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Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Table of Contents

What’s Inside? 6

As Clifton Evolves... So Does Our Magazine

16 Bravo, Clifton, Bravo Dutch Hill’s Opera Maestro

Corner of Europe Pg. 22

32 Edwin Romero The Athenia American Dream

36 A Share in Clifton History Panagiotis Doris at the Hot Grill

38 Dedication “D.R.” Style Advocate Amparo Caamano

48 Clifton Original Greg Motta Keeping it Hometown Simple

Bachar Balkar Pg. 42

52 Partners in Life & Medicine The Comprehensive Drs. Ugras & Rey 16,000 Magazines

are distributed to hundreds of Clifton Merchants on the first Friday of every month. Subscribe Page 79

1288 Main Avenue Downtown Clifton, NJ 07011

$27 per year $45 for 2 years Call 973-253-4400 © 2013 Tomahawk Promotions

4 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko Business Manager Cheryl Hawrylko Graphic Designer Ken Peterson Contributing Writers Robert Lisowsky, Richard Szathmary, Carol Leonard, Philip Read, Jack DeVries, Rich DeLotto, Don Lotz


54 Chris de Vinck Essay Fall is Certainly Here... Enjoy!

56 Trick or Treating Along Rt. 3 Visit Stores, Bars and Bakeries

70 Holiday House Boutique Shop Clifton First at Lambert Castle

73 New Chief at Clifton Savings Celentano and Celuch to Retire

76 Election Day Primer Who’s Who on Oct.16 & Nov. 5

Boys & Girls Club Taste of Clifton Pg. 59

Clifton FMBA Local 21 members and Tomahawk Promotions, publisher of this magazine, are proud to once again team up with our business community to publish a Fire Prevention Booklet for Kids. In October, Clifton Fire Safety officials will visit schools and talk to children but it is a discussion that must continue year round. Thanks again to our sponsors for their support and helping us to spread the word, at no cost to city taxpayers. • Apprehensive Patient & Poller Dental Group • Rainbow Montessori • State Farm Agents Tom Tobin & Bill G. Eljouzi • Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage • Joseph Lauritano Landscaping • New Bairn School • Tenafly Pediatrics • Wee Care Child Care Center • Shook Funeral Home • IHOP Restaurant of Clifton • Carl G. Zoecklein, Esq. • P&A Auto Parts • Assemblyman Thomas Giblin • Members of Clifton PBA Local 36 • North Jersey Federal Credit Union • Athenia Veterans Post • Valley National Bank • Downtown Clifton Economic Development Group 10,000 copies of this coloring book are being distributed to students in Grade 3 and below. To get a free copy, or to arrange a school visit, call Fire Headquarters at 973-470-5801. Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY

As Clifton

EVOLVES, So Do We

You may notice in this issue that we have several stories aboutethnicityandethnicgroups. Now, Clifton is certainly dappled with ethnicities. We’rethearchetypal‘gloriousmosaic’(topullaphrase fromthoseboring‘Civics’textbookswhichalwaysledto such nice sleepy-time sessions in high school), a place thatwouldutterlybaffleeventheFoundingFatherswith the multiplicity of accents, skin tones and native garb foundonourstreets. We’realsowhereanamazingnumberoflanguages arespoken,especiallyintheschoolsystem.Andwhere a woman with a sweet smile in a hijab can serve you decidedly non-halal pork sausage on a bagel in a local Dunkin’ Donuts and a strict Orthodox deli clerk at the supermarketintallisandearlockscanaskhowyouliked theMetsgame“yesterday,”whichwasShabbos. Thereis,asithappens,atownrightnexttous,supposedly dwelt in by media celebrities and a must tour stop for state and national politicians alike, where its boosters constantly toss out the ‘D’ word  in praise of itselfandthemselvesandatinordinatelength They say all this, however, without the significant populations of Orthodox Jews, Dominicans, Haitians, Lebanese, Turks, Ukrainians, Poles, Hungarians and evenYemenisinCliftonwhocanbeseen(and,darewe say,appreciated)daily.Becausesuchfolkain’tatallto be found on the streets of that better-publicized neighboring town. This is why all that self-congratulatory rhetoricfromour‘neighbor’ringssohollow. Sod!  Such, uh, “diversity” (to use the dreaded ‘D’ word),inotherwords.ThisisClifton,andwepractice, darnedwell,ona24/7basiswhatsomanyothertowns andfolksonlytalk(andtalkand...)about. SociologistMichaelNovakina1972booktitledThe 6 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Rabia Khyati has been in America for 12 years from her native Morocco and has managed the Dunkin’ Donuts in Corrado’s for the past 11. She speaks English, French and the Moroccan dialect of Arabic.

Rise Of The Unmeltable Ethnics predictedthatacelebrationofethnicitywouldbecomeoneofAmerica’sdominatingsocialthemesasweranoutthe20thcentury. Novak even predicted that consultants would base theircareersonhowtoembracethisstateofaffairs. Timehasprovenhimright. Butagain,hereinClifton,hey,wedon’tneedconsultantsandtheircostlycoursestoteachushowtoimplementthe‘D’word.Cliftondoes.Inlargepartbecause wevaluethe‘E’wordovereventhe‘D’word. But then, our own glorious mosaic is repaired and burnisheddailybyourcitizens.Thisisourcorestrength. There are so many ethnic blocs contributing to the fabricofClifton(thustoitsfuturepoliticallandscape), some recently emergent, some fairly well established, thatcoveringthemallissimplyimpossible. Nonetheless,pleaseenjoythismonth’shumblecelebration of Clifton’s ethnicity. We at Clifton Merchant Magazine areproudtoevolvewithourhometown.


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RE-ELECT CLIFTON’S OWN...

SHERIFF RICHARD H. BERDNIK I am proud of my public career, as not only a Clifton Police Officer but now as the Sheriff of Passaic County. If I am re-elected, I intend to continue my commitment to the Sheriff ’s Office and initiate more innovative programs and policies to help keep our families safe, while reducing the burden on our taxpayer. As we go into the end of the campaign season, I ask you to be discriminate in the information you hear about me from my opponent’s campaign.

I have already seen a significant amount of half truths, lies and misinformation regarding my record and I expect that unfortunate trend to continue through election day. Such behavior is not only disappointing, but exactly what is wrong with our political system. I pledge to you that I will not engage in such backhanded tactics and will run my reelection with the same honor and dignity and to keep residents of Clifton proud. Sincerely, Rich Berdnik

Paid for Berdnik for Sheriff

Vote Democratic November 5th • Vote Row B Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY

Angelina Tirado

Smashes Through By Richard Szathmary The lady is holding an axe in her hands. It is a big, heavy axe.With a blood red head and a sharpenedpeenthatlookshardenoughtochopintothe stoutestofsteeldoors,oreventodenttheshirtlesschest ofVladimirPutin.Anditisperforceaverylethal-looking axe, the big, open smile of the lady holding it notwithstanding,onethatdefinitelylooksmadeforwarfare.(Let’sfaceit,theallegedmisdeedsofLizzieBorden comerighttomind,too.) ButtheladyisAngelinaTiradoandsheismerelycarrying on a proud family tradition of “axe-toting.” Her father wasAlberto Tirado.Alberto was a Passaic firefighter,andonMay9,2001hemadetheultimatesacrificewhilesearchingaburningbuildingformissingchildren(theywerelaterfoundsafe),anactofconspicuous on-the-jobbraveryforwhichhewasposthumouslypromotedtoLieutenant. Onthenightherfatherdied,hisdaughterwasahigh schoolsenior.AngelinanowhappenstobeClifton’sfirst, sofarsole,femalefirefighter.It’shardlycoincidental,of course. Beginnings “I am a firefighter,” Angelina Tirado declares with someevidentpride,asevenhernostrilsseemtoflarejust the teensiest bit. “I’m the first woman doing it, okay, yeah,right,Iknow,butI’malsoreallyjustproudtobea firefighterhereinClifton. “WhatcanItellyou?”shecontinues.“Ialwaysjust wanted to help people.” This led her, after some fitful stints at Rutgers and at PCCC, studying nursing, into qualificationasanEMTandsubsequentserviceasonein hernativePassaic. Shetookthewrittentesttobeafirefighterin2006.“It wasmostlylikebasic,generalknowledge,”sherecalls, andthephysicalin2007.Itwasn’tuntil2010,however, 8 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

mostly because of the vagaries of New Jersey’s civil serviceprocedures,andbudgetaryreasons,thatshewas actuallyappointedtotheCliftonFD. “ItwasinpartbecauseIgrewuparoundfirefighters,” Angelina says. “I knew what they did and they all seemed so nice. I knew they did a very difficult job. I admiredthemfordoingthatjob.” Itcanbe,itsurelyishere,assimpleasthat. And of course, she’s heard all the caveats about womenasfirefighters.“Thatwomenwouldn’tlasthere (i.e.onthetestosterone-ladensacredgroundsofafirehouse).Thatit’saguy’sworldandperiodforthat.That wejustaren’tcutoutforthejob.We’rewomensowe’re justnotstrongenough.Wedon’thavetherightattitude,” shelaughs.“There’salotmorebutit’sthekindofstuff thatjustalwaysgetssaid.”


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Vote Democratic November 5th • Vote Row B Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY The heights of silliness in this vein were probably scaledviatheprominentlyvoicedcommentsoffirefighters’wivesdecadesago,whenwomenfirstbeganappearing in uniform, that their presence on the job would somehowprovepotentiallydisruptivetowedlock. “It’s something different, that’s for sure,”Angelina admits.“Maybeeverybody’sjustafraidofchangeuntil ithappens.Changecanbegood,theylearntoadmitthat tothemselvesifyoucanproveittothem.Sowe,meaninghereme,wejusthavetogooutanddoit.Wevegot toshowpeoplewecanhandlethejobasgoodasanybodyelse,that’sall.” “Family” Ties Someonewho’strulyinthecatbirdseattocommenton the situation, however, FMBA (Firemen’s Mutual BenevolentAssociation)Local21PresidentBobDeLuca, puts it as baldly as possible when asked about his own reaction when he heard that Clifton had hired its first femalefirefighter:“Great.Justgreat.Greatagain,too.” Askedifhehadanymisgivings,DeLucaisadamant. thattherewerenone.Notfromhimoranyoneelsein the FMBA. “None whatsoever. She was qualified so shewashired.Sheknowsthejob,”hecontinues.“From whatIhearsheknowsitverywell.Shecamein,went throughallthetraining.Learneditsuccessfully.That’s thewayit’ssupposedtobeforanybody,right? “ShecameinasClifton’sfirstfemalefirefighter.But now,” and here DeLuca seems to purposely pause for effect, “she’s just a firefighter. One of the good guys.. Oneofthefamily.Welcometothedepartment.Nowget to work.” This is a bona fide union endorsement of AngelinaTiradoofthehighestorder.

10 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Angelina with her late father, Passaic Firefighter Alberto in Sept. 1995, his 35th birthday.

Butiffirefighters,inanyarrangementofsexes,constituteafamily,sodomilitaryunits.Asitturnsout,interestingly,there’safamilyconnectionofsortsheretoo. CliftonPoliceDetectiveSgt.BacharBalkar,profiled elsewhere in this magazine, in fact served alongside Angelina’sfatherAlbertoduringthefirstGulfWarwhen bothwereMarines,andtheyreallyandtrulykneweach other as well. (Cue Dion & The Belmonts) singing Rogers&Hart’s“WhereorWhen”asproofthatthings dofallintoanoddsortofplacesometimes.) No, they probably didn’t have deep, searching discussionsaboutthemeaningoflife,orevenaboutwho servesthebestTexasWeinerinClifton,buttheywere stuck out there in the sand together and as Marines formed the traditional bond of blood and sacrifice whichsodefinesthoseintheCorps.Theyprobablyjust didn’trealizeitatthetime.


Welcome to our Practice

Dr. Michael DelGiodice is an author on ocular disease and Vice President of the NJ Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry. His specialities includes laser eye surgery, dry eye syndrome, contact lenses and neurologic eye disease. He is also a consultant for Bausch + Lomb pharmaceuticals.

Attefa Sultani, O.D., focuses on comprehensive eye care, from diagnosis and management of eye disease to contact lenses and post-operative care and can perform exams in Spanish, Hindi and Farsi.

Ceaser Pitta, M.D., specializes in diseases of the retina including Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, Macular Holes, Macular Pucker as well as Detachment surgery.

Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY The Job Most of us drive by a firehouse and,ifthefirefightersaren’toutona call, see them all seemingly lollygagging about on the taxpayer’s dimeandtime.ThisunfairassumptionhappenstobugAngelinaTirado no end. “Just because they think we’re doing nothing doesn’t mean thatweare,”sheobserves.Actually, too, the job of firefighter is one of themostdemandingoutthere.

It’s both stressful and physically exhausting,andithelpstobearthis inmind. As the Clifton FMBA’s website pointsout,firefightersanywhere are 300 percent more likely (according to Harvard University’s School of PublicHealth)tohaveaheartattack comparedtootheroccupations. They also have a 100 percent higher risk of contracting cancer according to a study by the

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Our care coordinators, from left, Jessica DeVoogt, Doreen Sestilio, Idina Merz, Wanda Ruiz and Maria Squirlock.

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UniversityofCincinnati.Andthey face a significantly higher rate of non-cancerous respiratory diseases thananyotheroccupation. Plus there’s that little thingie called FIRE which in and of itself onlycomplicatesmatters. In 2012, the Clifton Fire Department, notes Chief Vincent Colavitti,had“overalltotalcallsof 6,670.Ofthese,183were‘structure fires,’ meaning in buildings of one sortoranother. Because the city geographically “containswithinitorisverynearto nearly every important road that runs across this state,” Colavitti explains, “has just flat-out much moretrafficthanmostothertowns.” Cliftonthereforefacescertainproblems that other Jersey fire departments generally don’t see to the samedegree. It had, for example, the fairly high number of 53 vehicle fires within its boundaries in 2012. Alongside 53 ‘other fires’ which usually turned out to be brushfires. “Pluswe’rethefourthlargestcityin the state. This is not a small town firedepartment.It’sonethatfaces majorissuesandhazardousmaterialsandconditionsdaily.” SofirefightinginCliftonissomewhat of a real slog. Which is why It’sthenparticularlynicethatChief Colavitti, as well as the FMBA’s Bob DeLuca, has nothing but high praiseforAngelinaTirado. “Weknewprettymuchwhatshe was coming in,” Chief Colavitti explains. This was because of Angelina’s previous tenure as an EMT in Passaic, where both his father and his brother have served ourneighborcity.


