Clifton Merchant Magazine - September 2019

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As the Fighting Mustangs crash through the banner, cheerleaders are revving the crowd while the Marching Mustangs are laying down the sound track. It’s Friday Night Live at Clifton Stadium. When Amanda Bilek put down her clarinet, placed the shako on her head and grabbed her mace, she became the 81st Clifton kid to have the honor of leading the Marching Mustangs. For this 17 year-old CHS senior, that means using a whistle, mace and body language to orchestrate the stampede. These Mustangs may be marching onto the football field, making their way down a parade route or doing a standing performance of the Star Spangled Banner. Whatever the stage, it will be Drum Major Bilek directing the action. Bilek has coveted her leadership role since freshman year. “I watched Michele Zerelik doing her thing and thought it was so cool,” she said of the 2016-17 drum major. “Other high schools do nothing similar to what we do. A completely new show every home game? No other school comes close to that.” To win the mace and trust of the Marching Mustang band directors, tryouts are held the previous spring. It came down to Bilek and her best friend Tracy Termyna, which created a little drama that’s long gone. Bilek and Termyna share a March 1 birthday. With Patrick Biernat, they have a best friends troika. “When things get crazy, I know they have my back and I can rely on them to help me make good decisions.” 16,000 Magazines

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Kyle Vellis Mustang sophomore Kyle Vellis has quarterbacking in his blood. His father, uncles and cousin all played quarterback for Wallington High School. During the mid-1980s, his uncle Charlie Vellis quarterbacked the Panthers, followed by his dad Rob. His uncle Tom Vellis played quarterback in 1991, leading Wallington to a 9-2 season. All are members of the Panther’s Hall of Fame. His cousin Charlie Vellis led Wallington to a 2010 New Jersey State Championship, the school’s first title in two decades and was named First Team All-State. “They were always teaching me how to play quarterback,” Vellis said. After joining the Junior Mustangs PeeWee team at 7, he got his chance the following season to step into the family position and never looked back. Vellis led his teams to three “Super Bowl” championships and a national tournament game played at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, as an eighth grader.


September 2019 •

Though it all, he has handled pressure. “I just do my job, what I’m supposed to do,” Vellis said. “I stay in the moment and tune everything out and focus.” This season, he has a lot of faith in his teammates. “I feel really confident,” Vellis said. “People think because we lost a lot of seniors, we won’t be as good. But the younger guys are stepping up, and I think we’re going to make a great run into the playoffs… maybe win a state championship.” A three-sport athlete, Vellis said playing for the Mustangs is special. “I play for the name on my jersey, my school and my city,” he said. “I play for my teammates and family. I try to do my best for them.” He’s also appreciative of Clifton’s fans. “I love it when we make a big play and the fans are screaming,” Vellis said. “I’m thankful they come out and support us on Friday nights. They don’t have to, but they do it for us and want us to be great.”

Jessica Bonilla Friday Night Live is when Mustang Pride comes alive, said senior Jessica Bonilla. It’s more than just the football team playing. The Mustang Mascot, the touchdown bell, the marching band, the twirlers and the cheer team polish the “fine art” of competition. “When the team scores a touchdown, senior cheerleaders get to ring the bell before doing the touchdown dance,” said Bonilla, who shares main captain duties with Tahira Rafiq. “That’s Mustang Pride. Friday Night is when everyone comes together and shows the pride for our town.” Cheering has become more sport than sideline stuff. “The hardest performance I can do is flying in a stunt,” explained Bonilla. Stunting is when there is one person (a flyer) being held in the air by three people (bases).

“As a flyer, it is a bit nerve wrecking because you have to have good balance and be 100 percent dependent on the people below. It is super easy for something to go wrong so you really have to trust yourself and the people holding you up.” Trust and teamwork are important to Mustang cheerleaders. She cites coach Ashley LaTrace with creating trust and teaching skills. “She brought us her knowledge of cheer and gave us complete dedication,” said Bonilla. “We were able to go from a team that cheered and competed but never won to a team that was winning against teams we thought we’d never have a chance against.” Cheering made Bonilla more confident in many ways. “After making the team I became so much more social and I genuinely enjoyed being around people. It also made me want to get involved with programs outside of school because it showed just how fun trying something new could be.” • September 2019



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MUSTANG Fall Sports by Tom Szieber

Last season was a special one for Clifton football. The Mustangs finished the year 8-3 and were just a game away from their first sectional championship appearance in 12 years. With several key players lost to graduation, head coach Ralph Cinque knows that to keep trending up—the Mustangs have yet to see a decrease in wins from any season to another during his tenure—he will need newcomers to the starting lineup to step up big. To say he has confidence in their abilities would be a massive understatement. “I have a lot of faith in what they do,” Cinque said. “We haven’t achieved that yet. It’s a lot. It’s a lot of starts to replace. But I think that they each can absolutely be that guy [who can replace their predecessor].” Perhaps Cinque’s biggest challenge on offense will be replacing now-graduated running back David Martinez, who rushed for 15 touchdowns and set a program record last season with 1,573 yards. Enter Christian Boneparte. The senior takes over as Clifton’s lead rusher after two years of being Clifton’s change-of-pace back behind Martinez. Last season, he carried the ball 66 times for 368 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards


September 2019 •


per tote. He is a complete back, possessing vision, speed and the toughness to initiate contact when necessary. When the Mustangs are in two-back sets, senior Eddie Maldonado will be the fullback. Senior Andre Gardner, a transfer from Kennedy, will spell Boneparte, while senior Marcellus Belmar will rotate in at Maldonado’s spot. A strong run game will go a long way in easing quarterback Kyle Vellis into his new starting role. A sophomore, Vellis has impressed Cinque with his versatility— possessing a strong arm, the wheels to be a threat on the ground and a high football IQ. “I definitely think he commands a huddle,” Cinque said of his new signal-caller. “The team believes in him and his abilities. He is a lot tougher than people would probably assume and he is poised beyond his years.” Vellis will have an explosive target in junior wide receiver Caleb Boneparte, a third-year varsity player who has the speed and quickness to take any catch to the house. Senior Christian Feliciano and sophomore Michael Kristof will be Clifton’s other primary wide outs. Senior Angel Payano will be the tight end. Junior Mohammed Abedrabbo is a smart, physical presence who will anchor the offensive line from the left


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tude and approach are indicators, this season could be just as special as the Mustangs last. “Next man up,” Cinque said. “My goal is to play December and if that isn’t everybody’s goal, it should be. The goal is always to get there. I Mustangs think we have a really good mix of young talent and some older talent. We are at the point where we are a few deep at each position. I am excited about what we can do.” Mustangs




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tackle spot. He will line up next to third-year starter Robert Urban. Junior Omar Alijusiejah is back at center, while the right guard spot will be manned by either senior Malik Allan or senior Yahea Ghaleb. Burly sophomore Tyler Williams will be the right tackle. The Mustangs’ 3-4 defense features defensive line that includes Abedrabbo and senior Jose Morales on the ends. Senior 315-pounder Jahhon Willis will line up on the nose and should cause problems for opposing interior offensive linemen. “He is pretty dynamic for a big man,” said Cinque. “He can get after the quarterback and I’ll tell one thing: you can’t block him one-onone.” Junior Josh Hernandez will make the move to inside linebacker after starring at defensive end a year ago. He will share the middle with Maldonado as senior Lord Belton mans the strong side and Payano the weak. In the secondary, Caleb Boneparte will be on the left corner and Gardner will play on the right. Christian Boneparte is the free safety and sophomore Bryan Feliciano will play the boundary. “I like our secondary,” said Cinque. “I think they run to the ball well. They have good cover skills and they tackle really well for a secondary. We pride ourselves on tackling and I think Coach [Matt] Wright does a great job teaching it.” Junior Julien Soloman is locked in as the punter for Clifton, but the kicker spot is still up for grabs. Gardner and Caleb Boneparte will be deep on kicks, while Caleb and sophomore Donovan Swasey will return punts. Despite the losses of Martinez, quarterback Armani Brinson, offensive tackles Will Suarez and Devin Garcia and a host of others, there is



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MUSTANG SPORTS After a successful 2018-19 scholastic year that saw the Mustang cheerleaders rack up a slew of accolades, coach Ashley LaTrace has Clifton primed for much more. Last competition season, the Mustangs came in second place at the Big North competition and made it to


September 2019 •


the finals of the Big North mini-meets for the first time. Their biggest accomplishment by far, though, was its victory in the NJCDCA State Championships. That afternoon, they defeated five other teams to take home the intermediate co-ed title—a first in Clifton history. “I think everyone is really excited because they want to defend their state title and get another one,” said LaTrace. “This year, we had 80 kids tryout, and they want the opportunity to do it again.” Of course, there is business to tend to in the fall, first, as they prepare to put on a show each week and cheer the Mustangs football team back to the playoffs. As a result of May’s tryouts, they will be led by the senior contingent of Jessica Bonilla, Tahira Rafiq, Kayla Thompson, Aliah Chomarro, Emily Kwiecinski, Hailey Hyland and Juvily Sanchez. Juniors include Kayleigh Zhitnick, Milton Zarzuela, Kiara Reid, Emma Sime, Isabella Ranu and Dezmariah Franceschi. Sophomores are Patricia Scouten, Savana Leitner, Serena Cassese, Shantal Moquillaza, Maria Matos, Mia Maldonado and Nahioly Almonte. “As much as they love competition season, they are still excited about the fall because they want to support football and enjoy their Friday night lights,” LaTrace said. “They love being in front of the crowd. They love showcasing what they have been practicing and they love the community aspect of it, as well.” • September 2019



September 2019 • • September 2019




The 81st edition of the Mustang Marching Band hit the ground running on Aug. 19 with the dreaded yet beloved Band Camp on the field behind Clifton High School. Through drills and lots of high stepping, during two or three long sessions daily, kids get in musical tune and physical shape as they learn the rigors and rhythms of what it is to be a Marching Mustang. With 26 new members, this year’s band totals out at 95 Marching Mustangs. “We have a lot of work ahead of us with five home games and the last Thanksgiving game ever,” said director Bryan Stepneski. “Each game requires a brand new halftime show and we are always happy to make that a reality.”


September 2019 •

Band season won’t end this year on Turkey day. The Marching Mustangs have a road trip (they’ll actually be flying) to San Francisco on Feb. 6 to 10 where they will be enjoying the sights and also marching in the largest Chinese New Year celebration in the world at the San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade. Seniors on the squad, most of whom are pictured here, include: Hannah Ardiff, Bryan Barton-Schickram, Amanda Bilek, Cassandra Consiglio, Gino Dentone, Michael Evangelista, Marcus Garcia, Isabella Garcia, Allison Giust, Ivan Hernandez, Adam Leszczynski, Jack Louer, Anayeli Marin, Adrian Matos, Gerald McCarrick, Christina McCoy, Jerry Monge, Sebastian Moreno, Mona Savalia, Tracy Termyna and May Yuasa. • September 2019



Stan Lembryk is steadfast in his assertion that expectations for the Clifton boys soccer program are the same every year. But the veteran head coach admits that things are a bit different this fall. The Mustangs are simply loaded across the board, boasting talent at every position and looking poised to have a memorable 2019 season. “I think we are capable of winning the league and county and making a real push in the states,” Lembryk said. “There may be more of an edge to us this year. Nine of the 11 guys in our lineup were starters last year and we return a total of about 22 players from last year’s team. It should be fun to see.”


