Thursday, September 8, 2011

The summer is officially over. Put away the white shoes and get back to work.

During our family vacation, we wound up in San Francisco for a day and a half and managed to make a stop at AT&T Park, home of the Giants and also the adopted home of a Trenton native, Tony Siegle.

Tony found out about the Trenton Jewish Project back in July and e-mailed me, asking whether there was anything that he could do to contribute to the blog.  A few weeks earlier we had booked our airline flights and arranged for a 36 hour layover in SF.   As it turned out, the one full day that we had lined up with Tony’s schedule and my son and I set up the video camera and did an extensive interview with Tony in the stands of one of the most beautiful ballparks in the Major Leagues.  He also took us on a backstage tour, which was quite a treat.

Tony has had a fascinating career in  baseball (he is a Special Advisor, Baseball Operations for the Giants now) and a full story and video excerpts from the interview will show up in this space in the weeks to come, but I wanted to talk to Tony about what life in Trenton was like when he was growing up.   
Tony went to Junior Three and dug up this picture of his Kindergarten class from 1944-1945. 
Not only did he remember where the picture was, but he was able to make the following ID’s

STEVE SCHRAGGER     top row, third from left
MORTON KAPLAN          Top Row 7th from left
TONY SIEGLE                 Top Row  2nd from Right
MICKEY SAPERSTEIN    Top Row, far right (Kalen's Picture Framing)
DORIS FIER Bottom Row   4th from left
TEMA SALTZMAN            Bottom, 7th from left
JUDY WALTERS              Bottom, 2nd from right
PATSY MOSS                  Bottom far right
He graduated from Trenton CHS in 1957 and went on to the University of Miami.  After a stint in the Navy, he wound up in Houston, working as a Navy recruiter.  He got a job working the scoreboard at the Houston Astrodome in 1965.  That was the first year that one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World opened and that job opened doors that have taken Tony to around the Major Leagues.  He’s been with the Giants since 2007 and was as surprised as anyone that San Francisco found themselves in position to win the World Series last year.  When we met in mid-August, the Giants were still in the thick of things in this year’s pennant chase, but as I write this, find themselves 7 games out of first place in the National League West and 8 1/2 games out of the Wild Card.  
His father and his family ran Siegle Brothers on Stockton Street and before that the store was located on Hanover Street.  He lived on Sanhican Drive until 1953, then moved to Hiltonia.  While not known for his athletic prowess, Tony proudly relayed the fact that he got the very first hit at West End Little League (just South of the Parkside Avenue tunnel and just North of West State Street) in 1952.  His love of baseball was stoked by the proximity of Trenton to 5 major league baseball teams within a 100 mile radius (Yankees, Giants, Dodgers, Phillies and A’s when he was growing up).   He was Bar Mitzvah’d by Rabbi Kohn at Adath Israel and remembers a Trenton that was “far different then; alive, safe and vibrant.”.  Tony has only warm thoughts about his hometown, “I loved that city and defend it all the time as people blanche when they
here I am from Trenton. It was far different when I was growing up there
and those wonderful memories happily linger to this day.”
Tony’s mother, Ruth, is a resident at Greenwood House and I look forward to talking with her soon.
I’ve gotten a number of e-mails while on vacation, and will respond to them shortly, as soon as the jet lag passes.  One of the e-mails came from Mitch Ginsburg, who sent this e-mail.  Based on his telephone number, I believe that Mitch is living in South Florida these days.
But I just recently was apprised of your project and was happy to see so many familiar names and sights................I grew up on Mill Street in the 1940-1960's until I married and settled in Ewing township with my wife............and then to the eventual move (like everyone else) to Florida where we have been here full time for the last 30 years..............I remember so many of things you spoke about .............including the YMHA that was a short bike ride away from my home and the boy scout group that broke away from the YMHA in the early 1950's and met for a while on Sanhican Drive above the Sanhican cleaners before we were taken in by the Adath Israel with a scoutmaster by the name of Hank Cohen.....he and his wife were 2 terrific people who always went out of their way to help anyone who needed  anything...we were given a lot of support by the Men's Club of Adath one time we had over 100 active boys in the troop which was Troop #160.............Harry Ginsberg (no relation to me) was also very active and supportive of our troop.........I also remember playing basketball with Tal Brody and on a recent volunteer trip to Israel I made contact with Richard and Bob Olinsky who have both made Aliyah there.........I worked for many years after school at Alexander's Pharmacy which was across fthe street from my house..........and eventually went on to become a pharmacist and own my own businesses in Trenton.............Please continue to write about old time Trenton..............if I can be of any help.......don't hesitate
Best Regards
Mitch Ginsburg
Also, I have been working on a longer form essay about the Kosher Butchers of Downtown Trenton.  I’ve spoken with a few of the descendants of families and from what I have gathered, there were at least 7 Kosher Butchers in town.  If anyone has any stories about the butcher shops, I would love for you to send me an e-mail.
Thanks again for all of your support.