Clifton Merchant Magazine - March 2009

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Clifton Merchant Magazine is published the first Friday of every month at 1288 Main Ave., Downtown Clifton • 973-253-4400

My Dance with Cancer Story by Tom Hawrylko

The picture of the Scouts at right is a time stopper for me. I took it in my Main Ave. office on Feb. 11, 2003 at about 4 pm, shortly after finding out I had Hodgkin’s disease, a type of lymphoma cancer. Minutes earlier, my wife Cheryl had phoned the office and told me to come home to talk. As requested, my doctor had phoned her with test results but I couldn’t leave because I had Scouts coming in for a tour. Just tell me the news, I urged her, and she did. Then the kids came in and we spend 45 minutes together. A few days later, I had a port inserted in my chest and soon started a six month regimen of chemo. In the summer of 2002, I had begun to get in shape, eating better and exercising. I got significantly thinner and in December noticed a protrusion in my left clavicle.

It was winter and I had a cold so I thought nothing of it but weeks later, it hadn’t gone away. Next, I visited my family physician who prescribed a round of antibiotics— still no change. Knowing that something was up, Cheryl suggested that we take a more aggressive route.

The Tiger Scouts of Troop #21 Den 11 affiliated with St. Philip the Apostle Church at our office on Feb. 11, 2003, a landmark day for me. That’s me that year, midway through chemo treatments.

We consulted with oncologist Dr. John Conti, who had treated my late father-in-law, Joe Angello. We had an ENT remove the lump for a biopsy. And that brings us to Feb. 11, 2003.

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At age 46, as a father of four and owner of a business, cancer was going to be a challenge. How do we tell the kids? How to manage the business? Will I be able to keep working? What will chemo be like? Three days later, Cheryl and I took a day off to celebrate our anniversary and to try and sort things out. We spent the day talking, crying, laughing and being close. Since I am the person least likely to ask a lot of questions regarding medical issues, I felt confident that Cheryl would be the quarterback of my care. Having done a ton of research, she was steps ahead of me. I decided that my job was to be strong and positive, follow directions, and get the treatment underway. Looking to balance work with six months of chemo, we scheduled the four hour IV treatments every second Wednesday at noon. Originally the plan was to take off the following day and recuperate but the chemo cocktail included a strong steroid and other drugs. I often woke up wired and full of energy on Thursday, working all day. Friday would start out strong but I’d crash at about 3 pm, and use the weekend to heal. Taking chemo, I had to accept the fact that I could no longer juggle everything at work. Our magazine was in the middle of a “No More Housing” campaign to stop over development and the reporting side of the business needed more attention than I could provide. While we could not afford it, we were lucky to find and hire a writer who needed a six month position before he was to begin a doctorate program in Chicago for investigative journalism. That hire was a gift from God as I look back to my Feb. 2003 datebook. It is filled with scores of appointments for doctors, tests and scans. Keeping track of them and attending to our family and business was not easy. While we explained the situation to my family and some friends, I felt that I wanted to keep the news of my illness private. In advance of losing my hair, I had cut off my trademark ponytail and sported a new look. People asked what was going on—short hair, a shirt and tie—I told them I was running for City Council. 16,000 MAGAZINES are distributed to hundreds of Clifton Merchants the first Friday of every month. SUBSCRIBE PAGE 74 $16/year in Clifton $27/year out of town CALL 973-253-4400 entire contents copyright 2009 © tomahawk promotions

That was one of those inside, sometimes morbid jokes that helped Cher and I get through that year. Here’s another: During treatment, I would call Hodgkin’s cancer-lite... all the stigma of cancer with less of a chance of dying. While that’s not true as people do die from Hodgkin’s, it was my way to cope and convince myself that I would beat this disease and that I would come out of it a stronger and healthier person. And that’s obviously what happened. Ending my chemo in September 2003, it was followed by a month of radiation. The combined treatment was successful and with regular check-ups, I have been cancer-free since. Another footnote to my illness and the memorable events surrounding it was my journal. I wrote about getting the news, considered the origins of the disease (hint: developing printing plates for years without gloves on was not a good idea) and thanking God and my family for the life I had. There was much more— some mundane stuff and I hope some well-written, articulate entries offering insight to my cancer. As the days got brighter, I eventually put the journal aside and didn’t open it again until December 2004. I was on my way to Ukraine to work as an international election observer during the historic Orange Revolution. This was another significant milestone for me so I began new entries to again document my experience. Changing planes in Zurich, however, I left the journal on the aircraft. Not realizing my loss until I was on the next leg of my journey, too late to fetch the book, my wish is that someone picked up that journal, read it and did get some insight and hope from my account of my illness and recuperation. That introduction to my dance with cancer brings us to this month’s edition. Inside, you will find inspiring stories of friends and neighbors who have experienced illnesses, went through treatment and walk among us today. Over the coming months, we expect to write more about health matters. If you would like to share your story, drop us a line at the address below so that we may feature the topic in some future edition.

EDITOR & PUBLISHER Tom Hawrylko BUSINESS MANAGER Cheryl Hawrylko STAFF WRITERS: Joe Hawrylko, Jordan Schwartz GRAPHIC ARTIST: Tomahawk Promotions Rich McCoy 1288 Main Avenue CONTRIBUTORS: Downtown Clifton, NJ 07011 Don Lotz, Rich DeLotto 973-253-4400 • March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Off the Injured List A team of physicians got Bob Foster back in the Game

Story by Jordan Schwartz

Bob Foster was at his goddaughter’s 16th birthday party when he thought he was having a heart attack. “I took ice packs and put them under my armpits,” he recalled of the incident. “My whole body felt like it was overheating.” Being the workaholic that he is, the Clifton Boys & Girls Club executive director delayed going to the hospital until after he finished going over some registration forms the following Monday morning. But Foster eventually sought some medical attention that afternoon in August 2004. As it turned out, he hadn’t suffered a heart attack. “He had periods where he would feel like fainting due to an irregular heart rhythm, or heart arrhythmia,” explained Dr. John Cubero of 1033 Clifton Ave. The cardiologist was assigned to Foster through the old Passaic General Hospital, where the patient spent a few days before being released. Boys & Girls Club of Clifton executive director Bob Foster (second from left) is able to still play basketball today thanks to the help he received from his doctors, from left, John Cubero, Jeffrey Miller, Daniel Rice and others.


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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Don’t Let Sore Feet Stop You From Losing Weight, Getting Active If you are overweight and want to get active but heel pain, flat feet and sore feet make it hard to exercise, Thomas Graziano, MD, DPM, FACFAS says the first step toward breaking that vicious cycle is an evaluation by a foot and ankle surgeon. “It’s unfortunate obese adults get caught up in the vicious cycle of avoiding physical activity due to foot or ankle pain, thereby permitting cardiovascular disease and other life-threatening conditions to worsen as a result,” says Graziano, a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons with offices in Clifton. “For example, in many cases, chronic heel pain occurs from carrying too much weight,” he adds. “Left untreated, it becomes an impediment to physical activity and meaningful weight loss.” Many causes of foot pain can be relieved without surgery through stretching exercises, orthotics and athletic shoes with good shock absorption and support. If a bunion, heel pain or other condition requires surgery, patients can participate during recovery in non-weightbearing activities: riding a stationary bike, swimming or weight training. For those moderately to severely overweight, Graziano says that a physical examination by their family doctor is mandatory before beginning an exercise program. He also noted that a physician-directed exercise program may also be the best route to success. “Once cleared by your physician to begin exercising, don’t try to do too much too soon. Follow a gradual routine until your body adjusts to the stress of regular physical activity,” he says. Shedding excess pounds helps diabetic patients control their disease, but Graziano notes many who experience foot ulcerations and vascular problems caused by diabetes might think they shouldn’t exercise. “Every diabetic patient needs regular foot exams to check for possible sore spots and assess nerve sensation,” says Graziano. “And with proper diabetic foot care and the right footwear, most patients can follow an exercise regimen that is safe and appropriate for them.” 8

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

“They continued to monitor me because I would go out of rhythm once a week and I’d have to go lie down,” said the executive director. Cubero, who became Foster’s primary care physician, recommended his patient to Dr. Jonathan Steinberg, an electrophysiologist out

Hyperthyroidism An overactive thyroid is eight times as likely in women than in men. It can be caused by Graves’ Disease, functioning adenoma and Toxic Multinodular Goiter, excessive intake of thyroid hormones, abnormal secretion of TSH, thyroiditis and excessive iodine intake. Common symptoms include excessive sweating, heat intolerance, increased bowel movements, tremor, nervousness, rapid heart rate, weight loss, fatigue, decreased concentration and irregular menstrual flow. Source:

of Valley Hospital in Ridgewood. In February 2005, Steinberg performed a radiofrequency ablation, during which he deadened the nerves in Foster’s heart in order to return it to a normal rhythm. The procedure was a success and the 51-year-old hasn’t experienced a reoccurrence of the irregular heartbeat. But that wasn’t the end of Foster’s health problems. Before his surgery, blood tests revealed that the Cliftonite had hyperthyroidism, which in all likelihood caused his heart condition. “Overproduction of thyroid hormone caused him to lose weight,” said endocrinologist Dr. Mark Wiesen of 1118 Clifton Ave. Foster was treated with a radioactive iodine pill that shrinks the thyroid gland. Like 60 to 70 percent of patients that undergo this treatment, the executive director developed an underactive thyroid and so he is now taking a hormone supplement. But Foster wasn’t out of the woods yet.

Endocrinologist Dr. Mark Wiesen was also part of Bob Foster’s team of physicians who helped put him back in action.

“Once you turn 50, you fall apart,” he joked before explaining how he also has an enlarged prostate, an issue commons in many men over the age of 50.

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


“I was getting up to go to the bathroom too many times like in that commercial,” continued Foster, who went to see Dr. Daniel Rice, a urologist at 1001 Clifton Ave. “Sometimes blood in the urine is found on a microscopic level, but when you can see it with the naked eye, it’s called gross hematuria, which is what he had,” said Rice. “We had to make sure I wasn’t dealing with a major problem.” In December 2005, Rice ordered a CAT scan of Foster’s abdomen and pelvis, and performed a cystoscopy, which is a diagnostic examination of the bladder with a telescope. “I found that the bladder was grossly inflamed and bleeding and he had some element of prostate enlargement, which is a natural part

Plantar Fasciitis Plantar Fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports the arch of the foot. Most individuals with this ailment experience pain when they take their first steps after they get out of bed or sit for an extended period of time. You may have less stiffness and pain after you take a few steps, but your foot may hurt more as the day wears on. It may hurt the most when you ascend stairs or after you stand for a long time. Source:

Foster has been playing at the Club with the Sunday AM basketball crew for the past two decades. He is pictured with just some of the regulars.

of the aging process in men,” said the urologist. After verifying that the condition was not cancerous, Rice prescribed Flomax, which has helped to alleviate the problem. Foster, who grew up in Kingston, NY, has always been a very active person, which probably helped keep

him relatively healthy until the heart condition he developed at age 47. Foster played basketball in high school and was a physical education major at Springfield College. Now, the executive director swims 50 laps at the Club everyday during his lunch break to keep in shape.

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

But even exercise got Foster into some trouble recently. During the summer of 2007, he injured his right foot playing basketball. Podiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Miller of 1117 Rt. 46 diagnosed him with a ruptured peroneal tendon on the outside part of the foot, just under the ankle bone. “He’s very active and plays sports, so it was a chron-

Enlarged Prostate As men get older, the bladder muscle may gradually become stronger, thicker and overly sensitive, causing it to contract when it contains small amounts of urine and leading to the need to urinate frequently. Warning signs include a weak or slow urinary system, a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying, difficulty starting urination, frequent urination, an urgency to go, or getting up frequently at night to urinate. Source:

ic rupture,” said Dr. Miller. “We took an MRI and saw the tear, but when I got inside, it was way worse than on the MRI.” The doctor repaired the tendon using radio frequency treatment to help stimulate the circulation and promote healing. The tendon was then sutured together in various spots before Miller used a graft from a horse to wrap around the tendons to create a protective sheath. The recovery took about six weeks, during which Foster wore a cast and used crutches. He also received physical therapy and Miller installed an orthotic in his shoes to stabilize his foot function. “All of my doctors have been absolutely terrific,” said Foster, who visits each of his physicians once or twice a year for check-ups. “My wife is really the one that handles the doctors really well and keeps me on track,” he said about Mary Jo, who runs the early child-

Heart Arrhythmia An irregular heartbeat can be caused by coronary artery disease, electrolyte imbalances in the blood, changes in the heart muscle, injury from a heart attack or the healing process after heart surgery. Some warning signs include palpitations, pounding in your chest, dizziness or feeling light-headed, fainting, shortness of breath, chest discomfort and fatigue. Source:

hood program at the Club. Despite all of his recent medical problems, the only time executive director had to miss work was following his heart surgery. Taking time off isn’t something Foster likes to do. He’s the first one in in the morning at 6:30 and he doesn’t leave until between 5 and 6 in the evening. “Work before health,” he joked.

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Just a Bump in the Road Susan Hojnacki took her battle with breast cancer in stride Story by Jordan Schwartz Susan Hojnacki saw it coming. After having two fibroids removed from her chest when she was 40 and 41 years old, the Clifton mother of three was always on alert for something more serious. That time came in April 2002, when at the age of 45, she was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. “The mammogram was clear and the self check was clear and the doctor’s check was clear,” said Hojnacki. “Luckily, the doctor backed it up with an ultrasound and the tumor was found there.” Dr. Arthur Pinski, a now retired OBGYN from Westwood, suggested the extra procedure be done at Clifton Imaging on Broad St. because Hojnacki’s breasts were considered dense. “I could almost read the technician’s face that there was something up,” she remembered. After seeing a couple specialists that she wasn’t satisfied with, Hojnacki went to the Montclair Breast Center where she was examined by Dr. Nancy Elliot. The doctor told her she would have to have her left breast removed, but Hojnacki instructed the surgeons to take both off just in case the cancer spread. “I’m like one of those charge ahead people,” she explained. “I wouldn’t have wanted to go through it again.” “Women that have had cancer in one breast are at slightly increased risk to get cancer in the opposite breast,” said Dr. Elliot. So in May 2002, the Sheraton St. resident underwent a double mastectomy. “It’s devastating,” she said. “It’s really almost impossible to describe how empty you feel.” “She took it harder than I did,” said her husband, Robert. “She still doesn’t change in front of me because of the heavy scarring.” Adding to the stress was the fact that Hojnacki developed an infection in her left breast because of the expanders she had put in place during the surgery. These are a sort of balloon-like placeholders that get filled with saline until the patient receives implants. 12

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

“It is a plus, but I don’t know if I would recommend doing it at the same time as the surgery,” said Hojnacki. “Take care of the cancer first then the expanders later.” But Dr. Elliot said Hojnacki had a greater risk of infection because she was a smoker at the time. “We generally put the expanders in at the same time,” she said. “Ninety-five percent of women don’t get an infection.” The Cliftonite never wound up getting the implants after all because it all became very costly. “It was fairly difficult to deal with the costs of Dr. Elliot because she’s an independent doctor that’s not covered under our plan,” said Hojnacki. “We were already $20,000 in and we have three kids and I wasn’t working at the time. It was more of a guilt thing,” she continued. “Why should the money be going to this when it should be going to the future needs of the family?”

Following her bout with breast cancer, Susan Hojnacki began urging friends and her three daughters, Lisa, Rachel and Andrea, to get checked frequently.

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


“We really had good credit and my company told me they were going to pick up the out of pocket expense,” said Robert, who’s worked for the past 21 years at Neill Supply in Lyndhurst. “But when the bills came in, they said they were just going to pay the consultation fee, so that was really heartbreaking,” he continued. “We put a lot on credit cards and we took a home equity loan out on a condo we own in Englewood.” Dr. Elliot said her treatment can be costly because she doesn’t participate in managed care insurance, which forces medical centers to “become a factory” to churn out volume. “When you’re dealing with women with breast cancer, you can’t be rushed,” she explained. “They deserve a lot of time.” Mrs. Hojnacki, who works as a bus aide for the Clifton School District, underwent six months of chemotherapy at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair. She said it


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

went pretty smoothly and she was only nauseous one time. “I kept extremely busy by shopping with the kids,” said Hojnacki. “I wore a lot of bandannas because I lost my hair, which was okay, but losing my eyelashes and eyebrows was worse.” She avoided malls and close contact with other people to prevent acquiring any possible infections and she always kept her head covered out in public to avoid frightening young children. Hojnacki credits

Malaria The infection starts with a mosquito bite and the parasite travels from the insect to a person’s liver, where it begins to reproduce. The parasite then travels to the bloodstream, where it destroys red blood cells. Symptoms include fever, headaches, nausea, shaking chills, sweating and weakness. Source:

her husband and their three daughters with helping her beat cancer. “It’s easier to be the patient because you have to deal with things daily, but it’s harder for the spouse because you don’t know what to do,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better husband.” Hojnacki told her children—all CHS grads—not to use her sickness as an excuse. “I feel fortunate to have gone through cancer,” she said. “It really opens your eyes to how lucky you are. I don’t think of myself as a survivor; it happened and now I’ve moved on. I feel fortunate and I feel humble.” But this wasn’t the first time Hojnacki’s resolve was tested. When she was 25, she took a trip to the Dominican Republic to familiarize herself with the country for her job as an agent at Liberty Travel. Nine days after she returned, Hojnacki, who was living in Fort Lee at the time, came down with a

105 degree fever and so she went to the emergency room at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck. Physicians there sent her home saying she just had the flu, but the next day, Hojnacki had her own doctor take her blood and he diagnosed her with malaria. She immediately returned to the hospital where they covered her in ice blankets to get her temperature down. Hojnacki was wise enough to protect her kidneys from the cold by using pillows—something she remembered to advise a future client about when he traveled to the Dominican. It was the first case of malaria doctors had seen in Bergen County in years, so experts were Susan Hojnacki with her husband brought in from New York City. Robert in a photo before her cancer. They treated Hojnacki with a drug called quinine, but three said. “I run in 10-year intervals, so months went by before she was I have three years to go until I’m 55. I’m trying to think of what fun and completely healthy again. A decade later, Susan came down deadly disease I can get then.” The cancer survivor has also had with chicken pox at the late age of 35. “That was a real bad go,” she to deal with the loss of both of her

parents. Her mother, Karen, died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2003, and her father, Edward, committed suicide when his daughter was just 12. “It was a weird family circumstance,” said Hojnacki. “I was actually relieved because he was an alcoholic and he was tearing the family apart. He knew the family was getting blown to smithereens and he couldn’t beat the disease, so it was his last loving act.” Susan said the only way to get through difficult times is to look hard enough until you find the good in every situation. “My mom’s Alzheimer’s brought me closer to her, my malaria made me a better travel agent and breast cancer made me realize the weight people put into breasts really isn’t that important,” she said. “I know I’m a lot more tolerant of people now. You truly do realize that everyone’s got tough situations and everyone’s allowed to have a bad day.”

