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. Miriam Kraemer Gray, V.P. and member of our Executive Board, has written the January 2017 newsletter.
2017!!! Wow! The month of January is named for the god Janus who is the god of beginnings and transitions. Janus, according to legend, has two faces, one looking to the past and the other to the future. And, indeed, during the weeks before and after the secular New Year observance, we all tend to reminisce as we look forward to a new year.
Whether you grew up in Paterson, Hackensack, Passaic, or Clifton, you remember the dances at the “Y”s. We often took the bus to a neighboring town to check out the opposite sex from the other “Y’s”. If we were lucky, someone had a car!!! And yes, many matches were made at these dances and many marriages came from “Y” hopping. We all remember the Christmas lights in these cities, which made the downtown areas look like a wonderland. Eastside Park would flood an area near the ball field and we would have a great time ice-skating followed by a hot chocolate at Kanter’s on Broadway. Westside Park would also provide a great skating area for local kids. Some of you may remember the great blizzard of 1947 during which over 25 inches of snow fell during the night. That storm was so difficult to track that there was no warning of the coming blizzard. It occurred during Christmas break and school did not re-open until several days into the New Year. People were stranded at work, cars were abandoned on roads, and most stores had to remain closed.
Different cultures have different customs related to the New Year. A Greek Orthodox custom is to bake a coin in a cake. The person getting the slice containing the coin will enjoy a lucky year. Another interesting custom comes from southern Italy. In southern Italy, old things are thrown out of the front window of one’s home symbolizing acceptance of the New Year. They also throw out old mugs and plates in the hope of ridding themselves of any negativity of the past year.
The JHSNJ has a far different view of old “things”. Rather than throwing them out of the window to destroy them, we lovingly collect them. We are fortunate that our showcases have recently been installed and are now showing off our “old stuff”. Beautiful artifacts donated by families who lived and worked in north Jersey are now preserved in display cases. Our displays include Jewish ceremonial objects from 80-100 years ago. We also are proud preservers of documents such as citizenship papers, military discharge papers and bills of sale from local stores all dating decades ago. We are the face of Janus facing the future. But, Janus can only look to the future and plan for the future when the documents, photos, books of the past are respected and cherished. In southern Italy, they throw out the old. In northern New Jersey, we respect and cherish the past. This respect allows us to face the future with surety, respect, and hope.
Come visit us. Reminisce and enjoy talking about the past so you can walk out to the future more knowledgeable and more respectful of that, which was. To you and your families, a new year of fulfillment and blessings.
Miriam Kraemer Gray, V.P, of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey
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. Moe Liss, V.P. and member of the JHSNJ Executive Board, has written our February 2017 newsletter.
When I was growing up in Paterson, my parents had the foresight of having me join the Paterson YM-YWHA, or as we called it, the Paterson “Y”. That’s where I learned how to swim, play basketball and handball, but, most importantly, I learned the value of true friendship and camaraderie. As I progressed through my teenage years, I could be often found on Saturday nights at the “Y” dances looking for a pretty girl to connect with and maybe even walk her home and steal a goodnight kiss. Wow, it all seemed fantastic!
By the time I was 17, I was looking for a summer job and again and the “Y” played an important part in my life. I got my first job as a junior counselor at the “Y” Day Camp, Camp Veritans. It was a fantastic experience for me and my 12- 15 eleven and twelve year old campers. I began thinking of my future vocation and I realized then that it would have to be something working with children which naturally led to a teaching career. It would be a perfect fit for me. I would teach from September to June and that would give me my summers free to do what I really enjoyed the most, being a camp counselor. Following my graduation from college I served a two year stint in the army. By the way, an obscure army provision enabled me to obtain an early discharge in order to work at Camp Veritans.
