Here I will attempt to create a slightly more detailed bio, which will help put the photos in perspective.
I was born in Paterson, New Jersey in the summer of 1954. My grandparents were German and Austrian immigrants who arrived via Ellis Island, NY in 1923, and our family settled primarily in the Ridgewood section of Queens, NY. The Ellis Island records contain information on the ships they sailed on. Here's a page of my family history and genealogy:
Family History / Genealogy
My father's dad worked for Cushman Bakeries in NY, and my mom's dad had a delicatessen in Ridgewood, Queens. My dad was an only child, and my mom had 3 brothers. Dad visited the New York World's Fair of 1939, and was drafted into World War II (Army Air Corps as a radioman), and served until the end of the war, primarily in Italy. His negatives and photos have been scanned and can be accessed via the World War II photos link on the previous page. He eventually became a draftsman for Dumont Television and he and my mom moved to New Jersey a few years before I was born. I, too, am an only child. I grew up in Prospect Park, NJ, just north of Paterson, and went "downtown" to Paterson with my mom quite often, and was always impressed by the old buildings, busses and trains. My dad, mom and I also went to New York City and Queens fairly often to visit family, and I got a feel for the city quite early in life, including all the "old" feel of the city as well as riding the subways and going through the various tunnels and over the bridges. Here's a short "story" of my experiences growing up in the Paterson area, which I posted on a forum in April, 2008:
I live in Pennsylvania now, but was born in Paterson (Paterson General Hospital, July 1954) and lived in Prospect Park until I was 15 (1969). I always liked it, and my mom & I often went downtown on the 54 bus to go shopping and walk around. There was a nice character to the city even back in the late 50's-late 60's but it was quite seedy even then in some areas. From Prospect Park, coming down Haledon Ave., it was always a ghetto near the river & Bridge St., the bus went west and then over over the Arch St. bridge. We did our banking at the Prospect Park National Bank on Haledon Ave., and my dad got his haircuts at Foster's barber shop a few doors away. Down near the river, between Haledon Ave and Arch St., in that ghetto section, I remember one time there were posters all over that neighborhood saying "Muhammed is coming to Harlem", which was referring to the fighter Ali, shortly after he changed his name from Cassius Clay. That area then seemed like it was a bunch of old plywood pastel colored ramshackle shacks, before it was all torn down for urban renewal. My mom worked in downtown Paterson for Victor Comptometer on Market St., and later on when we moved to Waldwick ('69-'73), she would still take the train down to Paterson for work the next few years. I attended all my 8 grade school years at Prospect Park Public School (which had a bell on top), the "borough" was probably 90% Dutch, virtually all white, but my parents had moved there from Queens (we're of German ancestry) just before I was born. Later I attended Manchester Regional HS for 2 years before we moved. When I was 10-12 or so, my parents sent me to "day camp" each summer at the Paterson YMCA. The kids there were probably at least 60% black, and it was co-ed too, but we all got along fine, and we usually spent a good part of the day on Garrett Mtn., or else in the YMCA pool or "kids area" of the 4 story big old building watching movies, etc. I remember that the other half of the YMCA was sort of cordoned off, with transient men living there, but back in those days the ones me & my couple of buddies met seemed to have some air of distinction, not the "bum" vibes at all. I remember the great multi-story department stores of Paterson too, Meyer Brothers being the top, and Quackenbush (later called Jacobs) with its spiral brass art-deco staircase. Then there were the four 5 & 10's: Grant's, Woolworths, Kresges & Whelans (& later Ace Drug, which originally but briefly tried to be a 4 story dept. store), and my mom used to take me to Woolworths quite a bit for lunch as a young kid during a day of shopping. They called their cafe "The Skillet", and later they also has a soft-serve custard stand along the opposite side of the store, where you could get a soft custard fudge or strawberry swirl in a tall glass sundae cup for only around 15 cents. Everything was served on real ceramic dishes, coffee cups, and with metal utensils, and for coffee creamer they'd put some milk in a tiny ceramic shot-sized mini-pitcher. For soda they used paper conical "Lily" cups, but they'd snatch those up from a pile using a metal hour-glass shaped base, and that's what you'd be picking up, the metal rather than the paper. The 45 RPM records, once they were no longer top hits, sold as "cut outs" for around 69 cents. My mom also occasionally got a few of these for free from owners of the candy stores in Prospect Park, once they were taken out of their jukeboxes. The cafe at the back of Meyer Brothers in Paterson prided itself on their freshly squeezed orange juice, and they were later bought out by Stern Brothers, who had a store in Bergen Mall. Meyer Brothers had elevators on both sides of the store, the newer ones at the right were automated, but the old ones at the