West Paterson Short Stories HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-back-future-west-paterson Tales of West Paterson – Back to the Future in West Paterson FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Back to the Future Past By Arthur H Tafero It’s been over forty-five years since I left this place and moved to Union City in 1961.
I had just graduated the eighth grade of Saint Bonaventure’s Grammar School in West Paterson, New Jersey in the beginning of June and by the end of June and we were living in a used house on Ninth Street and Palisades Avenue in Union City.
My father had wanted a house closer to his workplace in Kearny.
I thought this was a really bad idea.
I had to spend the summer making new friends and re-establishing my sports abilities with guys I didn’t know.
But, I knew wherever I went, I wouldn’t forget West Paterson and the development.
Especially the tribe of guys I hung out with and our mild adventures during the endless summers of our youth.
The landmarks, stores, people and places that were now changed, gone, dead or in some rare instances were still there.
I had driven across the Washington Bridge onto Route 46 and was headed for my old neighborhood for the first time since Kennedy was president. I took the first exit for Paterson that I saw since I had no idea of how to get there.
It led me to Broad Street, a generic name for the primary road leading into Paterson.
It was pretty run down, and I parked to talk to two older policemen who were directing traffic.
I asked them about the old movie theaters I had usually spent Saturday afternoons with the tribe watching horrendous science-fiction movies.
I asked about the Fabian, the US, and the Capitol theatres.
All places rich in my memory.
They had all been torn down.
None of were left, but my memories of them still survived.
I quietly asked about the Majestic theatre, which always showed films that were condemned in part by the Legion of Decency, thereby making it necessary for eighth-grade boys on bikes to gain entry to the oversexed “Macumba Love”.
We got a wino to buy tickets and accompany us in for that one.
The Legion had put this film in its worst category, Condemned, not in part, but ENTIRELY CONDEMNED! The officer quietly remarked that it had lasted the longest, but was torn down about seven years ago.
I thanked the officers and got back in my jalopy. The scenery picked up as I reached McBride Avenue.
There I saw two things that brought a smile to my face.
The Great Waterfalls of Paterson on Spruce Street by the bridge before you turn left for McBride Avenue.
They were still there and they were still impressive.
I’ve always hada soft spot for waterfalls, but these were one of my favorites.
The other sight for sore eyes I quickly made out as I turned onto McBride Avenue was Libby’s. Libby’s was a famous Paterson landmark because they served authentic Texas Weiners.
The kind with chopped raw onions and chili.
They also had great burnt fries.
I pulled up into a handicapped zone because I knew as soon I ate two of these I would be eligible for the space.
As I entered the eatery, the smell of the place brought me back forty-five years.
It smelled exactly the same.
That wonderful smell of meat sauce and onions permeated the air.
I quickly went back out to the car so I wouldn’t get a ticket and dug right in.
They were both gone in less than five minutes as well as the fries I got with them.
The coke I had was less than half gone so I tossed the rest away in the garbage.
I was full and I could feel the onions and meat sauce working their strange magic in my body.
I reached for the tums and had about six and then I started the car again. On the way down Mcbride Avenue, I passed a street called Danforth Avenue.
It seemed very familiar, so I took a left on it.
Suddenly, I was in view of Saint Bonaventure Grammar School and the church one block away.
It was now PS 29, a public junior-high school.
I spoke with the gray-haired maintenance man for the school and he told me that he remembered caring for Saint Bon’s, but the parish couldn’t afford to keep the school open, so it was purchased by the town.
It had been built in 1924 and was a sturdy building. One of the first things that I noticed was that they had paved the playground on the side of the school.
It had been black gravel when we went there.
Boy, did our little white shirts get filthy playing in that stuff.
Most of the grounds had remained the same.
I remembered lost games of touch football and hockey with crushed milk cartons as the puck and our shoes as the hockey sticks.
There were the little paved steps next to the wall of the school.
These were the ones we flipped cards other than Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle in games of farsies and toppsies.
Farsies was purely a skill game and went slowly because you only flipped one card at a time.
Also, there was a distinct pecking order of who could beat who in farsies so the game lost favor after awhile.
But topsies was a different story.
You flipped cards all over the place; it appeared as if skill had very little to do with winning.
As soon as someone’s card landed on top of someone else’s, you won all the cards flipped.
It was truly a form of addictive gambling.
You could win or lose a hundred cards during your lunch period depending on your luck.
Of course the really good flippers would waste about five or six throws in topsies and then flip like it was farsies.
Only the good flippers could consistently get the cards next to the wall.
But still the game had lots of upsets.
The nuns didn’t mind farsies, but they would get upset if they caught us playing toppsies.
I guess it was too much like Bingo. Halfway around the building was a recessed area that was perfect for playing three flies up or a form of baseball.
If the ball was caught off the wall it was an out.
If you made it hit the ground (it had to travel at least ten feet) after ten feet it was a single.
If somebody in the outfield dropped any flies it was a double and if you hit it all the way the opposite wall and it bounced off without anyone catching it, it was a home run.
You could never reach the wall on a fly unless you were playing with a Spaulding rubber ball.
All the cheap balls made for lousy games.
The Spaulding balls made for very exciting games.
Of course the worst feeling of all was to hit the sweet spot on the indentation of the wall and have the ball go about twenty feet up the other side of the wall, bounce off and get caught for an out.
It was almost like a game of jai-alai the way we were able to catch and throw those balls. I entered the building and took a half-hearted shot of one of the classrooms, but they were nothing like the ones we were in.
I walked the block or so down to the church and was curious about the inside.
The church seemed so much smaller than I remembered it.
Actually, everything seemed so much smaller than I remembered it.
Everything seemed like it was built in miniature.
I remember skipping mass one Sunday because the Yankee doubleheader started at twelve and I would miss an hour or so of the first game.
I had to see or hear every inning of every game or my life would have been ruined.
After a while, I found skipping mass to be quite pleasant, so I did it every week in the eighth grade until we moved to Union City.
I’ve never been to a mass since except for Christmas or some special occasion. It was time for me to leave the church and the school grounds, but I noticed that Tom’s candy store on the corner was gone.
In its place was a modest, new stucco one-family We had gone to that candy store for almost seven years, getting our sandwiches and baseball cards on a regular basis.
Tony always had plenty of baseball cards in stock and did a brisk business.
Sometimes we would skip lunch or spend our bus money on baseball cards.
One kid had actually spent his tuition his mother had sent him with to school with in an envelope on baseball cards.
Somehow, he never got caught. I remembered all the Sunday masses I had gone to and the breakfasts at the hall they had once a month down from the church.
The food was wretched, but at least it was free.
Most of the time, we didn’t eat the breakfasts at the hall because my father was quite picky about his pastries.
We usually left the eight o’clock mass a little early to beat everyone else to this little grocery store on McBride avenue, The Dolly Madison Ice Cream Store.
God! how my father loved those Boston Custard Cream doughnuts! They were crispy on the outside and had nothing but filling on the inside.
Almost no dough at all.
If you bit into one without the proper respect, you were guaranteed to get cream all over your Sunday best.
It was important to get to this place before nine o’clock because the hungry hordes were on their way and would wipe out the modest offering of fifty or sixty doughnuts in less than one hour.
My father deftly parked in front of a hydrant next to the diner and ran into the place.
He ran back out almost as fast with a wild gleam in his eye and said “They only had ten left, but I got’em all.!” Usually he bought a dozen and we had four each.
My petite mother would down two in five minutes and I would eat all four of mine and scheme of ways to get one of my mother’s other two. There was no chance of getting any from my father.
You had a better chance of getting money out of a bank on Sunday in the fifties.
Sometimes I would tell my mother she was putting on a little weight and then I popped the question and sometimes I got lucky.
Other times I just begged like a pathetic wounded animal until she finally gave in.
The Dolly Madison store had been replaced by a spanking brand new Dunking Doughnuts franchise.
I stopped in and got a Boston Cream donut, but was grossly disappointed, so I threw it away after a few bites. I drove the car back down to McBride Avenue, drove on and noticed a familiar fork in the road.
I knew if I took the left prong, I would be in the development in less than a minute or so, but I took the right prong.
I did that for two reasons: I wanted to put off the excitement of seeing the old development for as long as I could so I could enjoy the anticipation and I also wanted to see some other familiar spots that were off to the right.
For example, the Acme and the liquor store were no longer there.
There was a small, modern strip mall with a bank and some small shops, instead.
I was running out of film, so I parked in the mall and went to one of the small shops to help the local economy.
I knew it would be more expensive than Eckhard’s or JVC, but I bought a camera, anyway.
As I was leaving the store, I saw a grey-haired fireman coming in.
He had his West Paterson Volunteer Fire Department Tee-Shirt on.
I just had to pigeon-hole him and ask a few questions. So I introduced myself and said I was writing a small article on West Paterson in the fifties and he was more than willing to fill in some of the spaces.
I learned that the old Acme, and for that matter, the entire block had burned down in a terrific fire in the early 70s.
All the physical evidence of Pat Howard’s and my crime of bottle heisting had been permanently removed.
The fellow went on to tell me that some of the places that burned down still did businesses out of trailers for a while and that the liquor store was the last one to leave.
I imagined that a new plan to heist bottles from a trailer would have been much more difficult than the operation we had executed over those many years ago.
I enquired about a few guys I knew had been in the Volunteer Fire Department in the 60s, but none of the names rang a bell with him. As I left the new shopping center, I remembered the pagan school that was down the street a few more blocks.
It was the Gilmour Elementary school and it was still there.
All of the Protestant and less than enthusiastic Catholic parents sent our boy tribe friends there.
It was such a shame they were all going to hell, like sister had told us.
We couldn’t understand how the Catholic kids who went to Gilmour would be saved and the Protestant kids would go to hell, when we absolutely knew that some of the Protestant kids were a lot better behaved than some of the Catholic kids in Gilmour.
In 1958, the town had built a brand new school behind the old one called Memorial School.
Across from Memorial School was the spanking brand new Boys and Girls club of West Paterson.
We only got to enjoy it for two years, before we moved on to High School, but it was very cool to have your own indoor gym to play ball and a game room to boot.
Memorial still looked pretty new, but the Boys and Girls Club looked like an old relic; which it actually was, but I’m sure the kids still enjoyed it. I decided it was time to go back and take that left fork.
I had already used one roll of film, but now I had new ammunition.
They had made some improvements to the hairpin turn that was required to get into the development.
Now you had to go up a small private road to get onto Mount Pleasant Avenue, the base road of the development.
From there on, it felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
I hadn’t been to these streets in almost fifty years.
I saw the signpost up ahead.
I had entered Williams Drive.
I parked the car for a second at the base of Williams Drive.
That’s where the old playground used to be.
It was still there, except the baskets had nets.
We had never had nets, that was a luxury.
There was a chain link fence that cut off the steep hill down to the road and the McBride stores.
We used to stumble down those steep hills to get to the acme quicker.
We also used to lose a lot of baseballs in the vegetation that used to be there.
It was all gone now.
We wouldn’t need Larry Schoenfeld to find any balls here, you could see every nook and cranny. The park had a little post with a placard: Theodore May Memorial Park.
He had been in our eighth grade class, but he didn’t hang around with the boy tribe.
He had seemed to be a quiet, serious fellow.
He must have been killed prematurely in some war or other catastrophe.
I thought it would have been much more appropriate to have the park named after Hatchie Van Weston, who we knew for sure always played with the boy tribe in that playground for many years.
But I let that thought go as I noticed the streets of Williams Drive were lined with large, strong trees.
When we lived in these houses, there were no trees lining the street, there were nothing but tiny little seedlings that had been recently planted.
It was good to know that West Paterson hadn’t gotten rid of all their trees. As I drove very slowly up the block, I noticed that all the families I had known had either died off or moved.
I guess we had all moved or died off in one way or the other.
As the children of the development had gotten older, they went off to colleges or to work in surrounding cities.
The development was not a place for second generation families.
It was a place for first generation families.
It was a place for kids and struggling parents, not for emerging adults.
No doubt, there must have been a few houses with the original families, but I didn’t see any of them.
Only the Van Weston house at the end of the first block on Williams Drive looked like it might still be inhabited by the original owners.
I was too fainthearted to knock on the door and check for sure.
I wouldn’t have known what to say if either Davy or his father met me at the door.
I took a right past the Van Weston house and I slowed down as I noticed the Topozzi house and the Delphino house next to it.
I was saddened to see there were no trees in back of the Topozzi house.
There was nothing but other streets and other houses.
Where had all the woods gone? Did they cut them ALL down? It appeared as if they had. I continued to drive until I got to Overmount Avenue.
This was the block that my first girlfriend, Barbara Barnier lived on.
I guess you would have to say she wasn’t a girl friend in a classic sense, but she was the first girl I had taken on a date and she was very cute and a lot of fun.
But her house was down the hill on Overmount.
I turned upward, further up the gradual hill and passed what had been the Klump house, Prince house and the Zambrano house; none of which were still there as far as I could see.
I continued up the block until I reached Morley Drive and then I took a left.
This was the street where my best friend of over twenty years had lived on.
I was supposed to be the best man at his wedding, but I had to run off to New York in 1973 to avoid being whacked by a bookie.
I never saw Doug again.
As I approached his house on Morley Drive, I got that fainthearted feeling again and just continued to drive past after I took a quick picture.
The house had a garage now that it didn’t have before and there were no more woods in the back of Doug’s old house.
I really hope that his life turned out the way he wanted it to.
He had been a good friend.
I went to the end of Morley Drive and was pleasantly surprised to see woods at the end of the block, just like it was forty-five years ago. I parked the car and went right into the woods on the path I had used so many times so many years ago.
This time, I didn’t get to walk ten yards into the woods until I came out into a new school that had been built fairly recently.
It was for the new wave of parents and kids of the development.
I walked the few yards back out of the patch of woods and went back to the car, a bit disappointed.
The woods were almost all gone.
These were more like tree gardens than woods.
I drove back past Jackie Shaw’s old house, Doug’s house.
Jim Kingsley’s house and Bobby Bettell’s house.
I took a left at Overmount avenue and continued up the steep hill.
I went past the Westmount Country Club and the large, expensive houses that were connected to them.
I felt no attachment to either of these Johnny Come Lately pieces of West Paterson real estate.
They had helped to ruin the ambience of Garret Mountain which was at the top of Overmount Avenue.
I had remembered Garret Mountain to be a beautiful refuge of nature where we would fly kites on endless meadows, skate on the large, picturesque lake and take in the breathtaking view of Paterson over a thousand feet below us in the valley. You could still see the view of Paterson, a thousand feet below in the valley, just as long as you had a few million dollars.
There were nothing but ugly, gigantic mansions which all looked alike and dominated the top of Garret Mountain.
You could see them from as far away as Paterson.
I had noticed them driving in from Spruce Street near the falls and taking the left on McBride Avenue.
I didn’t take any special notice of them then, but now I realized what they actually were.
The replacements of the mountain refuge I had grown up in.
I would not want to live there now.
That was the first thought that went through my mind as I drove through these pretentious dwellings.
It was time for me to drive back down the mountain and get back onto Mount Pleasant Avenue on the way to Route 46 East. I was getting more and more disappointed at the rape of the woods and of Garret Mountain.
I wanted to keep those memories in my mind.
The longer that I stayed here, the faster those memories would begin to fade. I was a getting a little hungry by this time as it was approaching suppertime.
Nostalgia really whets your appetite.
So as I lolled down Route 46 East, I remembered that the best hot dogs in New Jersey (and most likely the country) were served at Callahan’s on the side of the highway I was currently driving on.
And even though I still had indigestion from the two beauties that I had consumed at Libby’s, I did not fail to stop at Callahan’s on the highway near Clifton.
I took a picture of the place from the outside and then ridiculously took pictures of a jumbo dog with everything on it; one of two I ordered with a bottle of Miller Beer.
I figured I would be sffering from the Libby dogs anyway, so I might as well go completely to hell with myself.
I could go back to the gym and my decent regimen again starting tomorrow.
I used to feel badly about being one of the first of the boy tribes to leave West Paterson.
Ronny had actually been the first.
I felt badly that I was not going to be going to Passaic Valley High School and be hanging out with my old friends.
I am sure my life would have turned out quite differently had I stayed. But now it became apparent that ALL of us had left the development to find our way in the world.
It just took a little longer for others than myself.
We moved to different towns, cities, states and even other countries.
You could always take the boy out of West Paterson, but you could never take the West Paterson out of the boy.
We will always be members of the boy tribes until we die.
It doesn’t matter where we all live now.
Because when you no longer have yesterday or today, you have to put your faith in tomorrow.
Thomas Wolfe was not totally right; sometimes you can go back home for a little while.
In fact, I just spotted my favorite tree that is still there down the playground.
I used to fall asleep under that tree sometimes during the summer.
It’s summer now.
I think I might just take a short nap there.
It looks so very inviting.
Just a few minutes…..just a few….just a. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-welcome-west-paterson Tales of West Paterson – Welcome to West Paterson Are you really that sixty-year-old person in that sixty-year-old body? Or do you secretly enjoy looking at old baseball cards and comic books from the fifties? Do you occasionally reminisce about TV shows from the fifties or the old neighborhood where kids used to physically play with each other instead of machines? If you said yes to any of these, then let’s go back; back to the days of three television channels (if you were lucky).
Back to the days before there were computers, video games or cell phones.
Back to a place called “The Development”.
People who moved there came from the surrounding cities in Northern New Jersey.
My parents were among those people.
Welcome to West Paterson. Using the GI Bill, our fathers plunked down $9,500 for a split-level house on Williams Drive, Overmount Avenue, or Morley Drive in Great Notch Village in Little Falls, New Jersey in 1953.
To the outside world, this place was known as West Paterson.
Most of us were six or seven years old and ready for the second grade.
Our mothers either enrolled us into the local public school or into Saint Bonaventure Grammar School which was about two miles or so away from the development and closer to Paterson proper.
Our earliest memories are the strong smells of a brand new house.
It was that newly fresh-painted smell of the walls and smell of freshly cut wood.
It was the smell of the country air in the summertime, instead of the dirty streets of cities from whence many of us had come.
It was the smell of newness and possibility in the air. It is amazing what you can remember from the time you were seven.
This is not a coming-of-age book.
We had very little interest in becoming teenagers or adults.
We were very happy with things the way they were at twelve.
What could be better than playing ball every day? What could be better than swimming at the reservoir or riding your bike every day and hanging out in the woods with your friends? Not much.
Some modern-day people might think that we were deprived because we had no computers, internet, cell-phones, air-conditioning, cable-tv, video games or organized sports.
But they would be about as far off-base as Eugene Timmins was when he got picked off one day.
Nothing compares to the carefree days we spent in West Paterson; you can keep adulthood.
In the late 1960s, I used to listen to Jean Shepherd on WOR radio describe his boy tribe friends and funny situations at home and I was fortunate enough to have met him before I went into the army at Saint Peter’s College in 1967.
It was his shows that inspired me to make an informal log of events at the development. These tales are not just about me or my family; they are about all the people of the development and our grammar school at St.
They are tales of humor, disappointment, discovery, greed, stupidity, and humanity.
Most of all, they are tales of nostalgia; for these days will never return, so they must be preserved in our memories. You will meet the neighbors of Williams Drive, a nearly sixty degree hill going straight up for about ten houses until it ran into a few side streets.
The Petittes lived in the first corner house on the base of the hill.
The Pettite brothers were considered bullies.
But then again, all kids bigger than you were considered potential bullies.
They were very big and bulky.
Across the way from the Petittes lived the Howards.
I was a good friend of Patrick Howard, but I didn’t care for his older brother, Jim.
So Patrick and I pretty much ignored him.
Patrick had an eye problem which gave him the appearance of looking away from you when he was actually looking right at you.
He wasn’t cross-eyed, but it seemed like he was.
Anyway, we both like collecting comic books and baseball cards and he had thousands of 1958 cards we used to flip against his cellar wall.
Further up the street was Glen Glenn, whose name we constantly made fun of even though his father was a rising sound technician, and a kid younger than me named Bobby Garfield who was Glen’s best friend.
Bobby’s house was next to ours.
On the other side of the street, the houses abruptly ended because there was a large empty lot with jutting rocks about fifteen feet high.
I guess it was too expensive for them to remove those solid rock formations.
I once fell off those rocks, but that is a tale for another time. Further up Williams Drive lived Ronnie Vitale, who pitched for his father’s little league team, the Amvets.
There were only two teams in our little league when it started; the Amvets and the Indians.
I was on the Indians with my best friend, Douglas Kingsley, whose father, Owen coached the team.
He also had an uncle who taught at Harvard.
After Ronnie’s house was the McCallin house.
Once, McCallin’s father forced him to fight another kid at a large cookout.
They had a nice large tract of land on the side where we played football occasionally.
That’s where the fight took place.
He got his clock cleaned by little Wayne Quinn, who lived behind the McCallin house.
There was a short side street on the left of Williams Drive that was occupied by the Van Weston brothers, Hatchie and Davey.
Across from the Van Westons was Arthur Topozzi’s house and behind his house, the Topozzi Woods, next to Topozzi’s house was Tom Delphino’s house.
Tom was Topozzi’s best friend. Taking a left off of Williams Drive, you came to the Klump house.
Oddly enough, the boy tribes of the development were not clever enough to realize there was potential for abusing this name.
This was fortunate for the Klumps.
Frankie had four older brothers who had a load of comic books and we would get sweaty reading them in his attic during the summer.
Next to his house was the Prince house, then the Zambrano house, with Zippy (he looked a bit simian) and his kid brother, Stitchie, who got his name because he was always getting stitches.
As you went further up the street you ran into Morley Drive.
Morley Drive had the Bettell house.
He got hit on the head with a stone one time and started yelling “I’m Going! , I’m Going”.
He thought he was dying, but we all laughed at him, as we did at anyone in the group who was going through misfortune.
It seemed to be part of the savage nature of young boys.
Next to the Bettell house was the Jim Kingsley house and next to his house was the Douglas Kingsley house.
They were not related, but you can imagine the agony of the postal workers who had to deliver mail to these two houses.
Next to Douglas Kingsley’s house was the Jackie Shaw house and after that, you just about ran into the eastern end of houses in the development and the deep woods. We didn’t give directions by street name.
We always gave directions by who lived in these houses. “Well, you go up the street until you get to the Van Weston’s house, then you take a left and then a quick right until you pass Klump’s house, Prince’s house and Zambrano’s house; then you take a left on Morley Drive past Bettell’s house, Jim Kingsley’s house, Douglas Kingsley’s house and then you finally get to Jackie Shaw’s house.” These were part of the tribe of boys that would hang out together for the summers between 1954-1960.
We would go into the woods behind Tommy Topozzi’s house, and act like the little animals we really were.
We would get lost in the woods, bring canteens with us filled with kool-aid, climb dozens of trees and sometimes fall asleep in the midday in the branches of the trees.
The only difference between us and apes were the apes had better hygienic habits.
It was amazing that the guys seldom fell from these ten and twenty-foot high trees.
And when they did fall, no one ever seemed to seriously get hurt. Sometimes we went to the woods behind Doug Kingsley’s house.
The area was thick with woods, but in less than ten years it would be completely denuded for a country club; the Westmont Country Club.
Few families in the development could afford to join a country club, so we were upset that they were taking our woods away.
Of course, that did not matter in the least; the club was built at the expense of the woods.
But for the time being we all grew up together in the development, and there were plenty of other woods to go to.
There were Topozzi’s woods, and the woods down the hill from the playground that was at the base of Williams Drive, and then there were all the woods between the development and Saint Bon’s school just off of McBride Avenue.
If that wasn’t enough for you, there were always the woods around Garrett Mountain, a few miles up Overmount Avenue. McBride Avenue contained all of the little stores that connected West Paterson to Paterson.
It ended at the falls; which at age seven or eight looked like Niagra Falls to us.
Then it became Spruce Street.
No one in the development ever went beyond McBride Avenue onto Spruce Street unless it was with our parents.
It was like going to New York.
We never ventured past McBride Avenue until we were in the seventh grade and felt totally mobile on our bikes.
McBride avenue contained some memorable eateries: the Dolly Madison Ice Cream Parlor, which had custard-cream-filled donuts on Sunday (they were actually just all custard with a thin donut crust surrounding the cream), Lazzera’s Italian Bakery and Pizzeria, Libby’s real Texas Weiners with chili and fresh chopped onions, which my father would sometimes bring home at midnight (he worked the second shift) on Friday while my mother and I would stay up watching a scary horror movie hosted by Zacherley, the Ghoul. Then there was Tom’s deli which was a block off of McBride Avenue and directly across from Saint Bon’s Grammar School.
Every school day Tom would neatly arrange pre-cut cold cuts on his counter with a pile of rolls and jars of mustard and mayonnaise.
There would be a long line formed outside of the store while Tom set up his deli stuff.
Then the Saint Bon’s students would file in, one at a time, and order their fifteen cent sandwich.
In those days, lettuce and tomato was free on a sandwich.
One day, Jeffrey Lovans sneezed on the piles of cold cuts and Tom chased him out of the deli.
Tom also sold baseball cards and we would buy scads of them every week, but that is another tale. Saint Bonaventure Grammar School was a two story building containing eight grades of highly agitated little Catholic brats.
Tuition was two dollars a month, transportation was one dollar a month, new school uniforms were one dollar a month and each student had special envelopes to bring home along for each of these bills plus one for the starving children in China.
There will be a tale discussing how we took advantage of this situation in greater detail later on.
The school was surrounded by a black gate in the front and a silver chain link fence going around the rest of the school and the miniscule playground in the front, side and back of the school.
The play areas in the front and the back were covered in white concrete, the play area on the side was a pit of black gravel which turned the boys pure white shirts and navy blue pants into filthy messes by the end of the school day, but our moms never complained. The Dominican Sect of the Catholic Church administered the school, but the nuns actually ran it.
The principal was a short penguin named Sister Superior (we never actually found out her real name).
The scourge of the school was Sister Aloysius, who was to terrorize us in both the fourth and the seventh grades (we did get even with her in the seventh grade, but that is another tale).
Sister Regina was fairly pleasant and in charge of the eighth grade.
Sister Claire was in charge of the sixth grade and she was pretty nice, also.
The fifth grade was a failed experiment.
They tried using a public school teacher, Miss Gomez, for that grade, but she was run out of the classroom in less than two months and then replaced with Sister Ignatia, who was barely able to reign us back in.
Our third grade teacher was Sister Evangelista and our second grade teacher was Sister Rhonesia (we called her Milk of Magnesia) and she was very nice. So now you have met most of the players within the development and Saint Bonaventure Grammar School.
Our stories are not like those on “South Park” or “The Wonder Years” on TV.
Although there were bits and pieces from these shows and other shows like “Leave it to Beaver”, “The Waltons”, and “Father Knows Best”, that we later smiled at in retrospect.
Our stories were a bit more realistic because they actually happened (or most of it did).
I will try to keep the lies and exaggerations to a minimum (this is very hard for me to do), but for the most part, most of these tales are true.
We hope you enjoy your visit to our little corner of the world, circa 1954-1960.
Welcome to West Paterson and the “development”. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-nun-hell Tales of West Paterson – The Nun From Hell The Nun From Hell By Arthur H Tafero Sister Aloysius was an unbelievably relentless evil force of nature.
She was our fourth grade teacher and we were destined to have her again in the seventh grade.
But this was the first time around and the shock of having her enter our psychic and physical world was quite harrowing.
She was a tall, slightly overweight woman with mysteriously appearing handkerchiefs she would pull out and put back into her black uniform like a magician.
She utilized three main weapons: a three foot long ruler, which she wielded like an axe, a two foot pointer, which she often broke over students’ heads, and her two meaty fists, which she did not hesitate to use on anyone.
We were only three months removed from the third grade, so we were in her complete control.
There were only two ways to avoid Aloysius’ wrath.
Being quiet and showing great academic skill.
One of her weaknesses was to allow the best test taker in each subject to grade everyone else’s paper.
She merely recorded the grades.
This allowed four students to almost always escape her wrath because she had a certain dependence on them. Of the four of us, Martin was the only one who really pushed the envelope when it came to finding out how much a grader could get away with.
We all gave our friends high grades by adding answers or erasing math mistakes.
Bernadette Hillman liked to talk, and the witch would slam her ruler down on to whomever Bernadette was talking to, but never Bernadette, herself.
Walter was an altar boy and never got into trouble until the last week of the last year of his grammar school life, but that is a story for another time.
Diane was a fairly quiet girl (and one of the objects of Marty’s desire later in grammar school), so she never was in trouble with the witch.
Marty talked to anyone he could in all four directions and all of them would get whacked like an Italian mobster.
So after a while, no one talked to Marty because they were sure to get whacked, even if Marty initiated the conversation.
He also pulled other stunts that tested the limits of Aloysius’s allowances for her graders.
He often didn’t pay the monthly tuition and said that he did, but she had forgotten to record it.
Then Marty would spend the proceeds on baseball cards.
He would say the say thing about the monthly bus fare fees, the monthly school uniform fees, and even the offerings for the starving children of China.
He felt getting new Yankees in fresh packs was far more important that the starving children of China. Every month Sister Aloysius and Marty would get into a dialogue about how she forgot to record his tuition, bus fare and uniform payments and every month Marty won the argument, but he always received a few whacks for his argument.
He felt it was well worth the whacks.
The champion of the class, however, in getting whacked on a daily basis (and sometimes more than once a day) was Jeffrey Lovans.
Aloysius went after Lovans every day like an attack dog going after a steak.
She broke a pointer a day over Lovans’s very hard head.
In the fourth grade, he would cry every day, but by the seventh grade, he used to laugh when she did the same thing.
Sometimes she broke a ruler over his back or arm, but most of the time it was over his head.
There was something about Jeffrey that drove the witch into overdrive.
She was bad enough with everyone else, but with Jeffrey, we were sure we would see a homicide sooner or later. Class would start at 9 am sharp with the math assignment.
Sister would expect everyone to have a sharpened pencil, loose leaf and an eraser.
Jeffrey never had any of the three.
First, she asked if anyone needed paper and Jeffrey would ALWAYS raise his hand.
This got the witch going. “You little twerp, you never have any paper.