Soon after, I began my teaching career at Eastside High School in Paterson. For the next 15 years I had, what I considered, the perfect complement….teaching history at EHS and working at Camp Veritans. Eventually I became Assistant Camp Director from 1958-65. Let me return for a moment to my experiences at Camp Veritans. As I have mentioned, it really was the turning point of my life because it motivated me to spend the remainder of my life working with children and eventually the adults they turned into. At the end of my first year as a junior counselor I wrote a post card to my campers inviting them to come down to the Paterson “Y” to continue the experiences we had had during the summer by forming a boys club. Almost all of them responded and on a Friday afternoon in September 1951 we met for the first time. Neither I nor the boys knew what to do during that first meeting so we just talked about our summer experiences. After about an hour and a half we decided to go up to the roof and play ball. For the next few Fridays that became the routine until I said, “why don’t we actually form a club with officers and guidelines, have dances, parties, and maybe go on trips etc.” They liked the idea and we began discussing names for the group. At that time there was a popular Brooklyn Dodger sports program called “Happy Felton’s Knot Hole Gang”, and the guys felt that maybe the “Happy Go Lucky Boys” would be an appropriate name. And so it was said and so it was written that they became known as the “Happy Go Lucky Boys”. We met every Friday after school, went on camping trips, had cookouts, went to our first Major League Baseball game at Ebbets Field (a story to be told at a later date),and generally had loads of fun, both at their meetings and at après meeting activities. When the guys all became teenagers they thought that the name “Happy Go Lucky Boys” was a bit too immature and that we needed a more masculine name like Lions, Tigers, Wolves or something that sounded more manly. It was during that discussion that I mentioned how I once belonged to a club called the Spartans and WHAM, BANG that was it! Everyone loved that name and the “Happy Go Lucky Boys” became the Spartans. That was the second incarnation of the name Spartans. That club remained active at the “Y” from 1951-1962 when, for some unknown reason, it just ceased to exist. I terminated my role as their leader when I went into the army in 1955, but I do remember it remained in existence until 1962.
It was in 1980 that some of the older Spartans began talking about possibly having a reunion whereby we’d get the guys together for a one day gathering and do what we used to do like eating and talking. A committee was formed with the primary objective of finding out the names and addresses of as many Spartans as could be remembered. Over 120 names and addresses were found over the next seven years. Next, we contacted the Veritans Club, who ran the camp, to arrange for its use for a one day reunion. Thanks to Neil Chessin, an original Spartan and a member of the Veritans, we were able to obtain the use of the camp for our reunion. May 17, 1987 was the perfect day! The weather was ideal and over 30 Spartans accompanied by their wives, significant others or “girl friends” gathered at the camp for a day of “remembering.” As you might imagine, Paterson was the thread that had woven all of our lives together. That event would also prove to be the beginning of the next chapter of my life. For the past 37 years, the Spartans and “Spartanettes” have played a most significant part in my, and in my wife Pearl’s lives. We have shared many, many, happy occasions (“simchas” you might say), as well as experiences saddened by illness and deaths of parents, relatives and friends. Through it all, we could count on our fellow Spartans to be there for us, as we are for them.
Paterson was, and will always be, the central part of my life. It is that connection that brought me to the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey. One day, while I was in Paterson visiting a friend’s business, I was introduced to the Jewish Historical Society, which at that time was housed in the basement of the Barnert Hospital. That visit “turned me on” to become involved with this fine organization, its mission and its future. What began as a chance meeting on the streets of Paterson has become a major aspect of my life going forward. I became fascinated by the richness of our historical collection and the dedication of its many volunteers and staff. I feel extremely proud and humble to say that, along with Alvin Reisbaum and others, we had the foresight and “chutzpah” to go out and obtain a mortgage and purchase our present offices in Fair Lawn. Looking back, it probably was one of the best decisions I have made in recent years.
Very little of what I have described herein could have been accomplished without the love and support of my “soul mate” (and sole mate!) Pearl and my children Brenda, Jeff, Jaime and my beloved Debbie. I thank them for always being there both for me and for one another.
Moe Liss, V.P. and member of the JHSNJ Executive Board
The photos above show Moe Liss standing at the rear of his 1953 campers at Camp Veritans and the photo on the right shows Moe on the teaching staff of Eastside High School in Paterson.
