In this environment people tended not to be judgmental

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Dave Friedland — NJ State Senator and lawyer for Tony Pro — grew up a couple of blocks away from where I lived as a kid on Reservoir Ave. My uncle was friendly with Hoboken’s Martin Casella, who got locked up for — among many other things — plotting to kill John Gotti. As might be imagined, in this environment people tended not to be judgmental. Don Corleone’s “…how a man makes his living is none of my business” was something we all very well knew years before seeing the movie.

One day during supper it occurred to me that there was an exception: spaghetti sauce in a jar. My mother would get visibly upset at the mere mention of the stuff, describing its use as a sin. Hearing the little oof sound when the Ragu cap’s seal gives way, I still feel guilty that I don’t spend all Saturday cooking up a pot of home made.

One of my favorite memories of early-60s summers in the Jersey City Heights is going out first thing in the morning to get the paper and smelling all the cooking already well underway up and down the block. In that era before air conditioning, some grandmothers would wake up at dawn to get a jump on the preparation of dinner. This way, they avoided most of the use of the oven and range during the hottest part of the day.

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