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Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Table of Contents

What’s Inside? 16 Clifton Memorial Library Investing in Public Spaces, 1953

20 Aheka Scout Camporee Camping in Nash Park, 1958

82 Singing for Francis

22 America’s First Strip Mall

Valerie Bernhardt

Styrertowne Shopping Center

30 A Manufacturing Mecca ...and a Cultural Benefactor


46 2 High Schools for Clifton Superintendent Shershin, 1956

56 Hate Breeds Tolerance? Rabbi Markovitz Remembered

62 Grand Marshal Talamini 92-Year-Old to Lead Vet’s Parade

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At the Clifton Storyteller exhibit at the Clifton Arts Center, some current and former staff members of Clifton Merchant Magazine. Fabian Calvo, Aly Ibrahim, Ken Peterson, Tom and Lori Hawrylko, Michael Gabriele and John Bendel.

Among the visits and well wishes we received on the 20th anniversary of Clifton Merchant Magazine, my friend and contributing writer Irene Jarosewich perhaps sent the most touching note. “When Clifton celebrates its 150th anniversary, it will be your pages that will be read by future Cliftonites to find out who they are and who they were...” She and her husband Alek were among the many folks who came to the reception at the Clifton Arts Center on Sept. 19 to open our exhibit, Clifton Storyteller. The reception was grand, with family, friends, readers and former staff members stopping by to share stories, see their work on the walls of the exhibit and to do some catching up. The exhibit begins with 21 posters of our covers organized by year. Other displays feature headshots of people we have photographed over the decades as well as memorabilia, displayed through Oct. 24 at the Arts Center on the City Hall campus. Visit the exhibit Wednesdays through Sundays, from noon to 4 pm.

Creating the display is our way of saying thank you to our readers and advertisers. But the fact is that every month the magazine begins anew. Taking new photos. Writing fresh stories. Digging up some history. And then asking the business community to support this all with their advertising. In that spirit, on the following pages you will note friends and past story subjects are sponsoring congratulatory advertisements. If you care to show your support for our magazine—perhaps you share our passion for telling the good stories of our community—please do so by sponsoring an advertisement. As we continue our mission of telling Clifton’s story, your support for Tomahawk Promotions and Clifton Merchant Magazine is critical... Thanks in advance. Closing reception: On Wed., Oct. 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, Lori and I will host a meet and greet at the Clifton Arts Center. Come enjoy refreshments and share in the magazine’s 20 year history. We hope to see you. —Tom Hawrylko Clifton Merchant • October 2015


NO LONGER ‘the champions from Clifton without a home field’ By Jack DeVries The spark that ignited the drive to complete Clifton School Stadium happened 367 miles south of the city. Since 1939, the dream of a school stadium stood ignored – a single wall created as part of a Works Projects Administration effort, a Roosevelt administration initiative to get Americans working again. With the advent of World War II, building stopped. When the war was over, Clifton’s soldiers returned, life went on, and the wall stood abandoned. That would change with the 1945 arrival of the new Clifton High School football coach, Joe Grecco. Despite having only 17 players, the Mustangs finished 6-2-1 that fall. After the season ended, Grecco packed up his projector and game films, and attended every Clifton church group, service organization, political club or hot dog night to talk with parents about football and what it could do for their kids. “If their sons played on the team,” Grecco told the Clifton Merchant in an interview before his death in 6 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

2003, “I’d insist on an academic commitment – I would check their report cards. I also spoke about the discipline and lessons their sons would learn from football. The following year, I had 33 kids come out for the team.” However, “Nomads” might have been a better team name for the Mustangs. When Clifton High founded its football team in 1921, the team played its games at the Doherty Oval behind the mill on Main Ave. After the oval was paved over for Getty Ave., the Mustangs moved across the street to Wessington Stadium, now the site of the Passaic Valley Water Commission. Later, the team played in a roped off area in front of the high school, with players clearing the ground of small rocks and stones before games. Finally, the Mustangs began playing “home” games in Paterson’s Hinchcliffe Stadium. In 1946, Clifton needed the big arena that could accommodate large crowds as its Mustangs went undefeated, led by All-American running back Bobby Boettcher.

With legs strong from hauling and delivering ice during the summer, the swivel-hipped Boettcher earned AllMetro, All-State, and All-American honors, and was selected New Jersey’s “Best High School Athlete” by the Newark Athletic Club. During his Mustang career, he scored 57 career touchdowns. “I never felt like a star,” Boettcher said. “I really didn’t. All I cared about was winning for Clifton.” After the 1946 season, the team was invited to play in the inaugural Oyster Bowl in Norfolk, Va., against Granby High School. The game, sponsored by the Shriners, would raise money for crippled children. Before the game, the Mustangs attended a banquet, put on by their Norfolk hosts. But those same hosts made a comment that stung the Clifton group – introducing the Mustangs as “the champions from

Bobby Boettcher


Clifton without a home field.” “I remember that remark,” said Boettcher. “The team didn’t like it, and there were groans from many of the kids when it was said.” Prior to the 1946 season, Grecco noted, the attitude of our school administration was one of indifference. “We played our baseball games in Nash Park,” he said. “We had no track facilities. We played our football home games in Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson or Passaic High School Stadium.” The introduction also embarrassed school officials, including Clifton Schools Commissioner Emil Gacy. “After the banquet,” Boettcher remembered, “he said, ‘We’re going to build you boys that stadium.’” Though the Mustangs lost the game, 6-0, after an apparent Boettcher touchdown was waved off, Gacy would keep his vow.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Ron Haraka

Building a Stadium The area where the future stadium would be built had been a center of athletic competition since 1875 when the Clifton Racetrack was built on the 25-acre grounds, formerly the Engemann farm. By 1888, the track featured a glass-enclosed grandstand with seating for more than 10,000 people. It was accessible from New York City by train, and bettors were delivered by special cars that ran up Piaget Ave. from the Lakeview section. According to A Clifton Sampler, professional gamblers did business in 66 separate booths in the track’s gambling ring. Races were often fixed. The Passaic Daily Herald reported the “sporting gentry who came from New York” thought the track was “no straighter than a corkscrew.” In 1891, area clergy succeeded in getting the track closed. However, crowds still came to watch the circus and Wild West shows held there featuring Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill. Several national trapshooting competitions were also conducted on the grounds. In 1908, the horse track was made into a velodrome for bicycle and motorcycle racing, again drawing many spectators. After the facility was destroyed by fire, the city bought the grounds and cleared the remaining buildings. By 1939, building commenced with plans to


By Douglas John Bowen Second Generation Fighting Mustang Some say high school students are too young to appreciate history, or sense tradition. That certainly didn’t hold true for Quarterback Ron Haraka, Clifton H.S. Class of ’76, when it came to holding Clifton Stadium in high esteem. For Haraka, in fact, teen-aged respect combined with a second tradition: He was following in the footsteps of his father years before. “It was special to be a part of the same program as my dad,” he says. “Just to know he and I shared the same thing is pretty unique.” But Haraka notes he wasn’t alone in his reverence for the hometown stadium; plenty of teammates were cognizant of where they played, and why it mattered. “We knew of the rich tradition the Clifton football program had, and it fact it was an impetus; it pushed us to want to do good. I can’t speak for today’s players one way or the other, but in my day we knew what we had.” 8 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

And, by extension, the players knew what other high school teams didn’t have, Haraka says. “At that time, I did not know, was not aware of, any other [New Jersey high school] stadium that compared to ours. We knew this was a structure other teams simply didn’t have. We were proud of that.” That pride carried over beyond football season. “Even during summer workouts, or for other events at times throughout the year, it would serve as a meaningful facility, and you were aware of that whatever you were using it for,” Haraka says. Haraka believes the same veneration for the stadium and its role reached way beyond the athletes that were blessed to use it. After one loss, he recounts, “I was walking out of the stadium. A young fellow was at the gate and said, “’Haraka, you’re a bum.’ I took that as a compliment, a comment from someone who had a passion. Maybe he was just being a wise guy. But I saw it as someone who knew the tradition of Clifton Stadium, who cared.”

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Clifton Stadium build a simple sporting facility. After the Granby game, Gacy went to work. The city enlisted architect Arthur Rigolo to redesign the stadium and held a groundbreaking ceremony on January 7, 1947. Estimates said it would cost $210,000 to complete. The final cost for Clifton School Stadium: $600,000. Opening Day On October 14, 1950, with members of the 1946 team in the stands, the Mustangs opened Clifton School Stadium against Dickinson HS of Jersey City. “We knew,” Grecco said, “that a first game should be won.” An inaugural celebration kicked off before the game. More than 7,000 were there early to see Clifton High celebrate the site’s history with horse racing around the cinder running track and students dressed in 1890s costumes. Dutch and Native American dances also honored the area’s first inhabitants.

Joe Santillo


By Douglas John Bowen

Prodigal Son Returns Home Quarterback Joe Santillo, born and bred in Oak Ridge, appreciates the tradition of the Fighting Mustangs and its home stadium – and may just add to the luster of both. But in one sense, Santillo also is “coming home” after a two-year stint at DePaul HS in Wayne. So Clifton Stadium’s aura and intense energy during the Mustangs home opener victory last month, he acknowledges, caught him by surprise. “I never imagined such an atmosphere in the stadium. To see that stadium, filled with fans with the lights on Friday nights, is incredible,” he says. Another aspect where other locations don’t measure up: “the hometown feeling. There’s a feeling of home” playing in the stadium, Santillo says. Many of Santillo’s teammates sense the same thing, he adds. “I’ve known many of them since preschool and School 14, which is right behind my house.” Last year the team struggled despite a brand-new artificial turf field; this year’s Opening Day victory, with new head coach Ralph Cinque, was the Mustangs’ first on the new surface. “The team’s excitement is contagious,” Santillo says. Asked how today’s Mustangs compare with past 10 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

teams, Santillo measures not stats or won-loss records but, instead, playing conditions. “Playing under the lights is ‘different,’ for lack of a better word. The adrenaline gets pumping so much faster. You see the lights, the glare, you look up at the stadium, you see flashes of phone cameras from the crowd.” Away games, such as against Bergenfield this Halloween, can be day games, reminding the Mustangs of just how special home field lights and other amenities can be. Only three away games are scheduled for this fall – another plus for the Mustangs. “We have six home games, and maybe that’s because of the stadium facilities,” Santillo cautiously speculates. Santillo enjoyed his time at DePaul, “but there’s nothing like representing your home town, and being able to say, ‘I’m from Clifton,’” he says. Off the field and in the classroom, Santillo hopes to secure his Clifton HS diploma to “get me into Annapolis,” referring to the U.S. Naval Academy. But graduation is still a year and a half away, giving Santillo a shot for two seasons at the quarterback slot to add to Clifton’s Stadium’s memorable moments, and memories for Santillo as well. “As for being a Fighting Mustang, it will be such a help to me personally, make me a better, more experienced person in life,” he says.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Clifton Stadium Gacy entered the field wearing a football helmet and was given the honor of kicking the first ball, as you can see on our cover. The stadium’s opening signaled “the starting point from which Clifton will emerge in its rightful place as the second city of Passaic County.” With some 10,000 fans roaring inside the stadium, Clifton opened by pushing deep into Dickinson territory. But on the 13 yard line, the ball came loose on Mustang Ray Capilli’s handoff, and the Hilltoppers recovered on Clifton’s 34. After a big gain, Dickinson quarterback Tom D’Elia threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Al Roth to score the stadium’s first points. The Mustangs’ Wendell Inhoffer blocked the extra point, leaving Dickinson with a 6-0 lead. The score remained unchanged until halftime. Inside the new Clifton field house, Grecco paced up and down, using his booming voice to challenge the Mustangs, saying they should accept nothing less than victory. The speech worked, and Clifton took the field a changed team. The Mustangs stopped Dickinson on its first drive. After a big punt return by Lloyd McClelland, who ran it to the Dickinson 19, Clifton’s Jack Youngman took the ball from Capilli and ran toward the goal line. Youngman broke two tackles and raced in for the score – the only touchdown he scored in his high school career. Ralph Agastini’s extra point gave Clifton the lead, 7-6. Spurred on by a rejuvenated defense and Joe Kolodziej’s electrifying 48-yard punt return, the Mustangs scored two more touchdowns on runs by Bob Giovacco and Capilli to register the new stadium’s first home win, 19-6. Home of the Mustangs Though the 1950 Mustangs would finish 4-4-1, Clifton would go on to establish a winning tradition on its home turf, now named Joseph S. Grecco Field in honor of its iconic coach. The team would continue to prosper under the direction of Coach Bill Vander Closter and others. The stadium became an intimidating weapon in support of its teams. With its concrete stands for the home crowd, the stadium design created a deafening wall of sound that echoed from its fans and rolled across the field, slamming into the opposition and its supporters. Immense crowds packed the stadium for many of these 12 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

