Clifton Merchant Magazine - November 2010

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


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Jesse Hastings and Joe Hawrylko have been at it for years. And recently, Joe’s brother Tom joined their ranks. These three twenty-somethings, who have no kids nor nephews on the Hawks and the Tomahawks, the two teams pictured above, are volunteer coaches in the Clifton Stallions Recreational Soccer League. Since 2005, Jesse and Joe, who both played soccer as Mustangs at CHS, run two weekly practices to prepare for the Saturday games, which are at 9 or 10 am. At the end of the season, these young guys reach into their own pockets and host a pizza party or take the team to a movie—sometimes doing both. Last year, Joe’s brother Tom found the time to get involved and began to assist them. This fall, along with

At the center, three young volunteer coaches: Jesse Hastings, Joe Hawrylko and his brother Tom.

Paul Boyko, Tom took ownership of a team of his own and is having a great time. These young coaches invest five or six hours a week, calling parents, meeting with league officials and instructing a dozen or so sixth through eighth graders about the finer points of the friendly, yet competitive game. Volunteers are always needed in the Clifton Stallions, as well as other leagues in town. And you don’t have to be a coach. Pitch in at the fieldhouse or help organize a much needed fundraiser. Learn more about volunteering with the league at 16,000 Magazines

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November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

By Tom Hawrylko

Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko Business Manager Cheryl Hawrylko Graphic Designer Michael Strong Staff Writer Joe Hawrylko Contributing Writers Irene Jarosewich, Carol Leonard, Rich DeLotto, Don Lotz, Jack DeVries

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Letters to the Editor

Clifton Merchant Magazine 1288 Main Ave. Clifton 07011

Hall of Famer: I was among the Class of 2010 inducted into the Clifton Athletic Hall of Fame—what a great honor! Thanks to the Hall Committee, the Board of Education, Lou Poles, Frank and Flo Calise and especially the great athletes I was privileged to compete with. Go Mustangs! My only regret was leaving the affair before the last three inductees were introduced due to my daughter becoming ill. Ed Curreri Class of 1961

Mustang Coaches Joe Grecco and Bill Vander Closter.


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

October’s fantasy football story by Jack DeVries which squared the 1946 Mustangs under Coach Joe Grecco (left) and the powerhouse 1973 squad led by Coach Bill Vander Closter made fans scratch their heads from Clifton to Texas. That’s where Craig Chananie attended a wedding and, he said, some old Mustangs debated the story outcome over cocktails.

I spent some of the best years of my life at the Clifton Boys Club, first as a gym rat, then cleaning ashtrays at the bingo hall and finally two years as gym director. So many great memories... but the October story about Tom DiDonna brought to mind what was one of the top moments for the athletic year of 1972. The Clifton basketball team, with about a 500 record, went cross town to top ranked arch rival Paul VI, ranked number 1 with 15 or so wins. Both teams had kids who played together at the Boys Club and in the park summer leagues. It was a game Clifton had to win and nobody gave us a chance. Bottom line: An air ball from Mike Will hit off the referee and bounced to an opportunistic Mustang who laid it in to put Clifton ahead in the last minute. Two foul shots by Pete Cannizzo in the closing seconds secured the victory. After the game, an underclassmen took the words to Don McLean’s American Pie and changed it to these words: And the three men I admired the most, Wash, Moran and Joe Bigos, they took the last train to the coast, the Day the Patriots died! Last month’s cover photo was taken by Derek Teixeira.

My family and I were more than surprised when we discovered our triplet boys and niece on the October cover. Your photographer did an incredible job capturing them enjoying the spirit of Halloween, the excitement of the parade and the festivities of the HarvestFest. Your graphic artist did an amazing job by adding the Emerald City, poppy fields, and of course, the yellow brick road. As a former teacher, all I can say is A+! Believe it or not, the four children still often watch The Wizard of Oz and jump at the chance to wear their costumes and perform. They know their songs and parts well and love to re-enact scenes from the movie. Last year’s festivities brought together many of our family members and we all marched in the parade. My brother, sister and I grew up in Clifton and know the HarvestFest Parade is a long-standing tradition. That being said, imagine our pride when our children were first place winners in the Family/Floats category. Surprises don’t come along very often but when they do, it is extremely important to thank those responsible. This cover and these pictures will be treasured always, framed in our homes and forever in our hearts. Thank you for this wonderful memory, and thanks to you and your staff for the pride you take in your work.

Joe Barrie Owings Mills, MD

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Thanksgiving... By Christopher de Vinck hen I was a boy, my younger brother rushed into the house and said, “Look what I found on the driveway!” and he opened his hand and there, on the flat of his palm, was an Indian arrow head. “Is it real?” I asked. My father looked at it and said, “Yes, it is. The real thing. See how the edges are chipped away?” Indians? Indians in New Jersey? Indians on my driveway? I, like everyone else, learned about the Lenni Lenape Indians in grammar school. There were three tribes in New Jersey: the people of the stone country to the north, the people who lived down river in the south, and the people of the ocean. We were told in our school days that the pilgrims survived their first winter in the 1600’s because the Massachusetts Indians helped the Europeans with farming and shelter, and so today we have the heritage


of Thanksgiving, the sharing of the harvest with assurance that we will survive another winter. An entire civilization disappeared when the colonist poured into America in the 17th and 18th centuries, and little remains: broken arrow heads, and grainy photographs in history books. The Morris County Museum preserves beautiful American Indian headdresses, deerskin skirts, beaded clothes, and models of Indian lodges. I was an American Indian for about a week. My older brother had this idea that we could make tepees with long sticks from the mock orange bush and weave in strands of grass and clumps of leaves. We built two just at the edge of the woods on my father’s property. We had a difficult time staking the sticks in a circle, and trying to tie the sticks at the top. We found clay at the bottom of a small stream November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Let us remember the spirit of the American Indian, they who believed that ‘we must walk lightly in spring because this is when Mother Earth is pregnant.’ that wiggled through the woods, and with just the right amount of squeezing and kneading, we wrung the water from the clay and turned it into a pliable consistency. I made my Indian bowl the size of a cupcake. I held a lump of clay in my hand, rolled it into a ball, squeezed it to the size of a doughnut, and then I pressed my thumb in the middle, and there it was, my bowl. We baked our clay pots in an Indian camp fire my brother constructed: a ring of stones surrounding a small pit. I will always remember the glee I felt when I pulled out my baked pot: warm and solid. I ran to the house, dug out a few bottles of model ship building paint, and a brush and I ran back outside, waving the paint above my head. I remember carefully painting alternating strips down the side of the bowl: yellow, red, green and blue. I was the new Indian artist. We no longer find much evidence of the America Indian here in New Jersey. At Thanksgiving we see images of pilgrims and Indians sharing a sumptuous meal. Boys pretend they are Indians building teepees with grass and sticks, and make clay pots with painted strips. We need to remember the estimated 15,000 Lenni Lenape people who lived in New Jersey when the pilgrims arrived. They cultivated potatoes, corn, beans, squash, ate salmon and bear. They believed their God pushed up a turtle from the Atlantic which formed the


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

island of North America, and they believed that their ancestors emerged from an oak tree that grew from the turtle’s back. Hannah, the last living Lenni Lenape, lived in Chester County. She was born in 1730, grew herbs, was a famous healer in her region, and died in 1802. This Thanksgiving let us remember the spirit of the America Indian, they who believed that “we must walk lightly in spring because that is when Mother Earth is pregnant.” Let us give thanks to tribes of men and women who saved the lives of the first pilgrims. And let us sit at our Thanksgiving tables and do as the America Indians suggested over four hundred years ago: “Before eating, always take a little time to thank the food.” Dr. Christopher de Vinck, a graduate from Teachers College, Columbia University, is the Language Arts Supervisor at Clifton High School; an adjunct professor of English Education at Montclair State University, and the author of 12 books. His best know work is The Power of the Powerless (Crossroad Books) a book on the struggles and joys of loving his severely disabled brother. This essay is from his upcoming book ‘Moments of Grace: Days of a Faith Filled Dreamer,’ to be published next Spring.

Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

Saluting Our Heroes from the 38th Parallel By Joe Hawrylko hen you turn this page, you’ll read more about John Finley and the US Marines pictured behind him. He took the photo of his comrades after they spend a cold and frozen winter in 1950 fighting bravely to defend the Chosin Reservor. As brutal and bloody as the conflict in Korea was, it has been for decades refered to as The Forgotten War. But here in Clifton, we don’t forget. Those who defended our country during the Korean War—as well as others who served during conflict and peace—will be honored in the city’s annual Veterans Parade, which takes place on Sunday, Nov. 7.


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park Out there, Finley’s greatest threat was a bad case of ven a half century later, John Finley still grisun poisoning, or maybe boredom while on guard maces when asked to recall the details of his year detail. He could have been a part of the occupying spent at the 38th Parallel in the Korean War. forces in Japan, Allied Germany or The brutal cold at the Chosin any of the other countries still in Reservoir. The shallow foxholes disarray from WWII, but Finley that served as a temporary housing lucked out with two years in a for a some 30,000 American tropical paradise. Marines. The deadly abyss of the “Little did I know what was night, only cut short by a piercing going to happen,” he laughed softwhistle, signifying that several ly. It’s funny how you can always thousand angry Chinese and recall all of the minute details on a Korean soldiers were about to day that your life changed. emerge from the blackness. “It was a Sunday, June 25, “When it was night, you prayed 1950. I was in the rec room at for daytime,” recalled Finley, as he base and the TV news said that leaned back in his recliner in his North Korea had invaded the modest home off Grove St. “The South,” said Finley. “We didn’t Chinese would only attack at night. even know where the hell Korea They had bugles and whistles they was, but we’d soon find out.” used to coordinate attacks. It was War had just broken out at the an eerie feeling.” John Finley after USMC boot camp. 38th Parallel, and Finley was one of Worse yet was when Finley and several hundred thousand American his fellow soldiers would try to troops that would eventually set foot in the Asian country advance under the cover of darkness, trying to inch as a part of a police action by the United Nations (UN). their way back to safety. “We would be told to get ready Within days, Marines from Finley’s base, Guam, to move. We got up, held hands and moved forward,” Japan and other Pacific camps were rounded up to he recalled. “It was night—pitch black. We held each make the 1st Division, and then flown to Japan for stagother’s hands like vice grips.” ing in August. It’s called The Forgotten War by some, but you don’t On Sept. 15, 1950, troops under the direction of need to ask Finley if that’s the name he uses for the Army General Douglas MacArthur, invaded North conflict. You can see it on his face—what happened Korea-controlled territory in a daring amphibious there, you can’t forget. assault at Inchon. Tactically, the Americans were tryAs much as the memories of Korea still haunt him, ing to cut off the supply route to the North Korean Finley admits that he willingly enlisted at a recruitment troops that had pushed farther down south. office with five of his buddies from Paterson in the Finley’s war began here, when touched down not Summer of 1948. long after the initial waves stormed the beach. “I was 18 then. We were all gung ho, everyone still “At first, it was like, what the hell am I doing here,” had that patriotic spirit,” said Finley. he recalled. “But once you get shot at, you get accusAmerica was still high off of its victory in World tomed to it.” War II, and service in the name of country was seen as Inchon was secured quickly, and Finley, along with honorable and relatively safe at the time. It beat getting the 1st Division, moved on to the capital city of Seoul. drafted and stuck in the bottom of some Navy ship. After many grueling days of bloody urban combat, the Papers signed and stamped, Finley boarded a bus for South Korean capital was declared liberated by the Newark on July 12, 1948, then caught a train bound for Americans on Sept. 25. US Marine Boot Camp at Parris Island. After complet“At that time, there were so many rumors that other soling his basic training, he was sent to Barbor’s Point in diers were telling you that they heard,” said Finley. Hawaii in the Fall of that year.



