Clifton Merchant Magazine - October 2010

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


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2010 Halloween Parade & HarvestFest by Tom Hawrylko I love eating apple pies. And for the last 10 or so years I have been given one of the best jobs in Clifton—to judge the annual Apple Pie Baking Contest presented by the Recreation Department. It’s part of the annual Halloween Parade & HarvestFest, which is on Oct. 24. But this year I won’t be a judge as I will be at the 100th anniversary celebration of my parish, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, in Passaic. But if you have kids, don’t miss it. The Parade begins at noon on Lakeview Ave. and East 4th St. From there, kids, parents and even animals in costumes proceed to Nash Park, where the costume judging will take place. It’s free to enter and prizes are awarded. HarvestFest continues untill 4:30 where kids can take a hayride, paint pumpkins, visit the petting zoo and explore carnival booths, rides and food stands. Games and rides range in price from a quarter to a dollar. Pre-purchase $5 bags of tokens at the Rec. Dept. and beat the lines. And if you see Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man or the Cowardly Lion from our cover, tell them I said hello.

2008 Apple Pie Baking Contest Blue Ribbon winner Lilyan Borrelli with her son Vincent. Will she make a comeback in this year’s bake-off? Judges at left include Ray Mauro, Stella Madey, John Biegel, Anna Rose LoPinto and Paul Oliver. Not pictured is Myrt Petty. For info on the contest and the parade, call 973-470-5956. 16,000 Magazines

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant



Letters to the Editor

Clifton Merchant Magazine 1288 Main Ave. Clifton 07011

VFW 7165 sends thanks to all who supported the Brooke Van Beveren Benefit on Sept. 19. Over $8,000 was raised for Brooke, who is battling Hodgkins Lymphoma. Additional donations can be sent to the VFW Post 7165, 491 Valley Rd., Clifton 07011 and it will be forwarded. Please remember the Boys & Girls Club is also holding a Beefsteak for Brooke on Nov. 12. The $40 ticket includes food, soda, beer and entertainment. VFW 7165 Veterans & Canteen Club

Donna (Neville) Pizzimenti “Don’t Forget to Get Your Mammo... Love Me!

It’s been almost a year now since we moved to our retirement home. We especially look forward to receiving the magazine each month and reading about friends we’ve made and notable places in Clifton – over the last 39 years. And the July 2010 issue – we were really surprised to read the “Top of the Class of 1980” story! Our son John had not told us about his interview with Carol Leonard – only that (on about July 1st) he would like to see the Clifton Merchant Magazine after we’ve finished reading them. John is our oldest of five children, all CHS graduates, and, all of whom we are very proud. Incidentally, John’s brother Chris also became a doctor and they live only minutes apart. Our three girls also live close together in the Randolph-Rockaway area. Thanks for keeping us connected.

October is Breast Cancer Awarenesss Month and no one knew this better than our Donna, who lost her battle on July 7, 2009. Courageous and humble, she lived her life, supported her family and never complained. Every October, Donna would send a gift to signify her fight and determination to end breast cancer, with this simple note: Don’t Forget to Get Your Mammo, Love Me! It is a message we hope you’ll share.

Bill and Judy Taylor, Highland

Joan and Marty Neville


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant



October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Sweet Cider...

by Christopher de Vinck

Autumn in New Jersey is just as charming, and just as robust as autumn in New England. You just have to know where to look, and to know exactly how to prepare yourself for the harvest moon and for the witch’s arrival on Halloween. As is our routine in the autumn season, my wife Roe and I drove to Warwick, New York to pick apples a few weeks ago. After collecting a bag of Red Delicious, and Macintosh apples, we had a picnic on the orchard grass, and headed home. As we re-entered New Jersey, as we drove down through the northern tip of Sussex County, we came across a small, brown sign with black letters: Fresh Eggs. We drove by, and on second thought, we turned the car around, returned to the little sign, and pulled left into a narrow driveway. There, on a small hill, sat a small red barn like a happy rooster bathing in the afternoon sun. Outside the barn was a wide table filled with pumpkins, apple cider, and surrounded with pots of yellow and red chrysanthemums. Roe wanted a dozen fresh eggs. I wanted a fat, orange pumpkin and to follow the poet John Greenleaf Whittier’s suggestion. He was the

influential Quaker poet of the 1800’s who wrote in his poem Pumpkins about the fruit that he loved as a boy, the “ugly faces we carved in its skin, glaring out through the dark with a candle within!” The woman who owned the property walked out to greet us, and when we asked if there were any more eggs, she said, “Yes. I’ll pulled them from the nests and wash them for you.” We spoke a bit, I saying how she discovered paradise; she saying that she had six children, that her husband was a carpenter, and that she maintained the seasonal roadside stand as a hobby. As the woman in her black boots and long, lovely hair walked to the hen house, Roe and I stepped into the barn where, just for the fun of it, there were haystacks and pumpkins, cornstalks and chrysanthemums arranged, it seemed, for the cover of the old Saturday Evening Post. On the barn door was a poster from the 1950’s of an illuminated pumpkin that looked, also, like the moon. The moon is a bright orange pumpkin in autumn, the harvest moon hanging in the darkness like a Japanese lantern on a stick, looming down on us. October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


But I am done with apple-picking now. Essence of winter sleep is on the night, The scent of apples: I am drowsing off. Robert Frost from After Apple Picking Each Halloween the street lights on our dark road, like little moons, guide trick-or-treaters up the narrow, concrete walk that leads to our front door. I like watching tiny hands reaching out of their devil or witch costumes as I offer a bowl filled with chocolate Milky Ways and Hershey bars. Twenty years ago, when my daughter was five-yearsold, she was a witch for Halloween. Roe sewed the costume, and searched the stores for just the right pointed hat. My favorite part of the costume was Karen’s red sneakers visible under the long, black skirt decorated with moons and stars. Perhaps the reason we like Halloween so much is because it is the day that reminds us of our own youth, when we could all pretend to be something other than who we are, when we could be a little mischievous, toss eggs, soap windows, and join Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer out behind the old school building and smoke acorn pipes and feel just fine. Whittier reminded us about ourselves in his little poem: “When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune, our chair a broad pumpkin, — our lantern the moon, telling tales of the fairy who traveled like steam in a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!” It has been reported that New Jersey farmers experienced a bumper crop of pumpkins this year because of the heat and well-timed rainfall.


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

I like autumn and Halloween because it makes me think of paradise: a sumptuous roadside stand, the little sneakers in the attic that once fit my grown daughter, pumpkins on a door sill The 19th century American novelist Willa Cather wrote in her famous novel My Antonia, “I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge.” I like autumn in New Jersey because it makes me feel happy, as if I am a part of something good as the cold air swirls around us and the apple cider is sweet.

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

From Corporate Controversy to

Familial Opportunity

Photos and story by Carol Leonard

hat was once the site of a controversial plan to build a McDonalds restaurant will soon be home to the new Allwood Diner. Brothers George and Gus Logothetis and George’s wife Anastasia purchased the Jubilee Park Diner on Allwood Road in April from previous owner Tony Prekas. They have been renovating the building since mid-July and expect it to be ready for a grand opening under its new name later this month. Wanting to retire, Prekas had signed a 20-year lease agreement with McDonalds last year. But following an outpouring of objection from community residents to its plans to operate a 24hour drive-through business, McDonalds withdrew its application for approval from the city’s Board of Adjustment in January.


Gus Logothetis with Anastasia and George Logothetis.

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


A clause in the lease allowed Prekas to terminate if McDonalds did not get city approval for the project within a year. Meanwhile, the Logothetis brothers had been looking around to purchase a diner in the area for about two years. Their father, Jimmy Logothetis, has been in the diner business all of their lives. He currently owns the State Street Grill in Bloomfield, which they have helped him manage. Their cousins are the owners of Rutts Hut. “I grew up in the diner,” said George, 29, who holds a marketing degree from Seton Hall University. “Owning my own diner is something that I always wanted to do.” George said that he would pass by the Jubilee Park from time to time and would think to himself what a nice spot it was for a diner. So, when the McDonalds deal fell through, he and his wife and brother began negotiating with Prekas to buy the business. They closed on the purchase on April 4. The Logothetises knew that they wanted to renovate the diner and change its name, but they decided to run the business under the Jubilee Park name for a few months before they started making the changes. “We wanted to get to know the customers and for them to get to know us,” George said. “A lot of people were very ecstatic that we were taking over. They wanted to keep a diner here.” The Logothetises had a large rendering on display of what the new diner would look like and they received a lot of positive feedback, especially from some of the longtime customers. On July 16 the Jubilee Park Diner officially closed and construction was soon underway. Workers gutted the inside of the building and started putting up a whole new outside facade. Anastasia, 29, who grew up in Greece and holds a degree in interior decorating, is the main influence behind the new design,

which will include earth tone colors inside and outside. She worked in collaboration with architect Giuseppe Munafo to incorporate her own ideas into the plans, which she describes as a combination of American and European styles. “We wanted to get away from the stainless steel look and do something more modern,” she said. “I wanted to make it warm and cozy.” Younger brother Gus, 26, who graduated with a degree in business management from Berkeley College, is very happy about the new venture. “We have very high standards and we’re determined to do well here,” he said. “We’re in this for the long run.” The new Allwood Diner will offer “a typical diner menu,” George said. “But it will be very good quality food.” The Logothetis brothers are confident that their customers will like what they’re served because their dad and their uncle Tommy will be in the kitchen as the executive chefs. They hope to bring back the regular customers who came to the diner when it was the Jubilee Park as well as attract new ones from the residential and business communities. They also expect to expand their hours. The past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind time for the young Logothetises, who admit that they been feeling a bit overwhelmed. They originally expected to complete renovation and have the new diner opened by mid-September, but construction delays have caused them to bump back their opening about a month. On top of that, George and Anastasia, who just celebrated their first wedding anniversary on Aug. 28, are expecting their first child in February. “It’s all happening so fast,” George said. The Logothetises are planning to have two grand opening celebrations, one which will include a ribboncutting ceremony with the mayor and other officials from city hall, and another for family and friends.

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Making it on a Triangle

3 Generations of Fierros Story by Joe Hawrylko


or such a little plot of real estate, the Fierro and Sons lot sure holds a lot of memories. The triangular swatch of land, located on Marshall St. in Paterson, a stone’s throw from where Hazel Ave. and Broad St. intersect, has been in the family since 1957, when Robert Fierro purchased it. “We just sold gas back then,” said Bob Fierro pictured below right with his brother Joe and their dad, Robert. “It used to be a park years before that and then it became a dumping ground. My grandfather Rocco bought it and then dad and Uncle Pete helped him built a gas station here.” Now, a half century later, the pumps are long gone, removed sometime in the 70s.

Joe and Bob Fierro, with their dad Robert. Top, Robert’s brother Pete in a 1960 photo. At left, founder Rocco Fierro in the 1950’s. October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Since that time, some four decades later, it has been a used car lot, featuring 30 or so vehicles which seem to fill every inch of the macadem and concrete, sans a little house where the three men share an office. “I started working here when I was young, around 15,” recalled Bob. His brother, Joe, helps run the store and has been there for just under three decades as well. “I’m fond of saying that I bought cars before I even drove them,” continued Robert. “I’d be at the high school and I’d call my dad, ‘Hey, I just bought you a car, come and get it.’” But the used car market has evolved since those days. The buyers have changed, the cars on the market are different, and people expect more for less. “The problem with low end cars now is that people want you to stand behind a car that has all these miles,” he said. Times have changed as well, especially for younger first time car buyers. Bob said kids have become more picky, and parents more apt to spend a bit more for newer car with more safety features. “I had a 69 Camaro, with different primer color everywhere,” he chucked of his days with a first car, as a high school senior, back in 1975. “That was the cleanest rust bucket on the block.” But despite the changing tastes, the Fierros have stuck with what the old stand by: Detroit-made vehicles. “We deal with mostly American cars because of the price,” he explained.


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Fierro said the vehicle price range is between $500 and $5,000. “I don’t do much of the auctions. We do get new car dealer trade-ins a lot. We try to fill orders if we can, but it’s mostly family type vehicles. But we’ve really found our niche with blue collar American models.” “We get a lot of second car buyers, workers looking to make a dollar stretch. I get a lot of people saying that they want a car that gets from point A to point B. Well how far is point A from point B??” he laughed. “We also have buses, pick-ups, commercial vehicles...” Dealing with the Fierro father and son team is a love it or leave it experience and return customers appreciate it that not much has changed at this family enterprise. “We still get people saying, ‘Oh, my grandfather bought his first car here!’” laughed Bob. “Or, ‘I remember when you were this small and I bought a car from your father. It’s name recognition. We make it comfortable. Easy. No heavy sales pressure.” That might sound like hyperbole, but consider this: The company has survived with no internet marketing and no advertising. And it’s not the aesthetics of the place that draw customers either—Bob readily admits that the 70s era wood paneling in the sales office is probably only appealing to him. It’s a business built on a good family name, friendly service and trust. “It’s like a time warp,” he laughed. “We just got rid of the rotary phone.”

30 Years & Evolving

Changing with Tastes Story by Joe Hawrylko

t’s a small place that seems as if it hasn’t changed a bit in the past decade or so, besides the new screen door out front and the fresh paint on the facade. Inside this Clifton Ave. deli it is tight—if there’s more than a half dozen people inside it’s going to be crowded. “We’ve had the place for 31 years,” said MaryAnn Haring, who owns the store with her husband, Harry. “We just were looking around and noticed that this place was for rent. We thought it was an excellent piece of real estate.” Located just a few blocks from CHS and directly across the street from the Board of Education office, the deli is in the perfect area to support a business. Teachers and education administrators heading into the high school or BOE building often stop by for breakfast. “Everyone wants something on the way to work,” MaryAnn stated. The store gets a lunch rush and then the day ends. That means mornings at MaryAnn’s Deli begin before sun up. Harry is the morning man, up at the store by 5 am to do prep work. MaryAnn comes in a bit later, but she also stays to close. It’s a bit of a compromise for the couple, who have been married 25 years. The store’s location means that it draws in students leaving Clifton High School later in the afternoon during the school year. Lunch is also popular with workers in the area. “It’s more from local businesses,” she added. “Some are just local people as well.” “A lot of people have been coming here for 20 years or more,” added Harry. But building up that pool of faithful customers takes years. The most basic component to success starts in the kitchen. “I come from an Italian family that loves to cook and loves to bake,” smiled MaryAnn. “My mom is a great cook and great baker.” But there is certainly a business element, and without that, even the best chef in the world will have trouble staying afloat.


