The Hoboken Historical Museum and the Friends of the Hoboken Public Library initiated the Hoboken Oral History Project in 2000. The initial focus of the Project was to capture, through the recollections of longtime residents, “Vanishing Hoboken”—the working-class identity and tradition of multi-ethnic living that has been disappearing as the city has gentrified over the past twenty years.
Interviewees told stories about mom-and-pop shops, the city’s many movie palaces, vaudeville performances, political campaigns, ethnic traditions, and factory jobs. A second series in the Oral History Project was introduced, “Hoboken Memoir,” when it became clear that there were notables in the city willing to talk about their personal experiences in addition to the topics mentioned above.
Some transcripts were edited into short texts that were published into small booklets called “chapbooks,” illustrated with images supplied by the Museum, the interviewees, and the Hoboken Public Library.
A more detailed explanation of the Hoboken Oral History Project and the origins of the word “chapbook” may be found at the end of each of the booklets.
We hope you enjoy reading these Hoboken stories online. Click on cover to open an online reader for each chapbook. Use the arrows to advance through the book, click on a page to magnify it. There is a link below each reader window to a downloadable PDF of the chapbook.
If you enjoy these stories, please consider supporting the oral history program. Click here to make a donation!
- "They Were the Dregs of Society, But ..." - Recollections of Longshoreman Tom Hanley
- Today We are Blessed, So Why Not Be Happy? - Recollections of Peter Volaric
- Town Inside: Recollections of Carmine Percontino
- The Hook: Recollections of Donald “Red” Barrett
- Two-Wheel Man: Recollections of Peter “Chipper” Falco
- The Firehouse: Recollections of Bill Bergin
- Kid: Recollections of Patsy Louis Freda
- In the Terrace: Recollections of Joan Cunning
- We Were Not As They Thought, Angel Padilla
- The Pigeon Guys, Recollections of Vinnie Torre and Lynne Earing
- I’d Rather Lose a Clam than a Customer: Michael "Biggie" Yaccarino
- We Were Downtown, Recollections of Marie Totaro
- The Fruit Truck, Recollections of Domenick Amato
- A Nice Tavern, Remembering the Continental Hotel & Union Club, by Paul Samperi
- Always Helping People, Recollections of Evelyn Smith
- We Did Have Wonderful Times, Hoboken Girl Scouts
- Hoboken Was Just Like Heaven for Us, Amada Ortega
- The Minute I Walked into the Place, I Was Home, Paula Millenthal Cantor
- It Takes Fifty Years to be a Chef, Giorgio Castiello
- Soup Spy, Tea Acolyte, Carol Wilson
- The Simple Dialogue of My People: Louis LaRusso
- Boats, Ships & Everything, by Jack Quinby
- Sweet Cigar Charlie, Rigger Specialist, Charles Kosbab
- When People Got Together and There Were Feasts, Tom Olivieri
- Spirit of '76, Recollections of Jack O'Brien
- A Form of Doctor, Recollections of Marvin Stemple
- Club Zanzibar, Recollections of Dorothy McNeil
- Schackenbergs Luncheonette, Betty Silvani
- Everybody Seems to Know Me by the Paper Hat, Albert Hegetschweiler
- Hoboken Circus Maximus at all Times, Judge Charles DeFazio