Current Newsletter

October 2017

Our newsletters are currently being written by a revolving group of Board members and guest writers drawn from our membership list. We encourage readers who wish to submit prospective future newsletters to do so. Topics can range from neighborhoods, businesses, camps, or community centers and could include family memories or personal experiences you have had in the north Jersey area. Jules Zalon, a member of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey, has written our October 2017 newsletter.

I still have a lot of Paterson blood in my veins, having lived in or around it virtually all my life . . . at least until moving to sunny Southern California in late 2015. Before heading west I’d lived in the Oranges since 1974 . . . but even then, I always felt that tug of sentimentality. For example, I would ride my recumbent ‘trike’ to the Great Falls on a fairly regular basis – 10 miles from home – often dipping down into town and then up Broadway through the East Side before turning south towards home through Passaic.

The Zalons “invaded” Paterson in the 1910s. My grandfather was a cobbler; then a shopkeeper, finally buying and vastly expanding Riverside Linen Supply ten years later, a business the entire Zalon family operated until the late 1980s. My father was an early member of the Veritans, and a tireless worker on Jewish community matters throughout his life. How could I not feel a great affinity for the community I grew up in?

So after recounting a pretty unlikely experience – when a baseball legend asked me for my autograph – and I was asked by the JHSNJ to write it up as my contribution to this month’s newsletter, it made sense that I was requested to emphasize how my growing up in Paterson led to my choice of a career as a lawyer. But like George Washington (or so the story goes), I cannot tell a lie: My decision to go to law school had very little to do with Paterson, unless you factor in the two Patersonians connected to the decision: Paul Jaffe and Arnold Cohen.

Paul and I were in the Army, stationed at Ft. Knox in August, 1960, and one Saturday morning we got a weekend pass, hopped into my Triumph TR3, and headed to the student union at Louisville University to see if we could meet some girls. Along the way, we walked past the law school and decided to look around. We were met by a friendly professor and – just for fun – I asked what it would take to get accepted. After answering a few questions, he announced that he is also the dean of admissions, and he accepted me on the spot! At first I thought it was a joke, but when I told my father about the incident, he says, “Good! Go!”

Paulie actually had a big influence: he had been accepted to medical school in Basel, Switzerland, and he would spend most evenings in the base’s library studying German, a language he simply didn’t know. And for lack of anything better to do, I accompanied him and – for the first time in my life – actually began reading … books, something I had hardly done through 4 years of college. It was at that point that I remembered that my good friend Arnold Cohen had already started law school. Suddenly confident of my new-found ability to sit down and read anything, I decided that, “if Arnie could go to law school, so could I.” (How I ultimately got into NYU with my lousy college grades still amazes me.) But that, as they say, is the ‘emess!’

My modest contribution to the law was the creation, in 1980, of a novel legal procedure quickly dubbed the “John Doe Seizure Procedure,” pursuant to which federal judges authorized – for the first time – the seizure of counterfeit merchandise from anyone found to be peddling those bootleg items . . . initially in the vicinity of rock concert venues. The procedure enabled rock groups and their merchandisers to finally get control over the sale of T-shirts and other souvenirs at their concerts … and led to a huge increase in merchandise sales at the venues. Not surprisingly, I became very popular in the concert field, and suddenly found myself running around the country with Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Van Halen, Rush, The Dave Matthews Band, The Los Angeles Raiders, Dennis Rodman, The Who, Michael Jackson and scores of other entertainers. Some rather unusual seizure orders involved the Pope, The Three Stooges, Pablo Picasso, and two “high end” pornographers. [Hey, somebody had to do it!]

While these lawsuits initially involved the seizure of merchandise from itinerant peddlers (the “John Does” found outside concert venues or sports stadiums), the seizure procedure quickly morphed into a more traditional form of lawsuit, in which an actual business premises became the target of a raid.

In 1988, I filed an action in Chicago against a poster company in St. Charles, Illinois, obtaining a court order to seize the bootleg merchandise we had traced to their premises. The order directed the United States Marshals to accompany me to the premises and execute the order.

Since the order was not issued until close to noon, we put off enforcement until the following day. So my client Alan Shorr (an avid baseball fan) and I decided to take in an afternoon game at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs were playing – I believe – San Diego. At the time, the Cubbies only played day games at Wrigley. The light stanchions had just been installed, but the lights themselves had not yet been used. Too bad, in a way, that they were installed at all. It may have been Ernie Banks – Mr. Cub – (or was it Andy Pafko?) who said that every ballplayer ought to be a Cub for at least one season; so they can play baseball “as God intended it to be played: in sunshine; in the afternoon!”

The following morning, bright and early, we met a team of Deputy United States Marshals in the lobby of the Midlands Hotel in downtown Chicago. Since this was a mostly novel experience for the Marshals, it was my job to explain to them what we were likely to encounter at the premises, and how these seizures generally went down. At some point during our roughly 15 minute confab (my client, 4 Deputies and me), who do you think came waltzing down the main staircase – “Mr. Cub” himself, Ernie Banks. My client immediately abandoned our discussion and began an animated conversation with someone who can truly be described as baseball royalty. In due course he asked Banks if he would wait in the lobby so he could run up to his hotel room and retrieve the program from the game the day before, so he could get Banks’ autograph; and Banks agreed. After Alan returned to the lobby and obtained Banks’ autograph, Banks noticed my own animated discussion with the Deputy Marshals, and asked Alan, “What’s going on over there?” Alan proudly responded: “Oh, that’s my famous lawyer, Jules Zalon. He’s briefing the United States Marshals before we go out and seize bootleg merchandise.” At which point, Ernie went over to me and asked for MY autograph! {And that is also the ‘emess’.}

Shows you what kind of a guy Ernie Banks was….

Jules Zalon, member of the JHSNJ