September 2019 •

BOYS SOCCER The Mustangs were 9-6-1 last season, advancing to the semis of the Passaic County Tournament and reaching the North 1, Group 4 quarterfinals. Goalkeeper Eryk Dymora was a big part of that success. A junior, Dymora was a first team All-Passaic County and first team All-Big North Liberty selection and reads the game extremely well. His athleticism and feet are exceptional, as is his passing—he managed two assists from the goal last year. The preseason has shown that his communication skills have improved, as he is now the organizer of the defense. Said defense will consist of three returning starters in senior Brian Quijano and juniors Jonathan Diaz and


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Wayne Hills

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Sept 12 @Passaic Valley Sept 14 Don Bosco Sept 17 @JFK

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Danny Tobon. Salensky, a senior, is Clifton’s top returning scorer, having netted 10 goals while assisting six times a year ago. A first team all-county and first team all-league Mustangs selection last year, the explosive and aggressive Salensky was also an honorable mention recipient for North 1, Group 4. Tobon is a good Mustangs target player who moves into the starting lineup after seeing meaningful minutes in a reserve role last


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Sept 26 Eastside


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Oct 15

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season. He is a strong finisher who can also set up others to score. It’s easy to see why there is such a buzz around this year’s Mustangs. Clifton looks locked, loaded and ready to bring home multiple pieces of hardware in 2019. “The experience they had playing last year has been tremendous,” Lembryk said. “Thanks to that experience, we’re strong in key positions now. I feel, and the team feels, that this is their year.”

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Sebastian Hernandez. The fourth starter, junior Eric Piwowarczyk, has jumped into the lineup on the heels of a strong offseason and summer. “We have balance in the back four,” Lembryk said. “Jon is a strong leader in the middle and Brian compliments him. Sebastian and Eric go up and down. They are not only strong defenders, but contribute going forward, as well.” The midfield is led by defensive-minded junior Amer Lukovic. A first team all-league and all-county selection in 2018, he is adept at closing down the central area of the field. He is a strong long-range passer and shooter, as well. Joining him will be sophomore Peter Lynch, who saw a lot of time as a freshman and can play both ends of the field. Junior Jason Suarez, a strong attacker, and sophomore J.C. Viscaino, a smooth technician, round out the midfield. The offense is comprised of a

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There is no way around it—2018 was All-Passaic honoree a year ago. disappointing for Clifton girls soccer. She will be joined up front by thirdThe perennially proud program endyear varsity forward Evelyn CzajSept 5 @Wayne Hills 4pm ed the year just 9-11, getting bounced ka, who has impressed Kruczek Sept 7 @Newton 10am from the North 1, Group 4 playoffs by with maturity and understanding of Mustangs 4pm the game. Kearny in the first round. It left a bad Sept 12 Passaic Valley taste in the mouths of the Mustangs, for Sept 14 @IHA The offensive effort will be 10am sure. largely dependent on freshman Sept 17 JFK 4:15pm But the silver lining on the dark Leila Flores, as well. The offensive 4:15pm Mustangs cloud that was last year’s finish may be Sept 18 N. Highlands center mid is an exceptional talent ready to reveal itself, as the 2019 Mus- Sept 20 @Bergen Tech 4:15pm who can play with both feet and tangs are using that experience as a mopossesses exceptional field vision. Sept 23 Ramsey 4:15pm tivator to ensure that this fall is one of Her ball control skills are superb, Sept 26 @Eastside 4:15pm and Kruczek has lauded her level accomplishment and achievement. 12pm Mustangs “It was definitely disappoint- Sept 28 Wayne Valley of comfort on the varsity field deing,” said Clifton head coach Konrad Oct 1 @Passaic 4:30pm spite her youth. She will be joined Kruczek. “Last year, the girls came in in the offensive midfield by senior Oct 7 Lakeland 6:30pm used to having winning seasons. This Brianna Rubio and junior Jessica Oct 10 @West Milford 4:15pm year they experienced [a below-.500 Rubio. year] and they know the expectations Oct 15 @Fair Lawn “Both [Rubios are] very similar Mustangs 4:15pm now. I think this is going to be a [bounce players,” Kruczek said. “They have Oct 17 PCTI 4pm back year].” good speed, which makes them Oct 24 @N. Valley 4:15pm To rebound, the Mustangs will need good on the wing. They can easily scoring, which they will look to get recover defensively, as well.” from a front line led by senior Layla Ettayebi (12 goals, The two holding midfielders are junior Brianna De La 9 assists last year). The speedy forward has the ability to Cruz and senior Jessica David, both of whom are technibeat most defenders in the county and was a first team cal players and are good on the ball.

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Defensively, the Mustangs are led by four-year center back Kerrie Sekanics. She will be flanked by senior Nicole Czajka—a physical, speedy defender who can contribute on offense, as well. Rounding out the starting D is junior Kiara Fibeck, a third-year starter who is difficult to beat one-on-one. Collectively, they are a group that has pleased Kruczek this summer “I think we had a great preseason, picking up two wins and two ties,” he said. “I think defensively we are very strong. On offense we will be able to put goals away as well.” The last line of defense will be goalkeeper Brieanna Martins, a senior who had 107 saves last year. Now in her fourth year in the net, Kruczek is hoping increased confidence and comfort coming off the line will allow her to keep Clifton in close games. In all, Kruczek believes that this edition of the Mustangs will be more cohesive than the last—a more well-oiled machine, if you will. If he is right, there is little doubt that last season’s hiccup will be nothing more than an aberration. “I think the chemistry on the team is very good this year,” Kruczek said. “On and off the field, the players get along. We always had talent but I think we lacked the chemistry before. I think we have that now.”


September 2019 •

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Volleyball @DePaul


Sept 7



@Bergen Tech


Sept 10 JFK


Sept 12 Eastside


Sept 11 Blair Academy



Sept 4 Sept 6

Even after making an appearance in the third round of the state playoffs in 2017, Dan Crespo knew his Clifton girls volleyball team knew last year would be tough. Graduation had hit hard, and Crespo realized there would be challenges from a leadership standpoint. Predictably, the Mustangs started 2018 slow. They did rebound to finish 11-12, but missed the postseason and finished the year with a bad taste in their mouths. Still, the late season rally gave Crespo optimism heading into 2019. “[Last year,] I had more questions than ever,” Crespo said. “But now, the confidence is there. The girls are comfortable. They are more familiar with each other and our methods. They are more fit. It is beautiful to see. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I am excited.”


Sept 14 @Wayne Sept 16 @PCTI

4:15pm TBD


Sept 18 @Passaic


Sept 23 Hudson Catholic


Sept 26 Columbia


Sept 20 Wayne Hills Sept 24 @Millburn

Sept 28 @Belleville

Sept 30 @Mt. St. Dominic

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Oct 2

Fair Lawn


Oct 7

Bergen Tech


Oct 4 Oct 11

Oct 15 Oct 17 Oct 21 Oct 22 Oct 24

September 2019 •

Wayne Valley @JFK

@Eastside PCTI

@Hawthorne Passaic Union

4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm 4pm

4:30pm 4:15pm

Seniors front left: Isabel Nemeth, Liana Neumann, Melissa Wydak, Melissa Campos. From rear left: Skylar Wheeler, Grace Shukaitis, Adrienne Baker and Michelle Terez.

There is reason to be excited, for sure, as sophomore outside hitter Kate Louer gives Clifton a force offensively who is a bona fide difference maker on the floor. The face of the program, she is a versatile scoring threat who ripped off 239 kills a year ago. “She scores, but she got better at the end of last season at serving and defense,” Crespo said. “We are looking to add on to her hitting repertoire so that she isn’t limited to one half of the court. We will likely move her around depending on matchups.” • September 2019




Senior Grace Shukaitis will be a major contributor both on the outside and the right side despite opting against playing last year. She is working to polish her passing as she returns to the game, but is already the strongest server on the team with a 41 mile-per-hour delivery. Sophomore outside/opposite Tamara Vasquez will see an increased role this season, bringing a strong swing and outstanding serve to the table. Senior middle hitter Adrienne Baker is a defensive talent and has a penchant for stuffing opposing hitter. Just 5’9,” Baker overcomes her stature with her effectiveness at reading the ball and occupying space. Sophomore Jessica Pawlik, standing at 5’11,” will play middle, as well, and is working at increasing her range during the preseason. Pawlik is especially skilled at making contact on the ball. Senior Melissa Wydak will be the setter, while her classmate Lianna Neumann will be the starting libero. Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Kenzie Lord, Sophomore libero Jenna Joyce, and junior outside hitter Arlyn Cosme will all see time, as well. Talented freshman middle hitter Mary Davey will round out the squad.


September 2019 • • September 2019


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Girls Soccer Clifton girls tennis is in the midst of a major rebuild, but the Mustangs certainly aren’t lacking in enthusiasm. For veteran head coach Chad Cole, the challenge will be to take a group of largely inexperienced, but high-energy players and put together a foundation for future seasons. If the girls’ attitudes are any indicator of how things will turn out, the Mustangs should be just fine. “The goal is to keep improving every day,” Cole said. “The girls are enthusiastic and I enjoy coming to practice because they all want to get better.” The little experience Clifton has comes in the form of its likely first and second doubles players, each of whom saw varsity action a year ago. Senior Lamia Abdallah is the probable starter in the first singles slot and is the most consistent player on the team. Abdallah generally manages to minimize unforced errors and provides stability and leadership. Like Abdallah, junior Ria Panchal will transition from doubles play to


September 2019 •



the singles court. Panchal is the Mustangs

probable second singles and has Tennis impressed Cole with her ability to

learn on the fly. Junior Bianca Patel—who also Sept 4 @Wayne Valley 4pm got into a few varsity matches as Mustangs Sept 6 @Bergen Tech 4pm a sophomore—will play third sinSept 10 @JFK 4pm gles. Sept 12 @Eastside 4pm Junior Camille Yambao and senior Amy Vargas are likely to take Sept 13 @Pompton Lakes 4pm the court as Clifton’s first doubles Sept 16 @PCTI 4pmMustangs team, while sophomore Riddhi Sept 18 @Passaic 4:30pm Gandhi and senior Melody ChiriSept 20 @IHA 4pm nos will play second doubles. “We have 28 girls on three Sept 23 @West Milford 4pm courts,” said Cole of the team’s Sept 26 @Wayne Hills 4pm turnout. Sept 27 @Kearney 4pm “I am happy that there is a lot of Oct 2 @Fair Lawn 4:15pm interest. I am working and spending a lot of time with these girls and Oct 4 @Bergen Tech 4pm they are improving. Oct 7 @JFK 4pm “They will hopefully learn to Oct 10 @Eastside 4pm play tennis and be competitive [as Oct 11 @PCTI 4pm the season wears on]. I am looking forward to us getting better and betOct 15 @Passaic 4:30pm ter each week.”


