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B. Dionisio, M. Graichen, G. Mazzanti and A. Raniero

There’s a lot of Seaside Heights history among these four former borough councilmen. In the first photo from the late 1970s – early 1980s era, Bob Dionisio, Anthony Raniero, Mike Graichen, and Guy Mazzanti (l-r) stand alongside the town’s new beach rake machine at the Borough Plant on Grant Avenue.  Bob Dionisio has owned numerous businesses in Seaside Heights over the years and these days can be found at Park Seafood on the Boardwalk helping out the owner – his son Nick.  Anthony Raniero was a local builder and motel owner before leaving Seaside Heights.  Mike Graichen owned the towel stand on the Boardwalk at Webster Ave. for many years before moving to the North End where today he owns and operates Lucky’s Arcade.  Folding towels at the stand for Mike was my first job as a kid. Nickel a dozen. Then a dime a dozen. I “retired” at a quarter a dozen.

Guy Mazzanti worked for the family’s food market on the southeast corner of Blaine Ave. & Central Ave and operated the LaFontana Motel and other local apartment complexes in the borough. His family’s roots in Seaside Heights go back more than 50 years.  Guy is an active member of the Seaside Heights Vol. Fire Company and served as fire chief for a time.  All four of them had children who grew up in town and went through the Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School. In fact, Stacey Dionisio (Smith) returned to the school as a teacher (joining her mother Marsha)!  Great people like these made growing up in Seaside Heights the memorable experience that it was. 

15 responses »

  1. I wish SSH was still this way, the way I remember it growing up and going to school with Michelle Rainero, Barbara Mazzanti, and Laurie Graichen. I tell people my childhood was the most idyllic anyone could have ever imagined. I can still see Mr. Boyd, Principal, at SSH Elementary walking the halls and getting on to those who were out of line. He would be arrested for child abuse today, but he was an excellent teacher, guidance counselor, and principal. Not to mention a man whose character and morality were immeasurable and without compromise. I can remember Mr. Boyd filling the basketball court for us in winter so we could ice skate. I remember the great parades in the summertime along the blvd. I can still smell those wonderful smells drifting down to our house on Barnegat Ave from the boardwalk. Halloween was a great time especially if you hit Mayor Tunney’s house with his homemade popcorn and Xmas time when my sister and I would wait expectantly for Santa to come through town on the fire truck and knock on our door with a dollar, a box of candy from the Kandy Kitchen, and an orange. A smell to this day that still reminds me of Xmas. So thank you SSH for giving me the memories of a lifetime.

    • Those are very special memories! I still see Barbara occasionally and her father, Guy, is one of my father’s close friends (and a good friend of mine as well). Sadly, Laurie’s mother and father and her brother Greg have all passed on. Greg and I were altar servers together at OLPH Church as kids and fellow firefighters as we got older. I think the year he died was 1999, although it doesn’t seem that long ago. A distorted sense of time is a sign of getting older I suppose. Seaside Heights was a great place to go to school and grow up. The town had character then. When I walk the streets these days I look at many of the homes and say, “so and so” lived here, “that person” lived there, I remember being in “that” house. Although the town has changed a lot, I’ve come to accept that fact and I hold onto the great memories, many of which you and I seem to share!

      • My dad still lives in Jersey but unfortunately I can’t make it out to see him as often as I would like from Tennessee. When I do make it back, I always make a point of getting back to SSH. Last trip I ran into Guy at the bay concession stand. Thanks for the info on Laurie. I did know about her family as my brother keeps up with Park Press. She is living in SC now and breeds dogs. Its funny the flood of memories that come back to you with just the mention of a name – OLPH. I think everyone in the school went to that church and every boy at one time or another served under Fr. Bernard ?. I remember him specifically because he had the bull dog named Hefty and had a special “church” doghouse built for him between the church and the rectory. I remember playing in the parking lot with about 50 kids on Tuesdays before catechism at 4:30. I remember you being in my sister Mary’s class. You were both a year behind me. I’m sure all of those wonderful teachers have since retired but would you happen to know if the former 4th grade teacher Ms. Christie, resident of Pelican Island, still owns one of the stands on the boardwalk. For some reason I want to say it was on Sheridan Avenue. My mother loved SSH. She thought is was the most incredible place ever. She even began a correspondence with one of the Park Press’s writer Gerhardt Schnaebel and would talk about the old days of the yacht club, etc. I miss it so, but alas, you can never go back.