Do you think the church is here to support you?” She never hesitated to use curses.
The key was to say nothing in return.
Then she asked if anyone needed a pencil.
Only Jeffrey would raise his hand.
She would throw the pencil at him as hard as she could and one time caught him in the ear. “Good for you” she said when the pointed pencil pierced Jeffrey’s ear. “Next time bring a pencil”.
By the time she asked if anyone needed an eraser, no one raised their hand; including Jeffrey.
Then it would be time to hand the papers in, but Sister would always take Jeffrey’s paper and look at it first.
Jeffrey always crossed out a lot of answers because he was afraid to ask for an eraser.
This continued to infuriate Aloysius. “By the short hairs of the saints (we didn’t understand at the time what that meant), why do you cross out so much?” “I don’t have an eraser sister” Jeffrey would say smiling. “Here c’mere, here c’mere” You could see the smoke coming out of her habit.
Those two phrases absolutely meant you better save her the trip of coming over to you or you would get twice as much if she had to get up.
So Jeffrey would look sheepishly at the class which snickered because they knew what was coming and then he would move quickly to the witch’s desk.
She would growl one more “here c’mere” and then take a good whack at Jeffrey, who knew what was coming.
He merely ducked and let the ruler slap his shoulder or back and then he quickly retreated to his desk. After math, we had religion.
None of us were really that good in religion and those tests were graded by Sister Aloysius, herself.
We generally had to line up in two lines; one for boys and for girls.
The girls always did better.
I guess they were more religious and the boys sinned a lot more.
We would be asked a question from the catechism and then we had to give the memorized answer.
Marty usually muffed it up and gave some convoluted answer and then the witch would say “here c’mere” and he would get a whack.
Not everyone who missed a question would get a whack, just the boys who liked to talk.
After the joys of religion, we had English.
Marty did pretty well in English, especially when we had to write essays on various boring topics.
He would use his imagination and try to make the essays interesting and would usually get a 90 or better.
Aloysius usually marked English by the foot.
That meant that if you wrote a lot, you would get a higher grade automatically.
Diane Palladesta would normally give you a 90, unless you butchered the grammar or spelling.
Marty did all right in grammar and spelling, too.
He liked to make believe he was advertising a product. After English, came the lunch hour.
We had the choice of going to the cafeteria or to Tom’s Deli across the street.
In the fourth grade, we didn’t have too much money (it was 1955), so we would go to the cafeteria, unless we were lucky enough to have a mom’s packed lunch like Doug.
There was no choice in the cafeteria; you had to eat the “special” of the day.
One day it was usually overcooked noodles (like the ones you had in Campbell’s noodle soup) with warm watery tomato juice.
This was considered spaghetti by the Irish nuns who did the cooking.
The days we had corn beef cabbage were good, but spaghetti days were so bad we went to the deli or skipped lunch if we didn’t bring it.
I would always be eating half of Doug’s sandwich on these spaghetti days.
The other three days were always the same, too.
Wednesday was baloney sandwiches, Thursday was cheese and tomato sandwiches (they were disgusting) and Friday was fish sticks (which many of us also had at home for supper, but they were ok as long as you had a lot of ketchup.
Sometimes, we had something that was jokingly referred to as “Pisa” by the Irish nuns.
They couldn’t even pronounce the word “pizza”.
It was undercooked bread covered with the leftover tomato soup from the spaghetti on Mondays.
No one in their right mind ever ate that crap.
We had all been spoiled by our mothers’ cooking.
After lunch, we sometimes used to flip our TV baseball cards on the playground and then Aloysius would take all of them away after lunch because she said God condemns gamblers to hell and that’s where we would be going.
And if we weren’t going to hell for that, it would surely be for something else.
So after a while, we stopped bringing cards to school in 1955. When we got back from lunch, it was time for Science.
Walter Zehner would be marking our science papers when we handed them in.
There were no multiple choice questions in those days.
You didn’t get multiple choice questions in parochial schools. They expected you to fill in the space with the right answer without seeing it first.
So most of our science quizzes were either fill-in-the-space or the merciful matching quiz which was always easy to figure out.
There was either Music or Art after Science.
Aloysius was atrocious in both of them and couldn’t wait for those periods to be over.
Marty was good in Music, but lousy in Art.
The good thing about those periods was that no one, except Jeffrey, ever got whacked during them. The final class of the day was History and Geography which Marty liked a lot.
He almost never got in trouble in this class.
Some of the guys hated History and they would get whacked on occasion.
This was also the time of day that the witch would take her daily nap.
This would eventually be one of the primary causes of her “reassignment to the retreat” three years later (in conjunction with the great St.
Bon’s Cheating caper).
We would read from either our history or geography books.
It was ok while a good reader was reading, but when a guy like John Cusach read, it was tortuous for everyone except Sister Aloysius who was asleep.
We all read two paragraphs each and then the person behind you automatically read the next two paragraphs, unless Aloysius called on you if she thought you weren’t paying attention.
By the time we got to the second row from the window, Aloysius was asleep.
She stayed that way until the bell woke her up and we left at 3:00 unless she was keeping the class in again that day.
She kept us after school for an hour about once a week just to keep us in a state of terror.
We would all miss the bus and some of us had to walk two miles to get home.
Tough luck for us. Parents didn’t pick up kids from school in those days because mothers didn’t have cars at three o’clock.
All the dads were in work with the cars, so you walked home. Sometimes when the witch was asleep the class used to amuse itself by making up stuff as it was reading.
Billy Carrollton was good at this and, of course, Jeffrey Lovans used to ad lib also.
Marty did on occasion and maybe one or two other boys.
The girls were too petrified of Aloysius to try anything like that, though.
We would say things like “The Roman Empire fell because it was wearing shoelaces that were too long” and then a number of students would crack up.
The witch would sleep through the whole thing, anyway, so we got a bit bolder.
Billy Carrollton once read “The Pope interceded on behalf of Spain because he liked Spanish girls at the Vatican”.
This caused a roar of laughter so loud that the dozing ogre awoke and kept us after school for an hour.
This was a typical day in the life of a fourth grader in Saint Bonaventure Grammar school in 1955. — Because of my very annoying compulsion to be efficient, I have combined a review of Fifties Baseball and Comic Books.
This will, undoubtedly, alienate fans of both genres equally, and therefore no one will read this particular entry.
But for those of you not easily offended, here are some of my recollections. The earliest memory of baseball in the fifties that I have is watchingthe Yankees on television with my grandfather while my grandmother was consumer two Schaeffer beers.
The Yanks usually won and Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra became two of my heroes.
My grandfather finally took me to a game one night when the Dodgers were playing the Philles in Jersey City Roosevelt Stadium.
The Philles won 3-2 with a sac fly in the top of the ninth inning.
I learned that night that the Dodgers were much more likely to break your heart than the Yankees, so I became a life-long Yankee fan. The Yankees dominated baseball in the 1950s.
It was all about winning the World Series, which they did in 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956 and 1958.
I think winning six World Series in ten years would qualify for the term domination.
I wanted to be a Yankee.
But in the meantime, I read comic books.
I liked almost any comic, but my favorites were Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge (an offshoot of Donald Duck), and anything with “Tales” in the title including, but not limited to: Tales of the Crypt, Tales to Astonish, Strange Tales and Tales of Unknown.
I also like Bilko, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Nutsy Squirrel, Mighty Mouse, Classic Comics, Blackhawk, Bugs Bunny, Combat, Mad Magazine (which started out as a comic), Casper, Dagwood, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Peanuts, and almost any science fiction comic.
Dell comics were good comics (as their slogan said), but titles other than Dell always seemed a bit raunchier or a bit more violent, so I cultivated a taste for titles other than Dell.
I did like the Dell Zorro and Davy Crockett series, but I really liked the offbeat titles like EC with all the wonderful gore and sweating GIs on the front. Some of the themes of the comics were interesting, too. Donald Duck, for instance, had hisbest work done in the Comics and Stories series that ran over 400 issues.
Many of the classic covers were done by Carl Barks, whose work is still currently sought after in the collector’smarket.
Disney did not draw these comics as many had imagined.
Mickey Mouse, on the other hand, was particularly bland when compared to the interesting stories of Donald Duck and Huey, Louie and Dewey were far more fascinating than the two nephews of Mickey, whose names I can’t even recall because their personalities were so low-key. Donald Duck spawned a whole pantheon of memorable characters: Uncle Scrooge, Gyro Gearloose, The Beagle Boys, Daisy Duck, Gladstone Gander (one of my favorites because he was always finding money and was always lucky), Huey, Louie and Dewey (do you remember which colors each of their hats were?), and many others. There have been a lot of ball games and comics collected in my family since those days, but none of them are as good as Donald Duck as far as I’m concerned.
You can keep all those self-righteous superheroes, I’ll take Donald with his hilarious imperfections and Ralph Kramden ideas to make money.
Here’s to you, Donald. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-objectionable-part Tales of West Paterson – Objectionable in Part HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-objectionable-part View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7850/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO OBJECTIONABLE IN PART (movies) By Arthur H Tafero As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am crazy about movies.
I really don’t care if they are particularly good movies, bad movies or something in between, I will generally watch it anyway.
Sometimes I even watch BAD movies more than once.
I just love movies.
I learned early on that movies were not the same as real life (real life is much harder than the movies – Cinema Paradiso).
However, I learned quite a bit from films.
I certainly learned much more from the movies than I ever did in my substantial academic career (with the exception of China). My earliest recollection of going to the movies was with my mother.
I remember seeing some Abbott and Costello films.
One was about London and the other was a color pirate movie.
Neither were of academy-award winning stature, but I sat through both of them thoroughly entertained; I couldn’t have been more than five or six.
I also remember early cartoon festivals for Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck and even one for Mighty Mouse.
My poor mother would have to sit through an hour and a half of nothing but cartoons with a cinema full of screaming little kids like myself.
I was in heaven for that hour and a half.
I never wanted those cartoons to end. As I got a bit older, we began going to the local Drive-In in West Paterson, New Jersey.
I liked the one or two cartoon at the beginning of the show, but it was usually followed by a grown-up movie that sometimes I got and sometimes I didn’t. For example, I didn’t get The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit with Gregory Peck when I was a little kid.
I just couldn’t relate.
Seeing it many years later after I got out of the Army, I realized what a good film it really was.
Fortunately, there was always a terrible B movie playing with the main feature.
This caused two things to happen.
First, you were able to conjole your parents most of the time for a soda and popcorn, or even sometimes a hot dog during the intermission.
Intermission was about my favorite part of the moviesbefore I started going to High School.
Secondly, the B movie would almost always be a cheesy Western, War or Science-Fiction movie.
I grew to appreciate the B movies far more than the main features. I started going to the movies without my parents when we used to bicycle around Paterson with the tribe.
The tribe was a gang ranging from four to ten young preteen boys who all played for the Indians Little League team in West Paterson.
Sometimes, on Saturday mornings we would bike into downtown Paterson and choose between a matinee show at the Capitol, the Majestic or the US theaters that were there at the time.
The Capitol and the US theaters always showed wholesome films at the matinees like westerns and sci-fi.
Sometimes they had two war movies at the same time.
They also had cartoons before the movies and sometimes even a few shorts of the Three Stooges.
But the Majestic was another matter.
They would have some very questionable matinees that were not always the most wholesome choice for preteens (they catered to the soft-porn crowd at night).
The management really didn’t care and we never told our parents, but we would occasionally opt for AN OBJECTIONABLE IN PART movie condemned by the local Catholic weekly.
They would put out a list every week of movies that were OK to see, an OBJECTIONABLE IN PART list, which meant most of the movie was OK, but there was at least one bad moral scene in the movie (tongue-kissing, bare midriffs, curses like damn or hell and other soul-crushing catastrophes), and the most feared, (but strangely attractive) list of all: the CONDEMNED list.
Boy, if you saw one of those films, you were going straight to hell, brother. Well, as it turned out, Macumba Love was on the CONDEMNED list that week and the last thing that this pack of six preteens ever thought they would get to see at a matinee was a CONDEMNED movie.
God, would this make for a good buzz at school on Monday! Just as we were getting our hopes (and certain body parts) way up, we ran into the sign on the window: (MATINEES: 35 cents; sixteen and over only unless accompanied by an adult).
Frantically, we tried to figure out a solution to our problem and came up with the idea of paying for some lame adult who could bring us all in.
We grabbed some grubby child-molester type because we had safety in numbers and he brought seven tickets for all of us and we were home free. Now I will not go into the lurid details of this disgusting, but engrossing (for preteens) film, but suffice it to say during the rolling of the credits, there were number TOPLESS black tribal women dancing around a fire at night.
This scene by itself was worth the price of admission and at least one or two of the young boys got a bit messy by the end of the credits. But it got much worse (better?).
There was a scene where the abducted white woman was going to be ravaged by the entire tribe before she was eaten (or did I get that backwards?).
In any event, we ALL were messy by the end of that scene.
You could hear the numerous “O My Gods” being uttered by almost every member of our expedition.
Of course, you never actually saw any nudity (except for the black tribal women) and all of the sex acts were merely suggested with moans and off-camera action via shadows and other techniques.
We were actually quite disappointed when the white woman was finally rescued by the safari sent out to find her.
We were kind of hoping for a bit more ravaging.
But as we left in our slightly damp pants, no one had a bad word to say about the most eye-opening film any of us had ever seen. “Wow, that was great, wasn’t it?” “Yeah, did you see all those boobs around the fire?” “Jeez, how could you miss ‘em; the camera was on them the whole time the credits ran”. “My favorite part was the ravaging, though”.
We all agreed with Doug that the ravaging was definitely the best part. We could hardly wait for next week’s movie that we saw in the coming attractions: Prisoner of the Amazons.
The scenes seemed to star almost all the same actors and actresses and the location in the Amazon looked amazingly like the location that we had just seen in the African jungle.
The plot looked great though; what kid wouldn’t want to be held as a sex slave by a bunch of busty women. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-captain-video-and-video-rangers Tales of West Paterson – Captain Video and the Video Rangers! HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-captain-video-and-video-rangers View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7851/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO CAPTAIN VIDEO AND THE VIDEO RANGERS! By Arthur H Tafero Television shows we used to watch were an important part of daily West Paterson life.
Before I go into lurid detail about these magnificent TV shows, I really should give you an idea of what it was like to watch television in West Paterson in the 1950s.
First, you had a black and white television set (color tv was a thing of the future).
There were no remotes or automatic channel changers.
You were the remote.
You had to get up off your butt to change the channel or increase or decrease the sound.
Sometimes you had to move the antenna to get better reception (or any reception) for the shaky channels like 5, 9, 11 or 13. Each of these secondary channels had very limited programming.
One of the few things on 13 for a kid to watch was the Farmer Gray Cartoon Show.
For those who were deprived, the Farmer Gray cartoons were exactly that; gray, black and white.
They had no sound, and the animation was something any twelve year old could put together today on a web site.
All the cartoons were basically the same; Farmer Gray would try to rid himself of tormenting teems of mice on his farm.
Farmer Gray was never successful and the mice always won.
Each cartoon ended with the mice chasing farmer gray down a country road.
These cartoons would come on every day at 7 am in the morning and last for a half hour.
Sometimes they were introduced by a man called Uncle Fred and his little peanut gallery.
Peanut galleries of little kids in the studio audience were very popular in the early 50s.
Unbelievably, these cartoons ran for years and kids never stopped tuning in for them every day. In addition to Farmer Gray cartoons on 13, you had the Yankee games on Channel 11.
These were a main staple of the boy tribes of West Paterson.
We watched an hour before the game and an hour after the game just to be safe.
Night games ended late, but it was ok for us to watch most of them because they were in the summer and they kept us out of trouble (at least for the hours the games were on).
When faced with a choice of going to church for the twelve o’clock mass one Sunday or missing the first four innings of the first game of a Yankee doubleheader, we feigned sickness in order to stay home and watched the first game.
Channel 11 had Joe Bolton and the Funhouse, which showed shorts of the Three Stooges.
All the guys in the neighborhood claimed they had been on the show and had gotten into the funhouse, but they were all lying.
Early reruns of the Abbott and Costello show were also on 11 on Saturday (which was a big TV day for kids) or sometimes repeats were on during the week after the school day. Channel 9 was famous for “The Million Dollar Movie” which used the theme from “Gone With the Wind” as its opening credits.
The tribe watched “King Kong” about twelve times in a row when it first came on Million Dollar Movie.
The format of the show was to repeat the movie over and over again for most of the broadcast day.
Channel 5 was almost all live broadcasting.
Some of the kinkiest live shows on television were broadcast on Channel 5 in the early 50’s. One of their most successful shows was “Captain Video and the Video Rangers”.
This format tried to cash in on the popularity of America’s new obsession with space travel.
Kids were glued to the TV when the show came on and Captain Video would stop by earth to pick up some lucky kid who would be the Video Ranger of the day.
Then he and Captain Video would take off for adventures throughout the universe.
There would always be a segment whereCaptain Video and his Ranger of the day would try and interpret that day’s message from an alien planet.
It was amazing how Captain Video would run into a new alien civilization every day of the week.
The message was always read in a deep alien-like voice.
Years later, we figured out the message was just a recording of something Captain Video was saying, but it was broadcast backward and at a slower speed.
Messages like “You should brush your teeth before you go to bed” were translated for us just in time for us to brush our teeth and go to bed. The bulk of the popular kids shows, however, were on the main broadcast channels of 2, 4 and 7 ( CBS, NBC and ABC).
Channel 2 had the ever popular “Lone Ranger” and “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon” as well as “Gunsmoke”, “Winky Dink”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Sea-Hunt” and “Have Gun Will Travel”.
There was a tremendous preponderance of Westerns in early American television.
Channel 4 garnered the majority of the Saturday morning audience except for “Winky Dink”. “Winky Dink” was about a bizarre, spike-haired, little boy who had adventures that could only be followed if you had the official Winky Dink screen and official Winky Dink crayon.
Your parents had to ante up a then very expensive two bucks for a worthless clear plastic screen (a piece of Saran Wrap with one sticky side) and a cheap crayon.
It infuriated my parents when they had to buy it in the store at Two Guys From Harrison, but they bought it.
They even got more infuriated one Saturday morning when I couldn’t find the magic screen so I traced Winky Dink’s adventure right on the screen without the plastic.
Boy, did I get a good tanning for that one. Channel 4 was still the dominant kids channel though.
It had “Andy’s Gang” with the obscene Froggy (“plunk your magic twanger froggy!”).
How this got through the censors is now beyond me, but I guess they were just not hip enough to figure it out.
It also had the popular “Howdy Doody” (a vague reference to scatological humor with Doody meaning feces; thus meaning the name of the show was “Hello Feces!”).
This was a bit less vulgar than Froggy, though, and once again, the censors didn’t have a clue.
Popular Channel 4 shows with no controversial double entendres included “Fury” about a gifted horse who was like Flicka, except that he was a horse that all the guys wanted to own, “Sky King”, about some guy who solved a lot of problems with his plane; another thing all the guys in the development wanted and one or two other shows we watched because we were too lazy to get up to change the channel. “Andy’s Gang” was the first show that had exotic stuff like the adventures of “Gunga, the East India Boy”.
The guys in the development could really relate to living in the jungle and we all wanted to be Gunga.
Gunga, by the way, means feces in a few exotic languages.
I guess the writers of these kid shows were a bit disappointed that they were not the next Hemmingway, so they took it out on the TV shows they worked on.
The show was hosted by the friendly Andy Devine, who was well-known as the sidekick “Jingles” of the Wild Bill Hickock show (another western).
There was Midnight the Cat and Squeeky the Mouse dressed up as a Gypsy violinist and dancer, meowing and squeaking as obvious strings jerked them around against their will. “Howdy Doody” had its own cast of bizarre characters; you had the boring puppet, Howdy Doody, the affable Buffalo Bill, his human friend and caretaker of the peanut gallery, Clarabelle, the life of the party, who was always spraying seltzer water on people, (the guys in the tibe wanted one of those spraying seltzer bottles), Flubadub, an unusual puppet, who had no concrete personality, Mr.
Bluster, who was a lot of fun because he was an adult puppet who was always losing his temper, Princess Summerfall Winterspring, who’s main purpose was to teach us the seasons of the year, Captain Windy, who was quite forgettable, Inspector Fadoozle, who was supposed to remind us of a dishonest public official, Dilly Dally, who taught us not to be late, and a host of other minor and forgettable puppet characters.
In retrospect, Clarabelle is what made this show watchable. Other notable shows we watched were: “The Cisco Kid” with Pancho, “Ding Dong School” with Miss Frances, (but only when we were VERY young), Davy and Goliath (that was a strange dog), “My Friend Flicka” (a cornier version of “Fury”, who had been much cooler), “Lassie”, which was mostly part of the Sunday nite lineup, so it was depressing because it was the day before school, “Roy Rogers” and “Leave It To Beaver”, “Ozzie and Harriet”, and later on “The Wonderful World of Disney” (most of the guys always wanted to see Tommorowland; but most of the time it was Frontierland), and before we went to bed we stayed up for the “Ed Sullivan Show, even though we thought it was pretty boring (at least we got to stay up). All of us hated “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” although our parents thought it was cute, “Mighty Mouse” was very popular on Saturday mornings on CBS; it was the only show that we bothered to learn the lyrics of the theme song (other than the “Mickey Mouse Show”) Mister Trouble never hangs around When he hears this Mighty sound. Here I come to save the day That means that Mighty Mouse is on his way. When there is a wrong to right Mighty Mouse will join the fight. On the sea or on the land, He gets the situation well in hand. We also learned the commercials of the shows on occasion: “I love Bosco, it’s rich and chocolatey. Chocolate-flavored Bosco is mighty good for me. Mama puts it in my milk for extra energy. Bosco gives me iron and sunshine Vitamin D. Oh, I love Bosco, that’s the drink for me.!” “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should”, (although none of us smoked, we occasionally had chocolate cigarettes), and of course “M-I-C, see you real soon!, K-E-Y, why? Because we like you” from the Mickey Mouse Club. Other shows of note were Saturday nite at midnight with Zacherly, the funny Ghoul, who used to host the horror movie of the week (usually the classic monster movies of the 30s), “Your Show of Shows” with Sid Ceasar and Imogene Coca, “The Milton Berle Show” and the “Phil Silvers Show” with Phil Silvers as Sergeant Bilko, which made all the guys want to be in the army.
Bob Hope also had occasional shows on during the month and Jack Benny had a funny weekly show.
There was “The Life of Riley” with William Bendix, “My Little Margie” who lived in something called a high-rise apartment with elevators, and the “The Jackie Gleason Show” which was wildly popular with our parents and the kids liked it, too.
These were all shows that both kids and their parents could enjoy at the same time.
Bugs Bunny was about the only cartoon that our parents would watch with us. “Amos and Andy” was extremely popular, also, until the NAACP forced the show off the air because of its politically incorrect portrayal of blacks.
So instead of a glimpse into the lives of blacks that was laced with some stereotypes, the NAACP thought it better that independently working blacks be eliminated from broadcast television and for the Uncle Tomish Rochester, who worked for a white man to be kept on the “Jack Benny Show”.
I failed to see the logic there. So television in the fifties was a lot different than it is now.
Television was an important part of social life in West Paterson.
It was stuff you could talk about in school the next day or during one of our endless ball games.
Everybody had watched mostly the same shows because there were only six combinations for everyone to watch.
Somehow it seems to me that TV in those days was far superior to the TV that is available now.
Gone is the spontaneity, creativity, the wonder of discovery and the just plain silliness of the 50s.
It has all been replaced with video games, computers and formula TV.
Television now has hundreds of channels and all the attraction of a baloney sandwich that has been left out on the porch.
Another thing about the fifties that is vastly different from today for kids is the amount of human contact, companionship and physical activity the average prepubescent child experienced.
For two and a half months every year, we did not study for SATs (now I see thousands of 7th and 8th graders in cram schools during the summer for this ridiculous test) go to summer camps, or stayed inside the house to play video games or computers.
When we wanted to talk to our friends, we physically visited them.
When we played games, we physically played them and in many instances created our own games.
We went OUT.
You had no other choice in the development. — HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-life-early-grades Tales of West Paterson – Life in the Early Grades HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-life-early-grades View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7853/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Life in the Early Grades By Arthur H Tafero I moved to West Paterson in time for the second grade at Saint Bonaventure Grammar School.
I remember going to the first gradeat Saint Anne’s in Jersey City and getting into trouble for two basic things.
First, I colored outside of the lines in our coloring books and that was taboo in the first grade.
I did it so often that the teacher (whose name I cannot remember) wrote me a note to take home to my parents).
This was the second basic thing I got in trouble for.
I took the note and threw it down the sewer before I got on the bus.
I got away with this for about a week, until my teacher followed me after giving me another note and saw me throw it down the sewer again.
Boy, did I get tanned for that one. By the time we moved to West Paterson for the second grade, everyone had a phone, so the chance of you getting away without taking a note home were slim and none, so we never bothered to try and get rid of the notes.
For some of us conduct always seemed to be a problem from the first thru the eighth grades.
Most of us were fine in high school, but in grammar school, we just loved talking too much.
In high school, you would just be told to quiet down and then you would quiet down, but in a Catholic grammar school, talking at inappropriate times was considered a great breech in discipline, not just a minor interruption, and it was treated as such.
Many of us ever got a grade over 70 in conduct and most of us got several U’s.
A U stood for Unsatisfactory, and if you got even one of those, it would cost you either on your grade or on your butt.
We had several U’s.
TALKATIVE IN CLASS, TALKS AT INAPPROPRIATE TIMES, DISRUPTIVE IN CLASS, POOR USE OF FREE TIME (translation: We spent too much time flipping baseball cards or talking in class).
Individually, these were all minor violations and had little, if any bearing on our academic performance. The classes in the second grade were with Sister Rhonesia.
The kids, on occasion, would discuss the fact that nuns, in generally, had the most disgusting names they had ever heard of.
Rhonesia was one of them.
It seem to be a combination of the country in Africa, Rhodesia and Milk of Magnesia.
The second grade class started, as it would for the next seven years, at nine am with math.
If you finished the assignment satisfactorily, you got a blue star next to your name on this very large poster that Sister Rhonesia had created in the front of the class next to the blackboard.
It pretty much overwhelmed the rest of the room.
You could pretty much see the achievements of the whole class in one view of this gigantic poster.
If you did a noticeably good job on the assignment, you would get a silver star and if you were among the very best in the class, then you would get that precious gold star.
There were fifty-three of us up on that giant poster with our names and all the stars we had accumulated.
There was enough room for the whole year. A lot of the kids were very competitive about these stars and would keep count of every blue, silver and gold star they had. In math, whoever finished first always get a hundred.
This would earn that kid the first gold star of the day.
The next class was religion and most of the time the best most of us ever did in that class was get a blue or silver star.
Jack Romanoff and Billy Carrollton would get gold stars because they were altar boys and Michelle McKearny and Patricia Roan would get gold stars because they recited their catechism better than the other girls. In religion we learned that the world was divided into Christians and pagans.
The Christians would all be going to the Kingdom of God and the pagans would be going to hell to burn for all eternity.
Pagans were people who idolized false gods.
That included all the Jews, Protestants, Muslims, all the people in Africa who weren’t Catholics and the entire nation of China, except for those who had converted to Catholicism.
This made my decision to keep the money my mother had given me for the starving children of China moot.
Why give these kids money for food if they were already condemned to hell for eternity? It was a waste of money and was better spent on baseball cards.
The issue of the Greek Orthodox Church and Russia was brought up and we found our those pagans were going to hell too, but one second-grader (most likely Barbara Barnier) asked: “What if some of the pagans are good people, but they just worship the wrong God?” “They will be going to hell, anyway, my dear, because worshipping the right God is more important that being good.” Somehow, this did not compute with many of us. We had to learn the first part of the catechism before we could make our first Holy Communion.
This was a really big deal in the Catholic Church and a big deal in the school.
It was also a great occasion to get gifts and money from our parents and relatives, so we were all up for it.
The lesson we learned from this exclusionary indoctrination in the second grade was that being good was not all that important, so why bother so much about trying to be good? We could always fall back on praying to the right God for forgiveness and since it was the RIGHT God; we had nothing to worry about.
So a few of us got blue stars and silver stars for Math and religion and the same happened for English which followed.
Diane Palladesta and Barbara Barnier got gold stars in English and some of us would always get a silver star which irked us because we thought our essays were the cool.
But I guess Sister Rhonesia based it more on grammar like the previous sentence that was a run-on. It was then time for our delicious lunch time cafeteria food.
All it took was one week of the horrendous spaghetti, leaden meat dishes, mushy vegetables and boring milk to convince our mothers to let us bring our own lunches to school with us in those wonderful metal containers that showed our favorite TV personalities.
It was no contest.
All we had to do was compare our mom’s cooking and sandwiches to the glop that was served in the cafeteria and the moms came around in a week or two. After we ate, we played the game of the season.
If it was Fall, we would play boxball or touch football.
If it was the Winter and the playground was all iced up, we would play hockey.
In the early Spring we would go back to boxball or chink ( a game you played against the wall with a hi-bouncer).
Another popular game was baseball off the wall which was a lot like stoop ball, but that game will be explained in another tale. When we got back from lunch, it was time for Science and most of us hardly ever got any stars in that subject.
Walter Zehner and Frank Pavalaki always got a gold star in Science and then it was time for Art.
Many of us really sucked in Art; we never even got a blue star in art.
Doug always got at least a silver star in Art because he was always very neat.
On alternate days we had Music and most of us would do much better.
Some of us would even get a gold star, once in awhile, in Music. After Music and Art period, it was time for the History and Geography lessons.
Bernadette Hillman always scored a gold star in this area along with Fred Hertz and Virginia Miccio. At the end of the first month, Diane Palladesta, Walter Zehner and Bernadette Hillman had the most gold stars.
No too many of us really counted the blue stars or silver stars. Our test papers got graded the same way.
If you got a 95 or better, you got a gold star.
If you got a 90 to 94, you got a silver star.
We threw away any test papers under 90 because all they got were blue stars.
Luckily for some of us, there were no tests for conduct or we would have never gotten any stars like Jeffrey Lovans.
