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Clifton Merchant • November 2015


What’s Inside? 18 Why Are You Thankful? Cliftonites Count Their Blessings

24 Mustang Katrin Girgis Thankful for CHS & Teachers

34 WWII Veterans Recall Service


Honored in Nov. 8 Veterans Parade

Avenue of Flags Honoring America’s Vets

50 Clifton Savings Bank Evolves Remains Clifton’s Hometown Bank

90 56 Shook Funeral Home At 60 Halloween Community Involvement & Compassion Parade Photos from Van Houten Ave. event

64 Boys & Girls Club Alumni Party Meet the Hall of Famers on Nov. 20

82 Miracle Worker on CHS Stage Helen Keller’s Story Comes to Life

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Clifton Merchant • November 2015


6 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Clifton Profile in Courage:

The Journey of

Julia Young A young woman’s courage and heart – mixed with some humor and introspection – carry her past catastrophe and onward in life. By Douglas John Bowen

Cliftonite Julia Rose Young has endured what no one should have to, and perhaps what many of us could never imagine or survive. And she’s thankful she survived and can tell the tale. A bonfire accident at age 15 resulted in third-degree burns over 75 percent of her body and nine months of hospitalization and intense rehabilitation. Indeed, the rehab continues to this day, as she pushes against her limitations, be they physical or emotional. She rejoices over the breakthroughs; she gracefully accepts what may never be recaptured. “I label myself as ‘occupationally disabled,’” Young, now 22, said last month during a lunch at the Tick Tock Diner. “I can’t do manual labor; I don’t have fine motor movements in my hands. If I go to the gym, I can’t always change the setting on a machine, because I can’t grasp a knob, for example.” By contrast, gross motor movements – raising one’s arms or walking – continue to improve, if slowly, she noted. “My elbows were locked [after being burned and hospitalized] because extra calcium goes to your 8 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Looking at her lunch partner, Julia smiled mischievously and added,

“I don’t want to get surgery just to make you feel more comfortable.”

joints. But I’m much more mobile now.” Gesturing at her lunch partner’s dish, she half-playfully intoned, “Yay! My arm works again; I can eat a cheeseburger with two hands.” Still, Young struggles with issues not even generated by fire, at least not directly. Heavy boots protected her feet from fire damage, but “I have to wear high heels because my left foot is stuck in a downward position” due to how she was positioned in her hospital bed. Young counts herself lucky that her perceptive therapist was able to undo some of that damage. (Indeed, she sauntered into the Tick Tock at a pace equal to, if not faster than, others entering the famed diner.) “One survivor I know of almost had to have his foot amputated, even when his foot wasn’t damaged, because it was atrophied in such a downward position. The muscles atrophy if not positioned properly,” she asserted. Young, who returned home to Clifton early this year, likely will celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, happy to be alive and ready to move on.

Fire and shock For Young and four of her friends, the evening of March 14, 2009 started around a bonfire near Central Valley, N.Y., an informal end-of-winter celebration. Young used a can of gasoline to bolster a flagging fire once without incident. As the fire died down again, she repeated the process on the embers, with catastrophic results. “I saw flames in front of my face and on my shirt, and I remember collapsing to my knees. “I don’t remember if it was a conscious decision or not,” Young said, asked if she deliberately moved to “stop, drop, and roll,” per the schoolchild drill. Deliberate move or not, dropping to the ground proved dreadful, as Young fell to a gas-saturated surface, exacerbating the flames. Her friends moved to rescue here using water and fluids to douse the flames. But the damage was done; Young estimates 75% of her body had third-degree burns, with “additional second-degree burns” of perhaps 5%. Emotionally in shock but still physically able, Young showered, only to find her skin peeling dramatically. Her father, Gerry Young, arrived. A volunteer firefight10 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

er at the time, Gerry Young “said I didn’t look burned; I looked pale,” she recalled. “I didn’t look anything like the depictions in movies or on television.” But shortly thereafter – Young guesses in 15 minutes, “though my sense of time slowed, got distorted” – physical shock overwhelmed her, and her father had to carry her to an arriving ambulance. Still conscious, Julia Young recalls worrying about her parents almost as much as about herself. “‘Oh, you’re going to be fine,’ they said, [but] they were in shock in the beginning, too,” she noted. Julia was intubated and airlifted by helicopter to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., where staff induced a coma to circumvent much of the pain she would otherwise endure once awake. She said she vividly remembers being in pain, but noted the memory of the actual pain itself has receded somewhat – perhaps the mind’s way of protecting itself. Not forgotten is her parents’ love and care during that time. “Dad would watch over the changing of bandages, and so forth,” she said, while Julia’s mother would give her foot massages, in part because her feet were “the only part of me she could touch, was allowed to touch, because of the pain. Everything else was bandaged.” On the rebound After two months, Julia was transferred to Shriners Burn Treatment Center in Boston to undergo more than six months of extensive physical therapy, including regaining the ability to walk. In a YouTube post, Young recounts how Shriners had to remove earlier skin graft attempts, which had proven unsuccessful, and “put me in a bubble to avoid getting infection.” She also had to take stock of the physical damage unlikely to be fixed quickly, if at all – such as nerve damage that has left much of her arms and legs almost without sensation. “I kind of forget what it’s like to ‘feel’ normally,” she said. “Sometimes I take too hot of a shower, for instance, and I won’t realize it until I see how red my skin is. I can feel my bone if I give my arm or leg

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


a hard bump. But I often can’t feel a cut in my skin, or when I bruise myself.” Her arms also lack fatty tissue, and while friends teasingly note Julia has an advantage in controlling her weight, she counters, “It’s a pain.” Her sense of smell has also been affected, though she has delighted in vegetable gardening this year. “I can smell earth. Some people don’t like to smell dirt, but I think it’s wonderful,” she said. Young is legally blind in her left eye; “it’s like seeing through wax paper,” she said. Her right eye is fine. As well, she added, “My face has a lot more nerves. It might be because I don’t have nerve hair on my arms and legs. Or possibly it’s due to a deeper skin graft on my face,” possibly augmented when doctors performed some restorative surgery. Staying true to herself “The facial surgery included getting the tip of my nose fixed so that it no longer has a bump on it and lips could move better,” she said. The work added to her facial scars, and while Julia accepts the tradeoff, she isn’t sold on still more work to make herself “better.” “People say, ‘You can always get more surgery.’ I don’t want more surgery,” she asserted with some exasperation. “I’m OK with the way I am right now.” Looking at her lunch partner, she smiled mischievously and added, “ I don’t want to get surgery just to make you feel more comfortable.” “I’m lucky,” she declared, quietly defiant. “I have all my fingers and toes. Sure, there’s nerve damage and aches and pains and stuff that doesn’t move so well. But I’m here.” Young noted people can get flustered when discussing her incident, perhaps accidentally employing a verbal metaphor which could hurt her feelings. She’s learned to differentiate between the casual slip of the tongue and the deliberately cruel comment (which, sadly, does sometimes occur). In that regard, she’s no different than most other people, she pointed out. “People try to make me feel I’m fitting in, but sometimes their curiosity is obvious. I wrote a short story saying ‘I am more.’ I am more than my burn; it’s a big piece of who I am but it’s not the only thing that makes me who I am.” Young doesn’t deny lingering doubts, including recurring reminders of the fire and its impact. “Always 12 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Julia at age 14 with her dad Jerry and mom Michele.

during March, I get a little moody, because it is difficult. I lost my ‘indestructibleness’; I can’t be reckless anymore. Cuts and bruises “become serious threats” due to possible infection – threats her impaired nervous system can’t always detect. Such things are reminders that “we are not invincible. Teens and people of all ages often believe ‘This kind of thing won’t happen to me.’ It does,” she said. “Otherwise, I’m usually very optimistic. I probably have better self-esteem than most people,” she added. Her visit to the Tick Tock epitomized her self-confidence and poise. Few if any diner patrons bothered to look up as she walked by; a few diners near where she sat, aware she was being interviewed, stole brief glances at her before resuming their own affairs. Just another patron or two at the Tick Tock. No big deal. Counseling and consoling others Though not dwelling on her experience exclusively, Young hasn’t shunned it, either, instead incorporating her past into present-day activity. She has been invited to address groups of first responders, “to explain how survivors feel, and the trauma that follows.” Such sessions are often held at regular hospital burn meetings, among other locations. Though some might presume such work is meant to boost feelings of selfworth, Young said such sessions often help make

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


the first responders feel better, or at least more grounded. “They see us in so much pain; they feel bad for us,” she said, sympathetically. She noted she’s hardly alone, what with thousands of burn survivors nationJulia in Clifton School 9 on Market St. wide and globally. Many Hitting the books, and writing one, too North American survivors meet each year at World Burn, Now back in Clifton, where she grew up and attenda convention. Young attended one such event, though she ed School No. 9 on Market St., Julia Young is enrolled doesn’t make an annual visit a priority. at Bergen Community College, in pursuit of a degree in Indeed, the fire that changed Julia Young for life in liberal arts, with an eye for becoming an editor. March 2009 also injured one of her comrades, though Articulate and well-spoken, she already is a writer, “thankfully very, very much less than me,” she said. In author of short stories and of a book involving a herothis case, she has some lingering sense of sorrow and ine in the state of Maine dealing with the aftermath of responsibility. “I feel bad for doing that to her, and in a biological plague. The book, “The Human Plague,” fact for traumatizing everybody there,” she lamented. is accessible on the Internet through She still has the boots (protecting her feet), jeans, and story/17673970-the-human-plague, and can be purjacket that she wore the night she was burned. “They chased through Facebook. still reek of gasoline,” she said – another scent, if less Though not strictly autobiographical even as fiction, pleasant, that she can smell with little trouble. Young’s main character in the book is a survivor as well. “A friend read my book and said it’s very obvious that it’s me as the main character, in a way,” she said. But the tale does have a deeper twist: the book’s protagonist is a survivor of ovarian cancer, significant to the story line since humanity’s future is at stake. The hypothetical “Komodo” viral plague involved, linked to the famed Komodo dragon of the East Indies, reduces human drive and creativity, slowing down human metabolism as well. But Young said her work seeks to sidestep broad brush strokes of “zombie apocalypse” so common today, stressing that she screened her drafts with friends knowledgeable in biology, medicine, and other sciences in an attempt to make the hypothetical plague somewhat plausible. “The ‘zombies’ in my book, if you call them that, are alive; they’re still living people,” she offered as an example. Instead of creating one-dimensional monsters, she sought to magnify, if en masse, the effect an outside influence can have on individuals. Young is pondering a prequel, and/or sequel, to her initial effort, exploring more deeply the concepts of friendship, of caring, and of humanity at large. 14 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“Well-intentioned people might say to me, ‘If I looked like you I’d kill myself.’ Sure, there are days when I look in the mirror and I sigh.

Family, faith, and the familiar Back in today’s world, and with more optimism, Young still enjoys crafting doll houses out of shoe boxes, “a hobby from when I was a child. I’ve always loved architecture,” she said. Not that there’s been no changes. “Cutting cardboard, gluing it together; it’s relaxing but it’s aggravating, too, not as easy as it once was. Not at all,” she observed. Like so many other things, she’s adapted to the difficulty, crafting new approaches. One includes using “a pair of broken tweezers, bent and very long, to help hold paper to cardboard while glue dries, to compensate for lack of finger dexterity,” she said. Young moved back to Clifton “around New Year’s,” and is glad to be back in her old neighborhood. “This is where my family is; I’m seeing the folks where I was raised” and where family was and continues to be supportive. Faith also sustains and supports Young. “When my [Episcopal] priest died, I became an atheist,” she mused. “But in the hospital, every time they changed my band-

And there are days when I smile: ‘Dang, I look good today.’” ages, I prayed. Not to any one God, but I prayed. Religion helps you out.” A regular attendee of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Clifton Ave., Young enjoys the church’s emphasis on acceptance and openness to all people, “and I enjoy the familiar rituals.” But she’s also an amateur connoisseur of various faiths, expressing equal tolerance for those of sincere belief. “I don’t care what religion anyone is,” she said. “Faith can have many paths.” Young’s own path includes faith in life’s journey itself. “Life is worth living,” she said simply. She is grateful in “being alive and being able to still experience life. I’m thankful for just enjoying the sound of crickets at night, the taste of that cheeseburger. The simple things, the small stuff.” Stuff that Thanksgiving should spur every person to savor and cherish.

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Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Lisa Galanti Business Owner “That I open up my eyes every day. What is not to be grateful for?” said the three-year owner of Sante Fe Salon on Clifton Ave. “I live in a great town. I have my own business. I am healthy and I have a wonderful family...Why be negative?”

Roman Diduch Retired For America, still the best country in the world. You ready to work hard, raise a family, educate your kids and see that they get a good job? America is the place to be. My parents and siblings came here in 1964. We are Ukrainians and my parents worked hard to educate us so we can have a better life. They hardly had any time for themselves. They saved and put all four of us through college. Now our kids are all professionals, have careers and live a better life then we could ever have given them in Ukraine or any other country. I am thankful that America is the land of opportunity.

Roxanne Cammilleri Clifton Arts Center Director I am grateful for all the people who help out, part of the whole community that just want to make things better, who take time to say hello, to help out. All the little things and the big things that people do. Everything counts. Don’t take anything for granted, including the little things. Life is a wonderful process.

Richard DeLotto Retired Clifton Firefighter 18 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

That I have a pension. I had a great job for 25 years. I could afford a comfortable home and a great living. Today I have a pension and a health plan to keep me healthy.

