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Old Man River Road: He just keeps growin’

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

My father was an Italian immigrant who opened the very cab company in Fort Lee, Joe’s Taxi. It was a sleepy town then; the San Rocco feast stretched for, like four blocks. I remember my mom dressing us up in our Mary Janes to go hear the lady sing opera there. But then progress came along, and the lady sang her final aria.

Holy Angels was the first school to go, replaced by the Mediterranean Towers. Then came the Horizon House. High-rises were springing up everywhere, as Fort Lee almost overnight became a bedroom community for New Yorkers.

Maryann Maisano

For a feel of the past, you had to look down the hill and a familiar view: Edgewater….The Alcoa Factory. The weeds. The “little village.” And the views — ah, THE VIEWS!

And then it happened: First the factories closed, and then big developers started blowing the little houses down — all in the name of progress. And all I could think was: How the hell are you gonna get in and outta there with that thin snake of a road?

Sure, I was nostalgic. I resisted. But you know what? My nostalgia disappeared, as if by magic, when I saw the Gap and Guess! and Banana Republic stores. No more schlepping to the malls! You could just go down the hill!

Even though they’ve widened the old blacktop, leaving that little service road of a street that used to be River Road — y’know, right across from the megaplex — it can still make me nuts trying to get in and outta there, especially during that whole repaving fiasco. And I do find myself praying my transmission holds up each time I climb Mount Undercliff.

But that’s nothing compared to how I feel when New Yorkers say: “You live in JERSEY?”

Like it’s a Third World Country or somethin’.

Yeah, Jersey. With the high-rises and the fancy restaurants (with parking) and the designer stores and the wacky road that gets real tight in some spots and spreads out like a highway in others.

Progress can be a beautiful thing. Just check out my wardrobe lately. All depends on how you look at it.

My hope is that someone takes what’s now known as “the tri-state area” and just calls the whole thing “New York.”

This way, next time I run into a wisemouth from the other side of the GW, I can say: “Ey, what exit you live at?”

Critics and reviewers have raved about Maryann’s music and standup. She’s opened for Joy Behar and Ray Romano, and has played The Laugh Factory, Broadway Comedy Club and Dangerfield’s. She has a CD of her own and will be featured on Danny Aiello’s upcoming album, “City of Light.” Judging from the looks of the packed houses, she’ll also be staging plenty more performances with the ITALIAN CHICKS, whose show has been called “part meatball, part cannoli.” For more on Maryann, the group, where they’re performing and how to get tickets, click here: ITALIAN CHICKS . Tell ’em CLIFFVIEWPILOT sent you.

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