Clifton Merchant Magazine - September 2015

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Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Indeed that is me, Tom Hawrylko, on a horse on Main Ave., and all of 26 in 1983. Cover design by Ken Peterson Photo by James Emolo

Working with Jim Anzaldi, Paul Epstein and Fran Coco, we arranged for Santa to arrive via helicopter in Main Memorial Park. A parade with four floats, the Clifton BMX Racing Team, the Clifton Naval Sea Cadets, pieces of fire equipment and the Marching Mustangs preceeded Santa and his sleigh down Main to the Passaic border. Myself and a team of riders from Echo Lake Stables in Pompton Plains led them. We looped around a side street and returned to the heart of the “Main Mall.” First National State Bank of New Jersey (now Wells Fargo) was on the corner of Clifton and Main Aves. and that’s where kids sat for free pictures with Santa. As for me and my horse, I hightailed it around Clifton for two hours, causing traffic jams and having a rather memorable day. 4 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

While reports of the demise of print media are often in the news, local publications such as Clifton Merchant Magazine seem to defy the bad news trend. Founded by Tom Hawrylko in October, 1995 to help promote a Downtown Clifton Street Fair, the magazine, which began with 24 pages of advertorials, has grown to become Clifton’s Storyteller. To mark the 20-year milestone, images, photos and covers from two decades of publication will be displayed in an exhibit titled Clifton’s Storyteller. The display will open on Sept. 16 through and be up through Oct. 24 at the Clifton Arts Center, 900 Clifton Ave. A reception, open to the public, is on Sept. 19, from 1 to 4 pm. Admission is $3 for non-members. Please stop by and say hello at the reception. In 1995, when the magazine started, the print run was 31,000. But in December of that year, the magazine took a three month hiatus, returning in March 1996 with themed editions. These included: the 1996 Consumers Guide to Clifton Stores & More; Clifton Votes ‘96; a May Salute to Veterans; and, a highly popular, 300 Years of Clifton History. A combination of local history, good writing and persistence got the publication noticed. In August 1998, The Record did a feature and asked Hawrylko what were his goals for the magazine. “I want to continue covering issues that are important to the community, that make people think, that have personal interest to me, and that the typical newspaper would not cover,” he said. “And I want to do it in indepth style.” In October, 1998, Clifton Merchant Magazine was reformatted with a glossy cover, cut its print run to 16,000 and went to demand distribution. The savings allowed Hawrylko to invest in writers who produced longer stories, larger and colorful photos and more pages of content.

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Thank you! These were our first advertisers, which thanks to their support in the October 1995 edition, allowed us to launch Clifton Merchant Magazine. Some of them are still around and continue to advertise with us. Other businesses have closed or moved on. Whatever their status, we’d like to thank each of them, for if it was not for their initial investments, this publication would not be here today. Epstein’s • Shereed’s Main Mall Business Association Debbie’s Clifton Fashion Outlet J.O. Grand Five and Ten Cent Store Belly Buster • Varrelman’s Bake Shop Hudson United Bank • Clifton Speed Center Clifton Dog & Cat Hospital • Katie Stylianou, Esq. R&S Dental Associates • Chiropractic Associates American Coin & Stamp • Villa Romangna Clifton Electrical Supply Company Clifton Clean Communities Program NJI Computers • VBC Corp. Sam’s A-Print Today, Clifton Merchant Magazine remains an independent publication, averaging about 80 to 100 pages and continues to be published the first Friday of every month. The magazine has become a monthly ‘mustread’ while its team of writers cover topics from politics and the schools to history and nostalgia. Over the coming months and years, we will continue to do that with the support of our readers and advertisers. Thanks to all of you for your support. 16,000 Magazines are distributed to hundreds of Clifton Merchants on the first Friday of every month.

Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko

Subscriptions by Mail $27 / year / $45 for 2 Call 973-253-4400

Graphic Designer Aly Ibrahim

Contributing Writers Tom Szieber, Michael Gabriele, Jack De Vries, Joe Hawrylko Irene Jarosewich

Art Director Ken Peterson

Business Manager Gabriella Marriello Editorial Interns Ariana Puzzo Madison Molner

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


By Robert Wahlers I still remember that day 20 years ago when Tom Hawrylko burst into the office. His eyes gleamed and he sported a Cheshire Cat-like grin. He waved a piece of paper at me. I looked at it. It was the name of a business owner on Main Avenue. “I need you to call this person right away and get some information about the Street Fair,” Tom said, and then he whipped around and started for the door. “You mean drop everything else?” I shouted out to him. “What about –” “Yes!” “What’s going on? Where are you going?” Hey, how many words do we need? Are you coming back?” Tom was already running down the stairs. “I’ll call you,” he yelled back. He did, in about 15 minutes, and he gave me the name of another business owner on Main Avenue that he wanted me to interview in connection with the upcoming Main Mall Street Fair, scheduled for Saturday, October 14, 1995. I didn't know it yet, but I had just witnessed the frenetic birth of Tom's ‘love child.’ He would name it Clifton Merchant Magazine. I had met Tom two years before when I applied to an advertisement he had placed for a staff writer. His 6 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Vol. 1 Issue 1, October 1995

hometown marketing company, Tomahawk Promotions, had grown enough that he could afford to take a big leap and hire his first full-time writer. Tom and I hit it off right away, probably because we had similar backgrounds and interests. We had both cut our journalistic teeth grinding out features and hard news stories for weekly newspapers. We also shared a passion for writing and for some maddening reason, we had a knack for doing our best work under the deadline gun. During our slow times, which Tom of course hated, he would sometimes speak to me about his long-time dream of creating an independent monthly publication that would tell the Clifton story in ways that a weekly newspaper couldn’t.

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


OUR HISTORY Like any ambitious and creative business idea, Tom knew that, to be successful, he needed to make a huge investBy Robert Wahlers ment in time, in money, in courage, and in persistence. On Christmas Eve, after the stores Tom also needed the right launching are closed and most everyone is in pad. bed, I walk. Nowhere in particular. I Tom found the place to push the go just enjoy the quiet streets and the button on his dream when Paul Epstein, memories. who at the time was president of what My grandmother, sitting in an was then known as the Main Mall easy chair on Christmas Eve, sipping Business Association, asked for assisa hot toddy, then later getting up and tance in marketing the Street Fair. doing an Irish jig. What’s a hot toddy Most likely, it was Paul’s name and anyway, grandma? phone number on that piece of paper During the walk, I see my father, that Tom waved so excitedly at me all looking a lot younger than the very those years ago. last time I saw him. He’s coming As Tom explained in his first column, through the front door with a the premiere edition of Clifton Vol. 1 Issue 3, December 1995 Christmas tree trailing behind him, Merchant would focus on Main Mall pine needles in his hair, laughing. and the positive changes being made There’s my daughter, all of two days old on her first Christmas. We there, ‘an area of Clifton that really does bring her home and place her underneath the tree. You done real good need some tender loving care,’ he wrote. this year, Santa. I see the smile of a nephew, feel the hug of a former Upon publication of the October love, smell a turkey roasting. The wind picks up now, freezing all sens1995 edition, Tom received positive es for a moment. It’s all there, all the memories, and then it’s gone. feedback from many of the businesses Until the next walk on Christmas Eve. profiled in that first edition, which included mini-feature stories on J.O. Grand, Epstein’s, Shereed’s, the Belly Shop Clifton First! Buster and others. With the holiday shopping season in high gear, the By this time, Tom had perfected the art of the adverNovember 1995 and December 1995 issues continued torial—a creative mix of advertising and editorial writthe theme of informing residents more about local busiing that promotes a product or service in an informal, nesses, encouraging readers to Think Clifton First! chatty way, avoiding the ‘hard sell’ at all costs. Tom when it came to their holiday shopping needs, whether then passed on that knowledge and skill to me. it was Main Avenue, Botany Village, Styertowne

The Walk

8 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


OUR HISTORY or other business districts in the city. publication that most had never seen That message soon evolved into or heard of, Bernie nonetheless the slogan, Shop Clifton First! which brought in some critical advertising has a lot better ring to it. We also commitments back then, causing tried to capture the true spirit of the Tom to shake his head in wonder, season as well, which is why Tom followed by a whoop of joy. embraced a piece of creative writing Clifton Merchant would live on... I did called The Walk. at least for another month... Bernie Keeping the main focus on has since retired and moved to Clifton businesses, however, helped Florida. Tom was out there selling Tom to build support and increase ads, too, but as publication day adverting revenue. It was his only neared, both of us put in some long hope for keeping the fledgling magnights of creative frenzy. azine afloat. Providing invaluable Back then, Tom’s base was a secsupport at this critical juncture was ond floor office ‘suite’ located above the third member of the Clifton the Clifton Camera store, at the Robert Wahlers Merchant team back then: Bernie intersection of Main and Clifton Schraer, a short, stocky, raspy-voiced veteran of the Avenues. The same spot once housed the offices of the daily newspaper advertising wars who had been downlate Clifton judges, Harry Peterson and Harry Fengya. sized out of his job a few years short of retirement. We didn’t have email or the Internet back then. I Bernie needed to prove he wasn’t finished yet, worked in one office, clanging and banging the keythough. And he made his point when he accepted Tom’s boards, churning out articles as fast as I could. I had to challenge. Faced with the unenviable challenge of conbe fast, because Tom was in the next office, designing vincing business owners to place advertisements in a the pages on a mammoth and ancient Macintosh.

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Clifton Merchant • September 2015



Vol. 2 Issue 1, March 1996

Vol. 2 Issue 4, June 1996

If that thing hadn’t exploded one night, before deadline, of course, it would be now be on display at the Smithsonian. If Tom got ahead in the creative race, he would change hats and write a few articles, too. “Come on, Robby,” he would urge. “I have to take all of this to the printer at 9 tomorrow morning.” I looked at the clock. It was nearly 10 pm. “We’ll make it,” I reassured him. If our primitive computer networking system malfunctioned, I would load my written articles onto a floppy disk and hand them to Tom. As I said, we were

12 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Vol. 2 Issue 5, July 1996

Vol. 3 Issue 7, July 1997

just hearing about the wonders of email, so we depended on getting a lot of our background information via fax. It was the kind of contraption that you had to load with a roll of glossy paper, which would curl up as soon as the fax machine spit it out. The fax seemed to ring constantly on deadline day, bringing us long-promised information that we needed so we could complete our articles. Intoxicated with the thrill of it all, Tom would often yell, Incoming! whenever the fax machine started making noises.