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

“[Military brass] never told you where you were going until you got there.” It turned out that the 1st Division would head back to the boats, which transported the troops to Wonsan in enemy-controlled North Korea. The plan was to fight inward and meet up with troops already occupying land near the Chosin Reservoir. The Marines had no idea what awaited them in the hills overlooking the water. “The Army and the South Koreans were already up there,” he said. “That’s when all the crap hit the fan because that’s when the Chinese intervened.” Holding the lower lying ground near the water, the Americans were encircled by six divisions from the Chinese army. The enemy attackers had come from the mountain and in the process, the escape route—a treacherous, narrow road way that stretched 78 miles to Hungnam— was cut off. With limited supplies and no shelter from the brutal weather conditions, the Americans only had one option: Battle their way out. “We joked that it was a ‘Retreat Ho!’ because we were fighting in the direction that we had come from,” said Finley. A total of 30,000 UN troops engaged some 60,000 Chinese soldiers in a brutal battle that stretched from Nov. 27 to Dec 13. As dangerous as the constant Chinese attacks were, the extreme winter conditions that reduced the area around Chosin to a frozen tundra, could kill you just as quickly. “Everybody got frostbite there,” said Finley. “We didn’t even have our winter gear with us yet. It was always 30-40 below zero. The water canteens, they would burst

because the water in it would freeze. Your guns would jam up. You slept with your gun by your body to keep it warm. You were fighting the weather, that was enemy number one.” Even once the cold weather supplies came, they were of little use in the extreme temperatures. Each UN soldier was given two pairs of boot inserts, which were to be rotated to keep the feet dry. But with the constant action, the wearer would sweat and the socks would freeze. “They were Mickey Mouse boots,” scoffed Finley, who suffered from frostbite in his feet and legs. Over 7,000 UN troops were listed as non-battle casualties at Chosin. “It was freezing cold up there.

Ditches were your home for a while, but they were so hard to dig because it was frozen out,” said Finley, who was discharged in 1952. The entire 1st Marine Division received a Presidential Citation after the Americans returned home. “We even had Thanksgiving dinner right in our foxholes,” he added. After returning home, he married his wife, Ethel, on Sept. 19, 1953, and went to work in construction and later as a custodian at Christopher Columbus Middle School. To this day, he meets up every other year with his former comrades, dubbed The Chosin Few, to somberly celebrate their safe return. “It was just unbelieveable,” said Finley. “I try not to think about it.”

USMC 2nd Lt William Kuller USMC Reserve Lt. William Kuller was reported Killed in Action in Korea in July 7, 1951. The 37 year old Marine had previously served in WWII after temporarily suspending his studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he graduated from in June 1949. According to his cousin, Bill Frisch of Clifton, Kuller was downed by sniper fire while returning from his last patrol of the day. This information was relayed to Kuller’s wife, Gloria, by a soldier that was with the Cliftonite at the time of his passing. Kuller, a second lieutenant, was recalled to active duty in October of 1950 and was only in Korea for two months when he was shot. The Cliftonite was working as an engineer prior to being called to duty at the 38th Parallel. “He went to Korea as a Marine engineer, but things were so bad that when they got there, they turned everybody into infantry,” said Frisch. After his passing, the City of Clifton honored Kuller, a lifelong resident who attended School 13 and CHS, by naming the long industrial road that stretches between Hazel and Paulison Aves. after him. November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

Making Way for Marines SeaBee Tom Genuardi Built Landing Strips & Roads By Joe Hawrylko om Genuardi didn’t see any combat action while serving during the Korean War, but his work in outlying bases provided critical landing, refueling and staging locations to support the work of armed troops. Genuardi played a pivotal role as a Navy SeaBee—the nickname given to the Navy Construction Battalions—and was stationed in the Philipines, not far from the Chinese border.


Like many kids who graduated high school some five decades ago, Genuardi went down to the recruiting station in the Passaic Post Office and signed his life over to Uncle Sam in August of 1952. “That was the thing to do when we were kids, like joining the Moose of the Elks today,” said the 1950 Passaic High grad. Looking back, he laughs at his boyhood patriotism but has no regrets. “It was a lousy era, the whole world was at war. It was us

against them. But yeah, I guess everybody was doing it and I signed up too.” Genuardi was shipped out for basic training in Bambridge, Maryland, where he remained for 16 weeks. Originally, he wanted to be a normal seaman in the Navy, but the military had different plans for Genuardi. “They made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse,” he laughed. “I was a carpenter apprentice, and I had no intention of going into the

Tom Genuardi as a SeaBee back during the Korean War and today. His Navy training led to a career as a carpenter. 14

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

SeaBees. I wanted to get into the regularly Navy, but according to them, if I didn’t go into the SeaBees, my first three months would be as a mess cook and you definitely don’t want to do that.” Genuardi was sent to Port Hueneme, California for SeaBee training. After that was completed, he was shipped out to the Philipines to help build a camp that was situated some 60 miles outside of Manilla. “Things were heating up with China too, so they needed a base that was far enough away from China, but within range of our B29s,” explained Genuardi. “We built that strip strictly so we could have first strike capability in case we went to war with China,” he added. “We’d have plenty of time to send our fighters in to defend us and send out B29s to bomb the crap out of them.” However, building a base was not that simple. The landscape required the SeaBees to essentially shape the earth to their needs. Luckily, Genuardi and the other SeaBees had a variety of machinery at their disposal. Contractors would loan out machinery and tools for field trials, allowing the military to excavate the earth needed to make the airfield. “The bomber strips had to be like 2.5 miles long. The fighter strips needed less.... but because of the prevailing winds, there was a mountain in the way,” said Genuardi,

who was a demolitions expert. “So they took 500 feet off of the mountain and dumped it into the bay.” After about a year, Genaurdi was placed on motorpool duty, where he supervised the swimming pool for the WAVEs—Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. He spent the final few months of his service in that capacity before returning home in June of 1954. Genuardi considered re-enlisting but decided to return to civilian life. He worked as a union carpenter for over 40 years, and was a Clifton Special Police Officer for 36 years. Genuardi has been married to his wife, Mary, for 54 years and has three children, four grandchildren and one great grandson.


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Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

A Year in a War Zone Bob Cirkus Became a Lifetime Advocate for Veterans Army, and given the political climate at the time, he knew that meant he was bound for Vietnam. orget eating white rice,” laughed US Army vetTwo years prior in 1963, President Lyndon B. eran Bob Cirkus. “To this day, I still am not a fan Johnson announced his intentions to increase the of white rice. Or any Oriental food. And if there was a American presence in the Southeast Asian country. The backfire of a car, I’ve been known to jump into the bushnumbers ballooned from just a few thousand advisors es—That only happened once though.” and observers in the early 60s to nearly 200,000 troops A year in the Vietnamese jungle will have a profound by the end of 1965. effect on even the most battle hardened of soldiers— In preparation for deployment, Cirkus distanced himself much less a 21 year old kid. The mental scarring from from others to soften the blow if he didn’t come home. such an experience can manifest itself in countless ways. “I already met my wife, Carol, and we had gotten Some spend many dark years engaged,” he recalled. Carol haunted by terrible dreams and passed away in December after 42 flashbacks. Others might have years of marriage. “When I got gotten away a peculiar but innocumy greetings and salutations from ous habit of smoking a cigarette Uncle Sam, I basically called off with a hand covering the cherry— the wedding and the engagement what savvy soldiers did in the junbecause of the fact that Vietnam gle at night to avoid detection was building up. I didn’t want to from Vietcong sharpshooters. leave a widow before I left a Considering the stuff that wife.” Cirkus saw in country from 1966 Though he did write to his to 1967, not being able to stomach fiance while in training at Fort exotic food is, relatively speaking, Dix, NJ, contact became less fremaking it out pretty well. quent when Cirkus was shipped to But his time in the jungle did Fort Knox, KT for additional training to repair mounted turret leave him with some lasting menguns on vehicles. tal scars that aren’t quite as When New Years rolled around humorous. Leaning forward in in 1966, Cirkus was on a ship his chair, his bearded face suddenBob Cirkus in Vietnam in 1966. bound for Vietnam with the 25th ly turned serious. Infantry. By that time, letters had become infrequent— “Just sitting down with an Oriental... that took many and that was probably for the better. years before I could do that again,” explained Cirkus. “If “Your family back home, your fiance... it’s all on your I ever got into an area with too many people. I’d move mind all the time, but you have to face reality,” said away. I had problems dealing with that. You never had Cirkus. “Even though you’re thinking of them, you have mass groups of people in Vietnam. Even though you’re to worry about doing your job and what was around you.” only in the jungle for a year, the impact of living in a comThe 25th was stationed in the highlands of Pleiku, a bat zone takes a toll on you.” vital military supply logistics corridor. Though trained to It was June of 1965 when the government pulled repair machine gun turrets, Cirkus quickly learned Cirkus’ lottery number He was being assigned to the By Joe Hawrylko



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Once again we are proud to help spread the word and remind residents to stand along Main Avenue on Nov. 7 near Main Memorial Park to Salute our Veterans.

Salute Our Vets • Sunday Nov. 7, 2 pm

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

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Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park that a successful soldier needs to develop key skills not taught in basic training to get by in the jungle. “Once you have knowledge of some stuff, if you get the books and the right tools you can repair anything,” he said. “Anything that fired a bullet, I repaired. If I couldn’t repair it, it didn’t get fixed.” Cirkus worked on everything from a standard issue M1911 pistols to a 175 inch track Howitzer, a mobile artillery cannon with a range of more that 30 km. But no single item gave Cirkus more trouble than the M-16. “The M-16 was basically a brand new weapon, which we called the Matel toy because of the fact it would jam up a lot,” he explained. “It wasn’t meant to be put in that environment. You were either in mud or you were in dust. There was no in between.” As a result, many servicemen tried to get their hands on alternative means of defense, like the old M-14s, enemy rifles or shotguns. “The pointmen used to use sawed off shotguns and it was a ‘military issued’ type situation,” recalled Cirkus. “It got to the point where if one had to get fixed it wasn’t replaced, so what I used to do was if I couldn’t fix one, I’d confiscate it and use it for parts on others. I literally had guys cry to me.”


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Bob Cirkus, far right, helping raise funds for the families of deployed Guardsmen. At left is former National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans, Dan Weiss and Brigadier General Glen Reath.

He didn’t say anything at the time, but secretly, Cirkus understood, even sympathized, with those who shed tears before him. A powerful weapon like a shotgun

November is Diabetes Awareness Month: Know the Symptoms. Diabetics are prone to foot ulcers, due to neurological and vascular complications. The complications of diabetes are many and in the foot, problems begin with ulcers yet the treatments options are diverse. Do you ever feel burning, tingling or numbness in your feet and toes? Don’t ignore the symptoms—they could be a warning sign of diabetes. Thomas Graziano, DPM, MD, FACFAS, says those symptoms may be caused by diabetic peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage. Neuropathy in the feet can lead to permanent numbness, deformities such as bunions and hammertoes, and dry skin that cracks open and won't heal. “Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is not only painful but dangerous,” says Graziano, a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons with offices in Clifton. “It's a leading contributor to foot ulcers in people with diabetes." In the United States, diabetes is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy and can lead to further complications. And it’s often undiagnosed—out of the 23 million Americans with diabetes, one in four don’t know they have it. According to, even diabetic patients who have excellent blood sugar control can develop diabetic neuropathy. “When you have diabetes, especially diabetic neuropathy, a minor cut on your foot can turn into a catastrophe,” says Graziano, who noted that 20 percent of ulcer cases require amputation. Patients who are black, Hispanic and Native American are twice as likely as whites to need a diabetes-related amputation. The annual cost for diabetic ulcer care in the U.S. is estimated at $5 billion. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Graziano at 973-473-3344 or visit November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park saved lives in the bush. Even at his camp, where Cirkus spent most of his time doing repairs, danger lurked nearby. “One day, I was standing on the Pleiku motorpool area, all the sudden there was a gunshot and a guy took a sniper’s shot in the palm of his hand,” he recalled. “There was no such thing as a front line over there.”

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That was a fact of life in the jungle that Cirkus learned very quickly upon being stationed at Pleiku. The Vietcong had the homefield advantage. This was their territory, and the natives had no qualms about using relentless guerrilla warfare to physically and mentally exhaust the Americans. “[The base] was built in a peanut field, but yet there was tunnels all running underneath it, but at the time, they [American commanders] didn’t know about it,” he said. “A North Vietnamese would be in a hole for a couple days, pop his head out to take a shot and spend a few more days hiding in that hole and then he’d try to get away.” Trouble found you ever if you didn’t look for it at times. And though he didn’t regularly patrol the jungle like other GIs, Cirkus would occasionally have to venture up to a forward position for emergency repairs. Luckily, the Army supplied him well. At his disposal were a Jeep, a three quarter (pick-up truck), a deuce and a half (dump truck) and a helicopter. And each war machine came heavily armed: The Jeep had 50 and 60 caliber machine guns, and the three quarter and the deuce and a half both had two sets of each gun. “I was well prepared,” Cirkus said of his time riding shotgun through the jungle. “I used to go to Cam Ranh periodically to pick up supplies. Whenever I used to appear at the convoy, the MP would ask me to take the lead, mainly because of all the armor I had.”