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


I moved to Clifton in 1955 and I got to play and hang out on the Benkendorf Farm right through high school. I am really thankful for that part of my life when Clifton was a place you could experience nature. The other thing, in terms of Clifton, I am really appreciative of my time in the Mustang Band—for being mentored by Saul Kay. In terms of being a musician and being in show business, Mr. Kay and Mr. (Ed) Wasserman gave us a base and understanding so that by time I became a music journalist and a performer, I had four years of training. Look, I toured Europe when I was 16... I went into my junior year having played through five countries in Europe. That would not have happened if I was not in the band. Mr. Kay and Mr. Wasserman had a major impact on the my destiny and a lot of other kids in CHS.

Charlie Frick Clifton’s First Hippie

NORMA SMITH Director Hamilton-Van Wagoner House Museum

20 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

I’m thankful for my family and friends, and for the opportunity to enjoy the job that I do as much as I do – at least 80% of the time!

The Ukrainian National Foundation invites you to welcome 2016 & support the revitalization of our beloved Soyuzivka. Proceeds from this Gala go directly towards the 2016 Capital Improvement Project.

Cocktail Reception bar, raw bar, antipasto station, iced vodka/warm drink station hors d’oeuvres and then a...

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216 Foordmore Rd, Kerhonkson, NY 12446 Clifton Merchant • November 2015


William Weiss NJEDDA Executive Director At the North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency (NJEDDA), we are thankful for all of the wonderful support and generosity of our donors. The Elks members have been behind us 100% for over 60 years. Our staff, families, and friends of our agency have made our program expansions possible. They love our children and adults and we are thankful for all of their volunteer efforts. Happy Thanksgiving to our supportive Clifton community!

Marching Mustangs Director I’m thankful for my family. Everybody is healthy and doing well and growing. I’m thankful for my two boys: Matthew, and Daniel, his wife Kelly, and their son Harrison, all doing well – with another grandchild on the way, due in April. I’m thankful for my wife Michele; we’ve been married 40 years now. I’m thankful to be able to travel and do things with my wife now. I’m thankful for relative good health – retirement is pretty good, when I was retired, that is – I’m enjoying that. My mother-in-law is doing well, and my mother, 95, is still doing her thing. Family would be my biggest thing. I’m also thankful for being able to help the marching band out in its time of need this year, and to give them a

Bob Morgan

little guidance. We’ve got a good fan base behind us; I’m finding out more and more that people appreciated the efforts I put out while I was working with the band kids. I’m thankful all the band kids are doing well; they have families now, living the good life. I’m glad to see they’re a successful bunch; I still call them ‘my kids.’ They are good people. I’m glad I was a part of something, part of history, with the band. It was a big part of my life. I’m glad I was able to help and show a lot of other people the pleasure we enjoy with music. And I’m glad to be able to say I live here in the USA. I’ve been around to a few places, and I still strongly feel this is still the best country to live in. I think that’s evidenced by the people who want to come here.

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Clifton Merchant • November 2015

Katrin Girgis Thankful for CHS, Dedicated Staff Clifton High School student Katrin Girgis, Class of 2016, is thankful for the scholastic guidance she’s received in order to be herself – and, she expects, to be the best at whatever career she pursues.

“I like to think I’m a very realistic person,” Girgis said. “People assume I’m pessimistic and cynical. I would argue that’s not true; I’m simply logical.” Born in Egypt, Girgis and her family moved to the U.S. in 2000, when she was two years old. “My native country has relatively nothing to do with my personality — just my religion,” she said. Girgis has applied her logic and analytical skills to excel at CHS, where her teachers have kindled her appetite for knowledge, she said. Girgis’s current courses include AP Biology, AP Government, AP English, Honors Calculus, and Illustrating and Cartooning, the last addressing “my love of art,” she said. Praise for CHS teaching staff “The best thing about CHS is definitely the teachers that excel at their areas,” Girgis said. “They will help you appreciate the subject, and the lessons, and teach you that not everything is about the grade – that the number does not define you, your current knowledge capacity, or the knowledge you will one day obtain. “My history teachers, Mr. Rogers and Mr. Henry, have led me to question everything, even if I may never get all the answers, and have revolutionized the way I think and view the world,” she said. “My science teachers, Mr. Meck and Mr. Chil, challenge and taught me to actually interpret and understand the material, and never babied the class by asking simple definition-based questions. They have made me wonder about how the smallest particles make up such a huge world, and thanks to Mr. Meck I now read scientific literature. 24 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“I have to mention my physics teacher, Mr. McCullough, as well, because his lecture-style teaching method was a great way to prepare me for college,” she said. “I think he is taken for granted by his students but he really is brilliant; he and Mr. Chil have a similar philosophy that failure is a good thing. “Mr. Chil says it perfectly: ‘Failure is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently,’ a motto I have taken to heart,” Girgis said. “I’m happy they were my teachers, that I got the opportunity to learn from them.” On an academic quest Girgis has thrived by being challenged. “I have received the Distinguished Academics Award for the past three years, and hope to receive it this year as well,” she said. “My favorite subjects are American History, Biology, and Chemistry. Biology with Mr. Meck freshman year proved a real challenge, one I did not encounter in middle school, and that made the subject more interesting to learn. It was Mr. Meck’s teaching style that made me decide early on that I would definitely take AP Biology (which I am now taking),” she said. “I’ve had an interest in history since middle school, but it was during sophomore year in Mr. Rogers’ class that I became vividly interested in the subject and analysis,” she said. “I pestered Mr. Rogers all year with inquiries and skepticism, which he took in stride and helped breed my analytical mind. Mr. Henry’s class in junior year enhanced my understanding of history.” “Lastly, chemistry was just awesome for how hard Mr. Chil pushed us to not just memorize the information but apply it, understand it, and to stop obsessing over grades and just enjoy learning,” she said.

Extracurricular exemplar Describing her numerous extracurricular activities as “classic nerd ones,” Girgis has enjoyed participating in Italian Club and the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) for four years. “In freshman year I participated in Science League for Biology I,” Girgis said. “Sophomore year... Science League for Chemistry I, and participated in Math League. In junior year, Science League was not offered, but I still did Math League and Book Club. I also got the opportunity to paint a Mustangmural for the media center, right behind Mrs. Sterni’s desk.”

Girish is leaning toward a career in medicine, she said. “If I do choose a medical career, I can guarantee I will not be a pharmacist or nurse, because I may as well just be a doctor while I’m at it.” Some people suggest she should settle for less, for various reasons. Her analytical, perfectionist personality doesn’t buy it. “People argue ‘less school,’ but school and education are unavoidable, taken-for-granted opportunities that I think are invalid and weak arguments for not pursuing a more fruitful career option,” she said, adding that CHS teachers have helped her to see many options.

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Clifton Merchant • November 2015


I’m thankful for a healthy family, healthy grandkids, and for still being able to coach Cross Country. I’m thankful to be able to coach kids that are great representatives of their community. I’ve been the head coach of the CHS for 32 years, and have been coaching a total of 42 years if you include my time with Essex Catholic. Having the right kids who believe in what you’re trying to do, that’s one of

things I’m truly blessed with, working with some of the best kids. I wish our Clifton community could see and understand that the threads are different colors in the coat of Clifton, but the coat is the same good quality it’s always been. The ‘coat’ keeps me warm when I’m cold, it wraps me in pride.

CHS Track Coach

John Pontes

Expressing gratefulness is an important part of my personal practice of meditation and spirituality. I am grateful to for my husband David and my three children Jordyn, Laurence and Sydney who are my daily inspiration. I am thankful for my extended family and friends who are my family of choice sharing support. I am so blessed with a career that helps to transform the lives of children and staff members to live their best life. The city of Clifton has also been an amazing blessing to my life as well, with the richness of a community full of diversity as well as opportunities to learn and grow as an individual. As a citizen of this great nation, I am thankful for the freedom my family has to grow and thrive to heights beyond our wildest dreams.

Latasha Caserlow-Lalla Board of Education Candidate First, I want to thank God for his mercy; He’ll live forever. Second, I’m thankful for my children, my son and my daughter, for their love and their support. Whatever I do, they are always with me. And I want to thank my city, which has given me the chance to help others. Clifton is an excellent city.

Board of Education Candidate

Bharat Rana

I’m a professional volunteer—there’s no money in that! But I am truly thankful for good health and a great, supportive family. I’m blessed to be able to volunteer as I do because of family, friends, and good health. The Veterans, the Relay for Life, Clifton Cares – I dabble. I guess I was brought up to pay it forward. My parents raised me that way and I taught my children to be the same way. Everybody has their niche and their full life, so I’m lucky in my life to have people who feel the same way. I’ve had my share of health issues but I don’t dwell on that. Everyone has issues; you move past that and become a stronger person.

Christine Liszner Sales Assistant 26 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


I am thankful for those friends and I am thankful for many things—my neighbors who lent a helping hand amazing wife, Melisa, and my two with the kids and prepared meals for sons Damian and Nicolas. But this us. When Isabel was born, her lungs year I am most thankful for our newest weren’t fully developed yet and she addition to the family, our daughter had a hole in her heart. The first few Isabel. She was born eight weeks predays of her life were the most stressmaturely on January 12th after Melisa ful days of our lives. had some major complications during Fabian Calvo Thankfully, the doctors and nurses her pregnancy. Leading up to Isabel’s took great care of her and she was able birth, Melisa was on bed rest in the 15-Year Resident to develop properly. Isabel was in the hospital for three weeks. Those weeks hospital NICU for 32 days. Since then she has been 100% were especially trying for me. Not only was I worried healthy and has hit all of her milestones. She is a wonderabout the health of my wife and baby, but I had to ful baby that is always happy and smiling. My family and assume all of the responsibilities of our household while I are truly blessed. She is our miracle baby. going back and forth to the hospital every day.

Alyson Thelin Davison

Lifelong Resident

There is nothing more important to me than the relationships that I have with my family. I don’t know what I would do without the consistent love and unwavering support from my parents, sister, great-aunt, and especially my husband and children. There is no way I could survive without their love and continued assistance. I appreciate how they are always in my corner, rooting for me to succeed in everything that I do. I love them so much. I am thankful for my health, my son, my family and friends. I am also blessed to have a job that I really enjoy. As a makeup artist and skincare consultant, I love working with people and making them feel good about themselves. My job allows me to establish great relationships with amazing clients and vendors in the beauty industry. My main goal is to continue doing what I love and to provide outstanding customer service to all of my clients. The best feeling in the world is when I get a review from a happy client. It totally makes my day and I feel so proud of my work.

15-Year Resident

Evelyn Abanto

calls from residents about garbage or recycling pick up Many of us take our jobs for granted. Not Cherie and other issues related to public works. Then we Avolio. After working in the data-based marketing respond to their needs. Everyone in the DPW does realindustry for over 20 years, she lost her job in a company ly care about their work. When you buyout. After a three-year search, she think about what get picked up, recycled landed with a temp agency which staffs Cherie Avolio and the money it saves, it really is fascicertain positions in Clifton’s DPW. “We nating. It is good to be employed but it is work with a great team here and it really DPW Employee better to be part of something larger.” is customer service. We answer phone 28 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Diane Jakimec 25-Year Resident

Tony Falco

I have so much to be thankful for and I am blessed with many things. My family is healthy, I have fantastic friends, a job, and a roof over my head. But I think that I am most thankful to still have my mother with me. She is 83 years old and she can run circles around me. She proved that this year during our family trips to her hometown in Italy and to my sister’s wedding in Key West. Her resilience in staying youthful and her enthusiasm for fun continues to impress me. I am thankful that she is there for me as much as I am for her.

Former Resident I have many things to be thankful for, but most important is my family. Having four grandchildren and one on the way keeps us very busy. We look at them as our special gift in life. Watching each grandchild grow up and develop their own unique personalities is an amazing thing to see. Our oldest grandchild even attends School 2, which is where I went to school when I was his age. They are our greatest joy.

Bill Gibson Lifelong Resident I am thankful for my family. I love my wife, children and grandkids and we have a great personal relationship. We go everywhere and do everything together. In 1999, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and I needed to have a stem cell transplant. My wife had two young children to take care of, she was going back to school, and keeping the house together. My family really stepped in to help and it made us very close. My wife was my rock who was keeping the family together. I am so thankful and blessed to have two great grandchildren and four wonderful children. My oldest daughter is a teacher and my oldest son is a police officer. My middle child is going into the Air Force and my youngest is a high school student. I am a very lucky person.

Andrew White Detective, City of Passaic I’m thankful for my family and my son, whom we adopted from Catholic Charities when he was four weeks old. He’ll be 5 on Nov. 22. It’s all been more than we expected; he’s such a joy. Besides that, I’m thankful for being healthy. I’ve just celebrated my 25th anniversary as a detective for the city [of Passaic], and I’m thankful for that. 30 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Below is a list of some homes I have sold in 2015. To the owners, my clients, it is not just a home but a place filled with memories and lives celebrated. To me, it is really an honor when they entrust me with the sale or purchase of one of their most important investments, their home. Sincere appreciation for selecting me as your Realtor.