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. Stephanie Diorio, JHS archivist, has written our March 2017 newsletter.
Hi, everyone! I’m Steph Diorio, and I’ve been the archivist of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey since the beginning of October. I’ve been honored to work with these collections and I’m greatly enjoying working on making them more accessible to researchers and helping to preserve and share the history contained here!
You may have surmised from the immense amount of vowels in my surname that I’m actually Italian. I did, however, grow up in Bergen County, and so whilst I may not be able to relate to every single memory shared here on a personal level, I have a fair share of common experiences with everyone else at JHS, ranging from driving down Route 21 to go to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton to trying to find a parking spot at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus so my friends and I could go do some last-minute holiday shopping.
Like many Bergen County kids (including my kid brother, my father, and my paternal grandmother), I was born at Hackensack University Medical Center (which itself has grown exponentially since 1989, when I first came on the scene). I grew up here and the local culture became a very distinct part of my identity, although I was unaware of this until I left the comfort of northern New Jersey for college in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I’d vacationed in nearby (in PA standards; it was about an hour and a half away) Lancaster County many times as a child and felt comfortable in Pennsylvania for short periods of time, but living there was a huge eye-opener for me. I learned many horrifying things, like that the entire state of Pennsylvania has exactly zero White Castles, diners actually close at night, people swear significantly less, and, perhaps most surprising to me, I had an accent that I was entirely unaware of until someone pointed it out to me. Clearly, I couldn’t live in a place like this for the rest of my life.
Fortunately, to become an archivist, you have to go to graduate school and get a Master’s degree in library science, so I returned home as soon as I graduated and commuted into the city for grad school at Pratt Institute. I quickly readjusted to New Jersey life, indulging in all the things I’d sorely missed when I was away, like being able to eat past 10 pm (a necessity when in grad school) and bagels that actually tasted good. Out of all the things I learned when getting my history degree in Pennsylvania, perhaps the most important one was that I belonged here in the greater New York City area instead. North Jersey was in my blood and in my soul and I couldn’t be away from it any longer.
Once graduate school was completed and left me with an expensive piece of paper and massive amounts of student loan debt, I turned my attention to preserving the local history of the place I loved so much. Working here at JHS has been an absolutely fantastic opportunity for me to achieve this goal – here I am able to ensure that documents, photos, oral histories, and artifacts live on and will be able to tell the stories of the past to the people of the present and future. Nothing means more to me as an archivist than ensuring that history lives on for the generations who come along after me, and I have an astounding, wonderful army of volunteers to help me achieve this lofty goal. I’d be absolutely delighted if you’d all come and visit us here and see the work the volunteers have done, particularly the displays they’ve put up using our new display cases and the photos they’ve helped me organize and protect!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to Rutt’s Hut for some hot dogs.
Stephanie Diorio, Archivist, Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey
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. Steven Goldman, a JHSNJ member, has written our April 2017 newsletter.
I recently was asked to pen the April JHSNJ newsletter. Less than a year ago, I didn’t know it existed. Yet throughout my life since leaving Paterson around 1980 and moving south to Florida, there have been constant reminders of where I grew up in Paterson.
Of course, the strongest connection used to be my mom and sister and their friends who retired to south Florida. After that, came the famous “Paterson Day in South Florida” which was a bi- annual event. Paterson Day, at its height, numbered in excess of 1000 Patersonians. At those gatherings many friendships were renewed and new ones were formed. The strength of ‘Paterson Day’ was the excitement of saying ‘hello’ and promising to stay in touch, but so often for me, the connections remained dormant until two years later when more of those Patersonians passed away. Eventually, ‘Paterson Day’ was discontinued because of attrition and the burnout of some really tired workers who worked so hard to keep it going. I should say that ‘Paterson Day’ is not completely gone. This past February a group of 100+ Patersonians met for lunch at a Chinese Restaurant in Palm Beach County. It was a great afternoon.