left were manually attended, with the friendly black ladies taking you up or down at your request, closing first the main door then the inner pantograph-style gate. Above each elevator door on the outside, was a large split glass art-deco globe, which lit green at the top or red at the bottom, to alert you which direction the next one would be going. On one side street off of Main St. was a butcher shop with a golden boar's head, they had the best tasting bulk cut bologna, one of the guys there would always cut me a free slice when I walked in with my mom. There was even a live wooden Mr. Peanut on Main St. in front of the Planters store (he must have really been sweating wearing that in summer). There were plenty of small womens' clothing boutiques on Main St. (Nadeen, etc.), and also specialty shops for nurses, maternity, etc. , candy shops (Fanny Farmer, etc.), and some bakeries, including Cushmans just across from the bus stop on the back side of city hall. I remember my dad used to go to a larger size mens' store on Market St. (Howard's ?) and get measured for a new Stetson Hat every few years. There were also at least 4 movie theaters, including a real spooky abandoned one on the lower part of Main St. (but above Broadway) with a gothic facade and purple spiral columns on the facade. The Majestic, even back then had films in Spanish, and the Garden on Market St., just a few blocks from the Erie Station eventually became porn until those entire blocks were later torn down in the name of urban renewal. Early on, there was even a downtown Sears on Market St., but that closed in the early 60's and we had to then go to the big one in Hackensack. There was also a Pep Boys, Tree Tavern Pizza factory, and a bunch of other goodies. There was a second newspaper too (besides the Paterson Evening News) called "The Morning Call". The offices of that paper, and the then-classy Alexander Hamilton Hotel were on the same block or so, as was the terminal stop for the Inter-City Bus lines, which went to NYC. There was also the Red & Tan Lines (I think) that went to NYC, but the train was always the best way. In the real early 60's there was also a second train line, the Susquehanna (which left from the more eastern part of town (Straight St. I think), and I remember riding that with my mom a few times too, to go see our relatives in Queens. The pay phones stayed antique for quite some time, I remember the booths around the city being wooden with a fan and a light, always smelling like cigarette smoke, and the earpieces were the big long horn type, and the separate cone-shaped mouthpieces would swivel up & down. My dad had to go for jury duty a few times over the years, and always ate at the famous "Fat Man" restaurant, just a few blocks from the courthouse. On several of the streets you could still see the trolley tracks poking through. My mom never drove back then, so for us it was buses to go anywhere during the week when my dad was working, besides the 54 we often rode the 14 Haledon, the 1 Hudson River to Garden State Plaza (Mall), and also the 94 to Bergen Mall (both in the Paramus/Hackensack/Maywood area). On the 4th of July, we'd often go to see the demolition Derby and Fireworks at Hinchcliff Stadium, near the falls and near where JFK High is now. On weekends we'd often head out in my dad's car to Totowa & Route 46, for shopping at Great Eastern Mills and Two Guys, long before the mall in Wayne was built. I remember the last day for train service on Main St. in Passaic in 1963, we just happened to be driving through there and there was a big celebration. My dad used to like to shop for clothes at Botany 500 Mills in the northern part of Passaic, and he worked at the Dumont TV plant in East Paterson, which was almost next to the Marcal Factory. Around that time I remember when the Marshall St. train station was also still open, and I've actually been inside when it was open. Going up to Garrett Mtn. with the YMCA day camp bus, the trackbed and bridges were still there on New St., as well as an old coal & coke plant (Dowling ?), before they started building I-80, and the big black "high bridge" on McLean Blvd (Totowa) where the tracks crossed the river, which was torn down for I-80. Later on when I was 12 or so, I remember riding my bicycle from Prospect Park to Totowa and exploring the old abandoned roadbed from the river all the way out to Wayne. But the main thing back then, even though Paterson was aging and past its prime, it still had a certain sense of class. The bus islands on both the front & back of City Hall and the Statues (in front) of Alexander Hamilton and Garrett Avgvstvs Hobart on horses (spelled that way on the statue in Roman fashion) still remain in my memory, as we spent a lot of time there waiting. They had big ornate concrete benches there too, and plenty of pigeons. The city always had a certain sense of hustle & bustle about it that made a nice impression as a child. I drove through there very quickly about 4 1/2 years ago (my first time since the 80's), and didn't have any time to see anything, but noticed two things, more immigrants and also the entire mill area west of town seemed to have been fixed up more as an historical district for tourists, where it was aging & run-down before (up near the Lou Costello pool area & falls). Anyway, just wanted to share this, as Paterson brings back fond memories.