76 Anderson Dr 100 Avondale Rd 16 Barbara Dr 35 Barrister St 44 Brantwood Pl 4 Breen Ct 61 Bender Dr 86 Beverly Hill Rd 30 Birchwood Ter 75 Boll St 281 Brighton Rd 184 Brittany Ct 368 Broad St

90 Chittenden Rd 17 Clay St 9 Di Donna Ct 268 East 1st St 54 Fair Hill 565 Grove A5 605 Grove B4 105 Hadley Ave 19 Hammond Ave 3308 Harcourt Rd 4106 Harcourt Rd 32 Hepburn Rd 62 Jones Ct

7 Lois Ave 789 Clifton Ave., Clifton, NJ 07013 29 Martin Ave 682 Paulison Ave Other Towns 21 Peterson Ct 109 Rive Rd, Nutley 95 Pilgrim Dr 7 Laurel Hill Ter, Kearny 127 Rock Hill Rd 136 Change Brg A-5, Montville 9 Rutgers Pl 4606 Tudor Dr, Pequannock 13 Rutgers Pl 245 Passaic Ave, Passaic 59 Ruth Ave 235 Dakota St, Paterson 48 Serven Pl 24 Laguna Dr, Wayne 88 Sixth St 211 Webster Dr, Wayne 52 Thanksgiving Ln 140 Woodlawn Ave 178 Lincoln Ave, Hawthorne

Š2015 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. Coldwell Banker is a registered trademark licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. An Equal Opportunity Company. Equal Housing Opportunity. Owned and Operated by NRT LLC. If your property is currently listed with a real estate broker, please disregard. It is not our intention to solicit the offerings of other real estate brokers. We are happy to work with them and cooperate fully.

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Nov. 8 Veterans Parade on Van Houten

32 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Avenue of Flags on City Hall Campus WWII Army Buck Sgt. Mario Talamini was among the 6,600 Cliftonites who served our nation from 1941 to 1945. Seventy years later, on Nov. 8, Cliftonites will get the chance to thank Talamini, and other vets such as George Kroll, Ray Yannetti and Stephen Mihalovic, whose stories follow. Talamini (inset at left) is the Veterans Parade Grand Marshal, which takes place on Sunday, Nov. 8. Step off is at 2 pm from the Athenia Veterans Post on Huron Ave., with the Mustang Marching Band leading the way. Organizers have arranged for a long line of march, with other bands, parade floats filled with veterans, as well as classic cars, military vehicles and much more. The parade is indeed a patriotic spectacle as it continues up Huron Ave., turns right on Van Houten Ave. and into the City Hall Campus. There the participants will be introduced as they pass the reviewing stand. The city hall grounds will be festooned with “just a couple of hundred American flags,” on display as sort of a teaser to the entire display of the Avenue of Flags. Veterans Day is actually Nov. 11 and that’s when the grounds of city hall will be fully dressed. On that Tuesday morning, volunteers will post 1,710 red, white and blue flags throughout the campus in honor of Veterans Day.

Begun in 2002 with about 300 flags, Clifton’s Avenue of Flags is now is one of the largest exhibits of Old Glory east of the Mississippi River. Flags cost $100 and stand 3 x 5 feet on a 10-foot pole with a brass name plate. To honor a veteran, living or deceased, call John Biegel Jr. at 973-519-0858. To support or participate in the parade, call Keith Oakley at 201-774-6666 or Frank Gaccione at 973-773-3788.

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


George Kroll I WWII Nose Gunner A cramped fishbowl provided front-row seating to the Allied air war By Douglas John Bowen George Kroll got a novel bird’s-eye view of Europe at least 50 times. He wasn’t greeted warmly. Between July 22 and Nov. 7, 1944, George Kroll put his trust in his nine crewmember comrades, and a brand new B-24 Liberator Bomber, part of the Allied effort to defeat Germany in World War II. Kroll packed his sixfoot frame into a small glass bubble with guns, literally looking for trouble. The B-24 became a lucky rabbit’s foot, Kroll, now 91, said. “We picked up the plane that we flew in Topeka, Kan; it came right off the assembly line,” Kroll recalled. Kroll’s crew flew the craft to North Africa via Bangor, Maine, Newfoundland, “then to the Azores, and hopping over to North Africa—where we were supposed to leave the plane. But no one picked it up. “So we got orders to fly to [southern] Italy,” he continued, where the crew would be based, assigned to the plane the crew now considered its own. “It was a brand new plane, so if anything went wrong we couldn't blame it on the plane,” he reasoned. Perhaps the four-engine B-24 felt the love; it certainly rewarded the crew’s loyalty. None of its 10 regular crewmembers were killed in action, Kroll said. “We were very fortunate.” 34 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Operating from Italy Arriving in early July, 1944, Kroll and his crewmates were stationed near Bari, on Italy’s eastern (Adriatic) coast, part of the 777 Bomb Squad, 464 Bomb Group, 15th Army Air Force (predecessor to the U.S. Air Force). Kroll would record 50 missions over Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Germany, as Allied air power first fought for, and eventually dominated, the skies over Western Europe in the final year of the war — and assisted in the steady advance of ground troops up the Italian peninsula and across the French countryside. Kroll’s arrival in Italy roughly coincided with the Allies capturing Rome on July 4, 1944, and it followed the gut-wrenching, attention-grabbing Normandy invasion of June 6 in northwest France. Some safely on U.S. soil thought the Allies had a firm grip on a victorious outcome. Their Axis counterparts didn’t share that viewpoint. Kroll and his colleagues didn’t either. “My first mission was over Ploesti [Romania], an oil field and main oil depot. We went in about 25,000 feet but flak was very heavy and intense. I was a substitute gunner at that point; they needed a nose gunner and I was ‘volunteered’” Kroll quipped, noting it was one of the

Veterans of WWII few times he served separately from his regular colleagues. Kroll and crew survived a harrowing flight over the Romanian oil fields, deemed essential to Germany’s war effort. But others were less fortunate. The site was ‘heavily fortified,” Kroll said. “They had more than 1,000 guns. We lost a lot of planes.” Official Allied evaluation later noted the bombing efforts fell short of command expectations. Anti-aircraft fire and Luftwaffe fighter aircraft challenged the B-24’s various missions unevenly. In his journal entry of Aug. 21, 1944, Kroll describes a mission over Nis, Hungary, as an easy “milk run.” By contrast, on an Aug. 7 mission over Blechhammer, Germany (now Blachownia Slaska, Poland), Kroll noted the anti-aircraft “flak was heavy, intense and accurate.” The Army Air Corps deemed Blechhammer one of the four “principal synthetic oil plants in Germany.” Even the missions Kroll described as “easy” weren’t without risk. “We got hit plenty of times; there was [seemingly] no mission that we weren't hit,” he clarified. Anxiety was a constant companion on each mission, lasting an average of six to seven hours each, Kroll said. Kroll believes he never shot down any enemy fighter

craft, though he’s convinced that “I chased a couple away.” He praised accompanying American P38 and P51 fighter aircraft for protecting the B24 fleet; combined with the bombers’ own defensive firepower, “the Luftwaffe was afraid of us.” That’s not to sound boastful, Kroll added. “It’s not necessarily that we were so brave. We all were young and ambitious and we really were ready to go, [but] we didn't know too much. I was just 19 years old. From high school to high skies “I enlisted at age 18,” Kroll said, though not before finishing his education at Passaic High School, at the insistence of his mother and father. “I tried to enlist before graduation,” he recounted, “but my parents wouldn’t let me.” Upon graduation, he enlisted and was assigned to the mechanized cavalry in Fort Riley, Kan., in early 1943. “I spent 10 months with that outfit,” Kroll said. “We were on a routine march and, all of a sudden, we get buzzed by the Air Corps on a training exercise. I jumped into a ditch and said, “That’s for me up there. Not down here. “I then applied for the Air Cadet Program, passed the test, and then went through basic training all over

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Veterans of WWII again,” Kroll recalled. At that point, he faced a choice: Become an aerial gunner, which was in demand, or return to a role in the infantry. “I chose aerial gunnery; it seemed better than the infantry,” he said. Asked if he weighed the merits of being willing to sit in tight quarters in the transparent nose of an airplane, Kroll repeated that it wasn’t about being brave. “I was just being young,” he said. Movie and television depictions of World War II flight briefings are, surprisingly, somewhat close to the actual reality, “for the most part,” Kroll said. “We’d go over where we were going, why we were going, what kind of a target we were assigned, and, especially, what we could expect in terms of aircraft fire or ground fire.” Also as in the movies, most of the real-life air crews kept their anxieties masked or bottled up. But Kroll’s journal dutifully records some of those fears — as well as the downtime — during his airborne service stint, with the Nov. 7, 1944 entry an exuberant outburst. “Today is the day I’ll always remember, and not because it was election day – I finished my missions!” he exulted. Describing his last mission as another “milk run,” he noted, “No flak, no fighters — Perfect. I’m through!” New life, new duties at home But Kroll and his B-24 crew still had at least one more trip to make together, this time aboard ship as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean bound for home. “Fifty missions was at the requirement necessary to get out of there,” and since the B-24 crew had begun their service together, “We all got out at the same time, so we came back together,” Kroll explained. “But we were squished together on a ship.” Following arrival stateside, Kroll was assigned to Plattsburgh, N.Y. “Though supposedly only for eight weeks, I think I was there for three months. I was then assigned to Dover Air Base [in Delaware], and I only spent a few months there. Then I was discharged,” Kroll said. George Kroll came back to his Passaic home and enrolled in Fairleigh Dickinson. With his brother Seymour, George bought the Clifton Printing Co. in 1947. Both also took over operation of the Clifton Journal in 1959, succeeding their father, Publisher/Editor Max Kroll, who purchased the business in 1938. 36 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

George and Lorraine Kroll today.

When Max Kroll died in 1961, George Kroll assumed the reins at the Clifton Journal; Seymour Kroll took over the printing company, ultimately buying out George’s share of that operation, allowing George to focus on publishing. Kroll relished the publishing business, recalling, “Father asked me to go to a city council meeting one night, take notes, and bring them back. I got hooked, and I never stopped after that.” Kroll moved to Clifton shortly after the war’s end, residing in the city until 2000, when he and wife Lorraine moved to Wayne. He finally retired from publishing in 1985 after witnessing, and thoroughly chronicling, Clifton’s postwar growth for many years, including through his column “As I See It.” “Following the war, Clifton enjoyed a tremendous boom with home construction and new businesses quickly filling up former farm and dairy land in the city,” Kroll said. “There was a lot going on and I kept an eye on public officials. I made sure that they remained accountable to public opinion, but not in a mean-spirited way as some publications did.” His thought on his wartime service? “I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it, though I'm sorry we had to go to war,” he said, acknowledging the paradoxes often expressed by other American veterans. “It was a great experience. I don’t want anybody else to have to do it.”

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Manning the Higgins Ray Yannetti in Okinawa By Douglas John Bowen

A harrowing time when the comforts of home seemed far away. Raymond Yannetti’s life has taken him from early days in Paterson to most of his life in Clifton. Along the way, that journey included a stop at a perilous time and place: Okinawa, in April 1945. As American Marines and Navy personnel prepared to invade Japan’s first true (non-conquered) real estate holding during World War II, Yannetti helped in their delivery, serving on a three-member team aboard a “Higgins boat” delivering troops to the Okinawa beaches as part of the second main assault. Not that Yannetti, now age 89, knew beforehand what the mission was. “You never know,” he said, recalling the April 1945 convoy movement, “and they don’t tell you. The only time we knew was for the [subsequent and then never needed] preparations for invading the home island” of Honshu, Yannetti says, adding, “We knew it was the only one left.” The war ended before Yannetti and his comrades faced that ominous prospect but, again, military secrecy reigned. “We heard about ‘peace feelers’” after an atomic bomb leveled Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, “but nobody knew why,” he recalled. Instead, Okinawa continued to be clogged with U.S. military operations of all kinds. “There were more ships than you could shake a stick at,” he said. Even after the war was declared over, caution still was warranted. “Japanese submarines still lurked, and we didn’t know if they’d gotten the word,” Yannetti said. As 38 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

September arrived, a typhoon wreaked havoc with U.S. naval operations. “Imagine if that had happened as the invasion of Japan was taking place” shortly thereafter as originally planned, he observed. Enlisting to avoid being drafted Yannetti enlisted in the Navy in 1944, following a path to service carved by two of his three brothers – one with the Army, the second with the Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the U.S. Air Force. The War Department, per policy at that time, determined that one son of four should remain at home. “Mom had to decide who stayed,” Yannetti noted. Taking the family’s difficult decision into his own hands (though with his mother’s approval), Yannetti enlisted at age 17, disrupting his scholastic life at Eastside High School in Paterson. “The head of the local draft board lived next door to us, and I said, ‘Mr. Jameson, you’re not gonna get me; I’m gonna enlist instead.’” The Navy was Yannetti’s choice, and not just at random. “In January 1942 my brother left from Fort Dix” heading for U.S. landings in North Africa, he said. The family “rode right up into the base; there were no guards or anything” remotely like security measures present today. “I saw a lot of tents outside, and it was cold, freezing. That’s when I decided I was going to join the Navy instead,” he said, smiling at the thought.