A few of us were really annoyed.
We thought some of our essays deserved gold stars and that our math papers deserved gold stars, Some felt they should have been among the class leaders in gold stars.
One of the students decided to do something about it.
While at the five and ten in Paterson with their mother, one of the students stuck a small box of mixed stars in their pocket.
When the class let out for lunch the next day, he or she hid in the cloak room until the class was empty and Sister Rhonesia had left for lunch.
Then this evil student went to the big board of names and stars and began their secret campaign. First, they removed a few gold stars of the leading students and replaced them with silver stars.
Then they took off a number of their blue stars and changed them to gold and silver stars.
They tried not to make it too obvious and they kept their gold star count just a few below the leaders.
Then they went downstairs to lunch and box ball.
The evil one could hardly contain their glee and almost felt a compulsion to confess what they had done, but they kept it to themselves. When the class got back that day and we started our Science class, the culprit expected Sister would discover the scam, but she paid no attention as she added Walter Zehner’s latest gold star.
Walter, however, gave a puzzled look at the board and started to use his forefinger to silently count his gold stars and had a confused look which you seldom saw on his face.
We could hardly keep ourselves from laughing.
The culprit was most likely going to Hell for this, but it seemed to be worth it.
After Art and History, we were done for the day and Doug looked up at the board and his mouth dropped.
That made the evil one’s day.
Eventually, the culprit had to do a little doctoring about once a month.
He or she stopped taking off stars from the other good students and just added stars to other ones.
At the end of the year, the leading students, including myself received prizes for being in the top six in the class in stars.
And then the gigantic poster was taken down and none of us ever got any stars ever again.
It was time for the third grade and third graders were too big to get stars; they just got grades. A lot of us kind of miss the stars. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-shopping-saturday-morning Tales of West Paterson – Shopping on Saturday Morning HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-shopping-saturday-morning View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7854/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Shopping on Saturday Morning By Arthur H Tafero Unless there was a very important scheduled sporting event that your official West Paterson or Saint Bon’s team was involved in, you were always drafted to shop and carry bags at the Saturday morning shopping at the Acme.
These shoppings varied according to the weather.
When it was cold in West Paterson, it was very, very cold and when it was hot, it was almost unbearable because almost no one in the development had air conditioning.
The vents in the houseswere set up for central heating, but not for central air conditioning.
The attics would freeze in the winter and roast in the summer.
Most of the boy tribe members had their rooms in the attic.
We got used to the extreme temperatures and getting as close to the vent as possible in the winter to get the weak heat that it was sending up.
Some of the guys slept in the basement during the winter because it was nice and toasty there, since it was the source of the central heating.
In the summer, the basements were nice and cool; at least fifteen to twenty degrees cooler than the attics, so it was also a great place to go sleep in the summer. The other six months were always very comfortable in all areas of the house and every Saturday our parents would go in droves to the Acme.
The acme was located a bit down Rifle Camp Road where there was a fork with McBride Avenue.
If you continued down for a few blocks on McBride, you would run into the Acme.
As your parents and you came in, you had to pick out a sturdy shopping cart that had four perfectly functioning wheels.
If you picked out anything other than a sturdy kind of cart, your father would give you an Italian clip.
After the cart was selected, the heavy bottled materials were the first items that most parents shopped for.
You would go to the soda, beer and juices aisles (there was no water sold then) and, depending on the alcoholic preferences of your dad, buy a lot or a little beer, various amounts of soda (richer families bought six packs and poorer families bought the economy-sized bottles), and some bottles of juices.
You would pick up any other bottled products from other aisles at this time.
That would include pickles, relish, salad dressing, mustard, ketchup, Bosco and various other glass container bottles. The next stop was for deli meats.
Usually, one of the boys, who was with their parents, would run to the deli section and grab the next number for the deli counter.
The deli counter was always mobbed every Saturday morning and there was at least a ten to fifteen minute wait for your deli products.
You could get a pound of baloney for 29 cents and sometimes it was on sale for even less than that.
Most of our fathers opted for a pound of ham that sold for 49 cents a pound.
Our moms liked ham better than baloney, too.
Very few parents could afford the expensive Virginia Ham for 59 cents a pound.
We would also get a pound of Liverwurst for 29 cents a pound and a pound of Genoa salami for 39 cents a pound.
Sometimes parents treated their kids to olive loaf which was 39 cents a pound.
It was basically baloney with olives in it.
Most parents couldn’t afford to buy deli roast beef, so the moms made fresh roast beef, which was cheaper and lasted longer.
Finally, we would get a pound of cheddar cheese for 19 cents a pound and sometimes a pound of swiss for 29 cents a pound.
On the average, most parents would buy about five pounds of cold cuts and cheese costing about a dollar and seventy-five cents.
I don’t ever remember anyone buying anything in less than one pound amounts. That was a lot of cold cuts.
By the way, about half of all these cold cuts were gone by end of Sunday night.
We sometimes started eating them while we were unpacking the car after we got back home. After the deli section, our moms would select her cooking meats.
She would get whatever meat was on sale that week plus chicken breasts, hot dogs, chopped meat and a pot roast.
We usually had steaks on special occasions, like barbecues and picnics, but if it was on sale, our moms would pick it up and we would have steak that week.
After the meat section, our mothers would select the vegetables they would cook fresh for the week.
Very few moms used canned vegetables to feed their families in the development.
It was all fresh food.
The potatoes were always peeled, boiled and mashed with milk and butter. Green beans were fresh, although frozen vegetables seemed to gain favor among the moms pretty quickly.
Not too many moms bought tomatoes because most of them grew their own.
They grew their own cucumbers, too.
It was only in the winter they would spring for some tomatoes and cucumbers. The fruit was seasonal.
In the fall, Red Delicious apples were popular and in the winter, oranges from Florida and California were in demand, spring presented strawberries and blueberries, and summer offered watermelons, peaches and plums.
Bananas were popular all year around.
Our mothers loved fruit and tried to pass on the enjoyment to our fathers and the boy tribe members, but the returning veterans of World War II weren’t about to settle for a lot of fruit; they wanted stuff they weren’t able to eat for four years or so in Europe and Asia; ice cream, ecclaires, rich pies, chocolates, fresh rolls, fresh butter, pizza, spaghetti, ravioli, steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, beer, soda, highballs, potato chips, pretzels, cashews and cakes of all kinds. It was a constant battle between our fathers who wanted all this junk food and our mothers who tried to feed us healthier food.
The tribal boys all naturally sided with the dads and the moms had to surrender in their attempt to eliminate these types of food most of the time.
Most of the time after our regular meals at home, we would see our fathers nibbling on something.
There was always a desert after supper on the weekends and there were always snacks for watching TV.
Our moms never held back on food for the family.
They would go without a late model car, a new dining room set, a new living room chair or some other nice addition to the house, just to make sure that their husbands and kids pretty much got whatever they wanted to eat.
Eating together as a family was the most important activity a family could have, but watching TV together was a very close second. Amazingly, almost none of the moms, dads or kids were obese, because we were all very active.
We worked almost all of that junk food off.
The fathers would work on the house on the weekends, the moms would work keeping it clean seven days a week and the tribal boys would run around playing some type of damn ball 52 weeks a year. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-working-moms-west-paterson Tales of West Paterson – The Working Moms of West Paterson HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-working-moms-west-paterson View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7855/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO The Working Moms of West Paterson By Arthur H Tafero One way or the other, the mothers of West Paterson, were working moms.
Before it became fashionable, the concept of the working mother was alive and well in the development.
Almost all the mothers had to do the cleaning of the house, clothes for the kids and husband, shopping and cooking of at least sixteen meals a week, gardening, most of the accounting (the fathers were notoriously bad at record-keeping), and because they had so much free time from doing the above, they had no problem taking as many part-time jobs within the development and within downtown Paterson. Some of the mothers secretly just wanted to get out of the house for a few hours a week.
As much as they loved their husbands and kids, the merciless routine of the household demands were a brutal, unyielding sequence of events that seemed to be never-ending to most of the mothers.
The bit of extra money was welcome to the fathers, who had to give their wives less of an allowance each week, and the moms got to shop in downtown Paterson, or at the very least, got out of the house for a while.
Sometimes, the money went for better family vacations, other times to get a better family car or improvement to the house.
The extra money always went, one way or the other, to the family. The variance of jobs of the mothers was quite impressive.
Because of the revolution of World War II, which allowed almost any woman to do almost any man’s job while they were away at war, it was no big deal for these woman to attempt almost any job that came their way.
Mothers became day-care babysitters for their neighbors, while other mothers worked at other jobs.
Pride, who lived on Overmount Avenue behind our house and small canal, was one of those mothers who cared for other children while other mothers worked out of the house.
Some mothers took advantage of the fact that Paterson, in the fifties, was a hotbed of the clothing industry, and provided virtually anyone with piecework who was willing to work a certain amount of hours a week. It appeared as if the largest segment of the development job market was in the clothing industry within Paterson.
Klump and my mother, Mary all had jobs in this area.
Baker became a school busdriver for Saint Bon’s. The kids behaved much better after she became the driver, because she knew all the kid’s mothers and we knew she did, so we behaved better.
Topozzi became a den mother and also worked a part-time phone operator.
Vitale became a receptionist for the local hospital during the daytime hours her boys were in school.
It was only for three hours a day, but it was relief to get away from the tedium of the development.
Without cars, because the husbands had them at work, the wives were virtual prisoners of the house, except for the hourly bus that passed by down at Mount Pleasant Avenue at the base of Williams Drive.
There were very few two-car families in those days. The kids of the development weren’t too wild about their mothers leaving the house during the summer months when they were too young to be left alone.
The development baby-sitters like Mrs.
Pride, were nice enough, but no one was ever as good to have home as your mother.
Some kids would bawl miserably, when their mother left them, but that didn’t stop them; and a few minutes later they had forgotten their mothers were gone while they were playing some game or watching TV. The mothers, to be sure, felt a few pangs of guilt, but they quickly dissipated as the prison of the house disappeared with the Paterson bus. Other mothers who worked part-time were Mrs.
Kingsley as a barber, Mrs.
Van Weston as a nurse, and Mrs.
Delphino as a secretary.
A lot of the kids in the development used to get their haircuts from Mrs.
Kingsley because she only charged half of what they did in Paterson and you didn’t have to drag your kid out of the development to get one.
McCallin, who couldn’t wait to get out of her house because of her miserable husband, became a waitress at a Patersonrestaurant for as many hours as she could manage.
Some of the mothers even took courses at night schools to get high school diplomas or even some college credit.
Any reason was a good reason to get out of the house and the tedium attached to it.
The husbands rarely complained as long as there was a meal on the table when they got back home from work. One woman who didn’t make out so well though was Mrs.
She was murdered by her husband, who was a marshal in West Paterson, or so that was the word that was being passed around when her body was found in the house, dead from a shooting “accident” of some sort.
There was supposedly a triangle of Mrs.
Kidd, her lover, and Mr.
The vast majority of mothers in the development suspected foul play.
Kidd, of course, had to resign his position, sell the house, and eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter. After that incident, a running joke among the dads in the development was that if a mom didn’t behave, she would wind up like Mrs.
The moms generally replied that they would be the most likely ones to commit a murder and that the dads better watch their step.
The tribal boys found all this banter to be quite amusing. The mothers never brought home wonderfully disgusting snacks home like the dads did, but that was understandable considering they were making far less money.
Barnier worked as a research lab assistant at the hospital in downtown Paterson.
She took night courses for eight years and the year we left the development, she became a doctor and made more money than her husband. Mrs.
Roan became a part-time librarian and we would always run into her when we had to go to the library for some book.
Whenever we had a late book, especially Doug, she would let us go without a fine.
Zambrano helped out at a local bakery before the school day started at four in the morning.
She religiously put in three hours a day and worked Saturdays, too.
She was able to take the car, though, because she could get back to the house by seven-thirty am.
She was the best baker in the development.
She made fantastic chocolate-chip cookies and many other delicious pastries.
Eventually, she opened her own bakery in West Paterson after Zippy had gone off to college.
Tragically, her other son, Stitchie, died from that horrendous disease, that we all feared because of the death of Kathleen Dempsey of Saint Bon’s; leukemia.
Zippy was quite broken up about it, too.
Normally a very happy go lucky guy, he was in tears for days after the unfortunate event.
We all fondly remembered Stitchie. Mrs.
Shaw was a crossing guard.
She almost got hit by a truck one time during the winter because it skidded on the icy road.
She stuck with the job, though, through all kinds of inclement weather and the hot sun.
Speaking of getting hit by a truck, one of my mother’s friends, Mrs.
Krasner, had her husband get run over by a garbage truck.
Her husband had been a sanitation engineer or what the tribal boys called a garbage man.
I remember my mother and father going over her house, which was near May’s Deli and trying to console her a little bit.
I also remember being bored to tears while I was over there for a couple of hours, but it never occurred to me that the same thing could have happened to my father on the job. Or, as Mrs.
Shaw proved, something bad could also happen to our mothers while they were working their part-time jobs. The kids of the development never worried about things like that; they were worried about the Yankees and whether or not it would snow on Sunday night during the winters.
Those were about the only worries we had back then. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-dads-west-paterson Tales of West Paterson – The Dads of West Paterson HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-dads-west-paterson View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7856/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO The Dads of the Development By Arthur H Tafero Our dads all had a lot in common, but at the same time they had a lot of different personalities and quirks.
My dad, like all the other dads, had been a World War II veteran and had taken a loan to getour house.
He grew up in Bayonne as an only child and his parents and my grandparents were named Wilma and Harry.
His name was the same as mine, Arthur, so there was always a little bit of confusion in our house when my mother called “Art!” She would occasionally use the term “Art JR!” which I detested, and I never signed my name Arthur H Tafero Jr.
Which was supposed to be the name I should sign because it was on my birth certificate.
I ALWAYS dropped the Jr.
Eventually, she came up with the term “Sonny” which was both acceptable to everyone and ended much confusion.
Dad had been a basketball player and swimmer in high school and taught me how to swim.
When I was six and seven I used to ride his back like “Boy on a Dolphin” an Italian sculpture.
It really was like riding a dolphin.
He was very strong and could hold his breath under water for almost the entire length of the reservoir.
It made me want to do the same, but I could never do it as well as he did. My father met Mary before he went into the army in the early forties.
He was in the D-Day Invasion on June 6 at Omaha Beach.
He was also in the Battle of the Bulge and he said he survived the both of them because he always had dry socks.
I filed that information away for the future.
When he got out, he married Mary and then had me. He had wanted to be a surveyor, but because he needed money right away when he got married, he took a job at General Electric as a plastics molder.
He never pursued his dream of being a surveyor after that.
I remember he was very good with a slide rule and other tools I had no idea how to use, but I always sensed he was a bit disappointed he didn’t pursue his dreams.
I made a definite point of filing away that information for myself, too, and it was something I never forgot.
I was never going to work in a factory and I was never going to subvert my own personal dreams for a marriage.
I had made that decision by the time I was twelve. My father loved working with his tools and bringing midnight meals back to his family on Fridays and sometimes, Saturday nights.
He worked the second shift which meant he left for work when I got home and he got back after I had gone to bed during the week.
I almost never saw him during the week.
He tried mightily to make up for the lost time with the midnight meals and weekend trips down to the Jersey Shore.
He and I would often go crabbing down at Barnegat Bay on Satudays and bring home a bushel full of big fresh crabs for him and my mother to eat that night.
I would never touch them myself.
I hated seafood except for shrimp.
I think it was a reaction to having to eat fish sticks every Friday.
Sometimes, we went to Mountain View park and flew a kite or skated on the pond.
He was active in the Little League on the weekends, but because of his job and a bad shoulder he had from his duffel bag in World War II, his participation during the week was almost nil.
The fathers we depended on for baseball in the development were Douglas Kingsley’s father and Ronny Vitale’s father. Douglas Kingsley’s father’s name was Owen, but his friends called him Ownie.
He liked to drink beer, but he lived until he was eighty because he was so active athletically.
He was a great baseball player and he didn’t smoke.
He was always very patient with the kids when they were just starting out in the little league.
The only kid he wasn’t patient with was his only son, Doug.
He used to yell at Doug a lot to not be afraid of the ball when he hit or to pitch the ball high and tight to batters in order to get them to move off the plate.
I never had a problem with that and I gladly plunked a batter on occasion when there was two outs and nobody on.
Doug didn’t like doing that too much though.
He eventually became one of our best hitters, though, so I guess he wasn’t too afraid of the ball in the end.
When we lived in the development, I used to be the better basketball player and he was the better baseball player.
As we got older, we switched roles.
Ownie was active during the week and on the weekends.
He loved rooting for the New York Giants, but Doug was a Yankee fan like me.
Kingsley often took the both of us to the Polo Grounds for games and was heartbroken when the Giants moved to San Francisco.
Ronnie Vitale was also a New York Giants fan and he was depressed when the Giants moved, too. Ronnie’s father, Vincent, was the other very active coach at the beginning of the West Paterson Little League.
He was the coach of the Amvets, which was short for American Veterans.
Kingsley was the coach of the Indians and our arch enemy (our only enemy) was the Amvets.
In the first year, we were never able to beat the Amvets and they won every game between us, but after 1954, we began to even things out and even began to dominate them by 1956.
By that time the little league had expanded to six teams, but the league was always dominated by the little Indians and the Amvets.
Vincent was a Protestant, unlike the majority of the dads in the development, but no one really cared about that.
He never swore and he often got on anyone’s kid who had a foul mouth.
I was a major project for him.
He often told me that my vocabulary was too good to use the same stupid curses that he heard from me on numerous occasions.
Ronny never cursed either, so I guess he was successful in that area with his son.
He had a younger son named Chipper, but he was too young to hang out with the main tribe.
My dad, Ron’s dad, as well as Doug’s dad were very decent men.
But not all the fathers in the development were decent men. Up a house from Ronnie was the McCall house.
Jim McCall had a bit more land and money than most of the other dads.
This must have made him feel a little better than the other dads, but he wasn’t.
He was active in the little leagues, but he really had no talent for coaching and his teams never won anything.
He bullied his son, Jim Jr., all the time.
He often gave grand barbecues on his substantial plot of land and one time one of the Wayne kids had an argument with Jim Jr.
And then punched him in the nose.
Just went crying to his father.
Was very understanding.
He slapped his son a few times for not fighting back with the Wayne kid.
These kids were about four years younger than most guys in the tribe and we thought it was very unusual for a dad to slap around his kid that way at that age.
Anyway, Jim Jr.
Was still crying and then he went back and challenged the Wayne kid to a fight.
We all egged him on because we were grateful for the free hot dogs and hamburgers Mr.
McCallen had provided.
The vocal support, however did not help Jim Jr from getting the snot kicked out of him by the Wayne kid.
They were the same size, but for some reason, you could see that Jim Jr.
Just didn’t have the heart to fight.
The fight ended with Jim Jr.
Getting picked up off the ground by his father who slapped him a few more times.
We were so disgusted with Mr.
McCallen’s behavior that most of us left on the spot, free dogs or no free dogs.
We really felt sorry for Jim jr. The vast majority of the development dads were not like Mr.
McCallen, however, they almost never hit their kids in public.
Most of them spoiled their kids.
We were almost all spoiled in one way or the other.
Van Weston, however, did not spoil his kids, Hatchie and Davy.
He taught both of them to fight to protect themselves, but one time when Davy beat up a younger kid, he let Davy have one right on the stoop.
He was always very fair with both of his kids and the other kids in the development.
He never complained about the stickball games we played near his house which was the recipient of numerous foul balls.
Even more tolerant was Mr.
Topozzi. The stickball game actually used Mr.
Topozzi’s house as the home run marker.
When the ball hit the house, it was a homer.
Over the house was a five-run bonus that was seldom achieved.
Topozzi never complained.
What a patient man.
The tribe also cut through the Topozzi back yard all the time to enter what was called the Topozzi woods, but still, he never complained.
Of course his son, Arthur was in the stickball games and was always in tribe activities in the woods, but he wasn’t very good in sports, but we included just about everyone in tribal activities as long as they weren’t too obnoxious.
I don’t know how I got accepted.
Arthur’s best friend was Tom Delphino, who lived next door.
Delphino was a cool dad because he was always teaching Tom new things that the rest of us had never been exposed to before. One winter, Mr Delphino taught his son Tom how to ski.
After they plowed the two feet of snow that always accompanied the first snow of the winter, there was always a slick layer of snow and ice left on the hill that was Williams Drive.
We used this for a harrowing sleigh ride that usually ended with us hitting the large bank of snow at the base of the hill and we would gleefully go flying through the air and land on a large area of deep snow.
It was an exhilarating two-part ride.
You would feel the blast of the winter air burn your cheeks as you went down the steep hill on your sled and then you would hit the snow bank at a pretty good speed and then you would be airborne for a few seconds.
It was great.
Of course, you had to remember to let go of the rope on the sled or you would just get to eat a lot of the snow from the snow bank on the bottom of the street. Anyway, we notice Tom come out of his house as we were walking up to the top of the hill for our next run.
He didn’t have his sled, he was on skis! No one from the tribe had ever skied before, so this was a really big deal.
We all stopped what we were doing and watched Tom ski down Williams Drive.
We were all getting ready to laugh when he got to the bottom and would crash into the big snow bank or go flying over it, but he did neither.
He deftly turned his skis and used the poles to make a fast turn at the bottom of the hill and he just kept on going.
For all we knew, he might have went down Rifle Camp Road all the way down to the Acme which was three miles downhill from the development.
Delphino had done a great job teaching him how to ski and those skis were expensive, too, we found out later. There were many other fine dads in the development.
You almost never heard of a case of child abuse in those days; not from the development.
The dads taught us a lot of things: how to swim, how to play baseball, football, basketball, hockey, how to skate and most importantly, how to live.
They taught us not to lie, cheat or steal (although some of us did not pick up all the finer points of these lessons).
They taught us to respect others and to respect girls.
They were sometimes religious, but not overbearingly so, and they taught us respect for the law and the government of the United States.
They showed us by example, not by what they said.
These were some of the reasons we would willingly go off to war during the Vietnam era in the years to come.
Because we wanted to measure up to our fathers and we wanted to make them proud.
It was ironic that many of them had fought a long and vicious war just so we wouldn’t have to do that sort of thing again. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-west-paterson-brothers Tales of West Paterson – The West Paterson Brothers HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-west-paterson-brothers View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7857/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO The West Paterson Brothers By Arthur H Tafero Most of the kids in the boy tribes of the development didn’t have brothers their own age, so they made the boy tribe sort of their same-age family.
And more direct than the tribe as a whole, almost every boy member of the tribe had his best friend, which was in many cases, better than having a brother. As you went up Williams Drive, you would remember the best friends of each of the houses.
Glen’s best friend was Bobby, who lived next door.
That was very convenient and also a bit unusual.
Having someone almost the same age as you moving in next door was definitely against the odds.
You had to get lucky.
Not to mention that the kid would have to have some of the same interests you had and go to the same school.
Ronny’s best friend was Sal, who live at least a couple of blocks away.
Ronnie lived only two houses from me and we played together a lot together, but he was one year older than me and went to public school.
I was a bit bigger, but when a kid didn’t go your school or wasn’t the same age, it was highly unlikely he would be your best friend.
Glen and Bobby would often play ball in their own back yards and get involved in projects like building a club house, which, unfortunately, despite their great enthusiasm, did not turn out well. Ronnie and Sal played a lot of basketball and baseball together.
They also played a lot of two on two touch football and usually beat whomever they played. Ronnie’s father, Mr.
Vitale, was one of the primary baseball coaches in the development.
He coached the Amvets, a stacked little league team in West Paterson. The other stacked team was the Indians, the team I was on.
When these two teams finally broke up about four years later, they created another four teams from them; that’s how stacked they were.
Sal played on the Amvets with Ronnie.
They also went to the same school at Gilmour Grammar school, which became Memorial Grammar school in 1958, and they were in the same grade.
Ronnie moved out of the neighborhood in the summer of 1960 and it was a bit upsetting for Sal and I didn’t like it much either.
Ronny would be the first member of the regular boy tribe to leave the development.
It was a sobering event for many of us. Further up the block, there was the Van Weston house.
We never really found out who Davy’s best friend was, but Hatchie would always hang out with Frankie Klump.
They had a great love of comic books together and also liked to hang out in Topozzi’s wood with the rest of the boy tribe.
Across the street from the Van Weston house was the Topozzi house and the Delphino house right next to it.
Arthur Topozzi and Dephino had been dealt a hand by moving in next to each other.
They were both the same age and they were in the same grade at Gilmour Grammar.
They were both in the boy scouts and Arthur’s mom was a pack mom. This did not prevent Arthur from getting lost occasionally in the woods behind his house.
Tom Delphino, on the other hand, was pretty self-reliant.
His father had taught him how to ski and he was the first guy in the development to go down Williams Drive on skis. After turning to Morley Drive, you would come to Doug Kinsley’s house.
His next door neighbor was Jackie Shaw, who was about the same age, but he went to the public school.
So Doug hung out with Art Tafero, who was in the same grade at the same school.
They played all five or six major sports during the full year and liked baseball cards, too.
Doug’s father, Mr.
Kingsley, was the other major baseball coach in the development and he coached the Indians.
He also liked to play a lot of softball for his factory team at Kearfotts.
Doug and I went there one day to watch him play, but it was too boring to watch, so we headed for the inside of the factory which was deserted during the game; it appeared to have a great deal more potential for fun and it was nice and cool, too.
We went to the coke machine they had in the factory and it was still only a nickel! Better than that, it was slightly ajar.
We just opened it a bit more and there were about thirty ice cold cokes ready to drink! It was like discovering buried treasure.
On top of that, we found these neat little cars which we found out later were forklifts.
They only went about five miles an hour, but that was fine with us.
We rode them all over the factory and played bumper cars with them, too.
We didn’t know how to operate the forks, but that didn’t matter to us.
We were just happy to be driving like our dads.
I believe we were only about nine or so when we had this little adventure.
When one of the dads came in out of the hot sun to grab a few cokes for the players, he found a little pile of empty coke bottles and was horrified seeing two little wild children running all over the place in forklifts.
Fortunately, after he yelled at us, we got off the forklifts, grabbed another coke and went out to see Mr.
Kingsley lead his team to a win.
That had been a lot of fun. There were other brother and sister combos throughout the development, but the ones we remember the most were the ones that involved the members of the boy tribes. The tribe would only survive for seven years until 1961.
Then it seemed that most of us went our own way.
It was great while it lasted. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-grandparents-west-paterson Tales of West Paterson – The Grandparents of West Paterson HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-grandparents-west-paterson View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7858/edit Edit — SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Life in the Third Grade By Arthur H Tafero Life in the third grade was a bit different than it had been in the second.
First of all, you no longer had the star system for keeping track of your progress over the year.
You got your papers graded with number grades that, at the end of the month, were averaged and went on your report card.
In the third grade, your report cardbegan to have numeric grades instead of the letter grades we had received in the second grade.
Last year, you could only get an E for exemplary, S for satisfactory, and U for unsatisfactory.
In the third grade everything changed to numbers.
It’s funny the effect thatnumbers instead of letters have on parents and kids.
If you had an S, your parents would almost never bother you other that to say “Let’s try to make that an E next month” and you would both know that wouldn’t happen and life would go on.
But when numbers replaced the letters, things began to change in the life of parents and students. For example, if you got a 79 in History, a parent would say: “That’s not acceptable Douglas, you should be getting at least an 80 and you WILL get at least an 80 next month, do you understand?”.
And you would say “Yes mom” and you damn well better get that 80 or there would be hell to pay.
That same grade in letter form would have been an S and neither the parent nor the student would say two words about it except for the vague effort to get an E.
I guess the parents always imagined that every S was an 89 since E was for 90 and above.
But S could be anything from 70 to 89, which was a very wide area of academic achievement.
An 89 meant you were far better than average and very near being an excellent student.
A 70 meant that you just barely passed by one point and that you were below average when compared to the rest of the class.
So an S really didn’t give you a hell of a lot of information.
This is why the change from letters to numbers was so important in the third grade. Sister Evangelista was our nun in the third grade.
She was pretty nice.
This was also the first grade that Martin Byers became a grader for math assignments.
Sister would give the first student done with 100, the job of grading the other papers.
Most of the nuns used this system.
It made a lot of sense because they had to prepare lessons in at least four different subject areas, grade homeworks, prepare tests and monitor our conduct.
This was also a class of over fifty students.
That was twice the size of the average public school class and twice what a modern union would allow now.
They didn’t have any unions at Saint Bons. Our uniforms were the same that year and would be the same for the next five years: a white dress shirt with a blue tie with the monogram JMJ (Jesus, Mary and Joseph).
These were clip-on ties because they knew boys our age couldn’t make a tie knot (or wanted to wear ties, for that matter).
We all looked goofy in our clip-on ties and the public school kids would make fun of us all the time.
But our mothers thought we looked cute and neat.
By the end of lunchtime, however, we did not look so cute and neat.
Part of the playground on the side of the school was covered with black gravel.
We played every game imaginable on that gravel and would constantly be rolling around in it.
Our white shirts got filthy, our pants got holes in the knees and our black shiny shoes completely lost their shine by one o’clock.
The class from one to three was a smelly group of kids who had practically sweated through their dresses and pants.
It got to be pretty rank in a class of fifty-three. Our mothers would be fighting a losing battle from the first day until the last day of school.
They would wash our two shirts on alternating days; (there were no washing machines then in most houses then), They would sew patches on the inside of our dress pants so they would not show that we had patches.
They would have to do this at least once a week.
They polished our shoes every night until we were old enough to do it for ourselves (that was about the fourth grade).
Our mothers even gave us hair cuts to save a little money.
Some of the haircuts were good, like Mrs.
Kingsley gave, and some were pretty brutal (like Gene Timmins, whose mom made him look like Frankenstein by cutting off all his hair on the sides).
But then again, a few of the kids like Gene Timmins looked like Frankenstein’s children without the bad haircuts.
Unfortunately, Gene was the ugliest kid in the class and the girls were unmerciful toward him.
The guys really didn’t care that he looked like a Halloween goblin.