Clifton Merchant • September 2015



Vol. 2 Issue 5, May 1997

Vol. 1 Issue 2, November 1995

Vol. 2 Issue 8, September 1996

Because half of Paul’s body had been left paralyzed from cerebral palsy, he practically had to drag himself up the long flight of stairs to get to our office above the Clifton Camera Store. Creating a Theme After a two-month hiatus to regroup and get to know his family again, including his newborn daughter, Carly Rose, Tom began planning themed editions, many of which have become a tradition and much anticipated by readers. The May 1996 edition, for instance, was the first to include the names of all of the Cliftonites who died while serving their country during wartime. Tom and I also wanted to give a respectful salute to the veterans who had returned home safely to Clifton. The May 1996 issue included stories about Lester Herrschaft’s amazing, coincidental meeting with his brother at an Army hospital in France, where both were recuperating from wounds suffered on separate battlefields in 1944. I remember Clifton resident Al Ferguson visiting our office to talk about his experiences during the Korean War. We told more veteran stories in the May 1997 issue, and Tom always praised me for the way I crafted them. Good writing is easy, I told him, when you have a great story to tell. But I wished that there wouldn’t be any stories for future generations to 14 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Vol. 2 Issue 9, October 1996

tell. I’m still waiting for that wish to come true. A few years later, Tom hired me as a freelance writer to help him with an ambitious project. (We had parted company by then so I could pursue a few career dreams of my own). Vietnam Remembered, published in May 2000, celebrated the lives of the Clifton men who died while serving in the Vietnam War. I consider it the most important piece of writing I’ve ever done. That issue had special meaning for me because my older brother is a Vietnam Veteran. If you’re a Vietnam Vet reading this, permit me to say to you: ‘thank you and welcome home.’ ‘We’ll Do It Right’ Another intriguing, and educational experience was working on the God and How We Worship issue in March 1997. I remember expressing my concerns to Tom when he presented his latest theme. “We’re going to do a whole issue on religion? That could be very controversial if we don’t do it right,” I said, thinking, “What’s next, sex and politics?” This was a year before Bill and Monica became an item.

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


OUR HISTORY “Then we’ll do it right,” Tom said with confidence. His willingness to tackle subjects like this led to the magazine being more widely read and respected. During an interview I did for that issue with the late Samir Tahhan, the general manager of Al Itidal, the first ArabicEnglish newspaper published in Clifton, we spoke about how Muslims must strive to overcome the terrorist stereotype. Ironically, that interview took place at the halfway point between the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and the events of September 11, 2001. In early summer 1996, Tom asked me to visit Clifton High School and ask students to talk about their favorite teacher. We also did full-length features on a couple of students. This theme has since grown into the annual graduation issue, which gives many high school seniors an opportunity to voice an opinion or share a favorite memory.

Vol. 2 Issue 10, November 1996

Think Clifton First! was the right concept but it just didn’t have that ring. The slogan was edited to Shop Clifton First! now used on our cover every December.

An Inspirational Story One of the most poignant moments occurred shortly after that when an early fan of the magazine visited our office. Our admirer was long-time Clifton resident Paul Wunsch, and we knew he was sincere because of the effort he had made to visit us. Because half of Paul’s body had been left paralyzed from cerebral palsy, he practically had to drag himself

16 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Vol. 4 Issue 12, December 1998

up the long flight of stairs to get to our office. Tom and I both took the time to engage him in conversation. The ensuing interview I did with Paul to learn more about his life experiences was probably my most difficult because of Paul’s speech impediment. But the extra effort paid off, and Paul’s story, in my opinion, remains one of the most inspiring ones ever to be told on the pages of Clifton Merchant. These are just a few of my scattered memories from the somewhat ancient times of Clifton Merchant Magazine. I wish I could tell you more, but Tom just called again to remind me that he was up on deadline and that the clock was ticking. “We’ll make it,” I reassured him. And so we did. After five years with us, Rob went to work for a national newsletter firm. He still occasionally writes for Clifton Merchant Magazine and you will often see his byline in the Star Ledger.

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


The History of Newspapers Clifton has existed as a city for less than a century but it has a heritage of local journalism that predates its 1917 founding. In the Directory of New Jersey Newspapers 1765-1970, published by the New Jersey Historical Commission, about a dozen Clifton newspapers were identified, with the oldest being the Weekly Echo. Founded about 1869, the Weekly Echo long has been absent but it was the first in a long line of hometown publications originating in what is now known as Clifton. The only remaining general interest weekly newspaper serving the city, The Clifton Journal, traces its roots through purchases and mergers to when The Journal of 18 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

By Bob Masiello

Acquackanonk Township made its appearance in 1914. In the 45 years between the debut of the Weekly Echo and the birth of The Journal, a number of publications rose and fell, trying to fill the news gap left by the daily newspapers in Paterson and Passaic. Some publications were offshoots of the Passaicbased rivals, General Advertiser and Independent. The Clifton & Athenia Weekly News, which published between 1895 and 1906, was the result of the merger between the Athenia News and the Clifton Independent, both of which were started by the General Advertiser in 1887.

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Telling Clifton’s Story The Independent’s next contribution to Acquackanonk Township was the Clifton & Lakeview Press, which lasted from 1900 to 1902. The 1890’s also saw the publication of the picturesquely titled Grumbler, perhaps a predecessor of today’s national tabloids, which gave way to the Township Record and Weekly Grumbler, that seems to have folded in 1899. Another paper, the Clifton Weekly, appears to have had only a two year run, from 1896 to 1898.. Into the second decade of the 20th century, two new publications came onto the scene. Clifton Times, started in 1912, lasted until 1937 when it was cut down by the Great Depression. It was owned by the Herald News of Passaic. Clifton Press, first published about 1913, was out of business by the start of the Roaring Twenties. Hometown Papers The Journal of Acquackanonk Township, started around 1914, an ancestor of Dateline Clifton, was owned by Col. Charles F. H. Johnson. Johnson had served in World War I, was president of Botany Mills and also owned the Clifton Printing Brothers Seymour and George Kroll with their dad, Company, located at 699 Main Ave., (currently, Max Kroll of the Clifton Journal, which he purchased in 1938. 1088 Main Ave.). The Clifton Leader, and created a rivalry that lasted Following the township’s incorporation as the City more than a half-century. of Clifton in 1917, The Journal of Acquackanonk Following Gus La Corte’s departure, Col. Johnson Township,changed its name to The Clifton Journal. brought in Max Kroll, a special editions developer who During the 1920’s, Augustine (Gus) La Corte edited the was working on a project with Paterson’s publication. He soon left to begin his own publication,

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Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Telling Clifton’s Story Morning Call, recalls George Kroll, Max’s son and later editor and publisher of the paper himself. Max eventually purchased The Clifton Journal in 1938. Kroll noted that his father covered everything in town, from sporting events to City Council meetings, and he knew everyone. George and his brother Seymour joined their father in the business, with George’s interest primarily on the journalism side, while his brother focused on production. In 1947, the Kroll brothers bought the Clifton Printing Company from Peter Van Lenten and Peter Baker, who themselves had purchased the firm 10 years earlier. Clifton Printing continued to print The Clifton Journal through World War II, and then the Kroll brothers acquired the printing company. Kroll noted that his father was editor, publisher and principal reporter for The Journal and the paper continued to add pages and prosper as Clifton went through a booming growth period after World War II. His father also wrote the Old Timer column that was popular with local readers. Max Kroll became ill in 1959 and turned over the

Terry LaCorte with his dad, Gus, the founder of The Clifton Leader, which began in 1926.

operations of the newspaper business to his sons before he died in 1961. George Kroll took on the newspaper full time, while Seymour took over the printing company and ultimately bought George’s share.

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Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Telling Clifton’s Story George began his heavily followed As I See It column, in which he kept close tabs on public officials. “Following the war, Clifton enjoyed a tremendous boom with home construction and new businesses quickly filling up former farm and dairy land in the city,” he recalls. “There was a lot going on and I kept an eye on public officials. I made sure that they remained accountable to public opinion, but not in a mean-spirited way as some publications did.”

In 1975, Kroll acquired a competitor, The Clifton News, which was operated by insurance executive Richard DeMarco, creating Clifton News-Journal. Seven years later, George merged with the Matzner publication, Dateline Clifton, which had been launched in 1981 with 23-year old Tom Hawrylko (founder and currently editor and publisher of Clifton Merchant Magazine) as editor. The merged publication was called the Dateline-Journal. Harold Matzner ultimately sold all of his newspaper holdings to the company that had purchased The Herald-News and George Kroll retired from the Dateline-Journal in 1985. From there, he went on to serve as a sales representative for The Jewish Community News. Main Avenue Rivalry A few blocks from where the early issues of The Clifton Journal were printed at the Clifton Printing Company, Gus La Corte set up North Jersey Press in 1941 at 1414 Main Ave., to publish his Clifton Leader and do printing for businesses, other publications and individuals. He was the editor, publisher, principal reporter and everything else at the small paper, except book keeper. He entrusted that duty to his wife, Sarah. The Clifton Leader came into existence in 1926, when Gus La Corte went out on his own after serving as editor of The Clifton Journal. The first 15 years at The Leader were a great struggle for the young editor, who had dropped out of Clifton High School to help his family, despite his wish to become an attorney. Indicative of his single-mindedness, La Corte did earn a law degree in 1935, despite the pressures of a growing business and a family. Much like Max Kroll, La Corte too had an interesting road to success. After doing odd jobs around the Passaic Daily News, Gus La Corte became a reporter at the age of 15. He studied journalism at New York University part time and then was offered the editor’s position at The Clifton Journal. He remained there until starting the Leader. The Leader was first printed in Paterson, but with time, La Corte determined that he could do the job more cost-effectively himself; he acquired a hand-fed press and operated out of a number of Clifton locations. Later he bought a web-fed press but because money was tight, he could not afford to move the press to

24 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Telling Clifton’s Story Clifton and printed out of Hackensack. Then in 1941, he incorporated North Jersey Press at 1414 Main Ave. With Clifton Printing Company and North Jersey Press both located on Main Ave., a commercial and journalistic rivalry grew. In an effort to gain more market share, La Corte converted the Clifton Leader into a daily publication in 1950 and called it the Morning Leader. That venture lasted only about a year. George Kroll recalled that when Gus La Corte was elected to the City Council in the 1950’s, the Main Ave. rivalry became a bit more heated. However, rivalry aside, after his brother Seymour’s death, George Kroll had his publication printed by North Jersey Press. Reflecting on the past, both George Kroll and Gus’s son, S. M. “Terry” La Corte, noted that the 20-year post World War II period was one of great growth and activity for their families’ publications. They attributed this to the booming post war economy, a time when local neighborhood stores were the main source for consumer items and weekly newspapers were often the main source of information. A Discordant Note A history of newspapers serving Clifton would not be complete without a note on The IndependentProspector and its editor and publisher, Alex Bidnik Jr. Begun in 1933 as the Jersey Prospector, Bidnik purchased the paper in the mid-1960s from 26 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

The masthead of The Independent Prospector’s final edition, which published on Dec. 30, 1982.

Paterson’s Patrick Dwyer. Bidnik, like La Corte and Kroll, rode the crest of Clifton’s heyday during the late 1960’s, right up to the final edition of the IP on Dec. 30, 1982.

in connections with alleged attempts to force local businesses to take ads with the paper and that footnote often overshadows any good he did for the community. In his final column, appropriately titled, “The Pleasure Was All Mine,” he wrote, “I’ve been at bat many times in the past 20 years. I’ve pitched and fielded and occasionally threw a curve, although unintentionally.” Going into the 1970’s, the environment changed drastically for weekly papers. Larger daily publications began covering local news more aggressively with their regional sections and offered other media options.

The second edition of Dateline Clifton, which was launched on Dec. 2, 1981, with Tom Hawrylko as editor.

