Clifton Merchant Magazine - May 2011

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Clifton Merchant Magazine • Volume 14 • Issue 7 • July 3, 2009

8 March '69 Hi Gary How are you, well, all good things must end and they did...i came back to my unit but now realize i should have stayed in Cam-Rhan Bay but I was getting kind of nervous and lonely hanging around there as I had too much time to myself to think about being home & thinking of Tracie & ya'll... 28 April '69 Dear Mom & Dad Gary, Cindy & Robbie I'm sorry I haven't written sooner but we got some new people into CAP & they keep rotating them around & being they got some Sgt.'s in (state-side Sgt.'s) who don't know a damn thing about Viet-


From the fields of Vietnam, Guy Tulp in his own words Memorial Day Roll Call • The Benigno’s Mission • Project Graduation


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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


Keep Pedaling By Christopher de Vinck


here that spider webs collected, bees buzzed angrily nce I found a pink moth. Perhaps someone will tell me there is no such thing as a pink against the glass as they too were caught in the trap. moth. There may be no such thing as a flying One morning - perhaps I was eight or ten - I stepped horse, or a gold calf, but I say once I found a pink moth. out through the front door. I noticed another moth was The front door of the large three-story house where I desperately trying to find its way out of the enclosure. grew up was protected Each time I found a on the outside by bee, a bird, or a moth four panels of trapped in the porch windowpanes, nearly vestibule, I caught it What does a boy do with a pink moth? like a greenhouse. and let it go. But I Before we entered the noticed this insect was I stepped back into the house, found a shoebox, house, we had to turn a color I had never seen filled it with grass and a soda cap of water into this small before on a moth: pink, and placed my moth in the box. It died, of enclosure of glass, completely pink. I wipe our feet, turn the caught the moth, held it course. Things cannot be held too long. doorknob, and step in my cupped hands. They need to be set free. into the front hallway. What does a boy do I found my pink with a pink moth? I moth in this enclosure. stepped back into the It is here that birds often took a wrong turn and flapped house, found a shoebox, filled it was grass and a soda cap of water, and placed my moth in the box. their wings in a rush of feathers and noise against the It died, of course. Things cannot be held too glass, trying to break through the invisible barrier. It was May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

long. They need to be set free. I threw the shoebox, the soda cap, the grass into the garbage can, and I buried the moth in the garden. I feel as though I am always being pulled between wanting to hold on to things and wanting to let them go. I remember the afternoon my daughter, Karen, learned how to ride her bicycle alone for the first time. We began in the early fall, Karen and I. I took her training wheels off, but she insisted that I grasp the handlebar and the seat as we walked around the court. “I’ll just let go for a second, Karen.” “No!” she insisted. Perhaps Karen will be a lawyer someday, or a singer. Perhaps she will invent something, make a discovery, give birth to her own daughter. I thought about these things as we wiggled and rattled our way around the block. It didn't take her long to understand how to turn the pedals with her feet. As I held on to the bicycle, Karen’s head and dark hair were just to the right of my cheek. She always looked down toward the front of the bicycle, calling out suggestions or laughing a bit. After a few weeks Karen was comfortable enough with my letting the handlebar go, but I still had to clasp the rear of the seat.

“Don’t let go, Daddy.” Halloween. Thanksgiving. The leaves disappeared. We spent less and less time practicing. Wind. Cold. Winter. I hung Karen's bicycle on a nail in the rear of the garage. Christmas. One of Karen's favorite gifts that year was five pieces of soap in the shape of little shells which her mother had bought. New Year's Eve. Snow. High fuel bills. And then a sudden warm spell. “Roe?” I said as we woke up. “Do you hear that bird? It’s a cardinal. It's been singing for the past ten minutes. Listen.” My wife listened. I listened. The children were downstairs watching television. After I showered, dressed, and ate breakfast I found Karen in the garage trying to unhook her bicycle. In this last week of January, when it is usually too cold for the children to be outside on their bicycles, it was nearly sixty degrees. I walked into the garage

and lifted the bicycle off the nail. “I love my bicycle, Daddy.” She hopped on as I pushed her across the crushed stones of our driveway to the street. I gave her a slight shove. “Let go, Daddy!” And Karen simply wobbled, shook, laughed, and pedaled off as I stood alone watching her spin those wheels against the blacktop. Einstein spoke about time, about the speed of light and objects moving beside one another. I wanted to run to Karen, hold the seat of her bicycle, hold on to her handlebars, have her dark hair brush against my cheeks. Instead I kept shouting, “Keep pedaling, Karen! Keep pedaling!” and then I applauded. There is no use holding on to the pink moth and your daughter. They will do just fine on their own. Just set them free. Keep pedaling, Karen. Keep pedaling.

Dr. Christopher de Vinck, a graduate from Teachers College, Columbia University, is the Language Arts Supervisor at Clifton High School; an adjunct professor of English Education at Montclair State University, and the author of 12 books. His best known work is The Power of the Powerless (Crossroad Books) a book on the struggles and joys of loving his severely disabled brother. This essay is from his upcoming book ‘Moments of Grace: Days of a Faith Filled Dreamer,’ which will be in bookstores July 1.

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant



May 2011 • Clifton Merchant




We Honor Our Veterans Memorial Day is a Time to Reflect on Service


oseph Hawrylko began his journey into Alzheimer’s disease in 1969 and with him, he took his stories of service during World War II. At his bedside until his death in 1976, my mom Julie said it was what he saw during the war—shellshock—that triggered the disease. Over the decades, I’ve often tried to find out more about Joseph John Hawrylko. In 1999, when I did a commemorative journal for our American Ukrainian Veterans Post in Perth Amboy, one of the guys from our church shared a happy tale of how he ran into my dad on a troop transport at the war’s end. But dumb luck happened when his namesake, my son Joseph, a writer here, Googled his name and found some history on his grandfather. According to a book entitled Omaha Beach and Beyond The Long March of Sergeant Bob Slaughter, my father was stationed in Devonshire, England, with the 1st Battalion, D Company, in December, 1943.

During WWII, U.S. Army Rifleman, Joseph Hawrylko.

“Captain Schilling went on a recruiting expedition into the regimental rifle companies looking for large, tough men to carry the heavy machine guns and mortars—and he found them,” wrote the author. “George Kobe, Randolph Ginman, Bernard Latakas, Walfred

Williams, David Silva, Stanley Borden, Dino Pettenuzzo, Joe Hawrylko, Ben Litwin and Bernie Rooker were just a few of Captain Schilling’s hand-picked men, and they proved to be some of the best combat soldiers in D Company.” In 1943, my dad was 30, certainly not a kid, and while both my brother and I are over 6 feet, Joe was short, maybe 5’8” and sinewy. No other details on Joe are offered but the book explains how their intensive infantry assault training got them ready for D-Day, June 6, 1944, when 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. My dad’s story is typical of generations of Americans who served our nation honorably, too many of whom did not return. With this edition, we pay tribute to our veterans, shining a light on their service, keeping their memories eternal.

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


GUYLER TULP A Man of Letters By Tom Hawrylko

November 19, 1968 Gary, I’m going back to the bush as we are going on a new operation starting tomorrow. When I get paid in the field I want to mail a check of $200 to you and want you to do my Christmas shopping. Now listen, I want you to get everyone something nice, and especially Tracie and yourself. Don’t let Tracie know as she’ll want to do the shopping for you. Talk to Mom and get her to help. Bye for now, Your brother, Guy


Standing in front of an oil painting of Guy done in 1979 by Sharon (Rist) Tahan, are brother Bob, mom Josephine nephew and namesake Guyler Tulp who is the son of Gary, at right.


ounded on the battlefield of South Vietnam in January 1969, Guy Tulp wrote to his brother Gary on March 8: “Well, all good things must end, and they did. I came back to my unit, but now realize I should have stayed in Cam-Rhan Bay... I was kind of nervous and lonely... I had too much time to think about being home and Tracie and ya’ll. So when I talked to the doc he finally let me go back to Da Nang. “Like anybody else that has been hit once, you really begin to get jumpy as you worry about getting hit again. Plus, this post Tet Offensive makes everything a little hairier.

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

“Captain mentioned M.P. Duty in Da Nang, so I’m thinking about trying to get that, or maybe after calming down out here, I’ll stay with the CAP (Combined Action Group). I really do not know what I want to do, but just know I want to make it home alive and in one piece to get married and see ya’ll again. “I see you’re getting your plans together about a new Camaro. I’m glad you know what you want, and you’re working hard at getting it; as nothing good comes easy. “So keep that in mind about anything you do. By the time I get home I hope to see that you have that new car, and also passed school for the year.”

In 1967, Guyler Tulp just wanted to get on with his life. He and his high school sweetheart Tracie Dudinyak already had talked about marriage—in fact, that Christmas they became engaged. But the draft was underway and that meant uncertainty as many as 40,000 men were called for induction each month, most to the US Army. “He didn’t want to stand around waiting to be drafted,” his older brother Gary, now 60, recalled of Guy’s decision to enlist in the US Marines. “He wanted to get it over with, to get on with his life.” “If I go,” said Guy, then a 18 year old senior at CHS, “I want to join the best, I want to go first class.” Telling this story 44 years later stirs laughter, pride and sorrow. Guy Tulp did go serve his country first

After boot camp in Parris Island, Guy Tulp with his dad also named Guy, at their Thanksgiving Lane home around Easter, 1967.

class. In February 1967, he went to Marine boot camp in Parris Island. He came home to Clifton that spring, sharp and squared away. Like thousands of other 18 or 19 year old men

in 1967, he was soon shipped out to Vietnam. About a year later, some 30 days short of returning home to Clifton, USMC Cpl. Guyler N. Tulp was killed by a missile shell

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January 14, 1969 Hi Gary, I mailed pictures of the A.K. 47 automatic rifle I got when I killed one V.C. last night. I wounded two others, but all we could find were their blood trails. But the dude I killed was carrying papers and gave the names of two V.C. We picked them up and took them to headquarters where they were questioned and proved to be part of the V.C. infrastructure and are now on their way to Saigon for questioning and punishment. I may get promoted to Corporal, being the Skipper was pretty impressed by my doings. Take Care, Your Brother Guy


Guy at Gary’s First Holy Communion at St. Philip’s Church. At right, Guy and Tracie Dudinyak who were engaged on Christmas 1967. They planned to marry on Sept. 27, 1969.

on April 30, 1969, when his Marine unit, the Second Combined Action Group, was ambushed 15 miles outside of Dang Nam. Sadly, Guy Tulp and 28 other Cliftonites who died in service to our nation during the Vietnam War remain forever young, as their names are etched in granite on the monument in Main Memorial Park. Their youthful, strong and brave images are preserved in photos or paintings found in the homes of those who survive them. Their lives are retold on the pages of books and their heroism relived in stories. Every Memorial Day, bells are rung as their memories are honored in our American tradition. Nearly five decades later, going through a four inch high bundle of letters—perhaps 50 in total—and reading his thoughts, opening boxes of memorabilia and sharing memories, Clifton’s Guy Tulp is still 20 and forever in the hearts of his family. Sitting in the living room of the youngest sibling Bob’s home (he’s now 47), is his mom Josephine (Fiorentino), now 88 and one of Gary’s sons, also named Guyler. “That blows my mind,” said the namesake, a twin who is 30 and a

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Spanish teacher in the West Windsor School District. He’s amazed at his late uncle’s bravery. “When I was 17... my friends and I couldn’t imagine it. We’d talk about going away to college... but to sign up for the Marines to go to war?”

SEVENTEEN AND SEASONED For many American boys in 1967, that’s the decision they faced—get a deferment, get drafted or enlist. Guy Tulp and his Clifton buddies—Charlie Szabanos, Bobby Kolnut, Joe Fede and Tommy Straccamore—wanted to go first class so they signed up for two years with the Marines. They went to Parris Island boot camp and then to Vietnam. The other boys returned home to Clifton and have since moved on. But Guy’s fate was found on a combat field in Nam. His letters, which mix concerns about his family and fiance along with his own future and a matter-offact reports of heroism on the battlefield, are telling. Here is what he had to say to his brother Gary on August 3, 1968: “I don’t want you to show Mom or Dad, but I have to tell you because if anything ever happens to me, you will

know and can tell them that all the time I wrote and said it was peaceful... I was only trying to keep them from worrying. And that I wasn’t stupid about what’s happening around me. “So here’s the facts. Right now, we’re keeping the Cong from overrunning Da Nang and there’s 39,000 Cong trying to get through, and only about 5,000 of us.” “We’re building bunkers and bringing in more men and supplies and getting ready for them to try and get through us. But if we win, I’ll probably be home by February, because if we beat the gooks here, Russia won’t supply them anymore. And if I’m lucky I might be transferred to Da Nang before this big fight starts. “But Gary, I want you to do me a big favor, stay in school and pass. And don’t go into the service. Now I realize how good home was, and

Cpl. Guy Tulp was 20 years old on when he was killed in an ambush on April 30, 1969. The grizzled Marine from Clifton was proud to serve our nation.

worked part time at Parkway Service Center on Van Houten Ave. and Broad St., is positive. “He sounds like a grown man,” Bob commented of the letters he has read over the decades.

how everyone worries, and Mom and Dad don’t deserve to have to worry about two of us. ” In most every letter, Guy, who some still remember as the mature youth with black curly hair who




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80 13

April 28, 1969 Hi everybody. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do when I get back to the world for a living. So keep your eyes open for me and let me know any ideas you may have. I’m really beginning to wonder how I’ll ever support a wife and myself. There’s rent, insurance, chow, clothing, medical, dental, hospitalization, transportation, electric, gas, ninety-nine thousand other things, savings, eventually (within probably two years) kids. So please, if you come up with any answers, clue me in! By the way, I took the test for high school, and I will get my Equivalency Diploma in about five more weeks. See ya’ll soon. Love Guy


That’s Bobby being held by mom Sophie, their late sister Cindi (Mann), who died last year, at left is Guy and Gary is on the right.

