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You know you’re from Belleville if.....

Belleville's social media group is going viral, as Bellevillites remember their shared past as well as favorite haunts including long gone Belle Maid bakery, the bog, Grant's and more.

It was just a sleepy little group on Facebook called, “You know you’re from Belleville, N.J., if you.” Over the years, there has been some minor interest as several hundred folks joined and then forgot about the little Facebook group.

But on Monday, when we needed to decide whether to upgrade or abandon the group, is when things took a surreal turn. We figured that although the activity has been minimal, it’s still a great place to stop in and reminisce about Belleville. And there was never any noticeable animosity that you sometimes find on anonymous public forums.

So, we went and upgraded the group. Frankly, we didn’t exactly know what that meant but figured, well, how bad can it be, you know?

Before you could say the high school is sinking in the bog, the group’s member rolls started rolling from the Valley to the Hill and everybody settled around Silver Lake and let their memories flood good old SoHo. (Is that ‘too Belleville’?)

As the sun set, the group set its site on 1,000 members. On Tuesday at 11:20 we added member 2,000. And the fun part of it is the cross section of group members, ages, backgrounds, who still lives in town, who moved to Nutley and who lives across the country.

John Servidio writes, “you know you’re from Belleville if your younger self would kick your [tail] if he knew you live in Nutley.”

For instance, some remember the place for instruments at Muscara’s, others recall Spinoza’s Music and others are talking about Mickey’s Music, including someone who wishes she still worked there today!

Some remember snow cones at , donuts at Belle Maid, Watter’s dairy, Harry’s near School 10, Harriet’s near School 3, the live Christmas display on New Street.

Tom Fulmer, my childhood pal, remembers when the plane crashed into the new high school on July 21, 1967. It was his 14th birthday. Tom posted a copy of the accident report. I remember being among the crowd to see what happened when someone walked out of his driveway carrying the airplane door. It still had the maps in the pocket. Others recall the deceased pilot landing in a neighbor's swimming pool.

Where were you that Sunday night when School 3 caught fire? Getting a lemon ice at Jackie’s? No, it was the middle of winter! Likewise, when Jolly Cleaners disappeared?

Loretto Brown asks, “does anyone remember the White Lady Tree in Branch Brook Park?”

Richard Higgins recalls the White Lady story: A rainy night in 1920 a couple got married and were going through the park in a car, and as they rounded the curve the new husband lost control of the car and slammed into the tree. Legend says that on a rainy night when you go through the park you can see her looking for her husband.

With the benefit of an older (first year baby boomer) sister, I got to tag along in search of the White Lady in the park. It was so scary, and then the road curved as you headed straight for the white ghost shadow on the tree and had to swerve to get out of there with being added to the legend.

Then, later generations recall other scary rides to Monk’s Castle and Albino Village. Those were the days before it cost $40 to fill up a four-cylinder car. You could drive around all night on five bucks and still stop to eat at the new McDonald’s near the bowling alley.

And, there, someone else remembers a bowling alley on William Street. Someone remembers School 2, another person recalls the wafting aroma from the Red Star Yeast factory.

Wonder where the Capitol Theatre went? Hang around this group long enough and someone will know the answer! Norman Price at Second River also flushes out a lot of Belleville history.

The questions of the pool in the old high school popped up. Some group members actually finished in that high school before 1965. For a while many from my neighborhood took the 37 bus to Belleville Junior High. Now, it’s a middle school and that bus route is history.

You really know your Belleville history if you know that the Washington Avenue school is the one Connie Francis attended. Someone posted that they lived in Connie’s old house.

Perhaps you remember The Galaxy, and Grant’s and Channel and Rickel? You’re showing your age when you remember the Bellboys and not the Buccaneers. But that’s okay, we’re all recalling good times and good places in Belleville.

The group has gone viral and you’re welcome to join us. I really don’t mind getting 190 emails first thing in the morning, especially if you’re going to play nice with others. We don’t need a fictional TV show to tell us about growing up in Belleville, N.J., we lived it. We swept up the cherry blossoms after the bloom.

Check your attitude and politics at the door and share your memories of good old Belleville.

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About the author: Anthony Buccino has written several collections about life and growing up in and around Belleville, New Jersey. He also created Old Belleville, a web site of local history.

Copyright © 2011 by Anthony Buccino – used by permission.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Marty Levin December 29, 2011 at 12:41 AM
Who out there remembers this summertime chant "I've gotta dime!"
Ann Ellen Conley February 10, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Who out there remembers coming home from the 9th grade trip (the first year Belleville High School opened...think it was spring of 1965) and as the bus pulled up in front of the school...everyone started pointing and laughing at the neon sign on the Jolly Cleaners across the street. It read "24 HOUR SHI*T SERVICE" The "R" had burnt out. That is one of the best memories I have of Belleville Junior High.
Lois Whipple Pasanda November 28, 2013 at 10:52 AM
It was nice to finally meet you at Ed's memorial service last Sunday.
Sandy Colella Meola November 28, 2013 at 01:52 PM
I am so glad that group is still up and strong. I moved to Belleville during my first year in Junior High. (the school on Washington Ave.) and graduated in 70! I know live in Los Angeles and love reading all the comments and remember all the fun places that are no longer there. I love taking a walk through memory lane through everyone's memories. Sandy
Tartaglia Loretta December 07, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Places of the past for me, fond memories of what we did after football games & just meeting friends there

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