The girls, who on occasion could be extremely cruel, dubbed him the true son of Frankenstein, and the nickname stuck.
The girls said he had ugly germs and could spread them if you touched anything he touched.
They would never pass him paper or pencils or anything for that matter.
The guys included him in the playground games and he was sought after as a card flipper because he always lost whatever cards he had.
On top of everything else, he was a pretty poor student.
Life must have been pretty miserable for him at Saint Bon’s, but of course none of the kids felt any sympathy for him.
Cruelty is part of the childhood experience. The third grade was the first year that they segregated the boys from the girls.
The girls had their own section of the cloak room, sat in their own section of the classroom, sat in their own section of the cafeteria and played in their own section of the playground with a nun hovering around them in both the cafeteria and the playground.
No one was going to steal their virginity while the nuns were on the job.
The tribal boys, for the most part, did not even acknowledge the existence of the girls.
We thought they were another species entirely.
They smelled different from us when they got sweaty and a lot of them didn’t look much better than Gene Timmins.
One little girl, Judy Bangarty, had an unfortunate name, but the nuns were on the alert for even one little joke about her name. God forbid you mentioned the name of Judy Bangarty, you would get what for from any of the nuns.
There was always a little snigger from some of the boys when the nuns called Judy’s name, and then that nun would let the boys have it good. This was also the year (1955) of some very good baseball cards.
It was the rookie year of Roberto Clemente and Harmon Killebrew, and of course, Sandy Koufax, but we took little notice of it.
The new cards for 1956 would be coming out on the first week of the New Year and some of us couldn’t wait to get our first pack of the year in January.
So it was with great anticipation that we began our Christmas vacation on that Friday, December the 20th.
We would find out in the future that the best day of the week for Christmas to be on was a Wednesday.
You always got Christmas Eve off, which would have to be Tuesday and there was no point in having school in session for just one day of the week, so they threw in Monday.
Then you would get the rest of Christmas week off and the whole next week after and not go back to school until January 6.
A grand total of 16 straight days with no school; and believe me, it was grand.
Maybe not for our parents who we drove crazy, but it was grand for the tribal members.
To make things better for the Christmas of 1955, was the gigantic snow storm we had on Sunday night January the 5th and all day during January the 6th.
It dumped well over three feet of snow on West Paterson.
The plows couldn’t even clear the streets until that Thursday.
The nuns threw up their hand and decided to cancel school for the last day of the week and to start fresh on the 13th of January.
It was now 23 straight days without school and we were getting deliriously happy with our new toys, new baseball cards and total freedom in the snow. Then the impossible happened. It snowed again heavily on the Sunday night of the 13th.
It was too good to be true.
There was no school on Monday and classes were cancelled again on Tuesday, but our parents said come hell or high water we would be going to school on that Wednesday, January the 16th.
Unbelievably, it snowed heavily on the night of the 15th, but unfortunately, it warmed up a bit and rained heavily, melting the snow and allowing school to actually take place that Wednesday.
We had had an unbelievable run of 25 straight days without school and had almost made it more.
It was the best Christmas vacation and winter the boy tribe ever enjoyed. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-christmas-eves-west-paterson Tales of West Paterson – Christmas Eves in West Paterson HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-christmas-eves-west-paterson View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7862/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Christmas Eves in West Paterson By Arthur H Tafero There were numerous Christmas eves of note that I remember from the development.
The earlier ones, of course, included the Santa Claus phase. My mother would always leave out a glass of milk and a few cookies for Santa and on Christmas morning, I would find the milk gone and nothing but a few crumbs on the dish.
I began to get a bit suspicious one year when I saw cookie crumbs on my father’s pajamas.
After a year or two in Parochial school, you were quickly removed from the Santa Claus myth.
By the time you were in the third grade, you were just playing along with your parents because they still expected you to believe in Santa Claus.
They always expected you to believe in the same things that they did.
But of course, we didn’t, but we didn’t have the heart to tell them we had great doubts about Santa, God,The Virgin Mary, the Infallibility of the Pope, Confession, Pagans that would go to hell because they weren’t Catholic, nuns, celibacy, the Holy Ghost, fasting for Lent, not eating meat on Friday, accepting people like Hitler or Stalin into heaven just because they gave a last confession, and a host of other religious and non-religious issues. But none of that stuff mattered during the days immediately preceding Christmas.
The only thing that mattered to the members of the boy tribe of the development was whether or not each of us would get the toys we really wanted for Christmas.
We would go room to room in the days before Christmas desperately trying to find out what our parent had bought us for Christmas.
This hot pursuit of greed was only interrupted by the family quest for the perfect Christmas tree. My father would often go out into the woods in our area that were filled with pines of all types and cut down a nice eight-footer with bright green branches that were full from top to bottom.
He would tie the tree down to the top of the car and bring back his booty to the house for mounting in the living room. In the meantime, my mother would be making hot chocolate for the both of us.
Then she would carefully unpack the family Christmas tree decorations from the two large boxes that were open only once a year.
She would pull out the cotton snow, the angel for the top of the tree, the blinking lights of all colors and some other lights that looked like they were boiling water in them.
Then, from the other box would come out the most valued of all the decorations; the family balls.
These Christmas balls were beautifully decorated and some of them were quite old.
Unfortunately, in addition to being old, they were quite delicate also.
If one was dropped it broke into dozens of pieces.
My favorite was the blue frosted one with Donald Duck on it that said “Christmas 1947”.
I remember that one never broke while we were in West Paterson.
But some other beautiful pieces did break and you could see by the expressions on my mother’s face that they were irreplaceable. The first part of the Christmas tree drill was to lay a large sheet on the floor to catch all the pine needles.
Then my father would begin to wire the entire tree while it was still on its side with all the lights that would be blinking off and on.
He was an amateur electrician, so he liked doing this kind of stuff.
He would turn the tree on its other side and finish the wiring of the lights before he mounted the tree in the tree dish stand.
Once the lights were finished, the toughest part of dressing the tree had been completed.
My father would then put the angel on the top and then mount the tree in the dish stand and his job, for all intents and purposes, was done.
After he left the stage to fill his pipe and have a smoke, my mother and I would take over.
My mother didn’t use the cotton for the tree because she thought it might be a fire hazard.
So she bought some tinsel and we used that instead.
The three of us would carefully put up all the balls, yet most of the time, at least one would break.
After the balls, we carefully put up the tinsel; not just tossing it on the tree indiscriminately, but carefully hanging some on each of the branches.
Not too much, though, because it would cause the branches to weaken and the tree to droop. Some families left that tree up for the whole month of January. Another ritual was going to the Midnight Mass at Saint Bon’s and then coming home to put the baby Jesus in his crib under the tree.
I was always pestering my mother to put the baby in the crib.
You could only go to Midnight Mass if you were considered an “adult”.
In West Paterson, that meant any kid over ten years old.
Going to Midnight Mass was a big deal in our house.
Sometimes it would be snowing, but most of the time it was just really cold.
It would be pitch black and all of a sudden you would see a large group of cars with some of their parking lights on next to Saint Bonaventure Church on Danforth Avenue.
My dad would park the car and the three of us would rush of the warmth of the car into the cold and then back into the warmth of the church.
Your eyes would be affected by coming out the pitch black into this brightly lit cacophony of colored glass and bright red vestments.
The choir would be singing and the Mass had not even started.
They would be singing ancient Latin hymns with names that have been long forgotten.
It did sound very inspiring, however, even though it was in Latin. Then Father Tucker and two altar boys would come out and the mass would begin.
It would always be longer than the regular masses for some reason which none of us could figure out.
Maybe there were extra prayers that had to be said or the hymns lengthened the ritual.
Whatever it was, no one seemed to mind that it was almost a ninety minute mass.
The frequent hymns and the good cheer of the laity seemed to make the time meaningless on those nights.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time.
The race out of the parking lot to get home to open the presents verged on homicidal.
Cars were constantly nicking each other on the fender and no one complained or stopped because it was Christmas.
You just smiled at the driver who hit you and moved on. Parents told stories to each other about how after Midnight Mass, their kids ran into the door in their winter coats and with their gloves still on, trying to open presents before their parents even got into the door.
Paper, ribbons and boxes would be flying in all directions at breakneck speed in some houses.
In other houses, the adults and children would open their presents in an orderly fashion and one at a time.
One Christmas, my father had made me a rocket ship with lots of controls on the panel, so I could follow the adventures of Captain Video and the Video Rangers in style.
I was excited that night, but unfortunately, the rocket ship of the mind could never be reproduced by a dad and in a few weeks, the rocket ship became one of my mother’s cleaning projects to be removed. Another ritual of Christmas was the toy trains; and I use that term very loosely. These train sets were anything but toys.
They were secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) the desires of the dads in the development.
The dads bought the Lionel Train sets, dozens of feet of tracks and every possible accoutrement you could possible think of.
Many of the dads in the development would try and outdo each other in their train villages and sets.
Some dads took up an entire basement or attic with their trains.
I am sure that the moms were driven crazy by these trains, but remained the good silent soldier because the kid or kids liked to play with them, too. Make no mistake.
It was the dad’s show, from unpacking them to putting them away sometime late in January. The dads would lovingly diagram on paper the various layouts of the tracks, first.
Sometimes, they would ask their kid which layout they thought was better and if it agreed with their desires, that would be the track layout.
Most of the time, the dads didn’t ask the kids anything, they just laid it out the way they wanted to be laid out.
The dads would meticulously make sure each part of the track was connected to the other and that there were no loose tracks.
Loose tracks caused the train system to shut down.
Then, after connecting the tracks, they would carefully erect the village with all the little models that went with the village.
You would have a policeman, a baker, a butcher, a fireman, a mailman, a coal loader, a milkman and various commuters in their tiny cars stopped at the train tracks.
There would be warning lights and stop signs and even places where the train stopped to pick up passengers, mail and milk cans.
I found the milk can stop to be the most fun.
The train would stop at this dairy and there would be a platform that went right up the edge of the side of one the boxcars.
The boxcar would open and the milkman would load it with about six or eight magnetic milk bottles.
It was really kind of cool.
You can’t do that kind of stuff on video games. After the village was set up, the dads would come to the final phase; linking up the engine with the following cars.
Now my father claimed prominence over the vast majority of other fathers in the development because his dad, my grampa, was a real train engineer and he knew all about this stuff because he had been doing it for many years.
I always suspected that dad got his train set from grampa or at least was inspired to buy it because of grampa.
After linking up the engine with the boxcars and the caboose, everything was ready to be attached to the control battery. The control battery was this big square black box with two primary controls on the top of it; the switch for the speed of the train and the whistle on the engine.
Some fancy batteries had lights for the caboose, but my father didn’t have that model.
That was fine with me, because I really didn’t care about cabooses.
Then it was time for the moment of truth.
Were the tracks all connected properly and the battery connected properly.
Usually, the answer was yes and it would be two long whistles, which meant the train was ready to leave the station. I enjoyed playing with the trains for a few hours, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as my father did.
I suspect that was the case in almost every house in the development.
By the end of January, my mother would hint that it was time for the trains to be put away so she could get to her laundry in the basement without electrocuting herself.
We trotted out those trains every year we were in West Paterson.
I think my father gave them away when we moved to Union City.
I kind of missed them and I know he must have missed them, but my mother, I am sure, was not too sad to see them go. Then there was the Christmas I got my first real bike.
A red English racer with hand brakes, a real beauty.
I had no idea I was getting it, either.
We came home from Midnight mass and bang! There it was in the middle of the living room.
I wanted to take it out for a ride right then and there, but my mother said it was too late and that I would disturb the Christmases of the other neighbors.
Then it snowed later that night.
Only about eighteen inches or so.
That translated into no riding my bike until the beginning of January.
Well, it snowed quite often and in great quantity in those days in West Paterson and the first time there was no snow or ice on the roads was in early March.
But when I did get on that bike and took it out for the first time, it was like I had gained my freedom; and in a way that was very true.
I had that bike for a number of years until we moved to Union City.
Because I was still a bit of a country bumpkin, I thought my bike would be safe outside between the very narrow lane that was between our house and 901 Palisades Avenue.
It was for a few nights, but during that first week of leaving it outside, someone stole it.
I was devastated and almost inconsolable.
My parents bought me a blue American bike that I loathed, but took it because it was better than nothing.
English racers are far more expensive, I guessed.
Anyway, I always brought the bike in after that lesson.
I never had a bike as good as that English racer. Then another Christmas saw my parents get me a small pool table which my father set up in the attic for me.
It was the hit of the night and we both played pool until after 2 am in the morning.
I must have played over a thousand games on that pool table.
One other Christmas, I got my first really expensive basketball.
It was an official NBA Voight basketball which was the best you could buy.
My father had played basketball on his high school team and I ever remember him playing a game one on one with my grampa which scared the hell out of me.
I was scared that grampa would fall and kill himself because he was so old.
He must have been over fifty at the time.
That was ancient for a little grandchild.
I played with that basketball in every conceivable type of weather you could imagine.
I NEVER missed a day to go out and play basketball from the first day of school until the first day of little league baseball.
I would play in the snow, on ice, in the rain and in temperatures well below zero where you could hear your breath as well as see it. It didn’t matter if it was ten below outside; we were moving around and we ignored every type of weather. There was one Christmas, though, that was an exception to the self-centered avarice that affected most of us during that season.
It was either 55 or 56 and there was a terrible snow storm raging.
It was more like a blizzard, but it would not prevent many of the parents in the development from going to the Midnight Mass at Saint Bonaventure.
About six inches of snow had already been dumped on Williams Drive, when Ronny Vitale dropped by the house at about nine oclock.
He lived only two houses away and wanted to wish my mother, whose cooking he loved, a merry Christmas.
He was a pagan doomed to hell, but he still brought a card for my mother and father.
My mother gave him a little wrapped package.
She always had small wrapped packages for almost every neighbor’s kid on William’s Drive.
Ronny also had a little wrapped package for me.
I asked my mom if I could open it before Midnight mass and she said ok. I opened it quickly and it was two brand new packs of 1956 baseball cards.
Ronny had visited New York City just a few days ago and his gramma had given him a box of these cards.
Boxes contained 36 packs.
They hadn’t even come out yet in New Jersey.
We were always a few weeks or more behind New York in card distribution to the candy stores and such.
I was speechless.
I opened both packs up immediately and got one Yankee, Phil Rizzuto.
I was ecstatic.
The smell of the fresh gum and the shine of the brand new cards still stick out in my mind.
Ronny asked me if I wanted to come across the street with him to the McGuire house.
Neither one of us really knew the McGuires very well, but we did know that Mrs.
McGuire’s dog, Bessie, was named after a queen or princess of England, and had just had pups.
We were told we were too young to understand why that was so funny.
I got dressed up in my snow outfit because the storm was still raging.
I carefully put my cards away so my mom would not throw them out and then we left for the other side of the street. The snow was almost blinding.
My father and any other Catholic fathers would be crazy if they took the cars out in this weather.
Our attention quickly turned to the little yelps and squeaks we heard coming from the McGuire house.
McGuire was happy to see us because she had wanted to get rid of many of the six pups that were in the litter.
Ronny’s dog had just died that past summer, so his mom told him that it would be alright for him to get another from Mrs.
McGuire. Ron looked over the litter carefully and picked out the one with the shiniest coat. “I’m going to call her Lassie”.
Ronny confided in me. “That is totally gay.
These dogs aren’t collies and the one you just picked out is a boy, anyway”. Ronny liked the TV show and we used to make fun of him liking Lassie.
McGuire picked out a female pup for him and told me to hush up. “Here, Ronald, you call her whatever you like; don’t listen to that silly boy” I was already red from the cold and snow, so you couldn’t tell I was embarrassed by being called silly by Mrs.
Maguire, but I was.
To change the subject, I asked Mrs.
Maguire a question. “Mrs.
Maguire, why did you name your dog Bessie? My parents always laugh when they hear the name of your dog, but they say I’m too young to understand.” “Well, Arthur, the reason I named our girl here Bessie, was that when I tried to think of a name that was fitting for a loose woman that looked like a dog, the first thing I thought of was the Queen of England, so I named her Bessie.” I quickly remembered my best friend’s mom, Gladys Kingsley was English, and I was sure she would not have appreciated Mrs.
I was to find out later that Mrs.
Maguire had family members in something called the Easter Rebellion who had been injured many years ago.
She really hated the English, but I noticed she had Thomas’ English muffins in her kitchen. “Arthur, wouldn’t you like one of the puppies?” Was she kidding? Of course I wanted one of them, but my mother would never let a dog mess up her immaculate house. “I don’t think my mom would let me have one, Mrs.
Maguire, but thank you very much anyway.” She picked up the male puppy with the real shiny black coat that Ronny had selected just a few moments earlier and let me hold it.
It didn’t bark or complain or yelp.
It just looked into my eyes and licked my nose, which was still red from the cold.
I figured what the heck, I might as well bring Blackie home to just play with for awhile with my parents and then when my mother said no, I could bring him back here.
Maybe he would be the one pup that Mrs.
Maguire would keep after she gave all the others away and I could come over and play with him once in awhile. Ronny and I were both thrilled to be carrying puppies inside our heavy coats with their little heads sticking out and blinded by the violent snow.
I waved goodbye to Ronny as he trudged through the snow up the block to his house.
I dusted myself off from the snow that had accumulated just from crossing the street.
My mother had put down some newspapers near the side door so her floors wouldn’t get messed up.
She always did this in inclement weather. “So, did you see the puppies” she asked. “I think he did more than just see them, Mary”.
My father added. Blackie’s little head popped up and he scooted onto the newspapers and immediately took a dump.
I thought that cooks it, I won’t even get to play with the little bugger, now.
I awaited my mother’s Italian outburst. “Look how well-trained he is! He knew to poop on the newspapers!” My mother’s cheerful demeanor had taken me by surprise.
After she rolled up the newspaper and put some more fresh ones down, we all went into the living room to play with the puppy.
At least I would get to play with him for awhile.
While I was playing with Blackie in the living room with one of my spauldings, I could hear my mother and father having a “discussion” (that was the euphemism for an argument in those days). “I’ll be the one who has to clean up after it” “But Ronny is already on his second dog and Art has never even had one” “You don’t fool me for a second; its you that wants that dog almost as much as he does” “Don’t be ridiculous, I had my dog when I was younger living in Bayonne, I don’t have to have another one, but I think its time for Art to have one” My father seldom had extended discussions with my mother because they were almost always losing propositions, but he seemed a bit more backboned in this argument than he usually was. “If I have to clean up after it, you will have to take it for its daily walks” “Art should take him out for his walks; its his dog” “You know how lazy our child is; by next week he won’t even notice the dog is dead if I don’t feed it every day.” “How about we make him promise to feed the dog and take him out every day?” “If he does one of those things, it will be a miracle” my mother said sarcastically. I made believe I didn’t hear a thing.
They both came into the room and Blackie did a great job of marketing himself by jumping on both my father and mother and giving them both good licks on the nose.
My mother broke out in laughter and my father had that grin on his face that meant I was going to keep the dog.
Blackie was so happy that he peed right there on the floor. “I’ll clean it up, mom.” I got a paper towel, wet it, and cleaned it up in a snap. My mother didn’t say a word.
She just laid down a whole mess of newspapers in the living room, the kitchen and in my room. “The dog is not to go in our bedroom or the bathroom” “His name is Blackie, mom” “Blackie is not to go in our bedroom or the bathroom.
You will have two dog dishes to fill each day.
One with water and one with food.
You will clean both of those dishes every day.
Do you understand?” “Yes, mom” “You will take Blackie out every night before you go to bed so he can do his business.
Do you understand?” “Yes, mom. Of course, after a week, both the dishes remained unwashed, I always forgot to walk Blackie and my mother wound up feeding him.
Blackie had become the fourth member of the Tafero family and I didn’t even care about my other gifts that Christmas day.
I already had the best Christmas present a little boy could ever have and I had Phil Rizzuto to boot. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-flipping-cards-saint-bons Tales of West Paterson – Flipping Cards at Saint Bons HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-flipping-cards-saint-bons View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7863/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Flipping Cards at Saint Bon’s By Arthur H Tafero Baseball cards were the leading gambling currency of kids in grammar school at Saint Bon’s.
From the second grade through the eighth grade, numerous boys from and outside the tribe engaged in these activities.
There was a definite pecking order in those who won the majority of cards and those who lost most of their cards.
Those who lost most of them eventually stopped flipping completely and thereby saved whatever cards they had in much better condition than the guys who pitched theirs.
The good flippers included Joseph Oppenneiser, Frankie Fierman, Tommy Baker and myself.
We almost never flipped against each other because it was a lost cause.
We would mostly break even for the entire lunch period and why do that when the list of losers was so much bigger? There were other games with baseball cards that the guys played in addition to the traditional farses (the card closet to the wall wins).
There was the intentional leaners game (leaners were cards that were flipped that wound up leaning against the wall instead of landing flat; you then had three chances to knock down the leaner or you lost the farses card, plus the three cards you flipped trying to knock down the leaner).
Intentional leaners were set up artificially and the guy who knocked them down in the least amount of cards would win the whole batch.
If good flippers were involved, you would only get five or six cards in the pot, but it was still better than the boring farses. A third type of game was topses.
That’s when you both kept flippingcards until one of the flippers landed his card on top of any other part of any of the cards that had been flipped.
The strategy in this game was not to pitch any cards too close to the wall because they were easier to get on top of than cards far away from the wall.
You could play the single concrete block (about six feet) version of this game or the gambler version of two concrete blocks or the super three block gambler version (recommended for those with large collections and big budgets only).
In the one block topses game, you could lose up to about ten cards if you were unlucky in one game.
In the two block game you would lose, on the average between fifteen and twenty cards.
The super three block game was for sharks and card-rich kids only.
One kid lost almost his whole stack of fifty cards in just one game of triple-block topses. Before we go any further, I feel it is my duty that some of the fine boys of Saint Bon’s actually cheated to win some cards.
The way to cheat in farses was to have two or three “ringer” cards.
Those were cards that were weighted at both ends with scotch tape so they would more easily go close to wall.
Good flippers were always on the lookout for these cards when they were not using them themselves.
These “ringers” were also good for knocking down leaners and, once again players were always on the watch for them in the leaners game, too.
The “ringers” were also very useful in topses as soon as the first card landed near the wall. “Ringers” could easily be used to go on top of a card near the wall.
That’s why it was wise to stay away from the wall in topses.
Some of the better flippers won hundreds, if not thousands of cards with these “ringers” over the course of years. Yet another form of card gambling on the playground was “match” flipping.
It was a rather harmless one-card game for the less talented flippers to win a few cards during lunch.
You would hold the card between your four fingers and your thumb and then flip it over.
It would either land on “heads”, which was the photo part of the card, or “tails”, which was the records part of the card.
Believe it or not, you could cheat at this game, too (although it was hardly worth the effort).
If your opponent flipped a heads, all you had to do to match it was have heads facing you when you flipped the cards (if you wanted tails, you would just have tails facing you).
Most of the kids quickly got wise to this scam and the game fell out of favor. Occasionally, Sister Superior would raid the flip games and confiscate our cards.
It was not too hard to see a large penguin coming, but it was always wise to play against a wall that was far away from the door entrances.
If you were dumb enough to play by the doors, you deserved to lose your stack.
I, and the other good flippers hardly ever got caught by Sister Superior, but that wasn’t the only pitfall for the gamblers.
Once in awhile, especially in the earlier grades, I used to admire my own winnings in my desk in class.
I lost a couple of good stacks of 54 topps cards when the nun came over to my desk and took them.
That taught me a costly lesson not to look at the cards after you brought them back into the class.
The best place to stash the cards was in your bookbag.
The only drawback to that plan, however, was that everyone’s bookbag was in the cloakroom and each student knew what everyone else’s bookbag looked like; especially the guys who were good flippers.
Some guys would lose pretty good stacks to thieves who took them from their bookbags in the cloakroom.
It only happened to me once and another costly lesson was learned.
IF you got into the cloakroom LAST after lunch and then FIRST when the final bell rang, you could safely put your winnings in your bookbag.
The nuns let the kids go to the cloakroom one row at a time, so it was always good to be in the first row, but I was in the last row.
So the best method for guys to keep their stashes of cards was in the desk and not look at them for the rest of the afternoon. There was so much commotion at the end of class at 3:00 that you could easily transfer your stash of cards into your bookbag after your trip to the cloakroom. The last series of baseball cards used to come out in September when we first went back to school.
These were known as the high numbers.
There was not a lot of interest by most guys in the tribes to get all the numbers.
We were just happy when we got all the good Yankees, which year after year, Topps always put in the low numbers or the first few series of the cards for that year.
Topps also did not produce the same amount of cards for the last series, so we were already looking forward to the next year’s cards that came out in January.
One winter, Ronnie’s parents went to New York City during the Christmas holidays and found some brand new 1956 Topps for sale in a store.
It was still 1955.
Ronnie’s house was only two houses away from mine and when he got back the day after Christmas, he gave me a pack for a Christmas present (his father had bought him a whole box!).
One of the tribe members had gotten a brand new English racer bike for Christmas as well as a pool table for the cellar and that was one of the best Christmases the boy tribe had ever had, but when I opened that 1956 pack and got a brand new Phil Rizzuto, it was almost as good as getting my other gifts.
By the summer of 1960, I was moving from West Paterson to Union City and going from the eighth grade to high school.
I was getting too big for baseball cards and comic books.
Girls didn’t care about those things and I was beginning to care about what girls thought, so I stopped collecting cards for awhile, but I never forgot that Phil Rizzuto. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-day-saint-bons Tales of West Paterson – A Day at Saint Bon’s HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-day-saint-bons View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7864/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO A Day at Saint Bon’s By Arthur H Tafero It was just another typical morning in West Paterson.
There was still about a foot and a half of fresh snow on the ground, but the steadfast dads of the development made sure that the snow plows cleared a path for the school bus into West Paterson and Saint Bonaventure Grammar School near McBride Avenue.
When Doug Kingsley got up, his mother Gladys, who was a British War Bride, made him fresh eggs with Taylor Ham and toast with fresh-squeezed juice.
Doug readied his bookbag and Gladys packed him three sandwiches for lunch.
Two were baloney and one was cream cheese and jelly.
One of the baloney sandwiches was for Doug’s best friend, Tom, who always wrangled a sandwich from Doug in exchange for giving Doug 100% on the daily math quizzes which the nuns let Tom grade because he was finished a full ten minutes before anyone else.
Doug really didn’t like math all that much and was, in reality, about an 80 student, but having a friend like Tom got his average way over 90.
Gladys must have sensed that something like this was going on, so the extra sandwich was always there for the gluttonous Tom. It was almost time for Doug to walk down the hill from Morley Drive to Williams Drive and then down another two blocks to the bus stop.
It was a decent haul.
He always met Tom at the bus stop and never bothered to call for him on his way down.
If he did call, Mrs.
Tafero was always compelled to make him another full breakfast and as much as he liked her cooking, there was no time for that today.
If you missed that bus, it was a long two mile walk in the snow to the school and you would be sure to be at least an hour or two late.
The nuns would eat you up alive for something like that.
The usual gang of suspects from the boy tribe were all at the bus stopplus a few members of that alien race known as girls.
Tom was there, Richie Fulong, Jackie Quince and his best friend Jackie Gillespie, Tommy Baker, and one or two others of the lower grades from Saint Bon’s. Then, of course, there were the alien girls.
Girls were pretty considered aliens by the boy tribe in the lower grades.
It was only by the sixth or seventh grade that we paid any attention at all to them, but by that time they had learned to completely ignore us.
There was Michelle McKern, Patricia Lyers, Barbara Banner, and Patricia Rooney.
Doug sort of like Patricia Rooney even though she was a bit taller than he was.
Tom liked Barbara Banner a lot and proved it by hitting her with a snowball in the head one time.
Barbara wore glasses and Tom thought that was cool.
Anyway, the bus finally ambled up to the stop and everyone stomped on the bus with their boots that all had varying amounts of snow.
The heat after getting on the bus always felt good after standing out in the wind and the cold for about fifteen minutes or so.
Everyone always sat with their same companion every day of the school year on the bus to school.
Michelle sat with Patricia Lyers, Barbara sat with Patricia Rooney, Tom sat with Doug, and the two Jackies always sat together.
Then the bus rumbled on to the next stop and next group of kids from the next development. The first stop after decamping from the bus onto the school grounds of Saint Bon’s was the cloak room.
There were no assigned hooks for anyone; it was first come, first served when it came to the most convenient hooks.
The girls usually came in from the cold first because they had more sense than the boys who would stay outside playing hockey with a crushed milk carton and their boots until the five minute bell rang.
If you weren’t in your seat by the end of that five minutes, it would cost you an hour of afterschool work hosted by Sister Aloysius.
Believe me, you would rather get twenty lashes with a whip than stay an hour with the Nun From Hell, Aloysius.
Aloysius was an seventy year old ogre who was on the verge of retirement.
She took a daily nap between two thirty and three and only woke up because the bell rang at three.
This usually meant that we only got about fifteen minutes of science a day since that was the last subject of the day.
There was a reason our class always performed poorly on Science exams, but that is another story. The first class of the day was always math.
Tom loved math and would finish about ten minutes before anyone else and he always got 100 per cent.
After a while, Aloysius would tell the class to just pass their papers over to Tom and he would grade them, then Aloysius would register the grades into the grade book.
Tom would always give his best friend, Doug, a 100 after correcting the numerous mistakes Doug would make on his paper.
As they got older, Doug did eventually get better at math.
Tom would give the kids he liked 100 or 90 without seriously checking their work.
The kids he didn’t like got their papers gone over with a fine tooth comb worthy of the IRS.
It really didn’t pay to bully or make fun of Tom because this was some pretty substantial power.
Of course, guys like Jake Romanowski and Bobby Carrollton would bully him in advance, anyway; telling him to make sure that they got 100.
Tom was careful to correct their papers just like he corrected Doug’s mistakes.
Eugene Timmins, who was a stupid bully, didn’t figure out he could get Tom to do this, so Tom made sure Eugene always got a 60 or less. Math class constituted learning a lesson from the book, then doing twenty examples of what you had learned.
