Tag Archives: NJ


ice cream

Every now and then, I have a flashback to something I haven’t thought about in years.  Tonight, it was Jahn’s Ice-cream Parlor.  I happened to be driving with the kids in Union, NJ, only one town over from Maplewood where we live.  I am in Union all of the time and I have no idea why today of all days this memory popped into my head.  I started to tell the boys about “this old ice-cream parlor” that my mom used to take us to as kids for special celebrations.  At the time,  I couldn’t remember the name, but I remembered exactly where it was located.  I told DJ and he asked Siri, (oh modern technology,) for ice cream stores in the area.  She told him the names of four that we were close to.  None of them were the one I was thinking of though.  Still not remembering the name, we passed the location where I thought it was and instead found a CVS.

I began to tell the boys what I could remember about the place.  I remember being very young when we used to go there.  I remembered it was an ice-cream parlor with booths and waitress service – reminiscent of the scenes from Grease when they are in the Frosty Palace Diner.  I couldn’t remember a lot about the menu, only that they had a lot of flavors.  There was one that had a lot of scoops in it.  Too many for one person to eat and that it was meant to serve a crowd.  All of these little memories were making me crazy, wishing I could call my mom to ask her because I could not ever remember going with my dad.  Only with my mom and maybe my grandma.

By this point, the three of us were all in the mood for ice-cream so we decided to try another place and went to The Magic Fountain instead.  The ice-cream was good, but I still couldn’t remember the name of the place I had flashed back to.  To get back home, we had to pass the cemetery where my mom was buried.  We were eating our ice-cream in the car and we all held it up as if to toast her as we passed.  Just then, I remembered the name of the place.  Jahn’s.  Maybe mom sent me a message 🙂

I decided to call my dad when I got home and ask him if he remembered the place.  Turns out, he did and that he and my mom and all of their friends used to “hang out” there on Friday nights.  It was “the place to be” back in the 60’s.  He even remembered the name of that big ice-cream sundae that I couldn’t remember the name of, The Kitchen Sink. He told me that he didn’t remember ever taking us there and I told him that I only remembered being there with mom.  As we were talking he was trying to think of the names of the other sundaes they were famous for.  I googled it and apparently it was a chain.  There were the Boilermaker, the Awful Awful, the Suicide Frappe, Screwball’s Delight, the Joe Sent Me and one called The Flaming Desire which had five scoops of ice cream topped by a flaming sugar cube.  He remembered them all!

I guess I brought back some happy memories for him tonight as well.  I wish my memories were a bit more vivid.  I am only remembering bits and pieces.  From what I have read, there aren’t any Jahn’s left.  They have all closed down.  It was still a happy memory.  I am sure I have stirred up a few for some of you reading this tonight too.  If you have a memory of Jahn’s I’d love to hear it in the comments!!

4th Of July in Maplewood


Last year, Mic.com listed Maplewood as “one of 9 towns that really knows how to celebrate” the 4th of July saying,

Forget the traditional parade and fireworks routine. Maplewood, N.J.  offers both festivities and then some! The town spices up your standard fourth of July celebration by putting on The Zerbini Family Circus for the town to enjoy. The circus features a trapeze and acrobatics, clown acts and even elephant performances and is definitely a unique way of celebrating America’s special day. The day also features various competitions including relay races, a pet awards show, an ice cream eating contest and a pie-baking showdown. 

Fourth of July festivities began in Maplewood 112 years ago.  For many years, my parents used to volunteer when the Jaycess organized the whole day. Now, it is run differently and the town, the YMCA, and other local groups help to make the day a success each year.  We still all participate though.  The races, the fireworks, the circus…

Last summer, after cleaning out one of my mom’s drawers while we were going through her things, I cam across this article from 1974.  I put it in a pile of “stuff to go through and just happened to find it this afternoon.  Perfect since tomorrow is the 4th!

4th of july news record 1974

I can actually remember that day.  I was at the top of the metal slide in the park.  My parents were working one of the booths.  I fell from the top and landed on my head.  At four years old, I remember it being so, so high up!  My mom brought me over to the first aid station where I got ice and they took care of me.  Mom was always very conscious of us appreciating what others do for us and had us write thank you notes for everything, so with her help, I wrote them a thank you note which got published in the town’s weekly paper, The News Record.  Of course, my mom saved it and I am grateful that she did!