contests, seeming to shut the city down when the Mustangs played. In a speech during a reunion dinner of his former players, Grecco said that his players “made a remarkable, significant impact on the city of Clifton. Before the fifties, Clifton was a fragmented town of people who did not consider themselves as Cliftonites. Rather, they considered themselves as belonging to Beantown, Lakeview, Botany, Dutch Hill, Upper Montclair, Allwood, or Delawanna. “They brought this town from a non-entity to a town which basked in the great pride as champions. And contributing to the reputation of CHS was the renowned Mustang Band, which received international recognition. “And so, we went from a team representing a town which did not want to be identified as ‘Clifton’ to one that earned an entire proud city’s kudos.” Throughout Clifton’s football glory days of the sixties and seventies, the stadium prepared its Mustangs to perform in college and beyond, including quarterback Bob Holly, a star in the late seventies. Holly, who played for Princeton University and the Washington Redskins (earning two Super Bowl rings), feels Clifton’s athletic program did an excellent job preparing him for the challenges that loomed ahead. “Playing in a big program before a packed stadium,” Holly told the Clifton Merchant in a 2002 interview, “gets you comfortable with attention and teaches you the focus you’ll need to succeed at the next level.” In a 2000 story about the stadium in the Herald News, Vander Closter agreed, saying: “I heard from other players and coaches how intimidating the stadium was to them. It also helped our kids when they went on to play in college. Some of the smaller college programs didn’t have a facility like Clifton’s. Our kids were accustomed to playing in front of large crowds.” Sixty-five years since its opening, Clifton School Stadium stands – defiant and immoveable, a monument to a community, a coach and its team. It is there to host this generation of Mustangs and the many to follow. And while it remains a symbol of its city’s strength, its creation represents something greater – the will of Clifton’s people to show the surrounding communities this is indeed a place worthy of champions, home of the “Fighting Mustangs.”

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


14 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Investing in Public Facilities Clifton Memorial Library - Dedicated Jan. 31, 1953 & Nov. 10, 1991 As Clifton boomed after World War II, public library services expanded and the need for a permanent building was more apparent then ever. From 1947 to 1952, the book collection had grown from 10,000 titles to more than 33,000. Circulation would leap from 64,000 books borrowed in 1947 to 146,376 in 1952. The photo on the bottom of this page is of a story hour conducted from a rented 30 foot wide by 130 foot long library near Clifton and Main Aves. during Book Week on Nov. 19, 1948. It was clear that a growing, prosperous community needed a public library. And it took a mix of civic involvement and a salute to the returning veterans to make it happen. The spirit of the recently ended war was evident when Mayor Walter F. Nutt issued a proclamation making the month of November 1948 “Clifton War Memorial Month... in an attempt to raise sufficient funds to erect a World War II memorial in the form of a public library.” A year earlier, the City Council appropriated $100,000 to the building fund and designated that the structure be constructed in Memorial Park on Piaget Ave. at the end of Third St. 16 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Ford dealer Henry Fette was chosen to head up the campaign and to get other corporate and private donors to support the drive. In February 1951, the Council approved an additional $224,056 for construction and equipment. Ground was broken on April 6, 1952, pictured top of page, and construction began. But Clifton was always a cost-conscious community. After receiving the funds, Library Board President Fette wrote in the program that the group took to the “task of cutting down and eliminating to save money.” Donations were received by groups and individuals, including the Wartime Salvage Committee, which provided furnishings for the reading room. Residents saw the library quickly become a reality and by December, the task of moving from the old location at First and Clifton Aves. was done in three weeks. “The city now owns its own public library,” Fette concluded, adding it was built... “in memory of the young men who gave their lives for their country.” The Library was formally dedicated on Jan. 31, 1953. Fast forward to Nov. 5, 1989—ground was broken for a new structure to double the size of the main library. The city bonded $3.5 million, the state contributed $200,000 and $500,000 was raised through donations. The new structure was two years in the making and featured the newest technology, as well as plenty more shelves with traditional books, was officially dedicated on Nov. 10, 1991.

The Clifton Library near Clifton and Main Aves. in 1938

At Piaget and Third Aves., in 1953 and today.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


When Clifton Industrial Television donated a black and white TV to the Boys Club in Dec. 1950, these yoiung guys posed to say thanks. The club had just moved to its first home at 67 Center St. in Botany Village and the adult leaders were George Palino and Frank Niader.

June 7, 1949: The Clifton Lions Club elects its first state of officers at a luncheon at the Clifton Casino. July 27, 1949: Rabbi Eugene Markowitz is named spiritual leader of the Clifton Jewish Center. July 30, 1949: Clifton dial telephone service begins. July 1949: Land is purchased from the New Jersey Flour Mills for the construction of the Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy Center. The location is Park Slope and Vreeland Ave. and the cost is $9,000. Aug. 16, 1949: Stockholders of both Clifton National Bank & Passaic National Bank & Trust Co. vote to approve a merger of the two companies. Aug. 31, 1949: School 2 in Richfield is dedicated. Oct. 13, 1949: The Passaic-Athenia Bus Co. purchases Comfort Bus Line and Olympic Bus Line, adding the Rutherfords to its routes.

Oct. 26, 1949: The Bank of Allwood at 505 Allwood Rd. is chartered. Oct. 30, 1949: Ground is broken for the Clifton Jewish Center at Barclay Ave. and Delaware St. Nov. 7, 1949: Ground is broken for the construction of Allwood Theater on Market St. Some 1,140 seats are planned. Dec. 26, 1949: Timely Homes on Route 6 and Steve Dudiak begin the construction of 103 ranch style homes along Notch Rd. between Broad and Grove Streets, designated Highview Estates. 1950: Fashion Carpets is opened on Van Houten Ave. 1950: Aljo Hardware is established on Route 6. March 22, 1950: Irving Kanter announces plans for a new showroom for Lexington Chevrolet in Downtown Clifton at Main and Washington Aves. In Aug. 1950, a ground breaking ceremony was held for the Cerebral Palsy Center on Main Ave. It is interesting to note that the fourth child from the left is Loraine Krowel, who was one of the first students of the Center. For more than four decades, Krowel was an employee of the CP Center’s business office staff. Last year, the center changed its name to the North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency and still offers a variety of programs for children, teens and adults at three locations in Clifton.

18 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Nash Park on Lexington Ave. along the Passaic River has seen many incarnations. In 1894, it was home to an aquatic garden created by Scotto Nash. He reclaimed swamp land, added 10 hot houses and grew some 14,000 American Beauty Roses there. Floods in 1902 wiped out his roses and a variety of tropical plants he nurtured. During the next five decades the area was abandoned and reverted to a swampy mess. The city salvaged the land and, by Sept. 15, 1950, made ballfields and much more of the property when it was dedicated as Nash Park. This photo above was taken in 1958 when Boy Scouts from the Aheka Council used the picturesque site for a jamboree. The young fellow at the right wearing the derby is Henry Marrocco. Today, the river view is gone and replaced by an elevated Route 21.

March 23, 1950: The Clifton Boys’ Club at School 13 is closed. It moves to School 7, while a new site for the Club is sought in Athenia. April 19, 1950: Ground is broken for a 10-room addition to School 5 on Valley Rd. May 28, 1950: Clifton Memorial Post 347, American Legion, dedicates its new headquarters on Center St. May 30, 1950: Clifton Swimming Club at Rentschler’s Pool on Main Ave. opens for the 20th season. June 26, 1950: Ground is broken for an addition to School 9 on Brighton Rd. Oct. 14, 1950: The 7,200-seat Clifton School Stadium is dedicated during a Clifton Barringer football game. Oct. 15, 1950: A new Clifton Boys’ Club home at 67 Center St. is officially dedicated. Oct. 25, 1950: Clifton Library registers its bookmobile. It is dedicated on Nov. 11, 1950. Feb. 27, 1950: Following a lengthy campaign before City Council, the Library Board is granted a total of $250,000 to build. 1951: The Clifton Branch of Hadassah is organized. April 15, 1951: Passaic County Elks $100,000 11-room Cerebral Palsy Treatment Center is dedicated. 20 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

1951: A Clifton Girl Scout Council is established. June 13, 1951: Richfield Village streets in the Joseph Brunetti apartment complex at Allwood and Clifton Aves. are accepted by the Clifton City Council. June 22, 1951: The Passaic:Clifton National Bank opens a branch office at Van Houten Ave. and Lisbon St. in Athenia. July 1, 1951: William Shershin resigns his position as a Director of Recreation to become the Superintendent of Schools. He will replace George J. Smith who retires on Aug. 31. Smith served the district for 44 years—in 1907, he taught every class in Clifton High School. July 16, 1951: The newly formed Clifton Rotary Club organizes. A Charter Night is scheduled at the Moresque for Oct. 17. Sept. 22, 1951: The Clifton Optimist Club is chartered. The club holds weekly luncheons at Clifton Casino. Oct. 21, 1951: A 35th anniversary is celebrated by Assembly 162, Slovak Catholic Sokol, at Cyril & Methodius Polish Hall. Assembly 162 promotes annual Sokol Youth Movement Activities. Nov. 11, 1951: Delawanna Memorial Park at Main Ave. and William St. is officially dedicated.


My Home - Your Home


Clifton City Council As our great city grows, “Keep Clifton United” is a goal that Ray is working towards. Ray Grabowski is a lifelong resident of Clifton. He attended St. John Kanty Grammar School, Woodrow Wilson Junior High, and Clifton High School. While in high school, Ray was a member of the famous Clifton High School Mustang Band which won international acclaim in Holland. Ray continued his education at Fairleigh Dickinson University. After receiving his B.A. in Elementary Education, he taught in the Harrison New Jersey school system. While teaching, Ray continued his studies at Montclair State University and received his certification in teaching ESL (English as a Second Language). Ray pursued graduate work in the Counseling & Human Services Department. Presently Ray is the owner-operator of Ray Grabowski Landscaping LLC (solely based in Clifton, N.J.). He sponsors an “Adopt A Spot” in the city of Clifton, and has been sponsoring a Clifton Little League team for a number of years. Ray continues his musical interest as founder ABA donates merry-go-round to Clifton park and leader of Swingman and The Misfit Mutts Dance Band. Ray is President of the Athenia Business Association - Clifton, NJ. The ABA sponsors the Annual “Van Houten Ave” Street Fair, the Christmas Tree lighting, and the Easter Egg Hunt for the children every year. In addition, Ray serves as a Commissioner on the Clifton Planning Board. He has been a property owner for over 30 years in the city of Clifton.

Vote #

3 Tuesday, November 3rd Paid for by Ray Grabowski for Clifton City Council

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


The first modern suburban strip mall in America Oct. 1-4, 1952: Albert A. Stier, pictured here with some cow girls, developer of the Styertowne Shopping Center, hosts a ‘Hollywood-style’ opening. With 16 retailers on two levels and offices on the second floor—plus parking for over 1,600 cars—Styertowne was hailed as the first “modern suburban strip mall in America.” Ever the showman, Stier brought in bands, clowns, and an animal act, as well as pony rides and free mechanical rides for the kids.