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Veterans of WWII ber — whether coxswain, the pilot, assistant, primarily Two years later, Yannetti enlisted at the local Paterson dealing with loading or unloading crews, or machinist office, along with several other Paterson high school mate — had to know each task proficiently in case of classmates. “But I had to go to New York for my physiinjury or death or, more mundanely, due to rotational faccal,” he said, traveling to Church St., close to where the tors. Each also was responsible for the roughly 25 U.S. World Trade Center exists today. While there, he noted Marines being transported to the front lines. Navy enlistees carried blue tags, while Marine volunCoordination and cooperation among the three-man teers were identified by red tags. The New York location crew was essential, Yannetti said. “You have rough surf, also dealt with New York draftees; “they didn’t have any undertows, and you had to wait for the waves to bring tags,” Yannetti recalled. you in. Then you dropped the ramp,” he recited, noting Asked what the prevailing mood of those assembled that wasn’t the end of the task. “The tricky part is getting was, Yannetti said little difference existed between off the beach. You can’t turn around like a car. You have enlisted personnel and those who were drafted. “The to wait for the tide to come overall mood was to win in.” the war,” he said. Yannetti pointed out After 10 weeks of basic that during one military naval training on Seneca exercise he readied for, Lake in upstate New York held in California as 1944 during the spring and drew to a close, several summer of 1944, Yannetti Higgins boats got stuck was granted a one-week due to rough surf, forcing leave to see family in a cancelation of an exerNovember, still uncertain cise, though fortunately no of whether he was deslives were lost. “And that tined for Europe or the was in Oceanside, with no Pacific. Part of his training enemy fire or anything,” including recognizing the he said. shapes and silhouettes of That experience, and various ships, including Ray Yannetti in 1945 and today. several others, made enemy vessels. But Yannetti and his colleagues Yannetti did not yet know as savvy, and as concerned, as one might hope for as whether his skill would involve German or Japanese Okinawa loomed. adversaries. “Nobody slept that night before the invasion,” he said. He soon found out. “The Navy needed a lot of The Higgins boat crews sympathized with the Marines amphibious personnel” for Pacific operations, Yannetti being delivered into harm’s way. “We left those poor solsaid, so he was sent to the West Coast for more training diers, and many told us they were willing to swap places and preparation, mostly in San Diego and nearby with us,” Yannetti recalled. “But we ourselves weren’t Coronado, Calif., before shipping out to the Pacific from necessarily safer.” The amphibs were vulnerable to San Francisco Bay. “I looked up under the Golden Gate Japanese suicide air strikes (kamikaze raids), and even Bridge, the first time I had ever seen it,” Yannetti said. “Then we were on our way.” suicide swimmers infiltrating the bay. In one case a plane clearly had Yannetti’s home craft, the U.S.S. Bingham, in its sights. “But we were so close Teamwork on the waves to the beach that we didn’t want to hit our own guys on As part of the “naval amphibs,” Higgins was one of three personnel in charge of a “Higgins boat,” officially the beach with friendly fire,” Yannetti said. Yannetti at designated a landing craft, vehicle, personnel, or LCVP. the time was manning a machine gun post near the forThe Higgins boat was designed to deliver assault troops ward magazine, but was told not to shoot. Land-based (or materiel) directly to beach locations. Each crewmemfire brought the aircraft down, he said. 40 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Veterans of WWII Family reunited Yannetti’s duties, both on the Higgins boat and on the U.S.S. Bingham, also at times involved moving medical supplies and food supplies during its two-week stay anchored off Okinawa. “We carried enough food to feed 2,200 troops, three meals a day,” he recounted. He then returned briefly to the U.S., before heading for the anticipated invasion of Japan. “This was it; we knew that,” he said somberly. “This time we took cargo and dropped it off at Saipan, then we were off with the convoy, and while we were with the convoy, they dropped the atomic bomb.” Yannetti saw duty in ferrying British and American ex-Prisoners of War to other locales, including Manila in the Philippines. “The orders came that ex-POWs were to eat first; they had elite status,” he said. “I never saw guys eat so much food in my life.” Some ate too much, and became ill, he added. Happy and headed for home, Yannetti had no idea of what fate might have befallen his brothers.” The mail was bad,” he deadpanned. Though his oldest brother had suffered from trench foot in the European theater, and was discharged from the Army in April 1945, both brothers also had survived, leading to a joyful family reunion. But Yannetti found he couldn’t escape sadness and pain altogether. As a high school student before serving in the war, Yannetti had worked at a local German bakery in Paterson, and was on good terms with the owner and his son. Checking on both upon his return, Yannetti found the man’s son had died in combat while in the baker’s childhood home town. “Sad,” he said, becoming quiet for a second. Yannetti remained in the Navy until being discharged in 1946, handling several short stints, most of them close

42 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

to U.S. waters. “You had to have the points,” he explained. In the immediate post-war period, as naval personnel changed dramatically, “They asked us to reenlist; we had the experience,” he said. “But I had had enough.” Setting down deep Clifton roots With help from the GI Bill, Yannetti in 1950 purchased a house in Fair Lawn even though “I was single. I bought it, really, for my mother and father,” though he also resided there. That year Yannetti also began working at the CurtissWright plant in Wood-Ridge, moving from his initial work “in the tool crib” to becoming an expeditor for the overhaul of jet engines for the then brand-new B52 bombers. Though the B52 engines were built by Pratt & Whitney, Curtiss-Wright handled the overhaul and maintenance work, which received high marks, often handling 40 to 50 engines a month, Yannetti said with some pride. As for the engines and the B52s themselves, he noted, “They were big.” Following his stint with Curtiss-Wright, Yannetti worked at the Clifton Public Library. He married his wife, Elizabeth, in 1954 in Garfield, and they moved to Clifton in 1958, settling at 319 Union Ave. “for about 50 years.” Today they reside on Chandra Court in Allwood. “We’ve been here in Clifton a long time; do the math,” he joked, before noting the total of 57 years. And, oh yes, Yannetti completed his high school education, adding that to a lengthy list of real-world educational experience. Cliftonites can be grateful for one of its own who has served the city for more than a half-century – and served the nation with honor for even longer.

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Veterans of WWII

By Joe Hawrylko

“You just get used to it in training, and you don’t think about it much when you are up there,” explained Stephen Mihalovic, in what is surely the most nonchalant way anyone has described what it’s like to be in a plane you’re not driving that’s doing 300 mph headed straight at the ground. “But you never forget how to pray.” It takes some serious mettle—and a healthy dosage of teenage invincibility—to voluntarily trade in the comforts of home for a cramped cockpit halfway around the world in the Pacific Theater. Mihalovic did just that in 1942, when he elected to drop out of Clifton High School at 16 years old and take up arms against the Axis powers. “We had to go win the war first,” the 90-year-old said very matter-of-factly of his decision to leave CHS. By the time the Clifton native was discharged from the Navy in 1946, Mihalovic was an aviation radioman first class who had 44 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

flown 23 combat missions off of the USS Enterprise, USS Intrepid, and USS Hancock, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and three air medals—all while still a teenager. He was truly scared of only one thing: mom and dad. “That was a pretty rough deal,” laughed Mihalovic. “After nudging for maybe two or three weeks, they finally consented and signed the waiver. My friend Lou DeLotto [and I] were contemplating going in together, so we had all our tests done before we got to the service. My intention going in was to stay for 20 years.” On May 23, 1942—Mihalovic’s 17th birthday—he left his home on Knapp Ave. and boarded a bus for 90 Church St. in New York City to enlist in the Navy. He completed his boot camp at Newport, RI, and went to aviation radio school in Jacksonville, FL. Mihalovic was then sent to San Diego in May 1943 to join the USS Enterprise and Air Group Six. He ultimately logged countless hours and flew almost two dozen combat missions in several major battles. But one vivid memory is the first time he hopped in the back of a Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber and heard that iconic roar of a World War II prop plane charging at the earth. “I was in San Diego on Mother’s Day, I remember that very clearly,” he said. “We were just put into the squadron and two guys were going up, and I said I had never been up before. They told me to get a parachute and up we went. At about 5,000 feet they open the hatch, which you do in case something happens, and say we are going to

make a few dives. Without any other words, we go down and I was thinking, ‘This is not for me!’ But the second dive was a lot easier than the first, and the next was better, too. By the fifth dive I was OK.” Combat ready Mihalovic first entered combat in November 1943, when the Enterprise and Air Group Six engaged the Japanese at the Gilbert

Islands, and soon after at Marshall Island. At the end of 1943, Mihalovic was attached to the USS Intrepid as it was heading toward the Marshall Islands. Once captured, the islands put the Allies within striking range of Truk Lagoon, which is where the Imperial Navy was headquartered. On Feb. 16, 1944, Operation Hailstorm commenced, as three carrier groups put up a near-con-

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Veterans of WWII stant assault on Truk that cost the Japanese two Imperial destroyers and nearly 200,000 tons in supplies. “That was basically the Japanese Pearl Harbor,” recalled Mihalovic. “That was a two-day engagement. I remember that day in particular; the flak was very heavy.” The intense firepower stood out as a personal memory, but Operation Hailstorm is also recalled for an odd bit of Navy lore. In the waning hours of the battle, a Japanese pilot was able to evade Allied anti-aircraft long enough to fire off an aerial torpedo, which slammed into the Intrepid on her right side, roughly 15 feet below the waterline. Steve and Dorothy Mihalovic with their daughters in 2008: Mary Ann “We were on torpedo defense. I had to Sidebottom, Dorothy Sarisky, Diane Bigos and Denise Kearney. fly early in the morning, so I decided to ity in war. Mihalovic became a shellback when he stay in the ready room. Many guys went to the bunks but crossed the equator while serving on the Intrepid in in the ready room, we had reclining chairs. I was putting 1944. “That really broke up the monotony,” he said. my legs over the one in front of me and getting ready to The line crossing ceremony is an international naval go to la-la land when all the sudden there was an explotradition where pollywogs—those who haven’t sion,” Mihalovic explained. “We got hit from a torpedo crossed—engage in a series of rituals at the behest of the on a torpedo plane, and we really got rocked. The torpeshellbacks, who previously crossed. No rank is safe do hit the chief’s quarter below us.” from the pranks, and the gags can get downright odd. Though the Intrepid remained afloat, the torpedo tore “They saved all the garbage for two weeks and open the hull, causing flooding, and also damaged the packed it into a makeshift tube and we had to crawl rudder badly enough that the ship was listing to the left. through 15-20 feet of that stuff,” Mihalovic laughed. “We weren’t allowed downstairs to get our stuff until “All the while a guy is hosing us down and then we had the next morning,” he said. “When I went down, I saw a to run through a gauntlet. I hid right behind one of the big chunk of the torpedo sitting there on my pillow. If I guys ahead of me because I didn’t want to get catapultever got weak in the knees while in the service, it was at ed off the deck!” that sight. That was also the first time we lost anyone After Truk, the Intrepid went to dry dock. Mihalovic from our squadron, and we had a burial at sea. That’s a kicked around San Diego briefly before being sent to sight now that, even if I see it on TV, I get choked up.” Hawaii to relieve the air group aboard the USS Hancock Crippled and unable to navigate normally, the Intrepid in March 1945. only reached safe harbor thanks to some quick thinking. “The chaplin on the ship made an announcement for “We were sitting there, sailing in circles, until the mass. I ended up volunteering to be the altar boy,” he chief petty officer had the bright idea to take the canvas recalled. After the mass, Mihalovic noticed a copy of the we had downstairs and make a sail out of it,” recalled Passaic Herald News, and that’s how he met Father Mihalovic. “That ended up in the Navy periodicals, how James Doyle, formerly of St. Paul’s Church. The two we ended up sailing back to Pearl Harbor.” struck up an enduring friendship—Mihalovic still proudly wears a USS Hancock belt buckle that Father Doyle Shellback and altar boy gave to him. Father Doyle was a calming influence for Despite the constant threat of danger, Mihalovic and Mihalovic. his other sailors occasionally found brief periods of lev46 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Veterans of WWII On March 18, 1945, the Hancock led the Navy’s first air strike on Kyushu, the southernmost large island of the Japanese archipelago. “We were the first carrier airplanes to bomb Japan proper,” recalled Mihalovic. “Our target was the air field at Southern Kyushu, and we were staging out of Okinawa, which we had recently captured. I remember I was scared knowing how many anti-aircraft installations they had. I almost had the feeling I wasn’t coming back. “In the two days before, I must have said about 5,000 Acts of Contrition. We were on the plane, waiting to take off, and I am nervous. I look out and see the father look at me; he motions a cross, and he blessed me. Instantly, a calm came over me. I knew I was coming back.” Mainland resistance indeed was ferocious, unlike any of the previous defenses Mihalovic had encountered. “Normally, a burst of flak shells emits a black smoke,” he said. Because of the sheer number of antiaircraft installations, the Japanese gave each station color-coded rounds to track their targets. “There were big bursts of color everywhere, green smoke, red smoke, blue smoke. It was actually very pretty, almost like a show in a way, but it could kill you.” “We actually got hit by flak once while bombing Kuril,” Mihalovic continued, “right in the engine, and we were able to just make it back to the ship. We got back and everyone was just staring, wondering how did we ever make it?” The pilot also had run into trouble on the descent to land. “On the way back, we engaged a kamikaze so we knew gas was low. I notice the gear isn’t down and the pilot just says, ‘I know,’ and that’s it,” Mihalovic recalled. “He puts them down at the last second, the cable catches and everyone comes running up, but oddly enough I don’t hear any sound. The two guys directly behind us went down in the water and we had to get them. We just made it.” The Hancock next traveled to Okinawa for another bombing mission, and spent the next week supporting troops up and down the island coast. On April 7, 1945, the Hancock suffered significant damage when a kamikaze and its payload breached the AA defenses, killing 62 men and wounding another 71. “I was typing a letter to my then-girlfriend in Santa Rosa, and they sound the torpedo defense alarm. I decided to leave this alone and get below deck,” he recalled. 48 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Mihalovic ran for the nearest hatch, pushed his way in, and got below just moments before the Japanese pilot slammed into the Hancock near where he was located. “I didn’t realize it until they found me, but my friends were on the deck picking up blankets to see if it was me. Meanwhile, I was down in the mess hall, playing a couple games of cribbage after things calmed down.” Hints, a celebration, and a return home The Hancock went to port for repairs, and returned to action in June. Mihalovic saw limited action until the Japanese announced their surrender on Aug 15, 1945. In hindsight, there were hints about what was to take place. “Three weeks before they dropped the bombs, we received orders to not attack three cities in any form, as well as the emperor’s castle,” recalled Mihalovic. “At that point, we had no idea.” “When they finally announced that Japan had surrendered, I was in the middle of my routine of breakfast and then communion. I had my life jacket on and I was loading my .38 when my pilot comes and says, ‘Steve, we’re not going,’” he said. “That night, I had a party all by myself. When we used to come back from flights, we’d be given two ounces of liquor. I would always drink half and save the other, so I had more than a pint!” After the surrender, Mihalovic enjoyed his leave in Japan before being discharged in May of 1946, after reconsidering his plans. “I wanted to do career, but I didn’t like the peacetime Navy,” he said. “I changed my mind the last six months or so. I wasn’t making a difference. Everything was spit and polish inspections. I was used to the air group, where everything was top notch.” Mihalovic returned home and briefly considered diamond cutting school, but ended up working at CurtissWright, the company which build the SB2C Helldiver he flew later in WWII. He worked in manufacturing until retiring in 1992. Mihalovic has four daughters, eight grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. Since retiring, Mihalovic has been very active in meeting his former sailors through the bi-annual reunions for the USS Hancock. “We used to have them in a different place every year,” he explained. Mihalovic was inducted in the Enlisted Combat Air Crew Roll of Honor on USS Yorktown CV 10 in November of 1999. “These days, everyone is older, so we keep in touch on Skype more. It’s a brotherhood.”