3 Issues Resolved in 1 Convenient Surgery

Before

After

There are about 12,000 podiatrists in the United States, according to the Department of Labor, and Clifton podiatrist Thomas Graziano is one of only six who hold both a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) and a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree.

Dr. Thomas Graziano recently explained how three painful issues were addressed in one operation. “This patient presented with a bunion, crossover toe and hammertoes. These conditions were repaired with one operation and the patient was able to walk the same day of the surgery.”

As a foot and ankle specialist, my main goal for all my patients is to find caring solutions that last a lifetime. I won't just treat the symptom; I'll strive to correct the problem... Permanently. When you combine effective treatments with my genuine concern for your well-being, that's a powerful combination. -Thomas A. Graziano, MD, DPM, FACFAS Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY “She’sbeenanassettothedepartment.Particularly with the EMS stuff, yes, but just in general.  You know,” the Chief adds, “It really doesn’t matter what sex she is. She does a good job. That’s what really counts.Andshefitsinverynicelyinourdepartmentas aresult.” ThetypicaldayofaCliftonfirefighter,accordingto AngelinaTirado,is,ifthey’renotoutononeofthose 6,670 calls, consists of “training and preparation and inspections.Wecoverthingsinsideandout.We’rereally, really ready, and we’re really, really well led. So whatever anyone else thinks, we don’t just sit around thefirehousedoingnothingallday.” Going Forward Today,AngelinaTirado,who’sbeenattheBrighton Rd. firehouse since January but with the CFD since March,2010,caninfact“walktowork.”Shelivesright offBrightonRd.afewblocksaway,afactmorereminiscent of 19th centuryAmerica than of modern economicrealities. Shewas26whenshejoinedthedepartment,17and giggling in the halls of Passaic High when her father

14 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Albertodiedsoheroicallyandtragically.Andshewas achildwhenthefirstGulfWarwasonandherreservist fatherwascalledbackintothenactiveduty. It’sbeenalongskeinofeventsandyears,sometragicanddifficult.Butherspiritseemstoswelloutofher: “Thisisajobyouonlygointoifyoureallywanttohelp people.That’swhyIbecameanEMT.Andthenwhen thisjobopenedupIjumpedatthechance.” She’ssomewhatcoy,however,abouttherole“familytradition”mayhaveplayedinherchoiceofemployment.“Let’sjustsayIloveandhonorhim,okay?And Ifinallyunderstandwhathedidforalivingeveryday.” “Ithinkit’sajobforanyonewhocanhandleit,”says Clifton’sfirstfemalefirefighter. “Look, you’re working with guys and you have to trust them with your life daily and they have to trust theirs with you. So you’re all firefighters, working together.Ifyouacceptandrealizethatandcanproveto othersthattheycancountonyou,you’lldofine. “IwanttodofineandIlikehavingthetrustofothersonthejob.”Andsheswingsaverybig,verymenacing-looking axe if anyone dares impede her way or sneersatherqualifications.


With Great Pride, We Recognize the Clifton Office’s Highest Achievers. July 2013 Award Winners

Hilda Ferro

Top Lister

Lesia Wirstiuk

Hilda Ferro

Top Producer

Top Sales

Lesia Wirstiuk

Agent of the Month

Arthur “Artie” Rubin

Weichert Pride

August 2013 Award Winners

Carlito Chi

Top Lister

Gregorio “Greg” Manalo

Top Sales

Lesia Wirstiuk

Top Producer

Valdemar Studzinski

Alma Billings

Agent of the Month

Weichert Pride

Here are some of our current homes on the market....

CLIFTON Welcome to this well maintained 2 Fam w/3BRs, 2FBAs, high ceilings, wood trim, bsmt & 1 car gar. MLS: 3076381 $295,500

CLIFTON This lovely, 5BR Cape features 2FBAs, kit w/breakfast bar, hd flrs, LR w/frpl, Fam Rm & 1 car gar. MLS: 3072357 $269,000

CLIFTON This lovely, renovated, Richfield Cape offers 3BRs, new EIK, FDR, C/A, full fin bsmt & 1 car garage. MLS: 3048145 $317,000

Tony Sanchez, Manager

If you’re interested in a career in real estate, call me at 973-779-1900(office) 973-801-9497(cell) tsanchez@weichertrealtors.net Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY

That’s right, an opera company has its roots right here in your hometown.

Bravo Clifton!

BRAVO! By Robert Lisowsky

Francesco Santelli of Clifton, the Garden State Opera’s Artistic and Musical Director, is pictured with a biblical image of Tamar and Judah.

When you think of Clifton’s historically charming Dutch Hill neighborhood, operadoesn’tusuallycome tomind.FewpeopleevenknowthatanoperacompanyhasitsoriginsinClifton,muchlessaquietlittlecornerofDutchHill. OK, it’s not exactly the Met at Lincoln Center, but down on Hadley Ave., you’ll find the Garden State Opera’s headquarters in the home of its artistic and musicaldirector,FrancescoSantelli. Hehasastudioinhishome,butSantellialsoworks outoflargerproductionfacilitiesaroundNorthJersey. The word opera in Italian means “a creative work, especiallyamusiccomposition”suggestingthatitcombinestheartsofsoloandchoralsinging,acting,dancing,sceneryandcostumesinastagedspectacle. Santelli founded the Garden State Opera in 1999 “withthepurposeofofferingqualityproductionsatlow ticketprices.Thecompanyproducesfullystagedoperas withanorchestra”andhasperformedinvenuesthroughoutPassaic,EssexandBergencountiesfeaturingsingers andmusiciansfromtheNewYorkmetroarea. 16 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Since 2005, the Garden State Opera has also been showcased as part of the Caldwell College Concert Series, in collaboration with the private Catholic College’sMusicDepartment. Santelli’snextbigproductionwillhitthestagelater this month. It’s the world premiere performance of “Tamar da Timna (Tamar of Timnah) from Misery to Glory” at the Caldwell College Student Center AuditoriumonBloomfieldAve.,Oct.27at4pm. The opera was commissioned by theAssisi Music FestivaltoSantelli,whoisalsoComposerinResidence with the annual festival which takes place in Assisi, Italy.  Every year musicians converge upon this medieval village to produce world-class vocal and chambermusic.Santellisaysplansareintheworksto stagehisoriginaloperathereaswell. Santelli, librettist and composer of the work, has pointedoutthatthestoryofTamarintheBible(Genesis 38)isbrief,butalsofascinatingandintriguing.Thecentralcharacter,Tamar,hasbeencriticizedbymanybiblicalscholarsbecauseofher‘peculiarbehavior.’


Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY “In fact, in the story,  she hid her identity among some temple prostitutes in the city of Enaim and enticedJudahintoasexualrelationshipthere,”explains Santelli. “This has generated so much controversy aboutthenatureandmotivationsofthiswoman.” Accordingtothecomposer,intheopera“Tamarda Timna,”audienceswillbepresentedwithanewview ofTamar.Thedramaticlibrettoandthemusicwillview Tamar'sactionsas“inspiredfromabove.” Judah and Tamar are immortalized in the Old Testamentforbeingtheleadprogenitorsofaglorious genealogy that goes from King David to the Messiah himself,hencefromthemiseryoftheEnaim’smoment tothegloryofJudah’sjustificationofher,andfinally herpositioninhistory. Jacob,Judah’sfather,hadprophesizedonhisdeath bed that the “lion of the tribe of Judah” will do great things, and such a prophecy could not have been fulfilledifTamarhadn'tdonewhatshedid.Intheend, Judah himself acknowledges Tamar’s greatness with thefamouswords‘SheismorerighteousthanIam.’” The story of Tamar, a  biblical figure little known and much less understood, is inspirational, Santelli maintains, “because of her faith in the will of heaven

whichsheespousedattheriskofherlife.SheunderstoodthatJudah’slineagehadtocontinue,throughher life of prayer and knowing the prophecy received by Jacobonhisdeathbed.” “She was not a prostitute even though she had to dressasonetoobtainherpurpose,”Santelliexplains. “SheenduredthecourseandtheliesandbrokenpromisesofJudahtoadvanceGod’splan.” Hepointsoutthatthesexualelementinthisstory“is interesting and peculiar in that the  relationship betweenthetwointhiscontextwasnotsimplyahorizontalhumanact;ratheritwasreinforcedwithaverticalor‘spiritual’purpose.” WhenTamarwasonthevergeofbeingexecutedfor the adulterous affair which led to her pregnancy, she cared little for her life, only that the child would be bornandthattheprophecywouldbefulfilled. “Tamar stands as an inspirational figure and a role model if we understand her motivations for her actions,”addsSantelli. As for the music, he says “the opera is tonal and melodic with abundance of dissonances throughout, according to the different emotions and moments the charactersexperienceonstage.”

Proudly Serving Assembly District 34... Clifton, Orange, East Orange & Montclair

The Honorable

Sheila Y. Oliver

Speaker of New Jersey

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18 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY Thereareseveraldances Younger opera buffs inthework,theKadeishas can catch a matinee perDance (The Temple formance of Donizetti’s Prostitutes),Tamar’sdance “Il Campanello,”  on Oct. for Judah and a dance in 25,11am,alsoatCaldwell Judah’s household to celeCollege.Admissionisfree brate the return of his son formiddleandhighschool Shela,whichareperformed students. by The Kennedy Dancers While Santelli seeks ofJerseyCity. sponsorsandsupportfrom ThelibrettoisinItalian individuals and corporaOpera singers Charles Williamson and Erin Britten, with English supertitles tions, many projects are who will perform at the Sequoia Senior Center in and the production is funded in part, by the Passaic, as part of the Garden State Opera. stagedwithanorchestra. Passaic County Cultural Ticketsare$20,$15forstudentsandseniors,andtax and Heritage Council at Passaic County Community deductiblecontributionsaremostwelcome(TheGarden College,andthroughagrantfromtheNewJerseyState StateOperaisanon-profitorganization). Council on theArts, a partner agency of the National TheGardenStateOperawillalsopresentaconcert EndowmentfortheArts. attheSequoiaSeniorCenter,565BroadwayinPassaic Thoseinterestedinlearningmoreabouttheopera,or on Oct. 10 at noon. Opera singers Erin Britten and to have a performance organized for a group or an CharlesWilliamsonwillperformariasandduetsfroma organization, contact Francesco Santelli by phone at repertoire accompanied at the piano by  Ishmael 973-685-9972 or email gstopera@optonline.net. See Wallace.Thereisasuggesteddonationof$5atthedoor. moredetailsatgardenstateopera.homestead.com.

20 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY

Eastern Europeans

A Little Corner of Europe By Irene Jarosewich There is a joke that became popular in Ukraine about 20 years ago, soon after the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, and Ukraine, along with 14 other Soviet republics, became independent nations. The joke goes like this: Ivan, ninety-two years old, sat in front of his house in a little corner of the Carpathian Mountains, a range that runs through the heart of Eastern Attorney Walter J. Tencza as a Clifton High grad in 1951, and today. Europe, reminiscing aloud. “In 1900, when I was born, I was Austrian. My uncle, who lived a “I love the language, love my customs and tradicouple of towns over was tions, I’m the attorney to Sons of Poland... My ties Hungarian. In 1930, when I got marto Polonia have always been strong.” ried, I was Polish. In 1960, when my grandchild was born, I was Soviet. The Polish immigrant population grew so rapidly Finally, when I die, I will be Ukrainian. And imagine, I that by 1918, other parishes formed: Holy Rosary in never even left this town.” Passaic and St. Stanislaw in Garfield. By 1935, the Every East European who hears that joke will accept first building of St. John Kanty Church on Speer Ave. it with a wry grin, or maybe grimace — Poles, Slovaks, in Athenia had been built. Athenia remains a hub for the Hungarians, Ukrainians, Czechs, Serbs, Romanians, Polish community today. Attorney Walter J. Tencza Moldovans, others — each can tell a similar story about came to America from Poland when he was six years their little corner of Europe. old in 1939, and then came to live off Van Houten Ave. The collapse of empires, poverty, two world wars, in 1944, after several years in Brooklyn and Passaic. constantly shifting borders, then the collapse of the On Nov. 15, he will be inducted into the Alumni Hall Soviet Union all provided reasons for millions of of Fame for the Boys and Girls Club of Clifton, now Eastern Europeans to immigrate to America—hundreds located on Colfax Ave., although that wasn’t the club’s of thousands of them to settle in northern New Jersey. first address. The original Boys Club, “because,” said Today, about 10-12 percent of Clifton’s population, or Walter, “we had no girls then” was in Passaic. close to 9,000 residents, claims East European descent. “I was about 15 when I was asked by the director of That’s definitely bigger than your average village back in the Boys Club in Passaic, Mr. Polino, to help set up one the old country. The largest community here is Polish, in Clifton. The first Boys Club in Clifton began in almost 7 percent of Clifton’s population. One of the first School #13 in Athenia and then moved to School #7 in anchors of the broader Polish community in our area was Botany Village a couple of years later.” built in 1892 in Passaic – St. Joseph’s parish. 22 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


Dr. Lewko welcomes to his practice...

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Michael P. Lewko, MD LLC 973-405-5163 871 Allwood Rd., Clifton We proudly speak English, Ukrainian, Polish, Spanish, Cantonese and Russian

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Irina Raklyar, MD, FACR

Louisa Ziglar, MD

Dr. Raklyar brings her extensive work and study experience to The NJ Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center. Receiving her Medical Degree from the State University of New York and is a Certified Clinical Densitometrist, Dr. Raklyar performed her residency at Georgetown University at Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC, culminating as Chief Fellowship in the final year. Board Certified in Rheumatology and Internal Medicine, Dr. Raklyar brings a youthful optimism in her treatment of the various ailments associated with Arthritis and Osteoporosis.