Nov. 1951: WO-Pe-Na Archers celebrates 11 years of archery with a dinner at Schweissguth’s Tavern. Nov. 25, 1951: Athenia Reformed Church dedicates its new sanctuary at Clifton Ave. and Clifton Blvd. Jan. 1, 1952: John J. Fitzgerald, City Manager, and Miss Edith Marion, City Clerk, take office. Feb. 22, 1952: Lexington Chevrolet, Main and Washington Aves., opens. 1952: The Nevins Division of Union Camp Corporation opens in Clifton with the making of cardboard cartons and containers. 22 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

1952: Henry Fette opens his Ford dealership at 977 Bloomfield Ave. and Allwood Traffic Circle. April 10, 1952: Mahony-Troast moves its offices in Passaic to 78 Bloomfield Ave. in Allwood where its equipment is kept. April 15, 1952: The City Council agrees to purchase the Albion Place firehouse on Valley Rd. from the Albion Place Fire Co.. April 23, 1952: The Slyvestrine Benedictine Order of Detroit purchases five acres of land on Route S-3 between Broad and Grove.

May 6, 1952: Levy Brothers’ Department Store in Styertowne Mall opens with a breakfast for city officials and guests. June 2, 1952: The Athenia Veterans Post purchase 22 city lots on Huron Ave. for $102 to build headquarters. June 5, 1952: Erie Railroad agrees to replace Clifton’s burned depot. Oct. 1952: Clifton Masonic Temple Association purchases land from the Acquackanonk Gardens. Nov. 2, 1952: The Clifton Jewish Center at Barkley and Delaware Aves. is dedicated.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Nov. 4, 1952: Construction is under way for construction of School 14 off St. Andrew’s Blvd. Dec. 29, 1952: The Clifton Memorial Library is unofficially opened at 292 Piaget Ave. 1952: Botany Woolen Mills reports a poor financial picture due to a loss of military contracts. Jan. 3, 1953: The cornerstone is set in place at the convent at St. Brendan’s Church in Lakeview. Jan. 4, 1953: Ground is broken for a the creation of the Sylvestrine Benedictine Monastery (Holy Face of Jesus) on Route 3. Jan. 4, 1953: The Garden State Parkway between Route 3 and Hazel St. opens without ceremony. Jan. 5, 1953: NJ Highways are renumbered statewide. US 46, becomes the common designation for what was known as NJ Route 6. Route S-3 becomes Route 3 as no letters are to appear on highways. Jan. 20, 1953: A 150-foot strip of land along Brighton Rd. is rezoned from Residential A-3 to Industrial. Jan. 1953: St. Andrew’s the Apostle School welcomed its first principal, Sr. Mary Dorothea, and four other Presentation Sisters to Clifton (she is pictured at right with parishioner Mrs. Lackner). Ground was broken for the new school on March 16, 1952, soon after the opening of St. Andrew’s Blvd. The cornerstone was laid on Nov. 2 and the school opened on Feb. 2, 1953 to 150 students. The first 8th grade graduation took place in June, 1957. That same year an expansion began to accommodate the rise in enrollment. 24 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Oct. 16, 1952: The motorcade of Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower, candidate for President of the US, passes Clifton City Hall at Main and Harding Ave’s. and continues into the center of Passaic, where ‘Ike’ is pictured above and inset at left. Photo provided by Jim Marrocco.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Feb. 11, 1953: The rebuilt Clifton depot of the Erie Railroad at Getty and Madison Aves. is dedicated. March 8, 1953: Walter F. Nutt, former mayor and longtime CHS principal, passes away. March 25, 1953: The Richfield Village Shopping Center at Clifton Ave. and Allwood Rd. opens. May 12, 1953: Clifton Youth in Government Day is observed with civic leaders and city officials sharing lunch with students and conducting visits to industrial sites and offices with students. May 12, 1953: Allen B. DuMont Laboratories’ instrument division is moves from Doherty Mills on Main Ave. to 760 Bloomfield Ave., adjacent to its cathode ray tube manufacturing facilities. Television transmitter production is expanded at the Doherty Mill site. May 28, 1953: Chester A. Calvert Insurance Agency is opened at Main Ave. and Park Slope. June 6, 1953: Hart Buick Agency opens at 423 Lexington Ave. but moves to a new showroom on Allwood Rd. on Jan. 8, 1954.

26 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

1953: The foundation and frame for the Athenia Veterans’ post building on Huron Ave. are completed. 1953: Takamine Laboratories are purchased by Mills Pharmaceuticals. July 14, 1953: Frank Cosgrove named Director of Recreation. He was acting Director since Aug. 1951. Aug. 5, 1953: The Entin Industries Terminal in Delawanna is dedicated at River Rd. and South Parkway. Sept. 21, 1953: Clifton Ave. extension from Van Houten Ave. to Allwood Rd. is opened to traffic. It is formally dedicated on Oct. 28. Sept. 26, 1953: Public School 14 is formally dedicated. Oct. 7, 1953: Garden State Bus Lines, which operated through Clifton from Paterson to Jersey City, goes out of business. Nov. 1, 1953: Osborne Co., calendar printers in Allwood, is sold to Kemper-Thomas of Cincinnati. Nov. 11, 1953: A 10-acre site for a Clifton Junior High School (to be Woodrow Wilson) on Van Houten Ave. at Rt. 46 is purchased from florist Emil Wittman.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Meet the first Clifton team to compete in the All American Amateur Baseball Association Tournament in Johnstown, Pa., on Aug. 15 to 20, 1956. It looks as if the photo was taken in Nash Park. Sponsored by the Board of Recreation, pictured from left front are: R. Pilkington, R. Pilkington, Jr., R. Fardin, B. Pilkington, J. Fayko, M. Albanese, J. Kievet, J. Albanese, J. Bay, K. Yurga, R. Ungemah, benefactor D. Dario, AAABA Commissioner J. D'Agostino and Director of Athletics E. Bondinell. Second row from left: B. Patterson, H. Klehr, B. Ricucci, J. Pascrell, R. Olson, J. Ruff, T. Reiter.

Jan. 1, 1954: Ground is broken for the construction of the North American Van Lines, Inc. office building located on Passaic Ave. between Allwood Rd. and Route 3. Jan. 7, 1954: NJ approves a traffic light at the intersection of Van Houten and Clifton Aves. 1954: Clifton Ornamental Iron Works is opened on Franklin Ave. March 15, 1954: More than 200 homes in Lakeview and Albion Places are moved or demolished to allow construction of the GSP. April 25, 1954: Construction begins for Center Savings & Loan at 295 Clifton Ave. 28 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

May 18, 1954: The sale of 14 acres of the U.S. Animal Quarantine land to Clifton is authorized. May 25, 1954: St. Phillip the Apostle parish dedicates its new $1.3 million parish center, which includes a church, a school, a rectory, a convent and a recreation building. Archbishop Thomas Boland, Bishop James McNulty, Rev. Thomas Malloy, Sen. Frank Shershin, Gov. Robert B. Meyner and newly sworn Mayor John Surgent were in attendance. June 16, 1954: The Board of Education approves $1,650,000 for the Junior High School.

Oct. 22, 1954: The Bank of Allwood opens an office in the Richfield Shopping Mall at Clifton Ave. and Allwood Rd. Oct. 23, 1954: Clifton Chapter 2, Disabled American Veterans, dedicates its new Post headquarters at 315 Hazel St. Oct. 29, 1954: The grand opening of Bowlero Alleys takes place. Dec. 5, 1954: Ground is broken for the construction of the new $300,000 SS Cyril & Methodius church on Ackerman Ave. 1954: Passaic County Needy Children’s Shelter is started at Hope Dell.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Shulton & George Schultz Contributed to Clifton’s Culture & Prosperity Old Spice, still one of America’s most popular fragrances for men, was made in Clifton from 1947 until 1991. Manufactured by Shulton, Inc., in its expansive and ornate headquarters on Colfax Ave., those decades spanned a time when our growing community was a manufacturing mecca for national brands. It also was a time when workers in the plant – numbering up to 1,600 – took hometown pride in advancing every aspect of the manufacturing process. From design, printing, and packaging to fragrance development and research and package assembly, Clifton-based workers made Old Spice, and other national brands such as Desert Flower and Friendship Garden. 30 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The products were developed under the watchful, creative, and benevolent eye of George Schultz, who succeeded his father as CEO in 1950. “Mr. Shultz always kept in touch with the people,” recalled chemist and compounder Melvin Baker, a Delawanna resident and 1935 Clifton High School graduate. “We were like a family then.” And Shulton’s consumer products sales blossomed under such camaraderie. Motivated employees helped the company record $10 million in sales in 1950. Sales in 1967 totaled more than $103 million, and reached $130 million in 1970, when Schultz decided to sell the company to American Cyanamid.

“We worked from files of formulas,” Baker said. “The oils were produced mainly from wildflowers and distilled down into powder. Then the oils were distributed to the factory to make soaps, powders, deodorants, and perfumes.” Irene Spalluto, age 94, was a line inspection supervisor with Shulton. “I worked there for 37 years, starting in 1956,” she said. “We made good products. First, I worked on the line, and then on the floor, teaching people how to inspect the bottles, making sure the glasses weren’t cracked and that the labels were correct. I was proud to be an expert. “I was also chosen to make sure our lobby was in order. The lobby was an absolute showcase and I loved showing off the murals to visitors,” Spalluto noted. The murals—the stunning focus of the ornate entrance—was painted by Louis Bouche between 1946 and 1948 and were titled Womanhood throughout the ages pays scented tribute to Venus, Goddess of Beauty.

In 1952, Johanna Cunningham was among the thousands of Cliftonites who worked at Shulton. City historian Don Lotz, who said it was the first day of work for Johannna and her mom Frances Mijal, wanted a photo to commemorate the day.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Bouche’s work stretched 114 feet in length and 11 feet in height. They included the cosmetics, hair-dos, and costumes of various periods. Costumes depicted ranged from ancient Greece to a colonial style featured on original Early American Old Spice packages. Bouche wasn’t the only artist tapped by Shulton. Famed surrealist Salvador Dali was commissioned to evoke a visual image of the company’s Desert Flower fragrance, with the resultant trilogy of paintings exhibited worldwide. The Old Spice sailing ship label itself remains an iconic work of art, created by Shulton founder William Lightfoot Shultz and artist Enid Edson. It, too, reflected the company’s belief in artwork as a part of marketing and as an aesthetic value in itself. Shulton operations included shampoos and hair dyes. A Shulton executive offered waitress Maria Mercandino a job as a lab technician. The former Warren St. resident only had an eighth grade education. But Mercandino, born in 1915, enjoyed the work and learned on the job. And there were other benefits as well. “She came home every week with a different hair color,” Mercandino’s daughter, Ann Maria Stanczak, said. Helen Kubik, of Wesley St., began working for Shulton in 1966, three years after she graduated from CHS. That’s when her husband shipped out for Vietnam and she needed income—employment at Shulton became a welcome reality. “My neighbor worked at Shulton and she suggested I work there,” Kubik said. “At first I said no, because I thought it would be the day shift. But there was a job on the night shift. I figured if I didn’t like it, I’d leave. Luckily, I liked it.” 32 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

In 1998, the murals in the former Shulton headquarters on Colfax Ave. as Clifton DPW was removing the art to preserve and store it at the Clifton Arts Center.