The youngest brother was just 5 and still in knickers for the funeral at St. Philip the Apostle Church on Valley Rd., which was on May 16, 1969. Two incidents Bob remembers vividly. The first is when Guy came home from boot camp around Easter and gave Robbie a bottle of Jade East cologne. The second was in Sept., 1969, his first day at School 2 on Van Houten Ave. “Guy promised he would take me to Kindergarten,” said Bob. “I guess that’s when the reality set in.” On the day the news of Guy’s death arrived in Clifton, mom Josephine recalled looking out her kitchen window on Thanksgiving Lane. At the Kelly home she noticed a Marine officer at the door. “He went from there to Sophie’s (her sister’s) home on the same block. “I said to Mrs. Kelly ‘Is that for me?’ And she said no. I said: ‘Don’t lie to me!’” A neighbor went to get Mr. Tulp who worked at the Garden State Farms milk

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

store on Main Ave. in Passaic Park. The neighbor told him it was a problem at home but no details. Since he was the only one in the store, Mr. Tulp would not leave. The neighbor called the main office and arranged for coverage before Mr. Tulp, who still did not know Guy was dead, would leave. Gary was getting into his 1964 Chevy Super Sport in the CHS senior parking lot that day. He was amazed when he heard his name on the loudspeaker with a command to report to the office—he figured he got caught cutting class. “They told me my mom was sick, to get home and take care of her,” he said. “I get there and dad was at uncle Jack’s house. He said ‘your brother’s dead.’ Forty-two years... it’s like yesterday,” he shook his head, shuffling letters before he paused. “You just don’t lose that.” Repercussions to Guy’s death, Gary stated, were “tremendous... and they still are not over till this day.”

While the family celebrates Guy’s life, there are lingering, bothersome facts. For instance, when Guy was wounded and escaped death in Jan. 1968, his father wanted his son out of Vietnam. “My dad was very patriotic. But he felt my brother had did enough. He wanted him out of there. He tried calling a lot of people. In fact he had a cousin who was a two star general in the Army. We didn’t even know that. He came over our house and at dinner I remember him saying there was nothing he could do. His son was in Vietnam too and they needed every kid over there...” Revenge was part of the equation. “After Guy died I wanted my pound of flesh,” said Gary. Shortly after the funeral, Gary announced that he wanted to join, and like his brother, he didn’t want to wait for his draft number to come. He wanted revenge. “I needed my dad to sign the papers. But he said he wouldn’t do it a second time. We had a helluva fight.” Next day Gary comes home and the Marine casualty officer who stayed close to the family after Guy’s death was sitting at the kitchen table. “I come in, dad tells me to sit down and he leaves the room,” Gary recalled. “Leave your old man alone!” the Marine shouted. “You’re not going anywhere. Give me your draft card.” Gary showed the Marine his 1-A (eligible for military service) card. He gave the 18 year old kid

a card which classified him as ‘only surviving son.” On May 1, 1969, a day after Guy’s death, this upbeat letter, dated April 26, arrived at the Tulp home. “Hi Everyone. I see Cindy receives Confirmation tomorrow. Tell her I’m sorry I didn’t get a gift off to her, but when I come home I’ll make it up to her. By the way, tell her not to go off and get married. She should at least wait until the school years are over. “(Ha Ha! I saw in the letter about her I.D. and her boyfriend.) I’ll be going for now, so take care and don’t worry about me as I’ll be home before you know it. “See you soon, Love Guy “P.S. If you send me a package, make it a lot of spaghetti and sauce, as we all loved it the last time you sent it. “Thanks! Guy “Dad, By the way, I took my high school test and won’t have the results back until next month. But no sweat. The kid’s got his stuff together. “Your son, “the Graduate,” Guy “P.S. By the way, I see Gary’s doing okay with Garden State Farms. Tell him I think for now the best thing he can do is stay working for you or G.S.F., as it’s a start. Tell him if he’s smart and sticks with it, eventually it will help him get a good job with G.S. or some other company. “See you soon, Guy.”

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant



Taps concludes many military funerals conducted with honors at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as hundreds of others around the United States. The tune is also sounded at many memorial services in Arlington’s Memorial Amphitheater and at grave sites throughout the cemetery. It became a standard component to military funerals in 1891.


May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

This Memorial Day...

We Salute America’s Veterans East Ridgelawn Cemetery invites you to visit our Mausoleum on Main Avenue to pause, reflect and remember the lives of those who have passed. Visits are unlimited and unaffected by the weather. Crypts are located in the building and convenient for elderly and handicapped. Mausoleum entombment provides greater Peace of Mind & Security.

East Ridgelawn Cemetery 255 Main Avenue, Clifton, NJ 07014 for more information with no obligation call:


• niches • mausoleum • garden graves • non-sectarian • monumental graves • no obligation pre-need counseling • financing available one-year at no interest on easy monthly plans May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


OUR HONORED DEAD World War One Louis Ablezer Andrew Blahut Timothy Condon John Crozier Orrie De Groot

Olivo De Luca Italo De Mattia August De Rose Jurgen Dykstra Seraphin Fiori Ralph Gallasso Otto Geipel Mayo Giustina Peter Horoschak

Because the memory will live forever. Over the past year, we have had the privilege of serving the families of many veterans. In recognition of the service these veterans rendered to their country, we would like to show our appreciation this Memorial Day. In memory of their lives and their service, we recall... • Kenneth “Kenny”

Adamo • Richard J. Belli Jr. • Emanuel Benedetto • Norman Glenn Bly • Neil M. Cameron • Joseph Anthony Cepeda • Alfio G. Dal Pan MD. • Paul Fanelli • Frank D. Giovacco

• David C. Glasier • John J. Ingrassia • William Kasenchar • Edward Kurtz • Fred V. Lombardo • Keith J. Kusinko • Gregory K. Meneghin • Dominick R. Messina • Saul Mitchell • Carl “CJ” Mueller

Emilio Lazzerin Joseph Liechty Jacob Morf, Jr. William Morf Edwin C. Peterson Robert H. Roat Alfred Sifferlen James R. Stone Carmelo Uricchio Angelo Varetoni Michael Vernarec Cornelius Visbeck Ignatius Wusching Bertie Zanetti Otto B. Zanetti

• Mickey Orsages • Peter A. Pampanin • Amady Rossman • Robert J. Sautner • Eugene A. Scussel, • Michael Sinko • Stanley Sondej • James P. Trentacoste • Andrew Visotsky

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Army Sgt. David C. Van Dillen served for 16 months in France during World War I and returned home to Clifton safely.

World War Two Joseph Sperling Charles Peterson Thomas Donnellan Jerry Toth Frank Lennon Joseph Carboy Julius Weisfeld Edward Ladwik Israel Rabkin Peter Pagnillo Harold Weeks William Weeks Salvatore Favata Herman Adams Edward Kostecki Charles Hooyman, Jr. Salvatore Michelli Richard Novak James Potter Adam Liptak John Van Kirk Carlyle Malmstrom Francis Gormley

Charles Stanchak Joseph Ladwik Karl Germelmann Robert Stevens Albert Tau William Scott Benjamin Puzio James Van Ness Gregory Jahn Nicholas Stanchak Frank Smith, Jr Carl Bredahl Donald Yahn Joseph Belli Edwin Kalinka Stanley Swift Charles Lotz Joseph Prebol Walter Nazar Benedict Vital Thaddeus Bukowski Leo Grossman Michael Kashey Stephen Messineo

John Janek John Yanick Herbert Gibb William Nalesnik Joseph Sowma Bronislaus Pitak Harry Tamboer John Olear John Koropchak Joseph Nugent Steven Gombocs Thomas Gula Raymond Curley Harry Earnshaw James Henry John Layton Charles Messineo Joseph Petruska Bogert Terpstra John Kotulick Peter Vroeginday Michael Sobol Donald Sang Andew Sanko

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

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

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

515 Lexington Avenue Clifton, NJ 07011 Phone 973 777-4332 Thomas J. Bizub, Mgr.

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


OUR HONORED DEAD World War Two George Zeim, Jr. Robert Van Liere Vernon Broseman Harold O’Keefe Edward Palffy Dennis Szabaday Lewis Cosmano Stanley Scott, Jr. Charles Hulyo, Jr. Arnold Hutton Frank Barth John Kanyo Bryce Leighty Joseph Bertneskie Samuel Bychek Louis Netto David Ward

Edward Rembisz Lawrence Zanetti Alfred Jones Stephen Blondek John Bulyn Gerhard Kaden William Lawrence Robert Doherty Samuel Guglielmo Robert Parker Joseph Molson Stephen Kucha James De Biase Dominick Gianni Manuel Marcos Nicholas Palko William Slyboom Herman Teubner Thomas Commiciotto Stephen Surgent

Albert Bertneskie Charles Gash Peter Jacklin Peter Shraga,Jr. John Aspesi Micheal Ladyczka Edward Marchese Robert Stephan Roelof Holster, Jr. Alex Hossack Siber Speer Frank Klimock Salvatore Procopio Harry Breen Gordon Tomea, Jr. Douglas Gleeson Fred Hazekamp Harold Roy Andrew Servas, Jr. Francis Alesso

In Loving Memory of our Founder

ore y is much m Memorial Da that ay weekend -d e re th a n tha mmer. ginning of su e b e th s rk a m lly ople, especia To many pe ombat ousands of c th ’s n o ti a n the as a day, which h is th s, n ra te e v ll the hing back a history stretc n ivil War, is a way to the C ose who minder of th re t n a rt o p ntry. im e of their cou ic rv se e th died in e l Day, take th a ri o m e M is Th of those on the lives t c e fl re to e d tim ur nation an o d e rv se e v who ha their honor. raise a flag in r Veterans! God Bless Ou s etson Familie rr a G & k o o The Sh 20

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Joseph M. Shook, Sr. US Marine Corps 1942 - 1945 March 15, 1924 - June 9, 2008

Shook Funeral Home Inc. Over 56 Years of Service, Still Proudly Family Owned & Operated

639 Van Houten Ave • Clifton 973-471-9620 Roy B. Garretson Manager, NJ Lic.#3550

Nancy Shook Garretson President, NJ Lic.#3657

Walter Bobzin Vincent Lazzaro John Op’t Hof Joseph Sondey John Zier Peter Hellrigel Steve Luka Arthur Vanden Bree Harold Baker Hans Fester Patrick Conklin John Thompson Thomas Dutton, Jr. Harold Ferris, Jr. Donald Freda Joseph Guerra Edward Hornbeck William Hromniak Stephen Petrilak Wayne Wells Vincent Montalbano James Miles Louis Kloss Andrew Kacmarcik

John Hallam Anthony Leanza William Sieper Sylvester Cancellieri George Worschak Frank Urrichio Andrew Marchincak Carl Anderson George Holmes Edward Stadtmauer Kermit Goss George Huemmer Alexander Yewko Emil Chaplin John Hushler Edgar Coury Robert Hubinger Wilbur Lee Vito Venezia Joseph Russin Ernest Yedlick Charles Cannizzo Michael Barbero Joseph Palagano

William Hadrys Joseph Hoffer, Jr. Joseph Piccolo John Robinson Frank Torkos Arthur Mayer Edward Jaskot George Russell Frank Groseibl Richard Van Vliet Benjamin Boyko Harry Carline Paul Domino John Fusiak Louis Ritz William Niader Alfred Aiple Mario Taverna Sebastian De Lotto Matthew Bartnowski John Bogert Joseph Collura Matthew Daniels James Doland, Jr.

305 Oldham Road, Wayne, NJ 973-317-7020

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• Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementias • Neurological Disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis • Mental Health • Respiratory: including Ventilator Dependent & Tracheostomy Care • Peritoneal Dialysis

Sub-acute Care and Rehabilitation Long-term Skilled Nursing Care Hospice, including Inpatient Respite Special Care Behavior Management Licensed by the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services

Providing quality care for over 80 years May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


OUR HONORED DEAD Memorial Day Weekend Ceremonies Sunday, May 29

World War Two Walter Dolginko Peter Konapaka Alfred Masseroni Charles Merlo Stephen Miskevich John Ptasienski Leo Schmidt Robert Teichman Louis Vuoncino Richard Vecellio Robert Hegmann Ernest Triemer John Peterson Richard Vander Laan, Jr. Stephan Kucha ‘Gigito’ Netto

• 7 pm - Volunteers decorate the area around the War Monument in Main Memorial Park with American Flags

Monday, May 30 • 6 am - Avenue of Flags Set-up at City Hall • 8:15 am - Fire Dept. Memorial at the Brighton Rd. Firehouse • 9 am - Memorial Day Parade, Hepburn Rd. • 9:30 am - Allwood Memorial at Chelsea Park • 11 am - City Wide Memoria Service at Main Memorial Park • Noon - Military Order of Purple Hearts at the Clifton Library • 12:30 pm - Post 347 Memorial at the Clifton Rec Center • 2 pm - Athenia Veterans Memorial on Huron Ave. • 6 pm - Avenue of Flags Take Down at City Hall

NJ Arthritis Osteoporosis Center and an nd

871 Allwood Rd Rd., Clifton

973.405.5163 Michael P. Lewko, MD FACR, AGSF

Arthritis • Rheumatism • Osteoporosis Aging Wellness • Functional Improvement 22

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Korean War Donald Frost Ernest Haussler William Kuller Joseph Amato Herbert Demarest George Fornelius Edward Luisser Reynold Campbell Louis Le Ster Dennis Dyt Raymond Halendwany John Crawbuck Ernest Hagbery William Gould Edward Flanagan William Snyder

Allen Hiller Arthur Grundman Donald Brannon

Vietnam War Alfred Pino Thomas Dando William Sipos Bohdan Kowal Robert Kruger, Jr. Bruce McFadyen Carrol Wilke Keith Perrelli William Zalewski Louis Grove Clifford Jones, Jr.

The Iraq War US Army/Special Forces Captain Michael Tarlavsky was killed in Najaf, Iraq on Aug. 12, 2004 and buried with honors in Arlington National Cemetery on Aug. 24. Tarlavsky, CHS Class of ‘92, was captain of the Swim Team and enlisted in the Army in 1996. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star. He is survived by his wife Tricia, their son Joseph, his parents Yury and Rimma and a sister, Elina. The Veterans Alliance engraved his name on the Main Avenue War Memorial in 2004— the first name added in 34 years.

George McClelland Richard Corcoran John Bilenski Donald Campbell James Strangeway, Jr. Donald Scott Howard Van Vliet Frank Moorman Robert Prete Guyler Tulp Nicholas Cerrato Edward Deitman Richard Cyran Leszek Kulaczkowski William Malcolm Leonard Bird John France Stephen Stefaniak Jr.