Volleyball • September 2019









Cross Country

Cross Country Sept 7



9am Mustangs The 2019 season has the poten- Sept 14 TBA placed fourth in the Meet of Champitial to be a historic one for Clifton Sept 17 Big North 4pm ons in the 800m with a time of 2:14. girls cross country. Stocked with Senior Arantxa Martinez is back Sept 24 Quad 4pm returning talent, the Mustangs are following a first team all-county cross 9am country season in 2018, as is senior looking to not only defend their Pas- Sept 28 Invitational saic County championship, but also Oct 5 Cassidy Rubio, who was an honorable Invitational 9am Mustangs make a run at even bigger prizes. Oct 15 Big North 3:30pm mention recipient on the all-county “I think they can win the [Big North team in her first year in the sport. Clif3:30pm ton expects a big year out of junior Liberty Division], win the county and Oct 25 County Meet 10am newcomer Angelica Peralta, as well. we hope to be as close to Ridgewood Nov 9 Sectional Mustangs as we possibly can be in the section,” Nov 16 State Group The Clifton boys team figures to im10am said head coach John Pontes. “We will prove this year after finishing third in Nov 23 Meet of Champs 11am get people into the Meet of Champithe Big North Liberty and fifth in PasNov 30 Race of Champs 9am ons at the end of the year. These girls saic County last season. are right there with our 1985 group They will be led by senior Josh Mustangs (which won state Group 4 title and finished fifth in the in Szabo, a hyper-competitive athlete who earned first team Meet of Champions). On paper, they are as good as that.” all-county honors last fall. Sophomore Jacob Heredia will Junior Mia Dubac will lead the way, already having run join him, having set his all-time best time this preseason Clifton’s fastest time ever (19:14) at last season’s Group 4 at 17:30. meet. Junior Braulio Hernandez-Camacho, a first-year cross Mustangs A hard worker who Pontes lauds for her coach-ability, country athlete, has slid seamlessly into the lineup and Dubac is especially proficient at fighting through fatigue to stays with Szabo and Heredia during practice. His classearn better times. mate, Nick Ross, is an ROTC officer who brings discipline She will be joined by senior Andrea Dubbels, who lost and dedication to task to his third season in the sport. nearly all of her junior campaign after an appendectomy. A “They are improving every day and if that work ethic Mustangs first team All-Passaic County athlete during the spring and bears fruit, I think they are going to make some noise by winter in middle distance races, she broke the Mustangs’ the end of the season,” said Pontes. “Any team that is gorecord for the 1600m during outdoor season. She also ing to beat us is going to have to earn it.”





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September 2019 •

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For a program like Clifton gym- Sept 10 Multiple Though she has not compet4:30pm nastics, enduring a slow rebuild Sept 13 @Union ed in a few years, Proszowski has 4pm Mustangs means trying to string together gymnastics experience that should Sept 17 @Multiple 4:30pm small victories. prove valuable for the young team. 5:30pm She will be joined by senior AlexAnd while the Mustangs may Sept 23 Randolph not be ready to make a run at any Sept 25 @Indian Hills 4:30 pm andra Nicoles, whose experience as championships, the progress being a dancer should prove vital to her Mustangs Oct 2 Wayne Hills 4:15pm made on the mats of Clifton High success. Competing on beam and @West Milford 4:30pm floor, the body awareness, fluidity School is encouraging to head Oct 8 coach Brittany Gaccione. Oct 11 Roxbury 4:30pm and leaping ability obtained on the “I think all of my girls are work- Oct 16 @West Milford dance floor figure to be important 5pm Mustangs ing hard right now,” she said. “I am pieces of her skill set as a gymnast. 5pm fortunate that our athletic director Oct 22 @Wayne Hills Freshman Ashley Acosta will supports our program and, if nothbe another key piece of the lineup, ing else, I hope to see the numbers increase and see us competing on vault and beam. She, Proszowski and othbe competitive.” er youngsters will form a young core that Clifton hopes Mustangs The Mustangs top gymnast this season will likely be will guide it to competitiveness in North Jersey. freshman Amelia Proszowski, who will compete on the “My ultimate goal is always that the girls are safe vault, bars and possibly beam. and have fun,” Gaccione said. “But I would like to see “She is fearless,” said Gaccione. “There is nothing them build up some level of confidence and build the we have asked her to do that she hasn’t been willing to program to a place where people want to know what’s Mustangs try.” going on with a gymnastics team.”






September 2019 •

Boys Soccer • September 2019


If you weren’t here 50 years ago, guided the New York Yankees dyyou might not believe what you nasty to seven World Series wins are about to read. from 1949-60. When the Mets Records show the New York lost 120 games in their inaugural Mets won the 1969 World Series, season, winning just 40, Stengel beating the Baltimore Orioles in said, “The Mets have shown me five games. That is fact. more ways to lose than I even But that’s just part of the story. knew existed.” After the team won the World But the Mets were lovable. And, Series, people snaked-danced through in 1967, with the arrival of future Hall the streets of Manhattan under an imof Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, their fans promptu shower of paper thrown from began imagining a brighter future. above as the Mets united New York City In the Bronx, the mighty Yankees had By Jack DeVries and in delirious joy. fallen. By Seaver’s rookie year, they would The New York Metropolitans were finish in ninth place, a slight improvement born in 1962 and loved by jilted Brooklyn Dodgers over their last-place tumble the season before. and New York Giants fans throughout the area, whose By the end of 1968, with their last superstar, a broteams abandoned them for the West Coast. ken-down Mickey Mantle, retired, the Yankees were Just after their birth, the Mets were so unbelievably playing dull baseball in a gray aging stadium. bad that they made losing an art form. Their manager The Bronx Bombers were then owned by CBS, who Casey Stengel defined their antics as “Amazin’.” cared more for its TV programs like Gunsmoke than Stengel knew both sides of that word’s definition. Yankee pinstripes. Along with playing for the Dodgers and Giants, he had But in Queens, the Mets were rising.


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The 1969 New York Mets remain perhaps baseball’s greatest miracle story as three fans from Clifton will attest. Facing page, (from left) Clifton’s Bob Welch, Tom DiDonna and Dan Swaluk recall the 1969 Amazin’ Mets; at right, Lindsey Nelson (left) Ron Swoboda (center) and Tommie Agee.

And in Clifton, N.J., three teenagers, along with countless others, were embracing the Mets as their own, creating a bond that endures today. During that summer—when man walked on the moon and Woodstock captivated the nation—they witnessed a miracle. Meet the Mets Dan Swaluk, 64, learned about baseball from his dad, Al, playing catch in their backyard. “My dad was a die-hard New York Giants fan,” said Swaluk. “When they moved, he became a San Francisco Giants fan. We were rooting for the uniform. He did not like the Yankees, whatsoever. And he drilled that into me.

“In 1962 when the Mets came into existence—I remember my father actually telling me, ‘You will no longer root for the Giants. We are now Mets fans.’” Like Swaluk, Bob Welch, 63, also learned about baseball playing catch with his dad in front of their Merselis Ave. home. He doesn’t remember his • September 2019


Amazin’ Mets father, Bob Sr., rooting for any team, but does remember trips that made him a Mets fan. “I remember going to the World’s Fair with my grandmother,” Welch remembered, “and seeing Shea Stadium being built. The blue and the orange— the whole stadium intrigued me. “We must have gone to the World’s Fair three or four times, and each time I went back, the stadium was more and more built. That’s how I became a Ron Swoboda (left), Jerry Koosman (center) and Tom Seaver. Mets fan.” Tom DiDonna, 67, was raised former Pittsburgh Pirate Ralph Kiner and the warm Bob by his mom, Angela, and did not learn about or play Murphy, master of the “happy recap.” baseball until he moved to Clifton. The Clifton Boys Unlike today, the broadcasters would rotate between Club (now the Boys & Girls Club) changed that. TV and radio during the game. “The Boys Club used to run bus trips to either Shea “We watched the games on Channel 9,” said Welsh, or Yankee Stadium,” said DiDonna. “That was my first “and Kiner’s Korner afterwards. Not only did you learn exposure. I was destined to latch on to the underdog, the Meet the Mets jingle, you learned the Rheingold and I gravitated to the Mets. Maybe I liked the royal beer song, too.” blue and orange, and players like Tom Seaver and Jerry Swaluk, DiDonna and Welsh all had their favorite Koosman. Mets player. “There was something special going on.” “Mickey Mantle was my first idol,” said Swaluk, The three followed the team through the New York “even though I hated the Yankees. My second favorDaily News. ite was Eddie Giacomin, the New York Rangers goalSwaluk and Welsh read the paper after their fathers ie. Third was Tom Seaver. There was nobody better— brought it home after work. DiDonna would read his on Seaver was the ultimate Met.” the bus to school, studying the game stories, box scores DiDonna agrees, saying he had an action poster of and standings. Seaver that took up half of his bedroom wall. “That was the paper—the only paper,” said Welsh. For Welsh, it was reliever Tug McGraw. “He always The three also connected to the team’s broadcasters: came in at a big situation,” Welsh said, “and Tennessean Lindsey Nelson in his loud plaid jackets,


September 2019 • • September 2019


Amazin’ Mets when he got out of it, he’d come off the mound and slap his glove on his thigh.” Starting to Believe In 1962, players like Marvelous Marv Throneberry led Stengel’s lovable losers. But, by 1969, the Mets symbolized the age—they were young and cool, exemplified by the Californian Seaver and his beautiful wife, Nancy. The pitching staff included the smoldering lefty Koosman and young Gary Gentry, along with erratic fire-balRalph Kiner interviews Casey Stengel.

ler Nolan Ryan. The bullpen featured the indomitable McGraw, righty Cal Koonce, and veterans Don Cardwell and Ron Taylor, among others. In the outfield, there was Cleon Jones, who would hit a scorching .340, centerfielder Tommie Agee, and Ron Swoboda and Art Shamsky. The infield was comprised by diminutive spark-plug Buddy Harrelson at shortstop and the respective platoons of “The Glider” Ed Charles and Wayne Garrett at third, and light-hitting Al Weiss and Ken Boswell at second. Playing first was New York native and original Met Ed Kranepool and power-hitting Donn Clendenon, who arrived in a June trade from the Montreal Expos. Behind the plate was the tough Texan Jerry Grote, backed by J.C. Martin. The Mets also had a bit of Jersey blood. Third baseman Bobby Pfeil was born in Passaic, but moved to California at age 2 when his mother died. He was a fine pinch-hitter in 1969, going 5 for 9. Leading the Mets was former Brooklyn Dodgers great, manager Gil Hodges. After going 73-89 in 1968 and finishing ninth in the National League, the Mets stumbled out of the gate and were 9-14 on May 3. They


September 2019 • • September 2019


Amazin’ Mets If you had a chance to go upstairs at the Clifton Public Library’s Main Branch in August, you couldn’t miss seeing Jack Susser’s 1969 Mets memorabilia collection. “When I was a kid,” said Susser, 63, “I bought whatever I could going to the games. And I never threw anything out. In the early ’80s, I started to fill in the collection and complete whatever I was missing.” Susser, a ’74 CHS grad who grew up near Paulison Ave., has amassed more than 1,000 Mets items. They include 25 game-used jerseys, along with game-used bats and autographed balls. In fact, his display in Clifton included pitcher Danny Frisella’s game used-jersey—one of his favorite pieces. Other treasures include a 1962 bobble head bank and a 1969 press pin. Susser owns every Mets baseball card, program and yearbook going back to 1962, as well as pennants and records. His collection is so extensive that he’s loaned items to the Mets museum. To gather his items, Susser, who now lives in Morris Plains, went to auctions and haunted garage sales. At one, he bought a Mets bobble-head for $5; it turned out it was worth about $150. However, Susser’s collection is worth more than money. Along with its sentimental value, he enjoys seeing others reactions when they spot a vintage Mets item. “They like seeing things that remind them of their youth,” he said.