Shulton’s commitment to quality strongly motivated the company’s sales team to sell the products, including Old Spice, Desert Flower, and Friendship Garden, according to Director of Sales Administration Joan Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, a Garfield resident who began working for Shulton in 1958, credits the family atmosphere for motivating employees to create innovative products. Most all of the company’s domestic requirements for gift boxes, plastic bottles, and other plastic components also were produced in Clifton.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Said Fitzgerald, “I was in charge of sales policies and procedures. We had a sales force of hundreds throughout the country. Employees took great pride in working for Shulton. You’ll never find another company that had such great respect for its employees and employees who respected one another.” Her passion reflected the company’s own stated assertion that “a quality product, imaginatively packaged and soundly priced, can always be sold be aggressive, creative marketing.” As consumer demand expanded, so did Shulton’s offerings and job prospects. Lifelong Clifton resident Colleen Coates went to work for Shulton in 1974 as a data processing clerk. “Shulton provided so many jobs for Clifton residents,” Coates said. “Data processing was very busy; we did everything for the company from processing orders and shipments to payroll. Shulton was a good company. They even had a bowling league for employees. I left in 1985.” Shulton as an entity ceased operations in 1991; the company’s site was razed in 1999 as the new millennium loomed. But Shulton’s Clifton employees can boast they helped Old Spice defy predictions of its own demise. A 1940 article in Fortune magazine article noted skeptics believed Old Spice is a novelty line with a market no more stable than the unpredictable demand for

34 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Maria Mercandino, at right above and inset today at age 100, was a waitress at a country club when she met a Shulton executive who offered her a job as a lab tech at the Clifton plant.

Christmas gifts...They do not fancy it for the long pull. Shulton, and its reliable workforce based on Colfax Ave., proved those critics wrong. “We were all one good family,” Spalluto said. “We were more like a family then,” Baker concurred. “The only bad thing I have to say about Shulton was that it closed,” Kubik lamented. “Shulton was a very caring company . . . The time went by real fast.”

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


It was like a Hollywood premiere, recalled Ann Vinciguerra, who was part of the team, that on Sept. 8, 1958, converted Pfizer’s 178,000 square foot industrial building at 230 Brighton Rd. into a royal blue and pink ballroom, the firm’s official colors. “Everything was covered, from drapes to table clothes, ceiling to floor,” she said. It was truly a grand opening, with employees, politicians, pharmacists and doctors all mixing it up with Pfizer executives. And the Clifton workers could not be more proud of it all. The opening of the 9-acre Clifton Eastern Distribution Center, the largest of Pfizer’s six facilities nationwide, was the next step in the company's $60 million expansion program. 36 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Pictured at the top of page in a 1958 photo, from left, are Dee Phillips, Ann Vinciquerrra, Eileen Klingman and Marilyn Palm. Pictured directly above are some of the 300 products made by Pfizer for the medical, industrial and agricultural markets. These products were packaged and shipped worldwide from the Clifton sales and distribution center on Brighton Rd.

Founded in Brooklyn in 1849, Pfizer is currently the producer of well-known household products such as Rogaine, Listerine, Viagra and much more. However, in 1958, the product line up was much different then it is today. There was recognizable early versions of modern products, such as Visine, however, there were also plenty of other more obscure items.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


For motion sickness, Bonadette dissolvable tabs were available. There were also cold tablets called Candettes and even TM-5, a special animal feed mix. When it was first opened, the workforce on Brighton Rd. served four divisions: Pfizer Laboratories, J. B. Roerig & Co., Chemical Sales and Agricultural Sales. There was 115 employees in 1958, many of whom

transferred from the company’s Brooklyn headquarters. The staff handled nearly 14,000 accounts. Twenty years later, in 1968, the Clifton Distribution Center celebrated another milestone. Over 100 current employees, plus a number of retirees, attended another party at the Brighton Rd. facility, along with high ranking staff from the headquarters.

At top of page on the left of the team, that’s Clifton’s Tom Miller who also played semipro baseball in 1958 in the Easton League. Cliftonites who worked for Pfizer and attended the 2006 reunion at Mario’s include, from left: Evelyn Kovacs, Lesia Albizati, Jan Fuschini, Arthur Paris, Cathie Bannon, Tom Miller, Dot Andrusko and an unidentified individual.

38 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Telegrams poured in all day from other branches of Pfizer, offering congratulations to the employees for creating the flagship of the company’s many distribution centers. The Clifton Distribution Center operated for another 20 years, as services and employees were relocated in 1998, with the final day sometime in mid-1999. While the Brighton Rd. Pictured from left are Pfizer employees at a reunion at Mario’s in 2006: Cliftonites facility is now a part of history, Evelyn Donley, Lorraine Martin (who served as editor of the company’s Clifton many former employees have Clipper, which kept employees connected), Bernie Liskiewicz, Ann Vinciquerrra and fond memories. Ron Meola, who was the last person to leave the Brighton Rd. plant in 1999. In fact, almost 100 former “The emphasis was placed on creating a family and current Pfizer employees (the company has offices atmosphere,” recalled Tom Miller, a longtime employin NYC and a plant in Parsippany) attended a reunion ee, who also played on the Pfizer softball team, “We in June, 2006, at Mario’s Restaurant on Van Houten appreciated each other and the company.” Ave., to celebrate the bond they shared.

40 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Jan. 4, 1955: The GSP or Garden State Parkway opens in Clifton from Route 3 to Hazel St. but the span from East Orange to Route 3 remains incomplete. Jan. 19, 1954: The GSP is opened from Hazel St. to Lexington and Randolph Ave., and to Route 20. March 16, 1955: The Tichenor tract on Grove St. is selected by the Board of Education as the future site for School 16. May 27, 1955: The GSP over the Passaic River and the section from East Orange to Route 3 opens. May 31, 1955: A Sunday Raffles Bill, sponsored by St. Phillip’s Church, is passed by City Council. June 1, 1955: After 42 years of service to the department, Police Chief James N. Marsh retires. June 5, 1955: St. Clare’s Church on Allwood Rd. plans to build a school, auditorium and convent. June 23, 1955: A Clifton Boys’ Club building fund is started.

42 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

1955: Dolly Mount Home for the Elderly opens at 20 Valley Rd. Today the structure is the site (above) for the Classical Academy Charter School of Clifton, serving about 120 students in grades 6 to 8. It had been the home of Dr. William Gourley, who built turn-of-the-century mansions on a 12-acre estate, much of which had been sold off. Gourley named the home for a woman he intended to marry who died in Ireland. 1955: Maple Valley Park and Mt. Prospect Little League fields open. June 28, 1955: Acme Steel Co. opens a sales office and warehouse at 454 Allwood Rd. The move consolidates its NYC operations here. July 5, 1955: The Clifton City Council appropriates $250,000 for a new garage to be built next to the old garage on East 7th St.

July 5, 1955: The Council authorizes a $65,000 purchase of the US Animal Quarantine Station. The 15acre site between Colfax, Clifton and Van Houten Aves. served as the first American stop for exotic beasts entering America. The station was in Clifton from 1873 to 1965 and the animals arrived by rail. After the purchase, the city divided and developed the property—first for the high school in 1963 and then moving City Hall and municipal office from Main and Harding Aves. there in 1981. This historic illustration of the Athenia Station at left by Mary K. and Barry Shiff is on display at On Track Rehabilitation, 850 Clifton Ave. Owner Dr. David Moore, Chiropractor, refurbished the station in 2006 to create a chiropractic and physical therapy center. Dr. Moore has various photos of the former station, from the years 1873 to 1965, when it served Richfield, Athenia and the former adjacent US Animal Quarantine Station.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Can you help us identify these Clifton kids? The team was sponsored by Kohout’s Bakery, which was opened on Center St. in 1925 by Bohumil (known as Barney) and Frances Kohout after emigrating from Czechoslovakia. In 1927, they moved to 308 Lakeview Ave. where it is now the Lakeview Bakery. Known for their warm, crusty rye bread, sticky buns and snowflake rolls, pies and cakes, and ethnic items like babka and challah, the Kohouts retired in 1984. It is now owned by Carlos Armondo Sontamba, who emigrated from Ecuador in 1997, when he began working at the bakery. He purchased it in 2001 and has kept those traditional recipes while adding specialities, such as wedding cakes.

July 7, 1955: An Albion Place water main is opened which, with the tank reservoir on Garret Mountain, provides adequate pressure. Aug. 8, 1955: Henry L. Peto moves his Real Estate and Insurance business from 266 Lakeview Ave. into a new building at 1058 Clifton Ave., on the new Clifton Ave. extension. Sept. 12, 1955: Clifton Schools, using a slightly delayed opening date, converts to a 6-3-3 grade structure. Elementary schools will teach students in grades K-6, middle schools houses grades 7-9 and CHS handles grades 10, 11 and 12. Sept. 26, 1955: Public Service Electric & Gas Co. moves its electrical distribution unit from Paterson to 150 Circle Ave. Oct. 1955: Construction of the $2.5 million Beth Israel Hospital in Passaic is resumed after delay. 44 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Nov. 21, 1955: Rec Director Frank Cosgrove submits his resignation to assume a position in Michigan. Dec. 3, 1955: Woodrow Wilson Junior High School, in use since Sept., is formally dedicated. Jan. 3, 1956: Interstate 80, with a potential Clifton right-of-way, is aligned in Paterson, east of Market St. Jan. 17, 1956: Construction bids for School 16 come in “over estimate.” Bids were re-advertised. Feb. 1956: G & J Poydinecz begins construction of 109 homes between Broad and Grove Sts. and between Notch Rd. and Route 3. March 6, 1956: Clifton joins the national observance of Youth Week scheduled for May 12 to May 19; Charles Epstein is Chair. March 7, 1956: The Takamine Laboratory is officially absorbed by Miles Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

March 13, 1956: The City Council takes steps to create a six-acre park at Clifton Ave. and St. James Pl. March 16, 1956: Golden anniversary of Clifton High School. March 22, 1956: Henry Lam opens his House of Lam Restaurant within the Bowlero Alleys. April 1956: Bank of Passaic & Clifton. now has offices in Allwood and Richfield due to its merger with the Bank of Allwood. April 14, 1956: Clifton Savings & Loan opens a new building located at 1055 Clifton Ave. April 1956: Victory Gardens at the US Quarantine site are continued to be permitted, a tradition which began before World War II. May 3, 1956: Polymer Chemicals of W.R. Grace & Co. opens a plastics applications laboratory between Route 3 and Allwood Rd.

With Great Pride, We Recognize the Clifton Office’s Highest Achievers. July 2015 Award Winners

Alma Bilings

Lesia Wirstiuk

Hilda Ferro

Top Sales

Top Lister

Top Producer

Patty Badia

Agent of the Month

Patrick Moore

Weichert Pride

August 2015 Award Winners

Lesia Wirstiuk

Top Lister

Gloria Rubio

Tiana Calandro

Top Sales

Top Producer

Alma Bilings

Agent of the Month

Hilda Ferro

Weichert Pride

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Clifton Schools Booming Numbers The Game Changer — March 1956 Proposal— Two High Schools? An urgent need for the immediate “embarkation” on a $10 million school building program at the juniorsenior high school level was outlined to the members of the Board of Education by Supt. of Schools William F. Shershin at a special meeting in March, 1956. The members heard the superintendent expound his views on the needs for the expansion of the facilities for nearly two and a half hours, the Clifton Journal reported, but took no action on his proposal. Instead, discussion was withheld until April 9, when another special meeting will be held to discuss the matter fully. In brief, the newspaper outlined Shershin’s proposal: • The conversion of the new Woodrow Wilson Junior high school into a senior high school. • The conversion of the present senior high school (today’s CCMS above) into a junior high school. • The building of a new senior high school on Park Slope on what is now a part of Main Memorial Park. • The building of two new junior high schools: –one in the Robin Hood Park –one in the Rosemawr section • The construction of a new elementary school on the newly acquired US Animal Quarantine site. “When these steps are taken,” Shershin stated, “School 13 could be reconverted completely to an elementary school again, making the ten classes in that building now used for junior high school purposes available as additional elementary classrooms and Schools 7 and 10, now used as temporary junior high schools, could be abandoned.” 46 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Each of the two senior high schools would have a student enrollment of about 1,500 students and each of the junior high schools an enrollment of about 1,000 students. In addition, he proposed that the present senior high school could be used to accommodate about 400-500 students in a technical high school. Shershin said the present high school enrollment of 1,650 was expected to hit 1,900 in September. He anticipated 2,300 by Sept. 1957 and expected the 3,000 student population to be met shortly thereafter. Shershin said that the second senior high school must be ready by Sept. 1957 or the students would have to go on a part-time or a split schedule. Shershin envisioned a campus be formed at the Main Memorial Park through the construction of the new senior high school there which would become “one of the finest education centers in the East.” It would include a grammar school and senior high school on Park Slope, the high school stadium, the junior high school (present senior high), the Public Library and Memorial Park. Shershin suggested a mall running from Main Avenue to the present high school. One of the features of the program proposed by Supt. Shershin is the equality of facilities that would be offered to all students. “At present there is considerable criticism of the fact that the students attending WWMS have the best of facilities, while those attending the other junior high schools have woefully inadequate facilities,” the paper reported.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


May 12-19, 1956: Clifton’s first Youth Week is hailed as a success. May 30, 1956: Dedication of William Dunney Sr. Park is held by the Delawanna Memorial Park Committee and Board of Recreation. June 8, 1956: The Board of School Estimate approves an additional $42,792 in construction funding for School 16. Total cost: $632,792. June 1956: St. Andrews Church on Mt. Prospect breaks ground for a six-room addition to its school, bringing the total to 14 rooms. July 1956: Frank Gersie completes 42 years in postal service, appointed Postmaster in 1928 and 1956. July 1956: The Herald News purchases part of Pitkin-Holdsworth property at Main and Highland Ave’s. for a $325,000 plant.