Dr. Ziglar received her Rheumatology Fellowship training at New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases, Internal Medicine Residency training at North Shore University Hospital and medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical School. Prior to joining our group she held a faculty appointment at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Ziglar's enthusiasm and ability to articulate rheumatic diseases was recognized in 2010 when she was awarded “Rheumatology Fellow of the Year” by the NYU Internal Medicine Residency Program. She is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Michael P. Lewko, MD, FACR, AGSF Arthritis Doctor Michael Lewko has been specializing in GeriatricsRheumatology and is named to U.S. News & World Report database of Best Doctors. He has been specializing in Geriatrics and Rheumatology for over 20 years since receiving his degree from Rutgers Medical School and fellowship training at Brown University and University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. In addition to his Clifton office practice, he has served proudly as Chief of Geriatrics as well as a Faculty Member in the Departments of Medicine and Family Practice at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.

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Arthritis • Rheumatism • Osteoporosis Aging Wellness • Functional Improvement Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY

At the St. Nicholas Church picnic this past month, from left Self Reliance employee Nataliya Yakhtelska, Board Chair Kenneth A. Wanio, Rev. Andriy Dudkevych of St. Nick’s, CEO Val Bogattchouk and employee Kate Laszyn.

The Ukrainians In 18th and early 19th cen“We offer Clifton residents high rate CDs—the highturies, East European immiest in Northern NJ—low rate car loans, excellent mortgrants often arrived first in Passaic or Paterson to begin gage and business loans. We do it much faster than jobs in the bustling factories other financial institutions, with personalized service.” and mills. Then, after gathering and saving money to buy land, they moved “out into the Botany Village, on the edge of Passaic, was also a country,” in what was then the farmlands of Clifton. hub of immigrant life in the 1940s and 1950s, the time Ukrainians were no exception to this pattern. During when Tencza was growing up. Poles, Slovaks, Jews, the past 120 years, the Ukrainian community estabUkrainians, Hungarians, Russians lived within blocks lished several parishes in and near Clifton. Today St. of each other. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic parish in Passaic, St. Mary In the 1950s, there was always a rivalry going on Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Washington between the different neighborhoods and towns, said Ave. and Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Tencza, and in Clifton “the town of neighborhoods” Cathedral on Broad St. continue to be anchors. everybody was proud of theirs and defended their own. Ukrainian immigration to the U.S. peaked in four The competition continued through graduation at distinct waves: before World War I, during the 1920s, Clifton High. He then went on to be an attorney, a path after World War II and most recently, after the end of followed by three of his four children, the fourth a prothe Soviet Union in 1991. During the actual war years, fessional in the pharmaceuticals industry. including the 40 years of the Cold War, immigration Tencza’s links to his Polish heritage are personal and dipped or even stopped. professional. “I love the language, love my customs Descendants from the first three waves, as well as and traditions, I’m the attorney to Sons of Poland, was recent arrivals, and a growing number of nona member of the committee that for 75 years has been Ukrainians, are all among the membership of the Self organizing the annual Pulaski Day Parade down Fifth Reliance (NJ) Federal Credit Union with branches on Avenue. My ties to Polonia have always been strong.” Allwood Rd. and on Dayton Ave. in Botany. 24 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


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“I’m really encouraged to see the younger families, newer immigrants. It’s good to carry on the tradition. Many older Slovaks still live in the neighborhood around the church. But it’s especially good to see younger families and children, who all speak fluent Slovak.”

On Ackermann Ave., John Pogorelec Sr., his son John the Centennial Chair, and Trustee Tony Glodova.

Self Reliance has been a financial mainstay for the community since 1960, offering services in both English and Ukrainian. “However,” said Val Bogattchouk, CEO of the credit union, “you no longer have to be of Ukrainian descent to join the credit union because now we have a community charter that anyone who lives, works, worships or goes to school in Passaic County can be a member and have access to our services that include great rates on business loans, auto loans that begin at 0.99 percent, low-interest mortgages with rapid turnaround for approval.” Besides excellent rates on a variety of loans, the credit union offers all a full array of options such as free 26 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

online banking, direct deposit, CDs with, according to Bogattchouk, the highest interest paid in northern New Jersey. Additionally, Self Reliance also offers free checking that pays interest on your balance. Since the credit union is a not-for-profit owned by member-depositors, credit union services are free, or provided for lower fees than traditional banks. Those lower costs plus personal service is what attracts the 4,000 members of Clifton’s Self Reliance to continue their often decades-long relationship with the credit union. Particularly important to Bogattchouk is that his staff takes the time to explain the complexities and potential pitfalls of banking to customers, as well as explain non-banking items such as credit reports and potential rip-offs, such as too-good-to-be-true mortgage rates and balloon loans. “Our credit union offers not only the ease of banking in a familiar language, but we also want to build a relationship of trust. For example, all our mortgages are kept in-house, and our staff does not earn a commission, so there is no temptation to sell you something that you don’t need,” said Bogattchouk, “and we don’t just say we put your interests first. We genuinely do since you, our member, are also our owner.” The Slovaks The up-and-down pattern of immigration for Ukrainians was similar for Slovaks. Slovak immigrants first settled in nearby Passaic in the late 1800s. The mother church of the Slovak community was St. Mary’s on Market St. in Passaic, but as the local community grew and moved, Ss. Cyril and Methodius was formed in 1913 on Ackerman Ave. Founded by a small group of determined Slovaks living in the Clifton area, then known as Acquackanonk Township, Ss. Cyril and Methodius Church celebrates its 100th anniversary on Nov. 3. Ackerman Ave. was still a dirt road in 1913, and at the founding meeting, attended by 30 men, $20 was collected toward the building fund for a new parish.


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ETHNICITY Ss. Cyril and Methodius continues to serve the Slovak community of Clifton and nearby areas, with two liturgies in Slovak and English, said Rev. John Connolly, pastor, and also now has opened its doors to the local Spanish-language community. All those new parishioners have had a positive impact on the church census: more than 1,000 individuals are now registered as members of the church. Father and son, John Pogorelec Sr. and Jr., have been lifelong members. “I’m really encouraged to see the younger families, newer immigrants. It’s good to carry on the tradition. Many older Slovaks still live in the neighborhood around the church, on Knapp Ave., Clifton Ave., Holden St., and still walk to the church. But it’s especially good to see younger families and children, who all speak fluent Slovak,” said John Sr. John Sr. traveled to Slovakia in 1976, to visit the villages of his parents and grandparents. The visit made a lasting impression on him and he is glad that he had the opportunity to travel when he did. Recently, after the death of the longtime chair of the centennial committee, John Jr. was asked to take over the helm of the festivities as the church marks its 100th anniversary with a Nov. 3 banquet.

Through his presidency of the Clifton Lodge of the Slovak Catholic Sokol, a fraternal benefits society, John Jr. keeps the circle of the Slovak community connected. Fraternal benefit societies are another hallmark of East European communities. In the days of the early 20th century, immigrants turned to their own not only for spiritual guidance, but for practical solutions, such as life insurance and annuities offered through these fraternal organizations. As member-owned, not-for-profits, fraternal societies give back to their communities, and offer camaraderie through athletic competitions, newspapers, and social events. However, although the not-for-profit tradition remains strong, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many recent immigrants have come to America and did their best to become savvy entrepreneurs. The Russians A newer community of immigrants in Clifton includes a broad group of Russian-language speakers. Although Russian immigrants are not new to Clifton, many of the recent immigrants are not ethnic Russians and have never been to Russia. Russian was the umbrella language used among the military and

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ETHNICITY “A four-year-old that arrived here only a few weeks ago from Bulgaria, for example, has very different needs than a child, the same age, who was born here. We focus on the development of the individual child.” technical professionals of the Soviet Union and nearby East European countries, so these immigrants have come from countries as varied as Moldova, Bulgaria, Belarus, and Uzbekistan. Vera Maydal understands this complexity and besides English, Spanish and Russian, teachers at her pre-school on Valley Rd. speak several other East European languages. With this type of language support, a young child never feels lost, is spared the scary confusion that many immigrant children often feel when they are enrolled in an English-only school just weeks after coming to America. Deeply committed to nurturing children, Vera who worked professionally as an educator in Uzbekistan before coming to the United States in 1994, was disappointed with the quality of the pre-school education being offered in America when she came to work here. “When the minds are young, this is when you must challenge them the most, stimulate the children.” Other parents she knew were also put off by the warehousing style of some centers, along with the sugary foods and the lack of experience and early childhood education among many of the day care workers. “I knew that I would have grandchildren one day and I wanted a better environment for them. Children must have the best, not the worst,” she said. A colleague told her, “Vera, start your own school!” and in 2004, she opened the doors to the Magical Palace of Knowledge, now on the first floor of the Pope John Paul II Center on Clifton’s western border. Although located on the first floor of a former high school that belongs to the Diocese of Paterson, Vera’s school is secular and accepts children of all faiths and nationalities. Vera is expertly assisted by her daughter Yana Mikhaylov, a 2004 CHS graduate, with two children of her own that attend her mother’s school. 30 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Vera Maydal and her daughter Yana Mikhaylov run the Magical Palace of Knowledge on Valley Rd.

“Approximately 180 children are enrolled in the day program, ages six weeks to kindergarten,” she said, “and then another 50-60 in the after-school and Saturday programs. For ages three and four, parents can choose if they want their child in a Russian-language group or Englishlanguage group. These years are the most important for language learning. Children will learn English quickly, so this is the chance to reinforce the learning of Russian.” Besides language-learning, the children are stimulated with a wide range of creative options – art, dance, drama and music classes. They are kept healthy with hot, home-cooked meals prepared each day that include such East European classics such as borsch and chicken dumpling soup, and a lots of physical activity outdoors. “A child’s mind is like a sponge,” said Yana, “I see this with my children, and you must give them good things to absorb. Every child comes to us at a different level. A four-year-old that arrived here only a few weeks ago from Bulgaria, for example, has very different needs than a child, the same age, who was born here. We focus on the development of the individual child.” In Clifton, descendants of East European immigrants, as well as newcomers, include members of all faiths – Jews, Orthodox Christians, Latin and Byzantine-rite Catholics, various Protestant denominations and Muslims – as well as nationalities and ethnicities that could change with a change in borders. After coming to America, each immigrant chose anchors - religion, language, food, customs – and around these anchors, immigrant communities and families are built and sustained for generations.


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Edwin Romero’s

American Dream By Richard Szathmary

At their Athenia eatery, Edwin, Maria, Christian, a 7th grader at WWMS and Joshua a junior at CHS.

It’s called Casita Maria and it’s in the heart of Clifton on Van Houten Ave., in the Athenia section. And for Edwin Romero, who lives on Mt. Prospect St. with his esposa of 18 years, Maria, and their two sons, 16-year-old Joshua and 12-year-old Christian, it encapsulates the proverbial “American dream.” It may not be the American dream of, say, either Daniel Boone, Warren Buffett or even Jay Gatsby, but it is a very specific and powerful variety of this dream nevertheless. Again, it is called Casita Maria, after the beloved wife, and it represents one Clifton family’s pursuit of so much that is good, immediate and telling about America. It’s also a neighborhood restaurant specializing in Latino cuisine, with pretty darned good food. 32 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Restaurant? Or Restaurante? In Fajardo, a resort town on the eastern Atlantic coast of Puerto Rico without many fast food franchises that Edwin Romero comes from, a restaurant(e) is often something very Old World in feeling and service.. One “dines” there, not simply eats. The service of coffee is particularly ritualized, a leisurely, decorous procedure. In Clifton, however, folks generally eat more rapidly. (Some would say we simply slurp while living at a gallop.) So it is high time we did learn (whether or not for so many of Clifton’s “ethnics” it may actually be a case of learning all over again) to take our time and mind our mommies and chew. Casita Maria, celebrating its second anniversary this October, is both kinds of place. It’s in Clifton, which is sometimes an impatient-fist-down-on-the-formi-


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ETHNICITY ca-countertop sort of place, so its establishments often reflect that specialized form of Jersey grumpiness. But it can also be very much Antillean and relaxed in feel, somewhere where you half-expect to find Geraldo Rivera expounding on something (anything! given it’s Geraldo). It’s up to you, the diner. Thankfully, Edwin Romero has insured that for us. “I wanted to open a restaurant. Or maybe a restaurantbar. But I wanted it most of all to be a place where people just feel comfortable, both ordering and eating,” he says. “And I wanted to be part of the American dream.” Which as it turned out has proven to be a pursuit entailing upwards of 18-hour days. This hot pursuit of the glorious American dream stuff, in other words, can be one hard and time-consuming slog. Even as it remains for many, perhaps especially “ethnics,” a desirable slog. Beginnings Edwin Romero began his version of this pursuit as an IT pro. “It was a job,” he explains. “Sometimes a pretty good job. It just wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do.” At the time, he lived in the Greenville section of good ol’ Jersey City, Some describe it as a bit rough of a neighborhood. (Others who know, say, the outer edges of Glasgow or the gang-dominated non-tourist precincts of Rio might scoff, but hey...) But with the family moving to the shining alternative of Clifton 10 years ago, Romero eventually knew in his heart that “It was time. It was just finally time.” That time, three labor-laden years ago, was one of real “sweat equity,” the Romero family working hard to transform the premises from what had been in its two previous incarnations a neighborhood deli. With a lot of help of a friend who works as a chef at a local hospital, the Romero family eventually got 606 Van Houten into shape. The result was a bright spacious room whose walls are the approximate color of ripening plantains, or maybe of a nice mustard-cream sauce to ladle over the cooked version. And that was hard enough. But then came the opening, and the real modern equivalent to the mythical “Labors of Hercules” began. Because as anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant can tell you, it’s bad enough working at any level in one, but it’s doubly hard when you own the joint. “I like it,” he says. “I especially like meeting new peo34 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Homework is on the menu daily at Casita Maria.

ple who come into the restaurant. And I opened here because, when I looked around, there was no place serving Latino food. I investigated and I saw the need. You meet that need and you hope people will come, enjoy your food and then tell others about it.” But filling that need includes a six day workweek that runs daily from 11 am to 8 or 9 pm. Which in restaurant terms means, at the very least, being on-site an hour before opening and a similarly spate post-closing. (Which is why it helps to have a 16-year old son. As Edwin Romero notes, “Joshua helps us out as much as he can during the school year, and during the summer he was here pretty much all the time. Christian is also here to do his own share.” This may explain, as well, why so many restaurant owners, not just Greek and Cretan diner proprietors, seem to have large families. It’s perhaps a conscious economic decision to attempt multiple conceptions as much as it is anything else.) Chasing the Dream There is an image which evokes the Romeros’ dogged pursuit of the American dream that could serve as an exceptionally popular and beloved print out of the Currier & Ives studios circa 1852: Dad and Mom working the kitchen and counter of the family restaurant, while the older child does clean-up and the younger one sits quietly at a table doing his math homework, occasionally calling out to Mom for help with the answers. It’s touching. And it’s real. You can even see it for yourself in real time most any weekday evening at Casita Maria. “I never knew this would be so much work,” Romero comments with a wry smile.


