This is your opportunity to reach a large audience. Send your e-mails to for any of the following:

  • Questions about the city of Passaic
  • Help locating friends or lost relatives who, at one time, lived in Passaic.
  • Your own memories and recollections of growing up in Passaic.
  • Any other topics relating to Passaic.

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June 2014

Hello Bob,

I am a huge fan of this web site. I also have read all of your books about Passaic and hope that there will be more coming.

I lived in Passaic from 1952 - 1964. We lived at 308 Paulison Avenue. I attended Memorial # 11 Elementary; Lincoln Junior High (I was a member of the first graduating class) and I graduated Passaic High School in 1964. My sisters Ellen & Harriet (twins) graduated from PHS in 1969.
I left Passaic for college in Philadelphia and except for going home to visit family, never moved back.

I had many close friends that unfortunately over the years lost all touch with. I spent many wonderful hours of my youth at the Passaic "Y".

On October 18th, I will be attending the PHS class of 1964 reunion and hope to see many of my old friends and catch up on 50 years.

I am hoping that many of my fellow classmates will be attending the reunion and would like to reconnect with me.

Thank You!

GERMANTOWN, MD. 20874-2313
301-802-3703(CELL) 301-972-2992 (HOME)

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June 2014

Hi Ira,

Thanks for taking the time to write to me. I really appreciate it. I noted that you grew up on Paulison Avenue. I also grew up one block off of Paulison Avenue just a few blocks away from the border with Clifton. Because I am fourteen years older than you, I perhaps know a little bit of the history of Paulison Avenue that disappeared by the time you were growing up.

For example, the upper part of Paulison Avenue, starting at the park next to #11 School was only paved with gravel until approximately 1948. At the top of the big hill on Paulison Ave that started at Oak Street — where I lived — was the location of the"isolation hospital." This was a place where all of us kids never walked on the sidewalk near it because it is where Tuberculosis patients were kept. Moreover, just across the street from the isolation hospital was the City Incinerator with a very tall smoke stack probably more than a hundred feet high. In the 1960s or 70s it was torn down and a shopping center was built there.

Also that same hill on Paulison Avenue is where the Soap Box Derby races used to be held each spring. Just before the races started, the city owned "steam rollers" - - - yes, I'm so old I remember when rollers had steam furnaces - - - were used to flatten out the gravel so that the Soap Box Derby race cars would be able to gain high speed.

One other little fact of upper Paulison Avenue: There used to be a creek that went under Paulison Avenue. Unfortunately when it rained very hard the creek would break through and would rush water down Paulison Avenue. That water would end up in the park across from No. 11 School. If you remember, the park was in a shallow basin, about three or four feet lower than the streets around it. The hard rain from upper Paulison Ave would cause the park to totally fill with water. It would take many days or weeks to finally drain out. In the late 1940s they finally installed a 5' concrete pipe to carry off the rain water. Unfortunately, when they started delivering these large pipes, they initially stacked them up in the park. Kids used to play in them until one of the kids got fatally crushed. It was perhaps the saddest day in the history of #11 School.

Now back to more recent times. I note that you currently live in Germantown, Maryland. It might interest you to know that I lived for forty years in Montgomery Village which is just south of Germantown. Thirteen years ago I moved to Silver Spring, so we are both Maryland people. Perhaps we will run into each other one of these days.

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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April 2014

Dear Bob,

In September 2012 I posted:

Pete Anderson here,

1940s - 1950s I lived in Garfield NJ and went to school at St. Nicks on Jefferson Street, in Passaic.

During those years I spent most of my time in Passaic. My fondest memories are of Passaic. Passaic was really home to me.

I am looking for many of my classmates from St. Nicks. I graduated in 1955 or 1956. Can't remember which it was.

I have made contact with a few of my classmates but two that come to mind are; (because I know how to spell their names);

Gloria Healion & Janet Barkhurst.

Gloria graduated from Pope Pius High School in 1959 & Janet graduated Passaic High also in 1959.

Hopefully someone can assist me.

Pete Anderson
Vancouver, WA

4/16/2014 I would like to add some updated information I have recently acquired regarding my prior submission

(1) My Very Dear friend Gloria (Healion) Rapak, died on September 1st 1987. She was Born on September 27, 1941. Yes, She died at the Very Young Age of 45.

(2) She had Married Richard Rapak in 1965 at St. Nicks, Passaic. They were living in Columbia South Carolina at the time of her death.

(3) I still grieve for Gloria from the time I found out that she died to this day. A day never passes that I don't think of and or about her.

(4) Both Richard and Gloria graduated from Pope Pius in 1959.

(5) I have seen recent pictures of St. Stevens and St. Nicks as well as Pope Pius and it seems as though the schools and neighborhoods have changed considerably since I went to school there.

(6) There is always change.

(7) Memories some Good some Bad and some very Sad.

(8) My Sister Catherine (Anderson) Millian graduated from St. Nicks in 1959 and Pope Pius in 1963.

Bob, I want to thank you Sincerely for this wonderful site

Pete Anderson
Vancouver, WA
(360) 260-8937

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February 2014


I ran across the message board for Wonderful Passaic while trying to
do some family history research. My grandmother and possibly
great-grandmother were born in Passaic, and I was wondering if you
might know of the family/have any information on them? The great-s
were Stella and John Pashkowsky, and they had several children
including Mickey (Michael), John, Anne, and Steve. John Jr. was killed
in the war.

It appears as if someone on the board was trying to get in touch with
Donna Pashkowsky back in 2011. Donna is my mother's cousin (daughter
of Steve Pashkowsky). I'll try to find her contact info to pass along.

Thank you!

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December 2013

I found your site last evening....absolutely great. The attached photo is my dad's 1948 GMC, taken June 1948. The truck is parked in front of our home on Willett Street.

Charles T. Gangi

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November 2013


Hello Everyone,

I am Angela Collucci Jones. My family lived on Oak Street from August 1947 to Oct. 1953 when we moved to our new home in Clifton.

I attended Memorial School # 11. St. Anthony's Church was up the street from us and that's where we attended Mass on Sundays and I attended meetings of the Junior CYO that Father Henry began for us. When I first came across this wonderful site, I read that many folks were unaware of several very sad incidents that related to the Passaic/Clifton area. The one that is burned into my memory is this sad chapter in our city's history.

On November 8, 1961, 22 Army recruits from Passaic, Clifton and Wayne were killed when their Imperial Airline Flight 201/8 crashed and burned near Richmond, Virginia. There were recruits from Pennsylvania and Maryland also on board, 77 in total. They were all killed. Only the captain and the flight engineer escaped. Fifteen came from Passaic, six from Clifton and one from Wayne.


Henry Joseph Barna
Donald Gurtman
Joseph Kandravy
Donald Kaplan
Valeri Korsuch
Hartnut Kuttnick
David Moore
Bernard Olster
Helmut Petraschek
Patrick Purcell
Raymond Shamberger
Paul Stephen Soltesz
Richard Vanderhoven
Richard Wall
Bartel Zyczynski


Harold Skoglund
Robert DeVogel
Vernon Griggs
Robert Morositz
Robert Rinaldi
Willis Van Ess Jr.


Steven Pados

I remember that night so vividly. My fiance and I saw a movie at the Montauk that night and when we left the theatre I felt something wasn't right. The city was very quiet. We went to Poppy's (or was it Pop's Restaurant) on Jefferson Street for coffee. There the gentlemen who gathered there every night to solve the problems of the world, discuss family matters, and what team was the best in baseball, or what high school had the best football team were very quiet and sad looking. When we asked what was the matter they informed us about the plane crash. Several of the men knew some of the young recruits from their neighborhoods, church or synagogue. It was a very sad night. Later on I learned that several of the boys graduated with me in the 1957 class of Clifton High School.

Let us not forget these young men. May they all rest in peace.

Angela Collucci Jones

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October 2013

I just came across this wonderful site. My family grew up in Passaic and someone asked if anyone remembered The Diamond Mirror Nightclub.....My grandfather, Frank Failla owned it. I have so many old pictures!!!! What a nightclub it was!!!

My grandfather on my father's side was a dentist there...Doc Kerwin

Joyce Schneider

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October 2013

Dear Bob,

I think there is a bit of Y history that you never heard before. Many years ago, before the move to KC Hall, the Y was housed in upstairs rooms on Prospect St., directly across from the Passaic Daily News or Herald. Who was in charge? Bess Liepold, of course.

Well, as part of the activities program, we set up a Sunday Morning fencing class to be run by Nathan Lavenda, a highschool classmate of mine. Nat used to go to the Lasalle d'Armes Santelli in New York every so often to sharpen his technique: then he'd come to the Y and take it out on us,

He had the delusion that we were training for the Olympics, and we held on-guard positions until our legs trembled. We had trouble walking the next morning.

To get some publicity, we invited the popular newspaper columnist to cross the street and join us. He declined our kind invitation, but he did give us a plug by telling of our "duels at the break of day" in his column.

Somehow the program faded out before we moved on to our new home.


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September 2013


My name is Dawn Kennedy, I live in Northern Ireland. In December 1911 my great grandmother Mary (Minnie) Murphy (nee Fleming) born 1879 in Belfast arrived in New York to join her Mother Eliza Jane Fleming and her brothers John A and Robert Jeffrey Fleming. The address on the ship's manifest was 76 Jefferson Street, Passaic, NJ. She left behind her two living children Fred and Isobel (my grandmother). She had recently buried her husband and her infant daughter Margaret. I have been able to track Robert's life quite easily via census records, etc., and have in fact been in contact with his daughter, Judith. Unfortunately Judith is now in her nineties and understandably remembers very little from so long ago. Mary (Minnie) seems to have vanished off the face of the earth. I have been unable to trace any records for her since her arrival in New York.

My grandmother died in 2006 aged 101 never knowing what became of her mother. If she returned to Northern Ireland she certainly never made contact with her children. I was wondering if any of the kind contributors to your site would have any helpful information regarding her life in New Jersey? My Dad is now in his seventies and we have been searching for the last ten years with no success. Any small piece of information could just be the breakthrough we need.

I thank you for taking the time to read my email and look forward to receiving any small piece of the jigsaw.

Kind regards

Dawn Kennedy

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September 2013

Hi Bob,

I really have enjoyed reading about all the memories that your followers have shared!

I am 60 years old, and last lived in Passaic in 1962 on Gregory Avenue, near Krueger Place. My family lived upstairs in a two family house that we owned. They bought the house in 1958, and over the years, they had many different and unique tenants! Needless to say, like most former residents of Passaic, I have my own great memories of the neighborhood and the city in general.

Our neighborhood had a real cross section of people living there. My family is of Irish descent, my best friend and next door neighbor was Jewish - there was a large Hungarian family just up the street, and just about every nationality of people you could think of. Like all kids my age, we spent entire days outside in the summer time making trips to downtown Passaic, going to parks (Weasel Brook was a favorite), and just generally experiencing freedom everyday.

My parents both grew up in Passaic- my Dad on Summer Street and Main Avenue and my Mom on Hoover Avenue (just behind Ginsberg's on Main Avenue). My grandmother on my mother's side ran a rooming house on Hoover Avenue for many years. That is to say that there were "roomers" who lived in their room -- some for 35 years!..and my grandmother provided no meals, and no cooking was allowed in their rooms. There were many rooming and boarding (included meals) houses in that area of Passaic back then. This was a very viable way of making a living.

The interesting thing is that my mother and her 2 sisters were raised in that rooming house where a door was rarely locked and there were 12 male roomers living upstairs in the house, believe it or not, there was never a problem!

My fondest memory of downtown Passaic is of walking downtown while window shopping after going to a movie, usually at the Central Theatre. What wonderful stores there were back then!

I wonder if any former (or present) Passaic residents remember Walter Korman Dancing School which was located on Main Avenue just above Lofts Candy Store. I was lucky enough to take ballet lessons from Walter Korman for three years. Walter Korman was a wonderful, handsome dance teacher who held his recitals at the Central Theatre. I know that Dottie Locker was the more popular dancing school at the time. I would love to hear from anyone who might have attended his classes.

These were just a few of some sweet memories I have from back then!


Gerry Butterworth Picken

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September 2013

My son just sent me this web site and I am so overcome with nostalgia and visual memories of so many of the places you all mentioned.

I grew up in Passaic, went to No. 11 School then PHS where I wound up teaching mainstream English and then ESL and couldn't get over the jolt of "seeing" all the landmarks of my memory from Pongs to Wilbern's to Rutts Hut to all the movie theaters and live shows at the Central Theater. I don't think Bob Hope has a copyright on "Thanks for the Memories."

Mona (Rinzler) Scheraga

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September 2013

Dear Bob,

Just received a few e-mails from Gumshue (Bill Rachles) about Passaic and your website. When I got into it I went to the message board and spent an entire rainy Florida afternoon reading it. Needless to say, it brought back "wonderful" memories.

I will not be attending my PHS class of '53 60th reunion that is coming up but my BFF Rochelle Kanoff Gornstein will represent me and bring me up to date on all the happenings.

For those who do not remember me. I lived on Waverly Place in Passaic Park, across the street from #3 school, which of course I attended. Then on to #1 school for 9th grade and good ole PHS. I was just one of the crowd, did nothing outstanding, but happy to say I hit my stride after graduation. I married a PHS '52 member Marshall Zucker. We are celebrating our 55th anniversary. We have three children and seven grandchildren. Marshall is retired now from medicine (Radiology). We have been living in Florida since 1966. Hello to everyone from both of us.........

Aline Greenspan Zucker

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September 2013


I read with interest Donald Necker's comments.  As a kid I used to bike from my home to Wilbern's to pick up items for my folks and get a sundae at the counter.  Donald's wife Barbara was my neighbor - I lived at the corner of Barry Place and Ascension St.  I also graduated from PHS in'53 and will be at the 60th reunion at the end of September.  My career took from New Jersey to St. Louis region in '77.

Carl Moskowitz
291 Bellington Lane
Creve Coeur, MO 63141

TEL: 314.576.5635

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August 30, 2013


My name is Ed Pong. My father had a Chinese laundry at 271 Main Ave in Passaic Park in the late 1920s. My parents were the first Chinese couple married in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1931. They had 7 children. My older sister was born in 1933 in the store at 271 Main. They moved to 267 Main in 1934. Myself and 3 siblings were born in that store in 35, 36, 38 and 40. The next one was born in St. Mary's in 45 and the youngest in 47 at Beth Israel Hospital on Madison Street.

We all went to #3 School with the gym in the Ahavas Israel next door and the library on the corner of Van Houten and Main Avenue opposite the bank. My brother and I went to
Passaic Vocational #4 School at Paulison and Howe Ave and #11 School for auto shop. I graduated in 51 my brother in 57.

The others all graduated PHS. I grew up on the block and in the 40 & 50s the gathering spot for most teens was the Park Sweet Shop on Main and Ascension Streets because they had some booths and a soda fountain. When we started to drive in the 50s we would go to dances at Mt. Carmel CYO, St. Anthony CYO and St Mary's at Pope Pius. After the dances we would go to
Pop's, Brennon's, Capitol Tea Room in Passaic, and Richard's Drive-In with car hops, White Castle, Kavanaugh's, Neilly's, Rutts Hut and Bertlin's in Clifton on River Rd.

I remember when there were 6 movie theaters, 7 new car dealers, the Motor Vehicle Dept.
was at the Passaic Armory on Main and Gregory Avenues where we took our driver's test. There were no grated store windows, and many mom and pop businesses. I remember when Shop Rite opened in the string of stores on Main and Van Houten followed by Acme, Good Deal stores in the Park. None of them survived. Shop Rite relocated to their present site and is going

We moved the laundry to 257 Main in 1958 and my father retired in1965. I took over and operated the laundry til 2001 when I retired. I still live in Passaic Park a few blocks from the laundry. If anyone would like to reminisce about Passaic, you can reach me at


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Hi Ed,

My publisher forwarded your e-mail to me. I read it with particular interest because you and I were neighbors.

In 1948 my family was finally able to move out of Passaic's 2nd Ward and move to Passaic Park. We moved into the apartment on top of the candy store on the corner of Ascension Street and Main Avenue. In fact, I worked as a soda jerk at that candy store for approximately a year in 1948. It might interest you to know that I was the one who convinced Mr. Pickett (who owned the candy store) to put in the juke box.

I clearly remember my mother bringing our laundry to your store. However, I don't think I ever walked inside your store. Moreover, even though we are about the same age, I don't ever remember meeting you. Several days a week I used to walk by your laundry to a metal plating shop that was close by that was owned by the brother of a friend of mine.

One of my fondest recollections was about a girl who used to live near your store by the name of Marsha. I really didn't know her, but one day while I was working as a soda jerk, she came into the candy store and said, "Bobby, I love you," and handed me a note that said about the same thing that she sealed with a kiss that had lipstick all over the note. Being a suave and debonair teenager - - - which I wasn't - - - I almost fainted and didn't know what to do. In fact, what I did do was hide so she could never again see me. Yes, our teenage years in Passaic were not easy years.

I do hope you get a lot of people answering you on the Wonderful Passaic site. I expect to have your letter posted in the next few days.

Bob Rosenthal

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August 2013

Hello Bob Rosenthal,

I'm Joyce Barcia Jacone born and raised in Passaic on Hope Avenue and one of the first graduates to graduate from the 'new Passaic High School, 1957'.

Your book made quite an impression on me with all the facts and history about Passaic. In all of my first 20 years residing in that town, little did I know about its history.

Just wanted to thank you and especially your mother, Celia, for all her union support and her diaries that probably inspired your book. I empathize with the brutality she suffered and the difficulties that transpired during the strikes. It was also very nostalgic to read about the various streets, buildings and environment where I walked and hung out with my friends.

Guess there aren't too many books written about hometowns with such colorful history as in Passaic. I always thought it was a boring town, but not anymore.

Thanks again for the memories!


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Hi Joyce,

I really appreciate you taking the time to write to me concerning the book, "Bootleggers, Mobsters and My Mom." Your kind words about my mother and about our home town really brightened my day.

I also note that you were the first class to graduate from "the New Passaic High School in 1957." I, being seven years older than you, never got to see the new high school (isn't it interesting that we Passaic alumni still call it the "New Passaic High School" even though it opened almost sixty years ago). I have often passed by the new PHS on my visits to the Forstmann Library where I do most of my research. However, I have never had the opportunity to actually tour the school. I hope one of these days I will have that opportunity.

Again, thanks for taking the time to write. It is indeed appreciated.

Warm regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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August 2013

To Anyone Who Can Assist Me,

I am trying to locate a person who attended the Pink Floyd concert at the Central Theatre on 11-3-71. Or anyone who retains any memorabilia from this concert. A pre-concert ad or a post-concert newspaper review would be excellent. I do have a copy of the original concert flyer. Please do not hesitate to contact me! Thank You!

Sincerely Yours,
Elliot Tayman
U.S. Publicist
Pink Floyd Archives

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July 2013

Hi Bob,

My name is Donald Neckers. I grew up in Chelsea, Mass, and met my wife, the former Barbara Levine, while she was attending BU School of Education. I was attending MAS College of Pharmacy. My wife grew up in Passaic on Ascension Street and graduated PHS in 1953. She taught elementary school in Totawa and Passaic. We now live on Brook Avenue near 3rd Ward Park.

I am the the former co owner of Wilbern Pharmacy in Passaic Park on Main and Van Houten Avenues. I was there from 1963 to 1998, when we were absorbed by Rite Aid. After working and owning Wilbern, for forty years, I worked at Rite Aid for thirteen years. In addition, I was on the Passaic board of education from 1972 to 1978. I am now retired.

We remember when Wilburn had a lunch counter before it was remodeled. We also remember the railroad tracks, Dink Ho Palace, the Ritz, Rice's Deli, the Central, Capital and Montauk Theaters, as well as The Strand Department Store.

Both our sons Harris and Larry graduated from Passaic high.

Donald Neckers

PS: I know Mark Auerbach

. . . .

Hi Donald,

My publisher forwarded your e-mail to me. I read it with great interest.
We were almost neighbors in Passaic. I lived on the corner of Main Avenue and Ascension Street, on top of the candy store, one block away from your pharmacy. However, I left Passaic in 1954, and therefore, our paths probably never crossed.

Your wife's name is faintly familiar. I assume that she was one of the multitude of PHS girls --- like Myra (Mayer) Rubenstein, Judy Shaffrin (sp?) and so many others — who had the intelligence and good fortune to totally ignore me in high school. (I note that Barbara has a 60th class reunion coming up shortly.)

Thanks for taking the time to write to me.

Bob Rosenthal

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July 2013

My Paternal Grandparents were Frank Budz and Anna Wilczek. Both migrated from POLAND/GALICIA in 1897 and lived on 2nd St in Passaic in 1900. They were married at St. Joseph's Church (7 Parker Ave in Passaic).

I was born at ST Mary's Hospital in 1944 and lived in Clifton until 1962 when I joined the USN.

What I remember of the late 1950's and early 1960's was going to the Saturday afternoon 'horror' movies at all the theaters in Passaic as well as the CLIFTON theater.

So many theaters to pick from..

There was a RITZ on Randolph Ave, but it closed down before I ever had a chance to go inside.
The theaters were WORKS OF ART. Beautiful examples of an era that will never occur again.

Saw such great movies such as: GODZILA, RODAN, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, INVADERS FROM MARS, MACABRE, and so any more.

It all cost 25 cents, and we saw 2 movies, and got a free ice cream bar.

Great times!

Stanley Budz

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May 6, 2013

More Information on Saul Smith


Thank you for posting this request. I have a bit more information if anyone can help me.
Saul's mother and sister were on the bus that plunged into the river in 1944. His mother passed away and his sister Nettie was taken to the hospital. I am hoping this information will jog a few memories. I know he had another sister named Frances and possibly a brother named Moe.

Thanks again for posting this.

Carolyn Johnson

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May 2013

I remember this case from my childhood. A young paperboy went out to deliver his papers (I think a Friday afternoon), never returned home, and was found a day or so later hanging from his leg from a tree in a park in Passaic. At the time I was a kid, and my brother was a Herald News boy with a very rural route; I worried about him every time he left to deliver papers.

I don't recall this case ever being solved. Have you ever heard of it, or the conclusion it came to?

Many thanks. This is a great site. I grew up in Haledon, across from the Brownstone, but spent many hours in Paterson, Passaic and Clifton. Those were the good old days (late 50s-early 60s) when you knew all the merchants and they all knew you. There was a real family feeling in each town. Sorry we'll never see that again.

Eileen Morgan

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April 26, 2013

Looking for information on Saul Smith

I am looking for any information on Saul B Smith. He was born in Passaic in 1923 and lived there until drafted into the Navy during WWII.

I don't have much information, but if anyone remembers him I would appreciate hearing your memories.

Thank you!

Carolyn Johnson

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April 23, 2013

Good evening! Before I contact the City of Passaic historian, I was wondering if you knew anything about the Waldorf Restaurant and the Waldorf Big 5 (Waldorf Big Five) Basketball Team from the 1920s. My great uncle was the manager of the team and I have all the names and a photo of the team members - I believe it dates back to the 1920s - and there was local press about the team. Amazing. I have the address of the restaurant on Main (when it was there) and wondered if you knew anything about them before I give a call to the historian next week! Like I said, have all the names of the players and their photos - and even the assistant manager of the team. Thought I'd run this by you since I read the Passaic site and people seem to be emailing you all the time!

Evonne Coutros

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April 2013

Dear Fellow Passaic-ites,

Does anyone know the whereabouts of Jimmy Carney, PHS Class of '64?
Only within the last few years, I discovered that he is my blood cousin.
Kindly see my message of March 2009 to share my experiences in our town.
Every Passaic native should read Bob Rosenthal's books about Passaic,
especially the one entitled, "Bootleggers, Mobster and My Mom, a True
Passaic Story," indeed a history most of us didn't know. Thanks
again, Bob.

Tom Blake
PHS Class of '64

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February 2013

I purchased a beautiful piece of art and on the back it has a sticker that looks very old and states that it is from The Fine Art Guild LTD. Passaic, N.J. Does anyone know how I can find out more about this. I have googled it and NOTHING comes up. I thought maybe I'd try your forum. If you have any answers I would greatly appreciate any information you can find. Thank You for any and all efforts.
From Utah

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February 2013

Mom and I would get on the "One Twelve" bus (112) on Passaic Ave in Clifton to go to Passaic on a Saturday excursion to Ginsburgs, McCrory's and "Cheap Johns Shoes". (A small shoe "store" down the "main drag" more towards Passaic Park.)

We didn't have a lot of money, but sometimes I would be able to get a treat and have some french fries and a coke at the lunch counter. I can STILL smell that deep fried goodness you got when you walked into that store!! The fries were sold in a paper "cone" and it sat in a heavy metal holder. The coke came in one of those "original" coke glasses....Lord, I LOVED when mom had a few quarters to spare.

NOW, can't beat that rectangular candy "kiosk" in the middle of the store. They carefully measured out the candy from the bins into this metal "bowl" type of container, which had an edge that kinda "funneled" the candy into the white paper bag. It was an old fashioned "double" pan type of scale, where they actually had the standardized weights to put on the other side to measure the candy weight in the bowl candy holder.

Chris Sirak

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Hi Chris,

What lovely memories. I had forgotten the beautiful aroma of the French fries, or pressing my nose at the candy "kiosk" at McCrory's. Thanks so much for rekindling those memories.


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January 2013


Just saw your post on Wonderful Passaic regarding the accident of the bus. Here is some info that might be interesting.

The bus line was the Comfort Bus Line. It was going over the Market Street Bridge to I believe the Curtis Wright plant in Woodridge. Stanley Pavlick, a lifetime resident, and later councilman of Wallington until his death in the late 90s, was one of the men that jumped into the river to save people from the icy waters. Stanley worked at US Rubber. He lived across the street from me in Wallington on Main Ave and told me stories. One that I remember was as they were trying to lift a woman out of the water she refused to budge saying that Stanley would look up her skirt! I can only imagine she was in shock at the time. He was awarded a pocket watch for his bravery. I believe in all almost 30 people died.

Hope this helps!

Michael Wierzbicki

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December 2012


I am looking for a news article about my mother, who circa 1954, lost control of a bowling ball which ended up going thru a window in town. The connection to Riskins Fine Foods, on Main Ave, is that was my grandmother's store and my mother, Marcia Riskin, was her daughter. The store belonged to my grandmother, Sarah Riskin, and my uncle, my mother's brother, Charles Riskin. I am looking for the article because my mother has passed, and it has always come up at family get togethers. Not sure if it was in the Herald News or the Star Ledger at the time. Any info would be great.

Joe Chiarenza

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December 2012

To Whom it may concern,

I was born on Van Winkle Avenue. We stayed in Passaic, then in 1930 we moved to the Athenia Section of Clifton, on Van Houten Avenue. Went to Public School Number 13, then to Clifton High School for 2 years, then out for a job. Money was scarce in the 30s.

I was drafted into the United States Army May 26, 1944. My Division was the 16th ARMORED DIVISION. We landed in Le Harve Harbor in France early February, 1945, and shortly joined General George S Patton's 3rd Army, across France, crossed the Rhine River at Oppenheim, Germany early April, then south through Bavaria. across THE BLUE DANUBE into Salzberg, Austria. Then on May 6,1945, we liberated PILSEN, Czecho-Slovakia and on May 7,1945, we were 11 miles west of PRAGUE, Capital of Czecho-Slovakia. When the Commander of the ETO, General Dwight D. Eisenhower found out we were 55 miles east of Pilsen, he ordered us to return to PILSEN. And it was May 8,1945, VICTORY IN EUROPE. We kicked Nazi BUTT, and they surrendered. On the field of Battle I earned 7 medals and a Combat Infantryman's /Badge. I had my 19th Birthday going across France. I spent 30 months in the US ARMY.

I lived at 73 Blaine Street. When I was discharged from the US ARMY, in November 1946, I met a girl that lived just 3 houses from us. On September 26th,1947, Almeda Hagen and I were married in PASSAIC City Hall by Mayor Paul DEMURO. City Hall was at that time, in the tallest building in Passaic. It was 13 stories tall. My Mother, Estelle Krusheski, and Mrs. Blake were WITNESSES when Almeda and I were married. The Marriage lasted 38 years until May 1985 when Almeda died of cancer. I am now 86 years old.

Edward Krusheski, 24 Oak Tree Lane, Manahawkin,New Jersey 08050


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December 2012

My name is Joy Durham and I was raised in Passaic on Aycrigg ave. Attended #4 and Passaic High School (class of 1998). I came across this website and called my dad, Rev. Bernard 'Dinky' Durham who was born at Passaic General in 1951, attended #6, #12 school and PHS (class of 1969), his best friends were Charles Manning, Calvin McKinney and Gerald Chambers. He loved hearing all the stories and it brought back lots of memories for him. My mother, Emily Durham (maiden name-Serrano) was also born in General Hospital in Passaic in 1956, attended #12, Mount Carmel and PHS (class of 1973).

I sat for the NJ bar exam in July 2012 and met a guy (think his last name was Terranova); I said that I was from Passaic and he started talking about how his family is from Passaic and how everyone who grew up there in the 50's, 60's, and 70's all seemed to have so much passion about being from Passaic. So reading this website reinforced that and also reinforced my own pride in being from Passaic. By the way, I passed the bar and am being sworn in (taking my oath) tomorrow at the courthouse in Passaic (no other place in the world seemed as fitting).

If anyone knows my family, feel free to reach out, other family members:

Sadie Durham, Bernard Durham Sr., Cheryl Durham (Weaver), Elliott Durham, Jerard Durham, David Durham, Matthew and Shawana Durham (Johnson), Dawn get the picture, lots of Durhams!!!!! :)

Joy E. Durham,

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November 2012

I am interested in the history of the small name plates on the ground by each tree which lines Passaic Ave in 3rd Ward Park. Also, what is the history of the memorial rock and plaque which is dedicated to the first Passaic resident to die in WW 1.

Thank you

Douglas Barber

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October 2012

Hi Bob,

I just received the book "Bootleggers, Mobsters and My Mom," and I'm currently reading "Climbing the Rainbow." Just to let you know, I read the story about Larry Cirignano. He was my teacher in Passaic High School. I'm a graduate of the class of '89 and lived in Passaic most of my life, living on Spring Street in Passaic Park.

The book also mentioned Passaic Trust Bank which is now Valley National Bank. That's where I work. knew Mr Riskin and his wife. I used to deliver medicine to them when they lived in the Carlton Towers on Aycrigg Ave.

So far I'm really enjoying "Climbing the Rainbow" and can't wait to read "Bootleggers and Mobsters." I also just ordered "Memories of Our "Y."

Once again, thank you for writing these books. I really enjoy reading and learning history about Passaic


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October 2012

My 91 year old mother (O. Shafer) who grew up in Passaic tells me that there was a terrible bus tragedy in Passaic during WW II when a bus went off the bridge between Passaic and Wallington. She was working at the U.S. Rubber company at the time and insists this happened. Can't find out any info.




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I was 12 years old when the bus tragedy occurred, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Among the heros were those who were working at U.S. Rubber who were fabricating inflatable life rafts for the Navy. They broke windows in the factory so that they could throw inflated rafts into the water. To learn more, go onto and type in "Passaic Bus Tragedy."

Give my regards to your mother.


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Thanks Bob! My mom and dad were both working at U.S. Rubber that day. I did find an article on the internet for my mother and now she's happy because she finally has proof of the accident. Strangely, most people her age from the Passaic, Wallington, Rutherford area did not recall the accident.

She also told me there were two brothers who rowed up and down the river looking for their sister and that eventually her body was recovered in North Arlington (but I don't think this can be confirmed).

I lived on Gregory Avenue until I was six and I still remember the trolley car on Main Avenue in Passaic. My maternal grandparents were both born in Passaic (1897 and 1901) and lived in Passaic Park until 1998. At some time in the 1920s my grandparents were living in an apartment house on Monroe Street and my grandmother heard a woman moaning - she was in labor and all the neighbors were at a religious service associated with the Jewish High Holy Day and so my grandmother wound up delivering the baby and was the big "hero" until they moved to Spring Street. And I think that was their only contribution to Passaic's history.

I will give my Mom your regards and she will be thrilled. Love the site.



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September 2012

Great to find this site and message board!

I grew up on Meade Avenue and went to Collegiate School and St. John's Episcopal Church. My father, Howard Kelley, was a lawyer with an office on Main Avenue.

I'm going to look for pictures to scan. I think I have some. In the meantime, a question - does anyone remember the name of a bookstore which sold an assortment of books, children's books and books for adults [not the "adult bookstore!"]?

I keep thinking the owner's name was Ginsburg, though I know that was the name of the young people's department store where I worked some summers and holiday times.

Anyhow, thanks and best wishes.

Virginia Kelley (

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September 2012

Hi Bob.

Just finished reading your book, Bootleggers, Mobsters, & My Mom. What a great story ! I grew up on Tennyson Place in the early 40s, a stones throw from the Lackawanna Viaduct where Joe Jacobs car was found, and my boyhood friend Bob Palko ( Palko Plumbing) lived on Howard Ave. Who knew that our neighborhood / playground area had such a bizarre history. I still remember where I was when the war in Europe ended, under the R R bridge, pulling my Radio Flyer wagon loaded with scrap metal for the war effort. A bunch of kids came running down Pennington Ave. yelling the war is over the war is over. My father Eugene, was a licensed amateur radio enthusiast and he built the first home built TV on our block. It had no cabinet & needed constant adjusting, but its Big 5" CRT had a pretty good picture, good enough for Uncle Milton & Captain Video. One day he upgraded the small screen by adding a large water filled magnifier "WoW" what technology. Bob, your other book, Wonderful Passaic, is one of the best. It still brings back so many fond memories of a time that will never be again. Thank you very much for your great site, I am sure it has brought much enjoyment to many of us who appreciate history. My only question is, was there ever any response from Chief Jarensky or the police department? Another book that you probably are aware of is, Poland on the Passaic: Tales of a New Jersey Boyhood By Bill Michalski.

Thanks Again.

Best Regards,
John Ciesla

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September 2012

I am writing a book about Berry Pink (Benjiman Beryl Berry Pink). He was born in Passaic, NJ on August 18, 1897 and he died in New York City in 1962 of a heart attack. His father (Meyer Pink) and his mother (Annie Horwitz Pink) were Jewish Russian immigrants. Berry Pink had a brother Erwin (2 years younger) and a sister Irene (3 years younger). Berry Pink became known later in life as the "Marble King." He was a primary stockholder in a company by the same name, Marble King, which still is in operation today in Paden City, WV. I am trying to contact anyone living in the Passaic, NJ area who might have known Berry Pink or members of his family. I may be contacted at e-mail:

Gerald Witcher

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September 2012

My life was saved by an emergency pyloric stenosis surgery done by a Dr. Okin in September of 1949. I would like to find out more about him, since I owe him a good deal for what he did for me.

Do you have any information about who he was or how I may obtain more information about him?

Any help with this would be much appreciated.

Best wishes,

Steven Brizek
24 Suncrest Avenue
North Haledon, NJ 07508

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September 2012

Pete Anderson here;

1940s - 1950s I lived in Garfield NJ and went to school at St. Nicks on Jefferson Street, in Passaic.

During those years I spent most of my time in Passaic. My fondest memories are of Passaic. Passaic was really home to me.

I am looking for many of my classmates from St. Nicks. I graduated in 1955 or 1956. Can't remember which it was.

I have made contact with a few of my classmates but two that come to mind are; (because I know how to spell their names);

Gloria Healion & Janet Barkhurst.

Gloria graduated from Pope Pius High School in 1959 & Janet graduated Passaic High also in 1959.

Hopefully someone can assist me.

Pete Anderson
Vancouver, WA

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August 2012


I just found your site. I was poking around Facebook looking for teacher Mona Rinzler. Our classmates would like to invite her to our 50th reunion on September 8. If anyone from the class of 1962 is out there, please email Leslie Coen Block at I am chairing this reunion.

Thank you for a nice website

Leslie Block

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July 2012

Does anyone remember McCrory's on Main Avenue in Passaic?


Dina Young

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Hi Dina,

Yes, I certainly do remember McCrory's. That was by far the largest and nicest of the three "five and dime stores" on Lexington Avenue. (It also an entrance on Washington Place.) Among the many things that McCrory's had was an excellent lunch counter. I certainly remember having a sandwich and Coke there around noon on Saturdays before rushing to get to the movies.

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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July 2012


I am doing family research. Two of my great grandparents immigrated
from Austria-Hungary abt 1904 and resided in Passaic. I believe other
members of their families immigrated and resided in Passaic as well
during those early years. They were all parishioners at the original
parish of the Church of the Holy Trinity. I was told that this original
parish was started in 1900 on Jefferson Street in a 'house'. NOTE: the
current Church of the Holy Trinity (Hope & Harrison Sts) was built in
1923, so none of my relatives worshiped here. I am interested in
learning more about the original parish - if anyone has photos or can
refer me to a resource that might have the history of these early
parishes in Passaic. I have already contacted Pastor Antonio at the
current parish and they do not have any photos or other reference
materials on the original parish.

I am also interested in knowing whether there are any extended relatives
still in the Passaic area or if anyone knew of these family names from
1904-1915 ish):

1. Pratschler, Joseph (siblings: John, Mary, Teresia; parents: Paul
Pratschler & Mary Manner), uncle: Joseph Adler

2. Wachtler, Mary (siblings: Andrew, Anna? Elisabeth?; parents:
Andrew Wachtler & Elisabeth Schweighardt), Uncles: Martin & Frank

Thank you for your consideration!

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June 2012

I'm trying to find out the name of the former principal of School #10 in Passaic about five years ago. Someone said it was Mr. Conada? And I want to know where he works at now. And what's his e-mail address? Please help.

E-mail address:

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May 2012

Dear Bob:

Talk about the love of Passaic, NJ, have a look. I just had a peak at the numerous great stories about Passaic in "Wonderful Passaic" and I saw my sister Dorothy Russell Lossinsky's (San Diego, CA) recent email to you. I am Dorothy's brother Albert, a former trumpet player at PHS and I even threw the shot put briefly on the PHS track team.

I believe I have a story that is a real knee slapper. After departing Passaic in 1964 for college and graduate school in Kansas, then onward to begin a doctoral degree in anatomy/pathology at the U. Md in Baltimore, I dropped out to join a research team at the Johns Hopkins Univ and the University of Iceland. This story gets even more circuitous. I later joined a research team on Staten Island, NY where I contributed to understanding how the blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord work during the process of aging, after inflammation and head trauma at a famous Research Institute at Willowbrook now studying Autism. On Staten Island, I married a woman with three kids from Brooklyn, NY and I finally completed my doctoral degree in Warsaw, Poland with the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Warsaw Medical University in Neurobiology in 1994. After 17 on Staten Island, my family and I drove across the US to Pasadena, California where I joined a research institute that develops microelectrodes to treat deafness, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's Disease and epilepsy.

At this point, I recognized that my emotional heart remained in Passaic/NYC corridor so we packed our tents once again and the truck rolled back to New Jersey, first in Scotch Plains and then later in Westfield. In January, 2012, after 48 years residing in several very nice places across the US and Europe, I returned to Passaic to be nearer to my aging Mom on Henderson Street. After Mom passed last June, my wife Georgette moved into Mom's recently redesigned house on Henderson Street in "Passaic Park", as it now seems to be defined. Thus, I made a complete turn around and I cannot be more delighted to begin semi-retirement with increasing time away from the laboratory bench living once again in the very house in which I grew up adjacent to McDonald's Brook, Third Ward Park, all embraced by the wonderful memories of our beloved Passaic, NJ.


Al (Lou), PHS, 1964

aka Albert S. Lossinsky, Ph.D.,
Visiting Research Scientist
Department of Developmental Neurobiology
Henryk M. Wisniewski Research Tower, Room 2E-18
New York State Institute for Basic Research
in Developmental Disabilities
Office for People with Developmental Disabilities
1050 Forest Hill Road
Staten Island NY 10314

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April 5, 2012

Does anyone remember a night club named the Diamond Mirror? It was popular during the 40's and 50's. Any information is helpful.


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April 2012

My Mom, Jane Elsie Van Handle was born on the Boulevard in 1909 & moved to
Howe Ave. when she was around 9. She attended #11 School & then worked as a
secretary there after graduating from PHS in 1927. Her father, Moses, was
born in Holland & came with his family in the 1800's. The Van den Handel
family (later some changed it to Van Handel & some to Van Handle) lived on
Lafayette. Very large family & I would love to get in touch with any Van
Handle, Van Handel or Van den Handel family. My Mom married my Dad,
Lawrence Patterson, who also moved to Passaic around 1920. Mom was a
secretary at PHS until her retirement in 1972. Does anyone remember Jane

Would love to hear from anyone with memories of my family.

Thank you, Ruth Donnelly

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March 2012


I own a building on Monroe Street on the corner of Lucille Place. Does anyone have a picture of 393-395 Monroe Street from the 1960's or older days?

Thank you for your help.


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Hi Bob,

My wife is reading about the sinister Rosenthal gang (the book, "Bootleggers, Mobsters and My Mom: A True Passaic Story). She loves it, every time she comes across a certain part she comes after me and tells me. I told her I'll read it on my own but that doesn't seem to curb her. She does have one question, you mention a mansion in Wallington and she'd like to know where it was and all about it. If you could fill me in, that'll keep her off my back (for a while anyway). Thanks Bob.

Take care,
Jack Mahon

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Hi Jack,

Thanks for your e-mail. I do appreciate you telling me that your wife is enjoying the book.

I am currently in Florida for the winter, and all my research files are at home in Maryland.

I was born approximately the same year my grandfather lost his Wallington home and his eleven building lots. My father and grandfather would never talk about their lost life in Wallington. Moreover, they refused to ever drive to Wallington, and therefore, I've never saw the house. The description of the house in the book was taken from one of my mother's numerous diaries. Also, in the diaries she described walking from Hope Avenue (in Passaic) to the Wallington house.

So please apologize to your wife that I can't answer her question. When I return to Maryland in April, I will again attempt to re-read my mother's diaries and perhaps find more info about the pre-Depression days in Wallington. (As I mentioned in the book, my mom seldom used verbs in her writings. Thus, reading and understanding what is wrote is always a wonderful adventure but very time consuming.


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February 2012


My mom was Eleanor Kupay. She was born in 1935 in Passaic. She went to Passaic High, I think. She won a Kim Novak look-alike contest sometime between 1950-1955. She was 1 of 10 blondes at one time in Passaic. Her best friend was Irene Kernicky. A boy friend was Louis Arnone.

My grandparents owned a saloon on 3rd St. called Kupay's Tavern.

Mom used to hang out at R-Cola pool. If anyone has any other info on my mom's passaic days, I would reaaly appreciate receiving your e-mail, I miss her terribly. We lost her 4 years ago to colon cancer.

She married Joseph DeGeorge, my dad. He was born in Ohio in 1915. My mom and dad were 21 years apart. I believe the family came to New Jersey in the 1940s. I think I remember Lexington Ave, or something. Lost my dad 23 years ago. Mom's sister was Margie and she married Rudy Jezercak. Both gone as well. My uncle was in a band called the Hi-Fives. The song that made it to a singe is DOROTHY.

Elizabeth DeGeorge

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February 3, 2012


You know this Sunday evening, I believe, there will be a showing of "The Diary of Anne Frank" on Turner Movie Classics. The girl who plays Anne was very cute so I looked her up on the computer and found who she was. Her name is Millie Perkins and she was born in Passaic in April 1938, later moved to Fairlawn. Just thought you'd enjoy another tidbit of our history. Oh, by the way we bought two copies of your new best seller, one for us and one for my doctor.

Jack Mahon



Millie Perkins

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December 2011

In reading your books (with much enjoyment, by the way) I saw several references to the "unique qualities" of us engineers. I didn't see any mention of "The Nack", with which we are all endowed. If you haven't seen it before, I refer you to the link below (copy and paste into the website window).


Ken Foster

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Hi Ken,

Thanks for telling me that you enjoyed the "Bootlegger, ..." book. Such comments are really appreciated.

More importantly, Carole and I couldn't stop laughing at the web site you provided. You may not know this, but not only am I an engineer, but all four of our sons are also engineers. And, yes, as my kids grew up, they took apart every piece of plumbing and electronics in our house. Only about a third of their projects were ever put back together.


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November 2011

Subj: New Book About Passaic; Video; Names on photos

Just finished reading Bob Rosenthal's latest book about Passaic, Bootleggers, Mobsters, and My Mom. He reveals a notorious murder which remained unsolved for 80 years. He describes historical details of the strong Passaic economy with its woolen mills, the growth of unions and the brutality of police and factory owners. He explains the role of Alan B. Dumont (remember WABD channel 5?) who created the cathode ray tube used in the first televisions, and why he was driven out of business. Nonetheless the first TV program was broadcast from Passaic at 2 Main Avenue. Rosenthal adds to the panache of being from Passaic. I enjoyed reading the book and was unhappy for it to end. Great book.

You can order this and his other books at this link:

Roy Bercaw

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September 2011

Justine's boyfriend on American Bandstand was "Bob" as I recall. A tall nice looking blond fellow. Great dancer.

Bo Salsberg
Barbara Flaster c/o63

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Aug. 30, 2011

Kudos to all the contributors of the vintage photos of Passaic and its treasured sites. It brings to mind a collage of memories instilled by many while I was growing up.

