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Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Table of Contents Join us as we grow Clifton Merchant Magazine and Tomahawk Promotions has part time job openings. Send your resume and explain how you would contribute to our team: Writer / Editor Help us tell Clifton’s story Librarian / Historian Organize our archives Book keeper / Office Manager From bill paying to invoicing Send resume and a letter:

See Super Bowl Family Party photos on our 2014 Clifton Map Insert

What’s Inside? 6

The Zelenka’s Adventure Wildlife at their Rosemawr Home

10 The Frugal Yaremko Jazz Guy is a Savvy Shopper

14 Krygsmans are Flying Silky Music in this Marriage

20 The Barans of Richfield They are a Valentine Trio

28 Lakeview’s Sotambas Sweetness at Home & Work

34 Robin Hood Park, 1964 The Kocsis & Schmidt Chemistry

40 Hunkele on the Diamond Love Found on Eddie Mayo Field 16,000 Magazines

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1288 Main Avenue Downtown Clifton, NJ 07011 $27 per year $45 for 2 years Call 973-253-4400 © 2014 Tomahawk Promotions

4 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko Business Manager Cheryl Hawrylko Graphic Designer Ken Peterson Contributing Writers Richard Szathmary Domenick Reda Carol Leonard Jack DeVries Irene Jarosewich

44 Clifton B-Ball History Our NBA Hall of Famer

58 Three Clifton Poets Win Ginsberg Awards

63 Sculpture Park Grows Old Metal, New Designs

68 Arts, Culture, Events Get Out & Enjoy Clifton

74 Happy 100th Birthday Helen Braviak Horack Readers: Send us a note and tell us how a teacher made a difference in your life. Be sure to include your phone number. Mail to

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Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Laura and Gerald Zelenka Different Directions, Same Adventure By Tom Hawrylko

On Valentine’s Day eve, Laura Zelenka will be packing her bags. No, she’s not bailing on her 42-yearmarriagetohusbandGerald. Theirmarriageisstrongandthingsarestableattheir Rosemawr home—despite managing a menagerie of animalsintheirbasement,takingcareofagingparents andhelpingoutwithsomebabysittingfortheiralmost 3-year-oldgranddaughterIsabel. From Feb. 15 to 22, Laura will be using vacation daysfromherjobteaching4thand5thgradesciencein West New York so she can volunteer her time at an orphanageinHaitiaspartofFreetheKids. Thissomewhatsoloexcursionfitsintotheirmarriage well.ThatisbecausesheandJerry(whomreadersmay remember as a longtime CHSScience teacher)have sharedanadventurouslife. They and their kids (Michael 36, Chrissy 33, and John 26) have spent summers on cross country trips, campinginCanadaandonfrequentwildlifevacations. Beforekids,JerryandLaurabackpackedacrossAlaska and driven the Alcan Highway there before it was paved.Thenthereishissolowildlifephotographytrips which have taken Jerry across the globe.Add to that hervolunteerexcursionsandLauraandGeraldseemto betrottingofftodifferentendsoftheglobe. Sohowdotheymaketheirmarriagework? “The secret is we spend time together but we give eachotherenoughspacetogrow,”sheexplained.“We travel a lot together but sometimes one of us stays hometomaintainthecritters.” Thecrittersshespeaksofisliterallyabasementfull ofbirds,lizards,snakesandotherfurry,slimyandcuddlycreatures.Forover30years,theZelenkashavebeen bringinganimalsintohomesandotherpublicspacesso peopleofallagescanseewildlifeupcloseandpersonalaspartoftheirTouchofNatureAnimalShow. “Ourfamilyworksinthenatureshow,Isupporthis photographytripsandhe’sreallygoodaboutallthatI wanttodo,”shesaid.“Itworksbothways.” 6 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Much like her marriage, Laura said she has to be flexibleforthisexcursionwithFreetheKids.Toget medicallyreadyforhertrip,Laurahasbeenreceiving aseriesofimmunizationsandtakingaregimenofpills towardofftyphoidandmalaria. Thenthereisthepackingandplanningforhertime attheorphanage.Notonlydoessheandhertraveling partnershavetoeachspendabout$1,500oftheirown money to get to Les Cayef, Haiti, but they will also bringalong10computers,householditems,hairclippers,clothing,flipsflopsandCrocs. “I get it back in a different way,” she said. “Volunteeringisaveryrewardingwaytospendsomeof yourlife.Itgivesagreatersenseofpurposeotherthen simply existing.” Last year, Laura went with another grouptoSouthAfricatoworkinanAIDShospice. ForthelastfewWednesdayevenings,sheandother fellowtravellershavebeenmeetingforelementarylessonsinCreole,theFrench-basedlanguageofHaiti.“A lot of the people there speak English but we practice commonphrases,helloandthankyou.”

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


WhatdrivesLauratothisvolunFree The Kids is a nonteer mission? “I’ve been blessed denominational, non-secwith three wonderful kids, so I am tarian foundation.  Its misgivingbacktothoselessfortunate. sion is to alleviate the It deepens my own spiritual and effects of poverty on the personalgrowth,”shesaid.“Seeing youth of southern Haiti by kidswhohavenoshoesgivesyoua providingahomeforsome greater appreciation of what we 450 orphaned and vulnerahaveinAmerica.” blechildren,aged9months One of the waivers she signed to 20 years, with another madeapointoftheneedtobeflexi150 non-residents dependble.  In the mornings they may be entforfoodandclothing. working with toddlers. Afternoons When she returns to teaching elementary children Clifton, Gerald may be The Zelenka kids atop Grand Teton, EnglishandScience.Butthatmay headedofftoaphototripin Wyoming: John, Christine, Michael. allchangewhentheyhittheground. Florida.  Laura says that is “Wewillbesettingupcomputers.Wearebringingcur- howtheirmarriageworks:givealittle,takealittle. tainssothere’skitchendutytoo.Iftheyneedustopaint “Amarriageisneverequallyhalfandhalf.Sometimes orworkinthegarden,thatiswhatwedo,”shesaid.“We youcanfeelyougivemoreandmoreandthenyouturn gowithaleapoffaithandyouputitinGod’shands.” aroundandyougetandget,”sheexplained.“Thatwhat Whilesheandthefamilyattendliturgyandreceive makeforastrongpartnership.” sacramentsatbothSt.Andrew’sandSt.Philip’sherein Tolearnmoreaboutthemissionorcontributetothe Clifton, Free The Kids is an outreach program of the FreeTheKids,gotofreethekids.orgorwritetoLauraat GlenRidgeCongregationalChurch.


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Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Craig and Andrea Yaremko Valentine’s Day in the Key of Frugal For Valentine’s Day, jazz musician Craig Yaremko and his wife Andrea will lay low. “Wedontbuyintothecommercialfactorofthe day,” said Yaremko, who, along with his bride,Andrea McNamara, wasnamedthe1997CHSClassCouple.“Infact,Igooutthedayafter andbuyflowersandchocolateswhenit’salotcheaper.” Yaremko, who is also the director of the instrumental music programatamiddleschoolinRiverVale,hasareasonforhisfrugality. “Weareexpectingourfirstchild,alittlegirl,attheendofMarch. WhatcanIsay?Iamahardworkingjazzmusician.”Yaremko,who earned his chops as a Marching Mustang, got his M.A. in Music EducationfromMontclairStateUniversityandhisB.F.A.inJazzand ContemporaryMusicPerformancefromtheNewSchoolUniversity. AndreaMcNamaraisaDoctoralCandidateinPsychometricsinthe Psychology Department at Fordham University. The couple still residesinClifton’sLakeviewsectionandbothare35yearsofage. Overthedecades,Yaremkohasgainednoticeintheworldofjazz forhisworkonsaxophones,flutesandclarinets.Since2001,hehas beenleadinghisowngroupsandplayedwithsomebignamesinnot only jazz but also with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, New YorkCitySymphonyandnumerousBroadwayandOff-Broadwaypit orchestras.  But it is his latest project, the Craig Yaremko Organ (CYO)Trio,thatseemstobegainingthemostnoticethesedays. “I’mplayingthenextweekifyouwanttobringyourValentine’s DayIOUonFeb.19atSomethin’JazzClubinNYCoronFeb.20at MaxfieldonMaininBoonton,”saidYaremko.

At their 8th grade dance in 1993 and at their 2004 Wedding, Craig and Andrea (McNamara) Yaremko.

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Love & Marriage

Rudy and Maryann Andrascik

How wE MEt “Emily Kohout (whom I knew from SSCyril’sChurch)askedifIwouldbe interestedinanafterschooljobatthe Kohout’sFamilyBakeryonLakeview Ave., selling in the store and helping care for some of the Kohout youngsters.Iwasdelightedtoearnmoney,so I quickly accepted.  Not long after starting to work at the bakery, Rudy andIbegantofindexcusestotalkto each other. He worked in the back of theshopasanapprenticebaker.Asour friendship grew, we begandating.Sinceneitherofusdrove,,wedid

a lot of walking. After four years of dating, Rudy and I married in 1957, and that year we visited Florida. Whilethere,welearnedthattheGlenn L.MartinCompanywasintheprocess of relocating from Baltimore to Orlandoandwererecruitingengineers. Rudyappliedandwashired.Wedrove back to Clifton, packed our belongings, and returned to Florida, where Rudy had always wanted to live. We’vebeenhereeversince.Weraised our three children in Orlando, and havebeenabletoenjoyourgrandchildren, while living on a beautiful lake front,firstinOrlando,andnowthatwe retired,inLeesburg.”

Isabel and Ricky Farfan “ForValentine’sDay,we’llgoouttodinnerata niceItalianrestaurant,andIwilltellIsabelhow muchIappreciatewhatshedoesforourchildren and me.  We were married in 1999 but we’ve beentogetherfor24years.Listeningandbeing patient are the secrets to a good marriage.  We keepourlovealivebysharingourthoughtsand ouraccomplishmentsandlookforwardtoshared dreams.Foramarriagetosucceed,youhaveto have shared goals, listen and respect the other person’sdecisions.AndIthankGodforputting meonthesamepathwithmywife.” 12 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


By Carol Leonard

14 January 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Imagine being suspended 30 feet in the air with only a silk ribbon wrapped around your leg to keep you from falling on your face – or another equally damageable body part. Now imagine playing a trombone at the same time that you’re suspended upside down. And that’s not all. You need to add an audience to the picture. The average right-minded person would probably call the prospect of such a scene crazy, but Julie Krygsman thinks it’s so awesome that she hopes to one day make it a full-time job. Aerial silk is a form of acrobatics in which performers climb the suspended fabric and then wrap, fall, swing and spiral their bodies into and out of different positions, all without the use of a safety line.

The30year-oldformerCliftonMustangBand drummajorette,whowasknowninhighschool asJuliePassaro,didn’talwaysenvisionherself pursuing such an unusual career. In fact, up until a little over a year ago, she had what most would describe as a pretty normal worklife. After graduating from CHS in 2001, Krygsman went on to William Paterson University, where she majored in music. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she worked her way up from sales associate to store manager for a bridal and formalwear company. When she reached the point where shefelttherewasnofurthergrowthforher inthebusiness,Krygsmanacceptedaninside salespositionwithanothercompany. Needing Something More Asidefromherdayjob,shecontinuedherinterestin music,givingtrombonelessonstoprivatestudentsand performingwithherhusbandWes,atubaplayer,inthe Clifton Community Band as well as other musical ensembles.

