When I was growing up in Union City we once counted sixty kids within a 5 block radius going from 14th street to 19th street, between Kennedy Boulevard and New York Avenue. These kids were all within 5 years of each other and we became one big dysfunctional family.  I say that with love.

It was a melting pot of Italians and Hispanics and we mostly melted on the basketball court or in the park playing punchball, football, hockey or whatever else came along. We were never home except for dinner and then back out.

The friendships, or should I say bonds I made back then remain to this day and were manifested over the 4th of July when my friend Joe who now lives in Pittsburgh came in to stay at my house. The next day we went to see "Robbo," a North Hudson fire captain, who was inspired to become a fireman by my father was retired after 30 years on the job. We went swimming, walked on the Pt Pleasant boardwalk, including putting my 5 year old boys on the rides and on Saturday went to a party at Scott’s house in Middletown where many more of the Union City “family” were there.

For four days, I got to be a kid again. It’s funny that no matter how far you go in life or what you become, when you’re with your friends, you’ll always be a kid.  It felt so good to have my 5 year old sons Lennon and Albert hang with all their “uncles” and explain to them that we all met when we were their age.  I want them to know how important it is to have lifelong friends. My hope for them is that they are lucky enough to develop the relationships that I have been fortunate enough to have after all these years. Who are the friends that you’ve had the longest and how often do you keep in touch?