While Susser never played in Clifton’s Little League or Midget League baseball, he often played Wiffle Ball with friends. “I did play softball on my hospital team,” he said, “that almost made up for it.” He began following the Mets in the late 1960s. “The Mets were a young, up-andcoming team,” Susser said, “and the Yankees were over-the-hill. Most kids in my neighborhood were following the Mets.” Along with reading about the team in the newspapers and watching them on Channel 9, he followed the Mets on radio. “I would sneak a radio into my bed,” Susser recalled. “I’d put the transistor radio under my pillow so my parents wouldn’t hear me listening. They were born in Europe and knew nothing about baseball.” He also attend a few games with his Boy Scout Troop 45, based out of the Clifton Jewish Center. His favorite player was Jerry Koosman. “Because we were both lefties,” Susser remembered, “I used to imitate his motion when I was playing Wiffle Ball.” Today, Susser is happy to share his Mets mementos with others. “People have been looking at and enjoying Jack’s collection,” said Pat Ferro, Clifton’s supervising librarian. “Many have commented that it’s museum quality.”

then began the march to become a .500 team, something the Amazins achieved May 21 when Seaver beat the Braves and Phil Niekro, 5-0. “What’s so good about .500?” Seaver asked. “That’s mediocre.” Seaver said he was sick of jokes about the 1962 Mets and told the writers these Mets were out to win the pennant. After sputtering a bit, they were over .500 to stay by early June. When the Mets were six games behind the Chicago Cubs for first place, Swaluk and his father began to be-

lieve. On June 20, along with 54,083 fans at Shea, they watched Ryan out duel Bob Gibson and the Cardinals, 4-3, with McGraw getting the save. “My dad was so excited,” Swaluk said, “that we came back on Sunday for a doubleheader, and Gentry won the first game, 5-1. The second game was a 1-0 shutout pitched by Koosman.” For all three Clifton fans, Seaver’s performance on July 9 remains an indelible memory. Playing the first-place Cubs at Shea, Seaver had retired every batter going into the ninth inning and was on

Mets Mania in Clifton


September 2019 •

the cusp of pitching baseball’s eighth perfect game in the century. At Camp Clifton in Jefferson Twp. where DiDonna was a counselor, he led others into the dining hall around a small black and white TV. “Someone said you better put the TV on,” he remembered, “Tom Seaver is doing something special.” Among the 50,000 fans at Shea were Swaluk and his dad. “We were in the upper deck,” he said, “first row railing. Right even with third base.” With one out in the ninth, Seaver faced back-up outfielder Jimmy Qualls, who would total just 31 career hits. Seaver delivered and Qualls laced a no-doubt-about-it line drive to left center, ending the perfect game. “When he got that base hit,” Swaluk said, “the whole stadium deflated. The angst in everyone’s faces was impossible to look at.” “There was one big, giant sigh in the dining hall,” DiDonna remembered. “Everybody, all at the same time.” Welsh laughed: “I went to the July 10 game with my father the day after the Jimmy Qualls hit. So I missed immortality by one day.” Pennant Chase On August 13, the 62-51 Mets were 10 games behind the Cubs when they began their pennant run. They swept consecutive doubleheaders in the midst of a six-game winning streak, climbing to seven games back. After a loss, they went on another six-game win

streak to move 2.5 games in back of the Cubs. After treading water for a bit, the Amazins began their September drive. They went on another streak beginning Sept. 6 with Cardwell and McGraw beating the Phillies, 6-0, and would not lose for another nine games. On Sept. 8-9, the Cubs came to Shea for a two-game showdown featuring beanballs, black cats and Mets wins. In the first game on Monday, the Cubs threw at Agee, and Koosman retaliated by hitting Chicago third baseman Ron Santo, who had infuriated New York after jumping and clicking his heels after prior Cubs wins. The Mets won, 3-2, shaving Chicago’s lead to 1.5 games. • September 2019


Amazin’ Mets During the second game the next night, a black cat slinked on the field between innings and stared into the Cubs dugout. Kranepool told the New York Post cats often roamed under Shea looking for rodents. Clendenon speculated a Mets grounds crew member threw the cat on the field. In any case, the Cubs were jinxed as Seaver beat Fergie Jenkins, 7-1, to move the Mets a half-game back. The next night, the Amazins swept a doubleheader from the Expos, vaulting them up by a game. They never looked back, winning the division by eight games and finishing 100-62. Bob Welsh at age 7; at Camp Clifton are Cliff Triolo (left), Tom October Magic DiDonna (center) and Gary DaGiau. After the Mets swept the Atlanta Braves in the N.L. Division Playoffs, it was on to the World Series The October Classic moved to Shea for Game 3 on to face the powerful Baltimore Orioles. Oct. 14, and the Mets miracle began to take shape. BeHowever, Welch had a problem. Because the Series hind Agee’s two miraculous catches in centerfield— was played during the day, he needed to make sure he some of the best in Series history—Gentry and Ryan knew the fastest route home from Christopher Columbus combined to shutout the Birds, 5-0. Junior High to watch the Series on his kitchen TV. In the next Series game, DiDonna experienced one “Before the season ended,” he said, “I timed myself of the greatest thrills of his life. to see the fastest way to run home from school. One was “I got a call from Billy Quinn who was a staff memPiaget Ave. to Lakeview to Merselis; the other was going ber with me at Camp Clifton,” he said. “Billy had gotover the railroad tracks by the DPW, which I found to be ten tickets from his uncle, a Newark fireman. Knowing quickest.” how much I loved the Mets, he asked me to go.” While the faithful like Welsh, Swaluk and DiDonna DiDonna’s reputation as a devout Mets fan was wellbelieved their Mets would win, most of the media thought known at Camp Clifton. Fellow counselors would read the Amazins’ time was over. The Orioles, powered by fufake Mets telegrams from NYC Mayor John V. Lindsey ture Hall of Famers Brooks and Frank Robinson, had finto DiDonna before meals at the dining hall. ished 109-53 and were favored to take the Series. Behind Seaver and Swoboda’s game-saving ninth inHowever, Clifton native Jay Horowitz—who would ning diving catch, he witnessed his Mets beat the Birds, go on to be the Mets media director—predicted a New 2-1, on a controversial walk-off bunt by J.C. Martin. York sweep in the Herald-News. Baltimore claimed Martin ran too far inside the baseAt the season’s start, odds makers had given the Mets line and interfered with the throw, but the umpires disa 100-1 shot to win the World Series. After Game 1 in agreed. Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, their prediction looked DiDonna also experienced one more thrill that day, rock solid as the Birds beat Seaver, 4-1, with Brooks spotting former manager Casey Stengel being escorted Robinson making six stellar plays in the field. out of the Shea Stadium Diamond Club. DiDonna never saw any of it. On Oct. 11, he was “We were chanting, ‘Casey! Casey!’ and he looked watching his beloved Clifton Mustangs lose to Bloomlike the happiest man alive! Even he couldn’t believe field, 7-0, at Foley Field. what he was seeing—that lit us all up.” “I never missed a Clifton football game,” he said, “so I In Game 5, like they had all season, the Mets came didn’t watch any of that Game 1. Somebody had it on the from behind. radio, and it spread like wildfire that the Mets had lost.” Down 3-0, they rode homers from Series MVP ClenThe next day—with DiDonna back in front of his TV denon and Weiss, along with a big double from Swobofor Game 2—Koosman and Taylor combined to two-hit da, to gain a 5-3 lead. In the ninth, Koosman rethe Os to even the Series.


September 2019 • • September 2019


Amazin’ Mets

Time Magazine reflected the mood in September 1969. Above, the World Series victory celebration begins.

tired the heart of the Baltimore lineup, ending the game on a fly to Jones in left. World Champions! What followed was bedlam. In the days before police on horseback kept crowds at bay after a big win, Mets


September 2019 •

fans charged the field, enveloping it in joy like they had done after the team clinched the N.L. pennant. Fans tore up the mound, home plate and gleefully shoved handfuls of sod and dirt into their pockets. Across the New York area, people celebrated. In Manhattan, church bells rang and fans danced on top of cars

and in the streets, halting traffic. Paper and ticker-tape rained down. A Daily News reporter said Fifth Ave. was covered “in white both north to south, as far as the eye could see.” By 6 p.m., some 300 tons of paper covered Manhattan. A NYC Sanitation Dept. spokesperson said it was the greatest spontaneous outburst the city had experienced since V-J Day. In Clifton, Welsh and DiDonna vividly remembered watching Cleon Jones crouch to one knee after making the final catch. Swaluk recalls what he did next. “After the final out,” he said, “I ran outside and did somersaults on the lawn. And I was yelling by myself—right in from of my house at 232 Bennington Ct.” Clifton also helped the Mets celebrate their Series win. The late sports historian and Mustang Lou Poles shared drinks with Tommy Agee at the Mets team victory party afterwards. The intrepid Poles went to the club early and no one kicked him out.

Swaluk and Welsh remembered the afterglow of that championship, now proud to be Mets fans at school. DiDonna, then 16, said the Amazins were also a wonderful diversion. “Back then,” he said, “everyone had Vietnam on their mind.” Today, with the Mets playing exciting baseball again, Swaluk, Welch and DiDonna are hoping for a future Series trip. But no championship will ever replace 1969—the one that made them Mets fans forever. “I was 14 in 1969,” said Swaluk. “The Jets won that winter, then the Mets and then the Knicks. It taught us to enjoy how to win. It was really, really cool. You became addicted to winning.” “We were loyal,” added DiDonna. “We didn’t have a crystal ball to know that the Mets were going to win the World Series. We just enjoyed the ride and our team.” Special thanks to Jay Horowitz (shown above playing in Clifton) and the New York Mets for providing the player photos. • September 2019


The Mystery OF THE Clifton Pearl By Jack DeVries

On September 3, 1870, Paris was drunk with revolution. Shouts of “Vive la République!” boomed from the streets as France prepared to sack the monarchy who had plunged the country into war. Top right, the Empress Eugenie; above, the Clifton Pearl displayed in 2002 at the American Museum of Natural History, set in a hat pin topped by a serpent; right, a painting of the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War by Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier.