Evolving Media Options Page counts were steadily decreasing for the weeklies and as a result, the Leader ended its nearly 55-year run in 1980. However, bucking the trend, in December 1981, Matzner Publications, owner of Today Newspapers, which served several Passaic County communities, launched Dateline Clifton. The formula to its success appeared

Even among those that have incurred his wrath, many would agree that Bidnik had talent and was dogged in his news-gathering style. His downfall came when his doggedness led him to pursue advertisers too aggressively. Bidnik was convicted of extortion charges

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Telling Clifton’s Story to be that it was mailed to 31,000 homes weekly, insuring delivery, an attractive feature to advertisers. By the end of 1982, Bidnik’s Independent Prospector had folded, and The Clifton News-Journal, acquired by Matzner Publications, had merged with Dateline Clifton to become Dateline Journal. Around the same time, the Paterson News folded and the Drukker family sold The Herald News to Media News Group, a company owned by Dean Singleton and Richard Scudder. In the mid-1980’s, Matzner sold Dateline Journal and all other Today papers to a national concern that allowed out-of-towners to manage the publications. Late in the 1980’s, these papers were again sold to Singleton’s Media News Group. The photo above of Tom Hawrylko is from a profile written about Reflecting the dramatic changes in the Clifton Merchant Magazine that appeared in the Record’s business newspaper business, once again in the 1990’s, section on Aug. 29, 1997. the Herald News, Dateline Journal and its sissold, purchased by Macromedia, the parent company of ter publications in Passaic and Bergen counties were The Record of Hackensack. Throughout those changes, Dateline’s editor, Albina Sportelli, continued in her position. Clifton Merchant Magazine was launched in Oct. 1995 as a monthly by editor and publisher Tom Hawrylko. The goal, he said, was to create an independent publication that could tell Clifton’s story indepth and in ways a weekly or daily newspaper could not and were not doing. For the first two years of its existence, Clifton Merchant tried hard to reach that goal but it remained a skinny little “rag” of 24 pages or so. The magazine was mailed to 31,000 homes along with other junk mail. It was a lot different than the today’s publication. In Oct. 1997, Hawrylko converted the magazine into a glossy, magazine wrap finish, added pages to expand stories and play up photos. He also cut the print run to 16,000 and a few years ago added white bright news stock. Now distributed monthly on the first Friday of every month, and mailed to subscribers, the magazine has grown significantly since the change, averaging from 80 to 100 pages, and the quality of its news content has improved dramatically. 28 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Thanks for so many comments on our August Clifton History edition. Readers and staff helped us tighten up facts with comments and clarifications. Anita McGowan brings out attention to page 32, to the story and photo of workers and patrons at the long-gone Queens Diner on Van Houten Ave.. It is where the Dunkin Donuts now sits near the Passaic border. “The worker behind the counter on the extreme left is my uncle, Nathan (Nat) Sabatino. He was incorrectly identified as Neil Sabitini, perhaps because Nat did have a son Neil. While Uncle Nat has since passed, the family enjoyed seeing his photo.” Pete Reinhardt, CHS 1961 called to remind us that Coach Joe Grecco’s Fighting Mustangs (page 50) did not have four undefeated teams.

30 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

“In 1957, Bloomfield stopped Georgie Telesh cold,” Reinhardt said of the previously unstoppable and still legendary Mustang running back, pictured at left. “I remember because we listened to the game on the radio and we rooted for Montclair over Bloomfield on Thanksgiving Day.” We confirmed the facts with our sports historian, Jack DeVries. Clifton played against undefeated Bloomfield at Foley Field. Going into the game, the Mustangs were banged up – Larry Kolk’s shoulder was injured and Pete Lehr’s leg was in bad shape. “Robert Haines hit me,” Lehr told DeVries a few years back, continuing, “and I couldn’t bend it like before. I was a catcher but had to stop playing the position after that game because of my leg. It bothered me through college.” The prior week’s emotional win and injuries caught up to the ‘57 Mustangs, as Bloomfield crushed Clifton, 33-6. The Mustangs ended their season with a 21-0 win over Garfield for a 7-1 record. And here is where it gets complicated: Because Clifton beat Montclair, Montclair topped Bloomfield, and Bloomfield defeated Clifton, all three schools were declared unofficial state champions. The 1957 Fighting Mustangs did earn official honors as Group IV, Section I, State Champions.

More on... The Kasper Quads

The Kasper quads, Felix, Ferdinand, Frances and Frank, seen at age 9 in 1945, were the sweethearts of the pictorial newspapers of their era. The four were the first, healthy quadruplets born in the United States and it all happened at St. Mary’s Hospital. The boys graduated CHS in 1955 and spent their lives here in Clifton. Turn the page for more info.

Wonderful trip into Clifton’s Tiki Culture, wrote Edward MacDonald. “But I’d like to add some information to the article (page 86) that ended the issue—the Mystery of the PuPu Inn.” Back in 1970, he explained, right next to today’s Capri Institute on Main Ave., is a lot that housed three businesses: Blimpies, The Donmore Inn, and a laundromat. Blimpies moved across town around 1975 and The PuPu Inn moved and opened on that spot. “I remember because that was when the drinking age was 18 and my dad and I would go into the PuPu, order a platter and bring it next door to Donmore’s,” said MacDonald, CHS 1974. “A glass of draft was 25 cents and a mug was 50 cents. Plus Donmore’s had pickled eggs, pig’s feet and other bar ‘delicacies’ in bottles. And the Donmore Inn became The Spider Web then too.” Around 1980, a fire destroyed the whole corner and it became a parking lot for Capri and Corrado’s. PuPu Inn moved to an old tavern (Jerry’s Bar) on the corner of Main and Columbia St., becoming PuPu Inn II. After it closed a few years back, the spot first became a Chinese buffet, then an Arabic restaurant and recently opened as Layalina, serving Middle Eastern cuisine. Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Joe Menegus from the 1943 Fighting Mustangs, and one of the founders of the Clifton Sag-A-Bits (their motto: still Clifton athletes, we just sag-a-bit), called to bring attention to a glaring omission of a photo: “The ‘43 Mustangs were the best since ‘27. We brought life to the program. We were the beginning of the new era!” On April 19, 1937, Governor Harold G. Hoffman held Frances Kasper as she was baptized by Rev. Paul E. T. Lemke of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Passaic.

Frank Kasper, CHS 2003, dropped by with a scrapbook on the Kasper quads. Born May 9, 1936, at St. Mary’s Hospital, they were America’s first healthy quads. This medical milestone caught the flash of tabloids and newspapers, which recorded their lives. The governor of New Jersey was their godfather, a benefactor from San Francisco was godmother and the Passaic mayor was their business manager. Despite the early fanfare, the four lived pretty average lives. “Frank, Felix and Ferdinand graduated CHS in 1955,” said Frank, now a preschool teacher in Little Ferry and still a resident of Clifton. “The boys served in the NJ Army National Guard from 19591965. Their unit was activated during the Berlin Crisis in 1961.” The three boys, along with their older brother Ralph, were the owners of Seabert’s Deli on Main Ave. It was operated until 1997, when they retired. Frances worked at the deaconry in Liberty Corner for many years, recently retiring, and is the only survivor of the quads. Frank passed away in October 1999, Felix died in November 2002 and Ferdinand in November 2013. 32 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


George Homcy, the longtime chief of the Clifton Chamber of Commerce, and a true Clifton Storyteller (who also rides a horse along Main Ave.), called with accolades for the August edition. “I was born in 1929, went to St. Paul School, played in St. Paul Church when it was under construction, and remember all you wrote about,” said Homcy. “Wonderful memories.” His family lived across from Main Memorial Park, and his dad owned a silk mill. In 1940, they lost the mill and the house and moved to South Paterson. “We had no money. But then we were all poor back then,” said Homcy, 86, who graduated Central High in Paterson and took his first journalism job with the Paterson News. Dark days are but a memory. Homcy saw Clifton, America and his family come back strong and Homcy went on to live a storied Clifton life. Before the Chamber, he was the Clifton reporter for the Herald & News, when it was at 988 Main Ave. on the Clifton/Passaic border. “We covered Clifton like a blanket. On call 24 hours a day. We covered every meeting—planning board, board of adjustment, board of education, the council—nobody assigned us to cover these events, as reporters, we knew it was our responsibility to do so.” When Clifton reached its Golden Jubilee in 1967, there was plenty of fanfare that led up to a really big parade. At the top of the page is George Homcy and the late Henry Fette at Clifton’s Jubilee Parade held on June 4. The parade thrilled some tens of thousands of spectators. Much of that success can be attributed to Golden Jubilee Chairman Roy. J. Schleich, right of the sign, along with Clifton Mayor Joseph J. Vanecek.

34 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


When Cliftonites open a time capsule from 1967, they will have Roy J. Schleich to thank for the memories. Chair of the Golden Jubilee committee, he worked to both celebrate Clifton’s 50th anniversary and create a legacy for that generation. The time capsule, which was Schleich’s idea, is meant to be opened in 2017, during the celebration of Clifton’s centennial. Although not buried until two years after the jubilee, Schleich, with then mayor Joseph J. Vanecek and city council members William Bate, John Surgent, Ira Schoem, Mervyn Montgomery, Anna Latteri, Thomas Cupo and City Manager William Holster chose a spot in a park that extends along Clifton Ave. from Allwood Rd. to St. Andrew’s Blvd., near the Richfield Village Apartments. Renamed Jubilee Park after 50 trees were planted in honor of Clifton’s 50th, the time capsule was buried under a marker. Newspaper reports noted that the capsule contained mementos of the celebration, without Roy Schleich with the pastry chef of the Robin Hood Inn, who creidentifying them, as well as a message to future ated a one-of-a-kind cake to mark Clifton’s 50th milestone. Cliftonites, which read: Like many young men at the time, he answered the “Ours has been a proud community, and one whose call to serve his country, enlisting in the Army Air Corps successful stature among the municipalities of New in April 1942. Schleich served as a flight engineer and as Jersey was brought about by the efforts of many differa top turret gunner, flew 30 combat missions in a plane ent peoples — peoples of various national, religious and called Demo Darling and was awarded a Distinguished ethnic origins whose differences were transcended over Flying Cross. the years by their desire to live and work in a nice comDischarged in 1945, Schleich served with the NJ Air munity in peace with their fellow man.” National Guard until 1979, when he retired as a Senior The highlight of the Jubilee year was a day-long Master Sergeant. His service to country was matched by parade on June 4, 1967. Some 2,000 participants on his service to community. about 100 floats, including the one that carried Susan Schleich had served on the Clifton Chamber of Sisco, the Golden Jubilee Queen, thrilled tens of thouCommerce, the board of the Boys Club, chair of the sands of spectators along a route that began on Allwood Weasel Brook redevelopment committee, chair of the Rd., then continued up Clifton and Main Aves. Passaic County Vocational School for Handicapped Owner of Roy J. Schleich Heating and Plumbing Children, he belonged to the Clifton Kiwanis, American Contractors, Schleich lived on Fornelius Ave. with wife Legion Post No. 8. A life-long Republican and served as Suzanne and daughter Edna. Born and raised in Clifton, Assistant Secretary of the New Jersey State Senate. he joined the Boy Scout Troop that his father founded in Schleich’s great passion was civic involvement. His 1906 in Acquackanonk Township. After graduating high passion was Clifton’s good fortune. school in 1938, Schleich went to work with his father, while attending Rutgers University. By Rich DeLotto, Clifton Centennial Committee member 36 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


By Madison Molner

His last name may be Madrigal, but that does not mean he is a robed, Renaissance era, Madrigal singer of CHS. Matthew Madrigal is however the main voice of the Clifton High Class of 2016 as senior class president. With his presidential title, Madrigal, a new face in student government, works as a bridge between students and teaching advisors while honoring the school’s diversity. “It was funny, because I never really thought about it (student council) until senior year,” Madrigal said. “I thought it could suit me well… I could help look at issues from both sides as students and as teachers.” Sitting at the top of Madrigal’s council agenda is to add senior quotes to the yearbook. This commemorative feature has been missing from the CHS Rotunda for a number of years and is frequently requested by students. Madrigal believes that the unique quotes could serve as 38 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

a snapshot of all students at CHS. With an array of races, religions and beliefs represented in the 3,000 plus faces that roam the hallways, CHS truly is a microcosm of the entire world on a single school campus. Madrigal believes that many of his peers would not be exposed to this level of diversity if it was not for the CHS classrooms, ballfields and performance stages that bring them together. “Clifton High prepares you for the real world better than any private school ever could,” Madrigal said. “I can meet all types of people and I love that. We (students) take it for granted.” This year Madrigal also wants to hold football pep rallies earlier in the season to bolster school spirit and hopes it will keep game attendance up throughout the entire season.

