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Monday, January 2, 2006

Auld acquaintance

The events of the last few days had gotten me decidedly out of the warm, fuzzy, nostalgic mood that usually accompanies my New Year's Day. But then two of my best sources of inspiration came through and got me back in the holiday frame of mind.

First it was the office manager at my church, who decided in a whimsical moment to issue a special edition of this week's parish bulletin -- a reprint of a recently uncovered bulletin from 1947. Every item in there was worth relishing, but I thought readers of this blog might especially enjoy the back page, where local businesses took out small ads. I'm sure these merchants are all gone now, but I wonder if any readers remember any of them when they were still functioning -- or can tell us what's in their locations today. Anyway, with apologies for the size of the file (I wanted to keep the resolution as best I know how), here it is:

But the nostalgic motherlode was struck later in the day, when my beautiful bride uncovered a document that I had been tearing the house apart looking for for months -- my grammar school diploma, which included a sheet of photos of the members of the graduating class. For you Googlers out there, this is the Class of 1966 at St. Aloysius School in Newark, N.J. -- in the Ironbound, or "Down Neck," section of town.

I'll post the identifications of the class members shortly (I remember all of the names except a very few), but for now I'll ask readers if they can spot me:

A cup o' kindness yet, to all of them.

UPDATE, 1/3, 12:30 p.m.: Here's my best shot at identifying everybody.

Left to right. Top row: John O'Regan, James Katsempris, Christine Byrne, Anthony Sharon, Judith Baylock, John de Grazia, Gloria Klosowski, Joseph Becker, John Jakimas.

Second row: Angel Perez, Patty Sikora, Walter Ramsey, Patty McNally, Deborah Walsh, Dennis Pinto, Cynthia White, Thomas Gilk.

Third row: Edward Dombrowski, Patricia Armstead, Antonio Silva, Gerald Curren, Dorothy "Dolly" Nieratko, John Bujalski.

Fourth row: Christine Coppola, James Dula, Deborah Owens, Thomas Murphy, Mary Gomes, Robert Bedford, Kathleen Bitz, Thomas Crappse, Sheila Farley.

Bottom row: Joseph Smanski, Michael Conklin, Mary Bedford, Hugh Byrnes, Robert Mazur, Joseph "Spike" Browarski, Linda Lee, Rodolfo Gonzales, Jack Bogdanski.

Thanks to former school chums Matt Jusinski, Harry McAleavy and Patty White-Bittner (St. Al's alums all, but in different classes) for their help with the ID's.

Missing from the photo for some reason or other (which I can't recall) were classmates Carol Ann Klotz and Mary Lou Kowalski. Among those who left St. Al's but were in our class in the early years were Barbara Horan, Laura Stapleton and Marilyn Kielkowski.

For more old Newark stuff, go here.

UPDATE, 1/16, 1:53 p.m.: The identifications are now complete, thanks to a note from Kathy Bitz (now Wesolowski). Great to hear from her -- thanks, internet!

UPDATE, 9/9/08, 1:25 p.m.: Barbara Horan (now Vitale) notes that we had a classmate named Cathy O'Connell, who for some reason is also missing from the photo.

Comments (25)

Middle row, 4th?

Nope. That's Gerald (whose last name escapes me -- it's something real simple, probably one syllable).

The Bagdad Theatre is still there, of course. By the way, is anyone else prompted for a password when they try to access CommissionerSam.com these days?

It's a snap. You're the one _________. I think I'll let everyone guess.

Fourth row Fourth in?

Second row from the bottom, fourth from the right.

Bottom right corner?

There's still an auto-repair shop at 12th & Division; the 20th & Division pharmacy is where the new Pastina, Starbucks shops are. There's still a beauty shop in Ladd's circle...

Gotta guess that Jack's the smilin' dude in the lower right hand corner.

I vote for bottom right corner.

I can remember George Routledge Seed store at 18th and Hawthorne. It existed well in to the 80's the beautiful brick building is still there and is now a Starbucks.

Bottom line, on the right wing. That's our Jack.

Row 4 four from the end, or bottom right. It's a toss up. Back in the day, our family would travel to the rose city for holidays with our sicillian clan. It wasn't unusual to stop by Amatto's, either Gus or Tony, can't remember, and wait for a cousin to finish being shorn. After that, it was a trip to Piere's for the salami, buttery mild provalone, and pungent hard cascavallo cheeses. The wonderful fragrance of an authentic itallian deli will remain in my soul forever. The food trek would end with a stop by S.P. meats for the italian sausage. Thanks for triggering my appetite and fond memories. Happy 06!

Middle row, 3rd from right, next to laurel.

Sam Nizic's name is vaguely familiar, and I think his furniture business may at one time have been a client of my dad's (who, himself, started his career in law at the Weatherly Building, at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge, in 1933). Hennessy, Goetsch and McGee were, of course, until very recently in business next to St. Mary's Cathedral in NW Portland. Fun to see those old telephone numbers, too. My grandmother could be reached at EAst 6368; our home was CIrcle 3204, and Dad's office was ATwater 6464. At least, that's how I remember it. Seven-digit numbers came along in the fifties and, when you think about it, lasted quite a while here before we ran out.

