Sunday, February 17, 2008, my wonderful
grandfather died. He was 90 years old. Benny Aliotta was one of
the most pleasant people you could ever meet. He was quick to joke
and laugh, but never at anyone’s expense. I wish he’d
been able to see this website and the wonderful tributes to Newark.
I never knew anyone who loved Newark as much as he did.
All through my childhood in the 60s and 70s, my “Poppy”
would take me through glorious Branch Brook Park and into Newark.
I grew up in Belleville, but he made sure that I received a full
Newark education. We went to the Feast of St. Gerard annually. We
visited our family members on Drift Street and in the North Ward.
We visited his friend, Boots, the junk man. Italian Ices were shared
at Ting-A-Ling. And in between there were so many stories of his
days at the Novelty Bar and the Chanticleer, which later became
the Roost. I listened to them over and over again. Benny never had
any children of his own, but I belonged to him and he lovingly shared
his heritage with me. Before I was 10 years old I knew that Don’s
21 was an important place to talk through a business deal, and that
a death in the family meant putting in a call to Spatola’s.
During the years when he worked at the Roost alongside his buddy
Leo, I visited frequently. It was always a treat when I got to see
Mr. Naue—the boss—or go behind the bar to chop the ice
and eat maraschino cherries. Glorious pies would magically appear
in the mornings after he worked the late shift. There were so many
mornings when I woke up to Coconut Custard, Lemon Meringue, Chocolate,
or Banana Cream pies for breakfast. If he was too loud coming home,
I’d get a late night snack courtesy of the chef: Veal Picata
or Marsala! I don’t remember the chef’s name anymore,
but I revered him like a saint in those days.
Benny’s service was held Friday, February 22nd, 11:00 a.m.
at VanHeise & Callagan in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. My grandmother,
Caroline Aliotta, died two years ago, so Benny is survived by his
two younger brothers, Vic and Jerry Aliotta. His brother Joe, and
sisters Jenny and Bebe passed away a while back. My mother’s
father, Charlie Tasco, died in the 1980s, so Benny couldn’t
adopt her, but he loved my mother, Charlotte, like she was his own
and he loved me just as much. If you knew Benny or others in his
family, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.