Thanks for the memories

Bo Salsberg
Barbara Flaster Class of '63

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Aug. 25,2011

Dear Bob,

Thank you for the book "Wonderful Passaic" that you sent me several years ago. It is my treasure.
I was born in Passaic in 1942 and lived at 460 Monroe St. (corner of Gregory Ave.). Our building had several stores under the apartments, one of them was Joe's Shanty owned by Joe Blumenthal; Charlie's Deli and I think I remember a Laundromat but I am not sure. Memorial School #11 (which is now renamed William B. Cruise) was across the street. Down the street on the corner of Tulip and Monroe St. was Mr. Kwaznicks (not really sure of the spelling) candy store. We always knew when it was spring, out would come the big red container, in it our beloved shalali. I have spent years trying to find Italian Ice that tastes like old Mr. Kwaznick's shalali.

I remember walking to the new PHS in all sorts of weather. We walked through Second Ward Park, all the way up Gregory Ave. to Broadway. There we would stop at the S&R sweet shop (on Broadway) for a cherry coke. They had a great juke box. After school we retraced our steps, again stopping at the S&R, but we were in a hurry because Dick Clark's American Bandstand was coming on. Does anyone remember Justine's boyfriend's name? He was a cutie.

I think I was the only one in #11 school who had divorced parents. I always felt ashamed to tell anyone. My mom worked on the second floor of Ginsburg's.

Our principal was a very large woman named Miss Donahue who always wore a very masculine looking green suit, vice principal was a bald fellow named Mr. Springer. Our science teacher was a weird little man named Mr. DeRenzo who had very black hair always with a straight part down the middle.

Our teachers were nothing like the teachers today. They were very serious, no funny business and very scary.

My mom and I moved from Passaic in 1958 to live near my grandparents in Flushing Long Island.

I went back to Passaic a few years ago and was shocked at the change. I didn't even recognize Monroe St. Nevertheless it will always be "Wonderful Passaic" to me filled with happy childhood memories.

If anyone remembers me from #11 school class of 1957 I would love to hear from you.
I now live in a retirement community in Manchester, NJ.


Gloria (Semel) Young-Freem

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August 2011

To whom it may concern,

My cousin is attempting to put together a memorabilia folder for his family, the Rose's. He is looking for a photo of the old Barton's Hardware located at 195 Jefferson St., Passaic, NJ (circa 1940s). His uncle and grandfather were employed there years ago. If you have any photos or know anyone who may, we'd greatly appreciate your assistance.


Sam Van Grouw (on behalf of Donald Rose)
Architype Graphic Solutions

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August 2011

Does anyone remember the name of a restaurant/deli that was next door to a record shop on Main Avenue near the People's Bank in Passaic around 1945-50?

Juli Torlucci


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July 2011

Dear Bob Rosenthal,

A few days after my mother's funeral, I happened to be clearing out the numerous books in her house and found your book, "Wonderful Passaic".

I was born in St. Mary's hospital and lived on Lafayette Ave. until the age of eight when we moved to Third Ward Park on Henderson St. My brother and I attended #11 school and then went on to PHS, where I graduated in 1962.

I left Passaic in 1973 at the age of 29, and with a college friend journeyed across the country by car to end up in San Diego, California. I still reside in San Diego to this day.

Never in my life did I think that I had come from such a wonderful city as Passaic. In fact, I thought I disliked it for tons of reasons and couldn't say I was proud to be linked to any part of that city.

Then I read your book!

I read it in two nights straight through and it was like a brick to the side of my head. Memories came flooding through and facts that I never knew about Passaic made my head spin. What was I ever thinking all those years? Why didn't I want to know about my birth city and become more involved? I thought I needed to escape but all the while wonderful Passaic was deeply ingrained in my being. It has never really left me.

You have given me a new, deeper respect for Passaic. I always knew that my uncle John Grabiec was a member of the PHS "Wonder Team" of the 20's but it never occurred to me to look into other aspects of the city or it's earliest history. Now I want to.

I appreciate your gathering all the facts, telling about the different sections of the city and giving me tons of wonderful facts about all the "firsts" that happened in Passaic.

I now take your book to my friend's homes and tell them that this is where my roots are. It is even proudly displayed on our cocktail table.

Thank you for giving me a new respect for the city of my birth,

Dorothy (Lossinsky) Russell

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Hi Dorothy,

My sincere thanks for your kind words. It really made my day.

I have asked the Wonderful-Passaic Web Master to post your letter on the web site. I do hope some of your Passaic friends see it and get back in contact with you.

Again, thanks for taking the time to write to me. Your e-mail was sincerely appreciated

Bob Rosenthal

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July 2011


I was born in Passaic where I attended St. Mary's Catholic Grade School from K-part of 6th grade. We left NJ in 1959 to relocate to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I was able to keep up with a few classmates for a few years and then finally lost touch. I have always thought about one of my classmates in particular. I know she graduated from Pope Pius HS in 1965 and hoped someonecould direct me as to how I may be able to locate her. I am sure she has married and I have no idea of her married name; her maiden name was Donna Pashkowsky.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Irene Sefchik Hince

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July 2011


I'm a former resident of Passaic. I was born at St. Mary's Hospital, lived on Jackson St. until age 7 and then moved to Lafayette Avenue where I lived until I moved away after college. I went to St. Joe's on Monroe St. for 2 years, St. Anthony's until junior high, Lincoln Jr. High and then Passaic High School - class of '73.

Jackson St., although quite a working class neighborhood, was very much an immigrant neighborhood with lots of Poles. Both my parents migrated to the states after World War II. St. Joe's was mostly Poles and we even went to Polish School on Saturdays. We always went to Polonia Bakery, which is still there after so many years, and got fresh kielbasa from the numerous Polish deli's in the area. Since our lives were very much centered around the Polish community we went to the Polish People's Home on Monroe St. for just about every occasion.

Life on Lafayette Avenue was wonderful. During the earlier years I remember the fruit and veggie vendor. I knew he was coming before I saw him because I heard the hooves of the horses pulling the wagon on the street pavement. The peddler would call out, "Get your peaches. Peaches. Get your peaches." My mother didn't buy much from him because she would go to Paterson to the Railroad Market to buy everything from fish to bushels of tomatoes.

The egg man and milk man would deliver their goods weekly. Eventually, we started buying milk from Milk Jug store on Main Avenue, uptown, where you would get a refund for returned bottles.

Our house was directly across from the emergency room entrance so we heard sirens all the time. In 1962 Passaic General Hospital was one building at the top of the property. There was a nurses' home and a doctors' home on the property as well. We played major, major games of hide and seek on the hospital hill during the summer, going home only when it got dark. During the winter that hill was called Suicide Hill because the slope was pretty steep for sleigh riding and lots of kids got creamed on the way down. The hospital now occupies every square
inch of the what seemed like endless space back then.

My part of Lafayette Avenue was tree lined and really pretty decent looking back then, with the exception of a few houses that were always run down.

My friend, Nancy Speer, and I would walk to Max's on Howe Avenue for soda at the soda fountain...seltzer with syrup mixed in...loved it. There was also a candy store on Paulison Avenue, across from #11 school, called Freedman's where we got ice pops and Fudgesicles. Freedman was an old guy and he had a slew of penny candy choices where we went with empty soda bottles for 2 cent refunds. Man, that seems like the dark ages and it was in my time!

We used to walk down town to shop at Lark's Shoe Store, Ginsburg's, Shereed's, Wechsler's, the Army Navy store and eat at the counter at Kresgie's or Blimpie's. I bought my first record at the record shop a few doors down from the Army Navy store, but I can't remember the name of it.

When we walked to St. Anthony's School we took Oak St. and on the way, on the corner of Oak and Hammond was a barbershop - Pete's Barbershop. He had a soda machine and some candy that we could buy which made Pete's a quasi hangout for us Catholic school kids. I really liked Pete and I wonder whatever happened to him. I suspect he's gone now. Anyone out there know?

Right before St. Anthony's on Oak St. was a Baptist church and on Sunday mornings when we were on our way to church the doors to the Baptist church were wide open and I could hear the rollicking sounds of praise through song and I envied them. Ours was a very solemn service. I wonder if that church is still there.

Lincoln Junior High was a marvelous experience for someone who had to wear a uniform for 9 years! It expanded my world view in part because I was now going to school in a very diverse environment, socially and economically. It was also 1970 and there was so much going on in the
world and Passaic was in the middle of it all. There were head shops down town and war protests in Passaic Park. The Capitol Theater became the venue for the biggest rock bands of the time. My first concert there was Melanie.

During high school I spent a lot of time at the tennis courts in Passaic Park. My father always played on the clay courts. They aren't there anymore, are they? I played on the courts in the park near the handball courts. I haven't driven by there in a few years..are the courts still there?

During high school I was introduced to Karpen's Deli by an old boyfriend. We went there weekly for hot dogs and macaroni salad. I have been searching for comparable macaroni salad ever since Karpen's closed and have yet to find any that comes even close. Anyone out there know the recipe for that salad or where I can find some that's just as good?

Passaic High was on split sessions from my sophomore through senior years. I went to school from 7ish to 12:30 everyday. I felt so bad for the freshman who went from 1 until 5. It was pretty unpleasant for them in the winter - walking home in the dark. I think the high school's
heyday was pretty much over after our graduating class. I could be wrong.

There are many, many more memories which will have to wait for the next installment of my Passaic stories.

Alyse (Korzeniowski) Kalas


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May 2011

Does anyone remember "Shalolly" as being a synonym for Italian Ice? (Not even sure how it's spelled.) The only people I know who ever heard of this word are from the Passaic/Clifton/Barfield area. And I think you had to be born before 1965 to have heard it. My mother said her own father, born 1885, used the word, so it obviously has some antiquity.

By the way, although I grew up in Clifton, I was born in St. Mary's, and attended church and Sunday school at Holy Trinity. I attended 7th grade at Clifton School #7 in the Botany, and after school would walk over to Holy Trinity for confirmation lessons. I would walk down Parker Avenue and then make a right at the President Palace. Does anyone remember Father Veith, Morris, McGinley, Messenlehner and Pruschkowitz? Holy Trinity's parishioners were mostly German, and they always had a couple German language masses on Sunday. Now the church is largely Hispanic. When you come to think of it, not much has changed, just the language of the immigrant parishioners.

Before the malls opened, my mother used to take me to Main Avenue to buy school clothes. I think Larkey's was her favorite.

Also, who remembers the used book stores? I used to go there all the time to buy old magazines for cheap. There was the Treasure Nook on Monroe Street, and maybe a bit later, a bigger one on Main Avenue down toward the YMCA.

Bruce Klemens
Oak Ridge, NJ

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June 2011

Yes, Bruce. I remember the word "Shalolly". It always pertained to Italian Ices!
My Passaic family and I have spoken about how idiosyncratic a word it was and have pretty much decided that one of the first people to hear the word "Gelati" probably transposed it into "Shalolly. Sounds plausible, doesn't it?

Howard Weiner

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May 2011

I have spent the past hour reading all of your postings. Many of the people on here are much older than myself. I was born in Beth Israel Hospital in 1968. I moved out of Passaic in 1992, if I remember correctly to Elmwood Park, NJ, and then from there several other places and then in 2008 to Virginia.

I lived at 17 Tulip Street until 1983 and we then relocated to Jackson Street across from A & D Tavern. Then we bounced over to 204 President Street, Passaic. After that I moved into the women's boarding rooms at the Passaic YWCA on Prospect Street which a few years back was renovated to be the Social Services for Passaic.

I started school at St. Anthony's of Padua on Tulip & Oak (K-2), then St. Nicholas Ukrainian on President Street (3-6), #4 Lincoln Middle for 7th grade only, St. Cyril's in Clifton for 8th grade, then St. Mary's HS in Rutherford for 9th...and finally Sophomore year at Passaic HS, then my mom removed me from school to work. I went back to the Passaic Adult Learning Center in the renovated bank building (Midlantic) on the corner of Main and Broadway.

So many memories...Carl's Pizza on Myrtle, the best hot and freshest Italian bread you ever will have on Oak Street, the deli on the corner next to Carl's pizza, Dotty Locker Dancing School (recitals at the theatre on Central Ave, Tony Berretta's (when it was in the middle of
the road next to a dry cleaners, I think), Ginsburg's Dept. store, McCrory's, Kitty Kelly Shoes (Main Ave), Wonder Store (the Chickens roasting in the window), The Fair, the Chinese restaurant that was upstairs and located between Henry St & where the Oasis diner was
located, Community Bus Lines, Alex the bus driver on my bus I took to Rutherford, Julius Forstman Library, and just too many things to remember right now....

I saw a picture of Sidney Lockwood on your site...He was the former Principal at #10 school in Passaic. My mom used to baby sit for him and his wife Paula who was a teacher at #1 school I think in Passaic Park. Unfortunately, I learned last year he passed away in 2008 and his wife passed on the following year.....What a tragedy it was for me to learn of this....I am still in shock.

Passaic has changed EXTENSIVELY since I was a child. It is definitely not the same Passaic I grew up with and knew.

If anyone remembers me or my mom, June, please feel free to contact me. I also have many memories of going downtown with my grandmother Catherine Mikolajczyk Kennedy. I miss her with all my heart.

Cindy Schweighart

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April 2011

Thanks for the tip about Motor Coach Age. Its Passaic issue makes fascinating reading and I second the recommendation. The information-packed thirty-six page publication of the Motor Bus Society is sprinkled with glossy reproductions of forty-two photographs and four route maps.

I am particularly enchanted by its unearthing of the Hammond Avenue Bus Company, which between 1925 and 1929, apparently, operated a two-mile bus route between Market Street (the former Second Street) and its namesake. I never actually saw a real-life Hammond bus in situ, but I am taken by the existence of a small fleet of them once running so close to what would later be my neighborhood.

I was born in the Beth-Israel hospital that was then located in Dundee, but I resided on Wickham Street, close by the intersection of Hammond and Montgomery Street, from birth in later 1945, until my induction to the Army. I also had a Herald-News paper route on Hammond itself.

I may be putting two and two together and getting five, but the Hammond Avenue Bus Company is a plausible explanation for some oddities in my former neck of the woods.

Take that intersection, for instance. Hammond is narrow except for right there where it meets Montgomery and widens three- or fourfold. I remember the expanse, from curb to curb, because I had to look left and right, two or three times, before crossing it at least daily, going to, and coming home from, Joe's Shanty and beyond. The disparity might be due to the intersection originally being a layover for buses of the Hammond Avenue Bus Company. The delta at the mouth of the Hammond is perfect for parking three or four buses on a diagonal along the curb closer to Paulison Avenue.

Why there? Remember the bleachers? Where did all the fannies in the bleacher seats come from? The unusually large and heavy, block stone and timber, construction sat hundreds for industrial league softball games made even more enjoyable by quart containers of take-out draft beer from Pink's Saloon. The attendees did not drive themselves there, mostly, nor did they substantially all live close by. The softball fields of Second Ward Park at Hammond and Montgomery were a popular destination and the bulk of the fans came by bus, in this scenario, from the Dundee tenements surrounding the Dundee factories. The Forstmann and other textile mills did not have employee parking lots. Workers walked or bused.

Another thing out of character in the area of Hammond Avenue is the oversize and out-of-place two-story garage at the bend of Oak Street between Tulip Street and Gregory Avenue. It is not much more than a block away from Oak and Hammond, where Bob resided before moving on up. That cavernous space might have been a bus shelter and repair shop for the Hammond Avenue Bus Company.

I remember the building because I frequented the improvised wholesale doughnut bakery which only operated on Friday and Saturday evenings but continued long into the night. It was up a set of stairs, a staircase to confectionery heaven, and, if the wind was right, the intoxicating aroma from the not-for-locals-only second-and-third-shift bake shop reached as far as Wickham and drew crowds of retail customers too.

To further illustrate my contention that the Second Ward of Passaic constituted the original American food court, how about that Italian bread bakery that was thrown together and operated on the same schedule but a block further along Oak across from Saint Anthony and set back from the road about a hundred feet? The steaming fresh loaves went right out of the oven and onto wood planks laid on cinder blocks around the interior of the storefront. We fancied ourselves as connoisseurs of bread crust and looked them all over very carefully before making our picks of the crustiest of the hot lot. We would insert a stick of unsalted butter, wait a minute for it to melt, and then enjoy.

Another oddity on Hammond Avenue, which I can now attribute to the Hammond Avenue Bus Company, is the cluster of apartment buildings and other multi-family housing on Hammond between Peach Street and Cedar Street. I am aware of it because that was my paper route. The location seems to be much too out in the boondocks for such density until you take into account the convenience of bus service at the time the area was developed so intensely.

Of course, I had no such luck and had to lug my fifty-something papers all the way from the Herald-News shack near that impromptu bread bakery. It was quite unusual to have more than fifty subscribers on one block. Besides a couple of single families up on Cedar, I had apartments at both ends of the block, two families on one side, and three families on the other. Only the bungalows did not require me to climb stairs to drop off and collect.

There was a smaller version of Joe's Shanty which was located in the bow of the wedge-shaped apartment building on Peach and Hammond. After all that leg exercise climbing stairs with a load on my back, I usually took a load off my feet by stopping for a soda on a stool at the fountain.

Francis Gurtowski

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March 2011

Hi Bob,

There is a very informative magazine article that was published in October-December 2005 issue of "Motor Coach Age" that has a complete history and pictures of the following bus companies that once served Passaic:

- Olympic Bus Line
- Passaic-Athenia Bus Co
- Garfield-Passaic Transit Co.
- Garfield-Passaic Bus Co.
- Consolidated Bus Co.

It has histories of the above, pictures, routes, etc., of all the buses that served Passaic through the years, plus all the Public Service Transport routes.

Anyone interested in the above can contact the publisher for copies and further information:

Motor Bus Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 261
Paramus, NJ 07653

It will bring back many memories for anyone who lived in Passaic from 1914 through the 1970s. I enjoy reading about the old times around Passaic, especially from 1952 to 1959 when I lived on Marietta Avenue by Falstroms. I attended PHS from 1952 - 1955.

Donald Hoedemaker

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January 2011

Hi again, Bob. Long time no talk. We have had prior correspondence re your
wonderful blog (Joe's Shanty and other stuff).
I may have found Mark Blitzer for the reader who is trying to locate him.
If the person he or she is looking for is about 45 yrs old, he may be a
Cardiologist in Westport, CT,
who formerly lived in Scotch Plains, NJ. Here is the info.

Dr. Mark L. Blitzer, M.D.
Ste 210, 330 Orchard Street
New Haven, CT 06511-4429
(203) 867-5400

Dave Novitsky

P.S. I am also looking for the other four persons mentioned on your latest
board. Will be in touch.

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January 2011

I am looking for anyone who knew my mom Antoinette (Dotte) Fonzi and uncles
Alfred and Dan in Passaic during the 1930s. They went to No. 2 Schoool and
Passaic High.


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November 2010

My name is Steven Kreitner and I am looking for anybody who knows the whereabouts of my father, Mr. Steve Kreitner. He went to Passaic High. His mother's name is Rose and he had two sisters.

Steven Kreitner

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November 2010

I grew up in Passaic from 1954 -1969 and must say I wouldn't have traded it for anywhere else. It was exciting. I lived in 3rd Ward a bit, but mainly 2nd Ward, went to #11 School, hung around at Joe Shantys, ate the best pizza in the world, watched night softball games in 2nd Ward Park, went and played in Hobo Jungle near the tracks where we met John, the bum who lived in a box, who would tell us stories. I couldn't wait for spring to get my well oiled baseball glove out and run to the field, where good friends like John Pappas, Jimmy Rich,Joe Noto, Charley Belardinelli, Alfie Auerbach, Billy Hodge, the Kas brothers, Joe and John, the list is too long.

I lived on Gregory Avenue and if you wanted to go anywhere you rode your bike or walked. It was nothing to go way downtown by the canal or 3rd Ward Park. #11 School - what a trip, Miss Donahue, Miss Putnam, Mr Dumbleton (we called him Woody).

Going fishing in Dundee canal, swimming at White Pipes, football games on Saturday watching Jack Tatum and Artie Harris play. Watched Sam Perry break records in track.

Growing up in Passaic was a wonderful and exciting time for me, especially with its diversity of ethnic backgrounds, which helped me grow into a well balanced and less judgmental person.

By the way, I'm trying to locate a friend named Billy Caulfield or his sister Mary. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks a lot,


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October 2010

Circa 1965 Franklin #3 School, I went to school with 2 mates Sam Graziano and Rudy Intellisano whom I have been looking for unsuccessfully.

My name is Kim Singer and I can be reached at e-mail:

Thank you.

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October 2010

Dear Readers,

One of our readers wrote to say she tried to contact Mark Blitzer but his e-mail address no longer works.

Mark, if you read this, please send your current e-mail address, or if anyone knows Mark, please send his current e-mail address to

Thank you,

Bob Rosenthal

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October 2010

As I look back 55 years ago when I was 6 years old, I remember waking up all through the night with anticipation of getting up very early that Saturday morning and getting a good spot down by Hughes Lake waiting for the announcer to come on the microphone and say start fishing. How I miss those fishing contests, and passing by the fenced in area with all the deer inside there in 3rd Ward Park.

John J. Cammarota
Logistics Coordinator Contractor QinetiQ, North America
U.S. Army Flight Test Directorate
Caims Army Airfield, Ft. Rucker, AL 36362

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October 2010

Would love to hear some memories from the kids of the 2nd Ward section of town from my era. Went to Memorial School #11, PHS and parishioner of St. Anthony's Church. Passaic was certainly a melting pot, but I'm not reading too many comments from the Italian kids in the ol' neighborhood. What about the peddler who yelled out from his truck so our moms could buy the fresh "scarole" and other veggies?? I'm American of Italian descent and married 47 years to a nice Jewish boy from Bloomfield who enjoys reading this site but most memories are from grads of my two older brothers, 75 and 77 years old! Any 1961 grads posting here lately??

Phyllis Felice Gettis

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September 2010

Hi Bob,

Howard Barry Weiner: Born @ Passaic General Hospital March 25, 1949 to Lila Shier (born Passaic 1925) & Milton Weiner (born Passaic 1919). Both of my parents graduated from Passaic High School. Attached is my father's yearbook picture. I have one sister (Amy) who is four and a half years my junior. I live in Northern Thailand with my life and love partner of 37 years: Lance Kostrobala.

My father, Milton, had three brothers (Jack, Oscar & Bernie ) and one sister (Ceil). I knew my paternal Grandmother (Fanny) but not my grandfather (Harry). He died of pneumonia when my father was a young man. The four brothers owned a small grocery store in Passaic Park that I believe was popular but experienced financial trouble. Uncle Oscar worked at Thom McCan for many years, never married and lived with his mother on Day Street in Clifton. Uncle Bernie and his wife Eleanor (still alive and living in Passaic) had a candy store in Passaic Park on Main Avenue. They had three children: Gail, Adie & Michael. Uncle Jack married Gloria Cansino and moved to Richmond VA to be near her family. They had two children: Gary & Susan. The one sister (Ceil) married Matt Jaffa and lived in the same garden apartment in Rutherford on the Passaic River for 50 years! Uncle Matt invented the machine that automated silk screen printing of fabric. His company was called Precision Screen Manufacturing. My Aunt Ceil was a gorgeous red head. We would go to Wilburn's Drug Store in Passaic Park, sit at the counter and eat (forbidden) bacon, lettuce & tomato sandwiches on white toast with either a coke or a vanilla malted. Uncle Matt & Aunt Ceil had two children: David & Harriet.

Mother's father was the kind, greatly loved and respected: Joe Shier. Joe and his two brothers (Max & Henry) owned The Fair in Passaic. Joe had another brother: Morris and two sisters: Rachel & Esther. Mother Lila ( living in Phoenix ) had tears in her eyes when I told her that people on this site remembered The Fair. Maternal grandmother was Flo Shier (nee' Levine). Joe and Flo lived successively on Grove St., Elliott St., Fenlon Blvd. and The Circle. They had another daughter: Bernice Rhoda Shier; my one and only Aunt Bunny. Aunt Bunny married sweet, sweet Gordon B. Emont (a Jewish dentist!) and they had two children: Joan & Eric.

My grandmother's parents (Benjamin & Rose Levine) lived on Grove St. I can still remember going to Yom Kippur Services in the Orthodox Shul where the women & children sat upstairs and the men downstairs. Rose and Benjamin had two other children: Gertrude and Louie. For reasons unexplained to me, my great-grandfather expelled my great-uncle Louis from the house when he was still a teenager. Uncle Louis fled to NYC where he met and joined up with Meyer Lansky...but, that's a whole other story!

My father, mother, sister Amy and I lived with our grandparents Joe & Flo at 130 The Circle. Prescott 9-2727! I went to Jefferson #1, Lincoln Jr. High #4 and one year of at Passaic High before moving to South Orange. Growing up on The Circle, our next door neighbors on one side were Eddie & Estelle Schwartz with their children Elliott, Terry and Bonnie. On the other side were Mr. & Mrs. (Philomena) Piscotti whom we kids used to endlessly annoy with our shenanigans. One more door down towards the park was Dr. & Mrs. (Valerie) Schwartz with their two sons Billy & Bobby and their daughter whose name I've forgotten. Michael Goldstein lived across the street with his dad Kelly and mother Sylvia (Bellet). Kelly Goldstein and his brothers owned a very fine men's clothing store: Max Goldstein & Sons. Also in our neighborhood were Sam, Blossom, Gail, Winnie & Richard Smallman. Mr. Smallman manufactured leather goods like wallets & handbags. The Elfenbeins lived next door to The Smallmans with sons Manny, Arthur and a daughter. Mr. Elfenbein owned The Vendome Hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. (Arthur: if you're reading this, I still have regret for having tortured you as a child by calling you names. Kids can be extremely cruel and our "pack" was no exception.) The Kalbs (son Gary) lived down the street. Mr. Kalb owned the showroom that sold Pontiacs. They were so glamorous because they got new cars every year. Andy Kanter and his family lived facing Hughes Lake. The Entin family had the first color TV!

I went to Nursery School at The YMHA. Grammar School was Jefferson #1, probably the most beautiful grammar school in the entire USA! Michael Goldstein and I would walk to school together every day through the park, up Mineral Springs Avenue. We had a favorite willow tree for climbing and dreaming, a little brook that ran through the park and a small stone bridge over the brook.

Most of the kids in my neighborhood went to Temple Emanuel for Hebrew School. Yes, I remember Mr. Witty and Mr. Rohold who told me that I was such a bad student that I'd never be able to get through my haftorah and that I was fortunate that I had the shortest haftorah of the entire year! Regardless, I chanted my haftorah flawlessly and then led the congregation in the Saturday afternoon service without one single mistake. Terry Schwartz, Michael Goldstein, Richard Smallman, Andy Kanter, Michael Bloom and I were all Bar Mitzvahed the same year.

A lot of people extol the virtues of Rutt's Hut and to tell the truth, I never understood the appeal. We used to go next door to a smaller and much less known place called Bertlin's. Here we would get sliced beef on a soft, soft white bread roll onto which you could put the sweetest most delicious green pickle relish! "Pop" Bertlin ran the place with his two sons. Next door was a pony ride and that was often a treat after lunch.

My pediatrician was Dr. Perry Cohn, my dentist was my wonderful Uncle Gordon Emont (Aunt Bunny's husband), my ophthalmologist was cousin Jules Shier, we bought shoes from cousin Sidney Shier @ Stride-Rite where you could get your feet x-rayed (no kidding!).

There's more, but that enough for now.

Howard Weiner
Chiang Mai Thailand

Milton Weiner, PHS Yearbook Photo

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September 2010

In 1953 I was born in Passaic but moved out of town around 1967. I lived
on Carlton Place. At the corner of Carlton Place and Main Avenue was
Eddie's Market. Eddie was also an artist. He had a different painting
style that I appreciated. Can anyone provide me with his last name and
any other information regarding his paintings?

Thank you,
Ted Hayes

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April 2010

Both my parents grew up in Passaic and they always talk about going to Pop's Restaurant for apple turnovers. Would very much appreciate any photos and stories that could be shared of Pop's. Dad graduated PHS in 1948, Mom in 1954.

Will Zachok

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March 2010

I just discovered your Web Site, I am David Bunevich (PHS 1970). My aunt, Pauline Krakowsky, recently passed away on July 23rd. She was the oldest person alive in Passaic and lived her whole life there. She was 106 with all her faculties intact when she died. She lived until her death at 124 Lafayette Ave (which is still owned by the family since the 1930s). Before that she lived on Passaic Avenue next to Tiffereth Israel and before that on Market Street. She had amazing recall of Passaic from the beginning of the 20th century.

Before her death she was honored by the Passaic County Freeholders and given a full page interview with pictures by the Herald News. She was a lady who retained her dignity and humor to her last days. She loved Passaic, her family who lived there and the many friends she made. At no time did she ever have any notion of moving anywhere else. My sister and I, who took care of her in her later years, were blessed with the retelling of her memories of all the events, the families, the businesses and gossip of her home town. An interesting example of her character was that she voted in every presidential election from Calvin Cooledge (women could not vote before that for president) to Barak Obama.

Aunt Pauline graduated PHS in 1923 (I have the yearbook). She taught first and second grade, I believe at #2 School in Passaic. Her brother Robert Bunevich (my father) was a lawyer who was also born and died in Passaic (1996).

(Sydney Lockwood was my 8th grade teacher. He was a teacher who was a great inspiration to me).

I presently live in Tewksbury Twp in Hunterdon County and my sister lives in New York City.

David Bunevich

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March 2010

I lived in Passaic from age 2 to age 24...I grew up in the 2nd Ward.. Our family of 8 kids lived at 91 Hammond the corner of Kruger Place...5 boys - Joe, Mario & Jim Drago, Ray (me) and Michael Tersigni, 3 girls - Antoinette Drago, Pat & Dee Tersigni. Our father, Pete Tersigni, was a mason contractor; and our mom, Sally Librizzi Tersigni, raised us all.

I went to St Nick's School, Memorial #11 and PHS Class of 1960. I was a Passaic Police officer from 1966-1968 before moving to Florida until today!! I remember the Playhouse, the railroad, Pops on Jefferson St, Rutts Hut, Bertlins, ice skating on the frozen tennis courts of #11 school, no school bus, going home for lunch, 3rd Ward Park, etc., Blue Castle and delivered flowers florist on Main & Van Houten during high school. I remember Bo Boverini, Principal Pete Cannici & Weiss & Levine were my gym teachers in #11 school. I remember Joe's Shanty, hot bagels & Italian bread at 11PM and all the great friends & times during the 50's & 60's growing up in Passaic.

Ray Tersigni


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Hello Bob,

Just found your site from my sister-in-law. She was asking if I remembered Gringer's on Jefferson Street. I was born in Passaic General in 1936. We lived at 101 Burgess Place, which was an apartment building, when I was brought home from the hospital. When I was about 2 or 3 we moved to the first floor of a one-family dwelling at 128 Burgess Place, right across the street from a big green Dutch Church. When I was 5, I started in Kindergarten at US Grant School #7. My Kindergarten teacher was Miss Yurachuck ( I think that is the spelling).

On April 6, 1946, while I was in the 4th grade, our school burned down. Here is my story of the fire. My class was on the second floor just to the right of the front entrance on the first floor. A workman was on a scaffold just outside of our window. We watched him taking paint off of the wood hangover of the roof. All of a sudden, he opened the window and came into our class. He walked up to the teacher and whispered something to her. I do not recall the name of our teacher but she was one cool customer. She told him where the office was and he left our room. She then told us to get our coats and gather up our books. She said we were going to have a fire-drill and after we put our coats on she lined us up near the door and then went to some other teachers on the floor. The fire bell rang and we walked down the stairs and out of the building using the front door. We looked up and saw a fire just above the room we were in. We walked down the long stair entry to the street and the fire trucks were already coming up Myrtle Avenue. The fire spread rapidly and everyone was stunned. Students and teachers were crying. The Principal finally came out of the building with a secretary and the custodian. I am sure they must have taken the time to make sure there were no students left in the building. My friends and myself watched the fire for two days. The firemen did a fabulous job of protecting adjoining buildings (homes). The memory of that day has stayed with me all of my life.

When it was all over we had to go to School #11. Now, not only did I have a 10 block walk, but we had to have classes from 12 noon to 5:30 p.m. It was neat having every morning off, but the pits to be going to school and coming home in the dark. In the sixth grade we moved to Clifton. It was November, and because of the half year system, I had to repeat the 6th grade. There was no way that I could have skipped to the 7th. Plus, I was the only kid in class that printed and could not write cursive. I would print everything, then connect all of the letters.

I have other stories of Passaic that I will write about when time allows.

Ron Snack

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February 2010

Just finished reading Climbing the Rainbow, it is unfortunate that you left out the football and wrestling teams! We had some outstanding people (my brother Ernest J. Bayford 1961- 1st Passaic district champ wrestler) plus Pruzamskys, etc... Football NFL players Jack Tatum, Craig Heyward, plus many others.

If you do another book, I have a story of an immigrant family (escaping from WW2) of Hungarian descent. My brother Ernest went to Rutgers, plus Vietnam as a Red Cross chopper pilot. He saved many wounded American GI's. As we went thru our genealogy - we discovered we were grandchildren to Gen. Josef Bajnoczy - designated Prime Minister of Hungary after the war 1944-45. Our name before 1963 change (becoming Americanized) was Bajnoczy ! Google him - Gen Josef Bajnoczy! Oh, by the way-I changed my name back to Bajnoczy in 09 out of respect and pride! I was always made to feel weird in Passaic small grade schools - where kids would ask me if my mom told fortunes or is my dad Dracula!

Alan Bayford/Bajnoczy, PHS 72

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February 12, 2010

Greetings Bob,

Former Passaicite and new to the site. Reading Al Montalbano's email section on the Eastside I came across his mentioning that "Black Bridge" had to be taken down in 1960. Around age 11 in 1958 I had my own scary experience going over that rotting timber trestle on my bike (not highly recommended).

Never made it all the way across the bridge. There was a missing timber and a gaping hole. I decided to turn my bike around and one of the wheels slipped into the hole and I was holding on to one of the bike tires for dear life. Luckily some guy came walking across the bridge and helped me. Never, ever, went back to Black Bridge. I limited my bridge playing to the Mattimore Street pedestrian bridge over the Dundee Canal. That was sturdier.

Priscilla Szott Black who once lived at 26 Van Buren Street

Monroe Street Raolroad Bridge over the Passaic River, NJ

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February 2010

Just read the following post from July 2008 from Ellen Rappaport. Who doesn't remember Country Club ice cream? They are a Paterson company. I came across fairly recent ads for CC ice cream in Kroger (also Stop and Shop) food flyers on the web. If you google "Country Club Ice Cream" and come across a reference to the Beatles and link to it you will see that back around 1964 they manufactured an ice cream with a Beatles wrapper and on the wrapper is the logo for Hood. There are no Kroger stores in my neck of the woods, but perhaps there are in Ellen's. Or try Hood brand ice cream!

Priscilla Szott Black
PPXII class of '65

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July 2008

Okay...I have a question for all my Passaic people. Does anyone remember Country Club ice cream? I loved the chocolate marsh mellow Country Club ice cream and have never been able to find it since I moved out of Passaic in 1979. That was when marsh mellow meant marsh mellow and not a few miserable, tiny, itsy, bitsy, marsh mellow that you'd need a magnifying Glass to see!

I know a few of my classmates also loved it since they ate it like it was going out of style when they came over the house. Please let me know if you have any idea where or what supermarket still has Country Club ice cream. Yes, I've tried to look it up on line and no go.

Ellen Rappaport

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January 2010

Al Montalbano's recollections about Passaic hit home with me as he's my age and resided in and played around in the same neighborhoods. Al would be interested to know that some of the homes on School Street are on a National Register for Historical Places. I found this on a web site put together by a Greek Orthodox church on Monroe Street. Their placement on the list has to do we the facades on the buildings. I assume that's why that little street is still there after Route 21 was built.

I lived in Passaic from 1940 to 1959 when I left to join the Air Force. I planned for a long time to submit my own recollections but never got around to it even though I drafted several submissions. I'd like to comment on Al's recollections when he lived on School Street as I attended St. Joseph's Roman Catholic School across the street from September 1944 to June 1954.

Al will remember the Rowinski Funeral Parlor on the corner and the other businesses on that side of Monroe Street. I remember a small luncheonette and a Polish shop where we would get our kielbasa (sausage) and pierogi. I remember #12 school very well as I used to play in the open area in front of the school I've always wondered why it was torn down long before the road was built. I've tried to find a photo of the school with no success. There's a web site on Passaic Schools and it only mentions #12.

The special education students (sic) at #12 were let out of class at the same time as St. Jo's. I was a patrol boy and for a time dreaded where I was posted as one of the older students would bully me once in a while. I remember hoping he would pass or quit school so I wouldn't suffer his presence.

I did my tours of duty as a paper boy and shoe shiner for 10 cents a pair. I don't recall Joe Vetri's Italian Market. When I lived at 221 Monroe Street (1940-1947) the was a grocery store owned by an Italian gentleman named same Miseraca (sic). The store was near the corner of Monroe Street and Columbia Avenue. We lived above a bakery that is a Spanish Bodega today. You had to go through a alley to get to our apartment. It's still there although all the buildings to the left are gone. I remember a tavern on the corner that had a function room upstairs and a cigar store where you could see the workers rolling the cigars. As for taverns it seemed like every corner along Monroe street had one or two.

My grandfather frequented one across the street that had a grisly painting of Custer's Last Stand in the window. He would take me there for a soda once in a while and I got to play with one of the amusement (non-electric) games. It's still a tavern although the windows are covered up now and it also has a Spanish name along with most of the establishments.

I'll end it here as it's New Years Eve and I have a few matters to take care of. It's been sleeting here in Annapolis, Maryland and I'm waiting for it to clear. You'll here from me again as I lived in four different neighborhoods on (Monroe St., Columbia Avenue, 10th St. and Martha Place) and have many memories. Happy New Year to One and All for a better year and world.

CWO Henry (Hank) Kaczynski, Retired U.S. Army & National Security Agency

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December 2009

Hi Bob,

Thank you so much for creating and maintaining such a wonderful website. No one familiar with Passaic can make only one visit here. I found it several months ago while doing research for my model Erie railroad and have returned many times since.

The Early Days

My name is Al Montalbano. I was born in Patterson in 1940. My dad worked as a tool and die maker for Curtis Wrights, but got laid off in 1946 after the war was over. Unemployed, he decided to relocate to Tampa, Florida and start a small business repairing and installing power plants on pleasure boats. Unsuccessful, he returned to New Jersey in 1947 only to find it impossible to find a place to live since the returning GI's had taken all available housing. We were forced to move in with my retired grandfather who lived at Sparta Lake where I attended Sparta Township grade school. My dad eventually found work at Chicago Pneumatic in Garfield and soon purchased the apartment building located at 3 School St. in Passaic, not much more than 100 feet from #12 School, in 1948. I lived in Passaic from 1948 to 1955 until my folks moved to California in October of 1955 when I was just 15 years old, but my memories are rich with knowledge and experiences of those wonderful years in Passaic. My mother, sister and I returned briefly for about a year in 1957.

Once we moved to School St. I was enrolled in Saint Nicholas Catholic School where I attended school from the 3rd to 8th grades. I can recall Sister Patricia 3rd grade, Mrs. Putnam 5th grade and Sister Francis Cecilia 8th grade. Sister Catherine was Mother Superior. I attended Memorial #11 School for the 9th grade and then started Passaic High the following year. I was very saddened when I learned that I wouldn't be able to finish Passaic High since I had to leave for California. The thought made me so lonely that it was almost like reciting a private prayer "Goodbye God, I'm moving to California." I remember taking an elective class in the Italian language given by Mrs. Faranti. Mr. Faranti owned Faranti's Drug store on Passaic Ave. I went to school with their son Peter at St. Nicks.

I can recall the wonderful days, as kids, that we spent at the Saturday Move Matinee at the Market Street Theater where they would show a feature film, a grade B movie 3-4 quality cartoons and a newsreel all for 25 cents. My father always complained about the high cost of movie entertainment by reiterating that it only cost 5 cents when he was a kid. There was "The Thing," James Arness, 1951, "Shane," Allen Ladd, 1953 and "The War of the Worlds," Gene Barry, 1953. I can still remember a group of us kids singing the Marines Hymn all the way home after seeing "The Sands of Iwo Jima" with John Wayne in 1949. Wow, what memories!

In those days kids were expected to earn their own way. I was a paper boy for a couple of years. Through rain, sleet, hail or snow I delivered the Herald News. I was issued a cloth paper delivery bag and a large metal ring with tags for each customer attached. Using my prized paper punch, I would punch out the proper box for each week that was paid. The best I remember the daily news cost 5 cents and Sunday was a dime, that's when I learned that in commissioned sales, the best part was the tips. I would also take my shoe shine box and stand next to the theater on Market Street and catch the gentlemen exiting the theater… "Shine Mista"? When I was 14, I was mowing lawns for a few people in Clifton and by the time I was 15, I was repairing radios for Mr. Fred Hoffman at his Parts Unlimited Store, an electronics supply store on Main Street in downtown Passaic.

Joe Vetri's Italian Market

I have noticed that a number of postings are from folks that are familiar with and still remember Joe Vetri's Italian market on Monroe Street. Joe Vetri was my uncle. He was my mother's brother. I used to work for my uncle cleaning and loading the refrigerated cases. One of my favorite jobs was making and serving the Shalali, (Italian Lemon Ice), although I must admit, with all that sugar, it was a pretty sticky job. If you bought a Shalali from Vetri's Market during the summer of 1954, I probably either made it or I served it to you. We use to serve it in the actual large freezer that it was made in. We would make it in the room behind the store, pack it in ice, cover the freezer in towels then roll it out on a hand truck when it was finished. It was sold from the sidewalk just in front of the store. To this day I still have the recipe and still make it in a home ice cream freezer. It was made with fresh squeezed lemon juice. My uncle had a real sense of humor. It was almost impossible to know him without liking him. I can remember he had a sign on the wall behind the cash register that read "Why go elsewhere to be insulted." I can't mention Vetri's market without talking about Uncle Joe's homemade Italian sausage. People use to come from miles around and different towns just to buy his sausage, especially around the holidays. My Uncle's recipe was more secret than that of the Coca-Cola Company. He would allow family to help with the grinding and casing of the product, however, when it came time for seasoning he would escort everyone out of the room. Even his brothers could only guess what he put in that fantastic stuff. Oh, how I long for those days. This generation of Vetris is all gone now, but they will live in my heart forever.

Downtown Passaic

Although I have forgotten many of the business establishments, I still remember some. I can recall my mom grocery shopping at the A&P and Acme Markets. I loved to browse through the toy departments of McCrory's, F. W. Woolworth and S.S. Kressge Co. My favorite was the tool department of Sears and Roebuck. The elderly gentleman who worked in that department knew all there was to know about power tools… so much better than these days. I use to spend hours looking at all the fantastic WWII surplus at the Army-Navy Outlet store on the west side of Main Street near Jefferson. What fun that was! Some stores I can remember, but often I can't remember what type of merchandise they peddled. Some of the stores that fall into this category would be Nadler's, Kitty Kelly, The Fair and the Strand. I remember the 1 hour cleaners across from the Erie passenger station. I remember Pep Boy's on Quincy St. and Central Ave.??, Parts Unlimited, Abelson's and Miles Shoes. Who can forget the Passaic theaters? I loved the Central with its art deco marquee and motif.

The East Side

This is where I grew up. Living on School Street gave me access to all kinds of exciting places to explore. An Erie freight line almost ran through my back yard. As kids we use to hop box cars and ride them to Garfield. Along the trip we would pass alongside the Dundee Canal to the Passaic River. Soon we would cross what is now referred to as "The Black Bridge." The Black Bridge wasn't a bridge at all. Rather, it was a timber trestle… a rickety one at that. The trestle was damaged beyond repair during the flood of 1960 and had to be taken down. Often we would fish in the canal and the river. For bait we used damp balled up Wonder Bread. The fish weren't very fussy, but then all we caught were Sun Fish and Carp maybe a Pickerel now and then. As adolescents, we used to play in some of the old abandoned Botany Mills buildings. I remember large rectangular holes in the concrete floors that frightened me when I got close. They had stagnant water at the bottom and we had no idea how deep it was. I'm not sure what they were used for; I presume they were used as dyeing vats. Near Monroe Street and Dayton Ave. we used to play on some vacant land that was referred to as "The Botany Lots." I can't say for sure that this land belonged to the Botany Mills but we would disappear for an entire day in the woods of these lots. I use to climb into one of several Mulberry trees and gorge myself in the sweetness of the fruit. Those were the good old days when Mom never had to worry about us unless we failed to arrive home for dinner. Joe Behrent mentioned in one of your postings "BAB." Ah yes! There was such a place. Known to the locals as BAB or Bare A## Beach. I can still remember the old tires hanging by ropes from tree limbs so we could swing and yell like Tarzan as we plunged into the water. I will never forget the Polish Peoples Home and the Polka music played during the summer evenings at Pulaski Park.

The West Side

After my father sold the School Street apartments, we moved to the west side of town across from Memorial Park to 377 Madison Ave. Boy did I have it made. All I had to do now was roll out of bed, run down the stairs and across the park to #11 Memorial School on Gregory Ave. I could literally throw a stone that far. On School Street, we were the only Italians in a Polish neighborhood. Now we were the only Italians in a Jewish neighborhood.

