Clifton Merchant Magazine - September 2017

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By Tom Hawrylko When I consider how I got to be the owner of Tomahawk Promotions and editor and publisher of Clifton Merchant Magazine, I go back to my youth in Perth Amboy. My big break came in 1967 when my brother John made the Panthers varsity basketball team—he was that good of a ball player. He had to give up his paper route and I basically inherited the family business. I was 10 years old and the paper was the Perth Amboy Evening News. My route was five blocks in our old Budapest neighborhood, named for the many Hungarian families living there. Everyone read newspapers back then. There was no Internet. No cable news. It was 1967. I had 75 or so customers and I delivered the newspapers on a bicycle. The cool thing was I had every block covered in my neighborhood.

Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko with his mutt Bruno in 1969.

When another kid quit his route in the nearby Dunlap Homes housing projects across Amboy Ave., I picked up those deliveries, too. To do another 25 customers, I had to get a little more organized. That meant folding the papers before I got started so that I could hang the bag over the front of my Sting-Ray and toss them on a porch. Bundles of papers for me and other paperboys were delivered every afternoon to a neighbor’s garage. There we would swap school stories as we folded our papers, maybe even eat a snack and have a soda before we got started. I used to get sidetracked a lot, just like I do now.

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Subscribe $30 / year / $50 for 2 Call 973-253-4400 Contributing Writers Jack De Vries, Joe Hawrylko, Irene Jarosewich, Ihor Andruch, Tom Szieber, Michael C. Gabriele, Douglas John Bowen, Jay Levin

Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko Art Director Ken Peterson Graphic Designer Aly Ibrahim Business Mgr. Gabriella Marriello Social Media Mgr. Ariana Puzzo • September 2017


September Edition As I was folding the papers, I’d see a headline about Vietnam or the drug issues facing our hometown and I’d stop and read the story. Then I’d find another story and I’d read that, too. Being a paperboy taught me a lot about business, which is basically give good service and do it fairly and at a good price and you’ll get paid. Do good work. Expect a good price. My route took about an hour every day. I got out of the Ukrainian Assumption Catholic School at 3 pm, changed out of my school uniform and by 5:30, I’d be finished. From the money that I earned as a paperboy, I was able to buy my own bicycle and, eventually, my own car. On Fridays, you’d collect your money, keeping records in a route book with little perforated receipts. I would go door-to-door and if people liked me, I’d get tips. I think papers were 42 cents back then and I’d get an 8 cent tip.

In the beginning of December, I learned to give out Christmas cards to my customers. On the Friday collection day right before Christmas, a lot of people would give a card with a $1 tip. I was a paperboy for a long time, probably until I was 14. Then I was a janitor for four years. I worked my way through Perth Amboy High School as a janitor in an Edison factory and kept the paper route for a while, too. By 1976 I joined the Navy and in 1980 moved here to my new hometown. I guess that’s the best thing being a paperboy taught me—how to be an honest hustler. Today at age 60, I’m still a hustler and I still work hard and I give good value for what people pay me to do. I love news and storytelling. I love putting words and pictures together. I expect to finish my career in newsprint, the way I started. Thanks to all of you that have read my stuff and supported me along the way.

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“We’re the caretakers of an ancient tradition. We take great satisfaction and joy that we’re creating art that will touch the lives of people for generations to come.” Judith Hiemer Van Wie, the president and principal designer of Hiemer & Co. Stained Glass Studio, spoke with pride, passion and clarity in describing the mission of her business, which spans four generations in her family and has operated in Clifton since 1949. She took the helm of the business in 1997, shortly before her father, Gerhard (Garry) E. Hiemer, decided to retire. The Hiemer studio, located at 141 Wabash Ave. (at the corner of Crooks Avenue), designs and produces stained glass windows, specializing in liturgical projJourneyman Michael Lomazzo examines a restored stained glass window. On our cover is female journeyman Linda Ebertz, who is soldering lead to sections of a stained glass window.

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ects. Stained glass windows produced by the company adorn more than 1,000 North American churches, along with windows and displays for private clients and other religious affiliations. In addition to creating new windows, the studio does a significant amount of expert restoration of vintage stained glass windows. Describing the process and business of a stained glass studio, Judith said that it’s an amalgamation of craft and aesthetics. The work involves beautiful drawings and painstaking research into art history, but the end result is executed through hands-on production of a durable, decorative architectural element. “We’re artists, but we also get our hands dirty,” Judith explained. “Stained glass is an art and a craft.” She said the work to create stained glass is governed by artistic and technical issues. That means fol-

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lowing the precepts of stained glass artistry and liturgical iconography, as well as the technical aspects and construction mechanics of a stained glass window. The origins of stained glass date back to Europe in the seventh century. Aside from the obvious modern conveniences of electricity and computers, the fundamental elements of the ancient craft have remained unchanged. The process for creating a stained glass window begins with a discussion regarding a client’s concept for what will be illustrated in the piece. First the concept is translated into an ink and watercolor sketch, which eventually is scaled up to a fullsized drawing or “cartoon” (a post-medieval term to describe an illustration). The cartoon then is drafted as a mechanical drawing, which maps out the various pieces and colors of the window. Two copies of the mechanical drawing are created: one that remains intact that represents the entire window; the other cut into pattern pieces, which will represent the individual sections of the window. Glass sections or fragments are cut and assembled on a work bench. Ground black glass is used to illustrate the sections the desired images, following the cartoon composition, then fired in a kiln so that the black glass is permanently fused into the window substrate. Color is inherent in each glass section, but color can be “shaded” or modified through the addition of ground

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James Van Wie and Judith Hiemer Van Wie.

glass on its surface, fired in a kiln like the black glass used for the drawing. Window fragments are assembled and pieced together through the use of lead “came”—small strips of lead shaped like a steel “I” beam. The glass sections are tucked into the lead flange and soldered on both sides. A “cementing” process using a glaze compound is

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applied to seal and stiffen the window panel. Following final touchups, the window is ready for installation. In addition to Judith and her husband, James Van Wie, the studio staff includes several apprentices and two skilled “journeymen” who have been associated with the company for many years: Michael Lomazzo and Linda Eberts, both from Nutley. Though the term has a male conGilbert Dall’Ava, circa 1960, pictured with the stained glass window creatnotation, a journeyman is any pered for the chapel of Holy Face Monastery off Route 3, which depicts the son who has completed an apprenBlessed Virgin Mary extending the Eucharist to St. Sylvester. ticeship (a process that takes four to helped to establish a rigorous apprenticeship program seven years) and is certified and registered with the for American stained glass artisans and designers. Stained Glass Association of America, based in A lifelong Clifton resident, Judith graduated from Raytown, MO, and the Department of Labor for the State of New Jersey and the U.S. Department of Labor. Mount Saint Dominic Academy in 1981, and four years later earned a business administrative degree at Bryant Judith’s dad, Garry, during his years as a former University, Smithfield, RI, where she met James, president of the Stained Glass Association of America,


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Family members and employees of Hiemer Stained Glass Studio pose for a group shot. The business has operated in Clifton since 1949.

her husband-to-be. They were married in 1990. Their two daughters, Jessica and Jane, are students at Paramus Catholic High School. During her high school years, Judith worked parttime at the studio and served as an apprentice to Gilbert Dall’Ava, the gifted stained glass artist and designer from Botany Village, who died in 1980 (see story at right). Judith also studied at Parsons School of Design in New York City. The Hiemer family tradition began with the work of Georg Hiemer, who served as a stained glass apprentice in Munich, Germany, during the 1890s and relocated to Columbus, OH, in 1929. Georg passed on his skills to his son, Edward, who studied in Munich, Paris and Dresden, Germany. Edward founded Hiemer & Company in Ohio 1931 and two years later relocated the business to Paterson, NJ. He built the current studio in Clifton in 1949. The legacy was passed on to Garry Hiemer and then to Judith. 12 September 2017 •

Clifton Arts Center Exhibit To Illuminate Stained Glass The Clifton Arts Center will present “Clifton’s Glass Artists: The Stained Glass Art of Hiemer & Company,” an exhibit that features Hiemer & Company Glass Studio. The exhibit will be on display Sept. 27 to Dec. 9, with a gala reception on Thursday, Sept. 28, 4-8 p.m. The public is invited to attend. The exhibit, made possible in part by a grant administered through the Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council from funds granted by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, continues the Clifton Arts Center’s celebration of Clifton’s 100th anniversary. The show will feature a variety of stained glass creations and drawings from the Hiemer studio, along with examples of stained glass production tools and design techniques. The Clifton Arts Center is located on the grounds of the Clifton Municipal Complex, 900 Clifton Ave. (on Well Road). Roxanne Cammilleri is the director of the Clifton Arts Center. Call (973) 472-5499 for more information. • September 2017


By Douglas John Bowen Flying to Europe on vacation? Hopping on an NJ Transit train to New York? Checking in with your family by cell phone? You’re benefitting from products with critical components Made In Clifton—specifically, made by Crystex Composites LLC. From its well-maintained headquarters and spotless manufacturing facility at 125 Clifton Blvd., Crystex Composites produces top-of-the-line electrical components and insulation materials found in consumer products, transportation modes, military operations and medical equipment. “We’re the Rolls-Royce of insulation materials,” said Vice President of Operations Delvis Flores (CHS 1989). “People know we’re expensive, but as my father says, our slogan is ‘a solution looking for a problem.’ If you’re willing to pay for quality, we’re the guys.” 14 September 2017 •

“We’re the Rolls-Royce of insulation materials. People know we’re expensive, but as my father says, our slogan is ‘a solution looking for a problem.’ If you’re willing to pay for quality, we’re the guys.” CEO George Flores, Delvis’ dad, has made good on that slogan since 2003, when he acquired the company and began reversing a long-term decline in its business fortunes, in effect showing that US manufacturing can compete and win—and showing that it can be done in Clifton by tapping a talented work force. At least 30 percent of Crystex Composites reside in the city, including the Flores family, which has called Clifton’s Albion neighborhood home since 1985.

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Delvis and George Flores, with Production Manager Donald Van Grouw.

Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, George Flores moved as a pre-teenager to Englishtown, then after graduating from junior high school there “moved with my mother to the Bronx,” then back to Englishtown “and from there “landed in the city of Passaic,” where he spent most of the next 20 years. One big interruption: two years in the US Army, including infantry service in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969, when the conflict was intensifying dramatically. Revamping a faltering firm Honorably discharged, Flores returned to Passaic, then began work at Crystex “on Oct. 13, 1969. I came through the ranks, starting as a machinist,” he said. Fitting in evening classes in pursuit of an engineering degree, Flores rose through the company ranks as a tool and dye maker, subsequently promoted to manufacturing manager, then plant manager, chief engineer and, in 1983, general manager of the Clifton facility. At that time, Crystex was a US subsidiary of a British concern, Spalding Composites, and the subsidiary “was doing well, but the mother company was not doing so well,” Flores said. “We were known as the cash cow,” but did not receive funds to modernize. “Little by little, we were losing customers,” eventually dropping from 100 employees to eight—seemingly destined to be another footnote of US manufacturing’s demise. The British parent entered Chapter 11 in 1996, reorganized in 1999 and entered Chapter 11 again in 2001. “Their debt was so deep that, even with our help (as a profitable subsidiary), they couldn’t survive,” Flores 16 September 2017 •

One could expect CEO George Flores to recite the history of Crystex Composites LLC since he acquired the company in 2003. Flores can do better than that, though, easily tracing its origins back to the British Empire in 1900. Mykroy/Mycalex© is the trade name for the glass bonded mica ceramic material produced by Crystex Composites LLC, an “electrical and thermal insulating material produced to meet the exacting demands of technical markets,” according to the company website. “Mykroy/Mycalex© glass bonded mical ceramic is a simultaneous union under high pressure and temperature of finely powered electrical quality glass and precisely defined (natural or synthetic) mica. The resulting stone-like, dense ceramic material inherits all of the insulating advantages of both components.” The product’s development hails back to the days of the British Empire, George Flores recounted. While building railways across the Indian subcontinent, British engineers came across natural mica in large quantities. Percy Croslie tested the material and discovered it was a natural and superior insulating material, highly resistant to electrical currents. Pulverizing the mica, using glass brick as a binder, and subjecting the mix to high pressure and high temperature, he developed a product line and, in 1919, Mycolex of England was born. During the 1920s, Mycolex sought to expand its market to the US, showcasing its product to General Electric Co. and Westinghouse. GE, in particular, “saw the product’s potential, figured out how to make a mold, and fill the mold. The market then went crazy,” Flores recounted. The Great Depression didn’t stop Mycolex from establishing itself, and in 1936 it acquired its Clifton manufacturing site at 125 Clifton Blvd. “It’s been here ever since,” George Flores said—now better than ever. recalled. “But this company at one time had 400 employees, and worked around the clock. I knew that with the right management and capital, we could turn the company around, and not lose another manufacturing facility in Clifton. ‘Give me a chance,’” Flores said. Several potential buyers were willing to do so. Flores noted that 40 potential investors sought to buy Crystex, and each one wanted Flores to be on board. “But I • September 2017


From left, William Helferich, Jorge Troche, Manny Villa, Pedro Villa, Angel Ortiz, Samuel Gonzaga.

wasn’t interested. I decided to go on my own,” he said, though he did enlist an environmental investment group as a partner to turn the company around. Cleaning up, charging forward The alliance was somewhat unusual—and a superior choice. As the new owner, George Flores was responsible for remediating land contamination on the three-acre site, along with related “numerous inherited problems and liability issues” and being arrears in taxes. Untangling the mess took 10 years, but Flores and the environmental partnership cleaned house and yard. “The next challenge after cleanup was getting a clean bill of health, and we got that. The next challenge was to get rid of lead” in the company’s product line, driven in part by US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines and by US military requirements. Crystex did that, too, then in 2006 sought certification with ISO 9001-2008, which among other things enabled Crystex to compete effectively in the European marketplace. “The previous quality products standard was… less intensive,” the elder Flores said, striving to find the proper words. “They were more into commodity items. We’re more in a niche market.” 18 September 2017 •

The financial rewards have come, as has recognition of the company’s efforts. Flores proudly pointed to a beautification award in the company’s lobby, bestowed by the City of Clifton in 2012. Elsewhere, patent acknowledgements of Crystex’s proprietary manufacturing are on display from countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea. “We have a subsidiary in England that aids our international business efforts; it was easy to register because they found the whole history of the company, which began there,” Flores said. Added son Delvis, “We sell to Japan, China, Taiwan; that speaks volumes about the quality of our products and what we can do. “We have figured out something they can’t reverse-engineer.” At a recent exhibition in Berlin, Crystex was approached by Chinese business interests seeking a deal for outsourcing. “We said no, the technology stays here. In Clifton,” Delvis proclaimed. Commitment to Clifton While Flores revived his company, son Delvis was successful on his own, though he did work at Crystex “when the company was a sacrificial lamb” to