Back Home

Walter Diduch, B.S.R.P.

Walter Voinov, B.S.R.P.

Lisa Saeman, B.S.R.P.

Alex Voinov, Pharm-D



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

After almost a year in the jungle, Cirkus returned to the United States in February 1967. Though the war was already underway for nearly a decade by the time he deployed, Vietnam was just starting to reach its apex when Cirkus was being sent home. Public opinion on the police action in Vietnam completely flipped, with more and more people calling for an end to the conflict. The nation was in the midst of unrest. Hippies protested Vietnam on college campuses, while Civil Rights activists took to the streets. Cirkus, stationed in Ft. Hood, TX prior to his June 1967 discharge, recalled how much the country had changed in the span of a year. “My discharge date was Monday and it was the Saturday before. I was sitting there, watching the news and I look up at the TV and there’s tanks blocking off the Garden State Parkway going into Newark,”

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Podiatry November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park recalled Cirkus. “A lot of the guys knew I was from Jersey and I was just like, ‘Holy Christ, I was in a combat zone and I come back to this?’” He had no idea just how bad things had become at home. “I got off the plane and my mother and father had just met me. We were walking through LaGuardia Airport and these two college boys approach me,” he recalled. “I was still wearing basically my jungle fatigues and he says, ‘Wow, did you just come back from Vietnam? Wow, are you one of them f---ing baby killers?’ And then he spit on me.” Cops intervened before Cirkus could act, but the incident was forever etched in his memory with the other terrible things he experienced due to Vietnam. “People would welcome me with open arms and other people would pass comments—’How can you do this?’ said Cirkus. “It’s my country. Right or wrong, I’m going to stand behind it.” The reception that the returning soldier received after Vietnam is part of the reason he remains so involved in veteran affairs. Cirkus is a member of the Epithian Order, the Jewish War Veterans Post 47 and is Past State Commander of the Jewish War Veterans, where he has held a number of


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

national posts as well. The Cliftonite is also affiliated with VFW 6487, the American Legion Vets Post 30, Vietnam Vets of America Chapter 800, Jewish Memorial Chapter Clifton, and he is on the Veterans Advisory Board at Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Wrightstown. “I was also affiliated with the Catholic War Vets— Yeah, I got in there, too,” he laughed. Cirkus explained how he uses his influental positions to create awareness and recalled an interview he did with Channel 4 Philadelphia as the State Commander of the Jewish War Vets some years back. The journalist, who was perplexed that Cirkus was on hand to meet the soldiers despite not knowing any personally, asked the Cliftonite to the treatment of today’s soldiers with the reception that he received upon returning home from Vietnam. “I felt like I stood there for about an hour and at that time, I turned to her and said, ‘You know what, it’s all about them and not us,’” recalled Cirkus. “And then we walked away. The only thing I can say as a Vietnam Veteran—and probably any other Vietnam Vet will tell you the same thing—we’re never going to let what happened to us happen to any other military personnel. We will never let society ever forget the solider.”

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Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

Uncle Sal was an Everyman A Humble Hero from the Greatest Generation By Adeline De Vries


s Veteran’s Day approaches, I remember my Uncle Sal Sperlazzi. Like so many of his Greatest Generation, Sal served during World War II, joining the U.S. Navy at age 29. When he left for the Pacific, he was an expectant father awaiting his first son Robert, a future Passaic teacher. Uncle Sal died last year at the age of 95. As these World War II veterans leave us, we must remember the supreme sacrifices they made. We enjoy our freedom today because of these brave men and women. Sal, who once worked at the Doherty Silk Mill and managed boxers, was a “humble hero.” He was a sailor who couldn’t swim and was usually seasick. Working in the engine room of his beloved USS Tallulah – a fleet oiler that would earn seven battle stars in WWII – Sal would race to the ship’s deck when Japanese planes attacked. His job was to wear big asbestos gloves and catch the shells of the anti-aircraft guns firing at the sky. “I only missed once,” he said, “my first shell. But I never missed again.” In 1944, American military lead24

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Uncle Sal Sperlazzi found a little time for R&R (rest & relaxation) during WWII. Above, Sal with his niece, Adeline, who is also the mom to frequent Clifton Merchant contributor, Jack De Vries.

ers planned to drive through the central Pacific, right to Japan’s doorstep. Key to their plan was the capture of the Mariana Islands, which meant occupying Saipan and neighboring Tinian, and recapturing Guam. These islands were critical to their strategy; needed air strips could be built and enable the Air Corp to fly their new longrange bomber, the B-29 Superfortress, directly to Japan. Previous invasions had been against coral atolls – small and about a dozen feet above sea level.

In contrast, the Marianas were large and volcanic with mountainous interiors. Formidable enemy defenses were entrenched. Bombardment by our ships and massive air strikes would support the invasion. On June 15, 1944, it began. It was a costly battle – American casualties numbered 24,000 killed by the campaign’s end in August. My “humble hero” Sal Sperlazzi was there. He spoke of watching the shelling of Guam from the Tallulah’s deck (“It resembled fireworks,” he said) and witnessing a Kamikaze plane shot out of the sky


before it hit a ship. Each morning, Sal served at his station, catching hot shells during battle as the large guns ejected their hot casings. But a more nerve-wracking time for him would come later. Below in the engine room of the oil-filled vessel, Sal would listen to the thunder of battle, knowing one well-aimed strike would bring a fiery death. Saipan was secured on July 9, 1944. Within two weeks, army units and Marines stormed ashore at Guam, then Tinian. Immediately, military engineers leveled the northern half of the island and built the bases for the B-29s. In August 1945 from one of these fields, a Superfortress took off on a secret mission to Hiroshima, ushering in the Atomic age and hastening the end of World War II. On Veteran’s Day, I remember Uncle Sal and all the other veterans. Each contributed to our standard of living and freedom today. They courageously did their jobs and many never came home. “Hero,” as defined by Daniel Webster, is one who is

“endowed with great strength, a champion, a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities, one who shows great courage and is self-sacrificing.” We owe all our heroes a debt of gratitude.


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

Medical Innovations at War Medivac Techniques by William Marrocco n the battlefield, an air evacuation is the difference between life and death for a wounded soldier. But James Marrocco of Marrocco Memorial Chapel sent us a note and these photos to let us know that the practice was innovated by his uncle, a Paterson physician. Fight surgeon Major William A. Marrocco of the 27th Bombardment Group perfected his system while stationed at Bataan and New Guinea during World War II. The concept eventually evolved into the helicopter medivac, which was popularized in Vietnam and is



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

B used around the world today. As a civilian, Marrocco was a physician in Paterson who answered the call to arms in the Fall of 1941. After his officer training, he was shipped out to the Philippines in November. The air lifts were first planned at Archer Field in Brisbane, Australia, the home of the Fifth Air Force. Receiving troops from the nearby island combat zones, Marrocco first learned by trial and error. He later enlisted the help of General Douglas MacArthur to get around military bureaucracy. This allowed Marrocco to coordinate so that last planes exiting the battlefield would have room for the first few wounded. Eventually, Marrocco managed to get dedicated flights from the battlefield for wounded troops, complete with on-flight medical staff. He also perfected medical supply drops, which originally were stored in empty ammunition containers and dropped from planes flying over the combat area. Marrocco eventually took flight surgeon courses so he could join in on medivac operations. He also saw ground action, suffering minor shrapnel wounds while stationed at Java.



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November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

Official 24th Salutation Jim Scangarello Received Greetings and a Song in 1941 By Joe Hawrylko was drafted right on my birthday, June 25, 1941,” said Jim Scangarello, as he sat at his kitchen table in his Dutch Hill home. Though he now gets a chuckle at his bad luck some seven decades ago, the Cliftonite wasn’t so humored when Uncle Sam came calling. “That was a terrible day. I was with my girlfriend (and later, his wife), Angelina,” said Scangarello, who served in the Army. “I was crying because I didn’t want to leave home. She was my girlfriend. I wanted to stay home with her.” But with Europe rapidly losing ground to Axis Forces, it became obvious that America would eventually enter the conflict. Scangarello left his job at Bright Star Battery, where he had worked since dropping out of Clifton High School to support his family during The Depression, and prepared for his new life. “I got on a bus at Broad St., by where the fire house is,” he recalled. “We went to Newark to some armory, and there was about a 1,000 guys.” As he was processed, an officer pulled him aside and instructed him to head towards the front of the room: “They called me up front .” Scangarello continued. “and everyone yells, ‘Happy Birthday!’” It was a brief, light-hearted


Jim Scangarello (above left and pictured today on the next page) with his brothers in 1942. Jim joined the Army, while his twin brother, Peter now deceased, (middle) served in a tank unit under General Patton’s command in France. Tom enlisted in the Air Force, participating in B-17 bombing runs over Italian-controlled Africa.

moment in an otherwise gloomy time for Scangarello. In total, his family sent three sons—Jim, his twin, Peter, and Tom—off to fight the Axis Powers. Peter served in a tank unit in General Patton’s Army in France, and Tom flew Air Force B-17s on bombing runs over Italian-controlled Africa. Scangarello’s soon-to-be wife also had family in service. Angelina’s brother, US Army 2nd Lt. Stephen Messineo, was killed in action on Feb. 18, 1944 in Italy, on the Anzio Beachhead. The Army first shipped out Scangarello to Port Eustis, Virginia for basic, and then to Florida for barrage balloon training. “They were like really big balloons, like a giant airship,” explained the

Cliftonite. Barrage balloons were a short-lived means of anti air defense. In the early years of World War II, most precision strikes were carried out by dive bombers. To counter this, massive balloons are tethered with numerous long, metal cables and floated up to 5,000 feet. Pilots must either risk being downed by the cables or go higher up, into the range of flak cannons. This was the primary means of anti air defense at the Panama Canal, where Scangarello was stationed in 1941 after completing his training. The waterway was a vital gateway for US warships, shaving weeks off of travel by making it no longer necessary to sail around the bottom of South America, known as Tierra Del Fuego. November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Though it was feared that Japan might progress to Hawaii and beyond after Pearl Harbor, the heart of the Axis fleet never reached the Americas. “No one came there. It was pretty safe there,” recalled Scangarello. As the Americans entered the war following Pearl Harbor, the tides began to change and the Allies went on the offensive. The US military determined that an attack on Panama was not a realistic threat and sent Scangarello, along with the rest of the troops at the Canal, in for re-training. The Cliftonite learned to be a pole climber, helping rebuild downed lines of communications in Europe towards the end of the war in October of 1944. “I went to France. We landed on Omaha Beach, but there were already way ahead of us,” he recalled. The Allies stormed France in June of that year in a series of beach invasions. They moved east in a string of victories. “The Nazis would retreat and damage everything, and we had to fix it up.” Though not directly involved in front line action, Scangarello’s duties were vital to American success in Europe, as it re-opened communication lines over the continent. He served in that capacity until his discharge in the Fall of 1945. “I never fired a pistol or a rifle or nothing,” said Scangarello. “I was just lucky, that’s all.”


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

Honored for His Service National Guardsman Rich Ashton Still Front & Center By Carol Leonard hether it’s a design and layout job for a paying client or a voluntary project for the Clifton Arts Center, Rich Ashton is the kind of guy who puts his heart and soul into everything he does. For the past 20 years or more, Ashton has given countless hours of his time and talents to various community organizations in Clifton, from the Little League to the arts center and, more recently, the Athenia Vets. He also serves on the crew of volunteers who put up and take down thousands of American flags around city hall for the Avenue of Flags display on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. A native of Paterson, Ashton moved with his family to Clifton when he was 14 years-old and graduated from Clifton High School in 1969. He recalls his childhood days as being filled with playing sandlot baseball and other games with his pals from the neighborhood where he grew up. “We’d play outside all day until the street lights came on, and then it was time to go home,” he said. Ashton also knew that he had a propensity for art from a very young age. “When I was a kid, I always like to draw,” he said. “When I saw something that I liked, I’d sit down and draw it. All I knew is that I wanted to draw pictures.” Following high school, Ashton’s artistic talents won him a partial scholarship to the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts. He also completed course work at the Art Students League and the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Like many young men of his generation, Ashton came of age at the height of the Vietnam War.