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Recently pep rallies have become a chaotic frenzy held in the gym once a year with the band and cheerleaders making a quick appearance before rushing out. Lastly, Madrigal wants to work to continue the annual Powderpuff football game where roles are reversed. For this fan favorite, Lady Mustangs of all kinds take the field for a game of flag football, while the Fighting Mustang football players grab pompoms and cheer on from the sidelines. Aside from his position as chief student-teacher mediator, Madrigal is also a charter member of the recently formed History Club under John Lesler and a C.A.S.T. morning news anchor managed by Michael McCunney. Formed in the Fall of 2014, the CHS History Club transforms the glass showcase near the north and band room wings of CHS with changing vignettes of historical events. Madrigal says that the planned September showcase will serve as a 9/11 memorial. Lesler and McCunney are this student leader’s most influential teachers with their ability to foster Madrigal not only as a student, but as a person. “Both (Lesler and McCunney) are down-to-earth guys,” Madrigal said. “They are those two teachers that I would go after class to talk to. They inspire and believe in my abilities.” McCunney teaches the Communication Arts Sciences and Technology program or C.A.S.T. for short. In order to become a morning news anchor Madrigal needed to take three years of C.A.S.T. classes to work his way up to the featured position. As one of the morning anchors, Madrigal starts his day before many other CHS students. Students involved with the morning news arrive before 7 a.m. to prepare for the morning’s show. For many CHS students the morning news not only serves as a final distraction before classes start for the day, but is complete with important CHS news bulletins, video shorts and attention-getting antics. Camera time aside, Madrigal says his true passion lies behind the lens as he looks towards a future in filmmaking. “I love movies,” Madrigal said. “I would come home from school and watch 2 to 3 movies a day if I had the time.” Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 Reservoir Dogs is not only a dark-comedy thriller about a botched diamond heist, but also Madrigal’s favorite movie. 40 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

After first watching Reservoir Dogs he went from a casual viewer to a connoisseur. Madrigal began analyzing the direction of his favorite movies and finding traits he may look to mimic in his own productions. “I just started watching a lot of random movies,” he said. “Then I started going through directors like Tarantino and Nolan and watch all of their films.” Viewing aside, Madrigal has started to direct and produce short videos of his own. He credits his entry level skills to C.A.S.T. where all students receive background knowledge in filming and production. For now Madrigal’s reach as a director extends to the C.A.S.T. film festival held every May in the CHS auditorium. For years the film fest has been a popular event for many within CHS as it is a chance to watch their peers on the big screen. Possibly the most anticipated clip of the night is “Senior Secrets” where disguised seniors share their biggest secrets of their high school years. Guessing who matches which secret is almost as exciting as the secrets themselves. Although the film festival is months away, Madrigal is already working through ideas for his senior project where he will showcase his growing talents. Madrigal continues his passion for film into his working life as an employee of f.y.e. Abbreviated from, for your entertainment, f.y.e. is a store specializing in movies and music. The store is part of a dying breed where you can spend hours flipping through titles and personally talking to the clerks to see what their recommendations are. Madrigal says working there is a “win win” between receiving a real paycheck and selling something he loves. With S.A.T.S. already behind him, Madrigal is looking towards the college application process. While his “dream” schools are NYU and UCLA, he has done his research and has many other film programs in mind at schools across the country. As his time at CHS comes to a close, Madrigal does have some passing advice for the freshman class. Advice that we all could take to heart and advice that seems to channel one of the most memorable movie characters of the 1980s who happens to have the last name of Bueller. “Work hard, but enjoy yourself,” he said. “Time flies, so make time to take everything in.”

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Back to School

Highly involved Clifton teen received Paramus Catholic award for performing 116 hours of community service By Michael Wojcik Sometimes it seems as if Christina Cramer can barely remember what it’s like to sit in Christina Cramer, a parishioner of St. Paul’s and a sophomore at the pews with the congregation during Mass Paramus Catholic, holds the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Service Award. in her home church of St. Paul’s That’s because this Paramus Catholic sophomore became an altar server in third grade and quickly develends up serving on the altar almost every time she oped a “love of serving God on the altar.” attends Mass. For the past three years, she has been involved in St. The 15-year-old Cramer’s frequent serving at Mass Paul’s youth ministry, which stages the Stations of the demonstrates not only her firm commitment to her faith, Cross and hosts the showing of a religiously themed but also her passion for serving other people — and in movie during Lent. First Sundays after the family Mass, the process, her becoming a role model for other young she and others serve refreshments and offer activities for Catholics. She has participated in a broad array of outkids, such as “Trunk or Treat” at Halloween. They help reaches through St. Paul’s, Paramus Catholic, the out by serving and cleaning up at fundraising dinners for Knights of Columbus and the City of Clifton. the Rosary Society or the Knights. They also collected In fact, Cramer in May received Paramus Catholic’s clothing for an orphanage in Colombia, Cramer said. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Service Award for performing Just like last summer, Cramer was a staff member of 116 hours of community service this past school year— Clifton Safety Town, which teaches children, pre-k and far exceeding the required 25 hours for freshmen. kindergarten, about bike, pool, traffic and fire safety. She “I like helping people — the youth and the communiserves as a group leader, bringing the kids around to each ty,” said the humble Cramer, who attended St. Paul activity station. School, before it closed; was graduated from St. Andrew She also redesigned a recruiting brochure for the School and now attends Paramus Catholic, where she Knights of Columbus No. 3969, Regina Mundi Council, studies under the Aquinas honors program and was which has her father, Raymond, as a member. Cramer named to the honor roll for all four marking periods as a also joined a team for the Relay for Life, which raises freshman. Cramer’s life of service started, when she money for cancer research. 42 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Back to School A few years ago, Raymond Cramer had been successfully treated for throat cancer. He is a retired Clifton police lieutenant who served as a lector at St. Paul’s, now belongs to the parish’s finance committee, sits on the Diocesan Review Board and is a member of American Legion Post 8. “Christina does not like the attention, but service comes naturally. She is honoring God. It’s her ministry,” said her mother, Susan, who belongs to the Columbiettes and the women’s auxiliary of the American Legion Post 8. With her husband, she also serves an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at St. Paul’s. An aspiring eye doctor, Cramer also follows in the footsteps of her service-minded parents. Cramer logged 116 hours for her service requirement at Paramus Catholic by undertaking all of these volunteer efforts during the 2014-15 school year. At a May awards ceremony there, she and a few other select students received the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta for completing 100 hours or more of community service.

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The award’s namesake “took to heart the message of Christ to serve the poorest of the poor and did it with great love. It is our hope that students will be inspired each year to go above and beyond the required service, inspired by her loving example,” the administration of Paramus Catholic said. Paramus Catholic requires students to perform service for 10 percent of their religion grade. Freshman must complete 25 hours; sophomores, 30 hours, juniors and seniors, 40 hours; and Aquinas seniors, 80 hours. Service can be performed as part of Church-related activities, in school and out-of-school volunteer opportunities and local and community organizations. “The policy of Paramus Catholic reflects the Catholic teaching from the Letter of James that faith without works is dead, works without faith is meaningless (2:17),” Paramus Catholic’s handbook states. “We believe fully in the mandate given by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13: 1-17) at the Last Supper that we must serve one another. As Jesus came to serve, we are called to do the same.” Cramer said she finds her love of service, in part, rooted in her Catholic-school education and formation — past and present. “Practicing my faith in my personal life keeps me strong but to have the opportunity to proudly practice my faith openly and freely alongside other kids, who face the same life challenges, is awesome. God is the center of my life and I never want a limit to be put on that gift,” Cramer recently wrote in an essay as part of a scholarship application. “A Catholic high school education grants me the opportunities to live the words of the Gospel, practice Works of Mercy and live by the Golden Rule. All this instilled on a daily basis through a Catholic high school education encourages me to strive to do my best with God holding my hand and a loving, faithful family encouraging and supporting me,” she wrote. “Christina is a good girl and a smart girl. She is a very respectful person,” commented Father Leonardo Jaramillo, St. Paul’s pastor. “I can’t tell you how many times that, when we need something, we can count on her and the entire family. Christina is always wiling to help and is very active,” he said. Reprinted with permission of The Beacon, official newspaper of the Diocese of Paterson

44 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Principal Tara Brunt St. Mary High School “...the living presence of the Gospel in the field of education, science and culture...” - Pope Francis By Joe Hawrylko

The 250 or so young men and women at this Rutherford Catholic high school will be under the guidance of a Clifton native this fall. Tara Brunt takes the helm of this 86 year old institution after nearly four decades of experience in Catholic education. Meet her and learn of her path here... In what was an eventful week in the Brunt household, she was appointed principal in July just days after her husband of 33 years, Tom, was named Clifton municipal judge. Growing up in Clifton’s Upper Montclair neighborhood, Brunt’s family was a parishioner of St. Philip, where she also attended elementary and middle school. After graduating from St. Philip School, Brunt attended Paul VI (Class of 1974), which was just up Valley Road prior to closing in 1990. “It’s important for me to have that, the religious education background. My parents, Frank and Mildred Lechleiter, moved to Clifton in 1952. My dad still lives in the same house in Upper Montclair. So St. Philip and Paul VI were always nearby. Both places left a strong impression on me,” Brunt explained. “I certainly count my four years at Paul VI as some of the greatest years of my life. My experiences there made me into the person who I am today.” Brunt, who now lives in Belleville, first became interested in education while attending Paul VI, thanks to several passionate teachers. 46 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Her biggest inspiration was Father Tom Suchon, the young leader of the school who died of cancer in 1976. “He was the best, just a wonderful person. He was a major influence, not just to me, but anyone who went to Paul VI. Everyone always recalls him fondly. He’s someone I still think of a lot,” explained Brunt. “I always wanted to become a teacher or educator. I was fortunate enough to have a Catholic education growing up. And now my entire career has been in catholic education. I’m passionate about it, and I hope to bring that energy to St. Mary’s as well.” With a physical education degree from Kean University, Masters in education and physical education from Montclair State, and a Catholic education background, few may be more prepared for the role than Brunt.