      • Fr. Bernard Coen…I have a neat postcard of him I should post one of these days…not only did he have an English bulldog named Hefty, he used to give out plastic “Hefty banks” that were made in the image of a bulldog. I wish I still had mine! I remember that Fr. Coen would end his sermons with “well, THAT’S the story.” Ms. Christie had the stand a Casino Pier with the rectangle shaped ice cream that she would dip in chocolate and then stick a cherry on the top with a toothpick. I think she did waffles and ice cream too. Very sweet woman. She’s no longer on the Boardwalk and I’d guess that she probably has passed on by now, but not totally sure of that. Mrs. Hogan (I had her for 2nd grade), on the other hand, was still teaching as of 2010. I went back to the school for a career day in June last year and I saw her. I nearly screamed. She’s been around a very long time! About 5 years ago when I was still practicing law actively I represented Miss Smith (5th grade) in a real estate closing. It was a very surreal experience for me. She’s retired now and living in a retirement community in Toms River. What street did you live on? At the risk of being wrong (and embarrassing myself), was it Barnegat Ave. between Sheridan and Hancock?

  2. We lived on Barnegat between Sheridan and Sherman Ave. The only homes between Sheridan and Hancock were summer bungalow rentals and a church. Cravens Apts was on the end and is now some sort of treatment plant across from the Boro. Originally there three houses on that street and the apt. bldg. My grandparents, aunts, etc. would visit and stay there. My house is still there and the last time i was home i met the woman who has now converted it to an apartment. I asked her it i could look around after telling her that I used to live there and she graciously let me wander the halls of my childhood. Talk about surreal. The old porch where my mom would sit and drink her coffee before anyone was up was still the same. i never understood why my sister and i would get into so much trouble for going to the bay (as we were just across the street) but being allowed to be on our bikes from dawn to dusk and ride all over town without a worry. My dad would say he didn’t want us crossing the street with “Benny traffic”. i remember all those teachers you mentioned as well. in fact, i had all the same ones except for 3rd grade. I had a lovely lady named Mrs. Herring. She left after my year and I can’t recall who took her place. I wonder is Ms. Shirley Dryer is still around.

    • I was off by a block Trish but only because I’m getting older and trying to think straight after 9:00 PM on a workday is getting harder! But you are who I thought you are. 🙂 I called Brian Hoffnagle last night after I posted the reply to you and asked him for a little help on precisely where your childhood house is. He remembered you too, but he corrected me on the location of your house. Shirley and her husband Marty Dryer live on Pelican Island. She’s retired from teaching. Her son, Christian, is a state trooper and lives in a house near theirs on Pelican Island.

  3. I remember Brian too. I believe he had really blonde and really curly hair, didn’t he? I believe Brian also is still in touch with one of my old classmates that moved to CA, Matt Stabley. Funny but I think I remember more kids from my sister’s grade than mine sometimes. There was Brian Williams, Richard Ferro, Lynn Thompkins, Lynette ?, and Barbara Mazzanti. I found this old promo video of SSH while looking for a book. You might be able to help with this. I remember my mom had a book that the Boro put out titled SSH,The First 50 Years. It had all kinds of information about SSH. It even mentioned a skeleton with a wisp of red hair found while building the foundation for Mayor Tunney’s house. It had about the old yacht club, etc. Does this ring any bells?

    • Yes, “The First Fifty” by C. Byron Wortman is the name of the book. There’s at least one copy available through EBay right now for about $75. Just type Seaside Heights in the search box and scroll page to page. Lynette Lurig…coincidentally I saw her a few days ago as I was walking to the Boardwalk. She was on her front deck. She’s a great person and was involved with the school board for many years. Rich Ferro is a medical doctor down in N Carolina. Comes up occasionally to visit Brian Hoffnagle (who you described accurately by the way) and other friends. Brian Williams, Lynn Tompkins, and Barbara Mazzanti are still around, too. Matt may have left for California, but most of the old crew is still back here. In fact, Matt’s sister is the borough clerk.

    • BTW Trish – What was your brother’s name?

      • I have two, both were older than us, but their names were Johnny and Frankie. You went to school with my sister Mary who now lives in Ohio with her husband and is a grandmother of a 10 month old named Cameron. I’ve been called Trish since high school, but I was known there as Patti Jones. My mom and dad were big into politics with Bob Dioniso and Tommy Ricci. They knew the Polhemus’, Mr. Boyd and his family, and many others. Unfortunately, my father was having a midlife crisis and thought we should move to Florida, which we did after I left 6th grade. We came back though and I went to Central for a bit until we moved again to Toms River and Mary and I both graduated from North. Whenever we get together, we always talk about how idyllic our childhood was and how very fortunate we were than most. We used to hang out with the Giggliotti sisters, but mostly Mary hung out with Lynn Thompkins, Patty Farrow, and Lynette Lurig. I can’t believe so many have stayed.