Reading this article, I came across names of people that I believe are still recognized names in town.  I am not surprised that even back then, 40 years ago, Maplewood had a “Peace and Community Action” committee.  Back then, the races were held with schools competing against one another but not now although the races are still held and ribbons are awarded.

Tomorrow, rain is expected. I can’t even remember the last time it rained on The 4th of July here.  If all goes well, and the weather holds up, I will be taking photos for The Village Green.   I love doing this.  I can be part of the day’s festivities and capture the memories for others.   Who knows, someday, 40 years from now, someone else might come across and old photo or memory from the day like I did today.  I can only hope that the Maplewood traditions are still going on!


teachers retire

Tonight I attended a dinner for three wonderful ladies that I work with.  They are all retiring after this school year.  I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them.  They all touched my life in different ways.

Roberta, our Librarian, (Media Specialist,) was like my mentor.  When I was hired, I had nothing.  I was in a classroom that didn’t even have furniture!  It was just days before the school year was about to begin and Roberta was bringing me everything from staplers to furniture to use in my classroom.  In the nearly eight years that I have worked with her, she has been someone I could go to for anything.  A fountain of knowledge!  She could find a title or author without having to look it up.  She knew where everything was.  A wealth of information who went out of her way to help others.  It was Roberta who I joined with to start our Tuscan School Pay It Forward Program.  She was always doing things to promote kindness in our school.  She began our TV Turnoff program which promotes less television watching during school weeks and encourages doing more…reading, exercising…anything that gets kids to do something other than watching television.  I am going to miss her and her kind spirit.

Marci, a fellow teacher, was always so generous.  She was always doing something thoughtful for others.  After we got our Emmy Lou, Marci arrived in my classroom with a present for me.  It was a little stuffed dog that looks like Emmy Lou.  Her reason was so that I could have Emmy with me all of the time, even while at school.  She did thoughtful things like that all of the time.  When I first began working at Tuscan, she realized that she had gone to high school with my aunt.  Small world!  Marci was so kind and supportive while my mom was dying.  She was a shoulder to cry on and someone who would just stop by to give me a hug, knowing how much I needed it, without having to say a word

Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to work with our last retiree directly.  Barbara worked mostly with the upper grade students so our paths didn’t cross very often when it came to teaching.  She had an infectious smile though and her students adored her.  Tonight, she told a story that I hadn’t heard before.  She told about her mom, who left the south as a young girl because she was tired of picking cotton.  She got on a train and traveled to New Jersey to be a housekeeper for a family in Maplewood – the town that Barbara eventually wound up teaching in many years later.  She mentioned that while her mother was living with a family in Maplewood, their home was on Oakland Road – the same street that I live on.  Again, such a small world!

These three women have influence and inspired so many children in their many years of teachers.  Now it is time for them to sit back, relax and revel in the bliss of retirement.  I wish them all love and joy and restful days ahead.

Small Town

small town girl

I have friends who wonder how I can work in the same town I live in.  It is one of my favorite things about my job!  I love being out and about in the community and coming across former and current students.  Over the weekend, I was visited by one of my Kindergarteners as I got my nails done.  She wrote about it in her “Weekend News” on Monday as the highlight of her weekend.  Things like that make me so happy.

Tonight, I saw that same little girl at one of the diners in town. No matter when we go to The Parkwood Diner, we are sure to see people we know.  That place is like a staple in our town!  The little girl was there with her brother, (another former student of mine,) and the rest of her family.  They were grabbing a quick bite to eat before his baseball game and we were there having a quick dinner before Drew’s soccer practice. Thursdays seem to be a busy sports night in The Maplewood/South Orange community.  Not only did I get a huge, enthusiastic hug from this little girl, but as she was leaving, she ran over to my table and gave me a lollipop that Pete, the owner had given her.  “For my dessert,” she told me!!

I heard someone else call my name and turned around to see two of my coworkers sitting at the table behind me.  I get to see Cynthia daily because her room is right by mine, but I had not seen Betty in awhile because she retired two years ago.  Getting to see her was a treat!  I chatted with them for a bit before having to get back to my table to order and eat before running home in time for Drew to change for practice.  After a quick hello with two more families from my school who came through the diner doors as we ate, we headed home.