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Back to School Her career began in 1977 in Wayne at Neumann Preparatory High School, a co-ed facility that has since closed. Brunt spent more than 13 years there, mostly as a physical education teacher, including two years as assistant principal. She was also the coach of the school’s field hockey and softball teams. Coming of age during the Title Nine era, Brunt’s love of sports started at a young age. Once she reached Kean, Brunt became a three sport student-athlete, lettering in field hockey, basketball, and softball. Though she didn’t get into field hockey until high school, it was Brunt’s best sport by far. For four years, she competed in the Mid Atlantic Regional field hockey team, a touring club which competed against teams from around the world. “We played across the United States, and in Canada, England, Jamaica,” recalled Brunt. “I grew up right when Title 9 was starting to take hold. I was always

48 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Tara and Tom Brunt.

absolutely interested in athletics, playing them for years. Eventually that led to coaching when I became a teacher.” As a former athlete-turnedadministrator, Brunt appreciates St. Mary’s commitment to its studentathletes. The crown jewel of the athletics program is the football team, which competes in the NJIC Patriot Division. The Gaels, under the direction of head coach Mike Sheridan, have long been a power house in North Jersey football and there is another Clifton connection—Sheridan’s wife, Ann Marie, teaches English at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. St. Mary’s athletics are one of the many reasons that this educational institution has been able to weather so many of the challenges that other private and religious schools have faced over the last two decades. “It was originally staffed by the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell. St. Mary’s has been here for 86 years,” said Brunt. “We’ve been here a long time. We’re part of a vibrant

community. We have a long history of quality education and strong athletics. It’s a great place.” That much is reflected on the student body, which pulls in children of all background from the surrounding counties. “You don’t have to be Catholic to come here. In fact, we have a number of students who are not. Catholic teachings are not just religious. They are also social and moral teachings. Some people just want the quality of education we provide,” she said. “It’s all very universal. These are things that are across all religions. A good number of students come from nonCatholic backgrounds. Part of the reason for the diversity is St. Mary’s financial aid program, which grants opportunities to people who would not be able to attend otherwise. “We do a very good job of giving out aid to those who need it,” said Brunt. “Our biggest issue is that people want to come here, but some families cannot afford it. We have financial aid opportunities, in addition to scholarships. We’re also extremely fortunate to have support from our very generous alumni.” As a person whose entire outlook was shaped by her Catholic education, Brunt is eager to pass that opportunity forward to a new generation. “My time at St. Philip and Paul VI really shaped my life and my career,” she explained. “It’s the same thing here. Catholic values and Catholic teachings are a part of what we do. It enhances the overall education. It’s an experience that shapes your life — it’s transformative for the student.”

Clifton Merchant • September 2015



After the 1-9 debacle that was the 2014 Clifton football season— the Mustangs’ worst year since 1999—it was clear change was needed. Fall Sports by Tom Szieber The Fighting Mustang program needed a jolt of energy. A shift in attitude was due. And while first-year head coach Ralph Cinque is not new to Clifton football by any means (he was an assistant coach for the past 14 years, and a star running back for two seasons in the 1990s), there has certainly been a different feeling around Mustangs camp this summer. Practices have been intense. The roster is taking its mission seriously, and Cinque believes he has the pieces necessary to facilitate vast improvement from last season’s effort. “It seems like they are, buying in,” Cinque said of his team “They are [last year] personal. I feel like they are taking on the personality of our coaching staff, as well. The kids are following each other. They are pushing each other. There is a lot of positive leadership. Players should encourage other players, and they do.” If the positive leadership is to translate into victories, it will likely be because of Clifton’s ground game. Senior running back Josiah Belfield may be one of 50 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Passaic County’s best-kept secrets, as injuries have kept him out of action for most of the past two seasons. He is a well-rounded player, with enough speed to break big plays and enough power to rumble for an extra yard or two when necessary. Powerful junior fullback T.J. Cobbertt will be a valuable part of the attack as well, as he hopes to rebound from a knee injury that robbed him of what looked to be a promising sophomore campaign in 2014. Junior Hunter Halliburton and senior Danny Martinez will be in the rushing rotation, too, giving the Mustangs invaluable depth. The backfield, though, will only go as far as its offensive line permits, and the Mustangs’ front five appears to have the most potential of any group over the last few years. Left tackle Jacob Abill and left guard Adam Miranda, both juniors, were starters a year ago, and had transformed into two the better blockers on the roster by season’s end.


Football The glue holding the entire They will start this year again, Sept 11 Fair Lawn 7pm offense together will be senior tight alongside junior center Anthony Sept 18 Eastside Paterson 7pm end Maurice Greene. At 6-4, 215 Caitan, senior right guard Dan Parra Sept 25 West N.Y. Memorial 7pm pounds, he is a big target that will be and junior right tackle Carlo Oct 09 @Ridgewood 7pm a mismatch for anyone attempting to Alvarado. Oct 16 JFK 7pm cover him. “Our running game and offensive Oct 23 PCTI 7pm “He is 25 pounds heavier, and has line are what are going to win games Oct 30 @Bergenfield 7pm tremendous work ethic,” Cinque said for us,” Cinque said. “We played Nov 06 @Hackensack 7pm of what makes Greene such an asset. with four sophomores last year. Nov 26 Passaic 10:30am “He is smart. He knows everyone’s Those 15-year-olds are now seaassignment. He plays with confisoned veterans that have had a full dence, he is in and out of his breaks better than last year.” year of real weight training. You either get better or you Defensively, the Mustangs will run a 4-2-5 scheme, get worse. We’ve talked nutrition. We have had speed relying on a big, fast defensive line to set the tone. coaches come in. We think we’ve gotten better.” Alvarado and Greene, both tall, lanky and athletic, will For the run game to run smoothly, the passing game play the edges, while tackles Parra and Cobbertt will will need to be a threat, as well. The quarterback posilook to clog up the middle. tion isn’t quite settled, though it figures to be either senMiranda will be the Mustangs’ middle linebacker, ior Dennis Lichtenberger or senior Freddy Guiran. while senior Otto De Leon will play the weak side. Should Lichtenberger end up the signal-caller, Guiran The five-man Clifton secondary will feature dual will return to the position at which he originally made strong safeties in Belfield and Halliburton, who essenhis name, wide receiver. tially perform as safety/linebacker hybrids. Moquillaza With or without Guiran split out, the Mustangs’ and senior Marcus Delvalle will be the team’s corners, receiving corps looks solid. Junior Delano Dixon is a while junior Luis Lantigua will be the free safety. big-play waiting to happen, while juniors Jimmy Mariano and Randy Jimenez and senior Gerald Dixon will be the Mustangs’ punter, with placekickMoquillaza are all capable of making big catches. ing duties going to sophomore Richard Mejia. Clifton Merchant • September 2015


MUSTANG SPORTS Cheerleadering

Varsity senior cheerleaders include Bria Bryant, Alexa Carter, Taliah Cumberbatch, Yehshen Henry, Iwonka Kot, Stephanie Naranjo, Odette Rodriguez, Shakira Rodriguez, Diana Rojas, Jerilyn Roman, Aniah Whitmire and Milton Zarzuela.

Clifton cheerleading has already shown that its season, which more or less runs through the fall and winter, will be an exciting one. Head coach Alyssa Bono and the Mustangs returned from Pine Forest Cheerleading Camp with multiple accolades, including the Top Banana Award (for hard work, attitude and character). Three senior cheerleaders also won the distinction of UCA All-American: Bria Bryant, Stephanie, Naranjo and Aniah Whitmire. Whitmire had a particularly outstanding camp as, along with senior Milton Zarzuela, was offered a tryout by the UCA staff to become professional. In addition, she and senior Alex Carter were honored by the Pin It Forward program, which promotes leadership, spirit, commitment, kindness and motivation. The Mustangs can be seen performing their sideline routine at every CHS football game this fall, before moving into basketball and competition season in December. 52 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Marching Mustangs

Drum Majorette Sydney Pangaro (facing page, top photo, top row, third from left) will lead the Marching Mustangs this year as the Showband of the Northeast performs on football fields and along parade routes. Pictured on these pages are many of the senior members of the Marching Mustangs as they worked to perfect their music and high stepping during the annual band camp during mid-August. Above, rear: Nick Belfondo, Rohan Handiwala, William Enciso, Nicholas Wijangco, Edward Castillo, Aleksander Pietras. Front: Jorge De La Cruz, (who

wrote a note: Hope you come to one of the football games. We’re working hard to make the City of Clifton proud), Jimmy Louer, Jordan Dunleavy, Dhruv Mehta, Hector Ramirez. Facing page, top from left: Sarah DePeri, Pooja Patel, Sydney Pangaro, Kristen Tecza, Michelle Ardiff, Christin Kwiecinski.Bottom Row (left to right): Sarah Plishka, Crystal Lagria, Emalyn Flor, Christina Verrico. Bottom from left, Joshua Bugtai, Justin Mozolewski, Brianna Smith, Natalie Fernandez, Kasey Molner, Jessie Kakascik, Aaron Bloom, and Paras Mehta.

Good Neighbors, Great Rates


Thomas Tobin 973-779-4248

Bill G. Eljouzi 973-478-9500

54 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

973Roofing • Siding Seamless Gutters Additions • Alterations

Clifton Merchant • September 2015



The midfield will be occupied by senior Jose For many teams, a 14-3-1 season and appearances in Rodriguez, a defensive midfielder, as well as seniors the state playoffs and Passaic County semifinals Romario DePalmer and Manny Montenegro, and junior would be considered major achievements. But Stan Jonathan Pina. Senior forwards Christian Farfan and Lembryk and Clifton boys soccer want much, much Frankie Salensky will be the Mustangs’ top players on more. Not only do they want it, they expect it, as both the attack. team and coach are used to greater successes. Now, in Clifton is blessed with extraordiyear two of the Lembryk era, the nary depth this season, with 18 Mustangs will settle for nothing less Mustangs returning varsity players, who than topping 2014’s achievements. Lembryk says are intent on erasing “I believe last year, the foundation the stench of a first round playoff was about the mentality of the Sept 10 @Bergen Cty Tech. 4pm loss to Ridgewood in penalty kicks defense,” Lembryk said. “You won’t Sept 12 Passaic 11am last year. win if you don’t defend properly. I A second-seed in the North I, think if we can keep that mentality, Sept 17 @PCTI 4pm Group IV bracket last season, it was but now in the second year be able to Sept 19 JFK 12pm an unexpected result, but one that attack smarter and go forward and Sept 22 @Eastside Paterson 4pm can be a learning experience for a score more points. We have to colSept 24 Bergen Catholic 4pm team that he believes is much wiser lectively be better than we were a Sept 29 West Milford 6pm than in his first go-around as the year ago.” Oct 01 @Wayne Hills 4pm boys’ coach. Senior goalie Alexis Juariez will Oct 06 @Wayne Valley 4pm “I think we are definitely more be the Mustang charged with the mature than last year,” concludes assignment of keeping other teams Oct 13 Bergen Cty Tech. 6pm Lembryk . “It is hard when you have off the board, bolstered by an accomOct 15 @Passaic 4pm kids who haven’t been around you plished group of defenders. The senOct 20 PCTI 6pm forever. I think the team’s maturity is ior-laden line includes center back Oct 22 @JFK 4pm much better early on, and that’s got a Bruno Frascolla (a first-team AllOct 27 Eastside Paterson 5pm lot to do with them being familiar Passaic County player last year), as Oct 29 @DePaul Catholic 4pm with me.” well as Boris Diaz and Matt Miller.

Boys Soccer

56 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015



Varsity seniors: Emily Ibarra, Cristal Montiel, Kelly Agurlar, Shania Vergara. Second row: Emily Ulczak, Olivia DeMura, Cat Jordan, Brittany Morales, Sharon Garcia, Chelsea Robinson, and missing is Carly Egyed.

