November 13, 2008

The Fourth Season of the Old Neighborhood Bus Tour

November 13th, 2008

By Audrey Rockman

On a beautiful autumn day, I left the thick layer of leaves in my yard and headed off to lead a loyal, curious and good natured group of Four Seasons fans around the stoops and streetlamps of Jersey for the fourth, and final, season this year.

We met at Yesterday’s Treasures in Union, of course, and perused Jim Petrecca’s ever expanding collection of memorabilia related to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group. Forget the stock market; this is where the hot picks for smart investing lie. After the customary group photo, Walt led the gang to meet Wanda, our trusted driver, and the bus with just one unclaimed seat.

How do you get a party started? Of course, with the groundbreaking Jersey Babys CD, magically transporting the mood to carefree adventure! Our early sights mirrored the attractions of earlier tours- with a stop at Charlie Calello’s house and a quick tag at the former Four Seasons Bowling Lanes.

Before long, we were driving through Nick Massi’s neighborhood. Daughter Patti Massi-Candeliere, who had been in touch before the tour, helped fill in the history and explained that as a child, her father lived in a home on 13th Street, built by her grandfather before moving a street over to 12th, where he lived as a teenager (a place later torn down for Columbus Hospital). The third home, a couple blocks away on 15th Street, was where Nick & his wife lived during the group’s early success; then moved across the county to a newly built place in West Orange, near Livingston- as the group’s popularity grew.

There was lots of talk and photos relevant to Joe Long, too, as we passed the Elizabeth area where he spent a happy childhood with his parents and brother before his many years with the Seasons. Joe, who continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Seasons’ fans- thanks to his warm nature and sense of humor- moved to Roseland in the mid 60′s- about 15 minutes from Gaudio’s Montclair home.

Lunch was at Dickie Dee’s in Newark and then we headed past the former Silhouette lounge where Bob Gaudio first went to hear Frankie sing (JB Book, pg. 33). As I was reviewing Walt Gollender’s newspaper ads from the 60′s in preparation for the tour, I noticed one for the Sea Breeze Lounge. How had I missed that before?? As any true fan of JB knows- “The Sea Breeze Lounge is proud to present the return engagement of…The Four Seasons”. It’s these tiny discoveries which make my research so much fun.

On the way to Frankie’s residences in the Stephen Crane Village, we passed a storefront where Joe Pesci worked his magic, years ago, for those in need of a haircut. Before long we pulled up to the ever popular Belmont Tavern, although proprietor Jimmy Cuomo wasn’t able to be there and extend his usual warm greeting. We missed you Jimmy! One of our tourists, David, got the idea of posing behind the classically designed bar for his photo-op. To all of you out there, I thoroughly recommend the food, ambiance and history of this wonderful tavern- as a few JB cast members can tell you. If you’re going to be in the area, read the suggestions in my last tour article about arranging a visit to the Belmont.

One of the unique highlights of the day started with Wanda’s willingness to maneuver the narrow, dead-end street leading to the house Bob Crewe lived in before and throughout his high school years. When we saw someone on the front lawn raking leaves, I jumped out, assuring him that we weren’t from Publishers Clearinghouse. Homeowners Richard and Diane, were incredibly gracious, with an offer to peek inside, while still in shock upon hearing the reason for our visit. Presently the house is for sale, as they plan their escape; oops, I mean move, to Vegas. All roads seem to lead to JB! Familiar with the show’s popularity, they just haven’t yet gotten to the theater… but Mr. Michael David, go ahead and chalk up ‘two more tickets sold’. (Hey, if you don’t call for tickets, we’ll show up at your door. In addition to tickets, there were more than a few Jersey Boys books sold also- after folks saw the book used extensively to highlight the group’s history.)

We had quite a number of photographers on board and they captured a lot- including the recently added “Tommy DeVito Drive” signs on Belmont Avenue in Belleville. Speaking of capturing moments… Ms. Shenman, who frequents events at Yesterday’s Treasures, will have upcoming Four Seasons related segments on “The Jo Shenman Show.” Be sure to tune in every Thursday at 9:30pm and visit Jo’s website for information and email contact. Her show, which reaches 350,000 homes in central NJ, is on Comcast channel 26.

So, it was another great time touring the “Old Neighborhood” and talking about Jersey Boys- the ones in the mega-hit (and how to get tickets), and the ones from the tough streets. There’s definitely no end in sight for such topics! The stops mentioned here are only a sample of all that the tour encompasses. If you’re interested in private tours or would like to be notified of upcoming dates on Sundays or weekdays, contact me at [email protected]. For anyone who has missed the coverage from earlier tours, click on the Four Seasons Old Neighborhood Tour category on the Blog to read the half dozen articles posted throughout this year.


  1. Audrey, if you keep adding new and interesting stops, I’ll just have to sign up again next year! Looks like eveyone was having fun:)

    Comment by LuluThompson — November 13, 2008 @ 11:37 pm

  2. Audrey,
    Loved reading the enticing news about the latest bus tour.. sounds like you added several new intriguing stops and a welcome lunch too! Would love to hear more history, Walt how about a history class for fans??

    Comment by priscilla — November 14, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  3. Audrey
    Great Job!!!! A wealth of information and a fun day reminiscing about the Four Seasons.

    Comment by Carol Deller — November 14, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

  4. It was truly a shock to find out that I currently live in Robert Crewe’s old abode. Thanks for the great surprise and interesting stories on the 4 Seasons…

    Comment by Diane Demeter — November 14, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  5. Great Job!!

    Comment by Loni — November 14, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

  6. Audrey…sooo sorry I missed the tour but
    thoroughly enjoyed your review. With any luck
    you will arrange more tours of our JB’s and I’ll
    be able to join in the fun! I was with the tour
    in spirit!!!

    Comment by sharon wardlow — November 14, 2008 @ 2:09 pm

  7. Audrey, this is such a beautiful site and the tour was just
    spectacular. I will take the next one, for sure. I will edit
    the shows we did together and try to meet our hopeful
    dates of January 8th and January 15th. The January 9th is my birthday
    so I can’t forget and have lots of fun to look forward to, celebrating and
    working on your show and project. Much Success and Muck Good Luck.

    Comment by Jo Shenman — November 14, 2008 @ 6:20 pm


    Comment by JIM PETRECCA — November 14, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

  9. Audrey, I like to thank you and Walt for the pleasure of driving the group around for the tour. I really enjoyed the whole group and I learned a lot about the Jersey Boys.I driver around a lot of the area we visited and I would have never guessed who lives in those neighborhood. I’m trying too talking my best friend into going with me to see the show. So thank again.

    Wanda the Driver :)

    Comment by Wanda S. — November 14, 2008 @ 11:14 pm

  10. I highly recommend the tour to anyone who is a Jersey Boys/Four Seasons fan. The 6 hour tour covered a lot of territory. It was informative and very entertaining. I appreciated Audrey’s patience in letting us take as many pictures as we wanted.

    Comment by Gary Blatt — November 18, 2008 @ 7:35 pm

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