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Clifton Merchant • November 2015


87 Years of


By Douglas John Bowen

What’s a brand name worth in today’s marketplace? For Clifton Savings Bank, the trust engendered through 87 years of history in making our city a better place to live, work, and play. That span of nearly nine decades includes serving the city through both the Great Depression, which began in 1929, and the Great Recession that arrived with zeal in 2008 – both periods offering tough times for even the best of banks, along with nearly everyone else. But Clifton Savings weathered both and came out stronger than ever, even as the nation in recent years has debated whether many banks were “too big to fail.” Customers of Clifton Savings Bank instead were reassured, repeatedly, that their bank would not fail them. The bank kept its promise. Clifton Bancorp, Inc., parent of Clifton Savings Bank, is determined to hold to that promise today and in the years ahead, under the guidance of Chairman, CEO and President Paul M. Aguggia, who said the bank has pledged to be “always with you.” And not only be there – but be there in a meaningful way. “The onus is on us to have the type of service customers have come to expect,” Aguggia said, “while expanding our offerings to meet new needs. It’s not good enough just to be there.” 50 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Clifton Savings Founded in 1928 as the Botany Building & Loan Association at 215 Dayton Ave. in Botany Village, Clifton Bancorp, Inc., also known as CSBK, today oversees roughly $370 million in market capital from its current headquarters on 1433 Van Houten Ave. Now a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq (Nasdaq symbol: CSBK – of course), its most recent quarter generated a per-share dividend of six cents. The bank’s 2015 annual Top officers of Clifton Savings Bank: Bart D'Ambra, Chief Operating Officer, report declared it “poised for Linda Fisher, Senior Loan Officer, Rich Bzdek, Enterprise Risk Manager, Tricia success,” and Aguggia said Hrotko, Chief Revenue Officer, Steve Hoogerhyde, Chief Lending Officer Clifton Savings in 2014 also Doug. (Thanks for the tour!) raised $170 million in capital, helm, as Aguggia assumed the reins on Jan. 2, 2014. He giving it one of the highest capital percentages among succeeded both Chairman John Celentano, Jr., known U.S. banks of comparable size, “well, well, well in by many as “Mr. Clifton,” and President Walter Celuch. excess of regulatory guidelines,” Aguggia emphasized. Celentano and Celuch served the company for 51 years The bank became a “fully public company” last year and 25 years, respectively. and, not totally coincidentally, saw a change at the

52 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Aguggia said the two sought him out to assume command shortly after meeting for dinner together one night in 2013. And as they related later to Aguggia, they noted “he didn’t say no.” New role, big challenges But he was nonetheless surprised. Aguggia was no stranger to Clifton Savings, having worked with the company for more than 10 years as part of a Washington, D.C.-based law firm. He was (and is) well-versed in mergers & acquisitions and with bank regulatory issues. But law, not banking, was his realm of expertise, he recalled. He knew making his transition from banking law to banking business would be a challenging one. He also knew such a challenge also would affect not just for him. “I want to give a ‘shout out’ to the employees, to management, to the Directors,” Aguggia said. “As a new person on the scene, asking all of them to buy into a new vision [could have been] touchy. I’ve been blessed by the human resources here – people who know our business, and who know our customers.” Playing catch-up in earnest, Aguggia has immersed himself in matters Clifton. “I’ve had an enormous edu-

cation in the past year and a half [regarding Clifton], and I’m very committed to learning this marketplace.” Among his mostly pleasant surprises: “The size of the city, the number of viable small businesses, and the opportunities for growth in Clifton and nearby. The market is vibrant; the growth potential is significant.” Others may consider the region’s glory days behind it. Not Aguggia. “We’re focused on Clifton and on northern New Jersey,” he asserted. “We want to be there and help spur future growth.” To that end, CSBK has ramped up its loan program. On March 31, 2011 its loans relative to deposits stood at 52.75%. Four years later, on March 31, 2015, the amount stood at 91.65%. During the same period, the percentage of nonperforming loans relative to total loans – low to begin with by national standards – dropped from 0.72% to 0.33%. CSBK’s physical presence has grown. In the past six years, it has expanded beyond its Clifton base of four banks and one loan department, including several locations in nearby Passaic and Bergen counties which debuted in 2010. By year’s end, CSBK will open a branch in northern Hoboken, adding Hudson County to its territorial

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Clifton Savings reach. “We chose a neighborhood in Hoboken that’s been developed for residential use relatively recently. We like that part of Hoboken because it doesn’t have a lot of banks, “ Aguggia said. “We hope CSBK can be a good neighbor.” The branch will identify itself under its CSBK logo, utilizing the company’s initials as part of the plan “to assist in adoption of brand in new markets and niche targets,” as stated on the CSBK website. But Clifton remains home, as evidenced by the decision to retain the name of Clifton Savings Bank in everyday use, Nasdaq acronym or no. “We’ve tried to thread a needle, not to do violence to the past or appear to be a fly-bynight organization,” Aguggia said. “We’re a Passaic County bank, and we want people to know we haven’t lost sight of that, or our Clifton roots.” More markets, more service options Aguggia sees potential beyond the traditional singlefamily residential market the bank has served (“and will continue to serve”). The bank has expanded its lending focus to serve multi-family residences and commercial business, striving to blend old and new. Aguggia noted that, contrary to some expectations, the mix of old and new services doesn’t break down by generational divides. Some elderly Cliftonites, he said, are perfectly web-savvy and comfortable with online banking. In contrast, even some Millennials, at least sometimes, actually prefer older, more traditional banking procedures. “Some swear by new tech; some like ‘traditional,’” he said. That means that, for the foreseeable future, Clifton Savings will be “a mix of brick & mortar, high-tech, and high-touch.” “High-tech” developments probably are the ones customers anticipate – or demand – the most. “Things are changing,” Aguggia asserted, referring not just to technology but also to the bank’s customer base. “The days of waiting for customers simply to come to you are gone.” With that in mind, and moving proactively, CSBK has hired business development officers “to go out and meet our community.” That will shortly include a mobile banking service. Last April CSBK launched “Insights,” a free monthly newsletter available online to anyone interested. Developed by Executive Vice President Tricia Hrotko, the publication has been well received, Aguggia said. “It’s one more tool to use to communicate with our cus54 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

tomers,” he said. “It’s connecting with our customers by projecting ourselves out there.” “Brick & mortar” offices likely will be relatively modest ones in the years ahead, not grand edifices serving egos instead of customer needs. But Aguggia said real-world banking still is a must even in an Internet age. “A physical presence in the neighborhood still matters,” he said. “We’re not going away. Our neighbors need to know we’re there, that they can deal with a human being to discuss their financial situation.” “The “high-touch” personal aspect includes being a good corporate neighbor in Clifton – and beyond. For tomorrow’s potential customers, CSBK last September launched a Kids Savings Accounts program, designed in part to introduce children to rudimentary financial factors, such as savings plans, compound interest, and security issues. The new CSBK Hoboken branch may provide an ideal test of that program. CSBK will be in the same 12-story building just below Elysian Charter School, handling grades K through 8, which also moved into the “new” neighborhood this year. [Disclosure: The writer’s son graduated from Elysian in 2014.] One Elysian official, aware of CSBK’s pending Hoboken arrival, planned to solicit financial support. CSBK beat the school to the punch, offering to donate $10,000 to Elysian for library supplies and gym equipment, even before being asked. “The bank contacted us first, and she was thrilled to report CSBK would assist us with our Capital Campaign,” said Elysian School Director Harry Laub. “What a surprising and muchappreciated gesture by our new neighbor.” Queried on the not-insignificant size of the donation, Aguggia said, “We didn’t want to make a token gesture.” Indeed, the CSBK outreach will extend beyond money. Volunteers among the banking center staff plan to assist Elysian teaching staff in offering “basic financial literacy curricula, including guidelines and best practices to protect personal identity and financial information.” Can one bank deliver the best of old and new – to both old and new? An Aguggia quote addressed to the bank’s staff, posted on bank’s website (, may provide the best answer. “Think of your company like our Board and management do, as one of the youngest 87-year -old institutions out there.” A Clifton institution that plans to be “always with you.”

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Keeping Tradition

The late Joseph Shook and at left, Thomas and Annelise Garretson, Roy and Nancy (seated) Garretson, Kevin White, Sandra Grazioso and Amanda (Garretson) Sardo.

“A lot of funeral homes have had the same owners for generations, and they are very good operators,” said Thomas Garretson of other Clifton funeral homes. “This also makes it good for the consumer, since it keeps the prices down in an expensive field.” By April Lewandowski In a nation whose overall culture seems addicted to the lure of eternal youth, and agitated over any discussion of death, Shook Funeral Home, Inc. provides comfort for those grieving a lost family member or loved one. And family is something those at Shook Funeral Home understand. The business is owned and operated by Roy Garretson and Nancy Shook Garretson. Nancy is the daughter of Joe and Eleanor Shook, and she and her siblings grew up above the funeral ‘parlor.’ It is where she and Roy still reside and where they raised their kids, Thomas, one of the four funeral directors on staff, and Amanda. Shook Funeral Home in June notched six decades of service to the community, marking “60 Years of Excellence” and preparing for the future. 56 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Change is now When Joseph Shook launched the business in 1955, he would typically handle about 12 funerals per year. Shook Funeral Home currently handles about 240 funerals annually. The building at 639 Van Houten Ave. has been updated and modernized repeatedly to compensate. Changes include the addition of a new wing with three spacious chapels on the same floor. Change has also been driven by external and cultural forces. Many services now take place over a two-day span, instead of a four-day period common in recent decades In fact, many, not only here but across the nation, prefer a one-day, four-hour viewing, often during afternoon or early evening hours. The changes come in part from work-related time constraints.

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Keeping Tradition They also are spurred by those traveling from distant points to attend any service, who might not be able to spend several days away from home. As well, cremation services have become more common in lieu of a traditional burial. The Garretsons now own a second location, Compassionate Cremation Service, also on Van Houten Ave., that provides cremation services. This type of service is used for anyone whose religion does not have traditional burials as part of their custom, or for those looking for a lower-cost alternative to traditional burials. Cremation is generally followed by a memorial service to help provide a remembrance process for loved ones. Since there is no viewing at a memorial service, a display of photos and memorabilia from the deceased often are used to provide closure to the bereaved. A sense of Clifton history Those at Shook are very aware of those changes, and others, affecting Clifton and its recent history, as well as its own, and has cataloged many of them. A picture hanging on the wall of home’s front entrance shows the original Shook Funeral Home prior to its first renovation in 1962. Below that is a plaque with the original letter, dated June 7, 1955, from the NJ

58 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

State Board of Mortuary Science that granted permission to Joseph Shook to operate his new business. In addition, Shook Funeral has been able to collect little pieces of Clifton’s history, often donated from other family businesses that have closed or moved out of town. There are aerial photos of the Athenia neighborhood and old plates given to them by banks, bars, and even the Russian hall that used to be next door. Shook also has adapted to Clifton’s ongoing, present-day history, and its affect on funeral needs: the continuing influx of various cultural influences within Clifton in general, and to Athenia in particular, where Shook Funeral Home is located. When Joseph and Eleanor Shook first opened their business in 1955, area residents were primarily of Polish descent. Athenia today has is an eclectic mix of ethnicities and religious sects that typify the city’s diversity. One constant often remains: Many of today’s multi-generational families are passing down their customs and traditions to their children so that they will continue to do the same. According to Thomas Garretson, trying to meet the multi-cultural demands has definitely been one of the biggest challenges to the business. And it has he and others in the industry learning anew.


