But there's no stadium-yet-only restless dreams and visions, and a few dusty ovals framed with rickety stands. Sporting old-timers stir up starry-eyed local fans to a baseball frenzy as they recall the antics of Mike ("Slide") Kelly and nostalgically recount how the great Honus Wagner took the Paterson Silk Sox to the Atlantic League Championship winning Sobey Cup in 1896. Other elders complain that on the makeshift sandlots of the town's old graveyards, street-boys are "playing stickball with their ancestors' bones." Until 1916, that is, when Paterson's own Thomas McCran convinces the New Jersey legislature to allow its cities to recover their abandoned cemeteries, and use them for the playgrounds they so desperately need.
They do, quickly. Paterson Mayor Frank Van Noort (1920-23) has the remains disinterred from Sandy Hill by 1921. But his warnings about financing a stadium venture awaken a frenzy of fundraising among local kids, who raise $20,000 within two amazing weeks. That's 1920s money-equivalent to hundreds of thousands now! This is the real kick-off to the city's "Stadium Movement." Who knew it would start a long, ten-year countdown on how and where to spend this precious money-not from taxes or bonds or deep-pockets philanthropy, but from the pockets of the people themselves?
They build temporary stands on the reclaimed Sandy Hill graveyard, but when construction starts on Eastside High in 1923, knocking out the field for two playing seasons, the city is stymied again. With $10,000 still left in the Stadium Fund, tempers rankle, and in 1928, newly-elected mayor Raymond Newman promises to appoint a blue-ribbon citizens' stadium committee.
But Newman dies in his first month as mayor. His successor, John V. Hinchliffe, has to take the baton, and he does, swiftly. His blue-ribbon Paterson Stadium Association comes to agreement within a year, recommending that the City build on its own "Almshouse site" in the West Side "Totowa" section, above the Falls. They think big: PSA spokeswoman, Recreation Commissioner Vera Beggs, proposes a 20,000 seat stadium AND a 9-hole golf course!
The Mayor, a Democrat, likes it, but meets resistance from powerful city Republicans who envision a few less costly and more accessible sites. Another year passes. In the Fall of 1930, repairs to the now reconstructed stadium at Eastside push the city to the brink: the Thanksgiving games will have to be held in Passaic!
There's a scurrying panic. Everybody later takes credit for being the first to point the Mayor to another neglected graveyard site-also in the Totowa section, but nearer to the city center. It sits at the edge of a ragged bit of overgrown reservoir just under Monument Heights, the city's high point, and above the stony cliff that faces the Great Falls.