Hackensack


Dec 18 Saint Joseph Reg.

7:10 pm

Dec. 20 at Lakeland

5:15 pm

Dec 23 at Fair Lawn

8:30 pm

Jan 02

at Wayne Hills

3:00 pm

Jan 08


7:10 pm

Jan 09

at West Milford

7:00 pm

Jan 15


7:10 pm

Jan 16

at Paramus

7:30 pm

Jan 18

Wayne Hills

12:00 pm

Jan 22

Passaic Valley

5:30 pm

Jan 29

at Wayne Valley

6:00 pm

Feb 05

at Passaic Valley

7:10 pm

Feb 12

Wayne Valley

Feb 15


Feb 19


7:10 pm 12:00 pm 7:10 pm

Stories by Joe Hawrylko

Batting Cages Pro Shop Lessons

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Pictured are some of Clifton’s Top Seniors from the Paramus Catholic Class of 2010. From left to right, they are: David Najem – GPA 93 – SATs: 1690 David is Captain of the Boys’ Soccer Team and was named N.B.I.A.L. Player of the Year. He is a member of the Chess, Ambassador and Spanish Clubs, as well as the National and Language Honor Societies. David was Homecoming King and will be attending Columbia University with a significant financial award. He volunteers as a tutor and is a co-ed youth soccer coach. Susan Kashwala – GPA 97 – SATs: 1900 Susan is a member of the Girls’ Lacrosse Team, Ambassador Club, Paladin Press, and National and Language Honor Societies. She volunteers at both an adult day care center and an after school care program. Joshua Borja – GPA 100 – SATs: 2010 Joshua is a member of the National Honor Society, Quiz Bowl Team, Paladin Press, and Italian Club. He started PC’s recycling program and volunteers as a tutor, Eucharistic Minister, and Altar Server.

Yojan Perera – GPA 98 – SATs: 2160 Yojan is a member of the Boys’ Tennis Team, Model Congress, Model UN, Spanish Club, Ambassador Club, National and Language Honor Societies, and Quiz Bowl Team. He also volunteers as a basketball coach and library assistant. Kelly Lacuin – GPA 95 – SATs: 1660 Kelly is a member of the National Honor Society and Ambassador Club. She volunteers with the Girl Scouts and is a competitive dancer. Clifton students from the Class of 2009 were accepted to such prestigious colleges and universities as: Boston University, Columbia, Fairfield, Fordham, NJIT, NYU, Penn State, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Stevens Institute of Technology. Clifton graduates from the Class of 2009 earned $1.25 million in scholarships and grants to the colleges and universities to which they applied. Three neighborhood bus routes are provided from Clifton.

425 Paramus Road • Paramus, NJ 07652



December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

The rebuilding continues for the Mustangs, as head coach Tommie Patterson enters his second year. Although four of five starters graduated, the coach believes that another year of experience and the leadership of four year starting guard Nick Lavender will allow Clifton improve upon its 4-16 record in 2008. “We’ve got one starter returning and two or three young men that mostly played JV that are going to be starting,” said Patterson. “We lost a lot. It looks like we’re going to be playing a lot of zone.” “We run a motion type option system,” said Patterson. “It’s a small system. You’re basically going to be out there with all guards. But the good thing about it is that all those guys are pretty good shooters. But you know how that is, you live by the jump shot, you die by it.”

CHS Boys

Basketball Dec 10

at Newark Eastside

4:30 pm

Dec 14

Elmwood Park

4:30 pm

Dec 15


4:00 pm

Dec 18

at Fair Lawn

7:00 pm

Dec 21

Passaic County Tech

7:00 pm

Dec 23

at Teaneck

7:00 pm

Jan 04

at Passaic

4:00 pm

Jan 06


7:00 pm

Jan 08


7:00 pm

Jan 12

at Wayne Hills

7:00 pm

Jan 14

at Eastside

7:00 pm

Jan 19

Don Bosco Prep

7:00 pm

Jan 21

Bergen Tech

7:00 pm

Jan 26

at Ridgewood

7:00 pm

Jan 28


7:00 pm

Feb 02

at Bergen Catholic

7:00 pm

Feb 04

West Milford

7:00 pm

Feb 09

at Wayne Valley

7:00 pm

Feb 11

Passaic Valley

7:00 pm

Feb 18

at DePaul

7:00 pm

Feb 23

at Saint Joesph Reg.