I started thinking about what has kept me so attached to Paterson. Not surprising, I look forward to the JHSNJ newsletter. The person to thank for this great connection to Paterson is Jack Zakim. My life in south Florida has gotten me involved in officiating at swimming events. Jack, as everyone knows, has always been a swimmer. I would run into him yearly at the ‘Y Masters National Swim Meet. ‘ This past spring Jack spoke to me about the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey.
I am on Facebook quite a lot and noticed people often send out lists of items that they associate with. “How many states have you visited?” “Where have you traveled?” The following boxed text is my list of what reminds me of Paterson.
|Temple Emanuel – Barnert Hospital – Manhattan Bus – Camp Wasigan – Paterson Y – Toby’s – Moe Liss – John F. Kennedy visit – Allen Ginsberg -The Paramount – Ben and Bob’s – Sunshine’s – Eastside Park – The number 54 Bus – The number 38 Bus – Sigma Phi – 10th Ave Circle – Fallsview Diner – Johnny and Hanges – Saturday night bagels – Joe Baker’s horseradish – Mr. Abraham Stein’s bar -mitzvah records – Kanter’s – Garrett Hobart – Park East Terrace Apartments – Kent Village -Fabian Theater – US Theater – Jacobs and Jacobs 29 – Mort Jacobs – The Bonfire – The best corn bread – Rabbi Buch – Rabbi Panitz – Deadman’s Curve at Eastside Park – Hickory Hill Country Club – Pine Brook Country Club – Westmount Country Club – Pine Haven – and Preakness Valley Swim Club|
I’m sure you have your own list and I’m sure I missed a few, but there are a few things that still make me wonder. (a)Why did we wear those bathing caps at Camp Veritans? Couldn’t they have figured a better way to have buddy call? (b) Did the name Veritans come from a bunch of men who went on an annual boat ride and came back very tan? (c)The big mystery that always perplexed me was why exactly the YM-YWHA in Paterson always made the boys swim nude?
If you have the answers please share them with me.
Steven Goldman, JHSNJ member, Goldman_s@comcast.net
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. Chuck Oremland, Recording Secretary and a member of our Executive Board, has written our May 2017 newsletter.
My journey to the Jewish Historical Society began approximately two years ago when I opened my e-mail account one Friday morning and saw that I had gotten something called “Photo Friday.” Being somewhat inquisitive, I opened it, and found pictures of people, events, and places, some of which brought back distant memories.
Moe Liss, Vice-President of the Historical Society, was responsible for adding my name, as well as others, to the weekly “Photo Friday” distribution list. A few months later I opened my e-mails on a Friday, and looked at one of the photos in total disbelief. I suddenly found myself staring at a photo of my father, George Oremland, serving glasses of what in all likelihood was spiked punch at a Passaic Hillel dinner, most likely taken in the 1950’s. It was a picture I had never seen and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me!
Later that year, the Historical Society was moving their headquarters from the former Barnert Hospital in Paterson to Fair Lawn, and the same Moe Liss was recruiting volunteers to assist with that move. How could I say ‘no’? So, that’s how it all began.
For the next year or so, every Monday, I went to the office for a few hours, and sifted through boxes and boxes of documents, memorabilia, artifacts and almost anything else that one of our founders, Jerry Nathans, deemed worthy of saving.
And then, it happened again. In sorting through material from the Passaic synagogues, I came across an ad journal from ‘Chevra Thilim’, the shul my parents and grandparents belonged to. ‘Chevra Thilim,’ one of the first orthodox synagogues in Passaic, was founded in 1905 by a group of 20 men. By 1910, the congregation had grown considerably and, as a result, a site was chosen for their new home on Hope Avenue. That new site served the congregation for about 60 years until it was forced to close both due to a declining membership and the fact that the State of N.J. was planning on extending Route 21 through the east side of Passaic.
In going through that 1945 journal I found an ad placed there by my parents that also included my name. (My younger brother Leonard hadn’t been born at that time.) I couldn’t believe my eyes; that’s because I had tears in them.