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


A Miraculous Recovery Peter Salzano is six years removed from brain cancer Story by Jordan Schwartz Peter Salzano was four days from death. In May 2003, the Woodrow Wilson Middle School guidance counselor went to his doctor because he was having bad headaches, perceptual problems and difficulty balancing. “He was the eighth grade counselor and it was the end of the year, so we thought it might just be stress,” said guidance department secretary Cyndy Eromenok, who’s been working with Salzano for the past seven years. Dr. Robert Pollack of Hoboken originally thought the counselor might have been suffering side effects from his cholesterol medication, so he made Salzano stop taking it. But the symptoms persisted so the doctor ordered a brain MRI at Hoboken Medical Imaging on May 20. The results showed that Salzano had a glioblastoma, which is a cancerous brain tumor. It was in its worse stage, so the patient was immediately hospitalized at St. Mary’s in Hoboken. Within 24 hours, he was transferred to Columbia Presbyterian in Manhattan, where he underwent seven hours of complete resection surgery during which physicians removed the growth. “The doctor told me on Tuesday that if I didn’t have the surgery, I would’ve been dead by Saturday,” said Salzano. “It was a feeling of shock followed by a determination that I was going to beat it.” 16

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Woodrow Wilson Middle School guidance counselor Peter Salzano holds a sign he keeps in his office. It’s been nothing short of a miracle that Salzano has survived six years since having a cancerous tumor removed from his brain.

He did, but it wasn’t without some difficulty along the way. The WWMS staff member experienced a partial loss of vision in his left eye for about a month and he had to learn to walk again. All this, while undergoing six weeks of radiation at Hackensack Hospital. Salzano experienced fatigue, lost his hair and had to go on antiseizure medication and steroids. “It actually changed my life dramatically,” he said about the entire ordeal. “It brought a lot of clarity about what was important and what wasn’t. I felt I became more centered and more appreciative of everyday.” The Wayne resident certainly beat the odds because 60 percent of brain tumor patients die within the

first six months, and only five percent make it to six years like he has. There’s still a risk of reoccurrence and so Salzano has to go for MRIs every couple months at Clifton Imaging Center on Broad St. He just had his 61st done on February 9. The patient also visits his two doctors, Wayne neurologist Elliot Chodosh and New York neurooncologist Casilda Balmacedia, every eight weeks. “I’m spiritual,” he said. “I don’t go to church, but I do pray everyday. I think 50 percent is the doctors, 25 percent are prayers and the other 25 percent is your belief that you can do it.” Salzano’s recovery is no accident. He does yoga everyday

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


and eats a healthy organic diet that excludes all artificial foods and products that contain any kind of growth hormone. “I’m completely blessed and I believe that God has a plan for me,” he said. Part of that plan includes helping children who have gone through the same thing. “I’ve had two students who’ve had brain tumors, so I was able to counsel them,” said Salzano. “They saw I didn’t have hair, they saw my scar and I met with their parents. “It helps me with any child that’s having any kind of health problems,” he continued. “I have a sign in my office that says ‘Expect a Miracle.’” After a year of remission, the guidance counselor decided that he needed to do more than just survive the experience, so he launched the Salzano-Smith Foundation For Brain Tumor Research. Salzano’s friend, Douglas Smith, had a father who died from brain cancer. Since 2004, the non-profit has raised $88,000 and members hope to eclipse the $100,000 mark at their May 14 fundraiser at the Venetian in Garfield. From 6 to 10 pm, guests will enjoy a cocktail hour, four course dinner, DJ and comedy. Tickets are

Salzano’s upcoming book, The following is an excerpt from Peter gh. It’s one of the first e-mails What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Lau recovery from brain surgery. he sent his friends updating them on his Wednesday, July 16, 2003

will be a once a week event t appears that “Peter’s Press Release” way for me to keep in touch coming to you via e-mail. It’s a great ney back to health. It also with everyone and fill you in on my jour ch is a good way to get my serves as an electronic diary for me whi feeling out during this challenge. week of radiation. Four more Today marked the end of my second treatment well. I’m deterweeks to go! I continue to tolerate the effects. I shaved off all my mined not give in to the supposed side I found it very liberating. I’m hair today. Why wait for it to fall out? and will be saving money on enjoying the cool breeze on my scalp treated myself to some new shampoo. A win-win situation. I also looking fabulous. Italian eyewear and have to admit - I’m I recommend it to everyone. Yoga continues to be an incredible gift. like that? It has helped me Who knew my body could twist and turn great workout. I never thought stay calm during my radiation and is a w my theory on gym workI’d be saying “Great Workout.” You kno g is a BAD thing. I’ll keep outs: If it’s heavy, put it down! Sweatin vision is slowly coming back you informed as to my progress. My has made all the difference. to normal. Thanks for the prayers. It


$70, which includes a $30 donation to the fund. For more info, e-mail Some of the comedy is provided by Salzano, who considers himself something of an open-micer. He’s performed at places in New York City such as Gotham Comedy Club and he points to comedy as

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

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something that has helped him get through his bout with cancer. At the start of his recovery, Salzano began e-mailing 25 of his closest friends to update them of his condition, but he’d do it in a humorous manner. The progress reports were so funny that recipients would forward them to their friends and now there are more than 1,000 people on the mailing list. “I get responses from places all over the world, like Italy and London, from people who’ve said that I’ve inspired them,” said the Woodrow Wilson guidance counselor, who is in the process of writing a book about his experience called What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Laugh.

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Stretching for Tomorrow The Nilsson boys battle Duchenne muscular dystrophy Story by Jordan Schwartz Joseph and Lisa Nilsson were desperate to have a child. Two years after the Clifton High School graduates were married in August 2000, they began their efforts the old fashioned way. When that didn’t work, they sought out a fertility specialist and tried in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, but those methods also failed. The couple was waiting to try the next round of fertility treatments when, surprisingly, Lisa got pregnant without the help of science. “My first son truly was a miracle in my opinion,” she said. Cole Nilsson was born in September 2004, two-and-a-half years after his parents started trying to have a kid. The North Haledon residents welcomed their second child, Jack, on March 29, 2006, but soon after, the family realized there was a problem with his older brother. “He was delayed with crawling, standing and walking,” Mrs. Nilsson, 37, explained. So, she and her husband took Cole to a physical therapist who treated him for low muscle tone. In search of a second opinion, the Nilssons then brought their son to see a neurologist at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson. She referred them to a geneticist. On March 19, 2007, doctors told the family that Cole had Becker’s muscular dystrophy, a less destructive form of the disorder characterized by slowly progressive muscle 20

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Joseph and Lisa Nilsson’s two sons, Jack (left) and Cole, have muscular dystrophy.

weakness of the pelvis and legs. There was a 75 percent chance Jack had MD also, but his blood work indicated he had a more severe type known as Duchenne. The difference was impossible because the two are brothers, so Cole had to be retested. “We didn’t even do the blood work at the same time because it would have been too much,” said their mother.

It turned out that both children had Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is characterized by rapid progression of muscle degeneration, eventually leading to loss in ambulation and death. “That was like the floor was yanked out from under us all over again,” said Nilsson, who found out that she was a carrier of the recessive X-linked disorder, meaning it can only be passed from mother to son.

“I don’t have any uncles or brothers, so there was no way to know,” she said. Twice a year, the Nilssons fly out to Cincinnati to bring the boys to Dr. Brenda Wong, one of the top child neurologists in her field. Their most recent trip was last month during which the children met not only with Dr. Wong, but also with a pulmonologist, cardiologist, physical therapist and endochronologist because Cole is being treated with steroids. Side effects include major mood swings, cataracts and stunted growth. The boys are also on low sodium diets and their parents have to watch everything they eat. The cost of these four day visits puts quite a strain on the family’s wallet. “It’s not only regular medical visits,” said Mrs. Nilsson, who graduated CHS in 1989 with the maiden name Porcarro. “We need to pay for airfare, hotels and food on the road.”

Lisa is a first grade teacher in River Vale and Joseph, 36, is a heating and air conditioning installer in Haskell, so they have enough insurance to cover the cost of the doctors, but everything else is a battle. Luckily for them, though, Mr. Nilsson’s sister, Lura Savona, started an organization in their late father’s name last year as a way to commemorate his life and dedication to his family. The Nils Nilsson Foundation raises money for the family to help them pay for uncovered expenses such as the trips to Ohio and the future modifications that will need to be done on their home and vehicles. “We’re extremely grateful to Lura,” said her sister-in-law. “I hate to think that some families can’t make this trip so I’m grateful that we have this resource.” The second annual fundraiser will be 7-11 pm on March 27 at Milan Banquets in Garfield. Tickets are $50 for adults and $25

for children ages five to 10. Children four years of age and under are admitted for free. Nils Lennart Nilsson was a Swedish immigrant who raised seven children in Clifton with his wife, Aileen. He passed away while Lisa was pregnant with Cole. A 50/50 will be held at this year’s event with proceeds going to Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), a group that raises money for MD research. For more info, visit There is currently no cure for muscular dystrophy and most young men with the Duchenne strain die in their teens or early 20s. “I talk almost as if it’s someone else because if I think of it as my kids, I’ll freak out,” Lisa explained. “My sons just think that stretching is something that every kid has to do,” she continued. “Cole thinks that if he keeps practicing jumping, he’ll get better at it and I’m not going to burst his little bubble.”

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Inoculation Misinformation Story by Jordan Schwartz There is a growing fear among some parents that vaccines are bad for their children, but one local pediatrician says it’s mostly due to false information. “I think parents are wrongly told that there are untrue complications from the vaccines,” said Dr. Maury Buchalter of Tenafly Pediatrics. “The link between the measles vaccine and autism has been disproved.” A special court in Washington D.C. ruled last month that evidence presented in three cases by parents of autistic children did not prove a connection between the disorder and some inoculations. The parents claimed the affliction was caused by the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella combined with vaccines containing thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a statement following the decisions stating that “the medical and scientific communities...have found no association between vaccines and autism.”

“I think parents are wrongly told that there are untrue complications from the vaccines,” said Dr. Maury Buchalter of Tenafly Pediatrics. “The link between the measles vaccine and autism has been disproved.” Over the past eight years, more than 5,300 cases have been filed by parents of autistic children seeking money damages from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. “Unfortunately, there are celebrities out there that say vaccines and autism are related and that’s what makes the talk shows,” said Dr. Buchalter. For example, actress and model Jenny McCarthy claimed on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007 that her son’s autism was caused by a vaccination. Dr. Buchalter said that it is extremely important for babies to get a hepatitis B vaccine within the first several weeks of life. After two months, they should receive their whopping cough, tetanus, meningitis, pneumonia and rotavirus inoculations. Between 12 and 15 months, children are scheduled to get their hep-

atitis A, chicken pox and measles, mumps and rubella shots. Dr. Buchalter said kids should begin getting the flu vaccine as young as six months. “The important thing to remember is that the complication rate for young children with the flu is at least as high as, if not higher than, with the elderly,” he said. “I frequently tell parents that children should continue to get the flu vaccine through college.” But Dr. Buchalter said some mothers and fathers are forgoing shots altogether. “There was less reluctance when parents saw people with meningitis or measles, but as result of the vaccines, parents rarely see these diseases anymore,” he said. “But as parents refuse, these diseases will become more prevalent. For example, measles and whopping cough are on the rise.”

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Meet Michelle Quinones. She is a Registered Dietician and on staff at the Paulison Avenue ShopRite to answer your nutrition, health and wellness questions. Michelle is a graduate of Syracuse University and recently completed an internship at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She will be the Live Right Program coordinator at our store, which offers foods in these categories: • Organic: No pesticides or chemicals used • Natural: no preservatives, colorings, etc. • Low Carb: low levels of carbohydrates • Sugar-free: less than 1/2 a gram/serving • Fat-free: no fat or only trivial amounts • Low Fat: fewer than 3g per serving • Low Sodium: less than 140mg/serving • Gluten-free: no wheat or gluten

We Care About Your Health At Cuellar Family Markets, we not only try to make shopping easier, but we also continue to keep your wellness and overall health a priority. For these reasons, Michelle will also be offering the following services over the coming months: • Nutritional Counseling. Discuss your specific dietary needs. • Menu Ideas Plan healthy meals for your family • Recipe Makeovers Turn favorite meals into healthy dishes

• Pantry Makeovers Stock your pantry with nutritious essentials • Store Tours From Scouts to seniors, bring in a group • Monthly Nutritional Topics Follow the National Nutrition Calendar for ideas • Wellness Programs Health fairs, screenings & other programs • Live Right Kids Teach kids about healthy snacks and meals For more details & times, visit our courtesy counter.

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Cuellar Family Markets March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Learning to Live With C.P. Cerebral Palsy Center prepares students for the future Story by Jordan Schwartz When Octavio DeLeon entered the Cerebral Palsy High School on Union Ave., he was a shy 14year-old boy. “He was concerned about what other people had to say,” said Barbara Berberich, who has been a job coach coordinator at the school for the past 15 years. “But now he’s very outgoing and has grown more mature.” “I feel more confident than when I first got here,” said DeLeon, who lives on Ackerman Ave. Now 21, the Cliftonite is set to graduate this June and already has a job bagging groceries every Thursday at the Passaic/Clifton Shop Rite on Paulison Ave. DeLeon takes the NJ Transit Access Link bus, a paratransit service required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The student’s C.P. causes him to limp around the hallways of his school, but it hasn’t prevented him from participating in sports. “He plays basketball and football and he knows the stats on everything,” said Berberich.


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Octavio DeLeon sits in the computer lab at the C.P. High School. The 21-year-old senior from Clifton is scheduled to graduate this June.

But not everyone at the high school has cerebral palsy. The Passaic County Elks C.P. Treatment Center offers a number of services for children and adults with various developmental disabilities. Jennifer Miller, the principal of the elementary school on Main Ave., said the center’s name is a misnomer because they don’t just care for individuals with cerebral palsy.

“Our students are multiply disabled, have traumatic brain injuries or other physical or mental health disabilities,” said Miller who has been the head administrator at the grammar school since 1996. One of those students was ’05 grad Evelyn Escamilla, who suffers from Spina bifida, a developmental birth defect resulting in an incompletely formed spinal cord.

High School Supervisor of Instruction Mary Fischer and Elementary School Principal Jennifer Miller are receiving this year’s Friend of Youth Award from the Optimist Club of Clifton.

C.P. Principals to share Clifton Optimist

2009 Friend of Youth Award on May 17 C.P. elementary school principal Jennifer A. Miller, M.Ed, and high school Supervisor of Instruction Mary Fischer, M.A. are this year’s recipients of the Optimist Club of Clifton’s Friend of Youth Award. Miller joined the C.P. Center staff in 2002 after serving in the Clifton School District as Director of Special Services and other administrative and teaching positions for 30 years. Under her leadership, the students’ state test scores have increased, staff professional development programs have expanded to include on-line train-

ings, and attendance and participation in the parents support group has tripled. Miller has also shared her special sign language skills with students, staff and families through inservice trainings and presentations. “I wasn’t aware that my name was submitted,” said Miller. The nominees were submitted by Clifton Optimist member Tom Tiefenbocher, who is also a board member of the C.P. Center. “You do your job everyday and hope the kids have a good day, and to get an award is touching. It’s really a big honor.”

