Remembering The Past: Perth Amboy Memories

by Diane Norek Harrison

PERTH AMBOY-Here is an email I received from Nancy Ridge after my Nov. 6, 2009 Veterans Day column:

“Diane, I have been meaning to write for a while now to tell you how much I look forward to and enjoy your column. Thank you for taking the time to do this, I am sure you bring joy to many, many people. By the way, I am a youngster relatively speaking but I remember during my childhood in Perth Amboy and years afterward how it was the focus of the lives of my much older relatives.  Thank you for all your efforts. I reside in Woodbridge now and learn about her history and the surrounding area from your columns.


“I think of the Perth Amboy that was Friday night shopping, cobblestone streets, The Chinese Restaurant at Five Corners, etc. etc. I was born in the city, grew up on State Street when it was Polish and all my relatives lived in the neighborhood. Toward the end of State Street under the bridge was a round green swimming pool, it is long gone.

“I remember my grandfather taking my hand and we would walk up State Street to go to the cigar store on the corner of Hall Avenue and walk down State Street to go to the hardware store. Running parallel to State Street both in back and front were train tracks. The trains ran all the time and unlike today children would play by and around those tracks, they were not fenced. They were very dirty due to coal dust. Our house on State Street had a coal bin in the basement.

“Getting on to the stimulus that finally made me write, my parents, John and Rita Ridge (nee Rita Salata), obviously were born and grew up in Perth Amboy, as well as meeting and marrying there. Today they live in Florida. When they last visited, I gave them some of your columns. They enjoyed them so much, that I have been clipping them, saving them and mailing them down there.

“Last week I mailed down a large batch of your columns. They enjoyed reading them. My father was absolutely thrilled to get them, he was so excited. They read them together then he read them again. He knew every man/name in the Veteran’s Day piece. The sad part is that it was his graduating class, Perth Amboy High School class of 1945 and he was not named in the article.

“I wanted to write to you and follow up with the details. My dad (John Ridge) was drafted into the Army after graduating from high school. Once there, they administered a test (Eddie or Edie test) for the Navy, which he passed and he was sent to the Navy. When he was in the Navy, they announced they needed 13 men to go to the Marines; my dad was the 13th man. And it was in the Marines that he spent his time in the service until the war was over.  After the war, he was in the Perth Amboy Volunteer Fire Department.

“Thank you!”

My own note: I was told the men in my Veterans Day column, were men who left school in their senior year to enter the service, as opposed to men from this class that enlisted after graduation.

Thank you Nancy!

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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