Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I grew up in Bayonne, NJ.

Long the fodder of stand-up comics, Bayonne hangs in there like a small town in Ohio. It's an anachronism - a trip down Bayonne's streets today is like the same trip 50 years ago, so little seems to have changed. I think it's because Bayonne is, well, secluded. The only way in is to the North, except for the Bayonne bridge to Staten Island, and there are only a couple of entrances to the North. The Central Railroad of New Jersey, long gone, has been replaced by a modern light rail line, which could help make the town a commuter's heaven. IF they ever discover it. The waterfront, right in New York Harbor and on 3 full sides, could make the town the yachting capital of the East coast, IF it were ever developed with that in mind. I just learned that waterfront condos were going up on the old Elco Boat Works property, around 26th St., on the Newark Bay side. They only plan a 65 slip marina, which I think is only a few slips more than what's there today, and, while it is well protected, it sure is a long run from there to the Lower New York Bay and out under the Narrows Bridge. But HEY! It's a start! Back in the early 50's, there was even an open fishing boat (a party boat, or head boat, depending on where you're from) operating from the Southern tip of the city -- maybe at the foot of Avenue C -- where I went fishing for the first time. Maybe it wasn't even an open boat -- it may have been a charter, hired by the men of Temple Beth Am. It was a pretty small boat, wood (of course) and I won the pool with a small sea bass. That's where I got hooked on fishing and boats. Edit: the boat was the ZEPHYR - the original, not the Zephyr 2, which sank with its captain.

My parents are long gone and the house I grew up in was razed 25 years ago. I don't think the tulip beds are maintained in Hudson County Park (by the guy with the short leg and 2" soled shoes) like they were when I was there, and plenty else has changed. But not that much. I drive through Bayonne when I go to visit my daughter's family in Brooklyn, and it always brings back the same memories, and the same comments.

Just recently, in the Summer of '06, my sister and her husband took a trip to Eastern Europe, and in a restaurant in Prague happened to chat with some other Americans. These people were from Dallas. Well, the ladies chatted and it turned out that the one my sister was talking with ALSO came from Bayonne. And lived on the same street as we did (Avenue B). 3 houses apart (on the other side) And were a year in age apart. And used to walk to school together. Neither one recognized the other!

Sister also went to a reunion of No. 3 School recently. She keeps more in touch with old friends than I do, apparently. My HS reunion was held this year. It was held in Atlantic City, and I didn't go. I would have if it had been held in Bayonne, though.

Our parents were both teachers in Bayonne; dad in Bayonne Tech and mom in Washington School.


Are YOU from Bayonne? I graduated from BHS in '56 - the Garnet and White. Uncle Miltie's (Named for its owner, Milton Tone, and not for Milton Berle. Sure.) . Botwinik's. The JCC, perhaps. The Jersey Giants at Roosevelt Stadium and the drive-in. My '56 DeSoto and learning to drive down at Constable Hook. Pizza at Dido's, too. Leave me a note!

3 comments:

Melissa said...

I am from Bayonne...graduated in 1993. Time stands still there for sure.. I don't care how many new highways, shopping centers, rail lines, cruise ships or condo's are put there. You either love it or hate it.. I love it even though I live in Miami now.

Frank said...

I graduated from Dickenson HS in NJ. IN 82.
I remember my Dad taking us to uncle milties in Bayonne along with the big park in Bayonne. I have vague memories of uncle milties since I was just a toddler, but I do remember bayonne park. My dad would tow our sled behind his car when it snowed at the park. what fun!!! until a police car told us to stop. I think uncle milties was burned down or torn down? turned into a small craft dock right?

Anonymous said...

I went to Uncle Milties as a child in the early 1950's although for some reason we referred to it as going to first street.Besides this being one of my earliest memories it is one of my best. I bet that no one will ever have the same ones of Collins Park. I also have a painting of 1st Street ( Uncle Milties ) in my man cave. This was a special time and place and I miss it.

Kenny