I used to work in Tillie’s after school. As a young girl I helped clean up the restaurant, later learning how to work the counter, grill and cook corn beef and brisket. Those were really good days. I had so much fun working in the restaurant. One day, I gave Tillie a birthday card and signed it “Brenda Allen.” Tillie's son came in and she thanked him for the card. She said thanks for the card from you and Brenda. He said, “I don't think she sent a card.” I overheard him say that, I said, “Tillie that card is from me. I'm Brenda Allen.” How we laughed. I did not know that Allen's wife was also named Brenda and Tillie didn't realize that my last name was Allen.
The younger Weinstock brother “Ronnie” is Ronald. My brother's name was Ronald; he passed away 2017. Sometimes, Ronnie Weinstock would pick me up on Saturday morning to open the restaurant at 5:30am. Those were the days.
Shirley and I reconnected via the alumni newsletter. That was awesome! I came across these pictures. One, the newspaper clipping above that Shirley forgot about. I sent it to her daughter Mindy to give to Shirley for a nice keepsake. Then I came across pictures that I took at a picnic at Costa Del Sol on Vauxhall Road in Union. My sister Barbara Allen West, who passed away in 2020, worked for AT&T and apparently Shirley's daughter Mindy worked there, too. Barbara brought her over to meet me and she informed me that Tillie was there as well as Shirley and husband Paul. That was a surprise. I got a chance to see Allen and his wife Brenda and Ronnie and his wife Lauren. That was some years ago now.
Dear Shirley lived to 90 years young. May God continue resting her soul. Her obit can be read at Shirley Pickton Obituary. Brenda
Lou Bodian (64) responds to comment on photo of WHS women of 1942
I respond to Jerry Weinstein’s (57) post with a picture of the young women posed in front of WHS in 1942 and the reference to Ruth Bodian. Her maiden name, I believe, was Naiman. She was married to my dad’s brother – THE Nat Bodian. As such, she was my aunt. I hadn’t realized that she went to Weequahic; you learn something new every day. Coincidentally, my mother was also Ruth Bodian. Both Nat and my dad married women named Ruth. Nat's Ruth was "Hillside Ruth" and my mom was "Newark Ruth."
Amy Block Ascher, Alan Ginter (64) and Mary Sherot Mandel (64)
continue the conversation about his mention of Chancellor Avenue’s Block and Zuckerman:
To Alan, thank you for your Block and Zuckerman memories. I am Hyman Block’s daughter. I would love to hear more about your Block and Zuckerman experiences. I loved reading about my dad. Amy
Amy, first, please tell me which was which? After all these years, I've either forgotten or perhaps I never really knew. One was shorter and used reading glasses and the other was taller and had black framed glasses. They and their shop were such important parts of my childhood. I remember being short/young enough that I could barely see over the worktables. After school I would go in there even when I didn't need their services. They would sit me up on a metal stool and we would talk while I watched them work their magic with the grinding machines or that machine that spit out dirty water when they finished the grinding process.
What about that magic box of hot crystalline sand that you were NEVER allowed to touch? They put the plastic frames in there and when softened them enough, they would dip them water. Then, using their magic fingers, they would personally mold them. And place the frames still warm on your face. Nobody does that anymore.
They would give me a broom to sweep up or something like that; I suppose to stop me from talking. My wife says that I can still talk to a brick wall for 20 minutes before I realize it's a one-sided conversation. When that didn't work, they would give me more than enough money and ask me to get them a soda or something from Harjay's and, while I was there, get something for myself. Then I was told to keep the change.
They were the two kindest, most soft-spoken, most even-keeled two men I ever met outside of my family. I spent so much time in that shop, they felt like extended family. They had a terrific sense of humor and were both an easy laugh. When they moved up to the suburbs, I took my own wife and kids there in maybe 1972 or 73. I still get the warmest of feelings talking about them and remembering being in their shop in all kinds of weather. Thanks for the opportunity of letting me reminisce about one of the sweetest of sweet memories of Chancellor Avenue. Please feel free to write back. All the best, Alan
Alan, thank you for those wonderful memories of my dad and uncle. The shorter one with the reading glasses was my uncle Nathan Zuckerman. The taller one with black rimmed eyeglasses was my dad Hyman Block. They were the two nicest easy-going men who would give you the shirts off their backs if you asked. They were very hard working and built Block & Zuckerman from a modest start following their service in WWII to the most popular optical shop in Essex County.