Nov. 8, 1961 Plane Crash Robert De Vogel Vernon Griggs Robert Marositz Robert Rinaldi Raymond Shamberger Harold Skoglund Willis Van Ess, Jr. Our goal is to list each name accurately and without omission. If you feel there is an error, please write to us with the correction. See page 9 for our address. Thank you.

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


Free Screening for ‘Flat Feet’ Normal Arch

Fallen Arch or Flat Foot

Pes Planus, also commonly known as flat feet or fallen arches, is a condition when the entire sole of the foot comes into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. In as much as 20 to 30% of the general population, the arch simply never develops in one foot (unilaterally) or both feet (bilaterally). It is a condition some people inherit or one which anyone, from children to the elderly, can develop from use. Pes planus also contributes to plantar fasciitis (with or without heel pain), bunion deformity, hammertoes and knee pain. It causes misalignment of not only the foot but of the entire lower extremity, said Clifton foot surgeon Thomas Graziano, MD, DPM, FACFAS. He is now doing a new out-patient procedure that takes about 10 minutes to perform and can correct Pes Planus, offering a quick return to normal activities. “It is done on an outpatient basis here in Clifton and can be performed on anyone from children to the elderly—as long as they fit the criteria,” Dr. Graziano said, adding: “In order to understand this breakthrough solution, let's first take a look at the problem. Flat feet is a condition medically known as hyperpronation. It occurs when the natural space between the ankle and heel bones, called the sinus tarsi, collapses. This space is at the center of the foot's ability to distribute weight and motion evenly, and when it collapses, the foot adopts an unnatural position and shape, creating an imbalance throughout the whole body. “ 24

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

The corrective procedure, Dr. Graziano said, involves placing a tiny stent inside the foot, right in the collapsed space. The stent instantly restores the foot's natural anatomy, and therefore corrects the imbalance propagated throughout the body. The procedure is minimally invasive, virtually painless, and is covered by many insurance plans. Full recovery—to experience all the benefits—takes several weeks, but patients are typically able to walk immediately after the procedure. Dr. Graziano said the foot is the most used and abused part of our body. “We put our socks on, put our shoes on and basically forget about our feet,” he said. “My goal is to educate and treat patients, offering a variety of options.” For a complimentary consultation to screen for Pes Planus or flat feet, call Dr. Graziano at 973-473-3344.

CARL RODRIGUEZ Reclaiming His Life, One Day at a Time By Joe Hawrylko


he one thing you’ll always remember is when someone shoots at you,” said Carl Rodriguez. Leaning back into the sofa in the living room of his Princeton Ave. home, he winces very slightly as the words gently spill over his lips. Though he remains calm, it’s clear that the Vietnam War has left a lasting impression on Rodriguez, who would love for nothing more than to let go of the past, if only his mind would let him. “You’ll never, ever forget that. Ever,” he asserts. “A bullet makes quite a sound going past you.” After spending 11 months in country as a field observer in the Army in 1967, Rodriguez came home with war momentos that will last a lifetime. His surgically repaired hand throbs with pain almost daily. He needs hearing aids in both ears to communicate. Scars from bullets, shrapnel and skin grafts. Rodriguez also suffers from flashbacks, anxiety and anger issues—the hallmarks of PTSD, a condition forever linked with Vietnam Veterans who were unceremoniously welcomed back to America. Bury his past, Carl Rodriguez cannot. But for 40 years, he tried to

Carl Rodriguez, 67, displays his dogtags and records from his service days. The US Army Sgt. spent most of 1967 in Vietnam as a field observer.

do exactly that, repressing horrific memories only to find himself inexplicably lashing out at those he loved for reasons he could not understand. It cost Rodriguez his first marriage, strained relationships with family and friends and at times, made him question his own sanity.

“You come back to normal life, but you’re never normal,” said Rodriguez. “You tell people they’ll never know, never understand unless they were there.” He lived in this private world of torture until 2008, when Rodriguez returned to the Veteran Affairs May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


office he swore off years ago due to shoddy treatment. Diagnosed with PTSD, he began therapy to help him reclaim his life. In the three years since, Rodriguez has made strides in his recovery. And though he will never be able to forget Vietnam or the ghastly affects it had on his psyche, he has learned that it is manageable. And that he isn’t the only one. “A lot of other people have gone through the same issues,” he said. “The best way to solve it is to talk about it.”

PREPARING FOR WAR “The sergeant went down a line counting 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5,” he recalled. “Then he says, ‘All the fives, step out. Congrats, you’re now Marines.” It was this almost machine-like process that determined his fate. It

was February 1966, and Rodriguez was in the Newark Armory, where fresh recruits from North Jersey were systematically sorted and processed depending on Uncle Sam’s need. Rodriguez, who grew up in East Paterson (now Elmwood Park) was not one of the ‘fives’ and was shipped to Fort Carson, CO, where Army boot instructors trained he and other recruits in the arts of surviving in a hostile jungle environment. “In basic training, they kept telling us to pay attention and learn this stuff, you’re going to Vietnam,” he said. “They train you to react to every situation, If you do that properly, you were more than likely going to survive.” Spending nearly a year at Fort Carson, Rodriguez underwent advanced training for mortar, artillery and heavy weaponry. His proficiency in these skills and map reading led to

him becoming a forward observer when he was deployed to Vietnam in January 1967. “At the time, the mindset was that we were going to do a good thing,” said Rodriguez. Known as Pops to his peers, he was 23 when his number was called—a man amongst boys with guns. “Being older, your values are completely different, especially from today. It wasn’t about I, it was about we.” But within a few weeks of setting foot in Vietnam, that optimism would quickly evaporate. “The first night, we were welcomed into the country with a barrage of mortar,” laughed Rodriguez, who entered through Saigon. “You’re now in Vietnam!” The following morning, Rodriguez and others were loaded on a bus to go meet up with the 25th Infantry at Cu Chi. “They gave us rifles with

A Family Practice That Feels Like Home. Affiliated Foot & Ankle Specialists

Our centers offer individual care for all members of the family and provide the most comprehensive foot and ankle care available. New patients are always welcome and often immediate appointments available.

Dr. Jeffrey Miller, DPM, FACFAS Dr. Tara Blitz, DPM, AACFAS Dr. Eugene Batelli, DPM, FACFAS

We now have three convenient locations Clifton Office: 1117 Rt. 46 East 973.365.2208

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Visit our patient education center online & make your appointment today! 26

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Schedule your surgery at Clifton Surgery Center. We are a three room state of the art, nationally accredited, physician owned facility. Smaller and more service oriented than hospitals, patients and their families benefit from the convenience and lower cost.

Do You Have Misaligned Feet? From walking and running to cycling and other outdoor activities, it seems we are all more active. But when our feet are even just slightly misaligned, excessive motion will occur. To address that common issue, Dr. Eugene A. Batelli of Affiliated Foot & Ankle Specialist of Clifton now offer the most up-to-date treatment for the correction of “out-of-aligned” feet. Previously, patients were told that not much could be done for this potentially painful condition. This excessive rearfoot motion is caused by abnormal motion between the heel (calcaneus) and ankle (talus) bones. Symptoms can include: shin splints, growing pains, leg cramping, knee, hip, and/or lower back pain, arch pain, and not being able to stand for long periods. Past treatments included corrective shoes, custommolded inserts (orthotics), or extensive reconstructive foot surgery. Dr. Batelli’s procedure (subtalar arthroeresis) consists of inserting a specialized titanium stent into the foot that limits the excessive motion and restores normal motion. The surgery is performed during a brief outpatient visit. There is no bone cutting or tendon transfers. In most cases, only a bandage is applied, no casting is required.

The procedure is usually performed one foot at a time and is covered by most insurance companies. Normally, the stent will just stay in the foot and never has to be removed. This surgery is completely reversible. The stent can be removed and the foot will be right back to where it started. The results are immediate. The procedure can be performed on patients three years old and older. Additional procedures may need to be performed to achieve the best results. The surgery is covered by most insurance companies. For more info, call Dr. Miller or Dr. Batelli at 973- 365-2208.

Jeffrey Miller, DPM and Eugene A. Batelli, DPM of Affiliated Foot & Ankle Specialists of Clifton

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


no ammo,” he said. Besides a lone sniper that was quickly dispatched from his tree top nest by the security detail, no troops attacked the mostly unarmed transport. “We were all assigned to different units when we got there. The sergeant asked if anyone had heavy weapons training,” he said. “Now, normally, you don’t volunteer for anything. But for some reason, I did.” In this instance, fortune favored Rodriguez, and he was placed with the Army 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry “Manchus,” where he would assist with plotting coordinates for artillery strikes. This placed him far behind the front lines, but only for a few weeks. “I was on the radio one day because a guy was sick or something,” he said. “The Lieutenant sees me and the next morning he calls me in and tells me I did a good job and I’m going to go to A

Company to do radio.” Though Rodriguez knew his new job would be much more dangerous, he could not have imagined just how soon he’d experience the full fury of the Viet Cong army. He would take part in a ferocious battle on Feb. 27, 1967 filled with many instances of heroism. Among the many honors bestowed to troops in the skirmish were the Medal of Honor, six silver stars, seven bronze stars and countless purple hearts. The Manchus were providing security detail for the 65th Engineers, which were repairing a road near Phu Hoa Dong. Two companies provided security for the engineers, in addition to an ARVN (South Vietnamese) unit. In the early evening hours of Feb. 26, reconnaissance had detected some Viet Cong activity nearby. However, as darkness engulfed the

jungle, it became apparent that the enemy was preparing for a strike. “Very early Monday morning, all hell broke loose,” recalled Rodriguez. “I was sleeping at the time. Our vest wasn’t going to stop a bullet, but it made a great pillow. I always slept with my radio and my rifle in case anything ever happened. I got right on the radio and started shooting coordinates. I walked them in closer and then called for a ‘Fire for Effect.’” The American artillery rained down and lit up the dark, dense jungle just enough to expose the size of the massive Viet Cong force, later estimated to be as large as a full battalion—as many as 300 soldiers—which quickly breached the perimeter of barbed wire and antipersonnel mines. Almost immediately after the first shots were fired, the ARVN troops fled their American allies,

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Carl with his family. From left is Rodriguez, Carla Dunphy (a special education teacher at WWMS), Nancy Hiscano, his wife, Ruth, and Susan Votack.

allowing the 165th Viet Cong Regiment to encircle the camp. Pitch black except for muzzle flashes which only lit up the shooter’s face for a moment, the two forces engaged in terrifying close quarters combat. “It was completely dark. When it was dark, it was dark,” recalled Rodriguez. “Like going out to the country in night time. Every fifth bullet was a tracer. Theirs were green; ours were red. You had to hear where the bullets were coming from.” Using his fox hole as cover, Rodriguez called out artillery until he was shot through his side. The bullet did not incapacitate him, but it did blow a hole through his radio. Knowing that his company would fall without his support, he ran to another foxhole and found a warrant officer with an extra radio. “I started calling artillery very close to our position. You call in one round to see where it lands and from that, you adjust. There wasn’t GPS back then. Usually, before

you go out, you call three positions on a map,” explained Rodriguez. “Was I responsible for our troops getting hurt? You always wonder. Always. Forty years later, I found this article (which confirmed that he did not) but you always wonder.” To this day, he’s still unable to recall just how long the firefight lasted. According to records available online, the skirmish first started at approximately 12:30 am, with the heavily outnumbered Manchu force holding off the 165th Viet Cong for nearly an hour before reinforcements arrived. American brass was afraid that the attack was a diversion meant to draw away troops from higher priority locations. The Viet Cong eventually retreated around 5 am. “Afterwards, you sit and reflect. Shit, I’m alive. This is my first month here and I need to stay alive for another 11 months? But you put those thoughts away and you go back and do your job,” recalled Rodriguez. “You’re sitting there

during the evac and just see all the body bags. I remember being on the helicopter and seeing maybe a half dozen bags. I didn’t know there was so many.” It would be a scene that would replay over and over again during his stay in country. Young boys, many just barely 18 years old, would leave on patrol and come back to camp in body bags. Out of necessity, Rodriguez quickly became emotionally distant—someone you had coffee with the other day could perish just hours later. “I didn’t want to know their name, their background, whether they had kids or family or where they came from,” he said. “I didn’t want to get close to people because if they get killed, that’s the way you get hurt.” The methods that the Viet Cong employed in battle also left a psychological toll on Rodriguez. Ambushes under darkness were common. Snipers would lay in wait in trees, while others would spring up from tunnels to pick off a soldier and quickly retreat before the Americans could even assemble. Simple boobytraps could catch even the most war savvy soldiers off guard, and mortar attacks were a silent killer that could strike at any time. “Mortars you don’t hear coming. They go straight up and straight down,” recalled Rodriguez. “Artillery, you can hear that go over your head. It’s a whistling sound as it’s coming and a woofing sound as it passes you. You hear that and it’s, ah, it’s ok.” “That first skirmish set the tone for the entire year that I was there,” he continued. “You really May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


Second from left is Sgt. Carl Rodriguez, standing with his mortar team in an undated photo. At right is the patch for the 25th Infantry ‘Tropic Lightning’.

never slept. Your body gets some rest and you close your eyes, but you’re always aware of what’s around you.” The jungle savvy Rodriguez endured countless missions over the next few months without any major incidents. By the Winter of 1967, he was nearing the end of his standard one year deployment. To commemorate the milestone, Rodriguez purchased a short timer’s stick, a polished piece of wood on which the owner notches each day during his final month. “You’re counting every day there, from your first to your last,” he explained. Rodriguez would never carve in all 30 notches. His final weeks were spent at an old French air field near the Ho Chi Min Trail. The Americans had captured it with the intention of making the base a staging point for 30

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

bombing runs in Cambodia. The base became operational in December of 1967, and immediately became a target for the North Vietnamese. After several weeks of small engagements and bombings, the compound came witnessed the fury of the Viet Cong in a massive assault on Dec. 23. Rodriguez was with a mortar crew in the rear of the base when the strike first hit. “The only thing I remember was the explosion. My ears were ringing and I reached up to my face there was blood pouring down,” recalled Rodriguez. “Then I realized it was not so much my face but my hand.” An enemy mortar landed directly on his position, badly wounding Rodriguez and the rest of the crew. He was quickly evaced out to