Why do I tell you this? We have mountains of material, and quite possibly, in our archives, we have something from your family to unite you with your past.
There are quite a few ways you can assist us with our ongoing mission. First and foremost, if you are not already a member, then there is no time like the present to join our Society. Quite possibly, you may have some memorabilia stored in your attic or basement that would be of interest to us as well as to our members. We would love to hear from you if you can volunteer even a few hours every week to assist us in preserving the history of our local Jewish heritage.
Chuck Oremland, Recording Secretary, Executive Board member of the JHSNJ
The bottom left image is the cover of the 1945 ad journal I ‘discovered’ at the JHSNJ from ‘Chevra Thilim’ and the bottom right image is the photo of my dad, George Oremland, the second guy on the left, with 4 unidentified colleagues of his at a Passaic Hillel dinner.
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. Mr. Al Weiss, the esteemed and now retired English teacher at Eastside High School in Paterson and a member of the JHSNJ, has written our June 2017 newsletter.
I would like to pose three questions to our JHSNJ readers as follows:
1)Were the classes at Eastside High School in Paterson during the 1950’s and 1960’s as great as they seemed to be?
2)Were the students in those classes as terrific as they seemed to be?
3)Were the families of those students as admirable as they seemed to be?
The answer to all three questions is a definitive YES! Many of the factors that had contributed a couple of centuries ago to a cluster of European colonies’ evolving into a new nation governed by principles and practices of democracy also contributed to the establishment of public schools. Public schools provided free education to all children in a community to prepare them for their eventual roles as adults in the community. For more than two centuries, the ideals of socio-economic –political democracy and free public education have had proponents and champions, but also detractors and enemies – and exploiters.
The two decades after World War II probably were the ‘Golden Age of Public Schools’, fulfilling the goal and ideal of free education for all children in every community and providing equal opportunity to achieve both personal fulfillment and fulfillment as responsible and beneficial citizens of community, nation, and world. Urban centers with heterogeneous populations were especially suited to have school systems that could best provide universal education for success in a democratic society. Paterson was such an urban center.
Probably everyone in Paterson had been directly affected by WWII and many by the pernicious political forces responsible for the war. For them and for people throughout the United States, victory in that war was the triumph of democracy over dictatorship. The democratic nature of American public schools made them ideal places to teach children the principles and the practices of democracy and to motivate them to follow those principles to their own advantage and for the good of all others.
I began teaching in Paterson at the Paterson Technical and Vocational High school in the 1940’s. P.T.V.H.S. adhered to some old-world principles not altogether compatible with American democratic principles. All the students were white males mainly from Italian, Irish, or Dutch Reform families – no “minorities,” except in the generally excellent all-male faculty . Only five faculty members were Jewish – Felix Gould, Harry Levin, Mel Rose, and I, and a superb administrator Herb Lipsitz. (And there were those who would have much preferred our not being there!) Curriculum was designed to prepare students for a narrow range of career options.
Being with the students and most of the staff at P.T.V.H.S. was personally and professionally enjoyable and fulfilling, but the narrow homogeneity and the questionable exclusivity were not. Thus, after nearly three years, I welcomed transfer to the English Department of Eastside High School, which I hoped would be the kind of inclusive school with a diverse population that I had gone to in New York City and in which I fervently believed.
Yes, E.H.S. was boldly inclusive with an exhilaratingly diverse student body and faculty which became more and more diverse in the 1950s and 1960s as the population of Paterson became more and more diverse. It was exactly the kind of school with exactly the kinds of students and the kinds of people on its faculty I wanted, and I loved my many years there. I especially loved the Golden Age decades after WW II, when most of my students and most of my colleagues loved being at E.H.S. as much as I did.
In the decade after WWII, E.H.S. had more students from Jewish and Italian families than from any other cultural or ethnic backgrounds, but during the 1950s and 1960s diversity kept increasing, as did recognition and acceptance of that diversity.