September 2019 •

Emperor Louis Napoleon Bonaparte III— Dentists in France were regarded as rethe nephew of Napoleon and founder of the movers of rotten teeth and many practiced Second Empire—had been captured and in the street—complete with an assistant imprisoned by the enemy Prussians adhired to bang symbols to drown out the vancing on the city, and a new French patient’s screams. If they made house government was only too happy to seize calls, they were instructed to enter by power. All that remained was to dispose the servants’ entrance, the same as the Louis Napoleon’s wife, the Empress butcher boy, seamstress or coachman. Eugenie, inside the palace. Evans would have none of this. His The mob trampled over royal flower skills were such that soon patients were beds, screaming for blood. accepting him on professional terms. “To the guillotine!” they screamed, After establishing his practice, he hoping to recreate the last act of Marie began caring for the teeth of royalty, inAntoinette, played out nearly a century cluding many of the crowned heads of Dr. Thomas Evans before. Europe. Empress Eugenie ran, accompanied The American dentist soon became by a female attendant. They fled from the palace and a frequent visitor to the French palace. He was an adthrough the Louvre—knowing they might be seeing viser to Louis Napoleon, gaining the emperor’s support the museum’s paintings and treasures for the last time. of the Union Army during the American Civil War. He Cries of “Death to the Spanish woman!” echoed in the also grew rich, fueled by the information gathered in Spanish-born Eugenie’s ears. royal circles and his thriving practice. The women secured a horse-drawn cab and sped off But now, Evans would be asked to risk everything— to the only place they would be welcomed—the home his home, property, and life—to help the two female of American dentist, Dr. Thomas Evans. visitors standing in his library. Evans had come to Paris from Philadelphia in 1848. “Monsieur Evans,” Empress Eugenie said, “you He was not embraced with open arms. know what has taken place today. I have no • September 2019



September 2019 •









895 Paulison Ave • Clifton, NJ • 973.553.9470 The $0 enrollment offer is valid on all Peak Results on annual memberships. Additional restrictions and fees such as processing and annual fees may apply. See club for details.© 2019 Crunch IP Holdings, LLC • September 2019


Clifton Mystery

From the French National Archives, a Paris neighborhood after the 1870 siege.


September 2019 •

friends left but you. I come as fugitive to beg for your help. I am no longer fortunate. The evil days have come, and I am left alone.” As told in Gerald Carson’s book, The Dentist and the Empress, Evans did not hesitate. He immediately began thinking of an escape for Empress Eugenie. His ruse was simple. Through contacts with the British Embassy, he possessed documents identifying him as a physician traveling with a female patient. But the plan was risky. Both he and the Empress were public figures, known throughout Paris. The next morning, they climbed into the dentist’s carriage and sped through the streets of Paris into the countryside. The closest they came to being discovered was at a stop when Eugenie, seeing a policeman abusing a citizen, stood up and commanded, “I am the Empress. I order you to let that man go!” Evans, knowing her words might mean their death, quickly apologized. He told the policeman his patient was mad. Soon after, Evans secured transport for the empress aboard the yacht of Sir John Burgoyne. But their ordeal was not over. They crossed the English Channel during a terrible storm, arriving in England looking so tossed and disheveled, the empress—who had ruled France the day before—was nearly refused a bed in a local hotel. Sometime after their safe arrival, the Empress Eugenie rewarded the dentist by giving him many of her beloved pearls—including a large freshwater one measuring just over half an inch in diameter. Eugenie had loved it so much, it became known as the “Queen Pearl.” • September 2019


Clifton Mystery David Howell and family sharing an especially expensive breakfast at their home on Mill St. in Paterson.

One last note about this story—Empress Eugenie’s beloved Queen Pearl was discovered in Clifton, N.J. Forgotten Waters The mystery of the famous pearl dates back to before there even was a Clifton. According to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper of May 23, 1857, the area’s “pearl rush” began after shoemaker David Howell gathered a basket of mussels on the banks of Notch Brook (near Gensinger’s Motors today) in an area then known as Aquackonock. Howell brought his catch back to his home on Mill St. in Paterson, and his wife began to stew the mussels for breakfast. After boiling, they was still too tough to eat. Mrs. Howell removed the mussels from their shells, threw them into a pan coated with lard and fried them until tender. “Howell,” the paper reported, “was not only to have a bad breakfast but was also doomed to be famous.” The shoemaker bit down on one of the mussels and gnashed his teeth against something hard. It was a pearl—incredibly large, weighing 400 grains, but ruined by the intense heat of Mrs. Howell’s skillet. The pearl would have been worth an estimated $25,000 had it not been destroyed. Howell’s discovery set off what the Paterson Guardian described as “Pearl Mania.” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper said “an influx of people from everywhere was daily witnessed.”


September 2019 •

Hundreds gathered on the Notch Brook banks, wading into the cold water with their pants and skirts drawn up, fishing mussels from the black muck below. One of those pearl hunters was Jacob Quakenbush, a Paterson carpenter. Unlike the amateur treasure hunters, Quakenbush knew these waters well. As a boy, his father had told him of the “pretty stones” that could be found inside the mussels’ hard shells. One day, luck was with him. Pulling a mussel from the cool waters located in the shadow of Garret Mountain, Quakenbush opened the shell to discover a large pinkish pearl—one destined for greatness. As detailed in a 1956 Passaic County Historical Society Bulletin, Quakenbush brought the pearl to the jew- • September 2019


Clifton Mystery

elry store of Charles L. Tiffany of Warren St., New York, for inspection. Newspapers wrote Quackenbush was paid up to $1500 for his prize, despite Tiffany’s fear of being flooded with similar treasures. “Here this man finds a pearl within 17 miles of our place of business,” Tiffany said referring to the Clifton waters. “What if thousands should be found, and many The first pearl, cooked and destroyed by Mrs. Howell. perhaps finer than this one?” chased it), Clifton mussels yielded $15,000 in pearls sold Tiffany’s fears were unfounded as Notch Brook in New York’s jewelry markets. The next year, only a few yielded no pearl as fabulous as Quakenbush’s discovthousand dollars worth of pearls were found. Each year ery. Tiffany named his purchase, “The Crown Pearl.” the amount got smaller—until hardly a mussel remained In 1908 The Book of the Pearl by George Kunz and in Notch Brook. Charles Stevenson, Tiffany is quoted as saying the pearl was sent to the jeweler’s Paris house where it was The Return To America purchased by a French gem After her harrowing esdealer and passed into the cape, Empress Eugenie hands of Empress Eugenie. “Here this man finds a pearl within lived another half centuAn 1857 story in the 17 miles of our place of business,” ry. Most of her remaining New York Daily Times also years were unhappy. Tiffany said referring to the Clifton claimed the pearl, “wonLouis Napoleon was drous in magnitude and lusfreed by the Prussians and waters. “What if thousands should rejoined the empress in Enter was sent to Paris to deck the brow of Eugenie.” be found, and many perhaps finer gland in 1871, but died two Meanwhile, back in years later. than this one?” Clifton, the grassy banks of Their son, Louis NapoNotch Brook were jammed leon IV, was killed in 1879, with people seeking forfighting for the British tune. They came from Newark, Jersey City and New Army in a war against the Zulus in South Africa. York and included farmers, shopkeepers and mechanics. To support herself, Eugenie sold some of the jewelry One schoolmaster even closed his school to allow his stushe was famous for. She died in 1920 at age 94. dents to search for pearls. Evans continued to live a dashing life after the faWhile no object as beautiful as the Crown Pearl was mous rescue. He developed charities to support Ameriever found (renamed the Queen Pearl after Eugenie purcans in living France and later founded a news-


September 2019 • • September 2019


Clifton Mystery The Clifton Pearl Rush of 1857 attracted people from all over the region.

paper. His 1897 death came quickly as he passed away after a night of chest pains in his beloved Paris. But what of the famous Queen Pearl? If Eugenie had given the pearl to Evans, it would be included with his marvelous collection of paintings, manuscripts, and royal artifacts—including a gold box once belonging to Marie Antoinette—that he left behind in death. Because he had no children, Evans’ fortune was used to found a museum and dental institute on the University of Pennsylvania campus in his honor, and much of his expensive belongings were given to the school. But did those belongings include the Clifton pearl? Mystery Unravels The legend of Clifton’s great pearl continued to be passed down through generations. One who heard the tale was the late Nick Sunday, a Paterson artist and art collector. “Bob Waddington, a longtime Paterson resident, told me about the Queen Pearl,” said Sunday in a 2002 interview, “but he didn’t have the story straight. Then I saw an article in the paper that mentioned it. I thought finding the Queen Pearl would be a great way to get people interested in Paterson and the surrounding area because it’s such an incredible story.”


September 2019 •

Sunday contacted Tiffany’s and was sent documentation about the pearl. He suspected the pearl had been set in a design created by Cartier, but could not confirm his hunch. “I had heard Eugenie had given many of her jewels to Evans in gratitude for saving her life, and I thought the Queen Pearl might be among them,” Sunday said. “I contacted the University of Pennsylvania to see if this was true.” He learned the school had given the jewelry from Evans’ collection, which included pearls, to the Cooper-Hewitt, the National Design Museum of the Smithsonian. The museum said many of the jewels once belonged to the empress. Sunday continued his research, looking for information to confirm the Queen Pearl was indeed part of the collection. Ironically, after a century in hiding, others began searching for the Queen Pearl. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City was planning a pearl exhibition. Learning about the Queen Pearl, they were referred to Sunday through Tiffany’s. After talking to Sunday and hearing about his research, Kathleen Moore, a curator at the museum, agreed to investigate. “Kathleen contacted the Cooper-Hewitt, and for two years they sought to validate the identity of the Queen Pearl,” Sunday said. “The museum believes they’ve got it.” In Evan’s collection were two pearls mounted in stick pins designed in the 19th century. One of them—a large freshwater pearl—matched the description of the precious object discovered in Clifton’s waters more than 160 years ago. It was displayed in 2002 in the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibit “Pearls,” about 12 miles from its original home. • September 2019


Clifton Mystery

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September 2019 •

The Pearl Brook as it meanders down the mountain near Valley Rd.

Is it the Real Queen Pearl? “There’s a story a German businessman bought the Queen Pearl,” Sunday says, “and there’s documentation Eugenie’s son sold some of her jewelry at a London auction house before he died. “There is a good chance the American Museum of Natural History has already solved the pearl’s mystery, but I’m not absolutely sure. There’s still more research to be done. “There’s also no reason why the type of mussel that yielded the Queen Pearl couldn’t be reintroduced into this area. Clifton could support a fishery that cultivates pearls—the climate’s perfect for it.” Did Clifton’s Pearl—once part of the French Crown jewels and later used to repay the gallant rescue of an empress—once sit in a display case 12 miles from the city where Jacob Quakenbush first sent it on its incredible path? Does it adorn some other wealthy woman today? Or does it sit forgotten in a collection, now lost in obscurity? Wherever the Queen Pearl is, there is no doubt that it began its royal journey... in Clifton, N.J. • September 2019


BRO HERS INCHRIST Far from their home in Columbia, Fr. Leonardo Jaramillo serves St. Paul’s Church while his brother Fr. Misael Jaramillo is at St Cyril & Methodius Church By Tom Hawrylko They are brothers—united both by blood and in the service of Christ, here in Clifton. Fathers Misael and Leonardo Jaramillo were born in Caracoli, Antioquia, Colombia, in South America. Unfortunately, they had a difficult childhood due to their father abandoning them at a young age (they would reunite with their father decades later). Their mother Laura Gallego raised them and their siblings—older brother Jairo Alonso and younger sister Carmenza—on her own. Misael, 6, and Leonardo, 7, sold empanadas, bunuelos (Colombian bread) and newspapers on the streets of Caracoli to help put food on the table and purchase books for school. Since their mother Laura could not read or write, she attended elementary school with Leonardo and both learned how to read and write together. When Leonardo was 14, he attended the Menor Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood years later on Nov. 7, 1992. Soon after, he was appointed pastor of Santa Catalina de Alejandria Church in Aspasica, Columbia, where he served for five years, as well as working as chaplain and


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teacher of philosophy and religious education at Jose Eusebia Caro High School, which had 2,500 students. Fr. Leonardo also found time to attend St. Thomas Aquinas University, earning a master’s degree in philosophy and religious science. American Journey Fr. Leonardo arrived in the U.S. Sept. 5, 1997. He served in the Newark Archdiocese for eight years before transferring to the Diocese of Paterson, where he was assigned to St. Anthony of Padua in Passaic, Our Lady of the Mountain in Long Valley and St. Vincent de Paul in Sterling. In 2003, Fr. Leonardo earned his second master’s degree from Fordham University in pastoral counseling. Two years later, he enrolled in Kean University, gaining certification to be a Spanish teacher.