Saigon Air Force Base, where surgeons managed to salvage Rodriguez’s right hand, which was a bloody, pulpy mess of flesh and bone. Because of burns and heavy damage due to shrapnel, doctors performed a skin graft on his right leg. The explosion also severely damaged his hearing and caused nasty wounds to his face. Because of his wounds and his time served, Rodriguez was sent back stateside for rehabilitation and eventual discharge. By the time he was released from McGuire Watts Army Hospital in April of 1968, America had become a different place. “We were doing the right thing at the time when we went in,” Rodriguez explained. “In 1968 is when everything changed, the public perception changed. Right after the

Tet Offensive. It was all over TV and from that point on, it was all down hill.” Though he was not spit on like returning soldiers, the reception was anything but warm. Rodriguez remembers the leering eyes of protesters as he left the rehabilitation center in fatigues. The rallies shown on TV across the country. Hearing stories of his returning brothers coming home to chants of ‘baby killers.’ Even when people weren’t outwardly hostile to veterans, the treatment best described as callous. When he returned to the job he held prior to entering the war, Rodriguez was constantly badgered with questions pertaining to Vietnam. “Where did I serve, did I kill anyone. I left after about three months and went to a new company,” he explained. Rodriguez would go on to have a lengthy career as a draftsman with Bendix in Teterboro. “No one knows who you are, no one asks any questions.” The event that had the most profound affect on Rodriguez took place shortly after returning home, when he went to the Veterans Administration in Newark to receive care for his numerous injuries. “Some immigrant doctor there told me at the Vet hospital that I was only in it for the money,” he recalled, still clearly stung by those words 40 years later. From that day forward, Rodriguez made a concerted effort to repress all thoughts and memories pertaining to his experiences in Vietnam. “You file it away in the back of your head and never talk about it,” he said. “You think that it will help you

if you bury it. The day to day stuff, you just try to worry about that, just general life.” And though Rodriguez remained silent about his 11 months in country, the memories from that year in Vietnam haunt him in every facet of life. “At the very beginning, the nightmares were severe,” he explained. “You’d see different events from then that you’re reliving.” Rodriguez lost count of the times he found himself back in the foxhole just outside of Phu Hoa Dong, reliving the terrifying ordeal that left him with a bullet scar along the right side of his chest. Countless other scenes have replayed in his mind, over and over, against his will. “Sometimes, I’d wake up in the middle of the night to do a security check,” said Rodriguez. This meant getting out of bed, checking all of the windows on the house, and then going outside to check the perimeter of his property, which rests on the Nutley border. “If you wake up, you just got to do it if you want to fall back asleep.” Eventually, as his condition worsened, symptoms of PTSD began manifesting in other aspects of his life. Sometimes it was presented as anxiety in normal situations, such as a small gathering of friends. In restaurants, he’d find himself checking for exits, planning escape routes, the second he walked in. In more severe instances, certain stimuli could trigger flashback. For many years, Rodriguez had trouble being around those of Asian origins. The attacks

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) Known as combat fatigue or shellshock in earlier conflicts, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the many ailments associated with the Vietnam War. A full quarter of all returning soldiers from that conflict are thought to have suffered from PTSD at some point in their lives. Like Rodriguez, many did not receive proper treatment once returning home and the symptoms become chronic. Patients experience flashbacks to the original traumat-

ic event, and have issues with sleep, anger and relationships with others. And while PTSD is most often associated with Vietnam vets, many other returning soldiers from other wars have suffered just the same. With proper treatment, the condition is manageable. For more information, call the Newark

Department of Veteran Affairs at 1-800-827-1000. May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


on 9/11, which he watched unfold from his job in Teterboro, disturbed him greatly. Other triggers were more peculiar. “The smell of rain... it was always raining down there,” recalled Rodriguez. “You’d be talking with someone and the conversation ends and you’re back in country. There, the days of rain on end would mean action slowed down. You liked rain.” Even something as simple as the scent of a bar of soap conjured up chilling recollections of Vietnam. “It was better to not be clean,” he explained. “When you’re clean, you smell. There’s a jungle odor that you can’t pick up. Guys who just showered stuck out.” Though it was most severe in the years following his discharge, the symptoms never fully diminished with time. Rodriguez was cognizant of the changes to his personality, his odd behavior, his dark demeanor. He was unable to control it and questioned his own sanity on many occasions. “I think that contributed to the failure of my first marriage,” admitted Rodriguez. “I spoke to my daughter after my first wife had passed. She was speaking to her

mom, who said that when I first went in I was a warm, sweet person and when I came back I was completely different and cold.”

MOVING ON WITH LIFE If a complete stranger had approached him in 1968 and offered to sit down for a candid and unbiased discussion about his time in Vietnam, Rodriguez would have quite adamantly said no without a moment’s hesitation. The answer would have probably been followed by a few choice explicative. Yet, in April 2011, he found himself spending more than three and a half hours in a tell-all interview with a writer whom he had just met earlier that day. It’s a scene he could have never imagined several decades ago, and yet, at the same time, the conversation is just one step in a long process of healing the mental wounds inflicted during the war. It’s progress that probably would not have happened without a little prodding from his wife, Ruth, who pleaded with Rodriguez to return to the VA to collect on the benefits he earned so many years ago. In 2008, he went in seeking assistance for the lingering aches

and pains in his hand, back and leg. However, doctors also diagnosed Rodriguez with PTSD. Though it came as a shock to him, the news was also a welcome relief. Rodriguez was not insane after all. And he was not the only one of his brothers suffering from the same affliction. “I began therapy and started seeing results right away,” he recalled. Eventually, Rodriguez progressed to the point that his psychologist decided to put him into group therapy. “I’m becoming more social,” said Rodriguez. “We’ve become quite close as friends.” Between the solo and group therapy sessions, the Cliftonite has been able to manage the effects of his condition. Rodriguez has gone about mending relationships that had deteriorated over the years. Social settings aren’t as uncomfortable as in the past. The severity and frequency of the nightmares and outbursts has significantly decreased. “They taught us a breathing technique to deal with anger,” he said. “Road rage is still a big thing, but I’m making progress. You just say that it doesn’t matter and move on. Just try to move on.”

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


BILL GUARINO Speaking Italian Saved His Life By Joe Hawrylko


hen he was drafted by the US Army in orders to ship out and spent most of September on a April of 1943, Bill Guarino wasn’t just boat which was part of a large convoy bound for Italy, scared of going to war, he was pretty sure where Allied troops were in the midst of liberating the that he wasn’t going to come back. Like all young boys fascist country. who grew up in that era, Guarino expected to go off to Guarino got his first taste of war long before he even fight the Axis Powers when he turned 18, and he reached Italy. accepted that he may very well die in some lonely fox“We were heading for Naples and at Gibraltar, they hole on some foreign battleground. bombed us,” he said, recalling the evening that approxRecalling those memories imately eight German divenearly 70 years later, Guarino bombers attacked under the is still a bit amazed that he cover of darkness. “We didmade it home alive. But n’t think we would be going unlike most veterans, he attribto war yet. In fact, we when utes his safe return not to his we were bombed, we were physical abilities, luck or faith, playing poker on the top of but to Italian, which was the the ship. Everything seemed only language used in his parnormal. We saw some tracers ent’s Paterson home. and thought it was our guys “Italian saved my life,” and then we saw the ships Guarino said bluntly. just go down.” When a general learned of “We were sent downstairs his talents, Guarino was prointo the hull, which was moted and from then on, awful,” added Guarino. He served as a radioman for the waited out the ordeal in camp commander. Though cramped living quarters with not off the battlefield, barely enough room for the Guarino’s ability to translate binks. “Everyone took out meant he was no longer the prayer beads when the first Bill Guarino while in Italy, circa 1943. one expected to charge headship went down and we were first into battle. sent downstairs.” If military brass had known he could speak Italian The ship he was on narrowly escaped major damage, when he was drafted in April of 1943, Guarino might but the convoy did suffer losses. have had an entirely different experience all together. “It was maybe an hour tops, but they bombed and “I can still remember my number after all these strafed everything,” said Guarino. “About five or six ships went down out of about 100 ships in the convoy. They had years,” he said. “3-7-7-9-3-3-2.” battleships and everything, and they fired all those guns Processed at the Newark Armory, Guarino was sent and I don’t think any of those planes went down.” to Camp Blanding, FL, where spent five forgettable After the attack, the convoy split up and Guarino’s months training. At the end of August, he received 34

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

ship was rerouted to Port Bizerte in Tunisia which was being used as a replacement depot for Allies in Italy since the end of the North African Campaign a few months earlier. To pass the time while awaiting deployment orders to Italy, Guarino, took to designing menus for the base mess hall, often listing the dishes in English and Italian. On Thanksgiving, a general came by to inspect the facilities and promoted the corporal on the spot. The officer inquired about the menus and, after learning that Guarino spoke fluent Italian, the Paterson native was promoted to replace the corporal. Because of the situation in Italy, Guarino’s talents would prove to be highly useful. After secretly signing an armistice with the Allies on Sept. 3, 1943, Italy became engulfed by turmoil. Germany invaded to keep the

Bill and his wife, Jane, have been married for 11 years.

Allies at bay and make use of the leftover Italian supplies. The new Allied-backed Italian government arrested Benito Mussolini, who was then rescued

by the Germans a few weeks later. The dictator formed the Italian Social Republic (RSI) in Northern Italy, which remained loyal to the Third Reich, setting the

God Bless Our Veterans • God Bless America

Clifton Memorial Post 347

American Legion

Commander Domenic Chiappone • Past Commander Lou Poles

We Recall the Post Members who Died this past year... • Leo Czubat • Elmer J. Lucas • Joseph J. Nikischer • Charles R. Timm

• Michael S. Wacyra • George Warholak • Matthew A. Millelferi May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


stage for what was essentially a civil war. In January of 1944, Guarino was deployed with the 34th Infantry, stationed near Naples, Italy. His ability to translate helped coordinate with Italian resistance fighters, interviewing RSI POWs and speaking with locals from the war ravaged country. Because of these skills, Guarino enjoyed perks that other soldiers did not have access to. “I didn’t have to sleep in the fox holes. I slept wherever my camp commander slept. I was his radio man,” explained Guarino. “We would take a house and stay in it for the night.” His fluency in Italian also usually led to good relationships with the locals, who helped along the way. “We’d usually sleep in a grapevine or a cornfield for cover. Well, we did that one day and I saw the farmer and started speaking Italian with him,” recalled Guarino, who also used his leave time to go visit relatives near Naples. “He said his corn was going to go bad if no one husked it. So me and two other guys did it and we ended up having a big dinner that night with the farmer and his two daughters.” But as much as his ability to speak the language of the natives put him in the rear with officers, it did not take Guarino out of danger entirely. “You try to be careful, but looking back, sometimes


May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

you just get lucky,” said Guarino. “The first day of combat, my company commander got shot right between the eyes right after I finished talking to him. We were going to take a hill and he gave me a prisoner to take back. I came back and he was dead. And after that, I was in a house with two guys that got bombed. It blew a huge hole in it. Sometimes, you just got to have luck.” That factor would play in Guarino’s favor quite often when he entered the battle. With the 34th, he took part in the First Battle of Monte Cassino, a brutal skirmish in which both sides sustained heavy losses. His outfit breached the Rapido River that had stopped many other Allied companies and marched towards the town before being stopped. Suffering losses as high as 80 percent, the entire 34th Infantry was awarded the The Presidential Citation for the legendary performance in battle. It would late take five allied infantry division to successfully accomplish the task of taking Monte Cassino, which was mostly obliterated by the end of the battle. Throughout the entire country, the scene was the same: Most of Italy’s famed culture and architecture was in ruins from the war. “Florence was completely bombed out when I was there. And across the country, every bridge was knocked out. If they didn’t knock it out, we did,” said Guarino, who visited Italy twice after the war. “Rome wasn’t touched at all though.” In June of 1944, his time on the battlefield came to an end when he was promoted to company clerk. Guarino had earned himself an office job with perks that included travels to some of Europe’s most prized resort areas: Italian Riviera, Switzerland and the French Riviera, the last of which he said is overrated. “If you had two cartons of cigarettes, you could stay a weekend anywhere,” he recalled. “It took five in France.” Guarino held that job until the Winter of 1945, when he was discharged and sent home. “December 12, 1945,” he added with a laugh.. “I remember it because one of my best cousins got married and I just got hime. I came in my uniform.” After the war, Guarino was awarded the Bronze Star in recognition for his efforts as an armed soldier servering as a translator in combat. He had a lengthy career as a manager at Sears in furniture. Guarino has resided in Clifton since 1992, and now lives with his wife of 11 years, Jane, in an apartment tower off of Allwood Rd.

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


CHARLES LEWIS Cool Under Fire By Joe Hawrylko


omposure is perhaps the most important trait one can have on the battlefield. A soldier must be stoic; when enemy gunfire rains down, decision making must be quick, and action, even quicker. There is no room for fear, empathy or any other emotions which cloud judgement. For medics, composure is flat out vital to the job—while others are headed into battle to engage the enemy, the combat medic is merely evading gunfire long enough to tend to the wounded. Charles Lewis has those nerves of steel and he’s got the Bronze Star to back it up. Twenty four years old when he earned the prestigious award in 1944 and all of 120 pounds, he was likely the smallest man on the battlefield on any given day. But Lewis was an exemplary soldier, willing to risk death to tend to a fallen brother.

Charles Lewis, a WWII Army Veteran, showcases his awards.

“I wasn’t married at the time, so I wasn’t as nervous,” said the



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Passaic native and the youngest of 11 children. “I got on that bus and


it took me to Fort Dix. I wasn’t scared. I take things as they come. If you get scared over there, you’d be in trouble.” Drafted in November of 1942, he expected to land in the Air Force due to his smallish stature. But in war time, soldiers are assigned based on need, not personal preference, and Uncle Sam decided that Lewis would was Army property. He was placed in the dental technician program and sent Camp Maxey in TX, where he became a member of the 102st Infantry, 407th Medical Detachment. After his training was complete, Lewis was transfered to Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio, TX for three months. There, he was a self-described‘bed pan commando’, tasked with the upkeep of the hospital, in addition to his dental duties. “We kept the camp clean,” recalled Lewis. “The job was so good. We kept on coming home

Charles Lewis with his grandchildren. Top row is Jason Gobee and Tracy Conaughton. In front is Robin Farris, Lewis and Tim Conaughton.

each night” In September of 1944, Lewis was deployed to the European Theater, where the Axis Powers were in disarray.