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parent company’s Spalding Composites disinterest. Delvis graduated from Passaic County Community College, having “just missed having my dad as a teacher [at PCCC] by one semester.” Delvis established a successful venture in motor sports in Indianapolis, but in 2011, in what he described as a “very formal” presentation from his father via FedEx package, Delvis received a job offer, and a chance to come home to Clifton. Above, at left, is Shane Yin. At right, Yuri Kopilenko. Below, from left, “To be honest, it was a life offer. It’s Alfredo Fong, Daniela Medina, Liza Bahg. something I always dreamed of, but there were strict nepotism clauses” preventing his employment while his father and environmental partners ran the business, Delvis pointed out. Flores solved part of that problem in 2012, buying out the partners to everyone’s satisfaction. With the partners departing, Delvis came in as Operations Manager. Still, Delvis noted, “It was a big decision for me, because I had my own successful business.” Father didn’t go easy on son, either. “My boss has high expectations,” Delvis said, laughing. “People view me as an ‘owner,’ but I answer: ‘Not yet. I’m an employee; my boss, George Flores, has expectations of me and I must deliver.’ “My transition wasn’t totally smooth, but when I got the Crystex product in my system, I became addicted to it. I found the passion for the business that my father has. It’s been a pleasure, and an educaanother state. But like my dad said, this building was tional experience. To say that my father worked hard is purchased and built for the purpose of this specific an understatement,” the younger Flores said. manufacturing process,” Delvis added. Both George and Delvis insist that they’ll be part of While a tour of the facility shows all kinds of new Clifton’s future. “We’ve found our home here for and innovative production techniques—and more to decades,” the elder Flores said. Added Delvis, “The come in the future—both George and Delvis Flores beauty of this business, and the dynamic thing about it, plan to keep the company evolving in place. In Clifton. is we’re an American manufacturer that has survived Said Delvis, “My intention as a successor is to conrough times. We could have sold this technology, but tinue my father’s legacy and pass it on to my own son, my father stayed true to America. Not only are we an who works here part time. We have no intentions of sellAmerican company, but we’re still in Clifton. ing or ever leaving Clifton.” “We could have moved to other countries or just 20 September 2017 •


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To lead a great bank, you need education, experience… and a dose of your hometown. By Jack DeVries

can recite every phone number he’s ever He’s the guy on the Valley National had. He remembers the teachers who had an Bank commercials—a folksy and effect on him, his friends, his many jobs and friendly chairman and CEO, promising the life lessons his city taught him. consumers simple home refinance Although he’s gone on to the corner options … without hidden fees. Gerry office at Valley’s corporate office in Wayne, Lipkin comes across as your banking he’s never forgotten his days as a shoe salesgrandfather, ready to earn your business man at Thom McCann’s at 42 Lexington and trust. Ave. in Passaic—every Monday and Friday It’s still a commercial, though. Why night, and all day Saturday. should you trust your money with him Gerry Lipkin, CHS 1958 “It taught me to persevere,” he said of his and his bank? And just who is this Thom McCann days. “People come in looking for some“Gerry Lipkin”? thing and you had to make sure they left as a satisfied cusThe stock answer is he leads one of the nation’s top 70 tomer. And they were very demanding. I enjoyed that, banks known for never having a losing quarter since learning how to sell. It’s been so helpful in my career.” 1927. But a big part of the answer is also right outside At age 76, he looks back on a journey that began as the your front door. son of a wholesale liquor salesman and homemaker, and ended as chairman and CEO of one of the most admired A hometown guy, made in Clifton and well-managed banks in the country. “My mother Selma was from Passaic,” Lipkin said. “My father Abe was from Paterson. As they tell it, they Watching the Stadium rise decided to compromise and move to Clifton when they When Lipkin entered Public School 1, Clifton School got married. I was born in St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic. Stadium was a single wall—a forlorn reminder of an We moved to 43 Hilton St., a blue collar neighborhood abandoned Works Progress Administration (WPA) projfilled with nice people. I lived there ‘til I was 14.” ect. When the city united around its high school Lipkin is proud of his hometown roots—to prove it, he 22 September 2017 •

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football team after the Mustangs’ undefeated 1948 season, he watched the stadium grow during his early grade years. “I remember all my teachers,” Lipkin said. “Mrs. Friedman was outstanding. Mr. Ralph Smith was my first male teacher—I had him in fifth grade. Later in my life, I appreciated what I learned in his class. He was very demanding, and expected students to behave With Gerry and Linda, the Lipkin family, from rear left: Rob Sauertig, like adults.” Zackery Sauertig, Pamela Lipkin Sauertig, Jacob Sauertig, Jayme Lipkin was not a sports enthusiast, but Lipkin, Jeffrey Lipkin, Allyson Lipkin, Ben Lipkin, Jordyn Lipkin. loved to ride his bike and fish at nearby a forklift in a warehouse for the White Motor Co. and was Racy’s pond, hooking “sunnies.” He also enjoyed hangan “egg cracker” at the Egg Farm on Allwood Rd. ing out with friends Steve Rosen and Ira “Butch” Kurz, “That was the worst job I ever had,” Lipkin said about and playing board games, especially Monopoly. “Now I his farm experience. “Ever smell a black egg? I also get to play it with real money,” he said, laughing. loaded trucks there. Eggs would come in, and we’d send What he really enjoyed was working. His parents back vinyl plastic sheet rolls, each weighing 135 insisted that Lipkin get a job, and he complied. He startpounds.” ed as a paperboy for the Herald News, babysat, shoveled But it was one job that predicted his future path. snow and became a short-order cook at age 14 at the “At the end of my junior year at Rutgers,” Lipkin said, Village Deli on Route 46. “I got a job with a securities firm in Newark selling Around that time, the Lipkin family, which included stocks, bonds, mutual funds. That reinforced my finance younger brother Ken, moved to a home at 51 Fairmont direction. I really liked dealing with money.” Ave. Entering CHS, Lipkin spent time with close friends Lipkin’s path to the financial world was not a smooth like the late Bob Sacks and with Mitchell Herman, whom one. His parents wanted him to be a dentist and he entered he still sees. Rutgers in Newark as a bio-chemistry major. “I looked up to Gerry,” said Herman, who is retired “I didn’t like bio-chem, had no affinity for it,” he said. and volunteers as a court mediator. “We met through “I was going to be a psychology or history major, until I mutual friends and spent time at the YMHA in Passaic. took an economics course. I loved it! I kept taking more He was a senior with a license and I was a sophomore. and more economics courses, and graduated as an ecoHe’d take me around to places in his 1956 Ford convertnomics major. I also have enough credits in psychology ible like the Bonfire, dances or down the shore. or history to have majored in either. All those subject “Gerry was always the guy who could do things that I areas come into play in my role at the bank.” couldn’t. He loved to tinker with cars and once rebuilt a 1965 Corvette that my father called a “bucket of bolts” The color purple into one he showed in car shows.” While at Rutgers, Lipkin experienced another lifeLipkin remembers one high school teacher and course changing event. A friend gave him the number of Linda that had a huge effect on him, especially in his future Heifitz, a William Paterson College student from East career, “The subject that helped me most was speech Paterson (now Elmwood Park). taught by Hannah Kerwin. She was an outstanding “It was Jan. 24, 1962, and we went to the West Diner instructor, who helped enlightened me, really helped me across from Bowlero in Clifton,” Lipkin said. “I along,” he said. remember exactly what she was wearing—a purple outHis hustling never stopped. Lipkin went on to work as fit with sneakers—and she ordered a BLT. On Oct. 1, a cashier/stock boy at Food Fair. He also worked during 1963, we were married.” college as a counselor at Hickory Hill Day Camp, drove 24 September 2017 • • September 2017


After graduating from William Paterson in 1964, Linda got a job as a teacher at her husband’s elementary school, PS No. 1, and the couple moved to a home at 90 Martha Ave. near Lipkin’s parents. They would live there for three years before moving to Montville. After graduating from Rutgers in 1963, Lipkin was hired as an assistant national bank examiner by the United States Comptroller of the Currency, part of the US Treasury Department. He came armed with wisdom from one of his early mentors, Jack O’Besney, a placement director at Rutgers. “The advice Jack gave me, which is the advice I give my children, is on your first job, if the only thing the boss asks you is to sharpen pencils, make sure the points are sharp. Great advice! It tells you whatever job you are doing, do it right. Never look down on a job and say I’m better than that. You’re never too good to do any job.” Five years into his OCC job, he again sought O’Besney’s guidance after being asked to develop a college recruitment program—something he had no experience doing. “Jack was kind enough to explain to me how a college recruiter works,” Lipkin said. “That job helped launch my career, helped me get my next promotion as I had success as a recruiter. There are lots of people in your life who make a major difference. Sometimes you don’t realize it ’til years later.” Along with his career success, Lipkin continued his education, earning his MBA in banking and finance at New York University and a diploma from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking. In 1970, he was appointed deputy regional administrator at the OCC. “I was incharge of the examination force,” he said. “We made sure the banks were safe and sound.” Fortunate headache In the mid-70s, Lipkin and his wife Linda attended the New Jersey Bankers Convention in Bermuda. While flying there, Linda came down with a headache. “She wanted to lay down and nap,” Lipkin remembered. “I said I’ve never been to Bermuda in my life—I’m not taking a nap. I put my bathing suit on and went by the hotel pool where I struck up a conversation with Sam Riskin, my predecessor at Valley.” “Six months later, he made me an offer to work here (Lipkin joined as a senior vice president in 1975). I got 26 September 2017 •

At Prospect St. and Passaic Ave. in May 1976. Left to right, Edmund Hegewald, Matthew Marakovitz, Gerry Lipkin, William S. Clarke, Peter Southway, Samuel F. Riskin, Passaic Mayor Gerry Goldman.

my job because my wife got a headache,” he laughed. Founded in 1927 as the Passaic Park Trust Company, the bank changed its name in the 1930s to the Bank of Passaic and Trust Company. After acquiring the Bank of Allwood, it became the Bank of Passaic and Clifton. The name “Valley National Bank” was chosen upon acquisition of the Bank of Wayne in 1976. “It’s hard to have a branch in Parsippany called ‘Bank of Passaic and Clifton,’” Lipkin said. “We picked the name ‘Valley’ because it’s easy to spell, easy to remember, and it has a great “V” to capitalize and use as a logo.” Lipkin says he was fortunate to work with Riskin for 13 years, who continues to influence him today. “Though we were smaller then, the bank still operates today on the same basis as when he was there. I’ve tried hard not to change that,” he said. What did change were Lipkin’s responsibilities. He was elected a director in 1986, promoted to executive vice president in 1987 and elected chairman and chief executive officer in 1989. The president’s title was added in 1996. What did not change was his personality. “I love people,” he said. “My parents instilled that in me, appreciating people. Never look down on anybody because you’re no better than anybody else. I take that to heart. Everybody in the bank calls me ‘Gerry.’ If they don’t, I almost get offended. When they call me ‘Mr. Lipkin,’ I say that’s not appropriate—call me ‘Gerry.’ Treat everybody as an equal and things go well.” • September 2017


Growth and lessons learned Lipkin says he is extremely proud of Valley’s growth. “When I started, there were three offices in Clifton, three in Passaic, one in Wayne, one in Pequannock and one in Little Falls. Today, we’re throughout northern New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and Florida [with more than 200 branches]. We have more business just in Florida than when I became CEO.” The bank’s financial growth is another source of pride. When Lipkin started, Valley had $250 million in assets; today it has $23 billion. He is most proud of Valley’s staff. “Out of our 2,800 employees,” he said, “hundreds have more than 25 years of service. I’m very proud that we’re a place where people enjoy working and make it their career.” Loyalty and longevity were critical as Valley weathered the Great Recession during the end of the last decade. Lipkin sites his staff’s work and the fact that Valley “did not make subprime loans so we didn’t have the loan losses” as reasons the bank made it through the tough time. “As the CEO, I get a lot of credit (for success), but it really falls on the shoulders of the staff who

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Gerry and Linda Lipkin at center with guests at the 1978 Clifton/Passaic Chamber of Commerce Dinner.

work with me. I mean that. People don’t work for me, they work with me. They’re dedicated and committed to the bank.” “The expression around here is when people cut their finger they bleed ‘Valley blue.’ The mantra has always been: ‘The Bank comes first, always worry about the bank, make sure the bank is safe and we’re doing what we should be doing.’” Lipkin has also never forgotten his lessons learned in Clifton, especially how businesses and communities evolve. “When I was young, Clifton was a city in • September 2017


transformation,” he said. “It went from a rural suburban farming community to a city. I watched it develop, build up. That’s helped me today—to see how cities develop and things take place.” Lipkin sees Clifton’s strengths as a strong population, many opportunities and a business community that is thriving. He notes that when industries are lost, others move in, and the proximity to NYC is excellent. “The Bank of Passaic and Clifton,” said Clifton Mayor Jim Anzaldi, “was where I got my student loans. They always had that old-time family feel. I remember one of the bank principals would come out and talk with you, and ask how you’re doing in school. That type of feeling has continued with Valley.” “I’m proud that a Clifton guy like Gerry has had so much success with one of the best banks in the industry. Valley’s been a big part of Clifton and has also been extremely generous to many of our civic causes and organizations,” Anzaldi said. Today, Lipkin lives in West Orange after spending 44 years residing in Montville where he and Linda raised their family. Son Jeff is an accountant and

30 September 2017 •

investment banker, living in Short Hills with wife Jayme. Daughter Pamela is an insurance bond agent and lives in Montville with husband Rob. The Lipkins have five grandchildren: Zack, Jake, Benjamin, and twins Allyson and Jordan. As for his future, Lipkin realizes he will not be at Valley’s helm forever. “I love what I do. Love to keep busy. Love working with younger people. Today everybody in the bank is younger than I am. There are several people here now could step into my job tomorrow and I’d be comfortable with any of them. I know I’m not going to be here when I’m 85.” Advice for future Gerry Lipkins “There’s no substitute for hard work. Do a job you love or do something else you do. You can’t spend a third of your life doing something you don’t love. It’s like the person who goes out and buys the cheapest mattress you can find—you’re going to spend a third of your life laying on the thing,” Lipkin observed. “You have to focus on what’s important.”

