Memories Of Woodbridge And Perth Amboy

pastby Diane Norek Harrison

WOODBRIDGE/PERTH AMBOY—I received these memories in an email from former area resident Tom Saboy:

“Dear Ms. Harrison, I was born in Hopelawn in 1935. I attended Hopelawn # 10 school from 1940 to 1948 and Woodbridge High School from 1948 to 1952.

“I read your articles on the internet. I do have some first hand information of the Woodbridge Golden Bears, Woodbridge High School Barrons, Perth Amboy Panthers, Perth Amboy semi-pro football teams and a handed down story of the Hopelawn Greyhounds.

“I remember during the war, my mother worked the night shift helping built ‘Wildcat’ Navy fighter planes at the General Motors Plant in Linden. My father, who worked days at the AS&R in Perth Amboy, was a sports fan. He would never miss Stan Lomax or Bill Stern, radio broadcasters for the sports news or ‘today’s baseball’, a short simulated replay, with sound effects (crowd noise, crack of the bat, umpire calls, etc.) of the baseball games in the afternoon (Giants, Yankees, Dodgers.)

“Every Friday night my father would listen to the ‘Friday Night Fights’ from Madison Square Garden. Remember there was no TV; there was the radio and the Perth Amboy Evening News and the newsreels at the movies. I personally remember listening to the Army football games with Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard (Mr. Outside and Inside) every Saturday.

 Harold Miller (82) and Joe Curran (76), members of the Woodbridge Gold Bears in the late 1940s. Photo courtesy of Harold Miller.

Harold Miller (82) and Joe Curran (76), members of the Woodbridge Gold Bears in the late 1940s. Photo courtesy of Harold Miller.

“I also read John Trosko’s note to you in your Jan. 16 column. The sweater he mentioned was called a ‘Varsity’ sweater, very popular at the time. Just about everyone that in high school or college wore one. They were in school colors, for instance Woodbridge colors red and black. The sweaters were long and buttoned in the front. They were usually with 2 red bands on the left sleeve just above the elbow. Some people would sew a ‘W’ or school emblem over the heart or pocket. Perth Amboy had white sweaters with red bands. I believe the bands were supposed to represent your grade, but just about everyone wore two bands.

“Regarding his father’s jacket, at Woodbridge, a lettered athlete only received a single “varsity jacket” at the end of his senior year. The jackets were red, wool with buttons. He would only receive one letter (a red W) with a gold bar for each year. The jackets were red, all wool with buttons.

“He would also receive one letter (a red W) with a gold bar for each sport he lettered in. Back then at Woodbridge there were four sports: football, baseball, basketball and track. Varsity sports were for males only. The only way a female would be awarded a letter was from being a cheerleader.

“Perth Amboy High School awarded separate letters to athletes for each sport each year. Varsity jackets were wool with leather sleeves and metal snaps. Unlike Woodbridge, which had split sessions (grade 11 and 12 morning and grade 9 and 10 afternoon), Perth Amboy High School had all grades attend school for the full day.

“PAHS had better sports equipment, Woodbridge had hand me down uniforms and equipment. While PAHS seemed to have new uniforms for every sport for every year, I recall that WHS still used old leather helmets in 1952, while PAHS had the newer plastic helmets. Perth Amboy and Woodbridge were intense athletic rivals in all sports at the time.

“I recall as a young boy going to a Golden Bears night game with my father at Legion Field. The star for the Bears that night was Bobby Masonic (sp?). I remember going to a Sunday Golden Bears, Perth Amboy Alumni Game at Waters Stadium in 1947. There was a sold-out standing room crowd of nearly 8,000. The Bears won 7 to 6. The Bears’ stars of that game were the Cipo brothers, both former members of the Hopelawn Greyhounds. The star of the alumni team was Red Giletta, but I’m not sure if that was exactly his last name. By the way, the Woodbridge High School Barrons beat the Perth Amboy Panthers by the same score of 7 to 6.”

I will have more memories from Mr. Saboy in next week’s column!

If you have your own memories or past information for Carteret, Edison, Metuchen, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy or Woodbridge, you can email me at or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201.

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