“When I came to Europe they were on the edge of Germany,” he recalled. Lewis landed in Cherbourg, France, and was moved inland by truck. The

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


Charles Lewis and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, in an undated photo. At right, Lewis during his service years.

Germans in retreat across much of Europe, but some straggling groups still roamed about the countryside. These small packets of resistance were harder to locate than a full regiment, which lead to surprise strikes. “The first attack we had, we were in the reserves on the Rhone River. And across from the river is a mountain and down at the bottom is an open field for reserves,” recalled Lewis. “They told us to dig in, so we dug holes deep enough to hide, and deep enough to stop a tank.” “We’re sitting in these holes and all the sudden I hear ‘medic, medic!’ I look up and I see that the Germans can see us atop the mountain and they’re firing,” he continued. In that instant, training kicked in and Lewis leapt out of his ditch, headed straight for his ailing com40

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

rades, dodging bullets and artillery fire along the way. “I ran over and the soldier has a hole in his face the size of a silver dollar and he’s not talking,” he explained. “His hand is hanging by a little cord, so I cut it, wrapped it and put it with him.” To this day, Lewis still does not know the fate of the man. He doesn’t even remember too many details from that first skirmish beyond that incident. The gravity of the situation didn’t even set in until several hours after the last bullet was fired. “I remember sitting by myself, shaking and crying,” recalled Lewis. “I remember an officer came over and said you got the Bronze Star for what you did in the tank ditch.”

Hours later, he was back on patrol searching for remaining Nazi outfits. “We would take a town and move on somewhere else,” he added. “I was in action for a week, maybe 11 days.” But in less than two weeks of action, Lewis experienced all of the terrors of war. “A man I knew, Fisher, a had a shell land in his hole and cut him right in half,” he stated. “There was nothing I could do. I told and officer and that was it.” It was his own brush with death that prematurely ended Lewis’ stint in battle. Allied troops were preparing for what seemed to be an uncontested river crossing. However, as the boats began to near the opposite shoreline, a hail of German artillery and machine gun fire rained down from high atop the hills. Further complicating the crossing were landmines which were submerged underwater and caught the first troops to hit the coast off guard. “They were shelling us. They saw us coming,” said Lewis. Once close enough to stand, he quickly jumped out of the boat. “One lands in front of me and then another and then I say to myself, ‘Hey, those two are in line with me so I better move.’ He quickly waded to the side, just narrowly avoiding the artillery shell that instantly killed a nearby soldier. A matter of feet from point of impact, Lewis was likely spared

because the bomb detonated in the water, dulling the explosion and limiting the damage done by shrapnel. A single piece of metal the size of a quarter was lodged in his calf, where it still rests today. “The kids behind me got it the worst,” he recalled. “It was like getting hit with a stick really hard. It didn’t hurt too bad, but it would have done more damage to take it out.” While recovering from his injuries that day, Lewis ran into an old friend from dental school, who helped him secure a new job in an office, taking him off of the front lines. Following the Germans surrendered, Lewis was stationed in the Bavarian Mountains near Switzerland to wait out the waning days of the war. “It was beautiful,” he recalled. “We were part of the occupying force. We had showers.” Lewis remained on that work detail until his discharge in October of 1945. After returning home, Lewis, along with his brothers Ernest and Arthur, went on to start their own business, Commercial Printers, which the family operated for more than 40 years—a majority of which were in Clifton— before selling the company in the early 1980s. Lewis was also active in the Clifton Civil Defense for over 30 years.

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Thank You hanks to your support, we will be on our bicycles May 9-12 and cycling 300 miles to Washington, D.C. to create awareness of police officers who have died in the line of duty and to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.


Cyclist Robert Bais Randy Colondres Richard DiBello Brian Fopma Tom Hawrylko John Kavakich David Kishbaugh Elena Siery Motor Escorts William Bais Robert Bielsten Darren Brodie Derek Fogg Support Team Alan Fiorela Rocco Locantore Michael McLaughlin

For more on the tour, visit For more on the Clifton PBA:


May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

u Clifton!

And to all of our contributors: The Altman Group Athenia Mason Barilla Pasta The Bike Path

(Formally Allwood Bicycles)

Bliss Lounge Board of Education: Teachers, Employees and Admin. Boys & Girls Club Fette Ford Gams Neil’s Pizza Paulison Ave. ShopRite Pub 46 ShopRite of Nutley Anthony Pacelli/ Titan Realty Group Vito’s Towing

And thank you to so many of our friends who put change in a bucket, purchased a raffle or made a contribution of any amount in helping us meet our fundraising goal. May 2011 • Clifton Merchant



May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

GEORGE BALKJY Memories from Europe By Joe Hawrylko

George Balkjy (front row, right) poses with some brothers in battle. Pictured with him is Joe Wood, Joe Sands, Joe “Bobo” Andria, Joe Coleogne and Tom Ortalano. The photo was taken at the ruins of St. Lo, France on Sept. 22, 1944.


ven now, more than 70 years after the fact, George Balkjy’s eyes still get wide when he recalls the thunderous roar of the hundreds of American bombers preparing to crossing the English Channel in preparation for D-Day. “I’ve never seen so many planes and ships in my life! “ said Balkjy. “Oh, there must have been 400-500 planes, flights of 100 at a time. Flight after flighter after flight for hours.” Most of the memories from World War II years, both the good and the bad, still evoke similar reaction to this day. Balkjy remembers growing up with the certainty that he’d be drafted. He waw the horrors of the Battle of the Bulge first hand. And he ended his military career with a stint in the beautiful country of Norway, an oasis in the war ravaged landscape of Europe.

At 86, Balkjy looks back on his life with a sense of awe. He’s a living link to the Greatest Generation, an era of people who braved some of the most turbulent times in America. “I remember at night, the car headlights,” said Balky, recalling the fear that gripped the country during the war years. “They would be half painted black to keep the lights down. People were afraid of getting bombed, I remember that. I think they caught two German spies not long before I left.” Balkjy was drafted by the Army in June of 1943 at the age of 18 after graduating from Paterson Central High the previous year. “I had worked in my father’s grocery store, the Stationary Market, in Paterson to that point,” said Balkjy, who opened the iconic Ace & George’s May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Market after his discharge. “I had friends who were already in, so I knew what to expect. I went by School 23, got on the bus and went to Newark.” At the armory, Balkjy underwent routine tests as he was processed by the military. He was set to join the infantry like most draftees before doctors discovered an ailment that would possibly spare his life. “I was taking an eye test and they asked me what number I saw in this bunch of colored circles,” recalled Balkjy. “I said,’What number?’ It turns out, I was colorblind.” The two friends from Paterson that he enlisted with, John Raad (the namesake of American Legion Post 438 in Paterson) and Joe Attara, became GIs and were killed in action shortly after entering the war. Balkjy was sent to Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Little Rock, AK for

Balkjy in an undated service photo.

training and was designated as a member of the 46th Field Hospital. From there, he was deployed to the European Theater in February of 1944, where the Allies were preparing for a massive assault to reclaim France, which would come to be known as the Invasion of Normandy. “They took us to this place called D-Day Hill, which was loaded with

tanks and firepower,” said Balkjy. “We knew we had to go over. It was just a matter of time.” For the next several months, the Allies would train and prepare for the invasion in secrecy. “I was homesick, but after a few months you get over it,” said Balkjy, who entered France through Normandy a few days after the June 6 invasion. In Europe, his role was a litter bearer, the name given to those tasked with receiving the wounded who came in on stretchers. Balkjy was also used to move heavy machinery and crates in the hospital, and administered needles and other simple remedies if the hospital was inundated with soldiers. Though he was well away from the fighting, the job required Balkjy to transport soldiers who were often gravely injured. “You get shook up but after a while it becomes

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


second nature,” he explained. That would be Balkjy’s role as the Allies marched across Europe, reclaiming many iconic cities that had fallen under Nazi rule. “We were about five miles behind the line until we got to Berlin,” said Balkjy. “We were supporting General [George] Patton’s Army. Europe was completely devastated, bombed out the whole way.” “Oh Christ. I remember being in Aachen and Cologne. I had never seen a city so devastated in my life,” he continued. “I mean wiped out, totally wiped out. Just piles of rubbish everywhere.” But before reaching Germany, Balkjy first had to survive the Battle of the Bulge, a failed offensive launched in surprise by the Nazis in December of 1944. “We would read the Stars & Stripes (the Army newspaper) to fig-


May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

ure out what was going on. The Stars & Stripes is how we knew we were in the Battle of the Bulge,” he said. Taking place in Belgium, severe winter storms prevented the Allies from utilizing air support. Though the Americans won the battle, it was costly, with some 19,000 US soldiers killed in action. “The weather was so bad the Air Force couldn’t come,” said Balkjy. “We were stuck there in the hospital. Then one day they told us to get on the highway and walk. There were no cars and no trucks. Some of our patients couldn’t walk, so one of the MDs stayed behind with them.” After the Allies defeated the Nazis at the Bulge, the march to Berlin continued. In the waning days of the war, Balkjy caught a glimpse of the legendary general of the Third Army. “We were told that Patton was coming through on the highway, so

we all went and lined up,” he recalled. “The first thing I saw was a Jeep with four stars on it and this real loud siren. Then come a big tank with Patton sticking out the top. And he’s sitting there like this,” said Balkjy, crossing his arms and flashing a stern look across his face. “And he’s got these two pearl pistols and a big white helmet. And he goes on by and we throw him a highball. He was showtime alright.” Just a few short weeks later, Hitler committed suicide and Germany surrendered. With the war over in Europe, Balkjy and the 46th Field Hospital were to care for Russian POWs, where he remained until his discharge in January of 1946. “It was the best time of my life,” laughed Balkjy. “Blue eyes, blonde hair and it was almost completely untouched by the war. I just remember saying, what the hell is this, paradise?”

BERNIE FICACCI Hanging Out in a Huey By Joe Hawrylko

ernie Ficacci was ahead of the curve when he snuck behind his parents back to get his enlistment papers signed in the Winter of 1961. “I started getting bored here so I went to Newark to go sign papers,” said Ficacci, 70. “I wanted to get it over with really.” Though the draft was in place, voluntary enlistment seemed like a relatively safe bet at the time. To those that even knew that Vietnam existed, the developments in the country seemed relatively minor. By the time Ficacci had signed his Army papers, President John F. Kennedy had already deployed some 10,000 troops as ‘advisors’ to the region. Ficacci’s basic and advanced infantry training at Fort Dix was normal. There, he learned how to man the massive miniguns attached to the sides of the Huey helicopter. However, when he was shipped to Hawaii to await deployment orders in 1962, it became apparent where he and the other recruits were preparing for. “I had to do jungle training and all kinds of prison camps. You go in case you get caught so you know what to expect,” he explained. “If you got caught, you’d end up getting hurt. They’d hang you from a tree.”


In Vietnam in 1962, Ficacci with another soldier named Conway.

However, Ficacci and the others took the training a little overboard at times. “I ended up getting stitches in my leg,” he laughed. “We were fooling around and in it went.” But despite that incident,

Ficacci’s days in Hawaii were fairly stress free; far more leisure than work, with off days spent on the beach. Naturally, like any young man with too much time on his hands, he found trouble. May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


Ficacci, who graduated Clifton High School in 1959, enjoying a little free time on the beachers of Hawaii in 1962.

The Army had organized war games, and Ficacci and a fellow soldier decided they had enough and wanted to go home. “We ended up changing armbands and taking a tank,”

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

2001 1991 1981 1971 1961 1951 1941

he said. “My buddy started driving. He was doing pretty good... right until he hit a Volkswagen. It was a bunch of girls from Hawaii University driving through the pineapple fields.” Perhaps due to the fact that a stray tank hitting a car isn’t something likely to be believed, Ficacci and his friend made it safely back to camp without any problems. However, Ficacci was growing bored with life in Hawaii. Deployment was inevitable, so he volunteered to get shipped out to Vietnam in 1963, around the time that President Lyndon B. Johnson

was expanding the war. Ficacci landed in Saigon at Tan Son Nhut Air Base on a 90 day Temporary Deployment with the 25th Infantry, tasked with training South Vietnamese soldiers and running patrols. “I showed the South Vietnamese how to get in and out of the chopper,” he said. “We tried to teach them how to fight but they’d always run.” And though he was not walking in the notoriously dangerous jungles, there are plenty of risks when hanging halfway out the door of a moving helicopter. “One golden BB, that’s all it took,” he said. “I was a crazy guy, but I’d get shakes after I’d come back from missions. But when you’re out there, you don’t think, you keep shooting. I had a pilot who always said, ‘You do the shooting, I’ll get you home.’ Ficacci was sent back to Hawaii when his TDY concluded at the end of 1963. He served on the competitive Army Rifle Team until his discharge in 1964. “I was spit at when I came home from Oakland to Newark,” recalled Ficacci. “They called me baby killer, mother killer. You couldn’t do anything because the MPs were there and you’d get in trouble. When you had your uniform on, you had to have respect for everyone.” Even after all of his experiences in Vietnam, it’s the treatment of those returning veterans that bothers him most. “I lost 56,000 brothers there, ”he said.