Fischer has worked for the Center for 17 years as a special education teacher and administrator. During her time at the high school, the program has expanded from 65 to 92 students and the school has increased its curriculum offerings and expanded its job coaching and computer technology training. She has supervised the program’s change from self-contained classes to a departmental system that has helped teachers improve instruction and students to increase their state test scores and positive behaviors. The Annual Friend of Youth Beefsteak is May 17 at 4 pm at the Boys & Girls Club on Colfax Ave. Tom Corradino Sr. and Jr. and Joe Jeffers, who coach the American Legion Post 347 baseball team, and Post 8 coach Mike Spearing are also receiving Friend of Youth Awards. The Stanley Zwier Community Service Award will go to recognize the volunteers and staff of St. Peter’s Haven for their work with the homeless. Also receiving the honor will be the Nikischer family, who have been the driving force behind the annual Labor Day carnival on Parker Ave. and tireless advocates for their Historic Botany neighborhood. The Judge Joseph Salerno Respect for Law Award goes to the Gang Related Task Force of the Clifton Police and Passaic County Sheriff’s Depts. March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Like DeLeon, she was very shy at the beginning. “She was afraid of her own shadow,” said Berberich. “We had her out on the work program and I think all the exposure in the community opened her horizons. I think each success she had, she felt better about herself and she learned to ask for what she wants in life.” Escamilla volunteered at Passaic General Hospital (now St. Mary’s) and CVS before securing a paying job at Mandee in Nutley. Every Friday, the Passaic resident takes the Access Link to the store, where she works from 10 am


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

to 1 pm. She also rides the bus to Bergen Community College, where she is continuing her education. “I learned a lot from Barbara from the working experience and also from my language arts teacher, Linda Lakner, and my pre-vocational assessment teacher, Angela DeFilippo,” said Escamilla, 25. The C.P. High School is for students ages 14 to 21. The 92 kids now in attendance are taught in reading, math, language, arts, science, gym, social studies, music, pre-vocational areas and functional activities of daily living. “The high school is departmentalized with a normal curriculum and standardized testing,” said Mary Fischer, the school’s Supervisor of Instruction. “The homerooms are based on ability with a four-year age range. We even have a graduation and a prom.” A variety of adaptive equipment is available to facilitate students’ stretching, strengthening, range of motion, mobility and activities of daily living. The High School Job Quest Program provides a communitybased work experience for students. They receive ongoing training with a job coach at local businesses and organizations such as CVS, Clifton Library, Clifton Recycling Center

and Preakness Healthcare Center. Younger students attend the elementary school on Main Ave., which currently houses 118 pupils from ages three to 14 in two levels of education: preschool and elementary. The preschool program, which is for three- to five-year-olds, features a therapeutic team made up of the classroom teacher and aide, physical therapist, occupational therapist and speech/language therapist. The program is designed to develop communication, mobility, therapeutic feeding, socialization, pre-reading readiness skills, sensory integration, play and art. The children also take part in adapted phys ed, music, special assemblies and community outings. Goals for preschoolers include improving mobility, enhancing speech and language, developing play skills and helping the children be successful in the classroom. At age five, the students advance to the elementary level, where there are four primary groups, four primary-intermediate groups and four intermediate groups. The groupings are done by age but with a three-year range to allow for differences in cognitive ability. “It’s always good for low level students to be with high level students,” said Miller.

Evelyn Escamilla works one day a week at Mandee in Nutley.

The curriculum is aligned with the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards. Pre-vocational activities, family life education and mainstreaming for special activities

with local schools enrich the students’ overall education experience. The children also get a chance to participate in Special Olympics, class field trips, an annual field day

and parades. Also offered are groups in ballet, creative dance, karate and sign language. Students at the elementary and high schools come from 25 different sending districts across New Jersey. There is also a program for older individuals suffering from C.P. or another debilitating disease. The Adult Training Center is for people ages 21 and up who want to maximize their independent functioning. This program is funded by the Department of Developmental Disabilities and Medicaid and provides a day session which includes work activities, nursing care, social services, therapy, employment and volunteer opportunities and continuing education. “Success comes but you have to be patient,” said Berberich. “Students have to take the skills that they’ve learned and use them after they graduate.”

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


A Life Changing Check-Up Routine physical turns into next day emergency surgery Story by Joe Hawrylko When Bob Giavacco went in for his normal physical at the end of August, he felt completely fine. Though naturally heavy-set, the 75-year-old was an avid gym rat, making sure that he hit the weights and did some cardio work at least five days a week. Learning that he had a massive artery blockage was a complete shock. “I had a physical and part of it was a stress test, which showed heart problems,” he explained. “Dr. Jeff Gold wanted me to get a catheterization to diagnose what they had found.” It didn’t make any sense to him at all. By all other indications, Giavacco was a healthy man. But his stress test, where doctors mon-


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Bob Giavacco, 75, relaxes in his home, as he recovers from quadruple bypass surgery.

itor heart rates during various cardio exercises, indicated a sizeable blockage. “I didn’t want anyone probing inside my body, so I got a CT scan at St. Joe’s instead,” he said of his decision to go to the Paterson hospital. “But that showed problems too. But I felt like I was fine. Originally, I figured that all these doctors wanted to do was make money.” With symptoms of something serious, Giavacco was scheduled for a catheterization on Oct. 13. Soon, it became clear just how dangerous the situation really was. “They found four serious blockages around the heart,” he recalled. “The valve was okay, but four of the blockages were 90 percent or better. They didn’t let me out of the hospital. Right after the catheterization, they said, ‘You sit right here,’ and next day, 5 am, they’re wheeling me in.” Dr. Eric Bronstine, head of cardiology at St. Joe’s, led a surgery team that performed a quadruple bypass on Giavacco. Veins from both thighs, the left calf and the chest were used to circumvent the clogged and stressed arteries in his body. “I was set to have a massive heart attack at any time,” Giavacco said. “It’s amazing I didn’t.” Giavacco said the doctors told him that his tendency for diabetic symptoms may have masked those of the heart disease. “I’m pre-diabetic, and diabetes has a tendency to cover up heart conditions,” he said. “Chances are, you may not feel the shortness of breath, chest pains and stuff like that.”

Heart Disease: The Nation’s Leading Killer Chances are, you know someone with heart disease. This blanket term covers a wide variety of conditions associated with the cardiovascular system. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with over 450,000 Americans succumbing to the illness each year. Don’t let heart disease control your life—take easy preventative steps to ensure a healthy heart for years to come. One of the most basic steps is daily exercise. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity can help you maintain weight, lose excess that could bog down your heart and improve cardiovascular health. Diet is just as important. The American Heart Association recommends a diverse sampling from all of the major food groups, while staying away from things with little nutritional value. And smokers might want to think twice about lighting up that next cigarette, since they’re two to three times more likely to die from coronary heart disease due to their habit. For more information, visit Since the surgery, maintaining a steady diet and regular exercise have become extremely important. “I’ve always been overweight, but the gym was to make sure that I didn’t go overboard,” he admitted. “But now, they’ve got me on a strict diet, so I got to watch the carbs. My wife, Mary Ann, watches out for me. She starves me to death!” To date, Giavacco has lost about 25 pounds, bringing his total weight to about 235. The doctors have set a goal weight of 200 to ease the stress on his new blood vessels. That means that Giavacco had to cut out some of his favorite foods and drinks, like pasta, steak and vodka. “For lunch, I’ll have two pieces of sliced turkey on whole wheat bread,” he explains. “You really eat a lot of bland food, and it’s not fun. Salads, fruits, nuts... stuff like that.” Physically, his body is on the road to recovery, after not being

initially able to make it down a flight of stairs post surgery. Giavacco undergoes regular physical therapy, as doctors help get his heart back in shape. “The scar itself and the area around it feels like dead skin,” he said, adding that it’s from nerves being damaged in surgery. “In six months, I should be in good shape.” And as far as those doctors who just wanted to make money? “All of them, Dr. Gold, Dr. Elliot and Dr. Bronstine, they were all very good,” said Giavacco. “St. Joe’s has really improved their cardiology department. “Dr. Gold is my primary physician. He kept calling me after the initial tests,” he continued. “Every time he gets me down there for a report, he gives me a lecture.” Although he initially dismissed the follow-up calls, Giavacco appreciates his doctor’s diligence now. “Without him, I would have probably been gone by now.” he said. March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Not Just a Women’s Issue Guy Anthony had breast cancer and a mastectomy Story by Joe Hawrylko When Guy Anthony saw the first warning sign, he assumed it was nothing. He had just got out of the shower and was getting ready for the day, when he noticed some blood on his towel. Though he didn’t find any open cuts on his body, Anthony assumed that he had scratched himself and continued on with his routine. Only a week later did he realize that he didn’t just nick himself in the shower. “I was at my salon (Guy Anthony’s) and was leaning against the counter and then I feel something cold on my chest,” he recalled. “I look down and I see blood on my white shirt.” Startled, Anthony unbuttoned his shirt and discovered that the source of the red blotch on his chest was his nipple. “It was like a pimple,” he described. “You’d squeeze it, and blood would just come out. Except it didn’t stop.” He cleaned and bandaged himself up, and called his physician. Unable to diagnose Anthony’s ailment, the doctor sent him to the Montclair Breast Center. Anxious to receive the diagnosis of his ailment, he did what many computer-savvy people do these days— scour the internet for answers. “And like we all do, I thought the worst,” he laughed. “I was scheduled for a mammogram within a week. The doctor put in a rush. Women could normally wait as long as three months.” Fluid is injected into the breast, which is then compressed by a machine to produce a better image. “When they squeezed it, that hurt,” he added. “But they were able to find a clogged duct that was causing the bleeding, and two weeks later, I had surgery.” Once doctors entered Anthony’s body, they realized that what had seemed to be a painful, yet harmless condition was actually the start of cancer. Anthony was diagnosed with intraductal carcinoma, which means that the cancer was still contained within the duct. “Had I not caught it when I did, it could have came out and spread,” he said. “I had a radical mastectomy. They cut out all of the tissue.” 30

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Gaetano LoSauro (better known as Guy Anthony, owner of a salon in Richfield Plaza by the same name) takes a break at Foodie’s Cafe to discuss his cancer.

Follow-ups concluded that the cancer was indeed isolated to the duct, and Anthony was able to go forward with the healing process. To keep the skin from sagging, Anthony had to wear a form-fitting vest for six weeks. “It was uncomfortable sleeping with pillows around you,” he said. “It makes you aware of every move that you make.” Simple things, such as picking up his five-year-old daughter, Chloe, were impossible. Sure, it was annoying, but temporary discomfort is much better than finding out the cancer has metastasized in other areas. “It was frightening, really,” recalled Anthony. “First, you pray. Then you think how is your family

gong to survive without you? Bottom line, enjoy every day like there’s no tomorrow.” The healing process also included balancing out Anthony’s chest. The surgery left him with one nipple and a sizable imprint where the cancerous breast tissue was. “I decided to have plastic surgery,” he admitted. “They said that I could get an implant, but I decided to balance it by taking out tissue on the other side.” The final touch was a new nipple, which was tattooed on. “Thankfully, I’ve got a hairy chest, so you can’t really tell,” he laughed. Despite the discomfort during the healing process, Anthony returned to work just one week after his surgery. The salon that he’s owned for 33 years played an important role in his recovery. “In the business I’m in, you’re constantly talking to people and you learn from each other’s experiences. I’m not embarrassed,” he said. “By me expressing myself and what I was experiencing, I think it really was a big plus.” Male breast cancer is a rare disease, which does not have much exposure—most of his customers had never heard of it. Anthony’s happy that he’s healthy and his experience has raised awareness.

“It’s a matter of paying attention to your body,” he explained. “When you’re drying yourself after the shower, pay attention. If you notice something, you might think it will go away, but it doesn’t.” Regular self-checks are important, but it’s also helpful to know your family’s medical history. Ask your parents and grandparents if they’ve ever had serious health conditions. Genetics can play a prominent role in cancer—his children have been tested to see if they’re carriers—but other factors can play in. Anthony has his own theory on how he became ill. “I’ve been in business for so long now that I think I pick up women’s diseases,” he laughed.

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25 Years of ImmediCenter Region’s first urgent care center celebrates a quarter-century Story by Jordan Schwartz Dr. Michael Basista never thought he’d be working at an urgent care facility when he entered medicine. “I thought I’d have more of a traditional family practice,” said the Director of ImmediCenter on Broad St.

Basista, 56, grew up in Brooklyn and attended Rutgers Medical School before completing his residency training at Overlook Hospital in Summit. That’s where he met Dr. Stephen LaPoff, who approached Basista a few years later about establishing an urgent care center in LaPoff’s hometown of Clifton. The Brooklyn native needed some convincing, but on June 4, 1984, the pair of physicians, along with a third partner, Dr. Dan Bernheim, opened ImmediCenter. “It’s more unpredictable here,” said Basista about his practice. “There are no appointments; we do all a family doctor does plus more.” The urgent care facility is equipped for all minor emergencies such as cuts, sprains and burns. “This was really set up to fill the void between the family doctor and the emergency room,” said the director. The three partners were pioneers when ImmediCenter first opened, but there’s about one urgent care facility in every town these days, so Basista has had to stay ahead of the competition. “The big draw here is that we really have the feel of a private family practice without the sterility of a clinic,” he said. “We give patients the best care possible.” In the mid ’90s, the center was also forced to compete with local hospitals, which began a Fast Track program to get people in and out more quickly. Dr. Michael Basista with x-ray supervisor and CHS Class of 1976 graduate Dolores (Annichiarico) Giampapa at ImmediCenter. She has been employed at the Broad St. center since the opening of ImmediCenter in 1984.


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

“We’re better because we’re owned and run by a physician who’s working the facility,” said Basista, who lives with his wife and two children in Tenafly but has been somewhat of a Cliftonite for the past quarter-century. “We’re much more attentive to patients’ needs.” A lot has changed at ImmediCenter over the past 25 years, not the least of which were the untimely deaths of Bernheim and LaPoff. “I took out a lot of life insurance after LaPoff passed and a lot of other doctors at Mountainside Hospital went out for stress tests,” said Basista. “It’s a lot more stressful now. LaPoff was the business guy and The three original partners back around the time ImmediCenter opened in 1984. From now I have to assume everyone’s left, Dr. Michael Basista, Dr. Stephen LaPoff and Dr. Dan Bernheim. at ImmediCenter deal with insurance companies. responsibilities. Everything is on my shoulders now.” “We’re beholden to them today,” lamented Basista. The medical director does get some help from a “They control our fees, what procedures we can perfourth partner, Dr. Scott Coleman of Clifton, who form, who we can send our patients to and we’ve lost a joined the business shortly after it began and now runs lot of our autonomy.” the Totowa office, which opened a decade ago. But over the same time period, there have been great ImmediCenter has a third location in Bloomfield and advances in technology such as improvements in diagthe Clifton facility moved across the street to a larger nostic testing like CAT scans, the office now does ultrabuilding eight years ago. sounds and the doctors are able to diagnose a lot more The current 1355 Broad St. location is 8,000 sq. ft. with blood tests. with seven exam rooms, an x-ray room and a minor Despite ImmediCenter’s name, Basista reminds peoemergency room. That’s significantly larger than the ple that they shouldn’t come to him for life-threatening old facility which was just 3,000 sq. ft. with six exam conditions such as a heart attack, stroke or uncontrolrooms and an x-ray room. lable bleeding. The Clifton office treats more than 100 patients Basista has no immediate plans of expanding to a every day, about half of which fall into the category of fourth facility due to the current economic downturn. continuing care. “That’s also what separates us from Like many other businesses, the center is being affectother places,” said Basista. “There’s warmth and familed by this recession like never before. iarity and you get the same doctor every time. All of “I have a lot of corporate clients that are now out of our doctors are primary care physicians.” jobs so I’m losing that aspect of the market,” said the There are seven full-time doctors on staff and two director. “When people don’t have health insurance or full-time physician assistants. Basista also employs a money, they stop coming to the doctor.” number of specialists such as gastroenterologist Dr. But Basista knows things will turn around and he has Zamir Brelvi, orthopedist Dr. Alan Miller and cardiolono intention of retiring anytime soon. gist Dr. Domenick Mariano. In all, there are 54 “I still think medicine is one of the most rewarding employees at the three locations. professions you can go into,” he said. “A lot of us pracFrom the business side, another change over the past tice until we can’t. This place doesn’t run itself.” quarter-century has been the way the doctors and staff March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Sixty Years of Softball

Story by Jordan Schwartz

The Clifton Twilight League carries on the tradition

The 1946 Clifton Martins softball team. Back row, from left, Lefty Westrate, Herb Decker, Bo Nyland, Swede Carlson, Bill Haishun and Walt Pruiksma. Middle: Dan Hanenberg, Marty Van Beueren, Richard Van Houten and Marty Wisse. Front: Ed Neering and John Ward.

During the summer between his junior and senior years at Clifton High School, Walter Pruiksma played softball for the Clifton Martins, a team sponsored by Martin Dairy in Dutch Hill. “We played the Forstmann team in Garfield in the summer of ’41 and I struck out about 12 batters, so the old manager of the Forstmann Wool Company asked me what I do in the summer,” remembered Pruiksma, 85. “I said, ‘I eat, sleep and play softball,’ and he asked me if I’d like to get paid.” 34

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So the athlete got a job with Forstmann and pitched for the plant’s team the following year. Back then, the league was made up of teams like the Clifton Colts from Athenia, Vreeland Esquires, American A.C., Larsen Bakers, Parkers A.C. from Parker Ave., Curtiss Propeller and Clifton National Bank. The U.S. Coast Guard won the league title in 1941 with a record of 15-1. Some of the great players in those days were Chet and Les Grabowski, Augie Lio, Lefty Westrate, J.