“You just find good ingredients, see how much you’re paying and figure in room for profit,” said MaryAnn. Though the couple said they did originally scope out some competitors to see pricing, they said it mostly relies on trial and error. “Other stores probably look at our menu now because we’ve been here so long,” Harry quipped. Though they were a bit apprehensive when first opening the store, the Harings found that it really wasn’t an exact science behind figuring out how to price food. The couple has found that a far greater challenge is introducing new meals to satisfy different tastes and diets. Just like clothing, there’s fads in the food industry. “Harry has taken over a lot of the cooking,” admitted MaryAnn. “How many ways can you do turkey?” Harry asked rhetorically. “Years ago, there wasn’t wraps and now everyone is health conscious. Twenty years ago, no one had paninis and now you have to have them.” It may not look like it at first glance, but there is a lot more going on behind the counter than it seems. Sure, getting up early can be tiresome, but when you do something you enjoy, it really doesn’t matter. “I just love to cook,” smiled MaryAnn. October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


At the Inner Peace Center...

They Made it on a Prayer Story by Joan Velardi


f you are looking for a new shopping experience, then stop at 259-161 Crooks Ave. in Clifton. You can’t miss it—just look for the window display, complete with statues of saints and deities. Inside is a warehouse-sized retail shop and wholesale showroom with a large selections of herbs, bath salts, candles, crystals, jewelry, books, incense and other spiritual and magical paraphernalia. The products are both high quality and affordable. What is this new retail establishment? Or should we say old retail establishment? You would have just discovered Botanica San Lazaro and the Inner Peace Center, which has served the spiritual needs of Clifton and the surrounding region for the last half century. Founded in downtown Paterson in 1959 by Lupe Jiminez, a door-to-door jewelry salesman who decided to focus on his religion and passion for helping the poor and elderly, Botanica San Lazaro was from the beginning a family venture. Lupe and his wife, Rose, started the Botanica in Paterson, where it became not only a store, but a temple. Every Sunday, Lupe offered prayer services at

Top, the late Lupe Jiminez, and above, from left, his grandson Orlando Martes, CHS 1992, Maggie, Rosa and Lorenzo, CHS 1998. 16

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

which all were welcome. Today, Rose, her daughter, Maggie, and grandsons Orlando and Lorenzo run the business since Lupe’s passing 16 years ago. Although the Botanica now operates in Clifton, it remains a regional landmark and a home of tradition— offering prayer, teaching and healing services to those in need, just as Lupe did. “Our grandfather was very spiritual,” Orlando explained. “His gift was the power of prayer.” Like Grandfather Lupe, the family continues to educate and guide their customers based on their individual needs. “It’s a family atmosphere here,” added the founder’s daughter, Maggie. “People enjoy the positive energy and the personal and private touch we offer. Many customers are so loyal and appreciate us and we feel the same about them. We always consider our clients’ input and feedback.” This personal touch helps contribute to the close ties that the Botanica enjoys with its customers, many of whom have been visiting the store for decades.

Since the move, the business has grown to include the Inner Peace Center, which hosts classes and events on the second floor of the building. Current ongoing classes include 21 Divisions, Yoga, meditation, Feng Shui, Hinduism, and how to create an altar. And in line with the family’s mission to support all beliefs, the Botanica sells religious items from a wide variety of religions including Christianity, Hinduism, Wicca, Santeria, Palo, Buddhism and ancient spiritual faiths from Central America to Egypt. The Inner Peace Center hosts an annual puja in appreciation of clients, family and friends. The puja brings peace and protection to those in need and is lead by a Hindu priest who travels to Clifton from Queens. Orlando says this openness is an integral part of the Botanica. “We keep our doors open to everyone, so all can gather and shop comfortably regardless of your beliefs or spiritual paths. We strive to maintain that vision.” And the two CHS grads are also expanding. The brothers now offer embroidery and printing services and have also introduced a new line of clothing called Forever Flyy. Clients can custom design Tshirts and clothing for their individual faith. For customers seeking guidance, Orlando offers spiritual readings on-site. “Since moving to Crooks Ave., we may have lost some of our old customers. Perhaps, they haven't realized that we had just moved

locations,” said Rosa. “We are excited about our store and enjoy seeing new faces that discover Botanica San Lazaro’s Inner Peace Center. It’s not only a store—it’s a gathering place.”

Call Clifton’s Brian Kulesa today and install a new & affordable underground sprinkler system at your home or business!

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


They keep if fresh...

The Allwood Farmers Story by Carol Leonard esidents of Allwood and nearby neighborhoods don’t have far to travel anymore to pick up a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The new Market Street Farm store opened last December in the storefront that, for many years, was home to the Allwood Pharmacy. Located next to Allwood Dentistry and two doors down from Quick Chek, the market has become a favorite place to shop for many residents of the Styertowne Apartments as well as parents with children at School 9. Owner Jennifer Lee (at right) and her husband James have been in the produce business for more than 25 years. The couple owns another farm market store in NYC and they had been looking around for a second location in the Clifton area when they came across the vacancy on Market St. “The rent was acceptable and it looked like a nice neighborhood with good opportunities to develop the business,” Lee said.



October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The smell of fresh fruits and vegetables permeates the air as you enter the store, and the rainbow of colors of everything from red ripe strawberries and tomatoes to green, yellow and orange peppers, purple eggplants and a variety of lettuces, spinach and bunches of fresh herbs is a sight to behold. A small dairy section includes milk, eggs and cheeses as well as yogurt, kefir and hummus. You can also pick


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

up fresh rolls and bread, dried spices, jarred sauces, honey, pasta, bottled juices or a fruit cup or vegetable platter that Lee cuts up fresh each day. They even have bouquets of fresh flowers. Lee’s husband does all of the shopping for the produce, traveling to the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx about four to five times a week, and to local farms during the growing season. Lee oversees the operation of the store and tries to meet and talk with the customers as often as possible. “I want them get to know me and my workers,” she said. “I try to make it a comfortable and cozy place to shop.” Lee feels that the friendly atmosphere and personal attention that she provides helps her compete with the larger supermarkets for business. “It’s a tough time in the economy,” she said. “This was the worst year in all of the 25 years we have been in the business, so we have to do what we can to increase cash flow.” Recently, she has been trying to expand her stock of convenience grocery items that some of her customers have requested. “They tell me that they want to be able to come here for more of their groceries instead of traveling to the malls and big supermarkets,” she said. Lee also packages up some of the produce to discount for a quick sale, which is a benefit to customers who may be on a fixed income or are looking to get the most for their money. Longtime Allwood resident Leslie DePoto was happy to see the farm market move into the storefront space that had been vacant on Market Street for more than two years after the pharmacy closed. DePoto often stops by the market on her way home from work to pick up fresh vegetables to use for dinner. “I like to support the local businesses, and their prices are fabulous,” she said. “You can’t beat it.” DePoto also likes the fact that she can often find unusual fruits and vegetables such as celery root and different types of eggplants and melons in the store that aren’t available in the produce aisles of the larger chain supermarkets. The Market Street Farm store is open seven days a week, from 8 am until 8 pm. Lee is at the store for part of every day and she said she plans to keep the market open 365 days a year. “It’s a demanding kind of business, but it’s what we know,” she said, waving her hands across the aisle. “My husband’s family has been in the business since his uncle came to this country many years ago.”


Montclair Cosmetic Surgery is a beauty care medical practice founded by Dr. Susan Palmer (pictured below) and Dr. Michael Basista (at left) to bring affordable medical beauty care to average people. Conveniently located in ImmediCenter of Clifton, Bloomfield, and Totowa, MCS specializes in the administration of in-office painless, noninvasive procedures such as: •New Juvéderm® XL, to remove facial lines and wrinkles. In 2010, the FDA approved Juvéderm® XC with local anesthetic lidocaine to give patients a more comfortable injection experience and less in-office time. Juvéderm® is now safe for patients with dark skin, who are susceptible to keloids. •Botox® Cosmetic Injections for quick, safe facial rejuvenation. It is FDA approved for temporary treatment of moderate to severe frown lines between the brows in men and women from the age of 18 to 65. •Chemical Peels for skin rejuvenation—and giving you that actress’ facial glow—is a technique used to improve the skin's appearance by removing the damaged outer layer. A chemical solution is applied to the skin for 1 to 2 minutes, causing the skin to slightly peel 2 to 3 days later. •IPL (Interval Pulse Light) for hair removal, repairing sun damaged skin, and removing pigmented lesions. IPL is not just limited to the face, it can also be used on the neck, chest and even the back of your hands. A clear complexion can be yours in just a few minutes.

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Music is the business...

Mint Records Still Spinning Story by Joe Hawrylko aybe it’s the shaggy beard, or the lack of a sharp suit, but Neil Sabatino sure doesn’t seem like the head of a record label. And that’s exactly why his two year old business, Mint 400 Records, already has some 20 up and coming bands signed. Artists trust him, because years ago, he was in the same position. “I’ve been in the music industry since 1994,” said Sabatino, who also works as a teacher in Bergen County. “Once of the bands that I was in, Pency Prep, ended up moving about 100,000 CDs when we released in 2000.” And the Cliftonite is still a musician, going on over a decade with his band, Fairmont, the group that spawned the label. “Two years ago, I originally just wanted to put stuff our for my band we saw that there was a need for a local label,” he said. “There was a lot of great bands that we were playing with. We’re dealing with every aspect of what a record label would have to deal with for my


band. For other bands, it’s kind of like a management label. We’re trying to keep it as low cost as possible and to be as economic as possible.” Sabatino first decided to explore the other side of the music industry

after some unpleasant experiences with more prominent record labels. According to him, the bottom line was the motivating factor in every decision. You could have all the talent in the world, but if you aren’t playing the ‘in’ genre at the

Sabatino’s band, Fairmont. From left: Sam Carradori, Neil Sabatino, Christian Kisala and Andy Applegate. Visit

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


moment, good luck. Labels also determined everything from album listings to the frequency of shows. At Mint, Sabatino only takes on projects that interest him—most of the signed bands have an indie rock sound like Fairmont. And when a band is signed, his involvement in the project is up to the artists. “We’re just trying to be a management label that’s taking on all aspects and just pointing them in the right direction. It’s kind of like a stepping stone for smaller bands to get them to the level they need to get signed by a bigger label,” he said. “We try to cut our artists a check every time we’re getting money, even if they’re not getting much. We’ve been on labels where we’ve had to wait a year, a year and a half for a check.” “They know they can trust us,” continued Sabatino. “They know we will show our bank statements if they ever don’t trust us for some

reason. We’re on top of every aspect of their career, with recommendations for what to do next.” And due to his many years in the industry as a musician, Sabatino has a number of connections in the North Jersey music scene. As his stable of artists grows, he’s able to do showcases at a number of venues to gain exposure. “We’re creating a community of local bands to trade shows with and trade fanbases with,” said Sabatino. “Fairmont does really well at The Clash Bar, so we can pull bands from Jersey City to play with us there and they can take us to Jersey City where they draw.” Because his label releases its music almost exclusively online— pressing albums only on request— Mint required almost no start up money. Sabatino relied on his experience within the industry (and partner AJ Tobey) and connections to create an environment that supports

artists. He’s identified a niche for emerging local bands, and can help them navigate the tricky areas of the business. “We’re succeeding right now because bigger labels put out to publishers two or three months in advance,” he said. “It gets reviews and people start instantly uploading your stuff and sharing it. We’re not doing full scale publicity campaigns for them. Most people won’t upload smaller bands that are just getting out there. If they want our stuff, they have to buy it.” “As the music market keeps getting more and more saturated, I feel like a lot of labels are putting out utter crap,” said Sabatino. “I’m hoping that, because we’re really picky with who we put out there, maybe it’s not going to be this year or the next, but someone’s eventually going to look back and say, hey, they have a stellar catalog that we really should listen to.”

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Krystina Bladek leaving Poland on October 29, 1971 and pictured on the following page in a recent photo.

From Poland to Passaic...

