Oral History Project: Vanishing Hoboken
  1. Hoboken: Circus Maximus At All Times
    Recollections of Judge Charles DeFazio
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  2. Everybody Seems to Know Me By the Paper Hat
    Recollections of Albert “Heget” Hegetschweiler
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  3. Schnackenberg’s Luncheonette: Never A Plain Coke
    Recollections of Betty Silvani
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  4. A Form of Doctor
    Recollections of Marvin Stemple
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  5. When People Got Together and There Were Feasts
    Recollections of Tom Olivieri
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  6. Spirit of ’76
    Recollections of Jack O’Brien
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  7. Sweet Cigar Charlie
    Recollections of Charles Kosbab
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  8. Boats, Ships & Everything
    Recollections of Jack Quinby
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  9. Club Zanzibar
    Recollections of Dorothy McNeil
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  10. The Simple Dialogue of My People
    Recollections of Louis LaRusso II
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  11. Soup Spy, Tea Acolyte
    Recollections of Carol Ann Wilson
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  12. The Minute I Walked Into the Place, I Was Home
    Recollections of Paula Millenthal Cantor
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  13. It Takes Fifty Years To Be A Chef
    Recollections of Giorgio Castiello
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  14. Hoboken Was Just Like Heaven For Us
    Recollections of Amada Ortega
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  15. We Did Have Wonderful Times
    Recollections of Lee Raines and Catherine Ruchhovansky
    Designed by: Michelle McMillian
  16. Always Helping People
    Recollections of Evelyn Smith
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  17. A Nice Tavern
    Recollections of Paul Samperi
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  18. The Fruit Truck
    Recollections of Domenick Amato
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  19. I’d Rather Lose a Clam than a Customer
    Recollections of Michael “Brother” Yaccarino
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  20. We Were Downtown
    Recollections of Marie Totaro
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  21. The Pigeon Guys
    Recollections of Vinnie Torre and Lynne Earing
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  22. We Were Not As They Thought
    Recollections of Angel Padilla
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  23. In the Terrace
    Recollections of Joan Cunning.
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  24. Kid
    Recollections of Patsy L. Freda
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  25. The Firehouse
    Recollections of Bill Bergin
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  26. Two-Wheel Man
    Recollections of Peter “Chipper” Falco
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  27. The Hook
    Recollections of Donald "Red" Barret
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  28. I Imagine My Town Being the Town Inside
    Recollections of Carmine Percontino
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca
  29. Today We Are Blessed, So Why Not Be Happy?
    Recollections of Peter Volaric
    Designed by: Ann Marie Manca



In 2000, I approached the local historical museum and members of the friends of the public library about cosponsoring an oral history project. “Vanishing Hoboken” would capture, through the recollections of longtime residents, Hoboken’s disappearing identity as a working-class city and its tradition of multi-ethnic living. As I saw it, the project would bypass elected officials and most “famous” personalities: their doings were chronicled in the press. Instead, its interviewers would seek out the stories of factory and shipyard workers, owners of mom and pop shops, and participants in the city’s myriad social, religious, and civic organizations—each of whom carried a piece of a picture that was rapidly being erased around us.

Hoboken had changed dramatically in the preceding twenty years; by the late 1980s, affluent condominium-buyers were steadily replacing poor and working class tenants. Modern towers had risen alongside the late-19th century row houses that had once spatially defined our densely populated, mile-square city and provided its human scale.

The taped interviews would eventually become a kind of auditory time capsule. But I wanted the stories to be shared in the present, too—passed from person to person, collected anew. I liked the idea of having the recollections returned to the community from which they originated—a changing community of old-timers and newcomers. To make these extensive interviews accessible to the public, I would edit transcripts into small booklets, illustrated with museum images and family photos. The booklets would be made available to the general public without cost, at events that would celebrate the storytellers and engender more storytelling.

In my proposal, I described the booklets as sufficiently well made to demonstrate esteem for the storytellers, but modest enough to be printed affordably. I would write grants, edit the interview transcripts, and art direct the booklets.

The Hoboken Historical Museum and the Friends of the Hoboken Public Library agreed to cosponsor the project. Volunteers came forward to help with interviews. Support came from state history and humanities organizations, as well as private companies and individual donors. I edited transcripts and gathered images from generous storytellers. And I was most fortunate to work alongside two immensely skilled graphic designers: Michelle McMillian and Ann Marie Manca. The handiwork of each is identified.