Rich Ashton above with the logo he designed for the Clifton Art Center and as a National Guardsman in 1970.

Although he could have taken a student deferment from the military draft, he decided instead to join the Army National Guard, taking a leave of absence from his studies for six months to attend basic training. He returned to complete his course work, while serving his country in the National Guard for six years. Ashton spent the early part of his graphic arts career working for a number of different employers, including print shops, advertising agencies and an art studio. In 1982 he started his own business, Ashton Art & Design, which he continues to operate out of his house. He and his wife Dot have lived in their Allwood home for 32 years, raising three children, Lauren, 31; Richie, 28; and Kim, 24. They also have two grandchildren. November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


His involvement in volunteer activities in town began when his son played baseball with Southern Division Little League and he offered to help as an assistant coach. He later served two years as vice president and two years as president of the league, overseeing fundraising and construction of a batting cage and a new clubhouse at the league’s Mount Prospect Park headquarters. As his son moved on to play Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball, Ashton got involved in those programs as well, and he served as president of the Clifton Athletic Association for several years when his daughter was active playing softball. Ashton stayed on as a volunteer for the Clifton youth sports programs well beyond the years of his kids’ involvement. In fact, he continued to design the cover for the Little League’s opening day program until just last year. He got involved with the Clifton Art Center 10 years ago after winning a logo design contest before the center first opened in 2000. The logo, which has become the “image” of the arts center, incorporates a sketch Ashton did of the front roofline of the old federal quarantine barn at the rear of the City Hall complex, which now houses the center. “I thought it was a great idea for the community to have an arts center,” Ashton said. “It provides a won-


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

derful opportunity for students from the high school and local artists to show their work for the residents to enjoy. Without the volunteers, there would be no Arts Center.” Ashton served two years on the Art Center’s advisory board, and he continues to volunteer his time to design every post card, banner, poster and other graphic materials that advertise the center’s shows and events. “He’s an all-around good guy and a true friend of the arts center,” said Board of Trustees President Jeff Labriola. “Anytime we call him, he’s always there to help.” Ashton was honored for his contributions to the success of the Clifton Arts Center at the center’s 10th Anniversary Gala on Oct. 17. In recent years, he has added the Athenia Veterans organization to his list of volunteer activities, developing a Web site for the group and helping to initiate a quarterly newsletter for which he does all the design and layout. Ashton is as meticulous in the work he does as a volunteer as he is when working for one of his business clients. “It’s a matter of pride,” he said. “Whether you’re getting paid for something or doing it because you just want to help out, it’s still a part of you. It’s who you are as a person.” Rich Ashton is a true gem of the Clifton community.

Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

The Submariner

By Joe Hawrylko

Joe Imperato Served Underseas During the Cold War o most Navy recruits, being stationed aboard a submarine probably doesn’t sound too appealing. Cramped quarters, months spent thousands of feet under water, essentially isolated from human contact except for those aboard the sub as well. But Joe Imperato was fascinated with those sleek, technology-laden war vessels that likely haunt the dreams of claustrophobics everywhere. So enamored was he that in 1979, Imperato, then just a 17 year old boy months removed from his high school graduation, enlisted with the Naval Reserves and volunteered for submarine duty. “It was the cutting edge technology,” he explained. “We know more about outer space than we do our own oceans, so a submarine is just jam packed with technology.” Imperato was initially stationed on the USS Harold J. Ellison DD8-64, a destroyer, for a ten month stint. Afterwards, he was placed on active duty and assigned to the USS Francis Scott Key, a nuclear submarine, in 1980. During his first patrol, Imperato was a non-designated seaman, and generally handled any tasks that were assigned. “I worked in the galley, sent messages, steered the ship,” he explained of the variety of duties a young seaman would attend to. “I did what all junior people do.” Due to having a little experience as an electrician, the Navy wanted him to become a phoneman. Imperato was a non-designated seaman, which means he essentially could be assigned to any duty aboard the submarine. The opportunity allowed him to experience a number of different positions. Imperato ultimately decided on being a radioman and passed the required test despite not attending any courses. He went on to spent 12 years in service, most of it aboard submarines as a radioman. In total, he served aboard six subs. Most often, his vessels covered target packages, acting as America’s nuclear deterrent against a Russian strike. “I was the guy who’d take the message that said launch the missile and decipher it,” said Imperato. Though his role on each vessel was essentially the same, the atmosphere aboard each sub is entirely


dependent on the makeup of its crew. “You have to breed rapid comradery with people. It’s not like on a ship. If someone doesn’t do their job, there could be a casualty,” said Imperato. “Everybody realizes you have to depend on everyone else doing their job.” Though he intended to go career, the Cliftonite retired in 1991 due to an injury that he did not disclose. However, Imperato is still active in local and regional veteran affairs groups, having twice served as the Commander of Post 8 in Clifton and as the Passaic County Commander for the American Legion. Imperato still looks back fondly on his Naval career. He said his favorite submarine was the USS Andrew Jackson, a ship he looks back on with fondness. “The Andrew Jackson wasn’t a crew. It was a family,” said Imperato. “It was the quality of people at that time. They were really a terrific crew, a family.” “If you saw a pair of shoes underneath a bathroom stall, you knew whose they were,” said Imperato. “The first five years of my marriage, I spent more time with my shipmates than my wife.” November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


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Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

A Patriotic Duty By Joe Hawrylko ver since he was a young child, Aneudi Diaz was enamored with the military. Now he’s on the path to becoming a United States Marine Officer. “I just wanted to try something new in life and I always had that dream,” said the 2004 CHS graduate, who is the first in his family to join the service. Diaz, currently in the Reserves and working towards getting his Bachelor’s degree to become an officer, first began seriously considering enlisting while in high school. “It’s the kind of lifestyle I want to live,” he explained. “Not to sound crazy, but even when I was little, it was interesting. When I was small, I had all the GI Joes and watched the cartoons... then in high school, I really learned about it and went to the recruiter’s office.” “Most of my friends are in the Marines. They were there even before I went,” Diaz continued.. “That really helped me out because that was the one branch I could ask about and learn what was really going on.” Then just 18 years old, he was ready to enlist but was unable to pass the tests required to become a Marine. Instead, Diaz headed back to school, receiving his Associate’s in criminal justice at Berkeley College in 2008. But even after graduating, he still had the urge to become a Marine, and enlisted in the reserve in January of this year.


After enlisting, Diaz was shipped to Paris Island for boot, in what he calls the most physically and mentally challenging event in his life. “You’re not going to want to be there, you’re going to be stressed out, you’re going to be depressed,” he explained. The ordeal forced him to rise up against adversity and become a leader. “But at the end, when you graduate, you’re going to be like, that’s why that branch is considered the best of them all.” After nearly eight months, Diaz completed his training on Aug. 15. “Right now, I’m working towards being an officer,” said Diaz. He plans to head back to school to earn his Bachelor’s degree as required by the Marines. Diaz, who has lived in Clifton since emigrating to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1996, said he’s considering a Marine career, either as a reservist or on active duty. He views his service as a patriotic duty to the United States. “It’s a new country, you go to be thankful for what you have,” he said. “I wouldn’t have accomplished things like this in the Dominican Republic. This is my way to pay back America.”

We Salute Our Veterans! Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin State of New Jersey 1333 Broad St., Clifton, NJ 07013 office: 973-779-3125 View The Giblin Report on Thursdays at 9 pm, Channel 76 34

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

Mail Call in Saddam’s Palace By Joe Hawrylko ven without ever physically engaging the enemy, deployment can be mentally exhausting. Uprooted from home and dropped in a foreign country halfway across the globe, loneliness is a fact of life for soldiers. That’s why National Guard Sgt. Alberto Perez is so grateful to have had the support of Mayor James Anzaldi and his fellow Cliftonites during his tour of duty in Iraq this past year. “Right before I went over there, I bumped into the mayor at city hall,” he recalled, a DPW worker who has lived in Clifton for 17 years. “He goes to me, ‘When you get there, make sure you send me a letter or card so we can take care of you.’” Perez, who joined at 17 years old, spent nearly three decades in the Guard and never entered a warzone. He joined to help in domestic disasters—Perez was activated to help with flooding following Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and in the aftermath of 9/11. But with the government dipping into its reserve pool the New Jersey Guard was activated in 2008, and Perez given his orders to head to Iraq. Once there, he wrote to Anzaldi as instructed and waited. A couple weeks later, Perez, who worked as a Military Police guard in a jail, left his shift to find a gift from home waiting for him at command. He lugged the package on a ten minute hike back to his quarters, eager to see who sent him something. “I got this big box that I carried back to my room after a long, 12 hour shift,” recalled Perez. “I’m a man, I’ve got feelings. There were tears coming out of my eyes, that someone cared about us all the way over here. Anzaldi had sent a care package from City Hall containing goods that Perez had requested for his squad. The gesture touched the Cliftonite—besides family, why would anyone else care? Perez figured that he’d spend his ten months in country lonely and homesick. “Especially Guardsmen, we’re part-timers. We get lonely—I’ve never experienced it like that before,” he explained. “I can tell you I felt lonely man. But Mayor Anzaldi, right away he answered. And every two weeks, he sent me a post card—it never failed. I got them all back at my house.”


Not long after the mayor began keeping regular contact with Perez, other people began writing. American Legion Post 8 frequently supported Perez and his troops, and the children at St. Andrews and School 11 kept regular contact as well. “We flew the New Jersey flag in our combat zone in honor of the mayor and what he did for our soldiers,” Perez said proudly. “We also flew one for St. Andrews, the kids at School 11 and Post 8.” The Cliftonite said support from his friends back home and his faith are what brought him back to his family at the end of 2009. “That’s what kept me strong, sharing the gospel with the kids—well, I called the soliders [also in his guard unit] kids,” laughed Perez. “Those were times I will never forget. They just found me real calm, and I’d just share my faith with them. God forbid something happens to me, I know where I’m going.” When the Cliftonite finally came home, Anzaldi was the first person he went to after greeting family. “I shook his hand and hugged him when I got back,” said Perez. “I don’t care who likes him. who doesn’t. But this just shows... it just shows what kind of guy he is.” November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Veterans Parade: November 7th 2pm • From Main & Sylvan Aves. to War Monument in Main Memorial Park

Veteran & Volunteer At 89, Albert Andrezzi is also a School Crossing Guard Story & Photos by Carol Leonard lbert Andrezzi isn’t the kind of guy who likes to sit around alone at home watching TV. The World War II veteran, who will turn 89 in January, would much rather be at his crossing guard post on Lexington Ave. in front of School 17 or helping the nurses on 6 West in his volunteer role at St. Mary’s Hospital. Andrezzi was born and raised in Paterson during the days of the Great Depression, so he knows what its like to have to work hard to make ends meet. He left school after eighth grade to help support his family, which included nine brothers and sisters. “I took whatever menial jobs I could find,” he said. At age 20, Andrezzi was drafted into the military. A newlywed at the time with a pregnant wife, he was shipped overseas following basic training shortly after his first son was born in 1943. Andrezzi spent nearly three years overseas during the war, first in England and later in Belgium, France and Czechoslovakia, serving in General Patton’s Third Army.



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

“It was a rough time,” he painfully recalled. “I’ve seen my share of war. I was in five major battles. Our job was to get prisoners and interrogate them.” Andrezzi said that serving in the military helped shape him as a man and prepared him to take care of himself, but he doesn’t hesitate to express his disdain for war. “I think it’s unnecessary. Killing each other, for what? It’s such a waste of humanity. We should just learn to get along instead of fighting.” After returning from the war to his wife and young son, Andrezzi worked as a roofer for a number of years before taking a job as a mill operator at the CurtissWright plant in Wood-Ridge, where he worked for 34 years. He and his wife May went on to have three more children and the family moved to Clifton in 1970. At age 62, Andrezzi was forced to take early retirement when Curtiss-Wright shut down its Wood-Ridge plant. “It’s not easy living on Social Security,” he said. He babysat for his daughter’s children for a while before taking a part-time job as a crossing guard, a position he has held for 25 years.