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By Ariana Puzzo

Cliftonite Valerie Simkins never thought she would find herself unemployed, and like many others has experienced the shock and disbelief that accompanies being laid off. But Simkins bounced back, with help from the Passaic County One Stop Career Center in July 2016. She was directed to them through the NJ Unemployment Office. The Passaic County Workforce Development Center, located at 200 Memorial Drive in Paterson, describes itself as offering training for “unemployed and displaced individuals.” Its services allow individuals to improve their experiences in the workplace. During 2016, the Center served 374 unemployed adults and dislocated workers. That included Individual Training Accounts for occupational and vocational skills, which leads to certifications, credentials and employment. It also included Simkins. Until that assist, however, Simkins felt discouraged and “lost before coming here.” She would go for interviews and, even when businesses said that they liked her, she would not necessarily receive a follow-up call. Abrupt departure Prior to being laid off, Simkins was employed at Risk Control Associates, LLC. Its mission was to “pro32 September 2017 •

vide quality, cost effective ERM and Audit Solutions.” She was working with the Claims Department doing settlement payments for two and a half years when the company was purchased by Patriot Risk Services, Inc. “After the purchase through Patriot, my supervisor was frustrated because she was trying to keep the workflow and employees happy,” said Simkins. Then the layoffs began, first within a different department, so at the time she and her coworkers thought that their department was secure. “It was pretty abrupt,” she said. “I was hoping with RCA that it would be long-term. They had promised me there was room for growth and opportunity. That’s why I was so happy to be there.” She also expressed that the realization that she was unemployed was “very disheartening.” “I’ve been working since I was 16 and was used to doing this type of work,” she said, now age 30. “I never had to deal with any of that before.” She knew that she had to act quickly. She had bills to pay and needed to support herself. She did not like “sitting around.” It also meant that she had to face her fear of speaking out. “I’m shy, so getting the help that I needed was difficult,” Simkins admitted.

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At a One-Stop event last month, directors Rev. Dr. Randall Lassiter, Freeholder Cassandra Lazzara, John Currie and Lauren Murphy. At right, instructor Vanessa Mule with another success story, Laura Langford.

Adjusting course, with help Simkins graduated from Montclair State University in 2009 with a studio art degree, but her direction was unclear. Until her second year at MSU, she had planned on becoming an art teacher. However, about two years into her degree, she was sent out to see what it is like to be a teacher. “I love art and love making it,” she said. “But I didn’t feel comfortable in front of class for that long. If you’re already two years in, though, that’s a lot of time and effort. Nobody could give me an answer or point me in a new direction, though, so I finished out my studio degree.” She stressed that she did not regret her studio art degree, only that “it’s hard to find a way to apply it to real-life situations.” One Stop and Workforce Developer Joseph Giacchi helped her find a job that was hiring. Giacchi has worked at One Stop for three years, and was Simkins’ counselor from the start. He “saw that growth” in Simkins from shyness to where she is now. “Joe is one of the first people I spoke with. He lets you know your options,” Simkins said. “He looked at my résumé, went over the skills and experience that I have and figured out how we can build on that to get me out back working.” The first step was getting certified in her field. Once she did, it provided her with greater experience to add to her résumé. “When Joe saw all the skills that I had with software programs, like QuickBooks and Excel,” she said, “he recommended that I solidify these skills.” Through Global Academy of America, located at 34 September 2017 •

311 Fairview Avenue, Fairview, she refined her skills. She was in a four-month program, graduating in November 2016. Global Academy specializes in career training and accepts referrals from One Stop Career Centers. The school also offers other resources, including additional employment services and career fairs, where certain employers attend. Simkins found that being certified when going on job interviews was highly beneficial. “I got more interviews when I started job searching because of my improved résumé,” she noted. Simkins currently is employed as a tax representative at International Appraisal Co. in Upper Saddle River. She has worked there for seven months, responsible for the processing and payment of tax bills for national client portfolios. Her job requires proficiency in QuickBooks and Excel. Multi-tasking is a must. Simkins knows how to handle any challenges, though, and can see her growth over the last year.“I’m better at adapting now. I’m a question-asker,” she said with a laugh. “I ask more questions and I’m a lot more motivated to grab information.” “She has great potential,” affirmed Giacchi. Simkins said that she found a family at One Stop, and once you have received help from the Center, “you always have a place to go.” Director Lauren Murphy echoed Simkins’ sentiment. “The people that we serve have many obstacles to overcome, but if they keep pushing forward, they will ultimately reach their individual goals,” Murphy said. Simkins lives in Clifton with her sister, Michelle, and her almost 2-year-old nephew, Logan. • September 2017


Writers Gerard Scorziello and Kim Renta. At right, a dish from Lamoon’s Thai restaurant, and below, Abel Alicea of Empananda Spanish Grill with his son Seth.

It’s been the longtime home of Agamie Deli and the Allwood Bakery. But now Market Street boasts a delightful culinary reflection of Clifton’s growing diversity. It might have started with the arrival of Italian restaurant, Daltos, on the scene in 2004. Since then, Market Street has welcomed a steady influx of new restaurants to try and new cuisines to sample. The best part for us is that every restaurant is Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB)!

36 September 2017 •

What if we told you there was place where you could try hand-rolled sushi, pepperoni pizza, French pastries and curry puffs all within 200 steps in either direction? You can and you should try it soon on the revamped Market Street.

A few of our favorites Mausam Indian Curry ’n Bites – The Indian restaurant offers casual diners a great taste of the wonderful aromas and flavors of Indian food. It’s take out and even delivers if you’re in the mood to dine at home. Great inexpensive lunch specials give you a sampling of featured menu items you’ll want to come back to have again for dinner. Empanadas Spanish Grill – One of the many new ethnic restaurants that would have been practically impossible to find in Clifton

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Dino Palamieis of Agamie Market & Deli has been on Market St. for 27 years. Jayalakshmi Ganapathy with her daughter Soumya, who graduated CHS in 1992, dining at Mausam. The Allwood Bakery still a landmark on Market.

a decade ago. If you haven’t tried empanadas before, this is the place to go. Each day, they rotate 8 different flavors of this savory pastry and they’ve created more than 100 different varieties in total (including a cheeseburger one that’s out of this world). INO Sushi – We see commuters getting off the bus from New York, and strolling over for some take out sushi rolls or grabbing a counter seat and dining inside. They have all the typical sushi favorites, plus a starter course salad with that homemade ginger dressing we absolutely love! Lamoon’s Thai Restaurant – We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the newest establishment to join the Market Street revolution—Lamoon’s. When you walk in the place, you’ll notice the authentic Thai decor, colorful silk tablecloths under glass, unique artwork and the vibrant walls that set the tone for a wonderful dining experience. Restaurant owner/operator and chef Lamoon is a Thai native who frequently comes out to greet diners, while her son and daughter happily wait on guests. We love the Sampler Platter. It gives a great introduction to Thai foods for those who may not have tried it before and the Duck Rolls are a unique item that you must try. Dinner portions are not oversized, but certainly sufficient and packed with flavor. Occasional chef specials hit the menu and are always worth trying. A great Friday date night choice, getting lots of buzz in and out of Clifton and a place definitely worth trying.

Market Street offers something for everyone. Storefront dining, a diversity of foods, no jackets or ties required and surprisingly ample parking. Pick up a favorite bottle or two this weekend and make your way over to Market Street. Need some wine pairing advice? Just ask; we’re always willing to help! • September 2017


Clifton History

By Jay Levin The bagel’s roots are in 17th-century Poland, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th that Clifton discovered this staple of Jewish cuisine, a chewy delight we slice and slather with butter or cream cheese or tuna salad or Nova. The city has had a love affair with the bread with the hole in the middle ever since. The proof is in the numbers. Clifton boasts one of northern New Jersey’s largest concentrations of bagel shops. There are eight within its borders, not including the Dunkin’ Donuts stores and supermarket bakeries that also peddle fresh bagels. That’s roughly one bagel shop per 1½ square miles, or one per every 10,000 residents. At that density, some shops operate within a stone’s throw of the competition. Plaza Bagel & Deli on Van Houten Ave. and Hot Bagels Abroad on Clifton Ave. are just six blocks and less than half a mile apart; Barry’s Bagels on Market St. and Clifton Bagel & Pizza on Bloomfield Ave. are similarly situated. For those who buy their bagels a dozen in a bag on Sunday mornings, or swear by a toasted “everything” with a schmear and a coffee on the way to work, it’s an embarrassment of riches. 38 September 2017 •

Above Paul Bernard’s Clifton Bagel Bakery, circa 1980. At right, Al DiBenetto and Dean Corizzi at Plaza Bagel at Van Houten Ave. and Mt. Prospect.

Thank Paul Bernard for that. Bernard owned the city’s first bagel shop, Clifton Bagel Bakery on Piaget Ave. Its retail neighbors included a kosher deli and a kosher bakery. The hole in the wall opened in the early 1960s amid a boom in US bagel consumption. A Connecticut entrepreneur, Murray Lender had recently revolutionized the production of bagels by pre-slicing and freezing them and selling them in grocery stores. That innovation brought bagels to the masses and whetted Americans’ appetite for the ultimate convenience food hot out of the oven.

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Manager Israel Zuniga with owner Steve Mao at Hot Bagels Abroad across from City Hall. At right, Joe Leskow, who opened Main Avenue Bagels in the late 1980s and then, with partners, founded Hot Bagels Abroad in 1991.

Paul Bernard—stout, balding and always sporting a fisherman’s cap—discovered an immediate demand for his bagels, which he initially sold for pennies each. Dean Corizzi, the owner of Plaza Bagel, was a CHS student when he began working for Bernard in 1973. “It was a small store,” Corizzi said. “You walked in the front door and to the left was the counter, and the baskets with the bagels were behind the counter. To the right there was a case that sold cream cheese and butter. There was no deli, no nothing. You threw the bagels in the bag and that was it. You didn’t butter ‘em, you didn’t cream cheese ’em, you didn’t sell coffee. You just threw the bagels in the bags.” As for Bernard, Corizzi recalled a good-natured guy who smoked Kents while pulling bagels from the oven and spent some of his spare time at the Atlantic City casinos. At Clifton Bagel Bakery, Corizzi tended the oven, worked the counter and cleaned up at night—unlike bagel stores today, this one stayed open late. He and his cousin Al DiBenetto worked for Bernard for 15 years learned the craft of making bagels while blazing a trail in music, as a singer in his punk rock band, Back Seat Driver. “It’s hard to make a living in music,” Corizzi said, explaining his decision to make bagel baking, not rock music, his life’s work. 40 September 2017 •

Perhaps he was inspired by the line of customers that snaked along the sidewalk on Piaget Ave., past the Middle Village Pharmacy two doors away. “On weekends I’d pull up at 8:45 and couldn’t get into my store because the line stretched down the block,” said pharmacy owner Mary Surowicz, who also was Paul Bernard’s landlord. “People came from all over for those bagels. It looked like a factory. He made them all day long.” Others join the fray By the late 1980s, Paul Bernard wasn’t Clifton’s only bagel merchant. Joe Leskow, a painting contractor in his 20s, began working at the newly opened Main Avenue Bagels near the DMV in Downtown Clifton. He wanted to learn a new trade—bagels—after noticing a bagel shop in his native Wayne was always packed. “That store was my laboratory—at times I even slept there,” Leskow said of the shop at 1119 Main Ave. In 1990, he and partners bought out Main Avenue Bagels. The following year, they opened a bagel store in Bloomfield, heralding the birth of Hot Bagels Abroad. The Main Ave. shop, which took the Hotel Bagels Abroad name, moved to Clifton Ave. in 1996. Today, Hotel Bagels Abroad is a northern New Jersey chain of independently owned bagel shops • September 2017


and Leskow, who got out of Hot Bagels Abroad in 2010, is a consultant to bagel entrepreneurs. Punk Rock bagels Meanwhile, Corizzi went out on his own in 1988. His shop is known colloquially as Punk Rock bagels because of his musical pedigree and the photos of punk rock legend Joey Ramone on the wall (Corizzi’s band

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opened for Ramone a couple of times). But the name on the sign is Plaza Bagel & Deli (“HOT HANDMADE BAGELS BAKED CONTINUOUSLY”) for a mundane reason. “I’m a very simple guy. I don’t like the fancy names like Bagel-rama or Bagel-licious,” Corizzi said. “So when I got this spot when this strip mall was opening, I

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Facing page: George Metri of Lakeview Bagels & Deli in a strip mall near Clifton Ave. Billy Jamhour of Barry's Bagels on Market St. Above: owner Marc Mauriber (above right) with his brother Ryan at Bagel Station on Van Houten Ave. At right, Aiman Muheisen of Clifton Bagel & Pizza on Bloomfield Ave.

asked what’s this place going to be called, and they said Mt. Prospect Plaza. And I said, Plaza Bagel – that’s it.” Misfortune and more competition Paul Bernard continued to turn out bagels on Piaget Ave. until March 27, 1994, when fire gutted his store. The burned-out shop garnered a photograph and caption in the local papers. “Looking like they’d been rolling around in cream cheese, Clifton firefighters were covered with foam used to suppress an early morning blaze Sunday at the Clifton Bagel Bakery,” The Record cheekily wrote. The fire caused $400,000 damage to the bakery and an adjoining beauty parlor, and its origin was never determined, said Surowicz, the landlord. It also put Bernard, Clifton’s bagel pioneer, out of business. The following year, Amin Harfouche, formerly a partner in bagel shops in Bergen County, brought bagels back to Piaget Ave. His shop, Goldberg’s Old Time Water Bagels, occupies the spot where Bernard plied his craft. More would follow: Lakeview Bagel and Deli on Lakeview Ave., Bagel Station on Van Houten Ave., Barry’s Bagel & Deli on Market St., Clifton Bagels at

the Clifton Commons, and, most recently in 2012, Clifton Bagel & Pizza on Bloomfield Ave., which was opened by Aiman Muheisen in a former and underperforming Pizza Hut location at the Nutley border. He said his opportunity appeared soon after he was laid off as a payroll manager by a subcontractor that did work for Hoffman LaRoche. “I saw the store was available and I guess misfortune can be the mother of invention,” mused Muheisen. For other shop owners, it was a matter of putting time into the craft, planning and finding the right location. “I learned to roll bagels on River Road in Fair Lawn,” said Marc Mauriber, the owner of Bagel Station on Van Houten Ave. “I’ve been in the business since I was 15 and knew I wanted my own place.” He opened the Van Houten location in September, 2000 with the help of his brother, Ryan, a City of Passaic Fireman. “It’s a good business,” added George Metri, who opened Lakeview Bagel in a strip mall near Clifton Ave. 20 years ago. He believes the large number of workers in Clifton, and the number of major roadways that traverse the city, make it a prime spot for bagel stores, which nowadays are more like full-fledged delis and thrive on breakfast and lunch business. People have to eat—and you can’t go wrong with a bagel. “Deli” is a word that never applied to Bernard’s little bagel shop. Nonetheless, the man in the fisherman’s cap started it all. Thanks to Clifton Tax Assessor Matthew S. Rinaldi for providing the photos of Clifton Bagel Bakery. • September 2017


Seated from left: Jeremy Ruiz, Omar Khaled, Adrian Sanchez, Diego Parra, Shawn Ayoub, Jordan Christopher. Standing from left: Bryan Montecinos, AJ Romero, Richard Mejia, Mo’Quis Lawrence, Sanjuan Anthony, Sonny Ruiz, Daniel Lepiani, Jan Carlos Franco, Kristopher Aponte.