      • Sending you a newspaper clipping via e-mail in jpg format. I included the photo in the e-mail but if you can’t see it (newspapers don’t scan very well), save the attachment on your hard drive and then open it using whatever photo viewer your computer uses. Reason being that it’s a scan of a newspaper article and I have found that it opens up in much better quality after it’s saved. The caption states that a Patricia and Scott Jones are among the other children. They mave have made a mistake calling your brother Scott.

  4. I can’t believe you found this…OMG. I actually have the original clipping of this in my scrapbook along with a birthday announcement my parents placed for my 10th birthday calling me Peppermint Patti. I’ve always hated that name, LOL. How on earth did you ever find this. I can look at this and tell you everyone’s name without looking at the list. How scary is that? I remember every detail of our lives in SSH because it was so great. I try to reminisce with my sister; unfortunately her memory doesn’t expand past yesterday LOL. this is wonderful. Is Mrs. Dryer still alive? The Jaggard’s lived down the street across from the playground and we would play with their daughter Laurie Dawn. They used to run the church on that corner and the daycare. I noticed the last time I was there that the blacktop we had recess on at school is no longer there, as they have expanded the school. Did they finally add a cafeteria to the school? Do you remember Mrs. Vandergriff the school secretary?

    • Well, Peppermint Patti, it made my day when I saw it. Specific details of my memory of you and your family have been slowly coming back to me the past several days. I even remember being in your house! And we used to tell the other kids that we were cousins. Once my memory gets on a roll it becomes what I call “scary memory.” FYI, I own decades of the Review on microfilm. But this gem of an article and photo is part of about 4 years (early 1970s) of original and complete editions of the Review that are in binders that I have from Darren Groffie and Chris Larsen. It’s part of the Terry Groffie Collection (Terry died last December). In fact, I am meeting a professional archivist on Saturday (through a grant from the NJ Historical Commission) who is going to give me an assessment of the collection and recommendations how to best preserve it. I will then use the assessment to apply for a preservation grant. My goal is to have the newspapers digitized so that they can be searched online. There’s also hundreds of old photos. Terry and his mother Virginia Tunney were bona fide Seaside Heights historians! Shirley Dryer is alive and well residing on Pelican Island. I remember Mrs. Vandergrift very well, and I also remember the janitor Mr. Avela. We used to have to walk to the American Legion for our lunch. Lil Leedom and Rita DiGiovanni (both desceased now) were the “cafeteria” ladies. I don’t know if the school has a cafeteria these days, but I can tell you that the building has changed so much (except maybe for the front office area and the gym and stage). I was lost when I was there last year.

  5. Kathy cozzarelli McCann

    Trish, I don’ t know if you’ll remember me. I came across this blog and started reading. When I read your description of where u lived, I couldn’t believe it. My grandparents lived across the street from your house from the mid-60’s through 1982. I couldn’t think of who “trish” was, but when u said you were Peppermint Patti, I totally remembered u! My grandparents were frank and Peggy kiesel. Their house was the one on the corner of barnegat and Sheridan with the lawn and the mulberry tree. I remember your house and the one next to it had boys living there. I think the Rios family lived in the apartment that got knocked down and where the treatment plant was built. My cousins Clare and Ellen lived with my grandparents for awhile. Do u remember dawn Jagger whose father was the minister in the “Jesus saves” church? I remember she let u’s play in the preschool downstairs once. I totally remember skating on the flooded basketball court. That was right next to the best playground ever. It was so cool seeing that playground in the 1960’s promotional film. I also remember Easter eggs hunts on the beach, parades, mardi GRAS in September in the school parking lot with free hot dogs, and so much more! Am so sad about hurricane sandy. Cannot believe the devastation. I know seaside heights will be back . Strong, good people. Just so sad. I remembered when your family moved away. No fun kids ever moved in after you.

  6. Kathy cozzarelli McCann

    I remembered something else..wasn’t the boy who lived next door Scott Kenney? Could it have been him in the newspaper clipping? Also, do you remember the Moores? They lived in the yellow house next to my grandparents on Sheridan. Mr yoemans was on the other side of us. On the corner of Sherman. my grandpa always worked in the volunteer fire dept car raffle on the boardwalk. I was always proud and excited when we’d be walking by and see him in there. One of the best memories is the hours spent in the penny arcade. It was so big and awesome. The Italian village, the fun house mirrors. I always wanted to get one of those dimes on a wire like the arcade employees, so I could play endless skee ball. Well, enough of that. My parents own a house in seaside park…have since 1989…and my thoughts are with all residents of the barrier island and all victims of Sandy


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