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Keeping Tradition

Quest for flawless service But regardless of cultures old or new, there is no room for compromise: “This is one of the few businesses where you have to be perfect 100 percent of the time,” he said. “You don’t get a second shot at it. You have to get it right the first time, every time.” The Garretson family believes that grief support goes beyond assisting with the typical funeral arrangements. Staff will help the families with whatever has to be done, even if that includes taking someone to run last-minute errands. Garretson said that the goal is to “try to take everything off of their plate and just let them be with their family.” For that reason alone, Shook prides itself on being a truly full service funeral home. The service outreach can begin by accessing Shook’s website,, which offers guidance for various services, including local florists, hotels and lodging, monuments, nearby cemeteries, newspaper and media links, grief resources beyond those offered by Shook itself, and government resources. Some of Shook’s own grief support also extends to accommodating those perhaps too young to fully grieve, at least at an adult level. In 2011, the Garretsons decided to remove the downstairs smoking chapel and add a small children’s room with toys and a television for watching movies. “We felt that a children’s room would be best to suit the needs of the families.” said Roy Garretson. “It allows them to be here while their parents are nearby so that [parents] do not have the added worry about getting a babysitter during the services.” To assist parents with children cognizant of the mourning about them, so a table outside the room offers literature for families explaining how to answer children’s questions about death. Such concerns may be an outgrowth of a change of approach among grieving families, seeking to add personal touches, such as playing a favorite song of the deceased. Some families also like to place a token item near the casket that pays tribute to who the person was. Thomas Garretson recalled when Shook oversaw a funeral where the family had brought a Harley Davidson motorcycle into the home’s largest chapel because the deceased was a biker. He believes such accommodating 60 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

A painting of the Shook Funeral Home, circa 1920.

service is part of the reason why such a large number of funeral homes are still operating as family businesses today. Big corporations might be predisposed not to address such personal touches of accommodation. Indeed, Shook is currently one of eight funeral homes operating in the City of Clifton, a fairly competitive number even for a city the size of Clifton. The competition is serious but friendly, Thomas Garretson said. “We have a mutual respect for each other,” Garretson noted. “A lot of funeral homes have had the same owners for generations, and they are very good operators. This also makes it good for the consumer, since it keeps the prices down in an expensive field.” The competition also pushes Shook to innovate, often through technological advances and offerings which carry both pros and cons. “Technology has been an asset and a liability,” Garretson said. It’s harder to maintain older buildings, and some of the core of the [Shook] building is from the 1890s. It has not been easy to install the proper wiring for Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities to be able to stream music and video.” Shook also offers computer set-up capability during services that will display a photo montage of pictures that they have provided. Another trend is to use Skype to stream the funeral services to those relatives who are unable to travel to Clifton. In that case, Shook Funeral Home is not just another local business in Clifton, but a helpful member of the community it serves, reaching out to Clifton expatriates and to hometown residents alike.

which means Tomahawk Jr. is trained and nationally certified in restorative water drying methods by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, also known as IICRC. Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Cliftonite Tom Miller is on a mission: Infuse the venerable Deriter Club with new blood. “New” is relative, of course, given that the club is a gathering of retirees looking for relaxed companionship, small talk, coffee, and maybe a chance to win a 50/50 drawing. The key to membership, of course, is the qualification “retired.” Miller, now 82, is a fresh face at the Deriter Club, having joined “four years ago, when I retired.” He wants more fellow retirees to join him, given that (he estimates) the club’s average age is “89 or 90.” He guesses perhaps one or two members are younger than he. “Old people are surprisingly young,” Miller said, but he acknowledged that being young at heart isn’t enough to defy the sands of time. “Our membership is open to those 55 and over, but our membership is getting very old,” Miller observed. “We just lost three members in the last three or four months. Other members are homebound,” attending weekly gatherings seldom if at all. “Right now our membership stands at 46; when I 62 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

joined it was 57,” he said, explaining his concern, which is shared by club President Pat Perota. “It’s hard to get members now,” Perota observed. “Years ago, we were up to about 65 or 71. We’re down due to age and sickness. The club adjusted the bylaws “so that those outside of Clifton can join,” Perota added. Said Miller, “We have a few members who live out of town, two or three. But the majority live in the city.” The group began as an informal gathering outside a Rexall drug store as early as 1953, according to notes from the late Les Herrschaft, then the property manager of Styertowne Shopping Center. He offered a small, unused space to the group free of charge. Growth once was rapid But the group grew, so much so that the it exceeded the 65-person limit of the room, forcing the group to seek other accommodations, Miller said. Herrschaft worked to relocate the club to the Masonic Lodge on Van Houten Ave. in 2000, where it still resides today.

The club has some historical mementos, but as a tenant doesn’t display most of them. “They’re in storage; we can’t hang it on the Masonic Lodge’s walls,” Miller said. The club’s banner, heralding its official formation in 1968, is in full view, he said. In addition to the weekly meetings, “During the course of the year we have several functions: A Christmas party, a party at Mountainside—we just held one a few weeks ago—and a Beefsteak in the summertime,” he said. Bill Reinnaur, a director with the Passaic-Clifton YMCA during the 1960s, is credited with originating the club name “Deriter.” Reinnaur also served as unofficial Treasurer prior to the club’s formal organization in 1968, a move that makes the organization “officially” 47 years old. But whether the Deriter Club is 62 years old or “formally” just age 47, Miller is looking to the club’s future, seeking to arrest and reverse a period when “no one was joining.” “It’s a good way to get out for three or four hours a day, to socialize,” he said. –Douglas John Bowen

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Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Great Memories... Were Made Here! First place, three years in a row: From 1986 to 1989 the Seahawk Boys & Girls Club teams took home the NJ Winter Swim League Championship. The swimmers from those squads and others B&G Club members will be feted at the 9th Alumni Beefsteak on Nov. 20 at 7 pm. Tickets are $40; call 973-773-0966, ext. 119. Special awards also will recognize Seahawks coaches Bill O’Neil, Lynn O’Neil, John Gray, and Dennis Szabaday, who guided the impressive winning streak. Said Executive Director Bob Foster: “Three straight years as NJ Champs? They had great teams.” Honoring the swimmers (pictured above), now young adults, “is a way to reconnect with the kids and have them and the coaches come back. It’s a nice way to bring the family back home and see the Club today.” Also to be honored in memoriam is ‘Uncle Lenny’ Dudek, a club member from the 1960s through the 1990s, “always willing to lend a hand,” Foster said. 64 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

From left, Ken Bucsko, Charles Bucsko, Felicia Barbosa, Peter Dones, Greg Schabel, Joe Dera. On facing page, this album cover for Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells was shot in the Clifton Boys Club gym in 1971 thanks to Joe Dera.

The annual event is more of a party than a stodgy old induction ceremony. So if you want to connect with the kids you knew, get a ticket and get ready to have some fun. There is a serious side to it all as well. The Club on the corner of Clifton and Colfax has supported youth development activities for 60 years. Keeping kids on the straight and narrow and teaching community service are the foundations of the national Boys & Girls Club. Here in Clifton, coaches, young adults and mentors have done that for the past six decades. As you read some of these short bios you will hear that often repeated. Arranged by the decade they were in the Club, here are the bios on inductees—some dating back to the 1950s when the Club was on Center St. in Botany— who exemplify those values also will be honored.

The 2000s Felicia Barbosa, Charles Bucsko, Ken Bucsko, and Lance Dearing are this decade’s nominees. Felicia Barbosa, an Emergency Room Scribe for ScribeAmerica, graduated in 2015 from Caldwell College/University with a B.A. in Biology/Chemistry; she’s also a 2010 CHS alumnus. Charitable activities include the Youth Ministry of St. Anthonys’s of Padua in Passaic. “It is an honor to represent the Club, the place that holds many childhood memories and encouraged me to grow to be successful,” she wrote. Charles Bucsko, currently a chef, graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in Culinary Arts, and is involved with the Key Club and Clifton Recreation. Along with culinary arts, Bucsko also has another interesting interest: archery.

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Hall of Fame chance on me.” The Club taught him both “I want to inspire the younger generation that you leadership and teamwork, attributes which can be successful at a young age, but it takes hard work, he uses in his job today.   “Being patience, and persistence to achieve it,” he said. inducted is an honor but it really Kenneth Bucsko, currently a sophomore at pays homage to an organization Rutgers University in New Brunswick, is an that helped build my future and NJROTC member and is an assistant coach allowed me to be the person I am for the Clifton Hawks Basketball team. today,” he concluded. “The Boys & Girls Club is where most of who I am started,” he explained. “It’s the The 1980s place I made my first friends and, most Michael Berzak, Kim Davis, important, where my competitive nature Tracey Davis, and John Salerno are took form.” His involvement with Hawks this decade’s nominees. basketball “also introduced me for the Mike Berzak didn’t just have one first time to what follows hard work.” friend in the Boys Club growing up, Lance Dearing, CHS 2002, served “you had a hundred. We all grew up as a US Navy Green-Side Corpsman there... Laura Fascino, Laura (field medic) during two tours of Slater... we are friends for life,” duty in Iraq, and graduated from recalled Berzak, now 49 and owner Bergen Community College in Lance Dearing. of Tri-Star Flooring in Parsippany. 2009, where he studied to apply “It was my home away from home. his medical skills to intense civilIt kept me and a lot of other kids grounded. Without the ian situations, such as emergency room operations. Club and the great leaders there, I think I would have gone down the wrong path.” The 1990s Basketball Coach Tom DiDonna served as one of his Tina Batinic, Peter Dones, and Jennifer Orovitz are greatest role models. “I looked up to him like a big this decade’s honorees. brother... him and Paul Cooper, Bob Foster... they were Tina Batinic is a TPF Systems Programmer Assistant like father figures to us.” Vice President at Citigroup, following stints at Summers at Camp Clifton in Jefferson Township Worldwide Educational Services, IBM ESI training were the most fond memories for this kid of the 1980s. program, and Marist College. She served as a volunteer “I think I spent my entire summer up there,” said Berzak EMT “up until 9/11, and that is when my career of the overnight camp that shipped as many as 500 changed. I gave many hours to the recovery effort and campers a day to the wooded retreat. The Club acquired it is one thing I shall never forget.” Also not forgotten: Camp Clifton in 1962 and sold it in early 2000. the Boys & Girls Club “that was my home away from Kim Krause (nee Davis) has been Return to Vendor home” and “helped me become the woman I am today.” (RTV) Supervisor for Costco Wholesale since 1992, Peter Dones remembered his days at the Club as nur“when they opened the first Costco in Clifton.” It was turing and challenging. He began there as a five-yearher second job, following a stint with Midlantic Bank old and found his path in soccer.   Now 31 and living on Allwood Rd. She assists the annual XMAS for Kids and working in Alexandria, VA, Dones is a chef and program held in Hopatcong, where she resides. A B&G general manager of a Legal Seafoods restaurant. Club member from 1978 to 1988, she expressed “surDones cited coach Don Knapp as a life-changing prise” at being honored. mentor in his life.  “My mom was single and she saw how positive Don and so many others at the club were,” “I enjoyed the teen center the most; they kept us out said Dones, a 2003 CHS grad.  Other mentors he cited of trouble. The teen center is a fond memory,” she said. were Debbie Oliver, Chris Hall, Bob Foster, and Frank Another milestone memory was a club-sanctioned trip Pajuelo.   “Don saw talent in my game and took a to Chicago “to meet other B&G Club groups. 66 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Hall of Fame “I still talk to lots of friends I met in “Being able to be an employee at Clifton at the Club,” she said. “Thank the Club was very helpful,” he God for Facebook.” explained. “I was gainfully employed Tracey Davis, Kim’s younger sister both through high school and college, by a year, recalled that she “loved going where I absorbed a lot of life lessons: to the Boys & Girls Club every day, and working hard, being accountable, takI worked there from age 16 to 18 as a ing care of business.” ‘counter’ for the 8-year-olds. I really But it was not just the business side enjoyed it.” Tracey was named the that helped Salerno back then. Those Club’s Girl of the Year in 1988. She still teenage years can be tough, he resides in Clifton. explained. What is your role in life? Tracey Davis. John Salerno, CHS 1982, valued his What Salerno saw and what he learned time with the Club “as a member, an from the mentors at the Club was “how employee, and then a volunteer through the alumni to pass it on. How to volunteer, and how to be a good organization.” He credits the Club with helping him role model for those around you. through his teen-aged years, “14 and 15” in particular. “The Club helped me in a lot of different ways. One A graduate of William Paterson University in 1987 of the original [Executive] Directors, Al Abruscado, with a degree in computer science, Salerno has been was a mentor to me and looked after a lot of kids who’d “in the technology field ever since.” He has worked for been at the Club at different points in time. He coached Calvin Klein cosmetics, as CIO/Vice President for me in certain aspects of growing up.” Salerno also Fedders Corp., and currently is with data storage firm saluted current Club Executive Director Bob Foster, EMC Corp. The Club helped his work ethic and, therewho he said “was another good role model” assisting fore, focused him in his career. him and many others on life’s path.

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68 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Hall of Fame

From left, Mike Berzak, Edward Gras, Dan Swaluk, Frank Niader, John Salerno, Kim Krause Davis.

The 1970s Daniel Swaluk and Bill Kase are this decade’s honorees. Dan Swaluk, CHS 1972, graduated from William Paterson University in 1979 (“going to night school”) before enjoying a career in Human Resources for 25 years, split between two major construction engineering firms, Foster-Wheeler and Lummus Corp. Switching career paths, for the past 3 and a half years he’s worked in the financial sector. “It’s a true honor” to be added to the Hall of Fame, Swaluk said, noting he was involved with the Club “from the time I was 7 years old,” in 1962, “all through growing up. It’s a tremendous organization.” Though Swaluk was very much “into sports,” he observed wryly, “I’m also pretty good with a pool cue; you can credit the Club for that.” He added that he “won only one award, Junior Games Room Champion in 1968.” Shades of The Music Man! More seriously, Swaluk said, “One thing I knew from the club; the competition always give you a sense of fair play. It’s good teaching. You learn a lot of life’s lessons at the club, not just at home.” A lifelong Cliftonite, Swaluk lives “within walking distance” of the Boys & Girls Club, a distance he’ll cover on Nov. 20 to attend the Beefsteak. The 1960s Joseph Dera, Bud Clawson, and Gregory Schabel are this decade’s honorees. Joe Dera, CHS 1970, has represented three of the “Fab Four” Beatles as a rock publicist, including working with Sir Paul McCartney for more than two decades. Dera’s career includes starting a summer job working for Pete Townshend’s Track Records & Management in Manhattan. That job, in itself something of a coup for any young person at the time, lasted 70 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“all of two weeks” before he was hastily promoted for the Who’s Next tour, touting the album’s U.S. release at the same time. Dera also has worked with a variety of artists, including Patti LaBelle (involving an album cover shoot located at the Boys Club gym, pictured on page 50), the rock band Jade Warrior, Elton John, David Bowie, and George Benson, among many others. Greg Schabel is Clifton Department of Public Works Supervisor. The 1950s Edward Gras and Frank Niader, the latter named the Club’s first Assistant Program Director in 1950, are this decade’s honorees. Ed Gras, CHS Class of 1954, graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y., in 1958, before literally seeing the world. Gras’s career include stints as ship’s captain in the merchant marine, a chief mate on several passenger ships owned by Grace Lines, and chief officer several container ships and tankers. Though retired, he still is called to testify as an expert witness in cases involving maritime law. Gras’s experiences with water began as a child in the late 1940s. “One summer I worked at the Passaic Boys Club Camp,” open to Clifton children prior to 1947, when Clifton founded its own Club,” Gras said. “We’d organize trips to use the Passaic Boys Club swimming pool, once or twice a week for an hour or two, during the summer, ferrying kids to and from the pool.” Gras noted his mother was active with the Club during his childhood, when he lived on 50 Clifton Ave. “Back in the ’50s I worked there and I see a lot of faces and names that bring back pleasant memories,” Gras added, noting he plans to be at this year’s Beefsteak. “I already took a table.”