7:00 pm

Mustang Varsity hoopsters, front, from left: Chris Rosa, Nick Lavender and Patrick Zutic. In the back: Parth Tailor, Moe Niwash and Mahdi Masri.

Lavender will be the team’s captain and the main catalyst for the Mustang offense. He will be joined by an ensemble of athletes with varying degrees of experience. Senior Moe Niwash is the center and did come in off the bench last season. Junior Patrick Zutic is another Mustang who got varsity experience in the fourth quarter last season and will be counted on to contribute this year. “We were trying to do stuff in the summer time,” said Patterson. “The one particular kid, Pat, he was at everything and it shows.” Seniors Chris Rosa and Mahdi Masri round out the starting five. The guards also split time between the two teams. Senior Parth Tailor is

able to play both forward and guard and will come off the bench, as will junior forward Mark Oliver. “I like a couple sophomores,”said Patterson. “They’re smart and heady. They’re not too efficient on offense, but maybe as the season goes on, we’ll see.” The coach has seen an improvement and believes the mistakes can be corrected “We have to work on rebounding and finding a way to score. We definitely had trouble scoring last year,” said Patterson. “I think they’ve gotten a little tougher and think they know what to expect from me. I know they’re more comfortable. I’m really excited for the season to start.” December 2009 • Clifton Merchant



Basketball Dec 18 Dec 21 Dec 23 Dec 28 Dec 28 Dec 30 Jan 04 Jan 06 Jan 08 Jan 09 Jan 12 Jan 14 Jan 21 Jan 26 Jan 28 Jan 30 Just after a tough practice, from left: Michelle Ferrara, Brittany Meyer, Gabrielle Feb 02 Volkow, Antiqona Aziz, Felicia Barbosa and Yashmin Patel. Feb 04 Feb 09 “There’s a bunch of kids who Feb 11 After six years at the helm of the JV played JV for me as a sophomore Feb 16 squad, Rob Tomesko is getting his that will play varsity minutes this Feb 18 first crack as varsity coach with the

Lady Mustangs. Clifton is coming off of a 10-14 campaign in 2008 and only lost two seniors to graduation. “The nucleus of the team is back,” said coach. “A lot are younger kids, so they’ll be around for a while.” Senior Michelle Ferrara returns as Clifton’s center and the four year varsity athlete will be relied upon heavily by her coach. Junior Felicia Castillo enters her second season as the Lady Mustangs’ starting forward. Tomesko will also count upon sophomore Kimberly Douglass, a starting guard in 2008.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

year,” added Tomesko. Junior Ericka Baez split time at guard for both teams last season. Jamilla Ajemied could also figure in at guard. Tomesko said that Samantha Pedraza, a sophomore, has a good chance to move up. “We’re predominantly guard heavy, with a few forwards here and there,” explained coach. “ A couple kids are tall guards and are going to play guard and forward.” Senior guards Felicia Barbosa and Yashmin Patel and forwards Brittany Meyer and Gabrielle

Fair Lawn 7:00 pm at Passaic County Tech 7:00 pm Teaneck 7:00 pm Nutley 5:30 pm Belleville 7:00 pm Xmas Tournament 5:30/7:00 pm Passaic 7:00 pm at Paramus 7:00 pm at Kennedy 4:00 pm Snyder 1:00 pm Wayne Hills 7:00 pm Eastside 7:00 pm at Bergen Tech 7:00 pm Ridgewood 7:00 pm at Hackensack 7:00 pm at Mother Seton 11:30 am IHA 7:00 pm at West Milford 7:00 pm Wayne Valley 7:00 pm at Passaic Valley 7:00 pm at Lakeland 7:00 pm DePaul 7:00 pm

Zolkow will also be in the mix for the starting spots. “We’re going to run more of a motion offense, keeping kids constantly moving,” he said. “There will be a lot of different guards slashing to the basket.” “We’re definitely going to be competitive. The only thing is that we’re going to be in a new league that actually got a bit harder,” he said. “We’re going to have to steal a couple games here and there and as long as kids buy into what we’re preaching to them, we’re definitely going to be competitive.”

The Coronel family and NOC Autobody are proud to sponsor our car accident prevention poster contest. We would like to thank all of the students that participated in this year's poster contest. Pictured above are our two winners, Antoinette Arce and Jennifer Ortiz. To see the other posters, go to

Noel & Odette with Noelani, Olivia & Noel Oliver December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


• Toys & Stuffed Plush Animals • Wrapping Paper, Cards & Bows • Poinsettias & Fresh Flowers • Icicle Lights & Decorations • Holiday Music & Movies • Cookie & Fruit Platters • Deli & Seafood Platters • Fresh Baked Goods • Holiday Dinner Meats • See Circular for Specials

100 December 2009 • Clifton Merchant



Keglers, front, from left: Kortney Casperino, Stephanie Cherico, Sonja Shirak and Ashley Brandecker. Back: Robert Marakovitz, Mike Sorber and Andres Casado.