ETHNICITY You mean the churrasco, the mofongo, the oxtail stew, the mangu (with either salami, fried cheese or eggs!), even the staple yellow rice with pigeon peas, none of that just sort of magically appears on the plate? As if transported here on golden platters by angels from Santurce or Buenos Aires? Amused, he shakes his head. It may be the American dream, but only in the most fevered of dreams does food not have to be prepared or cooked on-premises. “Oh, it’s fun. Fresh food, nothing frozen, good, attentive and friendly service. It’s all pretty basic. But again, it takes a lot of work. A whole lot of work. It’s the American dream, sure, but to get it you really have to work very, very long hours,” confides Romero: “I’ve never worked so hard in my life as I do in this job.”

No regrets, then, Edwin? He shakes his head firmly, offers up the universal finger pinch gesture which signifies the correction of “well, maybe, just a little...” “I would just change the way I started a bit, I’d have more extra help when needed, that’s all. And I wish the delivery drivers were more reliable. Because they often don’t show up for work without even calling to tell me. Or they just get lost. In Clifton. On the local streets. Where they live already,” he concludes in a somewhat incredulous tone. But other than that? “No, no regrets. And the proof is in our food. People should just come here to Casita Maria and see for themselves if the food is good and the service is great.” So the American dream remains alive and well and continue to roll.

It’s in Athenia and probably lots of other Clifton neighborhoods. Now pass the mangu, and make ours with salami, fried cheese. And eggs. Because nothing helps our own pursuit of the American dream, or perhaps befits it, so well as a full plate of “ethnic” food.

Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Panagiotis Doris

A Share in Clifton History By Richard Szathmary There’s Greek family tradition and then there’s Greek family tradition Clifton-style. There’s, for example, the sort of family tradition exemplified in classical Greek plays. You know, Agamemnon, Menelaus, Orestes, Electra, that bloody gang, along with the interloping chick named Helen, whose “elopement” with some dude from Asia called Paris led to the Trojan War. Most such plays by the Greek dramatists Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were put on in outdoor amphitheaters round 300 BC. Then there’s the Clifton version, centered on, for Zeus’s sake, Texas Weiners. This one’s been running in Clifton since 1961, often to SRO audiences, at, where else but, the Hot Grill on Lexington Ave. And really, did even Sophocles ever write a better line of dialogue than “Two all the way, two?” There’s also some hot news from the Hot Grill: Panagiotis “Peter” Doris, son of Bill Doris, a manager at the Hot Grill for the last 40 years and himself brother to original owner Nick Doris, is now a partner there. (Yes, the other two original owners, Carmen La Mendola and Dominic Sportelli are indeed Italian. But the Med washes both Greek and Italian shores and for both countries you could spend all day debating the merits of their respective native cultures and family traditions, even the relative quality of their respective extra virgin olive oils.) Passing the torch “I think it’s amazing and I feel just great about it, “ exclaims Panagiotis. “This is just a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I am the guy for the job.” He’s worked at the Hot Grill since he was 15 so he certainly knows the ropes. Today he’s 28. 36 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Panagiotis or Peter Doris stands behind his dad Bill and next to Hot Grill owners Dominic Sportelli and Carmen La Mendola. Facing page, Doris, CHS 2003.

“I started on the tables. Moved on to working on the line, helping make sure the food comes out correctly and hot. Did pretty much every possible job in the kitchen,” the 2003 CHS grad says, And yes, Peter Doris grew up in a typically close, occasionally fractious, traditional kind of Greek family. “We always had family dinners together. It was noisy but it was also a loving environment. And we almost never discussed business while at the table. There was a sense that, unless it was an emergency, that this was something that could wait until later.” Since CHS, Peter also found time to pick up an Accounting Degree from Berkeley College in Woodland Park. “It helps. Everything costs money. And everything costs less if you can plan things out, order just what you need and properly negotiate with your suppliers.” The real import of Peter coming on as a partner, however, is that it insures the tradition of the Hot Grill.


ETHNICITY It will go on. And on and on, if Peter Doris has anything to say about it. Immutable. Inviolate. Dedicated, as the ancient Greek priestesses at Delphi were, to the continuance of that special (and, let’s face it, pretty much Jersey specific) form of culinary glory that’s called “Texas Weiners.” Carmen, Dominic, Peter and Bill, these are all guys who’ve worked very hard to build something and even seem to see themselves as “gatekeepers.” The secret to their success is as much in the commitment to the sauce as in the sauce itself. “Everything will stay the same,” he exults. (And the young man pictured at right as a CHS grad is very good at exulting.) Nothing will change. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And at the Hot Grill, nothing’s is ever broken. Because we make it the best! So we’re not going to change anything.” Currently, Peter Doris works what he calls “a split shift European style.”

Which means that he’s at the restaurant 11-3 and 7-1. “And until 2 am or even later as is necessary.” And as many days in the week as necessary, it should be stressed. As something of a measure of his dedication, Peter Doris steps to the front to provide a constant churn of eager managerial talent and to be a keeper of the flame of Hot Grill tradition. “Sometimes you just have to sacrifice things,” Peter explains about the toll working at the Hot Grill exacts on his social life. (Good grief, he doesn’t even get to watch Letterman or Arsenio Hall live!) “But there is definitely someone out there for me who will understand the situation. Who will respect the tradition.” So, just as ancient Greece had its dynasts, the partners behind the Hot Grill are, after a fashion, ours. “Two all the way” is such a wonderful line to hear. With Panagiotis Doris there, it will remain so for at least another 50 years.

Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Amparo Caamano

Dedication, “D.R.” Style By Richard Szathmary 1492 was not a terribly good year in what’s now the Dominican Republic. Columbus landed there and (to paraphrase a famous remark of Malcolm X’s about Plymouth Rock and blacks) landed as well on the locals (aka the Taino Indians) hard. Very, very hard. To the point where within 50 yeara of Columbus’s Spanish employers holding power there, the Taino population had declined radically to around 500. It’s better today. Both down there and here. The Dominican Republic is a generally stable (and relatively far more prosperous) place, especially against neighbor nation Haiti with whom it shares the island of Hispaniola. Dominicans emigrate, too; according to the 2010 American Community Survey by the Census Bureau, there are some 1.5 million people of Dominican descent in the US, comprising 3 percent of the Hispanic population of the United States. One of those expats, a proud American citizen too, is Amparo Caamano. She wants to help unify them. And if you are in fact of Dominican descent, has she got an organization for you! Amparo hails from a small seaside town called Sanchez in the Dominican Republic. It’s a former fishing

port gone ever-so-poky because the harbor has silted up. Not an ideal place for such a wallop of life as her. “I like to stay busy, I suppose,” she explains with a coy smile. “Very, very busy.” Since “landing here” herself in 1987, this longtime resident of the Lakeview section has, appropriately, wed, mothered and shepherded two children, Alvaro and Varyana, through Clifton High and into college. Amparo joined and gotten actively involved in a long skein of community and ethnic-type organizations. And she earned her BS in Biology from Ramapo College. She’s also a committee person with the Passaic County Democratic organization.

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39


ETHNICITY Her first job here was at that most baffling of American institutions, the US Post Office. “It’s kind of a strange place,” she notes somewhat archly. “People rush a lot but nobody outside of it seems to think much gets done there.” Today, however, thanks to that college degree (“Education is impossibly important,” she declares, and we do mean “declares”), she’s a technician in the Quality Control Lab at United Water of NJ, the largest water treatment plant in the tri-state area. But her true avocation, her driving passion beyond, family is the Hermandad Dominicana (“Dominican Brotherhood”), a support group for New Jersey’s estimated 250,000 Dominicans in New Jersey. She’s “Madame Presidente.” There are some 7,000 Dominicans in Clifton, 37,000 in adjacent Paterson, according to the Institute of Latin Studies. The 2010 US Census puts the numbers somewhat lower, a point the Institute claims seemingly ingenuously is because Latinos in general don’t take censuses very seriously. Founded in 2009 (“Exactly on February 23,” she stipulates), the Hermandad has but 12 members. “The office is in my basement,” Amparo explains, “and so we don’t have much room to meet.”

Nonetheless the small but mighty group has two key purposes. One is “to help Dominicans simply enjoy being Dominican,” to learn and experience more about their culture, and to help non-Dominicans know more about them in the process.” (Americans in general know little about the “D.R.” other than, maybe, that it supplies the largest number of non-Americans to Major League Baseball, including scorecard staples like the Alou brothers, Robinson Cano, Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols and David Ortiz. But it was also for a long time ruled by Haiti, of all unlikely places, and only achieved independence from it in 1844.) The other is to serve in an advisory capacity to Dominicans. “The Hermandad can find advisers, can guide you through licensing processes and government regulations. Dominicans helping Dominicans.” The Big One The Hermandad’s signal local public success to date, however, was the recently concluded show at the Clifton Public Library about the history and culture of the “D.R.” (as Latinos routinely call it). The show was on display both inside the library and outside, where some 60 photos braved the elements for the duration of the

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ETHNICITY show, which ran for about a month. Starting from the (tragically cut short) days of the Tainos on through the days of the D.R.’s Spanish and Haitian overlords and on up through even assorted blunderous “interventions” in Dominican politics as recently as 1965, attendees were treated to a more detailed view of Amparo’s homeland that you’ll ever hear from MLB game announcers. Amparo Caamano, too, such is her faith in Clifton, had no doubt whatsoever these photos (in several cases hard indeed to come by) would weather the ravages of both late summer storms and passing mischievous youth. “This is Clifton,” she declares. “And in my heart I chose this town for our exhibition because in my city the good people respect shows like ours. Things are safe here and life is safe here. And good, too.” Latino Realities You don’t have to be someone who really remembers when Marc Anthony was better known for his salsa singing than his complicated dalliance with Jennifer Lopez to realize that Latinos are greatly in evidence in America today and decidedly on the cultural and economic ascendance In Clifton alone, the percentage of Hispanics/Latinos jumped from, according to the Census Bureau. Compare 2000’s 19.84 percent to 2010’s 31.92 percent, and you may note that Clifton’s overall population only increased from 78,000 to 84,000. Some 60 percent of Dominicans are Dominican-born, too, compared with 37 percent of Hispanics overall. 63.6 percent of these Dominicans nationwide didn’t

even arrive here until 1990 or afterwards. And a whopping 53 percent are not even yet American citizens. So the task before the Hermandad (whose current 12 person membership recalls, purposely or maybe even semi-blasphemously, the original number of Apostles) is a daunting one: to keep Dominican growth and advancement on par with Clifton’s, and America’s, own.

Or maybe just semi-daunting, given Amparo’s drive. “I want my fellow Americans and Latinos to know that the Dominican Republic is a wonderful country and that Dominicans are hard-working and very, very friendly,” Amparo Caamano says. “But Clifton, too, is wonderful. ” The lady has likely landed here for good, in other words.

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Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY

By Richard Szathmary There are a lot of euphemisms for the police. Copper. Flatfoot, Bull. Johnny Law. Po-po. Even, from the very stupid some, the scabrous “pig.” In Clifton we have another, one you don’t hear too much across suburban Jersey yet. Emphasis on “yet.” And it’s Muslim. You could even use that title four times in a row, because that’s in fact the number of Muslim cops we currently have in the Clifton PD. Clifton’s first, however, was and is the engaging and somewhat intense 44-year-old Detective Sergeant Bachar Balkar, a USMC veteran of the first Gulf War and someone who already has almost 20 years of solid law enforcement experience. And he is a harbinger. Not an archetype, exactly, but definitely a taste of what’s to come. As America’s population changes, so to a measurable extent does even the ethnic and religious makeup of its law enforcement institutions. For centuries, people have pondered whether it’s possible to serve both God and Mammon simultaneously. Now, it’s sometimes (think Pat Buchanan at his most blustering, or even NJ Senatorial candidate Steve Lonegan)) folks wondering whether a Muslim can serve both God, in the specific form of Allah, and the Constitution of the United States. 42 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Sergeant Balkar, however, has absolutely no doubts that the two are eminently compatible. “We have the Constitution,” he says, “and nothing is ever going to overrule the U.S. Constitution.” Origins Sergeant Balkar isn’t from such traditionally Muslim lands as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran or Indonesia. Instead, ask him his descent and he’ll tell you he’s Circassian. (“I’m culturally Circassian,” as he puts it, “it’s my blood.”) So he isn’t even ethnically Arab. The public “face” of Muslim law enforcement is mottled indeed. Circassia, geographically a smallish sliver of land (today mostly parceled out to other present or former “Soviet Socialist Republics”) on the Black Sea dropped in between Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, might fairly be described as a place that Russia, the “neighborhood bully, “ historically treated about the same as we treated the Plains Indians, and to the same point of genocidal near-eradication. Which is why the Balkars moved to Syria (unlikely as such a “re-location” seems now given current events), to Damascus. And subsequently, when Balkar was 2, to America. “We restarted here,” he says.