Soooo... the photos are probably in alphabetical order, right?

I'm guessing top row, 4th from the left?

I was thinking bottom right corner, but if the photos are in alphebetical order, top row, 4th from right?

That's me in the bottom right corner.

It comes to mind that the distance from here to 1966 is briefer and shorter than the distance from here to Newark, Down Neck, but that's just because I've been one or the other.

First guess is lower right corner. (The alternating boy-girl pattern by alphabetization seems sooo statistically improbable.) Second guess: Lower left corner. Still unsure, third guess: Fourth row, sixth from left, down-right from '66', up-right from obvious valedictorian scholar material.

Somewhat an individually acquired taste, in the flavor of the life in the person behind the features next-but-one from lower right -- 'Come out, Virginia, don't hesitate / You Catholic girls start much too late / Ahh, but sooner or later it comes down to fate / I might as well be the one. ... Send up a signal, I'll throw you a line.'

I like learning more Garden Statisms. So far, I'm living a part in my friends' lives -- Paterson Catholic, Bayonne Jew, Camden KKK'er, nerd co-workers in Cherry Hill and Mountain Lakes, Oceanport beachfront gazillionaire (lapsed Jew agnostic) friend, and a ditto Beach Haven friend (lapsed Episcopalian atheist), plus that lapsed natural blonde Catholic who didn't start much too late (nudge, nudge), being raised precocious by two Psychology professors tenured near Trenton. And of course, Asbury Park by rocks-imity. Do tell, Jack, of Pope John Paul in your year-end reflections.

As a provincial barbarian born to an Oregon frontier far from any Holy See, close to Romulus and Remus, fully understanding why Christmas is later this week for the Eastern Pope's Orthodoxy beyond Byzantium's Bosphorus, my first and lasting orientation in Catholic school's product came on arriving of age in Chicago. After five years there, in a mate-seeking way like a 'Family Circus' dashed trail from St. Mary's to Mundelein to Barbazon to UA Stewardess School to Hefner's hutch-full; AND finefolks buddies drinking with Ditka along the barstools: Pole, Lithuanian, German, Hungarian, Slav, Serb, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Russo, and more I don't remember after the oozo -- I swallowed Ringo Starr's capsulization of it and neverafter thought rationally about catholic bent-twigs grown to cathedral forest; 'The Pope owns fifty-one percent of General Motors / and the stock exchange is the only thing he's qualified to quote us.'

I taught at a Catholic school. Boston, North End, New Age, Community College, 6 tuition-paying students all female over-60 black-laced Italian widows -- none who studied the mechanics of erecting a chart to astrologize over and all who earned A's for extracurricular projects facilitating neighborhood needs of celebrity gossip astrology teaches. I think in Mass they all sang sopranos. Such dears, no teacher could refuse to grade them all A's.

Last and most telling, came to me the grammar school graduation panel including my friend the Blackfoot half-breed out of missionary school in Dakota lands. She sorely brings firsthand reports from the fort, Mandan, was it? I could have it confused with Montauk or Manahawkin.

She sorely brings firsthand reports from the fort, Mandan, was it? I could have it confused with Montauk or Manahawkin.

Geez, Tensk...you need to lay off the coffee.

One thing about your class pic, Jack...that's an awfully white class for Newark in 1966. (And I say that as a freshman at Chaminade Catholic High School that year, with an even more homogenous class makeup...with no girls!)

It's interesting how things change, and today's demographics --like those of SE Portland-- are so very different.

Yep, the east side of Newark was a pretty segregated place back then. The Negro children, as they were then called in polite company, all went to the public schools, as did all the white kids from the public housing project. The Armstead family, which had several kids in St. Al's, was the exception. That's Patty A., third row, second from left.

Rodolfo Gonzales (to my immediate left) was a refugee from Cuba -- one of several who arrived when Castro drove his family out. Tony Silva (to the right of Patty Armstead) was Portuguese, like Mary Gomes (fourth row center). My very good friend Angel Perez (second row far left) was of Puerto Rican descent.

There were a few young men of color at my all-boys parochial high school, but again, not many.

I'm pretty sure SP bakery was still there when I was a kid. There was an SP meat market, too, back in the days before supermarkets. They were retail in the front, wholesale in the back. After the supermarkets they dropped their retail but I believe they still supply restaurants.

The funeral home, Hennessey, Goetsch & McGee is still in business and in the same location as listed, across from The Cathedral on 17h & Davis. They've handled all our family "business" since probably before this ad was printed, and still do.

I'd bet that McCarthy, Groceries is now People's Food Co-op.

And... Oregon Groceteria is what is now New Seasons.

Al Furrer's Hawthorne Florist is now the We'll Forgo Bank at 38th and Hawthorne.

Amato's Sanitary Barber Shop is now the K & F Corner Coffee Shop.

It's possible that the New Italian Importing Co. (upper left corner of the advertisement) is a precursor to the New Italian Wine Co., which later became the Al. C. Giusti Wine Company. Mr. Giusti died in 1980 and his family sold the company a few years later, but his name continues as the moniker on an annual golf tournament here.

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