Given the history of the CHS bowling program, the 2008 season was a down year. The girls placed second in the league, and the boys fourth. Neither reached counties. “We’re usually in as one, two or three, but it was one of those years,” said head coach Brian Small, now in his 21st year. “It’s a cycle.” With an infusion of skilled underclassmen, the Mustangs aim to return to glory. The girls will be led

by junior Sonja Shirak, who placed 14th in individuals for the state last year. She is a two year member of the All-County squad. Junior Kortney Casperino will be a full-time varsity bowler this year. Sophomore Ashley Brandecker returns and freshman Allison Plishka has the lead on the fourth position. Junior Andres Casado is the only returning varsity athlete for the boys. Juniors Mike Sorber and Robert

Dec 02 Dec 03 Dec 07 Dec 09 Dec 10 Dec 14 Dec 16 Dec 17 Dec 21 Jan 06 Jan 11 Jan 13 Jan 14 Jan 20 Jan 21 Jan 25 Jan 27 Jan 28 Feb 01 Feb 03

at West Milford Wayne Valley at Wayne Hills Passaic Valley at Passaic County Tech Passaic at Lakeland Kennedy at Eastside DePaul West Milford at Wayne Valley Wayne Hills at Passaic Valley Passaic County Tech at Passaic Lakeland at Kennedy Eastside at DePaul

4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 3:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00

pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm

Marakovitz and promising freshman Harry Litchfield round out the boys squad. “We bowl pretty good,” said Small. “But when it’s game time, it’s crunch time. Let’s see how they handle it.”

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Front, from left: Sharice LaRode, Aleah Elam, Alicia Baker and Danielle Camacho. Back: Kerry Sorenson, Giancarlo Enriquez, James Sahanas and Emily Urciuoli.

Once again, the Clifton Mustangs dominated the competition on the track last winter. In particular, the girls won their second consecutive League and County titles, while the boys

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102 December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

rebounded to win the league championship. However, with the dissolvement of the NNJIL, the Mustangs will be facing a new cast of challenging opponents this season. “The league has been redone this year,” said head coach John Pontes. “We are in a group with Hackensack, Ridgewood, Don Bosco and IHA, so winning that would actually be harder than winning the state sectional.” The girls figure to be the stronger of the two squads once again this year, with senior Emily Urciouli returning in the pole vault, hurdles, high jump and long jump. Senior Kerry Sorenson is a distance runner who will also compete in the relays. Other twelfth graders include Aleah Elam (springs and relay), Colleen Reynolds (pole vault and hurdles), Andrea Villanova (shotput),


Track Dec 19 Dec 20 Dec 21 Dec 26 Dec 29 Jan 02 Jan 17 Jan 20 Jan 23 Jan 30 Feb 01 Feb 04 Feb 08 Feb 14 Feb 20 Feb 23 Mar 12 Mar 13 Mar 14

at FDU Holiday Classic 9:00 am at FDU Holiday Classic 9:00 am at NJ Spiked Shoe 4:00 pm at PV/LJ/TJ Series 1:30pm at Holiday Relay Fest 3:30 pm at Track Universe Inv 3:30 pm at NJSIAA Group 4 Relay3:30 pm at Pass. County Champ 5:00 pm atPV/LJ/TJ Series 1:30 pm at PV/LJ/TJ 1:30 pm at NJTCC Conf Champ 4:00 pm at Group 4 Champ 4:00 pm at Varsity Classic Inv 4:30 pm at NJSIAA Group 4 Champ4:00 pm at NJ Meet of Champs TBA at Eastern States Champs TBA at Nat. Scholastic Champs TBA at Nat. Scholastic Champs TBA at Nat. Scholastic Champs TBA

Tiombe Johnson (shotput), Danielle Camacho (distance), Shanoui Gunn (sprints), Alexa Patti (pole vault and hurdles) and Sharice Larode (sprints).