There is no away around it – Clifton football will have challenges to overcome this season. The Mustangs will face the task of replacing 18 starters, most notably record-setting running back Saadiq Pitts. They will also battle history, as only one team in Clifton history has ever made the postseason in three straight seasons. The odds may be stacked against them, but third-year Head Coach Ralph Cinque and crew believe that if they simply focus on getting better each day, they can reach the dance in North 1, Group 5 once again. “We need to focus on doing the little things right, on paying attention to detail,” Cinque said. “If we can stay disciplined and make sure we don’t make silly mistakes, we will be just fine.” 44 September 2017 •


Football Sept 9

@Eastside Paterson


Sept 16 @Bayonne


Sept 22 Ridgewood


Sept 29 @PCTI


Oct 6

North Bergen


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Oct 19

@Bergen Cty Tech.


Nov 3



Nov 23 Passaic


Fall Sports by Tom Szieber

Junior Armani Brinson will be the new starting quarterback for the Mustangs. In his lone start in 2016, Brinson played a disciplined and largely mistake-free game against Passaic. A true program player, Brinson knows the Clifton offensive system, and should keep the Mustangs from being one-dimensional. He will lead a backfield that also consists of senior fullback Adrian Sanchez (one of three returning starters) and junior running back David Martinez. Senior Omar Khaled and junior Devon Swase as Clifton’s offensive skill position starters project as the Mustangs’ starting wide receivers, while junior David Guzman will be the tight end. Clifton’s young offensive line will feature one returning starter in junior left tackle Devin Garcia, who started at center last year. Senior left guard Sonny Ruiz, sophomore center Robert Urban, junior right guard Will Suarez and senior right tackle Diego Parra complete the front five. Defensively, the Mustangs will again deploy a 4-2-5 scheme, with Sanchez and sophomore Eddie Maldonado playing linebacker. Meanwhile, at least eight players will figure into the plans on the defensive line. Sophomore Christian Boneparte, senior Mo Lawrence and sophomore Angel Payano will rotate in Clifton’s strong safety/linebacker hybrid spots, while freshman Caleb Boneparte and junior Marcus Laureda will play the corners. Khaled and junior Christian Padilla will split time at safety. “This group may be young, but there is plenty of talent on this team,” said Cinque. “I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.” • September 2017


MUSTANG SPORTS Cheerleadering

As they do every fall, Clifton’s cheerleaders will begin their seven-month stretch of not only pushing the Mustang football and basketball teams to victory, but also attempting to bring home a state title during competition season. They will be led by first-year Head Coach Ashley LaTrace, an assistant for the past four seasons. So far, LaTrace has liked what she has seen, as her current group has demonstrated strong work ethic and extraordinary spirit ever since the end of June’s tryouts. They have shown her enough to make her believe that they will not only add to the electric environment of Friday nights at Clifton Stadium, but that they will compete for Big North Liberty and NJCDCA Large Co-

46 September 2017 •

Ed titles this year. “What I notice this year about this group is that they are really supportive of each other,” LaTrace said. “They give each other very positive criticism that is very constructive. We have very good young girls. We also have a lot of tumbling this year.” The Mustangs are led by a large senior class that includes Aleks Janowska, Lesly Arizola, Jayselly Rodriguez, Tiana Williams, Valerie Valle, Adrianna DelGuercio, Kayleh Reynoso, DeJane Grant, Natalia Pocztarski, Andrea Guillen, Bridget Payano, Tyler Cruz, Jeani Perez, Adriana Diaz, Karina Pinheiro and Larissa Colon. • September 2017


2017 Marching Mustangs seniors include Silvia Barboza, Stephy Baron, Miguel Barraza, Brandon Barton Schickram, Allison Belaunde, Nicholas Bran, Jailyn Brown, Nicole Castillo, Ziare Clark, Benjamin De Jesus, James Di Pinto, Maryam Ettayebi, Emanuel Garcia Sanchez, Kaitlyn Grabley, Kayla Guaman, Salena Indarjit, Angela Kliks, Ashley Kulesa, Sara Liszner, Brian Lopez, Drum Major Mackenzie Miller, David Mosciszko, Niralee Rana, Jenal Rana, Vincent Robles, Michelle Rosales, Jinay Shah, Jacob Szczecina, Magdalena Szewczyk.

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Si B B N Je E K A D M R Sz

Drum Major Mackenzie Miller will lead the 99 members of the Mustang Marching band on the fields and in parades, and even to Canada, for the 2017-2018 season. At the first home game on Sept. 22, the Fighting Mustangs take on the Ridgewood Maroons and the band welcomes middle school band members to join in for the pregame and halftime shows. The Marching Mustangs will also perform in the West Orange Invitational on Oct. 7 and they are always a sight at the Clifton Halloween Parade in late October. The Marching Mustangs will be doing fundraising to help pay for a February trip to Quebec City, Quebec, to perform in the Carnaval de Quebec night parade. Help them raise funds: visit Chipotle in Clifton on Sept. 18 from 5 to 9 pm and they’ll receive 50% of all proceeds. Keeping the food theme, band members will sell Ashley Farms pies and goodies. They’ll then be making sub sandwiches for fans to munch on during the football games on Oct. 8. The annual beefsteak tricky tray is Jan. 12. Go to for more details on other ways you can help. • September 2017




Boys Soccer tion,” Lembryk said. “With as many Stan Lembryk had a vision when Sept 7 Passaic 4pm kids as we have returning, we feel he transitioned from being the head Sept 9 @Hunterdon Central 10pm we can compete for all three titles.” girls soccer coach for Clifton to the Sept 12 PCTI 4pm Senior goalkeeper Jake Padula leader of the Mustang boys. He Sept 14 @JFK 4pm will be the last line of defense for the expected that he would implement Mustangs. A first team All-Passaic Sept 16 @Bergen Cty Tech. 10am the same defensive-oriented, disciCounty honoree last year, he posplined system he had employed with Sept 20 St. Peter’s Prep 4:30pm sesses excellent size (6’1”, 180 for years with the girls, and that once Sept 23 Eastside Paterson 11pm pounds) and quick reflexes. He is a fully installed, said system would Sept 26 @Wayne Hills 4pm strong shot blocker with good feet, make Clifton a contender. Sept 28 Fair Lawn 4:15pm as well. Now in year four under Oct 3 @Passaic 4pm The line in front of him will be led Lembryk’s leadership, it appears the Oct 5 @JFK 4:15pm by seniors Anthony Nole and Eddie Mustangs may be on the verge of Guzman. They will be joined on Oct 6 @Eastside Paterson 4pm achieving the payoff of their prodefense by junior Steven Pedraza gram-building. With 18 players Oct 10 Bergen Cty Tech. 4:30pm and Carlos Mesa. Senior Oleg (including seven starters) back from Oct 12 @PCTI 4pm Voroshchuk and Kishan Trivedi can last season’s 14-6-2 Big North Oct 17 West Milford 6:30pm each double as midfielders, but will Liberty champions, Lembryk is conOct 23 Don Bosco 4pm spend much of their time playing on fident that the his team can make a Oct. 24 @Wayne Valley TBD the back end. real push in North I, Group IV this Senior Tommy Miazga, who led year. the Mustangs with 12 goals, will lead the Clifton mid“If we are healthy and if we keep becoming better field. A first team All-Passaic County player in 2016, players [as the season progresses], then the goals are Miazga is a big, technically sound presence with good the same as always: win the league, win the county and field vision. I think we can have one of the best teams in our sec50 September 2017 •

Miazga will be joined by sophomore Gio Chapel, senior Damian Quirino and sophomore Kevin Salensky “I think our midfielders are very capable of keeping possession of the ball and dictating the tone of the game,” said Lembryk. “We have four guys that are real quarterbacks. They are going to run the show.” On offense, Clifton will rely on senior Michael Algieri and junior Miguel Hurtado, a speedy duo that Lembryk believes can cause problems for many opposing defenses. Senior Diego Pina will contribute on offense, as well. “It is always the goal of the program to compete for titles, and we think with these guys, we can do that,” Lembryk said. “And as far as the program is concerned, we had 135 kids come out for the program [this preseason],” he added. “I feel that this freshman class is the strongest we have had since I took over, too. The program is in a good place.” • September 2017




Girls Soccer

year],” said Kruczek. “I think the Despite his team’s 11-5 record last communication is much better. season, Clifton girls soccer Head Sometimes against better teams, they Sept 7 @Passaic 4pm Coach Konrad Kruczek is quick to were able to slip the ball through, but point out that the Mustangs have Sept 9 Millburn 2:30pm our defense is more on the same page plenty of room for improvement. He Sept 12 @PCTI 4pm [this preseason].” also thinks they have matured Sept 16 Bergen Cty Tech. 12pm Junior Maria Orozco, who tallied enough to make them an even better Sept 19 @Immaculate Heart 4pm 13 goals and 11 assists last season, team in 2017. Sept 22 @Eastside Paterson 4pm will lead the midfield. With excep“I think last year was a very good Sept 23 @West Essex 11am tional field vision and striking ability, lesson for all the players,” Kruczek Sept 26 Wayne Hills 4pm she is among the most versatile playsaid. “For the most part our defensive Sept 30 @Newton 11am ers on the Clifton roster. Sophomore line was brand new. I think the girls Oct 3 Passaic 4pm Leila Ettayebi and senior Michelle are more confident now than they Oct 6 Eastside Paterson 4:30pm Rziekiec will start, as well. Freshman were then.” Oct 10 @Bergen Cty Tech. 4:15pm Brianna De La Cruz, sophomore The Mustangs will be anchored on Oct 12 PCTI 4pm Jessica David and sophomore defense by a pair of goalies that are Oct 17 @West Milford 4:15pm Rafeala Gavilano will reinforce the both legitimate starter-quality athstarters as needed. Oct 24 Wayne Valley 6:30pm letes. Sophomore Brienna Martins The forward spots will be occupossesses a nose for the ball and outOct 26 @Fair Lawn 4:15pm pied by senior first team All-Passaic standing technique, while senior County honoree Meagan Mancini (22 goals, 15 assists) Cindy Espinal’s is experienced and reliable. Seniors and junior Giuliana Richards (7 goals). Rachel Ramayoni, and Amy Aguilar-Almazo will anchor “I think it was a big shock, losing early in the county the Clifton defense, as will freshman Kiara Fisdeck. The tournament, and I think they understand what has to be fourth player on the defensive line will be either junior done,” Kruczek said. “I think last year, our conditioning Olivia Ulczak, sophomore Kerrie Sekanics or junior and physicality were not as good as they could have Tiffany Vasquez. been. I think the girls understand that if they are physical “The group is a little older; I don’t think we will make and fit we can compete against better teams.” as many silly mistakes that gave up some easy goals [last 52 September 2017 •

The Martini Martini Foundation Foundation Aqua Aquatic tic Center Seaha wks compete & place at the East Coast Zone Trials. Trials. We We are the Feeder Feeder Program for the CHS Team. Team. eam Seahawks

Represent Repr esent Clifton & Compete with the...

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To T o Register or for info call the Aquatics Department @ 973.773.2697 ext 31 o g • September 2017 53



Volleyball Standing from left, Adrienne Baker, Khushi Patel, Grace Shukaitis, Kristen Mawker, Andrea Oyola Mora, Jullisa Rodriguez, Melissa Wydak. Kneeling from left, Rebecca Friedman, Alison Moran, Kristen Kakascik, Liana Neumann. Not present, Taylor Panico, Stella Spyropoulus.

Sept 7


Sept 9


Sept 11 Belleville Sept 12 @PCTI

Clifton girls volleyball’s first season under Head Coach Dan Crespo cannot be seen as anything short of a success. The Mustangs finished last fall 195 and won the Passaic County Tournament, while also beating Princeton in the first round of the Group IV playoffs. And with most of the core from that team returning this September, Crespo believes that if his team plays its cards right, it can be even better. “I believe the loss of Christie Louer [to graduation] is huge,” Crespo admitted. “But I have several sophomores that are promising, and it will be a matter of how quickly can we bond together. Once we handle those intangibles, those moving parts, I believe it shouldn’t be difficult to repeat [the success we had last year] and hopefully take it further. “ Of course, the younger additions will need to follow the lead of the returning vets like senior outside hitter Kristen Kakascik, who finished last season with 113 kills, 140 digs and 43 aces. She was Clifton’s most reliable server— with 96 percent efficiency—and a phenomenal passer, as well. “Everything we were able to enjoy last year was largely because of her,” Crespo stated. “She is hitting better now that she was last year. She understands the importance of being effective. She is an old school alpha type that doesn’t get her feelings hurt. She is result-oriented and task-oriented and wants to win.” 54 September 2017 •

4pm 9am 4pm 4pm

Sept 14 JFK


Sept 15 Hudson Catholic


Sept 16 @Wayne Valley


Sept 18 @Paramus


Sept 19 Bergen Cty Tech.


