I mentioned Monday that I got an email inquiry about the above-entitled "thrift" institution, and now have permission to post the specifics of that inquiry, in case anyone reading has info to offer.
Hi. I did a google search of pulaski savings & loan and your blog came up. Your blog does not seem to have a search function (unless I missed it) so I could not find the exact post.
Can you tell me where it is? My grandfather ran the Irvington Branch (not sure of years or if there were other branches) and I was hoping to find out more of the history of the bank.
I have no idea how he even got to do so, coming here from Poland, and probably those who might know more of the history are long gone (but maybe not).
There is a Search box at the top left of the blog, and if you type in "Pulaski" (it does best with one word, not a phrase), the blog server does do a search. Unfortunately, it doesn't go back thru the entire term of my blog [over seven years (started 5/11/04); I find that longevity a little hard to believe, myself]. I don't know why. So it did not find the one mention I made of Pulaski Savings, on March 22, 2007: http://newarkusa.blogspot.com/2007/03/italian-scottish-irish-north-jersey.html. You may have seen that already thru Google. I fixed the foto and links there today, and updated the text to report that Kearny Savings has closed that location, so the building is now vacant.
I'm afraid I have no further information on Pulaski Savings than to say that even after my family moved to Monmouth County, my father continued to place mortgages with Pulaski. That S&L had more than one branch, so I don't know if the 860 18th Street branch (at Isabella Avenue) was the only one in Irvington. I can take a foto of that one as it now stands, vacant, if you'd like, next time I pass it, which I usually do when I head to Downtown Newark, because my house in Vailsburg (Newark) is near 18th Avenue, and I drive 18th Avenue thru a corner of Irvington to get Downtown.
I then replied:
Hi. Thank you so much for this background information. I'd love to see a photo of the building. Thank you. Your blog is really the only online mention of Pulaski. Amazing something could just fade into oblivion. I'd love to find out more. Probably somewhere in print 'data' (micro fish? [Sic, an easy error for "fiche"; see why I'm a spelling reformer?] (I forget even how to work all that at the library) is the information on that building and the history.
From your description it sounds great. I do think it was probably the 18th Avenue branch that my grandfather ran. I'm sure I have somewhere in materials of my aunt (his oldest daughter) more about it.
My father grew up in Newark on I believe South 21st Street. I had an old mailing label for his address but I'd have to dig around a bit. I was thinking I'd like to drive by at some point.
My grandfather also ran Mazur's Tavern on Grove Street in Irvington which is now the Rainbow Room. I lived my first three years in Irvington.
Thanks so much for a little of the background. I hope to piece more together. Glad I found your blog!
There is a dip in the pavement of 18th Avenue right at that corner that makes me slow down. Next nice day I'm by, I'll take a picture, at least from the car window, and send it to you.
I once had a savings account there that my father opened for me. The passbook remember passbook savings? had a picture of that branch on it. I'm pretty sure I still have it somewhere, but would be very hard pressed to put my hands on it.
It's amazing what is available on the Internet. What is NOT on the Internet is also amazing. If you'd like, I could put your request for information into my blog and see if anybody is still around to provide more info.
Ivy (English ivy, I imagine, an extremely hardy and, in this part of the world, invasive plant) grows onto the Pulaski building from its eastern neighbor.
Cathryn further responded:
Thanks. I was able to find it on Google Earth. I saw the Kearney [sic; common error] Savings sign. I have a few relatives who weren't my grandfather's children but their wives I can ask who may know more of the history. I hope they remember if they ever knew. Funny the things you take for granted and then later realize there was more to the 'story' and didn't ask! (My cousin feels the same way and she's older than I am.)
Yes, I remember passbook savings! That would be interesting to see the original passbook but of course I understand re: actually finding it.
If you are able to put a request for info on your blog, that would be great. Seeing a photo of the old building (original sign) maybe the Irvington Library (not that hopeful about that but maybe?)? It would take me awhile to get there as I don't have a car but maybe someday. It's fun to try to piece this together and I appreciate your help. Thank goodness for your blog or there'd be no mention anywhere!
The Pulaski S&L building seems to me a typical Fifties building, clean, simple lines, in a minimalist style — except that the premier feature of the building, a simplified and blunted tower, is clad in fieldstone, a luxury material, that, as used, is not the slitest ostentatious, in being blended in color with the brick that constitutes the overall façade. That restrained and dignified use of a luxury material shows sophistication and class. The 'tower' was the location of the bank's name, in refined, sans-serif lettering in gray metal. Over the years, the presumably smooth line of the metal under-edge along the entire 18th Avenue side of the building seems to have moved a bit, like tectonic plates slipping past each other, midscreen in this foto.
So, there you have it boys and girls — and oldsters who may recall Pulaski S&L and have info to offer. Pls send any info you may have to me on my @aol.com address, "ResurgenceCity".