You’ve spent years saving and investing for the day when you can put work behind you and enjoy the things you Front, from left: Alexa Patti, Andrea Villanova, Tiombe Johnson and Alonzo Thomas. Back: RETIREMENT IS NO TIME love.Anmar ButJobran the and only thing that should change on that day is Colleen Reynolds, Hudifah Rabie, Daniel Smith, Brandon Everson. TO STOP PREPARING Like most of Pontes’ successfulyour andstrategy. high jump. Giancarlo Eniriquez


and James Sahanas are two top flight teams in the past, the 2009 edition of spent years saving and distance runners. the Mustangs have a good balance ofAt Edward Jones, we can create aYou’ve strategy to help ensure investing for the day when you Pontes also seniors Joe Tahan and veteran leadership and talented can putfor work you and the money you’ve saved will be there youbehind throughout Jon Mosezar joined the team at the youth. Sophomore Monika Miazga enjoy the things you love. But the retirement. So youseason mayand look forward to a steady, stable conclusion of the football will once again be counted on toyour only thing that should change on will compete in sprints.Other seniors that day is your strategy. deliver in sprint heats and will be aincome for years to come. At Edward Jones, we can create a include Julian Macrone (pole vault key cog for the relay team. strategy to help ensure the money hurdles), (dis- sense Juniors Priya Shah and Ektaa To and find out Edgar why Quintero it makes to talk with your you’ve saved will be there for you tance), Esteban Rodriquez (shotput), Rana are distance runners and will throughout retirement. Edward Jones financial advisor aboutyour your retire-So Dan Smith (shotput), Alonzo be joined by freshman newcomer you may look forward to a steady, ment savings, Thomas (sprintscall and today. jumps) and Yuria Yuasa. stable income for years to come. Ryan Felix (sprints and jumps). “We have about 55 girls that came To find out more, call today. Top underclassmen include sophout for the team,” said Pontes, who is Cy Yannarelli Cy Yannarelli, CFP Financial Advisor omore David Monclova, who will assisted by coaches Andy Financial Advisor . 730 Broad Street run middle distance with junior Dan Piotrowski, Kareem West and Lori Clifton, NJ 07013 730 Broad Street Suite 2 Green. Sophomore Rusty Sydor McCoy.“We will try to be one of the 973-777-9620 Clifton, NJ 07013 will compete in the distance events top three in our county.” Open 8 AM - 6 PM 973-777-9620 and classmate Kevin Orozco will run The boys squad will also carry a Sat. 9-1Member SIPC in the sprints.“The team looks to similar number of athletes. But, Member SIPC have a lot of depth in the track while talented, the skill is more conevents,” said Pontes. “They will centrated in the upper classes. Senior contend for the top three or four Jahee Allen will be asked to carry the positions in the county meet.” team in the long jump, triple jump December 2009 • Clifton Merchant



Swimming Dec 03 Deb 08 Dec 10 Dec 17 Jan 05 Jan 07 Jan 12 Jan 14

at Fairlawn at Don Bosco DePaul Passaic Passaic City Tech at Paramus Ridgewood Hackensack

3:45 3:45 3:45 3:45 3:45 3:45 3:45 3:45

pm pm pm pm pm pm pm pm

Front, from left: Berkan Esin, Teodora Solotchi, Mert Cagar and Sorab Kochhar. Middle: Jessica Culic, Charlene Gustafson, Christina Habrahamshon, Kathy Woloszyn and Daphne Bienkiewicz. Back: Joe Miranda, Roy Tejada, Saagar Bulsara and EJ Egyed.

For the second year in a row, head coach Andrea Bobby has been blessed with an incredibly talented girls squad. “I said last year was my best ever girls team and this year is probably my second best,” she said. That’s quite a statement, considering that Bobby graduated Erica Pangilinan, who she called a, “Once in a lifetime swimmer.” But the coach has faith in her talented and deep squad which went 8-4 last year. The sister duo of Charlene (senior and captain) and Christine Gustafson (freshman) are part of the reason why Bobby expects so much out of her squad this season. “Christie does butterfly, back stroke, distance and is pretty much good at everything,” she said. “Char can as well. I can put her in any event and she’ll most likely win.” Senior Daphne Bienkiewicz returns after a successful ‘08 campaign. She will compete in the 200 IM, 100 free and breast stroke.