CLIFTON POWS Remembering Those Incarcerated During WWII By Rich Delotto


or over six months, a book entitled Unbroken has been on the best seller list. It is the story of a WWII aviator who bailed out of his B-24 bomber over the Pacific and began a two and a half year journey of survival, mistreatment, torture and eventually, liberation. What he endured is beyond description. The fact that he lived to tell his story is a miracle. What that man did what his life after the war is another miracle waiting to be read. That man’s name is Louis Zamperini, alive and well at the age of 94, now living in California. During WWII, at least 49 men from Clifton were forced to surrender and became POWs to the Axis powers. Two of them never returned from incarceration: Army PFC Joe Carboy, 52 Gould St., was wounded in

Harry Alexander

39 Byron Pl.

Joseph Avato

127 Warren St.

Charles Bayer

37 Ann St.

the Philippines on Jan. 6, 1942. He returned to duty but was taken prisoner that May. He later died in captivity. Army Sgt. Charles Hooyman Jr., 18 Union Ave., was reported captured on Bataan, survived the Bataan Death March and was taken to a prison camp in the Phillipines. After the war, fellow POWs reported that Hooyman was executed by Japanese guards. This Memorial Day, take a moment to remember the millions of servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Leo Durkin

272 E. 1st St.

Harry Pollack

178 Ackerman Ave.

Abner Fleisher

815 Valley Rd.

James Prehart

654 Lexington Ave.

Raymond Foster

31 Hamilton Ave.

George Ralph

123 Oak St.

63 Center St.

Louis Salerno

4 Althea St.

Daniel Barna

32 Mahar Ave.

Michael Franke

Theodore Becker

89 Speer Ave.

Joseph Friedman

60 Hadley Ave.

Russell Reed

84 McCosh Rd.

Joseph Blasczyk

100 Highland Ave.

Charles Gebauer

36 E. 7th St.

Arnold Rubin

3 Madison Ave.

Andrew Bodi

285 Lakeview Ave.

John Kmetz

223 E. 6th St.

Donald Sang

31 Madeline Ave.

Joseph Bush

13 Fenner Ave.

Peter Kowal

106 Monhegan St.

250 Hamilton Ave.

Fred Maden

110 Market St.

Edward Calderaro Patrick Commincioto

30 Marconi St.

Stanley Manista

Ignatius Corrao

286 W. 3rd St.

Roger Marlin

Peter Daniels Robert DeGhetto Nicholas Demchak John Derling Curt Doescher

106 DeMott Ave.

Emil Mason

21 Piaget Ave.

Charles Maurer

30 Arthur St.

Robert Mabey

92 Fenner Ave. 22 Broad St.

Raymond Schmidlin

871 Valley Rd.

Saul Schwartz

408 S. Parkway

51 Major St.

Joseph Taverna

46 Summit Ave.

253 W. 2nd St.

Frank Tiedeman

336 W. 2nd St.

106 Monhegan St. 90 E. 9th St. 121 Madison Ave.

Steve Olesak

232 E. 6th St.

Alexander Pasko

18 Milosh St.

Lawerence Tumminello

38 Arthur St.

George Van Brook Hoven

17 Huron St.

Lawerence Van Liere Joseph Wade

535 Lexington Ave. 38 Valley Rd.

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant



By Irene Jarosewich


eep in the soul of every parent lies the paralyzing fear that something bad, really bad, can happen to their child - something out-of-control, something that cannot be fixed, something that will cause pain forever. And, for a few parents, despite all their best efforts, despite their best intentions, despite all their love and care, this terrifying realization that something bad, really bad, can happen one day comes true. With poignant emotion, Dennis Benigno still recalls the moment in 1984 when he received a call from Clifton police to his office at Hoffman-LaRoche. His son Dennis John, 15, had been hit by a car. It was 3:20 in the afternoon of August 22 and Dennis John, walking home from a football physical, was hit by a car that swerved to avoid hitting another person. His son flew into the air and upon landing, hit his head on the rock-hard road. “Six months earlier,” said Benigno in a tone still tinged with disbelief, “I saw a colleague of mine at work and in his eyes was a look of deep distress. His son had been injured in a construction accident; for several days had been lying unconscious. I had asked him, ‘John, I don’t know how you do it 52

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Mom Rosalind with Dennis Benigno in a recent photo.

– how do you get through it when your kid is hurt that bad?’ Can you believe that? I asked him that. Then I got the call about Dennis. Then I knew how John did it.” Dennis John, now 42, cannot communicate, but his parents, Dennis and Rosalind Benigno, think that he understands some things. He has severe Traumatic

Brain Injury (TBI) and is in a minimally conscious state. Lying in a raised hospital bed on the first floor of the Benigno’s Hazel Street home, he seems aware, although not clear to what extent. At times, says Rosalind, he can move his right arm slightly. Dennis John is in excellent health, with clear pale skin and dark eyes that look out

onto his immediate world. The Benignos take some comfort from the knowledge that their dedication to their son’s care, with the assistance of nurses, means that Dennis John is not in any pain. “The worst thing” said Benigno, with sadness clearly in his voice, “is to come down the stairs every morning and see my son alive, but not able to live – it kills me – it kills me that I can’t help my kid more.” After the accident, Dennis John spent several months in a hospital, then in rehabilitation, and when it became clear that nothing more could be done, the Benignos brought their son home.



You just cannot plan for something like this, say the Benignos, you just can never be ready. Financially, Dennis John is still covered under a catastrophic injury

“When we realized that right now there is very little more that we could do for our son other than keep him healthy and comfortable, we didn't want to stop there. Brain injury victims cannot speak. We wanted to speak for him. insurance mandate that was in effect in 1984, so he will get medical attention for the rest of his life. However, in 1990, that mandate was repealed by the New Jersey state legislature in agreement with insurance companies and coverage was capped at $250,000 for life. “Two hundred fifty thousand!” snorts Benigno with irritation, "That’s nothing! That’s one month in the hospital for an injury like this.” Dennis and Rosalind, who married in 1964, both grew up in

Garfield. Their first-born is daughter Kim Anne, who now lives in Oakland, New Jersey with husband Bill Lyons and twin eight-year-old boys, Ethan and Jack. The Benigno’s second child, Dennis John, was born in 1969. “We’ve always been a close family,” said Rosalind, “Kim is dedicated to her brother, as is her husband. The boys love their uncle. We could not have done it, come this far, without one another. When I saw my son lying there in

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


the hospital, I just looked at him and said ‘God, he is now in Your hands.’ It is our family, our friends, our faith that gave us the strength to come this far.” The Benignos soon realized that their son would not get better, that they had reached the limit of what current medical and rehabilitative treatment could provide. They decided to take their newfound knowledge about brain trauma and work to expand brain injury research with the goal of finding a cure. The Benignos were a bit stunned by how little expectation there was about ever finding a cure for TBI, even among knowledgeable health professionals, as well as the miniscule sums being given to fund research about repairing traumatic brain injuries. Injured brain can be repaired; brain cells and brain tissue are capable of regeneration. The inside

of the skull is a rough, boney, surface. When the brain, a soft, fluidfilled sac of tissue abruptly collides with the scaly, rough surface of the inner skull, the result of a fall or accident or collision, brain cells and tissues are damaged and die. However, with the advances of science, various avenues of research are exploring different ways that cells can be regenerated and repaired. Major advances have been made in the regeneration of liver cells, for example, but funding for brain trauma research has been given a low priority. Brain injuries are one of the most common injuries in the United States. Currently, in all age groups, an estimated 5.5 million people in the United States are disabled from TBI; of these, 3.2 million have suffered severe and permanently debilitating consequences from their brain trauma.

According to Center for Diseases Control, traumatic brain injury is more prevalent than many other well-known health disorders – more than prostate cancer (250,000 diagnosed cases annually) or epilepsy (2 million Americans) or muscular dystrophy (several thousand cases nationwide). A brain injury can be relatively mild, such as a concussion; sometimes the injury can be fatal. However, millions live in the middle with moderate to severe brain trauma, alive, but not able to function fully. The primary source of brain injuries is motor vehicle accidents, but TBI also can be caused by bicycle accidents; motorcycle accidents, seniors falling, slippage on snow and ice, sports injuries such as from football, soccer, skiing, snowboarding, fights and brawls, even gunshot wounds to the head. A brain injury can happen to any-

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Dennis sr. and Rosalind with Dennis, daughter Kim and her husband Bill Lyons with Ethan and Jack.

one, anytime, anyplace – throwing a family’s life into a tailspin. Since the primary source of brain injuries is motor vehicle accidents, everyone is vulnerable. According to federal government statistics, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability among young Americans under 30. Last year, approximately 1.5 million people sustained a traumatic brain injury; of those, 1.1 million were treated in a hospital and released; 235,000 required longerterm hospitalization; 50,000 died. The national cost of TBI is estimated to be $60 billion annually. TBI has been named the signa-

ture wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with an estimated 360,000 brain-injured men and women having returned from these conflicts. Due to the nature and unpredictability of the severe disabilities associated with brain injury, many victims live out their lives institutionalized without hope of improvement. And because of the national prevalence of brain trauma victims, experts refer to TBI as the "silent epidemic”. The Benignos attribute general low awareness in part to a fundamental misconception between injury and disease. A brain injury is

different from diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s or brain cancer. People cannot comprehend fixing the brain – but it can be done. It can be repaired. Stem cell technology, genetic research, nerve cell rejuvenation are all avenues of research to pursue. Rosalind also believes that another reason that finding ways to repair traumatic brain injuries receives such low priority is because victims cannot speak and, therefore, there are no high profile people to publicize the problem - such as Christopher Reeve for spinal cord injuries or Jerry Lewis for muscular dystrophy – no one to promote May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


awareness. In turn, the families of TBI victims are so overwhelmed with caring for the injured, or so consumed with guilt when a victim needs to be institutionalized that their feeling of hopelessness leaves them gripped in silence. So the Benignos began their mission.


New Jersey is the first state, said Benigno, to provide a continuous source of money to state facilities to fund brain injury research. For years, Benigno spearheaded an effort to establish the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research, which has an interesting funding source: a one dollar surcharge is added to all New Jersey motor vehicle traffic violations, which is then funneled into brain injury research. The struggle was a long one, but finally the Brain Injury Research Act was approved in Trenton. On January 3, 2004, then Governor Jim McGreevy came to the Beningo home for a public signing. “It was a great day,” said Benigno, “and as a result of the Act, now more than 3.5-4 million dollars each year go to New Jersey research facilities such as Robert Woods Johnson or UMDNJ specifically targeted for research on brain injury repair. For the first five years, starting in 2005, I was the Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission, now I am a volunteer commissioner. People from other states come to New Jersey to see how we did it.” Besides working on the state level, Benigno worked with New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell to 56

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Dennis Benigno in 1984.

convince Congress to focus on the problem, as well. With the urging of Benigno, Pascrell pushed to establish a Congressional Brain Injury Task Force in 2001, which he now co-chairs. In the past few years, the profile of the task force has risen considerably due to hearings held about the dramatic increase in brain injuries among returning combat veterans. Benigno hopes that research and experience garnered in military hospitals from these tragedies will spill over soon into civilian research. Besides working with state and national officials, the Benignos have established a private foundation – The Coalition for Brain Injury Research – a not for profit 501(c)3 that does public awareness and fundraising events to raise money for research grants dispersed annually to selected applicants from throughout the United States. Recent recipients include the University of Texas and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Ten years ago,” said Benigno, “research on how to repair the brain was not even a blip on the screen. But look at cancer research 40 years ago, we’ve made tremendous advances in cancer treatment since then. Brain injury is still on the bottom rung of the funding ladder, but at least we’re on the ladder. There have tremendous advances in neuroscience in the past decade alone.” Dennis, an architect by profession, is retired now, although still does work occasionally for private clients. He continues to devote most of his time to the foundation and increasing public awareness about TBI. “When we realized that right now there is very little more that we could do for our son,” he said, “other than keep him healthy and comfortable, we didn't want to stop there. Brain injury victims cannot speak. We wanted to speak for him. We do not want others to feel as overwhelmed as we did and for the situation for brain injury victims to always be hopeless. Maybe research into brain injury repair will not provide results quickly enough to help our son. But we do this so that in the future, others can have hope." On June 10, the Coalition for Brain Injury Research is sponsoring its annual beefsteak dinner at 6:30 pm at the Clifton Athenia Veterans Hall, 147 Huron Ave. Comedy entertainment, a silent auction and 50/50 raffles are planned. Tickets are $45 and proceeds will benefit the search for a brain injury cure. For ticket information, call Dennis Benigno at 973-632-2066. For more details on the programs of the Coalition, go to

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Dave the Mentor Mustang receives Clifton Optimist Friend of Youth Award By Joe Hawrylko


or 14 years, Clifton’s Dave Szott made a living in the trenches of the NFL, spending a bulk of his career with the Kansas City Chiefs and later making stops with the Washington Redskins and New York Jets. He’s been named to All-Pro teams and achieved life goals he made decades ago as a child.

But despite his success on the field, it’s what he’s done off of it that he finds most rewarding. Though his official title with the Jets is Director of Personnel, one might consider Szott to be a professional mentor. His role is to assist New York Jets players in any off the field matters: financial advice, completing a

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degree and life in general. It’s a position that perfectly suits his skills. Szott had many role models in athletics while growing up in Clifton, and since his playing days, has been highly active in many different charities. “I have a great deal of pride in Clifton,” said the 1986 CHS graduate. “Many great men came out of Clifton football: Jack Purcell (a long time youth coach), Steve LaPage, the high school wrestling coach. There was a good core of guys that wrestled and played football through high school: The Monaco brothers, Steve Pulion, Rich Cinoa, Brian Smith, myself. We won counties all four years. It was a great era in Clifton. The city had such a great mix of diversity and ethnicities.” The experiences he had as a young boy growing up in Clifton influenced Szott to enact positive change no mat-

gr S P

at go P

Fighting Mustang Dave Szott was an anchor on the offensive line. Facing page, Szott with his boys Shane and Josh.

ter where life takes him. “It really is a privilege,” he said. “I feel the game has given me so much. God has given me a platform,” said Szott. “The popularity

of the game allows me to talk about subjects that are near and dear to my heart.” Faith and charity work have been intertwined since Szott

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From left, dad Ed., mom Kay and his grandmother in his early pro football days. He and his wife Andrea, also a CHS grad.

was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1990. “In Kansas City, I fought as a 7th round pick and made the team,” he recalled. “I remember standing there on Arrowhead Stadium with


May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

70,000 ravenous, screaming fans and realizing I had accomplished all of my life goals. That’s when I really started to search.” Seeing other rookies consumed by self-indulgence and greed

inspired Szott to look for guidance from a higher power. “I needed more depth and understanding of my faith,” he explained. Szott was a parishioner at St. Andrews as a child. “I ended up

gravitating to a more fundamental type church.” His renewal of faith also gave way towards a sense of charity. Shortly after making the team, Chiefs management approached Szott about helping various groups in the community. “There’s a scripture that reads, ‘Feed the widows, father the fatherless,” recalled Szott, who has been affiliated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes since his days as a Chief. He also was motivated due to family ties. “I have an older brother who is visually impaired,” Szott said of his brother, Kevin, who is five years older and suffers from Rentinitis Pigmatosa. These two factors paved the way for the Cliftonite’s involvement with two large charitable organizations: Szotts for Tots and the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired. Szott’s already sizable activity in charitable organizations increased when his son, Shane, was born in 1995 and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy a few months later. Unfortunately, as Shane grew older, he required more specialized care that wasn’t available in Kansas City. In 2001, Szott requested a trade so that he could find a team closer to an appropriate treatment center. “As much as I loved Kansas City, I did what was

best for my family,” said Szott, who landed in Washington playing for the Redskins. His fami-