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Andrezzi was assigned to the School 12 neighborhood until School 17 opened in 2004 and his post was moved to Lexington Ave. He works from 8-9:30 a.m. for the opening of school, and returns from 2:30-3:40 p.m. when school lets out. His face lights up with a big smile when he talks of his work as a crossing guard. “I like that a lot, crossing my little children,” he said. “I’ve adopted all of them.” Over the years, Andrezzi has watched many of his charges grow up, and he enjoys seeing them again after they’ve gone on to middle school and high school. “It makes me feel good when they stop and tell me that I used to cross them when they were little,” he said. “I have one little boy that I cross now and I used to cross his father when he was a boy.” Andrezzi said that he misses his work as a crossing guard over the summer breaks and looks forward to the start of the new school year every September. He got involved as a volunteer at St. Mary’s Hospital in 2005 after his wife passed away. “We were married for 65 years,” he said. “That’s a long time to be with someone


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

and I didn’t want to be home alone by myself all the time.” Andrezzi does an early evening volunteer shift on Tuesday and Thursday, and a late morning shift on Wednesday after leaving his crossing guard post. He spends his time on the 6 West unit, bringing water to the patients, taking specimens to the lab, picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy and assisting nurses with errands. “A lot of the patients are elderly and I like to help them out,” he said. “If I see that they need something, I’ll go and tell one of the nurses for them.” Even when he’s not at his crossing guard job or at the hospital, Andrezzi likes to stay active. “I’m always doing something,” he said. “I take walks in the park. I’m always trying to be busy. That’s what keeps me going.” Very often, you can find Andrezzi with his friends Dennis and John Orlovsky at their Gulf Service Station on the corner of Lakeview and Piaget avenues, which is a short walk from his home. “I go down there and hang around,” he said. “I help them clean up. Sometimes on Sunday we go out together.” Andrezzi is also grateful for the love and support of his

At St. Mary’s Hospital, he’s the center of the staff attention but at School 17, he keeps his eyes on his charges and traffic.

four children, Robert, Michael, Judy and Nancy. “They take good care of me and watch over me,” he said. “Mostly every night I’m by one of my daughters.” Counting them on his fingers, he said he has 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, although he won’t swear to the accuracy of those numbers. “There’s so many

of them that I lose track,” he chuckled. “When we all get together, we must have about 50-60 people in the room.” Andrezzi has no plans to slow down any time soon, and his advice to those who want to live as long a life as he has is simple: “Don’t sit around for hours in front of the TV. Get out and do something – anything.”

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers ✷ Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers ✷ Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers

A Youthful Volunteer

By Tom Hawrylko

ay it forward. That’s the logic that Nazaree Jones, an eighth grader at St. Clare School on Allwood Rd., had in mind when she volunteered to sweep the streets of Passaic. Repaying a good deed by doing another is what drives volunteering, a point she stressed to the 300 donors at the 29th annual awards dinner for the Tri-County Scholarship Fund on Oct. 12 at Hilton Parsippany. The program is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson and provides tuition to children from economically challenged families in kindergarten to 12th grade to attend private and parochial schools in Morris, Sussex and Passaic Counties. “I am lucky to have the opportunities that my parents never had when they attended school in Passaic,” the diminutive 13 year old told the audience. “This opportunity and my family have played an important role by guiding me on how to give back to my community.” please turn to page 44


Nazaree Jones with St. Clare Principal Sr. Joseph Nelinda.

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Jones decided to start by pitching in to clean the streets of Passaic. “During this past summer, I volunteered with members of the Passaic High School Environmental Science Club and Team Blanco, in an effort to bring awareness on the importance of volunteering for our community,” she explained. “I also wanted to make my neighborhood a cleaner and more beautiful place to live. I didn’t know exactly what the day would bring, but I encouraged my friends to join me and we all had a good time. “I realized how so little of my time can actually make a big impact,” Jones said. “The experience was fun, so I am going to volunteer in any other way I can. I really would like to volunteer in a local hospital and read books to sick children in honor of my cousin that passed away from Leukemia. I feel pleasure in being able to help others as I am being helped.”

Looking to her future, Jones said she would like to someday work in the medical field so she can help others. Of course she has to first attend high school and college but the St. Clare student has some plans to pay it forward post college graduation. “When I become a very successful person, I will create my own private scholarships for kids like myself,” she said. “I think everyone deserves equal opportunities in life and a chance to better themselves.” The Tri-County Scholarship Fund was founded in 1981 through the leadership of Edward L. Hennessy, Jr. and Bishop Emeritus Frank J. Rodimer to give students in poorer communities an educational choice. Since that time three decades ago, more than 27,000 scholarships have been awarded. Families in the lowest income levels are able to choose safe educational opportunities for their children in schools that

offer a sense of family and a disciplined learning environment. The children that receive Tri-County aid thrive in the private and parochial schools and show above-average standardized test scores. In the past two years, Tri-County awarded more than $1.8 million to 1,100 students. The average income of the families receiving Tri-County assistance was $25,000. The Fund is governed by a diverse group of business leaders who understand that the education of our children in the inner cities is a positive investment that will affect individuals and the community as a whole in a profound way. St. Clare Principal Sr. Joseph Nelinda said the support of the TriCounty Scholarship Fund is greatly appreciated by the families of the students and the adminstration of the schools they attend for it allows Catholic Schools to stay strong in a tough economy.

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Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers ✷ Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers ✷ Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers

Bingo! She Wins! By Joe Hawrylko

s people begin to shuffle in to the Boys and Girls Club bingo hall off of Colfax Ave, Alice Hener walks in and heads back to the little room in the back to distribute the paper gamecards as she’s done every Thursday and Saturday afternoon for the past 20 years.



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

That kind of longevity is impressive in a paid job, but the number is even more poignant when you learn that Hener, 86, hasn’t collected a dime for her services. She’s the type of person who volunteers her time and expects nothing in return. She just likes pitching in and making friends along the way.

“The people are nice to me here and I really appreciate it,” smiled Hener. It only takes a couple hours of her time per week, but this small act of volunteering goes a long way towards supporting the Club. Her bright and bubbly personality also helps too.. As she walks in, the patrons greet Alice, as she prefers. Everyone from the bingo players to the cooks in the kitchen know her. If you’ve sat and heard the numbers get called at the Boys & Girls Club, you’ve met Alice.

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Prior to the start, she sits behind the counter of the sheet room far in the back corner of the hall. Hener is there to collect money for the paper bingo sheets and keeps an eye on the lockbox. “Once everyone gets in, pays and gets a sheet, they start bingo and I go home,” she explained. “I think I’ve only played bingo once over the years,” Hener laughed. “I can’t just sit there and play the table like that.” Though her role is relatively minor, Hener’s contributions are very much appreciated. “Alice is just a great lady, she’s been with us for years,” said Bob Foster, Executive Director of the Club, who noted that bingo accounts for about 30 percent of fundraising for the B&GC. “Volunteers like her are why it works.” Hener first got involved at the Club around 20 years ago, not long after her husband of 45 years, Elmer C. Hener, passed away.

“It really just started as something to get me out of the house,” she said. But she kept on coming back because she enjoys the company of the people and because Hener’s always been one to pitch in for a good cause. The Cliftonite has long been involved with volunteering, having started a half century ago with the Boy Scouts. “My husband was already on the Council and they were on the way to becoming Eagle Scouts, so I became den mother,” she said. Eventually, her boys, Robert and Donald, grew up and moved on, but Hener stayed involved, eventually working for the Scouts. “I did it when they were in Clifton, and then the two combined and moved to Wayne. They’re now in Oakland,” she said. Hener worked for the Boy Scouts of America for over 50 years, a milestone that the organization recognized with a certificate a while back.

Even though she’s long since retired, Hener is still active as the assistant scoutmaster for Troop 15, a group of 21 disabled scouts based out of St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Broad St. “It’s just an easy way to stay involved in your community,” she said.

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Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers ✷ Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers ✷ Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers

Mustang Pride Walk-a-Thon

Brings Cliftonites Together!

Gary Anolik, Co-President; Kim Renta, Secretary; Gerard Scorziello, Treasurer; Gloria Kolodziej, Honorary Walk-aThon Chairperson; Jennie Sekanics, Mustang Pride Student Representative and AnnMarie Genneken, Co-President. By Kim Renta

here are few things in Clifton that bring our community together more than our fabulous high school sports and arts programs. Who can forget that Championship Mustang Football Game at Giants Stadium in 2006? Or, the pride we all feel each and every time we see our Mustang Band perform? It was that love of the very best of Clifton’s schools that prompted a group of parents and alumni to form the



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

organization known as Mustang Pride, Inc. Mustang Pride is a recognized 501C3 charity which focuses on providing some of the extras that our school budgets can no longer support. Rather than further burdening the Clifton taxpayers, Mustang Pride intends to solicit corporate donations and grants to reach its goals. While there are many worthy projects that need and deserve attention, Mustang Pride has chosen its first two

projects to honor our legendary sports and arts programs. The group hopes to supplement money already available with the Clifton Board of Education to upgrade the auditorium at CHS, making it the performing arts showcase it can truly be. In addition, Mustang Pride will raise the funds needed to install artificial turf at Clifton Stadium. Both of these projects will not only benefit our students and community for years to come, but also have the potential to generate significant rental income for the Clifton School District. The first community fundraising event is a Walk-athon being held on Saturday, November 27th at Main Memorial Park and Clifton Stadium. This event is bringing together all types of Cliftonites, from Mayor Anzaldi, to Board of Education President Jim Daley, from 2009 State Pole Vaulting Champion and current Yale freshmen Emily Urciuoli, to Doretta Halpern whose late father was the revered principal of CHS from 1962 to 1988. These people, and many others from all generations, all neighborhoods and many graduating classes, will join Honorary Walk-a-thon Chairperson, Gloria Kolodziej as we walk in support of our schools. It’s the first step in what Mustang Pride hopes will be a long-standing Clifton tradition. Even after the initial goals are reached and the projects are completed, Mustang Pride will move on to other endeavors to

enhance the academic, sport, art and social experiences of Clifton’s students. To be a participant in the Walk-athon or to volunteer, please contact Mustang Pride at

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Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers ✷ Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers ✷ Clifton Pitches In & Volunteers

You Can Call Them

Professional Volunteers Photos and story by Carol Leonard

on the third. Marie comes in two days, making follow-up n today’s business climate it is rare to find someone phone calls on discharged emergency room patients. who has worked at the same place for his or her “We’ve available for whatever they need us for,” Joe entire career. That is, of course, unless your name is said. “You have to stay busy; it’s what keeps you alive.” Lorraine Greaves. The lifelong Clifton resident has Once a month, Greaves conducts an orientation served as director of the Volunteer Department at what is program for new volunteers. The mandatory four-hour now St. Mary’s Hospital on the Boulevard in Passaic for session includes a tour of every department, more than 40 years. demonstrations on how to enter and conduct oneself in a During that time, Greaves has worked under six patient’s room, use of a fire extinguisher and other safety different administrators and has seen the hospital’s name issues, as well as wheelchair training and practice in change four times, as it was taken over by Atlantic Health feeding patients. For the latter, Greaves has the new Systems, Passaic Beth Israel Hospital and, most recently, recruits practice by feeding each other cups of Jello. St. Mary’s Hospital. What hasn’t changed is Greaves’ Following orientation, Greaves allows the volunteers to dedication to her unpaid staff of volunteers who touch the choose the type of work they want. She uses her lives of thousands of patients and visitors each year, as observation of their skills and personalities to help guide well as provide valuable support services in various them into the areas she feels they will be happiest. Some departments of the non-profit healthcare facility. people decide that they would rather be in a non-patient With a degree in human development from Rutgers area, such as medical records or central sterile supply; University, Greaves began her career at what was then others prefer direct contact Passaic General Hospital in 1966 as assistant director of with patients or visitors. personnel and public relations. Several years later, she was asked to create a volunteer program for the 350-bed community hospital. “I started out with a handful of volunteers that I recruited through church groups and the county’s RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program),” she said. “That number grew as I went out and spoke to more groups and the word spread that we were looking for volunteers.” Today, Greaves’ department includes more than 150 volunteers, from 14 to 90 years-old. Many of them are from Clifton, including husband and wife team Joe and Marie Patti (facing page). Both in their 80s and married for 56 years, the Pattis have been hospital volunteers for more than 10 years. Joe volunteers three days a week, working at the information desk one day, helping out in the Nutrition Department another and transporting patients from Volunteers Becky Martin and Joan Angle with Director of Volunteers Lorraine Greaves. the surgical recovery room



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

“I always tell them that they should try something for at least three times to see if they like it,” she said. “If they don’t, they can always change to something else. The important thing is that, when they leave the building, I want them to feel good about themselves and want to come back.” Volunteers work four-hour shifts, one to three days a week, depending upon their interests and the amount of time they have to offer. During the school year, many of the teenage volunteers are only available to work a two-hour shift in the evening and Greaves allows them that flexibility. According to Greaves, it’s a mixed bag of circumstances that attract volunteers. While many are older retirees, like the Pattis, who want to keep busy and meet new people, others are younger adults who just want to give something back to the community. Some are former patients or retired employees, such as Becky Martin of Clifton, who wanted to continue her relationship with the hospital. Martin, 81, is a graduate of the old Passaic General Hospital School of Nursing and worked at the hospital as an operating room (OR) nurse for 40 years. After retiring, she returned as a volunteer three days a week. Among her assignments, she works outside the OR, keeping family members up to date when their loved ones are in surgery. As a former OR nurse, she is able to reassure family members if there is an unexpected delay during the surgery or when the patient is moved into the recovery room. “They’re very appreciative of what I do and that makes me feel good,” Martin said. Cliftonite Joan Angle knew that sitting around at home wouldn’t be a good thing for her after she retired as an administrative assistant for the NJ State Crime Lab. She works escorting visitors to the right department or patient floor. “I enjoy being with people and I feel helpful and needed,” she said. “It’s also good exercise.” In recent years, Greaves has gotten more volunteers from among the ranks of the unemployed, who want something meaningful to do as they continue to look for a job. Some use their volunteer experience as an internship while training for a new career. Occasionally, volunteers are hired for paid employment openings at the hospital. “This past year, the hospital hired four of our volunteers,” Greaves proudly said.