You were graded on the twenty examples.
Then after the twenty examples, you were given another ten examples for homework and the whole process was started over again the same exact way until final exams at the mid-year and at the end of the year.
Aloysius did very little teaching; she was too busy terrorizing a fairly sized number of uncooperative students.
Her favorite target was Jeffrey Lovens, who caused Aloysius to break at least one ruler or pointer a day, every day, for each of the 180 school days during the year.
The bill for all these rulers and pointers must have been frightful, but that didn’t stop Aloysius.
She smashed Jeffrey on a daily basis and Jeffrey just laughed at her and it would only tend to infuriate here even more.
I am sure if she had had a shotgun, she would have gladly used both barrels on Jeffrey without blinking.
Everyone in the class would laugh every time Jeffrey got Aloysius’ goat and Aloysius would just get more agitated.
We always hoped that we could get her into such a frenzy that she would keel over from a heart attack, but that lucky event never happened.
Aloysius would always say “here c’mere, here, c’mere” as if Lovens or any other trapped animal in the class was going to come to Aloysius to get their beating.
No, it was always more fun to run away from her and entertain the class with the chase.
Now some students had more leeway with Aloysius than others, but you could not press your luck too far.
Tom, for example, because he graded the math papers, had a bit of leeway, but he could never stop himself from talking to his friends in class.
He talked or joked around incessantly, and eventually Aloysius would have to chase him around the class and give him a beating about once a week.
Still, it was nothing compared to what Jeffrey Lovens would receive. Math ended by 9:45.
Then it was time for English.
Both Tom and Doug found English to be tedious.
First, there was a spelling test of twenty words.
Usually, the girls were superior in both spelling and English grammar.
Barbara Banner and Virginia Mucino were particularly bright.
One of those two girls always corrected the spelling papers.
Poor Johnny Kusach couldn’t spell his own name correctly; he was the worst speller in New Jersey.
He seldom got over 50.
Aloysius would always make fun of him in spelling, just as she used to make fun of Johnny Massaras in math for getting low grades.
She would say things like “Kusach, you need a good whack to get that brain going in Spelling” or “Massaras, you must have fell on your head when you were delivered; why can’t you do math?” After the Spelling, came the exciting English grammar drills we did in our books.
There were twenty sentences that always needed correcting and then we would get ten more of them for homework.
These sentences were always tortuous for some of the boys, but most of the girls seemed to finish them quickly.
Of course, there was one area of English which tortured the ENTIRE class.
That was the inquisition of the Diagram.
I cannot tell you the absolute silliness of spending significant hours of instruction on Diagrams.
Here, the girls suffered equally with the boys.
Tom was so bad at diagrams that he got a 0 on one of the tests.
He copied one answer from Barbara Banner and it was the only one she got wrong as she scored a 90.
The basic diagrams such as Subject, Verb and the adjective describing the Object were about as far as most of the class understood this torture.
By the time we came to Gerunds, Objects of the Preposition, Predicate Adjectives and Predicate Nomitives and other obscure things within the diagrams, almost all of us were lost. English ended by 10:30.
Now it was time for Literature.
That was a relief for most of the class as most of us tolerated Literature fairly well.
Literature consisted of each of us reading one or two paragraphs aloud while the rest of the class followed.
If you lost your place when you were called on to read, you got a whack from Aloysius.
The good readers got to read two paragraphs and the poor readers like Vincent Minelli, who tortured the rest of the class with their poor reading, got to end mercifully after only one paragraph.
Even the best of short stories got butchered during this process which was followed by an exercise at the end of the story to make sure we completely understood and appreciated what we had read.
To this day, I do not remember one story or one exercise that I understood or appreciated.
There was one story, however, that stuck in my mind.
I believe it was a Hans Christian Anderson story of a boy with a ball of string.
It was a magic ball of string.
The boy was unhappy being a young boy and wanted to be an older boy.
The fairy that gave him the ball of string said that if he unrolled some of the string, he would magically become older, so the young boy unrolled some of the ball of string and he was now twelve instead of six.
He enjoyed being twelve instead of six for a few days, but then began to wish he could enjoy the freedoms enjoyed by the high school kids.
So he rolled out a bit more string and became a senior in High School.
He enjoyed this for a few days and then yearned for the life of a man with a job and a family.
He rolled out the string a bit more and enjoyed his life as a man with a wife and children for a few weeks, but grew weary of the responsibility of the bills, pressures at work and at home and other adult problems, so he finally rolled out the rest of the string and he was now an old man with no job, no family and no responsibilities.
It was then he realized he was better off as a young child, but it too late because he had rolled out all of his string.
I liked this story and realized that it was important to enjoy whatever stage of life you were currently in rather than pine to be older.
I was guilty, however, of occasionally falling into that trap one or two times myself as I got older. Literature ended by 11:15.
Then it was time for History.
Most of the class found History to be bearable.
Jeffrey Lovens usually got a whack during History by making a snide remark about Greek men or how the Roman Legion wore dresses.
I kind of liked History, but did not really take it too seriously.
Michelle McKern was very good in History.
We would all take our turns reading one or two paragraphs and then do the exercise at the end of the section.
It was there By then most of the tribe was getting hungry, but the food in the cafeteria was absolutely disgusting.
The spaghetti was overcooked noodles in weak tomato soup.
The fish cakes tasted exactly the same as the chicken cakes and the potato cakes.
It was eating small hockey pucks.
Some of the boys actually found them useful for hockey games when the playground was covered with ice.
We were only allowed to have regular milk (the public school kids had a choice of regular milk or CHOCOLATE milk).
We hated the lunches and drinks, so we naturally gravitated toward the candy store across the street named Tom’s.
Tom had fresh sandwiches made with lettuce and tomatoes, mayo or mustard on a fresh roll for 15 cents.
You could buy a coke or some other drink for 10 cents.
Lunch for a quarter a day.
Of course, at these exhorbitant prices, no one could afford to eat there every day, but once in awhile it was good to get away from the packaged lunch from home or the dreaded cafeteria.
Then again, Tom’s always had an ample supply of baseball cards, but we will discuss that in another story. During lunch hour, the girls used to jump rope and the boys used to play any variation of team sports you can imagine.
Lunch hour would continue with the boys flipping cards they had bought from home or from Tom’s.
Sometime Aloysius would go around and start confiscating the cards from the boys and say that gambling was a bad habit (although it was never a bad habit when the church did it with Bingo).
Fortunately, at her age, you could see the Nun From Hell ambling toward you well in advance of her actual arrival and were able to run away most of the time with you baseball card stash despite her pleas of “here c’mere, here c’mere!” By the end of lunch time, Aloysius had forgotten most of the boys that ran away because of her slowly declining memory.
She still managed to rake in about one or two piles of cards a day which she took back to the convent with her and stashed away in some unknown place.
The braver souls of Saint Bon’s in their last month of their last year at the school once made a daring raid on this stash of cards, but that is also a story for another time. After lunch, it was 12:45.
It was time for Geography.
Bernadette Hillman was the class whiz in Geography.
She was not only a reader good for two paragraphs, she was good at presenting those two minute presentations that most of us dreaded because we had to go up in front of the class to speak.
Guys like Cusach would go in front of the room with his eyes bulging and get out about fifteen seconds of unfathomable mumbling before getting sweaty and shaky and leaving early.
He always got a 60 or a 65 for his presentations.
Once Tom went in front of the class without absolutely doing any research and gave a phony two minute speech on Argentina.
He made up a story about Argentina’s cowboys (a partial fantasy), the cost of beef in Argentina vs.
The US ( a total whopper), how Argentina’s soldiers helped win World War II ( a complete fantasy), and how Argentina was going to have major league baseball in a few years (another complete fantasy).
Aloysius was impressed and gave Tom a 95 for his presentation which was almost as high as Bernadette Hillman’s well-researched presentation on India which received 100 (she got 100 on every presentation).
Some of her presentations contained partial truths and some outright fantasies also, but these came to no surprise to the kids at Saint Bon’s; most of whom were accomplished liars. By 1:30 it was time for either Music or Art.
The boys preferred Music and the girls preferred Art.
Fortunately, we had Music three days a week and Art two days a week (most likely because it was cheaper).
Doug could not sing two notes without hitting a sour one.
Tom loved the music classes, but absolutely hated the Art classes.
Doug liked the Art classes and was very neat.
Tom was sloppy and could not draw a straight line.
All the kids in the class would make fun Tom’s terrible artwork; even Doug joined in with the derision. “All you ever draw is stickmen or six-story battleships that look like the Tower of Babel” chided Doug. “Yeah, well at least I can divide without using my fingers”.
Retaliation at the grammar school level was swift and harsh.
Doug was also neat.
Tom was a slob; he always got paint, chalk, pencil marks or whatever was being used in the Art class on his mother’s white pressed shirt.
This also went well with the black dust that was on the side of the playground and made for a very interesting modern art look on Tom’s shirts.
On Art days his white shirts looked more like Tie Dye shirts. By 2:15 it was time for science and our daily dose of fifteen minutes of reading before Aloysius fell asleep by 2:30.
As soon as she fell asleep, she stopped calling on students to read and when she stopped calling on students to read, no one read anything any more.
We would talk with our friends, get an early start on our homework, or just make fun of Aloysius as she slept.
Lovens was especially good at making fun of Aloysius while she slept.
He would read science passages that weren’t really there with silly references to aliens that made most of the class laugh.
Once he brought a worm into class during science while Aloysius was sleeping and put it on top of her habit.
This caused a roar of laughter from the kids and woke Aloysius, who immediately grabbed her pointer and yelled “here c’mere! Here c’mere! As Jeffrey ran away.
The bell would ring at three and wake Aloysius.
Then we would go one row at a time into the cloak room and get our boots and/or coats and hats.
There were always one or two unfortunates who had to stay after school for various transgressions, but most of the time, the vast majority of us escaped into the schoolyard and the waiting bus.
If you were unfortunate enough to be detained after school, it meant at least an hour and a half of walking two miles home in the snow and the cold.
No one ever got picked up by their parents in those days.
The car was always with the dads at work and the moms were stranded the whole day without a car.
That meant that the kids were stranded, too.
We were not allowed to have bikes at school, either.
The kids would either wait for the bus by playing more games in the playground or get on right away if the buses were already there.
On the way home, a lot of the kids got a good start on their homework.
Usually between doing your homework on the bus and during Aloysius’ naps, you were done by the time the bus got to your development.
Such was an average day in the life of a school student at Saint Bonaventure Grammar school in West Paterson, New Jersey in the 1950s. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-getting-taken-down-jersey-shore Tales of West Paterson – Getting Taken Down the Jersey Shore HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-getting-taken-down-jersey-shore View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7865/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Getting Taken At the Jersey Shore By Arthur H Tafero Johnny Prince’s grandfather, Harry Prince, was an engineer on the railroad for over forty years.
This provided his grandmother, Wilma Prince, something called a Gold Pass which allowed up to two people to ride a train anywhere in the United States for free.
Johnny always thought this was one the neatest things his grandparents ever owned.
His grandmother made good use of it on the occasional Saturday or Sunday she would go down by train toAsbury Park.
It was unbelievably convenient. The train went right past the back of Johnny’s grandparent’s apartment at 706 Avenue E in Bayonne in 1956.
He would often count the cars attached to the enormous freight trains that passed by.
When he was four, he used to count up to 500 or so of them attached together.
Johnny would also go to sleep with the distant sound of the train whistle blowing in the night. His gramma would dress him up on a Sunday morning and in less than ten minutes as they stood on the platform, you could see the light of the oncoming train that was still miles away.
With a thundering blast, the train would come to a stop and his gramma would flash her gold pass and they would just hop on.
Johnny remembered some of the stops named Raritan, Lakewood, New Brunswick, Red Brick and Deal.
Then would come Asbury Park.
Gramma and he would get off at the Asbury Park stop and take a taxi to the boardwalk.
Johnny was nine and Gramma would sometimes baby sit him for Johnny’s mother and father while they had a weekend to themselves in West Paterson. Asbury Park was the northernmost major boardwalk in New Jersey.
It was a very short trip from North Jersey or from New York.
You would get there from Bayonne in less than an hour.
Gramma would take Johnny to Uncle Bill’s Pancake house and he would order pancakes and sausage.
The place was ok, but it wasn’t as good as the places his mom and dad would take him when they went down much further to the Southern part of the Jersey Shore.
The syrup wasn’t real maple syrup, but the sausages were as good and they did have pats of Hotel Bar butter.
The orange juice was better at the Beechwood Diner, too.
That diner was in Seaside Heights.
But these were minor considerations back then.
The important thing was that Johnny was in Asbury Park with his gramma and he was going to have a damn good time. After breakfast, Gramma and Johnny would enter the boardwalk from the northern end and move toward the south.
At that time, the boardwalk stretched for a little over twenty blocks or a mile.
There weren’t a lot of good rides in Asbury Park like there was in Seaside Heights or in Wildwood, but there were a few.
His Gramma was too old to go on the rides, unlike Johnny’s parents who went in the bumper cars with him.
Still, he enjoyed the bumper cars without Gramma in one of the other cars; he just crashed into strange kids.
It was still a lot of fun; especially when they gave you that “why are you picking on me?” look.
Gramma did play a game of miniature golf with Johnny, though.
She wasn’t as good as his mom or dad in that game, either.
Johnny knew what was coming a bit later, though.
Gramma was a serious bingo and fascination player and they would be spending at least a couple of hours in each place after she had allowed Johnny to tire himself out on a few rides and a lot of arcade games.
There was no gambling allowed in New Jersey before twelve noon so the bingo halls and the fascination were closed until then.
It was still only about eleven, so the two headed out for one of the arcades. His Gramma was pretty good at skee-ball.
He deducted that his dad’s knowledge about how to skee-ball well probably came from her.
She won a lot of tickets and added them to Johnny’s and he got to pick out a cheesy little yoyo.
They had spent over two dollars to win a yoyo that you could buy anywhere for a quarter.
But that was the nature of the Jersey Shore.
You knew you were going to be hustled even before you got there.
You almost enjoyed being hustled after a while.
You knew that they were going to chisel you out of your nickels and dimes, but you just didn’t care and couldn’t resist the temptation to try and beat their unbeatable system.
Most of the boardwalk games were either fixed or so badly tilted toward the house that you might as well have just handed your nickels and dimes to them as you passed by. Your odds of winning a number game were, at best, 36-1.
It was amazing how many time almost thirty of the numbers were covered with nickels and one of the uncovered numberswould come up on the wheel.
The candy wheel was about your best bet.
It had the fewestnumbers and the best odds to win.
So Johnny’s gramma and he would spend a buck or two trying to win a box of Hershey Almond Chocolate bars.
I remember one time my friend Doug had won a box of candy on a nickel, but it never happened again for him and it never even happened once for me.
After Johnny and his gramma lost two bucks on the candy wheel, they slowly walked to the nickel dishes.
All you had to do to win a prize was to get your nickel to land in one of the thirty or forty dishes that were in the center of the booth.
The problem was when the nickel hit a dish it whistled off almost as fast as it came in and would land on the wooden floor.
Guys tried wetting the nickels, scruffing up the nickels and even using glue on the nickels, but nothing worked.
The cons on the Jersey Shore were wise to all the tricks and easily sucked out all those nickels from the passing suckers like us as I was to learn one summer working in Wildwood. After the rides and arcades it was time for a bit of lunch which was never a problem on the boardwalk.
Johnny had two foot long blister dogs with mustard and sauerkraut and gramma just had one.
She told him she shouldn’t be eating these things, but she just couldn’t resist.
They had fresh orangeades with the dogs and they were delicious.
Johnny didn’t have to worry about going into the water after eating, so he ate like a little piggy.
Actually, he ate like a big piggy whether he was down the shore, at gramma’s apartment, or back in the development. Going to Asbury Park with your gramma was not ever about going swimming.
The water was not as inviting as it was the more southern parts of New Jersey and gramma never swam anymore, anyway.
Nope, these trips were always about bingo or fascination.
Johnny knew gramma was serious when she started whipping out the ten dollar bills.
The bingo parlors were, thankfully, in the open air under a canopy.
This made the inevitable smoke from the smokers dissipate much faster and made the game bearable for him.
He was able to concentrate much better than when gramma or grampa took him to an indoor bingo hall with tons of smoke.
Gramma had sixteen cards and Johnny had eight.
She was buying every special, too.
Gramma spent well over twenty dollars and didn’t come close to winning any of the games and then they left.
Twenty dollars was a lot of money in those days. That didn’t stop gramma, though.
She walked a bit further down the boardwalk and took Johnny into the Fascination parlor.
Even though it was enclosed with smokers, the air-conditioning kept the air flowing even better than the Bingo parlor.
The cool air felt nice on a hot July or August day.
Gramma would spring for another ten dollars worth of dimes for this game.
It was twice as fast as bingo because it only had 30 lights compared to the sixty numbers that bingo had.
You also had a much better chance of winning at the Fascination parlor as I was to find out later because the most of the bingo games on the boardwalk were fixed.
Fascination seemed not to be.
It was very tough to fix a Fascination game because you had to roll a ball down at least five times to get a line and win.
If you did win in five balls, you got a ten time bonus and that only happened maybe once or twice a day.
Instead of cash prizes like they gave out in bingo, you got a ticket for every game you played whether you won or lost.
A win would give you 100 ticketsand a diagonal win would give you 200 tickets.
Sometimes they had special games where you had to light up an X or a Y or even a total board.
The total board games were a lot of fun because they lasted a long time and the people playing would get really intense about them, especially if they were just one ball away from covering the board.
We got one ball away from a full cover twice, but we lost both times.
Full cover games gave you 500 tickets.
You could save up your tickets for the year or even numerous years and cash them in any time.
Gramma said she had over 20.000 tickets at home.
Johnny looked around at some of the big prizes and most of them were 5,000 to 10,000 tickets.
They included things like a small television, a gigantic radio, and a record player.
They even had a cold-cut slicer for 5000 tickets that his gramma had her eye on. After an hour or so, they left with gramma’s 700 tickets.
Johnny had won two games and gramma had won four.
The other tickets came from the approximate 50 games they had each played.
It was almost supper time.
The foot-longs had magically digested in the last four hours or so.
Finding something different to eat was not a problem on the boardwalk, either.
Gramma had a jumbo shrimp cocktail which was quite expensive at a dollar.
It was eight giant shrimp with a red cocktail sauce served in a paper dish.
She gave Johnny two of her shrimp, which he had had before and knew tasted good.
But Johnny opted for a full rack of baby back ribs which was also a dollar, but his gramma didn’t bat an eye.
Johnny washed the ribs down with another orangeade; he couldn’t get enough of that stuff.
After they left the high-end eatery on the boardwalk, they took a much needed walk up about fifteen blocks to the taxi stand which also had a little candy store.
There was always baseball cards and comic books in that Bryer’s Store and gramma knew that Johnny liked both of those things and she always spoiled him so she brought him a Giant 25 cent Donald Duck on Vacation comic and five packs of baseball cards.
Johnny was in heaven on the train back to Bayonne.
He had spent a full day with gramma at the shore AND he had a Giant comic and twenty-five spanking brand new 1956 baseball cards and one of them had been a Whitey Ford.
How on earth could life ever get any better than this? HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-moms-trip-new-york Tales of West Paterson – A Mom’s Trip to New York HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-moms-trip-new-york View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7866/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO A Mom’s Trip to New York By Arthur H Tafero One day, Zippy remembered his mom and dad having a pretty good verbal war.
His Mom went into his parent’s bedroom in one of those rare silent rages of hers.
She furiously began to pack a suitcase and then she came into Zippy’s room and took a few clothes to add to the stuff she had put in the suitcase.
It wasn’t anywhere nearly her whole wardrobe or even enough clothes for an extended trip, but it was enough for a weekend.
Zippy have no idea what these arguments were about, but once a year, his mother would drag him along with her (until he was about eleven) to the bus stop and they would catch a bus to Paterson and then to New York City.
These blowups always seemed to occur on a Friday; I guess it was because Friday was payday for his dad and this enabled his mom to make these trips. It is a terrible thing to say, but Zippy actually looked forward to these spats because h knew what lied ahead for him during the inevitable trip to the city.
He didn’t like the arguments themselves, but after they were out waiting at the bus stop (Mrs.
Zambrano seemed to time the arguments well; a bus was always along in a few minutes), they would be on a nice long bus ride to downtown Paterson.
While they were in the bus station in Paterson waiting for the New York Bus to arrive, his mother would always buy him two brand new Dell comics as well as a knish with mustard.
Zippy always preferred the knishes because they lasted longer than hot dogs and filled you up better.
It seemed like money was no object when they went on these little huffy safaris, so he never got too upset, he just went along with the program and enjoyed himself.
After a while, Zippy got to know the drill and he knew him mom would always be going back to the house in a day or so, so he milked it for all it was worth. After comics, food and some candy, the bus would come along.
The New York Bus was very different from his school bus and even the buses in Paterson.
They had big cushy seats and were air conditioned in the summer and were heated in the winter.
Zippy loved the nice long trip and looking out the window to see things he had never seen before.
The bus would travel throughPaterson and then pass through Union City before finally entering the Lincoln Tunnel.
At eight or nine years old, he found going through the Lincoln Tunnel to be an exhilarating experience.
It was 1956 and other than being at the Jersey Shore, this was about as far as Zippy had ever been away from home.
He was awed by the size of the mouth of the tunnel.
After they entered the tunnel, Zippy would be amazed how long they would be continuing into the tunnel without seeing light from the other side.
The lights inside the tunnel were very bright and he could clearly see the large writing on the tunnel wall that said: New Jersey/New York.
After you passed that writing you were actually in New York. Sometimes, in his mind, he would imagine, the tunnel collapsing and filling with water and how he would somehow survive and rescue his mother.
As they began to emerge from the tunnel, the symphony of bright lights and buildings would overwhelm him.
He had never seen so many buildings in one place before.
The bus kept going from one turning ramp to another and then they were in the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
In the course of the next two decades, Zippy would be making numerous trips to this terminal as a working man out of high school, but that was far into the future in 1956.
As they went down the escalator, which Zippy always thought was neat, his mother reminded him to watch out for thieves. “Oh John (that was Zippy’s real first name),what they do is very clever.
They tap your right leg with their umbrella and when you turn to see where they tapped it, they try and snatch your wallet out of your purse which is hanging next to your left leg.
They tried it on me once before, but I was wise to them.” Zippy wanted to tell his mother he didn’t have to worry about that stuff because guys don’t have purses; they just keep a few dollars rolled up in our front pockets of our jeans.
Right now, all he wanted was another knish, which his mother good-naturedly provided.
In addition to the knish, he had a delicious Nedick’s orange drink, which was like a fresh orangeade.
It was so much better than Koolaid. They left the Port Authority Bus Terminal and walked a few blocks until they got to a place called the Horn and Hardett.
His mother had not eaten at the Port Authority or in the Paterson Terminal.
Zippy had never seen the place before.
He was dumbfounded.
There seemed to a thousand little windows with foods of all types on the other side.
His mother ambled up on a line for nickels distributed by a prim-looking woman.
The smells of the foods were intoxicating and the scores of people putting in nickels to various machines and taking out foods and drinks was absolutely fascinating for him.
His mother said the nickels were for the dessert machines they would feed after they went on the main serving line.
She ordered fish cakes, spinach and string beans.
She already knew in advance Zippy would order all starches.
He ordered noodles with butter, mashed potatoes with butter and rice with butter.
He really loved butter; even to this day.
His mother took a bit of his rice, which he didn’t mind and she gave him one of her fish cakes, which he buried in ketchup.
She had given up years ago trying to make Zippy eat vegetables.
The only thing green he liked to eat were apples.
For a drink, his mother went to a machine for two nickels and got hearty coffee.
She took him to the hot chocolate machine and plunked in two more nickels for his drink.
Zippy thought that machine must have been the greatest invention of all time.
And it was really good, rich, hot chocolate, not that crappy Ovaltine some of the moms tried to poison tribal boys with on occasion. For desert, his mother had lemon meringue pie and Zippy had Chocolate layer cake.
He had a tendency to just eat the things he really liked at nine years old.
It used to make his mother laugh.
After all their nickels were gone, they left the Automat and walked a few more blocks to a hotel that flashed a red neon light.
It wasn’t a fancy hotel (as if Zippy would have known the difference), but it was neat and clean, which his mother always insisted on.
She brought a newspaper in the lobby for him because she knew that he liked to read the sports section every day to check the results of the New York teams.
She also bought some toilet items like toothpaste and two brushes and a few other items. There was no bellboy to show us up to our room and they got off the elevator on the fifth floor and went to room 512.
The room was not too brightly lit, but that was ok with him.
He could practically read in the dark.
There was no TV in the room, but there was a radio.
It was almost nine o’clock and Zippy was getting a bit tired, but he still managed to read the sports section, while his mother read the entertainment section and the comics.
She had put on some pleasant music on the radio; it was a collection of Frank Sinatra and the Dorsey Band.
As he read through the sports section, he noticed that the New York Knicks were on a four game winning streak and they were playing the Syracuse Nationals that night on WOR radio.
If it was nine, then the game had to be near halftime.
He asked my mom if he could turn the game on and she rolled her eyes, smiled and then found the station for him. Like every other Knick-National game, it was close in the third quarter 71-69.
As usual, Dolph Schayes scored every time the Knicks would get close in the game.
By the end of the game, Schayes had over twenty points and they had beaten the Knicks again, 98-94.
That was the end of the Knicks modest streak.
They still trailed the third place Nationals by three games and, as usual, they would not catch them for a playoff spot by the end of the season.
Zippy’s mother would laugh when the game ended and would put on the pleasant music again.
She said why do you root for that pathetic team that never wins.
He told her since he already rooted for a team that always wins like the Yankees, it was fun to root for a team in another sport that almost never won.
She kissed him goodnight and he rolled over in his little cot that was set up in the room and went to sleep in about thirty seconds.
He could sleep anywhere and would be off to dreamland in less than a minute, sometimes.
His mother left the radio on and the music played deep into the city night. The next morning they left the hotel early and went to a place called Bickford’s for breakfast.
Zippy had scrambled eggs, link sausages and home fries with buttered toast and fresh orange juice.
His mother just had tea and a sweet roll. “John, if you’re good while mom goes shopping this morning, I’ll take you to a matinee.” “Oh, you don’t have to worry about me, mom.” The lure of a matinee was more than enough to gain his complete attention.
His mother knew him like a book.
They ambled out of Bickford’s and started walking downtown to about the 34th Street area.
He didn’t remember the name of the store they went to, but he didn’t think it was Macy’s or Gimble’s.
When they got inside, there were enough rows of clothes to fill two football fields.
He had never seen so many clothes in one place.
His mother pored over the blouses for a good twenty minutes before picking out a peach-colored print.
Then she went to the dress area and the slacks area and the shoe area and the bathing suit area and the coat area God knows where other areas.
She was an Olympic-level shopper.
It was all he could do to keep up with her.
After almost two hours of this torture, they finally went up to the cashier and paid for the blouse.
Then they left the store. The fresh air and noise of the hustle and bustle of the street reinvigorated Zippy. “Boy, a lot of these people really look strange, mom.” “John, that’s because you really haven’t been to many places yet.
You will understand more when you get older”.
She was always saying that.
One kid about Zippy’s age was neatly dressed in a blue blazer with gold buttons. “Ohhh, doesn’t that boy look nice!”, she gushed. “You should dress more like him” “Yes, mom”. It wasn’t enough that his mother wanted him to become president when he got older, she wanted him to dress like Little Lord Fauntneroy, to boot.
His mom always said that Mickey Mantle dressed like a country bumpkin and that the only Yankee who looked good in street clothes was Whitey Ford.
His mother was quite up on fashion.
Then Zippy noticed a big change in his mother’s beautifully expressive face.
She was on the verge of crying.
At first, he thought it was about thinking about dad, but she never cried over that before.
It had to be something else.
Then, he saw what it was. “Oh John, look at that poor boy over there, there’s something wrong with him!” Her voice was beginning to crack.
It always did that before she cried.
She had been staring a boy Zippy’s age with Down’s Syndrome being held by his hand by his mother.
The challenged boy was smiling and looked lovingly at his mother. “No, ma, there’s nothing wrong with him, he looks happy to me”. Zippy was desperately was trying to calm his mother down.
He didn’t know what Down’s Syndrome was then, because none of the kids in the development had it.
We did know about retards, though, which was the politically incorrect term we called such kids then, because we didn’t know any better.
Clearly, this kid was a retard, and his mother was just getting overly thankful that Zippy wasn’t one of them. “Oh John, you’re wrong! There’s something terribly wrong with that boy.” “No, ma, he’s fine.
He’s just dumb-looking and he’s talking to his mom.” Zippy had to think quick.
His mother would burst out in tears any second.
This was part of being Italian for her.
Then he quickly remembered the best defense against an Italian who was beginning to blubber. “Hey, mom, I’m hungry.
Let’s stop at Nedick’s for a hot dog and an orangeade!’ That did the trick.
Italians quickly forgot their grief when there is food and drink mentioned.
They stopped in for two dogs and an orangeade and then they strolled to nearby Forty-Second Street.
Zippy’s mouth dropped. There were a dozen movie theatres all on one block.
Six on each side of the street.
The marquees were bright and shiny even in the daytime.
All the matinees started at 1 pm so they still had about fifteen minutes to shop for the matinee they wanted to see.
His mother told him to choose carefully and to look at as many theatres as possible before making his final decision.
Four of the theatres were in his final consideration phase. One theatre had a Mighty Mouse cartoon festival showing with “The Creature from Outer Space”.
That combo was going to be tough to beat.
Another theater was showing a bunch of Superman cartoons and a Superman movie about some aliens.
He eventually dismissed that one because he had seen every Superman cartoon and movie in existence already.
Another theatre had a Bugs Bunny Cartoon Festival and the movie was “Abbott and Costello meet Captain Kidd”.
This was another tough entry.
Finally, one other theater caught my eye.
It was showing a Donald Duck Cartoon festival and “Dumbo”.
He really wanted to see the Donald Duck Cartoons, but I hated the thought of sitting through “Dumbo”, which he thought was corny.