ETHNICITY It owed more to, say, the teen-centric world conjured up by shows on Nickelodeon than to the Qur’an. But then a first-string bad guy in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, ferally restless after a long, inconclusive war with Iran, started feeling possessive towards a little oilrich neighbor nation called Kuwait. The rest is history, of the bloodiest kind.

In 1991, upon returning from the first Gulf War, Marine Lance Cpl. with his mom Haifaa.

Only one of seven of about 4 million Circassians may even be found in historical Circassia today, such is the extent of their diaspora. There are, for example, an estimated 50,000 in Europe and the US, but many, many more in Turkey. And, estimates Bachar Balkar, 6 to 10,000 right here in Passaic County, “principally in the general Prospect Park, Wayne and Haledon area.� Most are Sunni Muslims. Balkar’s boyhood was pretty normal, too. High school sports, including the captaincy of the basketball team. ‘Hanging out with friends. Just the usual Jersey stuff.�

Opportunities Bachar Balkar joined the Marine Corps by way of his personal response. He was sent overseas. His superiors learned that he spoke fluent Arabic because he’d grown up in a rare tri-lingual household. “We spoke Arabic, Circassian and English among ourselves at home,� he explains. His military superiors were overjoyed at his cultural heritage. He thus became, in what was for most US soldiers from any service branch a very alien, linguistically baffling land, battalion interpreter. (Coincidentally he served alongside Alberto Tirado, father to Clifton firefighter Angelina Tirado profiled elsewhere in this issue.) It was a strange sort of war, as strange as for millions exposure to Southeast Asia at its bloody worst proved back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

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ETHNICITY But perhaps made stranger for a at the time had any Muslim offiMarine of Circassian descent and Islamic cers.” Passaic County’s loss is thus faith because it was fought across lands to Clifton’s benefit. where his faith first developed. And though there’ve been three But it was also a war during which the more Muslim officers added to the Defense Department displayed enough Clifton PD since Balkar joined 16 genuine (relatively, anyway, depending years ago, they likely won’t at all on your opinion of the Pentagon) wisdom be the last. They won’t always be and religious tolerance to allow personnel a relative few as Clifton continues from all its branches time and access to to change, either. make what in Islam is known as the Bachar Balkar has almost 20 Umrah, the “lesser pilgrimage” to Mecca years of law enforcement experiand related sacred sites which can be ence. He’s departmental polygraph made at any time of the year (as opposed administrator, has made his way up Bachar Balkar in Parris Island. to the Hajj, the “major pilgrimage,” to Detective Sergeant and heads up which is to be made by every able-bodied Muslim who a detective squad in the Clifton PD’s Juvenile Bureau. can afford it sometime during the holy span of Ramadan. He’s been married for eight years and has four chilBalkar describes the experience as “simply moving. dren, too, 6, 4, 3 and 10 months, respectively. He is a regA lot of us went together, soldiers, sailors, Air Force peoular worshipper at the Islamic Center of Passaic County ple and Marines, and it just felt very good and very true. and does his level best to adhere to the Five Pillars, the There was a real religious energy level between us.” arkad-al-din of his faith, which include almsgiving as an expression of religious devotion. Reality Biting And he’s of course heard all the dubious “arguments” The First Gulf War “over” (sort of, kind of, though a against the presence of Muslims on the police force. That somewhat chastened Saddam Hussein remained in they’re stealth agents for the eventual installation of power) Lance Corporal Balkar returned home in 1993 to S’haria in American courts and upon non-Muslim heads. a Passaic County where then-Sheriff Ed Englehardt was That they’re somehow disloyal per se because of their specifically looking to hire new officers with military faith. That they can’t enforce the law equitably... experience. The result was 3.5 years as a corrections offi...Yes, it’s total tommyrot, but the situation isn’t cer at Passaic County’s lockup in downtown Paterson. helped exactly by posters prominent on Paterson walls “But I wanted to do more than just being limited to the touting the weirdly frequent speaking engagements in jail. I wanted to help people and I wanted to be of genthis area of one George Galloway, a profoundly antiuine service. That to me specifically said police work. Semitic member of the British parliament known over And I also knew that few if any area police departments there as the “member from Baghdad.”

44 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY ...Or by the straightfaced publication some years ago, via serialization in a Paterson Islamic weekly, of the notorious Russian forgery called the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” which posits a global conspiracy of the Jews over everybody but especially over Muslims. Conspiracy theorists and the nonsense they buy into and spout abound, and visits from Galloway and publishing outrages only assure they’ll continue to do so. Only Good or Bad “You can’t replace the Constitution,” Bachar Balkar emphasizes. “You shouldn’t ever try. Nobody I know is trying. I was brought up with a sense of justice,” he continues. “That justice is best represented by the Constitution. “You also have to be kind, I think, to be a really good police officer. That kind of kindness comes from God. So if you have a belief in God, that helps you to be a better police officer. I treat everybody with respect. That’s part of my cultural heritage too. “You’re either good or bad in the end. All of the good folks are on my team. That’s everyone’s team and it’s got a huge membership. The bad ones are not on my team, and a major part of my job as a police officer is to have to deal with those.” Even here, however, one senses a sensibility that isn’t quite as rote authoritarian as the common image of cops everywhere. As Bachar Balkar points out, “The emphasis in the Juvenile Bureau is almost always on the rehabilitative process. It’s not on trial and punishment. We try to serve the best and long-term interests of the community.” Somewhat fittingly, then, one of his major off-the-job passions happens to be Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which basically teaches that someone smaller and weaker can over-

come someone bigger and thuggish by utilizing technique and leverage. It also means to inspire young people to achieve excellence whatever they try, and to be an actual way of life. “I can see myself studying and teaching to others Brazilian jiu-jitsu for the rest of my life,” he says. Moving Forward The suggestion to the Sergeant that a law enforcement pro, a Corps vet, who’s also Muslim and speaks fluent Arabic might prove an enticing employment prospect for assorted elements of the federal government draws an immediate disclaimer from him. “It’d probably require moving the family someplace else. Those kinds of jobs usually call for that, and often,” he ponder aloud. “I don’t think we’d like that.” One thing he would like very much, however, is to serve as an inspiration to youth, especially young Muslims. “I’m here for my community,” he explains. “How can I not be? This is why I paticularly want outreach to the local Muslim community. “Look, we can do it here, whatever ‘it’ is, just like every other immigrant group before us has done. I don’t want young people to think that they can’t do it just because they’re Muslim “What God has written for me, I hope to fulfill for Him. So I always strive for advancement to benefit my community. Being a police officer is the cake in my life. Everything else is just icing, I sometimes think.” Clearly, then, it’s hard to keep a good Circassian down. Something it took Russia, under both the Czars and their replacement Red rats, several hundred violent years to realize. And Clifton’s Juvenile Bureau seems in especially good, merciful hands, thanks be to God.

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ETHNICITY

Greg Motta

- A Simple Clifton Life

By Carol Leonard For Greg Motta, happiness in life is about keeping it simple. The lifelong Clifton resident and home improvement contractor was raised in the Richfield section, where good times meant being outside with his neighborhood buddies. “I had the good fortune of growing up at a time when we weren’t addicted to technology and computer games,” he said. There was a click of about four of us who were always out playing football and baseball. “My brother put up a basketball hoop for us on a telephone pole in the street. I think that hoop stayed up there for about 30 years.” Motta, 45, was the youngest of four children of his parents, Bob and Zita, and with seven years between him and his youngest sibling Aimee, he admits that he was a bit of a momma’s boy. “They would always pick on me,” he said of his brother and sisters, “particularly Aimee, who gave me rug burns from dragging me around all the time. But we’re all the best of friends now.” 48 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

After attending St. Andrew’s School through eighth grade, Motta moved on to what was then Woodrow Wilson Junior High for ninth grade and then Clifton High School. He played tennis and a couple of years of basketball at CHS, during which he claims to have scored one of the longest field goals in the program’s history. Motta gave up high school sports, though, to work part-time in a little landscaping business that he had started when he was in sixth grade. “I had a strong work ethic and the neighbors would always see me dragging my lawn mower and edger down the street,” he said. “I had about 12 lawns that I did regularly. I charged $10 to cut the grass and $2 if they wanted me to do the edging.” In high school, Motta took college prep courses, but his real interest was in shop classes, particularly wood shop. After graduating in 1987 and not sure what he wanted to do, he took a job with Frank Kaleta, a local carpenter who was a friend of his family. “He needed


Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY Science Center for people with disa helper and I needed a job,” abilities. The two served as volunMotta said. “He taught me a lot teers for the event. about the trade including how not Motta was a contact for volunto do some things.” teers to call, so he first spoke to The only break in Motta’s Jennifer when she dialed his numworking life was in 1993 when he ber. “I kind of fell in love with her and a friend took a 99-day cross voice over the phone,” he said. country bike trip together. Both Jennifer was born in a suburb of were cycling enthusiasts and they Bombay, India, and came to the felt it would be a great thing to United States as a young woman. experience before they had too She works as a paralegal for a law many other commitments. Greg and Jennifer Motta. firm in Paramus. The trip included a stopover in “We just hit it off Michigan to attend a when we met,” Motta wedding as well as a “When we got married, my dad said, I’m said. The couple visit to Motta’s aunt dated for about five and uncle in not losing a son, I’m gaining back my garage.” years and was marCheyenne, Wyoming. ried in 2002. “I think we stopped in Jennifer was a welcomed addition to Motta’s Italian 16 states,” Motta said. “The beauty of this country is just family. He commented, “When we got married, my dad incredible.” said, I’m not losing a son, I’m gaining back my garage.” Over the years, Motta built up his own carpentry and The elder Motta was referring to the clutter his son had home improvement business and learned to do a variety created with all his tools and equipment. of interior renovations, from simple jobs like changing a “Mainstream American,” Motta said of his home life washer in an old bathroom sink, to completely remodelwhile growing up. ing a kitchen. “I’ve had the good fortune of associating The one Italian ritual that the family always observed, with many other outstanding tradesmen,” he said. however, was attending an annual Polenta Supper at Today, Motta can be seen riding around town in his Sacred Heart Church, where his aunt was a parishioner. signature 1990 Ford Country Squire station wagon, Since then, Motta and his wife have taken on the tradition which one of his neighbors affectionately nicknamed The as their own, hosting a Polenta Supper every year at their Queen Mary. The vehicle, which also serves as his supply house. “We do it in the spring, right after Easter,” he said. truck and office, is packed to the gills with buckets, lum“We invite family and friends, and various other characber “and almost any tool you can imagine,” he said, ters to come.” “from the lowly hammer to an eight-inch miter chopping Motta said they try to stick to the original menu that he saw.” always enjoyed at the Sacred Heart event. This includes Motta feels that the wagon suits his personality. “It litchicken cacciatore, which he makes, sausage that his wife erally has a low profile and it’s a throwback to simpler prepares, and, of course, the polenta, which they take times,” he said. “Oddly enough, my parents were driving turns stirring. “We even have the signature tortoni cups us around in a similar car in the 1970s.” from Festival Ice Cream in Paterson,” he said. In addition to being his business car, Motta said The They also have door prizes, a raffle and gag gifts, just Queen Mary also serves as his advertisement. “I can’t tell like at the church dinner Motta attended for many years. you how many times I’ve had arms waving at me as I drive by. People recognize it and they know it’s me.” “We make sure that everyone leaves with a little someAside from his work, Motta enjoys sharing life in his thing,” he said. Albion Park area home with Jennifer, his wife of 11 years. As much as Jennifer enjoys sharing in her husband’s The couple met in 1997 at an outing at the Liberty Italian tradition, Motta has been equally happy to learn 50 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


ETHNICITY about his wife’s culture. He has accompanied her four times to visit her family in India. “We usually stay about two weeks with her mom and her sisters and brother, then go out on our own to travel around the country,” he said. “I’ve had an opportunity to see the Taj Mahal and other landmarks.” Jennifer also has a large group of family members and Indian friends in New Jersey that Motta has gotten to know and spend time with along with his wife. He recently served as the master of ceremonies at a fundraising event run by an Indian-American organization to raise money for scholarships. The Mottas don’t have any children of their own but, for the past four years, they have shared their home with Jennifer’s 25 year-old nephew Nathan, who works with her at the law firm, while pursuing a degree in business and finance. They also enjoy the company of their neighbors, Steve and Debbie, who live behind them. The couple’s two little boys, ages six and four, often cross the backyards and come over to visit on their own, and the Mottas serve as godparents to the older boy. Every Tuesday is taco night with Steve and Debbie and their boys, a ritual that the

families started about a year-and-a-half ago. “My neighbor is an absolute grill master,” Motta said. “We’ll shovel a path in the snow during the winter to get to that grill.” Sometimes after dinner Motta and his neighbor can be seen shooting pool or playing shuffleboard at Charley’s Bar around the corner on Broad St. Motta, Steve and his kids also get together every summer for the annual Clifton Campout in Albion Park sponsored by the Recreation Department. “It’s a lot of fun,” Motta said. “Steve gets Bruno’s to deliver pizza and mussels and we have a real smorgasbord in our tent. It’s a great thing that the city does.” The wives don’t particularly enjoy sleeping in tents, Motta said, so they stay home and do their own thing together that weekend. Motta considers himself blessed to be working in a business that he enjoys and even during the downturn of the economy he has been lucky to have enough jobs to keep him busy. “Fortunately, I can count on one hand the number of days that I haven’t had work in the past 20 years,” he said. “I always try to do right by the locals and especially the older folks. I guess that’s what helps keep me in business.”