Sept 25 Union


Sept 26 @Immaculate Heart 4:15pm Sept 28 @Eastside Paterson


Oct 2



Oct 3

Wayne Hills


Oct 5

@Fair Lawn


Oct 6



Oct 9



Oct 11


Oct 13

Eastside Paterson

Oct 17

@Bergen Cty Tech. 4:15pm

Oct 19


Oct 23

@West Milford

Oct 26

Wayne Valley

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

Senior middle Alison Moran is another key returnee who can play just about anywhere. She finished last season serving better than anyone in the Clifton lineup, and has made strides in becoming a better blocker, as well. Senior setter Andrea Oyola-Mora is a first-team AllPassaic County honoree that, in addition to being a stellar defender, finished 2016 with 57 aces, though Crespo genuinely believes she probably could have doubled that number. Senior outside hitter Kristen Mawker seems poised for a breakout year, having come on strong late last season. Mawker is a hard hitter who was particularly effective on offense in Clifton’s two playoff games against Princeton and Cherry Hill East. Four sophomores—setter Melissa Wydak, libero Liana Neumann, middle hitter Adrienne Baker and outside hitter Grace Shukaitis—figure to be key pieces and building blocks for the program’s immediate future. “These girls know what I am looking for,” Crespo said of his entire squad. “They understand my expectations. Over the summer, it has been nice to see them so focused and it will be interesting to see how things play out.” • September 2017





Front row, Prianka Kunadia, Upasna

Mistry, Angelica DeVergara. Back Sept 5 @Passaic 4pm Finishing fifth and just under .500 row, Wiktoria Skrzycka, Abigail in Passaic County last season, Sept 7 @PCTI 4pm Nelken, Stanislava Stancheva, Clifton girls tennis snuck into the Sept 8 JFK 4pm Stephanie Jaramillo and Heena Patel. state playoffs once again in 2016. Sept 11 Bergen Cty Tech. 4:30pm Prianka Kunadia will be back at secThis year, the Mustangs expect to get Sept 13 @Immaculate Heart 4pm ond singles, while offensive-minded back to the dance thanks to the return Sept 15 @Eastside Paterson 4pm junior third singles player Taylor of all three singles players and some Sept 18 Wayne Hills 4pm Bordamonte returns, as well. experienced talent occupying the Sept 19 @Fair Lawn 4:15pm The Mustangs’ doubles teams will doubles slots. Sept 20 @Kearny 4pm consist of some combination of sen“We should do at least as well as Sept 25 Passaic 4pm ior Abigail Melken, junior Stephanie we did last year, and I am hopeful Sept 27 @JFK 4pm Jaramillo, senior Stanislava that we can do better,” said Clifton Sept 28 @Eastside Paterson 4pm Stancheva, senior Upasna Mistry Head Coach Chad Cole. “We will be Sept 29 @Union 4pm and senior Visha Patel. a better team than last year. The girls Oct 2 @Bergen Cty Tech. 4pm “Just from experience, I feel good are back and ready to go.” Oct 4 PCTI 4pm about what we can do,” Cole said. Senior Heena Patel, second team Oct 6 @West Milford 4:15pm “A lot of schools graduated some of All-Passaic County player a year their better players, and we have a Oct 11 Wayne Valley 4pm ago, figures to once again be in the lot of talented players back. I like first singles spot for the Mustangs. where we stand. The girls are in great spirits, and we Stronger than she was as a junior, she remains a steady will see how it pans out.” presence that can pick up valuable team points. Senior

56 September 2017 • • September 2017



For Clifton’s cross country squads, this fall figures to be one that sees the Mustangs relying much more heavily on a select group of athletes. The squads lacks the depth of their 2016 counterparts. But as far as veteran Head Coach John Pontes is concerned, this year’s squads still have the tools to once against compete in the Big North Liberty and Passaic County. “We are not as deep as we were last year, but the kids we have are working hard,” Pontes said. “Some of the other teams in our division like Passaic County Tech, Passaic, Wayne Hills and Bergen Tech will make us work, but we are doing a great job this preseason.” Both the Clifton boys and girls won division titles last year, and both finished in second place in Passaic County—the boys behind Passaic and the girls behind Wayne Hills. This season, they will look to improve behind some accomplished veterans. On the boys side, it all starts with senior Kevin Heredia. An individual division champion last season, Heredia also took second in Passaic County and fourth in North I, Group IV. Heredia is the Mustangs’ most accomplished male cross country athlete since 2017 CHS Athletic Hall of Fame Paul Kornaszewski, and also took fourth place in the indoor Meet of Champions in the 800m. He has earned All-Passaic County honors eight times 58 September 2017 •

From left, Sarah Adams, Hadeel Alshujaieh, Lineth Ferrero, Samantha Rozon, Kevin Heredia, Takashi Yuasa, Max Dubac.


Cross Country Sept 9



Sept 12



Sept 18



Sept 23



Sept 30



Oct 5


Oct 7



Oct 12



Oct 20

County Meet


Oct 24




during his high school career (three times in spring track, two for indoor and two for cross country). “The kids really follow Kevin’s example,” said Pontes. “He is extremely focused, and wants to be the best runner he possibly can.” Seniors Max Dubac, a first team All-Passaic honoree last season, and Takashi Yuasa will be key contributors, as will juniors Krunal Rana and Long Tang and sophomore Josh Szabo. On the girls side, senior first team All-County athlete Hadeel Alshujaieh will lead the way for Clifton. She is part of a strong senior class that also includes Sarah Adams, Samantha Rozon and Linneth Terrero. Junior Brianna Morrison, formerly a standout gymnast, and sophomore Andrea Dubbels will be important parts of the Clifton effort, as well. “Both our boys and girls have to know that every race counts,” Pontes said. “We can’t have a bad race, you can’t take a 100 yards off, either. Your teammates count on you from beginning to end. Our kids are doing a great job with preparing and I think we will do well.”

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Thomas Tobin 973-779-4248

Bill G. Eljouzi 973-478-9500

973-772-8451 Roofing • Siding • Gutters Ventilation • Chimneys • September 2017



Front rear left: Jeanette Compres, Stephany Ayala, Angelina Cicatello, Sarah Kusher, Akifa Choudhury. Front row from left: Mariel Buscar, Maria Benitez, Briana Valdez, Nicole Garcia.

Kushner can compete all-around, Mustangs Brittany Gaccione has always and likely will be called on to do just believed that to grow the Clifton that this year. gymnastics program, she would Senior Briana Valdez is both verhave to cherish small victories and Sept 14 @Passaic Valley 4pm satile and talented, and figures to emphasize the importance of taking Sept 18 Piscataway 4:30pm work on the balance beam after baby steps. Sept 20 Union 4pm focusing mostly on the floor exercise Heading into her fourth year leadSept 26 @Wayne Valley 4:30pm last season. ing the program, Gaccione knows Oct 5 Mont., Wayne Hills 4:30pm Senior Mariel Buscar, in her third the program has not yet turned a corOct 10 @Indian Hills 4:30pm year competing, will compete in the ner. But she still thinks they have Oct 12 Montclair 4pm floor exercise. accomplished a great deal during her Sophomore Vanessa SotoOct 16 @West Milford 4:30pm tenure. Hernandez is expected to contribute She is also hopeful they will take on the uneven bars. a few more strides in the right direction this season. “The girls that are seniors this year, they came on “[By the time this season is over], I’d like to report my first year and it is nice to see them as girls who a few wins,” Gaccione said. “I would like to be able to came with limited experience in gymnastics now cheersay that I will see drastic improvements in some of the ing on the underclassmen with the same limited experigirls who are feeling better and stronger than they did.” ence,” Gaccione said. Junior Sarah Kushner is one of the key returning “Seeing them help the girls who are working their contributors, as she was a second team All-Passaic way up it really nice to see,” Gaccione added. “And County performer in the floor exercise last season. most of all, they always give their best.” While that is her specialty, Gaccione notes that


60 September 2017 • • September 2017


By Ariana Puzzo Santiago Guiran is in the Top 10 of the CHS Class of 2018. That’s a long journey from first attending school in Colombia, and not just geographically. “Education has had the biggest impact on my life. Before coming to the US, I went to school on a farm,” Guiran recalled. “To go on a computer and to hold a textbook... people don’t realize how valuable it really is.” Guiran, the CHS Class of 2018 president, was born in Bucaramanga, the capital of the department of Santander, in Colombia, and came to the US in 2006. The transition was not easy. When he arrived, he said, he had a “difficult time making friends due to the language barrier.” He also attended four different Clifton K5 schools, including Schools 13, 3, 8 and 14. “One of the biggest reasons I’m class president and I do so many extracurriculars is because I’ll never forget the loneliness of being eight years old and not having any friends,” he said somberly. “I haven’t felt lonely since being at CHS,” he then added with an infectuous grin.

62 September 2017 •

Guiran plans to apply for Early Decision to either Princeton or Dartmouth. However, Clifton is his first and only home in the US, and he plans to return. For now, Guiran is involved with CHS matters and wants to have a lasting effect during his senior year. He hopes that, in conjunction with fellow Mustangs, Student Council President Ziare Clark and Student Union President Khushi Patel, the three student groups can continue to strengthen the school. “We are all really close friends and want to work extremely well between associations,” he elaborated. One goal the trio hopes to achieve is cooperation between the faculty and student body. Guiran noted that they have the support of new Principal Michael Doktor. Guiran got involved from the first day of high school He joined CHS’ volleyball team in his freshman year. He also became a member of the Student Union, Science Honors Society, Knights of Pythagoras, and in his sophomore year became class president for the first time. His support for public education and public affairs in his hometown does not end within the halls of CHS. He and others from the Student Union and other groups attend Board of Education meetings.

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He said he will continue to attend BOE and City Council meetings and hopes to bring other students to learn about government. This past summer, Guiran interned at NJIT, working under a physical chemistry professor. He noted that Princeton and Dartmouth both have strong energy programs, and he would pursue an Engineering Degree. But, as noted, despite those goals he has no intention of leaving Clifton permanently. “I want to some day live with my kids in Clifton,” he said. “The city made me a culturally rich and tolerant person.” Naturally, Guiran also noticed those qualities within CHS. “Its diversity is one of the most beautiful parts of the city,” he continued. “It’s invaluable.” He finds that diversity makes CHS a highly inclusive environment, particularly as a “Latino, gay immigrant.” “My biggest source of motivation lies in my identity,” he said. Guiran’s self-discovery has inspired him to not remain idle and to “take affirmative action.” His sense of belonging is attributed in part to CHS teachers Christopher Henry and Michael Rogers. After joining the Student Union, thanks to Henry, he was able to develop his voice, he said. “Before joining, I wasn’t into speaking out, I was still in the closet and I was intimidated by what other people said,” said Guiran. “I feel like I’m fearless now and I think that’s something that’s really important.” Likewise, Rogers’ freshman Honors World History course led to

Guiran’s eventual “coming out.” “He taught a lesson on how homosexuality in contemporary society is normal now, and I realized I had nothing to fear coming out. “He inspired the intellectual in me. I wouldn’t be able to expand as much without him,” he added. Guiran said he cannot stress enough to younger students the value of CHS’ diversity.

“I went to American Legion Boys State and it was the worst experience,” based on conformity and not individuality, he said. “It showed me how I took for granted that Clifton High is a melting pot.” Guiran lives with his parents, Fredy and Alba, his older brother, Freddy (CHS ’16), who attends Bergen Community College, and the family Yorkie, Eli. • September 2017


By Jack DeVries The 2017 CHS Athletic Hall of Fame luncheon is on Oct. 15 at noon. See page 88 for details.

This Clifton story begins on a farm. Not Richfield. Not Schultheis Farm or Ploch’s. No, this story begins on a farm in upstate New York, near the village of Canton, more than 300 miles north of Clifton. Canton is hockey country, a place close to the St. Lawrence River separating the United States from Canada. The winters are tough and the people there even tougher. When the short summer comes, every farmer needs to work quickly. Time soon comes when temperatures will hover in the single digits and kids will skate the nearby Grass River, branching off the mighty St. Lawrence. The farm where this story starts – the one belonging to Rollie and Velma Ginn – had many roles. It produced milk from dairy cows. Harvested hay. Grew produce Velma canned. And it had one more role – to alter the path of a future Mustang Hall of Fame coach and athletic director. “Nothing changed my life more than that year on the farm,” said Rick LaDuke. LaDuke had just finished his high school freshman year when his brother-in-law John Perretta told him how he would spend the summer. “He was a wrestler in high school before going in the Air Force,” remembered LaDuke. “He told me, ‘You’re working on a farm this summer. You’re getting fat and soft.’ He told Rollie, ‘I’ve got a guy who’s 64 September 2017 •

going to work for you, just like I did – six days a week for $20 a week. I looked at him; $20 a week? I thought John was crazy but didn’t say anything because I was scared of him.” That summer, LaDuke got up at 6 a.m. and rode his bike eight miles to the farm. He milked cows, harvested hay, and helped Velma in her garden. The Ginns fed him three meals before his day ended at 7:30 p.m. “That summer changed my body composition,” LaDuke said. “I was doing everything kids did in the weight room. I did my squats with a bale of hay, 60-to70 pounds. We’d put them into a hayloft every day. It needed to be perfectly stacked to get more bales in – hard work.” That fall, LaDuke played defensive end in football and had a good year. He walked on to the baseball team and became a starter, part of a 14-0 squad. And he went from fourth line to first line in JV hockey. He never went back to the farm, instead painting houses and working at the Acme Market in following summers. But the discipline and strength never left. At Canton High, LaDuke was named “All Northern” in all three sports and captured first team honors in baseball in 1969 and 1970. He was also the hockey team’s leading scorer his senior year. That summer on the Ginn’s farm provided LaDuke opportunities beyond Canton. And Clifton athletes would forever benefit.

A father’s son If you want to learn about Rick LaDuke, you have to first know his father. Robert LaDuke was a meat cutter for Acme Markets; his wife Betty worked in clothing store and was later a homemaker. Their family include daughters Cheryl, Chris, Cindy and Rick. The elder LaDuke loved sports and played football and baseball in high school. When Robert was older, he played semipro baseball in the independent Frontier League, something he was proud of. His wife said he could be “pretty intense” on the field. When Rick began playing Little League baseball, his dad was determined to share his sports knowledge. He coached Rick’s early teams and continued to direct him from the sidelines as he got older. “He was always happy to see me participate,” said Rick, “but he was my worst critic. There was always a better way to do something.” Despite the criticism, LaDuke had deep respect and devotion to his father. Calling his parents “unselfish mentors,” he watched them struggle to make ends meet and work without complaint. LaDuke says his mom was compassionate and honest, always reminding him to treat people well. What he learned from his father remains ingrained in his core – a desire to be selfless and to put others first. “From my father,” LaDuke said, “I learned discipline… that a man has to do what a man has to do. Get it done, don’t look back, don’t look for rewards. Do because it’s what you’re supposed to do.” Sports was a huge part of LaDuke’s childhood, and his dad, uncles, and many cousins made up full teams in any sport. “We lived next to the Grass River,” said LaDuke, “and there were all boys in my neighborhood. We’d fish the river, build forts, and ice skate on river. Everything else was geared around athletics – softball, Wiffleball, baseball in the backyard. The amount of windows my father had to replace in our house and my neighbor’s house was crazy.” The athletic influence was to be expected. Nearby was St. Lawrence University and its storied Division I hockey team, the “Skating Saints.” Despite its small size (around 2,000 students), St. Lawrence was permitted to play Division I hockey, while competing in D-III

Rick LaDuke with his five championship rings.

in other sports. From 1951, it has reached the NCAA hockey tournament 16 times and lost in the finals twice. During high school, LaDuke assumed he’d join the service upon graduation. Many of his friends’ older brothers and fathers had served, as had LaDuke’s own relatives. He went as far as to meet with a Navy recruiter as a senior. Then one Tuesday night, the phone rang. “I had just had a great Christmas ice hockey tournament, and the head coach of St. Lawrence, George Menard, called me up. He asked, ‘Would you like to come up to St. Lawrence and try to play hockey?’ I said, yeah, sure! Then he asked about coming over and talking to my parents. “I put phone on my chest and said, ‘Mom, Dad, this is Mr. Menard up at St. Lawrence. He’d like to come talk with us about me going up there and playing hockey.” Decades later, LaDuke relived the phone call, getting emotional about thinking of his parents’ reaction. “I’ll never forget my father’s face,” he remembered. “And my mother’s. What a difference it made in my life – one man’s phone call.” • September 2017


New path After struggling academically his first year, LaDuke found his footing. He played hockey for the Saints, along with baseball and football, where he played with future NFL All-Pro punter Dave Jennings. He now saw himself coaching in the future. He also saw what his life could have been like if not for athletics. “During the Vietnam War was a tough time,” he said. “I watched a lot of my buddies going off and coming back – one had his leg blown off below his knee. I saw others that stayed home and what happened to a lot of them – the struggles they had.” Though LaDuke had a new path, he continued to battle to justify he belonged at St. Lawrence. “I never thought I was good enough,” LaDuke said. “My wife tells me to get over it now. It’s something that you never should feel, but I always felt I had to prove something more. I never felt acceptance – always felt I had to do something more to please people. I was always trying to prove my father right, that good work pays off.” The St. Lawrence coaches did believe in him. When he was ready to graduate, the football coach asked him to play another season and use his last year of eligibility, getting him into the school’s master’s program. LaDuke soon met his future wife Kathy, a roommate of his sister’s. The two started dating on New Year’s Eve 1975 and were married that August. Heading south In 1976, CHS Athletic Director Bill Elias was looking for a D-I college hockey player with a master’s degree to take over the school’s fledging hockey program. He called St. Lawrence, and LaDuke’s name came up. Since both Kathy and Rick were substitute teaching and without permanent jobs, they decided to travel to Clifton for the interview. “When I asked her if she wanted to move to New Jersey,” LaDuke laughed, “she looked at me like I had rocks in my head.” His friends were more skeptical. As all were hunters, they told LaDuke to bring all his guns with him for protection. “I’d never been to the area before,” LaDuke said, “except to play hockey for St. Lawrence at Madison Square Garden.” After a successful interview with Elias, Principal Aaron Halpern, and School Superintendent William 66 September 2017 •

Duke’s Softball History The CHS Softball program began in the early ‘70s, but it was just an average team until Rick LaDuke took over as head coach in 1982.