I'm somewhat interested in the genealogy of my family. My father's side is very well documented thru the Schoonmaker Family Association, part of the Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz, NY. I am the 11th generation on this continent, and there are two generations beyond me (my brothers' children and grandchildren). I don't even know how many grandnieces and -nephews I have, but it is well over 12. I owe my cousin Pat(ricia) in Oregon, from my mother's side, a Wynne family history that I had printed out, with blanks, and my mother had filled in. But I put it someplace safe(!) a few years ago, and forgot where that safe place is!
Cathryn regrets not having asked for family stories when the people who might have told them could have told her. Even those who hear old family stories when they are children too often pay little attention even to the point of becoming annoyed at hearing them over and over again and more or less deliberately forget that old, irrelevant 'stuff'. It is only later in life when they wonder what will be remembered of THEM that they think of all the things they never knew about their lost family.
It turns out that altho the Pulaski/Kearny bank building has been abandoned by commercial enterprises, it is not vacant, as I had believed. If you check the third foto above, you may notice a sign in a window left of center. The foto above shows that sign up close.
I have a bare outline of my father's line, those 10 generations before me in America — and we don't have records for our ancestors in Europe before 1653. Most black Americans have absolutely no records of where they came from, so have to settle for "African-American" rather than "Senegalese-American"or "Cameroonian-American". Does it matter? Not to some people it doesn't. The first Schoonmaker in the New World was born in Hamburg, Germany, but came to Nieuw Amsterdam (later NYCity) and then went up the Hudson River to the back country of Niuew Nederland (later NYState). Was he Dutch? Was he German? Was he half of each? We don't know. Surnames weren't always used in Ye Olden Days, and people were known as "John's son" (Johnson) or "Steven's son" (you guessed it, Stevenson). Or they took the father's occupation ("Smith" for blacksmith) or some characteristic ("Long" for someone tall) after their first name.
The blunt tower of the old Pulaski Savings & Loan building now serves as a blunt steeple for the First Bethel Baptist Church. Minimalist architecture lends itself easily to different uses.
Even kings went by their first name (Pepin, or Pippin — the Short!; he got a characteristic after his name), sometimes with a sequential number (Louis XIV, the fourteenth king of France to bear the name "Louis"; how tedious and unoriginal, eh?). Pepin wasn't known as Pepin Carolingian, and Louis XIV doesn't seem to have had a last name at all, his full name being (according to Wikipedia) "Louis-Dieudonné de France" (Louis, Gift of God, of France). He was a Bourbon, but was not called Louis Bourbon.
I tried to show what is inside the building, but reflective glare kept most of the interior out of plain sight. Optics. My immediately previous Olympus digital camera, the Stylus 810, had a setting for "Behind Glass". I did not know, when I took the next few fotos, if my new camera, a VG-140, has such a setting. Still don't, because not all the features are available by quick access from the main mechanism. I need to read the dratted manual. I hate that. In this foto, there appears to be a tall, thin cross, as tho there is another church in the reflection.
There are very few individuals in the several paperback books of genealogy put out by the Schoonmaker Family Association of whom anything at all but birth, death, marriage/s, and children is mentioned. And most of us today don't bother to write down old family stories — which may be completely true, exaggerated for effect, or wholly false. So, they will be lost forever.
Some people so thoroly accept "the circle of life" that they see each individual as inconsequential, and are thus content to pass away unremembered, leaving only their genes, in progeny. And each of us who does not know their ancestors is free from the trap of the past. No prior expectation, nor occupation of previous generations, holds us in thrall. In most of the world, what your father or mother was, is what you will be. In genetic terms, that may still hold. Howie Long, for instance, is tall. Some people named Grosso are fat. Rarely, however, is a Smith a blacksmith, or its modern equivalent, say, an ironworker, or maker of wrought-iron fences or even metal statues.
This wider view of what is reflected shows that the skinny cross was actually just part of a support structure for a Remax real-estate sign. I think that if I decide to work for a real-estate agency, I'd prefer to work for Prudential Real Estate, which I would hope would be eager to fill Newark with great people — and simultaneously give those people access to the bargain that Newark real estate presently is. There is no guarantee that Newark will remain a real-estate bargain-basement. There is so much going for this city that it HAS to get "discovered" at some point.
Genealogy is, for the great preponderance of individuals in modern Western societies, merely a matter of interest, not destiny. Still, why NOT know something about your ancestors? They did live. They had feelings, hopes, aspirations. Sometimes they achieved things that surprised others, such as becoming the manager of a bank, founder of a corporation, or war hero. Sometimes their tales are recorded. More often, they are not. What will anyone know about YOU 100 years from now? Do you care? Or are you content to vanish without your-story being hi-story?