48 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Circa 1956: The growing Bank of Passaic & Clifton, which is today’s Valley National Bank, was rapidly expanding during the 1950’s. At a ribbon cutting ceremony opening a branch in Styertowne Shopping Center, from left, are Max Kroll of the Clifton Journal, Ira Schoem of the Clifton Chamber of Commerce, Bank President Sam Riskin, an unidentified man, Don Collester and Botany Village jeweler Marty Parian.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Sept. 1, 1958: Ray DeBrown Music Capital opened on Van Houten Ave. That’s Ray at the left of the photo.

July 29, 1956: Ground is broken for 13 classrooms at School 16 on Grove St. in Montclair Heights. 1956: In Passaic since 1889, Grace Church relocates to Hazel St. Aug. 26, 1956: Beth Israel Hospital on Parker Ave., Passaic is formally dedicated by Gov. Robert Meyner. 1956: Max Greenwald opens a travel agency on Market St. Oct. 21, 1956: Maple Valley Park, off of Van Houten Ave., dedicated. 1956: St. Phillip’s the Apostle Church constructs a $368,000 addition to its school and convent. Oct. 25, 1956: A citywide Civil Defense alert is conducted, held from time to time as an active Civil Defense is maintained. Civilian shelters are used on such occasions. Dec. 11, 1956: Wheels Inc. open a main office and a warehouse at 300 Allwood Rd. for wire and steel wheels for automotive, marine and small gas engine use. 50 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Dec. 28, 1956: John J. Fitzgerald, City Manager, takes terminal leave. William Holster is renamed acting City Manager. March 1, 1957: William Holster takes office as City Manager. March 6, 1957: Plans for a 13room addition to School 2 are approved. It is to cost $462,728. April 1, 1957: Walter Sidor is named Director of Recreation. April 1, 1957: The Boys Club selects a site on Clifton Ave. near Colfax Ave. for its “club house.” April 7, 1957: A new wing for the Daughters of Miriam on Hazel St. is dedicated with 1,000 in attendance. April 22, 1957: Botany Mills acquires United Supply & Mfg. Co., a leasing distributor for oil and gas equipment. Such diversification gives Botany its first profit in four years. It earns $3 million profit in the first half of 1957 and also shows a third-quarter profit.

April 28, 1957: Over 500 youth participate in the Clifton Midget League parade from St. Phillip’s Youth Center at Van Houten Ave. to Albion Memorial Park. May 18-25, 1957: The second observance of the National Youth Week celebration is held in Clifton. June 1, 1957: Forstmann Woolen Mills on Randolph Ave., which at one time had 500 employees and continues to employ 2,000 workers, is sold to the J.P. Stevens Co. 1957: Glamorene Corp., once a top upholstery cleaner sold in an aerosol spray can, long since gone from American shelves, opens a manufacturing plant in the Entin Industrial Terminal in Delawanna. Reader’s Digest tested the product and reported it was a “compound of cellulose fiber (resembling sawdust) and various cleaning agents which can be rubbed into a rug, then brushed out bringing the dirt with it.”

470 Colfax Ave., Clifton


James J. Marrocco Manager, NJ Lic No. 3320 Associate Directors John Opuda Jr. Michael A. Waller Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Early March, 1958: The BerraRizzuto bowling alleys in Styertowne Shopping Center made national headlines with a conversation between Yankees catcher Yogi Berra and Manager Casey Stengel overheard by a reporter in Miami during spring training. The discussion arose because of Casey’s comment that Yogi wore white gloves during a photo shoot because “he’s gone upstage since he’s built that bowling alley with Phil Rizzuto!” The story headline: “Berra Vetoed Stengel’s Offer of Loan for Alleys, ‘He Wanted Too Much Interest,’ says Yogi...” The report noted that the Berra-Rizzuto alleys will open soon in Clifton and Yogi frankly admits they cost more than either of ‘em figured. So Yogi approached Casey for a loan: “Casey offered to loan me up to $90,000 from his bank,’ said the catcher, “but he wants a lot of interest.” Yogi Berra, a Hall of Fame catcher with the Yankees, who won three Most Valuable Player awards and appeared in the World Series more than any other player in history, died at the age of 90 on Sept. 22 in Montclair. 1957: Former East Ridgelawn Cemetery property is developed by the construction of 144 Gregory Manor homes off Passaic Ave. 1957: J & G Podyinecz constructs the 40-home Plymouth Rock Village development between Broad and Grove Sts., south of Van Houten Avenue in Richfield. 52 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Yankee greats Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra did open their 40lane bowling alley on April 28, 1958. At top left, that’s their manager, Casey Stengel.

Sept. 9, 1957: School 16 opens in Montclair Heights with 330 pupils. Sept. 26, 1957: The Clifton Jewish Center announces plans to build nine classrooms, a gymnasium and an enlarged synagogue. A $250,000 fund drive goal is established. Oct. 1957: American Loose Leaf Corp. opens in a new plant in a 23acre tract in Delawanna. 1957: One and a half miles of Erie & Lackawanna rail lines are merged below Route 46, allowing the industrial development of Kuller Rd. off Hazel St. Jan. 24, 1958: The Herald News relocates to 988 Main Ave., near Highland Ave., Passaic. April 16, 1958: Capt. Joseph A. Nee is named Acting Police Chief. April 27, 1958: A monument to honor volunteer and exempt firemen of Clifton is unveiled and dedicated in Main Memorial Park. April 29, 1958: New Jersey Bank & Trust Co. is created through a

merger of County National and Passaic-Clifton National Bank. May 17-24, 1958: The third observance of National Youth Week. May 27, 1958: Stanley Zwier receives the most votes in the election and is named Mayor by the six other Council members. June 24, 1958: An urban redevelopment program with Passaic is proposed for Botany by Charles F. Hahn, Chair of the Planning Board. July 13, 1958: Ground is broken at First Presbyterian Church on Maplewood Ave. between Emerson and Sherwood Sts. for offices, a chapel, 20 classrooms a gymnasium. Sept. 25, 1958: 500 Clifton Midget League youth between ages 8 and 12 are placed on 72 bowling teams, and 200 boys are organized into an eight-team football league, as the fall programs are set for the year. Oct. 15, 1958: A new sanctuary is planned by St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Broad St.

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The undefeated Greater Passaic Old Timers concluded their 1958 season with a 6-1-0 record. The champions of the Clifton Midget football league from left to right were, front row: Cheerleaders Betty Henry, Mary Csuka, Scott Bleaken, equipment manager, Cheryl O’Connell, Cindy Bleaken, Cathy Devitt, Linda Babula, Carol Van Dillen. Second row: Larry Babula, Sandy Crawford, Ron Grieco, Bob Csuka, Skip Csuka, Paul Van Dillen, Jack Synnott, Steve O’Connell, John Dewald, Walt Yungenger, James Kenny, Steve Synnott. Third row: Jeff Bleaken, Ralph Eastman, Craig Maher, Fred Henry, Jack Farina, John Ziemba, John Messlehner, Mark Devitt, Rich Kolodziej, Stan Kolodziej, Bruce Blaum, Mrs. Jean Henry, cheerleader instructor, Ruth Blaum. Fourth row: Coaches Sal Grieco, Barney O’Connell, Olly Henry, Ed Bleaken, Larry Babula, Andy Schimph, Tom Devitt, Connie Bleaken. Steve Synnott, Rosemary Csuka and Dave Kenny were missing.

Oct. 21, 1958: A 13-room addition to School 2 is dedicated. Oct. 30, 1958: Construction begins at the Main Ave. Delawanna Post Office. Jan. 1, 1959: Joseph A. Nee is named Clifton Police Chief. Jan. 12, 1959: The Athenia Post Office at Mt. Prospect and Van Houten Ave’s. is dedicated. Feb. 22, 1959: Allwood Community Church addition is dedicated. March 15, 1959: Marta Hall, the educational portion of the First Presbyterian Church, opens. April 11, 1959: Saveway Cleaners at Clifton Ave. and Allwood Rd. opens April 22, 1959: A Bank of Passaic and Clifton branch in the Route 46 Shopping Plaza is opened. 54 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

May 1, 1959: The Delawanna Post Office at 266 Main Ave. opens. May 6, 1959: Plans for the new CHS to be built on a 21-acre Colfax Ave. site, part of the former US Quarantine property, are approved by the Board of Education. June 2, 1959: Publisher Henry Holt & Co., open a 52,000-squarefoot warehouse on Allwood Rd. June 4, 1959: Boy Scouts of the Aheka Council enjoy a weekend Camporee at Nash Park. June 9, 1959: One-man police patrol cars made permanent, following experimentation. On July 6, 1959, this duty is expanded from daylight to around-the-clock.

Summer 1959: A natural gas pipeline is constructed through Allwood and Delawanna under the public service high lines. Aug. 1959: Union Building & Contracting Co. extensively quarries trap rock from Garret Mountain. Blasting had reduced Clifton’s cliffs and sprayed nearby homes with rocks. Aug. 13, 1959: Ground is broken at 14-30 Barkley Ave. for the NJ Bell Telephone’s dial central office. The exchange opens on Aug. 6, 1961. Sept. 26, 1959: Police Patrolman Joseph Sastic retires after 40 years of service. He initiated Clifton’s School Safety Patrol Program.

Over the coming months, we’ll pick up this Clifton History Timeline.

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By Irene Jarosewich

As teenagers head out later this month for Mischief Night, some Cliftonites will recall acts of vandalism nearly three decades ago that led to national headlines and lessons on religious tolerance. He came to Clifton in 1949 with his wife Klara, a young rabbi with a young family. For more than 50 years, Rabbi Eugene Markovitz, spiritual leader, scholar, professor of history, a small man with a very big heart, was the heart of the congregation of the Clifton Jewish Center on Delaware St. Through his faith and with generosity, he served both his congregation and the city of Clifton, teaching everyone a grand lesson about tolerance and redemption. 56 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Late one night, four Clifton boys, young teenagers all, turned a traditional Jersey Mischief Night (or Goosey Night as it is often referred to in Clifton) into a night of ugly vandalism and destruction. Later claiming they got their ideas from watching TV, the four painted swastikas and hateful anti-Semitic statements on the rabbi’s garage, the front of the Jewish Center, a car belonging to a member of the congregation and a nearby kosher deli.