Year 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 Totals

Rec. 12-13 21-5 13-2 22-5 18-6 20-5 22-6 24-1 26-2 24-4 28-1 25-7 27-2 27-4 30-2 31-0 31-0 23-5 26-5 17-11 467-86

Championships 2nd in League, County Runner Up 2nd in League, County Runner Up 2nd in League League League League, County League, County, Section, Group RU League, County League, County, Section League, Section, Group League, County League, County RU, Sect, Grp RU League, County, Section League, County, Section, Group League, County, Section, Group League, County, Section RU League, County, Section, Group RU LaDuke becomes Clifton AD 14 Leagues, 11 Counties, 8 Sectionals, 6 Groups

Shershin, LaDuke was hired. He arrived in November after finishing the football season at Canton High where he was a volunteer assistant coach. “(Before arriving) I had played a semipro game up there in the Ottawa Valley League,” LaDuke said, who later played semipro hockey with the New Jersey Rockets. “I got nailed at the end of the game with

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an elbow, and it laid out my eye. It was all purple. Bill Elias brought me into auditorium and said, ‘I like to introduce to you guys your new hockey coach. As you can see, he still plays. This is Coach LaDuke.’ “The kids were like, ‘What the hell did we get into?’” Mustangs on ice LaDuke’s hockey Mustangs had Coach Rick LaDuke with some of his early Mustang Hockey players. sub-.500 records the first few years Another anchor was the Mustangs hockey team. “The but program enthusiasm was strong. kids had a great chemistry that took away my homesick“We had great parents – the Kishbaughs, Tabakas, so ness,” LaDuke said. “We didn’t win many games my many others,” said LaDuke. “‘Ma and Pa’ Wojick adoptfirst two years. We needed to play a lot of defense.” ed me into their family. Big Joe Brancato and his wife LaDuke stepped away from his head coaching duties Jean. the Calisies and the Millers helped establish the after the 1986-87 season, but returned a few years later booster club. They just bought into it – no program is as an assistant. “For me to be a part of the 2001 team that successful without parents giving you their support and won the state championship,” said LaDuke, “that’s like loyalty.” going from an embryo to a finished product.” Fueled by the team’s booster club, the junior developHis next embryo was Clifton softball. ment program flourished. During LaDuke’s head coaching tenure, Clifton won two Christmas tournaments and Building a dynasty two league championships, and qualified for the Gordon In 1977 Elias asked LaDuke to join the Clifton softCup one season. ball program as an assistant. It was a wise move. “We had great kids,” LaDuke noted. “I always LaDuke was an accomplished fast-pitch tournament believed to be an athlete, you had to have discipline or softball player and could offer insight not usually found everything falls apart. No kid doesn’t want to succeed. in high school ranks. They want to have the approval of whomever watching “I coached the way I wanted to be coached,” said them, parents – coach, friends, peers. They want acceptLaDuke. “Female athletes don’t want to be treated any ance as an athlete.” differently; they want to get down, want to get dirty. The Outside of school, the LaDukes were dealing with a success that followed was because the kids bought in – different challenge – Clifton’s pace. that’s why I don’t take the credit. Kids buy in, parents “It was a never-ending battle to go do anything,” buy in.” LaDuke remembers about the adjustment. “It was so LaDuke became Clifton’s head coach in 1982, and the congested. Everyone seemed like they were in such a Mustangs went 12-13. He saw his program behind the hurry.” elite schools, and focused his efforts on fundamentals, Despite the unfamiliar world, LaDuke said a “series consistency, and pitching. In 1983, Clifton went 21-5, of good people we ran into kept us here.” beginning a period of excellence rivaling any in Clifton Two were Dick and Iva Messiner, whom the LaDukes sports history. rented an apartment from on East 6th St. “They treated From 1982 to 2001, LaDuke’s Lady Mustangs went us like they were our grandkids,” said LaDuke. “I was467-86, winning 20 or more games from 1987 to 2000. n’t making any money and they weren’t charging us The run featured two undefeated seasons (1997 and much money – $185 a month. I’d mow the lawn and 1998), a 67-game winning streak, 10 Passaic County shovel snow; they’d take us out to dinner and foot the crowns, and three Group IV state championships. bill. We were lucky.” 68 September 2017 •

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“Rick is an outstanding leader and softball teacher,” said Ken Kurnath, a former Clifton School Board member who umpired many of Clifton’s games. “I never saw his players make a mental mistake on the field.” Despite the success, there were tough moments. His toughest “was biting my tongue in 1996 when Amy Calise slides in at home The 1998 Mustang Softball team that won the County, League and State titles. From against Montclair in the state left rear: Erin Burke, Kim Alongi, Ashley Gonello, Vickie Benitez, Jen Bandurski, Amanda Bongiorno, Lara Foster, Jackie Barnes, Jamie Anzaldi. Front: Kim Alongi, semifinals and is sitting on the Megan Doczi, Danielle Brill, Tamara Tinijero, Kim Anzaldi, Jen Carlo, Candance plate. The pitcher tags her on D’Andrea. Missing are Bobbi-Jo Gonnello and Laura Tynio. top of the helmet and the Looking back umpire called her out.” LaDuke retired in 2010 at age 58, going home to LaDuke remained silent for this reason: “Once you Stockholm, N.J., to spend time with Kathy and live in the start as a coach complaining about refereeing or umpirexpanded log cabin he built for his family. New Jersey ing, the kids have an escape route to blame somebody is now home. While he had chances to leave as a college else for not winning.” coach, Kathy loved it here, working for 17 years as a His restraint was not lost on Sal Anzaldi, former teacher in Roxbury Township. “She kept me grounded,” coach of the Clifton Charmers, one of the city’s outstandsaid LaDuke. ing softball feeder programs. “One of Rick’s best attribThe LaDukes have two children, Rob and Dona, and utes as a coach,” he said, “was he was able to remain four grandchildren; Riley, Henry, Colette and Nina. composed regardless of the intensity of the game situa“I wouldn’t change too much – I’ve had a great life,” tion. He also always had faith in his seniors to guide the said LaDuke. “I only regret not spending more time with team, especially the younger players.” my parents.” He also admits to missing time with his Along with victories, honors followed. In 2000, The children after spending so much of it coaching. “When National Federation of High Schools chose LaDuke as I talk with them about it, they say, ‘But we were a part of its National Coach of the Year; in 2001, The Record it, not as doers but as spectators, and we enjoyed it.’” selected him as its softball “Coach of the Century.” LaDuke has not had much contact with Clifton folThough LaDuke loved working with his players, in lowing his retirement, but the memories are always 2001, we was given the opportunity to make a greater there. As is his way, the Hall of Fame recognition was impact as Clifton’s athletic director. The job came at a appreciated but never sought. difficult time – his father had died suddenly and he was What remains with him is the camaraderie he had admittedly “lost.” For direction, he leaned on mentor with his coaches, the satisfaction of a job well done, and and fellow teacher John Hargraves – a person who the images of his many players in his mind’s eye. “I miss shared many of his dad’s values. them as 15-18 year old kids,” he said. As he had done before, LaDuke excelled in his role, “It’s nice to be recognized, but it’s because of my bringing in coaches to positively impact the sports prokids. They listened, bought into it, performed, and grams. During his time as athletic director, the taught others below. If I taught them anything, I hope I Mustangs won state championships in football, softball, taught them responsibility,” he said. and boys soccer. 70 September 2017 • • September 2017


Seniors on the 2006 State Championship football team that went 9-3 included Paul Andrikanich, Phillip Buzzone, Nick Cvetic, Adam DeLamota, Matt Detres, David Fahy, Louis Feliciano, Brian Fierro, Joseph Figueroa, Anthony Giordano, Timothy Jacobus, Barron Johnson, Robert Johnson, Robert McClear, Omar Saleh, Derrick Stroble, Joshua Texidor and Emilio Torres. They were coached by Ron Anello, Rob Bertolini, Ralph Cinque, Steven Covello, Frank Davide, Jon Hemenway, Angelo Intile, Brian Silipenna, Brian Small and Metry Smeen. Team Managers were Kelly Elmer, Laurel Hanczryk and Sarah Trombutas.

Quick: Besides the latter half of this past the size of a cinderblock and former NFLer By Joe Hawrylko decade, when was the last time that Clifton Dave Szott was still clearing holes in the was considered a perennial contender on the gridiron? trenches for the Mustangs. That was until these guys, The answer would be the 1980s, when cellphones were under Coach Ron Anello, made it happen in 2006. And that’s why that team is being inducted into the Clifton Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 15. Politics & football don’t mix Once the legendary Coach Vandy called it quits at the end of the 1979 season, the program began a gradual fall from grace. Political interference from the Board of Education led to the firing of three successive coaches—John Lischak, Jack Jones and Dennis Heck—despite winning records. The program went into a free fall. After middling success in the 80s, Clifton had just one playoff appearance—a loss to Wayne Valley in 1997—over the following span of nearly two decades. 72 September 2017 • • September 2017


Players from the championship team got to hoist their sign on Joe Grecco field in late 2006. Below, the Group IV State Champions celebrating at Giants Stadium on Dec. 2, 2006.

At the start of the new millenium, things were supposed to be different in Clifton. The city had a big- name, fire-and-brimstone coach in the person of Chet Parlavecchio, who played under Joe Paterno at Penn State and later had a short stint in the NFL. Soon, fans began to expect positive results. However, Parlavecchio started out slow—hired to start the 1999 season, the coach had compiled a 11-29 record in his first four seasons at the helm. That record—and the over $90,000 in salary it cost per year to keep Parlavecchio in Clifton—began to attract attention, but Parlavecchio and his supporters were quick to point out that the culture had changed in town. Players took a newfound pride in the team and progress, even if incremental, was being made. The freshman team strung together a few impressive years of football and those players were moving up in the system. Parlavecchio’s prized possession was Luis ‘Kiko’ 74 September 2017 •

Mangual, a D1 prospect RB/QB/LB who defected from Don Bosco Prep for Clifton. With those elements in the coach’s favor, the Mustangs finally put together a .500 record in the 2003 season, going 6-4 before bowing out of the playoffs in the first round. Ron Anello’s time But not long after achieving that elusive milestone, Parlavecchio was gone and the district was once against searching for a new coach. Eventually, the Board of Education chose Ron Anello, whose mellow demeanor was in stark contrast to that of his predecessor.


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Mustang pride was contagious in the fall of 2006 with a steady supply of able-bodied fans on the sidelines and in the stands.

Anello, who was a rival Montclair Mounty when he played on Friday nights as a kid, took over the program for the 2004 season. He put his stamp on the team—a bruising run

game out of the Wing-T, efficient quarterbacking and a suffocating D—and the Mustangs started to resemble a squad that might be able to compete each year.

1139 Van Houten Ave, Clifton • 76 September 2017 •

But as much as things began to look up, not even the most optimistic football parent could have realistically expected the 2006 season. With a stable of talented running backs and the D in top form, Anello found the missing piece in quarterback Anthony Giordano, whose gutsy play allowed the Mustangs to squeeze out of many tight situations. Clifton started the season with its first opening day victory since 1998, a win over Kennedy, but then dropped the next match against Teaneck. The team lost two more games down the stretch and appeared to be in trouble before suddenly coming together. After a must-win victory over a powerful Ridgewood squad, the Mustangs scored two major upsets over St. Joe’s and North Bergen and a final win over Randolph for the right to face Eastside for the State Crown. On Dec. 2, 2006, with 8,000 of the Mustang faithful at Giants Stadium, Clifton crushed the Eastside Ghosts 26-0 for its first State Title since the days of Vandy. That 2006 victory signified the return to respectability for the Fighting Mustangs program. Celebrate the team at the 2017 CHS Athletic Hall of Fame luncheon on Oct. 15 at noon. Find the details on page 88.

Sunday, October 22, 2017• 8:30 am

The 10th 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. 18, 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 withfromsupport Clifton Roadrunners the • September 2017


The Sporting Life

Lou Poles


By Jack De Vries

“Every town has a Lou Poles,” says perhaps Clifton’s greatest sports historian and fan. “Guys like me are the ones people love to talk sports with. We help them remember a great game or player from their past. What’s nice is that I often wind up becoming lifelong friends with the people I talk to, or at least lifelong friendly acquaintances.” He’s lying. Every town doesn’t have a Lou Poles— they’re rare individuals, filled with a love of sports and city that goes beyond that of a normal fan. As this story from 2003 illustrates, Poles is a maroon and gray original, Clifton’s own. Our old friend Lou Poles is laid up. So we are asking you to send him a card or make a visit. Here is his information: Lou Poles, Room 112. Atrium Post Acute Care of WayneView. 2020 Route 23 North, Wayne, NJ 07470. 973-305-8400.