Krygsman said she was always aware of the financial challenges of trying to pursue her love of music and performing as a career, whichiswhyshesettledforajobin the business world. But somewhere deep within the passions of her heart andsoul,sheknewthattherehadtobe somethingelseforher. Whilerecoveringfromanillnessin betweenleavingherfirstjobandstartingwiththenewcompany,Krygsman came across some photos online of aerial silk performers and showed themtoherhusband.“Ijustrandomly mentioned it to Wes as something that lookedinterestingtome,”shesaid. Ashorttimelater,Wescamebacktohis wife with information about a place in NewYorkwhereshecouldreceivetrainingintheart. InJanuary2012,Krygsmanbeganhernewsalesjob and started attending classes and workshops once a week in the evening at Heliummm Aerial Dance & Entertainment,aproductioncompanyinBrooklyn. “At firstIlookedatitasbeingrecreational,butthenI


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Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Flying Mustang gothooked,”shesaid.“Ikept strivingtolearnmore.Ihada dance background, so that helped.” Krygsmanperformedinher first student showcase about threemonthsintohertraining. “You could tell that I was greenandnewatit,”shesaid. “ButthenIgotmuchbetter.” After mentioning that all she wanted to do was play tromboneandtakeaerialclasses, Krygsman’s best friend kiddinglyPhotoshoppedapictureofherhornintooneofher aerial performance photos. “I knewitwasajoke,butthat’s whenIdecidedthatnomatter howinsaneitsoundedIwasgoingtoplaymytrombone intheair,”shesaid. IttookKrygsmanfourmonthstoconditionherbodyto beabletodoheraerialactandplayherhornatthesame time.“Iactuallythinkthatitimprovedmytromboneplaying,”shesaid. Shepremieredheract,entitledJumpintheLine,ather secondstudentshowcaseinDecember2012.Itincluded a four piece band performing on the ground, while she playedthetromboneintheairupsidedownonthesilk. Around the same time of this major performance accomplishmentinhernewpersonalventure,Krygsman wasabruptlylaidofffromherjob.Herpositionwaseliminatedafteronlyoneyearatthecompany. Needless to say, the high achieving Krygsman didn’t takethenewsverywell.Althoughthetypeofworkshe was doing was not something she wanted forever, she expectedherlifetoplayoutunderherterms,notsomeone else’s. A Blessing in Disguise “AfterthedustsettledandIwaswearingmypajamas untilfouro’clockeveryafternoonthefirstfewweeksof unemployedlife,IrealizedthatInolongerhadanoose aroundmyneck,”shesaid. Krygsman stood up on her tissue littered couch, screamedoutanexpletiveandproceededtowritealong 16 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

e-mail to her aerial coach. “I basically asked her if I was crackedtothinkthatIhadthe talenttopursuethis,”shesaid. “Heranswerwastogoforit.” With the added encouragement of her husband, Krygsmanauditionedandwas accepted into the professional program at Circus Warehouse in Long Island City last February,wheresheistraining full-time. In addition to silk, shetakesclassesintrampoline, flyingtrapeze,ballet,tightrope, contortion and lyra, a type of aerialhoop. “It’s an unbelievable facility,”shesaid.“It’stheplaceto be if this is what you want to do. I train with the most inspiring professionals including Olympic medalists, CirqueDuSoleilperformers,professionalballetdancers andcircusstars.” Krygsman trains four days a week at the Circus Warehouse,spendingabout20hoursinclassesandindependentpractice. Ithasbeenalotofhardwork,requiringagreatdealof physical stamina. Krygsman has come home with her shareofsilkburnsandbruisesaswellasacoupleofmore seriousinjuries,butthroughitallshefeelssheislivingthe lifeforwhichshewasintended. Emotional Transformation “Therehasbeenasignificantchangeinthesizeofmy bicepsandlats,butthebiggesttransformationhasbeenin myhead,”shesaid.“I’mtrulyhappynow,butallofthis wouldneverhavehappenedifthebottomhadn’tfallenout ofmystatusquolife.” Asidefromdealingwiththeemotionalturmoiloflosingherjob,Krygsmansaidthatoverthepastyearshehas alsofinallycometotermswiththedeathsofhermother andgrandfatherwhenshewasateenager. Krygsman’sparentsweredivorcedwhenshewasvery young and she hardly knew her father. Her mom had a severeformofmultiplesclerosis,soshewasessentially raisedbyhergrandparents.

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Flying Mustang Lookingback,sherealizesthat itwashergrandfatherwholitthe sparkinherandinspiredherlove of music and the arts. The two used to watch videos of the Tommy Dorsey band together when she was little. “He was an artisticspirit,”shesaid. Krygsman’s grandfather passed away when she was a freshman in high school and her momdiedjustbeforeshegraduatedfromCHS. “I’vecometorealizethatalot ofwhatIdoisbecausemymom couldn’tdoit,”shesaid.“Shewas always in a wheelchair and then bedriddenbythetimeshewasmyage.Thinkingabouther hasmotivatedme.Idothisforherandformygrandfather.” Krygsmanknowsthatshestillhasalotofworkahead ofherbeforeshecancallherselfaproataerialperforming,but,withthehelpandsupportofherhusband,sheis willingtoendurethesometimesgruelingdaysoftraining.

18 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Lessons From Band Days “Youlearntopushthrough,”she said.“Therearealotoflessonsfrom bandthatIapplytomylifenow.Mr. Morgan (CHS Band Director Bob Morgan) was a huge influence on me.WhenIfeelexhausted,Ithink of the four Ds, dedication, drive, desireanddiscipline,heingrainedin me.AsmuchasIwouldliketocreditmyyearsofdanceclasses,Iknow Idevelopedstrongpointedfeetfrom thefamousCliftonbandhighstep.” Whennotintraining,Krygsman has done paid freelance aerial silk performances, trombone gigs, and privatemusiclessons.Shefeelsthat herexperiencesoverthepastyearhavemadeherabetter teacher. In fact, one of her students, CHS junior Nathan Santelli,recentlymadeAll-StateSymphonicBand. She and her husband, who is an instrumental music teacheratSchool13andSchool17,liveinthehomein which she grew up in the Dutch Hill section, with their blackpugSammiandcatsMozart,LokiandBaer. Theyhavesetupacustommusicstudioinoneoftheir sparerooms,wheretheydotheirprivatelessons,sheonthe trombone and he on the tuba. The room also includes a pianoandtheirsheetmusiclibraryaswellasavarietyof othermusicalinstruments. Thecouple,whometinbandcampin1999,decideda whileagothattheyneededtolivefinanciallysmart,and theybuiltupanemergencyfund,whichhastakentheedge offthelossofasecondfull-timeincome. Krygsmanhopesthatwithinfiveyearsshewillbeperforming full-time, perhaps with a company like HeliummmAerialDance&Entertainment,whereshehas gottenherstartinthebusiness.Thecompanyprovidesaerialactsforcorporateeventsandpromotions. Inthemeantime,shecouldn’tbemorecontentwiththe lifesheisliving.“I’mtrulyhappynowandgladthatItook therisk,”shesaid.“I’mfocusedonmyartisticsideandmy husbandgottoreunitewiththelittlewhippersnapperhefell inlovewithalmost14yearsago.” Sometimesinlife,thingstakeanunexpectedturn.How yourespondtothechangecanmakeabigdifferenceinits outcome.JustaskJulieKrygsman.

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Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Rosemary and Michael Baran Idea Guy, Action Gal By Irene Jarosewich

Michael Baran held open the door to his home in Athenia with one hand, while the other held a bouquet. “Just a few flowers to brighten the house,” he said when he let me in and then placed a vase in the dining room, giving me the first clue about his instinct for aesthetics and his artistic nature. A drama instructor in Jersey City, Michael grew up in a family whose lives were filled with the arts – his mother was an actress, his father a musician, his brother is a concert violinist, his uncle was a painter and he had a grandfather who was a master craftsman. “A stained glass maker, my grandfather came from Slovakia brought to America by the Pittsburgh Glass Company,” said Michael, “at the time, the company went looking to Slovakia, Germany where people had been making stained glass for centuries and then brought the craftsmen here to work.” East European on his father’s side, on his mother side, Michael, 56, who was born and raised in Georgia, is pure Southern. Having finished Vanderbilt University, his mother, originally from Nashville, met Michael’s father 20 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

while he was studying in Miami, Florida. She was a young stewardess then, working for Pan Am in the early 1950s when air flight was still a rare event. They decided to stay in the South when Michael’s father found a job near Atlanta. Michael’s dual heritage has produced some tasty results; for Christmas Michael prepares rich, sugarencrusted Slovakian crescent cookies – rosky for all to enjoy, followed by a traditional Southern-style good luck meal of black-eyed peas, some type of pork and collard greens (or spinach for the faint of stomach) on New Year’s Day. Born and bred a Clifton girl, Rosemary Trinkle’s family history in Clifton dates to the mid 1800’s, when the city was still Acquackanonk Township. Among her family are the Thomases, who once owned a quarry off Valley Rd. and after whom Thomas St., a small road near Fenner Ave. on Clifton’s far west side at the very edge of Garrett Mountain is named. Growing up with three younger sisters, Rosemary, 52, who now is an organizational consultant with

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


New York Presbyterian Hospital, fondly remembers growing up near her grandparents’ home on Valley Rd., a meeting place for the extended family. Many members of her extended family are well-known in the Clifton community; her paternal grandmother, Florence Trinkle was a long-time teacher, having taught among others, Clifton mayors

Gerald Zecker and James Anzaldi. Rosemary’s father, George Trinkle III, a union man, was an active Democratic Party organizer and seems to have instilled civics in his daughter’s blood. This difference in upbringings could be one of the reasons, muses Rosemary, that brought the couple together. “He had this small, immediate

family, very artistic, something I wasn’t familiar with,” says Rosemary. “I found that intriguing. I had this big, expansive family, which was something that he wasn’t used to.” Like all relationships, theirs has evolved over the years, she says, but she frankly states that she is still the action gal, while he is the idea guy; she is just-the-facts, while he is more ephemeral. Her family is filled with active Democrats, and while a registered Democrat now, Michael was a Newt Gingrich Republican when they first met. “Of course, when I first brought Michael home, I had to tell my father and grandfather who he was, and they were, of course, less than thrilled at the time.” After listening for a while about how different these two were, I began to think to myself, “Now just hold on. Seriously. Who are they kidding? These two are like peas in a pod.” Talk. Pray. Love. Rosemary, or Roe as she is often called, and Michael, or Mike, may have started out as opposites attract, but spend even a short time with them and it is soon clear what they have in common. They are talkers. Both of them. Good talkers. They tell great stories. No introverts, here. They are funny. They laugh. They make others laugh. Often. And, the body language! Rosemary moves her hands and head, even her entire body for emphasis as she springs out of a chair; Michael is more subtle, the furrowed forehead, raised

22 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


eyebrows, the wry, slow grin – the training of an actor. Central to their lives is their Catholic faith. They met during a singles event at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta. Michael had returned to the city to help his father with the family’s music business; he had been living in California and Rosemary was working as a manager at the Hyatt Regency. In 1993, they married at St. Agnes Church, in Paterson, the church where generations of Rosemary’s paternal and maternal grandparents and great grandparents, aunts and uncles had been married. They returned to live in Atlanta, then lived outside Washington DC for several years before coming to live Clifton in 2001. Here they joined St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church, where they have become active in the parish. Rosemary and Michael are people people. They love people. Their families, their community. Michael loves to teach. Rosemary and their daughter Patricia (Tricia), 14, love to volunteer. When they were younger, the Barans were a Presenting Couple for Catholic Engaged Encounter, a forum where young Catholic couples planning to wed meet with older couples to learn about the foundations of

a solid marriage. This desire and ability to share with others, whether time or skills or knowledge or talent, it is a gift that Rosemary and Michael both have. A Valentine Trio Asked what they like to do as a couple, Roe and Michael paused, maybe caught a bit off guard. “I guess that maybe we should be thinking about doing something alone ...” she began to say slowly glancing towards Michael. They looked at each other, their eyes meet, and then they laugh. Nah, they shook their heads. Just the two of them? Now, where would be the fun in that? “We really do things as a family,” said Michael. “A threesome” added Roe, “if not more.” Rosemary again emphasizes how volunteering and community involvement is an important part of their lives. She recently moved up from an Alternate to a Commissioner for Clifton Recreation, a position once held by her grandmother Florence. “I remember Youth Week from when I was a child,” she laughs. “It was always a time of excitement. She ran the first Youth Week in Clifton and in some ways, I feel as though I’m continuing her legacy. I now have the time to do this and it still gives me a thrill.”