The neighborhood of Prospect Park, NJ is located on the side of a hill, and we were fortunate enough to have a direct view of part of the Manhattan skyline from the rear porch of our house, which included the Empire State Bulding. I remember that day in 1965 when the massive power failure occurred and the city was dark. Just north of Prospect Park was a good sized wooded area (Hofstra Park, or the "Hayfields"), where I enjoyed hiking for recreation. I also used to walk down to Hawthorne (a few miles away) and explore along the tracks of the Susquehanna Railroad, as well as enjoy Goffle Brook Park. Some of my earliest photos are from that era. When I got a bicycle, I used to ride around quite a bit over a wide radius and took quite a few rail pictures. After my first 2 years at high school in the Paterson area, we moved to Waldwick, NJ and I completed high school there (1971), as well as attended Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ for a brief time. I still went into NYC quite a bit by train, and I actually also have some super 8 movies of the era, which I hope to convert to videos or stills at some point.
Now I'll try to focus on some of the places I've lived or traveled to in the succeeding years, and the photo collections which may result if I ever have the time to gather and post some of them.
I left NJ in June 1974, never to reside there again. The first place I lived once on my own was San Francisco, CA, where I stayed for 3 years, from spring '74 to spring '77. During that time I took a lot of weekend trips around the area as well as the entire West Coast. This included a week long trip in and through Mexico in 1975, covering both coasts, the Pyramids, etc. Also took one or two trips to the Pacific northwest including Seattle & Vancouver BC, and quite a few trips within California, including the mountains (Redwoods area), Reno/Lake Tahoe, etc., and into the L.A. area a few times. Around San Francisco, I took quite a few shots of the old PCC trolley lines, and BART which had just opened its first sections. There are quite a few scenic shots from around the state from this era. One time I also took a large loop bus trip on Greyhound all the way up to Seattle, east to the Dakotas, down to Colorado, NM, and AZ, and back via L.A., with quite a few resultant photos of that era. When leaving California in 1977, I took a month-long excursion on Amtrak all over the U.S., passing through Chicago 3 times during the course of the trip, and making it as far east as Virginia, before going back to the midwest and heading up into Canada. After a brief stay in Montreal, I settled in Boston, MA, for two years. While in Boston, I bought a small motorcycle and visited Canada a few more times as well as used it for a few camping trips, once riding it as far west as Cleveland, Ohio. In Boston, I studied darkroom work, and took quite a few art, scenic, and transit photos of the area, which were primarily black and white. In the spring of 1979, I moved to Queens, NY for a year and rented an apartment in my cousin's house, taking quite a few more B&W photos that year in the NYC area.
In 1980, I bought a small house in rural upstate NY and lived a sort of "back to the land" experience for several years, until 1989. Most of my photos during that time were of the countryside and small town life. That period of time was broken up by two "side trips", where I left town, rented out the house, and lived elsewhere for a while. In 1981-2 I returned to San Francisco for a year, and in 1983-4 lived in the Bronx, NY and worked as a computer programmer for a Zen community while residing with the group there. I enjoyed upstate NY quite a bit, and probably had more friends there than anywhere else I had lived, but decided to give it up in 1989, a year after my dad passed away, and moved to Florida (gulf coast) to be closer to my mom. I really didn't do too well there, and hated the weather, so decided to head off again, this time to Oregon. I lived in the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon for 2 years (1991-3). Most of my photos from that era were scenic and of the people and cultural scene. That was probably the most "hippie-ish" era of my life, and I lived/worked on an organic produce farm for a good deal of that time. One development that cut it short was that I became engaged to a lady from Louisiana (which really didn't last too long), and I ended up living in Shreveport, LA for 5 months, before deciding to give that up as well. Not being able to consider in length where to go from there, I eventually headed back to upstate NY, to the same area I had lived in the 80's, and spent 3 more years there. At least I had family & friends in the area. The climate and expenses, as well as the economy, were never that great there, and I spent considerable time thinking about what I eventually wanted to do. Asheville, North Carolina was also in the mountains, had a good mix of things to do, a bit of all four seasons, as well as a varied culture, so I decided to move there, and arrived in early October, 1996. I lived there for 14 years, and eventually got married for the first time as well. After settling in, I found a nice mountainside home, and eventually got back into my Ham Radio hobby. In early 2010, our inventory businesses rapidly began to lose clients and fail, both due to the economy and cheaper, younger competition. We moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania at the end of June, 2010. We had to start again from scratch finding work (in new fields) and gradually build up our self-sufficiency. We now live in a modest (nearly 100 year old) city home, but for me it's good to be back north again, and the area reminds me a bit of Paterson, where I was born.
As far as traveling goes, in my childhood days I went to the Bahamas a couple times with my parents, and we also took a brief trip to Europe in 1965 (Germany, Austria, Northern Italy & Paris). I've been to Mexico & Canada a few times (mostly in the 70's), and had been to (or through) all 48 lower U.S. states by 1978. In the years 2002-06, I was able to make 2 trips to Puerto Rico and finally one to Alaska, both in conjunction with work, and took quite a few photos in these places as well.
So, with that said, I will close for now, and perhaps add more details later. Thanks for your patience and for visiting the site...
Frank F. (Fall, 2010)
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