Over the last couple of years my buddy Slezak has conveyed a lot of information about the Hoboken he remembers. He lived in the town when it was different:
Hoboken is still beautiful...yes, the buildings are still there but people and places have vanished with time ....the happy days of the 1950s should be remembered ...a book maybe with pictures .an era never to return ....the smells of coffee from the maxwell house plant and fresh baked bread of the wonder bread factory, and fog horns on a foggy day ..in the Hudson river ..the many large parades down Washington Street ...the Kramer’s clock on Washington Street that always told the right time twice a day: 12 o’clock....THE CRIME none to speak of...you never locked your doors or car if you had one...Church doors were never locked either...you could pray any time of the day or night. COPS walked the street...you knew them by the first name...jobs if you needed one...the mayor’s office door was always open...he would always get you a job just with a phone call. SCHOOLS – the teacher you had your mother had had also...lastly, the people...depending on what part of the city you lived. Downtown was the Italians, uptown was the Irish, Germans, Poles. The blacks lived on 1st Street...that's the way it was.
Manhattan was just short a bus ride away.
About this time I was living in a third-floor walk-up on Hudson St. and had published some pictures of the lions that stood out in front of some of the brownstones in that area. Slezak remembered the lions well, and explained that the were all over Hoboken, although mostly "uptown." And as far as uptown-downtown, I, like all newcomers, assumed that the street numbers indicated which section was "up" and which was "down" in Hoboken, but Slezak and his old friend Dennis ("The Rabbi") Maloney set me straight on that.
From Dennis (“The Rabbi”) Maloney:
“A note to new Hobokenites. Uptown was and is Washington St. to Clinton St. 1st. to 14th.
“Downtown is Grand to Harrison 1st. to 14th. For some reason, newbies have changed uptown to 7th to 14th and downtown from the Path to 6th.”
“He is right on the money. UP TOWN, AND THERE WAS DOWN TOWN, it has nothing to do with numbers...from Clinton Street to Washington Street was uptown. We called it the upper crust.
"HUDSON STREET and Castle Point Terrace was the Beverly Hills of Hoboken. Feel honored that you live there. It meant you had money...and lions on your stoop to protect you".
I still smile when I see a lion in front of a Hoboken house, and I salute Bobby Slezak for correcting me. I guess the "newbies" have taken over now, however, as nobody seems to think of uptown as meaning Washington to Clinton. Times change, and the new people have a way of changing things everywhere.