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24 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Health Care that Revolves Around You...

A National Model for Care Coordination Immedicenter is now a Patient-Centered Medical Home, or PCMH. To achieve this national recognition, we met a number of standards, including having a dedicated team of care coordinators pictured below. Along with our medical providers, they will help make sure you get the care you need, at the right time and place. Dr. Michael Basista, Immedicenter Medical Director This leads to safer, higher quality of care, more empowered patients and a renewed relationship between physician and patient. We are proud of our national recognition and welcome the opportunity to get to tell you more about PCMH during your next visit.

Our care coordinators, from left, Jessica DeVoogt, Doreen Sestilio, Idina Merz, Wanda Ruiz and Maria Squirlock.

A Family Practice for Wellness, Urgent Care for Ills, Chills & Spills


1355 Broad St., Clifton • 973-778-5566 • Monday - Friday 8am to 9pm • Saturday and Sunday 8am to 5pm • Walk-in Medical Care • Weekday Appointments Available

557 Broad St., Bloomfield • 973-680-8300 • Monday - Friday 8am to 8pm • Saturdays 9am to 5pm. Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Tricia, who went to St. Andrew’s RC School and is now a Freshman at Immaculate Conception Catholic High School in Lodi, often joins her mother in helping with Clifton activities, as well as helping her mother with events at their church. “Roe is an amazing organizer, I tell people,” says Michael admiringly, “she’s a pro. Whenever she’s involved in an event, like a beefsteak, or a banquet, I tell people, to

just get out of her way, to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. She always puts on a good show.” From her father, Tricia has picked up the art of baking and the house was filled with delicious scents from her recent turn in the kitchen. She is also becoming a bit of an information junkie like Michael, whom Rosemary and friends call The Discovery Channel. “No matter if it was local or national news, histori-


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1135 Clifton Ave. Suite 208, Clifton We are fluent in English & Spanish 26 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

cal events, or political philosophy, Mike knows everything,” said Roe. Michael admits to being a voracious reader as a child, once having read an entire multi-volume set of the Golden Book Encyclopedia. He retains the information he reads. “When we were living in Washington and were traveling to Rehoboth Beach one time, he suddenly just veers off onto this side road in a different direction. I asked him where he thought he was going, and he said wanted to show us a historic marker in Delaware that he had read about and was nearby, one that was posted on the old Mason-Dixon Line,” said Rosemary with mild disbelief as she shook her head. Having grown up in the South, Michael not only knew of the Mason-Dixon Line, but of the line’s historical origins and political importance. He started to explain more about who was Mason and who was Dixon until Rosemary said, “Stop!” and shook her head again. “In our travels with Trish,” she noted, “we’ve veered off and read many a historic marker. I think he’s going to quiz her when she turns 18.”

I am proud to announce the arrival of Dr. Andrew Boxer to our Clifton practice. After completing his fellowship at NYU and a residency at Mt. Sinai, Dr. Boxer will take over the care of Dr. Beduya’s current practice, including the North Hudson Community Clinic in Passaic, ensuring uninterrupted continuity of care to the patients. He will be available at our office in Clifton for consultation. In addition, he will see inpatients at both St Mary’s Hospital and Hackensack University Medical Center. Andy’s special interests include obesity, endoscopy as it relates to pre and post bariatric surgery, as well as Liver Disease. I would also like to wish Dr. Dino Beduya a heartfelt farewell on his departure from our team. Dino has provided a valuable service to the community over the past three years. We wish him luck in his pursuit of an Advanced Fellowship position in New Mexico and then on to North Carolina for his new practice. They are lucky to have him. Best Wishes, Steven D. Gronowitz, MD, FACG

Above, Steven D. Gronowitz, MD, FACG and Dr. Andrew Boxer, M.D. Office Hours: Mon: 9 am-5 pm Tues: 9 am-7 pm Wed: 9 am-3 pm

Thurs: 9 am-6 pm Fri: 9 am-3 pm

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Diana & Carlos Sotamba Sweet Ingredients for Lifelong Love By Dmitri Lenczuk

Carlos Sotamba was waiting at an intersection in Passaic one hot summer day, when a young woman with a small child leaned into his car to ask a favor. The temperature had hit 100 degrees and she was standing at a bus stop. She did not live far away, and was worried about keeping the child in the scorching heat for much longer. Could he drop her off near her home? As he opened the door to let in the woman whose name was Janet, Carlos had no way of knowing that one day she would be his sister-inlaw. During the short ride to her house, Janet asked Carlos a lot of questions. “Apparently, she thought I was OK,” said Carlos, because Janet then told him that she had a younger sister, Dayana, whom she would like for him to meet. She gave Carlos Dayana’s phone number. Carlos called. He and Dayana called each other for more than three months before Dayana agreed to go on a date. Playing it safe, they decided on a movie at Clifton Commons. Carlos came to pick up Dayana at her home. “When I saw her, my heart stopped. She was beautiful,” he recalls. Proving once again that there is love at first sight, Dayana agrees. The attraction, she said, was instantaneous. “For a year and a half, my sister would tell me every day ‘I found you a boyfriend! I found you a boyfriend!’” reminisced Dayana with a smile. Since Dayana was quite young when they met, and Carlos several years older, her parents were concerned and insisted that they date for a while. “I knew she was the right one from the beginning,” said Carlos, who is patient and diligent by nature, and was willing to wait. After several years, Dayana felt ready. Carlos wanted to propose, but also wanted Dayana to have the ring she wanted, and not one he had chosen. 28 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Over time, he asked On a routine visit to the for a chance and soon mall, he led her into a jewellearned to bake, decory store, to the counter with rate the cakes. Next he engagement rings. “Pick the became a manager. ring you love the most,” he Then in 2001, when told her, “because I want to the original owners marry you.” decided to sell, he After their engagement, bought the bakery. the handsome couple wasted While he has prelittle time. In less than a served many of the old month, Diana had planned East European recipes the wedding. Carlos, the for pastries and breads, owner of Lakeview Bakery, At home with Angely, Carlos, Dayana and Daniel. as well as specialties created his own wedding such as babka and poppictures of their wedding, of their cake, which the couple agreed, pyseed cake and other holiday families. Parents to Angely, 2, and “was delicious!” favorites, he has also expanded to Daniel, 6 months, the Sotamba’s include many Latin sweets, such as definitions of love are very similar. Feel The Home Fires flan and torta de tres leches. “My definition is to create a betMarried five years, visitors can The bakery continues to provide ter future with my partner,” Dayana feel the love between Carlos, now a wide variety of fresh-baked bread beams, as her husband plays with 36, and Dayana, now 29, sensing it daily, as well as cookies and cuptheir young son. “It still feels like from the moment one walks into cakes for walk-in clientele, and we’re boyfriend and girlfriend, but their home off of Valley Rd. wholesale baked goods to diners. better!” Their glowing eyes and beaming However, specialty decorated Carlos agreed with his wife, smiles are a testament to their love cakes has become one of the bakadding, “Meeting and being with for each other, and for their chilery’s signature services. the right person is the definition of dren, who reciprocate the love with love. And kids. Nothing compares infectious giggles. Walls in their Sweet Wedding Cakes to having kids!” home our hung with photographs, Although, maybe not as big and Making time for the family is elaborate as some of Hoboken’s among their top priorities. They Cake Boss creations, the cakes decspend as much time together as orated by Carlos are no less artistic they can, although balancing work and done with meticulous care and at Lakeview Bakery and a family attention to detail. with young children can be diffiHis particular specialty is wedding cult, they admit. cakes, the centerpiece of a couple’s “Between Carlos leaving for reception, which Carlos believes work at 2 am, and me rising must be perfect so that the couple’s throughout the night to feed the memory will always be sweet. baby, we really don’t get much Along with the wedding cakes, cussleep around here,” said Dayana. tomers can choose from existing Carlos, who immigrated to the designs or custom designed cakes US from Ecuador, began working at for birthdays, anniversaries, engageLakeview Bakery almost 20 years ments, and graduations, cakes for all ago, while still a teenager, sweeping and any occasions. floors, cleaning cases. 30 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


For Valentine’s Day, Carlos promises heart-shaped cookies and cakes decorated with love. Although Dayana, whose family came here from Chile, now stays home with the children, she has training to be a medical assistant. However, if Carlos needs it, she

lends a helping hand at the bakery in whatever capacity is needed. Carlos admits that maintaining a business is hard work, especially in what is still a rough economy. “The economy has affected the business, especially the competition with big companies,” says Carlos. 32 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

But, no complaints. Carlos believes that setting an example of success by working hard is vital to a small business. “The only way to have success is to be a hard worker,” Carlos says. “You can’t expect people to do everything exactly the way you do it, but they will try.” Hard Work at Home, Too For the Sotamba family, hard work does not stop with the bakery; hard work defines the very nature of their family relationship. Devotion to one another and dedication to their family is valued above anything else. This Carlos believes to be the secret ingredients not only to a good business, but to a happy marriage. His wife believes that the secret ingredient to a good marriage is the understanding that there will be good days and bad days in any relationship, business and personal. Part of being in love is being willing and able to take the good with the bad. Understanding, and then Dayan adds another ingredient. “Patience. Lots and lots of patience.” Devotion and dedication, patience and understanding, these are the ingredients for lifelong love according to the Sotamba family recipe. When they first were married, Carlos and Dayana continued to go out on dates as they did when they were just a young couple. Now with children, they do not date as often as they would like, but they still have made plans for Valentine’s Day. “We are going to Atlantic City,” said Carlos. “Of course the kids are coming, too!”

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Nancy and Dan Kocsis He Married An Angel By Domenick Reda

On a warm summer day in Robin Hood Park in 1964, Dan Kocsis just didn’t see the chemistry between Nancy Schmidt and Jeffrey Hasselberger. Still, the ‘64 Pope Pius XII HS grad doubted he could compete with a star hurdler at DePaul Catholic, especially Hasselberger who was driving a shiny Chevy convertible and headed to Villanova that fall. But in the end Dan got the girl of his dreams. “She was walking her dog; a German Shepherd named Heidi,” Dan recalled. “She had on these burgundy Bermuda shorts, Bass Weejun shoes and a pink blouse. She had the greatest legs.” That was the first time Dan saw Nancy; a then 16-year-old aspiring teacher, who grew up on Greenwald Ave. For Dan, who lived in Athenia, it was love at first sight. As far as Nancy, well, she didn’t really notice Dan. “At that point I didn’t know Dan that well,” Nancy said. “There were male and female park directors. and I knew he was one of them.” Everyday at Robin Hood, Dan would see that girl with the great legs walking her dog. Then one day, he spotted something else. Something that might break his heart the hot shot athlete with the fancy car talking to his girl. Because of his athletic exploits, Hasselberger was, in a way, famous to many of the kids in Clifton. “I saw her talking to this other guy in a convertible,” 34 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Dan said. “One of the other kids at the park said to me, ‘oh that’s her boyfriend. He goes to Villanova.’ As soon as I heard the name, I knew who he was. I figured I didn’t have a chance.” Nancy, a ‘67 Clifton High School grad, remembers the day very well. “He was a fella my family knew for years,” Nancy explained. “We went out a couple of times. I used to walk my dog at the park. On one of those days he — Hasselberger — was looking for me. Then he left.” But as far as Dan knew, Hasselberger was her steady boyfriend. Then Dan noticed something else, something that gave him hope. “She was kind of just standing there by the car. I didn’t see any kind of chemistry.” Soon after, he continued, “the guy was not coming around anymore.” Still Dan had his doubts. “Nancy came by everyday, but I didn’t talk to her,” he recalled. Then one day Dan noticed Nancy sitting on the grass in the park. Emboldened by two tickets he had for an upcoming Johnny Mathis concert and his big $1.25 park an hour park director salary, Dan approached his crush. “I finally got up the nerve after about two weeks.” “He did not seem nervous,” Nancy said. “I had nothing to lose,” Dan recalled. “Plus I had something good — two tickets to a Johnny Mathis concert. He was a big deal back then.”