After moving to Southern California in 1955, my mom, sister and I moved back briefly to Passaic. My mom missed her family and I missed Passaic High. We were able to move back into the same neighborhood just a half a block away at 376 Paulison Ave. While photographing Memorial School in the fall of 2008, I had the good fortune of meeting a Passaic Policeman who was assigned guard duty at the school. He invited me in for a tour of my old alma mater. If one were to overlook the extreme security, the old place hasn't changed much in the past fifty years.

Linda Colombo Briganti in her write up mentioned Ice Skating in the tennis courts at #11 school. Yes, that brought back fond memories. I remember when city workers would take a hose from a nearby fire hydrant and flood the tennis courts in anticipation of freezing weather. It would freeze solid and make an excellent Skating Rink. I skated there many times myself.

The Erie Railroad

As a young boy I was immeasurably impressed by trains. The only trains familiar to me, at the time, were marked with the ERIE Diamond herald or logo. In those days steam was still in common use and diesel was just coming of age. What better town could a railroad nut live in? A town with the ERIE main line running right down the center of it. When I was just 12 years old I was very familiar with the Erie passenger route to New York City. My parents had taken me there many times as a child. I would take one of my little friends, walk up to the station ticket window and buy two round trip tickets to NYC. We would be off to New York for a whole day of Manhattan excitement. The grand finale was pizza at 42nd Street, Times Square. The round trip train fare included the round trip ferry across the Hudson. The entire round trip ticket, including the ferry, only cost 54 cents back in the early 50's. Again, as before, if I was home in time for supper I wasn't in any trouble.

I guess my fascination with trains never left me. I have recently begun building a model railroad and what better road to build then the 1940's-1950's Fallen Flag, ERIE. The layout is still in its infancy; however, I have included a photo of downtown Passaic's partially completed Main Avenue. It must be realized that there will never be enough space to include all the buildings of all the blocks along Main Avenue. I have included the buildings that are of special interest to me.

Model Train Layout of the Erie Railroad in Passaic

My Erie Railroad will have fragmented excerpts from Dover to Jersey City. These photos only cover downtown Passaic and construction is just getting under way. While searching the internet for information, I ran across the Wonderful Passaic website and wonderful it is. I am so happy that I was afforded the good fortune to have discovered it. Keep up the good work.

Thank you all,
Al Montalbano
Santa Maria, California

Al Montalbano cira 1961 (This is me back then)

Al Montalbano (me) and wife Sheila - May 2009

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December 2009

Hi Bob,

What a fun web site! I lived in Passaic in the early 60s, from Kindergarten through fifth grade, attending what was then called Franklin #3. My father, W. Orin Whitaker, was the minister of the Congregational Church on High Street.

It was in Passaic that I came to love school and New York City, which we could see from uor front porch, and the Beatles. The first time I heard "the Sounds of Silence" was when a teenage boy strummed it for an audience in the church hall. My best friends were: Elizabeth Greenberg, Gordon Handler, Jerald Share and David Gruber, but I completely lost track of them after moving to Connecticut in 1967. The elementary school teachers I loved were Mrs. Thalsheimer, Mrs. Weinstein, and most of all, Mrs. Watson, and then there was my piano teacher, Smrs. Anderton.

Thanks for putting this together. Passaic will always hold a place in my heart.

Leslie Whitaker

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November 2009

Greetings Bob,

My name is Anthony "Billy" Johnson and I am the president of the Passaic Family of Friends Internet Connection, a cyber community. I would like to thank you for the memories of our fine city of Passaic. We are preparing a class reunion gala affair next August 2010 and I would personally like to invite you to attend our affair. We are calling our program "The Journey Home." Much like so many of our friends and family we have moved away and the years have passed so quickly. We are planning to get together and enjoy the friendships before most of us are unable to remember or walk on our on abilities. Bonnie Carlin Cane and Mark Auerbach recommended that I reach out to you and your web site. I thank both of them because your presentation has sincerely helped to encourage me and push me towards working harder to making our program "The Journey Home" a success, a story of family and friends returning home to Passaic. Please take a look at the PFOFIC web site and join our family of friends from Passaic.

Anthony "Billy" Johnson

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October 2009

We would like to get information on Steve Rosenberg. Steve lived on The Circle across from Hughes Lake in 3rd Ward Park back in high school & college days. He then got a job in a stock brokerage in NYC and moved to Greenwich Village. He and I frequented coffee houses back then ( 1961-2 ) and then I left for 2 years military service. When I returned from Europe, Steve had been married and was living in NYC with his very pregnant wife. Steve decided to move to California in 1965, and my future wife and I helped him and his wife Elinor pack all their worldly possessions in a trailer and off they went on a cross-the -country drive. The last I heard from Steve was a congratulatory letter on the birth of our daughter here in the Passaic Beth Israel Hospital in 1969. He was supposed to be getting involved in marine biology on the west coast. If anyone knows of his whereabouts, I would love to receive that information ?

Harold Rachesky

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October 2009


I am trying to get some information for my mom about where her father worked. They lived in Passaic, NJ. His name was William Lawson and was an Air Raid Warden. My mother Gloria D. Lawson, graduated in 1957; They lived some where near the rail road tracks in the Eisenhower Apts for Veterans widows and families after my grandfather passed away in 1953. My mother worked at Lynne's Clothing Store until she graduated. She has very fond memories of this store and the people that owned it.

Anyone who can offer me any information that I could pass on to my mother, I would greatly appreciate it. If you have pictures of the area, or any information on who would have employed my grandfather or perhaps the name of the cemetary that they would have buried African American's in at that time.


Faye Mercer

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September 2009

Just came across your web site and enjoyed the trip down Memory Lane! I was born at Passaic General in 1950 and lived in the Veteran's Apartments on River Road. I started school at St. Nick's, left for St. Clare's in Clifton and returned to Pope Pius for high school, class of 1968.

Many memories walking up and down Jefferson Street each school day and remember how kids identified with the bus they took (I was #74). I remember the railroad tracks, my dad worked for the RR and we got to ride for free! I worked part time in McCrory's and hated it, so I took a job at Loft's Candy Store and worked after school and weekends...I still can't stand the smell of too much chocolate.

I didn't see any mention of John's Bargain Store on Washington Place, but it was popular in my day. I also have fond memories of seeing the Dave Clark Five at the Central, my first R rated film at the Montauk (I Am Curious Yellow - tame by today's standards) and years later coming back for the Rocky Horror Picture show.

I still ride through town from time to time and go to 3rd Street to buy kielbasa and other Polish specialties. Passaic is a grand old town and I hope today's citizens will remember it fondly in the future, as we do today.

Carolyn Ognek Letsche

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September 2009

Greetings Bob,

I just came across your web site. My memories of Passaic go way back! My grandparents - David and Sarah Schwartz - owned a two-family house at 42 Henry Street across from the Apartment houses where Mr. Ayub was the Super. An Italian family lived to their right on the way to Main Avenue, and the man owned a chain drive Mack truck. During the grape harvest season he would drive up to the Lake area of New York and bring back a load of grapes that he would split with grandpa; one made dry wine, the other sweet.

My mother, Reba, was the oldest of Grandma's twelve, and I was the oldest grandson in the family. My Uncle Julie just died a couple of weeks ago at age 94, and my Aunt Anne is still alive at 97 and lives in Florida.

For years Anne was the bookkeeper at Abe Brooklyn's tire store on Lexington Avenue, the opposite corner from Spitz's Bakery. Her twin, Abe, was "famous" as Red Schwartz, a fiendishly fast runt of a baseball player. My grandfather and a man named Ross were the joint owners of the Lincoln Hotel for some good - and a whole lot of bad - years. My father worked at RAL Plumbing Supply on Main Avenue with sidings along the Erie tracks where I helped unload cast iron and steel pipe during the summers for twelve dollars a week. Before I was of school age (1925-27) we lived in a four-family apartment house on Paulison that backed up to the Memorial School Park, then we moved to 418 Howe Avenue where we and the kids from Linden Street played on the slopes of Passaic General Hospital. Herbie Grill lived next door, and Larry Casteline and his sister, Gloria, just beyond. We moved from there to 120 Howe Avenue, and I could cut through the back yard to seek refuge at my Grandmother's house when necessary.

I got my Hebrew training for Bar Mitzvah at Mr. Witty's on Tulip Street where Benny Manelis drove Witty crazy - with lots of help from the rest of us. My first "crush" was on Bernadine Cohen, whose folks owned a dairy store on Monroe Street, almost directly across from Rice's Deli. Just before I entered high school we moved to Harrison Street just off Lexington. Lennie Bindelglass, Joyce Goldstein (her father was a dentist), Bernie Fahn, and Midge Dren were the local gang during those years. Later I became really close friends with Sid Dubnoff, whose father owned the paint store on Garden, Art Levy, whose father was the judge, Herbie Kramer, whose father had an oil delivery business, and Jubbie Wilensky. One of my first jobs was as a waiter at Feitlin's Deli where I learned to smoke.

My Aunt Bea married Harold Blumenthal who owned theatres in Pompton Lakes and other places. They had three daughters: Micky (currently a "seer" of note in Florida), Lillian, and Bunny, who married a Spitz. My Aunt Betty married Ben Kaufman, who was one of the two Kaufmans, who owned a dental lab on the second floor of the building on Lexington Avenue where the Pep Boys store held down the corner. Betty and Ben had two boys, Eddie and Arnold, both currently residents of Florida.

I'm close to 87 now, have been married for over 65 years, have 2 children, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. We split my year between Newtown, Pennsylvania and Uvalde, Texas, both a long, long way from pre-WWII Passaic.

Thanks for the opportunity to remember!

Bernie Heyman

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July 2009

Many of the people who submit to the Wonderful Passaic site reminisce about the numerous high-quality well-established retail stores that used to provide excellent shopping for those of us who lived in or around Passaic. One store often referenced was Gero's Jewelers, owned and operated by Dennis Gero. Gero's was located for years on Lexington Avenue, and Dennis was probably the very last of the old line merchants to disappear from downtown Passaic.

My wife, Barbara, and I both graduated from PHS in 1952. We left Passaic in 1958 and returned only for special occasions like weddings and funerals and, of course, class reunions. The reunions occurred every five years and part of our itinerary always included visits to Rutt's Hut, Mario's for pizza, TickTock Diner for cheese cake and Gero's to visit with Dennis. As the years passed, the area around Gero's became more and more depressed. In 1997, we noted vacant stores surrounded Gero's, and security bars could be seen on Gero's windows and door. Dennis had to unlock the door from the inside to admit his customers. Despite the sad condition of the area, Dennis was still enthusiastic and upbeat. In October of 2002, Barbara and I returned to Passaic for our 50th class reunion and what has so far proven to be our last class reunion. Along with Rutt's Hut, Mario's and the Tick Tock Diner, we also tried to visit with Dennis. Not surprisingly the store was gone and so, we assumed, was Dennis.

From Lexington Avenue we crossed to Main Avenue and began to drive toward Van Houghton Avenue. We passed Scoles Place on our right and continued toward Ascension Street. Suddenly Barbara yelled, "Stop the car!" On our right was a store proclaiming it to be Gero's Jewelers. Barbara assumed that the store was owned by one of Dennis's relatives and wanted to inquire as to Dennis's fate. She rang the bell and when Dennis opened the door, Barbara said "You're still alive?" It was Dennis looking very much the same and awaiting his imminent 90th birthday. He had been forced to vacate his Lexington Avenue store due to declining sales and increasing rent. Although his new store produced negative profits, he considered it his hobby and social life. He still lived in the same apartment that he had lived in throughout most of his working life. His immediate family members were all gone, and his closest living relatives, nieces and nephews, were living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He told us he had a computer in his apartment and used it to order all of his clothes from LL Bean. We reminisced about the "good old days" and listened to some of Dennis's funny and favorite jokes. What a memory he still had! Before leaving, I took a picture of Dennis and Barbara. After returning to Maryland, we sent a birthday card to Dennis with a copy of his and Barbara's picture.

Sometime within the last two years, I received word that Dennis had died. His death certainly marks the end of an era, a time when Passaic was a true shopping destination center and filled with quality retail merchants and Dennis, no doubt, was the last man standing.

Jerry Strickler
E-mail: two

Barbara Strickler and Dennis Gero - October 2002

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July 2009

The above photo was taken about 1915 of the Passaic YMHA baseball team.

The manager (young fellow below the arrow - top row 2nd from right) is Thomas Kroll, my father, who graduated PHS, served in the army in WWI, and later became the proprietor of Kroll's Bootery, a ladies shoe store at 64 Lexington Avenue near Rutblatt's sporting goods. I am unable to identify any of the other team members.

My father died at the age of 92 while living on Passaic Avenue (my fading memory wants to say Martinique Apts across from the Forstmann Library). He was married to Sadye Friedman, and they had 2 sons, Robert (me) and Craig, both of whom attended the Passaic School system.

Incidentally, we moved to Park Avenue about 1934 and that same group of friends - - - Ed Meyer, Marshall Numark, Sam Stein, Ken Stark, Don Wisnev - - - still keep in regular touch and have periodic reunions although we are now living far apart.

Bob Kroll

The following is the Herald News article of Wednesday, January 27, 1960, describing the closing of Kroll's Bootery.

Next is the "Word of Appreciation" article by Tom Kroll.

Below is a picture of Tom Kroll's high school class at Passaic High in 1915.

You've really created and interesting and stimulating website.

Bob Kroll



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July 2009

I recently stumbled upon this great site. Unfortunately, I was not born in Passaic, as my younger sister and brother were, but I did spend my first four years (until 1950) on Hamilton Avenue in a two-family house of my uncle's, this right across from the German Lutheran church. I always thought of that church as huge, from my memories, yet when I drove past it recently, it seemed so small! My father was born in 1914 on Passaic Street in Dundee, in a building on the corner of one of the numbered streets or perhaps Market Street. His cousins, the Meth brothers, operated a deli on the first floor of that same building in the '50's. My grandfather started his business, a wholesale candy and tobacco concern, first on Passaic Street in Dundee, later moving "uptown", still on Passaic Street, to near Columbia Avenue. My father (we moved to nearby Bloomfield when I was four) and his two brothers--both life-long Passaic residents--spent their entire working years at that store. There were gentle rivalries with two other such businesses that I can remember--Minkin in Passaic and Pine Lesser in Clifton, until my father and middle brother, getting close to retirement, sold the business, I believe, to Pine Lesser. I had many relatives, on both the Blitzer and Rothwacks sides, living in Passaic and Clifton. We had Cousin's Club get togethers in a hall somewhere near Lexington Avenue and Sherman Street.

Having Passaic ties, I attended the Passaic YMHA summer camp for several years, first in Mountain View, later in Oakland. Rainy days would be spent at the Y building on Washington Place. At the Mountainside site, I especially remember walking through the woods to a clearing, in the middle of which, up on an embankment were the Lackawanna tracks, upon which we placed pennies and waited for an oncoming train to flatten them. There were also the remains of an ancient brick factory and a skinnydipping pond. As was mentioned by another commenter, I also recall the day Two Guys from Harrison in Totowa burned down. If I remember correctly it was their Grand Opening Day, and the place caught fire and burned to the ground. We were on the bus going to camp and were stuck on Route 46 for some time. I also remember singing that Titanic song, If I had a hammer, and also some song about somebody's ( a Biblical figure's?) bones. I was on the C bus and we (the children at least, if not the drivers) were always "racing" to see who would arrive first to camp. Since the C bus had to continue an extra few blocks past Route 3 to pick me up where Bloomfield, Nutley and Clifton met, we rarely won the race, I got some grief for that.

Those and other great memories all, so long ago, but somehow still strong.


Mark Blitzer

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July 2009

Wow - just stumbled on to your website – think I may have found a birthday present for my 93 year old dad who grew up in Passaic too!

I was born at Passaic General in the early 50s, lived on Myrtle Avenue down the street from the Dominanni's Butcher Shop and across from Lipari's gas station. When I was 2, we moved to Wayside Court off Brook Avenue and River Road and lived there until Route 21 came along!

St. Nick's and PPXII !! Jefferson Bakery, The Fair, so many shoe stores, WT Grant's, snacks at Woolworths after school, Ginsberg's. The Good Deal grocery, Robert's hair salon, Glassman's on Main Avenue at Brook, the Milk Jug that is now a Laundromat. Dance lessons at Nikki Simon and swimming lessons at the Y!

My dad worked for the Post Office!! He will get a kick out of all these stories!!!

Put me on the mailing list for any reunions in Jersey or in FL - my current home. But whenever I have an office-type nametag asking for my city – PASSAIC!!!

Fran Falcone

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June 2009

I just came upon your site and I'm so sorry my parents aren't around to see it. They would have loved it. My father, Sid Strassman, born and raised in Passaic, owned J&S Auto Supplies on Main Street. My mother Jeanne was a homemaker. She was a New Yorker, but he shlepped her back to Passaic, where they raised four kids, me, my sisters Rory and Marcia, and my little brother Steven. We lived at 142 Blvd., across the street from the Rosenbergs (I noticed someone had asked where Alan lived). Down the street were the Weins, the Furhmans, the Handlers, the Goldsteins and next door to us lived the Pecks. Mrs. Tennenbaum, my Kindergarten teacher, lived down the street at the end. The Pecks bought our house, which was on a hill, knocked it down, and, I think, built tennis courts. We moved to Fort Lee when I was 12, then on to LA, but I will never forget Passaic. It was an amazing street to grow up on, and I only have fond memories of playing outside with all the kids on the block. It seemed as though there were hundreds of them! Each family had at least 3 or 4 kids. Gordon Handler's mother would ring the dinner bell and we all knew it was time to go inside.

Thanks for your site. It brought back so many great memories.

Julie Strassman-Cohn

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Dear Bob,

A former classmate put me on to your delightful website, but it looks like it will take hours to read all the wonderful emails (and memories) of your contributors. Working backwards, I'm up to Feb 09.

To Chaim & Regina, when our grad class was planning our 50th reunion party, Mark Auerbach, Passaic City historian, provided us with lots of old city photos. You can reach him at 973-471-9596 or I'm sure he'd be willing to help in any way.

I lived in Passaic from birth in 1940 (at home, in a rented house on Monroe St) until I moved to my first house in Newfoundland, NJ in 1966. I have very special memories of Passaic, including MY FATHER'S best-ever shalali. He owned a men's "club" in two locations around Water St near "the projects", and next to an Italian bakery. The men at the club played cards, spit disgusting cigar stuff in the spitoons, ate my father's Italian cooking, and bet numbers illegally. My father sometimes grilled baby lamb chops for me in the free-standing pot-bellied coal stove in the restaurant. Before I was allowed to enter the store, he would remind all the men to be on their best behavior and not swear in my presence. Of course, everyone made wine, illegally, in the back rooms and basements. I used to sign my father's name for him, under his X, since he never went to school or learned to write.

I also remember all the part-time jobs I had while in high school, The Fair Department Store (still have a couple of pieces of costume jewelry I bought on pay day), Cappy's Bakery, Hope Ave bakery and the one on up from Main Ave on Van Houten Ave, where this great old woman taught me how to make a delicious sardine sandwich with a piping fresh hard roll, tomato and lettuce. Tasted my very first sour cream coffee cake there too (and have been addicted ever since). No wonder I adore all ethnic foods! Passaic was so rich and diverse. My upbringing was an absolute adventure there.

Remember the Y Canteen dances? I counted the days til Friday night. When the committee could afford it, we hired Joey Dee and the Starlighters to play. Most of the time (if we didn't do records only), the Modern-Aires provided the live music. They were mellow and good, just not as "hot" as Joey Dee, though Dicky Stewart was cute. Remember going to the factory for fresh hot bagels, to Pop's Diner for buttery pound cake, for a chunk of sweet butter from the Jewish deli on Monroe St? I remember when Linda Darnell (yes, the gorgeous actress), walked past me going up the aisle in the Central Theater (she was a special guest for the occasion). I also remember being persuaded to stuff my bra and be part of a group of other sweater girl "stuffers" who competed in a contest on one of the Passaic theater stages. I lost. Where was my 14 year old brain? I tried to remember that when my daughter reached 14.

Josephine (Jo) (DiLorenzo) Sippie-Gora, PHS Class 58

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Hi Jo,

I so much appreciate you taking the time to write down some of your Passaic memories. They were wonderful. There is only one little nitpicking detail in your e-mail that I question. In your e-mail you mentioned for a chunk of sweet butter from the Jewish deli on Monroe Street. Unfortunately, butter is a dairy product and deli is meat products and Jewish kosher deli s either had to only serve dairy products or only serve meat products. They cannot sell both types of products. (As with all facts there is an exception. That exception was Dave s Deli next to the Lincoln Theater on Lexington Avenue in about 1947. That deli stopped being a Jewish deli and became a Jewish style deli and achieved great success in Passaic.) Again, thank you for really making my day and reminding me of such fond memories.

Bob Rosenthal

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Hi Bob,

You are the one to thank... for making it all possible!! I could have gone on and on, but didn't want to discourage anyone from reading it.

The "deli" I referred to was, I think less than a block from Myrtle Ave (going toward Main). I suppose it would be referred to as a grocery store? I remember it as Jewish, but I actually could be wrong about that. The grocery store I lived above, Catanzaro's (on Myrtle & Autumn) had entirely different food products. Please do feel free to change my "deli" reference. Or just put quotes around it....

I can still see all that butter. It was like a huge block of ice, and it was so delicious on hard rolls & bagels (I never did prefer cream cheese on them). A fish market was across the street. To this day, I adore fresh sweet butter. Some of the organic brands are very good. Best, Jo

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Hi Jo,

Was the store /deli on Monroe street by any chance? I remember when I was really small a grocery store on monroe between myrtle and main called friedman's , mr and mrs friendman owned and operated it, oddly enough my grandma used to go there to buy this sweet creamy white butter that was fantastic. was a chunk wrapped in white paper . the best butter anywhere. I loved that on toast. just thought per chance that is the place you spoke of.

Regina Halpern Horner

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Hi Bob,

I think the writer might be referring to Joe Greens Appetizing store which was next to Jaffe's Butcher shop. She said it was less than a block from Myrtle, so it had to be this one.. Herman's was near Grove and Monroe. S&K was strictly Kosher.

Bernie Rosenberg

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June 2009

My Name is Lawrence Piazza. I was graduated from Passaic High, in the last mid-year class, January 1951. I never had any contact with any of my old class mates, over these many years and wonder if any one knows the whereabouts of the Stein brothers, Mel & Don, who both played in the high school band. My E-Mail address is Any one who might remember my old friends, please contact me at my E-Mail address or by phone, at 603-357-7616. I now live in New Hampshire.

Many Thanks,

Larry Piazza

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June 2009

Just some brief memories of Passaic.

I was born in Passaic General Hospital in 1951, moved away in 1952 (Trenton and later Clifton), and moved back between 3rd and 4th grade; attending #3 (4th and 5th grade), #1 (6th grade), #4 and Passiac High, graduating in 1968. My mother was born in Passaic in 1925, as were all of her brothers and sister. My father moved to Passaic following High School and lived with his Aunt and Uncle (Saul Solomon) who owned a small grocery store near the corner of Main and Van Houten. That small business grew and became a supermarket known as Solomon's Shop-Rite, and later, Pathmark (the whole chain). My father was the red-headed store manager for most of the time of the store's existence. Shortly after we moved back to Clifton from Trenton, the store burned down and was rebuilt on the same site. After returning to Passaic, we lived on Westervelt Place, behind the firehouse at the corner of Westervelt and Main. We were members of the Ahavas Israel next to #3 school, where my father's uncle was one of the founders. I know we were related to the Weiner family on my mother's side. My mother's father was a member of the Farband and hung out with his friends at the Howe cafeteria.

Alan B. Cohen, CPA

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May 2009

Hello, all Does anyone remember the name of the Italian restaurant that was located on the street that runs perpendicular to Jefferson, just past the former location of Wecsler's (sp.?) Department store? The restaurant was there in the 1950s and served delicious mussels marinara.

Cheers for Passaic,

Miriam Levine

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May 2009


My name is Robert Klesitz and I was born in Passaic April 2, 1932. I went through Number 2 School, then Number 12 School, then to Passaic High School. I graduated in June 1950. My home room teacher was Mrs. Zohe, a wonderful person. I was on the foot ball team and baseball team under coach Ray Pickett, then coach Alex Yaskiw. I still remember walking from my house on 5 Monroe Street to Passaic High School, and then after school got out I had to walk to Passaic Stadium for practice and games, then walk through the town of Wallington to get home in the evening. Those days were long and many a time Ms. Bunnell caught me doing my homework in class.

I really enjoyed my years at Passaic High School, and loved most of my teachers. I now am living in Florida and my e-mail address is

Robert Klesitz

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May 2009

Hello Bob,

I've visited your website several times and always meant to send you an email so it's taken until now to finally do so. I'm not actually from Passaic, but I live here now and have lived here for nearly two years. My wife and I moved here from Chicago and in our time living right in downtown here, we've thoroughly enjoyed the Passaic experience.

Granted, the current experience is DRAMATICALLY different from the Passaic of old. However, it is quite a renaissance that is happening now and that is exciting on the whole for the town. The population and the choice of building materials might have changed but I think the spirit of Passaic is alive and well. When we first got here I told my wife that I could almost feel the history coming out of the buildings and streets.

We live in a loft-conversion building at Monroe and Central. Heaven only knows what used to be in here (I'd be interested in knowing that actually) so we are right in the heart of it all. I'd be interested in learning more, either about our building in particular or some of the places close to here. You can still see some of the ancient history buried under aluminum and vinyl siding. Also, I know a lot of the people who have posted letters on your website usually want to know what is there now. I'd be happy to help with that. I have shot a small amount of photos of Passaic buildings and plan to more thoroughly document the town this summer.


Scott Hobbs

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May 2009

Hello Bob,

You have a great site with great pictures and memories of Passaic. I lived in Passaic from 1942 to 1965. I began at the corner of Monroe Street and Lucille Place, then moved to Gregory Avenue and Park Place, then to High Street and Paulison Avenue. I marched to the new high school from the old. I played baseball in 2nd ward park, 3rd ward park, and on the City Hall castle hills before the new high school was built.

I saw a discussion about shalali (my preferred spelling). Kwasnik had a red tub from which he sold two flavors of shalali. Joe Shanty also sold it from inside his store. He did have chocolate but not always. The very best was at Joe Vetri's on Monroe Street between Lucille Place and Myrtle Avenue. His smallest cup was for 3 cents. I saw Joe's brother Larry in the 1980s when I visited the area. I used to get some for the homebound women who could not get it for themselves in the neighborhood. Now I make it myself in a food processor. It is delicious. I use a food processor, but one former Passaic High person told me he makes it in his blender. I do not think the taste compares. I will send you the recipe which I got and tried from the internet. It is a lot of work and clean up but the taste is great just like Joe Vetri's.

The old restaurants were the best. The Howe, Pops, Mario's and Belini's too. Someone asked about Old Country Ice Cream. I think that Nathanson's on Monroe and Grove Street sold that brand of Ice Cream. Rutt's still stands.

I lived across the street from Moe and Morris' and I saw a woman's message on your site, who lived at 18 Lucille Place who said her father was your father's partner, yes? I sent her an email and it bounced.

When you answered my e-mail, you mentioned that your barber was Tony Bonani (located on Monroe Street between Lucille Place and Myrtle Avenue). Tony was also my barber. I recall his daughter bringing his lunch which his wife made for him each day. He used to ask me why I wanted to be a lawyer. He'd say "Lawyers are liars." We'd have long talks about the current events. I never felt comfortable with any other barber since him. He spoiled his customers.

So you lived above Pickett's Candy Store who had the best pin ball machines. My high school sweetheart who told me to "marry her or else" also lived on Ascension Street.

More memories another time.

Roy Bercaw, PHS 1959 rb662 (at)

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Hi Bob,

The previous e-mail by Roy Bercaw mentions my father, Tony Bonanni. He was the barber located on Monroe Street between Myrtle Avenue and Lucille Place. I have heard from several other people that by having their hair cut by my father, his advice and help were important in determining their future careers. You have written how my father taught you to love opera and provided much help and encouragement to you. For example, you wrote that my father talked you out of quitting high school to take a job at a gas station. Instead he pushed you to become an aeronautical engineer and work on some of the great advances that have occurred in the last fifty years, including landing man on the moon.

Another of my father's haircutting clients ended up to be a world famous classical music composer who is heard almost every week during the intermission at the Metropolitan Opera radio show as part of their ‘Opera Quiz.'

The reason I am writing this letter is because I am looking to hear from anyone else who knew my father. I am particularly interested to know if and how he might have influenced your future careers. Please write to me via e-mail.

Best Regards,

Rose (Bonanni) Casalaspro

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Good Morning Bob

I am interested in whether any of your readers can provide me with information on Joel Weiner, Passaic High School Class of 1955. Specifically, his whereabouts. My dad was really good friends with him and I would be very interested in being in touch with him. Additionally, I am also interested in obtaining photos of downtown Passaic, as well of Rabbi Werner. Thank you for creating and maintaining this great site for a great city.

All the Best,
Chaim Stadtmauer, E-mail:

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April 2009

I'm wondering if anyone would like to start a web site containing pictures of Passaic? You see pictures here and there on the net but it is rare. I myself would love to see pictures of all the fantastic Passaic landmarks in their glory days, that I so fondly remember, it was a truly beautiful city. There was no place like it. I think a city like Passaic deserves its own pictorial web site. Even old movie video would be nice, I'm sure there are some out there somewhere. I check You Tube regularly to see if any has been posted. Does anyone know if Passaic has its own historical preservation group or society, other than the Passaic County Historical Society?

Regina Halpern Horner

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Hi Regina,

Your suggestion of having a web site with photos of "old" Passaic is an excellent one. In fact, I had been planning to add that function to the Wonderful Passaic web site.

I am hoping to have this function on the Wonderful Passaic site within the next 30 days. It would allow anyone to E-Mail old photos accompanied by no more than a 25 word caption and we would just simply post them.

This does not mean I am not in favor of a separate web site with just photos of Passaic. If somebody else wants to host such a web site, I would be most happy to send some of my photos to that site as well as I am planning to post them on the Wonderful Passaic site.

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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Hello Bob,

I'm so happy to hear you'd like to have a photo section. I got the idea to write you after seeing a really nice web site someone from Newark NJ has about "Old Newark" in its best of times. I thought Passaic deserved something like that also. The person that has the site told me he gets most of his Newark photos from the Library of Congress, so I went to their site to see what they had for the city of Passaic, very sad not many photos at all in their collection online, although maybe they hold more offline. So glad again that you are going to have a photo section, as I am a huge fan of your site.

Best wishes and thank you,

Regina Halpern Horner

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April 2009

I lived in Passaic from 1958-1964 across the street from Third Ward Park on Pearl Street. I attended Thomas Jefferson PS # 1 off of Van Houten Avenue. I can't believe all the trailers that now occupy my old playground!! Across the street from the school was the Guarantee Supermarket which later became a Foodtown and now the Salvation Army store occupies the site. Just around the corner on Broadway was Graith's Candy Store which sold Costa ice cream. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Craig Graith (Passaic HS class of 1972) please drop me a line!! No summer in Passaic was complete without a Graith ice cream cone, or up the road off Van Houten Avenue in Clifton Jumbos Italian Ice.

In Third Ward Park we cooled off at the old kiddie pool which is gone now. A recreation building (also gone now) was near the pool and swings where you could rent a game of checkers or play horseshoes. Who remembers the Good Deal Supermarket off Paulison Avenue? It is now a Pathmark. My memories of downtown Passaic are endless! There was the granddaddy of all dollar stores that started it all - - - John's Bargain store which is now occupied by a 99 cent store that is going out of business if it's not already. It was located on Main Avenue. For clothing we shopped at the Fair on Main Avenue. The old marquee sign can still be seen at the top of the building. For women, there was Lynne's clothing at the corner of Broadway and Main. It is now occupied by a Fabco shoe store. Also for the ladies there was Canadian Furs located off Main Avenue near Monroe Street.

I remember the old railroad tracks that ran along Main Avenue in downtown. It's all parking there now. The McDonald's restaurant occupies the site of the Central Theatre. Who was one of the first acts to appear at the old Central Theatre?? How about Moe, Larry and Curley - the original Three Stooges; that's who!!! The year was 1940. If anyone remembers Passaic like I do, please drop me an e-mail. I am also the founder of a non-profit organization called Past Reflections Historical Society so this is all natural for me.

I now live at the Jersey shore after leaving Passaic in 1964 upon completion of the 4th grade at PS #1 school. My best childhood memories was when I was living there starting in 1958 at age four. Passaic Park was mostly Polish and Jewish people when I was there and I had many friends that were of the aforementioned culture. I still travel to Passaic on the way to visit relatives in Bergen county or on the way back; mostly every weekend in late spring, summer, and fall and take long walks from Third Ward Park to downtown and back. I'm a fitness guru and historian who will work hard to preserve what's left of Passaic's past.

I was extremely proud when I visited on September 28, 2008 to see the Shirelles girl group of the 60s finally get a street named after them. Shirelles Boulevard. is now part of Paulison Avenue.

It's quite sad indeed as I walk the downtown area how the culture of people have changed. I hear not one person speaking English!!! The streets are littered with trash and those wonderful stores I shopped at with my mother are long gone, not to mention NO movie theatres exist except the Montauk if you include a closed up theatre. That's all from here for now, Bob. Thank you and send more memories!!

Rob Oberkehr

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March 2009

Hi Bob,

I found your site today while doing a search for family information. I found my last name mentioned a 2 or 3 times on your page.. and was really excited to see what people had to say. Although I live in Georgia now (since 01) I grew up in Parsippany NJ until age 18. My grandparents and great-grandparents lived in Passaic and Clifton.

My Great-Grandparents, Jim and Connie Paruta, owned Paruta's grocery store. I don't know much about it except the bits and pieces I hear from the few left in my family. So, I was wondering if you had any photos or if anyone had any information or memories about the grocery store. My great grandparents both passed away a couple years ago and would love to hear about anyone who may have known them or their family (Their children are my grandpa Don, and my great-aunts, Rose and Katherine)

By the way, I love reading peoples' memories on here and seeing their old photos!! So interesting!! Thanks so much for your time.

Heidi Paruta

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March 2009

Hi everyone,

I just received a wonderful present from Larry Kopp, a Passaic alumni. It's a new song he wrote and recorded about Passaic.

Larry grew up in Passaic in the 1940's and 50's. At that time, the Erie Railroad ran through the downtown of our city- - - between Lexington Ave and Main Ave. His song provides memories of those glorious days.

For those that don't know Larry, let me give you a quick background. Besides Larry being an excellent entertainer, he also has a PhD nuclear physicist, having worked until retirement at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and with several other commercial companies including Westinghouse and Martin-Marietta. During most of that time he also played clarinet in various Washington DC bands including having his own band.

Even today he still has his own band that is named "The Family." They play at various events in the greater Washington, area. Besides Larry being the band's singer he is also an accomplished clarinetist. (He started his band work during high school where he played in the PHS band) He is truly an excellent performer.

He inherited his musical skills from his father who played for many of the big bands, including Harry James, Paul Whiteman, and Orrin Tucker, and spent his later years at the Sands in Las Vegas playing for the "Rat Pack.

To hear Larry's song about Passaic, simply click here

Larry Kopp's e-mail is


Bob Rosenthal

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March 2009

Dear Bob,

I'm fortunate to have stumbled onto this Website, even though I read Wonderful Passaic some years ago.

I'm about as "Passaic" as one can get. Welcoming any connection with former and present Passaic inhabitants, perhaps I can help jog a few memories for those who long for those idyllic years in the best community in which to grow up.


- The Passaic public school system gave me the best education I ever had, including eight years beyond high school in leading universities.

- Teachers were superb, knowing their subjects and giving attention to - - - while challenging and rewarding - - - each individual student.

- Because of Passaic's many ethnic and religious enclaves - - - most of which I frequented - - - I grew up with no bias.

- The library system - - - Forstmann, Reid - - - was the best, enabling all inquiring minds to find answers.

- Socioeconomic and religious exposure that was unmatched in cities of comparable size. One could be comfortable in neighborhoods around 10th Street, a community of recent Eastern European immigrants, to The Circle, where many had realized the American Dream. Houses of worship of every faith. All were within walking distance.

- Factories that offered a glimpse of this country's varied and mighty economic engine; from bowling balls to sneakers, from cable to furniture, from textiles to brake linings, from conveyor belts to handkerchiefs, from bagels to pickles. Yes, we learned from their scrap heaps and made innovative use of whatever we found.

- Very active and nurturing volunteer organizations: Boy Scouts, Boys Club, YMCA, YWCA, YMHA, Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, Optimist, etc., etc. And, Camps Ocawasin, Walden, and Aheka.

- Great community pride, as evidenced by the many parades and enthusiastic, capacity attendance at school sporting events (and rivalries with Clifton).

- Fabulous park system. Who can forget the swings, railroad (+bums), pedestrian overpass, or nearby river at 1st Ward Park; or the sledding hill, shallow pool, swings, as well as ducks, ice skating and boating on Hughes Lake in Third Ward Park?

- Walking long distances to school in cliques, as opposed to many modern communities' required trek in Yellow Limos.

- Though in enemy territory, Rutt's Hut. I know of no Passaic son or daughter who til this day is not addicted to Rutt's Hut hot dogs.

- The same goes for Mario's pizza and mussels, even though the restaurant was up the road in Athenia.

- Down home, shake-your-hand, participatory city elections.

- No need for a car. One could walk or take a bus to anywhere in Passaic.

Even as youths, we knew we lived in the best town in the world. Now we know how wonderfully eclectic and enriching the experience was.

Random Indelible Memories

TEACHERS: Principal Clancy, Mrs. Glass, Ilsa Jackson, Mr. Shimshack, Principal Nordstrom, Mr. Kohl, Mr. Jackovics, Mr. Raviella, Generalissimo Messineo, Mr. Dunkley, Heavy Levy, Mrs. Malone, Principal Cannici, A. J. Krenicki, Mr. Furlano, Clara DeGroot, Mona Rinzler, Harry Zimmerman, Mr. Lavenda, Mrs. Bidwell, Hugo Polychemy, Dr. "Bo" Boverini.

INFLUENCES: Mayor Paul DeMuro, Big Al Podlipny, Scoutmaster John Tenza.

PLACES: The live chicken store (where the birds were plucked and slaughtered) on Wall St.; Yum-Yum Diner (opposite U.S. Rubber); Miami Diner; Krisa's Diner; Queens Diner; Palace, Montauk, Capital and Central Theaters; the Potato King; Pep Boys; Shupik's; Brothers Market; U.S. Rubber; Manhattan Rubber; Okonite; Robins Conveyor; bums shack on the side of the railroad track near the rickety bridge that crossed the tracks from Manhattan Rubber; 3rd Ward Park; old City Hall on the Hill; the cathedral-like Post Office; Bell Telephone on Broadway, where we paid our phone bill; Herman's Drugstore; Bell's (very old) Pharmacy; The Prospect Shop toy store next to the Army-Navy Store; Polish Peoples Home; the Prospect Street firehouse with Dalmatian dog; Russian Baths; the bagel factory; fresh produce market near Jefferson St. and Hoover Ave.

THINGS: lode of quartz crystal dug up at a construction site on Third St.; cache of colorful polished stones found at an industrial excavation off South St.; flexible rubber spikes salvaged from a furniture factory on Broadway; eating a Charlotte Russe ("CharlieHorse") from a small bakery on Passaic St.; massive rubber bands from a rubber company, which served as a slingshot when stretched between two trees; steam locomotives at the downtown train station; Tom's hot dog van and Good Humor Man, both at 3rd Ward Park.

EVENTS: parades down Main Avenue; digging out cars under massive snow drifts; flooding after heavy rains at Oak St. and Paulison Ave.; burning autumn leaves in the street (quite illegal today); crash of an Army plane with loss of Passaic draftees/enlistees; fatal collision of two fire engines on Main Avenue; suicidal man threatening to jump off the Continental Can water tower; Christmastime all around Main Ave.; Wednesday Hot Dog Night/Passaic Boys Club where we met Sugar Ray Robinson; Wechsler's lingerie sale, where our fathers and uncles went to see the models; the new dam at 3rd Ward Park; huge fireball slowly moving parallel to the horizon, viewed from the corner of Passaic and 9th streets (circa 1954); inexplicable sudden darkness on a bright, cloudless Spring afternoon (viewed by many on Van Houten Avenue, circa 1963).

About Me in Passaic

- Born Passaic General Hospital July 1946

- Lived on Market St., Randolph St., the dead end of Passaic St. (between 9th and 10th Sts.), Onyx Ct. (off of Blaine, VanHouten Ave.), Poplar St., then Carlton Towers on Aycrigg Ave.

- Attended Holy Rosary kindergarten, McKinley School No. 8, Jefferson School No. 1, Lincoln Jr. High No. 4, and PHS ('64).

- A member of the Passaic Boys Club on Third Street, Jr. Rotary, and Boy Scout Troop No. 2 (Passaic Boys Club).

- I can still taste Garrone's (Passaic St.) hamburgers on the way to/from the Boys Club. They were 25 cents apiece, a fortune.

- Camp Ocawasin 5 summers (where I learned outdoor skills and earned Life Guard badges).

- Attended Holy Rosary Church and the First Presbyterian Church.

- Shined shoes in virtually every bar along Passaic St., then those along Van Houten Ave. in Passaic and Clifton, including in Jerry Halperin's family candystore. Also ventured into Wallington via the 8th St. Bridge.

- Patrol Boy (crossing guard), yellow belt and badge.

- Fastest kid in No. 1 School (sometimes I let Al Lossinsky win).

- PHS Track Team (broad jump) in first year. At 15, I managed only about 20 feet, well behind Nate Slaughter's 26 feet and Howie Wells' 22. Sam Perry was "Passaic's Astronaut". Though the judges didn't agree, we watched him beat Bob Hayes, the world's fastest man, in the 60-yard dash at Fordham.

- With old Mrs. Murray at the register, ran the Manhattan Rubber night shift cafeteria and worked Saturdays there while at PHS (1961 - 1964). Greasy Angelo was the boss.

- Received the Braunstein (Manny was a classmate who died from asthma) and Pearlman Scholarships, which gave me a start in college (and for which I am eternally grateful). As a way of saying thanks, I arranged to have an article written about my successes in college in the Herald News, July 23, 1969.

- Right out of college, lived in Passaic and worked at Hoffmann-LaRoche.

- First son born at Passaic General. Also addicted to Rutt's Hut hot dogs.

- Judging from old city books, Blakes seem to have populated Passaic as long ago as the 1860s, maybe longer. Mother's family (Zon, pronounced "zoin" and Klecha) arrived in Passaic (from Pennsylvania) around 1925.

Where else but Passaic could one gain all these varied and rich experiences?

Passaic Sons and Daughters with Whom I Have Contact or Clues to Where They May Be Found

Jerry Halperin
The Kogit family
Steve "Butch" Ellis
Al Lossinsky
Jimmy Pryvitosky
The Susicke family (Uncle Mickey ran Allcraft, then Ajax Battery in Passaic)
The Zon family
Terry and Sandy Jupin
Jecina (only one surviving)
Bob Zachok
Pat VanWinkle
Richie Muttel

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My Message to Michael Cannizzaro:

Hello Mike,

I just stumbled across Bob Rosenthal's Wonderful Passaic Website; you'll see my comments on the Message Board, I guess when Bob posts them.

Scrolling down the messages over the years, I found yours. After all this time, I can answer your question about the talking bird; my cousin Sandy Jupin worked at the 5 & Dime in the early sixties. Here's the long-awaited answer: I don't know what the bird said before some of my classmates got to it, but I remember it yelling obscenities to passersby. Sandy told me that's why the store got rid of it.

Tom Blake PHS Class of 64

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Tom Blake
Budd Lake, NJ

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March 2009

Re: Alan Rosenberg, Hollywood Actor

Alan was in Neal Simon's Brighten Beach Memoirs on Broadway, in the last 15 years. I also heard that he is in Righteous Kill, a current DeNiro/Pacino movie that I just rented on DVD to see for myself. I watched it the other day. Alan's role is a main character but he's very good in it.

Alan graduated in 1968, with my class. I more or less grew up with him and worked in Wechsler's a few times at Christmas, wrapping gifts. He was best friends with my boyfriend, Bobby Darat, and I spent a lot of wonderful times with both of them, as well as Alan's next door neighbor (I believe they both lived at the top of the hill on Aycrigg Ave., halfway between Passaic Ave. & Main Ave. in a beautiful home), Richie Wein, whose father, Sydney, was a well known physician, and Richie has followed in his footsteps. Alan drove a Volvo and pretended to invite me to the Senior Prom as my mother didn't want me to go with Bobby, as I was Jewish and he wasn't. We were all in one of the first hippy generations in the late 60s, and the three of them went to Woodstock (without me).

Alan's brother, Mark, went from being a student at Columbia (?) and a member of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society, a radical group), to a major Hollywood film producer who died of gout. His wife, Paula Weinstein, is still producing. I remember Alan had the lead in our H.S. play which must have nurtured his love of acting. The name of the drama teacher escapes me but she was tall, blond, and just fantastic at what she did. I remember Alan coming home from Yale drama school and doing a monologue for us in a stadium at a beautiful park outside of Passaic (the name escapes me but it had cherry blossoms in the Spring - Branchbrook Park)? He was always such a nice guy and had a great sense of humor. I have spoken to Alan a few times over the years, particularly when Bobby passed away in the late 80s (?) which upset his childhood friends very much, Alan included. I have read that Alan and Marg recently separated.