He would have chosen the Mighty Mouse plus “The Creature From Outer Space”, but he wanted the movie to be a comedy to cheer up his mom, so he eventually decided on the Bugs Bunny and Abbott and Costello movie.
I mean, how could you go wrong with that? There were fifteen Bugs Bunny Cartoons that would be over in an hour or so and then the very colorful movie came on.
Zippy was a bit worried that the movie might be condemned in part by the “Advocate”, the Catholic newspaper that condemned movies in part or whole depending on how evil they were.
Violence was ok, but sex was absolutely evil.
There was a lot of heavy sex in “Abbott and Costello meet Captain Kidd” There was a sex triangle among Lou Costello, Hillary Brooke, the hot blonde Pirate and Captain Kidd.
Who would get the girl? Well, Lou always got the girl in these movies and there was absolutely no sex in any of them.
Not even the suggestion of sex.
Hillary was hot, but she was very demure in every scene.
They wouldn’t be going to hell after all.
The cartoons had been really good, too.
He liked the one where the gremlin always interfered with Bug’s plane and space ship and one where he was the warden during hunting season while he tortured Elmer Fudd.
Zippy didn’t care for the one with the Tortoise because he knew the ending already and he hated when Bugs lost in a cartoon.
There was another really funny one with Bugs as Chiquita Banana, which had the Advocate known the implications of the scene, would have definitely condemned it in part, but they were too dumb to figure out clever cartoons. The show ended too quickly, but it was approaching feeding time and his mom brought him to Schraft’s Restaurant.
Zippy ordered a club sandwich.
He had never had a club sandwich before; he didn’t even know what it was, but Zippy was delightfully surprised to find out it had a nice large clump of Wise potato chips in the middle of the dish.
He ate those first.
Then he found out that a club sandwich had all kinds of stuff he liked: turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomatoes with mayonnaise.
How could you not like that stuff? So he learned how to extend his gourmet experience on that day in New York City.
After dinner, his mother and he got a large hot chocolate sundae with real whipped cream and two cherries.
This, too, would have been condemned by the Advocate if they had known about it.
It was now time to leave New York and go back to the development. They walked back down Forty-Second Street where he gawked at all the cartoons and movies he hadn’t chosen.
Then they came to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and bought a couple of tickets back to the Paterson depot.
Before they got on the bus, his mother brought him yet another knish.
He didn’t know how he had room for it, but he did.
He always had room for a New York knish.
By the time they got home, his dad was watching the usual Saturday nite lineup of TV; “Have Gun, Will Travel” at 9:30 and “Gunsmoke” at ten.
No words were exchanged between his mom and dad.
His mom gave each of them a paper plate with Wise Potato Chips and a cup of Chocolate Cream soda.
Life was now back to normal. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-west-paterson-eats Tales of West Paterson – West Paterson Eats HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-west-paterson-eats View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7867/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 15, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO West Paterson Eats By Arthur H Tafero Pizza. In West Paterson, there was only one small Italian pizzeria; Lazzara’s.
It was not a very popular pizzeria because the owner put most of his efforts in the morning making fresh breads which a lot of people liked.
His attempts at pizza, however, were less than stellar.
He seemed to always overcook the pizza, which led to a burned crust.
People hated the burned crusts of Lazzara’s pizza.
It was also very brittle and tough on the teeth.
His ingredients seemed to be ok, but my mother would say it’s just canned sauce, it’s not fresh and it’s definitely not made with pelati.
For those of you who are not Italian, pelati is the name of Italian plum tomatoes.
They are usually very sweet with a little basil and you could really tell the difference between a fresh-cooked sauce and canned sauce from somebody like Delmonte’s.
Lazzara used canned sauce because he was tired from getting up early and making fresh bread at four in the morning. The upshot of this was that almost no one in the development ever brought a Lazzara Pizza.
They would buy White Castles, Libby’s Texas Wieners, Cold Cuts from May’s Deli and Johnny’s homemade BBQ Burgers on McBride avenue.
If they had to have Italian food, they would either have to go into downtown WestPaterson or to some place far away like Jersey City.
There were a lot of Italian women in the development, so there was really no need to go outside of the development for good Italian food.
Topozzi was a great cook as well as Mrs.
Delphino. My mother was considered one of the best Italian cooks in the development by both me and all of the other tribe members.
Mrs Petitte must have been a good cook, too considering the size of her big boys.
We never went into that house, though. Sal’s mother was a good cook, as was Zippy Zambrano’s mom.
So there was no dearth of Italian food available to tribe members during the week.
Jackie Gallahan’s mom and dad would occasionally visit his gramma and grampa and they would go to a place in Journal Square in Jersey City called the Keyhole.
Jackie would kid his gramma that she was too fat to get through the keyhole shaped doorway, but she didn’t think that was too funny.
The pizza there was very cheesy and the crust was perfect.
It was really good pizza. My mother made good pizza too, but it was Sicilian Style.
It was made in a rectangle and the pieces were cut in rectangles, too.
It had olive oil and a lot of fresh plum tomatoes with fresh mozzarella.
It was good hot, luke-warm, or even cold right out of the refrigerator.
We really didn’t have much cold pizza in the refrigerator because it would never last that long.
It was usually gone before there were leftovers.
Doug loved it and my mother would desperately try to save a piece for him, but my father and I ate like jungle animals and we usually left nothing but the pan. My mother was lucky she got the one piece she managed to get away from us.
And I am not talking about a little tiny personal pan pizza.
I am talking about the largest cookie pan my mother could find.
Sometimes she had to make two of them and then, by the grace of God, there might be a piece or two left over for Saturday.
This dish was always made on Fridays.
While other Aryan families were suffering with fish sticks, the three of us were feasting on gourmet pizza. During the Summer, various members of the tribe would often hint at going over my mother’s house for pizza on Fridays.
It became general knowledge that Friday was the day she made pizza.
First it leaked out to Doug from me and then to select members of the tribe from Doug.
Eventually, just about everyone knew about it and once they had tasted some of it, they couldn’t get enough.
One time my mother made three large pan pizzas for my father, me and a horde of the tribe.
The slices had to be small because there were about ten of us, but everyone had two slices.
My father had that pout on his face which told me he only had about half the pizza he normally would have eaten.
My mother only had one piece and I only had four or five which was nothing for me. One day, I watched my mother make the pizza from scratch.
She used fresh dough, then beat it and rolled into an olive oiled pan, then she added the fresh plum tomatoes, added black pepper, salt and oregano and topped it off with fresh mozzarella.
We would both nibble on the fresh mozzarella.
She would say one piece for the pie and one piece for us to share and then she would laugh.
I loved that laugh.
I eventually learned how to make, not only pizza, but my mother’s sauces as I got older.
I learned how to cook spaghetti properly, make lasagna, meat sauce, double cook sausage to make it tender, mushroom and onion sauce, and to add fresh garlic to saucepan.
The trick was to remove the garlic before it got dark brown, so it would not overwhelm the sauce.
I learned these and many other dishes from my mother because she had no daughter to teach them to, so she taught them to me. Eventually, I came to enjoy many other pizzas and a whole new string of pizzerias began to open in West Paterson.
But in the development, everybody still knew where to go if you wanted the best pizza. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-watching-fathers-play Tales of West Paterson – Watching the Fathers at Play HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-watching-fathers-play View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7868/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Watching the Fathers at Play By Arthur H Tafero — Once every summer, very early in the middle of the night of a Saturday morning at around 4 am, my father would wake me out of a sound sleep and ask me if I wanted to go crabbing down at Barnegat Bay.
I would pop out of my bed with a shot and we would be out of the driveway in less than five minutes. My father and I could alwaysget out of the house in five minutes.
We were on Highway 1 going down to the Jersey Shore to save money on the New Jersey Turnpike tolls.
I liked Highway 1 better anyway, because it always had far more interesting scenery.
At the Beechwood exit, my fathermentioned that we had made good time so we could stop for the “big” breakfast. The big breakfast was important because we wouldbe crabbing for about eight straight hours without a chance to get lunch.
The only item you could buy on the piers at Barnegat in those days was a soda at the soda machine.
So we really geared up for the Beechwood. First we had French Toast with four link sausages each, smothered in real maple syrup.
We always ordered lots of extra pats of hotel bar butter, too We both had a large, fresh orange juice with our big breakfasts and then we would order two ham and cheese sandwiches on fresh rye with mustard to go for the lunch we wouldeat in about six hours. After we left the Beechwood, we would take a special road that went east from Highway 1 to Barnegat Bay.
It was still not six am and the sun had only been up for a little while. My father had the windows wide open because he never wanted to waste the batteries on air conditioning.
I think we used that air conditioner about six times in six years of that car.
But the good part of having the windows open and driving toward Barnegat Bay was the salty smell of the ocean air that filled your lungs as the air rushed in the window.
It was still early and the cool air felt good on my skin. My father did play the radio on the way down to the shore, though, and a lot of the songs were fun to hear.
But when you were on that road going east fromHighway 1 to Barnegat Bay, you had to shut the radio off.
All you would hear would be lots of static because of the endless telephone pole wires that crossed the local highways down the Jersey Shore.
I had my transistor radio with me, but I was saving the battery for the Yankee game later on in the day.
We drove in silence, but the beauty of the Jersey marshlands next to the bay combined with the delicious air, more than made up for the absence of music.
Music could never compete with the symphony of nature.
Then we headed for the bait and tackle store that was a few blocks from the piers. You had to have a pretty strong stomach to go the bait and tackle store after having a massive breakfast, because the smell was pretty raunchy.
You could smell the stench of dead fish bait two blocks from the store before we parked.
Once inside, the owner asked what our poison was and I wanted to say everything in here smells like poison, but I kept my mouth shut for a change.My father would bring out our two crabbing cages and the bait man would know exactly what we would be looking for. “Here’s two fresh fish heads; if they aren’t enough, don’t worry, you can come back and there will be plenty more.
Here’s some twine to tie them down with; better take a little extry in case those buggers get a little rough with your bait.
He was talking about South Jersey Crabs, who could be pretty big and ornery, and would rip your bait to shreds if you left the cages down in the water too long. “Here’s two sturdy bushel baskets with tops; make sure you secure the tops or the buggers will crawl right out of the bushels and bite ya.
Does yer boy know how to grab on to a bugger?” “Sure, I do, you grab them from the opposite sides where their eyes are”, I said confidently. “That’s a good boy.
I’m gonna give you an old pair of my fishing gloves to borrow so you don’t get blisters too bad from hauling in those cages about thirty times an hour.
You can drop’em back off before ya leave.” “Thank you”.
I had been trained to have good manners by my parents. After my father paid for the fish heads and baskets, I took the gloves and we walked toward the first pier.
It was already half full with people crabbing and fishing off the pier, so we moved down the rocky breakers to the second pier and there weren’t too many people there yet.
It was just after seven am and we were both ready to go. First, dad tied the fish heads securely to the cages.
For those of you who are uninitiated in the area of crabbing cages, they consist of four folding sides that close in on the bottom part of the cage.
Only the top and the bottom parts of the cage are immobile; the other four sides collapse when they hit the bottom of the ocean.
This allows the crabs to smell the fish head, crawl into the cage and begin nibbling on the bait.
After about a minute, if there is a lot of crabs that day, to two minutes, if the crab schools are light, you quickly pull up the cage with great tension, so that the four sides close up quickly around the crab or crabs.
Then you repeat the process as long as your arms hold out or until your bait begins to disappear. After you pulled the crab cage up, you would carefully empty it of any occupants into the crab baskets and then put the lid on.
They were really biting today.
The first haul got us four crabs apiece from each cage and they were of pretty good size.
If you caught a baby or immature crab, you were taught to always throw them back into the water.
Sometimes, you would pull up the cage, expend your energy, and have nothing to show for it, except the eye of the fish head just staring at you as it emerged from the frothy sea. But today, that was not a problem, because it was a brightly sunny day.
The sunnier the day, the closer to the bottom of the ocean the crabs would go, or at least that was the lore.
It seemed that on cloudy days, they would swim closer to the surface to get to the light. The sun was beating down in its traditional August best.
We were both sweating like pigs, hauling in the cages, but you didn’t mind the exertions when the cages were always occupied with big blue-bellied beauties. The funny thing was that I hated most seafood, including crabs. My father liked them a little, but my mother was an absolute fanatic about seafood and crabs, in particular.
So we were catching enough of them today to make her gain fifty pounds.
By noon time, we had completely filled up one full large crab basket and almost half of the second one.
We had caught over eighty large crabs and it was time for a break.
Dad broke out the ham and cheese sandwiches and sent me down the pier to get a couple of cokes.
At this point of the summer in the development, the boy tribe often resorted to various new crazes of the fifties.
This month’s craze was bottle cap collecting.
Many members of the boy tribe put together a pretty good collection of soda and beer caps by the middle of August.
There were some guys, like Bobby Bettell, who had over a hundred different bottle caps, but he was lucky because his father was a bartender in downtown Paterson.
Most of us were only able to collect the soda caps and our father’s favorite beer.
I had a decent collection, but nothing special.
Then I got to the soda machine.
It appeared that all the men at the pier were drinking beers; just one or two were drinking sodas.
The thing was, unless they brought a can opener (and some of them did), they found the cap opener of the soda machine to very convenient to open their beers.
This led to a tremendous variety of beer caps that had accumulated in the cap collector at the bottom of the machine. My eyes were bulging.
It was a treasure trove of new and weird beer caps and they were all new and relatively straight, not rusty or bent badly.
I bought a yoo-hoo for me and a coke for my father, but now my mind was completely on these dozens and dozens of unusual beer caps.
I found a small, empty plastic bag and emptied the caps into it and then brought the two ice-cold drinks back to where we were crabbing.
I cannot tell you how well that Yoo-hoo went down in that hot sun.
It was the best yoo-hoo I ever had.
It was probably the best cold drink I ever remember having in the hot sun.
The sandwiches were absolutely delicious, also.
It is amazing how much more you enjoy food when you are outside and have been working hard. We were done eating in short order and went back to work filling up the second basket.
We could have easily filled up a third or even a fourth, but my father said not to be wasteful, because we could never eat even the ones we had already caught.
So we cleaned up our mess, watered down the crabs in the baskets one more time, and then packed them into the Chevy.
Then I returned the gloves to the bait man and thanked him again.
I had blisters, but they would have been much worse without the gloves.
I remembered to take my large bag of caps, but my father said they would stink up the car.
So I had to rinse them in ocean water for a few minutes before he would allow me to take them home.
The smell in the car was overwhelming, anyway, because of the ocean plankton that was occasionally attached to some of the crabs.
The caps wouldn’t have had a chance against this stench, but it was a moot point.
You could still hear the crabs moving around in the back seat.
They were scratching against the wood sides of the basket.
I was looking at all the different beer caps and how it would almost double my collection.
I was sure there were some in there that even Bobby Bettell didn’t have. When we got back to the development, I put the TV on to catch the last few innings of the Yankee game.
They were winning 8-4 against the Tigers; but Al Kaline had two homers, already.
My mother was screeching with joy over the size and the amount of crabs we had.
She already had four large pots of boiling water going and had put in various spices.
She also made up smaller baskets to give to our friends and neighbors. She gave away almost one whole bushel and boiled the other.
She still had fifty crabs at her disposal.
We invited the neighbors over for a crabfest and they supplied the beer and soda and chips.
A grand time was had by all.
I even found some of my mother’s leftover pizza in the refrigerator while everyone else pigged out on those crabs.
It had been a great day, but I was getting sleepy and it was only seven o’clock at nite.
How that could that be possible? HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-jimmy-lifeguard Tales of West Paterson – Jimmy the Lifeguard HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-jimmy-lifeguard View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7876/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Jimmy the Lifeguard By Arthur H Tafero There was a place called the reservoir in West Paterson. The kidscalled it the Resey. After the last day of school let out in the first week or so of June, you would see kids nag their parents to drive them or they would ride their bikes to the Resey.
In order to swim at the Resey, you needed resident tags.
These were little red rubber bands with a copper id number attached to them.
You had to wear these little tags when you were on the reservoir grounds.
They weren’t too expensive; only two dollars a year for kids and five dollars a year for adults.
Coaches got free tags, as well as their wives.
The reservoir was actually the drinking water for West Paterson.
We used to be slightly revulsed at the idea that we were peeing in our own drinking water, because no one actually came out of the water unless it was for food or for lightning.
There was a long line of large red wooden buoys linked together from one shore to the other at the five foot mark.
Kids were not allowed to go beyond this long string of buoys unless they were certified swimmers by the lifeguard, Jimmy. Jimmy was one of the development heroes of the kids.
He had a great job where you got paid when it rained and didn’t have anything to do but listen to the radio and read in the lifeguard shack.
What could be better than that? I asked my parents if Jimmy really got paid when it rained and they said he did.
The guys in the development couldn’t believe it.
We sweated like pigs when we did the lawns for a lousy quarter or fifty cents if we did both the front and backyards and this guy got four dollars a day for doing nothing! You couldn’t imagine how badly about a half-dozen of us wanted that job. Jimmy got us all certified as official swimmers within the first weekof vacation.
Our dads had already taught us how to swim and some of them, like my father, were competitive swimmers in high school.
So that wasn’t a problem.
Jimmy had to go through the testing of each us though to make sure we could swim.
The test was simple.
All you had to do was swim from the ropes (that what they called the red buoys connected by rope) to the raft about a hundred feet past the ropes.
If you didn’t go under, you could swim.
The test was a snap for all of us, but naturally, one of us had to play a little prank during the testing. Some of the older boys in high school would often swim out to the raft with their girlfriends and hide behind the side that was not visible from the shore.
Here was one of the few places (other than the woods) that you could make out with your girlfriend without anyone seeing you.
The raft was made of sixteen hollow steel barrels tied together by study ropes and wires and topped a with wooden floor on which was covered with burlap.
You could see the left and right sides and, of course, the front side of the raft, but you couldn’t see the far side of it.
Tommy Baker decided he would play a trick on Jimmy.
He started out the test by swimming the first seventy feet out to the raft then he suddenly sunk out of sight.
What he had done was to swim underwater to the far side of the raft.
He was a very good underwater swimmer and going thirty feet or so underwater was nothing for him. Well, the first thing that Jimmy did was call out: “Tommy!!” “Tommy!!” On the third Tommy, Jimmy dove into the water and swam past the ropes like lightning.
He dove in the spot where Tommy had appeared to go down.
Tommy was sniggering behind the blind side of the raft as he heard Jimmy call his name and come to his rescue.
The other boys dove in even though they hadn’t officially passed their swimming test, yet and joined Jimmy searching for Tommy.
Some of us were a little suspicious something was going on, though, because Tommy had a reputation for being a bit of a weasel at Saint Bon’s. Now some of the adults were congregating on the beach pointing to areas beyond the ropes.
Two of the fathers dove in to help the search.
Everyone was beginning to get worried.
Then someone heard a little bit of a laugh out by the raft. “That little bum”, muttered Jimmy. “It’s Tommy Baker, we should know better”, sighed Mr.
Vitale. “O GeeGoneNannies” blurted Mr.
Kingsley. This sounded like a terrible curse, but it wasn’t.
Jimmy swam to the other side of the raft and grabbed Tommy, not to gently I might add, and held him under the chin as he swam to shore. “Let me go! I’m not a baby! I can swim in from here!” “Oh no.
You’re gonna get the treatment now”, promised Jimmy. Tommy kept yelling to let him go, but Jimmy still acted as if he was rescuing my even after they passed the ropes.
The dads were laughing. The kids were laughing.
But Tommy’s dad, Mr.
Baker wasn’t laughing.
He had been worried for a second, but then he quickly figured out what his kid had pulled off, and he ran out and roughly grabbed him away from Jimmy. “I’ll take it from here, Jimmy, thanks” Mr.
Baker then commenced to whale the piss out of Tommy.
Tommy started to bawl loudly, which was very embarrassing for a seventh grader.
He won’t be doing that again we thought to ourselves.
We did have to admit, though, it was a pretty neat trick. After the Tommy Baker fiasco, Jimmy went back to the testing like nothing had happened; he was pretty cool about the whole thing.
We could still hear Tommy Baker wailing in the distance as his father was kicking him to the car.
We all passed the test easily and then Jimmy asked us if any of us wanted to be junior lifeguards.
Was he kidding? The pay was a dollar a day and our job would be to birddog for Jimmy (that meant if we saw anything at all that appeared to be unusual we were to alert him immediately in the shack.
He said we would be paid whether it rained or not and we would be on duty for seven hours a day.
We could swim, go out to the raft, and play on the beach as much as we wanted; we just couldn’t leave the reservoir grounds from ten to six.
We would also get an hour for lunch.
What a deal! All six of us jumped at the chance.
Doug, Ronnie, Hatchie, Delphino and Topozzi and myself all volunteered.
We would all be assigned one day a week to be junior lifeguards.
It was better than getting an allowance! (and a lot less work).
On the weekends, we couldn’t do it because Jimmy would have be on the Lifeguard’s chair because of all the people that came for those two days.
But one day a week was better than nothing. Jimmy said before we could get our first-aid certificates, we had to learn mouth-to-mouth.
None of us wanted to do that.
I said I would only do that for Barbara Barnier or Diane Palladesta and the other guys agreed with me.
Jimmy told us to forget about that part of the test and that we could do it on a plastic dummy.
We made sure we washed off the dummy real good after each guy gave it artificial respiration and we were now officially junior lifeguards for a buck a week.
We found out later that the Town Council had allocated two dollars a day for the job, but we really didn’t care that Jimmy was taking his cut; we were just happy to have a job.
Better than that, it usually rained at least once a week and you got the buck for doing nothing! In one three week stretch, Hatchie had a tremendous run of luck.
He had three straight days (his day was Wednesday) that it rained and he just collected his buck without working.
The funny thing was that we enjoyed the job just as much as getting paid for a rainy day.
It was probably the last job that any of us ever had where we felt that way. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-trip-woods Tales of West Paterson – A Trip to the Woods HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-trip-woods View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7877/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO A Day in the Woods By Arthur H Tafero These trips into the woods were not really planned too well.
One or two of the guys would mention how hot the sun was and how it would be cooler in the woods and that was all we pretty much needed for motivation.
We would quickly run home, get our canteens of water or kool-aid, some finger food or sandwiches (no mayo, it would go bad) and maybe a few comics and run back to meet behind Topozzi’s house which was the gateway to Topozzi’s woods.
It was the same gang of the usual suspects; me, Doug, Hatchie, Frankie Klump, Topozzi, Delphino, Jackie Shaw, and Zippy.
No matter how many times we went into these woods, after a few hundred feet, it always seemed brand new to us, even though there were beaten paths throughout some areas within these woods. There was a ten degree difference in the temperature as soon as you entered the woods; sometimes even more if there was a gentle breeze.
You could smell the green. We stopped after about ten minutes when we got to the first little clearing with a large selection of climbable trees. “Don’t climb that big one, Shaw, your fat butt will break most of the branches” Shaw was big and bulky, but really fat.
And the guys in the tribe almost always called each other by their last names unless they were really good friends. “There goes Tafero again reading his damn comics.
Don’t you ever do anything except read comics and collect baseball cards, Tafero?” I ignored Delphino and climbed to a nice comfortable branch.
Topozzi and Delphino were also boy scouts and they had brought an axe and twine with them to show how good they were at making an outdoor shelter. “We’re not gonna have a hurricane Delphino, so why don’t you spare yourself?” “Yeah, you and Topozzi are always doing that scout crap; what a waste of time”.
Doug always backed me up when I made a comment to someone and I did the same for him. “You’re just too stupid to be a scout, King and Tafero is too lazy to be one”.
Delphino, as usual, always had to have the last word. “It’s too noisy here, I’m going deeper into the bush” said Hatchie “Yeah, you guys sound like my parents when they fight”.
I couldn’t make out the voice of that comment.
Hatchie and Frankie Klump kept going deeper into the woods.
Zippy finally decided to stay in the noisy area.
He climbed one tree to the top in about thirty seconds.
His appearance was simian and his ability to climb trees was amazing and despite all the guys constantly making monkey and gorilla jokes about him, he was still just about the nicest guy in the tribe. “Hey, Delphino, how come you can’t climb a tree well if you’re a scout?” Zippy enquired. “Because I didn’t have monkeys for parents, that’s why” “And why can’t Topozzi climb high into a tree?” “Because he doesn’t know who his real parents are”.
The insults and quips were coming from everyone now except Jackie Shaw, who never participated in the ragging.
There were the occasional curses and expletives, but the guys in the tribe found out early on the biggest laughs were always achieved by the most clever remarks, not by some simple-minded curse. “Hey, King, did you bring your canteen; I’m thirsty” Doug was always known for bringing a canteen.
I even picked up the habit from him. “Yep, I’m always prepared, just the scouts are supposed to be” That got a good laugh because Doug wasn’t a scout. “After you die of thirst, can I have that cute little yellow handkerchief you wear?” “Nah, if he dies, he’ll leave it to Delphino as a momento”. “Both of you guys are just jealous you’re not scouts, that’s all”.
Neither Delphino nor Topozzi had brought canteens with them. “Hey Topozzi, I’ll sell you a swig of my kool-aid for a quarter” “I’ll give you a nickel” “Make it a dime and ya got a deal” “You want a swig too, Delphino?” “I’m not paying a dime for watered down Kool-Aid; I’ll give you a nickel” “Nope, it’s a dime or its nothing at all.
You’ll probably get buried with full boy scout honors and a salute.” “Ok, I’ll make it a dime, but you are such a damn thief.
The whole kool-aid pack only costs a nickel.” “Yeah, but think of all the labor I put in to make the grape taste just right” “Yeah, it must have been all of five or six seconds.
That’s about as much time as Tafero ever works, anyway”.
That got a good laugh from everyone to my slight embarrassment. “I want to see the money first, boys, then I’ll send down the canteen with two swigs left.” I gulped almost three quarters of the contents of the canteen so there would only be two swigs left.
I didn’t trust those guys.
They flashed the two dimes. “Okay, swear on the honor of the scouts that you will give me the dimes before sunset” “I swear” said Topozzi. “Me too” said Delphino. “You gotta say “I swear”, Delphino” “Ok, damn, “I swear” “Ok then, here it comes” I dropped the plastic canteen and tried to hit Topozzi’s head, but I missed.
Topozzi took his swig first, and by the time Delphino got it, there was only a sip left because Topozzi had taken two swigs. “Thanks a lot Toz, you left me enough to live for about five minutes” “It wasn’t me, Tafero only left one swig in there” “I heard the canteen hit the ground; there was more than a swig in there” “Tafero! Did you leave at least two swigs in there?” “I swear on Mickey Mantle I left two solid swigs in there” “You’re paying my dime for the swig, Toz” said Delphino as he gave Toz a relatively harmless swat in the head. Everyone was quiet for about an hour; either reading or napping or just staring up at the higher branches of the trees they were in.
Topozzi and Delphino stopped building their lean-to and just climbed a branch or two off the ground and started sleeping.
Shaw was also sleeping, but Doug and I were reading comics. I was reading the latest adventures of Sergeant Bilko, which I also followed on TV.
I loved the way Bilko manipulated everyone on the base and had wild money-making schemes that always went awry.
My other comics were Plastic Man and Blackhawk.
I never let anyone see that I was big fan of Donald Duck, Comics and Stories, and Uncle Scrooge, so I didn’t bring any of my ample supply of those with me.
I liked how Plastic Man could adopt himself to any situation.
He was a lot like Bilko, except he did it physically instead of mentally.
I liked Blackhawk because of the exclamations. “Mondou!”, “Sacre Bleu!” and other French catch phrases I had no idea what the translations were. Doug was reading those corny Western comics like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.
I guess he had always wanted to be a cowboy.
But I liked Army and Horror comics now because they had so much in common.
I really liked the EC comics like “Combat!” and “Tales From the Crypt”.
Hatchie was a big fan of army comics, too.
He had gone deeper into the woods with three of them I hadn’t read.
Maybe I could buy them from him for the twenty cents I was gonna get.
I had eaten two baloney sandwiches with mustard and I didn’t have any more kool-aid left so, I took a nap.
When I woke up, I saw that Topozzi and Delphino had left, but Shaw, Doug and me were still left.
We decided to call it a day because we could tell by the position of the sun it was close to five and our parents would be getting supper ready and I never missed supper at my house (my mother was too good a cook).
I invited Doug over for supper and since Shaw was with us, I invited him too because I knew my mother always made enough food for at least six people even though there was only three of us.
Doug eagerly accepted because he knew what my mother’s food was like and so did Jackie because he lived next door to Doug and usually followed his lead.
On the way back, we ran into Hatchie and Klump coming out a different area of the woods. “See anything interesting in your area?” I asked “Yeah.
There were naked girls dancing for us” quipped Hatchie.
Klump guffawed and Doug smiled. “Hey, if you still got those three army comics, I’ll give you a dime for them” “You can have the three of them for twenty cents” “Make it fifteen cents and you have a deal” “OK, Done” “We have to stop by Topozzi’s house to collect twenty cents he owes me, first.” “We have to go in that direction, anyway, so that’s ok by me.” The four of us continued on to Topozzi’s house.
We rang the side door bell.
In the development the protocol was very important.
Kids only used the side doors.
Only adults used the Front Doors.
Topozzi’s mom came to the door. “Is Arthur home?” The other guys giggled a bit, but Topozzi’s mother didn’t get the joke. “Yes, Arthur, we were just about to sit down and have supper; won’t you and the boys join us? “No thank you, Mrs Topozzi, I would just like to speak with Arthur for a second” “Hey, speak for yourself, Tafero, I love Italian food.
Here’s the comics.
I’ll collect the money from Arthur during the meal” “Okay, but don’t forget you owe me a nickel change” “I’ll throw in another comic; Frankie, give me one of your “Combat” comics.
Frankie always had a ton of comics because he had four older brothers. “I’m staying, too” added Klump. “Hey Tafero, if you want more comics, Ill sell you a few hundred at two cents each.” I tried to catch my breath and act calm. “OK Frankie, Ill see you later this week as soon as I can rustle up a buck or two.” “OK, deal” Frankie and Hatchie went inside to eat with the Topozzis.