Come and see why so many Clifton students are making PC their high school of choice!

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Clifton students from these classes earned over $6.5 million in scholarships! Clifton Merchant • November 2015


On the Stages Theater League of Clifton (TLC) presents Little Shop of Horrors at the Aprea Theater, 199 Scoles Ave, Clifton, Nov. 6, 7, 8 and 13, 14, 15. This comedy horror rock musical is a cult classic that has achieved success on Broadway, offBroadway and in the movies. This show will feature a fully functioning, one-of-akind construction of the Audrey II character. Advance tickets are $20 and $15. Go to The cast, standing from left: Craig Ernest Woodward, Michael Smith-Gallo, Erin Pach, Eden Casalino, George Adamo, Kurt Irizarry. Seated, from left: Kenneth Fowler, Rebecca Shuster, Nadiya Braham, Victoria Webb, Amaya White. Not Pictured: Frank Favata, Gregory Gwyn.

Clifton’s Walk through History Part III at the Clifton Arts Center Gallery will be displayed through Dec. 5. Curated by City Historian Don Lotz, the exhibit conveys Clifton’s story from the end of World War II to the celebration of our Nation’s Bicentennial. Photographs and artifacts provide a visual story and a glance from 1945 through 1976. Visitors are encouraged to share their stories of this era with Clifton Historical Commission members. The Gallery is open 1 to 4 pm, Wed. to Sat. Admission is $3 for non-members.

Clifton Centennial’s first event will be on April 17, 2016. While our hometown actually turns 100 in 2017, plans are already underway to raise funds. Chairs Vivian Lalumia and Elaine Yaccarino are organizing a kickoff family dinner and beefsteak at the Boys & Girls Club. A sampling of events from April 2016 to November 2017 include a cultural picnic, trips to Ellis Island, concerts and of course a fantastic parade. Fundraisers being planned include a calendar, remembrance sun catchers, plates and an ad journal.

The CHS Drama Club presents The Miracle Worker, a true story based on the life of Helen Keller. Performances are Nov. 20 and 21 at 7:30 pm and Nov 20 at 2 pm. Cast includes from left front: Wendy Olmos, Julianna Finocchiaro, Kevin Kornecki, Marc Pannullo. Rear from left: Maura Huelbig, Alejandro Joewono, Daniela Slanina (Stage Manager), Monika Dlugosz, Reem Mustafa, Natalka Piekarus.

72 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Meet our CHS students of the Month who have been selected by the vice principals of each wing.

Sept. Students of the Month, from left, Chinue Thompson, Nee-yah Corbin, Dominic Tchipo, Vanessa Cruz-Mascuch

Vanessa Cruz-Mascuch, CHS Class of 2016 I take pride that I attend Clifton High School; most of my family has attended the school as well, so there’s a lot of family history. There are so many great things about CHS. One of them is the guidance and counseling department. There is always someone in CHS, whether teachers, coaches, or guidance counselors, that are willing to help you succeed with whatever you may be struggling with. I would like to attend college and study psychology and see where that may take me. But my main activities for my senior year are just focusing on graduating and working at my part time jobs. Dominic Tchipo, CHS Class of 2016 Being honored as a Student of the Month is just the first step and a perfect way for me to start off my senior year of high school. This award might seem small to some, but to me this is a huge step. I honestly never thought I could ever win this award and, now that I have, what is stopping me from going out and doing anything I set my mind to do? I am planning on going to school to get any degree in the film industry. I love movies with a passion and I hope to be a famous director/actor someday. I have a job at McDonalds and it might not be the best, but I am blessed and grateful to have it. When I’m not at work either I’m out with the same old people or I’m hanging out with my little brother. Every Sunday you can find me at Crossroads Free Methodist Church. I’m not as involved in church as I 74 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

used to be because I work now but from time to time I find my ways to get involved. Nee-yah Corbin, CHS Class of 2016 Like any other teenager I hope to one day be successful with whatever I may doing in the future. I would like to attend college and study psychology and see where that may take me. Just attending Clifton High School has been a great experience in general–seeing how far I have come since my freshman year. When I meet with younger students, I tell them the best thing about CHS is that the teachers really do care about the students. My favorite subject is math because that’s what I’m really good at. My best experience in school has been the talent shows; I love watching people show off their different talents. My main activities for my senior year have been just focusing on graduating and working at my part-time jobs. Chinue Thompson, CHS Class of 2016 CHS to me involves the clubs, sports (especially the track and field team), and the learning environment. It’s meant meeting new people and teachers, part of CHS’s overall diversity. Among other things, I’ve been in track & field for all 4 years and also in the Key Club. I want to become a nurse. I volunteer for St. Joseph Hospital Forensics because it’s very interesting and it’s something I have never done before.

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*Use Your Price Plus Card & Accumulate $400 before Nov. 26 Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Optimist Cup Helping us promote the Hot Dog Night and the Optimist Cup, from left, band, cheerleaders and football players at Clifton Stadium, from left: Idalis Núñez, Jonathan Ramos and Royce Francisco of Passaic High with Mustangs Aniah Whitmire, Maurice Greene (holding the Optimist Cup) and Drum Major Sydney Pangaro.

The Optimist Clubs of Clifton & Passaic present...


Before they do battle on the gridiron, the Clifton and Passaic football teams will break bread... and down some hot dogs. This year’s Hot Dog Night will be on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at the Athenia Veterans Hall on Huron Ave. at 6:30 pm. There, the Mustangs and Indians will do a pre-celebration of the 86th game in their rivalry, as readers can see with the scorecard at right. In addition to the football players, cheerleaders and band members from both schools will attend the dinner. All kids eat for free. The public is invited and tickets are $10. Even if you cannot come, a donation is appreciated, and will go towards feeding some hungry student athletes. At the hot dog night, one student from each team will speak about their experiences on the field and in the classroom, and about what this historic rivalry means to them. The goal is for these student athletes to recognize each other not only as competitors, but as neighbors. After the hot dog feast, the two squads will meet again in their traditional Thanksgiving Game. That will take place on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, at 10:30 am in Clifton on Joe Grecco field. Football, cheering and band supporters are invited to attend the hot dog night. For tickets or to donate, call Clifton Merchant Publisher Tom Hawrylko at 973-253-4400.


76 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

School 9 PTO’s Vendor/Craft Fair is on Nov. 20 from 5 to 8 pm. Held in the school at 25 Brighton Rd., admission is free while vendor tables are $35. Come shop, eat, browse and support School 9. Call Lisa Lessner at 973-458-0399 for info. School 16 HSA’s Three Month Calendar Raffle offers prizes awarded daily through January. Tickets are $20. Call Valerie Cupo 201-248-3587. School 16 HSA Vendor Night is Dec. 4 from 6 to 9 pm at 755 Grove St. Free admission for shoppers. Vendor tables: $25. Call Dana McCarrick at 973-632-0914. St. Brendan Catholic School’s Grocery Raffle is at noon on Nov. 15 at 154 East 1st St. Drawings begin at 1 pm. The kitchen will be open and the $10 admission includes coffee or tea and one sheet of small prize tickets. Call 973-772-1149 for tickets. Clifton PRAISE offers a free workshop Hidden Dangers: Keeping Children and Adults with Developmental Disabilities Safe. The Nov. 30 event is at 7 pm at the Allwood Library. The presenter is Gary Weitzen, Director of POAC Autism Services. Register or write

Passaic vs. Clifton 1923 1923 . . .Clifton 12 ......Passaic 7 1924 . . .Passaic 23 ......Clifton 0 1925 . . .Passaic 21 ......Clifton 6 1926 . . .Passaic 21 ......Clifton 6 1927 . . .Passaic 13 ......Clifton 0 1928 . . .Passaic 24 ......Clifton 0 1929 . . .Passaic 24 ......Clifton 0 1930 . . .Passaic 26 ......Clifton 0 1931 . . .Passaic 7 ........Clifton 0 1932 . . .Passaic 26 ......Clifton 7 1933 . . .Clifton 7 ........Passaic 6 1934 . . .Passaic 26 ......Clifton 0 1935 . . .Passaic 6 ........Clifton 0 1936 . . .Passaic 34 ....Clifton 14 1937 . . .Passaic 6 ........Clifton 0 1938 . . .Passaic 19 ......Clifton 6 1939 . . .Passaic 31 ......Clifton 6 1940 . . .Passaic 13 ......Clifton 6 1941 . . .Passaic 0 ........Clifton 0 1942 . . .Passaic 19 ......Clifton 0 1943 . . .Clifton 12 ......Passaic 6 1944 . . .Clifton 26 ......Passaic 6 1945 . . .Clifton 6 ........Passaic 0 1946 . . .Clifton 26 ....Passaic 14 1947 . . .Clifton 32 ......Passaic 0 1948 . . .Clifton 7 ........Passaic 7 1949 . . .Clifton 12 ......Passaic 0 1950 . . .Passaic 20 ......Clifton 7 1951 . . .Clifton 26 ......Passaic 6 1952 . . .Clifton 33 ....Passaic 12 1953 . . .Clifton 21 ....Passaic 20


INDIANS MUSTANGS 36 Wins 45 Loses 5 Ties

45 Wins 36 Loses 5 Ties

1954 . . .Passaic 7 ........Clifton 6 1955 . . .Passaic 7 ........Clifton 0 1956 . . .Clifton 48 ......Passaic 0 1958 . . .Clifton 40 ......Passaic 7 1959 . . .Clifton 41 ....Passaic 21 1960 . . .Clifton 28 ......Passaic 6 1961 . . .Clifton 35 ......Passaic 7 1962 . . .Clifton 31 ......Passaic 6 1963 . . .Clifton 50 ......Passaic 0 1964 . . .Passaic 27 ......Clifton 0 1965 . . .Clifton 15 ....Passaic 13 1966 . . .Clifton 7 ........Passaic 0 1967 . . .Passaic 7 ........Clifton 7 1968 . . .Clifton 27 ....Passaic 10 1969 . . .Clifton 40 ......Passaic 0 1970 . . .Clifton 49 ......Passaic 0 1971 . . .Clifton 20 ....Passaic 12 1972 . . .Clifton 35 ......Passaic 6 1973 . . .Clifton 75 ....Passaic 12 1974 . . .Clifton 47 ......Passaic 6 1976 . . .Clifton 28 ......Passaic 6 1981 . . .Passaic 20 ......Clifton 3 1982 . . .Passaic 33 ......Clifton 0 1983 . . .Passaic 20 ......Clifton 7

1984 . .Clifton 16 ......Passaic 0 1985 . .Passaic 28 ......Clifton 7 1986 . .Passaic 21 ......Clifton 8 1987 . . .Clifton 24 ....Passaic 13 1988 . . .Clifton 22 ....Passaic 22 1989 . . .Passaic 22 ......Clifton 0 1990 . . .Passaic 14 ......Clifton 7 1991 . . .Passaic 33 ....Clifton 16 1992 . . .Passaic 13 ....Clifton 10 1993 . . .Passaic 0 ........Clifton 0 1994 . . .Passaic 12 ......Clifton 7 1995 . . .Passaic 21 ......Clifton 7 1996 . . .Clifton 23 ......Passaic 6 1997 . . .Passaic 22 ....Clifton 20 1998 . . .Passaic 25 ......Clifton 0 1999 . . .Passaic 20 ......Clifton 7 2000 . . .Clifton 21 ....Passaic 14 2001 . . .Clifton 20 ....Passaic 19 2002 . . .Clifton 19 ....Passaic 14 2003 . . .Clifton 17 ......Passaic 0 2004 . . .Clifton 48 ......Passaic 0 2005 . . .Clifton 7 ........Passaic 6 2006 . . .Clifton 14 ....Passaic 12 2007 . . .Clifton 18.....Passaic 13 2008 . . .Clifton 28 ......Passaic 0 2009 . . .Clifton 7.........Passaic 0 2010 . . .Clifton 42.......Passaic 0 2011 . . .Clifton 55.......Passaic 29 2012 . . .Clifton 0.........Passaic 29 2013 . . .Clifton 21.......Passaic 6 2014 . . .Clifton 20.......Passaic 14

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Marching Mustangs Featured in Nov. 14 Moving Musical Jam

Combine the Marching Mustangs and tartaned Highlanders... what do you get? Marching precision, bagpipe glory and drumming drama at the 16th Annual Highlander Band Military Concert & Tattoo. This indoor musical showcase of bagpiping bands, drum corps and the high-stepping Marching Mustangs is on Nov. 14, 6:30 pm at West Milford High School, 67 Highlander Drive, West Milford. The word tattoo is derived from the 17th century Dutch language describing when military bands would parade through towns alerting taverns it was curfew for the soldiers. Today, it has become a feat of band precision, bagpipe glory, and drum excellence that is the Highlander Tattoo. Funds raised by ticket sales supports the Highlander Marching Band as they perform their 2015 Field Show entitled Arabesque which received First Place, Best Percussion, Best Visual, and Best Effect on Sept. 26 at the Yamaha Cup Competition at Met Life Stadium. The Band, under the direction of Dr. Brian McLaughlin and Matt Gramata, is also raising funds to do a 10-day performance tour of Scotland and England in April 2016. 78 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The Marching Mustangs have performed at the Tattoo for several years and are always warmly welcomed. They will perform a version of their 2015 program on the gym floor, and will also join with The Highlanders and other bands for a grand finale.