A bit of trivia about me: My dad, Bobby Schwartz, was on the first string of Passaic High's famous Wonder Team in the 30s, a basketball team coached by Ernest Blood. They won the State championship 13 years in a row and falsified my father's records so he could play for them longer. He played with the great Paul Demuro and Benny Selzter (later a coach, I went to school with his daughter). My father was once at an athletic award event and sat on the stage (maybe at Passaic High) next to Babe Ruth. He gave him his report card to sign so he could have his autograph and the teacher later thought it was a hoax and ripped it up!

Sharon Schwartz Katz
Class of Passaic High 1968

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Hi Sharon,

If you haven't read it, there is a great book about the PHS Wonder Teams. It was written by Dr. Charles ("Chic") Hess. Its title is "Prof. Blood and the Wonder Teams The True Story of Basketball's First Great Coach." The book is 455 pages and contains many photos of the players and the box scores of almost every game. (The publisher is Newark Abby Press, 2003).

Bob Rosenthal

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Thanks a million for telling me about the book. I'm in the process of purchasing it on Amazon and am very excited about reading it. I didn't see my Dad's name in the index nor Selzer or Demuro for that matter, but I did see Milt Pashman, later to be a commissioner, and other names I am familiar with. Hopefully I'll at least see my father's picture in there. Even so, just reading the excerpt from Chapter 1 gives you a really interesting picture of Passaic and the country in the early 20th century, especially in regard to sports. Thanks for all of your creative projects and the forum of Passaic life. It is invaluable and has made so many people feel so good.


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February 2009

Hello Bob,

I went to Temple University and met Ann Goodman, daughter of Lou and Gertrude Goodman of Lou's Appliances on 3rd Street. Lou also owned an Esso service station around the corner from the appliance store. The family lived at 24 Idaho Street in what, I believe, is Passaic park. She was cute, and I fell in love with her the first time that I saw her- as a Freshman in Spanish class. Her brother, Stuart, worked for his father in the appliance store. After graduating from Temple we were engaged, but, unfortunately, we parted. I have always thought about her- even after forty some years. Do you know her or her family. Ann taught in Franklin School #3, and probably married and moved away. I never got back to Passaic after that, but every time I drive past exit 153A on the Garden State Parkway, I think about her and the Goodman family. What can I say about them? Nice people.


Allen Hirsh

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February 2009

Hi Bob, I was born in Passaic but moved to Wallington at age 5. I now live in Hackensack. I did some research on Passaic movie theatres a few years ago. Counting nickelodeons, there were quite a number of them. I made a list and wanted to include pictures but haven't had any luck, other than a photo of where they were. I also have a newspaper article that I copied into my word processor (quite long) of the opening of the New Montauk Theatre.

If anyone has old photos of Passaic's theatres or of Pop's Diner, I'd love to include them in my list.

John R. Tay

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Hi John,

I found your e-mail quite interesting because I also have fond memories of the movie theaters in Passaic. I was brought up in the 1940s and early 1950s and at that time there were five movie theaters in Passaic - - - the Montauk (the largest "movie palace"), the Central (the newest that provided not only movies but live entertainment), the Capital, the Lincoln, the Playhouse (which closed for movies in about 1950), and one on Market Street which I'm not sure of the name but it might have been called the Plaza.

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of the Passaic theaters. I have a suggestions on how you might find photos. The Research Librarian at the Passaic Forstmann Library is very helpful. She has a microfilm of all previous Passaic newspapers back to the 19th century. Among those papers would probably be many photos of the theaters. In addition, the library has a photo storage facility and perhaps they have photos there.

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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Hi Bob,

I'm attaching my list of Passaic movie theatres. Feel free to put it on your web site if you so desire.

The theatre on Market Street (originally Second Street) was the Palace, which replaced the old Star Theatre (same address) in 1914.

As I said earlier, I moved to Wallington at an early age but Lexington Avenue (among other places) was my hangout as a teen. I went to St. Michael's (Washington School 2) for four years. The nuns forbid us to go to the Palace Theatre, which was within eyesight of their convent, because of the quality of films shown (cowboy films and cliff hangers were too violent for their standards), so most of the big kids would meet at the Lincoln (same quality films) on Saturday afternoons.

I started this movie theatre list in 2001. I was in contact with the research librarian at Forstmann Library at that time. She did help as much as she could. I had a video store in Teaneck at that time so didn't have very much time to spend searching. She found whatever she could and put it on the side so that I could stop by before opening my store to check it out. She even copied (from microfilm) the 9 page write-up about the Montauk when it opened in 1924. After I copied that to my word processor, I mailed a copy to the then mayor of Passaic, hoping to get him interested in saving the theatre. Never heard anything about it though.


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The following is a list of movie theatres that were located in Passaic, NJ, from 1908 to the present time. This list is only of theatres that showed movies on a full-time basis.

NICKELETTE - The Nickelette Theatre was Passaic's first full-time movie house. It was a converted storefront located at 187 Passaic Street and was opened by Harry Hecht in 1908. It had 185 seats. It is believed to be part of the U.S. Rubber building now. Hecht's other houses include the Pleasant Hour, Star, City and Garden Theatre.

PLEASANT HOUR - The Pleasant Hour Theatre was located at 106 Second Street (now Market Street) and had 600 seats. It later became the City Theatre.

STAR - The Star Theatre was located at 121 Second Street. It later became the Palance Theatre.

CITY - The City Theatre was located at 106-108 Second Street just about opposite the old No. 2 School and had 1000 seats. It was listed as having a WurliTzer Model 135A (2-manual 4-rank piano console) organ Opus 573 that was shipped September 6, 1922. Ruben Furniture now occupies the building.

GARDEN - The Garden Theatre was located at 4 Lexington Avenue just opposite the Erie Railroad station. PARK The Park was a small theatre located on the corner of Passaic Street and Fifth Street.

SAVOY - The Savoy Theatre was located at 54 Second Street. It opened in 1910.

MONTAUK - The original Montauk Theatre was located on the corner of Main Avenue and Madison Street. It opened in 1910. It was listed as having a WurliTzer Model 135A organ, Opus 525, that was shipped on June 3, 1922.

PLAYHOUSE - The Playhouse was located at 591-595 Main Avenue on the lot that Home Liquors presently occupies. It opened in 1914. There was an attempt made in November of 1956 to reopen it as a skating rink but ran into problems with insufficient parking.

PALACE - The Palace Theatre was located at 121 Second Street and opened in 1914. It had a steep balcony and a pipe organ (unknown manufacture) with chambers on both sides of the stage. It stopped showing films in 1956. Later it was used as a bingo hall, church, and showed Spanish films. It is now being used as a warehouse by the importing company La Flor Mexicana.

RIALTO - The Rialto Theatre was located at 37 Lexington Avenue. It opened in 1916. It had a shallow balcony, unusually high stage and contained 899 seats. It was renamed the Lincoln Theatre in 1939 and closed on December 2, 1956. It reopened in 1958 as the Fine Arts Theatre showing films for "mature audiences." It was destroyed by an explosion on January 3, 1970 (ten minutes after the theatre closed) and is now a municipal parking lot. The two films shown that fateful night were Joys of Georgette and Temporary Wives.

CAPITOL - The Capitol Theatre was located at 322 Monroe Street. It had 3500 seats with a stadium type balcony. It was listed as having a Kramer organ (built by Seeburg-Smith) that was shipped in 1921. It opened in 1920 and closed in September 1967. The last film shown was Born Losers. After that it was used for rock concerts and later resorted to showing Adult films. It was torn down on April 15, 1991 after being damaged by a series of five fires, four of which were considered suspicious. A strip mall is now located on the property.

NEW MONTAUK - The New Montauk Theatre was located at 715 Main Avenue. It had 3000 seats with a standard balcony. It opened on Wednesday, January 30, 1924. Its opening attraction was Rosita with Mary Pickford. A 3 manual Griffith-Beech pipe organ with a horseshoe console and rolltop was installed in the later part of 1923. It is believed that the left chamber contained most of the pipes and the right chamber contained the percussion stops and traps. At the rear of the theatre adjacent to the projection booth was a chamber called the Echo Organ, which contained 2 sets of pipes, chimes and vibrating bells. The Montauk is the only theatre still operating in Passaic but only shows Adult films.

CENTRAL - The Central Theatre was located at 19 Central Avenue. It opened in 1940 and closed on September 26, 1979. It had a balcony and was much like Radio City Music Hall in that it had an upper and lower lobby. It was host to many famous players and bands, including the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The band played 22 shows in four nights and began their last performance at 10 PM on September 27, 1942, before joining the Air Force and going overseas. As the band closed with Moonlight Serenade, Glenn's final comment was "I'll see y'all in the Army, and we'll say goodbye in the best way we know how."

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February 2009

I stumbled onto your website & I'm very glad I did. I was born at Passaic General Hospital in1943. My family lived on Main Ave next to the Diamond Agency. I attended Franklin #3 School and in 1959 moved to Rutherford. So many wonderful memories. I worked in Passaic for many years as a teenager. I worked in Wechsler's - what a beautiful store that was, the Wechsler's were very gracious people. Howard Rosenber,g who was Sam Wechsler's brother in-law, ran the store, also Alan Rosenberg who is in Hollywood, is his son. He looks just like his father - very handsome. I remember at Christmas as a teenager I would serve egg nog to the customers, my Mother, Mary Zarro, worked in Wechsler's also for many years until she retired.

After graduating high school I worked for Mevin Bierman at Ginsburg's, another wonderful experience. I became his assistant/buyer and worked for him until Ginsburg's closed. Remember the fires that almost destroyed Ginsburg's ?. I can still see Abe & Lillian Ginsburg watching over the store. That was when customer service was the norm!

I remember the Central theatre that was like going to the theatre in NY very elegant. We had the greatest deli's, do you remember Gero's jewelry? I can go on & on. Milton Bodnar, Shirley's hat store, Howe Cafeteria, etc.

I moved to Scottsdale Arizona in 1994 and have been working ever since for Mayo Clinic. Do you have any information regarding Melvin Bierman I know he moved to Florida and would love to know how he & his family are.

What a wonderful website
Thanks again
Pat Monaco Giordano

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January 2009


Bob, what you have done by writing your books and creating your blog is such a gift to all of us who have Passaic running through our veins. I've read most of your blog and came across several people I knew, some very well.

Hi, Michelle Tomczyk!

I now split my time between Tucson, AZ and Montclair, NJ. I have made a career in advertising and want to write a book about NJ when I retire in a couple of years, I hope. I went to St. Nick's with Patty Keegan (daughter of Senator Joseph Keegan) Karen Sloma (daughter of Detective Stanley Sloma), Elaine Tangas, Adelaide Giordano, Fran Falcone, Linda Kreitner, Carolyn Zufolo, Maggie Donohue (daughter of Tom Donohue of the Fire Department), Paul Blacknall, Paul Tully, Vince Fraser, Joanne Beresky, Patty Smith (daugther of Bob Smith's Florist), John Pietrowski, Robert Mahon, Billy Mitchell, Lynn Faugno, Michelle Disparti and many others. We graduated in 1966. I then went to Pope Pius XII and graduated in 1970.

Sid and Hilda Gilbert, parents of Mickey and Betty, lived next to me and my parents, Howard and Pauline Tarrence. I see many entries about Sid Gilbert from the YMHA crowd, and I think Mickey is still connected, as a psychologist, to the Passaic school system. Mazel Tov, Mickey! You were my first crush. My friend, Maggie Donohue, and I used to wait for you to arrive home from PHS in your saddle shoes, just so we could call, "Hi, Mickey!" from my front porch. I babysat for Betty when your parents bowled on Sunday nights. The first time I ever saw gefilte fish, it was in your fridge. My family had little ethnicity, especially in our food tastes. . . I know you had an older sister, but I can't remember her name. I do recall that she was very pretty. Mickey, I believe you and I have shared the same hair salon on Bellevue Avenue in Upper Montclair. Lenny and I have talked about you! I remember Kensington Terrace fondly, from the Kaye brothers to Nancy Haig, who use to visit her grandparents, the Brehoves. Nancy haled from fancy Glen Rock and was a great summer pal. The neighborhood kids used to put on shows in our driveways, build go-carts and igloos, and stage an art show on your back porch. I am so happy to have grown up in Passaic Park, where we wandered on Brook Ave, Spring Street, Howard Ave, Park Ave, Terhune Ave and spent many summer days at Rinky Dink Park, going to Solomon's Shop Rite to get bread and milk, playing kickball in front of Billy Shelig's house (with his next door neighbor coming out to call us g-d'd a -tingas for making so much noise), playing cards all day at the Barbara and Jean Paul's house.

Archie's deli, barbaric Dr. Cohen, DDS, the fish store on Main Ave., Cook's Candy Store where I learned to smoke, Grapp's Bakery, the first head shop, Pluchok's, Wilbern's, Hughes Lake, Arthur's on River Road, Crazy Mary, the orphanage on River Road (does anyone know the name), PPXII's losing football streak, Sister Stella, Sister Louise Thomasina, Sister Frances, Mrs. Hart, Miss Dwyer, Sister Helen, Sister Joseph Nalida, Sister Theresa, Sister Rachel, Father McLaughlin's headstands in 5th grade, Father Molloy, Monignor Coyne's confessional, cleaning the convent and rectory, penny candy, pagan baby races, incense in St. Nick's, sock hops, Wechsler's, shoplifting, Ginsburg's, Army-Navy, Albert's, The Fine Arts (right) Theatre, the 74 bus, the #3 bus to Clifton, home before streetlights go on, hitchhiking, Gold's Cleaners, Irv Staum's Coldcut Center, McCrory's, Kresge's, The Fair, Jefferson Bakery, Leonard's Pizza for Sicilian, the record store on Jefferson St., Blimpie's, downtown Gretchen and Seth, Bagateria, Treat Restaurant's cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk, the gorgeous Italian stained glass windows in St. Nick's, Russell Del Grosso, Joe Kranich, Mr. & Mrs. Sol Eigen, the Gilmores, The Minskys, The Bickoffs, Cathy Palezuela, The Drazins, Patty Yaroslawski, Cathy Marie Havorka, babysitting for the whole neighborhood it seems, laughing in church with Adelaide and Karen and having to sit through three masses, Karen's baby brother's birth, Maggie and I laughing our way through all those school years, and everything else about Passaic. All good. I'm grateful to have grown up there, running behind the garages picking and tasting the honeysuckle!

Vive la Passaic.

Susan Tarrence

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January 2009

For all its faults, Passaic is where my heart is.

I had the honor of be a member and playing Indian football and running track from 1964 1966.

My main men are:

1964 - Sony Moss, Jimmy Mc Coy, Fred Chumko.

1965 Harold Mc Kenny, Richie Domino, King Perry, Doug Rupple.

1996 - Ken Tezca, Arty Harris, Henry Mitchell, Sufredo Silva, Joe White, Joe Mann, Allan Kendrick, Ray Cisar, Van Lewis, Warren Moore, Ron Petiro, Frankie C., Russell C., Freddie Freeman, Joe White,

Stanley Johnson, Calvin Mc Kenny, Jimmy S., and oh yes JT - Jack Tatum.

My track crew include Art Friedberg, Lynn Swann, Jimmy Thomas, and Wayne Johnson

There are many more, I can't spell the names, but the memories and the faces are all there.

Much love to all of them and to all of you who passed through the halls of PHS.

Personal email:

Cell(908) 331-3034

Frank A. Barber III

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December 2008

Hi Bob,

I just read your book (all in one sitting since I couldn't put it down). It read like the story of my life as a youngster. I lived at 307 Paulison Avenue between Lincoln Street and Broadway, a house my family lived in from 1907 until sold by my Mom in 1986. Two doors up toward Broadway Fred Lafer lived, and across the street Mona Lichtenstein. I went to No. 11 and to PHS from which I graduated in 1952, just a few days after our principal, Mr. Kennedy died. My best friends at #11 were Herbie Niestat who lived on Henry Street, Barry Waldman whose Dad owned the Howe Cafeteria and Irwin Braunstein. We formed the MJJA Club, which stood for May, June, July and August - our birth months in 1934. I was the oldest. I carried our Club "pass card," with the password 777, in my wallet for at least thirty years until it disintegrated. I knew Julian Kivowitz and knew Phil Epstein (and Avrom (Abby) Gold (saw him a couple of weeks ago) very well from the PHS debating society and I think from the Hilltop Star as well.

I didn't hang out at the "Y" but was a member of Alpha Phi Pi and was inducted when Danny Friend was the president. I still have a couple of our "barely legible" newsletters. Our regional convention was at a hotel in Newark sans a stripper but highlighted by a series of those movies that had the hotel's security desperately trying the find in which room the movies were being shown. I played on the APP tag football team against the other fraternities in 3rd Ward Park. I learned to play tennis on those great clay courts across from the park next to the railroad tracks on Van Houten Avenue.

My memories of No. 11 were refreshed by reading your book. Finding this web site is a bonus. I hope to hear from others who remember the great times we had - - - haircuts at Joe Miano's father's barbershop just off Howe Avenue, Sunday morning forays to get lox and cream cheese and bagels on Monroe Street, tag football games which usually turned into tackle games complete with bloody noses in my backyard with Vinny Cirignano who lived around the corner on Lincoln Street. I remember well the blackouts, my Dad being our block's air raid warden (I was a junior air raid warden but I cannot remember my duties if any), shoveling coal into our burner, saving tin cans for the war effort and much more. I loved our 50th Reunion to which I went with some trepidation but which ended far too soon.

Thanks for giving me another opportunity to relive those golden times.

Joe Steinberg, Short Hills NJ

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December 2008

Hi Bob,

You were wondering about Alan Rosenberg, so here's his picture. He is much younger than you thought. He is 57 years old and graduated PHS in 1968. He is related to Wechslers Dept. Store.

Hollywood actors guild to seek strike - Yahoo news

Harice Yorke (

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December 2008

I graduated form Rutherford HS in 1945. I lived on Erie Ave. and our family did most of our shopping on I believe it was Monroe St in Passaic. I think that was the street that crossed the Passaic River at Wallington. I got my first pair of long pants at a men's store called Pasternacks. I believe the man's name was Morris. We also bought our meats from Jack and Sarah Pear. They operated a butcher shop across the street.

The Erie RR ran past our house on its way to Chicago on the "limited."

I remember going to Pep Boys for tires for my bicycle. Rutherford was a town of snobs as far as I was concerned with very few stores that were affordable for young kids as well as my parents who didn't have a lot of money either.

I ran across your internet address and even though I was a so called "Rutherfordian, " I recall Passsic with fondness.

Bill Ropp (E-mail:

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Hi Bill,

I do appreciate you taking the time to write to the Wonderful Passaic web site. I spent part of my youth going through Rutherford on the way to the "Secaucus Marshes." As you probably will recall, starting in late 1945, just after the war ended, the Army and Navy dumped much of their surplus stuff in the marshes. I would ride my bicycle from Passaic to the Rutherford train station and then walk along the tracks across the bridge looking for the surplus items.

I remember my friends and I once found a large balsa wood raft, that used to hang off the side of Navy troop carriers. Since we were very active model airplane builders, and balsa wood was the key expensive material in building model airplanes, this balsa wood raft was a gold mine to us. I remember cutting up that raft and dragging big logs of it back to Rutherford. When we got to our bikes we suddenly realized that we couldn't both ride our bikes and drag the balsa wood . We decided to leave our bike, and drag the balsa wood.all the way to Passaic. Then latter we all walked back to Rutherford and retrieved our bikes. (I still get exhausted just thinking about that day.)

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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Happy to get your Email. I too, use to scrounge in the meadows. What we discovered was the remains of the munitions factory almost where the stadium now exists. By scraping about 2 inches of black mud from the ground, we dug up large chunk of Gun Cotton, the stuff that was used to fill the munitions. We took it home, dried it out and made our own bookoo explosives with cans, etc. After the principal's son made a pipe bomb which wasn't capped properly at the end (Thank GOD), it flew across the street and smashed into a chair which had been recently vacated. Needless to say all of our activity ended. We had learned our lesson. Next time I write I will tell you about The copper mine in N. Arlington !!

Bill Ropp

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November 2008

I'm Joe Perrone, and I used to manage Markey Brothers Sporting Goods on Main Street in Passaic around 1974-78, along with Hans Kooy. We used to have fresh slices of the ABSOLUTELY best pizza in all of New Jersey at Tony Berretta's Mirror Pizzeria, next door to the Golden Boy Bar. I also used to teach tennis at the public tennis courts in the 3rd Ward Park. I was friends with the Kampfs; Greg, Johnny, and Ronnie. Also, Joe Margolin and Bob Grudzinski of Clifton used to drop in for lunch at Markey Brothers. Those were great times, and Passaic was a great town. I have since moved to North Carolina, and recently published two novels. You can see them at Hope someone I knew back then sees this and contacts me

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November 2008

Would anyone have pictures of the Consolidated bus that would park around the corner from Prospect Toy Shop? I think they were blue buses and they went local to Bloomfield and Rutherford and Lyndhurst as I recall. My dad used to drive these buses. Also would anyone have pictures of the Passaic Athenia Bus? These were the short silver sided buses I took to school. They had large brown leather seats and there was a change counter by the driver that was constantly churning. I remember taking the Manhattan Lines from Passaic to the Port Authority in NY then the subway to see my first Yankee game. Does anyone have pictures of the Manhattan Lines bus? Thanks .

Gene Sadowski

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November 2008

In response to Larry Bindell (I think I knew him from the YMHA in the 50's and 60's) and Bob Gutkowski, Alan Rosenberg is not only a great film and stage actor in Hollywood, he is also the current President of the Screen Actor's Guild, and is married to a wonderful, beautiful and gifted actress named Marg Hilgenberger. I believe he was in the PHS Class of 1964 with my brother Alan.

Bob, you are a saint for having this wonderful site where we Passaicites can reminisce, schmooze and remember all the good old days. I just returned to Tucson, AZ from Passaic, where I attended my 50th PHS Class of '58 reunion--what a blast!!!! What memories I will have from a wonderful week in New Jersey. There is no chopped liver in Tucson like there is at Harold's NY Deli in Lyndhurst, NJ. One of the highlights of my trip. The corned beef is also wonderful. I did take a ride to all my old neighborhoods, and Monroes Street just doesn't look the same-no deli's, and my cousin Joe's "Shanty", the purveyor of the best shalalie in Jersey, is of course, long gone. I will always have my memories, though.

David Novitsky

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Hi David,

Thanks for your e-mail and the background of Alan Rosenberg. Do you know where he lived in Passaic? I grew up in a 4 family house on the corner of Hammond Ave and Oak Street in 2nd Ward. In an apartment in the same building was a Rosenberg family that had 2 sons, One named Marvin (my age) and his young brother Alan. Today that Alan would be about 69 or 70 years old. Might he be the same Alan Rosenberg that you described?

Interesting to learn that you now live in Tucson AZ. In April of this year, one of my close Passaic friends, Len Kronman (who also hung out at the "Y", and now lives in Tucson) had a surprise 75th birthday. I and a number of his Passaic friends flew out and surprised him. Too bad I didn't know of you because I think you would have enjoyed the Passaic Reunion that we held in Tucson.

One minor correction to your e-mail. Joe's Shanty was a great candy store but it didn't offer "shalalies". Kowasnick's (SP?) Candy store on the corner of Monroe Street and Tulip Street was the place to get that frozen treat.

Again thanks for taking the time to write to me

Bob Rosenthal

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Hi, Bob-

It's a strange thing about Joe's Shanty-both my brother and I distinctly remember getting lemon and chocolate shalalie there. Of course, you know how the memory works at our age!!! And once again, I would like to thank you profusely for your wonderful and much appreciated contribution to Passaic culture and memories with your marvelous web site and your books.

David Novitsky

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September 2008


I still keep in touch with Marvelous Marv Rosen, who owns Mercury Plastics at 7th and South Streets not too far from Holy Rosary. Time for a documentary about Passaic with a lot of info and pictures.

I knew Fritz Knothe, went to Pope Pius XII, knew Loretta Swit who also went to Pius and I think she transferred to Passaic. I also knew Phyllis Hamer, Judge Hamer's daughter. Couldn't believe I would meet her at Syracuse U. in the late 1950s.

Marv told me about a fellow who starred in a Hollywood TV series who came from Passaic, anybody know who that would be?

I loved Pop's Diner, Jenrose, Sunshine's Deli, Sokol Hall and of course I met Marv at the old Sears store across from Sokol.

Still remember Lincoln, Central Capitol, Larkey's, Markey Bros...I bought a lot of sports stuff, Bickford's, Milton Bodner, Pennington Club, yes even the Old Playhouse where I saw the Third Man movie.

Remember the old Passaic High football team with the green Jerseys and white circles with the numbers in center of it. John Chanin was an executive with ABC Wide World of Sports working with Lou Boda and Jim McKay. He passed away over a year ago in Florida. I also knew Jack, The Assassin: a football player at Passaic, Ohio State and Oakland Raiders. Tatum was his name. He now lives In California and had his left leg amputated.

Passaic in old Indian language meant Peaceful Valley.


Bob Gutkowski

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In response to Bob Gutkowski's question, the following information was provided by Larry Bindell:

"There was a Passaic born actor that was on LA Law, whose name was Allen Rosenberg (I don't know if "Allen" spelled his name as I've written it or if he spelled it somewhat differently). Best regards, Larry Bindell" (

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Hi Bob,

I read your e-mail with great interest. Many of the people you mentioned in your e-mail are people I knew when I lived in Passaic.

I notice you call Marv Rosen "Marvelous Marv Rosen." In high school I knew a Marv Rosen (I graduated in 1950). Perhaps it's the same Marv Rosen. I'm just curious how he earned the wonderful descriptive adjective "Marvelous."

Again, thanks for taking the time to provide your memories of our wonderful home town.

Best regards,
Bob Rosenthal

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Hi Bob,

"Marvelous" Marv Rosen owns the Mercury Plastics Corp at 7th and South Streets. I've known Marv since Dec.13,1955 when I met him at the Sears Roebuck store across from Sokol Hall. I went to Pope Pius XII on First Street. My cousin worked in the Sears office and I worked a couple of Christmases there.

Marv and I also had the same M.D., Dr.Okin. Marv helped me a lot with my business career. He is a MENSCH in every sense of the word, a man of morality and integrity. I keep in touch with him regularly.

I do remember Sunshine's Deli, Jenrose, Pop's Diner, Jefferson Bake shop, Kantor's gym where I played basketball, Van Herwarde's Dairy, I delivered newspapers to the homes, businesses and apartments on Parker and Dubnoff and Ratner's.bakery on Hope Avenue near Harrison and Holy Trinity.

My family and I had moved back and forth between Passaic and Clifton, I also had gone to the Pennington Club. I remember seeing the movie, The Third Man at the playhouse.went to the Passaic Y. My wife went to a good dentist, Dr.Malkin. I knew the folks at Simbols, Milton Bodner, Larkey's, Markey Brothers, the Capitol Tea Room. I played baseball at 3rd Ward Park, if you remember the Drazins team.

Passaic was culturally diverse long before the term became popular. As a guy I will never forget Sunshine's Deli, the Batampte mustard, the hot dogs and corned beef and the pickles there. Who could forget Pop's diner, DingHo Palace, I could go on and on.

I worked at Forstmann and Botany summers while going to college. Let the folks know that you can get Passaic H.S. wearing apparel from Prep Sports Corp in Seattle, Washington.

Bob, I noted in reading Wonderful Passaic, that a couple of people mentioned the Shalalei, or shalie. Great tasting almost like a sorbet or shaved ice. My uncle has a deli and restaurant in Brooklyn on the lower east side. Back then some called it shalie, I always knew it as Shalalei. Maybe you can put out an all points bulletin asking people if they know where to get it these days or who has a recipe. Thanks.

Best regards
Bob Gutkowski
E-mail: (I'm in Colorado)

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Hi Bob,

I am writing to you in the hopes that you might help me, or give me some leads, on how to locate some of my classmates from Passaic schools. I am mostly looking for friends that would have graduated PHS in 1949. I suppose they would have been Juniors when you were a Senior, but you may have known some of them. Also, maybe you can put me in touch with someone in that class that has a 1949 yearbook. Some of the names I remember are: George Botbyl, a genius kind of guy; Helen Cohen, a very poised and brilliant student (I think her family ran a bakery somewhere in Passaic); Danny Cavallo, a budding artist; Sylvia Schatz, a cute tease. There was Carl Giambalvo too, although I don't remember much more than the name. Any help you can offer would be appreciated. We lived on Van Houten Avenue, and I had my heart set on playing football for PHS, but my family moved to Pompton Plains and I played at Butler HS.

Best regards,

Jerry Redman

P.S. I really enjoyed reading all of the entries in your blog. It's in my favorites now

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Hi Jerry,

In reading your e-mail I discovered an amazing coincidence. You mentioned you graduated in June 1949 (I graduated one year later in June 1950). However, the coincidence is that in the last few days I received e-mails from three different people that were in that graduating class. They included Dee Kline Piccolo and her husband, and Rose Casalaspro (I believe she graduated in the January 1949 class). Her father was "Tony the barber on Monroe street. The one from Dee was particularly interesting and directly related to your e-mail. She mentioned that she had attended the 50th Class Reunion and many of your classmates also attended. Within the next few days, we will be posting her e-mail on the Wonderful Passaic site. You might then directly contact her to find out more about your classmates.

Again, thanks for writing.

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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Dear Bob,

It was great receiving your reply to my inquiry. However, I need to correct one misconception. As stated in my email to you, I did not graduate from PHS. My family moved to Pompton Plains in Morris County, and I eventually graduated from Butler High School. It's the kids I went to Junior High School that I am interested in, that would have graduated PHS class of ‘49.

Best regards,

Jerry Redman

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September 2008

Hello Bob,

Would you know anywhere on the internet I can view old photos of Passaic? I'm looking specifically for photos of the city, all areas especially downtown from the late 50s to late 1960s. But, of course I'd like to see any Passaic photos that can be found.

P.S.: I just got word that the Montauk Theater will be demolished, actually the whole corner including the old Lincoln Hotel on Henry Street also. The city is turning that whole block of Main and corner of Henry into a preschool. How sad.

Thank you so much for this site.

Regina Halpern Horner

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Hi Regina,

You asked about sites that might have photos of Passaic. Unfortunately, I don't know any such sites. However, I do have a few suggestions.

Go on a web forum site entitled "Virtual PHS." That is a free web site where many former Passaic people reminisce. To get to the site go to http// They will require you to register. There is no charge for registering. However, during registering they will try to sell you an "upgraded membership." There is no need to pay them any money, so simply say no. They will then ask you the name of the forum you want. Again it is called "Virtual PHS."

A second suggestion may sound a little bit commercial so take it with a grain of salt. The book that I compiled called, "Climbing the Rainbow, 26 Glimpses of Growing up in Passaic," does contain many photos of Passaic in the 1950s and 1960s. If you live near Passaic's Forstmann Library, they have many copies of the book. Otherwise, you would have to acquire the book.

I was aware of the pending demolition of the Montauk Theater. That certainly brings great sadness to me. In fact, I attempted to have that site become a National Historical Landmark. I don't know if you realize it but the Montauk Theatre was one of the great movie palaces that rivaled the finest in New York City; i.e., 3,200 seats. After doing a lot of research, and contacting a number of well-to-do Passaic alumni, as well as seeking potential grants from Federal and State level, I broached the mayor in Passaic about setting up a nonprofit company to buy the theater and restoring it to its magnificence. Then the theater could become the center place for a Passaic renaissance showing first run movies, but also usable for school graduations, and other community functions. In addition, the grand lobby would be a lovely place for a small Passaic historical museum.

Unfortunately, the mayor of Passaic threw me out. I guess I was just too naive by not offering him a bribe (it is my understanding he is now in jail for accepting bribes).

I'd be most happy to put your e-mail on the Wonderful Passaic web site. That way other people who might have photos could contact you directly.

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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Hello again Bob,

I frequent your wonderful passaic site often, it's so good to see a place where people can connect and remember Passaic. I was born and lived in Passaic in the 1960s, I remember actually going to the Montauk with my grandmother to see movies. It was a beautiful theater. I belong to a web site called cinema treasures. I'm very interested in the preservation of many historical landmarks in Passaic, not just theaters. It seems the city officials just don't care about the city's history. I'm not so sure they even care about the present considering what bad shape the city is in now. I'm not a negative person; I like you, have hope for good outcomes . Seems the city we once knew and loved is being lost.

I remember so many good things about Passaic, I try to visit often and take pictures of all the great architecture still left. I left New Jersey in the 1980s and now live in Vermont. I miss the city we knew and loved, its hard for me to see what's happening there when I return to visit, but I refuse to stay away due to crime, etc. I admire you so much for your meeting with the mayor. If more people spoke up things might actually get done, strength in numbers possibly. Thank you so much for your suggestions.

I would like to ask you if you have any memories of a small tavern on Main Avenue near Monroe Street that served pizza? It was owned by an older couple by the names of May and Johnny. I'd like to find out the name of it. That tavern is where my parents first met one another in 1962, my mother worked for a liquor trade paper and my father worked at the little jewelry shop behind the Jefferson Bake Shop. One day he walks in at lunch and sees my mom there and bingo, they married just 6 months later.

I'll spare you the rest, it's a long and very sad story. Let's just say I may have been one of Passaic's first homeless children during a time when the economy was very good. I'm sure a lot of the old time business owners would know who I was or who my grandmother was. I'm trying to write a book about all that, a tribute to my parents. I'm not a writer by any means, I just have the story, so I'm taking a leap of faith trying to do it. I guess my memories of Passaic as a tiny child might be so vivid due to such a time of struggle. I love that city with all my heart.

Regina Halpern Horner

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September 2008

Wow! A great site. I am helping my husband with some of his family history. He was born in 1946. He remembers his grandfather Samuel Rice had a Deli called Sam's Deli in Passaic. It would have at least been open in the 1940s and early 1950s. If anyone has a picture or any memories of this or Sam Rice we would love to hear or see it!! Pretty sure his (2nd) wife was named Rose. The first was Rebecka.

Thank you for your helpful and interesting site.

Nanci Rice

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Hi Nanci,

I so clearly remember "Rice's Deli" and your husband's grandfather, Sam Rice. It was where I went every other Saturday after going to the movies in downtown Passaic. Why did I go there? Because you could get a good dinner for 25 cents which was a lot of money in the late 1930s and early 1940s. At that time the admission price to the movies was also a quarter. (In fact, the way Hollywood has always priced the admission price of a movie is the cost of two hotdogs and a Coke.)

The reason I went to Rice's Deli every other Saturday is because on the alternate Saturdays I went further up Monroe Street to the Sunshine Deli owned by the Cohen Family. Among my friends there was always the constant debate which of the two deli's was the better place. In hindsight, they both were wonderful places to eat.

I do remember one special Saturday when I went to Rice's Deli. Working behind the counter near the front window of the store was my friend, Charlie, a kid as skinny as I (we both weighed less than 110 pounds when we graduated from high school in 1950). When I went up to Charlie to order my two hotdogs and a Coke, Charlie said, "OK one hotdog and a Coke." When I tried to correct him he gave me a look that meant I should keep my mouth shut. I then noticed that Charlie had opened the hotdog roll wide and he put two hotdogs in the one roll and smothered it in sauerkraut from the pot that was always on the corner of the grill. When he finished you couldn't see through the sauerkraut. He then got my Coke and said the charge was 15 cents which I gave to him. As I walked over to one of the tables to sit down to eat my feast, Mr. Rice came walking over. He asked me if I was satisfied with my hotdog (I hadn't yet taken a bite of it) and I said yes. Then he said maybe I should have more than just one hotdog, maybe I should take over the entire store for the same 15 cents. It was then it dawned on me that he had seen Charlie making the dual hotdog for me.

With a twinkle in his eye, Mr. Rice pulled keys out of his pocket and said, "In fact, you might as well take over the entire store." As I shrunk in the chair trying to hide, he burst out in laughter and said, "A skinny kid like you really deserves two hotdogs," and then turned around and walked away giggling.

I looked back over to Charlie who was somewhat between flabbergasted and amused. Perhaps the reason for his reaction was he was then also eating a hotdog roll that had two hotdogs buried in it.

I do wish I had some photos to share with you of Rice's Deli. However, I know a number of people that read the Wonderful Passaic web site that do have a lot of photos. Hopefully they will answer you and be able to give you some more history of a true Passaic tradition - - - Rice's Deli.

I do appreciate your e-mail. It certainly brought back fond and tasty memories.

Bob Rosenthal

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Wow! Your email was in the spam folder!!! I checked out the date and remembered the Passaic email. I am sooo glad I opened it! Wow again. I forwarded it to my husband who is in PA at the moment. We live in the Los Angeles area. He will be so surprised when he sees what you wrote. I never met his parents, but it sounds like his dad and, mom for that matter, had a similar sense of humor. (I am a non Jewish girl...not a lot of humor in my house as I was growing up!!)

This is really exciting. I have been doing my own family genealogy research, and it is a cherished email moment to get that response.

Best regards,


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August 2008

Hi Bob,

Just read your article on Paul DeMuro Bob, Some forms of Politics never change no matter what the decade is. Here is one YOU also will remember being a 2nd Warder like me. We had a man who took care of all the Passaic parks lining the baseball and football fields, cutting the grass etc., etc. I believe his name was Joe Stanik. Joe made all the parks sparkle brightly and was very diligent in performing his job. He lived in the Dundee section which was primarily Polish.

Anyhow, someone told Joe he should run for commissioner in the next election, and he did so. Because of the way he did his park work, he easily garnered enough votes to get elected and was made Commissioner of Parks and Recreation. The story goes that over night Joe went from an old beat up automobile and Kielbasa sandwiches to a high priced Caddy and Filet Mignon steaks. And the Parks never looked better.

Bernie Rosenberg

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Menu at Passaic's Woolworth 5 & 10 Cent Store in 1958.


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August 2008

Dear Bob,

I have for many years been close to Marilyn and Roz Rosenthal. I have many fond memories of their father, who helped me count out my pennies for a father's day gift from his store. We lived at 18 Lucille Place, in the apartment building above the Moe and Morris store.. Your dad and uncle always kind to my family and me. I knew Marilyn through High School, and when I married found myself living in the same court in Clifton as Marilyn and Roz. Our children were good friends with Jeffrey.

I discovered your website by accident, and I am so glad I did. My husband and I both grew up in Passaic and have many fond memories of the old town which we share with our children and grandchildren. I am anxious to read your books and hope you will continue to write.


Delite Kline Piccolo

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Hi Delite,

Your e-mail brought back very fond memories to me of one of my three favorite places I loved in Passaic. Those places were 2nd Ward Park, the two Passaic "Y's", and of course, the very short but very important Lucille Place.

You might ask why was "Lucille Place" such a fond memory for me? It was not only because my father and uncle had their store on the corner of Lucille Place, but also I had many friends that lived on Lucille Place. For example, Harvey Sperber (sp?) (I totally lost contact with him when I moved out of Passaic in 1954 until last year when he telephoned me). Irving (Maish) Gendis, who lived in the apartment building above my father's store with the entrance on Lucille Place. Charlie Greenburg, a skinny happy-go-lucky guy who I also lost track of but finally met with him again in Clifton two years ago.

As you may know, I'm exactly the same age as my cousin, Marilyn, and we went through #11 School and high school together and were in many of the same classes. Although I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, I don't recall your name in high school. Were you in the class of 1950?

Yes, the Passaic area is indeed a very special small world. In fact, your e-mail mentioned that it was so small that after you got married, you ended up living on the same court as Marilyn and Roz. I know that wasn't in Passaic. I assume it was either in Clifton or in Wayne.

And thank you so much for relating the story about how my uncle counted your pennies helping you buy a Father's Day gift. That brought back the memory of me earning a nickel for working an hour after #11 School each day for the month before Mother's Day, dusting the shelves in "Moe & Morris." That pay was granted to me so I'd have my own money to buy my mother a present on Mother's Day.

Warm regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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Dear Bob

Many thanks for your reply to my e-mail. Having spent most of my life in Passaic, it has many fond memories for me and many friends I am still in contact with, though some are waiting up ahead.

I graduated in 1951 under the name of Delite Kline and you will find me in that yearbook. In 2001, another alumni and I planned a fifty year reunion. She was disappointed in the turnout, but I thought it was more than I expected, since we could not locate all those we tried to reach.

Clear me up now, I thought Marilyn's father was Moe, or was that your father? [Dee, my father was the "Morris" in "Moe and Morris Men's Store," Bob]

As I mentioned in my last e-mail, I lived in that apartment building connected to your father's store-18 Lucille Place. I have fond memories of the families who lived in that apartment building. You mentioned one of them Irving (Maish) Gendis. Surprise - Maish (or Marese, or Morris, as I knew him) contacted me and paid me a visit about 2-3 years ago. He was coming here for a reunion of the YMHA on Broadway in Passaic. I can't recall how we found each other, but he came to Passaic High School, where I was working, to see me. I can't tell you how great it was to see each other after not having contact for so many years. I will say when we greeted each other in the entrance of Passaic High School, there was the warmest, tightest hug that hallway had ever known. My Lucille Place apartment building was almost a United Nations. It was a time when people reached out and helped each other, faced a war in which many relatives were involved.

Let me bore you some more - My family lived on the first floor, on the second floor were Maish's family(Anne, Albert, and Wolf(Velvel) a Navy man), Mrs. Baldanza, grandmother of Grace Baldanza(owner of Letty Lynn's dress shop, Passaic), the Broder family(who I lost track of completely), and on the third floor the Rickel family (who I also lost track of), mother and two daughters. One other family on the first floor, the Paino family, Vincent, Vilma, Clara. There was always a plate of soup from the Gendis family,or a plate of pasta from the Baldanza family, or Paino family travelling through the hallway for another family to "taste". When a family member was ill there was always a knock on the door from one of the above to ask how they were. In the apartment building next door were the Orth family, the Colletti family(Frank, Janet, and Betty). They were before your time. Frank Colletti had a daily gathering of his buddies-Anthony Misso, Jack Scibono, Jack Smith, and a few others.

Our reunion list included Harvey Sperber. He replied he could not attend. He had been in the Navy and I believe he settled in California. I would like to know his address, we were good friends.

I discovered your website by accident, and have passed it along to a few friends-one in particular-Larry Cirignano, who used to write a column in the Independent Prospector on old Passaic, I knew he would be interested in all the letters from Passaicites.

We really lived in a golden age, and I could go on and on about it - - - going out to dinner and dancing to an eleven piece band between courses, seeing Nat King Cole and many other stars right on Rt.46 or the shows at the Central Theatre with Frank Sinatra, and many stars from Hollywood. I don't know how Passaic did it but they were a very active town.

One last note - do you remember the tall clock that stood on the sidewalk in downtown Passaic, just before the fire department? I am sorry to say it is gone. It disappeared a year or two ago, I am going to look into that, it was a landmark.

Does anyone know anything about the Fleming family that lived on Monroe Street, a few doors down from Moe and Morris' store? There were five children, and I often think of them and wonder how they are.

If you are still awake, I will close now. Thank you for all the memories, I have passed them alone and will continue to do so. Oh, one other person I have passed the Passaic letters on to is Walt Annen, 1949 graduate living in Tennessee, and of course, my husband, Albert Piccolo, also 1949 graduate.

Sleep well Bob, and keep in touch.


Dee Piccolo

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July 2008

Hi Everybody,

Recently the mayor of Passaic was sentenced to prison for corruption. This reminded me of an event that occurred in 1946.

World War II was over and I was 14 years old. The city of Passaic was having a very tense race for mayor. One of the people running was a World War II Veteran by the name of Paul DeMuro. According to the Herald News, DeMuro was spending an astronomical amount of money in order to win the election. The amount was $30,000 for a job that paid $2,000 a year.

I asked my father how this could possibly make sense, "Why would anybody spend $30,000 for a job that only pays $2,000?" My father smiled at me and tussled my hair a little. He then said, "Corruption in Passaic is not a crime, it's an art form." Maybe now it's no longer an art form.

Bob Rosenthal

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July 2008

Hi, I couldn't resist adding some of my memories of Passaic. Although my parents lived in Clifton, I was born in Passaic General Hospital in 1942. My aunt, my father s sister and her husband, lived on Quincy Street in Passaic.

I remember as a child, my aunt would take me to the movies and my grandmother always took me to do shopping in Passaic. The shops and businesses were great. My father and mother also shopped in Passaic. One could purchase anything there. This was before the malls started popping up everywhere.

As a young adult, I moved to Los Angeles and worked for NBC in Burbank for over 10 years. There I met a couple born in NJ and the husband was born in Passaic General Hospital. Funny isn t it? I go completely across country and meet someone who was born in the same hospital as me. I have many happy memories of Passaic and just wanted to add mine to the many others.