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Nancy’s response was not really what Dan expected. “He told me he had two tickets, but that his sister had canceled on him,” she said. “I said ‘yes’ right away.” Midnight Swim Dan admitted, “I was surprised she said yes,” Then she did something even more surprising. “She asked me, ‘Do you want to come over my house for a swim?’” he recalled. “She had a pool at her parent’s house. So that night that night I went for a swim.” The concert, which was still two weeks away, would be their first unchaperoned date. In the meantime, they talked on the phone, ate ice cream together at the park, swam in the pool and rode on his Vespa motor scooter. “Once we went on the date, toward the end of the concert, she put her head on my shoulder,” he recalled. “I remember thinking; she is a pretty nice girl. I liked her because she was quiet. She didn’t have a lot of girlfriends. I was kind of the same way.”

36 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

After working the summer at the park, Dan started to work for Nancy’s father at the family business - Hazel Road Service Station. “She would come there and bring me a hot dog and a soda,” he remembered. But even when they took their relationship to the next level, there were limits. “Even when we were engaged I couldn’t have her out past midnight,” Dan laughed. “One night I was giving her a kiss goodnight by the car and her mother came out of the house and said, ‘it’s past midnight.’” We were engaged! But they were good to us.” Nancy said that’s just the way it was then. “Back in those days you had to check with your parents,” she recalled. But like Dan, Nancy said it was the concert that made her realize they had a real connection. “It was a nice night,” she said. “He picked me up at my house. During the concert I rested my head on his shoulder.”

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


It was not until later that Nancy realized how much that date meant to Dan. “I didn’t realize how happy he was,” she said. “And how much he liked me. After that first date, it just felt like a natural thing for us to be together.” ‘I Married An Angel’ Nancy and Dan dated for four years before tying the knot on June 29, 1969 at First Lutheran Church on the corner of Van Houten Ave. and Grove St. Each went on to college to pursue careers in education. After they got married, they lived with her grandparents who had a house on Vernon Ave. Nancy and Dan stayed there until they bought their own house in New Hampshire in 1978. Today, loving life in New Hampshire, the couple never had children and Dan is still a teacher while Nancy works in management for a sales and marketing firm. Nearly 50 years after their first meeting, Nancy, 65 and Dan, 66, still enjoy each other’s company as much as the day they first met. “My wife is a tremendous cook and every night we eat a fabulous meal with candlelight and a bottle of wine and a flower on the table,” he said.

They also share a love for running. Dan has run in many events, including the New York and Boston marathons. But when he talks about his wife, he cannot help sounding like a love-stricken teenager. “Her legs are as good now as they were back then,” he said. “She looks like she is 25.” But for Dan the continued love for Nancy goes well beyond the physical attraction. “She is so easy to live with,” he said. “She is very calming. It’s a real gift she has. We never go to bed angry at each other. She is a very loving woman.” Dan credits Johnny Mathis and Robin Hood Park for bringing them together. “Now as an adult I can more fully appreciate what a wonderful town Clifton was to grow up in,” he said. While Robin Hood Park has a role in this love story, both Nancy and Dan point to the Johnny Mathis concert as the pivotal event that catapulted their relationship. “He kind of brought us together,” Dan said of the singer and his music. “He was famous for ‘Chances Are,’ which he sang at the concert,” continued Dan. “But there is another song called I Married An Angel. He didn’t play that one at the concert, but I hum it a lot when I think of my wife.”

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Matt Hunkele & Maria Amoroso Hunkele’s Different Diamond By Irene Jarosewich

Matt Hunkele vividly remembers the first time he met Maria Amoroso, the young lady who is now his fiancée. On Sept. 11, 2011, Matt had gone out to play ball with a local men’s league at the Eddie Mayo baseball diamond on the Clifton Ave. Extension. Maria’s girlfriend had come to watch her boyfriend play. Maria decided to join her. The boyfriend, as it turned out, was a friend and teammate of Matt’s and before long, Maria and Matt were being introduced. “When I saw her,” said Matt, “it was hard for me to concentrate because I couldn’t keep my off eyes of her. Since the day that I met her, I knew she was the one.” And, so a sad day for history turned out to be a good day for Maria and Matt. Maria was soon smitten with Matt, an athlete and no slouch in the looks department himself (He does share a passing resemblance to George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?). They dated for more than a year. Then last December, a week before Christmas, Matt 40 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

decided that he wanted to act – he wanted to turn that first moment at the baseball diamond into a real diamond for Maria. “By that time,” said Matt “I had fallen in love with her not only for her beauty, but for her intelligence and personality.” Matt plotted a surprise proposal. There was fresh snow on the slope behind his house. When Maria stopped over after getting her nails done, he convinced her to let him blindfold her and lead her outdoors. “It was great,” giggled Maria, “he hung lights and ornaments on the trees outside and carved out a heart in the snow and surrounded the heart with candles. Inside the heart, he wrote ‘will you marry me?’” Yes, she said, I will. Happily engaged, the couple immediately began to make wedding plans. More accurately, Maria has. Matt is participating, but laughs, “it’s really her wedding ideas. I want her to have whatever she wants.”

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


22 Varettoni Pl., Clifton • 973-772-2330 1293 Broad St., Bloomfield • 973-338-8300

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An Outdoor Wedding The wedding will be in May 2015 at the Tides Estate, a place they chose for the beautifully renovated space. “For both of us, it was really important to have an outdoor ceremony,” said Matt as Maria added, “and it will be spring and the garden will be just beautiful.” Most of all, they both agreed, they really want the wedding to be fun. The year will be busy for the young engaged couple. Matt, 24, will be graduating William Paterson University with a double major in Accounting and Financial Planning in May. He also works for Angelo’s Pizzeria & Restaurant on Market St. Maria, 25, will be receive her master’s degree in School Psychology from Farleigh Dickinson this May, as well. Currently, Matt lives in Clifton and Maria in Elmwood Park and although they would like to stay in the area after they marry, they suspect that they will live closer to Matt’s job in central Jersey. However, since their families are here, the couple will come back often. Matt, who grew up in Clifton, is the youngest child and the youngest brother to three older sisters. A 2008 CHS grad, Matt is an accomplished athlete. The Mustang played on both the varsity football and baseball teams. He continues to love both sports and continues to play with the New Jersey Amateur Baseball League for the Linde-Griffin Pile Drivers. The New Jersey Amateur Baseball League is less than a year old, having had their inaugural season in spring 2013. Clifton fields two teams in the 16-team association, the Pile Drivers and the Slates, both comprised of mostly CHS varsity players.

Maria was born in Ecuador and when she was 12, her family came to New Jersey. One of three children, she has both a brother and a sister. Travel is one of the ways that the couple enjoys spending time together and she hopes that she and Matt will be able to travel a lot more together. “I would like for us to go to the country I came from, Ecuador,” said Maria, continuing, “so that Matt can see it and not just hear my descriptions of my homeland.” Their love of the outdoors is one of the reasons the couple wanted an outdoor ceremony and is one of the reasons they like being together. Hiking the trails in the nearby Ramapo hills is a favorite place. However, said Maria, just hanging around each other is probably one of their most favorite activities. This couple really likes each other’s company. Asked about plans for Valentine’s Day, neither Matt nor Maria had a quick answer. “We’ve been so busy with work, and school, and planning the wedding,” Matt began to say, “that we just haven’t had much time to think about that, to plan that far ahead. It’s Maria’s birthday next week, so we’ll do something special for that ...” he trailed off, maybe feeling hesitant or perhaps secretive about his plans for the big day of romance. Maria jumped in. “We really don’t know yet. We might just stay in. We like movies. We might just be together and watch a movie.” Cuddling up and watching a movie – now that does sound romantic! So pick a love story that will be perfect to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the one you love.

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42 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

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Free classes meet 8:30 am to 5 pm with a 30-min. lunch break. Register Today!* In addition to the dates and classes listed, other FREE classes will be offered. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development has training funds available to NJBIA members and NJ Businesses to help employees get training in:

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Want training at your worksite? Call Linda Johnson at 973-684-7742 or email at Visit us online at Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Clifton’s Basketball

Hall of famer By Jack De Vries

And other tales of Mustang Round Ball Though Clifton is known for its great football teams, along with its champion hockey, soccer, and baseball squads, basketball also plays an important part in the city’s history. The following stories are a few treasures from Clifton’s hoop dreams past. Lace up your high-top Cons, slip on your sweat bands, and read along. The Hall of Famer Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Dr. J are all members of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. So is a player from Clifton, the unstoppable Bennie Borgmann. Though he never played for Clifton High, Borgmann did make the city his home. When Bennie was young, his mother died and his father moved from Haledon to Rhode Island—sending his son to live with an aunt in Clifton. Bennie spent much of his time in his new town learning to play basketball at School 15.

In 1920-21, Clifton’s NBA Hall of Famer Bennie Borgmann, at right, played for the Manhattan Rubber Team. Above from left are coach Magee, Fenlon, Borgmann, Grayson, White, Clapp and an unknown individual.

44 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

By the time he reached high school age, Borgmann was already playing against top local semi pro competition, performing in places like Paterson’s Entre Nous court or Passaic’s Kanter’s Auditorium. A 5’8” 160pound dynamo with a shoot first, pass later game, Bennie began his pro career after the 1921 season, agreeing to play for the mighty Kingston Colonials for $25 a game. For over two decades, Bennie starred for a host of great teams including the Original Celtics scoring over 25,000 career points. He became one of the most popular area athletes of the twenties (future comedian Lou Costello often carried Benny’s bag into gymnasiums for him), earning up to $10,000 a basketball season. Speed and endurance were his greatest assets. “I could run all day and night,” he said after his playing days ended. He was also an excellent shortstop, playing for the Doherty Silk Sox, a Clifton semi-pro baseball team that often beat major league teams—including Babe Ruth’s Yankees. He also played and managed in the minor leagues, and later scouted for many major league teams. In 1961, Clifton’s Bennie Borgmann was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


The Wonder Team’s Streak Nearly Ended in Clifton Known by the well-deserved nickname the Wonder Team, even a century later, the accomplishments of the Passaic High School basketball squad are still hard to fathom. They won 159 straight games during a streak that stretched over five years. The Wonder Team beat high school teams, schoolboy all-star squads, prep and business schools, and more than a few college teams. During their In 1923 these Mustangs almost beat the Wonder Team. Top: Coach Harry streak, they rang up 9,472 points—in Collester, Morris Karp, Larry DeMattia, Manager Donald Welenkamp, a game that featured no three pointers, George Reasor, Principal Walter Nutt. Bottom: Emil Bondinell, Joseph Tarris, no shot clock, and no tomahawk jams. Ray Bednarcik, Vincent Chimenti, Art Argauer, mascot Pete Wilhovsky. The Wonder Team began winning Passaic Herald writer George H. Greenfield described: in 1919 with a December victory against Newark Junior “Passaic’s morale was completely destroyed, crushed, College, 44-11. A little more than four years later, Passaic and swept away by the onrushing Maroon and Gray got its biggest scare of the streak during game No. 113— cohorts of Coach (Harry) Collester. With visions of a poscourtesy of Clifton High School. sible victory over the far-famed Wonder Team before On February 28, 1923, Passaic met Clifton on the floor their eyes, they made shots they had never made before, of the Paterson Armory before one of the smallest crowds played a floor game that they never dreamed themselves ever to see the Wonder Team play in that building. capable of, and, in general, proceeded to throw a monkey Many stayed home expecting another rout by Passaic, wrench into the Passaic machine.” who had beaten Clifton a few weeks before by a 67-29 At halftime, Clifton had closed to a 21-19 score and score for their 103rd straight win. tied the game at 22 early in the third quarter on a Though the Wonder Team was missing two of its Bednarcik steal and outside shot. The teams played close starters, they seemed more than a match for Clifton, basketball throughout the second half and, at the start of jumping out to a 21-4 lead. Then the Maroon and Gray the fourth quarter, the Wonder Team led, 28-26. erupted. Paced by team captain Ray Bednarcik and Joe Two Mike Hamas foul shots gave Passaic a 30-26 lead, Tarris, who combined for 26 points, Clifton blazed back but Clifton’s Larry De Mattia hit for a bucket and into the game.