Georgydeak, Pete McNab, Dan and John Hanenberg, Ed Neering, Sal Lazzaro, John Donkersloot and Vince Domino. Pruiksma was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and served two years in Europe before returning home to play six more years of the sport he loved. Softball was played all day at Weasel Brook Park back then. “The war industry was going so strong at that time that all the different places had night shifts,” said Pruiksma. “The night employees

But there are still guys like Rich Hanle who appreciate the opportunity to get out and play some softball. Hanle, 71, was a senior All-State center fielder with the Mustangs baseball team that won the Passaic Valley Conference title in 1956. After graduation, he played 10 years with the Passaic Indians of the North Jersey semi-pro league that included the Clifton Phillies. In the ’70s, Hanle owned the Sports Center in Passaic, an athletic apparel store that sold Adidas sneakers, uniforms and screen printing machines. For the past 35 years, he’s

The Hanle men, Rich and Rich Jr., squared off in last year’s Clifton Twilight League championship.

would play in the morning and the day guys would play in the evening.” The softball league placed a small memorial in the park remembering the players who went off to war and did not return. Although it no longer retains the popularity it once had, softball is still an institution in town more than six decades after the Martins battled Forstmann. The Clifton Twilight League had nine teams in 2008 with up to 20 players on a squad. “It’s mostly Clifton people but we allow more out-of-towners because teams were diminishing,” said Loreto De Santis, who has helped run the league for the past 18 years. When he joined in the early ’90s, there were three divisions with varying skill levels, but the amount of teams has decreased. “The town used to give us the fields we needed, but now the fields are going to the different recreation leagues,” said De Santis. “Little by little, the league has been going downhill.”

also been a basketball referee for the Clifton Rec league. But a decade ago, Hanle got back onto the diamond, joining the Twilight League with his 39-yearold son, Rich Jr. They used to play together but last year, the two generations squared off in the championship. “I pitched against him and two games he did alright going 2-4, but then one game I got him 0-4,” said Hanle, who was 10-8 toeing the rubber for Floyd Hall in 2008. The Evergreen Manor resident still hits between .380 and .400

Marching Toward Health By: Dr. David Moore, Chiropractor/Lifestyle Expert March marks the beginning of spring and is the time of new life. The days are getting warmer, and if you have been neglecting your health it is a great time to get re-focused. Are you Marching toward health or are you Marching away from health? Our level of health is a continuum that we are always moving on. It is never static. The things we do everyday move us toward health or move us toward sickness. Health is simple in concept, but sometimes difficult in application. To move along the continuum towards health and wellness you need to move right, think right, and put the right things into your body. Every time you get off track from any dimension of health you move away from optimum health. Think about the things you put into your body that don’t belong there, as well as the things you don’t put into your body that you should. How about the self talk that goes through your mind every day? Are you lifting yourself up with positive self affirming messages and are you spending time with family and friends that lift you up and make you feel good about yourself?

For additional information, visit:

Are you getting enough exercise and taking the time to move your body in appropriate ways to nurture your physical health? If you feel that you are not doing what you should and what you can to improve your current level of health, don’t beat yourself up about it. Make a change and do it today. Don’t wait for an arbitrary time like the New Year, a birthday or even Monday to take charge of your health. Start today and realize that the little things can really add up! March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


in the slow-pitch league, but he needs a pinch runner whenever he reaches base. Still, Hanle enjoys the exercise. “I can still do it; I’m in good shape,” he said. “I got my Medicare card six years ago and I haven’t used it yet.” But the league isn’t just for senior citizens. One of Hanle’s teammates last year was 18 years old and De Santis said they are looking for more young players to rejuvenate the organization. Entry fees vary depending on how many teams are in the league. “Everybody puts in a certain amount of money for insurance, but the four teams that make the playoffs don’t have to pay anything extra,” said De Santis. “There are trophies at the end of the year for the team with the best record and the team that wins the championship.”

Team sponsors include Sharky’s, Paul’s Bar on Crooks Ave., the Livingston Cafe, Floyd Hall, ADP and the Athenia Veterans Hall. Games start at 6:15 pm during the week at Dunney and Richardson Scale Parks. Anyone interested in participating in the April thru August league should call De Santis at 973-796-7220. As for Walt Pruiksma, he hung up his spikes long ago for other underhand activities such as bowling and horseshoes. “What other sports could I play at 148 pounds?” he said, looking back on his playing years. “If you looked at me sideways, I wasn’t even there.” The 1976-77 New Jersey horseshoe champion continued playing the game up until last year. “They have a horseshoe pit behind the clubhouse near where I live in

1950 Clifton Softball League Field Day Results Fast pitch at 46 feet won by George Vranch at 65.4 miles per hour Second place: Walter N. Pruiksma at 61.6 miles hour Fungo hitting won by John Donkersloot, a drive of 283 feet Second place: Ed Padula at 278 feet Base running won by Peter Scerbak who ran 80 feet in 10.40 seconds Second place: Vince Lapari at 10.55 seconds Long distance throwing won by Vince Lapari at 273 feet Second place: J. Jacobwits, 266 feet Long distance accuracy won by Pete Canata Second place: Walter Pruiksma Brick, but it’s a lonely spot,” he explained. “If I fell, no one would see me. I thought, let me use my head and cut it out at this point.”

Dover’s Accreditation Provides Grads Flexibility The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) has granted accreditation to Dover’s Surgical Technologist program upon the recommendation of the Accreditation Review Committee on Education in Surgical Technology (ARC-ST). This makes Dover Business College one of only five institutions within NJ with this distinction. Program accreditation means that the Surgical Technologist graduates of Dover are eligible to sit for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) National Certification Exam, which is administered through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. “Certified Surgical Technologists nationally certified by the NBSTSA have the potential for greater income, enhanced job advancement opportunities, and the flexibility to work anywhere in the United States,” (NBSTSA) as much as 30 days prior to graduation, said Karen Chambers, CST, Chair of the Surgical Technologist program, With campus locations in Dover and Clifton, DBC is a nationally accredited private college with a 50year history of preparing students for successful careers in healthcare, business and information technology. Both campuses house fully equipped operat36

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

ing rooms, nursing labs and medical assistant laboratories. The facilities also include lecture classrooms and computer rooms utilizing the most current and widely used technology.

“I was in an industry that was sinking with the rest of the economy. I always wanted to be in the medical field. I know at least two or three people that graduated from the medical program. They were placed in jobs very quickly and that is very important to me.” Jessie Puglis At Dover, you will find Career Services Specialists who will assist students with resume writing, interview preparation, career counseling, internships and finding full time jobs in their field. So whether you are interested in a career in healthcare, business, or information technology, you will benefit from Dover's smaller classes, expert faculty, and lifetime job placement assistance. Healthcare


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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


CHS Class of 2001 grad Saedah Salhia has come full circle during her decade-long employment at Mandee. As a 16-year-old, she got a job as a sales associate at the old Clifton location on Allwood Rd. Salhia then worked her way up from key holder to assistant manager until she got her own store in Rockaway when she graduated from Rutgers Newark with a psychology degree in 2005. “I’ve been through all the positions that the company offers, so I really slowly moved my way up,” she said. After working as the general manager at the store in Rockaway, Salhia was transferred to the Jersey Gardens location before being handed the reigns of the new Clifton store on Rt. 3. The former Mustang said it feels good to come home again. “I see all the people that I went to school with; they’re all familiar faces,” she said. Salhia is now responsible for the building, merchandising, paperwork and 30 employees at the new flagship location of the teenage and young adult women’s clothing chain. The 7,000 sq. ft. store opened on Feb. 13 and was designed by Tricarico Architecture and Design PC. It includes a full-size runway, a theme that the franchise aims to include in every new store.


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

send Clifton business news to

The new Mandee store on Rt. 3 was opened on Feb. 13. From left, District Manager Vicki Barrett, Assistant Buyer Jenny Mandelbaum, Chairman and CEO Ken Mandelbaum and Clifton store General Manager Saedah Salhia.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Mandee franchise. The store is located on Rt. 3, near the Promenade Shops. Clifton Savings Bancorp, Inc., the parent company of Clifton Savings Bank, is paying a cash dividend of $0.05 per share for the quarter that ended on Dec. 31,

2008. The dividend will be payable on March 6 to shareholders of record. This is the 20th cash dividend paid by Clifton Savings Bancorp, Inc. since becoming a capital stock organization in March 2004. It maintains six branches locally. For more information, visit

Your Corner Office Is Waiting Looking to move your business up but not out of Passaic County? Mountain Development Corp. is proud to be Passaic County’s largest commercial landlord and to offer office suites from 1,200 sf – 60,000 sf starting at $19 psf. For leasing info, call Bill Martini 973-279-9000 x111 email: web: 100 Delawanna Avenue Clifton

One Garret Mountain Plaza Exit 56 off Route 80 West Paterson

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Nicholas Tselepis of Nicholas Real Estate Agency on Main Ave. celebrated the business’s 30th anniversary last October and never before has the market been as challenging as it is right now. “We are in a realistic mode,” he said. “It’s not where we’re just giving money away to anyone that’s not qualified; we are making sales to people that are able to qualify.” In order to adjust to the changing economy, Tselepis has increased his marketing on the internet and in print media. The agency is also working with Foreclosure Solutions of Clifton to help homeowners that are behind on their mortgages negotiate with their banks. The result has been that Nicholas Real Estate’s sales firgures are about on par with last year’s sales to this point. The agency is promoting the fact that first-time homebuyers who purchase homes from the start of this year until the end of November may be eligible for an up to $8,000 tax credit. The credit begins phasing out for couples with incomes of more than $150,000 and single filiers who make more than $75,000. Buyers will have to repay the credit if they 40

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

sell their homes within three years. Tselepis said now is a great time for homeowners to trade up because of falling home prices. “Let’s say your old home was worth $200,000 and now it’s 10 percent lower,” he explained. “You have $20,000 less but if your new home was $400,000, with a 10 percent reduction, you’re saving $40,000 on that. “So it’s a very good time for people to move up because you may leverage your loss to maximize your gain.” There are additional tax incentives to spur energy savings and green jobs. This provision is designed to help promote energyefficient investments in homes by extending and expanding tax credits through 2010 for purchases such as new energy-efficient windows and doors, furnaces or insulation. The Landmark Energy Savings provision provides $5 billion for energy-efficient improvements for more than one million modestincome homes through weatherization. This can help save these families an average of $350 a year on heating and air conditioning bills, according to some estimates. St. Joseph’s Healthcare System has named Sister Rosemary Smith, S.C., the new Chairperson of the Board of Trustees. Smith, a Sister of Charity, currently serves as Assistant General Superior of her congregation. From 2001 to 2007, she was Senior Vice President for Sponsorship with the Bon Secours Health System in Maryland. She has also been an adjunct professor and has published a number of articles in the field of canon law. Sister Rosemary holds a bachelor of arts in math, a master’s in English literature and a doctorate in canon law.

There is another provision that provides $6.3 billion for increasing energy efficiency in federally supported housing programs. It creates a new program to update HUD-sponsored low-income housing to increase energy efficiency, including new windows, frames and insulation. Finally, the Expanding Housing Assistance provision increases support for a number of important housing programs. It includes $2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to help communities buy and rehabilitate foreclosed, vacant properties. A lot has certainly changed during Tselepis’s three decades in business, but the Greek immigrant is keeping up with the times. “There were no computers, fax machines, cell phones or beepers back then,” he recalled. “People now want instant service and that’s why if someone calls me and I don’t call them back the same day, it costs me $100.” That type of customer service has earned Tselepis the distinct honor of being the only Clifton broker to receive platinum status from the Association of Realtors.

Renovations at the Broad St. Stop & Shop have been progressing. On Feb. 10, Mayor James Anzaldi, City Manager Al Greco, Economic Developer Harry Swanson and City Planner Dennis Kirwan attended a ceremony at the property. The event was meant to discuss the positive aspects of the new 55,000 sq. ft. supermarket, which is double the size of the old Stop & Shop. “The old store was built in 1957 and the people of Clifton need and deserve a better supermarket,” said Frank Maglio, Director of Real Estate for Stop & Shop. The new store, at the corner of Allwood and Broad, will open in the late fall of this year. Assemblyman Thomas Giblin and Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver are urging eligible senior citizens and residents with disabilities living in the 34th Legislative District to apply for the state’s Property Tax Reimbursement program. The “Senior Freeze” program reimburses applicants for the differ-

A ground breaking ceremony for the renovations of the Broad St. Stop & Shop was held on Feb. 10. From left, City Manager Al Greco, Gloria Martini of the North Jersey Regional Chamber of Commerce, Stop & Shop Regional Manager Robert Fappiano and Clifton Commons Store Manager Joe Emerson.

ence between the amount of local property taxes paid in their “base year” (the first year they became eligible and filed for the program) and the amount of property taxes paid in the reimbursement year.

The deadline to apply is June 1 and the Assembly members’ staff are available to assist residents in completing and filing their applications. Call Giblin’s office at 973-779-3125 or Oliver’s at 973-395-1166.

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


This Was No Hoop Dream Long before Michael Jordan’s ill-fated journey through minor league baseball, Babe Ruth also crossed sports—and fans—by attempting to play basketball. If he had fleeting thoughts of a two-sport career, the Bambino quickly regained his senses. Going zip-for-24 in your hoop debut will do that. Story by Jack DeVries “Air” Babe happened January 2, 1921. Ruth had just returned from a disastrous trip to Cuba where he barnstormed with a team led by New York Giants manager John McGraw. Playing on large, mostly open fields, he mustered just two home runs. Away from the diamond, things were worse. His trip pay, estimated between $10,000 and $20,000, remained on the island. Near the tour’s end, Ruth was swindled in a racetrack scam by men posing as rich American playboys. They allowed Babe to win $30,000 on a fixed race, and then convinced him to bet his winnings—plus the exhibition game loot and an estimated $100,000—on more “sure things.” Ruth lost everything. With angry bookmakers on his heels, he escaped by hiding in a cramped train toilet on a ride from Santiago to Havana. He was so broke, that he used money his wife Helen had squirreled away to pay their fare back to New York City. When Babe got back, he got an offer to play basketball for $1,000 a game from Joe Murray, a small-time New Jersey promoter and baseball umpire. Murray arranged for Ruth to play two games with the Passaic (N.J.) AllStars—the first in New York City at the 71st Regiment Armory, the second in New Haven, Conn. Ruth’s team was actually the “Powers Five,” a squad of Clifton-born basketball-playing brothers and a 5’8” dynamo, future Basketball Hall of Famer Bennie Borgmann, also from Clifton. Their opponent would be the self-proclaimed basketball world champions, the Original Celtics. Known as “cagers,” basketball players of that era performed in chicken wire or rope netting-enclosed courts because promoters feared diving athletes might hurt the fans. Courts were set up in places like church basements (with support poles in play) and smoky dance halls, where fans danced to a live orchestra at halftime and after the game. 42

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California wine entered the international stage at the 1976 Judgment of Paris wine competition when Californian wines beat out French wines in both red and white wine categories. Today there are more than 1,200 wineries in the state, ranging from small boutique wineries to well known names like E & J Gallo Winery with distribution around the globe. Today, a new generation of winemakers from regions such as Russian River Valley or Paso Robles are producing great flavor at great prices...

Wine Values Beringer White Zinfandel 1.5 L’s . . . . . . .$8.49 Sutter Home White Zinfandel 1.5 L’s . . . .$6.69 Altana Di Vico Pinot Grigio 1.5 L’s . . . . . . .$9.99 Ca’ Lughetta Pinot Grigio 1.5 L’s . . . . . .$10.99 Cavit Pinot Grigio 1.5 L’s . . . . . . . . . . . . .$12.01 Mondavi Woodbridge All Types 1.5 L’s . .$10.33 Bohemian Highway All Types 1.5 L’s . . . .$9.33 Corbett Canyon All Types 1.5 L’s . . . . . . . .$5.01 Stone House Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml . .$7.95 Stone House Chardonnay 750ml . . . . . . .$9.95 Rockwood Alexander Valley Cab 750ml .$13.95 Rockwood Merlot 750ml . . . . . . . . . . . .$12.95 Pacific Coast Riesling 750ml . . . . . . . . . .$9.99 RH Phillips Toasted Head Pinot Noir 750ml . .$14.09 Blackstone Merlot 750ml . . . . . . . . . . .$8.67 Mondavi Napa Cab Sauvignon 750ml . .$18.49 Mc Manis Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml . . . .$9.99 Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml . . . .$10.69 Estancia Chardonnay 750ml . . . . . . . . . . .$8.49 Annabella Cabernet 750ml . . . . . . . . . . .$11.99

Bogle Petite Sirah 750ml . . . . . . . . . . . . .$8.99 Mirassou Pinot Noir 750ml . . . . . . . . . . . .$8.09 Kelly Creek Pinot Noir 750ml . . . . . . . .$14.99 Kenwood Pinot Noir 750ml . . . . . . . . . . .$14.99 Thirsty Fish Shiraz 750ml . . . . . . . . . . . . .$7.99 Ravenswood Vinters Zinfandel 750ml . . . . .$8.75 J Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay 750ml . . .$9.69 J Lohr 7 Oaks Cab Sauvignon 750ml . . .$11.99 Kendall Jackson Chardonnay 750ml . . .$11.49 Cabo de Hornas Cabernet 2003 750ml . .$24.99 Hanging Vine Cab & Chard 750ml . . . . . . . . .$10.99 S Margherita Pinot Grigio 750ml . . . . . .$19.99 Louis Martini Sonoma County Cab 750ml . .$1299 Gruet Brut & Blanc de Noir 750ml . . . . .$11.99 Prices effective through March 31. Good only at Shoppers Vineyard in Clifton. We reserve the right to limit quantities. Prices do not include sales tax. Not responsible for typographical errors. No rainchecks. Limited to store inventory.

Liquor Values Tamdhu 10yr Single Malt Scotch . . . . . .$19.99 Macallan 12 yr Single Malt Scotch . . . .$41.09 Baileys Irish Cream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$20.09 Forty Creek Dbl Barrel Canadian Whiskey .$39.99 Double Cross Vodka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$40.09 Boticelli Cappuccino Liqueur . . . . . . . . .$14.99 Ron Centenario Fundacion 20 yr Rum . . .$29.09 Don Julio 1942 Tequilla . . . . . . . . . . . . .$80.00 IEl Dorado 12 yr Rum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$20.96 St-Germain Liquer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$27.99

Beer Values Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale 24 12oz Cans . . .$31.99 Sierra Nev. Pale Ale/Torpedo 24-12oz Bot .$25.99 Dogfish Head 60 Min IPA 24-12 oz Bot .$32.99 Abita Purple Haze/Jockamo IPA 24-12oz Bot . .$29.99

Smuttynose IPA 24-12 oz Bot . . . . . . . . .$31.99 Troegs HopBack Amber 24-12 oz Bot . .$29.99

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Music was needed to soothe the savage crowds. Spectators sometimes hurled ten-penny nails or wads of tobacco at players, while rooters in the Spike Lee seats poked hatpins or lit cigarettes at the cagers’ flesh when it pressed against the mesh barrier. The court was a hacker’s delight with no disqualification rule to limit fouling. Other rules differed. A center jump was mandated after every basket, and double dribbling was legal and necessary—the That’s Babe Ruth with the Powers Five, one of the leading basketball teams of the barnstorming era. Among the teams members which called Passaic home were Bennie Borgmann (see facing page), Bobby Reynics, a Passaic Police Office and Art Powers, who later coached many Clifton athletes on the baseball diamond.

ball was somewhat out-of-round and laced with leather stitches. There was also no 24-second clock or three-second rule to keep the era’s smaller wide-bodies from the basket. And the court was under the watchful eye of a single referee— hired by the home team. While the local press devoted space to basketball, the big papers treated it like professional wrestling. “There was a bias against pro basketball and football by the sports editors of the time,” says NBA historian Bill Himmelman. “They reported on college games in both sports, but the pro game was seen as violent and primitive. The local papers did a much better job on coverage.” However, Ruth’s upcoming basketball debut was big news. Through the Manhattan Rubber Company (where Borgmann worked for $18.50 a week), two thousand tickets were reserved for Passaic fans. 44

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The Passaic Daily Herald billed the Bambino as “an experienced basketeer” and a former “star guard on the St. Mary School quintet.” The Paterson Morning Call wrote, “Ruth is a first class basketball player, but does not play much on account of the danger of injury.” Ironically, Ruth tasted victory with his first professional baseball team on the basketball court. After arriving in Fayetteville, N.C., for spring training in 1914, he joined his fellow Baltimore Orioles in a game against the high school basketball team after rains had made the baseball field unplayable. Babe and the Birds won, 8-6. In his pro debut, Ruth would face a team light years beyond Fayetteville High. The Original Celtics began not in Boston, but in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. The 1921 squad included six-foot center Joe Trippe, veteran forward Mike Smolick, and team captain Ernie Reich. Others included Basketball Hall of Famers Dutch Dehnert (whose ballooning weight led to his invention of the back-to-thebasket pivot play) and Johnny Beckman, under contract for a reported $1,000 a month, whom sportswriters dubbed the “Babe Ruth of basketball.” On game night, over 10,000 people packed the armory at the corner of Park Ave. and 34th St.—the biggest crowd ever to see a basketball game until 11,000 saw the Celtics play the New York Whirlwinds that spring. Most were there only to see Ruth and an air of celebration buzzed through the armory. When referee Artie Conlan blew his whistle to start play, the Sultan of Swat stepped inside the rope-caged court to “thunderous applause.” Packed into his uniform, Ruth looked Shaq-esque. At 6’2”, he was one of the tallest men on the court and by far the heaviest. After the Cuban trip, Ruth weighed 240 pounds—25 over his playing weight. Babe told the reporters who chided him about his girth, “You all thought me big as a house when I reported in Jacksonville, Fla., last spring. Well, I was heavier then than I am now.” He also announced, “Sixty home runs or more will be my slogan for 1921.” While the game was only a paycheck for Ruth, seeing 10,000 people in the stands fired up the Celtics and the Passaic All-Stars. After the opening tip, Art Powers whipped a pass to the Babe—who ducked to avoid getting hit in the face with the ball. On their next trip down, Borgmann and the Powers brothers worked the ball around, setting the Babe up for a shot. Ruth turned, fired . . . and hit nothing but air, missing the rim by ten feet.

Clifton’s Bennie Borgman at the Paterson Hamilton Club. Borgman lived in the Clifton School 15 neighborhood and while he never played for the Mustangs, he turned pro in 1921 and scored over 25,000 career points. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961.

“As a basketball player,” The Passaic Daily Herald reported, “Ruth proved himself a fine piano mover.” The Babe was in over his head, and the Celtics had no sympathy. Dehnert and Reich pestered Ruth each time he had the ball, forcing him into turnovers or wild shots. Not that the Babe needed encouragement to shoot. George Herman Ruth did an excellent imitation of World B. Free, firing 24 shots in the first half. But the imitation ended there as none of his shots dropped. Seeing what an awful player he was, fans began “razzing” the Babe and yelling for a replacement. But Ruth lived up to his $1,000 contract and labored through the first half. When it ended, the Celtics held a commanding 25-16 lead. When the Babe took the floor for the second half, the booing got worse. After five minutes, he was mercifully lifted for 5’4” Bobby Reynics of Passaic. “There goes Goliath to the showers,” the Paterson Press Guardian quotes one fan yelling, “and here comes David in his place.” March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Without their sideshow, Passaic went after the Celtics at full strength. With Reynics’ fresh legs sparking them, the All-Stars reeled off six straight points, four on field goals by Borgmann and two on a tip-in by Art Powers. If there was a player on the floor good enough to play two major pro sports, it was Borgmann. The greatest scorer of his era, Borgmann would total over 25,000 points during his basketball career. 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, N.J., semi-pro team that often beat major league teams—including Ruth’s Yankees. The year Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, Borgmann was given a tryout on the new field and signed by the visiting Boston Red Sox. The following season, he drew the wrath of Baseball Commissioner Judge


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

The Babe bowling duck pins.

Landis, who placed him on the ineligible list after he arrived late to finish the hoop season. With a yearly income estimated at $10,000 from playing semi-pro basketball and baseball, Borgmann didn’t need the major leagues.

In 1929, he was reinstated and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Four years later, he hit .340 for the Columbus Little World Series champions and was ticketed to play for the 1934 Gashouse Gang. Pneumonia ruined his chance. Borgmann played and managed in the minors until he was 44, later becoming a major league scout. But, on that night, nothing could stop him or his teammates. With the momentum with Passaic, the huge crowd got behind the underdogs. Borgmann hit a one-hander, and Art and Ralph Powers “after some wonderful pass work” each scored to pull the game even, 31-31. Smolick’s basket gave the Celtics a 33-31 lead with less than a minute to play. After the center jump, Passaic got the ball and Borgmann was fouled. The crowd was “raving.” With 40 seconds remaining, Borgmann

hoisted the foul shot up—and missed. After a wild scramble, Passaic regained possession deep in their backcourt. The Celtics spread themselves across mid-court, determined to keep Passaic from advancing. “The noise was so great,” wrote The Passaic Daily Herald, “that the whistle of the referee could not be heard.” Trapped in the backcourt with five seconds left, Art Powers drew the ball toward his chest and let fly with a long two-handed “hawker.” That hit nothing but net. The fans surged onto the court, forgetting Ruth and nearly carrying the All-Stars off the floor—the 33-33 tie all but an official victory. On a winter evening when a summer hero was the attraction, Borgmann, Reynics, and the Powers brothers had showed New York City how great their game was. Ruth might have wanted to retire from basketball, but the Cuban sting forced him back on the court.

In New Haven, without Borgmann and only two of the Powers brothers in the lineup, the Celtics crushed Passaic, 52-34. But “Air” Babe fared better. He surprised both himself and the 2,000 fans in attendance by hitting two of his 12 shots, both from the side. After the January 15 game, Ruth was a guest of the New Haven Elks where he donated a portion of his purse to the city’s Community Chest and signed three basketballs. One


ball was sold, and the other two went to the boys of the St. Francis Orphan Asylum. A month later, Babe reported to spring training and worked off his belly. During the 1921 season, he hit one less than his goal of 60 home runs, knocked in 171, and batted .378—probably the greatest year of his career. Babe Ruth, one of the lousiest basketball players in New York City, could sure hit a baseball.


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Learn the Art of the Ukrainian Easter Egg

The Folk Art of Pysanky. Take a class with Natalie and you’ll have two completed Pysanky to take home and the knowledge to do more! Classes are $50 and include a full kit of dyes, kistkas or writing tools, bee’s wax and a design booklet. To sign up for a class, please call St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in advance at 973-473-7197 or email On Palm Sunday Weekend she’ll hold classes in the School Cafeteria of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, 223 President St. in Passaic. Classes are on Saturday, April 4 from 1 to 3:30 pm or Sunday, April 5, from 1 to 3:30. Attend either!


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton’s Natalie Warchola first learned how to ‘write’ Pysanky as a young girl at the Ukrainian Center in Passaic. The word comes from the verb pysaty, ‘to write’, as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax. Natalie explains: “This batik method of decorating eggs is done by applying hot wax on the egg and dipping it in a succession of dye baths after each layer of wax is applied to the design of the egg— it sounds difficult but it is really very simple— then all the wax is melted off the egg and all the colors are revealed... magic! The result... spectacular! This simple folk art started well over 2,000 years ago to praise pagan gods and it was adopted by Ukrainian Christians in 988 to celebrate Easter and Christ’s resurrection.

It is an art I love to share, and I can teach you our folk art.”

John Muller is the volunteer fundraiser and concert coordinator for the St. Peter’s Summer Sunset Blues Cruises. While Brooklyn Brewery is returning as a sponsor, he seeks other supporters for this year’s event.

The Clifton Association of Artists presents “Welcome To Our Garden,” an art exhibit and sale of their work at the Clifton Arts Center. The exhibit runs from March 11 to April 18 with a reception open to the public on March 14 from 1 to 4 pm. Admission is $3. Gallery hours are from Wednesday through Saturday, 1 to 4 pm. Group tours are available by appointment. The exhibit will include works in various art mediums such as oil, acrylic, pastels, and mixed media by professional and amateur artists from Clifton and surrounding communities. Visit or call 973-773-9721.

Summer Sunset Blues Cruise Sails: John Muller, volunteer coordinator of the St. Peter’s Haven Summer Sunset Blues Cruise, announced the line up for the July evening music excursions up the Hudson River. July 8 - Chaz DePaolo Band; July 10 - Blues Harmonica legend Big Nancy Swarbrick with the Supreme Court Band and vocalist Yolanda Briggs; July 10 - Chuck Lambert Band. Tickets are $50 and include beer, soda and live music on a two-anda-half hour cruise aboard the A.J. Meerwald, which casts off from Liberty State Park, Jersey City, at 6 pm. Only 40 tickets are available for each night. St. Peter’s Haven for Homeless Families in Need of Clifton is the beneficiary of this fundraiser, now in its sixth year. Call Muller at 973-546-3406 or write to One World, Different Music and Dance, a joint effort between Colleen Murray and Pat Vasilik of

the Children’s Library, is putting a call out for volunteers. The program, which is slated for a June showing, aims to showcase various traditional costume, singing and dance of several cultures. Volunteers are needed for performances, dress or even speaking. Call 973-253-9579. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) announced that applications for its 2009 Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program are now being accepted. Apprenticeships support ethnic and traditional arts and crafts by helping talented artists further hone their skills by working directly with a master artist of a shared community. Apprentices may request up to $3,000 to support an intensive regimen of study with a master artist for up to 12 months. While individualized workshops for applicants can be arranged, meetings are scheduled on various dates in March. Deadline for final applications is April 3. Call 609-2926130 or go to

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

Proud to Represent Clifton Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin 1333 Broad St., Clifton, NJ 07013 office: 973-779-3125


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


The Garden State Opera invites everyone to a performance of Scenes from Paul Hindemith’s opera Mathis der Maler at the Shea Center for the Performing Arts, 300 Pompton Rd., Wayne, at William Paterson University, on April 17 at 7:30 pm. This performance is part of the Hindemithon 2009, a festival of music by Paul Hindemith, of which Frank Pavese is Artistic Director. The scenes from the opera will be sung in German and will be staged with chamber orchestra. This project is funded in part by the Passaic County Cultural and Heritage Council at Passaic County Community College, through a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of the State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The facility is wheelchair accessible and large print programs are available upon request. Admission is free and for information, call 973-2723255 or visit

The cast of the CHS production of Rent includes Jose Lamarque, Victoria Waumans, John Almiranez, Jake Wilson, Tricia Torley, Sarah Robertson, Brian Bender, Paige Sciarrino and Kris Alvarez.

The Kennedy Dancers will be among the performers to celebrate the ‘Beauty in Diversity’ theme of the One Heart International Festival in Paterson on March 19. 50

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton High School students present Rent on March 20 and 21 at 7:30 pm and on March 22 at 3 pm. The performance is being described as an unprecedented break from traditional performances of the past due to the contemporary issues dealt with in the play. Tickets may be purchased during school hours in the main office or by calling 973-470-2312. The Artists’ Group (TAG) of Jefferson Township hosts a Photography Weekend of Whale Watching to Provincetown, Mass. June 12-14. Photographers of all levels are invited to participate; fee. For more info, contact Kay Money at 973-663-1558 or e-mail

Clifton Rec Department’s theme for 2009 is Passport to Adventure. From dance and music to sports and volunteerism, the idea is to encourage low-cost, family entertainment. This year, individuals participating in recreational programs will receive a passport booklet they can use throughout the year. When they attend a class, sign up for a team or go to an event, sponsored by the Rec Dept., they will get a stamp or sticker to remind them of that experience. Participants are encouraged to write some of their memories in the booklet. Both children and adults are encouraged to participate. Passport booklets are available at the Rec Office, second floor of City Hall, 900 Clifton Ave. Call 973-470-5956. The Fourth Annual Passaic County Student Film & Video Festival is on April 18 at 10 am in the Passaic County Public Safety Complex, 300 Oldham Rd., Wayne. While the call for entries has closed, the event show-

cases films by college or high school students who reside in Passaic County. Last year, 18 films were screened. For info on the Festival, which is run through the Passaic County Department of Economic Development, call 973-569-4720. The Clifton-based New Jersey Music and Arts presents the 6th “One Heart International Festival” of music, dance and drama on March 19 at 7:30 pm at the Passaic County Community College Auditorium in Paterson. Tickets are $10. The festival theme is “Beauty in Diversity,” a celebration of the cultures of the world. Call 973-2723255 or go to Guest conductor Gary Fagin will lead the Arco Ensemble on April 26 at 3 pm in a concert saluting Felix Mendelssohn at St. Stephen’s RC Magyar Church, 223 Third St. Passaic. Tickets are $20 or $12 for students and seniors. or 973-837-1965.

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

The Clifton Recreation Department has published a yearlong guide to events suitable for children and adults.

The Theater League of Clifton presents Lend Me A Tenor on April 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 8 pm and April 19 and 26 at 2 pm at School 3 on Washington Ave. It is directed by Pat Woodward and produced by Mark Peterson. Tickets are $15 or $10 for students and seniors. Opening night two-for-one special. Visit or call 973-458-9579.


Brothers Don and Rich Knapp

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Board of Education Election on April 21 3 of 9 Seats Up For Grabs • Profiles by Joe Hawrylko and Jordan Schwartz

Michael Urciuoli Current Board of Education President Michael Urciuoli has wrapped up his first three-year term and is seeking reelection. In his time spent on the BOE, Urciuoli feels that he and his peers have done an admirable job, given the circumstances that they were thrust into. “I think we’ve been more transparent this year than in the past, something I said I’d do,” Urciuoli said. “People need to know what’s going on, but at the same time, it can impede progress, because you’re stuck going over the same issue over and over.” The board president recalled when the BOE had an open forum about the 290 Brighton Rd. project. Residents questioned members for over five hours on the controversial project, which had been in legal limbo since being approved in December 2004. “It was an attempt at being transparent,” explained Urciuoli. “But while you’re doing things like that, you’re talking about education; you’re not moving forward.” Urciuoli assessed his three years as largely successful. During his tenure, the board has completed the walkways, installed fiber optic wiring, a writer workshop for K-8 and instituted a volleyball feeder program at the middle school level. One of the programs that he is most proud of is the new block 52

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

scheduling program at the middle schools. The normal, 40-minute classes that were held five times a week have been replaced with 80minute courses, which are held three times a week. “Normally, a teacher will take attendance and collect homework, and maybe teach for 30 minutes,” Urciuoli explained. “This gives the opportunity for the teacher to really work with the kids.” He cautioned that the program may take time to become completely efficient, since teachers would have to adapt to longer classes. “You can’t just lecture a room for 80 minutes,” Urciuoli explained. “But I have a feeling that we’ll be looking at it in the high school if it’s successful in the middle school.” If elected, one of the big issues coming up will be the negotiation of contracts awarded to the teacher, transportation and cafeteria unions, which will start in the spring. Together, these contract account for more than 85 percent of the wage expenses in the budget, according to Urciuoli. “We’re going to do our best to reduce costs in that regard,” he explained. “We don’t want to get in a situation down the road where we have to reduce staff.” Urciuoli said the situation produces a unique opportunity for the BOE. Concessions on wages and health care can be put in the new

contract, rather than retroactively trying to fix a problem, much like the city is doing currently with the fire fighters. “The city can pick up garbage less times per month to cut costs,” he explained. “Students must have their math and science courses. You can’t change that.” In the event that negotiations came to a stalemate, Urciuoli said he’d first look towards removing non-educators, rather than increasing class sizes further. “What drives us crazy as a board is when people shoot our budget down,” he said. “It’s impossible to cut 85 percent without cutting a person.” Educating the public on that matter has been another issue that Urciuoli has addressed. His community relations group, chaired by Commissioner Kim Renta, has

School Board Elections April 21st • Polls Open 1:30 PM - 9 PM been meeting with district students and parents. “We’ve opened up dialogue,” he added. “I think we’ve made improvements in special needs area, food service contracts and we added a feeder program for volleyball at the middle schools.” Keeping the chain of communication between the administration and students and parents is key to getting the budget passed, according to Urciuoli. “We really need to do a better job of getting everyone behind the schools,” he said. “More engagement with families. I can’t tell you a percentage, but I know there’s too many people who just attend Clifton’s schools and leave at the end of the day. Parents aren’t involved in getting their homework done, and they don’t do sports or join clubs.”

Lizz Gagnon With more than 10 years of service under her belt, Lizz Gagnon is now the longest tenured commissioner on the nine-member Board of Education. According to the mother of two, that’s an important fact to consider when deciding whom to cast a ballot for in April. “With Marie (Hakim, a former BOE member who recently passed away), I’m the oldest on the board,” explained Gagnon. “She always used to say, ‘This is what we did in the past,’ and now I’m saying that. I’ve lived here for 55 years now. She said that her most recent three-year term was successful, especially considering the negative environment that constantly follows the board these days. “Brighton Rd. is coming along beautifully. I recently went on a tour


there,” said Gagnon. “And all our schools, keeping them in running condition. I take a lot of pride in that. We do a lot of improvements to our schools that people don’t see. Our schools are very old, but they’re in very good condition.”

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School Board Elections April 21st • Polls Open 1:30 PM - 9 PM A committee chaired by the commissioner has recently proposed replacing the aging windows in each of the four wings at Clifton High School. Gagnon also noted that the walkways that connect the wings at CHS have finally been completed. “That was my baby,” she said. “They’re working beautifully. I talked to a student the other day and they said that it really eliminated that mosh pit.” The construction was supposed to ease the burden off of the main hallway in CHS, which becomes clogged in between periods. Ultimately, the plan to deal with the overcrowding dilemma was to find a location for a new school and restructure the grades accordingly. But Gagnon said the current economic environment may force the board to improvise rather than find a permanent solution. “I’m always one to have more space for our kids—I do believe that smaller learning environments are a needed thing when it comes to children. That’s why our Catholic schools are such a good environment,” she explained. “But on the other hand, I think the walkways and Brighton Rd. is going to help. We take little baby steps in Clifton.

But it doesn't look good. Financially, it’s a pipe dream.” Gagnon said the board is currently investigating ways to save money during contract negotiations with the unions for the teachers, cafeteria and transportation workers. “We have to tighten our belts, too. As far as raises go, in the real world, we’re all in trouble and we have to all give back a bit,” she explained. “Truthfully, negotiations have gone on already and they’ve been great. We only gave a certain amount and they’re coming to us with medical give backs.” However, even with some concessions, Gagnon believes there’s still some dead weight that can be removed from the payroll. “We need to look into some of the non-performers in our district. I think we’re having a lot of problems in transportation and in the next couple years, I want that under control,” she said. “The non-performers take a lot of time off from work. I want the department to be run like a stiff ship. That’s my number one interest right now, besides residency, of course.” However the board handles the situation, Gagnon said she and her

colleagues want to have their actions transparent for the public to see. She said President Michael Urciuoli has done a lot to improve the public’s perception of the board over the last year. “I think transparency is terrific, I really do. But in the past administration, (Dr. Michael) Rice’s regime allowed certain board members to have certain privileges that should not have been done,” she claimed. “I don't like to hear about things after the fact, not only the party, but the boat situation, because it gives negative feelings towards the board, that we’re not in control.” But while Gagnon said those situations were regrettable, she still doesn’t condone the actions of the vocal critics who chastise the Board of Ed for what she said are perceived failures. “The state investigation had 11 counts that they basically took into consideration and we were cleared on all but two of them,” said Gagnon. “They found nothing to be wrong. That says a lot.” The state concluded that the BOE failed to obtain approval from the Division of Finance for a

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


change order that exceeded 20 percent of the contract, and did not follow policy by allowing an employee to utilize the Christopher Columbus Middle School gym for an event. “I have a problem with all the negativity when people don’t see the good things going on,” she added. “They just come up to the podium with negative things to say and nothing to contribute.” Despite the board’s critics, Gagnon said she and her colleagues will do their best to ensure that the budget passes in April. “We’re all working very hard. In the last three months, Mr. Tardalo has already put together a schedule of what he’s going to do to pass the budget,” she said. “We’re going to be working hard to push it with the HSA.”

Jack Houston Vocal critics on the microphone at meetings. Angry taxpayers writing letters to media outlets. Anonymous bashers on an online forum. It seems everyone these days is finding a reason to condemn the Board of Education. Jack Houston says the pessimism expressed by residents stifles the commissioners’ abilities to do their job. However, he concedes that the Board’s public image has rightfully

taken a beating in the past few years. Houston said he’s the candidate who can best mend the fractured relationship between elected officials and citizens. “The school district and the superintendent have a picture; their plan and organization is clear,” he explained. “But some of the matters that come up with the Board of Ed have been confused. It takes away or digresses away from what are some of the real matters that the Board of Ed is doing on a week-by-week basis. The board needs to project itself as a more functioning image on a weekly basis to the people.” Beyond the citizens, Houston says that the commissioners need to assess the relationship that they have with each other. “I want to, with the board members, have more open and trusting relationships on the board itself,” he said. “I see myself as someone that can work as a team. I want to be the unifier.” Houston, an assistant dean at Fordham University, failed in his run for the BOE in 2007. He now hopes to bring a divided city together and come up with a final answer to the controversial overcrowding issue. He says the city needs to find out the real facts, without any slants, and make an appropriate decision.

“The idea of space allocation is a better way to phrase it. Last year, the debate, or the understanding, changed,” he explained. “But it would seem to me that it would need to be looked at. Research needs to continue with it. I mean, there’s 3,400 students at the high school.” That means planning ahead and considering the future needs of a growing city that is home to more than 80,000 residents. With this in mind, Houston said the city should attempt to broker a deal with the Diocese of Paterson and acquire the Pope John Paul II property on Valley Rd. “The infrastructure of CCMS needs to be considered,” he

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School Board Elections April 21st • Polls Open 1:30 PM - 9 PM said. The building is 80 years old and several other Clifton schools are around or above the century mark. “How long is it going to last? We might be in a better position to acquire that than spend more money and try to maintain some of the older buildings.” Houston said he’s well aware of the financial situation, but taking the future into consideration is a necessity in preserving the quality of schools and the city at large. “It’s an investment in maintaining the good community life and the traditions of our city. People will want to stay here and people will want to move in,” he said. “Good schools stabilize communities. It also improves financial situations on our properties and our homes.” The unions and the budget are two items that will further stress taxpayers, something that Houston will keep in mind if elected. He wants to see efficient spending in all endeavors. “I believe that the unions and the BOE need to responsibly have a good and honest conversation,” said Houston. “I’m not saying cutting measures (for jobs)—I don’t know that yet—but definitely, conversations are without a doubt more accentuated at this time because of the stress put on the taxpayer.” Overall, he says the educational community has the pieces in place for progress. Houston expressed confidence in Superintendent Richard Tardalo’s leadership abilities and said there’s hope for the future. The board has successfully implemented the walkways, and will soon have the school on Brighton Rd. completed. It’s just a 56

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

matter of getting the elected officials and the community working together to better the existing product. “I’m not going in as a complainer; it’s easy to complain. There’s no insurmountable issues or problems,” said Houston. “If we’re doing things that are strong, let’s do it even better. Improvements are always something that’s necessary.”

Carlo Santelli At just 21, Carlo Santelli is more than 20 years younger than anyone currently on the BOE. Some of the commissioners had already graduated high school and college by the time he was born. And that’s exactly why Santelli thinks you should vote for him. “My age makes me different, but I can use that in my favor,” he explained. “How can a 50-year-old know what’s going through a 15year-old’s mind when they’re going through the hallways of CHS? It was just over two years ago that I was going through those hallways.” Santelli also knows that, in the eyes of some, his youth might seem to be a detriment. That’s why he plans on having an open mind if elected. He figures his unique perspective, combined with the experience of older members, could yield better results for the students of Clifton. “Of course I don’t have an answer to all of the issues. My wisdom and my knowledge isn’t as good as some of the people on the board, so I’ll work with them,” he said. “But we just need a fresh face, a fresh spirit on the Board of Education.” Santelli, a 2006 CHS graduate, decided to run for a seat after returning from a two-year mission-

ary trip to New Mexico and California with his church, Family Federation for World Peace, which is located on DeMott Ave. He is currently enrolled at Bergen County Community College, and hopes to transfer to Columbia University to study business in the near future. “It gave me a much more worldly view. I now feel that I have a clear goal and vision of what I want to do in my life and in my community,” he said. “I saw how much you gain from helping other people. I genuinely want to help the people of this town. It’s my neighbors and my friends. I have no hidden agenda.” One of his top priorities is restoring the disconnect between the BOE and voters. As a student and president of his class senior year, Santelli was at the middle of the overcrowding controversy that has gone on for much of the last decade. Resentment over questionable facts presented by the board and the general conduct of its members have caused some voters to lose faith in those they’ve elected. “When I was in high school, they (Former Principal Bill Canicci and former Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice) blew it out of proportion,”

Santelli explained. “For myself and about 95 percent of my friends who graduated with me, it wasn’t that big of a deal. The hallways were the issue, but now, with the walkways, that became obsolete.” He said that it’s become apparent through local media that some voters aren’t happy with the way board members have acted over the past few years. Santelli wants to make sure that all business actions are done in accordance with the law, and that residents are informed of all the actions by the board. Santelli also wants to see that the moral of students and teachers is improved. He said far too many people come to school each morning disinterested and have no passion for learning. “No child knows the name of or cares about a superintendent or the Board of Education,” Santelli said. “They deal with the teachers, and those teachers have such an incredible impact on their students. It’s so

important to find the best teachers when we are looking to hire and raise them up to be the best they can be.” He said this can be accomplished by adding on to existing services. Santelli cited the many opportunities available to juniors and seniors, such as AP classes, the Montclair State credit program, work study and career internships. He said it will give students more chances to explore possible careers and generate an interest in school. Santelli also noted that several teachers have gone to Ramapo College to acquire their master’s and would like to see the program expanded. He thinks the board can accomplish these goals by having a more efficient budget. “We can reallocate the funds,” Santelli said. “I’m no expert in this field, but I feel that if I could get my hands on this budget together with the board members, I’m sure there’s some things we could cut.” Like many people, Santelli said he isn’t satisfied with the way the

Board is run now. However, he feels that if the pride in Clifton is restored and parents can trust the board again, the city can once again have a great school system. “I believe it can be corrected. We are weak in certain areas,” he admitted. “But I want to live and raise my family in this town, and I want to be able to be proud of it.”

Jim Daley Jim Daley doesn’t fancy himself as some kind of politician. His election isn’t the start of a new career. He’s just a resident fed up with a Board of Education that he feels isn’t doing an adequate job. “I didn’t really intend to run,” he said. “But I personally became more and more frustrated with the current board and the way they handle matters, particularly in the way that they don’t come clean to the public. But if you’re going to complain about something, you’ve got to step up to the plate.”

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

School Board Elections April 21st • Polls Open 1:30 PM - 9 PM He said one way the board can become more transparent is by changing the way meetings are held. “They have two business meetings a month, both with agendas,” Daley explained. “I would suggest we change that and we have a once a month workshop where the board discusses issues. You’re not going to pass a resolution. You’d use it to maybe discuss policy. It’s more like an open forum.” Daley, 59, said he would also like to strictly enforce state laws at meetings. He claimed that the board, on numerous occasions, has gone into executive sessions without any reason. “I think the board has been a little lax in really determining what goes on behind closed doors and what should be going on in public,” 3/2/09 he said. “To discuss whether we

might do a pool or a field, that’s not a contractual matter, it’s a policy matter. And it’s not just this current board that’s been doing this.” Daley cautioned that the reputation of the board is going to take some time to heal. He said voters are still upset over lies and half-truths, specifically regarding overcrowding. “One of the issues that we’ve always had is that the board has never, certainly recently in the past 15 years, had a study by an outside firm,” said Daley, pictured here. “We had Dr. Rice’s pictures of hallways, but never a bona fide study by an outside firm. Before voting on anything, I’d want that.” Daley said financial responsibility is also needed to restore trust. He would like to look for ways to eliminate wasteful spending from 4:19:04 PM the budget so that voters are getting

the best value for their dollar. Right now, he said residents don’t feel like they’re getting a deal at all, noting how the board’s coffers are bare, just months after having a $14 million surplus. That, combined with the current economic environment, spells disaster for the upcoming budget.



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School Board Elections April 21st • Polls Open 1:30 PM - 9 PM “That’s because the Board has misrepresented the financial situation that the city’s in,” claimed Daley, who graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a degree in accounting. “So I think that the trust level has completely evaporated with the public. I think the combination of the two is deadly.” He wants the city to truly scrutinize its spending and figure out how to best spend the money so that it gets into the classroom. “I don’t think the gold standard is to compare yourself to another town,” Daley added. “Look to what you’re providing. Are you meeting your goals for education for your children? Just because one town does it for another price doesn’t mean you’re in the same boat.” Daley would also like the financial responsibility to cover salaries within the school district, specifically in the administration. He said people within the district are earning more than those in the private sector do. “But I would not look to cut teachers unless we have less classrooms,” said Daley, who works in project management for NJ Transit. “I would particularly look at the administration level. We need to do more for less.” He added that the current state of repair of the buildings also needs to be taken into account when thinking about the future. Some Clifton schools were built more than 90 years ago. “Let’s look at our current situation. That’s part of how you plan a budget, too. Where’s our physical needs?” questioned Daley, who said he’d like to look towards the state or elsewhere for funding. “You 60

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

can’t look at your own pocketbook. Ours is empty right now, but we do have needs for this district.” To ensure a new era of accountability on the board, Daley has joined a ticket with incumbent Michael Paitchell and fellow candidate Joe Yeamans. Daley said he and his running mates align with Commissioner Paul Graupe. “When you band together, you have much more power and pull when trying to change the culture of the board in terms of openness,” explained Daley. “But if there’s a good reason to spend money, I will be there. But the main thing is that you have to responsible. If you’re elected, it’s not like some kind of appointed position that comes with some glorification. You’re there to protect the public’s interests.”

Michael Paitchell Michael Paitchell’s three years on the board have not been without controversy. In 2006, he campaigned on a platform to put a school on Latteri Park as soon as possible, but ultimately questioned whether or not schools were overcrowded. He also had ethics charges levied against him, which still remain unresolved. Despite the constant criticism, Paitchell believes he’s done an admirable job. He feels he’s one of the few that give the truth how it is, without any kind of spin. “After I was elected, I had access to info the public does not get to see, such as the real enrollment figures, room by room,” he explained. “After analyzing this information, I came to the conclusion that the distribution of students in our classrooms is mismanaged. The majori-

ty of the Board and current administration continues to tell the public that we need more schools, regardless of what the numbers show.” During his three-year tenure, Paitchell has seen a disturbing trend, in which the board puts filters in place to limit the circulation of information to the public. “I feel there is very little credibility and very little trust in the Board of Ed,” he said. “This is perpetuated by the Board of Ed not releasing information to the public.” Paitchell cited the recent state audit of 290 Brighton Rd., which cleared the board on all but two of the 11 charges levied against it. He claims that throughout the investigation, he never received updates. “The board attorney had informed us that our earlier reports cited the school system for violations that he felt were unjustified and worked with the state to address them,” Paitchell said. “We never were presented with these earlier reports. “There were more things listed on earlier reports and my requests

to see them were denied. It’s relevance can be judged when comparing the two,” he continued. “We should have been more involved in the process along the way.” Paitchell said he has proposed ideas to the board and each gets rejected for various reasons. “My input is completely ignored,” he said. “A majority of the board has failed to provide the majority of Clifton students with the quality of education that they could have received had things been managed better.” Paitchell said the 80 percent of the students in the middle—those not in special needs or honors courses—are the ones who get left out. He’s tried measures to improve test scores, including modeling curriculum after successful towns and a mandatory tutoring program for students failing math, but the proposals were not supported by the administration. “There are numerous reasons for the opposition. Administration has said that we have a different demographic of kids, so it’s not the same as Nutley or Wayne,” Paitchell said. “And in response to refusing to provide the technology and updated shop courses that I proposed, I heard many excuses, including that we can’t find teachers, a lack of student interest, etcetera, even though Nutley and Wayne manage to do this.” He added that such a project would not carry much of a cost. Paitchell, a graduate of the Newark College of Engineering, would like to continue looking into offering different career paths for students. He wants to put money in the classroom and not into the pocket of an overpaid administrator. “Their value should be examined in the grand scheme of

things,” he said. “I’d rather put that money into teachers. The real value for the students is in teachers and not administrators.” Paitchell hopes to cut costs and reallocate funds so that taxpayer money is being spent in the right places. He is campaigning on a ticket with candidates Jim Daley and Joe Yeamans to have more power on the board in combating frivolous spending and misleading information, while restoring trust in the community. “It’s frustration on all our parts to try to present these ideas to the

public,” he said. “With all of us on the board, we feel we have a better chance of getting these issues brought out, discussed and resolved.” It’s not an easy job, but someone needs to be the whistleblower, he said. “If they don’t like me, or they don’t agree with me, that’s their problem. I’m out here, trying to help the kids,” he added. “I’m not a black sheep by any means. I just don’t agree with them and the majority of the board. I’ve had a very tough job for the last three years.”

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


School Board Elections April 21st • Polls Open 1:30 PM - 9 PM Yeamans said this might make it easier to pass a spending plan during these difficult economic times. “Let’s assume I need the budget to be passed,” he explained. “I would writer letters, I would speak with community and parent groups and speak openly and honestly about why we’d need it. They’re the stockholders; they’re the ones that are paying the bill.” The Board of Ed may eventually ask those taxpayers to foot the bill for the purchase or lease of Pope John Paul II Elementary School on Valley Rd. The Catholic school is closing this year and Clifton has expressed interest in acquiring the 100,000 sq. ft. building in an attempt to ease overcrowding at the middle schools. According to county tax records, the assessed value of the building in 2007 was $11 million.

Joe Yeamans Joe Yeamans wants to bring a business and managerial mindset to the Board of Education. He said that starts with not wasting money. “We need to put funding closer to the kids in the classrooms,” said the 28-year Clifton resident. “They wanted to build a field house on Latteri Park for girls to use for soccer and lacrosse, but instead, they took the $300,000 and spent it on silly ethics charges. The money didn’t go to the kids; it went into the lawyers’ pockets.” Yeamans failed in his 2004 run for the BOE but he said he’s running again because the Board needs greater integrity and accountability. “We have to have full openness with the public,” he said. “I think the public has the right to know what’s going on.”

The purchase would also include two soccer fields and parking on site. The idea is to possibly use the building as a third middle school, which would house up to 800 students in 30 classrooms. “If that issue comes up, I would go down there and take a look at the

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

location and find out what’s what,” said Yeamans, whose daughter Karla graduated CHS in 2007. “That goes back to the issue of whether or not we have space problems,” he said. “If there is, that doesn’t do away with the fact that even if we get more space, money becomes the issue. That’s an issue that requires a lot of thought and putting heads together. You just can’t willy-nilly put things together; you have to consider in a business climate, can we afford this?” Yeamans said there may be opportunities for more funding under President Barack Obama’s new stimulus package. “I think the most important thing is to always be ready to look and discuss and find how we can grow and develop,” he said. As for the current school construction project at 290 Brighton Rd., Yeamans is concerned about the ongoing appeal by nearby manufacturer Van Ness Plastics, Inc.,

but he believes work should continue on the site because a delay would just be a waste of money. “That will eliminate the issue, if there ever was one, of crowding in the high school,” he said. “I would’ve liked to see conditions better, so I’m glad that there’s an opportunity for more space now. It’s a shame that this battle between the BOE and the city and planning board had to drag on so long but that was not on my watch.” Yeamans is running on a ticket with Michael Paitchell and Jim Daley. “Why would anyone want to be a lone wolf?” he asked to explain why he has aligned himself with two other candidates. “The lone wolf is getting shot down and it’s not helping.” Yeamans admits his decision to run was made right before the deadline to hand in petitions, but he saw that not very many others were stepping forward, so he decided to throw his hat in the ring.

“You can see the struggle that has existed and I think a lot of people don’t want to get involved in that,” he explained. “It prevented me until the last minute but I want to serve the community.” Yeamans grew up in Irvington and graduated William Paterson College with a degree in science education. He was a teacher for eight years in Bloomfield and Newark, and also practiced law for 25 years after attending University of Baltimore Law School. Now retired, Yeamans has two books published and available at the Clifton Library, and has experience working with the BOE on its strategic planning committee. He’s taught adults reading education and was involved with the Western Division softball league in the early ’80s. Yeamans lives on John Alden St. with his wife, Karen, and can often be seen at Board of Ed and City Council meetings.

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Layoffs Set to Take Effect 17 firefighters could be among those losing their jobs Story by Wes Pollard The Clifton Fire Department would lose 16 firefighters and a deputy chief under a proposed plan set to take effect March 6. In addition, Fire Station 2 on Dumont Ave. would be closed, but City Manager Al Greco said reports that the closing of the firehouse would reduce city ambulance services are not true. “There has never been ambulance service out of the Dumont Ave. station,” he said. However, on Feb. 24, Firemen’s Mutual Benefit Association Local 21 offered to waive the 2009 salary increase for firefighters, some 4.75 percent on average. “This basically gives the city (administration) what it wants,” said Local President Bob Deluca, adding that it would cut about

$600,000 from the 2009 budget. “This waiver means we (firefighters) won’t ever get that money back,” he said, “but our goal is no layoffs and no firehouse closing.” Negotiations were still ongoing when this magazine went to print. The city’s offer to its five employee unions was stark: Take a pay freeze at 2008 levels or face staff cuts. Municipal budget increases are capped at 4 percent by state law, which is $3.7 million for Clifton. Greco said the fixed costs – among them contractual obligations such as salaries, health benefits and pensions – are greater than the $3.7 million figure, requiring budget cuts. The overall plan, if the pay freezes were not accepted, called for 60 layoffs. In addition, 25

vacant positions will not be filled. Greco said the savings to the city would be about $4 million. “I’ve never seen an economic time like right now,” said Mayor Jim Anzaldi. “The state has added a lot of things to the cap rules that make it difficult for municipalities and we will do our best to ask for cap waivers in some areas. The state’s binding arbitration law has caught up with municipalities. Nobody wants to close firehouses or do any of these things.” The mayor added that city officials, knowing the problem was coming, had been asking the unions to act on the issue back in November. Without the early action, he said, “one-sixth of the savings (from the salary freeze proposal) is now gone because we’ve already paid them at

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Clifton Fire Station No. 2 on Dumont Ave. is scheduled to close March 7 at 8 am.

Association, represents those with the rank of sergeant and above. Its president, Lt. Andre Moreria, said none of his 30 members face layoffs but the union, part of the PBA, is still in negotiations with the city. The IBEW represents the city’s Dept. of Public Works employees, communications workers and white collar non-supervisory workers— about 180 people in all, according to union Business Manager George Serio. He said there are 25 potential layoffs, but 15 positions are currently vacant and seniority bumping rights among union members makes the actual number of people affected impossible to pinpoint.



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The Supervisors Association currently has 25 members and represents such people as the head of the city Health Dept. President Dave Meisberger, the civilian head of the CFD’s Fire Prevention Bureau, said the city’s layoff plan will affect two members of the union directly— one supervisor and one assistant supervisor would lose their jobs. “We want to come to an agreement,” he said. “We’re going back and forth” trying to resolve this situation. He added, “Every supervisor is affected by the layoff plan because we all stand to lose people.” Meisberger said the Fire Prevention Bureau would lose three employees.


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2009 rates. There has been some movement in the last 10 days.” The City Council held a special meeting on March 2, mostly in executive session, to hear further proposals. After three hours behind closed doors with union representatives, the public session was reconvened. Anzaldi ended the meeting with a short statement: “We have had some good signs from the unions and the talks are continuing upstairs with the administration tonight and will continue.” The unions involved are the FMBA, Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 36, the Clifton (Police) Superior Officer’s Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1158 and the Clifton Supervisors Association. According to Greco, the Police Department has 11 vacant positions and four new police officers have been hired. PBA President Steve Berge said while every other union affected is operating under a valid contract, their contract with the city expired on Dec. 31, 2008. Local 36 is already in negotiations with the city on a new contract and Berge said “we expect to get through this” in talks with the city administration. The other police department union, the Superior Officer’s

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The Passaic-Clifton Chapter of UNICO National will host its 5th Annual Gala Dinner Dance on March 27. This event will be in celebration of the chapter’s 60th anniversary. That’s 60 years of “Service Above Self.” The event, which is a Black-Tie optional gala, will be held at Il Tulipano in Cedar Grove. A cocktail hour at 7 pm will begin the night with dinner at 8. There will also be live music from Daddy Pop. A five-hour premium open bar is also included. Tickets are $100. For tickets or to place an ad in the souvenir journal, call 973-4170731 or e-mail The School 5 Home and School Association is having its annual Tricky Tray Fundraiser at the Valley Regency on March 25. The HSA is reaching out to School 5 student and teacher alumni for this event as a way to boost ticket sales. Tickets are $40 and includes dinner and prizes. Call Jenny Amato at 201-618-0484 or email her at


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Daddy Pop will be performing at UNICO’s Gala Dinner Dance on March 27.

The United Puerto Rican Council is hosting a tricky tray on March 15 at 173 Passaic St. in Passaic. Admission is $10 and includes one sheet of small prize tickets. Doors open at 2 pm. For tickets or more info, e-mail or call Maria Haywood at 973-546-5111.

March Madness is just around the corner, but there’s still ball to be played in Clifton. The CliftonPassaic Optimist Club’s TriStar Basketball event is at 7 pm on March 11 at WWMS, 1401 Van Houten Ave. The event is open to boys and girls, ages 8 to 13. For more information, call 973-835-2474.

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The New York Society of Model Engineers is open to the public this spring. Visitors are invited to view the two large operating layouts. Watch the Phoebe Snow take to the rails again on the O Scale layout, or watch freight cars being sorted in the operational hump yard on the HO railroad. The souvenir shop will be

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open allowing guests to buy patches, magazines, books, videos and other railroad memorabilia. The dates are March 13-15, 20-22 and 27-29. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children. Open on Fridays from 7 to 10 pm and on the weekends from 1 to 6 pm. Visit or call 201-939-9212. School 11 will be hosting its 8th annual tricky tray on March 20 at the Boys & Girls Club on Colfax Ave. Admission is $10. Doors open at 6:30 pm. There will be hundreds of great prizes to win. Call Teddie Pollina at 973-546-0758 or e-mail The Clifton Spring 2009 Stamp, Postcard and Cover Show is 10 am to 4 pm on April 25 and 26 at the Rec Center on Main Ave. The show provides an opportunity to view and appreciate the challenge and variety that these hobbies offer. There will be door prizes and admission is free. For info, call 973-470-5956 or visit

The Clifton Gem & Mineral Show is on March 14 and 15 from 10 am to 5 pm at Pope John Paul School, 775 Valley Rd. Now in its 20th year, the show is presented by the North Jersey Mineralogical Society, an educational non-profit organization. Visitors will find items ranging from fossils to jewelry to locally mined rocks. It is a great day for children. In fact, kids get a free mineral specimen at the door and admission is free for any scout in uniform. Otherwise, admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for kids. More info: The CHS Prom Fashion Show is March 8 at 2 pm. The Masters and Mistresses of Ceremonies are Melissa Ihle, Christine Siluk, Joe Cornett and Michael Purdy. There will be a small basket raffle and donations can be sent to CHS-PTSA Prom Fashion Show/North Wing Vice Principal’s office. Proceeds go towards Project Graduation. Call Maryann Cornett at 973-779-5678.

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Class of ’49 Plans Reunion

The Class of 1949 combined June and January Marching Mustang Majorettes, from left: Evonne Heritage Cooke, Rosemarie Re Waller, Trudy Zanoni Labarsky, “Em” Brita Constantine, June Tanis, Betty Couglin Woods, Kit Bellora Belli, Celina Re DeGraaf, Delores Lazur and Gloria Peluso Chigounis. The combined class is planning a reunion on June 20.

The CHS classes of January and June 1949 celebrate a 60 year reunion on June 20 from 1 to 5 pm at the Valley Regency. Tickets are $55 and include a one-hour open bar, dinner, entertainment and dancing. “It is difficult to believe that 60 years have gone by since we walked the corridors of CHS,” wrote alum Gloria Peluson Chigounis. “Many have left this area and paved lives in different directions. Some of us have built our lives closer to our roots. “Yet, our yearbook, Polaris-reaching for the stars represented the ideals, hopes and dreams for the future that we all shared.” To attend, RSVP by May 1 and make checks payable to Teresa McManus-Shields, 50 Brookview Dr., Woodland Park, NJ 07424. For more info, call 973-823-8137.

March 16 will mark 57 years since ground was broken for St. Andrew’s School. Above, parishioner Mrs. Lackner welcoming St. Andrew’s first principal, Sr. Mary Dorothea, and four Presentation Sisters to Clifton in January 1953. March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


CHS Academic Awards The 20th annual CHS Distinguished Academic Awards Dinner is scheduled for 7 pm on March 30 at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park. The event will recognize various students, regardless of what level courses they are taking, who have maintained a 90 or better average for the school year. All students who have met the qualifications have been invited to the affair as guests of honor. The alumni guest speaker will be announced soon. Of the 507 award winners, only a few dozen are “four year seniors,” meaning they have received the honor every year of their high school careers. One of those four year seniors is Elena Spaho, who is ranked in the top six percent of her class. She volunteers with the Clifton Recreation Department, assisting them with the various events they hold each year. Spaho also helped a six-year-old with homework through the Big Brother, Big Sister Club. In addition, she took part in the seniors at Montclair State program, which allowed her to earn college credits while getting accustomed to life on campus. Spaho played volleyball her freshman year and as a sophomore, she was a team manager, while also participating in the Mustang Teen Institute, helping with different fundraisers. This fall, Spaho will be attending Rutgers Business School in Newark, where she will study finance or economics so that she may pursue a career in real estate and then earn an MBA in international business. 70

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Some of the four-year Academic Award winners, from left, Elena Pepitone, Francis Eusebio, Elena Spaho and Bryan Stepneski.

Her classmate, Francis Eusebio, will also be attending the Academic Awards dinner for the fourth year in a row. “Although grades must certainly be a priority to attain success in high school, being active in the school’s clubs and activities is important as well,” he said. “Clifton High School offers many clubs and activities and so every student can undeniably find at least one that caters to his or her interests.” Eusebio has been a member of orchestra during his entire career at CHS and was even named concertmaster this year. He is the president of the Tri-M Music honor society and is the coeditor of the Rotunda yearbook. Eusebio has been a member of the Academic Decathlon team for the past three years and during this year’s regional competition, he won a silver medal in the music

category and a bronze in math. Furthermore, he placed in the top 10 percent among all Chemistry I students in the New Jersey Science League competition last year. The National Honor Society member and third-ranked student in his class hopes to be accepted to either Cornell University or the University of Pennsylvania, where he will major in engineering. While at Clifton High, Bryan Stepneski played trumpet with every group and ensemble imaginable, including the Mustang Marching Band, concert band, brass band, jazz band, pit band for musicals and the orchestra, where this year, he was trumpet section leader. He is the vice president of the TriM Music honor society, has participated in the Clifton Community Band since seventh grade and played his instrument at St. Brendan Church for the past three years.

This year, he performed with the North Jersey Region I Wind Ensemble and the All-State Symphonic Band. During his sophomore and junior years, Stepneski took part in the Cultural Exchange Program, through which he spent 10 days with a family in England and later housed his exchange partner in Clifton. He was also a New Jersey Boys state delegate in June of his junior year and has been a member of the Italian and chemistry clubs. The NHS member has volunteered as an aide at the Cerebral Palsy High School, with the WWMS summer music program, as a kindergarten aide with the United Reformed Church’s vacation bible school program and at Eva’s Kitchen in Paterson. Ranked 35th in his class, Stepneski plans to attend college this fall and major in music education.

For the past three years, Elena Pepitone has been involved in the Passaic County summer workforce program, which helps students with disabilities, like herself, gain the skills and experience they need to be successful on a job. She has painted lines in the parking lot, sold water and snacks to summer school students, completed office work, assisted nurses, assembled carts and projectors and dusted the bookshelves in the Media Center. “Throughout my years at Clifton High School, I have been involved in many wonderful activities which have helped me build the necessary skills and determination I need to strive towards greater and higher expectations for future success,” said Pepitone. She has also written for the high school’s Transition News, a collection of articles written by students about entering the real world, and as an editor and proofreader for the Rotunda.

I will always remember Mama’s sense of humor. Last February, I got the chance to write a love story about my grandparents and I started it by describing how Mama used to sing “I Got Rhythm” from the downstairs den until her devoted husband of 60 years would start tapping his foot to the music on the kitchen floor above. That would always make her laugh. When my sister Jessy and I were young, we would often sleep over at my grandparents’ Clifton home. Mama would always put us to work on some fun household chore like raking the shag carpet (time stood still at Mama and Poppie’s house) while calling us Cinderella and Cindefella. On the day my grandmother passed away, Poppie turned to me and said sadly, “No more Mama.” But I don’t think that’s true. Her memory will be with all of us until Jessy and I are telling our grandchildren about Jordan Schwartz Mama’s infectious smile.

