Vincent J. Wassman, known locally as Vinny and arguably the most well-known man around town passed away in October 2019. Vinny was known around the Mile Square as the human companion to a 12-year-old wolf mix, Cole. Vinny’s passing follows Cole’s, who passed away in September 2019. The duo was known to be seen on nice day taking a stroll or chatting with other locals at their favorite spot — a bench on the corner of 6th and Washington. Before both parties in the duo passed away, we met with Vinny and his best furry friend Cole in 2017 to learn about their story + more. Keep reading to learn all about Vinny and Cole, a Hoboken love story.
^Vinny + Cole in their natural habitat = Washington Street!
Tell us about your life.
I served in two wars: World War II and the Korean War. My job during World War II was taking troops to Europe through the North Atlantic Ocean and bringing the dead + wounded back as well. This was on two transports. Everyone on the way was happy, and coming back were very sad — because you had the dead bodies on board. It’s a very hard life. I’ll never forget the things I saw; good and bad. The army life took me all around the world: Europe, Asia, and South America. After the war I got into politics and was an aide to four Hoboken mayors.
How long have you lived in Hoboken?
I was born April 1st 1925. I’m 92 years old, and I’ve lived in Hoboken my whole life. I’ve lived here when no one wanted to live here and now no one can afford to live here. I grew up on 1st and Jackson!
What was it like back then?
It was very rough; an old town. During the depression it was pretty bad. Work was impossible to find, and it was hard to get by. Lots of goats were running around in the street back then.
What’s life like now?
Nowadays I am retired and just take it easy. I have five kids, 11 grandchildren, and lots of friends around town. I like to enjoy my days spending time with them and of course — Cole.
^Cole is Vinny’s 11-year-old half-wolf/half-hound pup
How did you and Cole meet? How did he become yours?
Cole is eleven years old and he’s quite the guy for me. I don’t know what I would do without him. He was my daughter’s dog originally — being a wolf and hound mix puppy he was very badly behaved. He ate money off my daughter’s table, and that was the last straw for her. I had an old dog named Tony who was going to pass soon, so Cole being given to me was perfect timing. He’s my best friend; always watches over me and makes sure I am walking fine. He’s a friendly guy and I’m able to walk him off leash. We keep each other company. It’s quite a bond.
What’s your favorite Hoboken memory?
Getting married to my wife Nona. She was a registered nurse whom I met at the Jersey City medical center after I had gotten out of the war. We were married for 47 years.
Tell us about Frank.
I met Frank Sinatra. Very briefly. All of the army draftees were waiting in our underwear for our physicals. In comes Frank Sinatra – fully dressed – surrounded by police officers!
How can Hoboken residents help war veterans locally?
Just say thank you. Thank a veteran when you see one. That’s all. It goes a long way.
Here’s to their everlasting bond and that both Vinny and Cole rest in peace.
Interview and photography by Will Ferman.