46 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Tarris hit two foul shots to tie the score again. The Wonder Team countered with another basket by Hamas, who scored 21 for the game, to pull ahead, 32-30. With time running out, Clifton made one last run. Clutch baskets by Vince Chimenti and another by Tarris, gave the Maroon and Gray a 34-33 lead. The Passaic Daily News wrote: “It was the first time In 1947, the St. Francis Club from St. Cyril’s Church at Domyon’s: Front: John in four years that Passaic was Pavlica, John Pavlik, Bob Adams, and Jim Lotzer. Rear: John Bigos, Dan down with one minute left to Petrasek, Lou Pashinsky, Steve Mihalovich and Ed Kostic. play.” Here’s where the story gets interesting. Legend says a Domyon’s Hall lot less than one minute was left—probably closer to 10 Domyon’s Hall plays a prominent role in Clifton’s seconds. In a 2000 interview with the Herald News, basketball history. Clifton sports historian Harry Murtha said, “Art Argauer Located on 66 Center St. in the Botany section (now (a guard on the Clifton team) told me they were robbed. known as Courtside Pub), the tavern features a basketHe said the timekeeper was someone from Passaic and ball court in the back that has drawn players from all made sure the game lasted until Passaic took the lead.” over North Jersey, beginning in the 1930s. Though other fans confirm the story, the Passaic news“I loved playing there,” says John Kostisin, a former papers make no mention of the infamous “long clock.” player and head coach at Clifton High. “The rims were There is also another story (not reported in the game very forgiving and the ball often went in. I made sure my accounts) that Bednarcik missed a lay-up that would have paper route started and ended at Domyon’s so I could go given Clifton the game. inside and shoot when I was finished. It would cost five In whatever time remained, Hamas got the ball and cents a half-hour to play, a dime for an hour.” scored, giving Passaic a one-point lead. Fouled on the Kostisin wasn’t the only one who loved Domyon’s. play, he stepped to the line and made the shot, just before Besides the many Clifton players, teams from all over the final whistle sounded, giving the Wonder Team a 36the area competed on the court. Stars like Paterson’s 34 victory. Passaic had survived—but had the slow hand Larry Doby and Orange’s Monte and Cal Irvin played at of a timekeeper helped keep the streak alive? Domyon’s, as did NBA players Bob Davies, Pep Saul, No one knows for sure. Win No. 113 remains. and York Larese.

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I felt like I hadn’t even played at all.” Despite their heartbreaking loss, Coach Emil Bednarcik’s boys enjoyed a stellar season. One of their greatest wins was over a powerful Emerson team (22-2) in a state tournament game prior to the Newark Central contest. Down 27-20 at the half, Clifton came back with 6’5” At Domyon’s Courtside Pub in Botany Village in 2003, just for the memories, from Don Parsons fronting left: Tom Cupo,. Walt Caligaro, John Kostisin, Dan Petrasek (see him in 1947 on the Emerson’s giant center previous page), Joe Scancarella, Tony Glodava and Al Mardirossian jr. Steinmentz and preventing the ball from entering the post. On offense, Van Cleef When the court first opened, fans not only got to orchestrated the Clifton attack, running the Emerson watch a basketball game, they could dance in front of a team ragged trying to stop him. Corizzi, the state’s leadlive band at halftime and after the game. Players had to ing scorer that season, paced the team with 24 points as put up with the smoke from cigarettes and cigars that the Mustangs advanced with a 58-50 victory. ringed the court. “Though Hal was only about 6-foot tall,” says Van “Breathing the air at Domyon’s,” says Kostisin, “conCleef, “he scored all his points from inside the foul line. ditioned me for playing in places like the Paterson The reason was that he couldn’t see very well. Even Armory that were just as smoky.” Bill Domyon, who ran though we had a big scoreboard, he used to come into the the basketball court for 55 years before selling the busihuddle during timeouts and ask, ‘What’s the score?’ We ness a decade ago, said in a 2001 interview that he kidded him a lot about that.” enjoyed his business immensely. “I was too busy workThe 1946 team continued to make their city proud foling to watch the games,” he says, “but I loved meeting lowing graduation. During the 1950 season, the trio of the people. I have wonderful memories.” Van Cleef, Corizzi, and Parsons went on to start for Rutgers University, with Parsons scoring over 1,000 The “Almost” State Champions career points for the school. Perhaps the greatest Clifton basketball team ever was “Don was the first to go to Rutgers in 1947,” says Van the 1946 squad that finished with an incredible 22-1 Cleef, who became a baseball All-American in college. record. After capturing the Passaic Valley Conference “I joined him in 1948, and when Hal got out of the servchampionship, the Mustangs only defeat came when ice, he came to the school. Hal also played football for they were upset by Newark Central in the state tournaRutgers and became an outstanding end.” ment. The loss was especially heartbreaking because One who remembers their play at Rutgers was freshNewark Central went on to lose to Thomas Jefferson, a man basketball coach Bob Sterling. team Clifton had already beaten. “I can’t say enough superlatives about the three of “It was overconfidence, as simple as that,” says Ray them,” says Sterling. “What an endorsement for Clifton Van Cleef, the team’s point guard. “We were flat and didHigh School they were. Emil (Bednarcik) did a fine job n’t come out with fire like we had in other ball games. preparing them, and they were all tough competitors. They surrounded Hal Corizzi, who was our leading scorer, and that put the pressure on Ted Dul and Elmer Gall Corizzi was a bull, Parsons was our center, and Van to score. Cleef was the type that would annoy the opposing “At the end, we were stunned. They were a good team—he never stopped. team, but we had beaten better teams than Newark “They were the kind of kids you live to coach, the Central. It’s hard to explain, but at the end of that game, ones who gave every ounce of effort.” Clifton Merchant • February 2014 49

The 6’4” Van Dalen averaged 16 points a game and was the Mustangs’ When you mention winning Clifton top rebounder in 1963, later playing for basketball teams, Coach Emil Rutgers on the same team as legendary Bednarcik’s name comes to mind. But North Carolina State coach Jim another basketball coach also had an Valvano. Cesar, now a doctor in outstanding record. Before becoming California, averaged 28.6 points a Clifton’s head football coach in 1964, game in 1964, while Yuhas became the Bill Vander Closter led the Mustangs school’s first 1,000 point scorer, averJV basketball team to over 220 wins. aging 21.4 points a game in 1966. He Though he led Clifton to five state was later selected to The Record’s Allfootball titles, Vandy always considCentury Team for Passaic County, the ered basketball his best sport, earning The late Coach Bill Vander Closter Mustangs’ lone representative. All-Navy honors while playing in the was a familiar sight on the grid Monks, now an attorney in Oregon, iron but he also had an impressive service. record on the basketball court. helped lead the 1967 Mustangs to a 17-6 record, averaging just under 20 Hoopin’ in the Age of Aquarius points a game. He later played for Columbia University In the sixties, Clifton boasted incredible individual and was a member of the nationally ranked 1969 Ivy talent as evidenced by the five players selected for the League championship team. Kondra, today a physician Mustangs All-Century Team by Clifton Merchant in California, was also a 1,000-point scorer and averaged Magazine. The Woodstock Generation’s Fab Five— Ken over 20 points a game in both his junior and senior years. Van Dalen, Dennis Cesar, Al Yuhas, Ed Monks, and He earned All-County, All-Metropolitan, and All-State Larry Kondra—gave the sixties the most players on the honors and was an Honorable Mention All-American team of any decade. selection as a senior. Each was a special player.

Not Just Football

The 1945-46 CHS Basketball team who went on to be North Jersey Group 1V & Passaic Valley Conference Champions. From left standing, Coach Bednarcik, Van Cleef, Torcivia, Atkinson, Bulyn, Hatala, Dull, Olson, Gall, Corrizzi, Parsons, & Dr. Gerow. Sitting, DeLotto, Wolf, Donall, & Gibnavdi.

50 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


In March, 1993, these 11 and 12 year old Clifton kids became the New Jersey State Biddy League Champions: (kneeling left to right) Erik Dobkowski, Mike Rivera, Andrea McCormick, Omar Caccares-Marzon, Ryan Mikula and Bryan Memen. (Standing) George Hayek (Coordinator), Jesse Smith, John Chestnut, Joey Haro, John Antonucci Sr. (Coach), John Antonucci Jr., Joey Labruzza, Pablo Castro and Henry McCormick (Video Technician). Their story is on page 54.

The All-Century Team In 2000, Clifton Merchant Magazine asked a panel of Mustangs basketball experts to select the school’s All-Century Basketball Team. Here are the 15 players who were chosen as “best of the best”: Ed Bednarcik - 1975, Bud Campbell - 1975, Dennis Cesar - 1964, Hal Corizzi - 1946, Ed Monks - 1967, Al Yuhas - 1966, Ray Van Cleef - 1947, Sam Poulis - 1991, Billy DeGraaf - 1952, Bill Shaughnessy - 1988, Rich Fincken - 1956, Ken Van Dalen - 1963, Jerry Manning - 1959, Larry Kondra - 1969, Rich Conrad - 1971.

52 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Mustangs Inspiring Mustangs After winning the state championship, the 1966 Clifton football team continued to inspire others—especially basketball players. Football team captain Bob Csuka recalls a game against powerful Lodi when the Bergen County school was trying to gain entrance into the Passaic Valley Conference. “Lodi’s admission into the PVC was something (football) Coach Bill Vander Closter was dead against,” Csuka remembers. “When Lodi came to our gym, their fans hung a sign saying they deserved to be part of the PVC.” Knowing a Lodi victory would bolster their case for joining the PVC, the football team tore down the sign at halftime and charged into the Clifton locker room during Coach Emil Bednarcik’s pep talk. “We showed the players the

sign,” Csuka says, “and then ripped it up in front of them. They were so fired up that they ran Lodi off the floor in the second half. At the end of the game, we carried Coach Bednarcik off the floor.”

from long range. “He’d do things during a game that were so amazing,” says Clifton’s Larry Gibson, a starting forward on the 1975 team, “that I had to remind myself to pay attention and not get distracted. If the 3Clifton’s Greatest Opponent point rule had existed, he would have averHe was their greatest rival, and his aged 55 points a game.” team brought out the competitive best in By 1975, the Hornets and Mustangs had the Mustangs. From 1971 to 1975, Passaic become a mirror image of the other. To Valley’s John Gerdy ruled area courts, counter Gerdy, Clifton used high-scoring John Gerdy becoming Passaic County’s top career guard Ed Bednarcik. To offset PV’s rugged scorer with 2,614 points. Though Gerdy put on some Mike Suglia, the Mustangs featured the energetic Bud great performances against other teams—including a 48Campbell. Both teams boasted loud, passionate fans. point effort against Rory Sparrow’s Eastside squad— “What I remember about all our games was how the Clifton games were legendary. gyms rocked,” remarks Kostisin. “At the end of the “As a sophomore in 1973,” says then Clifton head games, it was one side or the other singing ‘Good bye, coach John Kostisin, “Gerdy came back from mono and Gerdy’ or ‘Good bye, Clifton.’” still scored 40 against us. I remember running three difGerdy, now an author and college professor living in ferent guards at him the entire game and not stopping Pennsylvania, vividly recalls PV’s battles against him.” Averaging nearly 25 points as a freshman, Gerdy Clifton. “Those games were fun,” he says. “The gym totaled over 22 points per game as a sophomore, 26 as a was always filled, the atmosphere electric, and the teams junior, and a career high 30.1 during his senior year. A evenly matched. While everyone competed fiercely, we 6’4” guard, the Hornets star scored most of his points had great respect for each other.”