“People say I know a lot about sports,” says sports historian Harry Murtha, another treasure trove of Clifton knowledge. “While I might know what a quarterback did in a big game, Lou Poles knows what he did… along with the brand of toothpaste the quarterback used before the game.” While such praise might seem exaggerated, knowing a player’s toothpaste almost doesn’t seem beyond Poles’ reach. A conversation with Lou brings fourth a dizzying parade of games, statistics, and players—each flowing from one story to the next. “My initials are L.P.,” he says. “Some people say it stands for ‘Long Playing.’” It’s nearly impossible not to get swept up into Poles’ sporting world when he’s talking—the enthusiasm bouncing along with his rapid-fire, staccato voice. At his nostalgia sessions at the Hot Grill or Nash 78 September 2017 •

Park, he’ll recall Coach Joe Grecco’s halftime speeches (Lou listened by the field house window), Bobby Holly and Ray “Ditch” Malavasi appearing in the Super Bowl, or Dave Szott lining-up to battle for his beloved Jets. He’ll also toss in a few anecdotes about Clifton’s Scussel Brothers, Eugene and Henry, whom Lou never saw play, but whose stories he now treasures like his own. And that’s just in the first five minutes. When he’s finished, as was the case after a recent Hot Grill performance, strangers have applauded. “As you know…” he’ll say as another story begins. His listeners usually don’t know, but that doesn’t matter to Lou. It’s not about who knows more about sports, or if someone remembers a game a bit differently than he does. To Lou, the important thing is the stories get told and the athletes live again.


Early life “Come Turkey Day, when the smoke has risen from the battlefield, the Mustangs will come home with the bacon,” says Poles, back in 2003, spinning a tale of a Grecco halftime speech and a broken door that followed. For a second, it’s 1946 again and Poles is an 11-year-old kid, worshipping Bobby Boettcher and walking to Hinchcliffe Stadium to watch the Mustangs play. “Bobby would see me in the stands,” Poles says, “and say, ‘Here comes the kid again.’ I tried to be the first one at every game—running in as soon as they opened the gates. I also had a tradition of walking home if Clifton lost—no matter where the game was.

In 2003, Clifton Merchant Magazine asked Lou Poles to come up with his Top 10 teams in Clifton High School history. L.P. gave us 11 of his favorite memories: 1997 Girls Softball Team: “We lost in the 1996 state finals, 1-0, to a Montclair team we beat easily that season. What impressed me was that after losing that tough game, they began their incredible streak, going 31-0 (the start of the 67-0 run). The outstanding coach, Rich La Duke, has

the most victories in New Jersey softball. I think their slogan that year was ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend,’ meaning if they practiced and played hard on the diamond, good things would happen. They were a charismatic team—my favorite of our recent girls state champions.” • September 2017


Lou Poles 1959 Football Team: “The 1959 Mustangs were one of Clifton’s greatest teams. The highlight came when we beat Montclair, 39-7. Coach Grecco positioned his scat backs a yard closer to the line, getting them through the holes faster (Clifton gained 239 yards on the ground). I don’t think they stopped us once after they scored in the first quarter. After the game, I was in the crowd around midfield where Montclair’s great coach Clary Anderson congratulated Clifton on the win. He said, ‘This is the best team to ever play against my Montclair Mounties’— pretty big praise from a coach whose teams seemed to win 10 out of 11 games every year.”

Wayne Demikoff and Coach Greco.

“Thank God we didn’t lose that often after Coach Grecco started.” The legendary Mustangs coach has always been a big part of Poles’ life, especially when Lou became studentmanager of the football team in 1949 and 1950. He has nothing but respect and reverence for Grecco. “Joe Grecco was like a father to me,” he says. “There were times in my life when I’ve needed guidance, and Coach was there for me. He would talk to you and give you good advice. If he needed to, he’d bring you to the person you were having difficulty with and talk on your behalf. He’d say, “This is one of my Mustangs. What can we do for him? “And Joe Grecco did this for everyone—not only star players, every guy on the team.” Besides “listening to the old timers” and cataloguing their stories in his mind, Poles, now the chairman of the Clifton High School Athletic Hall of Fame, says he has almost a total recall of important games and events. “I try to go to every Clifton High practice, game, and tournament for every sport—even attend some of their summer camps (often with friend Bart Palatini). I love sports at every level—from high school on up.” Poles was born in Clifton and lived until he was seven above his family’s Botany Section tavern on Ackerman Ave., now the site of Johnny’s Bar and Grill. He says the business was founded in the late 1800s by his grandfather, a Northern Italian immigrant from the Lake Como region, and was the oldest tavern in the city’s history. His love of sports was nurtured by his Uncle Emil Poles, captain of Clifton High’s 1919 basketball and track teams. “My Uncle Emil never married,” Poles says. “My father was going to Columbia University, studying to become an orthodontist so he didn’t have much time for

me. But Uncle Emil, who ran the tavern, did and took me everywhere—to see games at Hinchcliffe Stadium and all the old halls where he played. My parents said that I was his family.” Unfortunately, his uncle died when Poles was seven, but the love of sports he instilled in Lou grew. The family moved to a house on Clifton Ave., where Poles father practiced dentistry (he also had another office in the Fabian Theater building in Paterson). Unlike most Clifton households of the time, the family had money for luxuries, including one of the first TV sets in the city. Friends, including future Clifton baseball great Ron Plaza, remember flocking to the Poles’ house to watch early programs, like The Milton Berle Show. The variety show was appreciated—especially by Lou’s mother’s side of the family. A one-time singer and entertainer who later founded the Clifton Boys Clubs Ladies Auxiliary, Mrs. Poles encouraged her children to play musical instruments. Lou played the piano and brother Robert played drums. Her father, who was from Georgia, had been a working entertainer on the vaudeville circuit and gave Bert Parks his start in show business. Poles did well in grammar school—attaining high marks at School No. 12. He skipped one elementary grade level, and then was given the opportunity to skip his final year of high school by taking summer courses. “They convinced my parents this was a great idea,” Poles says. “As a kid, I wasn’t thinking clearly—I was happy to be getting out early. But what I’d done was eliminate what could’ve been one of the best years of my life, my senior year.” What he had also done was to take away any chance of becoming a top athlete for Clifton.

80 September 2017 • • September 2017


Lou Poles

1986 Wrestling Team: That was our “6-6-6” team. We needed three pins in the last three matches to come back and beat Lenape in the Group 4 semifinals. Three pins, good for six points each, would do it.

1946 Boys Basketball Team: “I looked up to those guys – especially Ray Van Cleef, Don Parsons, and Hal Corizzi (above). They went 221 and their only loss was to Newark Central in the state tournament. “I remember one game in particular. We were playing Paterson Eastside and the game ended in dispute with the score tied, 39-39. The referees talked about it for 45 minutes and most of the crowd went home. Finally, they decided Elmer Gall was fouled and he came out of the locker room to make two foul shots, giving us the 41-39 win. “Later, when I got to Rutgers, Parsons and Corizzi introduced me around to all their friends. I was only 16 at the time and that meant a lot.”

1949 Baseball Team: “I remember that team and their game against Montclair’s Gus Keriazakos, who later signed with the Chicago White Sox for $65,000. In the 1949 Greater Newark Tournament, we were winning, 2-1, in the fifth inning when Montclair scored five to take a big lead (eventually winning, 8-2). But the story of that game was Keriazakos, who struck-out 19 Clifton players. What people might not remember was that Coach Emil Bednarcik batted Armand Buongiorno (above right) cleanup that night—the only time he hit fourth in his life. Because he could get his bat on the ball, he got two hits of Keriazakos. Armand was my friend from the neighborhood—I was so proud of him.” “I graduated in June 1951 after just turning 16,” Poles says. “As light as I was (135 pounds at graduation), I couldn’t compete against guys who were much older—some 18 when they graduated. When I entered Rutgers at 16, Clifton still had plenty of guys older than me playing high school ball.” Poles was an enthusiastic and capable athlete, starring along with Plaza for the Clifton Mustangs Athletic Club. He helped his late elementary-early high school age team win the 1948 and 1950 city football championship and capture every game except one in three championship seasons of baseball play. “After I scored the touchdown to help us win the 1950 championship game,” Poles remembers, “I broke my elbow with 30 seconds left (his left arm is still misshapen by the injury). At the hospital, Coaches Ed Bednarcik and Emil Sanicki came to see me. Sanicki asked me, ‘Will you be a sophomore next year, Lou?’ When I told him I was a senior already, he said, ‘What a shame.’ That stayed with me my entire life.” However, most of Poles’ high school days were happy ones. He ran track, managed the football team, and played on Post 347’s 1951 Legion championship squad with friends Plaza, Ron Debiak, Max Kashtan, Eddie Hilla, Bill Ziemkiewicz, Henry Nalepka, and Bob Vorgetts.

82 September 2017 •

I e ,

a y d l p t k -

1975 Boys Basketball Team: “The incredible thing about that basketball season were the crowds—the Clifton gym and every gym was packed, especially when we played against John Gerdy and Passaic Valley. My lifelong friend Dick Knothe, who coached Elmwood Park, told me about Gerdy when he was an eighth grader. He said, ‘Lou, you have see this kid,’ and I followed him ever since. The kid was a legend and still hold Passaic County records.”

1994 Baseball Team: “What a way to lose! We had been No. 1 in the state for most of the year (Clifton finished 28-3-1) when we were upset by Elizabeth in the state tournament. We were leading, 4-1, when they came back and tied it and sent it into extra innings at 5-5. In the eighth, we loaded the bases but couldn’t score. Then Elizabeth scored on a wild throw from our third baseman with the runner dead at the plate.”

To Dr. Edward Dominguez—Dr. Paternoster’s associate for the past year and who has joined the practice full time— dentistry is a blend of art and science. “Every shape, color, form and angle of restoring a tooth is another part of the journey we experience as dentists,” said Dr. Dominguez. A dentist since 2008, he has dedicated hundreds of training hours in implant and cosmetic dentistry. “Continuing education is the engine that keeps me focused on giving the patient the ultimate smile and comfort,” Dr. Dominguez added.

t s n n d • September 2017


Lou Poles The next season, Poles, a catcher, was voted MVP of his Legion team. “That’s why I ran track in high school,” he laughs. “I was a catcher and so was Billy DeGraaf—nobody was better than Billy.” Top of the world After graduating in 1951, Poles went on to Rutgers University for a year, and then went to Montclair State for two years, participating in Rutgers’ ROTC program. He played football and ran track at the school, building himself up with weights to 170 pounds. Anxious to become a pilot, he joined the Air Force in 1954. “But I didn’t make it,” he says. “Instead, I became a radar operator, a job I loved.” With the Cold War underway, Poles was assigned to a place far from Clifton—an outpost he calls “the top of the world.” He became an early warning operator stationed in Sparrevohn, Alaska, near Mt. McKinley, where temperatures would reach 59 below zero. As part of the early warning system known as the Strategic Air Command (SAC), it was Poles and his fellow radar operators’ jobs to alert the country in case of impending Soviet nuclear attack from the air. During his time in Sparrevohn, eight of his comrades died from accidents or exposure. Poles walked away from a plane crash that nearly took his life. The Air Force next sent him to Biloxi, MS, where he became a radar instructor at Keesler Air Force Base. During his two years there, he earned the rank of sergeant and was allowed to live off base. He also took a part-time job as a bartender, working for Louis “Bull” Thornton, owner of the Clover Club in the Hotel Biloxi. “Bull took a liking to me,” he says. “He owned fisheries and shrimp boats in that area, and would invite me to his parties. I was one of the few Yankees that the Rebels liked, and I used to go all over with them, sometimes to the 500 Club in New Orleans to see Pete Fountain and Al Hirt. At one of Thornton’s gatherings, eight guests, including Poles, set off for a fishing trip to Ship Island. Also among the guests was a popular area singer—Elvis Presley. “At that time,” Poles says, “Elvis was singing what I describe as “rock-hillbilly” music. He was popular, but not as popular as he’d become later on. I thought he was a nice guy—a pure country boy.” 84 September 2017 •

1985 Girls Cross Country Team: “Our first state championship in girls cross country was a team effort. We expected the Paz sisters (Jackie and Cathy) and Chrissy Klimek to be up at the top, but it was Mercedes Jack who beat out the Brick Township girl and gave us the two points to win. They were a great team, good students, and did well later in life, which makes it more special.” 1994 Boys Soccer Team: “We finally beat Kearny in 1994, a team we had lost a heartbreaker to the year before, 1-0. In the state finals, Clifton beat Cherry Hill West, 3-0, on a rainy, slippery field. Even when Cherry Hill West got physical and tried to goad them into fouls, they kept their poise. They played a (coach) Fernando Rossi-type game – very disciplined. I also loved watching our All-American Krzysztof Halupka. 1946 Football Team: “I didn’t go to the Oyster Bowl game against Granby High School in Norfolk, Va.; I listened on the radio of an Army surplus jeep that Fred de Vido drove over to my house. Fred was my godfather. He later became Clifton’s mayor and married my mother after my father died. Listening to that game on WPAT, I was sure Clifton was going to win (Clifton lost 6-0). My friend Ray Olier’s family went to the game. Sitting in the stands, the people around them kept putting the team down, calling us the “hicks from Clifton.” Ray’s mother told them if they said it again, she was going to belt them with her pocketbook. “The newspapers made such a big deal that we didn’t have a stadium. Later on, Fred was instrumental in getting Clifton School Stadium built. After that game, Joe Grecco went around, showing film of the game and answering questions. I remember following him to every meeting place just so I could watch it over again. That 1946 season changed the entire city’s image. Before, we were known as losers, but after 1946, we became winners and started to beat Passaic and Garfield regularly.”

2001 Girls Soccer Team: “That team gave Clifton its first Passaic County championship and first trip to the Group 4 state finals, where we lost to East Brunswick, 1-0. Our goalie, Andrea Kovalcik, was absolutely tremendous in the loss. But the real pleasure was watching two world-class players, Clifton’s Nicole Krysik and East Brunswick’s Heather O’Reilly, a U.S. National Team member, play against each other. Clifton’s Stan Lembryk is a great coach and the sky’s the limit under him. He’s done an absolutely fantastic job with the girls.”

After the service, Lou’s brushes with celebrity continued. Poles met Frank Sinatra at Jilly’s, ran into Jane Fonda and the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle and Hank Bauer at the Stage Door Deli, and sat ringside for championship fights at Madison Square Garden, rubbing elbows with Woody Allen, Mia Farrow and Howard Cosell. Lou’s tickets were courtesy of Joey Barcelona, whom he worked for as a part-time bartender. In 1969, Poles shared drinks with Tommy Agee at the Mets team victory party (Lou went to the club early and no one kicked him out). He also threw back a few with Broadway Joe Namath, when the Jets quarterback owned his Bachelors III nightclub. And, in 1985, he hitched a ride on the Miami Dolphins’ bus as the team drove to a practice before the Super Bowl. He later predicted the game’s 38-16 final, and the Herald-News’ Augie Lio nicknamed him “The Man Who Knew the Score.” “It’s always been that way in my life,” Poles says. “I meet a lot of people. Keeper of history While in the service, Poles continued to follow his Mustangs from the newspapers his mother sent him. When he returned to Clifton, he began following his teams in-person again and worked for companies like Bendix and Herman’s World of Sporting Goods. His proudest career accomplishment was becoming store manager for the chain’s Livingston Mall location. Married, divorced, and the father of son Mark, he also worked as a mail carrier in Passaic and a truck dispatcher for Forte Trucking in Wayne before retiring last year. Besides watching sports, Poles stays active by exercising three hours each morning, swimming at the Clifton Boys and Girls Club and hiking around the Garrett Mountain Reservation.