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Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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ETHNICITY

Doctors Sandra Ugras and Ricardo Rey:

Partners and Life Partners By Richard Szathmary Down on the corner, at the intersection of Clifton and tomorrow, where many towns will eventually assemble, this nevertheless sounds like an old vaudeville joke: “You put a Turk and a Hispanic together and whaddaya get?” Well, in Clifton’s ethnic future (and likely America’s too), what you get is an authentic, if initially weirdsounding, blend of cultures. The Bosphorus flowing right alongside the Caribbean. But you also get a new primary care medical practice on Paulison Ave. As well as two doctors in it for the long haul. To each other as well as to their commitment to the health of Clifton-area residents. They’re married. This may well be the future path of ethnicity in America: intermarriage, joint business ventures and a melding of cultures. Dr. Sandra Ugras (“ugg-raaash”) is the Turkish side of the equation. She was born in Istanbul, taken to Bergen County when she was 3; family lore has it that they headed to America because of her grandfather’s asthma and settled in Cliffside Park (though why the climate there provably is any more suitable for asthmatics than sunny seaside Turkey remains a mystery to her). She mainly grew up in Northvale. Undergrad degree from Manhattan College, medical college studies at UMDNJ. She did her residency in both Emergency and Internal Medicine, became board-certified in 2006. Dr. Ricardo Rey is her Hispanic complementary marital half. He’s from the Dominican Republic, did his undergrad and med school work in his native country and his residency at St. Barnabas in the Bronx where he spent eight years and they first met. He too is board-certified. “Being Turkish is who I am,” says the distaff side of this marriage and medical partnership. 52 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

“The way I make decisions, the way I reason things, that’s all from the Turkish side of me,” she explains. “That’s really where my cultural background comes into play.” One attribute of Turkish culture, she points out, is fiscal prudence and diligence. “Being in medical school in this country, on average there’s $200 to $300,000 that you end up owing. My first priority has always been to pay that off as quickly as possible. For some reason, that’s an important part of being Turkish, being financially responsible.” Though it lacks the ethnic tensions that to some degree define Turkish politics (re: Kurds, Circassians, Yezidis, many other separatist groups both armed and unarmed), Bergen County to Dr. Ugras as a child didn’t seem completely idyllic. “When I was a kid in school, it wasn’t viewed favorably to have an accent, which I certainly did at the time. I also had black hair and dark eyes. Everybody else seemed to have blonde hair and blue eyes. So they asked a lot of questions about where I came from. It was childish curiosity, but it sometimes seemed constant. I got tired of being asked.” And Dr. Ugras is “something else” which set her apart, in Turkey rather than Catholic majority Garden State: her own religious background is Catholic, not Muslim, “in a country were perhaps 95 percent of the population is Muslim.”


ETHNICITY Which, one surmises, might have played at least as large a role in sending the family off to Bergen County than asthma. Catholicism, of course, poses no issue whatsoever in her spouse’s country. “Our relationship is like life in the Dominican Republic,” Dr. Ricardo Rey says. “It’s just different cultures mixing together. That she’s Turkish didn’t much matter. I just said ‘yes’ to being with her. And then I met her family and I said ‘yes’ to them too.” The medical office—its proper title is Clifton Comprehensive Medical Center— is thus that increasingly common hybrid business model found in Clifton, a trilingual office, this one where relationships can be developed as fluidly in both Turkish and Spanish as well as English. “We chose Clifton (he pronounces it, charmingly, Cleef-ton) for several reasons,” Dr. Rey explains. ‘First, it’s right between Passaic and Paterson.” So they can hie with equal dispatch to either St. Mary’s or St. Joseph’s to admit and attend to patients. “It’s also convenient to Paramus,” he adds. That’s where they live and where their 3-year-old attends a Montessori pre-K.

“Everything is around here. I like that,” Dr. Rey comments of Clifton’s geography. “We’re even actually in an area where other people, lots of them, in fact speak Turkish. You sure won’t find that in Bergen County.” ‘We saw a need here for a comprehensive medical practice,” Dr. Ugras says. “This is a growing town. It’s easy to overlook that, but as the ethnic mix changes, the need for good medical treatment only seems to increase.” And, her spouse adds, “The level of education in Clifton seems to be as high as or much superior to any other town in Passaic County. That makes for good, concerned and involved patients, I believe.” Their office has been open on a full-time basis since July. “And since then we’ve been growing exponentially,” Dr. Ugras says. So business is good? She nods enthusiastically. “But it’s not just people who speak Turkish and Spanish as their first language at home. We’re a medical office for everybody, after all.” So the daily pursuit of multiculturalism, which some express doubts about (you can hear such voices daily on, say, the Fox News Channel), works. “It does,” she affirms, “in our marriage and practice.”

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Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Moments of Grace

THE

Sights, Tastes and Sounds OF FALL Essay by Chris de Vinck

Somehow autumn seems to be an American season: pumpkins, corn, candy apples, Halloween, Vermont, and fall leaves. We experience this change in temperature in our own, private ways. On the first cool afternoon this week, the first hint that summer is over, I took a walk in the woods behind my parents’ house, the same woods where I, as a boy, played Robin Hood, baked apples with my brother, and hunted for salamanders under loose stones. I am 62 years old, and yet the fall aroma of the New Jersey woods is just as familiar to me now as it was when I was a child: earthy, moist, a freshness to the air combined with a slight chill that suggests the coming of winter. And I feel like a child again...shrinking to a ten year old boy. As I entered the woods, I thought about the Lenape Indians walking over this same earth, passing the same rocks two hundred years ago. They were sophisticated farmers of squash, corn, and kidney beans, and hunted birds, beavers, and deer. I thought about how prevalent deer have become in New Jersey these past fifty years. As a boy I never saw a deer, and today they roam our yards, appear alongside our highways…and stare with startled looks when we 54 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

stumble upon them by accident, which is what happened in the woods the other day. There were two: a male and female. They were both young. The buck had one small horn protruding from the left side of his head. The doe was small and cautions. I stood there and stared at the deer. They were both still and looked at me when suddenly the buck stomped its right cloven hoof onto the ground. That startled me. I had never seen a deer do such a thing. I was insulted. It was being aggressive and I was just standing there thinking of Bambi and Rudolf. Usually when we come upon deer so suddenly, they turn and, like ballerinas, leap away with their white tales bouncing behind them. But not this pair. And then the buck did it again. He stomped his left hoof with the same thud and aggression. I thought for a second “What will I do if it charges me?” I remember those scenes on the Tarzan movies of people being trampled by elephants. As I took one step backwards, both deer


twisted around quickly and ran away into the distant brambles and disappeared. When I turned away I saw through the bushes and small trees what I thought was a large turtle. Something with a large, wide hump moved slowly in the dark shadows of the woods. I walked quietly like a Lenape Indian towards the moving creature when suddenly it turned into a huge turkey. The hump was the turkey’s back and feathers as it lowered its head pecking away for ants and grubs. I walked as close to the turkey as I felt I could without being seen, and then I sat on the side of a fallen tree and watched. Then I realized the turkey and I were not alone for, like stepping out of a magician’s cloth, six more full grown turkeys appeared out of the brush and they, too, were pecking away at the ground happily being turkeys. Little is more recognized as an American icon than a Thanksgiving turkey and there I was in the woods among the ghosts of the American Indians with turkeys as big as the boy I once was. After watching the flock for a few minutes, I quietly stepped backwards and began to walk to the house when I came upon this spider wed as big as a Frisbee,

a man of great intellect and humor, a prolific essay writer for The New Yorker magazine, and the famous writer of children’s novels. He wrote in Charlotte’s Web “Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will.” When I walked out of the woods I grew back into a 62 year old man hanging on, and feeling that I just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Soon the maple and oak leaves will turn into the patchwork quilt of this new season, in this bold American autumn.

Christopher de Vinck is the Language Arts Supervisor at CHS and the author of 13 books. To order his recent work, Moments of Grace, call 1-800-218-1903.

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and in the center of the web a large, brown spider, 308 Lakeview Ave. Clifton E.B. White’s Charlotte perhaps. 973-772-3837 • Se Habla Español E. B. White was an author in the American grain: Lakeviewbakeryonline.com

Clifton Merchant • October 2013

55


At the Styertowne Bakery, from left, Oliver Prochaska, Nicole Puglisi, Collette Ryan, Jessica Raimondo, Marek Zyla.

Story by Irene Jarosewich

Snarly, gnarly, packed with traffic.

Expansion, construction, always delays . Shopping Centers, Square & Strip, Dysfunctional Entrance Ramps, Daredevil Exits...

A constant reminder that Clifton is no longer a bucolic small town heading east towards the Lincoln Tunnel, or west, past the Meadowlands. It’s the road we’ve grown to hate. Now that Route 3 has become a scary ride, what better holiday to celebrate along the way than Halloween? To start your Halloween the right way, try Trader Joe’s Food Emporium on the westbound side between the Passaic Avenue exit and the Tick Tock diner. The checkout lanes in this hip food store that opened late last year are all cleverly labeled with names of Clifton streets, such as Bloomfield and Van Houten. Pick up the ingredients to make your own goblin pops. On Halloween, the employees plan to wear costumes, so, when you go to pay, your cashier may look like Herman Munster. In keeping with the spirit of the day, TJs will give out candy to all the kids who show up that day, trickor-treating. The adults in town may want to start the evening with a happy hour at TGIFridays located in the Promenade Shops at Clifton. Oct. 31st falls on a Thursday this year, and Thursday is the night for TGIF fall specials staring

Trick

56 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

or

Treating

along Route 3!

with $3 drinks and $3 appetizers. Close out a monthlong Oktoberfest with a harvest ale, or satisfy your sweet tooth with pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Thursday night is still a school night, Shannon Rose in Clifton Commons will hold their annual Halloween costume party on Oct. 26 the Saturday before. Ghosts and goblins will show up for the adults-only party starting at 9 p.m. and during the witching hour, more than $2,000 in prizes will be offered for best costumes. Halloween drink specials will be served throughout the evening, all of which, Shannon Roses promises, will be tastier than witch’s brew. To even have a shot at winning a costume prize at Shannon Rose, first stop by a few days earlier across the way at Riverfront Center and pay a visit to Michael’s Arts and Crafts. Pick up all kinds of items to help you sew or staple or glue, your costume together.


arkets Cuellar Family M

From cupcakes, 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!

Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Maybe instead of going to Shannon Rose, you and your fellow ghouls plan to party at home. Give your house and yard the requisite scary feel. Need a skeleton? Michael’s has all kinds, along with pumpkins, spiders and black cats. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble make your own Halloween cauldron, complete with goblin. Invite your friends to your party with orange invitations decorated with creepy black bats. Every Halloween party needs to

have a centerpiece potion and this year for All Hallows Eve Stew Leonard’s in the Promenade Shops of Clifton is offering tastings in October on a yum-yum favorite, Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Crème Liqueur. The consistency of Bailey’s, pour this liqueur over a scoop of vanilla ice cream that sits atop a warm slice of real pumpkin pie. Blend with chilled champagne for a spookygood punch. If the party is simply you relaxing with your favorite

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ghost, then prepare yourself a Fulton’s ignature pumpkin pie cocktail by pouring one ounce of Cointreau and one ounce of Kaluha into a short glass, stir, add rocks, then slowly pour in one ounce of Fulton’s Harvest liqueur. Swirl. Sip. It will rattle your bones. And while the little ones will be getting their sugar in cellophane wrappers this evening, the adults can take their sugar straight from Styretowne Bakery in the Styretowne Shopping Center. Halloween cookies decorated with candy corn, apple cider crullers, carrot cake crumb cake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread are just a few the dozen delicious treats that will be available starting in October. Yet, says Oliver Prochaska, proprietor of the bakery and baker extraordinaire, one of the items that keeps customers coming back year after year are his secret recipe pumpkin puffs – French cruller pastry filled with pumpkin pie filling, dusted with powder sugar. Ah, to be an adult on Halloween! Pumpkin pie crullers! Poor children … all they will get is bubble-gum and chocolate kisses. The proper way, of course, to say farewell to Halloween is to scare yourself to near death. For that experience, turn to one of the late shows at AMC 16 Theaters in Clifton Commons. Scheduled for release in October and playing at the theater for Halloween will be a remake of Stephen King’s 1980s classic horror flick Carrie. About a shy girl who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being humiliated at her senior prom, Carrie will keep you awake until dawn.


Hundreds noshed and sipped their way through the first Taste of Clifton on Sept. 30. Staged as a benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton and held in the Club’s Auditorium, the culinary treat was peppered by dozens of vendors who offered samples of their goods. Chair Dante Liberti noted the event was such a success that the date was struck for the 2014 event: Monday, Sept. 29. To vend in next year’s Taste, contact Development Director John DeGraaf at 973-773-0966 ext. 111.

Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Adickes Farm, Glen Gardener, NJ

Bader Farm, Pine Brook, NJ

Borinski Farm, Lincoln Park, NJ

Dagelle Farm, Florida, NY

Farms View, Wayne, NJ

Healthway Farm, Milton, NY

60 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


Paterson Farmers Market is off Crooks Ave. at the Clifton South Paterson border, along the old Erie Railroad line. It opened 81 years ago on September 28, 1932. Construction began in August of that year, in the midst of the Great Depression when Paterson Mayor Hinchcliffe broke ground. Today it is still owned by a new generation of the cooperative of founding farmers. They offer the freshest produce and greens while our merchants offer a wide variety of goods. Come and visit Paterson Farmers Market. Since 1932

Ricky’s Produce, New Hampton, NY

Paul Donoho Farms, Mardela Springs, MD

Schultheis Farm, Tabernacle, NJ

Selle Farm, Wrightstown, NJ

Sleepy Hills Orchard, Johnson, NY Clifton Merchant • October 2013

61


Clifton’s Annual Halloween Parade & HarvestFest is Oct. 27, rain or shine. The parade is led by the famous Mustang Marching Band, floats and costumed characters of all ages.. Step off is 12:45 pm at Main and Madison Aves. It goes through Downtown Clifton to Main Memorial Park with judging there. HarvestFest continues there until 4:30 pm with games and rides costing between a quarter and a dollar, game booths, plus a midway of sorts with rides. Enter the Apple Pie Bake-Off; participate in pumpkin painting, scarecrow stuffing, shopping and more. Visit the Petting Zoo or take a journey on our hayride. Food prices will vary. Pre-purchase $5 bags of tokens with special pricing. Volunteers and vendors are always needed. For details to volunteer or to vend, visit Clifton Recreation, second floor of city hall. For info, call 973-470-5956.