I guess for people who enjoy keeping work and their personal life separate, I can understand why this would not be enjoyable for them, but for me, it brings me joy.  Perhaps I am in a unique situation since not only do I work and live here, but I grew up here too. I know how fortunate I am, and I can’t imagine living any other place!

I love living in a place where Dee’s is everyone’s favorite restaurant. I love living in a place where the county fair is the biggest event of the year. No matter what big cities may have to offer, small town life will always have my heart. – See more at: http://highlandstoday.com/hi/list/highlands-today-emily-little/small-town-living-is-the-best-20131023/#sthash.zPIwJAZX.dpuf
I love living in a place where Dee’s is everyone’s favorite restaurant. I love living in a place where the county fair is the biggest event of the year. No matter what big cities may have to offer, small town life will always have my heart. – See more at: http://highlandstoday.com/hi/list/highlands-today-emily-little/small-town-living-is-the-best-20131023/#sthash.zPIwJAZX.dpuf

Giving Back

giving back

Growing up and never leaving the community you grew up in, may not be for everyone but for me, it was what I always wanted.  Other than leaving to go to college in Washington, DC for four years, and a spending a few years right after we were married in a townhouse ten minutes away from here, I have remained in Maplewood, New Jersey.  My hometown.  Married to my high-school sweetheart, we knew this was the place for us to raise our own family.

I am sure it is the same in every small town, but one of the things I love most about my community is how so many small businesses still remain and are thriving here.  There are no big chain stores or restaurants. Many of the businesses are privately owned and run by local families.

I try to support the small businesses in my community to keep the local economy strong.  My dad owns one of these local businesses, which makes me even more passionate about it.  One thing that I love most about living here, is how so many of theses businesses give back to the community.  Through the annual Memorial Day Duck Race and school auctions where merchants donate prizes and services to the Street Fairs and Girls’ Nights Out – the list could go on and on.

This week  it has been “Restaurant Week” in town.

Local restaurants aresupporting Rent Party Pantry, Inc. in its efforts to fight hunger locally so come on out that week and sample the quality, variety and hospitality of Maplewood’s restaurants and food purveyors for less AND help fight hunger on the local level.  

This tied in perfectly with a fundraiser at another one of my favorite businesses, Viva Z.  On the last Friday of every month, the owner holds a dance party.  All classes are free but you are asked to make a donation to the local charity she has chosen for the month.  Last month, it was for the local fire department.  Last night, was a collection for the local food pantry.

Maplewood Karate, encourages its students to give back as well.  Students earn blue charity stripes on their belt for donating food which is also donated to the local food pantry.

There is a saying, “It takes a village,” and Maplewood really proves that is true.  Things like this are happening all of the time here, demonstrating how important community is and how valuable it is to give back.  I think it is part of the charm that draws people to our town.  It certainly makes me want to stay!

Witnessing History

hatred Nelson Mandela

As I sit and listen to all this nonsense, (in my opinion) about “allowing” homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals, I find myself shaking my head in disbelief.  I mentioned to my sons today that I feel like we are witnessing history as it is happening.  We are living in a time that years from now, people will be writing about and saying, “I can’t believe that ever happened.”  When I teach my students about segregation and about amazing people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Ruby Bridges they look at me with amazement because they can’t imagine not being in a school with children of all races and ethnicities.

Maybe in a few years down the road, it will be the same regarding same sex couples .  How wonderful would it be if children can grow up in a world where they can think, “I can’t believe that every happened…”

I have written several times about the amazing town that I live in.  Maplewood, NJ is a special place.  Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality, once called Maplewood, “the ‘peak’ of the state’s most gay-friendly residential ‘corridor,’ stretching through a swath of western Essex County.”  Here in Maplewood, we are already on the right path.  With such diversity in our town, our students don’t even realize there is anything unusual about each another.  It is just the norm – and that is the way it should be.

Happy Wedding Day

love is love

Early this evening, and throughout the day,  people gathered at town hall to witness the first day of marriage equality in New Jersey.  I know that I have written about it several times in my blog, but I feel so fortunate to live in this town.  I love that my children are old enough to realize how important this day is to so many people.  Growing up in a community and having friends with two moms or dads is not “abnormal.” It is a blessing.  My children know that as long as there is love in a relationship, that is all that matters.

