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"I Remember Bergenfield"
by Rich Conti
class of 66
...
I’m not sure when exactly my memories of Bergenfield begin. I lived on Surrey Lane with my Dad and Mom, (Andrew and Margaret Conti) and my brothers and sister (Roddy, Bobby, Peggy and Tommy). I have pictures of me and my lifelong friend Don McMullan being pulled on sleighs by our mothers. I think that was in 1948 or 49. 
I remember sleigh riding down Gordon Drive, off Prospect Avenue when I was small. God, I thought that hill was huge, but later when I drove by it from time to time, it didn’t seem to be very big at all. 

I remember walking up to Sebby’s Deli which would later become Dan’s Deli. Ironically, when I became a school teacher I taught one of the owner’s kids. 
I will always remember Fishie’s, maybe my most favorite place. Candy, Davey Crockett cards, wiffle balls and bats, Spalding Balls, the planes with the rubber bands, candy medicine, and the wax bottles with juice in them, all purchased there. Last summer when I read about it closing, I took my grandchildren there and they purchased items from the “original” display case. That made 4 generations, my parents, me, my daughters and my grandkids, all veterans of Fishie’s. I felt really good about that. I also made a confession to Mrs. Greenwood while I was there. If you remember the early soda machines outside the store, they had bottles which slid along a rack system and you pulled them out. Well I figured out that if you brought a bottle cap opener and a straw with you, you could pop the cap and put in the straw and away you went. I always felt bad about that and felt good about confessing to her that I was the one.

I remember the neighborhood was a great place to grow up. I remember touch football games, stickball and punch ball games versus the other streets, Surrey Lane vs. Cameron Road or Glenwood Drive with the losers having to buy the winners Italian Ice from the vendor who drove around the streets in summer.
I remember the Palace theatre, first as a kid being dropped off on Saturday for an almost all day experience. 
I remember the bathroom was way downstairs and kind of creepy if you had to go in the middle of a horror movie. 
I remember seeing Invaders from Mars there and I wouldn’t go to the bathroom until I got home. No way was I going down to the dungeon. 
I remember as a teenager making out in the balcony and if you went with a group of friends and were messing around you got yelled out by Mr. Mezzi, the manager who would scream, “Out”, “out” of the theatre. Later, I would work for him as an usher. 
I remember the Record Store across the street where I would buy my first 45’s. The records where in slots in a wall rack and a tall skinny guy named Roger would play it for you if you asked. 
I remember the name of the first record I purchased, “When” by the Kalen Twins. 
I remember after a date I would go to Gus’s dinner on Washington Avenue for the greasiest Burger and Fries you could imagine. They tasted great! 
I remember block dances at Station Square and dances at St. John’s. 
I remember Bowla Bowla 

I remember the “Golden Key” because I worked there while I was in high school.  The original owner was Mr. Pelka who was John and Debbie Pelka’s father. Then Steve Matthew, the Greek guy brought it and it would later be knocked down and made into Matthew’s Diner. That diner became my father’s favorite Sunday morning hangout. I have great sports memories. 
I remember my Dad taking me to the basement of the Borough Hall where the PAL ran boxing. 
I remember playing baseball at Vivien Field and Memorial Park. 
I remember hating the Little League guys because they had fancy uniforms and a field that had a fence and lights. 
I remember playing in the second game ever played at the new Pony League field. 
I remember PAL basketball and the little gyms in Lincoln and Hickory schools. 
I remember walking everywhere from one end of town to another. 
I remember the little neighborhood candy stores, one of them was Governale’s on Merritt Avenue, another was by the corner of Prospect Avenue and River Edge Road. 
I remember the 9th grade Variety Show at Roy W. Brown where I sang Donna, backed up by Jerry Hawkins, Anthony Casbarro and Arthur Fanzo
I remember high school. 
I remember going everywhere Herald Square played because the guys were my friends.
I remember going to all the basketball games, first to watch my friends, Clu (Cliff Culucko) and Zab ( John Zabernicky) and Wolfe ( Harry Bassett ) and Dave Meyers. 
I remember after the game all of us, with the cheerleaders packed into my Dad’s station wagon, heading up to “Stockdale’s Ice cream Parlor in Park Ridge
I remember “Jimmy Walker” and the Knickerbockers practicing in some garage next to the high school and listening to them instead of Mr. Cloonan in English.
I remember Lester and the “Buzzard ll” car running up and down Clinton Avenue
I remember “Project Graduation” on graduation night. The very first one!
I remember that some of my friends from that night soon found themselves in Vietnam.
I remember some of my friends who are no longer with us.
I remember some of the other people no longer with us, people like my parents and my brother Roddy, all of whom were part of the Bergenfield I remember.
I remember Bergenfield and I feel good! 

by Rich Conti
class of 66

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