In 2003, he was also the oldest athlete in Clifton’s men’s softball league. Many value his sports knowledge. Poles recently served on a committee that selected the Herald News’ top 10 area athletes and is hard at work identifying all of Clifton’s league, county, and state champion teams for Clifton High Gym’s new sports banners. The athletes he follows respect his dogged and neverending support for their accomplishments. “Guys will give me their scrapbooks to find information,” Poles says. “They’ll talk with me for hours about the games they played. Last week, Bobby Boettcher drove down twice from his home to give me pictures for this article. They do it because they know its not just talk—it’s part of my life. “Coach Bill Vander Closter once said to me, ‘Lou, you probably know more about our teams than Joe Grecco and I do.’” On his hand, Poles wears a ring—a gold championship type band he’s never without. The finish is smooth, and the words on it are almost unreadable. When asked about the ring, he smiles and says, “This was given to me by Steve Baris from Clifton—a great All-State catcher for Pope Pius, who later played in the Chicago Cubs organization. It’s his All-State ring, and he gave it to me when it was new. He told me that he wanted me to have it. “Can you imagine how much this is worth to a guy like me?” After talking about what a great player Baris was (as he’s described hundreds of athletes), Poles says, “When I see Steve at games, I always ask him if he wants the ring back. I tell him his kids are getting older, that they might want it as a memory. “He says to me, ‘Lou, you keep it. They could never appreciate it as much as you do.’ That’s a real honor.” Take the time to drop Lou a note today. • September 2017


It was a Mustang Rock ’n Roll Reunion on August 23... Clifton’s Centennial continues with a Scavenger Hunt on Sept. 30 from 9 am to noon, beginning at The Barrow House on 1296 Van Houten Ave. Teams will receive clues that will lead them to locations to earn points. Each team must have a vehicle to use, an electronic device capable of taking photos and the driver must be 18 years of age or older. Prizes for the top three teams. The cost is $15 per team. Pre-registration is required and can be completed at the Clifton Recreation Office, 900 Clifton Ave., City Hall 2nd Floor, or online at There will be no registration on the day of the event. Call 973-470-5956. 86 September 2017 •

Impressarios Stan Jakubczyk and Ellis Berger along with others from the Centennial Concert Series put together a homegrown concert on the lawn of Woodrow Wilson Middle School on August 23. Performers included the Seitz brothers from Godspeeed, Brookwood and Kim Latiano with the Misfit Mutts. Musicians and rock promoters are pictured from bottom left: Mustang Ally, Stan Jakubczyk, “Tex” James O’Conner, Richie Fisher and Gary Seitz. Standing: John Giardina, Michael Cetinich, Dan Pugliese, Pete Cetinich, Kim Latiano, Ellis Berger, Ray Grabowski, Frank Elmo, Leny Nigro, Adam Roller, Drew E., Pete DeMaio and Jeff Sietz.

Upcoming Centennial Events September 23, 2017 Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty Trip Location: Clifton City Hall

November 30, 2017 Time: TBA Centennial Gala: Valley Regency

Info: or on FB “Celebrate Clifton’s 100th”

September 30, 2017 Time: 9 am-12 pm Clifton Scavenger Hunt Location: The Barrow House October 21, 2017 Time: TBA Trip to 9/11 Memorial & Museum October 25, 2017 Time: 7:30 pm US Marine Band Performance Location: CHS Auditorium November 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12 Fri. & Sat. 8 pm, Sun. 2 pm Theater League of Clifton presents Thoroughly Modern Millie • September 2017



School administrators gathered at CHS on Aug. 24 to formally meet new teachers. The district hired 41 new teachers. Pictured, front row from left, Rachel Capizzi of School 13, Special Education Supervisor Francisca Rosa, Laura Zagorski of School 17, Joelle Rosetti of School 4, Theresa Evans of School 1. Back row from left, Steven Anderson of School 5, CHS Vice Principal Andrew Jaeger, Administrator of Climate and Security Pre-K-12 Mark Gengaro, CHS Principal Michael Doktor, and Luca Puzzo of School 11.

Back2School Outreach’s mission is to provide Clifton’s underprivileged children with a free quality backpack filled with school supplies for the school year. Organizer Kim Castellano said sponsors this year include CSBK (Clifton Savings Bank), Main and Allwood Public Library, Clifton Firehouses, Walgreen’s and Dr. Suzi at Clifton Chiros. To contribute, make checks to Power of One CCOM, Inc. and mail to Back2School Outreach c/o Power of One CCOM., Inc, PO Box 6080 Clifton, NJ 07015. Call Kim Castellano at 201-328-2326, or email The Back2School Outreach needs the communities’ support once again, by donating backpacks filled with school supplies. “The days of children coming prepared on their first day of school are a thing of the past,” said Castellano. “Contribute and help the Back2School Outreach can make a difference in a child’s education.” The 2017 CHS Athletic Hall of Fame induction is on Oct. 15 at noon at the Brownstone. Inductees include Anthony Yelovich, Cara Boseski, Deanna Giordano, Paul Kornaszewski, Stephen Yacykewych, Richard La Duke, Florence Calise, the 2006 CHS Fighting Mustangs and the 2001 CHS girls soccer team. Jack Whiting and Tom Hawrylko are selling ads for the Journal. Call 973-253-4400 for info. For tickets and info, call or write CHS Athletic Director Tom Mullahey at 973-470-2282 or 88 September 2017 • • September 2017


EVENTS Get ready to dance at the St. John Kanty parish picnic on Sept. 10. The church grounds are located at 49 Speer Ave. HEROES polka band, featuring legends Eddie Biegaj and Chuck Pendrak, will provide entertainment from the bandstand with Polish and American music for all ages. The band starts at 2 pm. Remember, the kitchens will be open at 1 pm, so come early. The B& G Club’s 4th Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show is Sept. 10 at 9 am at the Allwood Atrium, 2 Brighton Rd. All years, vintages and styles of vehicles are invited. The show starts at 7:30 am and costs $20. Call 973-773-0966 ext. 111 or

Pictured on Flag Day 2017 are some of the volunteers who make the Avenue of Flags a reality. The group depends upon donations and volunteers to help display nearly 2,000 flags at City Hall for patriotic holidays. The next is Patriot Day, Sept. 11, followed by Veterans Day, Nov. 11. To volunteer, contribute items like motorized carts to help transport flags or for more info., call Keith Oakley at 201-774-6666.

The 15th Annual Van Houten Ave. Street Fair is on Sept. 17. Enjoy food, vendors, rides and live entertainment. For more fair info on the all-day affair or how to become a vendor, call 201-410-1686 or 973-778-7837. Downtown Clifton Restaurant Week offers twofers and lunch and dinner specials at dining establishments from Sept. 17 to 23. For participating eateries, go to on Sept. 1. The Ukrainian Festival at St. Nicholas Church on 217 President St. in Passaic is Sept. 17 at noon. Visitors will find stuffed cabbage, pierogies and other delicacies. There will be great dance music and vendors selling crafts. Admission is $5. Call 973-471-9727 for info. The Tamburitzan’s, an international folk ensemble presenting song and dance of Eastern Europe, will perform at CHS on Sept. 23 at 4 pm. They are presented by Holy Apostles Church in Saddle Brook. Tickets are $35 or $40 on the day of the show. For more info, call 973-460-0243 or go to St. Andrew’s Carnival at 400 Mt. Prospect Ave. is Sept. 6 to 10 with various hours. Super bracelets cost $75 at Purchase daily bracelets for $30 at the carnival. More info at 90 September 2017 •

The Avenue of Flags’ 15th Anniversary dinner is on Sept. 24. The dinner is at Michele’s Restaurant, at 32 Passaic St., Garfield. A hot and cold buffet, cash bar and music by Joe Cimo will mark the milestone. Tickets are $50 and must be bought before the event. Reserve your ticket by visiting the Flag Barn #5 at City Hall. A Taste of Clifton Food & Wine Fest is Oct. 2 at 6:30 pm at the Boys & Girls Club, 181 Colfax Ave. The benefit for the Club offers sampling from 30 restaurants, as well as wine tastings and an outdoor beer garden. Call John DeGraaf for details 973-773-0966 ext. 111. Downtown Clifton’s Street Fair features games, food, rides and vendors on Oct. 14. The activities last from 10 am to 5 pm., stretching along the City’s Downtown section. Weather permitting, there will be a mini car show. Google 1232 Main Ave. for directions. For more info., call 973-557-3886, or 201-998-1144 for vendor info. Public House 46 features Elizabeth Mooney, owner of Country Fusion, every Friday night. Country Fusion is a fitness program based on Country Line dancing. It also includes four non-country songs. In one 50-minute class, participants burn over 500 calories. Mooney teaches country line dancing at the Public House as part of Boots ‘N Bourbon Fridays. Line dance lessons start at 10 pm. • September 2017


EVENTS Friends of Ellie Matulewicz are hosting a benefit on Nov. 4 at 5 pm. Matulewicz is fighting cancer and proceeds will help pay medical bills. The event is at Albion VFW Post 7165, at 491 Valley Rd. The $25 tickets cover food and beverages. There will be prizes and 50-50s. Contact Connie Raible at 845-304-5573. The Young At Heart Senior Club will meet the first and third Tuesday of the month at the felThe Clifton Quilters Guild offers a display at the main branch of lowship hall of The First Presbyterian Church on the Clifton Library until Sept. 27. The Guild donated more than Maplewood Ave. at noon. The gatherings are to 300 quilts to infants and others in need in 2016. Among the members who have their art on display include Shirley Philhower, Nora socialize, make new friends and play bingo. All Baena-Cano, Alexandra (Penni) Lazor and Terry Glover. are welcome. Refreshments begin at 10:30 am. Whether you donate a basket, make a cash donation The next meeting is on Sept. 5. Upcoming trips include: attend or plan to purchase a sponsorship, you can help Carnival in Venice at The Mansion on Sept. 13, and a make St. Peter’s Haven Tricky Tray on Sept. 14 a sucplay at Hunterdon Hills Playhouse on Oct. 12. All trips cess. Cost is $50; deadline for basket donations is Sept. leave from the Masonic Lodge at 1484-1510 Van Houten 1. The Tricky Tray is the Haven’s biggest fundraiser of Ave. For ticket prices, call 973-779-5581. the year, funding its outreach ministry. Basket themes include: kitchen items, specialty foods, children’s items Historic Botany Village’s Carnival is on Labor Day or gift cards from stores and restaurants. Cash donations Weekend. The carnival is from Sept. 1 to 4 from 5 p.m. make the purchasing of larger items possible. For basket to 10:30 p.m. daily, at Randolph Park. The carnival will questions, contact the Haven office at 973-546-3406. have rides, food and entertainment. Sponsorship for the event is highly appreciated; For info, and to purchase a sponsorship, please contact Kevin Donahue, Lillian Vega or Carl Gincley at the Haven. Mike Cervine, one of the volunteer SHIP counselors in Passaic County and a Senior Medicare Patrol volunteer, will host classes to educate people of their 2018 Medicare program options at 900 Clifton Ave., Barn C5 Senior Center, on Oct. 4, 11 and 18 at 2 pm-3:30 pm and again from 7 pm-8:30 pm. The seminar is open to everyone and is free, but pre-registration is requested to ensure that materials are available for everyone. To pre-register, contact the Clifton Senior Center at 973-470-2234. Seniors from the Clifton area will enjoy a multiyear discount on their car insurance after taking the AARP Smart Driver Course at the Clifton Senior Center on Oct. 21 from 9:30 am to 4 pm. The 6-hour course combines video and class participation that could make you a safer driver and saves you money. Class is offered quarterly. Cost is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members, payable by check in advance. Call Jackie DeLillo at 973-470-2234 for more info. 92 September 2017 • • September 2017


US Congressman Bill Pascrell and Assemblyman Tom Giblin were among those marking the 26th year of Ukraine’s Independence at City Hall on August 24. Hosted by the Ukrainian Congress Committee’s Kenneth Wanio and Yaroslaw Fedun, with Stefan Zurawski of the Ukrainian National Home, the flag raising began with the singing of God Bless America and Ukraine’s national anthem led by Helen Newmerzyckyj. Rev. Andriy Dudkevych of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church led the group in prayer. Additional remarks were offered by Passaic County Freeholders Bruce James and Assad Akhter, Mayor Jim Anzaldi and Council members Ray Grabowski, Peter Eagler and Bill Gibson. Also attending was BoE candidate Frank Kasper. 94 September 2017 • • September 2017


Birthdays & Celebrations - September 2017

Happy Birthday to... Send dates & names...

Happy birthday to Nick Hawrylko who will be 22 on Sept 12 and who will share a birthday with his mom, Cheryl. Jarah Tamayo turned 9 on Sept. 1. Birthday greetings on Sept. 8 to Neama M. Sleem. Edward Bivaletz turns 29 on Sept. 8. Congratulations to Arlene and Joe Nikischer who celebrate their 60th Anniversary on Sept. 21. 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 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 Thomas Wayne ...............9/13 Sarah Bielen ...................9/14 Anthony Dorski................9/14 Emily Duchnowski ............9/15 Manny Monzo ................9/15 Hagar Ibrahim ................9/16 Stacey Corbo..................9/16 Nancy Ann Eadie............9/16

96 September 2017 •

Joe Genchi .....................9/16 Jaclyn Scotto ...................9/16 Cindy Murcko .................9/17 Kathleen Gorman ............9/18 Amanda Meneghin..........9/18 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


Anthony Barone and Alex Amphrazis married on Aug. 4. 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 William ‘BJ’ Wishard .......9/26 Barbara Mascola.............9/29 Thomas E. Moore ............9/29 Mary Perzely ..................9/29 Lauren Hrina ...................9/30 Ryan Lill..........................9/30 Daniela Santos celebrates her 21st birthday on Sept. 5. Happy 17th anniversary to Greg & Margaret Nysk on Sept. 17. Arlene & Villeroy Hard will be married 59 years on Sept. 14. • September 2017


9/11 It’s been 16 years since 9/11 and Clifton will keep the flame of hope alive. Clifton’s commemoration this year will begin at 6 am as volunteers arrive on the grounds of the Clifton City Hall to set up the flags. 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. There will be nearly 2,000 American flags and nine World Trade Center flags — one for each of nine individuals from Clifton who lost their lives on 9/11/01: Zuhtu Ibis, Kyung Cho, Francis Joseph Trombino, Ehtesham U. Raja, Edward C. Murphy, Edgar H. Emery, Port Authority Officer John Skala and brothers John and Tim Grazioso. If interested in helping set up the display on 9/11, be at City Hall before 6 am. Help is also needed to break down the display before dusk. Call John Biegel Sr. at 973-519-0858. In 2001, days before Sept. 11, Stacey Myers with Nick and Casey Hawrylko.

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