How exhilarating it was having co-ed classes homogeneous in the students’ shared Anglo-American culture and in their strong United States/New Jersey/Paterson citizenship, but heterogeneous in their socio-economic-ethnic-religious-cultural diversity and in the individual students’ interests, ambitions, and goals!
All students had to take English every semester, so English classes tended to have a cross-section of the diversity of E.H.S. How the students were alike was far more important than how they were different. It was rewarding to see how quickly and easily each class became its own microcosm, a true democracy in which all students were equal and all students had the same motivation and the same opportunities to participate and to learn.
The subject matter of English classes was Anglo-American language and literature. The purpose of English classes was to provide on-going practice in using language and on-going expansion of knowledge and understanding of Anglo-American literature and culture. The prevailing methodology was to make everything in the class rewarding, enjoyable – even fun – to establish positive associations with learning and using language and with experiencing literature and culture and doing all this in a compatible, inclusive, diverse small community in which everyone else’s enjoyment and learning were as important as one’s own.
Perhaps what may have been most valuable about these classes was the socialization which quickly transformed a diverse group of children into a community of friends having a good time together and enjoying learning together – learning from each other, encouraging each other to learn and to enjoy – all proudly retaining individuality, and respecting and admiring each other’s individuality – with an admirable class spirit bolstered by strong school spirit and shared pride in being an Eastsider!
A bonus for teachers was the support we got from the parents. Their active interest in what their children were doing in school and their positive reinforcement of what their children were learning made my job as a teacher easy and even more of a pleasure to do.
How realistic is what I have just said about what I contend was the Golden Age of E.H.S., a shining example of the ‘Golden Age of Public Education’ in America? We have abundant evidence that students and staff members knew then that it was indeed the Golden Age and for the rest of their lives have appreciated the advantages they had. We have copious evidence that a gratifying large number of those students did fulfill their potential and have lived successful, rewarding, beneficial, and happy lives.
Evidence: Most of the classes during that era have had and continue to have class reunions, gratifyingly well-attended and gratifyingly successful as reminders of how happy their lives at E.H.S. were even as the reunions themselves become new happy highlights – proof of how special E.H.S. was.
More evidence: The remarkable number of graduates from E.H.S. who eagerly return to teach there or to serve as other staff members there.
More evidence: Special Gala Paterson Days in Florida or in Paterson have had so many attendees who were at E.H.S. that they are de facto E.H.S. Reunions.
More evidence: Twice-a-year convivial luncheons of ex-Eastsiders who enjoy being together again to celebrate how very special E.H.S. was and how very special the people who went there and/or worked there were and are.
Crowning evidence: The Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey! How many, many of those who were and are board members, staff members, support members, volunteers, participants in such celebrations as the Annual Gala Dinner throughout the forty glorious years of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey proudly proclaim themselves “Once-a-Ghost-Always –a-Ghost!”
Were the classes at Eastside High School in Paterson during the 1950’s and 1960’s and the students in those classes and their families as great as they seemed to be?
YES! A Golden Age even more golden than nearly all others.
Mr. Al Weiss, member of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey
I have requested that some pictures of my former Eastside H.S. students currently serving at the JHSNJ appear following my newsletter. Appearing, immediately below this box, standing with his hands on his hips in front of the trunk of a ’56 Bel Air Chevy is Barry Citrin, a volunteer and a member of the JHSNJ Advisory Board. In the lower left is Miriam Kraemer Gray, Vice President of the JHSNJ and a member of the Executive Board. To the right of Miriam,wearing his Brooklyn baseball cap and grinning like a Cheshire cat, is Alan Peck,a member of the JHSNJ Executive Board. Finally, at the very bottom is Ina Cohen Harris, the Corresponding Secretary and a member of the Executive Board of the JHSNJ.
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. Three former Patersonians, who count themselves among the key organizers of Paterson Day FL, Rona Rosenberg Simmons, Beverly Grenker Goldman, and Susan Chlebnikow Rappaport, collaborated in the writing of this marvelous July 2017 newsletter.