Tickets are $20 for ages 13 and over, $15 for 60 and over. Kids 5 to 12 are $10 and those under 4 are free. Visit or mail checks to WMBPA, PO Box 603, West Milford, NJ 07480. Questions? Contact Julia Ligosh at 973-632-0712 or

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


8th Annual John Samra Scholarship Memorial 5K Run/Walk

80 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant


John Samra was a Clifton motorcycle officer who was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 21, 2003. To keep his memory eternal, Clifton PBA 36 established a scholarship fund in his name and proceeds from the Oct. 11 run help fund it. Photos from the race day are shown here on these two pages. Clifton Merchant • November 2015


CHS Hall of Famers

The 2015 Mustang Athletic Hall of Fame dinner was on Oct. 11, at the Brownstone. Those inducted (shown here) include: Emily Urciuoli: Track & Field (CHS 2010); Pete Lehr: Football (CHS 1958); Kevin Szott: Football, Wrestling (CHS 1981); Mickey Soccol: Football, Boys Basketball, Baseball (CHS 1989); Joe Hathaway: Football, Spring Track, Indoor Track (CHS 2005); Corey Bleaken: Wrestling (CHS 2006); Mike Lombardo: Baseball, Football (CHS 1991); Ken Kurnath: Contributor (CHS 1950). Teams named to the Hall of Fame include the 2001 Hockey Champs, the 2008 Girls Track Team and the 1986 Wrestling squad.

82 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Scenes from the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner on Oct. 11 at The Brownstone include members of the 2008 Girls Track Team, pictured above. On the facing page top, are teammates of the 2001 Mustang Hockey Championship squad and inset at left are some of the individual inductees.

Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Botany Reunion While they grew up on Center St. in Botany Village nearly 80 years ago, these gals (some with their daughters) trace their ancestral roots to Bagnoli, a western seaside section of Naples, Italy. At a recent reunion, they are, from left rear: Jean DeVita, Mary Mazzarisi (sitting), Toni McKean, Ann Schaffner, Mary Perrella, Matilda Talingo Grech, Vilma DeBlasio, Linda Vitallone (sitting). Front: Kathleen Beaty, Denise Robertson, Nina Colgary.

To mark the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, a spontaneous revolt against the government of the former Hungarian People’s Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies, the Hungarian flag was raised on Oct. 23 at City Hall. Photo by László Kerkay.

Passaic County Community College’s open house is Nov. 14, 10 am to noon at One College Blvd., Paterson. Entrance is at Broadway and Memorial Drive. PCCC offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs in fields with strong job demand from Environmental Sustainability to certificate programs in plumbing and welding. The Wanaque campus offers fully-equipped art studios, a blackbox theater and new facilities for the Culinary Arts program. More info: 84 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The 18th Clifton 5K Stampede & Health Walk is Nov. 15 at 9 am. Pre-registration fee is $20 for adults and $15 for youth before Nov. 11. Call 973-470-5956. A Salute to Veterans Concert will be at the Boys & Girls Club Bingo Hall on Nov. 23 at 6:30 pm. Bring non-perishable food items to be donated to St. Peter’s Haven or supplies being collected for Clifton Cares as admission. Call Clifton Recreation 973-470-5956.

We’ll Help You Make it a

Hungarian Holiday! Since 1988, my family and I have run our meat market at 189 Parker Ave. Using traditional recipes, we prepare pork, beef and meat products, homestyle hickory smoked ham, sausage, salami and all kinds of cold cuts. We also sell ground poppy seeds and ground walnuts and many traditional Hungarian food ingredients. All our products are prepared with know-how and tender love and care. In my store, or via UPS delivery, you will receive the best— foods which praises the tastes and inspires the soul.

The Rozsa Family Marika & Andrew

We’ll Mail Your Order! • Pork,

Beef & Meat Products • Home Styled Smoked Sausage • Salami & All Kinds of Cold Cuts • Holiday Hams & Traditional Foods • Hungarian Delicacies • Spices & European & Hungarian Sweets Clifton Merchant • November 2015


Business & Commerce

On Oct. 16, Congressman Bill Pascrell (second from right) visited the Athenia business district with U.S. Small Business Administrator Al Titone (second from left) to walk along Van Houten Ave. to tell business owners about SBA resources like loans and grants. They began at Mario’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, Clifton’s oldest restaurant, and met with owner Alberto Molina (at right), who recently received a small business loan through SBA to help fund renovations. Also pictured from left is Mayor Jim Anzaldi, Councilwoman Lauren Murphy and Passaic County Freeholder Hector C. Lora.

Clifton Merchant Magazine Editor Tom Hawrylko (left) and Clifton Health Officer John E. Biegel, III received awards from the New Jersey Public Heath Association for their efforts to address the issues of E-Cigs and Hookah smoking. Jim Marrocco (above right) of Marrocco Memorial Chapel receiving the 2015 Pursuit of Excellence Award from National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) President Robert C. Moore IV. Only 155 firms from around the world received this recognition, placing Clifton’s Marrocco Memorial Chapel among an elite group of funeral service providers.

86 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Bob Lieb of Mountain Development Corporation (at left) and retired Clifton Police Chief Frank LoGiocco (second from right) were honored by the Passaic County 200 Club on Oct. 6 for their decades of support. The Passaic County 200 Club is an organization of individuals who stand ready to provide financial assistance to the families of law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel. Within 48 hours after the death of a public safety officer, the club presents a $10,000 check to the family of the deceased to help them get through the difficult times ahead. The club has also distributed over $135,000 in scholarships to children of those who presently serve our community. To become a member or for more information, call 201-450-1271 or visit Also pictured from left, after Lieb, is his daughter Elizabeth, Lori LoGiocco, Trustee Major Joe Cannatella (NJSP Ret.), President Christine E. Schultz and Carol LoGiocco.





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Scary Stuff in Botany

The folks at the Rainbow Montessori in Botany Village collaborated with parents to host a Trunk or Treat for over 500 kids in the parking lot of their school, behind Sacred Heart School on Varettoni Place.

Clifton Cares helps to make Christmas special for our troops in Afghanistan. Through Nov. 30, volunteers are collecting items such as homemade cookies (vacuum sealed) as well as any cookies, candy, chocolate, gum, beef jerky, canned chips an CDs and DVDs. Visine, deodorant, foot powder, travel sizes of shampoo, mouthwash and toothpaste and white socks are also in need. Scouts and school children are encouraged to write personal greeting cards which can also be packed and shipped. The site for collection is the lobby of City Hall. Mailing a package costs $15.90 so consider making a postage donation made to cash or Lizz Gagnon. Mail it to her at Clifton City Hall, 900 Clifton Ave., Clifton, NJ 07013. If you have any questions or would like ot help in some other way, email or call Lizz Gagnon on her cell at 973-818- 8141. 88 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Karen Hrina was recalled on Oct. 29 at School 5 on Valley Rd. when a tree was planted in her memory. Hrina, an 18 year para at the school, died Aug. 4 at age 58. She and her husband Mike, at center with red shirt, had four kids: Michael, Steven, Joseph and Lauren. The Chopin Singing Society presents its Christmas concert on Dec. 6 at 3 pm in memory of past presidents John A. Budzinski and Stanley A. Kobylarz. Held at the Polish Peoples Home in Passaic, the $30 ticket includes admission and a hot buffet. Call 973-546-3568 for tickets.

After winning a Silver Medal at the 2015 World Rowing Championships in Lac d’Aiguebelette, France in September, ask Jenny Sichel where she’ll be in September 2016 and the only thing you’ll hear is Rio! Ask what she’ll be doing till then and you’ll get training. As coxswain on the US Para Rowing Team, the CHS ’06 grad and Mustang Marching Band Drum Majorette (at right) is continuing her training and coaching in Boston through the end of the year. In January, the team might move to California and to train full time for the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Sichel is coxing for a team which competes in the Legs, Trunk and Arms Mixed Division. All four rowers have full use of their upper bodies. Her crew includes two blind rowers, another with partial paralysis on his entire right side and a woman with but two fingers on her left hand. The US crew, which was on fire in France, missed the gold to defending champions Great Britain by a mere 0.26 seconds. But great racing sets up for more great racing at the 2016 Paralympics. The Sichel and her US crew is now part of a pretty serious rivalry with Great Britain, a squad which hasn’t lost since 2012. Clifton Merchant • November 2015


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Wood fairy Jessica Van Wie was the teen and adult category winner in the Oct. 25 Halloween Parade held along Van Houten Ave. Some 118 people registered in advance but more joined the parade as it made its way to the City Hall campus. There the annual HarvestFest continued with games, rides, pumpkin painting, scarecrow stuffing, a petting zoo and hayride trips—even an Apple Pie contest—with top prize to Naomi Oyanguren. Photos from the parade are shown here and on the following pages. The annual event is another of the many programs run by the Clifton Rec Department. For info call 973-470-5958.

Good Neighbors, Great Rates

973-772-8451 Thomas Tobin 973-779-4248

Bill G. Eljouzi 973-478-9500

Roofing • Siding • Gutters Ventilation • Chimneys Clifton Merchant • November 2015


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Clifton Merchant • November 2015


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Clifton Merchant • November 2015


22 Varettoni Pl., Clifton • 973-772-2330 1293 Broad St., Bloomfield • 973-338-8300 Jackie Licata-Alectoridis & Jane Maffucci

-Dr. Maria Montessori

The Montessori Method “Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole, which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future.”

Infants • Pre-School • Kindergarten • Full Day & Half Day

Birthdays & Celebrations - November 2015

Nicole Mokray will be 15 on Nov. 7. Eucaris Talllarias celebrated her 20th birthday on Oct. 21 and her friend Zully Delgado turned 20 on Oct. 15. Van Houten Ave. jeweler Frank Lacki turned 89 on Nov. 2. Happy 30th birthday to niece Nancy Hawrylko on Nov. 19. Keith Oakley is 62 on Nov. 26. Peter and Heather Fierro’s son Matthew will turn 4 on Nov. 25. Alan Spoto turns 61 on Nov. 3. Ouch!!

Birthdays & Celebrations

Send dates & Jazzlyn Caba ................11/1 Robyn Jo Paci................11/2 Thomas Scancarella .......11/2 Kelly Tierney .................11/3 Lance Dearing ...............11/4

Marguerite Heerschap turns 108 on Nov. 17. 96 November 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Olivia Nysk ..................11/4 Andrew Seitz ................11/4 Victoria Krzysztofczyk ....11/5 Tanya Ressetar...............11/5 Kristina Azevedo ...........11/6 Nicole Lorraine Bonin.....11/6 Martha Derendal ...........11/6 Danielle Osellame .........11/6 Kristen Soltis..................11/6 James Ball.....................11/7 Kevin Lord.....................11/7 Francine Anderson.........11/8 Ray Konopinski..............11/8 Beverly Lascina..............11/8 Marie Sanzo .................11/8 Donna Camp ................11/9 Tricia Montague ............11/9 Brandy Stiles ...............11/10 Tom Szieber ................11/10 Stacey Van Blarcom Takacs.....................11/10 Joseph Franek III ..........11/11 Laura Gasior ...............11/12 Geraldine Ball .............11/13 Patricia Franek ............11/13

Robert Paci .................11/13 Gregory Chase ...........11/15 Ken Peterson ...............11/15 Matthew Phillips ..........11/16 Anthony Wrobel ..........11/16 Michael Zangara.........11/16 Marilyn Velez ..............11/18 Joseph Tyler ................11/19 Joseph Guerra.............11/20 Jon Whiting ................11/21 Andreas Dimitratos ......11/22 Katerina Dimitratos ......11/22 Margaret Egner ...........11/22 Carol Peterson.............11/24 Brian Derendal ............11/25 Eileen Fierro................11/25 Peter Kedl ...................11/25 Crystal Lanham............11/25 Rachel Prehodka-Spindel ..11/25 Brian Derendal ............11/25 Kristen Bridda .............11/26 Jessi Cholewczynski .....11/26 Dillon Curtiss...............11/26 Bethany Havriliak ........11/26 Kelly Moran ................11/27 Sami Suaifan...............11/28 Amanda Grace Feiner..11/29 Anne Hetzel ................11/29

Wish an 8th birthday to Mr. Cupcakes on Nov. 1. Martha Derendal celebrates her 61st birthday on Nov. 6, reports her husband Matthew. Christopher Seitz .........11/29 Kaitlyn Graham ...........11/30 Barbara Luzniak ..........11/30

Happy 31st birthday to Amr Ibrahim on Nov. 24. Clifton Merchant • November 2015


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Tomahawk Promotions 1288 main avenue Clifton, NJ 07011

PRSRT STD U.S. Postage PA I D Phila Pa 191 PeRmiT No. 7510

Clifton Merchant Magazine - November 2015  
Clifton Merchant Magazine - November 2015