Exp 12/31/09

104 December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Captain Kathy Woloszyn is another versatile senior who specializes in the backstroke and 200 free. Sophomores Ryan Amico (backstroke), Candice Mariso (breaststroke) and freshmen Taylour Mauro (distance) and Samantha Poulis (free and backstroke). The boys will be captained by senior Mert Cagar, who originally came on without experience. “He’ can swim any stroke at this point,” said Bobby. “He’s a good, hard worker.” The key swimmer for the boys is Jovany Avendano, a junior who was the first Mustang to qualify for the Meet of Champions in over a decade. He swims backstroke and the 200 IM. Other CHS swimmers, who call the Clifton Boys & Girls Club Martini Aquatic Center their home, include EJ Egyed (senior, breast), Sergio Rojas (junior, distance) and Eric James (sophomore, breast, sprint).

Some of the Varsity Mustang grapplers. Front, from left: Nick DiMinni, James Komar, Jesus Cabrera, Badran Sulieman and Brad Hornstra. Back: Mike Abdellatif, Nick Camacho and Sean Steinfeldt.

Since posting a sub .500 record in his first season, fourth year coach Dan Geleta hasn’t looked back. In 2008, the ‘Stangs went 16-8, the team’s third straight winning season. However, of the six wrestlers that qualified for regionals, only senior captain Bradley Hornstra (152 lbs) returns. The challenge for 2009 will be replacing starting talent. “We graduated eight starters from last year out of 14 weight classes,” said Geleta. “But we had nine kids place in the junior varsity county tournament.” Senior captain Badran Sulieman is a 60 match winner at varsity and can wrestle from 135 to 145 lbs. Senior James Komar will wrestle at 145 lbs. Juniors Sean Steinfeldt and Jesus Cabrera will try to crack the varsity line up at 215 and 189 lbs, respectively. John Sunday (171) and Tom Trommelen (heavyweight) are also in the hunt for a full-time starting position. Sophomore TJ DePasque returns to the 112 lbs class at varsity after taking fourth in the district last year. He will once again be one of the top Mustangs in the lower weight classes. His classmate Shawn Lopez will crack the line up at 130 or 135 lbs. “We should be good from 140 and up,” said Geleta. “We’re going to be very young at the lower weight classes. I’m counting on juniors to replace very good wrestlers from last year.”


Wrestling Dec 19 Dec 22 Dec 30 Jan 02 Jan 06 Jan 09 Jan 13 Jan 15 Jan 16 Jan 20 Jan 22 Jan 23 Jan 27 Jan 30 Feb 03 Feb 05 Feb 10 Feb 13 Feb 19 Feb 20 Feb 23 Feb 26 Feb 27

Mustang Invitational 9:00 am Kennedy 5:30 pm at Bloomfield Tourn. 9:00 am Ruth, Mont, Lynd 1:00 pm at Ridgewood 7:00 pm Fair Lawn, W. Milford 9:00 am at Eastside 4:00 pm at Manchester 7:00 pm at Union City Tourn. 9:00 am Union City 7:00 pm Becton 7:00 pm at PCT, Bloom, Iselin 2:00 p m at Passaic 5:00 pm at PCCA Tourn. at WM 9:00 am Bergen Catholic 7:00 pm Hackensack 7:00 pm Hasbrouck Heights 7:00 pm at PH, Rid Pk, Fort Lee 9:00 am District 15 at Becton 5:00 pm District 15 at Becton 10:00 am Region 4 at W. Orange 5:00 pm Region 4 at W. Orange 5:00 pm Region 4 at W. Orange10:00 am

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


106 December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Firefighters and Police Officers are Proud to Serve Our Community

From Clifton’s Bravest & Finest, We Wish All a Healthy, Happy & Safe Holiday Season!

This ad was paid for by the members of

Clifton PBA #36 • Clifton FMBA #21 108 December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Veterans Parade, November 8, 2009 Sunny skies and pleasant weather greeted Grand Marshal Joe Tuzzolino, pictured top left, who led this year’s parade along Main Ave. and into Main Memorial Park. He’s a Vietnam Veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart, and afterwards, returned to Clifton where he served on the Police Department. Photos by Derek Teixeira.