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


ly moved back to New Jersey, and Szott would take a train down to Washington, D.C. each week, saying with the team for five days at a time before returning home. “It was a very tough decision, walking away from something that you had worked for your whole career,” he added. “I never envisioned leaving there. I had spent my whole career there.” After a year with the Redskins, Szott signed with the New York Jets, where he played until his retirement at the end of the 2003 season. However, the Cliftonite stayed with Jets organization, working his way up from offensive line coach to his current role as director of personnel, something he explained as being an H&R director for football. “What I’m doing now I did as a player,” said Szott. “Whenever I would see a young man in need, I’d pull him aside and he can’t take that advise or not and I respect that.” And despite being retired as a player, Szott still uses his name to generate awareness for numerous causes. Szott is also on the Board at the Children’s Learning Center in Wyckoff, where he assists with fundraising. He is on the Board of the Matheny Medical and Educational Center, which is Shane’s school in Peapack. His wife, Andrea, is on the Friends of the


May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Matheny Medical and Educational Center Board. Szott is advisor and coach for his younger son’s football team, the Morristown Wildcats. Last year, the squad played a scrimmage against the Clifton Junior Mustangs, led by Szott’s good pal Joe Gaccione at Albion Park. “We also have camp here [the Jets’ training facility in Florham Park] in the Spring and I get some of the Jets players to help out,” he added. “My dad and Jack Purcell (who coached Szott in youth football) flew to Kansas City. I took them fishing to thank them,” said Szott. “I had the best role models for parents. My mother was on the Board of Education in Clifton. Education was stressed,” said Szott, who earned a degree in political science from Penn State in 1996. He took courses in the offseason to complete his studies. “I watched my parents support Kevin for years, and it helped relieve some of my anxieties when I had a son of my own who was disabled.” “The life lessons you learn there—preparation, teamwork, dedication. Seeing planning all come together,” he said, “Jack’s got buddies that still call him up.” “Faith, family, football: those are the three ‘Fs’ in my life,” he said. “I like to keep it simple. If I get more of anything else, the plate is too full.”

Clifton Optimist Awards

Sgt. Billy Gibson will receive the Judge Joseph J. Salerno Respect for Law Award from the Clifton Optimist Club. He is one of four recipients to be feted at the 2011 Awards Dinner which is on May 22 at the Clifton Recreation Center, 1232 Main Ave. Other recipients include former NFLer and 1986 CHS grad, gridiron legend Dave Szott. He will receive the Club’s highest honor, the 2011 Friend of Youth Award. Jack Whiting will receive the Community Service Award and former Councilwoman Gloria Kolodziej will be honored for her Lifetime Achievement. Tickets are $35. For more information, call Optimist Club members Tom Hawrylko at 973253-4400 or Ted Munley at 973-473-2200 x112.

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CLIFTON Events… Allwood Community Church, at the corner of Merrill and Chelsea Rds., holds its annual fish and chips dinner on June 4 from 5:30 to 7 pm. The event will be catered by Tastefully British. Tickets are $12, or $10 for children under 10. Call 973-471-8019 or 973-777-6360. The Ladies Auxiliary of the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton hosts its 4th Annual Tricky Tray on May 6 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $15 and include one sheet, dessert and coffee. Call 973-773-2697 ext. 43.

Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Church at 635 Broad St. has a Flea Market on May 7. Free admission and there’ll be a Ukrainian kitchen. Over 40 vendors will be selling new and used wares. Info, call 973-575-8355. St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School is presenting a four day carnival on May 5 to 8 on the grounds of the school and parish, which is on President St. in Passaic. There will be rides and games, as well as food and beverages. Call 973-779-0249

US Armed Service Veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart, Navy Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Medal of Honor should contact Tom Miller of Passaic County Veterans Services regarding May events to honor vets. Call 973-569-4090. The CHS Class of 1956 will hold its 55th year reunion on Sept. 23, at the Cucina Calandra in Fairfield. For details on the event or to provide leads to classmates, contact Judi Zagaya Den Herder at 973-779-

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6923 or or Terry Guarrera Gloede at 973-7735910 or via The CHS classes of 1970 through 1974 host a reunion on Nov. 4 at the Parsippany Hilton from 7 pm to midnight. Cocktail hour, buffet dinner and desert, a four hour open bar and entertainment are $99; more details at These classes will also hold a mini reunion on May 7 at 7 pm at the Grande Saloon. Contact Bill Geiger at or call him at 973-557-3613. CCMS 6th Annual Locks of Love Cutathon is May 16 at Christopher Columbus Middle School. Anyone with at least 10 inches of hair can have their hair cut at no charge by stylists from Salon Ilona. Contact Kim Dreher at 973-769-0500 or via email Downtown Clifton’s Street Fair is May 14, 10 am to 5 pm, rain or shine along Main Ave. between Washington and Hadley Aves. There will be music, dancing, live

entertainment, food, arts and crafts vendors, street performers and activities for children. For info or sponsorship opportunities, call 973-253-1455. Vendors call JC Promotions at 201-998-1144. CHS Class of 1960 is hosting their first rain or shine Picnic Under the Big Tent on June 4 from 9 am to 7 pm at Tomahawk Lake Water Park, Sparta. The $36 fee covers all you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as birch beer, lemonade and beer. There is a $15 additional fee to use water slides. RSVP by May 7 to help organizers plan the event. For details, call Kathy (Ploch) Mack at 973-9893911 or email Nancy Lewis Zink at

1,325 American flags will be displayed on the campus of city hall on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. The idea is to honor a veteran for their time in service and to remember them in perpetuity and the job is completed all by volunteers, who do year round maintenance. Other days for the display are Flag Day, June 14, Independence Day, July 4, Patriots Day, Sept, 11 and Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. Volunteers are needed to put up and take down the flags. To honor a living or deceased veteran, purchase a flag for $100, which includes a name plate, and a ground socket. The vet’s name, branch of service and the donor’s name will be placed in the registry book. For info, call 973-519-0858.

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he Hot Grill opened on Oct. 13, 1961 on Lexington Ave., on the site of Gabe’s Drive Inn, an old ice cream and hot dog stand. The owner—the colorful Gabe Maroon— hoped to convert the land into an used car lot but could not secure the permits so he reluctantly opened a hot dog stand. Soon he sold it to four partners—two Italians, current owners Dominic Sportelli and Carmen La Mendola—pictured below, and two Greeks, Nick Doris and Peter Leonidas, both now deceased. “It was Friday the 13th,” Sportelli said of the opening five decades ago, when the landmark was nothing more than a dusty roadside stand with a few stools. “People thought we were crazy but we became a New Jersey icon, home to the best Hot Texas Wieners.” Two decades ago, folklorist from The Library of Congress American Memory Oral History project came to the region to determine what puts the Texas in the Hot Texas Wiener. Researchers traced the origins back to a Greek hot dog vendor in Paterson in the 1920’s. And then the writers and photographers of the Working in Paterson Folklife Project, followed their story to Clifton and onto Lexington Ave. They cited the Hot Grill as the most authentic of the Paterson region’s Hot Texas Wiener restaurants. So what makes a Hot Grill dog the best? Consistency, hard work, excellent service and secret ingredients, said Sportelli. The hot dogs are made especially for them, with a blend of beef, pork and spices. Then, of course, they are deep-fried in vegetable oil. But the signature flavor is the Hot Texas sauce—some say the Hot Grill chili resembles Greek spaghetti sauce more than anything cooked up in Clifton, Paterson or the Lone Star state. Dogs are ordered two-all-the-way, two!... which means they are covered with mustard, onions which are diced extra small and heaped high and topped with sauce that has character, but is not terribly hot. The same way it has been served since they opened. Since 1961, the Hot Grill has fed generations of Cliftonites, serving 4,000 or more Hot Texas Wieners on a Saturday and as much as 100 gallons of sauce. The owners have remodeled twice—once in 1967, adding booths and stools for 60 and a more recent expansion which can seat over 150 people. “Our staff and service are excellent. That means your food is served hot and fresh,” Sportelli concluded. “When you come to Hot Grill, expect everything to be the same.”

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


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CLIFTON Events… Clifton Police Detective Tom Campbell in 2001 was diagnosed with a rare disease called Autoimmune hepatitis, which causes irreversible damage to the liver and surrounding organs. Although it did impose some limitations, Campbell was able to keep the disease under control with medications. He could work and he and his wife Pat could attend to their kids. But last summer, his disease became advanced and impacted his daily life. His liver was no longer functioning and the medications that kept him going for the last several years had damaged his kidneys. He began bleeding internally and had to undergo several extended hospital stays throughout the fall and winter months. “Since his disease worsened, Tom has needed nearly 60 blood transfusions,” said his friend, Det. Robert Bracken. “Being an extremely conscientious employee, Tom did his best to stay on the job but he reached a point when his level of fatigue was too much to bear.”

Campbell has been at home for the past two months awaiting a liver and kidney transplant. A double transplant is extremely costly and will create many out of pocket expenses for Tom and his wife and their two kids. “Transplant procedures are unique in that they incur costs for both the recipient and the donor,” added Bracken. To help defray costs, he and Det. Carmen Bermudez have organized a beefsteak fundraiser on June 17 at 6:30 pm at the Boys & Girls Club. Tickets are $45. To attend, donate or help out, call Bracken at 973‐460‐4255 or Bermudez 973‐296‐4713.

You’re a Neighbor, Not a Number.

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


ay de r w n U ow rk n i s N o r i a l Pa o s a e m O u r S a i n Me M at

Clifton Girls Little League Softball would like to thank its sponsors for all of your help in getting us up and running! Little Genius Academy Moe’s Southwest Grill Gam’s Auto Service Clifton Rotary Club Mario’s Restaurant Deluxe Cleaners

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

CLIFTON Events… The Garden State Opera presents a concert of operatic highlights at the YM/YWHA, 199 Scoles Ave., Clifton, on May 23 at noon. The artists are soprano Laura Mitchell and tenor Kevin Peters accompanied at the piano by Wei-En Hsu. Tickets are $10, and $5 for seniors and students. Call 973-928-1774 or The Clifton Arts Center & Sculpture Park presents “Visions” an exhibit and sale of artwork by the student artists of Clifton High School. The gallery is open Wed. to Sun., 1 to 4 pm and Visions is displayed through May 28. The Center is also seeking submissions in any medium that evokes the theme of The Practice of Art: Physicians as Artists for a group exhibition in Nov. This show is open to all MD doctors, who are researchers, practicing physicians, surgeons or dentists, and are working in the United States and who

CHS Senior Kelly Yoo is among the students who have their work on display at the Clifton Arts Center.

The Theater League of Clifton, in cooperation with ATC Studios, present Narnia, The Musical, based on C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Show dates are May 20-29 at School 3 on Washington Ave. Cast, seated from left: Gabe Green, Faith Bates, Alyssa McGraw and Gregory Gwyn with Brandon Essig, Sarah Robertson, Michael Marotta, Kevin Ohlweiler and Mike Sunbury standing. For tickets, go to or call 973-928-7668.

submit for the above theme. There is a limit of five submissions per artist. Deadline is June 10. Questions to The Clifton Arts Center is at 900 Clifton Ave., on the city hall campus. Admission is $3. For hours/info: The Clifton Community Band’s 10th Annual Lollipops & Roses Intergenerational Concert is on May 22 at 2 pm in the CHS Auditorium. This special anniversary edition will include favorites from the last decade of Lollipops & Roses concerts. Admission is $7, children under 12 are free. Proceeds benefit the Clifton Education Foundation and the

Clifton Community Band. Tickets at the door or in advance by calling 973-777-1781 or writing PCCHC—the Passaic County Cultural and Heritage Council at Passaic County Community College announced the availability of grants. Non-profit organizations that have arts and cultural projects planned for Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2012 should apply. The deadline is July 14. PCCHC has free grant workshops to assist in preparing grant applications. They will be held on June 1 in Paterson and Hawthorne and June 2 in Wanaque. Call 973-684-6507 or go to May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


CLIFTON Events… St. Peter’s Episcopal Church hosts Market Fair, a Saturday sale of collectables, is on May 7 and 14, from 8 am to 4 pm. Free admission and there still is room for vendors. Tables are $25 or $30 Items on sale cover a wide variety of materials. For info, call 973-886-5105 or via email at St. Peter’s is at 380 Clifton Ave. and is an all inclusive Episcopal Church supporting many initiatives. including the city’s food bank and homeless shelter, St. Peter’s Haven. The Geraci Citizen League held their annual St. Joseph’s Dinner Dance at the Brownstone on March 19. The tradition goes back to the 1930’s and the menu included pasta with sardine and finocchi and one orange and a delicious St. Joseph’s zeppola. “Italian people really care about coming together,” said Chair Nina Corradino. “They care about tradition and they came from west and east and north and south, and together, we made a special day.” Honorary Chair of the Geraci League St. Joseph’s Day Feast Michael Corradino with Chair Nina Corradino.

St. John Lutheran Church hosts a Spring Fashion Show by Dress Barn on May 14 at 1 pm. Hosted by the Ladies of WELCA, a table of delicious Viennese desserts will be included as well as prizes. Tickets are $7, call 973-779-1166 for reservations. The Church is at 140 Lexington Ave., Passaic. The Knight of Columbus present the Army Tank Pull on June 26 from 8 am to 4 pm at Eddie Mayo Park, 1100 Clifton Ave. Teams of 20 are tasked with raising funds and a test of strength. Deadline for team entry and fundraising is June 7. Proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and Veterans and various Knights charities. For more info, call 973-472-0061 or visit At left, the Clifton Arts Center, in association with Tomahawk Promotions has published The Many Faces of Passaic County 2011. The full color 32 page tabloid celebrates the artists and arts of the 16 communities of our county. The project, funded by the Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council, also celebrates the 10 years of service of the Clifton Arts Center. Get a free copy at the CAC or at Tomahawk Promotions, 1288 Main Ave. 70

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Thirty-one swimmers from the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton’s Seahawks Swim Team competed in the Nationals Swimming Championship in St. Petersburg, Florida from April 8-10 and won 3rd place. Call 973-773-2697, ext 31 for details.