Recall & Reflect

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BROTHERS IN CHRIST In 2008, he graduated from the Theological Foundation in South Bend, Ind., with a Ph.D. in philosophy and theology. His Clifton journey began on June 24, 2011, when Fr. Leonardo was appointed pastor of St. Paul R.C. Church. His priority from the start was to be “present in the Church,” and do it with optimism, enthusiasm and determination. Under Fr. Leonardo’s leadership, he introduced a “Family Mass” on the last Sunday of every month, established a Spanish Mass, and opened the long-awaited church elevator, providing access to the parish hall. Other features of his ministry include a Wednesday evening Mass and Novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, a devotion of the growing Filipino community, and the repair and restoration of the St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta Chapel. A relic of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was also obtained and placed in the chapel for veneration. The parish community of St. Paul has grown since Father Leonardo became pastor, and welcomes all. “We are many cultures, many countries, and many languages in one body, the St. Paul’s Family,” he said. Fr. Leonardo is devoted to raising awareness among


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The Jaramillo family: Misael and Leonardo with their mom Laura, and siblings Jairo and Carmenza.

Spanish and English communities by helping and aiding the poor, immigrants, orphans, and the like. “We are all equal,” he said, “and speak the same language of love, respect, and tolerance. We have the same Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are all brothers and sisters in faith, hope, and charity.” His Brother Follows Misael Jaramillo shared his brother’s calling. In 1989, he entered the community of the Augustinian Recollect Fathers and, in 2000, he was ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Ocana, Colombia. He was appointed Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Aguachica Cesar, as well as chaplain of the Regional Hospital and the 4th Army Brigade of Colombia. On Feb. 11, 2008, Fr. Misael joined his brother in America and was assigned as parochial vicar at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Paterson. In 2010, he was appointed as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Church and Holy Rosary Church in Dover. Two years later, Fr. Misael was assigned as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes Church and Our Lady of Victories Church in Paterson. He was then assigned to his present position as parochial vicar at SS. Cyril and Methodius Church in Clifton. The Catholic faithful consider it a blessing that two brothers are actively pursuing God’s will in Clifton. They are working together to live and spread the Good News of the Gospel thought the community. • September 2019


John Krenicki Jr. By Jack DeVries John Krenicki would often stop and appreciate the moment. Sitting in the boardroom at 30 Rockefeller Center, he would look out across New York City and realize how far he’d come. As an executive for GE, one of the world’s most iconic companies, he had run business divisions, met U.S. presidents, negotiated with heads of state, and worked alongside industry titans like Jack Welch. “When I looked out across New York City from a boardroom or my office, I’d reflect, ‘I’m a Clifton High School kid. I’m a Boys Club kid—this is unbelievable,’” said Krenicki. “My friends would say it’s a miracle. And they are right, it is.” He began his 29-year GE career out of college at age 22, working in Florham Park in its technical marketing program. He and wife Donna—whom Krenicki met when both were University of Connecticut stu-


September 2019 •

dents—moved 11 times with GE. “We were always willing to pack it up and take on the challenges that emerged,” he said. During his career, Krenicki was president and CEO of GE Plastics and GE Transportation Systems, and served as a director of GE Capital. His later responsibilities included oversight of GE’s Oil & Gas, Power & Water, and Energy Management businesses, which employed more than 100,000 people in 165 countries and represented more than $50 billion in revenue. He ended his GE run as vice chairman. “I’m like Johnny Cash sings, ‘I’ve been everywhere, man,’” he laughed. “I’ve been in Iraq and signed contracts with the prime minister during the Gulf War. You know that room that President George Bush had the shoe thrown at him? I was in that room one week later. • September 2019


Back in Clifton, Paul and John Krenicki and across the globe today, John and Donna Krenicki.

“There are very few places I haven’t been. Everywhere in Asia, Middle East, Russia, Saudi Arabia, you name it. GE Energy operates in over 100 countries, and I spent every month flying around the world. It was an incredible experience.” After nearly three decades with GE, Krenicki decided to make a lifestyle change and become a senior operating partner with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in 2013, one of the world’s leading private equity investment firms. On Nov. 15, he will be inducted into the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton’s Hall of Fame. “I was a Boys Club member from when I was 9-10 years old,” said Krenicki. “I could walk or ride my bike there. It was a place to hang out and stay out of trouble. We would go there and lift weights, play basketball and ping pong. I have fond memories of it.” Local Lessons Krenicki’s maternal and paternal grandparents immigrated to America around WWI from the Austria and Hungry area. They considered themselves Russians. His father John’s family settled in Passaic, but his mother Olga’s family called Clifton home, opening a grocery store on Van Riper Ave. called Monchak’s Market. His parents bought a home on Luddington Ave. where they raised four children: daughter Tanya and


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sons John, Paul and George. Krenicki’s dad was a toolmaker, his mother a homemaker. The children attended School 3 on Washington Ave. and ultimately went on to CHS. “I had a very good experience at Clifton High,” said Krenicki, a member of the Class of ’80. “I had a great social life. I was a solid B student, maybe a little bit better than a B, but no genius. But it was good enough—it got me into college.” Krenicki also played two years of football and four years of hockey and lacrosse for the Mustangs. “I was a decent athlete, not a standout,” he said. “The thing I most remember is my friends.” Krenicki’s Clifton friends have remained constant in his life. They include Joe Lynn, who grew up across the street, Robert Leeschock, Dave Kaptein, John Van Decker, Mike Pilione, Bob Daly and Dan Sinisi. Often, the group would find themselves hanging out at the Hot Grill, the Red Chimney or the White Castle. “My daughter just got married two weeks ago,” Krenicki said. “Almost all the guys that were in my wedding 34 years ago came to my daughter’s wedding. A lot were Clifton guys.” Along with establishing lifelong friendships in Clifton, Krenicki began building his business acumen. He worked for the DPW cleaning the parks and then as a city pool inspector, checking fencing and permits. “Best job I ever had in my life,” he quipped. • September 2019


The CHS 1980 Hockey Team from front left: Coach Rick LaDuke, Nancy Curtin, Everett Wong, Stu Kramer, Bill Brancato, Tom Daly, Dave Solomon, John D’Anna, Dean Cindrario, John Krenicki, Robert Calise and Roberta Devecka; back, Joe Gianino, Lou Caprano, Todd Calderone, Mark MacArthur, Dan Kalinka, Nick Lordi, Frank Nalepka, John Walcott, Mike Wojick, Jim Flanagan, Jim Harrell, John Tabaka, Ray Faver and Paul Krenicki.

Krenicki credits Clifton for much of his success. “Growing up in Clifton,” Krenicki said, “you learn how to compete. It’s a competitive area whether it’s sports or working. It’s a blue collar, grind-it-out environment. And it helped make me what I am. The Boys Club was part of that.” Krenicki also learned how to work with others. “Another thing I learned in Clifton is how to be resourceful, to get things done. That meant having that tight network of friends, people who could help you out. In business, not being an A student, I hired A students to help me. I hired people better than me. I was honest with myself. And the reason I was successful is because of others. It wasn’t because of me. I was able to build teams that could compete and win.” In Paul’s Memory After marrying, the Krenickis raised three children. “There’s my oldest son Matt and his wife Christine, my middle son Michael, and my daughter Paula (Chanter) and husband Dylan. “We named her after my brother Paul.” Paul Krenicki, two years younger than John, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 17. “He was a quiet kid,” said Krenicki, “a gentle person. He was active in sports, played lacrosse and interested in chemistry. After he was diagnosed, my parents did everything they could.” His parents would drive Paul to Sloan-Kettering in New York City almost daily. The doctors said he might survive for six months; Paul lived until age 22.


September 2019 •

“But it was hell,” Krenicki admitted. “Paul never complained. It was a tragedy. It took a huge toll on my parents. I’m a parent now and I couldn’t imagine what that was like to go through.” After achieving his business success, Krenicki honored his brother by endowing The Paul Krenicki Professorship of Chemistry at UConn. He and his wife also endowed the Donna Krenicki Professorship in Design and Digital Media. The two endowments have a combined value of $1.5 million. “We’ve done a lot of stuff both at Connecticut and Purdue (where Krenicki earned his master’s degree in 1991),” he said. “I think about my brother a lot. He was robbed of what would have been a very good life. So, we’ve done some giving along those lines and will continue to do so.” This year, the Krenickis gave a $5 million gift to a business analytics center at Purdue’s Krannert School of Management. They also have another gift planned for UConn this year to create an institute of emerging engineering and fine arts. “It’s kind of the Leonardo DaVinci–Apple thing,” Krenicki described, “making engineering more attractive from a design perspective. And for the arts, that’s more digital technology.” Other gifts at the schools have centered on assisting neuroscience, infectious disease, genomics and personalized medicine, and biomedical engineering studies. “We feel great about the investments we’ve made in trying to make a difference.” • September 2019


You Can Go Home Again Today, the Krenickis spend their time between their New York City apartment near John’s office, their summer home on Cape Cod and primary residence in Florida. “But I grew up in a house where you had to share a bedroom and a bathroom,” he said. “And that was good enough, and it still is.” Since his mother died at 93 last year, he hasn’t been back to Clifton often. However, he does visit occasionally to eat at La Riviera Trattoria on Piaget Ave. “That little restaurant is as good as the ones in New York City,” he raved. When he visits the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton for his induction, Krenicki knows many memories will push to the surface—of his family, friends and hometown. “Growing up in Clifton, hanging out at the Boys Club—you should be grateful for the things that helped shape you. “A lot of life comes down to the right place at the right time, but being competitive and resourceful—that came out of Clifton, and I took advantage of the opportunities.”


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Working with a Business Icon GE’s Jack Welch is one of the world’s best known business leaders, and John Krenicki learned much from him. “Jack was a tremendous mentor,” Krenicki said, “and we are close friends. He helped shape me as a business leader. “In business, it’s all about people. If you get people right—the right people in the right jobs— great things happen. I learned street smarts in Clifton, so I have a nose for people. I know what’s right, what’s wrong. I know who to trust. “That’s where Jack was—to do the right thing. Get the right people in the right jobs. Don’t shirk a decision. Face reality. If you see a fire, go closer to it, don’t run away from it. I learned that from him. “It’s also about not being selfish. Be willing to share the credit and rewards, and be grateful for what others do. It’s magnetic in terms of attracting talent and building winning teams.” • September 2019



The Vanguard owners, Dean and Thomas Maroulakos (rear center), at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Harrison.