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Veterans Parade, November 8, 2009

110 December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Birthdays & Celebrations! send us your dates and names... Margaret Kungl . . . . . . . . . .12/7 Mark Mecca . . . . . . . . . . . .12/7 Robert Raichel . . . . . . . . . .12/8 Chris Sadowski . . . . . . . . .12/8 Noelani Coronel . . . . . . . . .12/9 Jamie Osmak . . . . . . . . . . .12/9 Daniel Fonesca Ramos . . .12/9 Mark Surgent . . . . . . . . . . .12/9 Andrew Tichacek . . . . . . . .12/9 Michael McEnerney . . . . .12/10 Bob Snelson . . . . . . . . . . .12/10 Joey Cofone . . . . . . . . . . .12/11 Kathleen M. Marshall . . . .12/11 Diane Meyer . . . . . . . . . . .12/11 Joseph Rutigliano . . . . . . .12/11 Andy Kent . . . . . . . . . . . . .12/13 Danny La Gala . . . . . . . . .12/13 Ray Capilli . . . . . . . . . . . .12/14 Mary Kate Kuruc . . . . . . .12/14 Michael Murolo . . . . . . . . .12/14 Steven Crawford . . . . . . .12/15 Marie Visicaro . . . . . . . . . .12/15 David Brock . . . . . . . . . . .12/16 Ryan Jansson . . . . . . . . .12/16 Hannah Grace Kulesa . . .12/17 Jacqueline Gencarrelli . . .12/18 Anne Gerardi . . . . . . . . . .12/18 Samantha Bassford . . . . .12/19 Nick Link . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12/19 Jayen Montague . . . . . . . .12/19 Jessie Ducos . . . . . . . . . .12/20 Belated Birthday to Frank Lacki— Patches Rice (woof!) . . . .12/20 the Athenia jeweler turned 83 on 11/2. Amy Marino . . . . . . . . . . .12/21

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

FREE With This Coupon Coupons May Not Be Combined.


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Any Size Ice Cream Cakes Coupons May Not Be Combined.

Congratulations to Karen & Michael Rice who celebrate their 20th Wedding Anniversary on Dec 30.

Michelle McEnerney . . . . .12/22 Suman Pinto . . . . . . . . . . .12/22 Joey Cristantiello . . . . . . .12/24 Soumya Gunapathy . . . . .12/24 Fred Bertalan . . . . . . . . . .12/25 Ernest Csaszar . . . . . . . . .12/25 Ryan John Hariton . . . . . .12/25 Eric Soltis . . . . . . . . . . . . .12/25 Thomas Montague . . . . . .12/26 Venessa Collucci . . . . . . .12/27 Melissa Cordes . . . . . . . .12/27 James Mazza . . . . . . . . . .12/29 Steven Bivaletz . . . . . . . .12/30 Hunter Conklin . . . . . . . . .12/30 Tom Melfi . . . . . . . . . . . . .12/30 Courtney Pinter . . . . . . . .12/31 Happy 81st Birthday to Filomena Harsaghy on Dec 19.



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

112 December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Marc Faziol . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12/1 Ann W. Kissel . . . . . . . . . . .12/1 Corinne Miskowsky . . . . . .12/1 Mannan Amin . . . . . . . . . . .12/2 Mike Gerardi . . . . . . . . . . . .12/2 Lauren Lawler . . . . . . . . . .12/2 Bryan Nolasco . . . . . . . . . .12/2 Allison Ahdieh . . . . . . . . . . .12/3 Patrick Lotorto . . . . . . . . . .12/3 Bridget Rice . . . . . . . . . . . .12/3 Sharon Tichacek . . . . . . . .12/3 Phil Angello . . . . . . . . . . . .12/4 Phyllis Galambos . . . . . . . .12/4 Timothy Gumann . . . . . . . .12/4 Michael Kester . . . . . . . . . .12/4 Michael Vinciguerra . . . . . .12/4 Rosemary Kuruc . . . . . . . .12/5 Laura Mikolajczyk . . . . . . . .12/5 Michael Ressetar . . . . . . . .12/5 Pat Collucci . . . . . . . . . . . .12/6 Marilyn Gossinger . . . . . . .12/6 Noel Coronel . . . . . . . . . . .12/7

Tyler Roger Vandenberghe will party on his first birthday, which is Dec. 9.

Ralph Dana IV was born Nov. 5 to Passaic Police Officer Ralph Danna III & Stephanie Lescano-Danna, Office Manager at Marrocco Memorial Chapel.

Noelani Coronel hits double digits when she turns 10 on Dec 9th.


December 2009 • Clifton Merchant


It’s started back in 1988 at Dudiak Park and now continues at Robin Hood Park. Brian Kulesa, owner of BZ Irrigation, is just one of the 24 people who play in the annual Thanksgiving Day flag football game, which starts—rain or shine—at 9 am. This two hour ball game is a growing tradition. Next year, stop by and join the fun.

114 December 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Dec 2009_cover TEMPLATE copy


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Dec 2009_cover TEMPLATE copy

Tomahawk Promotions 1288 Main Avenue Clifton, NJ 07011


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