Cathryn clarified her own attitude:
one note for what it's worth - I'm sure people have many reasons why they are curious about their family and yes I'm sure many people don't pay as much attention as would be appropriate when they are younger to the back stories of their own families. My interest has nothing to do with how people will remember ME but is about giving thought to who I am and what I have done - and will do - in relation to what my relatives did. Having better perspective of why this is important with a bit more time and age. (Yes, it's unfortunate those who would know in my own family are not here to fill in the missing information - and also tell me about it which I'm sure they'd appreciate the interest.)
I don't know what happened with this foto. The camera sees beyond the glass, to two bulletin boards on which fotos of the church's congregants are displayed. That's fine. But why are there two hump-shaped areas above the detail view? There was no Bactrian camel passing by, and the lines of the building are all straight.
I can appreciate the quest for info about ancestors that might throw more lite upon oneself. My father, for instance, was very fond of fotografy. He even had a Rolleiflex film camera (top-of-the-line German manufacturer of cameras that had an image as seen thru the lens rather than a mere viewfinder). Now and then he'd annoy the family composing a foto and asking us to pose just-so, but he was not an art fotografer nor documentarian. He also worked in real estate, and I went to real-estate school several years ago, tho I haven't gone into the profession actively. Just when I got my salesperson's license, the housing bubble burst. I can still refer people to a broker I am associated with, who can help them sell or buy (and I'd get a little bit of the commission paid by the seller). I've been involved in no sales yet, but I'm keeping my license active just in case the housing market rebounds. Had I not been gay and needed to get out of the suburbs to Manhattan, where I could expect to find other gay men, I might have been well advised to go into my father's business. But that was not for me then and there, in the exurbs. Many family businesses fail because the kids don't want to carry them on. We had a terrific, world-class but economically affordable Italian restaurant in Red Bank (Monmouth County), called Sal's Tavern. It was astonishing. But after two or more generations of family manning the business, interest in younger family members just ran out, and the restaurant folded. It apparently did not even pass along its wonderful recipes for house specialties, such as "baked macaroni", which was something like ziti in a magnificent sauce, with meatball, sausage, or one of each. I feel about Sal's as some preservationists feel about World Heritage Sites. (By the way, on Antenna TV tonite, George Burns said that he played Red Bank, New Jersey once, and an incident there was pivotal to the superstition that ruled the remainder of the episode. Gracie Allen then said that she and George met in Union Hill, NJ, which turns out to have been a former municipality in Hudson County that was later superseded by Union City. So one of the greatest of American comedy teams resulted from a meeting in North Jersey. Another of the greatest of American comedy teams, of course, was Lou Costello of Paterson and Bud Abbott of Asbury Park. And who can forget Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (of Steubenville, OH and Newark, NJ, respectively), who met in Atlantic City. There's nothing funny about "Jersey", but there's plenty funny about NEW Jersey.)
New Yorkers appalled at the fact that even in the depths of the worst recession since the 1930s, rents continue to rise in all parts of NYC, and esp. Manhattan, should think very seriously of moving to Newark now, when there are amazing bargains to be had, that will likely NOT be available when (or is it only "if"?) the Great Recession yields to a return of prosperity. You can pay 8.5% (8.25%?) more every two years for a tiny space in New York City, in a building where the landlord makes no repairs and threatens you with eviction if you complain. Or you can buy your own, spacious house in Newark, with a yard and room for flowers and veggies, and a (fixed-)mortgage payment that is not just LESS than what you're paying in rent (for which you get no tax advantage) but is also pretty much set in stone for 30 years, brings enormous tax advantages, and gives you "equity" over time against which you can borrow. Your mortgage payment may rise over time, but trivially, not by 8.5% every two years.
Pulaski Savings & Loan, Kearny Federal Savings Bank, First Bethel Baptist Church — "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" in action. One bank's branch building was reused for another bank's branch. Then Kearny closed down that branch, reducing in size. Then Bethel recycled a bank into a church. Neato keen.
Cathryn and I may be more concerned about knowing where we came from than about any hope of "undying fame" — remember the song, and movie, and TV show, Fame — about NYC's School of Peforming Arts, the Nation's second such high school, after Newark's School of the Arts — "I'm gonna live forever")? Perhaps this is the secularist replacement for the eternal life promised by Jesus Christ and other religious figures, as explains the otherwise insane fixation and fascination of a large part of the population of the United States on celebrities, and the desire for celebrity — fame devoid of content — on the part of so many people today. We don't really believe in personal immortality, the literal permanence of the soul and consciousness. And who in his or her right mind would want eternal life? Think about that: not just hundreds more years than our current, expected lifespan, or thousands, but BILLIONS and TRILLIONS and QUADRILLIONS of years of existence. Who would really want that?