The date of their Mischief Night, Oct. 30, 1988, was only 10 days away from the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. Five decades earlier, on Nov. 9, 1938, acts of vandalism and violence, during which Jewish homes, businesses, synagogues were defaced and destroyed in Germany and Austria, marked the night that was the start of the Holocaust.

store on Lexington Ave. Growing up in Clifton, Schein, who was Jackie Sussman when she graduated CHS in 1966, is a Board Member at the Jewish Center and the Center’s historian. Even though more than 25 years have passed since that Mischief Night, the blunt disbelief can still be heard in her voice: “When we heard the news, it was horrible. Just horrible. We couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? How could this happen? In Clifton? In our Clifton? It was Luca Puzzo, principal of Clifton’s very frightening. We didn’t know School 1, was teaching social studies what to think.” at Christopher Columbus Middle The four boys were caught, conIn a 1994 CBS TV special, actor School at the time. He knew the kids fessed to the crime, and according to Hal Linden portrayed Rabbi and remembers the shock wave that the Herald News, Passaic County Markovitz, with Millie Perkins as went through the community. “1988 Superior Court Judge Frank Donato the rabbi’s wife Klara. was only about 40 years since the was ready to sentence them to serve war ended. People remembered the war, the Holocaust, time in a juvenile facility. it was recent, they had lived through it. These were what But that is when that moment of hate turned into an we would say were good kids, from good families. opportunity for learning: at the sentencing in November Nobody could understand it. What went wrong?” 1989, Rabbi Markovitz appealed to the judge to let him Jackie Schein’s roots in Clifton go back to her grandteach the boys about the Holocaust, about Jewish histoparents who came in the 1930s and opened a candy ry, about the need for tolerance and respect.

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Teaching Tolerance According to news reports, the judge was skeptical, but responded to the rabbi’s offer, and sentenced each of the youths to 25 hours of classes with Rabbi Markovitz and 50 hours of community service to be completed at the Jewish Center. Judge Donato noted that it was clear that Rabbi Markovitz “wants to be part of the healing,� adding that “youths are not born with the prejudices and intolerance ... (which) we tend to teach them.� Many local newspapers at the time published the rabbi’s reason for requesting this solution: “One must never give up on young people. In Judaism, it’s literally a crime to do so.� A man of compassion Although not all of the Jewish Center’s congregants were pleased with the rabbi’s approach, believing that the boys deserved harsher punishment, Schein understands why the rabbi chose such a solution. “Rabbi Markovitz was a friend to all, a compassionate man, a family man, a caring man, one who was concerned for others all the time. He lived his faith. He and his wonderful wife Klara were a unique couple.�

Clifton attorney Jerry Friend, who was a member of the City Council in 1988, and whose father Israel once served as mayor, also remembers Rabbi Markovitz. “When he came to town, I was eight years old,� said Friend. “I had my bar mitzvah with him, as did my children. He always had an active role in the Friend family life. But not just our life, he was also a very big influence in the community.� The Rabbi was a man who build bridges and friendships. “He reached out to pastors, priests. In those days, we had brotherhood meetings that took place in different sanctuaries in town. Every year a different religious group would host. Clifton was very ecumenical. We are very tolerant of all religions and he was very instrumental in that message. Clifton has always been diverse – all the different faiths and people from different countries. But, we always were united, pulled together as one. It’s bigger now, even more diverse, but I still think that’s true,� Friend said. Puzzo remembers that while Rabbi Markovitz was not a tall man, “in moral stature, he was a giant. And he truly loved people. Mayor Anzaldi once called him the rabbi for all of Clifton.�


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Teaching Tolerance National repercussions Judge Donato’s decision made national news. Judges from other jurisdictions wrote to Donato, asking for more details about the case and his decision. Time magazine correspondent Richard Behar wrote Donato, asking for and receiving permission to observe the 25 hours of lessons. His experience resulted in the October 29, 1990 article in Time, “Warlocks, Witches and Swastikas” that was read nationwide. Behar wrote the youths were initially uncomfortable, playing with the yarmulkes that they were asked to wear, squirming as they listened. Rabbi Markovitz “was bursting with passion and zeal” to help the boys understand why what they did was so wrong. With time, “the boys marveled at this forgiving man who lavished so much talk and kindness and humor on them,” with one of them stating that the rabbi was one of the “nicest guys you could know.” The rabbi appreciated being liked, but said the reason he wanted to teach the boys is for them to gain respect, for themselves, for others. “They don’t have to love Jews, but they have learned to respect them,” he told Time.

60 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The unique approach in Clifton inspired a 1994 CBS special for schoolchildren, titled “Writing on the Wall.” Puzzo remembers that Clifton received a grant for a special public screening for the film. “Hal Linden, who was a pretty famous actor at the time, played Rabbi Markovitz. I remember that the rabbi was actually kind of embarrassed by all the attention he was getting because, really, he was a very humble man.” Puzzo recalls that the panel discussion that accompanied the screening was widely attended and very effective. “He was very inspirational, a true educator.” A tradition to continue Friend said many Cliftonites are afraid that some of the time-honored traditions that the city developed will disappear with the rapid growth and increased diversity. While some traditions no doubt will slip away, Friend underscores that the most essential tradition that has kept Clifton strong is tolerance. For more than 50 years, until his death of pneumonia in 2003 at age 82, Rabbi Markovitz led by example, sustaining this tradition of tolerance and respect among the people of our city.

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As a part of the 9th Division of the 60th Infantry, Mario Talamini stormed Utah Beach on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and helped liberate Paris in August of 1944. By Joe Hawrylko If it wasn’t for his quick thinking back on an early autumn morning in 1944, Army Buck Sgt. Mario Talamini might not be around today. On that day, Talamini and other soldiers were hot on the trail of a band of Nazis, who were retreating toward Belgium. “We were chasing the Germans and came to the Meuse River,” recalled the 85 year old, who was fresh off of liberating Paris just a month before. “Our orders were not to cross, but our commander told us to cross anyway.” The troops boarded rubber rafts and crossed the river, guns ready. “They were smart. They knew English,” said Talamini, adding that the Nazis would sometimes dress as Allied soldiers.

After scouting the river bank for enemies, the squad headed back for the other side to report back to their awaiting superiors. However, when they hopped in their boats, the Americans realized that they had been flanked by the Germans. The enemy had their guns trained on them and were ready to fire.

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With the Nazis holding superior ground, Talamini knew he was in dire straits and had to act. Should he hold his ground, return fire and face certain death, or dive into the water, knowing that he had 100 lbs. of gear on him and he couldn’t swim? “They started shooting and it was just instinct to jump in,” said Talamini, who survived by holding onto the raft. Outgunned and within grenade range, the G.I.’s were at the mercy of the Nazi forces. The Germans ceased fire and took Talamini and seven other American soldiers as prisoners. As a captive, he faced a different set of dangers than those on the front lines. Getting shot wasn’t so much of a concern. The real perils were malnourishment and disease.

64 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

At their 40th anniversary celebration in 1986, Mario and his wife Theresa, who died in 1995, pose with their children: Linda, CHS ‘67, and Gerald, CHS ‘73.

The American were sent to Aachen, Germany. For two days, they walked at gunpoint without food or water, if they could. “I had to carry my buddy, who was all shot up,” recalled Talamini.

“He was 202 pounds and I had to carry him the whole way.” The G.I.s were jeered by locals, who stoned and chastised the prisoners, accusing them of being U.S. gangsters, he recalled.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Soon after, the prisoners were stuffed into boxcars. When the doors finally opened again two weeks later, Talamini had arrived at Camp 7A in Mooseberg, Germany. It would be almost eight months before he would be freed by Allied forces. While there, Talamini was forced to do labor. His workload included a variety of tasks, ranging from helping local farmers to working in the rail yards. He said the Germans could tell he wasn’t born in the US. “They could tell I was born in Europe because of how I worked,” laughed Talamini, an Italy native. Still, that doesn’t mean that the Athenia Veterans member didn’t try to escape. “I ran away three times,” he said. “They took my shoes and made me work in the ice and snow barefoot.” But Talamini said that his captors weren’t all too bad. “They’d just put you in confinement,” he said. “Not like the Japs. They’d put you in a cage.” However, hope was on the horizon. With the Allies surging toward Berlin, troops came in and finally liberated the camp on April 29, 1945. “We were liberated by the 99th division and General (George) Patton,” said Talamini, who settled in Clifton once he finally returned to America. “They took us away in planes to Camp Lucky Strike in France. It was the first time I took a shower since I got there,” he added. “I never thought I’d get out of there.” However, despite his experience as a P.O.W., Talamini still wanted to re-enlist when he returned to the States. “I wanted to make an Army career; I loved that stuff,” said the Athenia Veterans Post member, laughing at the recollection. “But my parents wanted me out.” Clifton says thanks to vets Seventy years later, grateful Cliftonites will get the chance to thank Talamini, and his fellow comrades in arms, for their service to the nation. Talamini has been named by the Veterans Day Parade Committee as the Grand Marshal for the Support Our Veterans Parade, set for Nov. 8. Talamini, who will be 93 on Jan. 10, 2016, is a member of Post 8 in Clifton. 66 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Appropriately, this year’s parade “is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII,” the committee said. “Our men and women have made sacrifices for us so we can enjoy our freedom so now it is our turn to prove to them that we are grateful for their service.” The parade will kick off at 2 pm from the Athenia Veterans Post on Huron Ave., with the Mustang Marching Band leading the way, as it has for decades. Marchers will go through Athenia, along Huron Ave., to Van Houten Ave. and into the City Hall Campus, where they will proceed past the reviewing stand and through the Avenue of Flags. You don’t have to be a veterans to participate. Organizers invite bands, scout troops, owners of antique vehicles and anyone wanting to honor America’s veterans to march. Organizations that would like to participate may call Keith Oakley at 201-774-6666 or Frank Gaccione at 973-773-3788. “Please support the efforts of these volunteers and line the parade route and cheer them on,” the Parade Committee said. “Clifton is one of the few cities still conducting a parade because of the dedication of volunteers who raised the needed funds.”

The Marching Mustang Color Guard in 2014’s parade.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


History does not have to be ancient to be interesting. These photos of St. Philip’s CYO basketball teams under the tutelage of Coach Jim Murtha is such an example. Murtha coached 29 St. Philip’s teams since his first in 1968, which had future Super Bowl QB Bob Holly on the squad. Murtha took a 10year coaching hiatus in 1984 and finished his time on the hardwood in 2008, when he also retired from a career at Merrill Lynch. He and his wife Cathie still reside here in town. 1973-1974 team — Champs of the Passaic Clifton District. Front, from left: Nick Stetz, Kevin Dul, Bob Hayek, Ron Hayek, Phil Cibiniak, Dennis Tarrant. Rear: Coach Murtha, George Casagrand, Steve Ferraro, Bob Surgent, Bob Holly, Pat Goudie, Fr. Ray Kupke. Absent: Gerry Pilkin.

1976-1977 Champs: Front, from left: Mike Lill, Steve Miller, Tom Tanis, Ray Howarth, Dave Asbaty, Paul Dunn, Mark Szewczyk. Rear: Jerry Hill, Jim Belfondo, John Werner, Tom Zilinek, Len Wieczerzak, Tony Ortega, Paul Pomfret, Coach Murtha. Absent: Mike Holly, Paul Mudd.

68 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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1982-1983 - Front from left: Scott Bregman, Tom Wetter, Tom Colucci, Phil Flattery, Steve Poliska, Tim Sullivan. Back Row (L to R): Coach Al Levicky, Mike Grimaldi, Carl Camporeale, Tom Devine, John Szerenscits, Bill Cogan, Frank Ortega, Coach Jim Murtha, Coach Tom Stagg. Missing Bill Frank, Joe Sargenti, Al Zaloum, Coach Ray Matera. 1993-1994 Champs, standing left: Coach Jeff Pompeo, Ramy Michel, Eric Andres, Danny Pazos, Mike Horton, Justin Barra, Coach Rob Frank. Middle: Coach Dennis Wyka, Derrick Wyka, Darren Scher, Tony Opalka, Brian Wood, Coach Jim Murtha. Front: Mark Sinicki, Mike Oslin, Mike Torrent, Mike Miller. Missing: Charles Mazzone, Craig Caracozza.

