Thankful for growing up in old Belleville, New Jersey

By Anthony Buccino

I知 thankful for snowstorms when I was a kid and got to play in them until my clothes were soaked through and I was shivering and thankful for Mom and warm, dry clothes. And for the pots of water heated on the stove so I could take a hot bath.

I知 thankful for growing up in old Belleville. New Jersey, that is, not Ontario or Illinois or Michigan or Kansas or even Belleville, Paris. I知 thankful for growing up in good old Belleville, New Jersey.

I知 thankful that I spent the first ten years of my life growing up in the same house my father grew up in and that his father built nearly a hundred years ago in Belleville, New Jersey.

I知 thankful for the second-floor four-room cold-water flat we shared those first ten years on Gless Avenue.

1943, Lucy DiLuca Buccino Pavone and Tony Pavone 1943

I知 thankful that my father痴 mother lived downstairs from us for a while, even though she spoke words I never understood and usually scared the daylights out of me.

I知 thankful for grandma痴 cats that wandered aimlessly and lived mostly in an abandoned car in the yard just like in the famous play. And for her chickens, which somehow got along just fine with the cats.

I知 thankful grandma owned our house and the house next door and the land where her grapevines and gardens grew like a rich forest all the way up the hill to Newark Place.

I知 thankful for grandma痴 scary basement and the coal furnaces and the days when thunder roared inside our house as the coal man filled the bin through a side cellar window.

Copyright ゥ 2011 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.I知 thankful I played in that cellar long enough to sniff at the wine barrels and remember the wine press from grandma痴 second husband. I'm thankful for Uncle Joe and his black, shaggy mutt Pinky who lived downstairs after Grandma died.

I知 thankful for snowstorms when I was a kid and got to play in them until my clothes were soaked through and I was shivering and thankful for Mom and warm, dry clothes. And for the pots of water she heated on the stove so I could take a hot bath.

I知 thankful for the ashes from the coal furnace that my dad shoveled on the ice under neighbors car wheels spinning on the icy street.

I知 thankful for friends on Gless Avenue, Jerry the Ice Cream Man and the Mosquito Man and all those games we played in the dead end street.

I知 thankful for fields and woods to explore at the end of Gless Avenue and beyond the knoll near Smallwood Avenue.

 We explored fields below power lines.

I知 thankful for friends from two old Belleville neighborhoods.

I知 thankful for our house on Carpenter Street and the long side lot where my friends and I played. And for the wide open fields behind the isolation hospital.

I知 thankful for my new best friend on Carpenter Street whose cousin I致e been married to for more than thirty years.

I知 thankful for safe streets we walked and rode our bikes on in old Belleville.

I知 thankful for sledding at Forest Hills, and for learning how to ice skate in figure skates at the frozen basketball court at the end of Fairway Avenue, so we could all play hockey and once a year rent out the Branch Brook ice rink for a couple of hours.

I知 thankful for Belleville school teachers who were fair to me and gave me every opportunity to excel.

I知 thankful for our first apartment on Mary Street, and the winter storms that year and the parking spot fights that pushed us to find a house and a town that required driveways and off-street parking.

Raymond DeLuca and parents, ゥ 2011 by Anthony BuccinoI知 thankful for the history of old Belleville which continues to reveal itself as we peel away layer upon layer and discover more rich and curious history in this little town.

I知 thankful for famous people who have lived here, whether or not they remember any of it, Russell Baker, Stephen Crane, Frances Goodrich, Nicky Arnold, Gene Hutmaker, and singers Connie Francis, Tommy DeVito and Frankie Valli.

And for those, like George Washington who may have passed through on their way somewhere else.

I知 thankful for our veterans who paved the way for all the things for which I am thankful.

I知 thankful for my cousin Raymond DeLuca who was killed in Vietnam while trying to aid a wounded comrade. And for the 160 brave young men from old Belleville who laid down their lives that I could grow up in a land of the free.

For my never-ending connections to growing up in old Belleville, I shall always be thankful.

Adapted from Greetings from Belleville, New Jersey collected writings by Anthony Buccino
Available on Amazon
ゥ 2011 by Anthony Buccino

Read: This Passes for Memoir


Anthony Buccino





Essays, photography, military history, more

Contact Us

Join Anthony's World Email List

New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.

Permissions & other snail mail:

PO Box 110252 Nutley NJ 07110

Copyright Information