On the attack will be midfielders Brittany Morales, Year two of the Konrad Kruczek era is shaping up to Kelly Aguilar, Olivia DeMuro (all seniors) and junior be a good one for a Clifton girls soccer team that came Daniella LoBue. just shy of a Passaic County title last year. The Mustangs LoBue will also see time as a forward. Sophomore return multiple pieces of last season’s group, and with Meaghan Mancini is the only solidianother year’s worth of familiarity fied starter at forward, thus far, but with Kruczek, they should be right in Mustangs Kruczek is focusing on getting more the thick of things again. scoring this year. “I think that the team should be “We should be solid defensively very strong, especially looking at Sept 10 Bergen Cty Tech. 4:30pm again, and I think we should be what we have back from last year’s Sept 12 @Passaic TBD pushing everyone to perform offenlineup,” Kruczek said. “We have at Sept 17 PCTI 4pm sively,” he said of his squad, which least seven starters back. The girls Sept 19 @Newton 11am went 16-4 last year but lost in the are all positive. They know each Sept 21 Eastside Paterson 4:30pm county final and sectional quarterfiother well.” Sept 22 @Union 4pm nal. Kruczek has not settled on a “We should get more going on starting goalkeeper yet, but both Sept 26 @Wayne Valley 10am offense. I think our technical part of senior Carly Egyed and sophomore Sept 29 @Holy Angels 4pm the game was off. I think other Cindy Espinal should see time. As a Oct 01 Wayne Hills 6pm teams were quicker. We have been defensive-minded team, the starting Oct 06 West Milford 6pm focusing on that, trying to add more back row should be strong. A senOct 13 @Bergen County Tech. 4pm physicality. If everyone stays ior-laden corps, Sharon Garcia, Oct 15 Passaic 4pm healthy, I think this should be a very Chelsea Robinson, Catherine Oct 19 @PCTI 4pm good season. The girls all keep it Jordan and Emily Ibarra will be Oct 27 @Eastside Paterson 4pm positive and I hope they can push tasked with helping keep the presOct 29 DePaul Catholic 6pm the team to its highest peak.” sure off Clifton’s goalies.

Girls Soccer

58 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015



Kneeling front left: Alison Moran, Kristen Kakascik, Nicole Wiebe, Brittany Guzman, Nicole Montague. Standing from left: Madison Vellis, Christie Louer, Kristen Mawker, Merve Tig, Chelsea Barile, Jamie Marchioni, Lissette Ventura, Dhiti Kapadia, Melanie Cuco. Missing is Andrea Oyola Mora.

As it heads into its 2015 campaign, Clifton girls volleyball has strung together three very impressive years since head coach Nick Romanak took over as head coach. Posting a 53-18 record between 2012 and 2014, the Mustangs have been a tough team to beat during the regular season. They have faltered earlier than expected during the state and county tournaments, though, with the most painful example being the loss in last year’s Passaic County final to Passaic Valley. Romanak believes this season should provide another step in the right direction for his team, though, as several key returnees could provide the Mustangs the chance to finally get over the hump and dethrone the three-time defending champion Hornets. “I think we are always competitive in the county, and I kind of always have the expectation [that we will be],” Romanak said. “I think this senior group coming up will be able to handle themselves fine. I am as confident with them as I was last year’s.” That senior group includes the likes of middle hitter Nicole Montague, who has refined all areas of her game this offseason, and is now a stronger threat as a passer and in the back row. Her classmate, libero Jamie Marchioni, was a consistent spark for the Mustangs a year ago, and has gained a reputation for her hustle and ability to keep balls off the floor. Like Montague, Marchioni has become more of a total package through her offseason work. Outside hitter Chelsea Barile, primarily a reserve last year, has been impressive this preseason, and figures to play a big part in Clifton’s offense this fall. Junior setter Christie Louer--whose thumb injury was a big factor in the result of the 2014 county final--is the Mustangs’ best all-around player, while sophomore outside hitter Kristen Kakascik is a volleyball junkie with a strong armswing. Both will be pivotal parts of Clifton’s efforts, as well. 60 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant


Volleyball Sept 10 Bergen Cty Tech


Sept 12 Bayonne


Sept 14 @Hudson Cath. Reg.


Sept 16 @Passaic


Sept 17 PCTI


Sept 18 @Mount Saint Dom.


Sept 19 @Wayne Valley


Sept 21 @JFK


Sept 23 Immaculate Heart


Sept 24 Eastside Paterson Sept 25 @Kearny Sept 29 @Wayne Valley

4:30pm 4pm 4pm

Oct 01

@Holy Angels


Oct 02

Wayne Hills


Oct 09

@Bergen Cty Tech.


Oct 12


Oct 13


Oct 15


Oct 16


Oct 20

@Eastside Paterson


Oct 22

DePaul Catholic


5:30pm 4pm 4pm 4:15pm

Oct 23 Bridgewater-Raritan 5:30pm

Clifton Merchant • September 2015




Tennis Veteran head girls tennis coach Chad Cole knows he has a young group taking the court this fall, but in his eyes, that is not a bad thing at all. With a hungry, ambitious group, Cole believes that the Mustangs have a shot to not only be competitive in 2015, but to lay a foundation for the next several years. “I am really high on this group,” Cole said. “I love being the girls tennis coach. It is a great group of kids, they can’t wait to get to practice, and they’re great to be around.” The first singles player for the Mustangs likely will be Kamila Ivashka. The senior has been in Europe much of the summer, but Cole believes she has played during her time away, and is ready to make a bigger contribution after being the team’s #2 a year ago. “She is really into tennis,” Cole said. “She as great height. I am expecting to see her come in, take charge, and get that first singles position.” Three other Mustangs will vie for the other two singles spots. Sophomore Heena Patel played third singles last season, so would seem to have a leg up in the competition. Meanwhile tenth-grader Prianka Kunadia—a second doubles player last year—and senior Sharmitha Yerneni will look to challenge for those slots, as well. In addition, freshman Taylor Bordamonte, sophomore Stanislava Stancheva, junior Xiara Enciso and senior Samantha Gear will likely fall somewhere in the starting lineup. 62 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Sept 10 Bergen Cty Tech


Sept 11 @Kearny


Sept 15 @North Bergen


Sept 16 @Passaic


Sept 17 PCTI


Sept 21 @JFK


Sept 24 @Eastside Paterson 4:30pm Sept 29 @Wayne Valley


Oct 01

@Holy Angels


Oct 02

Wayne Hills


Oct 06

West Milford


Oct 08



Oct 09

@Bergen Cty Tech.


Oct 13



Oct 15



Oct 16



Oct 19

@Passaic Valley


Oct 20

@Eastside Paterson


Oct 22

DePaul Catholic


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Cross Country

Front, Alex Zapata, Nicole Toxtli, Kenneth Herrera, Alissa Nieto. Back, Mateusz Walicki, Hannah Anolik, Megan Davey, Allison Proszowski.

Juniors Mollie Slanina and Anisah Under the tutelage of veteran head Sept 08 East. & Kennedy 4:30pm Khandakar, senior Allison coach John Pontes, success is expectSept 11 @TBA 3:30pm Proszowski and sophomore ed every year for Clifton cross country. Sept 18 TBA 3:30pm Hadeel Alshaijen round out a very This fall is no exception, as both the Sept 22 Bergen Cty Tech. 4:30pm solid core. girls and boys are coming off success“The main contenders in the Sept 26 TBA 9am ful 2014 campaigns that have them county will probably be Wayne thinking big. Oct 02 Passaic Valley 4pm Hills, who has a lot back),” said The girls, 12-0 and Big North Oct 06 Passaic & PCTI 4:30pm Pontes. “And Passaic Tech, who Liberty champs a year ago, are hoping Oct 13 TBA 3:30pm has a real good group of girls. I to defend their Passaic County champiOct 22 TBA 3pm think we are right up there with onship, and Pontes thinks that despite Oct 27 Union City 4pm those teams.” some key graduation losses, they can Nov 07 TBA 10am The Clifton boys were 13-0 do just that. Nov 14 TBA TBD Liberty champs, as well, while fin“We graduated a good group of senNov 21 TBA TBD ishing third in Passaic County. iors,” he acknowledged. “Two, Olivia They suffered a higher volume of Rosenberg and Sofiya Nedelcheva, graduation losses than the girls, but still have some stelwere first team all-county. But we still have some good lar athletes running the 5,000 meters. Leading the way athletes back and I expect another good year.” will be sophomore Kevin Heredia, junior Carlos Junior Meghan Jozefczyk was an individual county Polanco, and juniors Ken Herrera and Alex Zapata. champion last year, allowing her to qualify for the All“The boys will really be battling in our league with Passaic First Team. Senior Megan Davey was a firstPassaic County Tech,” Pontes said. “But they’ll be preteamer, as well. Both are returning, giving the pared and we should still contend.” Mustangs solid foundation for their attempt at a repeat. 64 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, include e-pens, e-pipes, e-hookah and e-cigars. Collectively, they are referred to as ENDS – electronic nicotine delivery systems. E-cigarettes are most commonly battery-operated. They use a heating element that heats e-liquid from a refillable cartridge. The outcome is the release of a toxic chemical-filled aerosol, or vapor. “While cigarette use has decreased among youth, ecigarettes have tripled in use among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2013,” said Stanley H. Weiss, MD, Professor of Medicine at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “Cartoon characters and candy flavors are two industry tactics used to lure children into the false comfort that e-cigs are harmless.” Another dangerous aspect of e-cigs is that few people truly understand that they are exposing dangerous toxins to their bodies.

The public’s lack of awareness is aided by the scarcity of evaluations done by the Food and Drug Administration. Also, there are no requirements on what ingredients are disclosed on the labels of the nearly 500 brands of e-cigarettes. One of the most common myths is that e-cigs do not have nicotine, added Dr. Weiss. “It is easy to understand why people believe the myth. With no FDA regulations, companies are not required to list nicotine levels accurately or at all.” The Smoke-free Air Act banned the use of e-cigs in indoor public places and workplaces since Jan. 2010. Clifton Health Officer John Biegel will discuss the Smokefree Air Act at the EPWC’s next public meeting 4:30 pm, on Wed., Sept., 16 at Hackensack UMC Mountainside Hospital in Montclair. For info or to attend the free meeting on Sept. 16, visit Clifton Merchant • September 2015 65


From left front: Lucia DuBois, Ayanna Ervin, Samantha Wong, Francine Choy, Kristen Wong. Middle: Aya Krayem, Briana Valdez, Giannit Gonzales, Sarah Kusher, Kristine Carillo, Angylenny Calixto. Rear: Cindy Fejzullah, Stephany Ayala, Brianna Morrison, Akifa Choudhury, Maria Benitez, Noelia Munoz.

have done it and done it well.” Gymnastics coach Brittany Gaccione has made some The heart of the team continues to be the Mustangs’ big moves that have the Mustangs looking ready for two top gymnasts, seniors Samantha and Kristen Wong. major improvement in 2015. Both sisters compete all-around, and bring their own The first such move was her decision to bring back strengths to each meet. the team’s former head coach, Amy Glenn, as an assisIn Samantha, the Mustangs have an exceptionally tant. Glenn’s knowledge of the sport is unquestionably skilled athlete who earned first team All-Passaic County an asset, and her familiarity with the squad should make honors on the bars last season. Kristen, an ‘11 secondher teaching especially effective. teamer in all-around, has taken on a leadership role with “It’s definitely a plus to have her back,” Gaccione great ease, and is a reliable cog in the said. “A bunch of the girls already Clifton lineup. knew her. I also think the girls are Mustangs “They have a lot of knowledge of more comfortable as I am settling the sport,” Gaccione said of the into my role, too.” Wongs. “They bring a lot to the table. Amotherbold moves is her inserA lot of the girls who come on the tion of two freshman into prominent Sept 16 @Ramapo 4:30pm team have never been to a private spots in her lineup. Ninth-graders Sept 21 @Montclair 4:30pm club. These two have, and they can Sarah Kusher and Brianna Morrison Sept 30 West Milford 4:30pm level with their teammates and teach will be expected to compete early, the Oct 02 Holy Angels 4:30pm them things in the process..” former in vault, bars and floor, and Oct 05 @Wayne Valley 4:30pm Senior Francine Choy was a conthe latter in vault and beam. Oct 14 @Passaic Valley 4:30pm tributor on floor last year, but “I think they are both fearless athOct 19 Pascack Hills 4:30pm Gaccione hopes she can add the letes,” Gaccione said. “Anything Oct 21 @West Milford 5pm beam to her repertoire this fall. they’ve been asked to do or try, they


