Going back in time

Town Center displays images of Bayonne past

Uncle Milty’s is back. Well, not exactly.
An eight-piece miniature replica of the legendary Bayonne amusement park will go on display at the Bayonne Town Center office, 8 W. 22nd Street, starting in July.
Uncle Milty’s Playland – sometimes known as Uncle Milty’s Amusement Park – was among the legendary amusement parks. It was Hudson County’s rival to places like Palisades Amusement Park in Bergen County and Bertrand’s Amusement Park in Morris County.
Currently, the Town Center office already displays a miniature setup depicting “A Tribute to the Town” by Frank Montono, on loan from the Bayonne Community Museum.
The Montono miniatures include Uncle Milty’s, as well as some of the old stores along Broadway and Avenue C, constructed by Montono at some point prior to his death around 2001.
The replica is not historically accurate since some of the displays feature locations side by side with each other that were actually often at opposites sides of the city, such as two farm sequences.
The miniatures are presented by PealCollection, a not-for-profit historical group that organized in 2004 to help bolster public interest in local history through walking tours, lectures, and slide shows.
Priscilla Ege said Montono most likely created the miniatures in the 1950s or 1960s, or at least the images he presents reflect that time period.
Shortly before his death, he donated these miniature scenes to the Bayonne Museum – for display at some point in the future when the museum opens.
Ege said the items were in storage, and she and Alice Lotosky, who is the other founder of PealCollection, figured the public might be interested in looking at the works now, as a kind of sneak preview of exhibits the museum is likely to present when it finally opens.
“We want people to see these things, even if they are historically inaccurate,” Lotosky said.
Mary Divock, director of the Town Center Management Corporation, said the displays so far have drawn the attention of the public, who often stop to look at the miniatures in the window on their way to and from the 22nd Street station of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station.
Lotosky and Ege have partnered before, both in the Bayonne Historical Society and Bayonne Community Museum Board. Lotosky is a member of the Bayonne Planning Board and a former member of the Bayonne Historic Preservation Commission. Ege is the historian for St. Vincent de Paul Church. Together, they have put on slide shows depicting the city’s rich history and conducted walking tours.
A year after they started the company, Ege and Lotosky were most surprised at the reception of the walking tours. They had assumed that the slide show would be more popular because people didn’t have to go anywhere.

Uncle Milty’s

Milton Tone opened the amusement park in the area where his father had operated a similar facility two decades earlier, starting out with skeeball machines and rides.


The new display will go up in conjunction with the Town Center’s annual summer sidewalk sale.

A Bayonne native, Tone opened his amusement park after he and his partners purchased the property in 1951. In 1954, the State of New Jersey gave Tone a 15-year lease that allowed him to extend the pier 50 feet into the Kill Van Kull. He also expanded the park west along First Street until it ran from Avenue C to Newman Avenue. The pier featured a miniature roller coaster at the southeast corner, which provided in thrills what it lacked in size since it always seemed ready to fly off the tracks and plunge the occupants into the Kill Van Kull.
The amusement pier also featured the jumping horses spinning on the merry-go-round. Kids could engage in air combat on the sky-fighters ride if their stomachs could handle the whiling. The park also had a tunnel of love, a haunted house, pony car, kiddie cars and kiddie jeep rides.
The new display will go up in conjunction with the Town Center’s annual summer sidewalk sale during the third week in July. To fit the theme of remembering Uncle Milty’s, the Town Center is seeking to include three small rides to be included with the sidewalk sale.
But the current exhibit features miniatures of other former sites, including the DeWitt Theater once located on Avenue C.
The PealCollection, which just concluded a very successful walking tour of Doctor’s Row in Bayonne, will hold another walking tour on Aug. 9 along the Eighth Street district to coincide with the development of the new light rail station there.
For more information about PealCollection events, call (201) 339-4093.

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