The team behind The Barrow House on Van Houten Ave. and Cowan’s Public on Centre St. in Nutley opened their newest concept restaurant, The Vanguard, on Aug. 12 in the bustling and growing city of Harrison. Set in a 1940s factory used to support the wartime effort, The Vanguard celebrates those who served on the home front. Comprised of three rooms, The Bar, a “Mess Hall”-inspired dining room and a jazz cocktail


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lounge, The Vanguard has a rustic-industrial tone that reflects Harrison’s past. It features American fare and a bar menu with Tiki-inspired cocktails, 14 draft beers, wine and milkshakes, and is open for dinner, seven days a week, with brunch and happy hour to follow. The Vanguard is located at 705 Frank E Rodgers Blvd. South in Harrison. Call 201-292-3633 for more info or visit • September 2019


POLONIA MARSHALS Athenia and the Shook family will be well represented in New York City Oct. 6. Nancy Shook Garretson will be the 2019 parade marshal of Passaic Clifton & Vicinity Contingent in the 82nd Kazimierz Pulaski Day Parade that travels along Manhattan’s 5th Ave. She will be accompanied by her lovely granddaughter, Little Junior Miss Polonia 2019 Sophia Sardo, 6, a Clifton student and daughter of Gary and Amanda Sardo. They’ll be joined by Miss Polonia 2019 Julia Jurkowski, Junior Miss Polonia 2019 Gabriela Ruszala and Junior Marshals Karol Chrobak and Kevin Cachro. Shook-Garretson is the second generation Polish-American daughter of late Joseph M. Shook Sr. and Elenore (Zarucki). Along with her husband Roy, she is the owner of Shook Funeral Home in Clifton and a lifelong city resident. She is thrilled to honor her family and its past, present and future generations by marching with thousands of other Polish Americans. Shook-Garretson will be presented with a marshal’s sash at the 82nd Annual Sash-Night Ball, sponsored by Central of Polish Organization (established 1934) Sept. 28 at 6 pm at the Polish American Cultural Center in Passaic. For tix, call Krystyna Bladek at 973-779-0077.

Run and honor a hero!

Clifton PBA Local 36, with support from the Clifton Roadrunners, will present the John Samra Memorial 5K Run & 1 Mile Family Fun Walk on Oct. 20. The course starts and ends at City Hall, and registration begins at 7 am with race start at 8:30 am. Samra (pictured in his 1980 CHS photo) was the first city police officer to give his life in the line of duty, Nov. 21, 2003. The memorial run/walk preserves his memory and perpetuates the good work done during his life. Proceeds go to the John Samra Scholarship Fund. Runners and walkers can register at, $25 for runners, $5 for walkers. Register by Oct. 1 for a race t-shirt. Race sponsors are also needed; for information, contact Michael Davey at


September 2019 • • September 2019


EVENTS & BRIEFS The Avenue of Flags depends upon donations and volunteers to present nearly 2,200 displays of patriotism. Each flag represents a Cliftonite who served in the military, both during war and in peace. Flags are displayed on the grounds of City Hall for patriotic days. The next is Patriot Day, Sept. 11, followed by Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Volunteer to help set up flags at dawn or break them down at dusk. Call Keith Oakley at 201-774-6666. Clifton’s 9/11 service is at 9 am at the memorial in front of City Hall. The quiet ser-

CHS Class of 1969 plans a big vice recalls Cliftonites who died that day: Zuhtu Ibis, Kyung Cho, Francis Joseph weekend reunion, starting Oct. Trombino, Ehtesham U. Raja, Edward C. Murphy, Edgar H. Emery, Port Authority 25 with a 3:30 pm tour of CHS. Officer John Skala, as well as brothers John and Tim Grazioso. Other events include dinner at the Hot Grill, attending a Mustangs football game and miniature golf. The weekend The B&G Club’s 5th Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show culminates with a buffet dinner from 5:30 pm to 10 is Sept. 8 at the Allwood Atrium, 2 Brighton Rd. Vehipm at the Double Tree by Hilton in Fairfield. Register: cle registration: $20. Free admission. Contact John Graaf at 973-773-0966 x 111 or CHS Class of 1999 has its 20th reunion Oct. 5 at 6:30 pm at The Barnyard and Carriage House in Totowa. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will include open bar and dinner. Email to purchase tickets or for details.

The 17th Annual Van Houten Avenue Street Fair is Sept. 15. Sponsored by the Athenia Business Association or ABA, it’s a place where old timers and newcomers get to meet and greet, hang out and enjoy a late summer afternoon. Call 201-410-1686 or 973-778-7837.

CHS Class of 1970 seeks info on classmates, such as mailing addresses and phone numbers. Ann Marie Ayers-Williams is planning for the 50th reunion on Oct. 11, 2020. Write to

The Young at Heart Club meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Masonic Lodge, 1476 Van Houten Ave. Refreshments at 11 am, with a noon meeting. Call Lillian for info at 973-779-5581. Upcoming events include Nov. 4, Camp Hope, and a Dec. 13 Christmas Party at Mountainside Inn.

Visit the Ukrainian Festival at St. Nicholas Church at 217 President St. in Passaic on Sept. 15 at noon. Visitors will enjoy Ukrainian delicacies, craft vendors, music, games and arts for kids. Admission is $5. For info, call 973-471-9727 or visit for info. Downtown Clifton Fall Festival is Sept. 21, 11 am to 3 pm, at 1081 Main Ave. It features family games and crafts, vendors and food. For info on this event and more about the district, go to


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Come to the St. John Kanty parish picnic and hear the Eddie Biegaj and Heroes Polka Band. The group will headline the St. John Kanty parish picnic Sept. 8 at 2 pm. Located at 49 Speer Ave., in the heart of Athenia, the grounds of the church will have vendors serving up Polish and American foods as well as much to drink. There will be games for the kids as well. The public is invited. Call 973-779-4102 for more info.

Debbie Oliver loves her busy job as Clifton Recreation director, overseeing much of the action happening in one of Clifton’s 39 parks. On vacation, you’d think she would find a sandy beach to relax on, correct? Well, the sand is accurate. Relax? That’s another story. “Anytime she takes a vacation,” explained Jessica Vasilenko, Rec Dept. program coordinator, “she takes it to play volleyball. Or softball.” Case-in-point was Oliver’s trip in June to Albuquerque, N.M., host of the 2019 National Senior Games, to play volleyball with her over-55 team, Get Over It, and her over 60-team, the Volley Frogs (both teams medaled in their respective divisions). Another Clifton senior athlete, Tom DiDonna (featured in the Amazin’ Mets story), played softball and pitched at the Albuquerque games. On Sept. 6-9, Oliver, 63, will be at it again, participating in the New Jersey Senior Olympics (NJSO) in Woodbridge, N.J.—one of 1,500 athletes, age 50 and up, participating in 21 events, which include swimming, cycling and track and field. Besides playing, Oliver is chair of NJSO and arranges the volleyball matches and distributes medals. “I call it the Mulligan games,” she said. “I’ve seen people who play volleyball for decades and then decide that they want to throw a javelin. They spend a few weeks figuring out how to do that and come and compete in Woodbridge. “And, every five years, you get to get into another age category and do it again.” Oliver comes from fine athletic stock. Her father Paul still plays bocce, throws horseshoes and plays in a senior softball league… at age 93. He also finds time to volunteer at different Clifton events. While her competitive fire still burns, Oliver noted some differences with senior athletes. “In the younger days,” she said, “we would stay competitive off the court. Now, the difference is when you are off the court, there is a connection. The games help build relationships with people from different communities as we share stories.” For more information on the 2019 Senior Olympics, visit • September 2019


Stories from New Jersey Diners – Monuments to Community is the new book by author Michael C. Gabriele. It will be unveiled during at the Nutley Museum, 65 Church St., Nutley, Sept. 27 at 7 pm. The event, spon“At a restaurant, the owners worry sored by the Nutley Historical Society, is free and open about creating an atmosphere. to the public. The book (190customers pages create and over 80 photos) At a diner, the atmosphere.” –M at t K ing, ow ner of M at t ie’s Diner documents stories gathered throughout New Jersey, the iners are where communities Garden Statewagons go to celebrate “Diner Capital of the World.” Dinersacross andthe lunch milestones, form lifetime bonds and take comfort in food. Daily life at the counter or in the booth inspires sentimental recollections that have been part of New Jersey life for 125 years. reflect the state’s spirit and history. Late-night eats fueled Wildwood’s wild rock-androll days. An fourth entrepreneur traveled thousand miles from India and opened This is Gabriele’s bookeighton state history anda diner in Shamong. From an impromptu midnight wedding in an Elizabeth lunch second about the State’s diner wagonGarden to a Vietnam veteran sustained by a heartfeltbusiness. note from a belovedPreviMount Holly waitress, these are true tales from the soul of New Jersey. Author Michael C. Gabriele ous books include The Golden Bicycle documents colorful stories from Age the Dinerof Capital of the World.Racing in New Jersey, The History of Diners in New Jersey and New Jersey Folk Revival Music—History and Tradition. Gabriele has served on the advisory board of the Clifton Arts Center since 2009.


Stories from

New Jersey


Monuments to Community


More Michael Gabriele: A reception for Gabriele’s art exhibit at the Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Dr., is $21.99 Sept. 12 from 6-8 pm and features pastel landscapes, still lifes and photographs. Visit for more info and details.




People, Place & Purpose is an exhibit and sale by the Blackwell Street Center for the Arts, as well as sculptor Judith Peck. The exhibit opens Sept. 25 at the Clifton Arts Center with a reception open to the public on Sept. 28 from 1 to 4 pm. Blackwell, or BSCA, was founded in 1984 by a group which got its name when they rented a space on Blackwell St. in Dover. See more about them at Members of the group who are exhibiting include Linda Aldrich, Peggy Dressel, David Gruol, Mary Guidetti-McColl and John Power. More details at The Passaic County Historical Society hosts its Annual Beefsteak Dinner Fundraiser Sept. 10 at 6:30 pm at the Brownstone Restaurant in Paterson. Tickets are $60. Chicken and fish options available. Call 973-247-0085 ext. 201 or visit for info. Garden State Opera will present The Silk City about the 1913 Paterson silk strike, libretto and music by Francesco Santelli, on Oct. 27 at the Clifton Jewish Center on Delaware Ave. Tickets are $25 ($20 for seniors). For info, go to


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Clifton Cares volunteers will be at the Sept. 15 Van Houten Avenue Street Fair. Stop and write a note for Veterans Day or sign a Christmas card to include in the Holiday packages for the troops. Participants receive a toy soldier. To contribute to the shipment, drop off items at the bins at City Hall. Since each package costs $18.45 to ship, checks are much appreciated. Make payable to Clifton Cares Inc. and mail to Clifton City Hall, 900 Clifton Ave., Clifton, NJ 07013. Donations are tax deductible. Call Dona Crum at 973-8817295 or Chris Liszner at 973-6502719 with questions. The Key Club and Clifton Cares will be collecting supplies for the troops Sept. 15 from 11 am to 2 pm at the Stop and Shop on Broad and Allwood Rds. Look for red, white and blue decorations and come help support the Key Club’s work.