Held Up, then Motivated Story by Joe Torelli rystyna Bladek’s journey to America from Maziarnia, Poland began in 1971 with a steamship ticket she had worked to pay for, and a five dollar bill that her mother had managed to save. The two-week visit she planned with her aunt in Passaic turned into a 30-year love affair with America that continues today. Along the way, Krystyna’s passion for her new country and her strong will and resolute determination resulted in a successful business, as well as citizenship for herself and her four younger brothers and one sister. “I was 19 and quite fearless when I decided to visit the US,” she recalled. “It didn’t bother me at all that I



October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

had only $5 to my name. I wanted to have souvenirs of my travel, so when the ship docked in London, I took a $2 sightseeing tour and bought six postcards for another $1. I ran out of shampoo and spent another 75 cents to buy some on the ship. I eventually landed in New York with $1.25,” she said, matter-of-factly. Shortly after arriving, she met her husband, John, who hailed from the same hometown as Krystyna. “I knew his family, but not him,” Bladek recalled. A week before the wedding, John’s car was stolen so, “we really started out with nothing,” she said, and when their son was born nine months later, the young family knew life would not be easy. Krystyna was deter-

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


mined, however, to meet the challenges. Within six months she acquired her Green Card and worked the second shift at the Royal Paper Company, a job she held for the next 15 years while John worked the dayshift in area factories. To save money, she learned to sew and made most of her family’s clothes. She also attended ESL classes for a year at CHS, earned a GED diploma, and became a US citizen in 1977. Just prior to that, in 1976, she and her husband were able to make the down payment on the Clifton house in which they still live. Bladek got into the travel agency business after injuring her back at work. Unable to continue at Royal Paper, she entered into a partnership in Passaic Park with a close friend. After a harrowing holdup at knifepoint, she wanted to move the agency to Clifton. When her partner balked at the idea, she struck out on her own and opened Krystyna’s Travel which is now located at 542 Van Houten Ave. in Athenia. “I always believed the one thing you can’t make up for in life is lost time,” Bladek said. “You have to seize opportunity when it becomes available. I wanted to stay


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

in America, be successful, and raise my family here, so I did everything I had to do as soon as I could do it to make sure that would happen.” The real turning point in her life, she said, was the day she became an American citizen. “I felt so good,” she recalled. “I remember feeling that America is now my country. You are a different person when you become a citizen, and since that day, I encourage every permanent resident I meet to apply for citizenship.” Bladek feels so strongly about citizenship that she said any immigrant who stays in America for five years should not be allowed to remain unless they have applied to become a citizen. “It is better for us as a society for people to become citizens,” she said, adding, “to remain strong and safe, we need citizens who have invested their lives in this country.” But she also believes the government needs to be more sensitive to immigrants who apply for citizenship than it is today. Referring to the many immigrants she knows, and to the many reports of widespread indifference by INS agents, Bladek said, “People who apply

for citizenship are already permanent residents. This is their society; they are already contributing to America. If they care enough to take their investment a step further by becoming citizens, the INS should help them instead of treating them so poorly.” Bladek’s own investment in America and her steadfast determination apparently have set a good example for her two children. Her son, Chris, holds a Master’s Degree from NJIT, and daughter, Alina, attended graduate school at night while holding a job at the Preakness Health Care Center during the day. Back in 2002, Alina, then just 24 years old, also mounted a spirited, though unsuccessful, campaign for a seat on Clifton’s City Council. Her mom was campaign manager. “Young people have the time and energy to make a difference in America,” Bladek said. “There are opportunities available here that don’t exist anywhere else. They need to study and work hard to make sure that they will continue to be available always.”

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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Game Changer took them from..

Warehouse to Batting Cages Story and photos by Carol Leonard

A future star player taking some swings in one of the batting cages. Debbie and Joe LoCarro in the pro shop.

n today’s economy, many small businesses in Clifton and elsewhere are struggling to make ends meet. But at Lefty’s Sports Academy, which specializes in training baseball and softball players, business is booming. Located in an old warehouse building on Bloomfield Ave., the facility includes five batting cages, training tunnels for pitching, hitting, catching and fielding lessons, and a pro shop. Owner Joe LoCarro and his wife Debbie opened Lefty’s seven years ago. LoCarro’s father had owned the building since the late 1960s, operating a toy distribution business for a while in part of the facility and renting out the rest of the 45,000 square foot warehouse space, before retiring in 1993. With a degree in psychology from Widener University in Pennsylvania, LoCarro had worked as a youth counselor for a number of years in Pennsylvania and Delaware before returning to the area to join his father in the warehouse business. Before opening Lefty’s, LoCarro said he and his wife were exploring some ideas for starting a new business at the site.


“I really enjoy working with kids and I was looking for a way to get back to doing that in some kind of business,” he said. While they were growing up, LoCarro’s two daughters were softball pitchers and his son was a talented baseball player, so he spent a lot of time taking them to pitching and hitting lessons at other training facilities in the area. With more and more youth players getting involved in travel teams and higher level play in recent years, LoCarro felt there would be a growing need for this type of business. It took some time for him to get approval from the city’s zoning board to proceed with his idea for a sports academy, but LoCarro was determined to make it happen. Lefty’s opened in June 2003 and LoCarro and his wife have never looked back on their decision to start the new business. Within the first year, the demand for use of the training tunnels in the rear of the facility for individual and group lessons and rental by Little League, high school and travel teams for indoor practice had grown beyond what LoCarro expected. He decided to expand the original 6,500 square foot area back another 3,500 feet October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


into the empty warehouse space. And he still has more room for growth. LoCarro contracts with 10 baseball and softball instructors, most with playing experience at the college level, and even a few who have played in major league baseball. Clifton’s own Joe Rivera, head baseball coach at Clifton High School, is among those on the Lefty’s staff. The coaches set their own fees for lessons. LoCarro gives a great deal of credit to his instructors for the success of his business. “First and foremost,” he said, “I wanted to bring in coaches who were good working with kids and families and who cared about the kids they were coaching. They’ve all been great in


973Roofing • Siding Seamless Gutters Additions • Alterations


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

developing a following and bringing in new business.” Lefty’s is open year-round, but its busiest time starts in January, when players are training with their teams or taking lessons to get ready for the spring season. During this peak time, LoCarro said, up to 500 players per week make use of the facility. The success of the pro shop, located in the front of the building, is also something that has surprised LoCarro. The store is stocked with a variety of baseball and softball equipment, from bats and balls to gloves, helmets, catcher’s equipment and apparel. “We try to keep our prices competitive,” LoCarro said. “We usually offer a better deal than you can find in the big box stores or on the internet.” Last year Lefty’s was designated as a Wilson DeMarini Demo House, one of only 35 in the country, LoCarro said. Customers can pick out a Wilson DeMarini bat in the pro shop and try it out for free in one of the batting cages or during a hitting lesson before deciding if they like it enough to buy it. Asked why he thinks that Lefty’s has continued to thrive while other businesses in the area have been faltering, he commented that even when money is tight parents always put their children first and do what they can to help them reach their goals. Lefty’s sponsors Little League teams in Clifton and Bloomfield as well as baseball travel teams in the 13and-under, 15-and-under and 18-and-and under age groups. Known as Lefty’s Lightening, the travel teams play in leagues and competitive tournaments throughout the summer and fall. LoCarro usually travels with the 18-and-under team, many of whose players have aspirations of continuing to play in college. He said he often reaches out to coaches at schools that players on the team are interested in and counsels the youngsters on their academic and athletic plans. Even if you’re not a diehard baseball or softball enthusiast, there’s something for everyone at Lefty’s. A lot of young Little Leaguers and weekend warrior adult softball players often stop in just to take some swings in the batting cages. Tokens for the cages are $1.25 for 12 pitches or you can get 10 tokens for $10. The facility also hosts birthday parties, which include use of the batting cages, and offers a program for strength and agility training. And, there are special camps during school vacation breaks. For more information about Lefty’s, stop in most any day or go to

ELECTION DAY is November 2

Profiles on Candidates for Passaic County Sheriff & Freeholders Voters will head to the polls across the nation on Nov. 2. Here in Passaic County, local races could vastly alter the political landscape. With the departure of long time Sheriff Jerry Speziale, the door is open for a change in power. The Democrats have pinned their hopes on a career cop and political newcome in Cliftonite Richard Berdnik. Meanwhile, the Republicans will go with Felix Garcia, a former employee of the Sheriff’s Dept., who left under a cloud of controversy and later sued his former boss, Speziale. In the Freeholder race, two seats are open and the Republicans have an opportunity to swing the balance of power on a body that has been

Candidates for Congress: Roland Straten and William Pascrell

under Democrat control for years. Republican challengers Walt Garner and Tomas Gomez will face incumbents Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore. The race for Congress is a rematch of the 2008 election, in

which Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat with 14 years of tenure, defeated Roland Straten by a 72 to 27 percent margin. Due to space limitations, we were not able to conduct Congressional interviews.

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant



Richard Berdnik With the sudden departure of longtime Sheriff Jerry Speziale just over a month ago, Passaic County Democrats had to quickly come up with a replacement candidate. After securing the backing of Passaic County Democratic Chair John Currie and Congressman Bill Pascrell, 30 year Clifton officer Richard Berdnik has emerged as the party’s selection. “I was active in the PBA but I never held office,” said Berdnik, a Clifton Police Lieutenant. “It’s been something I’ve really always thought about. It’s considered an honor to be sheriff. It’s something I’ve always aspired to do. When former Sheriff Speziale left, the opening was created and I just put my name in.” The Democrats’ bid to retain its hold on the Sheriff’s position rests on the shoulders of political newcomer. “I guess the fact is I’m running on my qualifications. It is very clear I’m not a politician,” said Berdnik. “This is my first time running for public office. My concern is the taxpayers and the citizens of Passaic County. I expect to represent their interests.” Given the state of the nation’s economy, smart spending will likely be the focus in November. In the months leading up to the election, the Sheriff’s Department spending has come under scrutiny, with calls to scale back funding. Berdnik said he’s heard these complaints, adding that he plans to continue to explore cutting efforts that started in 2008. “We’re in tough economic times, that’s clear. We must balance between public safety and fiscal responsibility,” explained Berdnik. “The way I plan to do that, if elected, is to go in there and do a full assesment of each and every division in the Sheriff’s Dept.” The candidate also said that would like to reestablish the role of the Sheriff’s Dept. “Maintaining the jail, maintaining the safety of the court house,” he stated. “There’s a civil process too. Warrants and serving papers. There’s also an enforcement bureau and a community policing aspect of that.” Though the presence of Sheriff units at County parks like Weasel Brook or on County roads like Main Ave. has been criticized in the past, Berdnik feels that having additional officers is generally beneficial. “By patrolling the County parks and the handling of responsibilities there allow Clifton, Passaic or whatever 32

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

municipality to focus their efforts elsewhere,” he explained. “Some of the things the County is involved in, like crime scene investigations, that allows for cities to put an additional officer on its streets. It’s important that the sheriff be able to communicate effectively with city officials, city leaders and, of course, local police chiefs.” Though he acknowledged that review is necessary to make sure that municipal and county services do not overlap, Berdnik said mosts times the units coexist and benefit residents. “It’s only fair that you have a period of time for reviewing what’s being done and how things are being done,” said Berdnik. “To implement positive change, you require an assesment period to see where you can combine services or do other changes.” Such reorganization may free up bodies or funding to bolster special programs like the internet crimes unit. “They seek to arrest people that prey on our children,” the candidate explained. They have an excellent record, 150 arrests at least and they haven’t lost a case.” Berdnik said that a department-wide reorganization will put money and manpower where it is most needed, supporting street crimes and narcotics units, and programs for seniors to create awareness about internet scams, identity theft and other issues. “You can either be proactive and attempt to stop crime before it happens, or you could be reactive,” said Berdnik. “Unfortunately, being proactive is hard to measure. It’s hard to say what you’re trying to prevent. It’s hard to measure, but [taking a proactive approach] has definitely had an impact.”


Felix Garcia Felix Garcia has over 30 years of experience in the field of law enforcement, and the former Passaic County Sheriff’s employee hopes that will entice voters looking for a change this fall. “During the campaign, I’ve been speaking and saying that the jail was neglected by the administration,” he said of the Paterson based facility. “[Former Sheriff Jerry Speziale, who recently dropped out of the race] wanted a brand new jail and in today’s economy, we cannot afford that brand new jail,” he continued. “It would cost $300-400 million dollars, and then it’s an issue of where do you put it?” Garcia said he has an intimate knowledge of the jail, having served there for 14 years as Underwarden, and six more as Warden. However, his departure, nearly nine years ago, was not smooth. Garcia was terminated by Speziale in 2003, not long after he was the focus of a corruption probe headed by the Attorney General’s Office. No chargers were filed—the investigation was due to allegations that he used inmates for his own personal work—but Garcia never got his job back. He later successfully sued his former employer and was awarded a settlement. But despite the manner in which he lost his job, Garcia is adamant that the jail, which is the focus of a current lawsuit due to the deplorable conditions, was in great shape when he left it. “When I was there, everything passed inspection with flying colors,” he said. Garcia went on to identify the problems at the facility. “The conditions of the jail, in general, ...the plumbing has to be fixed, the electricity, the fire sprinklers.... number one has to be safety, both for the men and women working there and our inmates,” he continued. “Also, the food. One of the main concerns is the food. When a man is hungry, you got to feed him. You can’t mess with the food, it’s got to be brought up to standards.” After the jail has been brought up to acceptable standards, Garcia said he’d like to explore the practice of accepting out-of-county inmates to create revenue. The candidate said the County lost $15-20 million in state funding because the jail was overburdened due to

the conditions of the facility. With improvements, he said the County can accept state and federal inmates again and add to Passaic County coffers. “The more money we bring back, the less money the Freeholders have to raise from taxpayers,” said Garcia. “When I was there in 2001, our budget was $45 million. We had over 2,100 prisoners and 500 employees. Compare that to the previous administration: The budget was always close to $100 million, with 900 prisoners and 800 employees.” “We have to do more with less in today’s economy. Taxpayers can’t afford it,” he continued. “This department cannot afford to be run the way it has in the past.” Garcia said he’d like to review the budget and find areas to save money. “The main goal is once I get in there, I want to change the budget,” he explained. “The current budget is general. I’d like to see one for the jail, for Sheriff’s officers and a budget for non-essential services. It allows you to break it down easier, and that’s how you make cuts.” Garcia said he’s reluctant to talk about any of his proposed cuts this early in the race. However, he reiterated his commitment to protecting the courts, running the jail and maintaining County roads and parks. “I will assist any department that needs help from the Sheriff at any time,” Garcia said of the role of the office. “I’m not just going to come into Clifton and put men there without the Chief of Police knowing about it. We’re there to assist, not to take over.”