Jackie Shaw and Doug came home with me for spaghetti and sausage and I had four almost new Army comics I hadn’t read yet.
God, could things get any better than this? HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-trip-new-york-mr-kingsley Tales of West Paterson – A Trip to New York With Mr.
Kingsley HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-trip-new-york-mr-kingsley View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7878/edit Edit — HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-battle-royales Tales of West Paterson – Battle Royales HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-battle-royales View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7881/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Battle Royales By Arthur H Tafero Occasionally in the development, the boy tribes would have some internal warfare.
This was in the form of hand to hand combat or what some would call good old-fashioned street fighting.
Some of the more memorable donnybrooks that I can remember were the Douglas King and Thomas Delphino brawl that lasted at least a half hour, my brawl with the son of Officer Wright, William Wright (who was not a regular member of the tribe) which lasted about twenty minutes, The Jackie Shaw against Ronnie Vitale and Sal Magilone fight which was a two against one, but was still one-sided, and the famous Eugene Saint Efema and Frankie Fierman fight at the Saint Bon’s playground over a girl in the eighth grade. Now most fights in the early grades between 54 and 56 were usually over in one or two punches with the loser going home crying to mommy.
But from 57-61, the fights got quite a bit longer and much more vicious.
The first really good one that I remember was the Douglas Kingsley and Thomas Delphino fight.
It was a quiet, peaceful day in the development and we were playing stickball in the street next to Hatchie’s house facing T Art Topozzi’s house.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
We had Doug, Frankie Klump, John Quinn, Jackie Gallahan, Jackie Shaw and Hatchie on our team.
The other team had Tommy Delphino, Art Topozzi, Zippy Zambrano, Ronnie Vitale, Sal Maglione and Bobby Bettell.
It was a pretty good game.
You got one run if you hit Topozzi’s house on a fly and five extra runs if you hit the ball over Topozzi’s house.
Well, Doug hit a pitch from Tommy Delphino and it appeared to clear the house easily, but it hit the TV antenna about five feet above the house.
If it was a five run homer the score would be 39-37 in our favor, but if it was just a one run homer it would still be only 37-35 in favor of Delphino’s team.
Delphino said it hit the house so it was only one run.
Doug, who was a very good hitter, screamed that it went over the house by five feet and was a five-run shot. “It hit the antenna Kingsley, and that’s part of the house so its only a run” stated Tom flatly. “You’re a cheater Delphino, that ball cleared the house by five feet and just grazed the antenna.” “Your calling me a cheater?” Nobody ever questioned the integrity of Thomas Delphino, he was always honest and truthful.
Something that could not be said for the majority of the players in the game. “Yeah, I’m calling you a cheater” Doug was already beginning to cry, and I knew that that was a bad sign because crying did not mean a sign of weakness when Doug cried; it meant he was gearing himself up for a fight.
He had done it with me a few times and I mistakenly took it as a sign of weakness and he caught with a few good ones when I was younger.
So I knew that Tom was in for it now.
Tom walked over to Doug. “Say that again to my face” Tom was right in Doug’s face. “You’re a cheater!”.
Tom instantly slugged Doug in the jaw and and knocked him down.
Doug got back up and ran toward Tom to tackle him; he was good in football.
He drove Tom back off the street and on the sidewalk next to the Van Weston house.
The guys were egging both combatants on.
Sides were split among the teams that were chosen with most of your friends on your team, anyway.
Doug tackled Tom on the grass and finally got on top of him and gave him a couple of good shots.
This would have ended most fights in the development, but not this one.
Tom got himself free and got back up. You could see one of his eyes was a little puffy.
He gave Doug another shot in the mouth and his lip began to bleed.
Doug was crying now, but that only made things worse, because I knew he was just getting madder.
The more he cried, the madder he got.
He popped Delphino a few more times and then tackled him a second time.
They rolled over in the grass a few times and then wound up in a wrestling position with Delphino having Doug in a headlock and Doug pulling on Delphino’s hair.
After about fifteen minutes of this stuff, Delphino says “Do you give?” and Doug gave…..he gave him a shot in the nose that drew blood and lots of it.
Delphino was bleeding like a stuck pig, but he never cried for a second.
Now he popped Doug with one punch after another and Doug’s eye was getting puffy.
Finally, one of the mothers came out and broke up the fight.
Doug started for home and yelled out “Your still a cheater, Delphino” The next day we played in exactly the same place at the same time with the same teams and no one said a word about the fight from the day before.
It had already been forgotten. The second donnybrook I remember was one Larry was in with William Wright who lived several blocks away from our tribe.
In fact, they were down the playground, which is about the dividing point between all of the main streets in the development.
They were playing basketball in September, which was the beginning of the school year.
Wright was in the far end of the development and no one from our tribe trusted him because his father was a cop.
There was some minor disagreement with a foul call. “There ain’t no fouls in playground basketball!” Larry said in front of his tribe.
He had just plowed through Wright for an easy lay-up and he called a charging foul, which in retrospect, he was right (sic) in doing. “My father warned me about guys like you”.
He said. “Your father’s a moron just like you”.
Larry started to laugh when Wright caught him one in the mouth. “You ________!” Larry could never fight without swearing a lot; it was just part of his make-up. He took the basketball and threw right into Wright’s nose about three feet away from him.
His aim was pretty good and he drew blood.
Then Wright tried to tackle Larry on the concrete, but he couldn’t get him down too easily and they both stumbled toward the dirt section of theplayground near the hills that went down to the Acme.
They literally rolled in the dirt about six times each and we were absolutely filthy with dirt on our clothes and sweaty faces as we belted each other numerous times.
Of course everyone down the playground was egging them on and most of them were Larry’s friends, so he felt empowered.
Wright had the best of it for the first five minutes, but when Larry got really angry, he was pretty tough to beat.
Trouble was, he wasn’t really that angry.
He was just showing off for his friends and he knew deep down that he had charged for the basket.
But he couldn’t admit that or give up in the fight.
So he kept hacking away and rolling in the dirt until he got Wright in a good headlock.
They continued kicking and scratching for another ten minutes.
Larry’s knuckles were scrapped and bleeding and he had one puffy eye, but Wright had one, too and now Larry had him. “Give” Larry said. “No” Larry tried to break his neck, but he couldn’t. “Give or Ill break your neck” he said. “No” said Wright. Larry was getting pretty damn tired and it was getting a bit embarrassing that he couldn’t get this kid to give.
Luckily, for Larry, a parent came along and broke up the fight.
It had lasted about twenty minutes.
He got slaps on the back from his friends as Wright ambled home, but Wright had earned Larry’s respect and they never had words again.
Larry was the absolute dirtiest he had ever been since he played football in the mud and the rain one Saturday.
He was filthy from head to toe and his face and arms were completely covered in dirt.
His mother gasped when he got back home and there was an exchange of phone calls with Mrs.Wright, but nothing came of it.
He had to bathe for over an hour to get all the dirt out of his ears, eyes and nose.
It had been one hell of a good fight. The third memorable fight I remember from the development was not really a fight; it was more of a challenge.
Ronny Vitale and Sal Maglione could not believe that the two of them could not bring down the husky Jackie Shaw who was the catcher for the Senators.
Ronny and Sal played for Libby Amvets, the lucky guys, and they would get free hot dogs every time they won.
Sal started to make fun of Jackie’s position of catcher. “You know they call catcher equipment the “Tools of Ignorance”.
Jackie said nothing. “It fits you perfectly” chimed in Ronnie.
Jackie said nothing About six or seven of us were down the playground for this one, but nobody seemed too worked up over it. “You guys lost to us” was all that Jackie could come up with. “Yeah, but no thanks to you” chided Sal. “Yeah, you didn’t get any hits; all you did was catch the ball” added Ronnie “I got two hits” said Sal “And I got one” said Ronnie “But we won the game” said Jackie That prompted Ronnie to try and knock Jackie down, but he couldn’t do it.
Jackie, on the other hand, had no problem knocking Ronnie down with one punch. “He thinks he can take the both of us” said Ronnie laughing. Sal went to push Jackie down, but he couldn’t do it either and Jackie knocked him down easily, too. “Damn, Ron, this guy is a horse” said Sal “We can get him down if we work as a team; lets just charge him together at the same time.” said Ron So the two boys charged him at the same time and found themselves on their butts for the second time.
They were both laughing like hyenas. “Can you believe it, no matter what we do, we can’t get this guy down.” Ron was still laughing. “Ron, I think we just better let him go, this is way too much work” said Sal. “You’re lucky Shaw, we gotta be somewhere in a few minutes.” So both Ron and Sal left. All this time Jackie Shaw said nothing, he just continually knocked both of the other boys on their butts.
It was pretty hilarious. “Jackie” I said. “You really have to learn how to insult someone as well as you fight” “There’s no need to talk during a fight” he added.
There was nothing anyone could say about that. The final event that stands out in my mind was the big brouhaha over Rosemary.
I can’t remember Rosemary’s last name, but in the eighth grade she must have been pretty hot if Frankie Fierman was willing to fight over her.
Frankie was a fairly tough guy and the guy who had alienated his girl’s attentions was Eugene Saint Efemera, a grossly overweight kid who was relatively new to the Saint Bonaventure School.
He had joined us in the seventh grade and in the eighth grade, he had apparently had made some moves on Frankie’s girlfriend, Rosemary.
I noticed this was a recurring trend both in grammar school and in high school.
The new guy on the block seemed to have a free pass with all the girls in the neighborhood.
None of us would have dared to ask Rosemary out because we respected Frankie’s claim.
Just like no one else would have asked out Mary Jo Melon because Anthony Berrone had a claim on her or on Barbara Barnier because I had a claim on her (although I also liked Diane Palladesta). Anyway, Frankie was pissed.
He said he was gonna get Eugene after school at three o’clock.
It seems Eugene had a lot of money to throw around and Rosemary seemed to be responsive to being spoiled despite Eugene’s rather large frame.
Well, the ballyhoo for the fight far exceeded the actual event.
Frankie punched Eugene in the stomach a few times because it was almost impossible for a punch to reach Eugene’s face; Frankie’s arms just weren’t long enough.
The punches to the stomach had no discernable affect on Eugene, but you could see Frankie was getting a bit frustrated that he couldn’t sock Eugene in the face.
Then Eugene bowled Frankie over with his stomach and then sat on him. “You’re crushing me! Frankie yelled out. “Good” added Eugene. Frankie squirmed like a pig, but he couldn’t get free of Eugene. “You give?” asked Eugene. “No!” said Frankie defiantly.
Eugene began pummeling him with a number of punches while sitting on top of him. “You give now? Eugene asked again. “Yeah, get off of me you fat piece of crap”.
Eugene got up and left. “You try and take Rosemary out again and I’ll get a bat and bust you open like a piñata screamed Frankie.
Rosemary went over to comfort him.
She had finally come to her senses.
Almost no one in the school spoke to Eugene for the rest of the year. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-big-little-league-game-against-brooklyn Tales of West Paterson – The Big Little League Game Against Brooklyn HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-big-little-league-game-against-brooklyn View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7883/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO The Big Little League Game against Brooklyn By Arthur H Tafero During the summer while we were in the sixth grade in 1959, we slowly began to realize it was our last year in the Little League.
Next year, we would be graduating to the Babe Ruth League, the next step up from the little league.
Since this was the last year we were to be little leaguers, we wanted to leave on a high note.
We had all pretty much aged together within the boy tribe and almost all the good ballplayers were from our grade.
Our little league team, the Indians, dominated the West Paterson little league.
There were a few good players from the other teams, like Ferguson, Quinn, DeSantos, Francona and DeRosa, but the other dozen or so good players were on the Indians.
Then after the regular season ended, the coaches (our fathers) decided to enter our All-Star team into the regional little league competition. We felt like we could beat anybody as the Indians.
Including another four or five really good players almost made us ridiculously good.
We played Paterson and crushed them 10-0.
They stopped the game after three innings because of the mercy rule.
Then we crushed Newark 10-0.
They stopped that game after two innings.
Our next game would be an Eastern regional final against Brooklyn.
We figured they would be a combination of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Dead End Kids.
Brooklyn rooted for the Dodgers and every last one of us was a Yankee fan (except crazy Ronnie Vitan and his New York Giants).
The Dodgers always lost and the Dead End Kids were spazzes.
You wouldn’t believe how overconfident we were. Our practices were contests to see who could knock the most balls over the fence and into the woods by the Passaic River (there were woods all over the place then).
We had four outstanding pitchers and a bevy of hitters that could hit anyone.
Our best hitter was Ferguson from the Amvets, but the next six best hitters were all from the Indians.
The father coaches were loose and relaxed, as were our practices.
We had slaughtered the first two teams we had played and all of the parents were making travel arrangements to go to Levittown, Pennsylvania, where the Little League World Series was to be held the next week.
All we had to do was beat Brooklyn and we would be on the bus to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We weren’t all that excited, believe it or not.
We fully expected to not only take the trip to Pennsylvania, but to win the whole ball of wax without too much of a struggle. We didn’t think there was a team in the world that could play with us, much less beat us. The local papers played the game up big, as did the Paterson papers, the Newark Star Ledger and most of the other Jersey papers.
The team from Brooklyn had nine starters with vowels at the end of their names.
Most of the team were Italian kids, including the pitcher, Frankie Tepadino.
Supposedly, he had seven no-hitters this past season.
We had our own good pitchers.
Ferguson, who was our best hitter, was also one of our best pitchers, even though he wasn’t on the Indians.
It was his turn to pitch.
I had won the first game against Paterson and Doug had won the game against Newark.
Now it was Ferguson’s turn to pitch. The game was slated to begin at our home field on a Saturday afternoon in late August.
We could tell the game was way out of the ordinary.
There were hundreds of spectators instead of the usual dozen or so that came to our games.
Everyone brought their own folding chairs and food.
There was plenty of beer, too.
Most of the fans had brought an entire picnic with them in their various containers and iced coolers.
There was enough beer there to start a bar.
There was plenty of soda and cold cuts for the kids, too.
We were eating slices of ham and roast beef without any bread and washing it down with bottled cokes.
One of the guys had four cokes before the game.
Both teams took batting practice and we could see the looks of the Brooklyn guys as we knocked one ball after the other over the fence.
When they took the practice field, they hit a few over the fence, but most of them practiced just making contact and putting the ball in play to right field.
They also practiced bunting and a lot of fielding.
They looked like a very good fielding team. Then we started to hear this: “Pop.
Pop” It was coming from in back of the dugout of the visitors.
It was the visiting pitcher, Frankie Tepidino.
And he was popping fastball after fastball into the catcher’s glove. “Pop.
Pop”. Each pop indicated the ball was traveling at a pretty good rate.
Ferguson was warming up behind our dugout and you could hear his fastballs popping the glove of the catcher too, but the pops weren’t as loud. “Pop.
Pop.” Tommy Delphino was puking behind the dugout; he had eaten too much potato salad and had had too many cokes.
It was all over in ten seconds or so and then Tommy was ready to go again.
One of the adults dug a little hole and covered the mess.
It took our minds off the Brooklyn pitcher for a minute or so. “Pop.
Pop.” Some of the fans were already on their second six-pack.
It was a festive mood.
The backstop had been wired with a speaker.
We had seen speakers at the first two games we were on the road, but we had never had a speaker at one of our games in West Paterson. We were downing cokes like nobody’s business.
No one was drinking water like they usually did.
We overheard a conversation from the Brooklyn players. “Yo, Tony, what’s that big bush over there?” “It’s not a bush, you idiot, it’s a damn tree.
Aint you never seen a tree before?” “Not like that one, I aint.
Boy, these guys are real lucky to live in a place like this”. A few of the West Paterson boys laughed.
It was like listening to a Dead End Kids movie.
But after we thought about it for awhile, we kinda felt sorry for the Brooklyn kid who couldn’t even recognize a tree. “Will everyone please stand for the National Anthem.” — Some days near the end of the summer, when we were a bit tired of going to the resey, playing ball, or reading comics, we would get on our bikes and explore all the areas surrounding West Paterson.
Occasionally, we would get into trouble, fights with kids from other neighborhoods or going to places we shouldn’t have been going to (like the adult movies at the Majestic Theater).
But most of the time, we just had good clean fun exploring nature and rest of the world outside of the development. One day a tribe about nine of us decided to bike up to GarrettMountain.
The work biking was actually a misnomer.
No one actually biked up Overmount Avenue to Garret Mountain; it was far too steep.
I think an Olympic athlete would have trouble biking up that mountainstreet.
It was over a sixty degree angle straight up for well over a mile.
We peddled from Morley Drive about a block or two up Overmount and then we just got off and walked our bikes the rest of the way until we got to the flat top of the mountain. It was me, Doug, Hatchie, Frankie, Tom, Art, Ronny, Jackie, Sal, and Larry.
We all had canteens strapped to our jeans because veteran tribal members knew that you could get pretty thirsty during August no matter where you went when you left the development.
If you stayed in the development, you never needed the canteens because you get water from any house; especially if you used the hoses that were on almost every lawn.
If you went into the woods or outside of the development, however, you needed the canteens. We were sweating profusely as we walked our bikes up the steep incline.
The houses began to diminish in number.
The street began to narrow.
Soon there were no more houses; just the road and woods.
Then, quite suddenly, the road to began to level again.
It was level enough for us to ride instead of walking our bikes.
It was still going upward, but the incline was much less.
Still, the slight incline was very demanding and we were all sweating like little pigs.
We all kept taking sips from our canteens and almost half our water was gone already.
It was then we came to a beautiful mountain lake.
It glistened in the sun like a shiny new car.
The sight of water decreased our thirst.
We all biked over to the edge of the lake, took off our socks and sneakers, rolled up our pants and waded in to refill our canteens.
After we refilled our canteens, it occurred to us there was no reason for us not to go for a swim (except the sign that said “no swimming in the lake” that was prominently displayed all over the place.
It was just so hot and we were young sweaty boys wading in thewater already.
It was inevitable that we would start swimming and fooling around in the water.
Douglas mentioned the signs, but we ignored him and kept swimming and playing.
All nine of us were in the water when we noticed a police car pull up.
We all started to swim for the shore and a large, rotund police officer got out of the car and approached the edge of the lake. “Can’t you boys read!” he yelled out loud enough for Zacherley to hear him. He began ranting at no one in particular. “You know there is a fine for swimming in this lake.
You could easily drown out there because there is no lifeguard” We wanted to tell him that some of us were junior lifeguards at the resey, but no one dared to talk to a policeman in those days.
You just did what they said. We quickly put on our socks and sneakers and got on our bikes. “I’m going to let you boys go with a warning this time since you are strangers to this area, but next time your parents will have to pick you up!” That was all he had to say for us to scamper out of there quickly on our bikes. The police car continued to follow us up the mountain for a little bit and then rode on ahead for some other troublemakers.
It seemed someone was fishing where there was not supposed to be fishing.
Thank God for the multitude of lawbreakers like ourselves.
Now someone else was in the hot seat.
We continued biking up the mountain. Once again we came to a large, relatively flat area of meadows that ended in an extremely steep decline to the city of Paterson.
You could almost see the entire city well over a thousand feet below in a vast, panoramic view.
It was quite an impressive and breathtaking sight.
We all just got off of our bikes and looked down below for several minutes.
We were all tired, but the view was exhilarating and we didn’t want to rush it.
In fact, there was very little we rushed about in those days, unless it was to get to a ball game.
We were all pretty tired from the biking and the swimming and some guys had been smart enough to pack a baloney sandwich or two with them for the trip.
I always knew that Doug would have at least two baloney sandwiches with him.
He was always prepared (much more than Delphino and Topozzi, who were boy scouts, but had no sandwiches).
Doug always gave me one of his sandwiches because he would always be eating spaghetti over my mother’s house and couldn’t get that good stuff at his house.
Kingsley was a great meat cooker (actually better than my mother with beef), but when it came to pasta, it was strictly Ayrian amateur hour. After we had our sandwiches with about half a canteen of water.
Some of us just laid right down in the middle of the meadow with a gentle breeze blowing on us from the top of the mountain, and fell into a blissful sleep.
A few of the guys who were hungry couldn’t take it anymore and started out back for home, but those of us who had a simple baloney sandwich on Wonderbread with Gulden’s mustard and a bit of water were already dreaming about how we would explain away the fines we would have gotten from the police officer at the lake, had we been taken in. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-freedom-8th-grade Tales of West Paterson – The Freedom of the 8th Grade HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-freedom-8th-grade View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7892/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO The Freedom of the Eighth Grade By Arthur H Tafero After our second and final year of torture with Sister Aloysius, we were blessed with a nun who let us find a sort of completion of the grammar school experience.
Sister Regina knew the vast majority of us would be going on to either Saint Bonaventure High School or Passaic Valley Regional High School.
One or two would be going to special academic schools like Dom Bosco Prep or Seton Hall Prep; very trendy, expensive prep schools for rich kids.
And inevitably, one or two of us would be moving away from West Paterson and going to foreign high schools in far away cities.
This had happened over the last summer to Ronnie, who lived two doors away and was only one year older than myself. He had gone to public school, but we were pretty good friends and he had always been a staple of the boy tribes.
His father, Vincent Vitale, has whisked him and his younger brother away to a town in South Jersey called Woodridge.
It was somewhere between Paterson and Asbury Park.
We never saw Ronnie again. But life went on in West Paterson after Mr.
Vitale and Ronnie left.
The Amvets were taken over by another coach, Mr.
McCallen, who turned a winning team into a losing one.
Guys were begging to go on the Indians over that summer, but we had a full roster and Mr.
Kingsley was really enjoying socking it to the Amvets and all the other mediocre teams in the little league.
We were all twelve now and would be turning thirteen by the next spring, so this was the last year of little league for almost all of us.
The next year, if you were good enough, you could play for the Kearfott Senators, who were the Babe Ruth league entry for West Paterson within the Passaic Valley Babe Ruth Association.
It was a step up and a few of the spazzes had to be left behind because they couldn’t cut it at the next level.
We kind of missed the less talented players like Eugene Timmins and Larry Schoenfeld who couldn’t catch or hit. But those events wouldn’t take place until April; it was September of 1960 and change was in the air.
The whole school was excited that a Catholic, John F Kennedy, had been nominated for president.
Only the Kenzleman brothers were for Nixon and everyone made fun of them for that.
My mother, Mary, had almost passed out when Kennedy had gotten the nomination at the Democratic Convention.
I had done the math and told her it was a sure thing to reach that magic number of delegates you needed to get the nomination.
I had to admit, though, it was a pretty exciting convention to watch.
Kennedy’s main competition was Hubert Humphrey from Minnesota and it looked for a few months like Humphrey would hold Kennedy off in the primaries.
But then Kennedy went in front of the West Virginia Coalition of Religious Leaders, which was mostly Baptists, and declared his strong belief in the separation of church and state.
It convinced the ministers and the people of West Virginia and Kennedy won a big upset in that primary.
After that, Kennedy seemed to gain momentum. Of course all the priests and the nuns were for Kennedy.
Most of them were Irish, which made it twice as likely they would be supporting him.
Konzleman would say that Kennedy’s father was a gangster who ran rum, but we all laughed at that allegation.
No, we preferred to listen to the man who wrote “Profiles in Courage”, which we all read.
I had to admit, I thought is was a little boring and not all that inspirational. “PT 109”, on the other hand, was definitely cool because it had war action in it.
Almost the entire class was on pins and needles for the November election.
Everything in school seemed to slow down and become secondary to the election.
Would this be the end of the Eisenhower years? What was it that people didn’t trust about Richard Nixon? He seemed like a stand-up fellow.
I even listened to Jimmy Konzleman read off a litany of Nixon’s attributes, but it was no sale. Then came election day on Tuesday in November.
We had school as usual, but everyone including Sister Regina, was just going through the motions of school.
You could sense there was something electric in the air.
Something big was going to happen. It seemed almost impossible that Kennedy could win, and the nuns and priests said they would be praying overtime for him, but the polls showed Kennedy behind by a few points and everyone believed what they read in those days.
My mother said she was voting for Kennedy and she didn’t mind who knew it and that dad better vote for him, too, because Nixon was no war hero like Ike.
My father had always voted for Ike, but my mother was a closet Socialist (a reaction to being raised in Fascist Italy during Mussolini), and she had voted for Stevenson in 56.
So had the Howard family and many others in the development. The early returns were coming in from a few of the Northeast states like New Hampshire and Vermont, whose polls closed early.
Nixon had the early lead in both states.
My mother looked glum and I tried to cheer her up.
My father had gone out for White Castle hamburgers and onion rings.
It was going to be another aromatic evening. Even though it was a school night, Sister Regina had not given any of us homework, which was very unusual.
She said for us to say a prayer for our nation and that God would inspire Americans to make the right choice, whoever that was.
She tried to be as even-handed about the election as possible and not show her obvious preference.
The rest of the nuns and priests were not quite as even-handed.
They flat-out wanted Nixon to lose. The night moved on, and my father returned with the wonderful aroma of White Castles and onion rings.
We popped open a large Dad’s Root Beer and the feast was on. Nixon was still winning the popular vote and he was ahead in electoral votes, but large states like Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and California were still to close to call.
Nixon had to hold four of these five states to win.
He held California and Ohio, but could not garner the other two he needed.
Mayor Daley of Chicago delivered Illinois and Lyndon Johnson delivered Texas and the ball game was over.
We went to bed that night in a state of tremendous excitement.
Almost got nothing got done in school the next day. We had a Catholic president.
It was unbelievable.
Eisenhower was very gracious in defeat of the Republicans.
Nixon asked for a recount, but the recount only resulted in the additional loss of Hawaii.
You could feel the breath of youth exhaling throughout the country.
The expectations were enormous. Things in the eighth grade pretty much got back to normal after the Kennedy election. We all started to look forward to Christmas.
We were hoping for repeat of the 1955 Christmas vacation that was extended by two timely snowstorms on the nights we were supposed to go back to school.
But no such luck.
It was back to school the day after New Year’s.
Kennedy was soon to be inaugurated, but we had already gotten past that early excitement and we were more concerned that it was 1961 and we were entering our last year at Saint Bonaventure.
We would all be in high school later this year.
That fact had not really set into our consciousness yet.
Some of us were going to Saint Bon’s High School and some to the expensive schools like Dom Bosco Prep and Seton Hall Prep.
Most of us, though had opted to leave the world of religious instruction.
Most of us would be joining our hell-bent pagan friends at Passaic Valley High School.
We heard horror tales of how difficult it was to make the various athletic teams.
That Walter Pettitte had barely made the team and he was six foot and six inches and weighed 240 pounds.
He was the only guy from the development who had made the basketball team. Forget about the football team.
None of us in the boy tribes had any particular talent in football, except Jackie Gallahan, who could run like the wind. No, the only venue for the boys of the development would be the game we had played for endless hours of endless summers.
We weren’t too worried about making the Passaic Valley baseball team because we knew we were good.
Later that summer we would find out that our confidence was misplaced as one of our best players, Doug Kingsley, was having a hell of a time making the team as a second baseman.
Second base wasn’t even his regular position.
He was a solid pitcher and a good third baseman.
Why the hell was he trying to make it as a second baseman? “There are eight of us trying out for it”, he said in a unworried manner. “Most of them are very light hitters; I think I’m in the top two as far as hitting is concerned”.
Doug seldom exaggerated like his best friend did, so we believed that he was in good shape to make the team. “But the coach could tell I had hardly ever played second base before” he added with some consternation. “What’s the big deal about playing second base? All you gotta do is pick up ground balls and cover second base”, I said. “Nope, there’s more to it than that”.
If Doug said there was more to it, then there must have been more to it. “You have to be able to pivot and turn the double play and you have to be able to go get the cutoff throws from the outfield” he added. “We never had to worry about crap like that when we played in the Little League or the Babe Ruth League” I said. “Well, the high school coach is very picky.
He wants guys who know what they are doing out there.
That includes playing all parts of the defense correctly.” Doug was beginning to scare me.
My defensive basics on first base were shaky.
I didn’t know how to hold guys on and then be able to jump back into the field of play, I didn’t know how to play for a bunt in a sacrifice situation, I didn’t know how to turn the double play from first.
Add this defensive ignorance to my average hitting and my chances of making the team as a position player were poor.
My only chance was to make it as a pitcher.
I had only been doing that for the last couple of years and I was wet behind the ears in basics for pitchers, too.
I didn’t know how to hold a guy on or pick him off.
I was a good fielding pitcher, but I didn’t know I was supposed to back up certain bases at certain times, I didn’t know how to toe the rubber before I pitched, I didn’t know how to get signs from the catcher, I didn’t know how to do a lot of things polished pitchers in high school knew how to do.
All I could do was throw fastball strikes with an occasional change-up.
It would all become a moot point because I would be moving to Union City in July.
Doug would eventually make the team and I was happy for him.
But that would be in the near future. We stopped playing those silly games on the playground that we used to play when we were younger.
We no longer flipped cards, though we still collected them.
No more silly hockey games with the crushed milk cartons that passed the lunch hour quickly.
We still played some touch football in the fall, and some baseball in the alcove in the form of stoop ball, but for the most part we had abandoned the other games to the new crops of boy tribes that were coming along behind us in the lower grades.
It was time for us to move on.
And we were about to find out that we would be moving on a lot more than we could have possibly imagined.
We kept our shirts and pants clean these days.
We kept our shoes shined and we used deodorant.
These are things you begin doing when you are thirteen because you want to impress girls, not because you want to impress other guys.
Some of us even liked pagan girls from the public Gilmour and Memorial grammar schools.
And some of the girls liked some of the pagan boys from those schools, too. Sex was beginning to rear its ugly head at Saint Bon’s. Sister Regina allowed us a bit of leeway in that area.
When I once wrote the word “______” in a note that I passed in class, it was intercepted by her.
I expected to get a good whack with the pointer, but what she did instead was to correct the spelling to “______” and gave the note back to me.
She added I shouldn’t use that term in polite company and that young men would often be in polite company more and more as they got older.
I never passed another note with a vulgarity in her class after that sensible explanation.
February was a bit different in the eighth grade.
It was the first time we really took Valentine’s day seriously.
Some of the girls gave out Valentine’s day cards in the seventh grade, but none of the boys had except for Jimmy Kenzleman, who was always very social with the girls.