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In 2002, senior Albert Torres, at left, finished his career at CHS with 1,081 career points. He is pictured with Coach Pete Vasil and sophomore Devon Moffatt. Moffatt went on to score 1,228 midway through his junior year before leaving CHS in 2003 for St. Patrick’s in Elizabeth.

Albert Torres Devon Moffatt

1,081 The Mustangs, who would win the 1975 Northern NJ Interscholastic League title, met the Hornets three times that season. Their first battle came during the Passaic Valley Holiday Tournament on the Hornets’ home floor. Gerdy started off the game cold, watching his long shots clang off the back rim and hearing the Clifton crowd count each miss. Kostisin had Campbell, his longlimbed center, chase Gerdy along the outside. The plan worked until Campbell got into foul trouble. With Campbell on the bench, Gerdy rediscovered his jumper and scored 45 points in PV’s 86-74 victory. In January, over 2,000 loud fans packed the CHS gym and saw the rivalry at its best. Gerdy led PV to a one-point lead with six minutes to play, but the Mustangs fought back. Twice during the final minutes, Clifton’s Rick LaMonica scored on putbacks for crucial points. His efforts, along with Campbell’s 32 points and Bednarcik’s 23, sparked the Mustangs to a 75-72 win. Gerdy had 26 points for the losing Hornets. The final meeting between the schools came in February. The game was close into the fourth quarter. Down by six, Clifton fought back with eight-straight points by Bednarcik and Campbell to give the Mustangs a 60-58 lead. But PV refused to lose on its home floor. The Hornets outscored the Mustangs 16-4 through the final minutes for a 76-65 win. Gerdy led PV with 35 points, while Bednarcik topped Clifton with 34. The rivalry was the high point of both teams’ seasons as each lost in the state tournament. Clifton (20-3) bowed to North Bergen, while PV (22-5) was upset by Bayonne. 54 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant


She Got Game Former Clifton head coach John Kostisin is a keen judge of basketball talent, having seen every great Clifton player since the early forties. During his 1984 basketball clinics for middle school students, the coach knew he was watching a great player—one better than any on the court. However, this athlete would never play for Kostisin on the high school team. The best player on the court that year was a girl—Janet Domino. “She was better than any of the boys,” say Kostisin. “She was a tremendous athlete in both softball and basketball.” Though she stopped beating the boys on the court after the eighth grade, Domino continued to impress Clifton coaches. She played four years for the Lady Mustangs basketball and softball teams, becoming an All-County player on the hardwood. Domino was elected to the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.

Third in the World In 1993, the best team in the city was probably its smallest. After winning the Division I-A state championship, Clifton’s Biddy Basketball Team journeyed to Abbeyville, La., to compete for the world title. The boys from Clifton did well, finishing third. “The team was organized through the Recreation Department,” recalled the late Bob Potts in 2000. “George Hayek and I helped put the team together, and they were coached by John Antonucci Sr., whose son John played on the team. Biddy basketball teams compete on 8.5 foot baskets and players cannot be taller than 5’8”.

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Clifton formed its Biddy team only three weeks before the state tournament. However, because three of the team’s stars—Antonucci Jr., Andre McCormick, and Joe Haro—had played together on the Clifton Boys Club team, the squad quickly jelled. Accompanied by many of the parents, and Potts, Hayek and Antonucci Sr., the Clifton team won twice in the world tournament before losing to Puerto Rico. “It was a great experience to travel,” says Ryan Mikula, a player on the team. “We were all from different schools, but we came together. What I remember most was the camaraderie we had.”

Sammy Poulis

Dori Breen



Al Yuhas

Ed Bednarcik



Bill Shaughnessy

Larry Kondra



Kostisin’s Mustang Five Though he says he’s “going to get a lot of flack for this,” former coach John Kostisin agreed to provide his all-time starting five for Clifton High. After mentioning great players like Larry Kondra, Bud Campbell, Rich Fincken, Ken Van Dalen, Bill Shaughnessy, Sam Poulis, and “many others,” Kostisin named his all time starting Mustang Five: Guards Devon Moffatt and Ed Bednarcik, Forwards: Hal Corizzi and Rich Conrad with Center Al Yuhas.

The 1000 Club During the winter season of 2002, two CHS boys’ basketball players passed the 1,000 point milestone in their careers and joined an exclusive club, which still numbers eight Clifton Mustangs. For senior guard Albert Torres, the 2002 season marked the end of a brilliant high school career. For sophomore guard Devon Moffatt, it looked like it was just the beginning. Together, they formed what Mustang basketball coach Pete Vasil called the greatest back court Clifton has ever seen. Torres, who was named to the All-Passaic County Second Team, finished his career at CHS with 1,081 career points. “He’s a great open floor player and very explosive,” the coach said. Devon Moffatt, an All-County First Team selection, had two years left at CHS when he made the club. His 1,003 career points as a sophomore meant that by midseason in his junior year, Moffatt was going to simply shatter—and most likely obliterate—the school record of 1,258 career points netted by 1991 grad Sam Poulis. After his first two seasons, Moffatt had already earned the reputation as a big game player. 56 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

In Clifton’s 2002 State tournament victory over Teaneck, Moffatt scored 24 points and hauled down 11 rebounds. During the regular season, he was a consistent producer and a leader on the floor. In the following year, Vasil named Moffatt, then a junior, his captain and the Mustangs were on to their best season since 1977. But despite mentoring, Moffatt left CHS midway through the season to attend St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth. “It was unfortunate,” is how Vasil summed it up. The 2003 Mustangs finished 15-9 and went into the second round of the states. In 2002, Moffatt and Torres joined six other Mustangs who have filled the CHS trophy case with those brightly painted balls, each marking the memorable day in their lives when they became a member of the Mustang 1,000 Club.

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Bards of Clifton Three Clifton Poets honored with Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards

Joe Rathgeber, Michael Lupi and Jim Gwyn. Below, Paterson’s Allen Ginsberg. The three Clifton men received honorable mention awards in the Poetry Center’s Allen Ginsberg Poetry competition.

Renowned as the author of a ‘dirty’ poem whose first public reading in a West Coast gallery was said to have turned the 1950s into the ’60s in a single night, Allen Ginsberg embodied, as a figure, some great cold war climax of human disinhibition,” wrote Walter Kirn in a Nov. 19, 2006 essay in The New York Times. The legacy of Paterson-born Ginsberg as the poet laureate of the Beat generation was burnished in 1956 with the publication of Howl and Other Poems. Shortly after its release in print in San Francisco, and because of the graphic sexual language of the poem, the book was banned for obscenity. The work overcame censorship trials, however, and Howl became one of the most widely read poems of the century, translated into 25 languages. As the leading icon of the Beats, Ginsberg studied under gurus and Zen masters and was involved in countless political activities, including protests against the Vietnam War, and he spoke openly about issues that concerned him, such as free speech and gay rights agendas. 58 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Ginsberg went on to publish numerous collections of poetry, including Kaddish and Other Poems (1961), Planet News (1968), and The Fall of America: Poems of These States (1973). Until his death in 1997, he lived a life fit for the gossip pages and came to love his hometown, returning to read his work at the Poetry Center. For many, due to his Paterson connection and the fact that his mentor was the Rutherford physician and poet William Carlos Williams, Ginsberg continues to serve as a genuine inspiration to generations of writers. Which is why it makes literary sense that the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College presents the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, honoring Allen Ginsberg’s contributions to American Literature. The top three winners received cash prizes and along with other poets read their works on Feb. 1 and are published in the Paterson Literary Review. We’re happy about this year’s award winners because three poets who received “Honorable Mention” are in fact from Clifton. No other town, in Jersey or elsewhere, which produced a prize winner or an Honorable Mention, had more than one. While they did not receive cash prizes, Clifton’s three bards were honored at the reading. Here is a little background on our three Clifton poets.

He Even Looks Like a Poet James Gwyn, the one with the twirled mustache and beret to the left, has, fittingly, a general air of jauntiness about him. His winning poem is Real Men Read. Gwyn grew up in Medina, in upstate NY, majored in English and Creative Writing at what is now SUNY Binghamton and has resided in Dutch Hill since 1991. He works for the College Entrance Examination Board or CEEB, which administers nationally the SAT’s. “People in general” is how Gwyn sums up his inspiration for his writing of verse. “I observe people on the train while going to work in New York City,” he explains. “I watch them on the subway too. Trains are great places for inspiration. They’re great places to write and they’re great places to read poetry. You can read a poem between stops. The doors open and you stop reading for a moment. The doors close and you read some more. It’s fun and it develops a rhythm of its own.” One poet that Gwyn recommends is Billy Collins, who was in fact Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. “Accessibility is important for poets,” Gwyn continues. That’s one reason he thinks old Allen Ginsberg himself was “a very good poet. He made

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CLIFTON POETRY poetry accessible and wrote in language that everybody could understand.” Gywn is a frequent visitor at the podium for the Ginsberg Award. He has numerous honorable mentions and in 2008 he won the top prize along with $1,000 for his poem The Burning Bed. “I really endorse going to poetry readings,” Gwyn suggests to readers. “They’re a way to hear poets themselves play with words. And to let their words move you in real time.” Most of Gwyn’s own poems are published in several volumes of what he terms “chapbooks.” In the 17th and 18th century these were inexpensively printed pamphlets often used to make political statements. Today’s versions are generally collections of poems, no more than 48 pages. Gwyn himself laughs, however, when he points out that “almost all of my chapbooks are out of print today. Although I may have some at home, the old ones are pretty hard to find now.” Since this is a month of romance, too, we of course asked which poet Gwyn might recommend for lovers to read together. He suggested John Donne from the 17th century, a man who wrote some of the most sensuous lyrics out there. There’s romance in Gwyn’s own life, too: a long, happy marriage which has resulted in twin sons who themselves graduated from CHS last year and now both attend local colleges. There’s also a puckish sense of humor. Asked his age, Gwyn replies that he’s “as old as Benjamin Button.” This is a reference to an F. Scott Fitzgerald story (and subsequent flop Brad Pitt movie) about a man who is born old and progresses through life getting younger. Perhaps that’s simply the magic of being a practicing and prize-winning poet, of feeling younger all the time even as you burnish your considerable talents.

60 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Gwyn family: Gregory, Matthew, James, Emily Rose.

The English Teacher Who Loves Language Joseph Rathgeber does give his age—30—and while he and Gwyn were Dutch Hill neighbors for a few years, Rathgeber is a home-grown Clifton product. He went to Grove Hill Nursery for pre-school, then attended School 15, Woodrow Wilson Middle School and CHS. He also proudly participated in that uniquelyClifton rite of passage called the Mustang Marching Band. His winning poem is American Poetry. Today, Rathgeber is a high school English teacher. He moved from Dutch Hill and purchased a home in Clifton Center with his wife, the former Michelle Primavera, whom he graduated CHS with in 2001. They have one daughter Joleen and are expecting another soon. There are three main influences on his own rather considerable body of work to date: “Clifton’s diversity, my connection since childhood to Dutch Hill and the city’s position between Paterson and Passaic.” And he also stresses his love of “New Jersey’s own great poets.”

He cites Rutherford’s William Carlos Williams (who for most of his life was a practicing obstetrician and pediatrician there), Ginsberg of Paterson, Walt Whitman of Camden (he spent the latter decades of his life in Jersey no matter that the mall named after him is on Long Island) and the recently deceased and highly controversial Amiri Baraka of Newark. “All of them,” Rathgeber feels, “worked very hard at language. All are poets who really cared.” Ask Rathgeber which poets he personally likes to read and he’ll rattle off 20 or so names in machine gun-like bursts: Matthew Dickman, Robert Frost, Charles Bernstein, Wallace Stevens (a career employee of an insurance company... proof that poets are often rooted firmly in the “real” world), and the Italian poet and 1975 Nobel Prize winner for literature Eugenio Montale. He even adds someone whose way lengthy poems about Arthurian knightly deeds and laments for lost friends have been putting high school students to sleep for over 160 years: Alfred Tennyson. “All are worth reading, and taking seriously,” Rathgeber believes. “Poetry is a very flexible art form,” he says. “You can even write it very quickly. Yes, too, it’s not to everyone’s taste, but that’s maybe where good teachers come in. It’s probably taught more easily one-toone or in small groups rather than large classes. You have to pay attention and you have to appreciate the possibilities of language.” Asked which poets’ romantic lyrics he’d recommend, however, seemingly without thinking hard

about it, Rathgeber rattles off Rita Dove and Gwendolyn Brooks. “Both seem to have a real appreciation of how difficult love can be,” says Rathgeber, adding: “And of how rewarding it is, too.” The curious can also Google Rathgeber and actually read his master’s thesis for his MA in Creative Writing at Seton Hall.