66 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Not a safe alternative to cigarettes Cigarette smoking among high school students is dropping—that’s the good news. But a new study published last month in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, cautions hookah use among teens is rising dramatically In a national study of high school seniors, 18% of the 5,540 surveyed had used hookah at least once in the past 12 months. Hookahs are water pipes with a smoke chamber, bowl, pipe and hose used to smoke specially made flavored tobacco appealing to youth. They’re often shared by users in smoking sessions. Youth and young adults often think they are safer than smoking cigarettes. But hookah smoking has many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking. “It’s a serious mistake to think that hookah filters out harmful chemicals. Carbon monoxide, tar, nicotine, and other toxic chemicals are still present in tobacco-based hookah smoke – and often at even higher levels than cigarettes,” said Stanley H. Weiss, MD, of the Essex-Passaic Wellness Coalition (EPWC) and Professor of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. In fact, the Florida American Lung Association has pointed out that a 40 to 45minute session using a water pipe is the equivalent of smoking 40 cigarettes—two full packs— at one sitting! The numerous hookah lounges in the Clifton area concern Clifton Health Officer John Biegel, who will discuss the Smoke-free Air Act at the EPWC’s next quarterly meeting, 4:30 pm, on Wed., Sept., 16 at HackensackUMC Mountainside Hospital, Montclair. For info or to attend the free meeting visit Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Kyle Kocsis’ Unique Path to Becoming An Entrepreneur By Joe Hawrylko

It’s a hot July afternoon in Athenia and over at The Clifton Bike Shop, a dozen, brightly colored beach cruisers are lined up in front of the store, beckoning passer-byes to drop on in for a look. Located at 770 Van Houten Ave., next to School 13, this is prime location for a bike store, down the road from the beautiful Third Ward Park, and a short ride from Garret Mountain, Brookdale Park, and several other locations. In the back Kyle Kocsis works on the wheel of a BMX bike a customer recently dropped off. Just 23, he is the mastermind and master bike mechanic behind this operation, which he opened with his parents, Jeff Sr. and Debbie, back in 2011. 68 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Kocsis is quite young to be running his own store, but he has worked in the field since he was just 13. Back in 2005, he was working at the Allwood Bike Shop under Art Margeotes. At first, it was an easy way to make some money while cutting expenses for his favorite hobby. But it quickly turned into something more like an apprenticeship, teaching Kocsis all the skills he needed to one day run his own bike shop. “At first I swept the floors, cleaned, and did whatever else he asked me to. I was just basically being a sponge at the shop,” he said. Kocsis worked at the store with friend and riding partner, Connor Spears. “The whole time I was continuing to ride BMX. Anybody who works at a bike shop gets parts at cost and I didn’t have any money so it was great.” After about a year of doing errands and simple labor, Kocsis began taking on more responsibility, learning to sell

and repair bikes. Eventually he carved out a niche for himself as the BMX expert at the store. Kocsis picked up the sport from his older brother, Jeff, 26, who rides professionally and recently returned from a competition in London. “He taught me how to take the wheel off and do all the road bike repairs,” explained Kocsis. While attending Clifton High, Kocsis continued to work at Allwood Bike, earning credits for school through the co-op program. Though he had nearly five years of experience working on bikes, the former Mustang wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for a career. He was enrolled in the CHS auto shop class as a senior, working on a Volkswagen GTI he bought and repaired himself. “I always worked with my hands,” said Kocsis. “I can fix your bike, I can fix your car. I’ve always been that kind of guy. I had no idea what I wanted to be growing up. Everyone wanted me to be a doctor or journalist or fireman. Basically all the things that your teachers tell you to do.”

After leaving CHS in 2010, Kocsis ended up working with his father, Jeff Sr., who owns a construction business. He wasn’t sure about college or his career, and the Allwood Bike Store was closing so that wasn’t an option, either. Kocsis, Jeff Sr., and his mother, Debbie, occasionally spoke about opening their own bike store to fill the void after Allwood Bike left. In 2011, they spotted some local real estate on Van Houten Ave. at the old Jumbo Ice building, just across the Street from Mario’s. Sensing opportunity, the three began to build a plan and opened The Clifton Bike Shop on Aug. 4, 2011. At just 250 sq ft, it was an extremely modest building which made it hard to keep a large inventory. The bikes were set up on the sidewalk to lure in customers just as much as they were to have space to do business inside. In an industry where the ability to have selections on hand is a necessity, it presented a major dilemma. “It’s like a shoe store. You have to have every size and every color in stock,” said Kocsis. “A lot of it

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


is just trial and error. I try to other hands-on marketing venreinvest every penny that I postures, such as his t-shirts, which sibly can. But you try to build have been very popular. “That’s slowly and not overinvest.” free advertising. I never made Though the apprenticeship anything on them but everyone under Art taught him much, he sees it.” learned on the job how to run a Kocsis has also been a regubusiness during that first year. lar volunteer at the annual bikeTo make ends meet, Kocsis cona-thon in the Jewish neighbortinued to work construction with hood of Third Ward Park in Kyle’s parents Deb and Jeff. his father, dropping in to make Passaic, just down the street repairs as needed. from his store. “I would work construction and just drop in to do “I learned about it and came down with a bike pump repairs when they came in,” he recalled. “I really would the first year,” he said. Kocsis has also volunteered his not have been able to do this if it were not for my partime and money for the St. Andrews Boy Scouts. “When ents. Especially my mother.” I got back there were 10 people in the store. Now I do it Kocsis said the growth of his business coincided with every year. There’s always raffles or events but I have a his increased marketing and advertising efforts. limit. I like to try and go but sometimes you just have to “I did stuff like dropping my cards at Bagel Station give a gift card so they come to the store.” and other busy stores around town. Good advertising This sense of marketing helped propel the sales at the pays for itself,” he explained. Kocsis said most of his locally owned shop, and before long Kocsis and his fammoney has been spent being active in the community and ily were looking for a bigger footprint. However,

70 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Sunday, October 11, 2015• 8:30 am

The 8th Annual John Samra Scholarship Memorial 5K Run/Walk — Certified Course — Start & End, City Hall 900 Clifton Ave., Clifton

Registration online at:

Fee: $20/applicant if postmarked by Oct. 5, to guarantee a t-shirt.

Late registration $25 Race day reg starts at 7 am

Sponsors needed! contact Race Coordinator

Robert Domski John Samra was a Clifton motorcycle officer who was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 21, 2003. To keep his memory eternal, a scholarship fund was established in his name and events such as this run help fund it. There are various levels of participation, from newcomers and youth, to competitive runners and seniors. presented by

Clifton PBA 36

72 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

with support from the

Clifton Roadrunners

they were keen to stay in their area of Clifton, and lucked out when their current location at 770 Van Houten Ave. became vacant two years ago. Much larger than the original location, it allows Kocsis a repair and inventory bay in the back, along with a much more floorspace to display their wares inside. The move and increase in on-hand inventory dramatically increased business, but it’s customer service that gets people coming back. That’s the number one thing that Kocsis looks for when he goes out, and he feels that his customers share a similar mentality. “If I eat out and I get bad service, I’m not the type to go call a manager. I won’t go back again. We might not have everything here, but we have the best customer service. And I can order it for you,” he said. “I remember people who I sold bikes to two years ago. I can be in the back working on a bike and I’ll always come out and say high or help you put your bike into your car. We use used parts when possible to give someone a discount and people always appreciate it. Part of Kocsis’ success has been his willingness to try different things to increase traffic to the store. Some don’t go so well, such as his foray into Ebay. Others, such as his bike trade in program, quickly return on the investment. “It’s something I came up with myself, but there are a lot of cheap bikes from places like Toys R Us,” he said. “We offer $25 off towards a new bike from us if you trade it in. We also have one year of free service, and that alone gets you coming back to the store. That’s something I got from Art.” Although the store has experienced steady growth due to their customer service and selection, the biggest

Kyle’s brother Jeff Kocsis is a professional bike rider.

dilemma now is keeping business steady during the winter. “Every bike store has the same problem with it getting slow in the winter,” explained Kocsis. “But you’ve got to have enough business to keep people working. When you have a good mechanic you want to keep them. They are hard to come by.” To address that issue, the Cliftonite will fall back on his experience and the years of skills he acquired while learning under his friend, Art. One day, Kocsis would like to pass on his knowledge to another young biker, and he thinks there should be more opportunities for young people looking for an alternative to four year colleges. “They should have more of an investment in the trade programs in high school. Lots of kids don’t have that now. And there should be more done to encourage small business,” he explained. “A kid who is in high school and isn’t sure about what he wants to do should know that there are options besides college. I had people doubt me all day long.”

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Memory Eternal On Aug. 17, the soccer field at Richardson Scale Park on Van Houten Ave. was named in honor of the late Councilman Matt Grabowski. The second term Councilman died on Feb. 25 from liver cancer. Despite his prognosis, Grabowski, age 53, worked hard at keeping all aspects of his life running smoothly. In addition to his role on the City Council, he was also a Coldwell Banker realtor, president of the Athenia Business Association and lead singer of Swingman & The Misfit Mutts Band. Attending the ceremony was his brother Ray, at left, their sisters, their mom and hundreds of neighbors and friends.

On 9/11, some 1,710 American Flags will be flown on the grounds the Clifton Municipal Complex. One year after the September 11th attacks, community members started ‘planting’ flags around City Hall. Since then, the display has grown to be among the largest in the nation. Each flag represents a living or deceased Clifton military veteran. Citizens can honor a veteran by purchasing a flag with a donation of $110. This fee pays for the flag, pole, sleeve, name plate and ground socket. Five times a year volunteers raise and lower the flags, said organizer John Biegel. Other holidays on which the flags are displayed are Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth

of July and Veterans Day. Want to help out? If interested in setting up the display on 9/11, be at the city hall complex before 6 am. Help is also needed to break down the display that day, well before dusk. Year round, volunteers are also needed to do behindthe-scenes prep work that gives Clifton this beautiful display. Flags must be put together, caps painted and the grounds generally maintained. The display would not be possible without Bill Van Eck who is in charge of the upkeep of the flags, poles, caps, trolley carts and general upkeep of the flag areas. For more info, call Biegel at 973-519-0858.

A Roll Call of Cliftonites

Cliftonites lost on 9/11/01, from top left: Zuhtu Ibis Kyung Cho, Francis Joseph Trombino, Ehtesham U. Raja, Edward C. Murphy, Edgar H. Emery, Port Authority Officer John Skala, brothers John and Tim Grazioso.