We were collectively Mulberry 4-1831, Mulberry 4-5560, Sherwood 2-8921 aka Rona Rosenberg, Susan Chlebnikow, and Beverly Grenker. Over six decades ago, these telephone numbers were our Facebook with party lines, busy signals and operators. This was our Paterson, the Paterson we all left but never left behind.
Who would have thought, three great childhood friends would be reunited as neighbors and friends today in a golf community in Boynton Beach, FL? How could this have happened when I was from Carroll Street, Bev was from the 10th Avenue area, and Susan from the East Side? What bonded us in this very special city of Paterson? The “cement” for us was our progression from Camp Veritans to Brownies to Girl Scouts to Teen Programs at the YM/YWHA and to the Eastside Class of ’64.
We came from middle class families where our fathers were MD’s — meat dealers (Paterson Meat Market), mattress dealers (Sleep Mart East Paterson) and menswear dealers (Michael’s Clothing on Lower Main) — businessmen married to their jobs. Our mothers were strong Paterson women, role models who prepared our traditional holiday dinners. All three of our mothers lived long lives into their upper 90’s.
So how did the three of us wind up less than a mile apart, playing golf together on Thursdays? The closest we came to golf in Paterson was Hillman’s Driving Range, short course, mini golf and ice skating rink all in one. We were too busy finding boyfriends to care about golf. We were too busy hanging around Eastside Park watching the boys cruise around endlessly in their cars on a Sunday afternoon. We were too busy shopping at Junior Cottage (Fairlawn Avenue), Geri’s (Broadway), or Jacob’s 29, where Bev and I bought our chubby sizes, Quackenbush, Meyer Brothers and The Mart. We were going downtown, dashing into Hamburger Express (choo choo train and all) and Nedick’s before our buses arrived.
The three of us have the fondest memories at the ‘Y’ swimming pool. When collaborating on this article, we were hysterical reminiscing about what we saw through a keyhole in the girls’ locker room. Girls’ bathing suits were basically over-size woolly undershirts that drooped so low, we needed to tie them in the back with a string to prevent them from falling down.The boys swam naked (why?) and the old ladies sat nude on benches drying themselves meticulously here, there, and everywhere.
Thursday night was record and dance night at the ‘Y’ plus Tween Trails and Clubs–our home away from home. When we weren’t at the ‘Y’, we were sitting on someone’s “stoop” playing or watching stickball, stoopball, Double Dutch and Chinese jump rope. We all knew the milkman, the seltzer man and the names of every car we counted. We knew where to find our favorite ball at Bowl-O-Mat and Market Lanes. It was a simple life. We were latchkey kids, enjoying TV dinners, hot dogs and Hanna Krause. The smell of the Wonder Bread factory continues to be a delightful and delicious memory. Our Girl Scout tour of the factory ended with a reward of a freshly baked mini loaf.
We experienced many bar-mitzvahs, and not so many bat-mitzvahs. After all, we were girls… Nevertheless, we have upheld our Jewish traditions and sixty years later are still celebrating these Jewish holidays together.
Having a happy childhood in Paterson brought the three of us together. We are keeping these life changing memories and traditions alive by seeking out our old Paterson friends at luncheons, dinners, parties and golf. Thank you, Facebook. What a wonderful invention!
In the 1950’s a car pulling a massive A-frame sign would ride up and down the streets of Paterson advertising “Land for Sale in Florida. $1 an Acre.” We heard our parents say “It’s a scam. It’s under water.” If we only knew then what we know now. Three good friends are probably playing golf on that swamp land in Florida right now!
Rona Rosenberg Simmons
Beverly Grenker Goldman
Susan Chlebnikow Rappaport
The first photo below is our 1957 Girl Scout troop, the second is our 1955 Brownie troop and the last one is how we appear today so many years later….Captions are embedded into the pictures. Try enlarging the photos on your own home computer to better see them.