In the eighth grade, the boy tribes planned their first serious assault on the Valentine’s day ritual. “I’m only interested in Patricia Roan” said Doug during lunch time the day before Valentine’s day. “You just can’t give the girl you like a Valentine time”, explained Martin Byers, who was a bit of an operator. “You give three or four girls a Valentine card and then no one will know the one you really like.” “Or if you like more than one girl, it’s a good way to get more than one of them to notice you” I had been thinking of both Barbara Barnier and Diane Palladesta when I mentioned that to Doug. Some of the guys, being inexperienced, naturally went overboard.
They bought a Valentine’s day card for EVERY girl.
That was worse than not giving one to any of them.
Jimmy Kenzleman gave out quite a few, as did his brother, John.
Bobby Carrollton and Jackie Romanoff also gave out quite a few.
This was one of the primary causes of the big fight between Eugene Saint Efema and Frank Fierman.
Everyone knew that Frank had been going out with Rosemary Deangelo, but Eugene was new to the school and might not have known.
In any event, he not only gave her a card, but a little box of chocolates.
This absolutely infuriated Frank and he challenged Eugene to a fight after school.
In the end, Frank lost the fight, but won Rosemary and Eugene had no problem finishing the extra chocolates because he weighed well over two hundred pounds. Most of the other tribe members had much better results than a black eye.
Some of them even got kisses.
The hottest girls in the class besides Barbara Barnier and Diane Palladesta included: Virginia Miccio, Patricia Pride, and Mary Jo Melon (but she was pretty much “taken” by Anthony Beronne).
Almost all the guys gave them a card.
You could easily tell the hottest girls by the amount of cards they had by the end of the day.
Rosemary Deangelo only got two, but she was pretty hot, also.
None of the regular tribe gave her any because of Frank.
Anthony Berrone, on the other hand, didn’t mind that almost everyone gave Mary Jo Melon a card.
He knew he had nothing to worry about. It annoyed me that so many guys gave Barbara Barnier and Diane Palladesta a card, but I figured that I couldn’t have two best girlfriends, because most of the tribe at that time didn’t even have one.
I gave cards to those five and one or two “mercy” cards to a few other girls.
Mercy cards were very popular and were in the true charitable Christian spirit.
They were cards to boys or girls from members of the opposite sex who had absolutely no interest in them socially, but didn’t want them to feel bad. I won’t mention which boys or which girls got a lot of mercy cards, but there were a few of them.
I got a really nice card from both Barbara Barnier and a big heart from Diane Palladesta.
I also got a real nice one from Virginia Miccio.
I gave Barbara and Diane bigger ones than I did to the other girls and that was another little caveat for the ritual; you gave bigger cards to the boy or girl you really liked.
Doug got a real big one from Patricia Roan and he had given her a big one, too.
All in all, it was a lot of fun and it took an hour off of the school day.
But soon, it was time to plan for Easter vacation and that was coming up real soon.
Most of us just played ball or hung out during most of our Easter vacations, but in the eighth grade, everything seemed to take on greater significance.
We used some of those days making plans for the next year.
Most of the kids at Saint Bon’s were planning for high school.
I was one of those kids and it was during the Easter Vacation that I got the bad news that we would be moving to Union City in July.
I was crushed.
I cried for a couple of days and then I just moped around for the rest of the vacation.
It was probably the worst vacation of my time in the development.
By the time school started, I had finally accepted the fact that I would no longer be part of the tribe in the next few months.
I didn’t tell anyone except Doug and I told him to keep it a secret and he did.
We promised we would continue to see each other after I moved and we both kept that promise for another ten years or so.
If I hadn’t messed up his wedding, we probably still would have been it touch. In April, another event kept our attention.
President Kennedy had failed miserably in an invasion of Cuba and a lot of people were slamming him in the paper.
He would not recover from this debacle until he faced down the Russians the following year in the Cuban missle crisis.
The pagan kids were ribbing us pretty good about Kennedy whenever they got the chance.
They said that’s what happens when you put a Catholic in charge.
It made no sense, of course, but it was still embarrassing.
The weather was quite warm early that year.
The weather was already in the 80s in May and all we could think about was graduation, our graduation presents and our graduation parties.
Everything else, at that time, seemed to be of a secondary nature.
Mantle and Maris were hitting a lot of home runs, the Yankees were running away with the pennant, already and the New York Knicks were considering drafting a guy named Willis Reed to try and get out of the cellar they had been in for over a decade.
Even the Rangers looked they might make the playoffs soon.
The Football Giants had lost again to the Packers, but at least they were beating the Browns every year now. It was time for the end of grammar school parties and graduation gifts.
The gifts were nothing special; most just money.
Don’t get me wrong, we were very happy to have almost a hundred dollars in cash lying around for awhile.
Of course our mothers insisted we put most of it in “the bank”.
That usually translated into us never seeing that cash again.
They would spend it on our clothes and other “necessities”.
We wanted to spend that cash on trips to the Jersey Shore, cards and comics, and hanging out with our friends. In a few months, most of us would never see each other again.
It was an idea that none of us really comprehended. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-great-convent-caper Tales of West Paterson – The Great Convent Caper HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-great-convent-caper View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7893/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO The Great Convent Caper By Arthur H Tafero It was the early spring of 1960.
Baseball was in the air.
We would finally be ridding ourselves of Aloysius by June.
Just a few more months of torture and we would be headed for the eighth grade.
We were cocky seventh graders already and most of us ignored the psychotic behavior of our much-hated seventh grade nun.
We would all laugh after various attempts of Aloysius to exert her will through the fourth-grade tactics she still tried to use in the seventh grade.
This only infuriated her more, naturally. During lunch, we had been discussing the new baseball cards that had come out in 1960.
They were a throwback to the 1955 and 1956 cards that had a horizontal design instead of a vertical one.
We loved those horizontal designs and were glad that Topps had brought them back.
Some of the boys said that they were too old to be still collecting cards, but the truly rabid among us ignored them completely.
A group of seven of us, including Doug, Byers, Dobbins, Lyttle, Carrolton, Lovans, and myself were trading, buying and selling various cards we had accumulated.
We no longer flipped cards by this age; it was mostly an activity for the lower grades.
We actually hadn’t flipped cards since the fifth grade, but for some reason that day, we all decided to start up again and have some fun.
Just as we were beginning to have that fun, Aloysius came from nowhere and began screaming. “Give me those cards! Do not move! Kingsley!” Doug came over and gave Aloysius his modest ten or twenty cards. “Byers! Here C’mere!” Byers handed over his more hefty pile of about fifty cards.
And so it went, one by one, handing over between twenty and a hundred cards to the witch.
Then, with three hundred or so fairly new 1960 Topps cards in her possession, Aloysius left as quickly as the Mongol hordes. “Where does that old biddy get off taking our cards? Moaned Byers, who had lost fifty or so. “She is such a miserable human being”, added Doug. “We weren’t really gambling, we were just having some fun like the old days” complained Tafero. “Yeah, somebody should teach that witch a lesson” said Carrolton boldly.
He was an altar boy, so he could afford to be bold. “I have an idea how we can get even” As soon Jeffrey Lovans opened his mouth, we all knew it would mean trouble, but we didn’t care because we were really ticked off. “What do you mean, Lovans?” “Carrolton, you’ve been in the convent with Father Tucker, right?” “Yeah, what about it?” “Well did you happen to notice which room Aloysius lived in?” ”I was only in the convent for a few minutes, but I did notice that the nuns who teach the lower grades live in the front of the convent and the nuns with the higher grades live in the back rooms.
I don’t know exactly which one Aloysius was in.” “Are you planning to kill her, Lovans” “If I could get away with it, yeah, but that’s not too practical.
I had something else in mind” We were afraid to ask, but we did anyway. “Count me out” said Lyttle. “You don’t even know what he has in mind” Carrolton smacked Lyttle on the back of the head. “Well, rumor has it that Aloysius has a large tool box in her room.
This tool box has all the toys and baseball cards she has taken from kids here since she has been here” “Well, how long has she been here?” asked Dobbins. “Rumor has it she has been here since the school was built in the twenties” “I think we should break in late one night and take that box and divvy up whats inside.” We all fantasized about baseball cards from the thirties and forties that might be inside the box as well as the fifties cards we knew were in there. Lovans added: “It’s not like we would be stealing; we are just reclaiming the property that rightly belongs to us” “What about all the stuff that doesn’t belong to us?” asked Doug “Well, we would be striking a blow for all those kids in the past who got their cards taken and I’m sure they would want us to have them”.
Lovans was really getting worked up now. “Well I think the witch has knocked you on the noggin once too many times and it is finally made you go over the edge” warned Byers. “Tell me she doesn’t deserve it?” No one said a word. “Count me out”, said Lyttle”. “Me too” added Byers.
That left five of us. “Listen Byers, you and Lyttle can stay out of this, but if either of you say one word to anyone, Carrolton here and Romanoff will clean your clocks, got it?” Since Carrollton nodded in agreement, the boys agreed not to say a word.
Then the two of them drifted off.
The five of us that were left all agreed we would go through with the caper. “Ok, first of all, we have to find out for sure what room Aloysius sleeps in.
That will be your job, Bobby” Carrolton once again nodded in agreement. “Then we have to hit the convent during the nine o’clock mass, when all the nuns and Aloysius will be out of the convent.” Most of the seventh and eighth graders went to ten or twelve oclock mass now.
Only the lower grades had full attendance at the nine oclock mass.
As the grades got higher, attendance by the students got lower and they started going to church with their parents.
Now less than half the class was at the nine oclock.
After all, who would want an additional hour of torture from the nun from hell? The five of us were really getting into it now.
As Jackie Gleason would say as Ralph Kramden, this couldn’t miss.
It was a sure thing.
That worried us a little bit because we knew what the success rate of various Ralph Kramden endeavors was.
However, the five of us decided to plow ahead.
Lovans went on with his scheme. “Doug, you will stay outside the convent with a toy whistle.
If the other four of us hear you on the whistle, we will know that someone is on the way or something else is not right.
We would all leave immediately, then.” “How are we going to get in” I asked. “Through her window.
We can move a garbage can below her window so the four of us can climb up into the window.
Then since we don’t know exactly where this tool box is, it may take a minute or so for us to find it.
That’s when having four guys looking around will be better than just one or two.
Make sure you wear your black sneakers instead of shoes; they will make a lot less noise.” “We also have to make sure we have plenty of time to get here, get in, get out and get back home in time for us to leave with our parents for the twelve o’clock mass”.
Added Carrolton. “But my family goes to the ten o’clock mass” protested Doug. “Tell them you want to go to mass with my parents.
This will give you a chance to get to my house early, too.” I was getting the bug to find out what was in the box now, too. “Ok, then.
We all have to meet around 8:30 at this playground.
Then we will slowly walk to the convent after we see the nuns leave for the nine oclock.
Then we will walk to the back of the convent and drag the garbage can to the right window.
We will have at least forty-five minutes to pull this off, but if we can do it faster, the better it will be. Are we all agreed?” Carrolton, Dobbins, Doug and myself all agreed.
It would be a go for this Sunday. For three days that never seemed to end, we just kept thinking about Sunday and the great caper we would be participating in.
The anticipation was absolutely overwhelming. Then Sunday morning came and Doug came over.
My mother made us a big breakfast and then we took off for a “hike”.
We promised we would be back in time for twelve oclock mass.
Then we caught the local bus on Mt Pleasant to Danforth.
We got to the playground about 8:40 and we saw Dobbins, Carrolton and Lovans in a corner of the playground. “We thought you guys weren’t going to show” said Lovans. “We still have to wait another ten minutes or so; so it doesn’t matter”. Dobbins leaned over the steps to the playground to look down the street at the convent.
No sign of the nuns leaving for the nine o’clock.
Then at precisely ten to nine, we checked again and we saw two, then three, then five nuns, crossing the street to the church.
We noticed the sixth nun, who was crossing by herself.
It was the witch.
The other nuns shunned her like a leper.
We waited for ten more minutes until it was nine oclock and then we started to walk up the street.
We went in twos and Doug, who was going to be the lookout with a whistle was on the other side of the street on Danforth, only a few buildings away from the church.
Once he was planted there, the rest of us continued up on the other side of the street until we got to the front of the convent.
We looked around and there wasn’t a soul; so we continued to walk to the back of the convent.
The hair on my neck began to rise a bit and my breathing became a bit deeper.
None of us made any eye contact with each other; we just kept walking until we got to the back of the convent.
Carrollton had found out that Aloysius’ room was the last window on the right in back of the convent.
Two garbage cans were already just a few feet from the window.
It looked to be a good omen. Lovans moved over just one of the garbage cans under the window, got on it and checked the window.
It was already open a crack to let in the fresh air, so all he had to do was open it up to the top.
He did that in about two seconds and just climbed in.
Carrollton followed him and I went in with Dobbins coming in after the three of us. We had expected to be a hallway or some area outside of Aloysius’s room, but we were already in her room.
This was it.
We were in.
This was where the old witch lived.
Our first impulse was to trash the place, but that wasn’t what we were here for.
It was a fairly large room for a nun, or at least we thought so at the time.
There was a simple bed with a cross over it, a dresser with a simple mirror, a table with a lot of papers on it, a simple chair and a closet.
We looked under the bed, but there was nothing there but a stinky pair of the witches’ shoes.
Then we all looked at each other and at the closet at the same time.
We walked slowly to the closet and opened the door.
There were nun’s clothes, shoes and boxes of unknown materials.
Underneath the boxes were not one, but two toolboxes.
They were unbelievably heavy.
We dragged them both out of the closet and then we opened one. On top of the piles of cards were the most recent ones that Aloysius had taken from us just a few days ago.
They were in neat piles with rubber bands around them.
It looked like there were about a hundred cards in each pile.
We quickly noticed that the first layer of cards were from 1959.
I saw a Bob Gibson on top of one pile.
Each pile in the toolbox was about seven or eight deep. “Jeez, look at all these years and cards” whispered Dobbins. There were cards in piles going back to 1948.
There were cards we had never seen before called Bowmans.
Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto were on top of those piles. Then we opened the second tool box.
It was a little dusty and appeared to have not been open for awhile.
The top piles in this box were strange-looking cards called Playballs. Under those card piles were a ton of cards called Goudeys.
Each of the tool boxes contained Basketball, Hockey and Football cards as well as baseball cards, but the vast majority of the cards were baseball. “Enough gawking, you guys, lets get these boxes and our butts out of here” warned Lovans. Dobbins climbed back outside the window with me and Carrollton and Lovans handed us the tool boxes one at a time through the window.
After they climbed out, Carrollton took one tool box and Lovans took the other.
I walked with Dobbins, in case he needed help with the box, and Carrollton walked with Lovans about thirty yards behind us.
We walked back down Danforth and then Doug followed us to the bus stop. “Me and Doug will take one box and you guys can take the other.
We will have to try and sell this stuff in Paterson.
If we try and keep it all, they will be sure to catch us.
Just pick out a few cards you really want and leave the others in the box to sell to one of the stores downtown.
We will have to go downtown tomorrow after school.
The excuse will be registration for a library card from downtown.
We will actually have to do that so we have an alibi.
It will only take us five minutes apiece, OK?” “That sounds ok to me” said Lovans.
Everyone else agreed. “We’re gonna divvy up the good cards from our box at the playground; see ya tomorrow”.
Doug and I waited for the bus.
On the ride home, we decided to hide our box, which contained the older cards, at the base of the playground woods, near the canal. There was a natural hiding place in a dead tree trunk that had enough room to hide the tool box in.
We tucked it in there and then went back home in time for the twelve o’clock mass.
The hour or so we were at mass and afterwards seemed like an eternity, but the time finally passed.
We both kept looking over our shoulders while we were at mass, expecting the police or the nuns or the priests to be putting a hand on our shoulders and telling us to come along.
But nothing happened.
Dad drove us back home where we had a few custard doughnuts apiece.
My mother asked if we were feeling well because Doug and I only had two doughnuts each, which was very unusual.
We just said we wanted to go out to play and that the doughnuts would slow us down.
We took two small plastic bags with us and a few rubber bands. “God, I thought we would never get away from my parents”. “I have to be home by two, so let’s get this done.
I don’t believe we actually did this”. “Well, we did and now we have to cover up our tracks”. We continued down Williams Drive until we got back to the playground and back down the hill to the dead tree trunk.
We easily dug the box out and opened it.
We took our time and carefully went through each of the banded piles.
There appeared to be about sixty or seventy of them.
The first few yielded 1939, 1940 and 1941 Playballs.
We played scissors, rock and paper to see who would choose first and I won.
So I took a 41 DiMaggio, so did Doug because there were two of them, Then I took a Ted Williams and I was done with the 41s.
Doug took some Giant as his second card.
Piles 1-3 were done. Piles 4-6 yielded the same exact cards but in 1940 format.
The same held true for the 1939 cards, but there were four DiMaggios.
We split those and the four Ted Williams and left the rest there. Then we came to the Goudeys and Diamond Kings.
All we took from those piles were the Ruths and Gehrigs because we had heard of those guys.
It was so neat to see a Ruth card and a Gehrig card; we had never seen one before.
We were pulling Ruths and Gehrigs out of every pile.
Some piles had five or six of them.
At the end of the pulling we had about a hundred each of Ruth and Gehrigs combined.
We put a rubber band around each of our piles, put them in our little plastic bags and tucked them into our jackets.
Then we put the cards back into the tool box and inside the dead tree trunk and went to our respective houses.
When I got back home, I went down to the cellar to watch some movie, but I just really wanted to be alone to admire the new cards I had.
They were beautiful.
The color Goudeys and Diamond Kings were small, but really nice.
Instead of records on the back, they had little cool stories about the player.
Both Ruth and Gehrig had lots of different poses, too.
It seemed you could get three or four different poses of the same player in one year.
They should do that with Mantle now, I thought to myself.
I had about forty or so Ruths, forty Gehrigs and about a half dozen DiMaggios and Williams. The next day, we all met in the playground and made plans for after school to go downtown and sell the cards.
Dobbins, Carrollton and Lovans looked very jovial. “We got about twenty Mantles each, as well as Berras.
Koufaxes, Clementes, Mays and Sniders” bragged Lovans. “And we got a lot of Giant Football cards, too” added Dobbins. “Yeah, what did you guys get?” asked Carrollton. “Mostly a lot of old junk we didn’t want; but we did pick out a few Ruths and Gerhrigs” “Wow, that sounds cool; do you want to trade a few for some Mantles?” asked Dobbins. “Let’s get this downtown stuff done first to cover our tracks”. Then the nuns came outside to chase everyone into class.
Once inside the class we were all extra careful not to get in trouble with the witch, so we would not be kept after school that day.
We also carefully studied all of her reactions to all of us to see if she suspected anything or even knew her cards were gone, but she gave no indication that anything was out of the ordinary.
Lovans made a wisecrack in the morning just to test her and she came over and gave him his usual crack on the head and broke her pointer as usual.
Everything seemed to be normal. School ended and we went back home.
We agreed to meet at Libby’s at four oclock. Doug and I left at three-forty or so with our box and met the boys at Libby’s a bit after four.
Then we took another box down into the guts of Paterson to the two big candy stores that sold comics and cards. “We can’t use them unless they are new” said the owner of the first store.
The second store said the same thing.
Then, while at the second store, a wily looking guy wearing a Columbia University sweatshirt asked us what we were selling. “We just want to sell these old cards” mentioned Lovans. “How about ten bucks for the two boxes? queried the stranger. “Ten bucks a box, right?” “No, ten bucks for the two of them” “Are you kidding? That’s only five bucks a box!” “Take it or leave it, kids; I ain’t the Red Cross” We all looked at each other.
We had no other choice.
We knew we were getting ripped off, but we had no other choice.
The world was awash in thieves. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-going-adult Tales of West Paterson – Going Adult HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-going-adult View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7894/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Going Adult By Arthur H Tafero There was another small theatre off of Riverview Avenue called “The Guild”.
It was a cozy little theatre that showed children’s movies on Saturday and quality adult movies at night.
I had been in the eighth grade for a bit over half a year and it was the end of February and it was time for the Academy Awards, which I now followed religiously. That Saturday, the matinee at the Guild were two Sinbad movies, which I kind of enjoyed, although I would not normally go out of my way to see.
What really got my attention was the double feature that was showing after the matinee: two Academy Award nominated films: “The Apartment” with Jack Lemmon, Shirley McLaine and Fred MacMurry and “Elmer Ganrty” with Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons. There was no way my parents would take me to either film and no chance that I could get in to the night show at the Guild. (Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult).
So I had to come up with some new way of getting in to see those films. I figured I would go to the matinee, go to the bathroom at the end of the second film and lock myself up in a stall with my feet up on the toilet for an hour.
Then I would quickly and quietly reemerge when I heard the music for the coming attractions.
To cover my tracks for the time between five and ten o’clock, I told mom that I would be over Doug’s which was not too unusual for a Saturday night.
The plans had been made and now I had to refrain from telling anyone about my master plan. Saturday finally arrived and I dutifully told Mom I would be at the theater and then I would be going over Doug’s.
I took the bus to the Guild and got there in plenty of time for the matinee.
The first film had Sinbad going through one challenge after another and fighting skeletons.
It wasn’t bad.
Then the second film had Sinbad rescuing a beautiful princess.
I preferred “Macumba Love” to this one.
As the credits rolled, I went into action.
I quickly took my bagged lunch, which was packed with four baloney sandwiches and mustard with me into the men’s room.
The men’s room had that pleasant cherry odor that I never smelled in other places, so it was not so unbearable to stay for awhile.
I went to one of the men’s stalls, locked the door and hopped up on the closed toilet seat.
I then crouched and leaned up against the wall and flusher and became very quiet.
The time seemed to pass by slowly.
I took a nap (I had, and still do have, this bizarre ability to nap anywhere at any time) and awoke; the theatre was still in silence. Then I heard the first strands of the music for the coming attractions.
I quickly hopped off the toilet seat, washed my hands and face, and then went to one of the seats in back of the theater after getting a long drink of water.
The coming attractions were for a mystery and a courtroom film.
I really didn’t care for either of those genres at the time. There was no cartoon, but they did have a short before the film on the upcoming Academy Awards which I found fun to watch.
Then “The Apartment” started to roll.
I didn’t understand why Fred Macmurray didn’t fall in love with Shirley Maclaine; she was as hot as a pistol.
Shirley didn’t seem to appreciate that he was being a nice guy at first, she was still in love with Fred.
It looked like it was worth losing your job to get a woman like Shirley, though.
I also didn’t get why Shirley wanted to commit suicide over a jerk like Fred.
I wouldn’t commit suicide over any girl (including Barbara Barnier). After the happy ending of the first movie, which I enjoyed pretty much, a man came down the aisle and started moving in my row to sit next to me.
It was my father! How did my dad know I was here? He must of called Doug’s house and found out I wasn’t there and just went to the last place I said I was going.
Well at least I was in better shape with him in this situation than I was had mom come.
Oh, God, that would have been supremely bad.
She would have gone Italian and the whole theatre would have noticed, but dad was real quiet as he whispered: “We were worried about you, you should have called us and said you were staying for thedouble feature.” He didn’t even mention I was watching two films that were for 18 year olds and older. “I’m really sorry, dad, I won’t let that happen again” “Shhh,” he said. “The next movie is coming on” So we both sat back to take in the exciting music of the intro for “Elmer Gantry” Dad got up and came back with popcorn and a soda for me and I got the distinct feeling I wasn’t in too much trouble.
He seemed like he was treating me like an adult.
After all, I was going to be in High School next year. I guess I was so happy to be sitting there at an adult movie with my dad that I then put this film in my top hundred (actually in my top ten).
It was an electric performance by Burt Lancaster, who I ardently rooted for to win the Academy Award that year (and he did) and Jean Simmons was beautiful, as well as a great actress.
Burt was a traveling salesman who drank and hung out in bars in the Midwest, somewhere.
He goes to a religious revival and is riveted by Jean’s performance as a preacher.
He woos her on the train to the next revival and worms his way into the revival show.
He soon becomes almost as good a preacher as she is and as a team they are dynamic.
I love the scene where Burt is holding the bible and screaming “Sin, Sin, Sin” and then goes sliding up the wooden ramp.
God, it sure looked like you could get splinters in your butt doing that. Of course Burt and Jean fall in love, but the movie didn’t have the usual happy ending.
Shirley gets Burt in trouble and then the movie ends with Jean performing a miracle and then burning to death in a fire started by some idiot smoker.
All people who smoke are idiots.
I kind of wanted a happy ending where Jean and Burt go on preaching and then get married and have preaching kids.
I wouldn’t have minded being one of those preacher kids.
It would have been cool performing on a stage every night. It was after ten and my father and I got up after the credits rolled. “Feel like some White Castles?” he asked “What….are you crazy? When did I ever turn down an offer of White Castles? Let’s go! We drove to the White Castle and got a dozen each and fries and cokes.
We got an extra dozen to bring home for mom, but on the way home we started to dig into those, too.
By the time we got back, there were only five or six left, but it was now after eleven and mom was happy with just those little morsels. “I shouldn’t eat these so late” she said as she gulped them down with a coke while the news was on.
It was so odd that she didn’t go Italian.
In fact, she didn’t mention the two adult movies at all or ask where I had been.
It was like I hadn’t done anything wrong at all except to forget to call so I said: “Sorry, I didn’t call mom, I’ll be sure to call the next time” “That’s all right sonny, we were just worried about you” she said a bit resignedly. I felt both good and bad at the same time.
I was happy I wasn’t getting a beating or even a verbal assault, but I was a bit sad because I sensed my mother was losing her little boy to the adult world. “Hey, let’s watch Zacherley! It’s on five minutes.
It’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue” tonite”. “O that’s a good one” my father said. “Don’t you guys ever watch anything but horror movies and war pictures” my mother said.
Then she thought about what she said and she got very quiet, which was very unusual for her.
Then the three of us watched Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff terrorize the local countryside on a late Saturday nite in the development. HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-where-are-they-now Tales of West Paterson – Where Are They Now? HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/content/tales-west-paterson-where-are-they-now View HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/node/7896/edit Edit HYPERLINK https://twitter.com/share Tweet SUBMITTED BY HYPERLINK http://expertscolumn.com/users/arthur-tafero ARTHUR TAFERO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – 1 YEAR 45 WEEKS AGO Where Are They Now ? By Arthur H Tafero I have a few confessions to make.
First, that story about the boy in the neighborhood who told the most and biggest whoppers was not about Larry Scoenfeld, it was, as my friends from the development have most likely already figured out, about me.
Being a writer, I can appreciate a good imagination, but during this period of time, I used to add a bit more lying to the already overactive imagination that I had. Also, to make this a little more fun for the reader, I am going to let them guess about which characters I am giving a current description of.
I am going to use the time-honored Saint Bonaventure method of using a matching test.
First, here are the boy tribe members and a few of the more notable girls from Saint Bon’s.
If you read the stories carefully, you will have clues to some of the answers.
So, as one of our nuns would have said: review carefully. A.
Ronny Vitale B.
Glen Glenn C.
Walter Pettitte D.
Billy McCallin E.
Davy Van Weston F.
Hatchie Van Weston G.
Arthur Topozzi H.
Thomas Delphino I.
Salvadore Angotti J.
Douglas Kingsley K.
Frankie Klump L.
Larry Schoenfeld M.
Johnny Prince N.
Zippy Zambrano O.
Bobby Bettell P.
Jackie Shaw Q.
Tommy Baker R.
Barbara Barnier S.
Diane Pallidesta T.
Arthur Tafero U.
Patricia Pride V.
Jackie Gallahan W.
Johnny Quinn X.
Raymond Baker Y.
Patrick Howard Z.
Patricia Roan 1.
This girl turned out to be a fashion model in New York for Madamoiselle Magazine. 2.
This boy became an eye doctor. 3.
This boy became a lawyer and had to prosecute his younger brother for a crime. 4.
This boy turned out to be the best friend of the West Paterson Town Council Chairman 5.
This boy turned out to be the Town Council Chairman. 6.
This girl’s house was raided by the police one night. 7.
This girl turned out to be a minor Hollywood actress before marrying a successful businessman. 8.
This girl turned out to be the West Paterson Head Librarian. 9.
This boy turned out to be prosecuted by his brother for burglary. 10.
This boy turned out to be a life-long baseball coach for decades of West Paterson kids. 11.
This boy turned out to become a psychologist. 12.
This boy turned out to become a physical ed teacher. 13.
This boy moved to California and became a techie in Silicone Valley. 14.
This boy went into the restaurant business. 15.
This boy became a pop collectibles dealer. 16.
This boy went on to become a science teacher. 17.
This boy moved to New York and became a minor politician. 18.
This boy moved to Connecticut and became a car salesman. 19.
This boy was tragically killed in Vietnam. 20.
This boy became a minor league baseball player. 21.
This boy moved to San Francisco and is now living with his life-partner Wayne. 22.
This boy became a bouncer for Studio 54 in New York. 23.
This boy moved to California and became a major Hollywood sound technician. 24.
This boy moved to South Jersey and became real estate salesman. 25.
This boy became New York’s leading expert on China. 26.
This boy married his childhood sweetheart, had four lovely children, became a successful salesperson for Sears and is still living in West Paterson. And here is matching quiz for Saint Bon’s School (names have been changed, but any of us who were there will know EXACTLY who they are) A.
Margaret Correy B.
Maryanne Millens C.
Darlene Pescatone D.
Michelle McKearny E.
Virginia Miccio F.
Bernadette Hillman G.
Fred Hertz H.
Mary Jo Melon I.
Frankie Fierman J.
Jackie Romanoff K.
Bobby Carrolton L.
Jeffrey Lovans M.
Johnny Cusach N.
Judy Banghearty O.
Jimmy Kenzleman P.
Walter Zehner Q.
Martin Byers R.
Arthur ThePharoh S.
Eugene Saint Efima T.
Patricia Lyers U.
Joseph Dobbins V.
Douglas Kingsley W.
Bobby Holter X.
Martin Byers Y.
Joseph Oppenheiser Z.
Read more about It was now PS 29, a public junior-high school: