“We were in one of the popular Italian cafes, and a gentleman had the nerve to question Congressman Pascrell and Senator Lautenberg about their duty,” said Andre Sayegh, the 6th Ward councilman, who recalled campaigning with both Bill Pascrell and Frank Lautenberg five years ago.
“The gentleman actually want as far as saying, ‘I think you’re too old and somebody should take your place.’ At that moment Congressman Pascrell rolled up his sleeves and asked him to go outside,” said Sayegh, and then he continued, “Do you know where Senator Lautenberg was? Outside, rolled up his sleeves, fists up – must have learned that on Carroll Street.”
Hundreds gathered in Overlook Park on Monday morning to pay tribute to Frank Lautenberg, recently deceased senator, who was born in Paterson. Lautenberg spent his childhood in the city, living on Hamilton Avenue, while his father worked in the silk mills to support his family. The future senator attended school on Carroll Street at School 6, which is set to be renamed in his honor. During the tribute, Chrystal Cleaves, school board member, informed the crowd of the recent school renaming in honor of the late senator. Cleaves said, “He was a man from New Jersey, a kid from Paterson.”
Ruby Cotton, the 4th Ward councilwoman, presented a framed resolution to Bonnie Lautenberg, the late senator’s wife, honoring the once 4th Ward resident; she said, “I represent the Ward where Frank Lautenberg went to school.” She read out the entire resolution, and handed a large framed copy of it to Ms Lautenberg.
Lautenberg was known around the senate as a scrappy fighter from the city, who never yielded an inch on resolutions and laws that really mattered, said Pascrell, who hosted the event. “Frank truly embodied what it means to be a fighter,” said Pascrell. “His roots are what made Frank.”
In attendance were close family members of the deceased, including his wife, and many dignitaries from around the county like the mayors of Elmwood Park and Woodland Park. Jeffery Jones, the mayor of the city, said, “What other story can one tell about someone, whose life started as a struggle and, dared not to quit,” alluding to the impoverished upbringing of Lautenberg, whose family immigrated from Eastern Europe to settle in the city to suffer under the typical maladies of recently arrived immigrants.
Ms Lautenberg humbly accepted many of the honors presented to her for her husband’s achievements. She said, “Here at the Great Falls, Paterson, Frank became Frank.”