70 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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1998-1999 from top left: Coach Murtha, Bob Wisse, Dan Colucci, Capt. Anthony Neglia, Lance Dearing, Coach Craig Adams. Middle: Andrew Seitz, Sean Loftus, Capt. Anthony Goglia, Chris Cubero, Andres Gutierrez, Owen Shanahan. Front Row (L to R): David Terranella, Giovanni Castaldo, Mike Ponte, Kenny Wood, Joe Ponte, Jamie Osmak. Missing: Dan Peters.

2002-2003 undefeated champs of the Passaic Clifton District. Front from left: Ryan Genato, Marc Fernandez, Chris Wood, Ryan DeMartino, Anthony DeSomma, Dave Loftus, Matt DeVoti. Middle: P.J. DeLeva, Brian Goglia, Juan Pujol, Matt Tahan, Greg Iannarella, D.J. Montroni, Ryan Gorny. Top: Coach Jim Murtha, Coach Craig Adams, Chris Seitz, Anthony Giordano, Mike Cetinich, Ryan Macalino, Dan Kaiser, Coach Len Vander Wende.

72 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Not a safe alternative to cigarettes Cigarette smoking among high school students is dropping—that’s the good news. But a new study published last month in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, cautions hookah use among teens is rising dramatically In a national study of high school seniors, 18% of the 5,540 surveyed had used hookah at least once in the past 12 months. Hookahs are water pipes with a smoke chamber, bowl, pipe and hose used to smoke specially made flavored tobacco appealing to youth. They’re often shared by users in smoking sessions. Youth and young adults often think they are safer than smoking cigarettes. But hookah smoking has many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking. “It’s a serious mistake to think that hookah filters out harmful chemicals. Carbon monoxide, tar, nicotine, and other toxic chemicals are still present in tobaccobased hookah smoke – and often at even higher levels than cigarettes,” said Stanley H. Weiss, MD, of the Essex-Passaic Wellness Coalition (EPWC) and Professor of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. In fact, the Florida American Lung Association has pointed out that a 40 to 45minute session using a water pipe is the equivalent of smoking 40 cigarettes—two full packs—at one sitting! For truthful info on hookah and e-cigs, visit Clifton Merchant • October 2015


2003-2004 from front left: Julian Nazario, Kyle Fitzpatrick, Joe Calzaretta, John Rubino, John Varriano, Derek Bykowsky, Matt DeVotti. Middle: D.J. Montroni, Marc Fernandez, Capt. Anthony DeSomma, Capt. Chris Wood, Mike Wieczerzak, Ryan DeMartino, Ryan Genato. Top: Coach Jim Murtha, Abel Rodriguez, Mark Albizati, Capt. Ken Peterson, Greg Iannarella, Coach Len Vander Wende, Coach Fred Wieczerzak.

2004-2005 front left: Ryan Powers, John Varriano, Derek Bykowsky, John Rubino, Joe Calzaretta. Middle: Kyle Fitzpatrick, Mike Ferrari, Nick Giordano, Capt. Ryan DeMartino, Mike Wieczerzak, Julian Nazario, Terrance McNamara. Top: Coach Jim Murtha, Anthony Beltramba, Jackson Reed, Kris Kucab, Abel Rodriguez, Coach Len Vander Wende, Coach Fred Wieczerzak. Missing: Armen Gapika.

74 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


2005-2006, front left: Ryan Powers, John Varriano, Derek Bykowsky, Joe Calzaretta, John Rubino. Middle: Mike Wieczerzak, Nick Giordano, Nick Mangone, Armen Gapika, Julian Nazario. Top: Coach Murtha, Anthony Beltramba, Jackson Reed, Alex Pfeiffer, Jonathan Babilonia, Coach Len Vander Wende. Missing: Kris Kucab, Anthony Gopaul, Mike Biondi.

2006-2007, front left: Mike Herrmann, Capt. Mike Biondi, Capt. Armen Gapikia, Capt. Anthony Gopaul, Justin Henry, Ryan Powers. Middle: Mike DiGaetano, Johnathan Kosinki, Robert Galli, Christian Rivera, Ryan Mozolewski. Top: Coach Fred Wieczerzak, Victor Iannarella, Mike Ward, Mike Llacuna, Austin Ruiz, Coach Len Vander Wende, Coach Murtha.

76 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

2007-2008, front left: Mike Hermann, Christian Rivera, Captain Robert Galli, Josh Guardia, Eric Soto. Middle: Coach Jim Murtha, Luis Marin, Mike Miller, Shiv Patel, Eric Angeles, Adrian Mimini, Robert White. Top; Coach Len Vander Wende, Antonio Otero, R.J. Traupmann, Mike DiGaetano, Mike Ward, Julio Hervias, Coach Fred Wieczerzak.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Note Location Change...

to City Hall Campus Clifton’s Annual Halloween Parade & HarvestFest is Oct. 25, rain or shine. The site is changed to the city hall campus and details are being worked out but all the fun stuff will be there. The parade will begin at 12:45 led by the costumed Marching Mustangs. There will be floats and costumed characters of all ages. Step-off will be on Van Houten Ave. (exact site to be determined). The parade will go into the city hall campus, where judges will evaluate the entrants. From there, HarvestFest continues until 4:30 pm with games and rides costing between a quarter and a dollar, game booths, plus a midway of sorts with rides. Included among the offerings are pumpkin painting, scarecrow stuffing, shopping and more. Visit the Petting Zoo or take a journey on our hayride. Food prices will vary. The 17th Annual Apple Pie Baking Contest will return and participants can register their pies for the competition between 1 and 1:30 pm, when judging begins Prizes will be awarded to bakers of the top three pies submitted. Prizes include gift certificates to local grocery stores. Consolation gifts will be issued for all non-winning entries. Plan ahead and prepurchase $5 bags of tokens with special pricing, beginning Oct. 9. Volunteers and vendors are needed and welcomed. For more info, such as parade staring location, call 973-470-5956, visit Clifton Recreation, second floor of City Hall or send an email to them at

78 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


David Alexander, Chief Financial Officer and Shaundra McCarter, Child Life Specialist, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital (pictured right to left), went Over the Edge in support of the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey on Sept. 19th. Alexander and McCarter rappelled down One Garret Mountain Plaza, a nine story building in Woodland Park, to raise awareness of the community programs.

Introduction to Longboarding: For those interested in picking up a hobby that is useful for transportation and fun, consider longboarding. Through the Clifton Rec Dept., Casey Hawrylko will teach the basics from balancing, pushing along on your board, carving through cones and stopping. These skills can be used to progress anyone into being comfortable riding around on their board or take the next step to hills. Required equipment for the class: longboard, knee, elbow and wrist guards along with a helmet. Classes are at Chelsea Park on Mondays and Wednesdays, 5 to 6 pm, from Oct. 14 through Nov. 2. Limit is six students per class. Cost is $25 for residents. For info, call 973-470-5956, or email It is one of the many classes, programs and services offered by the Clifton Recreation Department this fall which are all described in their program brochure available at city hall. 80 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Skate Day is Oct. 17 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm at Floyd Hall Ice-Skating Arena, Little Falls. The cost is $5 and includes two hours of skating, skate rental and a candy. Coupons, required to receive the discounted price, are available at the Recreation Office, City Hall, 2nd floor. Passaic County Clerk Kristin M. Corrado and John Harris, Passaic County Veterans Service Officer, will be at city hall on Oct. 22 from 11 am to 2 pm as part of the county’s outreach program. The County Clerk’s Office will process Passport applications, and issue Notary Oaths. Harris will issue Veteran Photo ID cards but former service members must bring their DD214 form to get the ID. For information on fees and requirements, call 973-225-3690, or visit Casey Hawrylko will offer longboard lessons at Chelsea Park on Oct. 14 through Nov. 2.

The 2015 Mustang Athletic Hall of Fame dinner is at noon, Oct. 11, at the Brownstone. To attend—tickets are $45 and includes the luncheon—call the CHS Athletics office at 973-470-2280. Those being inducted include: Emily Urciuoli: Track & Field (CHS 2010); Pete Lehr: Football (CHS 1958); Kevin Szott: Football, Wrestling (CHS 1981); Mickey Soccol: Football, Boys Basketball, Baseball (CHS 1989); Joe Hathaway: Football, Spring Track, Indoor Track (CHS 2005); Corey Bleaken: Wrestling (CHS 2006); Mike Lombardo: Baseball, Football (CHS 1991); Ken Kurnath: Contributor (CHS 1950). Teams being inducted include the 2001 Hockey Champs, the 2008 Girls Track Team and the 1986 Wrestling squad. The Fred Torres Memorial 5K is on Oct. 18 at 9:30 am at Garrett Mountain with a competitive 5K and a 2 Mile Walk. Awards are to the top three finishers, male and female, and the top three by age category. Torres was an avid supporter of the Mustang community of runners. He died age of 63 on Jan. 20, 2014. Proceeds become scholarships presented to graduating scholarathletes of CHS XC and T&F programs. To register for the race, email

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Valerie Bernhardt’s...


Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden, seen from Clifton resident Valerie Bernhardt’s close-up vantage point on stage.

Clifton residents Lorraine Ernest (left) and Valerie Bernhardt were two of the 50 person chorale who sang for Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 25.

By Douglas John Bowen Good things come in threes, and for Clifton resident Valerie Bernhardt that includes lending her musical skills to aid not one, not two, but the three most recent leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. Bernhardt notched her choral trifecta late last month, as she played a part in Pope Francis’ whirlwind, six-day North American tour which included a high-profile mass in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. A graduate of The Juilliard School with a degree in Voice Performance, Bernhardt was among 50 volunteer faithful asked to perform choral works during the

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Pope’s mass Sept. 25. A cantor at St. Paul’s in Downtown Clifton since 2008, she also is among the Adjunct Voice Faculty at Montclair State University. “I was asked to sing for the NYC Papal events by my friend Dr. Jennifer Pascual, the Director of Music at St. Patrick's Cathedral,” Bernhardt says. “Jennifer was the Associate Director of Music at the Cathedral Basilica in Newark before going to New York City,” where the two met and became friends. For special events, such as papal gatherings, Pascual has Bernhardt’s figurative (and literal) telephone number.

Papal Joining Bernhardt in representing Clifton was fellow resident Lorraine Ernest, a cantor at St. Stephen’s in Kearny. They performed as part of the Pope’s evening prayer service (Vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan on Sept. 24, as well as the mass as MSG the next day, which drew a capacity crowd. The MSG service, extensively televised throughout the nation, reflected the intense interest the charismatic Pope’s visit generated among the general public and people of different faiths, and even among those professing no faith. “They call Pope Francis the People’s Pope, because he’s so open and he really wants to connect with the people and be the Pope of the people,” Bernhardt says. “The times we weren’t singing, we were all fans of Pope Francis,” striving to maintain a balance of focusing on music in a professional manner while alternately “taking in the moment,” she says. “For me personally, it was an awe-inspiring event, and I’m pretty sure others felt the same way. So it was hard to keep a balance” by being both professional musician and enthusiastic worshipper, she says. The choir performed what Bernhardt describes as “many standard Catholic songs,” but including Tu Es Petrus (You Are Peter), as the Pope made his entrance. “Petrus is also the Latin word for ‘rock,” Bernhardt says, explaining the metaphorical significance. She estimates that the group stood on stage for nearly 90 minutes, perhaps somewhat longer than a normal mass on a typical Sunday. “But the time just flew by, at least for me.” Exciting as it was, Pope Francis is only the latest pontiff blessed by Bernhardt’s voice. In 2003 Bernhardt sang the Verdi Requiem in Rome for John Paul II, as a member of “the combined choir of the Cathedral Basilica in Newark and the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis,” she says. “We got to attend a papal audience with John Paul II indoors.” In 2008, Bernhardt joined several hundred choral members performing for Pope Benedict at Yankee Stadium. Filling the stadium with sound was a challenge. “In Yankee Stadium the choir was behind home plate, while the Pope literally was out at second base,” she recalls. By contrast, “In Madison Square Garden we were literally 20 feet away from Pope Francis,” Bernhardt, a Botany Village resident for the past 15 years, notes.