The 10th Annual Passaic Clifton Unico National Fundraiser is on May 15 from 6 pm to 3 am at Bliss Lounge, 955 Allwood Rd. Advance tickets are $10 or $12 at the door. Total net door and bar proceeds and 50/50s to benefit the Unico Italian American Scholarship Fund, Clifton Junior Mustang Football, CHS Project Graduation and the Clifton Stallions Soccer. Music by Brookwood, Swingman and the Misfit-Mutts Band, Rubber Souls, Who Knew? and The El Supremo. For tickets, call 973-773-2110 or go to St. Andrew’s the Apostle School Community Gala on May 5 honored Sheriff Richard and Monica Berdnik with the Family Faith Award; Clifton Arts Center Director Roxanne Cammilleri with the Gloria J. Kolodziej Community Enhancement Award and Police Chief Gary F. Giardina with the Mayor James Anzaldi Service Award.

Bob Foster, Executive Director of the Clifton Boy's & Girl’s Club, accepts a $2,000 check from Passaic-Clifton UNICO member and Bliss Lounge owner, Joe Barcellona. The money was raised at the chapter's April 3rd fundraiser at Bliss. Also pictured is Chapter President Dave D'Arco.

The Red Hat Angels, a team from the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Clifton, hosts a garage sale on May 13 and 14 at 119 Huron Ave. from 9 am to 4 pm. Proceeds will support the team’s goal of raising $20,000 in the 2011 Relay for Life Clifton, which is June 4 and 5.

For more on American Cancer Society programs or activities, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit To learn more about the Relay For Life of Clifton, joining or starting a team, ongoing fundraisers and other events, visit May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


By Carol Leonard



May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

hen Maryann Cornett stepped in nine years ago to chair the Project Graduation committee at Clifton High School, little did she know that two years after her youngest of three children graduated from CHS, she would still be heading up the event. Project Graduation is a nationwide program organized through the efforts of parent and community groups to provide high school kids with an adult supervised drug- and alcohol-free graduation night celebration. The program has been offered through the PTSA (Parents, Teachers and Students Association) at CHS for more than 15 years. Cornett said she really didn’t know what Project Graduation was all about when her older daughter was a freshman at CHS, but she knew that she wanted to get involved. That first year, she helped with the Prom Fashion Show, a CHS tradition and one of the major fundraisers. She also served for the first time as a chaperone for the Project Graduation party. “My mother didn’t get involved when I was going to school, but I really wanted to help out,” she said. “I always enjoyed knowing what my kids were doing and being around other people.” The West Paterson native holds a degree in nursing from Felician College and worked in the neonatal intensive care unit of United Hospitals in Newark before becomMaryann Cornett with her son Joe, who graduated CHS in 2009.

the dangers of underage drinking Cornett recalled her own scary ing a stay at home mom for many and she would never let any of her experience on the night of her gradyears to Nicole, Jessica and Joseph. teenage children serve alcohol when uation from college, when she was in She and her husband, Joe, moved to having friends over to their home. a car driven by her friend after the Clifton 29 years ago. For the past nine years the PTSA two had attended several parties. After her first year as a chaperone has hosted Project at Project Graduation, Graduation at Fun Plex Cornett was very in East Hanover. Prior to impressed with the that, the event was held event, so she became “I really do believe in Project Graduation. for a number of years at a little more involved “It’s a night when they kids can get into the Great Gorge Resort each year. The only a lot of trouble and this provides them and at the West Essex year that she didn’t Spa & Country Club. serve as a chaperone with a fun alternative.” The graduation night was when she accomcelebration begins in the panied her older parking lot at CHS, where the new “We were on Rifle Camp Road daughter and the Mustang Band on a graduates assemble at about 10 pm and I noticed that she was falling trip to England. to board buses to take them to the allasleep at the wheel,” Cornett said. “I “I really do believe in Project night party. Chaperones check the had to wake her up or she would Graduation,” she said. “It’s a night students’ bags to make sure that no have ended up driving us into the when they kids can get into a lot of alcoholic beverages or drugs are side of the mountain.” trouble and this provides them with a brought onto the buses. Cornett feels very strongly about fun alternative.”

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


“The bus ride up is the best,” Cornett said. “The kids are so excited and noisy the whole way up there.” Clifton Police lead the way and accompany the caravan of 12-13 buses full of more than 400 graduates and over 40 chaperones each year out of the parking lot and all the way into Wayne before dropping back and returning to Clifton. When the students and chaperones arrive, they are greeted by Fun Plex staff and welcomed into the complex. “They really do a nice job of decorating with balloon arches in our school colors,” Cornett said. “There’s all kinds of food served from the moment they walk into the place, and soda and water machines are available for the kids to get whatever they want to drink. They also serve breakfast in the morning before we leave.” The facilities include an outdoor pool, basketball and volleyball courts, go carts, bumper cars and a variety of video games. A DJ is on hand to provide music for dancing or just listening, and the PTSA also contracts with other entertainers each year, such as a hypnotist, a tattoo artist and a photographer, where the graduates can get their picture imposed on a magazine cover.

Nicole (CHS 2002) and Sean Cefalo at their wedding, Aug. 14, 2010. At left, Maryann’s husband Joe, daughter Jessica (CHS 2006) with Joe and Maryann.

“There’s something for everyone,” Cornett said. “Even kids who just want to be by themselves have all kinds of video games to play.” Once the graduates arrive at the party, no one is permitted to leave until the group boards the buses to return to school at 5 a.m. the next morning. Among the chaperones each year are at least three Clifton Police officers who volunteer their time for the evening, usually the school resource officers assigned to the high school. Fun Plex also supplies additional security staff to ensure a safe and trouble-free experience for the graduates.

The PTSA pays Fun Plex $80 for each graduate who attends the party. Fundraisers are held each year to help defray some of this cost in the ticket price charged to the students. The price for this year’s ticket hasn’t been determined yet, but seniors will be receiving this information soon. The PTSA picks up the cost for the extra entertainment not supplied in the contract with Fun Plex. The group receives donations each year from the Clifton Board of Education, the CASA organization (Clifton Against Substance Abuse), the Passaic County Board of Freeholders and the Knights of Columbus of St. Philips parish.


973Roofing • Siding Seamless Gutters Additions • Alterations 74

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

“I love the night and so do the other chaperones. I guess that’s why so many keep coming back every year.” Cornett has a core group of about 15-20 volunteers who, like herself, have served as chaperones every year for Project Graduation, some also beyond the years that their children are in school. But each year, she spends a good deal of time calling around to recruit the additional chaperones needed for the number of graduates attending, usually about 400-450 kids, roughly three-quarters of the class. “I love the night and so do the other chaperones,” Cornett said. “I guess that’s why so many keep coming back every year. It’s great to see these kids have so much fun together one last time. Some of them have known each other since elementary school and they may not see each other much ever again.” She and the other members of her committee also hope that attending Project Graduation will help the graduates to realize that they can have a good time without the use of alcohol and drugs. Cornett fits her Project Graduation activities around her

busy schedule as a full- time nurse at the Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy High School on Main Ave. She began working for the program nine years ago after spending several years doing per diem work and as a substitute nurse for the Clifton Public Schools while her children were young. She took the position instead of returning to work in a hospital because it enabled her to maintain the same schedule as her children and to be there for them after school and during the summers. After this year, she is hoping to turn the reigns of the Project Graduation committee over to one of the other parents who has been actively involved, but will probably stay on as a chaperone for the event. “I think it’s about time,” she said. Cornett is also a certified Red Cross water safety instructor and volunteers her time giving swimming lessons and conducting water aerobics classes for adults at the Clifton Boys & Girls Club. Her three children continue to make her and her husband proud.

The oldest, Nicole, is now 27, married and a senior world program manager for Novartis, while attending Seton Hall School of Law parttime. Jessica, 23, works in the fashion and design field, and Joseph, 20, is studying to be a diesel technician. If you would like to volunteer for the Project Graduation committee or make a donation to the program, call Maryann Cornett at 973-779-5678.

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant



By Joe Hawrylko


lifton High School students know him as the Mustang weatherman, the affable senior who gives the

daily forecast on the CAST morning news. Those in Allwood know him as the young man behind the counter of Barry’s Bagel and Deli, at the intersection of Brighton Rd. and Market St.

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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

Thus, it is obvious CHS Student of the Month Sufian Mahmoud is a young man of many talents and hobbies. So when he meets a reporter he explains his real passion happens to be... teeth?

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


“Ever since I was young, I loved going to the dentist,” he admitted. “It’s kind of strange, but any time I had a loose tooth, I would go run and ask my mom to take me to the dentist or try doing it myself.” In the Fall, Mahmoud will attend Rutgers/Newark to study chemistry, with the strategy of moving on to a NJ dental school after completing his four year Bachelor’s degree. But at college and beyond, it will be the experiences, work ethic and life lessons he learned from his


May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

father, Billy, and in the CHS Cast program that help him succeed. “I learned a lot from my dad’s business,” said Mahmoud, who comes in after work and starts his weekends off at 8 am in the shop. “Customers are the main thing for running a business,” he continued. “If you don’t please the customer, the customer won’t come back and the business won’t run.” While he spends Saturdays and Sundays at the bagel shop, Wednesday nights are reserved for

broadcasts of the Board of Education meetings. It shouldn’t come as much surprise that Mahmoud would jump at the opportunity for more challenging work in the CAST, where he’s been a member of the crew for the past three years. “I brought up the idea to Mr. (Mike) McCunney,” he recalled of his proposal to the CAST teacher. “I told him we have a weather segment that we wanted to do. Eventually, they chose me and pulled out the green screen. I did it and from my first time I got it right, perfect.” According to Mahmoud, he and the CAST team base the production off of real weather forecasts. Each morning, he wakes up to research the day’s forecast, bringing the information to school. There, Mahmoud and his classmates coordinate to generate visuals to enhace his presentation. The segment has become the featured part of the CAST morning news. Mahmoud’s personal highlight from his third year in the program was having the school’s first live air segment conducted outside. “I used to not really like being in front of the camera, but I ended up loving it,” admitted Mahmoud, who previously spent most of his time helping out with the production in CAST. “I got a lot of feedback from teachers and friends who told me they love it.” And if the dentist stuff does not work out, Mahmoud may have a shot at being a lawyer: “To conclude my CAST experience, I looked over the Music and Video Copyright Laws and found a loophole that allows our program to play any type of media on air.”

May 2011 • Clifton Merchant


Birthday wishes to Glory Read who turned 86 on May 8. Alexandra Maria Jarosewich was welcomed to the world on on April 21. Marcin and Kathy Krynski celebrate their 9th anniversary on May 1.

Birthdays & Celebrations

Send dates & Mike Szwec ....................... Samantha Cruz................... Jessica Perez ...................... Jordan Lynn Bykowsky ......... Maria DeGraaf................... Julia Komarczyk.................. Margie Maloney................. Thomas Zangara ................ John Anderson Jr................. Spencer Flynn..................... Russell Courtney.................. Vanessa Laine Montesano.... Mary Domyon .................... Margie Hatala.................... Dorothy Alburo ................... Terry Capilli........................ Alexandra Homsany ...........


May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

5/1 5/2 5/2 5/3 5/3 5/3 5/3 5/3 5/4 5/4 5/6 5/6 5/7 5/7 5/8 5/8 5/8

Rory Houston...................... 5/8 Frank Lo Gioco................... 5/8 David Peter Mosciszko ........ 5/8 Matthew Nagy ................... 5/8 Hector Perez....................... 5/8 Christine Siluk..................... 5/8 Thomas Steranko ................ 5/8 Petey Pathos ....................... 5/9 Ray Zang ........................... 5/9 Gianna Carmela Musleh ... 5/10 Jessica Camp ................... 5/12 Rebecca DeChellis ............ 5/11 Joe De Liberto................... 5/12 Michael Lonison................ 5/12 Donna De Liberto.............. 5/13 Myrt Petty......................... 5/13 Jeff Reilly .......................... 5/13

Michael Zawicki ............... Chuck Amucka ................. Alice De Liberto ................ Dorothy Brown ................. Earl Grosser Jr. ................. Victoria Leja ..................... Fred Gurtman................... Mark McGuire.................. Rosemary Canavan........... John Hawrylko.................. Vick Ascencio................... Jamie Antal ...................... Michele D’Amico .............. Walter Hryckowian........... Mariana Pineda................ Becky Kuter ...................... Jennifer Mulick.................. Ken Bender ...................... Joe Murolo ....................... Matthew Palladino ............

5/13 5/14 5/14 5/15 5/15 5/15 5/16 5/16 5/17 5/17 5/18 5/18 5/18 5/18 5/18 5/19 5/20 5/21 5/21 5/21

Gia Camille Genardi turns 11 on May 2! Kage Lord ...................... 5/22 Danah Alburo ................ 5/23 Jessica Bielen ................. 5/23 MaryEllen Krattinger ....... 5/23 Michele Perez ................ 5/23 Donald Lopuzzo ............. 5/24 Michael Santosuosso....... 5/24 Brittney Abell.................. 5/25 Olivia Hryckowian ........... 5/25 Connie Paladino............. 5/25 Derek Bykowsky ............. 5/26 Alyssa Dalbo.................. 5/26 Kaylee Pinter .................. 5/26 Jonathan Rideg............... 5/26 Fred Antes...................... 5/27 Steve Bielen ................... 5/27 Kyle J. Magaster............. 5/27 David J. Ricca ................ 5/28 Anthony Alcalde............. 5/29 Valerie Gancarz ............. 5/29 Anthony DeSomma ......... 5/30 Rachel Gergats............... 5/31 Christopher Ramirez ....... 5/31 Christopher Smith ........... 5/31 Logan Thompson ............ 5/31 Belated congratulations to Theresa and Dan Murolo who celebrated their 10th Wedding Anniversary on March 16.


May 2011 • Clifton Merchant



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May 2011 • Clifton Merchant

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