All Candidate Profiles by Joe Hawrylko October 2010 • Clifton Merchant



Terry Duffy Even though he’s running for his third term as Freeholder, Terry Duffy doesn’t really see himself as a politician. He views himself as an independent thinker and entrepreneur who is elected to solve problems. “I’m a conservative Democrat in a Democrat area,” explained Duffy, who makes his living as the owner of Duffy’s Riverside Grill and its neighboring bar in Paterson. “Over time, I’ve learned that the solution to many of our problems are just a phone call away.” “I’m just a blue collar worker trying to represent the middle class,” he added. The candidate, a resident of West Milford, said his ability to work with members of both parties and reach consensus is his greatest asset. It’s allowed him to address issues in a timely fashion. “I like to think that I stand proudly by my record,” said Duffy, who was first elected in 2004. “We made cuts, starting in 2007, all the way through. We’ve been ahead of the curve with the governor.” The candidate said that the Freeholders cut nearly 18 percent of the County workforce—much of it in the Sheriff’s Dept.—more than 400 jobs in total. “We were beaten up and still beaten up for that,” said Duffy, adding that the County has had a hiring freeze for nearly six years. “It saved $10 million. We had to do that. It just made sense for the County.” And that candidate said he’s still looking for ways to trim fat. Recently, Duffy called for a bi-partisan review of the Sheriff’s Dept. He said such aggressive measures are necessary have allowed the Freeholders to keep tax hikes under 4 percent annually. Duffy expects this year’s to come in at around 3.3 percent. It’s not just the candidate saying that the Freeholders have been more fiscally responsible. Moody’s Investors Service recently upgraded Passaic County’s bond rating due to recent maneuvers to better manage the budget, debts and assets, such as the County Golf Course. “If you’re going to be in the golf course business, you’ve got to be competitive,” said Duffy. At the beginning of his last term, the Freeholders had considered selling to course to cover a budget shortfall. However, the County instead chose to begin layoffs, and reinvested in the course, boosting profits and at the same time, providing a unique and affordable course for the public. 34

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

“If you can come on board and make it a little bit for everyone, you’ve been successful,” Duffy said of his motivations to seek relection. “But there’s still projects on the table.” He cited the Preakness Healthcare Center in Wayne. “It was a dilapidated, old building. We had to get them out of there. The State said fix it or close it,” said Duffy. “As beds fill up, it will pay for itself in the not so distant future.” Duffy did take issue with claims that Preakness was illconceived and build inefficiently. “$60 million, I never saw that number,” said the Freeholder, refering to claims that the project was budgeted at that number and ballooned to $90 million. He did note the State signed off on the original plans, but prior to opening, raised issues about okayed amenities, delaying completion and raising costs. Duffy said he’d like to continue championing open space upon re-election. The Open Space and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund has awarded some $10 million to aid local municipalities. “Our senior services program is second to none,” he added. Duffy also expressed his pride in Camp Hope, located in West Milford, “Government goes at its own pace. It’s not just me voting up there,” he said of the nine member board. “You’d like to run it like a business, but with all the parts, it’s not that simple.” And where can the elected body find savings? Most every division of government. “Any department needs to be looked at periodically,” Duffy said of the Sheriff’s Dept. “But I think Rich Berdnik is the best guy for the job. We work well together. We take his advice seriously.”


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Walt Garner Like his running mate Tomas Gomez, Walt Garner isn’t approaching this race as a politician, but as a businessman with more than three decades of experience in sales management. “I understand what a good business climate is and what a small business has to do to survive in this economy,” said Garner, who owns a computer maintenance company based in Hawthorne. In his mind, that makes him an ally of other entrepreneur in the County, and it makes him a perfect candidate to come in and clean up what he views as wasteful spending by the current crop of Freeholders. “Government and business are not the same thing, but business principles have a spot in politics,” explained Garner. The most immediate problem is the wild spending, which has elevated the County’s tax rate to astronomical rates. But Garner said that the issue extends beyond just today or tomorrow. What about the future of Passaic County? To illustrate his concerns, he explained a meeting he had while still an employee of Bell Atlantic. “Our business problem then was our cost of service is high and at some point, people start using less of your service out of necessity, affordability or other options,” he said. “If we want to be viable, we have to look at our costs, all of our productivity tools and the whole organization, up, down, left, right. We have to squeeze out inefficiencies and look for cost savings, while always remembering that we have to provide quality service.” “We’re at the backs against the wall time,” Garner said emphatically. “We’ve been making serious mistakes for 40 years and it’s all collapsed right around the same time. We’ve made unsustainable economic decisions at all levels that hampered job creation.” “What I want to do is get the County government back to the point of just focusing on the government services at an affordable price,” he said. “What are the core government services that the city can deliver efficiently, and what is the best cost? Running the Sheriff’s office, protecting the jail and court rooms, PCTI, PCC and then we’ve got the various social services that are the safety net that we’ve got to maintain.” Beyond that, everything is up for review. One of the main projects that Garner would like to evaluate is the controversial Preakness Healthcare Center.

“Is that a service that wouldn’t be addressed better in the private sector?” he asked rhetorically. “It was supposed to be $50 or $60 million—I am not sure of the exact total cost—but it’s coming in closer to $100 million. It’s like the Schools Construction Corporation—was it $1 or $2 billion that we lost? No one knew for sure.” “You can’t foresee everything, but double the money? You’ve got to hold people accountable,” he continued. “Everything is wide-eyed optimism, everything was a best case scenario. We have complete uncertainty in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.” “The problem with government is that it has no natural competitors,” Garner asserted. The candidate also said he’d like to put pressure on politicians at the State level to change the way that education funding is handled. The candidate said he’s willing to look at any means of cutting costs. “We’re at $420 million a year now, but because we bond for operating expenses, you’re not sure exactly what those operating costs are because it’s buried in a debt payment,” Garner continued. “The American can only afford to spend a certain amount on government, and we’ve not only met that, we’ve exceeded it.” Part of the recovery is attracting businesses and jobs back to the County. Garner said that businesses will return, due to the County’s ideal location to highways and New York City, but only once taxes are lowered. That, he says, will take strong, innovative leadership. “I hate small ideas—I love big ideas. Maybe if they don’t work out, five small ideas will come out of it,” said Garner. October 2010 • Clifton Merchant



Pat LePore For Freeholder Pat LePore, his ideals shape his policies. That’s why he’s so bothered by critics who deride the Preakness Healthcare Center as a waste. It goes against what he believes the role of the government is. “It says a lot about us as people, what we call the human race, “ said LePore. “As a government, we have an obligation to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves. We’ve got to supply a quality of life for people who need it the most.” “Did we have to do it? No, but caring others is a requirement that goes beyond dollars and sense,” he continued. “We spend billions of taxpayer dollars on stadiums and other projects. I think we can find a little for Preakness.” LePore also derided critics who said the project budget was misleading, or that the plans were shortsighted. “I wish people had an opportunity to see the condition of Unit 1 and then to see the finished building today,” he said. “The old one would have never complied with standards.” “Give me a project of that magnitude that doesn’t have a change order. You can’t find any,” he continued. LePore added that preliminary testing did not reveal water under the facility, which later altered plans. And noted that the State, which had signed off on original plans, forced the County to make many last minute changes. But as much as he views the government as a body designed to care for its constituents, LePore realizes that he must also practice fiscal responsibility. The candidate says that he track record proves he is capable of making necessary, tough decisions on budgets. “The operating budget has been flat for six years,” said the Freeholder. “If you add in inflation, it has actually decreased. We use bonding as a tool. We’re trying to get a way from a yo-yo budget. Interest rates have been historically low, so bonding can cost the taxpayer very little.” LePore was adamant that County layoffs two years ago, which trimmed nearly 18 percent of the workforce or some 400 employees, trimmed personnel to near barebone levels. “With a 2 percent cap in place, no you cannot make additional cuts without devastating services,” he said. 36

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

“You can cut whatever, but at the end of the day, you are cutting services.” LePore also referenced Moody’s Investors Service, which looks positively on the County’s actions. “An independent agency realizes what we’re doing. Our bond rating went up twice in the past 18 months,” he said. “Before it was fashionable to cut, we were doing it.” The majority of those cuts were in the Sheriff’s Department, which oversees the County Jail, another point of concern for LePore. The facility has come under fire in recent years for overcrowding and unhospitable conditions. Step one to addressing the issue was ending the practice of accepting out-of-area inmates for money. “We realized early on that we had to ween ourselves off of generating money from inmates,” said LePore, who is not in favor of a new building, but said repairs are necessary. “It’s irresponsible. It shows how out of touch he is,” said the Freeholder. “The candidate [Republican Felix Garcia] running for the top law enforcement position in the County is advocating breaking the law.” LePore said he’d like to bring change on a State level. “I’ve asked our State government to consider taking over the prosecutor’s office,” he explained. The office is funded by the County, but the prosecutor does not answer to the Freeholders. “We’re looking for ways to reduce County government.” The Freeholder said skeptical voters can look at his track record. “I’m a full time public servant,” said LePore, who is also the Mayor of Woodland Park. “I think I’ve had a good impact for the last few years.”

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

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant



Tomas Gomez Tomas Gomez may not have political experience but he believes that his background in business is far more important, given Passaic County’s infamous standing in the country. “We hold a record and I’m not proud of it,” he said. “We have the highest property tax per capita in the nation.” But the native of the Dominican Republic, who emigrated to the country in 1973, thinks his expertise can help reverse that dubious record. “In 2001, I became the general manager of the Essex County Airport. When I took it over, it was in economic distress,” said Gomez, who served three years in the Army and 19 years in the Air Force Reserve. “They were three quarters of a million in the red and that was due to previous debt the airport incurred to build it up. Those bonds have been completed and paid, and now the airport is up by over a million dollars, and I’m proud to be a part of the reason why.” It all comes back to a simple philosophy for Gomez: Being fiscally responsible. “Today, with the downswing of the economy, we have to implement the attitude of doing more with less,” he explained. “We have to be more efficient in


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

the utilization of our resources.” The candidate said that the incumbent Freeholders haven’t been doing that. “The primary issues in Passaic County the past eight years are that the Board of Chosen Freeholders have gone into a wild spending mode, getting money from everywhere and spending it,” he explained. “But we have not seen any quality of service increase, or any service being added.”

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“There’s nothing concrete, nothing that reimburses the taxpayer expenses,” continued Gomez. He took aim at the Preakness Medical Center in Wayne, which critics have derided as an unnecessary project that was poorly designed and plagued with delays that inflated the cost. Gomez explained that private company rivals are already in the vicinity of Preakness, and that there is nothing at the facility to entice someone to choose the County’s option over a private facility. “I don’t think they did a feasibility study to see if there’s a real need,” said Gomez, who claims that the projected was budgeted for around $60 million and rapidly ballooned to $90 million. “They just started building. And now we need to lease or sell it to a private corporation that will really make it profitable. The government will probably take too long to recoup the money that the Passaic County taxpayers have to pay for.” The candidate would like to do a county-wide review of departments to identify problem areas. He would then address issues or take proper measures to cut the losses if a department is inefficient. The candidate said that the Sheriff’s Dept. has been among the worst offenders for wild spending. “There’s always been a little friction due to the lack of identification of the real job and responsibilities of the County Sheriff,” he said. Gomez noted that the County patrols its parks, but questioned if a cop patrolling a park


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

in West Milford could be better used in Paterson, where crime is higher. He would also like to understand where the Sheriff’s money is spent, and have the Freeholders exercise more control over department’s spending. “It’s not just to go out and buy toys. I think you can go ask any Freeholder: Have we done an inventory of what the Sheriff owns? No,” said Gomez. “Maybe we could spend more money on prevention. I don’t know. There’s a $94 million budget and the Sheriff spends it at his leisure.” “Any time they needed an injection of revenue, they go grab whatever resources the County has and see how they can sell it or do construction or something along those lines instead of thinking, is this the right thing to do at this time?” he said, referencing the plans (which have been since scrapped) to sell the County golf course. “You get an injection of $2-3 million, but you lose that source of revenue.” Gomez said that the spending by Freeholders also affects business in the County. He said that companies are aware of the logistical benefits of setting up shop in Passaic County, but are reluctant due to the high taxes. “If you see that the body that controls the County is raising taxes out of control and is not financially stable, you think, can my people afford to work for me in Passaic County? Can I?” said Gomez. “We’ve got to keep it stable. People have to be able to know what the raise is going to be each year.”

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


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Ralph Cinque Jr., (1993), Eddie Joe Curreri, (1961), Jamie Farley, (1992), Nikki Krzysik, (2005), Lester Lembryk, (1994).

Victor Stojanow, (1992), Robbie Vargo, (2001), Lou Poles, (1951) Bob Knight, (1958), Scott Orlovsky, (1994).

CHS 2010 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees These Mustangs pictured above, plus members of the 1972-1973 Football Teams and the 1997-1998 Girls Softball Squads, will be inducted into the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame at a banquet on Oct. 17 at noon at the Brownstone. In last month’s magazine we profiled the inductees and told more of their glory days and their

lives since CHS. Come to the banquet to help them relive the old times. Tickets are $40. Installation dinners are held about every year and a half and the selections are made by a committee based out of the CHS Athletic Department. For tickets or more details on the Hall of Fame, call 973-470-2282 or 973-470-2324. Special Nights at Clifton’s IHOP

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant



Clifton Cup By Jack De Vries

Which Fighting Mustang team was better— the legendary 1946 squad coached by Joe Grecco or the powerful 1973 team led by Bill Vander Closter? Our story brings Fantasy Football to a whole new level! 46

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

W hat people remember of that Thanksgiving Day in 1973 was watching a 75-12 pasting of Passaic High Indians by the Mustangs. The win capped off Clifton’s second consecutive undefeated season and featured four touchdowns by running back Jim Jenkins and three by Ken Ritoch. That’s if you listen to what the fans, players, and coaches think they saw happened or believe what was written in the newspapers. What took place is a far different story.


hanks to a crack in time or a bit of magic—pick any explanation that fits—the game played in Clifton School Stadium that afternoon was one straight out of the Twilight Zone, involving players as unlikely as Shoeless Joe Jackson gliding across the Field of Dreams. On that day, Bobby Boettcher ran again and Denny Kleber was determined to stop him. Only a chosen few remember the game that was truly played that day. They tell the story quietly, expecting not to be believed. They start by describing a blue sky that began to change as the game approached, and then hearing thunder rumble in the distance. Here’s how they describe what really happened: It starts as a beautiful fall afternoon, an ideal day for football. Then, from the west, the wind picks up and blows cold across the field, up through the concrete stands and through the press box. Announcer

Bob Zschack

Bob Zschack feels the chill and wishes he had put on the extra pair of socks his wife Marlene told him to wear. The buzz usually preceding a game grows quiet and uneasy; fans sense something strange about to happen. Time stops. The shadows grow darker. Thunder crawls closer, and the Clifton and Passaic players and fans stare at the sky, watching a

large dark cloud rush over the old Doherty Silk Mill on Main Ave. and settle over the field. Suddenly, a single lightning bolt shoots through the clouds, striking the middle of the gridiron—scorching the grass at midfield and sending a charge through the long-forgotten sprinkler system buried underneath the grass. Like everyone, Coach Bill Vander Closter is shocked by the lightning—his eyes fixed where the bolt landed. When he raises them, he cannot believe what he sees—or doesn’t see—across the field. “Passaic,” Vander Closter says, gazing across the empty gridiron, “they’re gone—the entire team’s disappeared.”