Virginia Gregory Piery

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June 2008

I grew up in several parts of Passaic, the one I remember first is a third floor cold water flat at 898 Main Ave. 898 Main Avenue was between Harrison and Autumn Streets. Autumn Street dead ended at the Erie Railroad tracks. We had an old fashioned ice box and the ice man carried a twenty five cent block up the stairs every day. When the landlord, Mr. Spaar who had a pharmacy on the first floor and lived on the second, changed the big stove (our only heat) from coal to kerosene we got five gallons at a time from Pete Johnson. I used to get haircuts from Mr.Glover who had a tiny shop wedged between Sheloff's and DeBell's market. I remember the twins, Eddie and Freddy (or Teddy). I saw them many years later in Hawaii. If it's OK I'll come here to remember the old days.

I graduated Passaic High School in 1964 but I had no real skills and as such, bounced around from auto parts warehouses, shirt factories and driving a Safety Cab (the blue taxis owned by Lou and Sadie Brint). Linda Brint also graduated from PHS. One snowy Saturday I realized that my way of life wasn't ever going to get me anywhere and I struck up an acquaintance with the Army recruiter who happened to be a regular at Scotty's on Broadway as was I. I told him I needed training and hated cold weather. He guaranteed me the Army would teach me a useful skill and he'd personally see that if I joined within a month I would get to go someplace that was nice and warm. They trained me as a Chinook helicopter crew chief and true to the recruiter's word, I was on my way to a nice warm place - Vietnam.

However, I loved Vietnam and stayed almost 2 years until we were shot down and I was seriously wounded. I spent 2-1/2 years in the hospital and was finally released after having been told repeatedly that even if I lived I'd be a hopeless cripple. Boy, did I ever prove them wrong. I went back to school and earned a PhD in Computer Engineering from the University of Maryland courtesy of the US Army and the Veteran's Administration.

My specialty became developing forensics systems for various government agencies. From time to time I was forced to hire on with the various agencies I contracted for in order to gain a better understanding of their needs. I also ran a retail computer chain in the Augusta, Georgia area. I am now fully retired and living in Hephzibah, Georgia - - - about a 19 hour car trip to my hometown of Passaic.

Neal Campbell

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May 2008


Your website came to my attention by doing a search on Passaic. Good News- some old buildings are being restored and reused to benefit the community.

I would like invite you and your readers to visit the Garden Building. This six story building, located at the corner of Howe Avenue and Garden, was designed by John Kelley, the same architect who designed the Paterson City Hall. The Garden Building was originally used by the Passaic Elks back in the 1920's, and later used as a ballroom in the 50's and 60's by grandparents alike. Now, the building has been restored and rehabbed into a 40 unit senior citizen affordable rental apartment building with the two story ballroom magnificently restored to the 1930's. The building will be taking rental applications, which are available at the building. The residents must be age 55 and over whose income is less than $47,280. Just to let you know the Garden Building is located at 29-31 Howe Avenue. I see where Phil Epstein mentions the building in his memories... He should see it now...

Its nice to see Passaic's Old Gems restored... a lot of memories...


Jim Robbins, President
Garden Vista

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April 2008

My Great Uncle Nick owned a bar called The Crystal Ballroom on 8th Street in Passaic NJ's Dundee Ward near Holy Rosary Church. The Harlem Globetrotters and many famous big bands in the 1940's and 1950's played there. Recently, Jack Black rented the Crystal Ballroom to tape a few scenes for his movie - - - .Be Kind Rewind - - - shot solely in Passaic,

My family lived on 9th Street in Passaic and next door to us lived Mr and Mrs Wozniak. I recall they had a son who lived in California and he had a son named Steven who played with my sister when he visited. This boy Steven...Steve Wozniak..went on to become quite famous in the computer world as co-founder of Apple Computers.

Another famous person who lived on 8th St in Passaic was Loretta Swit (Hotlips Hoolihan from MASH). Her mother lived on 8th Street until approximately 10 years ago when Loretta took her to live w/ her in California.

Nice to hear about the history of Passaic and the many happy memories. I attended Holy Rosary School and Pope Pius XII High and have fond memories of growing up in the 50s on 9th St.

PS - Here's another story, told to me by a 9th Street octogenarian. The famous baseball player Babe Ruth had a friend that owned a restaurant (& some say brothel) on Passaic St and River Rd in Garfield (now called Pescatore's). It was right across the river from Holy Rosary Church in Passaic. Whenever the Babe was coming to town, Fran and other children used to line up on Wall Street and wait. What were they waiting for? It seems that the Babe had a sort of ritual that the kids knew about. He would drive by, usually in a convertible, and throw out baseballs to the kids. To see the Babe was a thrill, but to catch one of his baseballs was even a bigger thrill. It seemed like a great time back then didn't it?

PPS - Loretta Swit showed up with her mother at a Holy Rosary Young Men's Club Dinner that honored her deceased father. My brother has a photo of her and him together along with Loretta's mother. Loretta also had a friend that attended Holy Rosary grammar school with her. When Loretta was in a Broadway play, she'd send a car for her friend on Ninth Street so she and Loretta could go to dinner in NY. Nice how she remembered her old friends and Passaic.

Michelle (Tomczyk) Smolan

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April 2008


I "stumbled" on your site as I was doing some research on my family. My maternal great-grandparents settled in Passaic when they arrived here from Hungary in 1902. The family lived in Passaic for many years (Birkner, Moser) - Passaic St., Monroe St. An aunt and uncle on my father's side of the family (Block) lived on Gregory Ave.

My parents moved to Wallington shortly after I was born, where we lived until 1961, when we moved to South Jersey. Reading the memories of all the people who grew up in the area was amazing. A few of my cousins and I have recently been talking about our fond memories. Walking to Passaic over the Gregory Ave. Bridge to go shopping, or taking the bus. I had totally forgotten about the Chinese restaurant near the Montauk Theater! How I loved that place when I was little. My grandmother worked at the Capital Theater and my friends and I would go to the movies there and get huge bags of popcorn. And Rutt's Hut! I constantly tell my husband about it and how absolutely fantastic their hot dogs were - he can't believe a hot dog could possibly be that good. The ethnic stores selling German, Hungarian, Polish, foods! My mouth waters just thinking about them! I definitely have to get your book!

Thank you!

Linda Szynal

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March 2008

Dear Bob,

Wonderful site! Wonderful memories! My three older brothers and I attended Memorial #11 School, and all graduated from Passaic High School. (Tony, Tom and Charlie Tesoriere) Who could ever forget either suffering through the heat of June graduations at the Stadium, or scrambling to re-arrange parties because of rain delays?!

My Dad will be remembered by many, Charlie the Shoe Maker, whose shoe repair shop was on Passaic Street near the Police Station. For a few years, my Mother owned Princess Yarns and Novelties, a knitting store on Myrtle Avenue. She taught so many of the young girls how to knit sweaters for their boyfriends!

We grew up on Henry Street, roller skating past the garages on our way to Alexander's for penny candy and the latest Archie comics! Our Saturday night ritual, walking down to the Montauk Theatre for the "Sunday" papers, then buying hot pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs from the "Deli" on the corner!

There used to be (what we thought was a huge) lot between our apartment house and the big brown house on the "other side". We would climb the trees, and have "potato" roasts in small bonfires! How sad we were when Mr. Fried made our playground into a parking lot! We still played "hide and go seek" between the cars, trying not to loudly "crunch" through the gravel covered ground, and hiding behind tires so not to be caught and named "it"!

CYO at St. Anthony's, (so proud to be a member of the cheerleading squad!) pizza afterwards at Mistretta's where Joey D's music blared away, and Sam wore his special Joey Dee promo hat! ) And after school, riding over to White Castle, where ordering 30 hamburgers was the norm for a few growing teens!! So many, many memories!

We moved from Passaic in 1966 and while we are now spread out into Virginia, Florida and California, Passaic will always hold a special place in our hearts! Some folks may remember my brother, Tom. Sadly, he lost his battle with cancer in 2003, but he always had some great stories to tell of his youth in Passaic.

Thanks to you for your wonderful stories, and thanks to all for sharing their memories!

Rosemarie (Tesoriere) De Nova

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March 2008

Hi Bob,

Just finished reading Wonderful Passaic and am now reading Passaic to the Moon, which were suggested by my friend Shelva Goldfarb Novitsky, now living in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and whom I have not been in touch with for about 30-35 years. However, she remembered my 80th birthday, called me and we renewed our special friendship.

I attended #3 school where Police Officer Joe Nemetz led us across Main Ave. to Van Houten St.. Then #1 for one term and on to PHS where every teacher asked if I were related to Harold Bitterman (my dear cousin now living in Florida) and they hoped I would be as good a student as he was. My homeroom was in the basement and I had classes in the Annex as well. Every time there was a fire drill or an air raid drill it seems that we were in gym class and had to run out in our gym suits even in the snow.

My memories of our neighborhood were 3rd ward park, ice skating on Hughes Lake, Plutchoks Pharmacy, Passoffs luncheonette, the Good Humor Man, Mr. Cohen the peddler who alway answered my mother when she asked what he had that day, What you mean, I got all kimes wegetables.The milk was delivered and Garfield Bakery dropped off 2 Kaiser rolls and 1 bagel every morning. the Allen B. Dumont factory was in our neighborhood, and all we could do was envision what TV would be like when the war was over.

Our big adventure was to take the 74 bus downtown and walk on the "avenue" Eating at Daves Delicatessen or Sunshines was heavenly. Some times my Father would take us out for a fancy meal at the Ritz. We spent all of our allowance at the Smart Shop on Broadway or at the record store around the corner where we could listen to records in our own private booth for as long as we wanted to.

I also have many happy memories of the Y. I was President of a Hadassah group and we met there. Also remembering the bakery that sold Charlotte Russe's. My mouth is watering and of course who could ever forget Rutts Hut.

The Jewish holidays were always a big social occasion when we got all dressed up and went from shul to shul to check out the boys. The World Series usually took place at the same time and someone always went home and came back with the scores. My family belonged to Tiffereth Israel when they were on Madison St. In later years they moved to Passaic Avenue and two of my cousins served as President.

Enough, I think. I have lived in California since l946, but have been back to Passaic numerous times. I still have some family in the area and I did attend my 45th high school reunion. It was great to see so many familiar faces.

Harice Bitterman Yorke

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March 2008

Dear Bob,

I am doing research into a building my friend has owned for the past 4 years. It is located at 249 Monroe St. It is clearly a grand old building that has fallen on hard times. He has attempted to rehabilitate it, but the city hasn't been much help. Someone said they think it was once known as Kantor's Auditorium.

Can anyone give me any information on the age & history of this building?

Michael Burke

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February 2008

Dear Bob,

I've had the pleasure of having grown up on Passaic's lower east side, better known as Dundee, moving to and experiencing life in the "3rd Ward" and teaching at Passaic High School for 33 years!

In the 50's, Dundee life meant Holy Rosary Church, attending its school and the strong Polish influence in daily life. A "trip" up to Market Street or an even further venture "uptown" to Main Avenue for entertainment and shopping. The Memorial Day Parade always started on 9th Street where we lived and as a young kid I'll always remember the ARMY and their jeeps lining up in front of our house!

The local grocery stores like Rogalny's with sawdust on the floor and the pungent aroma of the pickle barrel. Rosol's, where my grandmother or "Babcie" sent me there with her "book" (an early form of credit) to buy fresh rolls and cold cuts. Gil's on 8th St (still in business, I might add) for their smoked kielbasy. "Wisdom" Szott's for pieogies.

The taverns, although I was much too young to the old saying goes, "one on every corner" ....and there was! Maggies, the Hi Ho, Walt's Casino, the Falcons, the Bull Pen and the Crystal Ballroom. Going to Red & White's for dinner on special occasions or the Treat Restaurant on Market Street for it's Polish menu. Being a member of the Boys Club on 3rd Street and going to its Camp Ocawasin in the summer. The Boy Scouts of Troop 8 and serving Mass as an Altar Boy at Holy Rosary. What a wonderful way to grow up.

In 1960 moving to Passaic Park, and to my luck and delight moving to a block, Tennyson Place, where all the guys were about my age. My first part time job at Gold's Cleaners, then delivering groceries via truck for the E & E Market, where I might add the customers "called in" their orders and had them delivered. Playing for the UNICO baseball team in 3rd Ward Park and later attending and playing quarterback for Passaic High.

After college I returned to Passaic High and taught History there for 33 years and always reminding my students of the rich history the town had.

Ken Tecza

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February 2008

Dear Bob,

What a wonderful site. I grew up in Passaic in the late 1940s. I lived on Elliot street. I still remember taking a walk to Cook's Candy Store and buying candy. I also recall the bread man, Paul, coming with fresh bread. One day a group of boys put a rope across the driveway to trip him. They all got in trouble, and Mr. Minsky chased them down the block. Life was different then. If you did something wrong, any parent could take over. Try that today and you will be sued.

I gave my Uncle Harold Kron your site and he really loved it. My grandparents Ann and Sam Kron owned a grocery store on 68 Market St. Thank you for connecting my heart to Passaic, again.

Norma Kron Jacobs

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January 2008

I'm posting on behalf of my mother, Shelva Goldfarb, PHS class of 1940. Mom doesn't use the computer, but is very eager to be in touch with the wonderful Passaic community. I found the books on the Internet and got them for Mom as Chanukah gifts. She has really been excited about reading them and all the memories they brought back.

She would love to hear from more of her friends and I've offered to be the go between. I just turned 50, so I have memories of the area from when I would go visit my grandmother and from my mother's lifelong love for the area despite not living there since 1947. While I grew up in Indiana, I was born in Passaic as Mom went home at the last moment so that Dr. Raisin could deliver me at Passaic General. Then spent summers staying with my grandmother and attending day camp in Kinnelon at Camp Braebank. Since college I have been in Washington, DC working politics and government.

But enough about me, the goal is to get Mom reconnected with more of her friends from the glory days. She was Shelva Goldfarb and lived in Rutherford. To be with the "Jewish kids" she went to Passaic High School in the Class of 1946. After high school, she went to the University of Miami where she met my Dad on the first day of classes. He was just home from service and they moved to his family's home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has been Shelva Novitsky since 1947. But she's proof you can take the girl out of Jersey but not the Jersey out of the girl.

By way of more background information to make connections--she was related to the Krugs. Seymour and Mel were her cousins. Her dearest friends were Gladys Pasternak and Harice Bitterman with whom she's discussed the books and also Gloria Grossworth and Gloria Grossman.

She talks of going to the Y every weekend and how when she drove to Passaic from Rutherford every day for school, she'd drive along Van Houten Avenue picking up kids waiting at the bus stop.

She would love to reconnect with others from this wonderful time in her life. She spends her winters in Sarasota, FL and would particularly like to know if anyone else is down there. I will be thrilled to pass along all messages to her. Have a great day.

Les Novitsky

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January 2008

Dear Bob,

It was by accident that I Googled up your fantastic site when I searched for S&K Deli to try to find info on one of its owners. Frank and Hy were 1st cousins of mine by marriage. What I found however was that you once worked there for big dollars an hour.

I also grew up in your 2nd ward neighborhood & I should and probably know you but time is moving against me now. My family lived at 315 Madison, which faced Lucille Place. The only Rosenthal family I remember lived on Grove Street near Nathansons candy store, and Mr Rosenthal's name was Moe or Morris? If this is correct, they had a daughter I grew up with named Marilyn, is this your sister? Marilyn and I were champion street roller-skating pro's (so we thought), as well as punchball champs (so we also thought), along with other kids in the area. I think she also owned the only skate key. I also remember some of the other kids on the block, Louis Kaplan, Phyllis Cohen, (her father was the junk man with the horse and wagon) Phyllis Steinberg, Bernice Klein and others that time has erased from my memory bank, some on purpose.

I too remember "Renchlers?" pool before it became the Passaic Clifton Pool, the Central Theater for live band shows, the Playhouse, now a Court, and the continuous Western movies they showed every weekend, the Oak Street Doughnut factory, Spinosa's Deli for fantastic Submarine sandwiches, The shalalie store, Jaffee the butcher, Joe Green & Ruttenbergs Appetizing stores, Hermans Grocery and Jack Schatzman's Hardware. My barber also was Tony, Our pharmacy was Spindels and the live Poultry market just down the street was where many a bird we ate, met its end.

I too spent evenings at the Roller Rink on Henry Street before it became a Bingo Hall, as well as at Charlie Blackmans pool hall/bowling alley, setting pins to make money to shoot pool. One humorous note, I worked as an usher at the Montauk and one Saturday night I opened the side doors to allow a few of my friends in to see the movie for free. If memory serves me, the pool hall emptied and the Balcony filled up. I visited Passaic a little over a year ago or just before I moved to Florida, parked in front of the apartment building on Lucille Pl, and with tears in my eyes, reminisced about days I could never bring back. I remembered when Joe Bashlow, from Lucille Pl, and I rode our bikes to the dumps where Giant Stadium now stands, to shoot rats with his 22 rifle, and then bring home to our mothers the largest Beefsteak tomatoes garbage could grow. I remembered watching Milton Berle at the Kaplan house a few doors down from mine because none of our families could then afford a TV set and the Kaplans had connections in the business. I remembered standing on Monroe Street in front of the Stadtmour Appliance store watching the Friday night fights on TV.

I also remember the fights and wrestling matches at Kantors Auditorium. I even remembered when Frank Colletti (from Lucille Place) and I rode around in his fire engine red convertible with the Hollywood muffler, trying our best to pick up girls, and then I left and drove to Rutts for what might possibly be my final hot dog w/relish from them, and then drove back to Stroudsburg Pa to help my wife pack for our move South.

I missed the Passaic Reunion in Boynton Bch last year due to another commitment, but I still have Passaic with me in Florida. Three of my 2nd Ward friends of at least 65 years also live here, and we get together regularly, Saul Fromkin, Guy Weinert and Sandford Putesky. We reminisce about the good times had in the pocket park at the corner of Madison and Myrtle. We talk about how the old men and women would sit in one section facing Myrtle Ave and we kids would sit in the section facing Madison St. Little did we then realize that one day we would swap sections. Also about the candy store at that corner owned and ruled over by mean "old lady Ploshnick" (Morty's Grandma) who kept us in line preventing us from reading the comic books for free. I even remembered getting my drivers license at 17 and then driving John Kmetz's roadster for him while he sat in the rumble seat making out. He was still too young to legally drive, but owned the car.

We remember Hebrew School and Mr Witty, who would pummel us with his fists when we got out of line and then get it again from our parents when we complained to them about how badly he treated us. Until finally the day came when we were Bar Mitzvah'd under a hail of small paper bags full of candy from our friends up in the balcony of Tulip Street. He got through to us after all.

Bernie Rosenberg

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Hi Bernie,

What a joy it was to receive your e-mail. At the beginning of your e-mail you mentioned S&K Deli. That was my regular late Saturday afternoon destination after having gone downtown to the movies. I would walk back up Monroe Street and buy either a couple hot dogs and a Coke (total cost in the 1940's was 25 cents), and if I felt like a big spender, I bought a hot roast beef sandwich and a Coke (total cost 30 cents).

You mentioned knowing a "Rosenthal family that lived on Grove Street," That was my cousin, Marilyn's family. Marilyn's father was "Moe." My uncle and my father (Morris) were partners in a men's store called, as you might suspect, "Moe and Morris."

Marilyn and I have always been very close although I never knew she was a champion street roller skating pro. I was always the kid that had boxed wheels on my skates, and therefore, I could not go very fast.

The other names mentioned in your e-mail are all familiar to me, either they were classmates of mine in the class of PHS class of 1950 or they graduated just a year or two after that.

In fact, everything in your e-mail brought back such fond memories, I really appreciate it. Yes, like you, I find it a joy to remember my childhood growing up in the wonderful city of Passaic.

Again, thanks for taking the time to write to me. It was most kind of you.

Warm regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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December 2007

Dear Bob,

This is a wonderful coincidence! I have been looking for a site that would be dedicated to my old home town of Passaic. After my parents and I left Cuba in 1960, the first real place in the U.S. I would call home was Passaic. I really still do believe that the best years of my life were spent growing up in Passaic from 1960 to 1973.

I attended #11 School, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School, then attended Don Bosco Technical High School in Paterson. After graduating in 1973 my dad decided to move the family down to Florida so being the oldest of three children (both my younger brother and sister were born in Passaic at Beth Israel Hospital) we left Passaic; me with a heavy heart because that was the only real home I ever knew.

I live and work in South Florida. I'm an Engineer and CNC Machine Programmer for a custom metal fabrication shop in Miami. Both I and my wife (my wife was born in Englewood and was raised in Elmwood Park) still miss our home towns and we miss the change of seasons and white Christmas's which we can never have in South Florida.

Just recently my brother and sister-in-law drove from Florida to Hopatcong to visit their son and his wife and while making the rounds my brother decided to visit Passaic and judging from the pictures he brought back, it looks better than when we left in 1973. We lived in a three story brick apartment building # 365 on the corner of Main Avenue and Lafayette Street. Even after being destroyed by fire (I went to see it in 1982 while visiting my in-laws in Elmwood Park) the new owners have done an incredible job of bringing the old building back to life. I was very happy to know that landmark survived.

One reason for this letter is that in 2004 I suffered a heart attack which caused me to have open heart surgery and ever since that faithful day of the operation (not knowing whether I would live or die), I have been inspired to retrace the events, places, and people that have touched my life. So many wonderful memories of growing up in Passaic, from holidays to my first innocent love which brings up someone very special in my youth that I would love to hear from. Her name was Donna Fonzi; she lived on Van Houten Ave near Passaic Ave. First time I saw her was riding the school bus to St. Anthony's and every time she looked in my direction with those beautiful eyes of hers, she just left me dumbfounded. I'm sure she never gave me a second thought, but I never forgot her. I hope by chance she visits this site, reads this letter and she could email me. We could talk about our memories growing up in Passaic, we can talk about our spouses and kids, or whatever she wanted. Just hearing from her after all these years would mean a lot to me. I guess it is hard to forget your first real love!

Sorry! I hope I didn't get too mushy on that last part. I guess I'm just a romantic. Well back to Passaic. If all goes well in March of 2008, I plan to vacation in New Jersey for a week, visit my wife's childhood friend in Ridgewood and make the rounds in Passaic, Elmwood Park, Clifton, West Paterson, and anywhere a memory from the past might still linger. My son wants to see snow, REAL SNOW! Not the crushed ice by the truck load they would bring to schools in South Florida so the kids can play in it.

While I am visiting I'm considering about seriously finding a job in New Jersey. As crazy as it sounds, I really do miss New Jersey and so does my wife and I know our son would love having cold weather and possibly snow on Christmas day.

Bob, thank you so much for having this site and for awakening a plethora of memories I thought were long forgotten. To Quote: Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz said, "There Is No Place Like Home."

"I believe that any place that makes you feel good, puts a smile on your face, and makes you somehow believe that everything can be right in the world is got to be the closest thing to heaven."

I hope to visit heaven in March of 2008.

Most Respectfully Submitted By,

Jose A. Tuero

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Hi Jose,

Thank you, your letter brought back wonderful memories to me. Although I am considerably older than you (approximately 25 years older), many of the places you mentioned also have warm memories in my childhood. For example, you lived on the corner of Lafayette and Main Avenue. My best friend lived about three houses up the hill from you on Lafayette Avenue. I walked past your building almost every day.

In some ways you and I have a lot in common. We are both engineers and although I'm now a very ripe senior citizen I still work full time as an engineer. Another thing in common is we both live in south Florida. Admittedly, I only live in Florida for six months of the year. In the summer months I move back to Maryland where I've lived for over 45 years.

One other thing in common is we both married girls from much more affluent cities. My wife, Carole, is from Teaneck, and your wife was born in Englewood and raised in Elmwood Park.

It might interest you to know that in the book, "Climbing the Rainbow: 28 Glimpses of Growing Up in Passaic," about five of the chapters were written by people that were born in either Cuba or Puerto Rico and moved to Passaic at a young age. In particular, one of the Cuban born, George Rodriguez, left Passaic during his senior year in PHS and moved to Miami. For the last 20 or so years, George has been going to college part time. His dream is to receive his teaching certificate and his hope is to go back to Passaic and become a teacher. So, Jose, you seriously considering finding a job in New Jersey is not crazy. It's the same dream that many other people that formerly lived in Passaic have.

Again, I want to thank you for taking the time to write to me. Your letter was a joy to receive. (I have forwarded your letter to the Wonderful-Passaic Web Master. It should be posted on the site in about a week.)

Warm regards,
Bob Rosenthal

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December 2007

Dear Bob,

I purchased your books two years ago as a Christmas gift for my older sister (Maryann San Filippo Rech). She started to read and started to cry from the nostalgia. My sister thanked me over and over for that gift.

That same Christmas, one of our good friends (Sydelle Bickoff Spielman), visited and these books were shared with her. She cried from nostalgia also. Her daughter ran out to purchase the books for her as a holiday gift.

I shared the knowledge of your books with another old grammar school friend. Annette Cartaino Flaherty and John Flaherty, they purchased them – they cried too. Annette shared one book with a teacher she works with in South Jersey. This teacher's mother also added footnotes in memories to Annette's book.

As a gift, I sent a set to Paul Nargi. He then shared them with his brother Tony. Paul lives in Florida and Tony in Italy.

I am still recommending your books. Just yesterday, I told an old friend from childhood, who lives in Missouri, about these books. She ran out and ordered them. Both she and her husband grew up in Passaic (Lillian Geraci Baldanza & Jimmy Baldanza).

My old friend Sam Graziano shared his memories in one of the books and even mentioned my name. Sam lives in Arizona.

All this crying was out of love for what once was. The nostalgia, and the fact that so many people felt the same way about this very special town we grew up in.

So you see, you also have touched many lives in bringing together all the stories contributed. My appreciation and thanks to you, Bob. My hope is that there will be yet another book to look forward to.

I would like to add that many of my old Second Ward and high school friends are still my very good friends – lifetime friends.


Donna San Filippo


By Donna San Filippo

It was at Saint Anthony's Church on Oak Street in Passaic, NJ., that Father Luke Guastella, initiated a group of young teens to organize a Catholic Youth Organization. Father Luke was a very young energetic and charismatic priest, with an exuberance of energy, a beautiful smile and a personality that was like a magnet. He was a real life "Pied Piper" to the teenagers of that time.

Word spread quickly of this newly organized Catholic Youth Organization. What began as a small number of teen parishioners soon blossomed. It didn't take long before this CYO was known as "The Best CYO" in the town of Passaic.

The Senior Group (older teens) held meetings separate from the Junior Group. One Senior member was assigned as a "Mentor" to assist Father Luke with the Junior Group. Therefore, a training of leadership was incorporated. Both groups would integrate for dances and field trips and our entertainment productions.

Friday night was the scheduled night of our weekly gathering. I think all the teen members looked forward to Friday nights! Madeline Cassata once shared the memory that her parents used CYO as a punishment threat, for missing CYO was devastation to all of us!

A King and Queen were crowned at one special more formal CYO dance. Annette Cartaino was voted by her peers as one such Queen.

The Parish Center was made available to us for rehearsal time for plays and skits, which we would perform to make money for outings. Our group would rehearse for weeks on end. Of course, it would be our responsibility to scrub clean the Parish Center, bathrooms included, as well as to sweep floors, clean walls, set up the chairs, and sell tickets. Unknown to us at the time, this was our business training.

Our families would come in droves. As well as most of our neighborhoods – for this was a night of entertainment during a time when few families had much money or cars as transportation.

A form of entertainment that seemed to always be incorporated into our talent shows and productions, was the singing of Doo-Whop - very popular at that time. Several of the boys had great voices (Sam Latona and Frank Pasquino), and were always together singing the pop songs of the 50's and early 60's.

To keep things fresh and interesting, Father Luke also assisted us in organizing outings in the form of ice skating parties and roller skating activities, held at the professional rinks. Instrumental in this activity was Pat De Naples, a Senior CYO member. Pat was the one member who had a valid driver's license and permission to borrow his father's truck. Of course, Pat probably had to use a bit of negotiating skills for this agreement. Of we'd go as a group, piled in the back of a very large open truck. It did not matter what the weather, no matter how cold. Off to experience a new adventure we would go.

Very creative and resourceful as a young priest, Father Luke in no time at all had a competitive CYO basketball team in place. Yes, this included Cheerleaders. Competition would be with other CYO church groups from the area. Cheerleaders who I remember were Judy Sitarz and Sandy Davidson.

In the later time frame of the CYO existence, we had open access to the Parish Center for the purpose of roller skating. The Center was due for renovation, therefore what harm would be done in creating an after school and weekend open access center. Somehow, (through a Father Luke resource and his fine tuned ability to sweet talk), we were stocked with professional roller rink skates. Oh boy, did we make the best of this on the wooden flooring of the Parish Center, great for a makeshift roller rink.

Looking back, we were unaware of the life's lessons we were being taught. Not only the lesson of leadership, but organizational skills, facilitation in a group, business administration and even the skills of negotiation. How clever of our teacher Father Luke!

Very close bonds in friendship were formed through this church organization. These friendships survived and are still continuing to grow into our mid-years and hopefully our lifetime. A footnote – Madeline Cassata and I, along with Sam Graziano, had the opportunity to spend time with Father Luke a few years back. At 80 plus years, he was still speed skating and traveling the world. Sharp as a tack, and youthful looking as ever. He also still has a beautiful smile. Father Luke really touched our lives and thankfully we had the opportunity to tell him so and extend our appreciation.

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Hi Donna,

My publisher forwarded your e-mail to me for answering. Your e-mail certainly made my day. It was so kind of you to take the time to write it, and it was also so kind of you to tell me how you and your friends have the same warm feeling for "our home town" that I have.

I am so happy to hear that other people found the book "Wonderful Passaic" enjoyable. It is interesting how the friends of our youth are scattered around the country and how many people have written me about having read the book even though they are in Europe, Japan, Alaska, or even those that are still in Passaic.

I am unfamiliar with most of the names that you mentioned in your letter, except one. I think that Sam Graziano was a classmate of mine. We graduated PHS in 1950. If it's the same Sam Graziano, then it is the person that I was green with jealousy over. He was suave, debonnaire and a big hit with the girls. Every girl that I would have loved to have had a date with, Sam had dates with them!

I read with great interest your memory of the CYO. Being Jewish, of course I wasn't a member of the CYO. However, I once entered a bowling tournament sponsored by the CYO and the team of Shapiro, Fineberg and Rosenthal won the CYO tournament. We then went off to Paterson to compete and we won that also. I'll never forget at the banquet the priest read off the winning names, Shapiro, Fineberg and Rosenthal," and said "Gee, sounds like a Jewish law firm, not a CYO bowling team. It broke down the house in laughter.

It might interest you to know that one of my dear friends, who I haven't met in over 55 years, was the daughter of "Tony the Barber" that had a barber shop on Monroe Street between Lucille Place and Myrtle Avenue. Her name is Rose (unfortunately, I don't remember her maiden name) and she now lives in Newport News, Virginia. She also went to Saint Anthony's and has such fond memories of Passaic. We write almost on a monthly basis. If you have interest, I can give you her e-mail address so that you can contact her.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write to me. I really appreciate not only your letter but your fondest memories of your CYO years.

Warm regards,
Bob Rosenthal

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November 2007

Did anyone know Max, David, Libby (Lee) and Eleanor (Teiby) Stein who lived in a walk-up at 53 Myrtle Ave.? Max married Betty and they had a son named Barry, who had a mental condition. David attended Cooper Union in the 1930's and remained at Myrtle Ave. Libby married Sidney Kaplan who worked in a liquor store, possibly near or on Main Street. They had 2 children, Donald and Marilyn. Donald was drafted after college; he was killed in an airplane crash after induction on the way to basic. Many local boys were also on that plane. It was a terrible tragedy, around the 1960's? Marilyn, born about 1944, married Marvin Chester and moved to south Jersey. They had a daughter Dana Chester, born about 1972.

Eleanor Stein married Roy Gordon. They lived in Passaic, eventually moved to Rockland County where they had a fabric store. She moved back to Passaic after his death. She died tragically, suicide. The Passaic newspapers had the story of how her sister sued for a portion of her very small estate.

If anyone has any knowledge of the family or of Marilyn Chester and her daughter Dana, I would appreciate a communication for our family. I remember the railroad when I was little. Street names that are familiar are Monroe and also Brook where the Kaplans lived.


Elaine Solas

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September 2007

Hi Bob:

I wonder if any of your web readers might know what happened to a family that lived in my neighborhood when I was growing up in Passaic. I was born on March 30, 1935 and between the ages of two and six, I lived with my parents on Spring Street, one house from the corner of Spring Street and Terhune Avenue. About three or four blocks away on Terhune Avenue towards the Passaic River lived a family by the name of O'Connel (or Connel). Their house was wood sided and very small. The father, Gary, was a uniformed motorcycle officer with the Passaic Police Department. He looked just like the old time movie actor, Pat O'Brian. On occasion he would take the neighborhood kids for rides in his motorcycle side car. He had five children during the period of time that I knew the family. In descending order by age were Gary Jr., Maureen, Killeen, Billy and a baby whose sex I do not recall. I do not remember Gary's wife's name, but she had red hair and was short and very thin. My parents moved from Spring Street to Passaic Avenue when I was six, and I believe the O'Connels may have moved from the neighborhood before we did. I never saw any of the O'Connel kids after we moved to Passaic Avenue but years later, when I was attending Passaic High School and working part-time at The Strand Shop (my uncle's store), I would occasionally see Gary Sr. patrolling a beat in downtown Passaic. It included parts of Jefferson Street, Main Avenue and Lexington Avenue. He was a foot patrolman and no longer a motorcycle officer.

If anyone knows what happened to the O'Connels, I would appreciate being advised.

Below is a photograph taken in the backyard of our Spring Street house. The photo includes three of the O'Connel kids. At the top of the photo is my father, Stanley, the only one in the group with a mustache. Below my father and from left to right are Steven Alexander, Killeen O'Connel, Billy O'Connel, Maureen O'Connel, Roma (Korman) Kanter and me. Steven, Roma and I all graduated together from Passaic High School in June of 1952.

Jerry Strickler


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Hi Bob,

What a WONDERFUL surprise to have accidently come across your web site. I hope you remember me. My name is Leon Rand, M.D. We car pooled from Passaic to NYU in the Bronx (University Heights) from 2/1952 to 6/1955. You and Phil Epstien did most of the driving. Phil had a green 2 door Plymouth coupe and loved to listen to classical music. Occasionally, I drove my Dad's 1946 maroon Buick. Our other car poolers were Don Smolev, Morris Ellenbogen, and a tall crew-cut lad , I believe, who's last name is Harry (he was also studying aeronautical engineering like you). Do you know what became of our car poolers?

NYU uptown was an all boys school with the only campus, the Hall of Fame, a great gym and swimming pool, a tough academic reputation both in the liberal arts and engineering schools, very competitive, and a top notch ROTC. I was in the NYU Marching Band. We imported "the girls" from Hunter and downtown NYU on Friday late afternoon in order to socialize. We had to head back to Passaic, Friday afternoon, so no luck.

I was the last group to graduate PHS mid-semester Feb.1952. I played clarinet in the orchestra and PHS marching band under Mr Singer and Mr. Spurr. We were always in parades in Passaic and the Pulaski Day Parade, 5th Ave. NYC. I attended #6 and #12 with a multi-ethnic environment of Italians, Poles, Irish, Negroes, Slovaks, Jews. You had to know how to defend yourself as a Jew. Mr. Stubba was the principal of #12. Former mayor Joe Lipari came from our locale. I grew up on the wrong side/poor side of Passaic on Madison St. across from the old Beth Israel Hospital which later became a nursing home. That's where I became friendly with a lot of physicians, saw many emergencies arrive via ambulance and piqued my interest in medicine. I spent about eight years in Washington, D.C. studying medicine and specializing in otolaryngology. I returned to Passaic,1968 and practiced Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases and Surgery at 315 Paulison Ave. I was chief of that Dep't at Passaic General, also on staffs of St.Mary's, Beth Israel, Daughters of Miriam, and Bergen Pines Hospital.

I remember the great group of Jewish guys who attended Columbia Hebrew School (Talmah Torah) after school on Columbia Ave. Girls were also in the school. Some of those boys continued their Hebrew education at Yeshivas in Brooklyn. Hillel Academy on Broadway did not exist yet. Although our part of Passaic (eastside) did not have such a great reputation, we Jewish people were proud of the fact that most of the shuls (synagogues), NINE out eleven were located in our part of town. The two, on the other side of town were the Adas on Tulip St and the Ahavas on Van Houten Ave. All the synagogues were orthodox except for Temple Emanuel on the corner of Hamilton and Jefferson. The reform temple, Beth Shalom on Passaic Ave. next to Brogans Auto didn't exist yet.

Do you remember Commissioner Julius Cinnamon having the police "patrol" the areas during the High Holidays large crowds, and the guys congregating and visiting all the synagogues socializing with the girls? Most of the synagogues had balconies for the ladies. My family was a member of the old Tifereth Israel on Madison St which later relocated to 180 Passaic Ave. Passaic was always famous for its active, vibrant Jewish population and its reknown rabbis; Rabbi Weinberger, Leon Katz, Chaplin, Rosen, Werner, Kellner, Boyarsky, Fink, and my dear brother Rabbi Jacob Rand, (may they all rest in peace) of B'nai Jacob Congregation, (designated Historic Landmark) on the corner of Columbia and Washington.The famous actor, Zero Mostel's (from Fiddler on the Roof) younger brother, Mr H. Mostel was the son-in law of the taller Rabbi Katz from Columbia Ave. near # 9 School. There were two Rabbi Katzes in Passaic. Zero often prayed with his brother at Tifereth Israel. To this present day, Passaic is a very strong,vibrant Jewish community with many synagogues, fine Hebrew Day Schools, girl schools, rabbinical college, kosher restaurants, super markets, bakeries, mikvah (ritual bath) Jewish book stores and more.

I relocated to Florida in 1990 and am now a semi-retired physician in Hollywood, Fl where my brother Sam also practices medicine (played football at PHS '53-'55). I occasionally visit my sister, Sandra, my nieces, nephews who live in Passaic and some of my children in Wayne and Parsippany.

My bothers Abe, Sam and I sold the Daily Mirror, Daily News for 5 then 7 cents in front of the Capital, Central, and Montauk theaters late at nite till 1230 AM. Also the heavy Sunday editions. Do you remember the gossip paper of town, the Citizen, which we also sold. My brother Abe class of June, 1952 made aliyah to Israel with his famliy. He and his sons defend Israel in the IDF. He's a dentist. One last note, my uncle Louis Rand had a toy store on Lexington Ave diagonally across from Pep Boys, and my Dad, Morris and his brother Charles Rand owned Rand's Juvenile Furniture on Monroe St. next to the famous Kornbluhs Kosher Restaurant. My uncle Kenny Rand worked in Larkey's Men Store Lexington Ave.

I enjoyed the nostalgia and would be happy to reminisce with all regarding Passaic. Positive feelings always return! They will inevitably come to put sunshine back into our lives.

Leon Rand

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Bob Rosenthal's Reply

Hi Leon,

My publisher forwarded your e-mail to me for answering. I so appreciate you taking the time to write the nostalgia filled e-mail. I'm sure you would agree that the 53 years since we car pooled together to NYU Uptown have just flown by.. I remember and cherish those wonderful, crazy car trips. Do you remember on a hot spring day, someone in the car would yell WAR. With that cry, we would close all the windows and turn on the heater full blast until the temperature in the car became unbearable and someone would weakly say UNCLE.

You asked about what ever happened to our car-mates. Phil Epstein became a distinguished lawyer in North Jersey specializing in marriage law. Morris (Moish) Ellenbogen became a successful businessman in Clifton owning and running several unique companies including "The Little Bus Company", I've lost touch with Don Smolev (that's unfortunate because he was such a nice guy), and "Harry" (a brilliant student and a tuba player).

Its interesting that you lived in the Washington DC area for 10 years. Carole and I have lived in the Maryland suburbs of Washington for over 45 years. Yes, the world is indeed small. To further illustrate this, you mentioned your uncle Louis Rand and his toy store down the street from Pep Boys. His family used to live in the downstairs flat at 35 Hammond Ave and my family lived directly above him. Alan and I were great friends and I sure was lonely when his family moved to Clifton just off Passaic Ave.

I appreciate you reminding me of the joy of visiting all the "shuls" on the News Years Holidays. Those walks, meeting all the girls along the way, was always anticipated and enjoyed. Again thanks for rekindling old memories.

Keep healthy and keep smiling,


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February 2007

Hi Bob,

When I happened upon a copy of Climbing the Rainbow in a local bookstore last year, I couldn't have been more delighted.

I promptly read it from cover to cover and went back to the store to buy several more copies for relatives that share the same wonderful memories of our old hometown.

I was born in 1954 in Passaic General Hospital. Our family lived at 10 Lucille Place between Madison and Monroe Streets in a two-family house that my maternal grandparents, Sarah and Nathan Scancarello, bought in 1925. Prior to moving to Lucille Place they lived on Passaic Street near Wall Street.

My mother Josephine (Jolene) Scancarello was born in the house on Lucille where we lived until moving to Clifton in 1967. She was the youngest of three daughters born to Sarah and Nathan. Her sisters were Sady (now Kroll) and Rose (now Huysse). They all graduated from Passaic High; my mother in 1946, Sady in 1939, and Rose a few years earlier (1935?)

Nathan and his brother, my great uncle Charlie Scancarello, owned the Broadway Barber Shop at 48 Broadway for about 37 years, from about 1937.

Charlie was very serious and played the violin. Nathan was more jocular and had a good time with their customers joking and laughing with many of them including the politicians who frequented the place.

Sady worked at the Strand Store on Main Avenue after high school. She began as a stock girl later moving up to the position of cashier. One of Sady's responsibilities at the Strand was to run up three flights of stairs for lay-away merchandise when a receipt was presented by a customer. Lots of aerobic exercise long before we knew it was good for us!

My mom worked at Public Service and my Aunt Rose worked at the Prospect Toy Shop where she bought us our first Hula-Hoop. We fondly remember the giant nodding Santa in the window at Christmastime. My grandmother Sarah worked in a handkerchief factory near the Viaduct in the twenties. She later worked as a seamstress in a coat factory just across the Gregory Avenue bridge in Wallington. Both Nathan and Sarah were very active in the Geraci League, an Italian social club on Madison Street. They were both hardworking, kind people who instilled in all of us a deep love of family and a strong work ethic that exists to this day.

My mom married my dad, Chuck McCormick, in 1949. He was also raised in Passaic, living first on Columbia Avenue and then later moving to Washington Place, a few doors down from St. Nick's Church, which his grandfather is said to have helped build. My father attended St. Nick's School and then Passaic High,graduating in 1945. He was the youngest of three children born to Charles and Catherine (Holowenko). His sisters were Dottie (Magliacane) and Irene (Chessman). My grandfather worked for Public Service for 50 years. Both he and my grandmother were very active in the American Legion. In the late 50 s and 60 s they lived on Rutherford Boulevard, Myrtle Avenue, Wayside Court and then the Senior Citizens Building on Gregory Avenue near Broadway.

My brother, Dr. Kevin Mc Cormick, was born in 1956 at Passaic General .He also remembers a very happy childhood on the streets of Passaic.

I attended #11 Memorial School for kindergarten (Miss Boyd) and first grade (Mirs. Conroy). Then Kevin and I went to the new Catholic School on Oak Street-St. Anthony's. We remember fondly Sister Johnette, Sister Vincenza, Sister Daniel Mary, Sister Anthony, Sister Gabrielle and Sister Francis Paula. Also, the brothers Caccavalle, Father Pasquale (Pat) and Father Pius. They would hand out the report cards in the classroom and Father Pat would twirl the rope on his Capuchin robes. It scared us but they were always kind and ready with a smile or a wisecrack. St. Anthony Parish was close-knit and we made many great friends. So did our parents. Some of those familiy names were Musciotto, Orlando, Bonadies, DeGaetano, Ippolito, Paruta, Domino Mistrette, Tavares, Luspinski, Tangorra, DiGangi, Bontempo, Cascio, LoCastro, Vetri, Benevento, DiDino, Ganguzza, Yuppa, Terranova, Baldanza, Zangara and many, many more.

Our neighborhood on Lucille Place (as was all of the city) was truly a melting pot. Here are some of the names of some of the families living there at that time: Coletti, Hartford, Sommese, Finkelstein, Insinga, Cartaino, Agnello, Pomante, Rubin, Maggio, DeDonato, Corradino, Bonnani, Simon, Mecca, Rego, Bonadies, Green, Levine, Perry, Strusiak, Tennenbaum, Joespowicz, Calantone, Wierzbicki, Balsamo, Cherasia, Mascuch, Andrews, Cataffo, Alewine, DeLuca, Gelok, Polizanno.

Some of the places we fondly remember include Nathanson's candy store on Monroe and Grove (for our first chocolate sodas or egg creams and penny candy-Turkish Taffy and licorice wheels), Jenny's Bakery across the Street for great blueberry muffins, Herman's, Vetri's, Paruta's, Spindel's drugstore, Jack (and Harriet) Schatzman's Hardware Store, S & K Deli for good franks on a Saturday afternoon with neighborhood kids, Moe Green's for chopped liver and bagels after church, Mrs. Lapp's dry goods on Monroe, the fish store, Bill the Butcher, Sam the Barber, the fruit market, the Shoe Shine Man (Mr. Alfieri?) whose beat was Monroe and the dead end of Lucille walking back and forth for what seemed like hours, Mistrette's for lunchtime pizza with one of the nieces where we sat in the back room among the ovens and walls adorned with lots of pictures of Joey.Dee. This popular pizza palace was the official headquarters of Joey Dee and the Starlighters. His sister Mary and brother-in-law Shuffless owned the place.