I, too, spent my youth working at the store doing menial tasks, cleaning, sweeping, filing etc. But I remember how much fun it was watching them making all the glasses from scratch and the joy customers experienced. So much fun that I became an optician and took the store over in 1990 until 2015 when I sold it to a lovely young man whom my father would have loved. And the hot sand machine you so enjoyed is still in use today.
My dad passed away in 2008 and your thoughts made me think about what an impact my dad had on others, especially on occasions like Father’s Day. I know my father would have loved to know he so touched your life as much as your recollections have touched mine. Amy
In response to Alan Ginter about Block & Zuckerman Optician on Chancellor Avenue. I’ve been wearing eye glasses since 2nd grade! My parents always used B & Z, as it is called today, for our glasses. We followed them from Newark to Vauxhall in Union and to Livingston’s three locations! Still going there today!
The 2 original owners, Mr. Block and Mr. Zuckerman were the nicest. Then, Amy and Michael Block, Ann Hersch and now a personal friend of mine, Ofer Steinberg, operated B & Z. All great opticians. Friendly, patient and professional! So nice to hear those other alumni in our group remember them. Mary
Jacqueline Kaufer Klein (66) paints a description of a favorite thorofare:
To write about Bergen Street would be like looking at the work of Marc Chagall, sixty years of paintings and life with the same recurring themes of fiddlers on rooftops, red heifers, brides and grooms floating over a snowy shtetl (Yiddish for small town) with a little goat. If I were an artist, it would be Weequahic Park and the stores and characters on Bergen Street that would appear in my paintings.
I would paint Schultz's Furriers with the blue lights inside and the smell of mink and animal skins; the black Persian Lamb coats and Autumn Haze mink stoles that thewomen of Newark wore to B'nai Abraham on the High Holy Days and to the Mosque Theater. I still remember as clear as day Mr. Schultz and his beautiful wife, like a porcelain doll. My mother had a sweater made there with a fur collar for my Aunt Blanche. I will always remember that store; I don’t even know why. Or why I will never forget the faces of the people who owned the stores on Bergen Street.
I remember Elsie Stone's Dress Shop with the most beautiful, elegant dresses in the window. I recall Elsie Stone's glasses and curly hair. And there was Lehr's Tobacco Shop. I never went in there, but I can picture the fine features of Mr. Lehr as he sat by the window. My mother and I often went to Stein's to buy seamed stockings, delicately folded in between tissue paper, in flat, beautiful boxes. I can picture Mr. and Mrs. Stein right now as if they lived next door to me. I can also picture the narrow, little store filled with many nice things, almost like a little European shop in Budapest. My recollections include the fluoroscope machine in Murray Levine's shoe store for kids. You could jump up and see X-rays of your feet. I must have been on that machine two hundred times.
I can’t even imagine the things we used to do. Like when a neighborhood dentist brought live mercury to our class at Maple Avenue School and gave us each a paper cup filled with a silver puddle. We put it on our desks to poke it and play with it and tried to catch it with our fingers. I probably ate some of mine since I ate school paste and the tops of bobby pins and many other things.
I digress, but getting back to Bergen Street, I remember Brody's, the shoe store on the corner of Bergen and Lyons, where my mother used to get shoes for me. They used to have little sandals called Multi-Shoes and were buckled with leather strips. They came in the most beautiful pastel colors. You could buy them in saddles, suede bucks, black patent leathers, Mary Janes with ankle straps and faille bows and beautiful white summer sandals with designs made of little holes and buckles. For her shoes, my mother would go to Francine Bootery with its big leather seats.
Across the Street from Kartzman's was Masur’s Jewelers which looked so sophisticated, like a European jewelry store. I still have a beautiful green velvet necklace box with white satin inside that is embossed with "Masur's." My uncle bought me a tiny, sterling silver Mezuzah from there and I still have it (or maybe i gave it to one of my grandsons?).
To write about Kaye's Drug Store or Tabachnick’s or the Bergen Bake Shop would be chapters, not paragraphs. But when I read Alan Ginter's (64) memory of the compass in the jewelry store window, it reminded me of all those stores and Bo-Peep Children's Shop, the amazing toy store where I got all of my beloved Nancy Drew books. I wish that I could go back to Bergen Street, just as it was. Sometimes, I feel so sad that I cannot go back. It was as much of my childhood as are the magical childhood symbols that keep recurring in Chagall's fairy tale-like paintings. Long live Newark in our memories and dreams. Jacqueline