Visitors from the Past As Passaic vanishes, an old school bus makes a right turn off Route 46 into the stadium parking lot. It slows as it gets close to the stadium’s brick wall, as many teenage faces press against its windows.

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Bobby Boettcher’s hundred yard stare.


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

“Ditch,” sophomore Jimmy Haraka whispers to teammate Ray Malavasi, “somebody built a stadium while we were in Virginia.” “It ain’t possible,” says Malavasi, his eyes wide. “Hey, Jim… I don’t remember driving here after the Oyster Bowl ended.” Incredibly, the entire Mustang team has been plucked from 1946 after losing to Granby High, 6-0. Though the exhibition game is their first defeat of the season, the players feel like winners, knowing their victory was stolen after an official waived off an obvious touchdown by running back Bobby Boettcher. The bus pulls to a stop near the field house. The bus door opens. Joe Grecco, the 32-year-old coach of the Mustangs, leads his players through the gate and onto the field. “Stay close, men,” he says to his 1946 team, already in uniform and pads. “I don’t know why were here or how they finished building

the stadium, but we’re going to find out.” Over the PA system, a stunned Bob Zschack says, “Ladies and Gentlemen… don’t ask me where the Passaic team’s gone, but… a small herd of the 1946 Clifton Mustangs have just taken the field.” The two Clifton head coaches meet at midfield as the players stare at each other. There are 37 Mustangs from 1946; over 100 Clifton players from 1973 face them—a white, maroon, and gray wall. “If I didn’t think I was seeing things,” says Vander Closter, “I’d swear you really are Joe Grecco.” “Who are you,” asks Grecco, “and what is that team doing on our practice field? Who built this stadium?” Thunder rumbles in the distance as the storm moves away. The sky brightens again. “I’ll answer your questions, but I think we’re supposed to settle this,” says Vandy, peering over Grecco’s


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shoulder at Bobby Boettcher holding a football. Grecco looks past Vander Closter, noticing the many players—bigger than his bunch, their helmets shinning and shoulder pads bursting from their jerseys. Big, Grecco thinks, and maybe big and slow. His dark eyes sparkle as he imagines them trying to catch Boettcher. “Nineteen-forty-six has been a hell of a year,” he says, grinning at Vandy. “Why should it end? We’ll kick-off.” The coaches return to the sidelines, gathering their players around them. “They call that team across the field Clifton’s greatest,” says Vandy. “Even now, the old-timers say they would’ve beaten us. Let’s show why we’re the best Mustang team ever and send them back in history where they belong.” On the other side, the 1946 Mustangs gather around Grecco. “I don’t how this stadium got here, but I have a feeling what you men did this year—in our conference and in Norfolk, Virginia—has something to do with it. At the banquet before the Oyster Bowl, Mr. Gacy said he’d get you this field— though I don’t know how he got it built so fast. “But I do know this: that team on the other side has a Mustang painted on their helmets. As we take the field of battle, let us show them why only one team should have that honor. When the dust settles, we’ll show why only one team is worthy of being called the Fighting Mustangs!” The players run on to the field, lining up across from each other. Zschack looks around to the stunned faces around him. HeraldNews writer Augie Lio says, “Bob, they’re gonna play.”

James Jenkins

Over the PA system, Zschack’s announces, “Ladies and gentleman, I never imagined myself saying this but… Bob Cisternino to kick off for the 1946 team. Jim Jenkins back to receive for the 1973 Mustangs.” “Joe,” says assistant coach Juk Porter to Grecco, “we ended up in the future—that’s why this stadium is here.” “Then we’ll show them why it was built,” Grecco bellows back. Cisternino’s kickoff is a long end-over-end boot that Jenkins fields on the 25 yard line. He shakes one tackler before Ted Kukowski knocks him out of bounds at the home team’s 36. Dale Oosdyk leads his team out on the field. At 6'4", he towers over the old school Mustangs. In the defensive huddle, the 5'5" Russ Calo says about Oosdyk, “High pockets is about to get a lesson.” “Watch No. 32,” says team captain George Tahmoosh, eyeing Jenkins, “he looks fast.” While the 1946 squad expects a hand-off to Jenkins, Oosdyk fakes

to his running back and drops back to pass. The 1973 offensive line holds, giving their quarterback time. Oosdyk fakes once to end Jerry Andrewlavage, freezing defensive back Skippy Del Favero, and then floats a long bomb down the sideline. Andrewlavage runs under it and catches the pass 20 yards from the end zone, racing in for the touchdown. His extra point gives the 1973 Mustangs a quick 7-0 lead. The score ignites the crowd, which temporarily forgets the game’s supernatural conditions and roars its approval. “Del Favero, pay attention out there,” Grecco roars. “No mistakes!” Later, Del Favero tells equipment manager Dominick Cammaroto, “I didn’t believe he could throw the ball that far.”

Return of the Single Wing Before kicking off, Vandy gathers his defensive team, knowing how the 1946 team will attack. “Remember last year when Passaic Valley ran the old single wing against us?” he asks. “That’s what those boys will do.” In 1972, PV coach Steve Gerdy had dusted off the ancient single wing offense against the Mustangs, hoping to confuse Vander Closter’s 4-4-3 Notre Dame-inspired defense. The results were disastrous as Clifton crushed the Hornets, 44-0. “And watch No. 41,” Vandy warns. “That’s Bobby Boettcher— he’ll get the ball most of the time.” The 1973 Mustangs line up, and Andrewlavage kicks off. Boettcher fields at the 11 yard line, shakes a tackler at the 20, and jukes his way to his 29 yard line before being buried under an avalanche of tacklers. October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


“Alright, fellas,” quarterback Jack Lennon says in the huddle. “Let’s run 43.” Grecco’s single wing offense depends on deception and misdirection, with linemen rushing to a single point of attack to block and spring the ball carrier. Vander Closter’s defense aims to disrupt the other team’s attack, blitzing often and striking before the offensive team’s plays develop. On the first play, Boettcher takes the ball and slips between tackle Doug Lawrence and guard Calo. Ritoch flies from his linebacker spot, but Boettcher sees him, moving his hip just enough to slip past. He crosses midfield before being pulled down by Greg Wichot. In the stands, fan Harry Murtha rises, now openly rooting for the 1946 team. “Let’s go, Bobby!” he yells. “Show them what you can do!” He’s soon joined by other fans who watched the 1946 Mustangs in their youth, and the crowd becomes divided in its loyalty. Though many of the 1973 Mustangs have faced the single wing offense once before, the 1946 squad runs it to perfection—the result of hours spent directed by Grecco’s booming voice. With each play, the line jumps and Boettcher knifes through like a slippery eel, growing closer to the goal line.

Coach Grecco with his Fighting Mustangs of 1946.

Though not as fast as Jenkins, Boettcher possess incredible field vision, anticipating the 1973 defenders and avoiding them with a half step or twist. The 1946 Mustangs drive down to the 3-yard-line, with Boettcher carrying the ball each time. On first and goal, he carries right and attempts a jump pass to a streaking Cisternino in the end zone. Boettcher releases and is drilled by a blitzing Ritoch, who pounds the 1946 star into the turf. The pass ticks off Cisternino’s hands, with Bob Bel Bruno defending on the play. Ritoch pins Boettcher to the ground, glaring into his eyes.

“You relics are going down today,” he snarls. In an instant, fullback Bob Pityo pulls Ritoch off, joined immediately by Tahmoosh, Calo, and the rest of the 1946 team. “Get off him, bird-cage face,” Pityo screams at Ritoch, taking note of the gray face mask bars the 1973 team wears on their helmets. “You want to go at someone, try me!” As Ritoch starts to leap at Pityo, he’s grabbed by Kleber, who wrestles him away. “Calm down, Truck,” Kleber says. “We need you—don’t get thrown out.” On the next play, the 1946 squad goes back to the run, with the determined Pityo opening a hole for

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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of the hinges on the visitor’s locker room door gives way, and the door hangs crooked after the team rushes through. Grecco smiles and whispers to himself, “Maybe that’s a good omen.”

Unwelcome Guest

Coach Vander Closter lays down new strategy for the 1973 Mustangs.

Boettcher, who races in for the touchdown. The extra point by Boettcher is good, and the game is tied, 7-7. The game remains knotted until halftime. Despite two long drives, the 1973 Mustangs cannot score. After a 66-yard run by Dom Fego to the 1946 team’s ten yard line, Oosdyk drops the snap where it is recovered by Kukowski. After stopping the 1946 Mustangs on their next drive—the highlight a bone-jarring hit of Lennon by Paul “Mooch” Millar— the 1973 team is again halted by a tipped pass interception by Del Favero. At halftime, the coaches meet with their teams. Outside of the mistakes, Vander Closter is pleased with his offense, but worries that his defense has not yet adjusted to stopping the single wing (Boettcher already has 147

yards rushing). Vandy again explains stopping the offense, his chalk breaking several times on the blackboard as he pounds out where his players must attack. Grecco knows his boys are in for the fight of their athletic lives. He now sees the 1973 team is big, strong, and fast, and knows only a methodical ground attack chewing time off the clock will give his team a chance. “Men,” he says, his voice rising, “when you look across that field, know you are the inspiration for their power, their numbers, and this field. But also know there can be only one victorious team. “Will it be you? Will you show them why we are the real Fighting Mustangs? The 1946 team lifts their chins, forgetting their fatigue. They rise as one and begin to cheer, running past their coach onto the field. One

Word has spread through the city of the strange game going on, and fans rush to the stadium. More tickets are sold during halftime than before the game. The fans fill up the stands and ring the field before the Clifton police finally shut down the ticket windows for the day. Over 15,000 are there now— many to cheer the Mustangs of the past. Outside the stadium, fans ring the stadium, some climbing its brick walls and sitting on top to watch. With the crowd now split almost equally behind each team, the 1946 Mustangs take the kickoff and begin another drive. Spurred on by the fans’ cheers, Lennon directs his team down the field with Grecco and the rest of the 1946 players roaring from the sideline, urging them on. The snake-hipped Boettcher is like a ghost—weaving his way through the 1973 line, earning five, six, and seven yards with each carry. Near midfield, he fires a pass to Rope deVido, who eludes defensive back Ed Evers to make the catch and run to the opposing 10 yard line before being caught by Mike Molner. The 1946 offense is stopped on the next three downs, with Kleber and Allan Kanter making big plays to stall the drive. On fourth and goal, believing his team will need more than three points to win, Grecco decides to go for the touchdown. October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


With the stadium roaring as one—half the fans cheering for a stop, the other half cheering for a score—Boettcher takes the pitch from Lennon and runs wide, sprung by a block by Pityo. He slips two tacklers before sprinting to the corner of the end zone. Across the field, Wichot, one of the fastest of the 1973 Mustangs, bolts toward Boettcher, gaining with each stride. With the 1946 AllAmerican about to cross the goal line, Wichot leaps, hurling his body like a missile at the ball carrier. He catches Boettcher at the goal line, driving him down into the turf. The stadium goes silent, waiting to see the official’s call. He stands over the fallen players, staring down at the goal line. For a second, his arms seem to twitch upward… but freeze. Boettcher stares up, waiting for the official’s arms to signal a touchdown. The signal never comes. In an instant the stadium erupts in howls and cheers. The 1946 team is denied—Boettcher is down at the one, giving the ball back to the 1973 team. As Boettcher rises, the howls get louder. Across his midsection is the white chalk of the goal line. Grecco is livid, screaming at the official, “How can you make that call,” he yells, saliva shooting through the gap is his front teeth. “He was in—look at his uniform!” The official turns and walks away from Grecco. As he goes, the 1946 coach remembers where he has seen the official before. “Looks like our friend from the Oyster Bowl followed us back through time from Virginia,” he says to his team on the sidelines. The score remains knotted at 7-7 through the third quarter and into 52

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Ken Ritoch

the fourth. Though the ‘73 team moves the ball well, they are stopped in the red zone twice by an inspired 1946 Clifton defense.