We also remember C.Y.O. dances at St. Anthony's, Pete s & Joe's Pizza on Oak and Myrtle, walking downtown Passaic on a Friday night with our mom and returning home safely after nine when the stores closed, Record City, Blimpees, popping balloons at McCrory's to see what price you d have to pay for a banana split and then buying turtles there to race-complete with plastic bowl, slide and palm tree, Kresge's, Jefferson Bake Shop, Henrietta's Corset, Ding Ho Palace (with the red printed dishes), Loft s, Albert's (where we'd go for a snack after dancing school at Walter Koremin's, located upstairs from Loft's), The Montauk, Capitol and Central Theatres, the Fine Arts Theater (where we carefully averted our eyes when we walked past), Amlicke's where we bought our school uniforms every August, Ginsberg's, the used Comic Book Store on Monroe, Wechsler's, The Prospect Shop, the Fair, seeing the top of the Bank building from our attic window, marching in the Memorial Day Parade with the Safety Patrol, Alexander's Candy Store on Myrtle and Henry where twenty five cents could get you an Archie comic, an ice cream cone and two red-hots, the Bowling Alley on Henry, Jules and Laura Beyer's Gift Shop on Henry (my mom's friends) where we'd often stop after shopping downtown, endless summer nights eating what no one outside of Passaic has ever heard of - shalalie, playing hide and seek or cops and robbers with what seemed like 20 kids - every day in the summer, alleyways and apartment hallways smelling of spic and span, listening with girlfriends to 45s of the Beach Boys, Four Tops, Supremes, Temptations, Righteous Brothers, and later the Beatles, Monkees and Dave Clark 5.

A trip down memory lane would also include Nadler's where my mom worked for a few years, Shanty Joe's, Little Joe's pool hall on Monroe, tops, jacks, making tents on the porch on rainy days, climbing the cherry tree in the backyard with lots of cousins, chasing a ball into the next door neighbor's yard. Mrs. C., clad head to toe in black for years after her husband's death, yelling in Italian to watch out for the covered fig tree, pitching pennies, playing points against an apartment building wall, hanging out with our Nonny watching the world go by from her upstairs porch, Leonard s Pizza, touch football in the street, Mr. Softee, the fruit peddler, the junk man with the horse and cart, the truck rides like the whip and the merry-go-round where you'd get a charm or candy necklace as you exited down the two or three steps, Levy Bothers, Bond's for Awful Awfuls, Rutt's Hutt, the orphanage near the stadium where parents sometimes threatened to send their kids who acted up, candlelit processions through the wintry streets of St. Anthony's parish for a December religious holiday, sleigh riding at the incinerator on Paulison Avenue, and at Second Ward Park, baseball games, ice-skating at the kiddie pool at the Memorial School playground and on and on and on.

As you can see, Passaic holds a very special place in my heart. Thank you for writing about our beloved city and for bringing so many people together to share stories of growing up there.

You've helped to provide several different generations with warm memories and more than a few discussions.

I look forward to reading more of your work in the future and wish you good luck.

All the best,

Maureen Paternoster

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Hi Maureen,

You certainly MADE MY DAY. I am so happy that you wrote about your warm memories of our home town. Even though I moved from Passaic when I graduated college in 1954 - - - hard to believe it's been 53 years - - - it still is and always be my hometown.

It might interest you to know that my father's men's store was near where you lived. It was on the corner of Monroe and Lucille Place (the store is now a Hispanic market). I had many Italian, Jewish, Polish and Hungarian friends that lived on Lucille Place and on Madison Ave.

Again, thanks for "making my day."

Bob Rosenthal

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September 2006


Your site is great! I lived in Speer Village, Building 11, for several years. I attended No.12 School and Passaic High School. I also lived on Summer St. and started school at No.4 School. In 1965 I went into the Army and have generally returned to Passaic every 4 or 5 years. A lot has changed, but so much remains as it was years ago. Passaic was vibrant and really a good place to live. Lately, I have been wondering what came of folks I knew way back then. Now that I live fairly close, I tend to go back more often. Maybe someone will read this and be able to help me. I have been able to locate some folks on Harold McKinney, Ron Labenski, Jack Tatum, and a few others. Those listed below are a few of the people who had a positive impact on me in one way or another.

John Frederici Head Football Coach PHS
Tim Farrell Gym Teacher No.12 School
Mr. Yaski (sp) Gym Teacher No.12 School
Mr. Jackson Music Teacher & Glee Club Director, No. 12 School

It was sad to find No.12 School gone! My days there were some of the most memorable of my life. There was such a wonderful mix of people from all over the world. I had no idea how important that experience would be in forming me later in life. My interactions with European immigrants as a child in Passaic and Paterson were a big plus for me in later years. I lived in Europe for 19 years. Passaic has remained with me. I rarely if ever think about the years in Paterson, but Passaic is still home.

Garry Tyler

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August 2006

Hi Bob,

I just returned to Florida from my visit to friends & family in N.J. I was born in Passaic and have many fond memories of the Jewish Y there. I looked forward to the dances eagerly.

I was visiting my Aunt & Uncle in River Edge when my Uncle handed me your book, "Memories of Our Y." We were talking about it and I just can't thank you enough for this prize.

The kids at the soda fountain on the cover...remind me of Wilburn's drug store on the corner of Main Ave and Van Houten. My Mother used to pick up my Father at that corner from work when I was a child.

I also notice the name Sid Gilbert. I grew up around the corner from Ellen Klein. Her middle name was Gilbert, her Mother's maiden name. Her Parents were Rose & Barney Klein. I believe she had an Uncle, Sid Gilbert who worked for a school. HIs wife's name was (if I remember correctly) Cherie.

I had a wonderful childhood in Passaic. I've also been told that there is a distinct Passaic accent. Do you know if that's true.

Of course I brought home pickalilly from Rhutt's Hut. Can't go to Passaic for a visit and not eat at Rhutt's!!!

I worked for a short time(not short enough) at the Jewish Y. There was a woman working there with the last name Goldberg or her father was a Goldberg who ran a gas station or tire shop nearby.

One of my fondest memories was bicycling down Terhune Ave to Spring St. to Brook Ave to take my tiny tears doll to the park. I doubt that it would even be safe to bicycle ride in the street today with all the traffic. Back then (1950's) I was perfectly safe.

Well, Bob...I turned 60 yrs. and this was a great present. Did I mention that I went to Franklin #3, & Thomas Jefferson Jr. High, and graduated P.H.S. in '63.

Let me know about your book, "Wonderful Passaic". Thanks for the memories of Passaic...your book is appreciated.

Ellen R. Rappaport
Largo, Florida
e-mail address:

Ellen Rappaport
Graduate of PHS 1963

Ellen & Helene Klein
Graduate of PHS 1963
Photo taken August 2004

Ellen and Lauren Cohen
Graduate of PHS 1964
Photo taken August 2004

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July 2006

I attended St. Joseph's Parochial School on Monroe Street between 1944 and 1954. I have many fond memories of the Felician Sisters and I give them the credit for laying the groundwork for me having a wonderful and successful career in the military and civil service. I attended Pope Pius XII High School my Freshman and Sophomore years and then transferred to Passaic High. A decision I sorely regretted as it put a kabosh on my participation in Varsity Sports.

I would love to get in touch with my classmates from St. Jo's, but, I've had no luck on internet searching for anything on the school as for classmates or reunions. I'm over 65 now so I'm sure some have passed on or moved out of the area. If you don't mind at some later date I will send you a list of St. Jo's alumni I retrieved from a Pope Pius Yearbook.

Thanks for your great web site.

Henry (Hank) Kaczynski
CWO U.S. Army Retired
Annapolis, Maryland

E-mail address:

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May 2006

I grew up in Passaic in "the projects". Speer Village I think was the official name. Born in St. Marys Hospital in 1959.

In 1965 we moved from Building 19, 6th floor, apartment C to 101 Jefferson Street. Yes, right down the street from both Jefferson and Easter Bakeries!

I spent most of my youth hanging on Washington Place. I remember the old St. Nicholas school the was right across the street from the church. The old Police station a few blocks away. McCrory's, with Joe the bird that repeated back to you, "helloooooo Joe!"

I remember there used to be a tunnel that went under Main Street to get to the Montauk Theater. Unless I'm mixing that up with the train station in 3rd Ward Park. Anyone?

Markey Brothers Sporting Goods, the dry cleaners, pizza joint and bar on the "triangle". The "round" bank on Main Ave. Yum Yum Diner on Passaic Street. Charlie's Pool Hall above the Montauk. Didn't the Un-Employment Administration used to be a bowling alley?? Army Park by the YMCA. I remember all the camouflage painted Jeeps and trucks around.

I went to #8, #10, #4 and PHS. I now live in Lodi, NJ.

It's funny how people from Passaic are all so proud they lived there.

Me and my friends had a saying, "No matter where you go, there's always someone from Passaic there." The statement is a little crazy of course, but my friends and myself have run into people all over. It was a running joke.

I graduated from PHS in 1977. Most of the Message Boards letters are from way before I was born. Sounds like Passaic was a really great place back then, before the Malls when everyone shopped in Passaic.

I'm the youngest of 7 I'm sure my brothers and sisters have stories too.

Your site is great!


Paul M. Dougherty

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Hey! What happened to #12 school which used to be off Monroe Street which Highway 21 runs through now??

From what I remember, it had a swimming pool! I never went there but I used to live on Jefferson and Columbia Avenue and I went into the building before they knocked it down.

So, NOTHING on School 12??

Paul M. Dougherty

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Hi Paul,

My publisher forwarded both of your e-mails providing your reminiscence of growing up in Passaic. I really enjoyed reading your e-mail because it's so much fun to see what other people remember about Passaic from a totally different generation. As you may know, I grew up in Passaic in the 1930s and 1940s and although your and my experiences are much different, the city was still Passaic and all of us still loved it.

Concerning your comment, no matter where you go you always run into somebody from Passaic, let me tell you a true story. During the early 1970s, China was in the midst of the terrible Cultural Revolution. That was a time when young "students" in China ran all over the country persecuting anybody that had an education. All schools were closed for twelve years. It was a most dangerous time.

During that time period, I was a guest of the Chinese government and was visiting a small city about 300 miles west of Beijing. Because I'm a "round eye" they provided four soldiers to accompany me wherever I went to protect me from the roving gangs of "Red Guards." On my final day I had to get up quite early and sit in the lobby of the "hotel" waiting for a car to take me to the airport. In that same lobby within a few minutes after I arrived, another "round eye" arrived. He sat down next to me and noticed that I was writing something. About ten seconds later he said, "You grew up in Passaic, didn't you?" I said, "I certainly did, but how did you know?" He said, "Passaic people never learned how to write cursive from the 1930s through 1950."

Now let me thank you for something in your e-mail. You have answered a question that has been asked to me many times and I never knew the answer. The question was, "What was the name of the bird in McCrory's that used to repeat back to you?" Well, you said the name is "Joe." I'm sure that many people will finally be happy to learn that.

You asked about the tunnel that ran under Main Street to get to the Montauk Theater. Yes, that tunnel existed and it was called "The Passaic Subway." You also asked why #12 School wasn't listed with the other Passaic schools. That's an error from the Passaic Schools Public Relations Dept. For some reason they left that off, and since that part of the web site is what they wrote, I don't feel it is proper for me to correct it.

Again, thanks for taking the time to write. I sincerely appreciate it.

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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May 2006

"Do You Know What Building This Is?"

Jack Mahon

Hi Jack,

The building, of course, is the gormet capitol of the Passaic Clifton area. It was where many of us took our first dates. It's a place where we stood in front, or, if we were really rich that night, we sat in the back. It was also the place with a lot of dark spots in the parking lot so you could have interesting "discussions" with your sweetie.

And their relish is really remarkable.

Bob Rosenthal

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April 2006

I was raised in Passaic on 347 Van Houten Avenue, right around the corner from Passaic Park. I remember going to the park back in the 50s and feeding the deer they used to have there. I went to Jefferson No. 1 and then to Lincoln No. 4 and finally a graduate in 1967 of Passaic High School. I moved to California after my military service, but since my parents still live there I was able to return and see how much things have changed from year to year. Passaic will always be my home, and I will never forget what a great place it was to grow up.

John J. Cammarota

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Hi John, I read your e-mail with great interest. Although I'm 17 years older than you, I, like you, have this great love for our unique home town.

I note in your e-mail that you graduated PHS in 1967. I think that means you graduated from the new high school and that the "Lincoln #4 School" that you mentioned was the rebuilt PHS that I attended.

Also, in your e-mail you mentioned that you now live in California. It might interest you to know that when I graduated college in 1954, my wife and I immediately moved to California where we lived for several years in the Santa Monica and Venice area. However, we moved back east after a few years because we thought it was simply too crowded in California. I think it's amazing that at the time we lived there, the population of California was less than one half of the population that it is now. Yet, we thought it was too crowded.

Again, thanks for your e-mail.

Best regards,
Bob Rosenthal

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March 2006

Dear Mr. Rosenthal,

Karen Tomczyk was kind enough to give me your e mail address. My name is Tom Troy. (I graduated from Pope Pius XII HS in 1964).

In the 70's I worked as the Passaic High School Auto Shop teacher for about 8 years. I then moved on to the commercial Automotive Industry.

My 93 year old father attended # 11 and recently gave me a copy of your book "Wonderful Passaic". I really enjoyed it!

The section concerning the # 11 school master clock was especially interesting. I had the opportunity to bid on that clock when the system was being replaced. I won the bid and have had the master clock, bell ringing tape driven 'computer' cabinet and a few classroom clocks (all in oak) hanging on the wall in my house ever since. I thought that I could solve the mystery of the clock since all the original maintenance records are still in the clock case.

The maintenance & repair records show a repair three months before President Roosevelt's death. So the clock stoppage and start up were not due to any recorded failure/repair incident.

I thought you might enjoy knowing the clock is still in original condition and the mystery stands.

If you would ever like to see the clock please feel free to visit us in Seneca South Carolina. I know how memories of Passaic stay with you till the end for some reason, certainly not a bad thing.

Tom Troy

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Hi Tom,

I really appreciate your e-mail of November 8th. I also found several items in your letter that truly amazed me. For example:

- During my years in Passaic (the late 30s through 1947 at #11 School and then three years at PHS), I thought the Auto Shop was at #11 School. I remember as a kid how jealous I was of people that were able to work on cars. I was always a fumble-fingers type of guy. I almost flunked both "manual" shop courses - - - the printing class and the woodworking classes at #11.

- It was amazing to me that you replaced the #11 School Master Clock and that you have in your home the Master Clock and some of those walnut room clocks we had. Also stored in the Master Clock were the Maintenance Records.

After reading your e-mail, I contacted three of my former classmates at #11 School and asked them if they remember what happened when President Roosevelt died. Unfortunately, all three of them had read my book, and therefore, their answers may have been biased by my book. However, recognizing that that bias may exist, they also clearly remember that the clock did stop.

I wonder if some teacher or administrator in #11 School deliberately stopped the clock at that moment as a sign of respect for the late president.

In any event, I would very much like to post your e-mail on the Message web site A large number of Passaic alumni do read that Message Board and have contributed to it. I'm sure by putting your e-mail on it will raise a lot of interest.

Again, thanks for taking the time to write to me.

Best regards,
Bob Rosenthal

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Thank you for responding. When I started teaching at the "new" high school (I think 1972) as the Auto Shop teacher I took over for Vince Perrelli. The Auto Shop, Wood Shop, Machine Shop, Print Shop and Electronics Shop were all in the High School. I had the only Auto Shop in the city for 8 years and it is still in operation by my replacement today.

My grandfather moved to Passaic when Uniroyal built the factory there. My father was born and brought up in Passaic, attended #11 and retired from Uniroyal with 42 years of service. As I mentioned I graduated from Pope Pius XII in 1964 and ended up back in Passaic as a teacher in the 70's. I was also vice president of the teachers union and served as president of the Passaic Optimists Club during that time.

I also have many memories of Passaic.

Tom Troy

The left tall clock was the #11 School Master Clock. The clock on the right
is one of the beautiful 'slave clocks' that were in every classroom.
(photo from Tom Troy)

The #11 School Master Clock was truly a thing of beauty.

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March 2006

Passaic 1965

Can you see the street, the bank, the rooftops, from my old bedroom window?
I loved my hometown in the summer, spring, fall or winter snow.

Each house so close together, our porches almost touch.
We loved our friends and neighbors, whether Polish, Jewish or Dutch.

The porches were for playing games, on the front steps we would gather.
We sang songs, played "Candy Land" and "Chutes and Ladders"

In the parking lot across the street we all went to play,
Made chalk marks on the sidewalk, but went to church come Sunday.

Was your dad a preacher, mechanic or a plumber?
Gregory or Prescott, each friend knew our number.

Quincy Street was our playground, our own Central Park.
We stayed outside and played from morning until dark.

"One way!" my daddy shouted at each car going up, not down.
Mommy laughed, eyes green, and hair dark brown.

I closed my eyes and placed myself there so long ago-am I dreaming?

Tomorrow we'll go bowling, see movies at the Capitol and eat at the Queen's Diner.
Get our school supplies from Yellin's, what could possibly be finer?

It's summer and the ice cream truck stops right at our front door.
"Good Humor" man, indeed! May we all have more?

Take a walk down Lexington with the transistor on;
The Beatles singing "Help", the 4 Seasons singing "Dawn".

Stroll into "Record City", the plug's snug in my right ear,
Cousin Brucie, play rock 'n roll just for me to hear.

Let's go swimming at the Clifton Pool, say "Hi" to Mr. Bellin;
My brothers will run instead of walk and I know he will be yellin'.

Gone is Berlin's Rexall Drugs, Karpen's, Charlie's and Millie's.
What is left of Monroe St. just gives me the willies.

I think back on all of this, my schools are all gone too.
Torn down for Route 21, there was nothing I could do.

Nothing left but memories that make my heart ache.
But I still have the good old days in my city of Passaic.

The dream is over, it's true my childhood's gone, but…
To make it sure it's not gone forever, I'll meet you at Rutt's Hut.

Hetty (Cassutto) Haden

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November 2005

Hi Bob -- I can't believe it's going to be two years since "Climbing the Rainbow" was published. Here I am reading and in some cases re-reading letters on the message board, only to find even more stories and tidbits about our town. It never seems to end. One person sparks a memory and 10 more can relate to a similar occurrence. My neighbor was your sister's brother-in-law... blah blah blah. I always thought Passaicites had a language of their own. The way we described people (and forgot names) but always knew who we were referring to. "What's his name's son"... "The guy with the horse"... "The kid with the bad foot"... "Harry... which Harry... You know Harry that walks like a duck"... "Max from Larchmont"...

When I moved to Florida I went into the kosher meat supermarket and took a number at the appetizing counter. When It was my turn a short little man looked at me and couldn't stop staring. He finally said "ahah! Now I know who you are. How's that cute little girl of yours? I said she's fine thank you. How do you know who I am. " He said he remembered me from Passaic. He worked (or owned) Dave's Delicatessen on Lexington Ave.) He always thought my little red-headed girl was so adorable. I told him he was mistaken. That I was that little redhead. Of course my hair was no longer red. Not even auburn. Although not gray, it had turned a dark Brown. He thought I was my mother (Eva Flaster) who would be 93 if still alive.

Every street, every neighborhood, every store on the avenue holds memories. I love to share them. Till the 'morrow.

Bo Salsberg

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November 2005

An Introductory Comment:

Marty Willinski was a neighbor of mine during the 1930s and 1940s in Passaic's 2nd Ward. In the early 1950s, we car-pooled to NYU's engineering school that was located at Washington Heights in the Bronx. After we both received aeronautical engineering degrees, we and our wives moved to California where we were again neighbors. We remained close friends for over seventy years.

Marty is one of our country's most creative engineers. He invented many of the secret programs that were fundamental in forcing the Soviet Union to disintegrate and disappear.

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Dear Bob,

I just finished reading my brother-in-law's (Marty Willinski) copy of Wonderful Passaic, and I can't remember when I enjoyed a book so much. I feel as though I had a visit with an old friend. I must be about five years older than you, and I remember the teachers and places you mentioned. My "home room" was in the annex and there was a cafeteria in the basement.

One thing you did not clarify: Was your father Moe or Morris? You mentioned passing Charlie and Jerry Siegel's house. They were Marty's cousins, and their father, Nat, supplied the wedding cake when Seymour and I got married, since sugar was in short supply after the war and he worked for a bakery. Marty's uncle, Hy Madison, was on the Wonder Team and was a runner in his youth.

You mentioned the Hindenburg disaster. I have a phonograph record (and the phono) of the announcer at the time reciting all the events. (Oh the Humanity). The People's bank was on the first floor of The People's Bank Building and their vaults were below. When the bank across the street, The First National, bought the Peoples's Bank, they merged operations and the vault area was turned into offices.

My late husband, Seymour, worked for Allen B. Dumont before and after the war, both in Clifton and at Chanel 5 in the Wanamaker Building in New York. He invented a TV set that used only 7 vacuum tubes, and we used to watch the Joe Louis fights on it, and get the sound on the radio.

Seymour worked for the Defense Logistics Agency for 35 years, and was involved with the Apollo projects. The last time we were at Cape Canaveral, he and Marty were discussing the rockets outside and which one worked on what. He has a medallion that was presented to him by three of the astronauts, that has some of the metal in it that was on the moon. When he thanked them, they said, "Thank YOU, we got back".

I'm looking forward to reading From Passaic to the Moon. I like your writing style and your sense of humor.

Best Regards,

Betty Willinski

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Hi Betty,

My sincere thanks for your warm e-mail. You certainly made my day! I'm so pleased that you found the book interesting and humorous. Actually, I originally wrote the book for my grandchildren to get them to appreciate the unique city that you and I grew up in. Only as an afterthought, the book was published and I'm so pleased it brought pleasure to you and to others.

Your e-mail mentioned that there was a lunchroom in the basement of the high school annex. I never knew that. Perhaps the lunchroom was ended by the time I went to PHS. All we had were rather dirty counters that they set up at lunchtime so we could buy "pressed ham" and "smelly cheese sandwiches."

You asked whether my father was "Moe or Morris." He was Morris.

Of all the times I was with Marty I never knew that the Siegel twins were his cousins. I was indeed close friends with them and I'm proud to say I won their allowance money in poker games that we used to have. I think both of them went on to become doctors and psychiatrists.

Again, thanks for "making my day."

Warm regards,
Bob Rosenthal

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October 2005

Sunday in the Park...

My family would spend Sundays at the Park but not just any park, we would walk from the Second Ward area of town to Third Ward Park, a.k.a. "Passaic Park." There are those who would argue at this point about the name this is my memory let's not dwell on any of the negatives, they aren't really useful in this memory. (See picture) Left to right: My brother, I'm sitting in front of my Aunt, (She's my mother Connie's younger sister) and my father Justo, Sr. My brother and I are eating "Popsicles."

Spring wouldn't officially begin until our first visit to the "Park." The park has a small lake, Hughes Lake, or some would describe it as a large pond, with real ducks, not just those white seemingly domesticated ducks but those that from time to time are on their seasonal jaunts to or from points north. We would feed them bits of bread, "Wonder Bread," we would bring with us to coax them closer.

My brother and I even went fishing or bothered the "CRAW" fish that lived under the rocks in the shallows of the stream leading to the "Lake." We never harmed them, we were only amazed at how they would swim backward when the rocks were disturbed.

Crossing a small bridge over the stream, we were soon playing on the swings, the teeter totter, and the kid powered merry go-rounds. Later a bathing area was installed, that's the only way to describe it, it wasn't a swimming pool. It was a tiled area with water forced into the air at an angle from a pipe, where a swarm of kids in their bathing suits or cutoffs would gather to cool off after a time of play, and from the summertime heat. Not a bad Sunday at the Park "hu, "Beav"!

Jay Soto

Jay Soto and his family in 1962

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September 2005

Hello, My name is Regina Halpern Horner, I was born in 1963 at Passaic General Hospital and lived at 32 Myrtle Avenue in Passaic on the corner of Madison Street. When I was around four years old we moved down a few blocks to Madison Street across from 2nd Ward Park near the corner of Paulison Avenue. I have such fond memories of growing up there, even in the 60s that area was still a fairly nice area. I remember playing tag in the alleyways and basements with groups of kids of all ages on hot summer days and swimming in the little pool in the park, amazing but that kiddie pool is still there.

I left Passaic in 1962 and moved to Paterson. I left NJ totally after high school and now live in Vermont. I still visit Passaic all the time and I take lots of pictures of the area. Passaic has some of the most beautiful parks and building architecture anywhere. It's not the same at all, but I refuse to stop going to a place that's so close to my heart. Shame that such grand buildings have fallen into disrepair. I have such fond memories. There was nowhere like Passaic at Christmas time, all the store windows all decorated, the huge Christmas tree on Main Avenue, the streets filled with people shopping and the fantastic smell of the Jefferson Bake Shop on Main Avenue.

I remember having dinner with my mother many times at the Chinese restaurant, Ding Ho Palace, also Pops and a place called I think the Bluebird Tea Room off Lexington Avenue. I remember Kresske's and McRory's and of course, the Prospect Toy Shop, the fruit and veggie stand on Hoover Avenue across from the bus station, oh and let's not forget Pizza Mirror Howe Cafeteria or the deli on Garden and Madison, Brennan's on Main Avenue, also Rutt's Hut. I recall seeing Bozo the Clown at the Capitol Theater, and having my picture taken at White's Photo Studio. I went to see Mr. White years later in the early 1980s and he still had pictures on file of me as a small child, I'm sure he's passed now. How about Mickey's Record Shop on Jefferson Street, I remember my mom buying Beatles albums there.

I do have a question that maybe someone can answer. My parents met for the first time at a bar/restaurant on Main Avenue near Monroe Street that served homemade pizza in the late 1950s early 1960s. The owners were a husband and wife named Mae and Johnny. I think the place closed in the mid 70s. Someone told me the name of the place was Club Manhattan. Does anyone recall this place at all? Just in case any of you might recall my family, I'll give some names. I'd like to connect with anyone that knew them or that would just like to discuss the old days.

Grandmother was: Rose Castro or Castrogiovanni Mulle born in 1900. She grew up on Monroe Street between Market Street and Third Streets above a funeral home. She was one of five sisters.

Mom was: Angela Mulle born in 1940. She lived on Columbia Avenue as a child, had two older brothers: Joe and Sal.

Any info would be much appreciated and thank you so much for this site.

Regina Halpern Horner

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August 2005

Following is the Epilogue of a book entitled "Jersey Boy: An Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times," written by Ed Meyer. Ed grew up in the 1930s in Passaic Park and joined the Army Air Force just after graduating Passaic High School in 1941. His book is not yet published and he kindly provided me an advance copy. The book is a joy to read; his childhood years in Passaic, his war experiences, then going to college on the G.I. Bill, and having a 40-year career in radio and television broadcasting. The career was capped by 30 years at the Washington premiere radio station, WMAL, where he was the newscaster on the number one morning show, Harden and Weaver. In addition to radio, he was also a newscaster and commentator on a major Washington television station and did live broadcast during some of the astounding events that occurred in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Bob Rosenthal

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"Backward, turn backward, O Time in your flight.
Make me a child again, just for tonight."
-- Elizabeth Allen

Not too long ago, I visited some of the places of my youth in New Jersey. My sister Norma – the only survivor of my siblings – joined me in this pilgrimage.

As we drove through downtown Passaic, it was hardly recognizable. Boarded up stores had replaced what once was a thriving retail center. The Erie railroad tracks that had split Main and Lexington Avenues and which had made the town unique had long been removed. The once elegant Montauk Theater was showing porno films. The only thing familiar was the Peoples Bank Building – Passaic's only skyscraper.

Across the Passaic River in East Rutherford, where my earliest years were spent, the two houses on Paterson Avenue remained pretty much as I remembered them. The small park across the street was still a haven from the bustle. We then visited the cemeteries in Clifton, where my mother, my sister Sylvia, my brother Seymour and his wife Rose and my brothers-in-law Saul and Slim are buried. We continued along Passaic Avenue past Third Ward Park where the baseball diamond looked as it did when from first base I shouted at my pitcher "Make a hero outta him if he hits it a mile! C'mon batter, hey batter!" Tree-shrouded Hughes Lake glistened in the afternoon sun. Off Passaic Avenue we came to Aycrigg Avenue and the house with the wrap-around porch that Max had bought – the only house that we had not rented. There was our house at 42 Ascension Street where the sleigh-riding hill always ended with a sharp turn into our driveway. There was Bond Street where we had received the news that my father had not survived his cancer surgery.

And finally, to Park Avenue, the street that will always be my street of streets.

The trees had grown tall..the houses showed the wear of the years. I stood at the corner of Park and Kensington and I suppose it would have seemed eerily quiet to most people. But not to me. It is said that each place retains all of its memories, and perhaps all of the sounds of years ago still rattle around somewhere in space. It took no effort on my part to summon up, in my mind's eye, all the friends of my youth, and I could hear the shouts of delight and derision that were part of all those wonderful games that are no longer played by anyone. Yes..there they were – Mickey and Bobby and Sam and Ken and Marshall and all the others, gathered under the street lamp choosing up sides for stickball or triangle or punchball. Oh, I can see them. I will always see them.

"Consider! Life is but a day
A fragile dewdrop
On its perilous way"
-- John Keats

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Ed Meyer can be reached at

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June 2005

I would like to share with you a Memorial Day experience I had as principal of #2 School before I retired. This material is from a book on my journey in Passaic I am trying to put together.

"Most of the children with whom I spoke told me they came from Puebla. I didn't even know where it was. I came to understand that it was a city and state in Mexico and was the scene of events that led to the independence of Mexico from the French. Once again I felt it was important to inculcate in the children love for America their new homeland. The Memorial Day celebration once again presented me with a great learning opportunity. The children were all very young so our exercises were conducted on the school grounds. The naval units from the high school came and mesmerized the children with their drills. After taps, we saluted the flag and sang a patriotic song. However, at school #2 the teachers surprised me with a new twist to the ceremony that I will never forget. After I thought the program was completed, I realized that the children had started to march in time-left/right-left/right-left/right. Then they burst into song waving American flags. The children sang:

‘I am proud to be an American
American - American

I am proud to be an American

That's me'"

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Memorial Day 2005 - Today Paula and I motored through Northern New Jersey into New York State. We were breaking in Paula's new car. It handled beautifully. The mountains and farmlands, bathed in spring's yellow green, were breathtaking. Our destination was Warwick, New York. Warwick is a town where it seems time has stood still. It has to look just like it looked in 1925. It was very touching to see the American flag flying from the porches of the old Victorian homes. It is wonderful to see such pride in America and the sacrifice so many have made for our freedom.

Syd Lockwood
E-mail: Tenor

Sydney Lockwood, a fourth generation Passaicite, completed a forty year career as an educator in the city's public school system. He rose from being a teacher to principal of #10 School and then #2 School.

Sydney Lockwood (2002)

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Reading your books brought back many memories for me. I was born in Passaic. We lived on Garden Street behind the Post Office. I have no memories of this apartment. My Mother told me that. We moved to Carlstadt where my memories began. I remember going to the dentist, Dr. Kovar. We took the bus from Garden Street and Hoboken Road right by the restaurant "The White House." We would get off the bus in Downtown Passaic. We would walk over to the building where Dr. Kovar was. I remember the firehouse being there. It may have been Broadway. It was by the tall building and Whites Studio where we had our pictures taken. After her appointment, my sister had to go to the Orthodontist for her braces. Mom had to leave me at Dr. Kovar's because my sister had an appointment at the Orthodontist, and your book made me remember a little jingle that my mom taught me:

"Get out of the chair, go down the steps, open the door, turn left. It's one cross over, two blocks down, to number 52, I open the door, go up the steps, and that's where you will find me."

As a child I would repeat this jingle on my way to meet my Mother at the Orthodontist. I had completely forgotten about that jingle until I read your book "Wonderful Passaic."

I remembered we had family that owned a watch or jewelry store in that area. The building that had the clock outside on the sidewalk. I remember being in my Aunt's Volvo, it was snowing and my Mom went into the store to buy my Dad a Boliva watch for Christmas. When my Mom came out she was so excited because they gave her a big discount. That Christmas my Dad said "Boliva, that's one hell of a watch." After he said that I would run around saying it even with the word "hell" in it.

I have other memories of going to the YWCA on Saturdays so I could learn how to swim. I remember you had to wear their bathing suits and their caps. This went on for several weeks. From those lessons I became a member of the East Rutherford High School Swimming team in my junior and senior years.

Saturday's, when I was a teenager, Passaic was the place to shop. My sister and our friends would go over and have lunch at McCoy's 5 & 10 cent store. They had a fountain area where you could get a soda and eat lunch. We would spend hours going into stores and trying on clothes. The best store was Bernie's Youth Center. There was one in Passaic and one in Rutherford.

I was in the last class at St. Mary's School of Nursing. I never graduated. I remember taking our nurses caps to Charlie Pongs to have them starched. He did 3 caps for $1.00 and made them as stiff as possible.

When I was six I had to have a tooth pulled. The oral surgeon was in the tall building. We rode the elevator going up. When we came down I felt nauseous. My Mom was so concerned that I felt so sick. She hailed a cab and I remember throwing up in the back seat.

Dr Sydney Narrett (spelling I'm not sure of) was our doctor. He had an office in Passaic. He also made house calls. One Thanksgiving he knocked on our door. We all looked at each other at the dinner table since no one was sick. Well, Dr Narrate needed to use a bathroom and he was in the area so he decided to stop by and ask to use ours. In the third grade I got Whooping Cough. I was so sick. He had to come to the house to see me. After he diagnosed my illness he put a quarantine sign in the window. He came to see me every 3 days to give me a shot of penicillin. I missed school for six weeks. The reason I got Whooping Cough was because money was tight and only one of us got the vaccination. Of course it was my sister.

My parents had friends in Passaic. I remember the man's name was Tony. They were an Italian family. I remember they lived in a house that had a small brook going through the backyard. I wish I could remember their last names. Well, they were to come to our house for dinner one day. My dad said 6:00 o'clock. They showed up at 7:00 o'clock and my dad had locked the door downstairs. They could see us eating upstairs in the kitchen and my father refused to get up and open the door for them. They left and telephoned us and my father said "Next time I invite you for dinner, be here on time."

Yes, Bob, your books brought back a flood of memories.

Trudy Amelia Nelson

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Hi Bob,

Every summer my family left Passaic and went to the shore for 2 weeks and stayed in Ocean Grove [because it was cheap] but swam in Bradley Beach. Probably it was summer of '37 we took "Molly," our cat, with us. Of course, there was no air conditioning in the car when we reached somewhere in the Allwood section, Molly jumped out of the car window and ran into the fields. My sisters and I cried and cried and my father said if we didn't stop crying he'd turn the car around and no vacation!

Well children soon forget and vacation was over and we retuned to our little house on Linden Street in Pasaic. About a half hour after we arrived who comes sauntering up the driveway but MOLLY! It's amazing how some animals find their way home!

The photo shows me holding Molly in the driveway and you can see Linden St behind me. Our house was the 2nd in from Howe Ave and Mr Cohen's store was on the corner of Linden and Howe across the street.

Thanks ever so much Bob,

Allison Readdy Fildes

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February 2005

I am planning an 80th surprise birthday for my father Joseph Sloane, and would like to find any of his old friends, school mates, navy buddies, etc.

He was born August 1925 and lived on Monroe Street. He attended St. Nicholas Grammar School then Pope Pious HS. After being in the Navy in WWII, he studied to be an electrical engineer and worked at Howe Richardson Scale Company on Van Houten Avenue in Clifton(he is still a consultant there!)

He is married to Elizabeth Chudy, who was nurse at Passaic General Hospital. They lived at 540 Paulison Avenue until 1958, when they moved to Little Falls.

I would like to invite anyone who knew him to the surprise party which will be held at Marios on Van Houten Avenue in Clifton this June.

Pat Sloane

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January 2005


My name is Gilbert. I was born in Passaic and attended Schools #1, #3, #4, #6, #9 and Passaic High for one month. Then I moved to Cleveland and finished high school in Cleveland.

I love how you put the site together. I found this beautiful postcard of School #10 when it was built in 1908. You can add this to the collection.

Gilbert Cruz, Jr.

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January 2005

I d love to hear from anybody out there who graduated from St Nicholas RC School in 1961.

I visited NJ recently and went straight to Rutt s Hut from Newark airport! Rippers and frenchy are still delicious.

Margaret Kane
e-mail address:
Shingle Springs, CA

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December 2004

Would anyone have any info on a Micheal Cleary who lived on Ann St. somewhere between 1883-1900? This street was behind St. Nich.'s Church. His wife worked at St. Nich's School. I am looking for his second family after he moved from Passaic. Mike Cleary was my grandfather. Thank you.

Grace Priest

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November 2004


I just finished browsing your web site and wonder if you could help my cousin and me with some family history.

My mother lived in Passaic until 1942. Her name is Anna Tomaczenko. We are uncertain of the exact spelling; it may have been Americanized to Tomashanko, the way it is pronounced. My aunt who also lived in Passaic was Mary Tomaczenko. Are these names familiar to you?

Also, do you know of a William Schafer (again I am uncertain of the spelling)? He may have lived in Passaic or Passaic Park and in the early 1940's he owned a red car, perhaps a convertible.

Finally, was there a law firm Macy Davison located in East Rutherford during the 1940's? I know that this law firm is currently out of business but they handled a case regarding our family in 1943 or 1944 and we would be interested with particulars regarding it, if available.

I realize that my details are sketchy but as mentioned my cousin and I are just trying to figure out our family roots and unfortunately come up against many dead ends or dead relatives. Seeing your website offered new places to search.

Thank you for your attention,

Joanne Ingis/

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November 2004


I am currently researching my family and could use some help if anyone has information on the following: My great-grandfather, Cornelis van Vlaanderen owned van Vlaanderen Machine Shop. He immigrated to Paterson from Middleburg in 1893 with his mother (Lena) and father (Cornelis) and his 6 brothers and sisters. One brother, Peter, was already here.

He married Francis Wentink, daughter of Adrian and Nellie, who had 4 sisters and 3 brothers. Cornelis and Francis had a daughter, Nellie (Nan).

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Paige Schmidt

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October 2004

Hi All -

Perhaps someone can help me locate the owner of a class ring that I found some time ago. The ring is a Passaic High School class ring from 1945 with the initials M.L.S. engraved on the inside. Judging from the size, it is most likely a woman's.

I live in California was surprised to find Passaic High School in New Jersey. How did that ring get out here? I would love to find the owner or relative.

Hope to hear from you!

Wendy Riedel

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October 2004

Hello everyone,

Does anyone know the location of the "Old First" Dutch Reformed Church of Acquackanonck. I know it was located in Passaic but I have not been able to discover the street address and whether the church structure and associated church graveyard are still there. Trying to locate the graves of my Great Great Grandparents.

Does anyone know where I could write to obtain this info?Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks very much.


Joe Calafiore

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October 2004

Hi everybody,

What a treat to read about Passaic from you all. I plan on ordering the book, if it's still available.

My dad, King Merrill, grew up on High Street in Passaic. His dad's name was Wendell (Wen) Merrill and his mom's was Katherine. Dad left Passaic in WWII, returned for a while to work at the Paterson Morning Call, and then went to California where he lived out the rest of his days. He always spoke of Passaic with great fondness, although he traded in city life for a life on a California ranch and a senorita! It seemed like another planet to us kids while growing up. The pictures are just great.

I am interested in finding out if anyone out there can tell me about my grandfather's sister, Meta Wentink, who was a long-time teacher at School #1 in Clifton. She had two boys, Merrill (who was killed in the war) and Billy, who I believe has since died, in the Chicago area. Her husband's name was Adrian Wentink.

I'd love to know if anyone can tell me WHEN she died, but I think it was in the 1960's because I have a newspaper clipping from 1957 when she got an award.

Apparently she wasn't covered under social security so it's really hard to find her. And the family had a bit of a falling out so there's no one to ask!

If anyone can help, please let me know. I have quite a bit of stuff about the Morning Call if anyone's interested (it's in CA with my mom).

Mia Jones
Alexandria, VA

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September 2004

Dear Bob:

Looking for pictures of the old Passaic Roller Rink on Henry Street behind the Montauk. I have tried a number of sources and so far no luck. Currently the Passaic Historical Society is trying to locate some items from the Rink. They don't have any pictures in their collection. Any help in this area will be appreciated.

I lived in Passaic from 1934 to 1950, and again my wife and I moved back in 1955 to 1961. I lived on Harrison Street, Van Buren and 9th Street. Now live in Hasbrouck Heights since 1961. Passaic was a great place to live during those days. Unfortunately, it has fallen on hard times. We still get there at least a couple of times a month in the Third Ward area, which is still very nice.

Thanking you in advance for any help you can give me.

John Fitzin, Jr.

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September 2004

My name is Charles Cockrell and I was raised in Bloomfield just a few miles from Clifton and Passaic. My parents took me to Rutt's Hut when I was 15 years old. While going to High School 54 - 56 I was a real bad boy - but I just couldn't help it - I just had to go often back to Rutt's Hut to have another Hot Dog - always late at night after my parents were asleep and before I had a drivers license.

I'm now 66 years old and live in Lubbock, Texas and travel to New York about 3 times a year, usually with some relatives or friends and if I do nothing else on the trip we WILL go to Rutt's Hut and have another dog. Our son (35 years old) went with us a few months ago, who will not eat Hot Dogs at all, went with me just to see what I was talking about - took one bite of my first Dog and he ended up eating 5 in about 30 minuets and then would not suck on a mint for fear of loosing the taste still in his mouth.

People here think I am crazy when I tell them of the best tasting Hot Dog in the world - until they go with me and partake of one or more. If anyone has any idea how they cook their Hot Dogs, for how long, temp of the grease, type of grease, manufacture of the Hot Dog - so I could do them myself here in Texas, I would be eternally grateful.

Charlie Cockrell
3507 96th St, Lubbock, TX 79423


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August 2004


I was looking over some old photos of my family who lived on Quincy Street in Passaic. The family moved when I was a baby and the photos are all that remains of my family's life there. One photo shows my father next to a 4 foot high monument depicting some Indians in an arch and the name Machielson on the bronze or iron tablet. My father and friend block most of the tablet, but enough shows it was built by the city of Passaic in November, 1937. Based on the Internet, it probably commemorates one of the early land owners in Passaic. I was wondering if someone could recall the location of this monument which is located in a park? Could it be Nash or Pulaski Park?

Ronald Saus


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June 2004

I need to know what the name of the little pizza place was called. It was located by the bus stop where you picked up the 7 MacArthur bus. It was across the street from Belles dress shop. They had the best Sicilian pizza ever back in the mid to late 60s. Does anyone remember that pizza place? If so, what was the name of it??!!

Denise DiMaggio

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May 2004

I just finished the wonderful book "Climbing the Rainbow." I am a native of Paterson, NJ, born and raised there. I graduated from School #18, Paterson Eastside High (1951), Paterson General Hospital School of Radiologic Technology, and then worked in St. Joseph's Hospital till getting married.

The memories in this book brought back a lot of memories that were the same in Paterson. Going to Rutt's Hut, Bonds Ice Cream Parlor, buying my prom dress in The Strand, going to Sikora's Religious store, and on and on. I was a majorette for Eastside High and marched in the PHS stadium. I enjoyed all the pictures. I have been the one in my class who has organized and run our class reunions. I am sure a lot of my classmates know the people mentioned in your book, especially the Jewish Y. Seven of my eight sons were swimmers and swam for the Jewish Y in Paterson, later Wayne. I was also active in the CYO so I could relate to those stories.

It is hard to decide which is my favorite chapter. I am of Dutch descent, my grandparents all coming from the Netherlands. I was just there last year. The Dutch honored my uncle who was killed in Operation Market Garden. I was his flower girl when he was married so this was a very special occasion for me. I am going back in September for the 60th anniversary. So I enjoyed the chapter about the Dutch protecting the people from the Nazis. I could feel her feelings after being there and visiting the Anne Frank house.

Would love to hear from anyone who can share those wonderful memories of the "good old days."

Frances Faasse Yuskaitis

Frances Faasse Yuskaitis - Captain of Eastside High
School Majorettes 1949-1950. Graduated January 1951

Frances Faasse Yuskaitis - 70th Birthday - Sept. 2003

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April 2004

Hi everyone,

I'm a long-lost Paterson guy (I moved away from Northern NJ in 1977} but I miss it a lot. I was born in East Paterson, now I guess its called Elmwood Park? I do remember moving to the Lakeview section of Paterson in 1968 till we moved and attending Public School 25. Those were the best years of my life.

I now live 75 miles south of Buffalo, New York, and it's like night and day compared to there. I do remember going into Passaic a lot on Main Ave to go to White Castle (there isn't one here) and walking to pick up my grandmother at work from Grable Lamp Shade Company on Madison Ave near the Rt 80 Bridge almost near Market Street. We would walk to her house in Clifton near Hazel Street then almost near Garret Mountain .

I was born in Saint Joseph's Hospital on Main St in Paterson and wonder if the hospital is still even there. I would love to hear from others, please e-mail me any time.