Pepitone is a part of the eighth grade transition program, helping students moving up to the high school. “Since arriving at Clifton High School four years ago, I have been both privileged and honored to take part in a plethora of opportunities,” she said. “Everything that I have been involved with has made me a stronger person and has given me the confidence I need to prepare me for the long, amazing journey that lies ahead.” Pepitone said her future goals are becoming a reality. “I have acquired the necessary self-advocacy skills that will help me for the rough journey ahead,” she said, adding that she will be attending Passaic County Community College. “It is my dream, my rainbow of hopes and inspirations, which will guide me through my journey into the field of writing and journalism.”

In Passing, We Remember:

Thelma Schwartz Nov. 18, 1928 - Feb. 6, 2009

Thelma and Herbert on their wedding day in 1948. March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Table Service by the Clifton Team of Ten and officers from the Passaic and William Paterson Univ. Police Departments participating in the 2009 Police Unity Tour Please purchase tickets in advance. Make checks to Clifton PBA and mail to: Clifton Merchant Magazine, 1288 Main Ave, Clifton NJ 07011 BYOB $20 Adults/$15 Kids


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


provided by Allwood Bicycles A Clifton team of 10 will participate in the 2009 Police Unity Tour. This annual 300 mile bicycle ride leaves NJ on May 9 in an effort to raise awareness of police officers who have died in the line of duty. The second goal is to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Details at Participants include Randy Colondres, Derek Fogg, Brian Fopma, John Kavakich, Robert Bais, William Bais, Stephen Berge, Gary Giardina, Michael McLaughlin and Tom Hawrylko. The group must raise $17,000 and asks the community to support the effort by purchasing tickets to these fundraisers. For info, see any Clifton Police Officer or call Tom Hawrylko at 973-253-4400.

120 Market St. Clifton • 973-574-9001

1 in 250 Chance of Winning This Trek 7.2 FX is worth over $500 and only 250 tickets will be sold at $20 each. Checks should be made payable to Clifton PBA. Proceeds benefit the Police Unity Tour. The drawing is at 8 pm on April 30 at TGI Fridays, Route 3, Clifton. No monetary value. Winner has option of male or female bicycle.

‘09 Yamaha Raptor 90

vehicle supplied by Motorcycle Mall, Belleville This 2009 90cc Yamaha Raptor has a MSRP of $2500 and only 200 tickets will be sold at $25 each. Checks should be made payable to Clifton PBA. Proceeds benefit the Police Unity Tour. The drawing is at 8 pm on April 30 at TGI Fridays, Route 3, Clifton. No monetary value.

1 in 200

g n i n n i W f o Chance March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Bygone News As collected & edited by Clifton Historian Don Lotz

Bygone News provides a glimpse into the events occurring in Acquackanonk (now Clifton) 100 and 50 years ago. While topics illustrate the evolution of a rural Acquackanonk Township into the Clifton of today, no doubt readers will also notice how some issues seem timeless.

March 1909 Fire destroyed The Traveler’s Rest on River Drive, one of Delawanna’s oldest landmarks early Saturday evening, March 6. “One of the most widely known road houses between Paterson and Newark” was purchased from Mrs. Anne Kingsland in 1904 and occupied as a private residence

since. A large barn full of hay was saved from the falling sparks “by covering the roof with snow.” Mrs. Jacob Lotz, of Richfield, celebrated her 57th birthday at a party hosted by her husband (Clifton’s Oldest Civil War Veteran) and son John Lotz, the milkman of Sewell Ave. “Dancing, feasting and amusements kept everyone in the best of spirits.” The Taxpayer’s Assoc. of Delawanna discussed options “toward improving the present poor train service” in that section. Residents and members of the association met in St. Stephen’s Mission Hall to review ideas. Promoters of the Clifton Building and Loan Association met at S. G. Thorburn’s Clifton Ave. home on March 19 to discuss incorporation. Subscribers purchased 100 shares and “residents of the borough approached on the subject are unanimous in their appeal to push the thing along and realize it is the one thing needed to assist in the improving and building up of

the town. Without doubt the new project will be successfully carried out and bids fair to be a prominent feature in the rapid development of Clifton.” The costs and options associated with a borough form of government for the Clifton section of Acquackanonk were discussed at a meeting of the Civic Association of Clifton. The borough proposal is an effort by Cliftonites to obtain improvements that the township form of government currently does not provide them. August Nathan provided an “exhaustive report” in favor of the borough formation, but stated “that any more improvements would require additional taxation.” J.H. Adamson spoke against the new form and agreed that “the forming of borough government would increase the tax rate to an enormous degree.” The Civic Association of Clifton will review the pros and cons of the annexation of Clifton to Passaic at a later meeting.

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

The Township Committee reviewed the topic of officially recognizing the Acquackanonk’s four volunteer fire companies, so the companies could “participate in the benefits of the firemen’s relief fund of New Jersey.” The fund’s counsel told the Committee the fire companies could not enjoy the benefits of the fund until they were “officially recognized.” Albion Place Fire Company’s Joseph Muller asked Township Counsel Gourley if the “fire companies tendered their services to the township and the committee accepted, whether this would be recognition enough to bring them within benefits of the relief fund.” Counsel Gourley replied the fire companies would have to “be under the control of the municipality and therefore taxable” for them to be officially recognized. The Committee heard a representative of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show ‘dicker’ to lower the license fee to perform in town. Committeeman Schmidt read the license ordinance that stated “circuses, shows and ‘exhibitions of horsemanship’ shall pay the same license fee. “If The Wild West Show was not an exhibition of horsemanship,” the committeeman wanted to know, “then what it is?” The representative could say nothing to answer this question. A special March 28 meeting of the Acquackanonk Township Committee addressed the recent annexation of part of Acquackanonk to Passaic and Clifton Borough formation movements with the passage of the following resolution: “Whereas, A bill has been introduced in the Legislature for the

annexation of part of the Township to the City of Passaic; and, Whereas, A bill has also been introduced creating a borough out of a portion of the Township; be it Resolved, That a committee be appointed by the chair to appear before the committee to which said bills have been referred to register an earnest protest against the passage of either of said measures.” Pupils of School 3 on Washington Ave. presented ‘Cinderella in Flower-land’ at the High School. “The auditorium was taxed to its full seating capacity, the attendance exceeding all expectations. The children received the highest kind of praise and all were pleased.”

The famed Fairyland Park sold to Clifton resident Thomas Van Houten for less than $1,000, under a District Court judgment on a paint bill of $230. An “extraordinary bargain” for only “four years ago Melville & Schultheiser (the former owners) opened up Fairyland Park after spending $53,000 to erect the buildings and lay out the grounds.” Mr. Van Houten “is yet undecided as to what he will do… but expects to organize a new company and open the park as usual about Decoration Day.” Fire at Richfield destroyed two of Joseph Penta’s barns. He and two workmen noticed smoke emaplease turn to page 78

The Allwood Hose Company No. 2 on Brighton Rd., in an undated photo. March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


A Great Place to Work

by Ben Martyn

One former employee fondly remembers his days at the Richardson Scale Company

The current Clifton Senior Horizons at Scales Plaza off Van Houten Ave. was once the site of a major industrial firm in town. Mr. Richardson (his first name is unknown) came from England in the late 1800s and started operations in a small garage in Passaic. He had developed a bagging scale that would automatically fill a bag without the use of any electrical or pneumatic power. It used gravity, counter balance weight, and other mechanical mechanisms, where the operator needed only to place the bag onto the spout and the scale delivered the measured quantity. The weight ranged from 25 to 100 pounds. To sell his scale, Richardson placed one on the back of a Model T Ford and drove it through the Midwest, demonstrating it to farmers. His company grew and needing larger facilities, he purchased land in Clifton and started 76

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

erecting one building after another. Buildings were numbered after the year they were constructed. One example was building #25. It housed the sheet metal shop and machinery to build a variety of scales. That shop had a very high ceiling, which was needed since Richardson had designed and manufactured an automatic railroad car unloader, where a railroad car filled with grain could be emptied within 4.5 minutes. The railroad car was clamped in place, at the couplers, and tilted back and forth, dumping the grain into a chute below. Conveyors and elevators would then deliver the grain to storage silos. Richardson treated his employees well. Prior to World War II, he provided the employees with two tennis courts and a swimming pool. When the war started, he stated that the workers couldn’t play tennis and swim while our

boys were dying for our freedom, so he closed the courts and filled in the pool. In its place, he planted Victory Gardens and the fruit and vegetables were available to all. Richardson later donated that property on Van Houten Ave. for a soccer field and park. I started working for the company in the summer of 1950 as an electrical engineer and was told we had a pension plan. Some time prior, the shop workers voted to unionize despite Richardson asking them not to. After they voted to unionize, the owner established a plan for non-union people. The company contributed 15 percent of an individual’s gross yearly salary into their pension account and they would be vested at the rate of five percent per year, after five years. Forfeitures did not go back to the company, but the monies were proportionately divided to those still in the plan.

At the end of each year, we received a statement that included the 15 percent plus interest on our balance as well as the forfeitures. That’s why we had so many long term employees. When I first applied for my job , I wondered why they needed an electrical engineer. I was soon introduced to industrial weigh scales. Any product that had to be measured required a weigh scale. The industries included rubber, plastics, glass, food and cement, just to name a few. To understand our scales, remember when your mother baked a cake, she measured the ingredients by volume? Likewise, large bakeries such as Nabisco needed our scales to weigh all their ingredients so as to make a consistent product. Mr. Richardson died in the mid 1950s and control of the company went to his sons Ingram and Philip. He had another older son, Hubert, who ran the foundry in Bartley. Throughout the years, there were manufacturing facilities in

The electrical engineering staff at the Richardson Scale Company in August 1950. From left, Bill Willinkski, John Aquadro, Doakim Krell, Enrico Klein, Ben Martyn (and a photo inset of him today) and Bill Foulds. Facing page, the terminal grain elevator at the Richardson Scale Company in the 1950s. The site today is the home of the Horizons at Scales Plaza Senior Housing.

England, Germany, France, Italy and Canada. In the early 1960s, the company was sold. From there on, it had many owners and different names, but to me it was always Richardson Scale. In early 2000, the company was sold to a Canadian firm and I was possibly the last employee in our

Clifton facility. Over the years, I worked throughout the world on systems in various industries and I enjoyed every working day. Someone once told me that if I found a job that I truly loved, that I would never have to “work” another day—I was fortunate to find that job in Clifton.

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

nating from the horse stable roofs. A gale force wind fanned the flames and the three men, “there being no fire department in that section,” removed the three horses, harness and wagons to safety. “By this time the neighbors had arrived and set about saving the farming implements and they remembered a cow was still in the stable and rescued it.” The Township Committee had put in fire mains through the road fronting the Penta property, but five hydrants had not yet been connected. Acquackanonk BOE denied Delawanna residents their petition to not close School 1 at the end of the year. “The petition stated that it would inconvenience about eighty families and would cause a decrease in value of property in that neighborhood.”

two weeks earlier because of a $2,500 Board of Recreation item. The $2,500 item “would permit the board to widen the scope of its aid to the city’s famed Little League and Midget League programs by paying for the umpires

March 1959

The 1959 Mustang basketball team went to the third round of the State play offs. Above, Jerry Manning at 6’ 6”, was an excellent rebounder and a fine outside shooter, said teammate Bob Papa.

Clifton’s $13,149,193 1959 Municipal budget passed by a 6 to 1 vote; after being “stymied”

at the baseball games.” At the earlier council session, City Counsel Edward Johnson said “that the city could not legally aid the two youth programs because they were not under the complete jurisdiction of the city board.” Mayor Stanley Zwier voted in favor of the budget despite the fact that he felt that it could be trimmed by additional cuts of $58,000. Zwier also recommended “a plan for prompt action on the building of a new firehouse in the Allwood section of the city and asked that it be located on cityowned property on Cross St, which connects Clifton Ave. extension and Richfield Terrace near the Richfield Village.” The council unanimously passed the ordinance reorganizing the police department after an earlier plan of Councilman Emil Gacy, “providing for future expansion” was defeated. please turn to page 82

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March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


Birthdays & Celebrations! send us dates & names...

Mike and Kristin Garibell announce the Jan. 21 arrival of daughter Taylor Patricia. Proud grandparents are Russell & Linda Triolo and Richard & Barbara Garibell.

Meaghan Franko . . . . .3/1 Kathleen Pocoek . . . . . .3/1 Jenna Lynn Errico . . . . .3/2 Kenzie Lord . . . . . . . . . . .3/3 Valerie Godowsky . . . . .3/5 Alice Paxton . . . . . . . . . .3/5 Carol Crudele . . . . . . . .3/6 Ted Grzybowski . . . . . . .3/6 Joe Rusnak . . . . . . . . . . .3/7 Pat Smith . . . . . . . . . . . .3/8 Victoria Crudele . . . . . .3/9

Jenny Sichel . . . . . . . . . .3/9 Pamela Culque . . . . . .3/10 Tiffany Sabo . . . . . . . . .3/10 Teddy Harsaghy . . . . . .3/11 Eddie Gasior, Jr. . . . . . .3/12 Mike Pesaro . . . . . . . . .3/12 Victor Berdecia . . . . . .3/13 Elaine Sassine . . . . . . . .3/15 Laura Lee . . . . . . . . . . .3/15 Suzanne Ciok . . . . . . . .3/19 Caitlin Lotorto . . . . . . .3/19 Colleen Murray . . . . . .3/20 Holly Sorenson . . . . . . .3/20 Nenad Vuckovic . . . . .3/20 Monica Ahmed . . . . . .3/21 Jonathan Pastore . . . .3/21 George Andrikanich . .3/22 Diego Hernandez turns 18 on March 15. Happy 46th Birthday to Eric Sudhalter on March 1. Thanks for all you do for our Junior Bowlers. Corey & Michelle Genardi celebrate their wedding anniversary on March 28.

Happy 25th Birthday to Leah Roundtree on March 29.

Elisabel Reyes . . . . . . . .3/24 Carmen Rivera . . . . . .3/24 Kyle Hooyman . . . . . . .3/24 Michele Andrikanich . .3/27 Jennifer Mondelli . . . . .3/27 Nicholas Surgent . . . . .3/27 Muriel Curtin . . . . . . . . .3/28 Edward Smith . . . . . . . .3/28 Andreas Alectoridis . . .3/30 Francis Salonga . . . . . .3/31 Paul McVeigh . . . . . . . .3/31 Chris Kolodziej . . . . . . .3/31

From left: Happy Birthday wishes to Pat Hiller on March 22; Grace Margaret Martin who will celebrate her First Birthday on March 5; Sidney Pruzansky turns 88 on March 5 with a catered party by Hot Bagels Abroad; Olilvia Coronel is planning a big Sixth Birthday Party on March 2. 80

March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Casey Marie Hawrylko turns 19 on March 2.

Margaret and Fred Schweighardt were wed 60 years on Feb. 5.

Happy Birthday to Bianca Eda Genardi... She will be 3 on March 2!


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant


The new organization would include “one chief, five captains, seven lieutenants, 12 sergeants, and 81 patrolmen for a total of 106 men.” Nine new officers began training at the Newark Police Academy. The rookies—John Daly, Leonard Cohen, Sebastian Elmo, Lester Fecko, William Heidtman, Lambert Atsma, James Hill, Eugene Potosnak and Howard Glinkin—all military veterans, start at the salary of $4,250. Clifton’s win streak ended at 12, losing to Ridgewood 79-72, in the third round of the State Basketball tournament The Mustangs beat Teaneck and Emerson but could not get their 13th win. John Scancarella led the Mustang’s with 26, followed by Jerry Manning with 13 and Bob Papa 11. Clifton ended the season at 21-5. The First Presbyterian Church of Clifton opened Marta Hall “their new educational wing” named after the late Reverend and Mrs. Joseph S. Marta. Daughters Christine and Suzette Marta cut the ribbon, assisted by “John Titus, Chairman of the Building Committee and Paul Hamelberg, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Albert Wietner, Clerk of the Session, spoke regarding the significance of Marta Hall in the vision of the church and the pastor, the Reverend J. Willis Horton led the gathering in prayer.”


March 2009 • Clifton Merchant

Passage of Clifton’s 1959 budget was stalled for two weeks over a $2,500 item that would have gone towards paying for umpires at the city’s Little and Midget League games. Pictured here is a Midget League team from 1960.

Albion Place VFW Post 7165 and the Board of Recreation “will cosponsor a city-wide marbles tournament.” Portable rinks are set up at Schools 13, 9, 16 and 7 “in conjunction with the community center programs at these schools… and the 4 center winners will compete at Albion Field on April 18 for the city title.” Clifton’s champion will go to Bayonne for the New Jersey VFW championships and possibly to Eaton Rapids, Michigan to compete in the national tournament.

Mayor Zwier proclaimed April is Cancer Control Month, stating “ I urge the fullest cooperation so that this Crusade will be successful and this life-saving work continued until this enemy of mankind is eradicated.” City Manager William Holster reported to the Council that it would cost $140,000 for “the development of the industrial tract along Wiedmann and Walman Aves.” Improvements include a sanitary sewer, pumping station, storm sewer, excavation, and 7,500 cubic yards of fill.

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