Last Drive But on offense, the 1946 team’s attack stalls, with the larger 1973 defenders adjusting to the single wing’s misdirection and swarming to the ball. Only third-down quick kicks by Boettcher avert disaster by pinning the 1973 team deep in its own territory. With seven minutes remaining in the game, Oosdyk leads the 1973 Mustangs out on the field. A winddriven Boettcher punt traveling over 60 yards has pushed the ball back to the 1973 team’s 15 yard line. Passing against the wind will be tough, and Vander Closter knows that his team will have to run the ball to win. As the teams line up for what will be the game’s final drive, 1973 captain Joe McGonigle looks across the and studies the 1946 players. “They’re tired,” he says, “bone tired—they’ve all been playing both ways. “Alright, guys,” he yells to the

rest of the offensive line, “let’s drive them back into history.” McGonigle’s line mates Charlie DiGiacomo, Chris Conrad, Bob Lucas, and Chet Stuphen nod to their captain and prepare for their final push. On the other side of the ball, Malavasi settles into his wide stance and growls, “Ain’t gonna happen!” Despite Malavasi’s best efforts, it does. Oosdyk unleashes Jenkins and Fego on the ‘46 Mustangs and only saving tackles by Boettcher, Lennon and deVido prevent touchdowns. On the field, the cold wind picks up, sweeping around the players and chilling the fans ringing the field. The sky turns gray and thunder again rumbles. With two minutes remaining, the 1973 Mustangs are on their opponent’s 25 yard line. The wind blows stronger. On the sideline, Vandy tells assistant coach Emil Chaky, “No field goal with this breeze. We’re going to have to take it to them— right to the end zone.” After a run by Jenkins brings the ball to the seven yard line, Vandy calls time out, setting the 1973 Mustangs up for their final plays. Less than a minute remains. On first down, Oosdyk pitches to Fego, who runs to the one yard line before being tackled by Malavasi. With seven seconds left in the game, the teams walk to the line for one last play. Thunder rumbles closer and the sky turns a gunmetal color. Oosdyk barks signals and the 1973 Mustangs spring to life. Jenkins takes the hand-off and flies up and over the line, met by Malavasi and Cisternino, who has sprung from the weak side to hit the ball carrier

in midair. The three come crashing down—a tangle of arms, legs, and torsos. The official runs from the side to make the call. Peeling back Cisternino’s shoulder, he sees Jenkins holding the football, lying across the goal line. The official shoots his arms upward signaling touchdown as the gun sounds. The 1973 Mustangs have defeated the 1946 Mustangs, 13-7. As the teams move to their sidelines—one ecstatic with victory, the other downcast and defeated— Vandy beckons Grecco to meet him at midfield. “Coach,” Vandy says, “your boys played an incredible game. Now I understand why your 1946 team is so special to many people.”

“I’ve never seen so many great players,” Grecco replies, pointing to the 1973 Mustangs. “You could field three teams. We never played a better opponent.” “Look around, Joe,” Vandy says, gesturing to his sideline and the thousands packing the stands. “You had a lot to do with this.” “It seems that someday in the future,” says Grecco, looking back at Vandy, “that I’ll leave my team to a good coach.” After they shake hands and begin walking back to their sidelines, Vander Closter stops and calls out to Grecco. “Coach,” he says smiling, “don’t get discouraged against Montclair. It will take time, but we’ll get them.” Grecco, unsure what he means, nods and smiles.

The fans are standing and cheering for both teams. The 1946 players remain huddled around Grecco, not knowing what will happen next. Vandy sees this, and directs his entire team to spread across the sideline. The 1973 Mustangs cover the length of the field from end zone to end zone. Vandy begins to applaud, quickly joined by his players—a tribute to Clifton’s first great team of the Grecco-Vander Closter era. Across the empty gridiron, Kukowski raises his helmet to the sky. The rest of the 1946 Mustangs do the same, saluting the great 1973 team they would help inspire. Suddenly, a dark cloud again races over the old Doherty Silk Mill and settles over the stadi-


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Chuck Ranges who collected the abandoned bus (at left) and years later, turned it into scrap metal.

um. Like before, a bolt of lightning leaps out of the cloud and strikes the center of the field—stopping the cheering and pushing the 1973 players back. When they look back across the field, the 1946 Clifton Mustangs and their coach are gone, replaced by a defeated Passaic team.

And the papers wrote... The players have no memory of what took place that day. The newspaper stories say Clifton pounded Passaic, 75-12, the perfect end to a perfect season. There is no account of the hard-fought victory against an opponent that gave the ‘73 Mustangs all they could handle.

Yes, there is no written memory or recollection of that day… except a curious note in a Clifton policeman’s record. He writes of an abandoned bus that looked like it came straight out of the forties, which remained parked next to the Clifton School Stadium long after the fans had gone home that Thanksgiving Day. The bus was later sold by the city after no one claimed it. The buyer, Chuck Ranges, drove it to his junkyard, where it was turned into scrap metal. And a door to the past was forever closed.

Friends: I am supporting Felix Garcia for Sheriff—Here’s Why: As a proud member of the Clifton Police Department for almost 30 years, I have had the great fortune of serving with many individuals of impeccable character who put their lives on the line for the public good on a daily basis. One of the best at protecting the interests of our fellow citizens of Passaic County is my friend, Felix ‘Phil’ Garcia, the Republican candidate for Sheriff. Felix is the only candidate running for Sheriff with experience in corrections. Having served in the leadership of the Passaic County jail for eighteen years of his thirty-one year career, ultimately rising to the position of Undersheriff, after serving as Warden. He also understands the needs of local police departments, having started his career as a Paterson Housing Police Officer. He is the only candidate in the race with experience in managing a multi-million dollar operation and a seven-hundred plus member law enforcement agency. Over the past decade, Passaic County has been beset by fiscal mismanagement. This lax approach to spending has resulted in the highest county tax-levy in America, according to Forbes magazine. Under the leadership of Felix Garcia, the citizens of Passaic County will have a ‘watchdog’, yet someone who will continue to provide the professionalism and security that we have come to expect from our enforcement officials. We are at a crossroads. There is only one man in this race that can truly ameliorate the Passaic County jail, and the Sheriff’s Department as a whole. That man is Felix Garcia. Please vote Row ‘A’ on November 2nd. paid for by


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Lieutenant Patrick J. Ciser, (retired CPD)

Boys Club Hall of Fame & Fun Night Oct. 22

Among the honorees, top, from left, Al Carline, John Gogick, Kent Bania, Ed Welsh. Bottom row: Rob Haraka, MaryAnn Goodwin, Nicole Krzysik, Chris Karcz. At right is our favorite Boys & Girls Club cover from September 1999.

Like scores of kids growing up in Clifton, Tom DiDonna found a place he could call home at the Boys Club. On the following pages, we tell more about his times at the Club as he is among the Class of 2010 inductees to the Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame. Others, by decades, include: 1950’s: Al Carline and John Gogick. 1960’s: Kent Bania and Ed Welsh. 1970’s: Tom DiDonna,

and Gary Hughes. 1980’s: Rob Haraka and MaryAnn Goodwin. 1990’s: Jennifer Paci and Steve Sokolewicz. 2000’s: Nicole Krzysik and Chris Karcz. They will be feted at the Club on Oct. 22 from 7 to 11 pm in a catered affair with music, food, beer, wine, nostalgia and more than a few tales from the past. Advance tickets, at $40, are a must. Call 973-773-0966 for info.

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


“Led by John Haraka, this might have been one of my most physical teams,” Tom DiDonna recalled of the 1979 squad. “What they lacked in style, they made up for it with an strong inside game. As you can see by the picture, they also got along with the Cheerleaders.” Below, DiDonna in 1973 with a Carlos Santana ‘fro and Bob Holly, a future Washington Redskins quarterback. Tom DiDonna is being inducted to the Boys Club Hall of Fame on Oct. 22.

As a Kid, then Coach, Tom DiDonna at the Boys Club Story by Jack DeVries

any people today don’t know a lot about Tom DiDonna’s years as coach of the Clifton Boys Club Junior Varsity basketball team. A few old pictures remain showing him and his team. But Tom DiDonna remembers. He recalls the 16 winters spent driving his players to games throughout New Jersey in the old Boys’ Club van. He can visualize himself stalking the sideline at the Clifton gym, as fans pounded on the steam radiators behind their seats to make noise. And he can still see the scoreboard—minus a few lights—telling if his team was ahead or if he should call for the full-court press. But most of all, DiDonna remembers his players—the kids that made the years worthwhile. “People don’t realize how long I coached,” says DiDonna, who lives in Clifton’s Maple Valley section with his wife Karen and daughters Kim, 28, and Kristina, 20. “Sixteen years is a long time.”



October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


DiDonna was born in Paterson in 1952. When he was in the third grade, he and his mother, brother, and sister moved to Clifton. “We lived at 944 Van Houten Avenue, next door to the Grande Saloon,” DiDonna, 58, says. “Moving there was probably the best thing that ever happened to me—that’s when I joined the Clifton Boys’ Club. I was exposed to athletics, swimming, the game room—it was a great place for a kid to belong.” After sixth grade DiDonna moved back to Paterson and attended John F. Kennedy High School. But he continued going to the Boys’ Club, taking two long bus rides from Paterson to get there. DiDonna as a counselor at the Boys Club back in the 1970’s. “(Executive Director) Al Abruscato let me maintain my membership after I moved,” he As a counselor, DiDonna earned $33 every two recalls. “I had such strong ties to the club. Friends like weeks and ran the camp’s athletic department—his first John Glowacki and Jack Marshall were like brothers to coaching experience. He also developed his basketball me.” skills, playing in a before-breakfast league with other “In my junior year of high school, I got involved camp staff, including former Clifton Councilman Ed with the Boys’ Club’s overnight camp, Camp Clifton. I Welsh, and friends Gary and Bob DaGiau. started as a counselor-in-training, an unpaid position, In 1971, Abruscato asked the 19-year-old DiDonna and the next summer, I became a counselor. Al took a to work in another unpaid position—that of JV basketchance on me—I was a little rough around the edges.” ball team coach for the 12-13-year-olds.


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


“I thought it was a joke when Al and gym director Vic DeLuca asked me,” DiDonna remembers, “but they saw something in me that I didn’t see myself. And I realized coaching was a way to give back to the Boys’ Club—a place that had given me so much.” DiDonna got a baptism of fire that first season. “We took our lumps,” he says. “I didn’t know about breaking full-court presses or things like that.” In one game, Dave Pignatello got leveled at Newark’s South Ward Boys’ Club. “The referee, who they “This talented 1973 team went 29-3 while taking on the best from Paterson, pulled out of the stands, didn’t Passaic, Newark, Hoboken,” said DiDonna. “Bob Holly, the team leader, went on call a foul. When I saw that, I to be a three sport star at CHS, Quarterback at Princeton University and a member of the Super Bowl Champ Washington Redskins.” got whistled for a technical, then almost thrown out of the DiDonna’s teams rarely had a losing season. Over a gym. I wasn’t going to let my players get hurt, and the decade later, his 1985 squad won the North Jersey kids respected that.” Junior Basketball Championship. The next season, DiDonna’s team featured athletes “Recruiting wasn’t easy,” DiDonna remembers. “We like Mike Bednarcik and Walter Munk, a player he competed against the CYO and recreation leagues for remains close to. After the 1972 season, Munk recruited players. But the Boys’ Club offered better competition. a group of Clifton Biddie League Champions for the A kid might score 30-40 points in the rec league, but Boys’ Club team. he’d work for his 10 points against the Passaic and “The 1973 team was my best,” DiDonna states. “We Newark teams we faced.” went 29-3 behind the likes of Bob Holly, Dennis Tarrant DiDonna quit coaching after the 1987 season. After (son of former CHS and college coach Dick Tarrant), spending four nights a week out during the season, he Scott Oosydyk, Brian Murphy, and Carl Williams. We wanted time for family, which now included daughter won the Greater Newark Tournament and beat South Kim, then age five. Ward to do it.”


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

“This team could beat you inside or out,” DiDonna wrote of his 1986 squad, led by Sam Poulis. “An extremely close knit group. Knowing that this would be my 15th and final season, they sent me off with my first NNJBL Championship.”

One former player, John Haraka, who went on to coach at Passaic Valley High School, admires DiDonna’s legacy. “Tom should be remembered and it’s about time he got some recognition,” Haraka says. “All those years, he taught and groomed players for Clifton High’s basketball team for no salary and little recognition.” DiDonna also influenced Harraka’s own coaching career. “He was well-liked by the players and so

dedicated—Tom was always at the gym. As a coach today, I still use things I learned from Tom, especially his positive approach in working with players.” In the years following, DiDonna became active in Clifton’s Central Division athletic program through daughter Kim’s teams. “I coached Kim’s basketball team when she was in fifth grade and did that four years,” DiDonna says. The difference between coaching the sexes?

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


“Girls are a bit more temperamental,” he explains, “but they’re coachable—easy to work with.” DiDonna treasures the friends he made coaching the Boys’ Club team.

Tom’s home team today above in a recent photo: Tom with Kristina, 20, wife Karen and Kimberly, 28. At left in 1970 at Camp Clifton, from left, Bob Da Giau, Frank Berkey, Tom DiDonna and Ed Czyganowicz. Below, in last season’s Boys Club Indoor Soccer League with co-coach Will Rubio and the team.

“People like Bill and Brian Shaughnessy and their family, Tim O’Brien and his dad, John Fego, Sam and Mike Poulis, Carl Williams, Bob Holly and his late father, Walter Munk, John and Robbie Haraka and their mom and dad, so many others—these players and parents remain very special to me.” During his girls’ elementary and high school years, DiDonna, who works for a courier agency, had coached daughter Kristina’s soccer team as part of the Clifton Stallions rec and travelling programs. And recently, while his daughters are way past those youth and high school days, DiDonna is a volunteer on the sidelines again, coaching rec programs and also sharing coaching duties at the club’s indoor league. To his former players, DiDonna says, “I’d tell them, ‘Once you leave the team, it doesn’t end there.’ They might not know it, but I still think of them. Before my daughters, those kids were like my own children.” 62

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

From candy, chocolates & costumes, to pumpkins, mums & fall produce, there is one neighborhood store that offers all of your family’s Halloween needs under one roof— the Paulison Avenue ShopRite!

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Why Clifton? So Many Talk of Moving On... This Couple Just Bought Here Story by Tania Jachens


lthough he was born in Nutley, Jonathan Kotulak considers Clifton his hometown. Jon was only three years old when he moved with his family to Clifton and his first memories growing up began at Grove Hill Pre-School. Jon then attended School #2 and Woodrow Wilson Middle School, both of which were only a short walk from his house. Since there is no shortage of sports opportunities for Clifton’s youth, Jon was able to play Little League baseball on a team that won the 1992 City Championship, Clifton Jr. Mustangs football, and Clifton City’s Western Division basketball on a team coached by his dad. “I met my best friends at School 2 and Woodrow – people I’m still friends with today,” Jon said. He attended Seton Hall Prep, an all boys high school in West Orange, “I still kept in touch with my Clifton friends and ended up integrating them with my Seton Hall friends, so now we all hang out together,” Jon explained. Looking back, some of his best memories of growing up in Clifton revolve around spacious Robin Hood Park, which was conveniently located down the street from his house. “We would all get together to hang out there and as we got older, we would drive around the Clifton Commons. We also played football behind School 2, but mostly we would hang out at people’s houses all over Clifton,” Jon reminisced. He attended Stonehill College, in Easton, Mass. where, during sophomore year, he met Kristin Felice.