Sincerely yours,

Richard A Toeltl

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Hi Richard,

In your e-mail you described living in Elmwood Park (East Paterson). I'm probably much older than you (I graduated from Passaic High in 1950).

I remember when East Paterson's name was changed to Elmwood Park. The reason I remember it is that the strip shopping center with the Grand Union Supermarket was the first highway shopping center that we knew of in New Jersey. My father and uncle owned a men's shop in Passaic (called "Moe and Morris") and when that strip shopping center opened we all drove over to look at it. The conclusion my father and uncle came to was that no one would ever go shopping in stores along a highway. (Boy, were they wrong!)

I am curious about your e-mail address. What does "Americanbandstand1958" signify? Were you a guest on Dick Clark's show? Or did you participate in the show's production? Or . . .?

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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Hi Bob,

Thank you for your reply so fast. Yes, I was born in East Paterson way before it was changed to Elmwood Park very close to the strip mall, but I can't remember the exact street. I do remember living in a duplex.

I'm only 41 now. American Bandstand1958 came about from living in Paterson. I fell in love with the oldies music of the years 1950 thru 1963. I collect and sing it for a living now. I used to listen to Don K. Reeds Doowop Shop from NYC etc., when I was real young, etc., to learn allllllll the great songs of that era and learned about the fantastic groups that came out of our area like the Angels that sang "My Boyfriend's Back"1963 from Orange, New Jersey, Connie Francis from Newark, NJ, etc.

I do remember places like Good Deal Grocery Store (which I guess now is Corados?) and the Passaic Falls where I saw a stunt guy trying to cross it in the mid-70's. I do remember walking to Main Ave in Passaic to see my cousins near a theater, or walking from Clifton near Route 46 entrance with my grandmother to Grand Union or going to Ed White's Meat Market. Before we moved I lived at 142 Illinois Ave, Paterson, one block away from PS 25 near Trenton Ave.

Thank you, Bob. (PS: My grandmother lived at 29 Norwood Ave, then Clifton, New Jersey.)

Richard Toeltl

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March 2004

Re: Dolan Family on Washington Place

I'm trying to get info on Anna Dolan. She died with M S in 1942 or 43. I am her niece, also diagnosed with M S. She had several sibs: George, Daniel, Loretta, Thomas (my father), Edna and Frank. Parents Daniel and Anna. I am under the assumption they all lived at said address and attended St. Nicholas R C Church also on Washington Place, Passaic, NJ.

It's very hard for me to think such a large family could be lost. My main objective for finding relatives is the family medical history. My first cousins' children should know. M S is often hard to diagnose. It's a young person's disease ordinarily, but in rare instances as myself, and the type I have not unheard of. I got it in my late fifties.

My name is Clare Marie Dolan Erotokritos - I married a Greek (my ancestors would flip). Another bit of info: Daniel Dolan came from County Clare Ireland. He was superintendent of Public Service and sons George and Thomas also worked there. He died in 1935. He had more than 25 grandchildren. It is their children I want to reach.

E-mail address:

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February 2004

Dear Bob,

I read the book WONDERFUL PASSAIC and really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading all the others. Thanks for writing them.

My family and I moved to Passaic, New Jersey on February 2, 1955. It poured rain all that day and it was one of those horrible damp, cold winter days. I was 12 years old. We were native New Yorkers. Both of my parents being born and brought up in Manhattan. The only time my parents lived anywhere else was during the war when my father was stationed in Virginia before going to Germany.

That first year in Passaic was memorable because we lived in an area with trees and grass. This was new for us. Living in Manahattan, we were used to concrete. We moved into a huge 2 family old Victorian house at 141 Autumn Street. My brother and I attended Holy Trinity Elementary School. I was in the 7th grade and my brother was in the 2nd grade. For us this house was a treat, it had a front staircase which we were not allowed to use since it was the formal entrance and was painted to look like the Sistine Chapel with Angels and Clouds hand painted over all the walls and ceiling. The house had a back staircase which was the main entrance. We had a large kitchen, living room and dining room. Coming from a very small apartment we were overwhelmed by such greatness. We had a driveway for the car and a garage. I don't remember much of the winter but I do remember the spring. Autumn Street was lined with huge, mature maple trees. It was the first time in my life I saw polly noses, the seeds that fall from the trees in spring. They were like little helicopters twisting to the ground when they fell. The streets were littered with them. June brought roses and bearded irises to the garden and the grass turned green. The house was owned by the Buk family. They were refugees from the Ukraine. They occupied the first floor of the house while we rented the 2nd floor. I believe we only lived there one year before we moved on to Spring Street which was just one block over and around the corner. We moved because my father could not afford the heating bill in that old house.

Passaic was the beginning of my growing up. I really enjoyed my school and the people I went to school with. I walked to school every day in good weather. Back then we were safe walking everywhere. I loved the downtown Passaic area and my friends and I would walk on Sunday afternoon down Main Street just to see what was in the store windows. We didn't have any money back then being barely teenagers. One of my favorite places was the Fair Department Store on Main Street Passaic. We didn't have the means to shop there but we liked looking at all the nice clothes.

The most amazing thing about Passaic was that it had railroad tracks running down the middle of Main Street. The train ran several times a day and was just part of the town. The train would come in, stop and let off, take on passengers. All the traffic, auto and pedestrian, would stop and wait for the train to depart. This was a unique experience. I don't think anyone realized at the time what a unique experience this really was. I believe the tracks were removed sometime in the 1960's and downtown parking put in place of the tracks.

From Holy Trinity I moved on to Pope Pius XII High School for a short time, before moving to Long Island for a year and then back to Pope Pius where I spent the first 2 months of my Sophomore school year before transferring to Passaic High School. Talk about a fine school experience. I loved PHS and being in Howard J. Kinchelow's home room for 3 years. I graduated with the class of 1962. I have raindrops on my diploma, it sprinkled the evening of Graduation. In

1964 I married a Wallington Boy who went off to Viet Nam soon after the wedding. In 1965 he came home and we moved to Arlington, Virginia. We came back to New Jersey and spent 2 years in Wallington after the Army. Just long enough to have a baby girl at St. Mary's Hospital in Passaic. Then we went off to Virginia and settled in Prince William County, approximately 30 miles south of Washington, DC. We have been here ever since. We have 3 fine daughters, all grown. We visited Passaic, until my parents moved to Florida in the mid-1970's. Then we visited with my mother-in-law in Wallington until her death in 2000. We have not been back in the Passaic area since 2001, although every October my husband has a longing to spend fall in his hometown.

One of the best parts of my life was spent in Passaic, New Jersey and I remember it fondly.

Marie Marakowits (Cznadel)


Places lived in Passaic: Autumn Street
Summer Street
8th Avenue
(?) across from PHS stadium
52 Lincoln Street (parents purchased home)

Marie Marakowits - Center (second row from bottom)
Class graduation at Holy Trinity Catholic School - 1958

Marie Marakowits (1960s)

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January 2004

Hi Bob,

My brother Tom sent me an autographed copy of your book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I grew up on Howe Avenue and attended #11 School in the 50's and 60's.

My fondest memories are of the stickball games at the "Tennis Courts," football in the mud at Second Ward Park, and those that remember me will know that baseball was my favorite game. Sports in those days is what shaped us into responsible citizens; we had good clean fun (usually) and had many friends that had sports in common.

I remember fondly, Max's Candy Store on Howe Avenue, 2nd Ward Park, Mistretta's Pizza on Monroe Street and the great friendships that I had in Passaic. I missed the 2nd Ward reunions. I now live in the Phoenix area and keep in touch with Passaic happenings through my brothers who still live in the area.

Anyone who would like to get in touch can do so at I look forward to hearing from you.

Roy Slezak, Class of Passaic High School 1967

A recent photo of Roy Slezak

Roy Slezak pitching at Passaic Stadium in the 1960s

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November 2003

Dear Bob Rosenthal,

I have read WONDERFUL PASSAIC, and now I am into FROM PASSAIC TO THE MOON. My wonky old eyes have prevented me from reading a lot at one sitting, but I must tell you how excited I have been reading about Passaic, and also about you, yourself. (I have been prescribed new reading glasses with prisms to correct a new annoyance of seeing double when I read. Then I will read the other book about the wonderful "Y". )

There is so much I could write about. My mother lived at 76 Henry St. when I was born. That is where I lived until I was about 4years of age. My grandparents were immigrants from Scotland. This grandmother was enterprising enough to rent out bedrooms to immigrants of various countries. Some were her nephews from Scotland. This became a dynamic foundation of my comfort and joy in living always in multi-ethnic areas of the U.S.

Thank you for sharing your story of the rubber ball from the Manhattan Rubber Co. I lived at two separate times at 52 Richard St. along the Lackawanna RR. Line in a brick 4-plex building, well within smelling distance of the Manhattan Rubber Co. When I was 6 years old we lived in a 3-room rear apartment, and I was just barely tall enough to look out over the window sill at the rail lines. I would count the cars on the freight trains for amusement. How nostalgic I am as I remember listening to the steam engines as they strained under their heavy loads in the quiet of the night, and the blowing of train whistles. We learned, with time, to sleep through the nights as the freights passed by.

I lived in the same brick 4-plex on Richard a front apartment from the ages of 14 to 19, during which time frame I went to old PHS. The schools were overcrowded before the later advent of Junior High Schools, and when I began in the 4-year high school it was on split sessions. The classes for Freshmen were from 1230 pm to 5 pm. It was always strictly against parental rules to ever go down on the railroad tracks for us as children. But in High School if I left home late for school I would debate with myself whether or not to go down the embankment (with heart racing) and cross the tracks to get to school on a much shorter route via Albion Street. One alternative was to get a demerit for being late to school. It was a much more dangerous thing for me to disobey my mother than to cross the tracks!!!. Fortunately she never found out!!!

Yes, the longer route to PHS was over "the viaduct" on Broadway. I can't begin to tell you how many hundreds of times I have walked over that viaduct. In those years there was a handkerchief manufacturing company that we could look down into as we crossed the viaduct. I have no idea if it is still there. Did you know that in that period Passaic was called, with pride, THE HANDKERCHIEF MANUFACTURING CAPITAL of the World?

Before the Depression ended, and as an impoverished young widow, my mother was hired as a bookkeeper in the Old City Hall (the Castle) for a couple of years. She was selected for the job opening from over 100 applicants because the interviewer felt that her need for the job was the greatest of all those who applied. That job came in the nick of time and saved us as a family of three from being separated to live with the generosity of 3 different family friends in 3 different locales, Passaic, Lyndhurst and Clifton.

I have looked at the pictures of Passaic Schools on your Website. I was surprised that Thomas Jefferson # One School was not pictured. As a child it seemed a very grand building. I was in Kindergarten when the school opened in 1928, and was in the first class to graduate in 1936 after completing K-thru-8th grades there. Yes, and the green grass on the VanHouten Ave. side was so green, so well tended, and the biggest lawn I had ever seen. The boys entered the building on Hillside Way and the girls entered on Broadway only, and one dared not challenge THE RULES. No student was allowed to walk up the concrete stairs and long concrete walkway to enter at the front entrance! To do so would result in Detention and a good tongue lashing by the Principal, Miss Alma L. Smith. Miss Elsie Smith, her sister, was the Asst. Principal. The Branch Library in #1 School was a place of marvel for me. So many books. Wonderful Britanicas with so much knowledge. My parents could take home as many books as they could carry as often as they wanted another batch to consume. As a school child you were limited to 3 books for no longer than 2 weeks. Since I lived close by, I could study in the library, and I read library books all the time at home.

I was one of the many other children who were marched out of #1 School to see the Hindenburg pass overhead. What an amazing sight! I felt I could touch it if only I could reach a little bit higher. I remember my tears of disbelief when I heard the live radio broadcast of the disaster at Lakehurst. I also remember going to Teeterboro Airport to watch a couple of BIG PLANES flying in when I was in grade school. (to us they were big planes.)

I had a pair of shoe ice skates, size Ladies 7, bought for me at age 7, with plenty of room "to grow into them". As I grew bigger feet, I could take off another layer of the heavy wool socks that made it possible to keep them on my feet and ankles when I was so young. The ice skates were my pride and joy, and I loved iceskating on Hughes Lake all winter. My house was about one long block from the lake. In the winter, the city would have workers turn hydrants on at the lake at night to produce a new slick skating surface each morning until the ice got too thin and/or the weather got too warm. I loved the smell of the little building at the lake edge when a fire was burning in a stove and all the young bodies gave off a particular aroma as we thawed out a little in there out of the cold. I kept those skates until I was in my late 30's and they were still too big for me.

I also have memories of another more somber side of Hughes Lake Park. During the Big Depression a "soup kitchen" was run there and many many men and women who were unemployed and hungry would stand in line for a meal of soup at the lunch hour. I do not know what group or agency ran the soup kitchen. Lots of Passaic people felt disgraced if they went there, and many preferred to go hungry.

There was no such thing as an "allowance" in my time as a kid. On Saturday morning one of my many household chores was to wash the baseboards in the apartment to remove the soot and cinders that clung to the wood from the Lackawanna behind the house. If I had been a willing helper I was given the money to go to the movies for the afternoon. This generous stipend of 20 cents paid 10cents for the movie, a nickel for candy and a nickel to take the bus home afterwards in the twilight. The Montauk or the Capitol sometimes had double features, but the Playhouse always had double features. I would stay as long as I thought I could get away with it to see the first movie over again, buy no candy, and run all the way home after leaving the theatre instead of paying 5cents for the bus fare (Gallagher Bus Lines). This meant that I had "saved" 10 cents to have as my very own. I was not permitted to go to the Playhouse until I was in High School because my grandfather, a Passaic Fire Chief, warned us that the building was a fire hazard, and never to sit in the balcony. (The Central Theatre was not built until much later.) I remember silent movies, and the first colored picture I saw was at the Capital Theatre. I believe it was called ON THE TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE. Does any one else remember? It was so magical to see the scenery in colof in that early movie.

I fondly recall the Shalalie man. No one I have ever met away from Passaic has ever known what a Shalalie is or was. Does a Shalalie man still exist? Another treasure was the truck with the little carousel on it that came around on Sat. mornings. If I was going to the movies, I could not also ride the "hurdy-gurdy." The man with this conveyance used a hand crank to turn the little ride, with delighted and noisy children aboard, I guess about a half dozen kids at a time.

In PHS I was assigned to HOMEROOM "O" in the basement, with homeroom teacher, Miss Charlotte Godrey. She taught advanced math. I took Algebra as part of my curriculum, but in my study periods at the back of the room I was absorbed in learning Geometry, Solid Geometry and Trig along with the students assigned to the classes. I did my own homework at home after school. You do not mention Miss Godfrey in your book about your high school years. Was she retired before you arrived there? She was a very sharp Math teacher, and I admired her greatly as a person. I have no memory of the Math teacher who trained you at PHS. I remember Dr. Dales, and Principal Ollo Kennedy as well as Mr. Stephens, the music teacher, who periodically took the music students to the Met in New York. I also had the privilege of singing in the chorus of 3 Gilbert and Sullivan operettas performed in the auditorium, led by Mr. Stephens.

A very pungent memory I have of Homeroom "O" is that a boy student had been assigned to the seat behind me, and every day he brought sliced garlic sandwiches to eat for his lunch, and stored them in his desk. Oh yes, I remember it well. GARLIC SANDWICHES. ONLY GARLIC. EVERY DAY. And very healthy he was!!!!! I must add that Garlic was not a culinary part of my family's food, so it was really amazing to me that someone would eat sandwiches of that smelly food. In my later years living in California, garlic has become a staple of the use of many herbs and vegetables that I did not know existed in Passaic.

I went to work in the Cost Accounting Dept. of a paper mill in Garfield a few months after finishing PHS. My mother accompanied me for the job interview to satisfy herself that I would work among suitable people that she felt confidence in.

My Sat. night entertainment became a love for indoor roller skating at a rink somewhere near the Montauk. I *could skate all year round and was thrilled to learn how to dance on skates.

I knew about Rutt's Hut, but I had no opportunity or reason to go there. I had no transportation or any social life to go to such a place off the beaten path of Downtown Passaic, and no money to spend.

I remember the radio news of the Pearl Harbor bombing, of Congress and FDR declaring war, FDR and his Fireside Chats in the '30's, and the revving up of the war industries in New Jersey and the whole U.S., even before Pearl Harbor and the Lend-Lease Plan for Britain.

I had friendships with 3 Passaic High girls before I graduated. I have kept in touch with them over many years, but all 3 of them have died in the past 5 years. I am the survivor. Now I have no former Passaic friends, although my brother still lives in Passaic. I have not visited Passaic since my 50th High School Reunion in 1990. I was the attendee who had travelled the greatest distance to be at the Reunion.

It is my desire that this letter will be posted on your Website bulletin board. It is my hope that other Passaicites will see my name and address and will write or Email me, no matter your age or experiences in life, young or old. Especially, I very much want to connect with other graduates of my Class of 1940 even if I never knew you then. I am interested in all of you out there, and eager to hear of whatever experiences that you are willing to share with me.

We all have a common heritage of a most uncommon background by growing up in Wonderful Passaic. I am proud of being a daughter of Passaic. I feel privileged to have grown up surrounded by such culturally rich diversities and opportunities. They have led me through a most interesting life for 80 years.

Best regards,

Marjorie (Gibson) Rawls
25566 Shafter Way
Carmel, California 93923
E-mail address

Marjorie Rawls - photo was taken on her 80th birthday.

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November 2003

My name is Mary Ann Cannella (Lovalente) and I was born February 28, 1959 and lived on Madison Street in Passaic. We left im 1971 and moved to Garfield and that was a sad day in my life. My sisters, brother and I had so many wonderful times growing up in Passaic and I still get very nostalgic when I think about my old house (291 Madison Street) and the fun times we had.

I remember going trick or treating and going home about 3-4 times to empty out our bags so we could go back out again, going to Joey Dee's parents home and finding him there and getting our paddle and ball signed by him. We went to #11 school for a short time and then to St. Nicholas School on Jefferson Street. I remember walking all the way to the library with my sister and how long it took us to get there by foot because we did not own a car but who cared back then. We walked everywhere we went. Helping my father do the food shopping at the Foodtown by the Viaduct on Broadway. I have so many wonderful memories of Monroe Street and going to Jenny's bakery with my Mother and then to Bill the butcher's store, Vetri's and finally to Izzy's on the corner of grove and Monroe street for some candy.

Man, I can remember walking from Madison Street to St. Nick's on those cold winter mornings and leaving the house at least 1 hour earlier than normal so we wouldn't get in trouble with the nuns (Sister Helen Gabriel was our principal). Stopping at Pop's and getting those DELICIOUS tuna sandwiches or the cold cut center for a special once in a blue moon sandwich. Well, I was not raised in Passaic in the 40's but I, too, had a great time and to this day, miss it very much. Thanks for letting me share my memories too!

Mary Ann Cannella

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Dear Bob,

This year my birthday falls out on a very special day. Nov. 12 is the official date that the newest book about Passaic will be available. "Climbing the Rainbow" will become one of the best literary sources of our beloved community. It is filled with choice memories and fond recollections. When you read it and see the precious photos within its pages, it will become quite clear why anyone who has ties to our town will forever keep it close to their heart. This book spins a web of relationships and neighborhoods and schools and family. It is a must read. Oh, by the way, check out page #143.

Bo Salsburg

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October 2003

Who remembers Pulaski Park in the 40s? The wading pool, the lodge where we could borrow checker games, the walls along the park to use for stick-ball; those were the days. Later they put up a basketball area. Then there was the bridge across the tracks that led to the Passaic River.

Remember Dynamite Hole? And how about Black Bridge, or "BAB"? I almost lost my brother in a swimming adventure at the falls while on the Garfield side of the river after a flood. He got caught in the turbulence and was miraculously freed as he was about to lose consciousness (my younger brother and oh yes we played hookey that day). Remember the long walks to school? We would tell all about the Roy Rogers or Hop-along Cassidy movie we saw on Saturday. How about the hot days in the sprinkler set up at the fire house on Third Street? The after school time at the Boys Club? Those were the days!

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Joe Behrent

Hi Joe, I found your e-mail fascinating and for a reason somewhat different than you might think.

The only times I ever went to Pulaski Park was when my Second Ward baseball team (which I was an unfortunate member of) went there to play the Polish, Italian and Slovic baseball teams. Those players were bigger, stronger, and better athletes. They used to whip our behinds.

However, I never had an opportunity to really see the park except for the ballfield. Thus, a number of quick questions come to mind:

- What was the Dynamite Hole? -

What was the Black Bridge or "BAB"? Thanks for writing.

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

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Hi Bob,

You can't imagine the joy of reading the stories of others' memories of Passaic, which aroused some of mine. (I have many more.) Do you know Larry Bindleglass? He and I lived in the same apartment building. His dad had a store on Market Street.

To answer your questions: Dynamite Hole was a place in the river next to the Monroe Street Bridge where us boys used to swim. We thought the hole was deepened with dynamite. "BAB" - we abbreviated the words for polite conversation (Bare A. Beach) was a swimming hole on the Passaic River just behind the Botany Mills at the Black Bridge - - - a railroad bridge. (The railroad bridge close to the falls between Garfield and Passaic.) Don't know if it's still there. I've been living in the Northwest for the last 30 years and have been back east for a few visits. The hometown has changed quite a bit but the memories last on.

Joe Behrent

This photo was taken in the 1940s. I am the tallest (on the right). The middle
boy is my brother, Charles, and the blonde boy is cousin Lance Baron. We
are entertaining the group with a Christmas carol.

A recent photo of Joe Behrent

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September 2003

Does anyone remember the talking bird in Mcrory's/Kresge's and what the bird's line was? This was probably in the 60s.

I was born in the old Beth Israel Hospital in 1954 and I left Passaic in 1974, my mother stayed until 1980. We lived on the north end of Main Avenue between Autumn and Summer Streets.

Michael Cannizzaro

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July 2003

What a wonderful surprise to run into this web site. Everyone who sent messages were longtimers, I only lived in the area for a year, but oh what wonderful memories.

I lived in Clifton and worked in Clifton at the Hosiery Capitol at Main and Rutherford. It was once explained to me that Clifton was formed like a horseshoe and Passaic filled the inner section of the horseshoe. Anyone else ever hear or see it that way?? I know I got on a bus at Washington and Main and went through the city of Passaic and back into Clifton to arrive at my place of employment.

The oft mentioned Rutts Hut in the marvelous messages was not all that far from the Hosiery Capitol and we employees sometimes walked there for lunch. There was a cemetery a few blocks down from the HC and across Main Ave or is it St? And we often in nice weather went down there with our lunch to eat and in some strange way commune with the long time residents.

I recall the Montauk Theater and near there was a sports field and seems the railroad tracks went down one side and Main St. the other. My year in NJ has provided me with the most wonderful memories. I spent the summer working at the Venetian Hotel in Seaside Heights. A true delightful summer. All my NJ friends are now deceased, but I keep in touch with the granddaughter of one of my dearest friends. She lives in MA.

I also worked as a cashier in a Kitty Kelly store during the Christmas season of '49, it was located in Passaic. Anyone remember those stores? They don't seem to be in business anymore. My memories and experiences are minor compared to most of you, but none the less they are every bit as glorious.

One more interesting, or not so interesting fact, is why I can't visit Passaic/Clifton anymore. In 1953 at age 22, I was a victim of a gunshot wound that left me confined to a wheelchair. Traveling isn't really an option and in spite of how awful it may sound, I have survived because of the best of friends and my NJ memories have carried me over some ‘poor me thoughts.' I often thought about writing a book about all the good times and all the good people connected to NJ.


Jean Sherman McColl
Las Vegas, Nevada
E -mail:

This pix is from my wonderful summer job at the Venetian Hotel in Seaside Heights. I'm in the middle, to my right is Diane Berg, and on the other side is Yolanda Vitillo. They both lived in Nutley.

This pix is a few years old. Here I am with "Kissen Kin," Senior Senator of Nevada, Harry Reid. This was taken at a neighborhood rally the first year he was campaigning for the election of senator.

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Dear Bob:

It was fun meeting you at the Y reunion. It was sad that there was only one other couple from my years at the Y who attended. Who could have predicted that the lady who looked so familiar would turn out to be one of my Hebrew school teachers from the old Temple Emanuel (before the fire) and the daughter of the first Y director?

The Y was always a good place to be, bowling in the basement, cooking classes (peanut brittle anyone?), and dances. There was day camp too. The rides on the bus, the singing about the Titanic and the never ending, "100 bottles of beer on the wall" and just kidding around were great ways to start and end the days. There to greet you were camp director, Sid Gilbert and counselors like Bryna Ginsburg. Those were great fun times when you could forget your responsibilities and just be a kid.

It has been interesting reading the memories others have posted on this site. I attended No.1 School from kindergarten through 9th grade. I was in the last June graduating class in 1960. Back then, you learned the alphabet, numbers and colors in kindergarten. We used tool to add wheels to wooden cream cheese boxes to make wagons. Mine was painted dark green. Mom used it to hold pencils. Today, it sits in my kitchen, sans wheels, still holding pencils next to the phone.

Remember the cartons of milk that sat on the radiator in the hallway between the classroom and the play room? Remember Mrs. Anthony trying to settle us down in the playroom? School was fun. Remember Miss Mason, the science teacher? (I seem to remember that her sister, Mrs. Flores was a language teacher at P.H.S.) Who could forget Mr Raviella, "The notes make the music!"; or Mr. Jackovitz, the Latin teacher who never took off his jacket, not even in June? How many of us learned those famous words, "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people" etc., and the Preamble to the Constitution, the American's Creed and counting by 11/2 for Mr. Kohl the art teacher.

What about Ludmilla Poscripta who taught French and Russian? Let's not forget Miss Gilbert and Mrs. Huron who taught us how to play half-court basketball and folk dancing. There were many times that the nurse, Miss Mahalick, bandaged my knees. Our principal, Mrs. Nordstrom, whose husband taught science at P.H.S., had been one of my mother's teachers when she was a student at No. 1 School too.

Going to PHS. was quick. No more walking from the end of the district, up over the viaduct, past the handkerchief factory four times a day to No. 1 School. Now, it was just a few short blocks to PHS. Dr. Slawson's biology class was so comprehensive, that it got me through my freshman biology class in college with little work. Mrs. Coffin's math classes, Mr. Policemi's chem class, Mr. Goodman's physics class, and Mr. Bodner's homeroom, (he always referred to Sol Packer as "Green Bay") kept me on my toes.

It would be nice to see or e-mail some of the old crew. If anyone is interested in a Class of 1963 Reunion in northern N.J., in the fall of 2003 or spring of 2004, not something gigantic or expensive or loud, or who would just like to reminisce, I can be reached at EDYTHE521@YAHOO.COM

Edythe Sacharov Fried

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June 2003

Dear Passaic Friends,

1) Does anybody know if White Studio is still in business? I have a beautiful photo of my father, Robert M. De Jonge, in his Marine uniform taken around 1951. The address printed on the envelope is:

White Studio
Portrait and Commercial Photographers
611 Main Avenue
Passaic, New Jersey

The photo number is 17676. It would be fantastic if I could get a reprint of this. Can anyone help?

2) Can anyone tell me how to get records from Paterson General Hospital? I was born there in 1959 and am curious whether there is anything about me still stored anywhere. I understand it was taken down many years ago.

3) I found another portrait of my father, Robert M. De Jonge, which was in an envelope with the name Homecraft Armory 4-2719-W printed on it. This was taken around 1936. Can anyone give me information about this studio?

1. Bob De Jonge Portrait as a Boy (1936?): Contained in photo folder printed with Homecraft Armory 4-2719-W

2. Bob De Jonge Portrait as Marine (1951?): Photo #17676 taken by White Studio at 611 Main Avenue, Passaic, NJ

3. Bob De Jonge Selling Kittens with Friend: Photo is stamped on back with "Compliments of THE HERALD NEWS, Passaic, NJ, Dow H. Drukker, Jr., Publisher

4) Background My father, Robert De Jonge, was born on September 14, 1931. He lived in Clifton, Montville, Hazlet and Perrineville, New Jersey. He married Barbara Heuvel in 1953. He drove tractor trailers and eventually got his own business doing such. His great love was living on a farm and riding horses with my brothers and me. We had a farm in Perrineville, but later moved to Wellsville, New York, in 1973 onto much more land. He successfully added dairy and beef farming, restauranting, and rental properties to his trucking business and did well as a businessman. A real man of integrity. His life was too short, however. I regret to say that he died May 18, 2000, at the age of 68 from esophogeal cancer. My mother, two brothers, Robert and William, myself, and all of his grandchildren miss him tremendously. He was the greatest father I could have ever, ever wanted. I have such peace knowing that he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior around 1978 and is now with God in Heaven. We muss him dearly, but have the promise of seeing him again.

Thanks so much for your help with these.

Laura Bock
Vin-Laur Farms
5133 Prince Greene Road
Welsville, NY 14895

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June 2003

Bob, I was surprised to see Marty Willinski's name in your book. He was a classmate of mine all through school.

I really laughed out loud re the Elizabeth Taylor Club. Did you send her your book? It would make her day to know SHE wasn't the cause of her heartbreaks galore! Ha!

I love all the memories brought back of dear old Passaic. No one has mentioned the Frank Sinatra era. I admit I was a full fledge bobby soxer, who played hooky from PHS to go to NY's Paramount to stand for hours even in the rain to see Frankie, the idol of my #11 and high school days. (Ms. Brown would say "run on sentence.")

The Central Theatre had the live bands every weekend - - - the Dorseys, Les Brown, Harry James, etc. After the proms we would head out to The Meadowbrook to dance to the big bands. Oh those '40s!!!

I well remember the mecca Monroe Street, especially the Hooten Bars and salted pumpkin seeds, that TUCKER'S sold. Our pennies went there each lunch time.

When school was out for the summer....we'd go to Mr. Cohen's grocery on Linden Street. I loved his penny candy display. The "Tomato Pies" on Passaic Street was another happy destination.

Thanks again for the memories folks!

Grace Priest

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Does anyone know the whereabouts of Peggy Geair. Her family owned the pet shop on lower Main Street during the 40s. Peggy and I were good friends but I am not sure if she attended PHS. I can't remember.

I am the former Betty Tice, Class of 1944. We lived on Pennington Avenue until 1941 then moved to 336 Paulison Avenue and lived there until 1945. I went to work for Federal Telephone in E. Newark the Monday after graduation but was laid off when the war ended. I was in Personnel Dept., now known as Human Resources.

Would enjoy hearing from anyone who cares to write. We can do some more reminiscing of Wonderful Passaic.

Betty, also known as Elizabeth/Liz
My e-mail is

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Dear Bob:

My wife and I both graduated from Passaic High School in 1952. This past October, we attended our 50th reunion, and many of the attendees spoke highly about your book, Wonderful Passaic. I recently received a copy of it and thoroughly enjoyed it. It brought back a world of wonderful memories.

I was born in 1935 in Passaic General Hospital. For the first several years of my life, we lived in a rented two family home on Palmer Street, approximately one half block from the Passaic River. There was a lot of boat traffic on the river in those days, and I remember the sound of fog horns throughout the night. As horrific as it sounds, I also recall some of the neighborhood boys swimming in the river, diving and jumping from the piers under one of the bridges. From Palmer Street, we moved to a rented single family home on Spring Street, one house from the corner of Spring and Terhune. There were loads of kids in the neighborhood, always more than enough to play "cops and robbers" and "cowboys and Indians." One block away was a farm owned by a family named Dwyer. Beyond their farm was a large open undeveloped area that had a number of small ponds. During the hunting season it was a popular place for hunters seeking rabbits and on the ponds, occasional ducks. Today that area is completely covered with small homes. Our milk was delivered by the route milkman, a Dugan's Bakery van truck delivered our bakery products and, in season, vegetables and fruits came via the horse and wagon of "Mr. Cohen." People came to our door occasionally to ask if our knives and scissors needed sharpening, and I remember the "hoboes" who passed through our neighborhood offering labor in exchange for a sandwich or a drink. I remember trolley cars on Main Avenue in the vicinity of Passaic Avenue. They ran on a track and had a cable running from the top of the trolley to an overhead wire. Near the Stadium was a turn around where the trolley reversed to return back along its route.

I entered kindergarten at Number 3 school, and many who were with me on my first day in class were also with me when I graduated from high school. Of course, no one had air conditioning in those days and on hot summer nights, my parents and I would try to cool off by riding in the family car with the windows wide open. Often we would end up at Rutt's Hut in Clifton, eating their fabulous hot dogs. We also used to order their hamburgers and beef and pork barbecues. I do not believe that these later three items are still on their menu.

When I was about six and one half years old, we moved to 278 Passaic Avenue (telephone number: Prescott 8-3329), almost directly across the street from Ascension Street. We were one house away from the entrance to the office and factory of Robbins, Inc., manufacturers of industrial conveyer belts. Their office, factory and parking lot were behind our house. During World War II, Robbins took on a great deal of prominence. To meet the war's industrial needs, our factories had to upgrade and expand, and the need for conveyer belts greatly increased. Uniformed soldiers were stationed at the entrance of the facility to provide security. I also remember the air raid drills and wardens, the search lights, the dark shades on our windows, the stars that we hung in our windows that identified those family members that were serving and those that were killed, the food and gas rationing, the selling of war stamps and bonds and the scrap metal and paper drives. I also remember that we painted the top half of our car's head lights black so the beams would be less visible to "enemy aircraft." We also had victory gardens that produced more vegetables than we could consume or give away.

When we moved to Passaic Avenue, I had to transfer from Number 3 school to Number 1 school (Thomas Jefferson). Does anyone remember the school song?

"We're loyal to you Jefferson, to you we'll be true Jefferson
We'll back you to stand, you're the best in the land
And we think you're just grand Jefferson. Rah! Rah! "

Our classrooms had large windows, and the classroom doors had a window which enabled people in the hallways to look into the classroom. After World War II began, the glass windows in the doors were covered with wood. When we had air raid drills, the students left their classrooms and sat on the floor, on either side of the hall, with their backs against the wall. With regard to the rationing of meat during the war, even Rutt's Hut made a major effort and offered an optional "victory sea dog" made of fish and served on a hot dog bun. I tried it once and, since it did not last long on the Rutt's Hut menu, others must have felt the same way about it as I.

After the war things changed. Veterans returned to continue their careers and/or their education. Gasoline, sugar, meats and clothing were plentiful, and life in Passaic was good. Downtown Passaic had some wonderful retail stores, movie theaters and places to eat. We had two nice sporting goods stores - Rutblatt's and Markey Brothers. In fact, within the last few months, I sold a Stevens 12 gauge double barreled shotgun that I bought new from Markey Brothers for $44 when I was 14 years old. We had a number of fine kosher style delicatessens that included, at one time or another, Dave's, Fietland's, Rice's and, of course, Sunshine's. There were also Kornbluh's Kosher Restaurant and Karpen's Grocery, both on Monroe Street. The Ding Ho Palace on Main Avenue, upstairs and across the street from the Ritz Hotel and Restaurant, had great Chinese food. The Lantern had good Italian food and, across the street from the Intercity Bus Terminal, was the Capra Brothers barbershop where my father and I got our haircuts. The Howe Cafeteria later opened next to or near the Intercity Terminal, around the corner from the firehouse the Prospect Toy Shop and the Army Navy store.

Throughout my high school years, I worked at The Strand Shop, a women's apparel store owned by my uncle. My father was the store's manager. My mother worked there as a bookkeeper. Another uncle was a coat buyer, and a cousin bought gowns. The Strand Shop was originally located on Lexington Avenue near Morrow's House of Nuts and the corner of Jefferson Street. The Strand Shop later relocated to Jefferson Street between Wechsler's Department Store and Pop's Restaurant. It was interesting that at my 50th year Passaic High School reunion at least eight of my former classmates were also alumna of The Strand Shop. The mothers of a number of my former classmates had also worked there. A seldom mentioned but great place to shop in Passaic was the Botany Mills Outlet Store where factory seconds and overstocks were available.

There were numerous diversions for those of us who grew up in Passaic. There was Third Ward Park and Hughes Lake. On the first day of the trout fishing season, Hughes Lake was stocked with trout, and kids-only fishing contests were held. In the winter, the Lake was a popular place for ice skating. The Park also offered opportunities for informal football, basketball, tennis, etc. I loved playing basketball and, even though I was not very good at it, I practiced and played regularly at the YMHA. I also bowled and shot pool there and attended its many social functions. My friends and I also hiked Garrett Mountain. We got there walking up to Van Houten Avenue, through Athenia and its many bars and taverns. Along the way we passed those two great temples of pizza - Mario's and Bellini's. Bellini's is long gone, but Mario's, like Rutt's Hut, is still a treasure to be savored.

My wife and I both left New Jersey to Attend college - I to Nebraska and she to Wisconsin. After we graduated in 1956, we married in Nebraska and lived in Omaha for about one year before returning to New Jersey. In 1959, we left New Jersey for good, returning only for one wedding, a number of high school reunions and too many funerals. Every trip, however, requires an obligatory visit to Rutt's Hut, Mario's and one of New Jersey's great diners that offer New York style cheese cake. Since 1964, we have been living in Maryland, initially in Baltimore, then Bowie, Crofton and soon to a new townhouse in Odenton.

Thanks for writing Wonderful Passaic, Bob. It brought back great memories of a magical place to grow up where people shared the same values, and friendships last a life time.

(Lawrence) Jerry Strickler
(Barbara Fogelman Strickler)


Jerry and Barbara Strickler standing in front of the model of their new home that they expect to move into shortly.

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I lived in Passaic from 1942 until 1960; attended Washington School No. 2, Woodrow Wilson #12, Passaic HS – graduated 1954. I was a school secretary at PHS from 1954 till 1958 and then at Franklin #3 from 1959 thru 1962. We moved to Florida in 1967 and I lost touch with friends.

Thanks to the efforts of people like you and the Class Reunion committee from my class of ‘54, I can "come home again." Harry Greenwald, of my class, keeps us abreast of current events, etc., and I am grateful. The picture of my grammar school, No. 2, brought tears to my eyes as I remember how I watched, with my first-grade class, as my home, on the diagonal corner, was almost destroyed by fire!

To know that three of the schools now are named in honor of wonderful, giving educators: Venice Harvey, Wm. Cruise, and Mike Drago – people I knew and worked with, is comforting.

What a wonderful Sunday evening I have spent on your website----Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jeri Biggans Spinella

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January 2003

This piece was written for and presented at the 2nd Ward and #11 School reunion in May 2000 in Passaic, New Jersey.

It has been a long time and it's so good to come home again; what a special place! What a privilege to be here!

How many times in your thoughts and your conversations do you return to this point of reference in your lives? – to relive those formative years, to remember how it was and what you did? It is a vital connection in our collective and personal memories. Most of our early existence revolved around #11 School and its environs.

Our parents, many of whom were immigrants, many working class people of varied ethnic origins (a true melting pot), proud to be Americans and striving so hard to raise their children to realize a measure of success and happiness. And they relied in good part on the teachers who were to guide us in so many ways. These teachers were instrumental in instructing us in the social graces, cultural mores, tolerance, patriotism and citizenship along with the ABC's. They were refining and shaping us to be the best we could be. We owe a world of gratitude for their tireless efforts and involvement in our lives.

And those were not easy or luxurious times. A good part of our youthful years were marked by World War II. There were news clips, songs and rallies in the auditorium. Who can forget the victory gardens, ration stamps, making balls of foil, rubber bands and twine to help in the war effort? Who can't remember the elation when the word went out that there was a supply of bubble gum at Kuasnick's (corner Monroe and Tulip Street) and the lines formed? Or the very sobering image of walking to school past windows where there hung small flags with blue stars indicating how many in the family were serving in the war; or how disquieting to notice stars in gold meaning a family had lost someone.

So much history that we shared – happy times, sad times; the nearby stores, the library, but mostly the school – (10 years for most of us) - our small world; our source. Our sweet and humble and cozy neighborhood: it served us so well, and it is so good to come home – to the heart of those recollections and memories we share and cherish – to our history.

I think our parents and teachers did accomplish their goals and dreams for us – I know they are smiling and saying, "Isn't this great!" This is America at its best.

Esther Walter Leibowitz


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December 2002

Thanks to all of you who responded to my note on the Message Board. It made me feel like a kid again and it was good to get back in touch with memories and old friends. I never knew how strong our ties were until I started reading your messages. We were unique. I always thought it was like that for everyone growing up everywhere. As I got older and met peers from other locales across the state -- accross the country -- I realized that not everyone had the benefit of "The Howe Cafeteria" or Sid Gilbert or the "Y" camps, Milford or Tween Travel. We had a train that seemed to go everywhere. We had Feitlins Deli and Mirror Pizza. I still remember their delivery telephone number.

Till later
Barbara Flaster-Salsberg

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November 2002

I was born in 1950 at the old Beth Israel Hospital and lived on Howe Avenue next to the Jehovah Witness building until I was in 6th grade. I remember 2nd Ward Park vividly, and playing a game called "stick tag" where we had to run and hide, using all of the basements, alleys, etc., on the blocks between Howe, Paulison, Gregory and Madison. I also remember the fun we had when the Vocational School on Paulison Avenue was demolished and it remained a field to play stickball until the city decided to build the firehouse. I hung out often at Reif's Candy Store on Howe Avenue near Paulison Avenue. After 6th grade, my family moved to Lincoln Street, between Gregory and Paulison.

I attended No. 11 School and remember all the fun we had in the adjacent park. We used to play a lot of stickball, punchball, handball and basketball. As to No. 11 School, I remember several teachers including Miss Hahn who my mother even had, Ms. Anthony, Ms. Servat and Ms. Carroll. I also attended Hebrew School on Tulip Street and had a paper route where I picked up my papers on Oak Street, paid my bills there and made the grand total of about $5.50 per week. My route included Monroe Street and Montgomery Avenue. After I grew up a little more, I worked at the S&K Deli on Monroe Street near Myrtle Avenue and earned $1.00 per hour.

I then attended No. 4 school for a year and then PHS. I made a lot of friends there, particularly being a band member. I remember sneaking out of class to go to Rutts Hut, going to almost all of the football and basketball games.

After PHS, I went to college in Newark and commuted. While living in dorms may have been somewhat attractive, living in Passaic had great advantages also.

My mother was born in Passaic as were her 5 sisters and a brother all of whom attended PHS. They initially lived on Hammond Avenue and then Howe Avenue on the corner of Ivy Place. In fact, one of my aunts lived in the house on Ivy Street that later was purchased by one of the Shirelles.

My wife thinks I am a little out of kilter when I speak so proudly of Passaic and when I read the various Passaic web sites. After all, she grew up in the Bronx so she may not really understand. I have not met anyone who grew up in any other city or town who feels such a connection back to his childhood and teen years as my Passaic friends have to our town. I know I will never lose that connection.

As to all of Passaic landmarks - - - I can go on and on - - - they include, the Capital Theater, Montauk Theater, the Lincoln Theater, the big bank building, Third Ward Park including Hughes Lake, the "mountain" down by Tulip Street, the Passaic Stadium, downtown, the hill at Passaic General, etc.

I do not know where all my childhood friends now live - - - I wish I did. I now live in the Washington DC area but at times make my way through Passaic just to see it and connect again with great memories. Yes I remember Howe Avenue Cafeteria also. There were also so many other places to go just outside of Passaic including Clifton, Paterson and of course NYC. However, much of the connection is with the wide range of people and everlasting memories. Passaic was a great place in which to be raised and in which to have roots.

I am now 53 years old, have two grown kids (one still in college at Maryland) and am a majority partner in an international engineering consulting firm. However, I always revert back to my roots.

Barry Brower (was Soborower, but I legally changed it) (my mother's family name was Glazer).

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Here are two more photos submitted by Irv Brotman

The Passaic River in New Jersey. This aerial view looking north shows parts of
Clifton, Garfield, Paterson and East Paterson. The Garden State Parkway Bridge
crosses the Passaic River in the center of this scene.

The Erie Railroad Station in Passaic in 1908.

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October 2002

Dear Bob,

It was with great interest and a bit of melancholy that I read your book, "Memories of our ‘Y'."

My name is Michael Bloom, PHS class of 1967 and the ‘Y' played a very big part in my life. My parents, Abe and Roma Bloom were very active in the ‘Y' and Jewish community in Passaic and from my very earliest memories the facility on Washington Street was part of my life.

My father was in service both in W.W.II and the Korean War and the community you describe at the ‘Y' was of great comfort to my mother while he was overseas for the 18 months from when I was 6 months old to two years, so I have been told. My father became President of the ‘Y' in the early sixties and remained involved in its activities until it moved to Clifton.

The bittersweet and somewhat melancholy aspect of the read stems, I believe, from the fact that you are of a generation that falls between that of my parents and myself. As a result, while many of your stories and reminiscences have a ring of truth and recollection they merely scratch the surface of my personal memories or the stories told to me by my parents.

I am old enough to have memories of the Game Room but they are primarily the vague and cavernous rumblings that have more to do with sound and smell than social interaction. Born in 1949 I was a mere tike who stood fascinated by the rumble of the bowling alleys and the smooth swish of the pool balls sliding over felt. I remember noise and fun and sweat and the feeling of waiting for a chance to play, but never the actual playing (although I am sure I did play).