74 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Volunteers from Clifton Cares will be meeting again in September to ship supplies for our soldiers in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Organizers ask that on your next shopping trip, add freezer pops, lemonade or ice tea packets, cookies and candy. Then bring them to City Hall and/or make a donation towards postage before Sept. 9. Stop and see Lizz Gagnon at the Tax Office at City Hall with a check ($15.90 per box) or mail it to her at City Hall. Check should be payable to Lizz Gagnon and earmarked as Clifton Cares. For questions or to help, email or 973-818-8141. St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church Festival & Zabava begins noon on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 217 President St, near Botany Village. The festival displays Ukrainian talent through entertainment and delicacies. There are activities for children and raffles for adults. Admission is $5. Tours of the church interior and museum are included. Zabava means “to play” in Ukrainian and play they will with singing and dancing into the night. The Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Cathedral’s Picnic is Sept. 13 at 635 Broad St. here in Clifton. The festival starts at noon and among the musicians and dancers featured will be the ensemble ISKRA, as well as the youth ensemble CYM-Passaic. Stage performances are at 1 and 3 pm on the grassy yard, with much music and fun into the evening. Admission is $5. The Festival in the Park Carnival is Sept. 3 to 7 from 5 to 10:30 pm in Randolph Park, at the entrance to Historic Botany Village. Rides at the festival include a Merry Go Round, sandbag slides and many more. To save $10, pick up coupons that are available at Johnny's Hall, Botany Village Pizza, Lydia’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop, or Clifton City Hall. The annual Festival in the Park is sponsored by The Botany Village Merchants Association, LLC. Van Houten Ave. Street Fair: With about a mile of the Avenue to stroll, Van Houten Ave’s Street Fair is Sept. 13, from 11 am to 5 pm between Major and Spencer Sts. The Avenue will be lined with vendors, entertainment, rides and food. It is the place to be with friends and family and to connect with former neighbors. Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Mustang Pride The Fred Torres Memorial 5K is on Oct. 18 at 9:30 am at Garrett Mountain with a competitive 5K and a 2 Mile Walk. The race follows the CHS Varsity Cross Country and awards are to the top three finishers, male and female, and the top three by agecategory. At 10:15, Kid Races begin and festivities follow. Torres was an avid supporter of the Mustang community of runners who died at the age of 63 on Jan. 20, 2014. His memory is kept alive by his wife Ana and their kids Brian and Jessica with this run. Proceeds from the run become scholarships presented to graduating scholar-athletes of CHS XC and T&F programs. In June, the 2015 Fred Torres Memorial Scholarships were awarded to Jay Pathak (Seton Hall University), Sofia Nedelcheva (Rutgers University, New Brunswick), Olivia Rosenberg (Monmouth University) and Bhargav Desai (Rutgers University, New Brunswick). Register for the race and more info at

Fred Torres scholarship recipient Jay Pathak with Brian Torres.

2015 Mustang Hall of Fame Tickets

Inductees Emily Urciuoli, Pete Lehr, Corey Bleaken, Mickey Soccol, Joe Hathaway, Mike Lombardo, Ken Kurnath.

The 2015 Mustang Athletic Hall of Fame dinner is at noon, Oct. 11, at the Brownstone. This is the first time new members have been inducted in five years and the event is a great way to hear of Mustang history. Last month’s magazine provided short profiles on each of the inductees and their names and graduation yers are listed below again. To attend—tickets are $45 and includes the luncheon—call the CHS Athletics at 973-470-2280. To support the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame as a sponsor or with an ad in its journal, contact Jack Whiting at 551-206-1426 or our office at 973-253-4400. Those being inducted include: Emily Urciuoli: Track & Field (CHS 2010); Pete Lehr: Football (CHS 1958); Kevin Szott: Football, Wrestling (CHS 1981); Mickey Soccol: Football, Boys Basketball, Baseball (CHS 1989); Joe Hathaway: Football, Spring Track, Indoor Track (CHS 2005); Corey Bleaken: Wrestling (CHS 2006); Mike Lombardo: Baseball, Football (CHS 1991); Ken Kurnath: Contributor (CHS 1950). Teams being inducted include the 2001 Hockey Champs, the 2008 Girls Track Team and the 1986 Wrestling squad. 76 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Good Work Sponsor the Clifton Fire Safety Coloring Book

These folks were among the volunteers and participants in the Clifton Rec Dept.’s Family Campout on Aug. 21 in Albion Park, Maplewood Ave. Some 350 people pitched tents, enjoying campfires, songs and marshmallows.

Hear the Beep Where You Sleep is the theme for the 2015 Fire Prevention Campaign. Based on a national campaign running during October, we have created a book of safety tips for Clifton kids. Within the pages are simple interactive coloring pages that bring home the age appropriate message of fire safety. Some pages have word problems or connectthe-dots. Each page is sponsored by a Clifton advertiser. Working with the Clifton Fire Department and members of Clifton FMBA Local 21, the Fire Safety Coloring Book is distributed during Fire Safety month in October, at no cost to the taxpayer. We print 10,000 books and during October, Clifton Firefighters will visit Clifton kids in public and private school in grade 3 and below. To pay for the printing and design of the 10,000 books, we are soliciting businesses and organizations. Care to help out? Call Tom Hawrylko at 973-253-4400. 78 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Paul Fierro of Eva’s Village, Ray Lil, Past Grand Knight of K of C 11671, Heather Thompson of Eva’s and 11671’s Grand Knight Richard Donkersloot.

St. Philip’s Knights of Columbus Council 11671 Brother Paul Fierro is also the Purchasing Agent for Eva’s Village in Paterson, a comprehensive non-profit that feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, treats the addicted and provides medical and dental care to the poor. He helped merge those two worlds recently over coffee, fellowship and conversation. Fierro asked the 51 councils in the Paterson Federation to collect coffee and sugar to help offset these costs at Eva’s through the Knights donations. The call went out and members from the 51 councils responded. St. Philip’s here in Clifton (Council 11671) was a collection point. “At the end of August, they had supplied over 750 pounds of coffee, 2,000 pounds of sugar and $1,250 in cash donations. And it keeps coming in,” said Fierro. “This was a truly remarkable and greatly appreciated response which will enable Eva’s to provide coffee all winter and have a few extra dollars now for the other food and staples they need.”

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


Birthdays & Celebrations - September 2015

Frank Hahofer celebrated his 102nd birthday on Aug. 7. Dorothy Knapp has a birthday on Sept.12. Mnohaya Lita Nick Hawrylko who will be 20 on Sept 12. Brittany Griffin turned 19 on 7/30 (sorry we missed it) while parents Colleen Sinski and Randy Griffin noted their daughter made the dean’s list at William Paterson.

Birthdays & Celebrations

Send dates & Michael Capwell ...............9/1 Allison Di Angelo ..............9/2 Liam Robert Martin ............9/2 Bill Federowic ...................9/3 Dave Gabel ......................9/3 Jennifer Martin ..................9/3 Sharon Holster ..................9/4 Joseph Shackil...................9/4 Eric Wahad ......................9/4 Linda Ayers.......................9/5 Christy Gordon .................9/5 Mohammed Othman ..........9/5 Ana Stojanovski ................9/6 Darren Kester ....................9/7 Greg Martin .....................9/7 Helen Albano....................9/8 Eddie Bivaletz ...................9/8

Shannon Carroll ................9/8 Liz Tresca .........................9/8 Geoff Goodell...................9/9 Annamarie Priolo...............9/9 George Andrikanich ........9/10 Nicole Moore .................9/10 Dolores Wyka .................9/10 Ronnie Courtney..............9/11 Andrew Orr ....................9/11 Andrew Shackil ...............9/11 Lee Ann Doremus ............9/12 Wayne Funke..................9/12 Naoma Martin ................9/12 Thomas Wayne ...............9/13 Sarah Bielen ...................9/14 Anthony Dorski................9/14 Jayde Gouveia-Hernandez..9/14

Daniela Santos celebrates her 19th birthday on Sept. 5.

Arlene & Villeroy Hard will be married 57 years on Sept. 14.

Happy 15th anniversary to Greg & Margaret Nysk on Sept. 17.

Walter & Claire Pruiksma are married 69 years on Sept. 18.

Justyn Pyz and Kasia Laszyn announced on July 23 their plans for a September 2016 wedding. Emily Duchnowski ............9/15 Manny Monzo ................9/15 Stacey Corbo..................9/16 Nancy Ann Eadie............9/16 Joe Genchi .....................9/16 Jaclyn Scotto ...................9/16 Cindy Murcko .................9/17 Kathleen Gorman ............9/18 Amanda Meneghin..........9/18

Amanda Esposito married Joey Ajia at St. Ann Melkite Catholic Church on Aug. 14. 80 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Sarah Bush married Steven Perry at the Netherlands Reformed Church on Aug. 21. Dawn Smolt ....................9/18 Daniel Smith ...................9/18 Gloria Turba ...................9/18 Mickey Garrigan .............9/19 James Graham ................9/19 Rickie Ojeda...................9/19 Louis DeLeon ...................9/20 Sara Gretina...................9/21 Lynne Lonison..................9/21 Annamaria Menconi ........9/21 Peter Skoutelakis..............9/21 Valerie Carestia...............9/22 Beverly Duffy...................9/22 Ryan Gorny ....................9/22 Timothy St. Clair..............9/22 Keith Myers ....................9/23 Brian Salonga .................9/23 Brian Engel....... ..............9/23 Pam Bielen......................9/25 Deanna Cristantiello ........9/25 Donato Murolo................9/25 Corey Genardi................9/26 Saverio Greco.................9/26 Richard Van Blarcom........9/26 Kenneth Chipura .............9/28 Barbara Mascola.............9/29 Thomas E. Moore ............9/29 Mary Perzely ..................9/29 Lauren Hrina ...................9/30 Ryan Lill..........................9/30 Clifton Merchant • September 2015


Back to School If you noticed a flurry of innovation on these pages recently, thank interns Ariana Puzo and Madison Molner. Over the summer, Puzo, who graduated Montclair Kimberly Academy in 2014 and is now a sophmore at Fairfield University in Connecticut, and Molner, a 2013 CHS grad, now a junior at Rutgers in New Brunswick, wrote stories, took photos (or at least tried), organized files, (and then organized them—again and again), aa they learned about magazine publishing. Their good work will continue to be seen on these pages. They helped us prepare items for publication such as a new Guide to Clifton and our annual Year in Review. Both had authored stories published in our magazine and both are exploring careers in journalism or publishing. Their labor here was appreciated. All of us on Main Ave. agreed that they added to our office cheer. Godspeed!

Ariana Puzo and Madison Molner were editorial interns this summer.

Jordan Lynn Bykowsky, CHS 2007, who is employed by United Airlines Corporation, was promoted to Project Manager, Cargo Revenue Management at United Airlines, Chicago, Ill.

The Friends of the Clifton Public Library members will celebrate their 30th anniversary at the Clifton Main Public Library, 292 Piaget Ave. with entertainment by The Mike Luipersbeck All-Star Jazz Trio. Donations are $5 while children over age 10 and accompanied by an adult are welcome.

308 Lakeview Ave. Clifton 973-772-3837 • Se Habla Español

Custom Made Wedding Cakes

Engagement Cakes Birthday Cakes Sweet 16 Cakes Baby Shower Cakes 82 September 2015 • Clifton Merchant

Eucaris & Erica wish you a Sweet School Year

Tomahawk Promotions 1288 main avenue Clifton, NJ 07011

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