It’s a story about a boy of Palestinian descent growing up in Clifton and it’s pretty doggoned interesting. And localized. So much so that there’s even a discussion in it of the proper Cliftonite’s pronunciation of Piaget Ave. Which has nothing to do with what people who took French in school might assume, wherever they come from.

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


CLIFTON POETRY And This One Sounds Like A Poet The first thing one notices about Michael Lupi, yet another Clifton schools-schooled poet who graduated CHS in 2000 after passing through School 5 and Woodrow Wilson, is his voice. It’s good. And rich. (The word “mellifluous� comes to mind.) This is no Bob Dylanish nasal whine or the ranch hand’s twang that Bruce Springsteen seems to affect and certainly didn’t pick up even living in either Colt’s Neck or West Long Branch, to cite two rockers hailed as poets. Lupi’s is a voice meant for reading poems out loud. Those of others as well as his own. And it’s well suited to a classroom and to commanding attention there, too. The 31-year-old teaches English at both Bergen Community College and a private learning center in Bergen County. “The poem of mine that was selected for Honorable Mention is called The Source Code In The Snow Drift and its themes include family legacies, self-determination and tragedy.� Some of the poem, he notes, is also organized around motifs of computer programming. That’s in large part because both his parents in fact studied computer programming.

The first lines of said poem are She jumped headlong from a second-story window into a snowdrift — my mother as a child. “And she really did that,� Lupi adds in a tone that shuts down further questioning, tells you to go read the resulting poem instead. Another source of inspiration he cites for his work is his girlfriend from Clifton “and I’ve written about her.� But he wasn’t in the Marching Mustang Band. “I played basketball in high school,� he replies, giving him a surprising sort of affinity with the deceased poet Jim Carroll, whose early acclaimed work The Basketball Diaries was made into an early Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Poets he likes are also somewhat surprising. “Shelley is my personal favorite,� he says. “There are always little pockets of revelations in his work.� He also mentions, from the same period, both Byron and Keats. All three, he assures, “are perfect for the general purposes of romance.� Ask Lupi as to why he writes poetry, he explains: “In my teens I showed some inclination for it, and was encouraged. It’s a very difficult art, and requires patience, dedication and a tolerance for frustration.�


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Under the Sea

Sculpture park Big Bug

Next time you go to city hall to recycle, consider how artist Jodi Carlson gave new life to olds metals and sculpted art. Look up in a maple and see the six foot wide Big Bug. Sigmund stands naked in a field. And near the well— but where else?—discover the 20 foot-long-Under the Sea. Created by Jodi Carlson using discarded reflective street signs, (see more at ) these three join others on the grounds of the Clifton Sculpture Park and can be seen for free seven days, from dawn to dust. Art literally pops up all over the park, located at Clifton and Van Houten Aves. About three dozen sculptures can be found on the 25acre campus surrounding city hall and the Clifton Police Station. Several times a year, the park’s roadways are transformed to the Avenue of Flags, with 1,800 American Flags honoring veterans, living and deceased. There is also the Clifton Arts Center Gallery, which stages art exhibits and presents cultural events. Admission there is $3. Details:


Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Arts & Culture The Clifton Arts Center opens In The Style of… an art exhibit and sale by members of the Clifton Association of Artists (CAA) on Feb. 26. A reception, open to the public, is on March 1 from 1 to 4 pm. This year’s theme has members choosing a famous artist and creating their own composition in the style of that artist. Write to for info. Clifton’s ATC Studios’ 2014 Young Playwrights Project is open to middle and high school students and is accepting 10 minutes or under one-act scripts that reflect the concept Believe! This may include realistic points of view, and those from the student’s imagination. Scripts should reflect the writer’s direct experience or creative exploration. Send submissions to The deadline is March 15. More details at

The Woodrow Wilson Middle School Symphoniques Orchestra Ensemble is under the direction of Elise White. Their Spring Concert is on May 19 and 20.

Don Sheffrin, Mike VanLuvender, Gus Ferrari, Victoria Waumans and Robin Edinger are cast in Murd–ARRRR! Pirates of the Salty Dog, a murder / mystery dinner and show by the Theater League of Clifton. Six show dates in March are scheduled at Mario’s and the price is $40. Call 973-928-7668 to purchase tickets or go to Hurry, shows sell out quickly.

The Geraci Citizens League’s St. Joseph’s Day Gala is on March 15.

64 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

The Feast Day of St. Joseph—the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary—is on March 19. In Sicily, where St. Joseph is a Patron, and here in many Italian-American communities, thanks are given on that day to St. Joseph—San Giuseppe—for preventing a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. Keeping that tradition alive, the 84th Geraci Citizens League St. Joseph’s Dinner Dance is on March 15 at The Brownstone at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $90. Coordinated by Nina Corradino, those who attend will enjoy traditional pasta dishes, finocchi and zeppoli, dancing and music. For tickets, call Corradino at 973-278-0356 or 973-470-8982.

The Tenth Annual Passaic County Film Festival on April 26 is a juried exhibition of students’ and independent filmmakers’ work which showcases projects created by filmmakers who live, attend school, or work in Passaic County. All 10minute entries are the sole effort of those submitting the work. There is free admission to the festival and screenings will take place at the Fabian 8 Theater in downtown Paterson. Call 973-569-4720 or write to Clifton Recreation offers a Dinner and a Movie on Feb. 20 at Main and Washington Aves. Dinner will be served at 5 pm and the movie, Free Birds is at 6 pm. For $5.50, get a choice of hot dog or hamburger plus French fries, a soda, the movie, popcorn and candy. Seating is limited. Buy tickets at or call 973-470-5956. The Friends of the Clifton Public Library seek to raise funds to enhance library services, sponsor special events for children and teens and encourage community awareness of services offered at the Main Library on Piaget Ave. and its Allwood branch on Lyall Rd..

Officers of the Friends of the Clifton Public Library: Colleen Murray, VicePresident; Vivian Semeraro, President; Roberta Silverberg, Secretary; Mary Rogers, Treasurer; and At-large Members Joan Sanford and Fran Warren.

Government funding pays only a portion of the Library’s operating expense. The Friends, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is a volunteer group who essentially want to add some extras and stretch tax dollar with books and programming. Membership with the Friends of the Clifton Public Library is a great way to support and expand the free and vital services including literacy training, internet access and job search resources. The Friends was originally formed in 1985 and new membership incentives will soon be offered. There is an additional benefit when Corporations make matching gifts.

Officers, pictured above, were elected this past December and said they are looking forward to adding members and expanding programming. The next meeting, open to all, is on March 12 at 7 pm at the Main Library. A representative of City Green will present a program on their efforts at Schultheis Farm. This 5-acre site on Grove St. is producing organic food and City Green was instrumental in teaching gardening to volunteers so as to foster a sense of community. Refreshments will be served. Learn more about the Friends. Go to and click on Support Us or call 973-772-5500.

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Community Events School 16’s Tricky Tray is March 26 at the Brownstone. Tickets are $45 and include a beefsteak with antipasto, pasta, beer, wine, soda and dessert. Doors open at 6 pm. Prizes include designer hand bags, home electronics, jewelry, home goods and more. For tickets and details, call Michelle Genardi at 973-417-2704. St. Paul Church Fat Friday Beefsteak is a fundraiser to help pay for the installation of an elevator before this year’s centennial celebration in June. The Mardi Gras style Fat Friday Beefsteak is in the Church Hall, 124 Union Ave., on Feb. 28 at 7 pm. The BYOB affair is $35; purchase by Feb. 24. Call 973-340-1300 for info.

Assemblyman Tom Giblin heard about Bobby Turcic being a huge Jets fan in late December. So he visited the Rowland Ave. resident and his mom Diane Wright on Jan. 15 with a belated Christmas gift—an authentic Jets football. Turcic, who turned 40 on Nov. 24, works at the Clifton Adult Opportunity Center.

Liberty Tax Service—Allwood wants to take care of the veterans, active military and their immediate family members with free federal tax preparation during “Military and Veterans Appreciation Week.” First time customers who fall into these categories can get a free Federal Return from Feb. 10 to Feb 17. Just bring military or a VA id card, along with a driver’s license to get the free return. “We want to give something back to those who served,” said Maryann Bowen, owner of Liberty Tax Service in the Richfield Shopping Center. Their office is at 1344 Clifton Ave. (next to Boston Market). Find out more; call them at 973-778-0700 or email Clifton Cares, a group of volunteers who have been sending supplies of ‘goodies’ to US Army troops serving overseas, shipped 66 packages on Jan 24. On the night before, packing decks of playing cards donated by the Sands Casino in Bethlehem PA for the troops, are from left, Chris Liszner, Lizz Gagnon, Dona Crum, Cathy Reynics, Joe Lauritano, and Dennis Reynics.

66 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Kevin O'Neil, left, owner of Clifton’s IHOP on Rt. 3, with Damien Burke, notes National Pancake Day is March 4. Stop in for a free stack of pancakes and donate to the Children’s Miracle Network, the beneficiary of this nationwide fundraiser.

At the opening of Powerflow Hot Yoga on Van Houten Ave on Jan. 11, are owners Jerry LePore and his nephew Brian, with manager Meghan Hunter. The newly constructed studio located between School 2 and Grimaldi’s offers classes 7 days a week and is the fourth location for Powerflow. See


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By Richard Szathmary Meet our CHS Students of the Month, selected by the VP’s of each wing. Gabriella Has The Grades Gabriella Varano, a ninth grader in the East Wing, says that “there are only a handful of teachers who can make an indelible mark on your first year of high school.” For Pamela Prandy Hanyel J. Reyes her that’s Mr. Michael Rogers. “He has an uncanny way of making the mundane and pedestrian seem exciting and Hanyel Has At It vital,” Gabriella notes, terming Rogers The Annex’s very own Hanyel “the only person I know who can make the Reyes says that both Mr. Alvarado Black Plague compelling instead of and Mrs. Allen there “are great repelling.” Her best friend is Kassandra and have cool styles of teaching.” Velez, who she’s known since 6th grade at He describes both as “letting CCMS and has “a unique sense of humor. themselves be open to questions She’s a constant reminder I shouldn’t take and constantly explaining the leseverything too seriously.” son until everyone in the class has After just two marking periods at CHS, understood it.” He leaves all their Gabriella’s day is pretty filled with postclasses “feeling prepared.” class activities, too, including the Mustang Hanyel cites a septet of special Marching Band, the CHS Orchestra and friends as “great influences” on his Jill Desai Brass Band and Pit Orchestra, the AV Club life: Anthony C., Brandon S., and the Italian Club. She’s also recently Brittany C., Hiral S., Prince H., joined the Clifton Community Band. Angie M. and Briana S. (“You guys” all know who you Down the line, however, she hopes to pursue a career are sans surnames, in other words.) in law, not music, “with an emphasis on defending and “One of my favorite things about going to school,” advocating for Special Needs students.” Hanyel adds, “is being able to talk to friends you do not And she definitely enjoys school. “Being an honors always get a chance to otherwise see.” student can be difficult,” she admits. “However, I enjoy He’s also refreshingly stays very much in the relative the challenges and value the opportunity.” “now” when it comes to his future aspirations, which “There are many other deserving students” who could “would be for me to remain at a high level of performance just as easily be Students of the Month, Gabriella adds. throughout high school and hopefully college years.” Nonetheless, she’s “extremely grateful for this Hanyel also feels there’s one simple reason he’s repacknowledgement and trust that my hard work, curiosity ping the Annex this month. “Because I never give up. and diligence will always stay in the forefront throughRaising my hand is the chance to understand the lesson. out my academic career.” I try to never miss a homework assignment and I study 68 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

hard to reach the highest grade I possibly can.” Hanyel also nicely and prominently adds one thing we don’t perhaps hear as often from Students of the Month as you might imagine: a big heartfelt “Thank you!”