62 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


Clifton Merchant • October 2013

63


Thanks to the staff at the Passaic County Division of Weatherization & Home Energy in Totowa, Patricia Leverett enjoyed a blessed family dinner on Thanksgiving 2011. For Leverett, who lives in the quaint townhouse known as Botany Estates on Lexington Ave., 2011 turned into one of those years in which bad things happened to good people. That spring, she was laid off from her job. Then on what she described as the hottest day in July, her cooling and heating system just went dead. On unemployment and with her daughter in college, Leverett was like so many other middle class Americans these days— financially teetering, just getting by. A few thousand dollars to pay for a new heating and cooling system would mean lots of debt and adding more monthly bills to her tight budget. So Leverett, a Clifton resident since 1998, sweated through the heat wave. She stayed with relatives and friends when the temperatures got too hot and resigned herself to no air conditioning that summer. But winter was soon to come... then what, she pondered ? Someone suggested she try calling local nonprofit advocacy agencies. One meeting turned into another and the next group suggested she contact the folks at the Passaic County Division of Weatherization & Home Energy program. Leverett, who now works in the corporate offices of BMW of North America in Woodcliff Lake, said it took two days to fill out the paperwork and get qualified. That same week, a weatherization crew performed an on-site home energy audit using state of the art equipment. While they determined that her condo’s heating system could not be repaired, they also checked her house for drafts. During the inspection, it was also determined that her old and inefficient refrigerator was on the brink of failing.

A Tale of a Warm Thanksgiving

ome ergy ram ffers ance iculctric, able bills. uire

64 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

“Passaic County Weatherization replaced that too,” she said with amazement. “I couldn’t believe I qualified for all this help. It was God sent and I am grateful for government programs like this.” Within two weeks, licensed contractors hired by Passaic County were at her house. They took out the old heating unit and installed a new system, at no charge to her. “Oh my God,” she recalls of the Passaic County program. “This was government at its best, doing work it should be doing. They understood my predicament. Everyone was friendly and proactive.” Leverett said she wants others to know about the program and that is why she shares this story. “It made the difference in my life. Helped when I was on the seat of my pants,” she said. “You do not have to be poor to qualify. And forget those stigmas. If you think you may qualify, call the office and ask.” “In the case of Ms. Leverett, the weatherization program assisted her in upgrading her home, now, her home will stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer,” said Director Sam Yodice. Weatherization home improvements are offered at no cost to eligible households. “Our office also operates the Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to households throughout Passaic County,” Yodice added. “The program known as LIHEAP/USF helps families meet the costs of their utilities i.e. gas, oil, electricity, propane, etc.” For more details, call 973-569-4032.


C. GENARDI CONTRACTING, INC. Roofing, Siding, Gutters • 973.772.8451

AUTUMN MEANS CHECK GUTTERS & ROOF With autumn now official and snowy and icy weather only weeks away, Corey Genardi of C. Genardi Contracting Inc. said homeowners often overlook rain gutters because they often function on their own. “A home without a good gutter system will have water running down the side of the house or it will cause water to run underneath the shingles,” he said. “Without gutters, waters will collect around your home and with colder weather here, it will turn into ice. With the thaw, the water will seep into your basement.” Genardi installs seamless gutters which eliminates the possibility of leaks, protects the beauty of your home and landscaping and will be formed at your home for exact measurements. “We complete our jobs in a day and offer most any color to choose from,” he said. “Seamless gutters will complement your home.” Genardi also installs Weather Watch Leak Barriers which create a watertight seal to keep water and ice from the vulnerable areas of the home—eaves and rakes, around chimney and in valleys. “It prevents water damming in your gutters from wind driven rain or where ice collects,” he concluded.

Seamless Gutters are stronger... adding roof flashing will keep water flowing into the gutters where it belongs. Based in Clifton, the family-run and owned business was started in the late 1960’s by Corey’s father Ronald. “I was pretty much born into it,” said Genardi. “And I have installed most every type of roof there is.” Genardi uses superior products such as GAF and offers a variety of roofs for every type of home and at every price—choices range from asphalt shingles to wood shakes and modified rubber systems for flat roofs. Asphalt shingles, the most affordable, are available in a dozen or so different colors both solid and blended. Using GAF products, Genardi said the roofs he installs are guaranteed for 20, or in some cases 30 years, making them an excellent value. Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Events & Briefs Clifton Moose Lodge 657, 1268 Main Ave, Clifton, offers a free pancake breakfast and open house from 8:30 am till noon on Oct. 26. Lodge members want you to learn visit and what the Moose and its members does for our community. Call Tom Zangara at 973-773-7558 for details. CHS Class of 1973 40th reunion is 7 pm on Nov. 9 at The Bethwood in Totowa. The $85-per-person ticket price includes buffet, beer, wine, soda and a DJ playing the hit songs of the era. Deadline to purchase tickets is Oct. 31. There will be no ticket sales at the door. For more details, call John Orlowsky at 973-773-8711 or Lori Struck at 201-981-0621. Meet Rosemary Pino, Clifton Board of Education Candidate. She and her family host an open house at their home, 214 West 2nd St., from 2:30 to 5 pm on Oct. 5. It is free but reservations and donations are welcomed. You may support the candidate on Oct. 21, 6:30 to 9:30 pm, at the Elk’s Lodge 775 Clifton Ave. The donation there is $35. Call 201-774-2538 for details. Holy Virgin Orthodox Church at Huron and Orange Aves., hosts its 27th Beefsteak Dinner on Nov. 2 at 7 pm. Beer, soda and ice are supplied; bring your own wine. Cost is $35 or purchase eight for $30 per person. Call Barbara Polk 973-473-3773 for reservations before Oct. 26. Regina Mundi Council 3969 K of C hosts a Pasta Fundraiser on Oct. 25, from 6 to 8 pm at St. John Kanty Parish Center, 37 Speer Ave. Tickets are $13 at the door and $5 for kids, 6 to 12 years of age. Purchase tickets by Oct. 21 and it is $10. For info, call Pablo Casiano at 201-481-2530 or write him at regina.mundi@yahoo.com.

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66 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

ACE the fox and the mascot for a nutrition program piloted in Schools 9 and 13, visited students at the Van Houten Ave. facility with folks from Aramark, the school food vendor, to share tales about healthy eating habits.


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Great Selection of New & Used Guns, Ammo, Safes Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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October Edition Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts can earn badges or do service projects at the American Labor Museum/Botto House National Landmark. Projects include building bookshelves, working in the yard or meeting with guides. Programs and projects are age appropriate and meet Scouting guidelines. Topics range from labor life of the early 1900’s to current labor issues. Located at 83 Norwood St., Haledon, the Museum is a learning center offering a free lending library, restored period rooms, Old World Gardens, educational programs and special events. The Museum’s hours of operation are Mon. to Fri., 9 am to 5 pm, with tours by appointment. For more information or to discuss a project, call 973-595-7953 or go to www.labormuseum.net.

Clifton Coin Club’s coin and stamp show is on Nov. 23 and 24, 9 am to 3 pm, at the Clifton Community Center, 1232 Main Ave. Dealers

Joseph Sullivan became the 75th scout from St. Philip the Apostle Boy Scout Troop 21 to make Eagle. His Eagle project was the construction of three additional spaces in St. Philip’s Auditorium balcony complete with locked doors and electrical outlets. He is pictured with his grandmother Ida Ceraolo,and his parents and Anne and Terry Sullivan.

PCCC Expands

Career Training with National Grants

Passaic County Community College has just received the lion’s share, about $9 million, of $15.6 million in federal grants to expand career training programs. PCCC will serve as the lead institution of the Northeast Resiliency Consortium, which is comprised of seven community colleges spanning New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The goal of the Consortium is to prepare workers for high-skill, high-wage employment in areas that have been impacted by recent crisis including Hurricane Sandy, the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings and the Boston Marathon Bombings. The genesis of the new grants is a letter Rep. Bill Pascrell wrote to then-Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in 2012, urging her support for 68 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

will buy, sell, or trade coins, stamps and collectibles. Free admission. Call Rich Cartwright at 201-8917617 or Ken Starrett 908-868-9145.

New Jersey’s applications to the grant program. “This federal grant will help strengthen our workforce in key areas like manufacturing and heath care by providing workers the specialized training they need,” the Congressman said. The program will prepare workers displaced as a result of increased imports or shifts in production out of the United States, veterans and other individuals for other employment. The entire project is expected to serve more than 3,400 participants. “This funding will transform the delivery of our educational programs at PCCC and across the seven community colleges involved in this regional initiative,” said PCCC President Steven M. Rose. “Our goal is to prepare individuals in Passaic County and northern New Jersey for high-skill, high-wage employment in growing sectors of the region’s economy such as health care, information technology, and energy and the environment.” For more details on this program, call PCCC Continuing Education Division at 973-684-6153.


Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Shop Clifton First

In 1892, Paterson silk mogul Catholina Lambert built himself a castle at the Valley Road “doorway” to Clifton, a home that seems to belong more on 15th century Scottish moorland than to Passaic County’s spiky urbanism. It’s an evocative sort of place, with battlements, parapets and crenellations, which genuinely seems to command all it surveys. And we’d like to thank the shade of Mr. Lambert (since some still sense his spirit hanging round), on the 90th anniversary of his death in 1923, for letting the community use his castle for this, the 26th annual Lambert Castle Holiday Boutique on Nov. 9 to 30. Visitors will enter a magical setting as the 1893 Victorian Castle on Valley Rd. at the Paterson and Clifton border will offer shoppers thousands of unique holiday gifts, jewelry, handmade decorations, quality crafts, collectibles, gourmet foods and many more surprises. The Boutique is the result of a unique partnership between the Passaic County Historical Society and dedicated crafters, vendors and organizers who bring you an experience that, over the last quarter 70 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

c P

d

T o m r f i

t H m T L a o P


ing event, one where the selection of the actual quality goods takes as much concern as the setting up of any museum show. This, too, is where the Boutique’s “presenter,” a kind of cross between a railroad work gang foreman, a project manager and an art historian, comes into key play. For 25 years, that position was ably filled by the late Nancy B. Davis. But the Society has enticed Joan Adams to come over in her place. Ms. Adams presided over the annual Holiday Boutique at the Hermitage in Hohokus, the Colonial-era mansion perhaps best known as the site of the 1782 nuptials of all-round historical rotter Aaron Burr to its then-mistress. The Society and the 150 anticipated crafters are sure Joan will do

an equally fine job for the PCHS this holiday shopping season. From Nov. 9 to 30, the Lambert Castle Holiday Boutique will be open for shopping on Wednesdays to Fridays from 10 am to 9 pm and Saturdays and Sundays until 5 pm. For the relative pittance of $6, you’ll get three visits. As an option, come to the Wine and Cheese Preview on Nov. 8, from 6 to 9 pm. The $15 admission price will allow you to enjoy an evening of wine and cheese as well as a first look at all the merchandise on sale. Those who purchase a ticket will also get admission for two return trips during November. For more about the Boutique and the PCHS, its services and membership, call 973-247-0085 or go to www.lambertcastle.org.

century, has become an authentic Passaic County tradition. But the stunning crafts, gifts, decorations and furnishings for sale will only be part of the story. The rest is the rags to riches story of the namesake Catholina, the man who built the Castle as both residence and showcase for the fine art he spent a lifetime collecting. Today, it’s the headquarters of the estimable Passaic County Historical Society, housing their museum, library and archives. The Castle still holds part of Lambert’s original art collection, as well as thousands of historical objects and documents about Passaic County. The Holiday Boutique is the Society’s major annual fundraisClifton Merchant • October 2013

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Business & Commerce

a

photo by Will Smith

To mark the 8th anniversary of Cuellar Family Markets, more commonly known as the Paulison Avenue ShopRite, the company hosted a series of events to celebrate the milestone. That included a Partners in Caring charity softball game between the Clifton and Passaic Police Departments. The event raised about $1,000 to help fight hunger, said Client Relations Manager and 2010 CHS grad Kristine Dehais. Throughout September, Cuellar Markets hosted instore events such as healthy eating cooking events hosted by the store’s Registered Dietitian Stephanie Pose “This is my neighborhood, these are my neighbors,” said Paulison Ave. ShopRite owner Rafael Cuellar. “They’re my customers, but they’re also my friends. My family, my store associated and I are proud to be so involved in our community.”