Once a year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the hospital honors all of its volunteers for their service at the annual Volunteer Awards Breakfast, and gives special recognition to those who have given 100 hour or more of service during the year. During her tenure at the hospital, Greaves has had some volunteers stay on as long as 20 years or more and, in some cases, has even seen the children of volunteers become volunteers themselves as teenagers or adults. “Not everybody stays that long, though,” she said. “For some, their life has taken some kind of turnaround and they need something for a while, and then they leave. Older people get sick and can’t come anymore. Teenagers move on to college or other interests. That’s just the way it is, and that’s ok, too.” Greaves, who declined to give her exact age, simply stating “I’m up there,” isn’t saying yet when she plans to retire. But when she does, she’ll likely become a volunteer. To learn more about volunteering at St. Mary’s Hospital, call Lorraine Greaves at 973-365-4549.

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


LeTip of Clifton meets Wednesday Mornings at IHOP LeTip of Clifton is an organization of men and women whose purpose is the exchange of business tips and referrals. They do that at special events—such as a cocktail party at Sophia’s Restaurant in late October—and at weekly breakfast meetings on Wednesdays at 7:01 am at IHOP on Route 3 West. The concept of LeTip is that each business category is represented by one member—in short, there is just one realtor, one insurance broker, one printer, and so forth. Jay Stack, owner of IGM Creative Group, noted the Clifton LeTip has 27 members. “Within six months from now we hope to double our size and have a substantial amount of business offered to our members through tips given from one member to another,” he explained. Potential members are invited to the first two meetings for free.

The City of Clifton received a $212,000 state grant as a result of businesses and residential refuse that has been redirected from landfills and into the recycling system. Clifton Recycling Coordinator Al DuBois (inset) said the city is the 4th largest grant recipient in New Jersey. The funds are dedicated to help promote and continue the city’s recycling efforts. In addition to the grants, the city in 2009 generated about $368,000 in revenue from the sale of recycling materials.


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton LeTip members Jay Stack of IGM Creative Group, Dr. Christa M. D’Amato of Atlas Chiropractic & Rehab Center, Denise Dotoli of TLC Restoration, Inc. and Hugo Carvajal of Emerald Financial Resources. The group seeks new members and meets every Wednesday at IHOP at 7 am.

Dues are split two ways—there is a $325 fee paid to the national organization and a one time $75 membership charge to the Clifton chapter. For info, call President Hugo X. Carvajal at 201-362-3581 or go to

Capalbo’s Gift Baskets Relocates to Allwood Rd. After half a century in Nutley, Capalbo’s Gift Baskets has moved to

Clifton. Located on 350 Allwood Rd., across from the Promenade Shops, the new store is filled with the fresh fruit and gourmet baskets for which Capalbo’s has long been famous. In addition to the fruit and cookie baskets, Capalbo’s also offers wine baskets, too. For more details go to or call 973-667-6262.

Dentist Louis Vita offers TMJ Seminar for Hygienists Louis R. Vita, DDS, of the Vita Head Neck & Facial Pain Relief Center in Clifton, will conduct a workshop for dental hygienists to help them detect symptoms of TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint disorder. The free event is at the Regency House Hotel in Pompton Plains on Nov. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Participants will receive two Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Light refreshments will be served during Dr. Vita’s illustrated presentation. Reservations required; for details, call 201-394-4351 or email


Wallflowers of Banking? Credit Unions growing segment of industry

By Irene Jarosewich

free financial counseling and lower fees. Another benefit onservative and stable, credit unions have been is the support credit union return to their ‘community’ in the wallflower of financial institutions for the past terms of donations to certain causes and charities. several decades as flashy mortgage brokers and large As the winner of the 2010 “New Jersey Credit Union glitzy banks lured in customers. However, the recent of the Year” Award, NJFCU, with headquarters in shenanigans of the nation’s banks has led consumers to Totowa, exemplifies the kind of customer service and consider the benefits of using credit unions once again. community commitment that credit unions provide. “We During the past several years, the popularity of credit received our award for the innovative approaches that unions has been on the increase and membership has allow our members to make better use of their money,” risen from 87 million five years ago to 92 million memsaid Cortez, noting that the recognition mirror’s NJFCU’s bers nationwide today. Amidst the bleakness of the ecomotto of “Above and Beyond Banking.” nomic crisis, everyone from personal financial managers Cortez, who grew up in Paterson and came up through to national economic advisors are becoming credit union the working ranks of NJFCU, is passionate about her advocates, pointing to the generally lower cost of credit credit union’s community unions to the consumer, as involvement. Personal well as the greater financial financial education is a security they offer. large element of NJFCU’s Lourdes Cortez, presioutreach to its members and dent and CEO of North community, and she Jersey Federal Credit Union encourages staff to do com(NJFCU), couldn’t be hapmunity service, for which pier. She offers another they receive comp time. benefit of credit unions, this She is particularly proud one a bit more philosophiof a student-run branch of cal. “Credit unions, fundathe credit union that will mentally, are about people open in Paterson’s John F. helping people, providing Kennedy High School next service to our members and year and hopes to get our communities. Credit approval for a similar prounions are not simply finangram someday in Clifton. cial institutions.” Of NJFCU’s 31,000 A bank, she explains, members in North Jersey, makes money for only a more than 1,500 Cliftonites select group of owners or are account holders with the investors and part of the Marzena Fernandes branch manager of the Polish and credit union. One of the profit comes from higher Slavic Federal Credit Union with a customer. services that NJFCU probanks fees on such services vides to members is a cleverly designed mobile banking as ATM transactions and checking, as well as by offering unit—the Green Machine—a branch on wheels, really. lower rates on consumer savings. So the convenience of The Green Machine arrives every Friday afternoon at banks—easy access to money machines and branches on St. Mary’s Hospital, making it simple for members to every corner—comes at a cost to the consumer. deposit checks, withdraw cash, open accounts, transfer Credit unions, on the other hand, are set up as not-forfunds directly outside their place of work. Credit unions profits owned by the account holders. Earnings are serve a defined field of membership. Eligibility to join a returned to account holders, known as members, in the credit union can be based on affiliations with an form of lower loan rates, higher interest paid on savings,


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The Self Reliance (NJ) Federal Credit Union made a $10,000 donation to St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in celebration of its centennial. Pictured from left is SRFCU Board member Dr. Michael Lewko, Fr. Andrij Dudkevych, Board President Ken Wanio, Vice President in Charge of Operations Jaroslaw Fedun and CEO Val Bogattchouk.

employer, such as postal workers or public school teachers, ethnic heritage, even religion. Some credit unions memberships are based on a geographic area, such as NJFCU, which serves 31,000 members throughout North Jersey. Their service area generates assets of more than $183 million. Two other credit unions have an extensive membership base in Clifton, the Self-Reliance (NJ) Ukrainian Federal Credit Union, with more than 3,000 members in the Clifton/Passaic area, and the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union (PSFCU) with more than 8,000 members in Clifton—that’s almost 10 percent of the city’s population. Established in 1976 in Brooklyn, the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union began to offer immigrants great rates on mortgages to purchase and renovate homes in Greenpoint. This strategy of helping immigrants, notes Martyna Florczak, PSFCU Communications and Community Marketing Specialist, resulted in bringing prosperity to an underdeveloped neighborhood. Today the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn is the one of the most sought-after real estate markets in the New York City area, she claimed. In general, she added, wherever PSFCU opened a branch, new businesses would spring up around it, reviving local economies. PSFCU’s Clifton branch on Clifton Ave. opened in September 1996. As part of its community outreach, PSFCU just launched the Youth Advantage program, the goal of which is to teach young people how to manage their finances. However, the program managers also hope that this financial education will trickle up to the children’s parents. The parents, according to Florczak, 56

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

often are not financially educated, likely as a result of being first generation immigrants from Europe, unfamiliar with language and American financial institutions and processes. PSFCU, a single credit union with a network of branches in New York, New Jersey and Illinois, has over one billion dollars in assets and is the largest Polish financial institution outside of Poland, as well as the largest single ethnic credit union in the United States. PSFCU members choose to help support Polish supplementary schools in the US, schools that help children of Polish immigrants retain their heritage. In turn, PSFCU also offers high school and college students scholarships. In the past 10 years, PSFCU has given out more than $1.2 million to support the education of young credit union members. The credit union and cooperative movement began in the middle of the 19th century in England, quickly caught on in Germany and then spread throughout northern and eastern European countries. In the first decades of the 20th century, intellectuals from the territories of western Ukraine, who were studying abroad in Europe, began to bring home the idea of cooperatives and in the 1920s, with strong support from the Ukrainian Catholic Church, a network of credit unions and cooperatives took root in Ukraine. This tradition of self-help and self-reliance was carried on as immigrants from Ukraine came to the United States after WWII. Clifton’s Ukrainian credit union, Self-Reliance (NJ) Federal Credit Union, with headquarters on Allwood Road, and a branch in Passaic, is part of a network of more than 25 independent Ukrainian credit unions


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in the United States and Canada with combined assets of 2.2 billion dollars in 2009. The chief executive officer of Clifton’s Ukrainian credit union, Val Bogattchouk, notes the importance of ethnic credit unions in educating immigrants about financial responsibilities and opportunities in America. A key function of Self-Reliance is to offer services in the Ukrainian language. Though some banks offer bi-lingual speakers to help clients, ethnic credit unions such as PSFCU and Self Reliance that provide all finan-

cial services in an immigrants native language help reduce the stress of assimilation, reduce the risk of grave financial mistakes and open possibilities that immigrants probably would not receive through traditional banks, such as obtaining small business loans with low collateral. Self-Reliance, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, has donated about $750,000 during the past ten years in support of education, youth organizations, sports events and publications for its members and the local community.

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November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

On October 4, the New Jersey Credit Union League named North Jersey Federal Credit Union the winner of the 2010 Credit Union of the Year Award. Pictured is NJFCU President Lourdes Cortes accepting the award.

SRFCU recently provided a donation to mark the 100th anniversary of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, which many of its members attend. Another proud moment during the history of SelfReliance was the support its board of directors and members offered Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Lourdes Cortez sees a brighter future for credit unions. “For decades, we haven’t been telling our story very well,” she commented, though that is changing now. NJFCU, which was established in 1936, has grown progressively every year since its inception, and unlike most major banks in existence today, has never been bought out, closed down, merged, TARPed, taken over, re-organized, or rearranged. Stability, longevity, financially conservative accountability and community service is a winning combination, she believes, that will continue to bring people around to switching to a credit union.