Since Kristin lived in Derby, Connecticut, they managed the one and a half hour drive between Derby and Clifton to see each other during the summers. Jon and Kristin dated for seven years, became engaged in 2007, and started looking for a house to call their own. “I like going to places that are familiar to me, like Verona, Nutley, North Caldwell, and Cedar Grove,” Jon said, “But since I grew up here, I had always liked the Richfield and Montclair Heights sections. There are good parks and a good school system, like Holster Park and School 16, which are just a few blocks away from us. Clifton’s also conveniently located close to fun places like the city, Giants Stadium, and Hoboken.” Jon then added, “I also wanted to stay near my family and a lot of my friends still live in the area.” When asked about her feelings regarding their move to Clifton, Kristin answered, “I had always lived far away from home, so this wasn’t a difficult adjustment.” While Jon is her main basis for Clifton, it was important that


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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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“Clifton has enough transportation options to make my daily commute to New York City reasonable. It’s also nice having his family nearby, in case we need something.” Jon’s job is also conveniently located close by. “I currently work two minutes down the road on Route 46.” Having been coached by his father as a child, Jon has now come full circle by working as an accountant alongside his dad at Kotulak & Company, PC. With proximity to their respective jobs in mind, Jon and Kristin worked with realtors, Ralph and Fran Sinisi, to find a home. “We looked at almost 150 houses, so they were saints in terms of patience,” Jon said, smiling. “We didn’t really know what we wanted and we were unfamiliar with the process,” Kristin said. “We were proactive in the search, but almost every house we looked at had something wrong with it, whether price, condition, backyard...” Jon added. “We finally chose this split-level because we liked the corner property and its immaculate landscaping gave a good first impression.” When asked if home ownership is everything they had imagined it to be, both Kristin and Jon laughed. “We were a little overambitious in our initial plans. We got married on October 24, 2009, went on an immediate honeymoon, closed on the house five days after that, and immediately ripped up the entire thing,” Jon said. “We lived with Jon’s parents for three months while we worked on it and finally officially moved in on New

Year’s Day 2010,” Kristin said. During that time, they tore up all the carpets and trim in the house, replaced all the doors, fixed the wood floors, and painted all the rooms. “All the manual labor that wasn’t a skilled job, we did on our own,” Jon said. “With the help of friends and family, we managed to do all that while both working full-time jobs,” Kristin said. While considering their overall experience as firsttime home buyers, Jon said, “It was a lot of work and very challenging, but in the end, definitely worth it. There’s still a lot that needs to be done, but we’re waiting to save up for our next big project.” Since their one year wedding anniversary is quickly approaching, Jon and Kristin summarized their year together as “very active and very busy.” “We could have had a lot more fun and less stress by just getting an apartment, but it’s a good investment and something to grow into,” Jon said. “My only advice is: Don’t try to do everything at once!” Kristin added. As far as their plans for the future, Jon and Kristin hope to stay in their new house for at least five to ten years. “We’ll stay until we outgrow these three bedrooms,” Kristin said, alluding to children in the future. Since Kristin hopes to eventually work in New Jersey to avoid commuting and Jon plans to continue working with his father, they have a bright future ahead of them living in the town of Clifton.

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Selling without a Realtor? Some have tried that way but in today’s market, experience pays Story by Joe Hawrylko


ith the economy still turbulent, it’s understandable that many are reluctant to spend money unless it is absolutely necessary. If you’re one of these people and you’re looking for a home, you’ve perhaps already considered forgoing a realtor and listing the house yourself. Did you know that you’ll probably end up costing yourself much more in the long run? Tony Sanchez, broker and manager at Weichert Realtors of Clifton on Passaic Ave., said that by not understanding the real value of your home, you run the risk of either listing it at too low of a price, or setting it so high that people don’t even come visit. “We always hear people say that their home is worth this much because that’s what they read on some website. Most of those sites aren’t accurate; they just look at overall sales,” he explained. “They don’t go into the house as we do as agents. We see houses every day. We see the upgrades that may or may have not been made. And we can compare the seller’s house to others in the neighborhood, as well as other recent sales.” Sanchez has been in the industry for a decade, and has a number of accolades to his name, including a 2009 NJAR Circle of Excellence Silver Award, and while he was ana agent, he was number one for sold listings in Bergen and Passaic Counties. That’s the kind of experience you can’t get from a website: The knowledge of all the nuances in pricing a home. It’s not just location, location, location, but it’s also the age of the home, the local market, the quality


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

of the neighborhood and its schools and much, much more. And a good realtor will work to meet your demands. “What I like to do is engage in brainstorming with the owner,” said Nicholas Tselepis, owner of Nicholas Real Estate. “Where do I think the market is going to go, and where do they think it’s going to go? And where do they want to be in a year or two from now?” After putting a home on the market, if the property doesn’t receive any interest in those first few, crucial weeks, it’s likely because the seller is asking too much. And taking extra time to move a home costs—a lot. “If it’s on the market for four, maybe five or six months, it can depreciate as much as half a percent a month,” said Sanchez. “Now a property that’s worth maybe $350,000 if it was priced right is now work $340,000 or $345,000. People think they need buffer room to negotiate, they don’t want low ball offers. Sometimes I’ll tell them that I’d rather see them turn down ten offers than never see one. You can’t negotiate an offer that you don’t get.” And it’s also beneficial to have a realtor once you’re trying to hammer out a deal. “We negotiate, but we remove the emotional factor,” said Tselepis. “If you call a potential buyer, you give up bargaining power because you look desperate. We’re professionals, we don’t get paid unless we sell, so we make the call from a professional point of view.” Juan Rivera, the Broker and Manager at the Coldwell Banker located at Clifton and Colfax Aves., agreed with his peers.

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant



October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

“We see examples of this every single day: Price the property right and it goes in a week or two. Price it wrong and you miss the boat and you’re stuck for three to four months,” he said. “Pricing right now is key. Before it was all location, location, location. Now it’s all price, price, price.” He said that people sometimes try to sell a home on their own try to save commission fees and weed out lowball offers, but it generally backfires. “Time is of the essence. When a property that is for sale by owner is at a price that it’s not going to move, it’s costing them money,” added Rivera. “By the time they get to us, the price is even lower than it was—it’s costing them even more money; ten, fifteen... maybe $20,000 more.” The notion that doing your own listing will ensure good offers from legitimate buyers is also misleading. “The reason to go to sell on your own is to save the commission and they’re trying to save money too,” explained Weichert’s Sanchez. “Well you both can’t get the commission, so someone is losing out in the long run.” He noted that the types of homes on the market has drastically changed over the course of the decade, making it even more important to get your house sold quickly. “In 2003, 2004, 2005, you were competing against your neighbors who were selling,” explained Sanchez. “Now it’s all bank-owned properties and short sales. It

drives the market down because they just want to sell and the longer you have to wait to sell, the larger the possibility that these kind of houses can be on your block.” Utilizing a real estate agency also allows for unparalleled exposure. An agent can show a home while you work, and can it on multiple listing services. “What it really comes down to is the condition of the home, the price and the realtor you chose,” said Tselepis. “If you’re doing it for sale by owner and you’re working your own job, you’re not marketing the house,” said Sanchez. “We’ve got 85 agents and we’re here at the office seven days a week. People call on a house and we have all these agents that can help get it sold. People can’t get their house sold if they’re working and can’t show it.” “We can negotiate, but remove the emotional factor,” said Tselepis, explaining another pratfall of selling on your own. “If you call a potential buyer, you give up bargaining power because you look desperate. We’re professionals, we don’t get paid unless we sell, so we make the call from a professional point of view.” “Houses that are priced right sell typically sell within 95 to 98 percent of the asking price,” stated Sanchez. Those homes typically move fast too. “The most activity is when you first list a home, the first three weeks. It’s new inventory, everyone wants to see new stuff.”

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October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Dominic V. Caruso has been named the Professional Lawyer of the Year by the Passaic County and New Jersey State Bar Associations. Given annually to attorneys who, by virtue of their conduct, competence and demeanor, set a positive example for the legal profession, the award luncheon is on Oct. 6 in New Brunswick. Keynote speaker is US Attorney Paul J. Fishman. Caruso attended St. Philip’s R.C. grammar school and was a member of the Charter Class (1971) at Paul VI High School. He is a graduate of Montclair State and attended Seton Hall School of Law in Newark where he served as Notes/ Comments Editor of the Seton Hall Law Review. He was admitted to practice law in New Jersey in 1979 and has been in private practice since. He started his legal career at a major defense litigation firm in Newark and later gained trial experience at a smaller firm in Passaic County. Since 1989 he has specialized in civil litigation, practicing as a solo in his Route 46 Clifton office. Caruso served as President of the Passaic County Bar Association in 2005 and now serves as a trustee of the NJ State Bar Association. He has been certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Trial Attorney. Fluent in Italian and Spanish, he resides in North Haledon with his wife of 30 years, Eileen, and their son, Justin.


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Dominic Caruso will receive the 2010 Lawyer of the Year Award on Oct. 6 in New Brunswick.

Mustang Pride Inc. is a 501C3 notfor-profit charity dedicated to organizing fundraising events and soliciting corporate and individual donations to upgrade and improve school facilities throughout the Clifton Public School District. “While we will certainly intend to accept private donations, Mustang Pride hopes to acquire the bulk of our funds through corporate sponsorships and/or grants,” wrote Kim Renta. “Our hope is to be able to improve our school facilities without further burdening the taxpayers of Clifton.” She said Mustang Pride is focused on raising funds to install artificial turf at the high school sta-

dium and supplement money already designated by the Clifton BOE to upgrade the Kennedy Auditorium at CHS The group’s first fundraiser is a Walk-a-Thon on Nov. 27 at Main Memorial Park. Form a team but first get an entry form and more details by writing to The Coalition for Brain Injury Research is sponsoring its annual “Cure for Traumatic Brain Injury Walk-a-thon” on Oct. 17, dedicated to Clifton’s Dennis John Benigno. Registration for the 3-mile walk will start 9 am at the Clifton City Hall Campus and follow a route through the surrounding neighborhood. Proceeds will benefit the search for a cure. Walkers, sponsors and donations are welcomed. Brain injuries strike without warning causing a lifetime of suffering for victims and families. For further information, call 973-632-2066.

Clifton Savings Bank hosted a contingent of Japanese bankers from JA Bank on Sept. 21 at 2:00pm at its Van Houten Ave. headquarters. This was the Bank’s third occasion of welcoming groups of bankers from Japan who wish to see the operation of a successful community bank, noted John A. Celentano, Jr., Chair.

The 2nd annual Kick-A-Thon presented by the Clifton Martial Arts Academy is at noon at Chelsea Park on Oct. 16. “The goal is to do 500 kicks in an hour,” explained Jim Meghdir, Sensei of the Academy, at 891 Bloomfield Ave. “Our students go to friends, families, teachers and neighbors to solicit donations. If some one pledges 1 penny per kick, they give $5.

If some one else wants to pledge 3 cents per kick, that’s $15, and so on.” This year’s beneficiary is St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Last year, the events raised over $1,500 for the Clifton-based Cure Breast Cancer Foundation. The event is open to all. In case of rain, the event will be held in the Academy. To contribute or participate, call Meghdir at 732-763-5696.

Jodi Neumann and Grace Lisbona of the Clifton Adult Opportunity Center, and Disabilities Event Chair John Filippone and Grand Knight Carlos Roco of the Knights of Columbus St. Philip The Apostle Council 11671. The group was recently presented with a $3,000 check by the Knights.

The Walk for the Cure for Diabetes is Oct. 17 at Medco Healthcare in Franklin Lakes. Registration is at 9:00 am and the 5K walk begins at 10:00 am. “This is our 6th year walking for Hannah (pictured above) since she was diagnosed at the age of 6,” wrote mom Ellen Anolik. “It is free, open to the public, kid friendly and food is provided.” The person who raises the most money this year will receive four AMC movie passes courtesy of team Hannah’s Bananas. Join the team and get a ‘famous’ Hannah’s Bananas tee shirt. To get involved, email Ellen Anolik at October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


ATHENIA Street Fair: September 19


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Assumption of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church parishioners, at 35 Orange Ave. will celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the founding of their parish on Nov. 6 and 7. Great Vespers and a Memorial Service will be served on Nov. 6 at 5 pm, followed by refreshments and fellowship in the Fr. Lucas Olchovy Memorial Hall. On Nov. 7 at 9 am, His Grace, The Right Reverend Michael, Bishop of New York and the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, will celebrate the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy which will be followed by a Banquet at The Brownstone. Established in Clifton in 1935, under the leadership of its founder, the Very Rev. Lucas Olchovy, as well has his successors, the Very Rev. Stephen Kachur and the Very Rev. Dimitri Oselinsky, the parish continued in its mission, striving to be a haven of peace, hope, charity and love. “I am only the fourth priest in the 75 year history of this parish, which is a true testament to the loving, charitable spirit of our parishioners,” said the current Pastor, the Rev. Stephen Evanina. “It’s a wonderful parish in a wonderful city.” For more on the anniversary, go to

Rick's American Bar & Grill is finally being torn down after years of speculation. Demolition crews are pictured here on Sept. 24. In recent years, city officials said another chain drugstore will replace the iconic watering hole, once known as the Penguin Inn. Photo by A.J. Sartor.