72 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


New Chair, CEO and President of

Clifton Savings Paul Aguggia is giving up running a large national law firm to become the chair, CEO and president of Clifton Savings on Jan. 1. He has been the bank’s primary legal counsel for a decade, since it started the transition from a closely held community bank to a growing public company. The bank’s chair and CEO, John Celentano Jr., 79, and its president, Walter Celuch, 65, will retire at the end of the year. When Celentano decided a couple of months ago to retire, the bank’s board asked Aguggia to take over. “We would not trust this place to anyone else,” Celentano said. “We trust Paul implicitly.” Aguggia, who practices at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton’s Washington office, flew to its Atlanta headquarters to announce his decision to the executive committee and then via video to the entire firm, which has 620 lawyers in 17 offices. “You don’t often get asked by one of your clients to take the helm,” said Aguggia, 50, who called the offer from Clifton Savings a “rare and unique occurrence.” The change will put him closer to his hometown. Clifton is just 30 miles away from where Aguggia grew up in Bayside, Queens. “I took it as a new challenge—something I’m up for doing,” he said. “I love this firm, and I truly believe that the lawyers and staff are absolutely the best at what they do. I’m excited, but I’m also a little bit sad. I wouldn’t practice anywhere else. At least now I get to have Kilpatrick as a client.” Celentano is also a lawyer. He is the son of one of the bank’s founders and has served on its board since 1962. After a career as a real estate attorney, Celentano started working for the bank full-time 10 years ago when it decided to go public. Clifton Savings started out in the back of his father’s office in the Botany section of Clifton as the Botany Building and Loan Association in 1928, taking deposits

and making home loans. Celentano said the bank had $37,000 in deposits that first year; now it has $1 billion. “We’re just an old-fashioned bank that does it the way you’re supposed to do it,” he said. “We do not deal in derivatives. We don’t sell our loans.” Celentano said that approximately 1 percent of the bank’s loans are nonperforming. “That is almost unheard of in the industry.” While the bank has grown, he said, “we still put our money out strictly in New Jersey.” Celentano said his decision to retire was actually prompted by the bank’s president, Celuch, who is 14 years younger. “He came in a couple of months ago and said, ‘You know, I’ve got a house down at the shore. I’d like to stay until the end of the year and then retire.’” Celentano said he thought about that and decided it was a good idea. “I had been too stupid to see it. I mentioned it to my wife and she said, ‘It’s about time.’” The two told the seven-man board that they wanted to retire and called Aguggia. “Paul knows our industry backwards. He knows our clean record. He knows our assets,” Celentano said. “He’s got a great work ethic. When you call him, he gets back to you within a couple of minutes.” “We thought he was the right person to move the bank forward as we continue in this same conservative fashion,” Celentano said. “There is no limit for what a man with his work ethic can do. We are honored and extremely pleased when he decided to come with us.” Aguggia will oversee the bank’s second step in going public when he becomes the CEO, selling the bank’s remaining shares in another offering but “from a banker’s point of view, not a lawyer’s point of view.” Clifton Savings took the first step toward going public in 2004, selling about 40 percent of its stock to depositors as part of the conversion from a mutual savings bank to a stock company. Celentano said Aguggia handled the application with the regulators. For the second phase, Aguggia will not be handling the legal work, and Kilpatrick will continue to serve as the bank’s legal counsel. “We are very pleased with the work Kilpatrick has given us,” Celentano said. Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Cycling Champion DNK Cycling’s latest race results decidedly ain’t dinky. Retired Clifton cop Dave Kishbaugh, doing biz locally as DNK Cycling, has again seen some of his cycling team cohorts reap impressive race results. First, Mike Novemsky and Marcello Rodio made the local cycling coach proud with impressive times in the “Tour de Fair Haven” (a Monmouth County town on the Navesink River) on Sept. 15, along with Kishbaugh himself. Then the man known around town as “the cycling chiropractor,” Lou Schimmel, only gilded the lily in that race category by picking up his own first place finish in it. Schimmel, whose race results this year alone sound like reason enough to hire Kishbaugh as your own cycling coach, has been cycling competively for 20 years, ever since his collegiate days at the University of Colorado. (Go Buffs!) He’s also partnered wih his spouse, Dr. Jacqueline Paz-Schimmel, and Dr. Joseph Paz, nest to the US Postal Service at The Chiropractic Center at Styertowne. “None of my cycling friends believe me when I say it, but Clifton is the best place to train and race a bike, and I stand by that,” Schimmel says. “Call me, I’ll tell you why.”

Cycling Champ Lou Schimmel above and at right with team partner Mike Novemsky.

74 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


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A free workshop on short film production for high school and college students, as well as independent filmmakers, is on Oct. 26 from 9 am to 1 pm in Totowa. Industry professionals will offer tips on everything from staging and scriptwriting to shooting schedules and post production tips. The event serves as a primer to the 9th Passaic County Film Festival, which is on April 26, 2014. Other topics include criteria and judging, formats for film submission, and other contest prizes. The workshop will also give an overview of this juried exhibition of student and independent filmmakers’ work. The only entry requirement is that those who submit videos must live, attend school or work in Passaic County. The deadline for film submissions is Jan. 30. Call 973-569-4720 or email film@passaiccountynj.org.

The 1967 1968 Christopher Columbus Freshman Football team under the helm of Bob Kievit and his assistant Gerry Mangini had a 6 and 3 record, noted Rich DeLotto, who supplied this photo.

The Bloomfield Mandolin Orchestra conducted by Enrico Granafei, performs at the Clifton Arts Center on Oct. 12 at 1:30 pm in honor of Italian-American Heritage Month. Admission is free and open to the public. The event will celebrate Italian tradition, culture and customs. Seating is limited. For reservations, contact the Arts Center at 973-472-5499 or at artscenter@cliftonnj.org.

The Harlow Trio, an emerging chamber music group comprised of alto saxophone, flute, and piano, will perform at the Allwood Community Church, 100 Chelsea Rd., on Oct. 13 at 3 pm. The musicians, all graduates of William Paterson University, will perform a commissioned piece by Dr. Payton MacDonald of WPU in their repertoire. Admission is $5. For info, call 732-841-1591.

GARY PASSENTI

#1

Nov. 5 Election

Board of Education

• Fiscal Responsibility • Accountability • Stabilizing Taxes Gary & Denise with their girls Erica who attends WWMS & Alexa, a CHS Sophomore.

Paid for by Committee to Elect Gary Passenti

Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Election Day is November 5

Chris Christie (R)

Barbara Buono (D)

Joe Cupoli (R)

Nia Gill (D)

Mike Urciuoli (R)

Sheila Oliver (D)

David Rios (R)

Tom Giblin (D)

T

he special election to fill the unexpired US Senate seat of the late Frank Lautenberg is on Wednesday, October 16. While that Senate term is usually six years, the seat will be up again on November 4, 2014. That race, much more like a showdown, is between Democrat Cory Booker and the very Republican (in a Calvin Coolidgey, fiscally wary way) Steve Lonegan are vying for the seat. Election Day on November 5 options begin with the so called elephant (GOP style) in the room of Gov. Chris Christie and challenger Barbara Buono. Looking to represent Clifton and the 34th District in Trenton, Joe Cupoli vies for the NJ Senate seat of Nia Gil. Mike Urciuoli and David Rios hope to unseat Assemblyman Tom Giblin and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. Besides countywide contests for three Passaic County Freeholder seats, Cliftonite and incumbent Sheriff Richard Berdnik faces challenger Frank Feenan. On Clifton Ave., three Board of Education seats are up for grabs between four candidates, including incumbents Gary Passenti and Wayne Demikoff. The most interesting “race,” however, is a referendum. Voters will be asked to decide if future Clifton municipal elections should stay in May or occur in November when most every other New Jersey election is held. Interestingly, the Clifton City Council in June passed an ordinance which would have done just that. Then, in an odd form of tribute to the idea of vox populi, rescinded it and opted for a referendum. But the referendum is in fact non-binding upon the Council, which already approved the idea in the first place. (Even if it then, oddly, repealed its own approval.) Making some wonder if this isn’t government by, as opposed to classical principles of democracy, someone on the intellectual level of Daffy Duck. 76 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Special Election October 16

Steve Lonegan (R)

Cory Booker (D)


Election Day is November 5

Frank Feenan (R)

Richard Berdnik (D)

Rosemary Pino

Wayne Demikoff

Christian Barranco (R)

Terry Duffy (D)

Gary Passenti

Laura De Benedetto

Phil Weisbecker (R) Hire a Name You Know

Pat Lepore (D)

On November 5, Clifton voters will voice their choice on moving the date of the election of the Mayor and his or her six Council cohorts from the second Tuesday in May to the first Tuesday in November.

Tom Hawrylko Jr.

Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Community Events

At left, Clifton’s Dave Szott will attend the Oct. 26 Tricky Tray at St. Philip Church Auditorium to benefit Colin Michael Jones. Above, Colin’s family includes grandparents Ray and Sandy Lill with their daughter Susanne, her husband William Jones and their children Claire, Colin and William. Colin is now 2 and has a permanent brain injury. Tickets are $35 and donations are being solicited. Call 973-272-8776 or 973-773-0019 for tickets or details.

Korean-era Army veteran Joe ‘Sarge’ Padula will lead the Nov. 10 Clifton Veterans Parade from the Athenia Veterans Post.

$

in This Mercede 25 t2o013W s Mercedes C300 Luxur y Se day, November 2nd Drawin g: Sa tu r

dan

9pm

Dance Gala at The Hanover At our Dinner/ Manor

Proceeds to benefit:

Value: $35,617

St. George Greek Orthodox Church 818 Valley Rd. Clifton

For tickets: 973-779-2626 Ad presented by:

George Foukas, DMD Family Dentistry 54 Grove St., Clifton • 973-470-0990

78 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Retired Clifton Police Sgt. Joe Padula is the grand marshal of Clifton’s Nov. 10 Veterans Parade. Step off is at 2 pm from the Athenia Veterans Post on Huron Ave. From there it is up along Van Houten Ave. to City Hall where 1,572 flags, raised by the Avenue of Flags volunteers, will greet guests and remain up until 4 pm on Nov. 11. The parade will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. To participate, contribute or for details, call organizer Keith Oakley at 201-774-6666.


Elizabeth (Libby) D. Keene, a junior at Lacordaire Academy in Montclair and daughter of Kenneth and Elizabeth E. Keene of Clifton, is a finalist in the Oct. 18 Miss New Jersey Teen USA pageant which is held in Parsippany. This is her third year in competition for the Miss Teen USA title on the state level but she’s been involved on the pageant circuit since she was 8. Away from the world of gowns and glitter, she also boasts an electic resume. Taking honors and AP classes at Lacordaire, she’s managing editor of its school magazine and contributes comics and stories to the school paper.

Clifton’s Elizabeth Keene (seated) and friends at Lacordaire Academy, from left Moira Murray, Naya Martinez and Lydia Nayer.

The Clifton Library had 1,400 kids participate in a summer reading program. Younger children and teens from both the Main Memorial on Piaget Ave and the Allwood Branch on Lyall Rd. were offered small gifts provided by local businesses as incentives to meet their reading goals. To find out more or to help out, contact Mimi Moncrief at the Clifton Library at 973-772-5500 or write: Moncrief@cliftonpl.org. The Library offered their thanks to the following sponsors: Acme Supermarket Applebee's Bruno’s Carvel Chevy’s Corner Bakery Cafe'

Mr. Cupcakes Five Below Garden Palace Lanes Gourmet Desserts Lakeview Bakery NJ Jackals NJ State Fair

NY Renaissance Fair Pizzeria Uno Power Play Gaming Target Walgreens Pharmacy White Castle

She acts in dramatic productions and is part of the school’s Mock Trial Team. She’s just been selected as a co-captain for the Lacordaire Lions varsity soccer team, where she mainly plays goalkeeper. Off-campus, Libby gives back to her community and faith by serving as a teacher in Vacation Bible School at Holy Trinity Lutheran in Garfield and pitches in at a wide variety of fundraising events. As for life post-Lacordaire, she’s currently looking into colleges which can facilitate her interests in either Actuarial Science or Animation.

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Birthdays & Celebrations - October 2013

Noel Coronel turns 9 on Oct 16. Happy Birthday to Jeffrey Joseph Angello and his sister Renee Kimiko who both turn 12 on Oct. 4. Best Wishes to George Hayek who celebrated his 87th birthday on Oct. 1. Christopher Sadowski and Vanessa Marino are proud to announce the birth of their firstborn son, Ethan Carlo Sadowski, who was born on Aug. 23.

Birthdays & Celebrations

Send dates & names...tomhawrylko@optonline.net Sarah Bekheet..................10/1 Melissa Szwec .................10/2 Awilda Gorman ...............10/3 Ashley Messick ................10/3 Christopher Papademetriou .10/3 Charlene Rivera ...............10/3 Grace Robol ....................10/3 Frank Antoniello ...............10/4 John Brock Jr....................10/4 Kimberly Ferrara ..............10/4

Kayla Galka ....................10/4 Lisa Junda........................10/4 Alan Merena ...................10/4 Bruce Merena ..................10/4 Villeroy Hard ...................10/5 Rosalie D. Konopinski .......10/5 Kyle Takacs......................10/5 Gene D’Amico .................10/6 Nicole Nettleton...............10/6 Cheryl Cafone .................10/7

Congratulations to Barbara & Orest Luzniak who celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary on Oct. 11.

80 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant

Christopher Phillips ...........10/7 Jilian Fueshko...................10/8 Nick Kacmarcik ...............10/8 Kim Oeffler......................10/8 Michael Biondi...............10/10 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 Noel Oliver ...................10/16 Nicole Zlotkowski...........10/16 Nancy Hromchak ...........10/17 Devin DeVries ................10/18 Matthew Fabiano ...........10/18 Edward Holster, Sr..........10/18 Jamie Norris ..................10/18 Brian James Grace .........10/19 Kristen A. Hariton...........10/19 Rocky S. Angello (woof!)..10/20 Joan Bednarski...............10/20 Jean Chiariello ...............10/20 Lea Dziuba ....................10/20 Pactrick M. Doremus Jr. ....10/21

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Lauren Nikischer, granddaughter of Arlene & Joseph Nikischer of Clifton, was married to Bryan Husted on Sept. 7. Eugene Osmak...............10/21 Katelyn Smith .................10/21 Jonathan Rossman ..........10/22 Toni Van Blarcom ...........10/22 Daniel Atoche ................10/23 John Bross .....................10/23 Andrew J. “ Dez “ Varga......10/23 Allison Beirne.................10/24 Sandra Kuruc.................10/24 Heather Fierro................10/24 Paul G. Andrikanich .......10/25 Mildred Scrosia..............10/25 Matthew McGuire ..........10/26 Kristofer Scotto ...............10/27 Nicole Keller..................10/28 Ashley Gretina ...............10/29 Lindsay Berberich ...........10/30 Francesca Scrosia ..........10/30 Hadeel Aref...................10/31 Raymond Romanski ........10/31 Josef Schmidt .................10/31

Congratulations to Andy and Mary Jane Varga who celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on October 26. Clifton Merchant • October 2013

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Community Events The CHS Mustang Marching Band 75th anniversary dinner is on Nov. 30 at 6 pm at the Royal Manor in Garfield. Tickets are $85 and includes a sit down dinner with an open bar. Details at MustangBandAlumni.org. The One More Once Big Band will perform. Send checks by Nov. 10 to (CMBAA) Clifton Mustang Band Alumni Association, P.O. Box 4133, Clifton NJ 07012. St. Paul Church, 124 Union Ave., is hosting an all-you-can-eat beefsteak on Oct. 18 at 7 pm. Donation is $40 and must be purchased by Oct. 13. Call Suzanne Marzouka at 201-410-6346 for details. The Marching Mustang’s first Drum Majorette, Marie (Vullo) Giunta, pictured here in 1938, still resides in Clifton.

82 October 2013 • Clifton Merchant


Tomahawk Promotions 1288 main avenue Clifton, NJ 07011

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Profile for Clifton Merchant Magazine

Clifton Merchant Magazine - October 2013  

Clifton Merchant Magazine - October 2013