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The Corrado family businesses include the Pet Market and the Garden Center, both in the mall on Getty Ave.


he late James Corrado (inset) must be looking down proudly on what his kids and grandkids have accomplished since he opened the flagship Corrado’s Family Affair on Main Ave. in 1975. Just last year, the family opened a second supermarket in the Point View Shopping Plaza in Wayne. But their most recent and unique addition here in Clifton is the Pet Market on Getty Ave. across the parking lot from the Garden Center.

Open 7 days and neatly organized from wall to wall, the super-sized Pet Market is animal friendly, loaded with great merchandise and staffed by knowledgeable people. And deals? Pick up a 100 count box of Wee Wee Pads for $24.99, great for housebreaking a puppy. How about a 44 lb bag of Iams premium foods for dogs and cats at just $32.99? These are prices and deals you won’t find in any national chain store or wholesale club.

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November 2010 • Clifton Merchant





Sweaters, pajamas, boots, holiday themed outfits ... for holding off the cold or just having fun, your pampered pet can be outfitted royally here. This coming week, a new line of Wilson Leather collars, harnesses, chokers and leashes will be introduced and Corrado’s Pet Market will have the complete line—at a great price!

Gift giving time is here and Corrado’s Pet Market offers aquarium kits, habitats for little creatures, hermit crab shells and sets, bird cages and other items that make great Christmas gifts. So bring your pet and take a tour—and be sure to ask for a free gift. As one manager said: Everyone that visits becomes a repeat customer!

Corrado’s Garden Center offers items for Christmas and Thanksgiving! On a recent visit, premium food brands were $3 to $7 cheaper than most any place else and you will find most every brand name food found in supermarkets. Shop the price for Alpo, Purina, Fancy Feast, Friskies and you’ll find bargains. Plus, premium lines like Iams, Eukenuba, Science Diet, Newman’s Own and others are offered in varying sizes and at great prices as well.

HEALTH & BEAUTY ITEMS Purchasing FRONTLINE® Plus for Dogs, vitamins or heart worm medicine? Corrado’s Pet Market is certain to be competitive on those items too. Healthcare and beauty supplies, from shampoos and conditioners to toe nail clippers and all types of merchandise for grooming your animal, are also offered. Now, shoppers will be able to drop their dog or cat off at the Pet Market for Professional Grooming while they fill their grocery list at the supermarket or the Garden Center, both a short walk away.

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Several hundred costumed residents took to the streets on Oct. 24 for the annual Harvestfest Parade, which ran along Lakeview Ave. and into Nash Park. The participants featured here enjoyed as afternoon of games, fresh air and food (even an apple pie baking contest!) and fun. Photos by A.J. Sartor. 62

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


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November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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n a beautiful, suburban setting experience privacy in your one bedroom or studio apartment with supportive services while remaining independent with dignity. The Miriam Apartments, located on the 13-acre campus of Daughters of Miriam Center/The Gallen Institute, are available to seniors age 62 and over and/or persons with mobility impairments. Independent living at the apartments is just one facet of the continuum of care offered at Daughters of Miriam Center. Whatever your needs might be–independent living, rehabilitation, or skilled nursing care–the Center offers it all, in a Jewish environment, in one location. Apartment Features: • • • •


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Rents are government subsidized. Tenant rental portion is based on annual income. Admission is based on a waiting list.

If you have a disability & need assistance with the application process, please call Linda Emr at 973-253-5311. November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Light a Candle for Those Who Have Passed: Marrocco Memorial Chapel on Colfax Ave. hosts its Holiday Remembrance Service on Dec. 9 at 7 pm to assist those who have experienced the death of a family member or friend. The service begins with a video tribute, a candle lighting ceremony and a short talk about loss. After the hour presentation, there is a reception and a chance to talk informally. All are welcomed to attend the free program. Reservations requested but not required. Call 973-249-6111.


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Paramus Catholic High School’s athletic fields are usually filled with school spirit, competition, pride and fun. But on Nov. 7 and 8, thing get a little more serious. The field becomes a Tent City where over 75 PC students will live as the homeless live. This is the fourth year students will participate in PC’s Tent City, where high schoolers will experience the lack of shelter and daily comforts they are used to. Students are permitted to bring only the clothes on their backs, a large cardboard box and one large tarp. They

will eat only what is provided to them by the local community, and they will only use blankets, coats, and sleeping bags that have been donated. Students are not permitted to bring toiletries, cell phones, or any electronic devices and will create their homes from the items they bring. The day will continue with a series of witness talks, prayers, and activities, such as preparing meals for local homeless shelters. Students will receive a simple lunch and dinner, served soup kitchen style. They will sleep outside in their boxes, regardless of the weather conditions. Tent City kicks off PC’s Thanksgiving Food Drive. For details, call 201-445-4466. St. Brendan School hosts a Grocery Auction on Nov. 14 from 1 - 5 pm in the school gym at the corner of Lakeview and Crooks Aves. The $10 admission includes one sheet of prize tickets. For advance tickets, call 973-772-1149 or 973-820-5523. St. Mary Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Washington Ave., offers a homemade stuffed cabbage sale on Nov. 20 from 10 am to 2 pm. The ground beef and rice stuffed treats are priced at six for $9 or 12 for $18. Place orders by phone on the church’s answering machine at 973546-2473 by Nov. 15. Leave a name and phone number for confirmation. Is there a home in your area that is beautifully maintained and landscaped and really makes the neighborhood special? Nominate it for a Clifton Beautification Award. Call 973-279-5174 or send the address to the Clifton Beautification Committee at The homeowner will be notified and the award will be presented at a City Council meeting in spring. The Awards are presented yearly so nominations can be made anytime.

John Samra Memorial 5K Race

Photos by A. J. Sartor female winner (pictured left) with a time of 23 minutes ohn Samra was a Clifton motorcycle officer who and 14 seconds, while first place male winner Hector died in the line of duty on Nov. 21, 2003. To keep his Rivera (at right) set a new course record with his time of memory alive, a scholarship fund was established in his 16:06. The next road race in our city is The Clifton name and events such as the John Samra Memorial 5K on Stampede on Nov. 21. For details, call 973-470-5958. Oct. 24 help fund it. Presented by the Clifton PBA and For all things related to running in Clifton and northern supported by the Clifton Roadrunners, participants includNew Jersey, call Clifton Roadrunners President Barbara ed newcomers, youth, competitive runners and seniors Tupper at 201-991-8106 go to who are pictured above. Alicia Feghhi was the first place


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November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


On Oct. 23, members of the Hungarian community, led by Father Laszlo Vas (St. Stephen’s R.C. Magyar Church, Passaic) and Reverend Jozsef Vasarhelyi (Hungarian Reform Church, Passaic) and city officials raise the national flag at City Hall. The date commemorates the 1956 uprising againist Communist rule in the capital city of Budapest. Photo by László Kerkay.

Project Graduation 2011 is months away, but the planning has already started. Chair Mary Ann Cornett has scheduled a meeting on Nov. 8 to discuss the Prom Fashion Show, which is annually one of the school’s biggest fundraisers. Funds from the event will benefit Project Graduation, a drug and alcohol free event for seniors after they walk the field. The meeting will concern the date, price and location for the Prom Fashion Show. For information, call 973-779-5678. Blue State Productions, theater in residence at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Clifton Ave., Clifton, announced it will present the Tony Award winning Broadway drama Having Our Say Feb. 11-26 as part of Black History Month. This will be followed by the musical Godspell in April. Auditions for Having Our Say are Dec. 3 and 4. Godspell auditions are Jan. 7 and 8. Volunteers for behind the scenes work are also needed. No pay, non-equity. Call 973-4729445 or email for more details.


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

The CHS Class of 2000 will celebrate 10 years on Nov. 26 from 7 to 11 pm at 3 East, 217 Rt. 3, Secaucus. 3 East co-owner, Frank Ponte, a CHS Class of 2000 alum, will offer an open bar and food for $65, payable at the door—no reservations. Call 201-210-2094 or visit Art In Bloom is an exhibit and sale of floral and nature’s landscape designs in various media such as oil, pastels, watercolors and mixed-media. The exhibit is at the Clifton Arts Center and will feature the work of Sandy Askey-Adams, Jill S. Balsam, Christine Calandra, Clifton’s Janet Golabek and Lisa Palombo. The exhibit will be displayed Nov. 10 through Dec. 18. A reception open to the public is on Nov. 13 from 1 to 4 pm. The Clifton Arts Center Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday 1 to 4 pm. Group tours are available by appointment. Admission is $3. For more information check the website at:

The Quiet Storm, a doo wop band from Philadelphia, will be among six groups performing at the 16th annual Martin Luther King Jazz Festival & Dinner on Jan. 15 at the Church of the Assumption. At right, the Silver Starlight Orchestra performs at Clifton High School in a Salute to Veterans hosted by the Clifton Rec Department on Nov. 23.

The 16th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Jazz Festival & Dinner is on Jan. 15 at the Church of the Assumption, 35 Orange Ave. Produced by Seifullah Ali Shabazz, performers include Jazzy Bear and Friends, Arnetta Johnson & Subito Sound, Mark Turner, Bridge Johnson and doo wop bands Quiet Storm and Choice. Dinner is at 6 pm. Tickets are $35 or $40 at the door. For more information, call 973-478-4124. The Silver Starlight Orchestra will play a USO-type program of big band sounds, patriotic music and tunes from World War II at the 13th Annual Salute To Veterans Concert. Held on Nov. 23 at John F. Kennedy Auditorium in CHS. Doors open at 6 pm and the show starts at 7. Call the Clifton Rec Dept. at 973-470-5958.

Clifton author Glory Read reminds readers that some 5.3 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s Disease. She knows first hand the impact it has. Her late husband Phil is the subject of her book ‘Everything Will Be Alright: an Alzheimer’s Memoir.’ To contact the author write to

Veterans from the six branches of services should bring military nostalgia to share memories and artifacts in a display area prior to the show. All guests are encouraged to come in uniform or dress in patriotic attire. The evening begins with a grand entrance of flags. The night concludes with a USO Canteen in the school’s cafeteria. Admission is free but donations of canned goods or cash contributions for Thanksgiving baskets are accepted. Bring a non-perishable food item as ‘admission’ to the concert. The series is produced by Bob Obser and the Clifton Rec. Dept. and is funded in part by the Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council at PCCC through a grant from the NJ State Council on the Arts. Get details about PCCC’s affordable tuition, financial aid options, and flexible day, evening, weekend, or online schedules at Passaic County Community College’s open house on Nov. 13 from 10 am to 1 pm at the main campus in Paterson. PCCC offers more than 60 academic programs at locations in Passaic, Paterson, Wanaque and Wayne. Plus, adults who have some college credits but never completed their degree should ask about DARC, a program that makes it easier than ever to finish your college education. To attend, RSVP and find out more at Walk-ins are also welcome. Spring classes start in January; download an application at Call 973-684-6868 for more info or with any questions. November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The Optimist Clubs of Clifton & Passaic present...

HOT DOG NIGHT Mustangs, Indians and the Optimist Cup trophy, which will be awarded Thanksgiving Day at Boverini Stadium, Passaic. Clifton players: Thomas Trommelen (78), Max Egyed (8), David Ricca (54), Joe Chiavetta (21), Angelo Minuche (34). Passaic players: Delreese Delgado (51) Santos Arroyo (37), Juan Anziani (53), Angel Santana (11), Andre Dixon (5).


Bringing Out the Best in Kids is the mission and vision of the Optimist Clubs of Passaic and Clifton. That’s why before the annual Optimist Cup Thanksgiving Game between the Indians and Mustangs, members sponsor a Hot Dog Night. Held on Thurs., Nov. 18 at 6:30 pm—this year at the Athenia Veterans Hall on Huron Ave.—the event celebrates the tradition of an 82-game rivalry between the two high schools, which spans 87 years. And it’s just not the gridiron rivalry being celebrated that night. Two girls volleyball teams, both squads of cheerleaders and members of both marching bands will attend. A tradition for over the past decade, all kids eat for free and that’s why Optimist Club members seek the community’s support. 72

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

The public is invited—tickets are $10—and we ask parents, community leaders and adults to purchase tickets, even if you can’t attend. Remember we need to feed some 200 kids who we don’t charge—so your donation would be appreciated. At the hot dog dinner, a student from each team will speak about their experience on and off the field and what the rivalry means to them and their teammates. As Optimists, we hope that the Hot Dog Night makes the world a little gentler, as kids from the two towns get to know each other as competitors and neighbors. For tickets, contact Clifton Merchant Magazine editor and publisher Tom Hawrylko at 973-253-4400, Ted Munley at Clifton Savings Bank at 973-473-2200, ext. 112 or Passaic HS VP John Ciuppa at 973-470-5602.