I was not able to be at town hall in person today, but I have seen photos  from so many of my friends who were present for the celebration.  Seeing  photos of so many of my friends and neighbors who are sharing this day with one another, and with their families, has touched my heart.  I am so very happy for all of them.

Equal rights to marry who we love, should belong to all of us.  It is the way it should be.  Thank you New Jersey for finally realizing what so many have us have always known.

The 9th Amendment

9th amendment

Drew has been working on a homework assignment about The Constitution.  He had to look at The Amendments and decide which one he believes means the most to, or affects our family the most.  He chose the 9th, which reads,

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

We tried to define this as, “respecting others choices without jeopardizing their rights.”

Drew chose this amendment because he thought that the town we live in, Maplewood was a great example of that.  Maplewood is an extremely diverse community.  I have written about it before and I think it is safe to say that the children of our town are lucky to be growing up in such a unique town.   It is truly a blessing to raise our children in a place where they are truly color-blind.

With so much hatred going on around us in the world, it is nice to have a place as open an accepting as our town is.  If everyone could teach their children to be tolerant of others despite our differences, imagine what a peaceful world it could be!

A Visit With Gram


Tonight, we met for “Family Dinner”, like we do almost every weekend.  In the past we have always gone to the same place, but recently we have been changing our routine and trying other places every so often.  One place our family really enjoys is Enzo’s in Millburn, which is in the town right next to ours.  Great service and great Italian food.

Tonight, it was a small group of us, just Dave, Drew and me, my dad, my older brother Chip, my grandma and her aide Elsa and my brother-in-law and his kids.  My younger brother Tim took DJ to a NY Mets game and my sister was out with friends.  So, just ten of us – kind of a rarity.  Sometimes those are the nicest dinners though because we can all actually have one conversation instead of many going on at once.

My gram who turns 98 in less than two weeks, does not look like she is nearly a century old, but her hearing is not great, and she is more frail than she ever has been.  This is why we have someone live with her full time, but despite those small ailments, she is doing pretty well.  She still gets her hair and nails done every week.  She meets my dad for lunch a few times a week and still goes to shopping at the mall.  After dinner tonight we were all getting set to go our own way home when my gram asked me if I wanted to come over for a little while.  Although we spend a lot of time with her and see her at least once a week, this is not something that she often asks of us so Dave, Drew and I looked at each other and knew that we had to join her.   She only lives a couple of miles from the restaurant so we got in our car and drove up to her house.  My dad decided to come too.

We sat in her living room and just chatted.  She told us about the other woman at “her salon”.  It turns out that she is not the oldest woman there.  One lady who comes weekly at the same time as her is 99!  She laughed and told us about the “old ladies’ that all come in on Saturday mornings with their walkers. (like her) and in wheelchairs.  Dave told her they could start their own club, “The Titanium Ladies”.

With our busy lives, we don’t get a lot of free time and sometimes it is hard to make time.  Meanwhile, for Gram, whose life has slowed down so much that she often tells us that she is bored, going there after dinner was important.  We did not stay for a long time, but I know that she was so happy that we came and we were glad that we went.  It was good for all of us.


small town

Once a year, our town comes together with a big music festival.  This year celebrates the tenth anniversary of Maplewoodstock.  Over the last ten years, it has grown in size and is now held over two days and has started to feature national acts, in addition to community musicians.  It is big celebration of community, music and art.

With hundreds of people showing up to picnic, shop and listen to the bands, it is one of those weekends that makes me happy to live in Maplewood.  Our town is known for its diversity, and seeing all of the families spread out across the hill is a wonderful representation of that.  People arrive early in the morning on the first day, “claiming” their spots and stay there all day – and sometimes all weekend!  It is a place where adults can sit, relax and listen to music as they socialize with friends, while the kids can run around with one another in the play zone or by the pond.  So many people know one another here, you feel safe knowing that there are people all around keeping an eye out for one another and their children.

Maplewood truly defines the word,  COMMUNITY, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.”  Maplewoodstock is one of those weekends that confirms this for me.