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton celebrated Homecoming on Sept. 24 with a 33-12 win over Eastside. This year’s King and Queen are Itati Aburto and Christopher Alvarez. The court included Linette Genao and Michael Ciappi, Victoria Pugliese and Alvro De La Barra, Ektaa Rana and Max Egyed and Lelya Zeidan and Oscar Gonzalez. At right, that’s a Clifton touchdown on the way to a 34-6 victory away at Teaneck on Sept. 16. Photos by Graeme Carmichael. The next Mustang homegame is on Oct. 29 against Kennedy.


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

CHS Student of the Month

Story by Joe Hawrylko


usic has been a life long passion for Justin Noll. Growing up in a home that did not have cable TV, he spent his time listening to music as he played with his toys. Perhaps Noll’s most poignant memory of his childhood was when he first discovered The Beatles Yellow Submarine movie. “I grew obsessed with the sheer color, vibrance and happiness it bestowed upon my world,” he said of the film and its score. Noll found his passion, and just a few years later, picked up the violin in the fourth grade. “My world changed so much after that,” he recalled. “I suddenly started appreciating more than just a guitar, bass and drums in a song. I found classical music quite appealing. My musical interest skyrocketed when I learned that I could play the music from my favorite video games on the violin. My mind was blown.” It wasn’t until he reached CHS that his musical tastes matured. A friend introduced him to orchestrated video game music, and from there, he began exploring other genres.“Up until then I listened to, at most, ten bands,” said Noll. “I started listening to ska, pop, synthpop, rap and hip-hop. In high school, I found so many others who listened to more than just what was playing on Z100,” he continued. “I could finally have a conversation about the trumpet part in a Reel Big Fish song or how the Red Hot Chili Peppers created a unique sound that nobody could replicate. I was finally among people who understood what music really meant to me.”

To the CHS senior, this month’s Student of the Month, every song has a deep, personal meaning. Cake’s Friend is a Four Letter Word invokes memories of unreliable friends from his past. The iconic Beatles tune With a Little Help From My Friends makes him think of all the true friends he has made. “Music personifies and encompasses all aspects of me,” Noll wrote in an email. “Ranging from the highs and lows of my life to the beauty and flaws in my personality.” This year, his peers recognized his unique personality in naming him Senior Class President. To get there, he needed a little help from his best friend (and Vice President) Edd Flor. “It was as if all our childish thoughts of taking over the world had manifested themselves through these results,” Noll laughed. “If following my maxim has gotten me here, I guess I can get anywhere I want to with it.” October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Eleanor Roosevelt was the first President’s wife to hold press conferences, write a newspaper column and travel widely. She was admired and criticized by many. In Meet Eleanor Roosevelt hosted by Clifton’s Hamilton House Museum at noon on Oct. 16, she steps out of history to share with frankness and humor some of the struggles and experiences of her extraordinary life. In Elena Dodd’s portrayal (inset), Mrs. Roosevelt’s distinctive speech and dynamic personality enliven this interactive program, which include tea and luncheon. Visitors will interact with Mrs. Roosevelt as this carefully researched program is based on Mrs. Roosevelt’s autobiography, letters, speeches and articles. Clifton’s Hamilton House Museum is an 18th Century Dutch gambrel-roofed homestead, which is located at 971 Valley Rd. Advance tickets only, which are $25. Call 974-744-5707. The 10th anniversary of the Clifton Arts Center and Sculpture Park will be marked at a gala on Oct. 17 at 4 pm at the Upper Montclair Country Club. Built in the early twentieth century and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the CAC is housed in a former US Animal Quarantine Station which was skillfully updated. Tickets are $70 or $135 per couple; children ages 5 through 12 are $30. Call 973-473-8122 or 973-472-5499.


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

The Empire Brass will perform at the Jewish Community Center on Scoles Ave. on Oct. 24 at 3 pm for the 3rd Annual Sequoia Concert. Information about Sequoia and tickets for the concert are available at or call 973-777-7638.

Blue State Productions, theater in residence at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Clifton Ave., announced it will present the Tony Award winning Broadway drama Having Our Say Feb. 11-26 as part of Black History Month. This will be followed by the musical Godspell in April. Auditions for Having Our Say are Dec. 3 and 4. Godspell auditions are Jan. 7 and 8. Volunteers for behind the scenes are also needed. No pay, non-equity. Call 973-472-9445 or email for more details.

Theater League of Clifton Presents:

Arsenic & Old Lace Arsenic and Old Lace, a comedy by Joseph Kesselring, will be presented by Theater League of Clifton, TLC, at School 3 on Washington Ave., on Oct. 15, 16, 17 and 22, 23 and 24. On Fridays and Saturdays the show begins at 8 pm and on Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are $15 and $10 for stu- Stephanie Peterson, Geoffrey Waumans dents and seniors. There will be a two for one opening night special, Oct. 15 only. The Clifton cast is pictured here. Written in 1939, Arsenic and Old Lace is best known through the film adaptation starring Cary Grant and directed by Frank Capra. For info on TLC and its programs, call 973-458-9579 or Christian Scott, George M. Morgan, Gerard Scorziello, John M. Traier visit

Kathleen Kellaigh, Betsy Newberry, Jack Pignatello, Sandy Robertson, Charles G. Timm, John Bertrand

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Susan Borthwick ate 1.09 pounds of chicken wing meat in eight minutes on Sept. 5 in the ninth annual National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, NY. She came back to her Highview Ave. home with the title of Amateur Chicken Wing Eating Competition Champ and is pictured here with Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, another world renown title holder. Who knows where this title will take her?


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Dr. Barry Raphael is the local advocate for Smile Pink, a campaign to encourage women and men to show their support of early breast cancer testing by adding a stylish Pink Swarovski Crystal to their smile. The facts are sobering. Every two and a half minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Over 200,000 will be diagnosed this year and 40,000 of them will die from the disease. Breast cancer also occurs in men. In fact, over one thousand men will be diagnosed this year. The Pink Swarovski Crystal is applied to the tooth with a temporary dental adhesive. It is safe, and takes less than a minute to apply It is just as easy to remove and will be done free of charge. The Smile Pink campaign was developed by Dr. Anthony Vocaturo from New Jersey Center of Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry in Bayonne after his family was impacted by the disease. It is part of Smile for the Cause, a program that offers hope, strength, and encouragement to survivors and their families Smile Pink will contribute 100% of donations it receives to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Call Dr. Barry Raphael at 973-778-4222 for details or visit

Clifton FMBA Local 21 thanks the following sponsors

• Athenia Mason Supply • The Apprehensive Patient & Poller Dental Group • State Farm Agents Tom Tobin & Bill G. Eljouzi • Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage • Joseph Lauritano Landscaping • Tenafly Pediatrics • Wee Care Child Care Center • The New Bairn School • Shook Funeral Home • Thomas P. De Vita, Esq. • IHOP Restaurant of Clifton • Carl G. Zoecklein, Esq. • Clifton Moose Lodge Chapter 657 • P&A Auto Parts • Assemblyman Thomas Giblin • Members of Clifton PBA Local 36

10,000 copies of this book are being distributed to students in Grade 3 and below during October, Fire Safety Month. To receive a copy, visit Fire Headquarters in City Hall or call 973-470-5801.

The Ocean County male alumni of CHS 1960 will hold a luncheon at the Lamp Post Inn, Route 9, Bayville, on Oct. 26 at 1:30 pm. Recent get togehters have been held and attract a dozen or so alumni, some who even travel from North Jersey and the Philadelphia area. For info on this and other events, call George Kulik at 848-333-8761 or email The CHS 1961 50th class reunion is on Oct. 14, 2011. To attend and for more details, write to CHS Class of 1961, PO Box 3749, Wayne, NJ 07474, call 973-650-2719 or email CHS classes from 1971 through 1974 host a reunion on Oct. 30 at the Regency House Hotel in Pompton Plains. The $85 ticket includes buffet, dessert, entertainment and open bar from 7 pm to midnight. For info, call Bill Geiger (973-557-3613) Diane Gangi Ohland (973-284-1054).

The Passaic High School Classes of 1964 and 1965 have a combined reunion on Oct. 9 from 7 to 11 pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Fairfield. Call Charles Cannata, PHS ‘64 at 973-773-7769 or Paula Rudolph, PHS ‘65 at 973-339-9102 or On Columbus Day, Oct. 11, the Passaic-Clifton Chapter of UNICO National will raise the Italian flag on the lawn in front of Clifton City Hall at 5:45 pm. UNICO Chapter President David D’Arco said NJ Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner will be the Keynote Speaker. The Chief Justice is a 1978 graduate of Passaic High and also a recipient of the UNICO Chapter Scholarship Award that year. After speeches, pastries and coffee will be served. The event is free and open to all; anyone wishing to obtain more information can call Dave D’Arco at 973-685-7479.

You’re a Neighbor, Not a Number.

Thomas Tobin 973-779-4248

Bill G. Eljouzi 973-478-9500 October 2010 • Clifton Merchant



George Hayek turns 84 on October 1. Michael Biondi will be 18 on October 10. The Angello twins, Renee Kimiko and her brother Jeffrey Joseph, say it is fine to be 9 on October 4.

Birthdays & Celebrations

Send dates &

Frances & Saverio Greco, celebrate their 19th wedding anniversary on October 26. Congratulations to Jim & Anna Schubert who celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary on September 11. Happy Anniversary to Orest & Barbara Luzniak who will be married 30 years on October 11. Charlie & Dana McCarrick wedding anniversary is October 23. Luba Voinov married David Rees on September 25 at Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Sarah Bekheet . . Melissa Szwec. . Awilda Gorman. Ashley Messick . Charlene Rivera . Grace Robol . . .

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Frank Antoniello. John Brock Jr. . . Kimberly Ferrara Kayla Galka . . . Lisa Junda . . . . . Alan Merena . . .

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Smile Pink!

Elizabeth Feinstein married Greg Gardner on September 24 at Westmount Country Club. 80

October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

See Dr. Barry Raphael details on page 78.

Bruce Merena . . . . . . . . . 10/4 Rosalie D. Konopinski. . . . 10/5 Kyle Takacs . . . . . . . . . . . 10/5 Gene D’Amico. . . . . . . . . 10/6 Tom Marshall. . . . . . . . . . 10/6 Nicole Nettleton . . . . . . . 10/6 Christopher Phillips. . . . . . 10/7 Jilian Fueshko . . . . . . . . . 10/8 Nick Kacmarcik . . . . . . . . 10/8 Rich Montague . . . . . . . 10/10 Kyle Zlotkowski . . . . . . . 10/10 Eileen Patterson . . . . . . . 10/11 Anthony Shackil. . . . . . . 10/11 Gunnar Kester . . . . . . . . 10/12 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 Rachol Pong . . . . . . . . . 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 . . . . . . . . Patrick M. Doremus Jr. Eugene Osmak . . . . . Katelyn Smith . . . . . . Toni Van Blarcom . . . . Daniel Atoche . . . . . . John Bross. . . . . . . . . Allison Beirne . . . . . . Sandra Kuruc . . . . . . Heather Sito . . . . . . . Paul G. Andrikanich. . Matthew McGuire . . . Peter Salzano . . . . . . Kristofer Scotto . . . . . Nicole Keller . . . . . . . Ashley Gretina . . . . . Joan Statzer . . . . . . . Lindsay Berberich. . . . Raymond Romananski Josef Schmidt. . . . . . .

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10/20 10/21 10/21 10/21 10/22 10/23 10/23 10/24 10/24 10/24 10/25 10/26 10/27 10/27 10/28 10/29 10/29 10/30 10/31 10/31

Noel Oliver turns 6 on October 16.

Nancy Csaszar celebrates a birthday on October 3.


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant


US Army 2nd Lt. Stephen Messineo was Killed in Action on Feb. 18, 1944, in Italy, at the Anzio Beachhead. Over six decades later, Anita Scangarello stopped in our office to ask us to remember her uncle, a 1935 CHS grad—and all those who served our nation during times of war and peace. With this photo at the right, we do that and ask that we all turn out along Main Ave. on Nov. 7 for Clifton’s Annual Veterans Parade. Step off is at 2 pm from Sylvan Ave., with the CHS Marching Mustangs at the lead. As a cavalcade of veterans, antique military equipment and other bands and performers follow, the parade continues along Main, ending with services at the War Monument in Main Memorial Park. Those who served in the military are invited to march. Come out and support those who served. For info, call John Biegel or Keith Oakley at 201-774-6666. The Messineo siblings in Dutch Hill, back in 1943. From left: Eleanor, Josephine, Stephen and Angeline.


October 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Everyone wants to put their best foot forward, but people with toenail fungus go to great lengths to keep their feet under wraps. Not only is toe fungus ugly and embarrassing, it's also easy to catch. It thrives in wet environments such as nail salons and locker rooms, even in the privacy of your own shower.

An Alternative to Topical and Oral Treatments, Laser Kills Fungus Instantly

New Treatment for Fungus-Free Feet Thomas Graziano, MD, DPM, FACFAS, a Clifton foot and ankle surgeon, said once the fungus gets under a toenail, it's difficult to treat. Topical solutions don't always work and oral medications carry a risk of side effects which can be hard on the body. Dr. Graziano is offering new painless and effective laser technology to treat toenail fungus introduced recently at the American Podiatric Medical Association Annual Conference. The laser passes through the nail without damaging it and vaporizes the germs, killing the fungus that lives under the nail. It had been utilized by top podiatric surgeons in California but is now available here in Clifton by Dr. Graziano. “This new laser is much more effective than lasers I used years ago. It travels through the nail to the level of the nail fungus and kills the fungus instantly,”said Dr. Graziano. “We go in certain patterns to make sure we get every little millimeter of the nail plate.” The procedure takes less than a half hour and, while results aren't immediate, the toenail will grow out normally in nine to 12 months, in most cases. Reports show the laser is 88% effective, better than anything else on the market, said Dr. Graziano. Call 973-473-3344 for details.

Tomahawk Promotions 1288 main avenue Clifton, nJ 07011

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