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


INDIANS MUSTANGS 35 Wins 41 Loses 5 Ties

41 Wins 35 Loses 5 Ties

1952 . . .Clifton 33 ....Passaic 12 1953 . . .Clifton 21 ....Passaic 20 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

Happy Thanksgiving and many thanks for your continued support

Surrogate Bill Bate November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Tennessee Williams on the JFK Stage The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee William’s first successful play, will be produced by CHS teacher Dave Arts with performances on Nov. 19 at 7:30 pm and Nov. 21 at 2 pm. The play focuses on Tom Wingfield, his mother, Amanda and his sister, Laura, who are left to fend for themselves in a small apartment in St. Louis, MO, when his abusive and alcoholic father abandons them. Tom imagines escaping from his drab existence, Amanda dreams of the deep south of her idealized girlhood, while Laura (a physical handicap replacing her real-life mental illness) lives in the isolated world of her glass ornament collection. This fragile balance is shattered when Jim, an emissary from the real world, enters their lives. The actors are four CHS stage veterans, all seniors. The include Mike Sunbury as Tom, in his fourth CHS production. Sarah Robertson, who won a state award for her portrayal of Linda Loman in Death of a Salesmen, is cast as Amanda. Laura will be performed by Paige Sciarrino, who was one of just 26 applicants accepted to the Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory. Kurt Irizarry, another familiar face of the CHS


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Mike Sunbury, Kurt Irizarry, Paige Sciarrino and Sarah Robertson are the ensemble for The Glass Menagerie.

stage but who expects to have a career backstage, has been cast as Jim. The set for The Glass Menagerie was designed by Julie Chrobak and will be constructed by Ken Kida, and the CHS Stage-Craft Club. For information and tickets, call CHS at 973-470-2312.

CHS Student of the Month By Joe Hawrylko You’d have to look hard to find a more involved person at Clifton High School than Melanie Ciappi. The senior who was named student of the month, constantly volunteers her time for numerous causes, both in and out of school. “I like helping people and being on my feet all day,” explained Ciappi. One of the first programs she became involved with was stage crew, which helps coordinate and set up all of the school’s performances. As a sophomore, Ciappi initially tried out for the play, but switched to stage crew after Mrs. Eisenmenger recruited her as a stage manager for musicals. “At stage crew, I’m always on my feet, always doing something or trying to help this person or painting or building,” Ciappi said. “There’s always something to do. I like that.” She did her first musical that year, Rent, and stage crew has become a passion since. “There’s definitely no doubt about it, I want to do stage crew in college,” said Ciappi. The senior said that she made sure that ever school she considered had a theater department. She is currently leaning towards Rutgers, where Ciappi wants to study nursing. Besides stage crew, Ciappi has taken on other leadership roles in school. She is currently president of the ERASE (End Racism and Sexism Everywhere) Club at CHS. “We raise awareness of everyone in our school. We have so much diversity, so we have to bring attention to everyone else’s needs,” said Ciappi. “We have a day of silence, where no one talks for the day at all,” she said. “It’s to protest for the people

who get harassed for their race, gender or anything, but don’t speak out of the threat of violence. It’s a vow to them.” One of her more recent interests has been supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Ciappi raised over $1,000 for the group following the passing of her brother, Michael, took his own life last year. In the months since then, she has learned to look past the tragedy and find a positive way to continue his legacy. “In May, I have suicide awareness month,” said Ciappi, who will do a presentation to her peers. “I also want to do little bookmarks for every student, with five signs you’d notice in your friends.” With her efforts, her brother’s spirit will continue to live on. “April 15, once that happened, I started becoming involved,” she continued. “I want to raise awareness, not just in school, but everywhere. November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Keeping those Mustangs...

Marching — not Colliding!

Photos and Story by Michael C. Gabriele itting in his office at Clifton High School last spring, Robert D. Morgan reviewed musical arrangements for the Mustang Marching Band’s fall 2010 campaign. Morgan, the director of band, along with his assistant directors Lauren Chen and Matt Brody, decided on a 1960s Motown theme, which has been presented during this season’s halftime performances during football games at Clifton Stadium. Each year, ever since Morgan became director in 1972, the process to select the band’s seasonal repertoire begins much the same way—the starting point in the Mustang Band’s development as the “Pride of Clifton” and the “Showband of the Northeast.” Over the years, the attention to detail, along with the dedication of students, has yielded the band’s well-deserved reputation for excellence—inside and outside of Clifton. It’s a cumulative performance legacy that will be celebrated when the band marks its 75th anniversary in 2013. Guided by Morgan, the Mustang Band, in effect, reinvents itself each school year, creating new programs while remaining true to its guiding traditions. The spectrum of music available for consideration spans work by John Phillips Sousa to pop tunes by The Beatles, reinter-



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

preted to fit a marching band format. In years past, Morgan often would write arrangements himself. “We review the new music that comes out each spring for marching bands,” Morgan said, referring to scores offered by a half-dozen publishing houses. Ideas for seasonal programs can be hatched in a variety of ways: during conversations with musical colleagues; enjoying a cup of coffee with his wife, Michele (who coaches the band’s majorettes); hearing a familiar tune on the radio; or the proverbial artistic inspirational jolt in the middle of the night. While music is the foundation, developing the band’s program involves other key elements that are woven together to create a complete performance package. “We’re trying to tell a story during halftime,” he explained. “There’s a theme behind the music and the marching that ties everything together.” The announcer’s script is an integral part of the show; the narrative that connects one song to another and describes the band’s marching formations. Music often is selected to showcase the routines of the majorettes. The band’s formations on the field are images symbolizing the theme of a particular song. For example, the highlight formation this season features the iconic “heart pierced by an arrow,” a familiar, sen-

timental design carved into millions of trees, which turns, there is both an audio and visual effect for the represents the lyrics to the Sam Cooke 1960s hit audience—the change of direction alters the sound of “Cupid.” (“Cupid, draw back your bow, and let your woodwind and brass sections while the shift in the front arrow go, straight to my lover’s heart for me.”) and back colors of uniforms is intended to add sparkle When a halftime show clicks, when all the elements and catch the eye of the crowd. come together and the And then there’s the band nails a performmarching. ance, the audience Precision marching cheers and the band is the signature element director smiles. that defines a Mustang However, a seamless Band performance. It effort, by design, hides also is the most the underlying mechandemanding skill for stuics of the program—the dents to learn, requiring complexities that go athletic talent, the abiliinto crafting a show. ty to visualize “on-theMorgan and his field” geometry, and a assistants orchestrate strong sense of rhythm. the positioning of The marching is done in musicians on the field, a Big Ten college band A field chart illustrates formations plus individual aligning band members style, an aspect of musipositions and locations of all band members in a particular drill. Pictured here is the field chart for the to create a “centered” cianship near and dear Temptations’ hit tune “Get ready.” sound that spotlights to the heart of Morgan, the timbre of each who is a 1971 graduate instrument, depending on the arrangement of each of the University of Iowa. The band’s marching expertise song. When the marching musicians do their quick is a living legacy that dates back to the group’s

November 2010 • Clifton Merchant



November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Robert Morgan, pictured in the band room at Clifton High School, has set the tempo and tone for the Mustang Band since 1972.

founder, James Moscati in the 1930s and 1940s, continued by Stanley Opalach and Saul Kay in the 1950s and 1960s, and further enhanced during Morgan’s tenure. Over the years, the tradition of precision marching has come to distinguish the Clifton unit from other high school bands. The difference is evident at the annual North New Jersey Band Festival, the 64th version of which was hosted by Montclair State University on Oct. 24. While the Mustangs carry the torch of precision marching, other Garden State high school bands have gravitated towards an emphasis on flags, spinning rifles and swords, and eclectic, glamorous sideline orchestrations that include electric guitars, keyboards and diverse percussion stations. And instead of traditional marching patterns, most other schools have opted for side-to-side, forward-and-back roll steps. “Yeah, we’re a dinosaur, but that’s OK,” Morgan confessed, flashing a wry smile and leaving no doubt as to which style of marching he prefers. Mustang Band members are required to master the fundamentals of a proper knee lift and a 22.5-inch forward step—eight steps every five yards. The leg lift and step involves picking up the knee and pointing the foot, so the toe becomes a shock absorber (the toe lands first, then the heel). It is an unnatural motion; in the typical walking step, it’s the heel that hit the ground first. Drills are mapped out on a math grid sheet, with each grid box representing four steps. Band members memo-

rize the geometric patterns on the grid, translating them to steps on the field. They also know the various calls and signals from the drum major and utilize the end zone lines, the sidelines and the 50-yard line as reference points to frame formations. “You have to keep the (formation) geometry going. There are lots of moving parts and quick turns. The band needs to maintain that 22.5-inch step. But when it works, it’s like gears meshing,” he said, interlocking his fingers to demonstrate his point. Morgan, indeed, knows “the drill.” A 1966 graduate of Clifton High School, he was a trumpet player during his years in the Mustang Band. He achieved the rank of master sergeant in his junior and senior years, equivalent to the current rank of quartermaster. For the band director, each season is a full-circle moment, as today’s students are marching, quite literally, in his footsteps. “I feel for the kids. It’s tough. I know what they’re going through. I used to be the guy who played the trumpet solo during the ‘Call to the Colors’ in the pregame show. Mr. Kay was a tough taskmaster. He brought the band to a new level. When I became the director, I brought it to another level.” (Michael C. Gabriele is the publicity chairman for the Clifton Mustang Band Parents Association and a member of the advisory board of the Clifton Arts Center.)

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Joe Angello is 51 on Nov. 6 while Joe & Sue celebrate their 11th Anniversary on Nov. 14. Nicole Mokray hits double digits—she turns10 on Nov. 7. Congrats Catherine & Christopher Mendez who wed Sept. 26.

Birthdays & Celebrations

Send dates & Belated Congratulations to Mary Jane & Andy Varga who celebrated their 48th Wedding Anniversary on October 26. Happy Birthday to Amanda Grace Feiner who will be 23 on November 29. Jazzlyn Caba ....................11/1 Robyn Jo Paci ....................11/2 Thomas Scancarella ...........11/2 Kelly Tierney......................11/3 Lance Dearing ...................11/4 Andrew Seitz.....................11/4 Victoria Krzysztofczyk ........11/5 Tanya Ressetar...................11/5 Joe Angello .......................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 Marie Sanzo .....................11/8 Donna Camp.....................11/9 Brandy Stiles ...................11/10 Tom Szieber ....................11/10 Stacey Van Blarcom Takacs ...11/10

Happy Birthday to Nancy Hawrylko who will turn 25 on Nov.19. Joseph Franek III ..............11/11 Laura Gasior ...................11/12

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November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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Carolina Kazer is 93 on Nov. 29 & is pictured with her son Skip. Geraldine Ball ...................11/13 Patricia Franek ...................11/13 Robert Paci ........................11/13 Gregory Chase..................11/15 Matthew Phillips .................11/16 Anthony Wrobel ................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 Eileen Fierro ......................11/25 Crystal Lanham ..................11/25 Rachel Prehodka-Spindel.....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 Christopher Seitz................11/29 Kaitlyn Graham .................11/30 Barbara Luzniak.................11/30


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The Tradition Continues... o matter what the state of the economy is, Kevin O’Neil and Joe Argieri will make sure that the 16th Annual Thanksgiving Day feast goes off without a hitch.


Working with FMBA Local 21 members and Clifton Firefighters, the Route 3 IHOP and Baskinger’s Catering have donated all of the goods necessary to host a free

Thanksgiving Day dinner to residents who might otherwise be having theirs alone, or who might not be able to afford one at all. This annual feast, started by former Deputy Chief Tom Lyons in 1994 thanks to the generosity of IHOP and Baskinger’s Catering, begins at 11:30 am on Nov. 25 at the Senior Citizen Center, behind City Hall at 900 Clifton Ave. Seating is limited to the first 150 residents who respond before Nov. 12. To reserve a seat, or for details, call Ann Marie Lancaster at 973-470-5802. Kevin O’Neil of IHOP, Clifton Firefighter Tony Latona, CFD Deputy Chief George Spies and Joe Argieri of Baskinger’s.


November 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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