to hold.” She also played tennis this past autumn for the Mustangs. She’s considering becoming a pharmacist after-graduation and the requisite course of college science -focused study. “I love that my teachers, both past Jill Celebrates “Sisterhood” and present, have been very supportive Jill Desai from the North Wing has and motivating, and made their classes two fave pedagogues, Mr. Chilowicz interesting and engaging,” she adds and Mr. Henry. “‘Mr. Chil’ taught us charmingly. skills for the real world as well as As to why she was selected to rep Gabriella Varano about chemistry, and he’s the reason I her wing this month, she modestly love the subject so much today. And Mr. Henry’s pasdemurs with “It’s an honor and a wonderful reward.” She sion about history transferred to me and made me avid allows, too, that it took “continuous hard work and dedabout his class. The work ethic I developed there will ication.” stay with me for the rest of my life.” (And when, come to think of it, was the last time you heard of a high school Ella Dances On Through Life avid about...well...avid’ about anything?) Pamela “Ella” Prandy” from the Central Wing in no Her best friend is the intriguingly named Pooja, uncertain terms proclaims that Dance is her favorite class because “over the years we have become like sisters. of all. “It’s where I gain energy to go throughout the rest She’s become my shoulder to lean on and my pillar of of my day. Where I can express myself without writing strength.” Jill is president of the Asian Club at CHS and or speaking.” That in turn means Mrs. Lois Manzella is secretary of the Key Club, positions she’s “very proud her favorite teacher, a woman she cites as one

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Students of the Month “who’s always letting students know me. I will always be indebted to her for that nothing is impossible.” that. Plus, she’s really fun to be around.” Her best friend is Juan Adames. Felicia also particularly savors “Since the beginning, we’ve always “socializing with my friends and teachhad each other’s back,” she says. “We ers at school. It’s a home away from always push one another to do the best home” for her, she gladly admits. But we can and we don’t let each other setwatch out, too! For this young lady tle for anything less than our dreams.” has earned her black belt in Tae Kwon For extracurrics, “This year I joined Do. She says she’d also “like to pubthe French and Dance clubs and had a lish a best-selling and award-winning part in the musical ‘Shrek.’” Come book.” And then go on to a career in spring sports tryout time, she’s also criminal justice. going for Mustangs girls’ softball. “Frankly,” she concludes self-depAfter graduation, she subsequently recatingly, “I don’t know why I was Felicia Selvakumar hopes to go on to college to eventually chosen as the Student of the Month but become a dentist. And then, along with I won’t jinx it because it makes me developing a dental practice, “continue doing what I proud even if it was a mistake.” love by opening a dance school for kids.” “What I enjoy most about school,” she continues, “is A Local Remedy For SAT-Borne Stress? CHS’s own the electives which allow students to purposely choose fine faculty has jumped into the crowded college admiscourses they know they’ll enjoy. I also like that school sions marketplace with its SAT prep course. is just a taste of what life can be after graduation.” Courses are held on convenient Saturdays from 8 am As to why her s Student of the Month, Ella Prandy to noon and weekdays from 7 to 9 pm, beginning late says “it’s because I made my school work my number February for the May round. one priority. I did not allow myself to be satisfied with They’re also reasonably priced ($295) vs. the comjust a passing grade. I believe that with a little hard petition, and vow to expose attendees “to what a real work, anything is possible.” test is like” and to teach them “how to construct a powerful essay.” They also promise to “deconstruct” and Felicia Is Forceful clarify the math section of the SATs where so many traFelicia Selvakumar in the South Wing cites Mrs. ditionally stumble and/or get very angsty. Adibzadah as her favorite teacher. “She is kind, patient For info or to register for the courses, call Louise and has an admirable sense of humor,” Felicia declares. Iuele at 973-470-2310 or contact Steven Spota, SAT Her best friend is Monique Castro, “who never abandoned Prep Supervisor, at

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School News Passaic County Community College (PCCC) invites students and families who need money for college or other post-high school education to attend NJ College Goal 2014, a free financial aid open house to be held on the PCCC Main Campus, One College Blvd. in historic downtown Paterson on Feb. 8 from 1 to 2:30 pm; and Feb. 20 from 5 to 7 pm. To register or for more info, go to CHS Project Graduation hosts a Beefsteak on March 14 at 7 pm at the Boys & Girls Club. It’s a BYOB event for adults catered by Geresi’s and tickets are $35. Call Valerie Riggi at 973-981-7555 to purchase tickets. Entertainment, great prizes and a 50/50 raffle will benefit the Class of 2014 and subsidize the cost of their all night party on June 26. Audition for Fiddler on the Roof presented by the Theater League of Clifton on Feb. 12 or Feb. 16. There are 15 roles for males and females ages 18 to 70 and for kids ages 6 to 13. Show dates are May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18. Details what to prepare for at or call 973-928-7668.

The CHS Prom Fashion show is Feb. 9 at 2 pm at the JFK Auditorium. Above, some of the models, from left, Emily Choque, Robert Lupo, Megan Montanez, Sarah Fusco, Alex Figueroa, Natalia Dymora, Chris Arrazola.

The CHS Prom Fashion Show is Feb. 9 at 2 pm. The event is at the JFK Auditorium and is a major fundraiser for the Class of 2014. Models will be styling tuxedos donated by Deluxe Formal Wear of Clifton with gowns by Group USA in Secaucus, Vesa in Nutley, BouBou’s Collections in Garden State Plaza and Sisters Bridal Boutique in Garfield. Clifton hair salons contributing services are Hair Craft, Sante Fe Hair & Nail Salon, Hair Expressions, Artistic Hair Design, Gallery Beauty Salon, Michel’s Hair Salon, Lon's Cuts and Beauty Plus Salon. Tickets were printed by Allwood Funeral Home. Funds raised go to help pay for Project Graduation which will take place right after the CHS Class of 2014 commencement. Project Graduation is the lock-in at an undisclosed location to keep our graduating seniors safe from alcohol and drugs in a party like atmosphere. The seniors meet at CHS and are taken by bus to the party place at 10 pm. They remain at the location where there is plenty of food and frolic with doors locked until 5 am when they are returned to CHS. Call Maryann Cornett at 973-779-5678 to support Project Graduation.

Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Birthdays & Celebrations - February 2014

Ashley Rose Montague is 8 on 2/6. Happy Birthday to Donna Hawrylko on 2/25. Angely Sotamba turned 2 on 1/26. Happy Birthday Lux siblings. Eric turns 18 on 2/3 & Renee turns 12 on 2/14. Happy Birthday on 2/14 to Orest Luzniak.

Happy Birthday to... Send dates & names... Alison Degen.......................2/1 Robyn Feldman................... 2/1 Jack Houston ...................... 2/1 Kristin Reilly........................ 2/1 Mary Jane Varga................ 2/1 Emil Soltis, Jr ...................... 2/2 Joseph Fierro ...................... 2/3 Bob Naletko....................... 2/3 Catherine Grace Burns ........ 2/4 John Nittolo........................ 2/5 Courtney Carlson................ 2/6

72 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Joseph DeSomma ............... 2/6 Robert D’Alessio ................. 2/7 Nicole Tahan...................... 2/7 Tara Fueshko ...................... 2/8 Jamie Carr ......................... 2/9 Craig Grieco...................... 2/9 Steven Becker ................... 2/10 Bryan Kelly....................... 2/10 Matthew Seitz .................. 2/10 Valentine Le Ster ............... 2/11 Sarah Mikolajczyk ............ 2/11

Natalie Pych with ‘Big Sister’ Casey Hawrylko turns 13 on Feb. 8. On Feb. 11, Casey leaves for Australia for a year of study. She’ll be 24 on March 2.

Nick Zecchino .................. Joseph Hilla...................... Anthony Musleh................ Dolores Rando.................. John Hodorovych .............. Amin Zamlout................... Mark Gallo ...................... Jeanette Ann Saia ............. Orest Luzniak ................... Christine Canavan ............ Chickie Curtis ................... Frank Klippel .................... M. Louis Poles .................. Ashley Brandecker ............ Leann Perez...................... Lorraine Rothe .................. Michael Del Re ................. Richie Bandurski ............... Michael Papa................... Robert Mosciszko.............. Taylor Jesch ...................... Diana Murphy .................. John T. Saccoman ............. Robert Adamo ..................

2/11 2/12 2/12 2/12 2/13 2/13 2/14 2/14 2/14 2/15 2/15 2/15 2/15 2/17 2/17 2/17 2/18 2/19 2/20 2/21 2/22 2/22 2/22 2/24

Goofy Bob De Liberto celebrates 50 on 2/11. Eileen Feldman ................ Kimberly Mistretta ............ Kimberly Gasior .............. Brittany Helwig................ Joyce Penaranda ............. Brittany Pinter .................. Lauren Ricca.................... Charlie Galluzzo ............. Mark Zecchino ................

2/24 2/24 2/26 2/27 2/27 2/27 2/27 2/28 2/28

Congratulations to Mary and Bob Henn who celebrate their wedding anniversary on 2/3.

Knapp Brothers birthdays... Don celebrates on Feb. 6 and Richard on Feb. 22. Clifton Merchant • February 2014


Clifton Milestone




Helen with her siblings, Marie, Thomas, Anna, Joseph and Rose ( all born and raised in Clifton on Arthur St.). At right, Helen today with her daughter Cathy Ann Kartanos and her husband Nicholas.

Only about 55,000 people in the entire United States have lived to be a 100 or older. On Feb. 4, Clifton’s Helen Braviak Horack joined those ranks and marked that milestone with a party at the Valley Regency. A teacher in Clifton Public Schools for more than five decades, she was joined not only by family and friends, but by many of her former students. Mayor James Anzaldi and other elected officials were there to read a resolution from the Clifton Board of Education presented in Helen’s honor. Helen also received a Papal Blessing, a lovely and elaborate parchment document from the Vatican that was presented by Fr. Richard Bay, Paterson Dioscese Vicar and a long-time family friend and Cliftonite. The youngest of seven children of Anna and Joseph Braviak, Helen was born in Clifton on Feb. 4, 1914. Helen, who attended Clifton’s then-fledgling public schools, knew from an early age she wanted to be a teacher. She received her certificate in 1935 from the New Jersey State Normal School at Paterson then completed William Paterson College in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. In 1935, Helen began her career thanks to a program sponsored by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. The WPA was an extensive federal government project that funded jobs throughout 74 February 2014 • Clifton Merchant

the United States during the Great Depression and Helen first taught English and Math to immigrants at the Adult Evening Program in Clifton. John Horack and Helen Braviak married in 1940 and Helen continued to teach at Clifton School 3 until 1951, when daughter Cathy Ann was born. Helen returned to teach full time in 1958 at Clifton School 16. When she retired in 1984, Helen was honored with a proclamation from the Clifton City Council for her life-long dedication to education and to the community. In 1994, she was accepted into Who’s Who Among American Teachers. Helen participated in several teacher’s associations, and was active throughout her life in community organizations, as well as with her parish, Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Botany Village. Helen’s family is well known in Clifton. Like her mother, daughter Cathy Ann was a Clifton schoolteacher. Helen’s brother Joseph was a Clifton police captain and brother Thomas served on the city’s Planning Board for many years. Although all her siblings and husband have passed, Helen continues to enjoy an extended family that includes daughter Cathy Ann Kartanos and husband Nicholas, grandchildren, two great grandchildren, many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, great great nieces and nephews and her beloved dog, Mica.

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Clifton Merchant Magazine - February 2014  
Clifton Merchant Magazine - February 2014