Hoboken Generations: Nicole and Mary Anne Spano

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Being a born-and-raised {BNR} Hoboken resident is something of a rarity these days. However, there are a select few that are true BNRs around town. This time around, we’re sitting down with mother and daughter duo, Mary Ann and Nicole Spano, to find out just what life was like in Hoboken back in the day and their experiences growing up in this cozy waterfront city. Read on to discover more about what life in the Mile Square was like back then from the Spanos.

spanos hoboken

^ Mary Anne {left} and Nicole {right}

What was a typical fall day in the ’90s in Hoboken like?

Nicole Spano: I feel like there were always decorations on every block, people really got into the holidays! I would rollerblade with my friends, hang out at the park, and we went all out trick-or-treating.

We always walked the Ragamuffin parade, although I never won a prize.

Mary Anne Spano: I was out with my husband, Nicole, and son, Matthew. We would go to the park, go for pizza at Filippo’s and the playground.

Where did you and your friends hang out the most?

NS: We played baseball outside of DeBaun Auditorium and always got into trouble. They have since put up trees to eliminate that option. We also played on the abandoned lot/shipyard on River Street {now 333 River and Sinatra Drive}.

We rented scary movies almost weekly from Palmer Video or Blockbuster. We loved eating at Blimpie {on corner of 7th Street}. We would go to the arcade on 3rd and Washington. We would visit the Little League {aka the park on 4th and Hudson}.

MAS: In the 1990s I was in the park with my children. As a teen, I hung out on the corner of 7th and Park with my friends.

See More: Hoboken Generations: Alyssa + Jamie Pasculli

Do you have a favorite holiday memory growing up in Hoboken?

NS: There was a house on 5th and Hudson that I would pass almost daily. They would decorate with the nativity out front and hang up a star on the top floor and then string lights down to the nativity below. It always made me happy to see it and was a staple of the holidays. My friends and I would go sledding in Stevens whenever it snowed.

MAS: Christmas. Washington Street was decorated with many lights as were the shops. My sister and I would go shopping for our parents and family members. It was my favorite holiday.

Where did you go to school in Hoboken/Hudson County?

NS: OLG, Sts. Peter and Paul for grammar school and St. Dominic Academy

MAS: Brandt from K-9 and Hoboken High School.

What were the schools like when you were growing up?

NS: Public schools weren’t that great, so most kids went to Catholic school. It didn’t really feel like there was an option. I played basketball and was a cheerleader in grammar school. I didn’t have much exposure to the arts. High school offered more exposure to the arts. And it taught me to commute. I took the no.87 bus to school every day.

MAS: There were a lot of activities. I was a majorette. I also took art classes.

spano family

What are some fond memories you have from your younger years?

NS: I did Glee Club in High school and was a part of the prestigious Dominoes. We traveled and competed in national competitions. I still rely on the skills I learned today.

My mom and I did makeup for a school fundraiser at my brother’s school {Hoboken Catholic Academy}. It was a “wedding.” The bridal party was all men, the bride was a firefighter, and the groom and groomsmen were women. I had so much fun doing this! The fundraiser was the reception for the mock wedding. Also, I realized then that my dad looks like me in drag  — how scary!

MAS: My first job “in the business” was working at the PaperMill Playhouse doing makeup for “The Wizard of Oz.” It was a wonderful production and I was happy to be a part of it. Nicole came to visit and they did her makeup as a munchkin. This is also when Nicole decided to be a performer!

What are some of your favorite businesses from childhood that are no longer here?

NS: Hobo’s Ice cream, Frozen Monkey, Cheap Maggie’s {the original}, Tutta Pasta— still mourning the loss, Burger King, McCrory’s, Filippo’s Pizzeria, Le Jardin, Fuehl’s Toy Store, and Sam Goody.

MAS:  Mickey Finn’s, Wieners Dress Shop, Miles Shoe Store, Blimpie’s, Clam Broth House, and Truglio’s.

Read More: Nellie Moyeno: A Q+ A With This Longtime Hoboken Resident

What are some of your favorite businesses from your childhood that are still in business today?

NS: Piccolo’s, Court Street, Hoboken Bagels {I remember when they gave me my first bagel button}, Dom’s Bakery, Giovanni D’Italia {shoe maker}, and The Malibu.

MAS: Lisa’s Deli, Torna’s Pizza, Dom’s Bakery, and Giorgio’s Bakery.

nicole mary anne spano

How far back do you know of your family living in Hoboken?

NS: My great grandparents lived here. I’m applying for Italian Citizenship and had to do a deep dive. Fun Fact: Wallace School was named after my mother’s family.

MAS: Maternal and paternal grandparents.

Do you have a favorite spot for a mother + daughter ritual in town?

NS: We can always be found at Court Street. Sometimes we invite my brother and father. We get our nails done at Nail Atelier together often. We shop at Anthropologie and Daisy’s Wearable Art. Clearly, Sephora is also a place for us to bond/ shop. Basically, we are the best of shopping buddies.

MAS: Court Street, Nail Atelier, and shopping at Daisy’s Wearable Art and Anthropologie.

hoboken generations

What is your favorite thing about Hoboken?

NS: I love that the city is so walkable and friendly. It’s has changed and evolved so much over the years, and people are still so warm and kind. It’s easy to start a conversation and feel like you’ve known someone forever after just a few minutes.

MAS: The people, the small town, and the accessibility to NYC.

When someone says “that’s so Hoboken” what is the first thing that comes to mind + what is your favorite “Hoboken-ism?”

NS: “Mutz,” seeing “Batman” bike down Washington Street like it’s nothing, and calling Washington Street “The Avenue.”

MAS: “Do you live uptown or downtown?”

Know a BNR resident around town, or happen to be one and want to share your story? 

Let us know and you may just be the next Generations feature!

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Joanna was born in New York City and proudly grew up in Hoboken above her family's butcher shop, Truglio's Meat Market. Although an Uptown Hoboken Girl at heart, she now lives in downtown Hoboken with her fiancé, Matthew. After graduating from Montclair State University, she began a career in Fashion Retail Marketing. Outside of her current role as Brand Marketing Manager at Ann Taylor, she loves to travel both near and far - yet always looking forward to coming back home to enjoy the institutional local gems of Hudson County, while discovering new ways to shop local along the way.


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