“This one by far was the most exciting and awe-inspiring for me by far, in terms of the proximity to the Pope. The thrill was twofold, “as a professional singer to participate in, and as a person of faith to actually be there in the presence of this man who has a presence of peace and holiness about him,” she says. Reminded that, at least on some level, Bernhardt’s “once in a lifetime” experience has occurred in triplicate, she laughs and says, “I’ve been really lucky.”

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Public Safety

Hear The Beep Where You Sleep

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Ann-Marie Lancaster is collecting blankets to be used by ‘resident’ cats and dogs at the Clifton Animal Shelter. To help out or donate items, call 973-470-5802 for info.

Members of Clifton FMBA Local 21, Clifton Merchant Magazine and the business community have teamed up for the annual Fire Prevention Coloring Book. Published at no cost to the taxpayers, the coloring book has pages of fire safety messages appropriate for students in grade K to 3. Clifton Firefighters will visit public and private schools to distribute the books and meet with kids during Fire Safety Month.

Clifton FMBA Local 21 Firefighters Union’s Coat Drive will run through October. SignA-Rama on Van Houten Ave. has donated signs posted outside the six firehouses serving as collection points. Deluxe Cleaners on Main Ave. and Saveway Cleaners on Allwood Rd. will donate their laundering services before the coats are delivered to St. Peter’s Haven on Clifton Ave. and to other charities before cold weather.

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Ed Kurbansade and Halina Qasem (both Spencer Clifton Branch managers), PBA 36 President Nick Hriczov, Spencer CEO José B. Guerrero, Det/Sgt Gary Passenti, Chief John Link, and PBA State Delegate Michael Adamo.

Spencer Savings Bank Thanks Clifton Cops for Apprehending Thief. Spencer Savings Bank donated $1,500 to the Clifton Policeman’s Benevolent Association Local 36, following police action in August resulting in the apprehension of a thief who struck the bank’s Piaget Ave. branch. The donation is “ our simple way of demonstrating our appreciation to all the police officers who work each and every day in making our community safe,” said John Fitzpatrick, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking.

The 8th Annual John Samra Scholarship Memorial 5K Run/Walk is set for Oct. 11, 8:30 am, beginning (and ending) at City Hall. Early registration is $20 and guarantees a t-shirt if postmarked by Oct. 5. Late registration is $25. Race day registration starts at 7 am. The Clifton PBA, with support from the Clifton Roadrunners, sponsors the event to honor Officer John Samra, killed in the line of duty on Nov. 21, 2003. Register online at Potential sponsors should email

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Arts & Culture At Paramus Catholic, said PCHS President Jim Vail, “we have three areas which I call the three A’s— academics, the arts and athletics— to go along with a strong campus ministry program,” he said of the opening of the new Music Conservatory. “This is proof that we are committed to focusing on the arts and continuing to expand our music program even more.” With a 120-seat amphitheater, a piano lab, classrooms and dedicated rehearsel space, the 3,000 square foot expansion adds luster to the PC campus. Call 201-445-4466 or go to

On Sept. 10 at Paramus Catholic High School, Coordinator of Music and the Marching Paladins Director Gary Sabak, along with Lucas Daniele, Jessica Santana, and Matthew Zernis, look on as Drum Major DeAndre Tomlinson cuts the ribbon to open a 3,000 square foot music conservatory.

The Garden State Opera of New Jersey stages Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Mozart’s Bastien and Bastienne on Oct. 25 at 4 pm at the Caldwell University Student Center Auditorium. Tickets are $20 and $15. The performance is staged with an orchestra and sung in their original language with English supertitles. A matinee of Bastien and Bastienne is Oct. 23 at 11 am. For tickets or info, call 973-685-9972 or visit

Theater League of Clifton (TLC) presents Little Shop of Horrors at the Aprea Theater, 199 Scoles Ave, Clifton, Nov. 6, 7, 8 and 13, 14, 15. This comedy horror rock musical is a cult classic that has achieved success on Broadway, off-Broadway and in the movies. This show will feature a fully functioning, one-of-akind construction of the Audrey II character, designed and created by artist Julie Chrobak. Advance tickets are $20 and $15 for students and seniors at

Clifton’s Historical Commission seeks photographs and memorabilia documenting Clifton’s history during the last 100 years. Items will be displayed in an exhibit entitled Clifton’s Walk Through History! this November and December at the Clifton Arts Center. Include names, dates and location of the historical item. Mail, email, or deliver items to the City Clerk’s Office, Clifton City Hall, 900 Clifton Ave., Clifton, NJ 07013. Call 973-470-5824 or

Help celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Clifton Arts Center with Tea & Conversation at the Upper Montclair Country Club on Oct. 4 at 1 pm. This 7th annual event is a fundraiser and the fee is $47. There will be a three-course luncheon, a tricky tray, cash raffle and plenty of opportunities to converse. The Clifton Arts Center (CAC) Gallery first opened in January of 2000. To date, more than 35,000 visitors have enjoyed art exhibits, cultural events and

86 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

social affairs at the CAC, within the Sculpture Park on the grounds of the Clifton Municipal Complex. Seating is limited. Tables of ten are available. RSVP at 973-472-5499 or at Make Your Film Amazing, a free workshop on short film production for high school and college students and independent filmmakers, is on Oct. 24 from 9 am to noon at 930 Riverview Dr., Totowa. Industry professionals will offer tips on everything from brainstorming a film and storyboarding to proper use of lighting and sound equipment and ways to promote a film. Presented by the Passaic County Film Commission and sponsored by the Passaic County Office of Economic Development, the event serves as a primer to the 12th Passaic County Film Festival, which is on April 23, 2016. The Film Festival is at The Fabian 8 Theater, Center City Mall, Paterson. Deadline for film submissions is Jan. 29. Call 973-569-4720 or email

St. Peter’s Haven Manager Lynn Bocchini (front left), St. Peter’s Episcopal Rev. Peter De Franco (behind Bocchini), and Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin (center with tray) joined Peace Islands Institute Executive Director Ercan Tozan (holding package) and others as the Institute formally donated 150 lbs. of Halal lamb to St. Peter’s Haven. The donation, marking the Islamic Feast of Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), served as an example that, through the diversity and tolerance practiced by Clifton and its neighbors, “people cross boundaries to support one another,” Giblin said.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


88 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

With some 225 cars, trucks and motorcycles and a steady stream of visitors—perhaps as many as 5,000— the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton raised significant funds on Sept. 20. The second annual show was held on the corner of Allwood and Bloomfield Aves. Funds raised go to underwrite costs at the Club, serving Clifton since 1947. Currently, there are 5,310 members in programs such as Early Childhood, After School and Summer Camps, Youth Swim and Sports Programs, and Teen Activities. The Club is able to deliver these affordable programs thanks to the generosity of donors and through fundraising programs. Call John DeGraaf, the Club’s Development Director at 973-773-0966 ext. 111 if you’d like to help out.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


90 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Some 500 people enjoyed the third Taste of Clifton on Sept. 28. Staged as a benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton and held in the Club’s Auditorium, reps from over 30 restaurants and caterers and four liquor purveyors offered samples. Development Director John DeGraaf said it was another fundriser to help underwrite youth programming at the Club. To vend in the 2016 Taste of Clifton on Sept. 26, call DeGraaf at 973-773-0966 ext. 111. Photos from Monday’s event are on the following pages.

92 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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94 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • October 2015


Birthdays & Celebrations - October 2015

Noel Coronel turns 11 on Oct 16. Best Wishes to George Hayek who celebrated his 89th birthday on Oct. 1. Maria Brendli turned 101 on 9/11 with friends and family by her side. Keith and Michele Oakley renewed their vows on Sept. 27 with friends and family at the Elks Lodge. Michael Panus and Brooke Van Beveren were engaged on Aug. 31 and plan to marry in 2016.

Birthdays & Celebrations

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Stella Pukszta celebrated her 100th birthday with daughter Sandra Crawford, granddaughter Jennifer Santosuosso, a sister, brother and other family and friends on Sept. 19. It was the second celebration as her actual birthdate is May 19!

George Hayek .................10/1 Sarah Bekheet..................10/1 Melissa Szwec .................10/2 Awilda Gorman ...............10/3 Ashley Messick ................10/3 Christopher Papademetriou .10/3 Charlene Rivera ...............10/3 Grace Robol ....................10/3 Frank Antoniello ...............10/4 John Brock Jr....................10/4 Kimberly Ferrara ..............10/4 Kayla Galka ....................10/4 Lisa Junda........................10/4 Alan Merena ...................10/4 Bruce Merena ..................10/4 Villeroy Hard ...................10/5 Rosalie D. Konopinski .......10/5 Kyle Takacs......................10/5 Gene D’Amico .................10/6 Nicole Nettleton...............10/6 Joseph Tahan ...................10/6 Cheryl Cafone .................10/7 Christopher Phillips ...........10/7 Jilian Fueshko...................10/8 Nick Kacmarcik ...............10/8

Congratulations to Barbara & Orest Luzniak who celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary on Oct. 11. 96 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Kim Oeffler......................10/8 Michael Biondi...............10/10 Rich Montague...............10/10 Kyle Zlotkowski ..............10/10 Eileen Patterson..............10/11 Anthony Shackil .............10/11 Michael D. Rice .............10/12 Stepanie M. Palomba .......10/13 Kimberly Beirne..............10/14 Lil Geiger ......................10/14 Mary Anne Kowalczyk....10/14 Andrea Kovalcik.............10/15 Stephen Kovalcik............10/15 Marianne Meyer ............10/15 Noel Oliver ...................10/16 Noel Coronel.................10/16 Nicole Zlotkowski...........10/16 Nancy Hromchak ...........10/17 Devin DeVries ................10/18 Matthew Fabiano ...........10/18 Edward Holster, Sr..........10/18 Jamie Norris ..................10/18 Brian James Grace .........10/19 Kristen A. Hariton...........10/19 Rocky S. Angello (woof!)..10/20 Joan Bednarski...............10/20 Jean Chiariello ...............10/20 Lea Dziuba ....................10/20 Pactrick M. Doremus Jr. ....10/21 Eugene Osmak...............10/21 Nathaniel Santelli...........10/21

Stephanie Peterson married Adam Yoda at St. Philip the Apostle Parish on Aug. 29th. Katelyn Smith .................10/21 Jonathan Rossman ..........10/22 Toni Van Blarcom ...........10/22 Daniel Atoche ................10/23 Andrew J. “Dez“ Varga ........10/23 Allison Beirne.................10/24 Sandra Kuruc.................10/24 Heather Fierro................10/24 Paul G. Andrikanich .......10/25 Mildred Scrosia..............10/25 Matthew McGuire ..........10/26 Kristofer Scotto ...............10/27 Nicole Keller..................10/28 Ashley Gretina ...............10/29 Lindsay Berberich ...........10/30 Francesca Scrosia ..........10/30 Hadeel Aref...................10/31 Raymond Romanski ........10/31 Josef Schmidt .................10/31 Andy and Mary Jane Varga will celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary on October 26.

Clifton Merchant • October 2015



The Boys & Girls Club will be honoring Alumni as well the 1986 through 1989 SeaHawks at the Fall ino the Past 9th Annual Alumni Beefsteak on Nov. 20. Above is a team from that era coached by Bill O’Neil, John Gray and Dennis Szabady. Come to the event and support the Club. To purchase tickets or to help identify the team members, call Bob Foster: 973-773-0966, ext 119.


98 October 2015 • Clifton Merchant

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Clifton Merchant Magazine - October 2015  
Clifton Merchant Magazine - October 2015