I spent many weekends at the Montauk, Central and Capitol theaters and am just old enough to have experienced the romantic pleasures of the balcony at the Montauk. However, they had already begun to fall into disrepair as my mid teenage years came on and the Allwood Theater became the destination of choice as well as the Rizzuto Berra bowling alley.

Most of the players in your story are unknown to me, with familiar last names that I surmised were parents or siblings of my contemporaries. For instance, a friend was Joel Hecht, I believe the grandson of the movie man. Sid Gilbert was, of course, a friend to all (I am a year younger than Mickey) and Ben Kreiger and his wife often had dinner at our house, after his eyesight had failed completely but still with his royal bearing. Larry Cirignano was my gym teacher. However, the other major players in your book, such as Bess, Maish and yourself are unknown to me.

I started going to the Day Camp at about the age of 4 (I still remember the day that Two Guys From Harrison burned down) and sang along with the rest about where Camp Bell could go (my mother would often remind me that she had been a counselor at Camp Bell, being from Nutley). However, I have no recollection of Bess but rather of changing out of swimming trunks in a big tent and somehow always coming home without underpants, a forgetfulness about clothes that my wife will attest has not diminished with age. I remember Soda Day when I developed my still present penchant for Creme Soda and catching fish off the white bridge with a ball of white bread attached to a hook.

While I never had the honor of seeing Golda Meir at the Y I do remember the various Jewish entertainers who came through, most vividly, a young female ventriloquist named Shari Lewis. I wasn't old enough to fully involve myself in the Gym but remember especially the cage from which balls were dispensed and how big and brown those leather basketballs seemed.

By the time I reached high school the Jewish community, or so it seemed to me, had pretty much coalesced in the Third Ward. It was interesting to read your description of it as the rich ward. I lived in the Third Ward, as did most all of my friends, including those who spent time at the Y. I knew very few people from the 2nd ward which, by 1964 seemed to be mostly occupied by Poles and Italians. With our three synagogues and the park the Third Ward became the center of our existence except on Tuesday nights when fraternities would meet at the Y. My fraternity was not mentioned in your book, ULP. It was joined by KAT, AZA and ALP. These were the four and every Tuesday we would have meetings at the Y followed not by journeys to the Howe Cafeteria but rather to the Chinese Restaurant whose location is a vague memory to me now or later, when people started to drive, to Rutt's. Later, the Bonfire in Patterson became popular as well.

Our fraternal competition was centered not on the bowling alleys or basketball courts but rather with touch football games at the field in Third Ward Park every Sunday morning in the Fall. This was the place that many of us had our athletic successes if any. By this time Jews were not the mainstays of Passaic athletic accomplishment. It was an oddity that Bob Zuckerman actually played on the high school football team (ok., he did break his leg on his first play), and that Robert Zucker and Jeffery Adamoff were on the basketball team. We dominated the (rather sad) tennis team and cheered wildly for the likes of Jack Tatum on the football team as they played our arch rivals, Clifton.

So thank you for conjuring up these memories and many more. The Rutt's menu was great, as were the lists of people involved, although many of the graphics were a bit difficult to make out clearly. Although I hoped to recognize many more names and events than I did, those that were familiar were a joy to recount.

Finally, say hello to Mickey Gilbert for me. Although I am now living 3,000 miles away, if I am ever in the neighborhood around Yom Kippur I would love to make the pilgrimage with him.

Michael Bloom
PO Box 469
Lagunitas, Ca. 415-488-9044

Note: Unfortunately, Michael Bloom did not send any photos but below are two more photos submitted by Paul Sanz


Memorial No. 11 School

YMCA Building 1920s

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October 2002


This picture is of Wilson Jr. High #12 school's band coming up Lexington. I'm holding the xylophone in front of me. It was almost as big as I was (when I was in 7th or 8th grade in the 1960's).

This second picture is also of the Wilson Jr. High #12 school marching band with its orange and black banner.

Carolyn Cassutto (


(1) Carolyn is one of Hetty's younger sisters. Hetty's family photos are also on this Message Board.

2) Their family's history is truly unique. This is described in the following exchange of e-mails between Carolyn Cassutto and Bob Rosenthal.



Thank you for this great memory you have of Joe Berlin and his drug store. The date you were an employee at the store (1948) was the year my father met my mother at a conference of young Jewish people who survived the Holocaust in post war Holland. My mom was 17 and my dad 28 at that time. They fell in love and married in April of 1949 and in June of 1952, sailed from Holland to the port in Hoboken, NJ, with their baby daughter Hetty in tow. Three months later in Passaic General Hospital, my twin sister Marilyn and I were born.

Carolyn Cassutto


Hi Carolyn,

Thanks for your most welcomed e-mail of September 25th. The background on your family's history is truly fascinating. I knew parts of it from previous correspondence with your sister, Hetty, and for what she posted on the Wonderful-Passaic Web Site.

I had the good fortune of living in America as a teenager during World War II, whereas your father had to face the daily horrors of the Holocaust underway in Europe. I remember like it was yesterday, when Life Magazine first came out in early 1945 with pictures of the concentration death camps. I was preparing for my Bar Mitzvah and I was overwhelmed with grief at those photos. At that time I was an Orthodox Jewish boy who believed totally and absolutely in God and God's glory. However, looking at the photos, I couldn't imagine how God could have allowed such a terrible catastrophe to happen. I asked my Rabbi and my Hebrew School teachers to explain it to me, and of course, none of them could explain such madness.

I was one of the very fortunate Jewish people in America whose every relative had already emigrated into the United States before the 1930s. Thus, as far as I knew, I didn't lose a single relative in the Holocaust. However, the Holocaust made such an incredible impact on me that even to this day, I have nightmares about it. It not only affects my sleep and well being, it also affected my basic religious beliefs. From that time in 1945 until today, I am still Jewish but I'm Jewish as a "culture," not as a "religion."

You might ask why I'm telling you all this. Well, the reason is is that I am utterly fascinated about how your parents, who were brought up Jewish, and lived through the war's horrors, how did they become religious enough to not only convert to the Dutch Reform Church (which I have very warm feelings about because they did so many magnificent things for the city of Passaic), but also had the faith to become a minister in that church. If I'm not being unduly nosy, could you perhaps explain how they grew to have such a deep-seated belief in God in light of their war experience.

Carolyn, I know I have no right to ask the above question, but it's really fascinating to me.

Bob Rosenthal


Dear Bob,

I know I don't need to answer your question but I so want to answer it. I'll explain in a minute.

You are around the same age as my late mom who was born in 1931. My father would be turning 83 this December 1st. There was a big age gap between my parents which showed itself greatly in the last years they were alive. I'm so touched that you have a soft spot in your heart for the Dutch Reformed Church in Passaic. My father spoke of his holocaust experience there many times.

The reason my parents came through the war with such unwavering faith is because unbeknownst to them both, Christian people saved their lives. My mother was in hiding in Amsterdam with her parents and older brother, only blocks from where her schoolmate Anne Frank was hiding, when her address was also about to be betrayed to the Nazis. Her father thought it best to split them up. My mother was sent to a business client of her father's, a devout Christian woman who said she'd give her life for the Jewish Jesus she believed in if he was in need of a hiding place too. Since that wasn't possible, she said she wanted to hide one of His chosen children, my mother. This woman named Margrite Bogaards saved my mother's life and became her guardian since my grandparents were gassed in Auchwitz. My mother later found out from the Red Cross the fate of her parents and Margrite became like a second mother to her. I had the pleasure of meeting her on three occasions and she was like my real grandma.

My father was imprisoned in Rotterdam after being captured by the Nazis. He languished in prison until he was rescued by a Christian guard posing as a Nazi who forged false bath house passes and led my father and his fellow prisoners to the underground and to safety. So you see, they had parallel rescues and never knew until they compared their stories at the conference of young Jewish survirors. My parents both saw what people who loved Jesus did for them, Jews who could have endangered their lives but sacrificed their own safety to save God's chosen ones. My parents wanted that for themselves so they dedicated their lives to Jesus, a fellow Jew and that was what their mission was in Passaic and the metropolitan area. They told their story until their deaths in the mid '80s. I hope that explains it well enough. I feel blessed that I can claim my Jewishness like you and also know that Jesus loved me unconditionally.

My parents' story is a miracle and I'm so glad to share it with fellow Passaicites.

Yours truly,


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Hi Carolyn,

I sincerely appreciate you recounting the amazing and fascinating story of your parents' survival during the Holocaust. I now certainly understand how they became devout Christians and worked so hard for the Dutch Reformed Church.

I know you were brought up in Passaic and probably know the history of the very unusual relationship between the Jewish community and the various Dutch congregations. But in case you don't, you might find the following interesting.

The very first synagogue in Passaic, Congregation B'nai Jacob, was formed in 1889. Upon its establishment it purchased the original wooden frame building of the North (Dutch) Reformed Church at Washington Place and Columbia Avenue (the original building later was destroyed by fire but rebuilt on the same site where it is still located. However, today I believe it is a Latino church).

In 1923, Passaic's first "conservative" Jewish congregation was formed called "Temple Emanuel." Before long, this new congregation purchased the building of the North Reformed Church that was on the corner of Jefferson Street and Hamilton Avenue. [Note: The North Reformed Church (no longer in existence) was an offshoot of the original "Old First," the Dutch Reformed Church of Acquackanonk, the oldest religious congregation in Passaic County. The members were principally descendants of the original Jersey Dutch settlers who lived in Passaic's 4th Ward and in Clifton. When the North Church congregation was being dissolved, its members joined the first Reform of Passaic and the Clifton Reformed Church.]

In 1939 a terrible fire destroyed Tempel Emanuel, and even as the fire blazed, the unique relationship between the various religious communities in Passaic again was demonstrated. Monsignor Dunn, who was pastor of the St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, ran from his church and entered the burning building and was responsible for rescuing the sacred Torahs that were in Temple Emanuel.

A few days after the fire, the saddened Congregation met to consider plans for rebuilding Temple Emanuel. It was then that the members discovered that they would not get any of the insurance money to rebuild the temple. Instead, the money would go to the North Reformed Church for the unpaid balance of the purchase price because they had first claim on the proceeds of the fire insurance policy covering the property. Since the depression was still on and money was so short, this meant that there was no possibility of the Temple Emanuel being rebuilt.

Fortunately, the trustees of the North Church were very sympathetic to the plight of the Passaic Jewish community. Their representative, Judge Vanderwart of Hackensack, convinced the church to waive their claim to the insurance monies and thereby permitting the rebuilding of the Temple. In a few more years, the wartime prosperity allowed the Temple members to fully repay the mortgage to the North Church with their grateful thanks.

So you can see, Carolyn, how I and the entire Jewish community do indeed have warm respect and a closeness to the Dutch Reformed Church of Passaic/Clifton.


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October 2002

Hi Bob,

Reading your book brought back many memories of the great times at the "Y," old friends, and their positive influences on my life.

While you and your dad were getting the plane ready to send to Israel, my dad was raising funds to ship equipment. I was standing with my dad when one of the more wealthy members of the community gave him a check for 5 grand. Dad tore it up and threw it in his face and read him off. The guy wrote him a new check for twice the amount.

When I got out of the Air Force I tried to close my bank account at the bank located at Main and Van Houten. I scrawled a signature that was rejected by the teller. I asked her what was the date of my original signature. She told me and I switched back to manuscript. She smiled and closed my account. Manuscript was loved by all my fellow workers: they all could read it.

Your mention of Bones Cohen and Jess Weiner brought back memories of my working summers for Jess and his brother Martin at their print and dye works which my dad managed for them. I ran across Bones at the factory.

As you well know my ping pong playing wasn't at your level or Bindy's. I could get 16 points against him when nothing was bet, but never more the 3 when cash was on the line. I did play the Duck and Fred even. Fred had the best defensive game I ever saw. The skills gained playing you guys let me become ping pong champ of Newark College of Engineering and Captain of NCE's team.

There were some great chess players at the "Y." One nicknamed Yurkie (don't remember his name) was ranked 16th in the U.S. for boys. Skills I gained playing guys like him enabled me to become chess champ and captain of the chess team at NCE.

One evening at Howe's Cafeteria, some of us acquired an entire book of blank checks that were just laying there. We ate for free for quite a few visits.

Another acquired skills was forging tickets to see the football games at the stadium. Us 3rd Ward intellectuals got tired of jumping over the wall.

Again, another great book. What will your next one be? Have a great life!

Jerry Sorkin, PHS 1951 (

A recent photo of Jerry Sorkin

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October 2002

When I was in high-school, my friends and I always went to the "Y" after school - and often in the evening for meetings and socializing; it could be for sorority meetings, Purim carnivals, dances, or just gathering. It was a "home-away-from-home" - you felt comfortable with your peers.

But mostly the dances were a big draw for us. Who knows? - maybe "Mr. Right" would be there, "Prince Charming," the One."

Well, it did happen to me! I met my husband at the Passaic "Y" - by now the story is legendary amongst our family and friends:

One bitter cold, below zero week-end night in Feburary, 1954, my best friend Esther Linick (Simon) called to say "Let's go to the ‘Y' – there's a dance." I refused, saying it was much too cold to walk there (from the Second Ward). "No way." "But," she said, "We have to - the senior prom is coming up, and do you have a date?" – (knowing that I didn't). After some intense coaxing, I gave in, got dressed, and we went, along with Julie Small.

Now a college senior at N.Y.U. from Paterson (who frequented his "Y" also) came that night to play basketball against Passaic (arch rivals) along with two friends who came to watch. After the game, they decided to come up to the dance and scout things out.

Arnold spotted me (apparently he'd seen me before at a "Y" dance in Paterson) and wanted to dance with me. His friend Bunky Levine asked first, and Arnold "cut in." Magic! They wound up giving my friends and I a ride home. His friend Fred Roth (the driver) ushered me into the front seat of his "step-down" Hudson, but Arnold hopped over the seat and sat next to me! He got my phone number, we began dating and the rest is history! (A great deal of history, I might add)!

Oh - yes, he did go to the senior prom with me!

I left out many details, but for us it will always be a seminal event in our lives – the crux of a wonderful forty-six year marriage that produced three great children and four incredible grandchildren. Many thanks to the Passaic "Y"! I really did find my "Prince Charming"!

Esther Walter Leibowitz (Class of ‘54)
28 Anderson Court
Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07675


Esther Walter Liebowitz, Class of '54

A more recent photo of Esther and her husband Arnold.

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October 2002

The photos below are courtesy of Paul Sanz, PHS Class of '72

The Julius Forstmann Library when it was first opened.


Passaic High School in the 1920s.


Passaic City Hall (formerly called the Paulison Castle) demolished
to make way for the new Passaic High School in the mid-1950s.


In the next few weeks additional photos supplied by Paul will be posted.


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September 2002

The picture at Howe Cafeteria of a man looking at camera looks very similar to Mr. Dinzes formerly of Harding Court.

Also, does anyone have information about the Simon's who lived at 18 Temple Place or anyone else who lived on Temple Place or the Masonic Temple. Would be interested in any info you might have.


David Spector

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September 2002


Memorial #11 from Jan 1933 thru 1942, then PHS til April 1945. Boy do I remember Passaic.

Saturday dances at the Y, walks to school in the middle of winter with the proverbial 10 foot high snow banks. Columbia Ave Hebrew school, the boys on Myrtle and Madison. The smell of the tunnel under the tracks, POP'S diner, Markeys and Larkeys, Roger Brothers Model and Toy Shop.

Saturday mornings at the Playhouse or the Rialto, the Ritz, the Montaulk, the Capitol, selling the Herald News on Main and Washington, the sound of steam engines down Main Avenue, Monopoly with Murray and Lennie. Henry Street, Forstmann Library, sled rides down city hall slopes, Oak Street, Barney's Bakery, donuts from the factory during long summer evening walks.

I could go on forever. I only lived my youth, ah yes what a youth, and war stopped all that. But the Y, more than a home for me, a place for friendships, a place to forget the times at the pool table or the bowling lane.

Mr. Cruise, Mrs. Kosky, Miss Putnam, Mr. Stubba's baldy bean, Mr. and Mrs. Estes, Ruland Anderson - - - wait, let me wipe away a few tears. Caruso, Sanders, Shiller, Packer, Palmer, Jerry, the Rosenbergs, the Cohens, and of course the girls, Sally, Rity, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth and Rose.

Cohens Deli, shalali, trips to High Point, Paterson Mountains, Bear Mountains, Palisades Park, shall I continue? Maybe later. But last, but not last, the 55th Reunion last October, just a short month from our second day of infamy and the empty chairs at the dinner table, but the beauty of those wonderful girls I used to know.

Irwin (Irv) Brotman, formerly 32 Leonard Pl and 49 Henry St.


Irv Brotman's high school graduation photo January 1945.
Irv did not attend his graduation as he was already in the Navy.


Irv and his granddaughter Ashley at her Sweet Sixteen party in June 2000.

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September 2002

Hi Bobby,

After viewing the Wonderful-Passaic website and all the fabulous stories, photos and memories, I needed to thank everyone who worked with you for creating this "Passaic time capsule." There hasn't been a time in my life that didn't relate to Passaic and the "Y."

Back in 1963, I was known as Barbara Flaster. I spent every free moment in the "Y" building starting when I was 11 years old. As a tween, I remember the dances and met my first real group of friends. These friends stayed with me all through school although we were in all different schools.

I lived at the far end of Lexington Avenue near President Street. My friends walked to my house from Gregory Avenue and other areas of town. We'd walk to the Montauk or Central theater for the Saturday afternoon movie and then stop in at the Capital Tea Room or Jenrose Pizza (I think on Hoover Ave.).

There was a group of us who took ballroom dancing at Dotty Locker's dance studio. Rosiland Grossbard, Steven Goodman, Howard Charish and Freddy Hollander. Freddy was my first boyfriend, I was 13, he was 12. I wonder whatever happened to him. Steven, Freddy and Howard were my very good friends. They were also excellent dancers. The best however was Ken Schwartz. Believe me, there was dirty dancing long before the movie. I happened to see a photo of him on the web visiting Bonnie and Richie, which really brought back memories.

Ken Schwartz was the love of my life. He was gorgeous. He had the sixty's hunky movie star look. He'd walk to my house casually draping his crew neck sweater over his shoulder. He'd look at me with his jet black hair falling just slightly to the side and I would melt. My mom passed away recently at 90 years old and she still referred to him every now and then as the best looking young man she had ever seen.

I finally graduated to a "regular teen" and was allowed in the "dark room" downstairs in the "Y." This was the "Make Out" room for the older teens while listening to records. I remember the circular red seating around the center pole. It was here one evening that we heard about the plane crash - - - the Big Bopper and Richie Valens were gone.

One last memory; I remember K.A.T., Jerry Fishman, Carol Levine, Ellen Schwartz, Charlie Fishman's luncheonette near #12 School. Michael Kibel, Ken Schurman and the Dumont Record Shop. I could go on and on and on.

Thanks for the memories and I would love to be in touch with anyone who remembers me or who would like to know me. I love living in Plantation, Florida, I am a want to-be writer with an unpublished manuscript. I am also a writer for various publications. I have been an editor for a magazine and an editorial supervisor for the Jewish Journal here in Florida. Currently I am single again and semi-retired.

Barbara Flaster Salsberg

Left to right: My cousin Carol Hirshfield Brown, now residing in Sommerville, NJ, myself, Barbara Flaster Salsberg and my daughter Rachel Salsberg on my right. This is a current picture. Rachel and I live in Plantation, Florida.

Barbara's junior high school picture (1959) at Woodrow Wilson No. 12.

Left to right: Barbara Flaster Salsberg, Irwin Bayarsky,
Rosie Gewertzman (in the lounge at the Washington Place "Y" in 1968).

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August 2002

I want to thank all the contributors to the Wonderful-Passaic Message Board for their memories. It is really a joy to read.

My uncle, Meyer Edward Tell, known to his friends as Milton, was an ear, nose and throat doctor and had his office on the corner of Lexington Ave and Summer St. My parents owned Dobrin Drugs on Monroe St. and my grandparents Oscar and Bertha Tell owned a butter and egg store two stores away. In between was a kosher butcher shop owned by a set of twins (can't remember their last name). My uncle Bill Fish ran People's Pharmacy in the Peoples Bank building at Broadway and Main Ave, the tallest building in Passaic.

We lived at the top of President St hill and Botany and Forstman Mills were way down at the bottom of the hill. My mom was president of Passaic Hadassah and my Great Grandfather End was instrumental in building an Orthodox Synagogue between Monroe St and Harrison St. Can't remember the name. I am sure the Synagogue is gone or if still standing probably it's now a Baptist Church. If it is still standing, and has its stain glass windows, my Great Grandfather's name is on one of them.

When I was 11 years old in 1950 I became a Type 1 diabetic. Two other kids of my age became diabetic also. I've done very well to live this long and wonder if they are still around too. About the YMHA, I worked as an arts and crafts counselor at the Y summer day camp from 1953, I think, until I married in 1958. It was a wonderful experience.

I attended Number 10, Number 12, and was at Number 9 when Number 10 was being repaired. Reading the info about schools on the Wonderful-Passaic site brought back memories of Miss Dwyer my principal at Number 10 and of Etta Gero who was a friend of my Mom, Ruth Tell Dobrin. In 1956, I graduated Passaic High School. I remember the very tough English teachers in high school. They did a great job with us.

After high school I attended Tyler School of Fine Arts at Temple U and returned to Passaic for the next two summers to work at the Y day camp. Sid Gilbert, the camp director, was someone I liked a lot. I also remember meeting kids at the bowling alley at the basement of the Y. All of that was a bit of teenage agony. Little did I know that it would lead to a marriage proposal and marriage at age 19. Dumb luck I guess but we are still loving and extremely happy and about to celebrate our 44th anniversary.

After we moved from Passaic we only visited it a few times. My husband and I have lived in Peoria Illinois since 1966. (I too was in love with the incredible tasty Italian ices which in Passaic we called "shalaly" and still am. However, no one else in Peoria recognizes that name "shalaly.")

I am looking for any Dobrin, Tell, or Riskin relatives and any old schoolmates. I would love to hear from you.

Beverly Dobrin Tepper

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August 2002


I am writing on behalf of my Mom Mildred Chirichello Dorpfeld. She grew up in Passaic and has many fond memories. She is now 80 and suffering from Alzheimer's, but the past is still with her. I brought her in to see your web site. She looked at the pictures of the old schools and the stories just came out like she was remembering yesterday. She even got a tear or two. This was the most I have seen her come alive in years. Thank you for bringing my Mom back, if only for a short time. We both really enjoyed our trip down memory lane.

Best regards,

Barbara (Dorpfeld) Somers

(Barbara has been living in Florida since 1968. Her mom grew up in Passaic and a lot of family still live there or in Clifton. For many years her father was a fireman in Clifton.)

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August 2002


It was 'WONDERFUL' meeting you & Carole & now having you as our well as having a personal booksigning (of 'WONDERFUL PASSAIC') in our home...

I lived on Spring married (to my PHS Sweetheart) & we bought our first home a block away from where I grew up. We had 2 daughters, but sadly due to needing 'bread on our table'...we had to move away from Passaic. We live in Florida since '74, yet we'll always consider Passaic our home!

Thanks for all memories & smiles.

Bonnie and Richard Cane


(L to R) Paula Rudolph Minsky (teacher in Passaic School System),
Bob Rosenthal, Bonnie (Carlin) Cane (Moderator, Virtual PHS web site),
Carole Rosenthal (Bob's boss) at Bonnie and Richard Cane's home in Florida.


For those that may not know, Bonnie Carlin Cane is the moderator of an active and extremely interesting Passaic web site entitled "Virtual PHS." The site contains an active Message Board and even includes old photos covering many different topics - - - e.g. stories of events that occurred while growing up in Passaic as well as Passaic news.

The basic web site has no charge and it is strongly recommended. To go there simply type in

If you have ever lived in Passaic or a town near Passaic, we believe you will thoroughly enjoy the Virtual PHS site.

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June 2002

Hi Bob,

I was born and raised in Passaic and now live in Vero Beach, Florida. My father was Max Waldman, who owned the Howe Cafeteria around the corner from the fire station.

I gave a copy of your book to my brother and my parents. My father really enjoyed the stories. He was friendly with Julius Cinnamon and was politically active in his campaigns. (Some day I'll tell you the story he told about him.)

I have so many fond memories of growing up in Passaic. Originally I lived in the big apartment building across the street from the 2nd Ward Park (360 Paulison Avenue). All of us kids used to run up and down the stairs and in the alleys between the basements of the apartment buildings on Paulison and Madison. It was great fun. Later on we moved to a duplex on Madison Avenue on the other side of #11 School. I remember during the Jewish holidays my father would bring food from his cafeteria to many of the families in town that couldn't afford a good meal.

I graduated from Passaic High in 1964 and was in Bonnie (Carlin) Cane's classes. My brother Wally graduated in 1959.

I loved going to the Y and to its many dances. I remember seeing groups such as the Shirelies there. I used to go to all the activities and Tween Summer Camp. The plays were wonderful that we put on there.

Thanks for the great memories your book "Wonderful Passaic" brought back to me.

Marcia Waldman Loewinger

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Hi Marcia,

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write to me about you having grown up in Passaic, and in particular, that your father owned the Howe Cafeteria. The reason I said "in particular" is that in my latest book ("Memories of Our "Y": The Passaic YM-YWHA on Washington Place") there is a story about "Y" teenagers going to the Howe Cafeteria and the kind of problems we caused your father.

It's really a little too bad that I didn't get your e-mail a few weeks earlier. This new book contains a number of old photos of the Passaic "Y" and the various adventures that occurred there. It would have been wonderful to have the photo of your father at the Howe Cafeteria in that book.

Again, thanks for taking the time to write to me.

Best regards,

Bob Rosenthal

("Hey Carole, I just received an e-mail from the daughter of the owner of the wonderful Howe Cafeteria!")


1964 - Bradley Beach
Back row: Marcia Waldman and Margery Scott
Bottom row: Barbara Duhnoff and Nancy Guttenberg


Howe Cafeteria's owner, Max Waldman, at the cashier counter.


Max Waldman standing in the back with the pipe in his mouth..
(Anybody recognize any of the four other men?)

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June 2002

Hi Bob,

I just finished "Wonderful Passaic" and I have to express my appreciation for your fine work. I lived in Passaic from 1954 until 1968 when we moved to Bloomingdale. I finished my Junior year at Passaic in 68 and graduated from Butler High in 1969.

We lived on Paulison Ave just across from 2nd ward park for a couple of years and then moved north out to Poplar Street in 62 or 63. (Just across Paulison Ave from the old AA battery site). I was about as far away from downtown as you could be and still be in Passaic.

We attended the First Baptist Church on Gregory Ave across the street from the high school. I remember Rev. Tom Bell who had at least a half dozen kids packed into the parsonage next to the church. Rev. Bell moved on to Philadelphia and was replaced by Rev. Russell Fry. At the time First Baptist had a young and active congregation and a good youth ministry. I'm told that Billy Graham preached there very early in his ministry - probably in the late 40's or early 50's. Unfortunately the young people have all moved away from the area and I understand that the church is dying a slow death as the older members pass on.

One of my favorite "church" memories is of the Easter sunrise services that were held at third ward park in the mid 60's. A bunch of brave souls would get together at the ball field at about 6:00 AM on Easter morning. If we had an early Easter it was very cold as we sat on the bleachers. The Salvation Army brass band always played and I can still hear their music drift by on the cold air.

The guidance (for the good I might add) of my very Baptist mother didn't keep me from understanding and appreciating the history and traditions of my friends. I attended more than my share of Bar Mitzvahs and often played basketball at the CYO. We all knew the difference between an Orthodox and a conservative Jew and understood that while the Jesuit Fathers were strict, the Franciscans knew how to party. I picked up a little Yiddish and Italian and learned the words that the old men used to chase us off their porches. And only later did I understand why some of the old men and women had numbers written on their forearms.

In those far off days we as children and young teens pretty much lived on the streets. Very few people in the 2nd ward had air conditioning and when school was out for the summer we retreated to a shady back yard. We'd occasionally get out a garden hose and wet ourselves down. If your parents were flush enough to afford an above ground pool from Joe Ordini's or Great Eastern Mills you became an instant local celebrity and everybody was your friend - until your stay at home mom got tired of hollering at the twenty screaming kids in the back yard and threw them all out.

I delivered papers for the Herald News over on 6th, 7th and 8th Avenues. Every Saturday we went down to a little shack which might have been on Summer Street to settle our accounts with the district supervisor. I'd ride my bike away with about five bucks in my pocket and felt pretty good with all of that money. The next stop would be Markey Brothers or the Prospect Toy Shop. I was a very avid model builder in those days and often debated the merits of Revell, AMT, or Monogram with my friends. Eventually I discovered Vince's Hobbies down on Lexington Avenue in Clifton. Vince and his wife seemed to be more "kid friendly" so I began to give them my trade.

My dad worked at Passaic General Hospital. The hospital was surrounded by a very steep hill. As soon as it snowed we all headed for the hill with our Flexible Flyers. It's probably good that we were so close to the emergency room as the hillsides were extremely steep and you finished your sled run out on a busy street. I don't remember anybody getting killed or even seriously hurt and the minor wounds were just part of being a kid.

I was never too worried about my personal safety in those days. We walked or rode our bikes just about everywhere. I think that people considered the Italian and Polish and Irish kids from Memorial School to be tough. So as long as you hung out with the guys from the 2nd ward, no one messed with you. A fight at school or in the neighborhood was pretty rare and once blood was drawn by a punch or contact with the street the fight was over. I never saw anybody use a weapon. Most of us carried pocket knives but in those days a knife was strictly a tool. Guns were something that your dad or uncle had brought home from the war. Almost every household had an old bolt action German or Japanese rifle in the back of a closet or in the corner of the garage but we gave no thought to buying ammunition and actually shooting the things.

We used to walk or ride our bikes over to 3rd ward park and go fishing in the big pond. We used balls of bread dough for bait and occasionally we'd hook a very sickly looking perch. They went right back into the lake to "get bigger". I don't think that I wanted to actually eat anything that came out of that water.

I spent a lot of time at the Public Library. In the summer it was one of the cooler buildings in town. The children's section was upstairs and on a Saturday morning when the big windows were open it was quite pleasant to sit and read. It was a big deal when you hit 8th or 9th grade and "graduated" to the adult section. I spent one afternoon in a fruitless search for Tobacco Row. If I had found it, I'm sure they wouldn't have let me take it home, and even if I had, my mother would have had some harsh words for me when I brought it in the house.

The Library was named after Julius Forstman and there was a big oil portrait of him on the wall. I had no idea of who he was - and I still really don't know 40 years later - but as a kid I thought that he was somebody who really liked to read.

The library had a broad set of stairs that went to the second floor. There was also a set of stairs going into the basement and those stairs were closed off by an iron fence and locked gate. I always wondered what was behind the gate, down in the basement. Today I'm sure that it was just storage and work areas, but to a 12 year old locked iron gates were very mysterious. Maybe that's where they kept the copies of Tobacco Row!

My mom passed away in 1967 due to a heart attack and the next year dad got remarried and we moved to Bloomingdale. I finished my high school at Butler in 1969 and then joined the Navy. When I left the military in 1974 I got married and settled down in Scotch Plains. In 1980 we moved out to Norman Oklahoma where we've been ever since. Dad passed on in 1995 and my stepmom died in 2000.

Bob, my Passaic memories are a generation later than yours, but I feel that there was less change in the 20 years between 1940 and 1960 than there was between let's say 1970 and 1990. Its obvious that we can never go back to those days of a half century ago, but I often think of those times and smile. A coke was a nickel and White Castle sliders were a buck a bag and your biggest worry was if you were going to pass Mrs. Adams' fifth grade history test. And because of the good efforts of the underpaid and overworked teachers at Memorial and Lincoln and Passaic High and Tom Bell and all of the other folks who cared, I guess that most of us turned out okay.

Forgive me for going on and on with this note. I haven't tried to put most of this into words before. You are right - Passaic was wonderful.

God bless

Dave Lewis


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Hi Dave,

My publisher has forwarded your e-mail to me so that I could answer it directly. My first comment is I am really overwhelmed by the detail and the descriptions contained in your e-mail. It is really seldom that I receive such a joyful and detailed e-mail.

I know exactly where you used to live on Paulison Aveue, and moreover, of course I know where you moved to in "North Passaic" just below where the old AA battery site was.

In fact, everywhere you describe in your e-mail brought back really fond memories to me and I'm very appreciative of you taking the effort to do that. The other thing your e-mail did for me was again prove how multi-cultural Passaic really was. Some of my Jewish friends had commented that they enjoyed the book Wonderful-Passaic, however, that I too strongly emphasized my Jewish upbringing in it, and thus, it wouldn't be of interest to people of other religions. And yet in just the last week I received e-mails from people from the Dutch Reform Church, two different graduates of Pope Pius High School, as well as members of several different churches located on Passaic Avenue. I think it just goes to prove that the Passaic "melting pot" was truly a unique experience for all of us.

Dave, again, let me thank you for taking the time to write. Your e-mail was truly WONDERFUL.

Warm regards,

Bob Rosenthal


Dave Lewis (9 or 10 years old)
1961 or 1962; his "Beaver Cleaver" days


Marge and Dave Lewis - 2001
25th Wedding Anniversary

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June 2002

Hi Bob,

We share the same birthday. I too was born in Passaic General Hospital on October 15th but three years earlier than you. Although we moved to Bergen County in 1939 I have vivid memories of Passaic. My grandparents on both sides of my family grew up in Passaic.

My grandfather Readdy, father and his two brothers worked at Manhattan Rubber Co. Dad retired in 1968 and every day since he passed on in 1985 I have worn his Jules Jorgensen wristwatch presented to him at retirement. Grandfather Rutledge was a Policeman in Passaic but died before my birth. We lived on Linden Street, and indeed it was an ethnic neighborhood. I remember the Van Norts, the Matalianos, the Matowskis, Einar Holmes, the Kalfe's.

Mr. Cohen had a grocery store on the corner of Linden and Howe Ave. I recall the large bread box in front of the store. My mother had a to-do with Mr. Cohen and from then on she sent us up the street to Mrs. Malcolm's store for groceries. Ah and that pungent smell of pickles as you entered!

I remember the ice man who delivered in a horse and wagon and in the summer we would beg for pieces of ice. I remember a mini merry go round stopping in front of our house, and the music and colors delighted us children. You mentioned that you lived on Oak St. My uncle Bill Readdy and family lived in a brick apartment building on Oak St. As I recall it may have had four families. There was a steep rise at the rear of the building. I have some photos taken there (in back) and the scenery is very bleak, perhaps one house at the top of the hill. The date was Spring of 1934.

I attended kindergarten at the school on the corner of Broadway and Van Houten Ave and then St. Nicholas until 1939. I recall playing Jacks, Jump Rope, and Hop Scotch on the grey slate sidewalks, and at the corner of Linden and Howe we tamped down the earth to make a perfect place for playing marbles. Thanks for bringing back memories of Passaic which contributed to forming the values of my forebears which were passed on to me and mine.

Allison Readdy Fildes
Spotsylvania, Virginia

This photo was taken in 1935 by LeMan? a photographer in Passaic. Joyce was my older sister who passed on in Florida in 1984. I (Allison) am the middle one and Georgia is the youngest.

This photo is of Allison and her husband taken the day of their marriage, July 5, 2001

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From John (Jack) Mahon (April 17, 2002)


I was just remarking to my wife today of the parallel experiences we (you and I) shared growing up. I too remember the Anti-Aircraft battery near the incinerator. After the Army left in 45, we used to go to the site and play in the bunkers and trenches they left. I can remember the searchlights scanning the night skies for enemy aircraft. My God, we Passaicites were both paranoid and conceited about our strategic position in the enemies plan for our defeat.

Speaking of incinerators and garbage, remember the garbage trucks and the men who used to have to toss the garbage cans up to the guy in the body of the truck? The worst was "Ash Day." Those barrels were heavy, we had to drag them out to the street. Gee, those guys must've been strong. The ashes did help our autos gain traction on some icy days.

Back to the AA site. We'd walk from there to the "walkway" bridge over the Lackawanna railroad tracks which lead to the Manhattan Rubber plant. We'd gather ballast from the track bed, carry it up onto the bridge and play bombardier by trying to drop the stone down into the smokestack of the passing steam locomotive below us. We never really knew if we hit our target because our view would be obscured by thick choking smoke. In any case we had fun.

The big safaris we went on, packing a lunch and heading for the Paterson Mountains for the day. Cutting across farmers fields in Clifton, long before the Paulison Avenue extension was constructed. Do you know how many days I cut across the ball field of 2nd ward park after it was flooded? I was too lazy to continue my way home via the sidewalk in front of Number 11 School to Joe's Shanty, then cut diagonally left across the street to Montgomery and continue on to Hammond Avenue. Boy did I get "Love" when I got home.

Again, Enough. You have to go and write a book about my favorite subject "growing up in Passaic." I'm into this stuff so deep now, someone's going to have to toss me a rope to pull me out. I can take it though, what a beautiful way to go, smothered by all my wonderful memories. Excuse my vanity Bob, just thought I'd send along a really recent photo of myself. Not too bad for 65. I'm not conceited though, most good looking guys are, but not me...

Keep me thinking,


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The Passaic High School Class of 1956 held their 45th year reunion on October 27, 2001 in Morristown, New Jersey. As shown in the photo, Ann diamond won an inscribed and signed copy of "Wonderful Passaic." The person in the tux is Red Rudnitsky who was both Co-chairman and Master of Ceremonies. The other handsome person is Arnold Shurkin who was the other Co-Chairman.

The above photo is Red Rudnitsky's wife, Ceil, receiving The World's Greatest Wife Medal presented by his oldest friend, Len Richman.

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. . . . . Larry Kopp 2/12/96 (PHS Class of 1952)

There used to be a railroad track that ran right through the town,
But no one ever seemed to care which side that you lived on.

Our families came from foreign lands, but quickly learned to blend;
Their biggest goal was to become a U.S. citizen.

The presidents were honored there, on streets we grew to know;
From Madison to Jefferson, from Lincoln to Monroe.

And on the end of many blocks, a place we see no more;
Yes, there in all its glory stood the corner candy store.

In many windows hung a star that ruffled in the breeze,
To proudly show to everyone its boys were overseas.

And sweethearts sat without a fear on benches in the park,
Along the path in Second Ward, until 'way after dark.

The town was filled with merchants where our folks would buy our clothes,
And shoe stores where, as kids, we used to fluoroscope our toes.

The Playhouse and the Lincoln were both filled on Saturdays,
For Captain Midnight serials and cowboy matinees.

Sophomores at our high school spent the good part of the year
Searching for a tunnel that we knew just wasn't there.

And once they built a tennis court behind our Jr. High;
But it became a stickball field, in the by-and-by.

People came from far and wide to satisfy their guts,
With appetizing hot dogs from a place that we called "Rutts".

Italian ices were a cinch to cool a hot July;
And what we know as pizza now, was called "tomato pie".

Each evening in the summer, all the parks would come alive
With movie nights or softball games (soccer had not arrived).

Our City Hall was stately, standing high upon a hill;
While on the other side of town, we had a woolen mill.

And all the while a river flowed around her like a crown;
A city where a railroad track ran through the heart of town.

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. . . . . Linda Colombo Briganti (

I was born in 1945, and lived on the corner of Monroe and Lucille Place. I lived on top of Parruta's grocery store and across from Spindels Drug Store. I remember everything of those days with a smile on my face. Why? Well, because it was the best place and time to grow up in.

We as children played on the streets like the "little rascals" days. The neighborhoods were mainly on what today would be called tenaments, but not was "home". Everyone knew everyone, every adult watched out for "all" the neighborhood kids.

In the summer Mianosand or Vetri grocery store rolled out his homemade lemon ice, or as we called it schalie. There were 2 cent up to a big 10 cent cup of lemon ice. Candy in the candy stores was like 5 for a penny.

The main movies to go to were the Capital or Lincoln where you had 2 movies, a newsreel, 25 cartoons and races, where you could win prizes! You would spend all afternoon there. There weren't any air-conditioners so at night people would sit outside or on the "fire escapes" and we would all run around playing. It was a very togetherness feeling in those days.

The park by #11 school would have summer activities for us and games to checkers, pick up sticks, etc. In the winter we would get our sleds and go sleigh riding in the park. The "tennis courts" would freeze up and we would ice skate in winter in the tennis courts. Also in winter I knew it was getting close to Christmas when the Prospect Toy store had a gigantic Santa in the window raising his finger back and forth to "be good for goodness sake."

Well, I could go on and on about my wonderful memories of growing up in Passaic as if it were yesterday. One last and important thing about Passaic people..we all stayed friends, our lives have taken us in many directions BUT no matter when you run into someone no matter how many years later it was like time stood still. We are family!

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Hi Linda,

Thanks for the wonderful memories.

To illustrate the difference in our ages, I was born in 1932. When I was little, a schaelie cost 1, 2 or 5 cents. My whole childhood, I hoped that someday I could afford to buy the 5 cent size, but alas, when I finally could afford 5 cents, I had moved away from 2nd Ward..

For your info, you lived directly on top of my father's original men's store Moe and Morris. It moved from the corner of Monroe and Lucille Place to Jefferson Street in 1948 or 1949. The market moved into the empty store about 1950.

Bob Rosenthal (PHS 1950)

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. . . . . From Ruth Longo (who never lived in Passaic but had many Passaic friends). She now owns Lovey's Pizzeria in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.

"How do you spell Passaic? A piece of pie, A piece of cake. That's the way you spell Passaic."

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Life in Passaic....1952- 1968
A Dutch Immigrant family's view

In May 1952, the Cassutto family of the Netherlands came to settle in Passaic via Hoboken, NJ, arriving on the New Amsterdam. The family at that time was the dad, Ernest, and mom, Elisabeth and baby, Hetty..that's me. We were sponsored by the Board of North American Missions, of the Dutch Reformed Church. My parents were Jewish Holocaust survivors, but had converted to Christianity and were asked to help other immigrants in the area and do mission work. My father was also the minister at large at all the Dutch Reformed Churches in northern NJ, of which there were many at that time. A Dutch family that moved in across the street became our closest friends. Quincy Street also had Jewish and Polish families all up and down the street.

The family was given 'the parsonage' at 129 Quincy Street to live in. There was a sign on the house that designated it as a Mission house. The old Dutch Reformed Church (Bethel) was across the street, at the corner of Quincy and Hamilton Ave.., one block from the heart of Monroe Street.

Soon, our family included twin sisters, Marilyn and Carolyn, and later, twin brothers, George and Benjamin, in 1960. Bethel Church was the center of all our activities...we played with our friends in the parking lot and went to church there three days a week.

My memories of Passaic during those happy years were spent walking to Karpen's deli, Berlin's Rexall drug store, and Charlie and Millie's luncheonette (to get popsicles or 1 cent pretzel sticks). Berlin's always delivered to our house and our dad was one of their favorite customers. We walked #10 School, #12, and PHS. School supplies and comics came from Yellin's Stationery. My sisters and friends and I also went 'uptown'..from Lexington to Main and spent our allowances at McCrory's, Kresge's, Record Theater and the Central and Capitol Theatres. We spent every summer at the Clifton Pool, and I rode my bike from one end of Passaic to the other. Our dad got us rings from Margolies' Jewelry. We had Wonder Breat and the Good Humor trucks come right to our door.

Moving away from Passaic before my sisters and I could finish Passaic High was the saddest day of our young lives at that time. We will never get that back, but having shared our youth in the environment of tolerance and acceptance of every race, faith and national origin helped make us the adults we are today, no matter where we live now.

Hetty (Cassutto) Haden
Reisterstown, MD

Photos from the Cassutto family album.

#1..Elisabeth (Elly) Cassutto, with 1952 Mercury in front of Bethel Reformed Church

#2..Hetty with Mercury on Quincy Street winter 1952.

#3..Bethel Reformed Church, corner1954

#4..Bethel Reformed Church, front 1954

#5..View down Quincy, 1954

#6..Wilson Junior High, 1966

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My name is Sarah Jean Marks Nicely. Back then I was known simply as Jean Marks. The address I had most of the time was 60 Kensington Terrace, which was in Passaic Park. It was wonderful to read this book. Memories came flooding back and I got out my copy of The Echo and poured over the pages remembering this one and that one.

For whatever reason, I have not kept in touch with people from Passaic, although I wish I had.

I went to No. 3 School and my memory is that it did have a gym, but who is not to say that I am in error. That was so very long ago.

I presently live in a little town called Southwick in the southwestern portion of MA. I would love to hear from anyone who may have known me ..... or even not known me.

I remember so very many good times growing up in Passaic. I remember skating on Hughes Lake in the park, I remember going to the Y, the football games, the railroad tracks, the Ritz, the Lincoln Theatre and all the other movies in town. My uncle owned one of them and so I could go in anytime I wanted by just saying "Harry Hecht's niece." On lots of Saturday afternoons when we were kids, my brother, Edmund, and my two cousins would have lunch at Sunshines Delicatessen and then go to a movie. Back in those days you could get a hot dog with sauerkraut for a nickel, a soda for a nickel, a hot corned beef sandwich for ten cents, and so you could eat like a king for twenty-five cents.

I remember having lots of movie star pictures up on the walls of my bedroom while growing up.

My e-mail address is

Hope to hear from some Passaic people. (Bob, your book gave me such a joy.)

Sarah Nicely (Jean was my middle name)