The Theater League of Clifton will present a dinner/theater production of “The Golden Girls Holiday Mystery” at Mario’s Restaurant, opening Sept. 13 and continuing through seven additional performances. Cast members, from left, are Cindy Rea (Dorothy), Laura Valente (Blanche), Joey (B) Berardi (Arthur/ Walter), Dara Cipoletto (Rose) and Laura Thomas (Sophia). The comedy features parody versions of characters from the hit TV sitcom, “The Golden Girls,” along with a bumbling detective who is similar to the TV character Columbo. The beloved Golden Girls TV show ran for 180 episodes on NBC from 1985 to 1992. Tickets are $45 and include show and dinner. Tickets may be reserved by phone 973-928-7668 or at • September 2019


T G H th P a 8 sh T et (w T T le re M se a th T ch L G n m F d m o





After nearly 30 years of writing a humorous daily newspaper column, Bill Ervolino decided it was time to ride off into the sunset. Well, not exactly. Ervolino, humorist, author and former columnist for The Record newspaper, will offer his observations on the absurd aspects of daily life in New Jersey as the special guest speaker for a luncheon on Oct. 20, 1 pm, at the Upper Montclair Country Club at 177 Hepburn Road in Clifton. The event is sponsored and organized by the Clifton Arts Center (CAC) and includes a three-course lunch, along with Ervolino’s program. “Everything is a story for me,” Ervolino said during an interview at his home in Wood-Ridge. “I write the way I talk. I’m really famous in a five-mile radius here in northern New Jersey.” Years ago, Ervolino recalled writing a column about his humorous encounters at the long-gone Rowe Manse Emporium, which was a popular department story in Styertowne Shopping Center.


September 2019 •

He started at The Record in 1990. “Like many newspapermen and women of my generation, I dreamed of being the next Woodward or Bernstein,” he wrote in his final newspaper column in December 2018. “I never planned on being that guy who writes about his dog and his crazy family. But sometimes, fate takes over.” The hundreds of columns penned by Ervolino typically focused on his quirky adventures in suburban New Jersey, always searching for the amusing elements in even the most-mundane episodes of daily life. He received many letters and emails over the years from his readers. “It was like I was part of their family,” her said. “People would tell me how they read my column every day at the breakfast table.” Ervolino traced the beginning of his career as a student at Holy Cross Catholic High School in Flushing, N.Y., (Class of 1972).

Brother Ralph, one of the instructors at the school, insisted that Ervolino sign up for an advanced writing class in his junior year. Looking into the future, Brother Ralph declared— in no uncertain terms—that Ervolino was destined to become a writer. Ervolino graciously and dutifully enrolled in the class, but was a bit puzzled. “Thank you Brother Ralph, but I thought you didn’t like me.” “I don’t,” Brother Ralph answered. In addition to his writing projects, he currently performs as a stand-up comic at various New Jersey clubs. Ervolino is a frequent speaker at high schools and colleges on the subject of writing as a career. In addition, he is actively involved in New Jersey’s Minority Journalism Project and the nationwide Newspapers in Education program. He’s also the author of the book, Some Kind of Wiseguy: Stories About Parents, Weddings, Modern Living and Growing Up Italian, and a co-author of The Backstage Performing Artists Handbook and Italian American Authors on New Jersey. His play, The Lights on Walden Court, won the first Jane Chambers playwriting award in 1987.

Before joining The Record, Ervolino served as the editor-in-chief of Nightlife magazine, and an entertainment writer, critic, and columnist for the New York Post and Backstage. He has also written for the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, and the New York Daily News. The CAC, which opened in January 2000, is located in at Clifton’s 26-acre municipal campus, 900 Van Houten Ave. The facility celebrated a grand reopening in April after being closed for more than a year to undergo structural repairs and the installation of state-of-the heart, computerized HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. Jeff Labriola is the president of CAC advisory board, Roxanne Cammilleri is the director of the gallery and facility, and MaryAnn Baskinger is the acting chairwoman of the CAC Inc. business board. Tickets for the Oct. 20 luncheon are priced at $55 per person and the event is the 10th annual fund-raiser for the CAC. To reserve tickets, contact Barbara Novak by phone at 973-773-9383 or email her at • September 2019



September 2019 •

To mark the 28th year of Ukraine’s independence from Russia, the yellow and blue flag was raised on the lawn at Clifton City Hall. Among the speakers was Congressman Bill Pascrell, who noted that Russia’s war on Ukraine continues. With some 13,000 killed, 30,000 injured and 1.5 millions displaced, the invasion began in 2014 in the Crimean peninsula and the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

Pascrell and other speakers said Russia’s aggression has been condemned by the international community, yet President Trump has spoken of inviting Russia back into the G7, an international intergovernmental economic organization. The celebration of Ukraine’s independence, which was August 24, is always commemorated in Clifton, with more than 100 attending, celebrating all things Ukrainian and American.

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September has arrived for Mustangs of the Month. With the start of school, Clifton High School has spotlighted three students based on their previous year experiences.

Jessica Alexander, Senior Jessica Alexander wants to study political science in college and then attend law school, ultimately becoming a criminal defense attorney. The strong foundation her parents have provided will help in this career pursuit. “My parents,” Alexander said, “have taught me to be the person I am today and instilled values that I will never lose. They taught me the importance of honesty, integrity and taking responsibility for myself and my actions.” Alexander also gained much from her CHS studies, especially from her AP U.S. History class with Mr. Henry. “In AP History,” she said, “I learned how to analyze documents, write thesis statements and carry a workload geared toward college. Mr. Henry greatly impacted my CHS experience.” At CHS, Alexander played lead roles in the spring musicals for the past three years and performed in the Honors Choir, the MadCaps. She also mentored middle school students through the Heroes and Cool Kids program and was part of the Mustangs swim team. She also enthusiastically endorses her AP Psych class with Mr. O’Reilly. “I learned so much about how we think and why we act the way we do,” Alexander said. “I recommend taking AP Psych, no matter what field you want to go into.” Rawan Awadallah, Sophomore While studies are important to Rawan Awadallah, so are the life lessons learned at CHS. “Being a member of Key Club,” said Awadallah, “allowed me to see the amazing things Mrs. Turk does and the impact she has on students. She’s always helping


September 2019 •

Jessica Alexander and Rawan Awadallah.

people in CHS and our community, whether it’s going the extra mile to provide people in need with food during a park clean up, or making sure her club members and students get home safely.” Awadallah also draws inspiration from her older sister, Nada. “She always made sure,” Awadallah said, “that she was the best at everything she did. No matter what anyone would tell her, she would never give up. My older sister taught me the value of integrity, self-confidence and determination.” As far as a career, Awadallah believes it will involve mathematics. “It’s a subject” she said, “which requires practice and no need for memorization. Understanding and using patterns in math leads to more advanced problem solving and higher-level thinking across all subjects.” At CHS, Awadallah was volleyball team captain, part of the Strings and Orchestra Ensemble and a Student Union member. Looking forward, she is interested in joining Model UN and the Academic Decathlon.

Ashley Hernandez, Junior For Ashley Hernandez, her future path is grounded in the past. “As someone interested in pursuing an economics major,” Hernandez said, “the fundamentals of American History, as well as its economic cycles, greatly capture my attention.” Helping her understand those cycles is her AP U.S. History teacher, Mr. Henry. “Mr. Henry not only ingrains the fundamentals of American History,” she said, “but also how to think critically and apply our knowledge. “The lessons learned in that class will stick with me for the rest of my life.” From her mother’s personal history, Hernandez draws inspiration. “As a young girl in Guatemala,” Hernandez said, “she had to face poverty. Through her ambition and efforts, she was able to get an education, a job, and soon sought her visa to come to America. Nearly 25 years later, as a U.S. citizen, my mom has taught me that anything is possible if you put your heart and mind to it.”

Hernandez has put her mind to participating in many AP and honors classes, as well as being part of the CHS Orchestra, Academic Decathlon, Physics and Engineering Club, Key Club, Italian Club, the Clifton Student Union and Student Council. “I also take great pride in being elected class president for three years in a row,” she said. Ashley Hernandez • September 2019


Birthdays & Celebrations - September 2019

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

Happy birthday Nick Hawrylko who will be 24 Sept. 12. Eddie Bivaletz will be 31 on Sept. 8. Jarah Tamayo turned 10 on Sept. 1. Happy Birthday to Annamaria Menconi who celebrates on Sept. 21. Happy belated to Donald D. Dunn who celebrated on Aug. 22. Michael Capwell.................9/1 Allison Di Angelo................9/2 Liam Robert Martin..............9/2 Bill Federowic......................9/3 Dave Gabel........................9/3

Robbie Zeszotarski turned one on Aug. 22.


Jennifer Martin ....................9/3 Sharon Holster.....................9/4 Natasha Mendoza..............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

September 2019 •

Emily Duchnowski..............9/15 Manny Monzo...................9/15 Hagar Ibrahim...................9/16 Stacey Corbo....................9/16 Nancy Ann Eadie...............9/16 Joe Genchi.......................9/16 Jaclyn Scotto.....................9/16 Cindy Murcko...................9/17 Kathleen Gorman..............9/18 Amanda Meneghin............9/18 Dawn Smolt......................9/18 Daniel Smith......................9/18 Gloria Turba......................9/18 Mickey Garrigan...............9/19 James Graham .................9/19 Rickie Ojeda.....................9/19 Louis DeLeon.....................9/20 Sara Gretina.....................9/21 Lynne Lonison....................9/21 Annamaria Menconi..........9/21 Peter Skoutelakis................9/21 Valerie Carestia................9/22 Beverly Duffy.....................9/22 Ryan Gorny......................9/22 Timothy St. Clair................9/22 Keith Myers......................9/23 Brian Salonga...................9/23

John and Debbie Tauber, Clifton’s Animal Control couple, celebrate their 41st anniversary on Sept. 2nd. Deb’s birthday is Sept. 3rd. Brian Engel.......................9/23 Pam Bielen.......................9/25 Deanna Cristantiello..........9/25 Donato Murolo..................9/25 Corey Genardi.................9/26 Saverio Greco..................9/26 Richard Van Blarcom.........9/26 Kenneth Chipura...............9/28 Barbara Mascola..............9/29 Thomas E. Moore...............9/29 Mary Perzely.....................9/29 Lauren Hrina.....................9/30 Ryan Lill............................9/30 Daniela Santos celebrates her 23rd birthday on Sept. 5. Happy 19th anniversary to Greg & Margaret Nysk on Sept. 17. Arlene & Villeroy Hard will be married 61 years on Sept. 14. • September 2019


What makes Clifton a good place to live? What do you like about Clifton? Is it the people, schools, access and services? What do you dislike? Is it the traffic and congestion, the housing or the lack of services—just what is it? We’re asking those questions now and will report back in our October magazine about what our neighbors think. So what do YOU think? There’s a long tradition of Clifton residents working to improve our community, and this is another way you can help.

By speaking out, you’ll begin a new conversation and discover what’s truly important to all of us. Clifton Merchant Magazine wants to be at the center of this discussion, helping our neighbors communicate their viewpoints. How can we improve our neighborhoods, schools and commercial districts? What is your opinion? Contact us at the email address below or through our Facebook page to add your personal take on what makes up the soul of the city. Respondents must agree to allow use of their complete name.

Would you like to participate? Write to:


September 2019 •

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