Senior jitney ride … a true lesson in history

By Kevin Canessa Jr.

As you may have read already, elsewhere in this newspaper, on Tuesday, July 25, my colleague Ron Leir and I had a chance to ride the new Kearny senior jitney bus for an hour. The new bus is magnificent — and that was the reason we took the trip: to get a sense of what the passengers thought of it.

But after the first stop, at the senior building on Schuyler Ave., near Laurel Ave., it quickly became more about one rider — Catherine McGrath.

To start, let me just say that in 25 years as a journalist, this simple bus ride around the streets of Kearny, turned out to be one of the best — if not the best — story I’ve ever covered.

The stories McGrath told were epic.

Whether it was a tale of her dad serving in the British Army during World War II, or her move from Scotland to Kearny in 1961, or becoming an American citizen nine years later, let’s just say she had a treasure trove of experiences she was willing to share.

While I won’t share her age, let’s just say McGrath doesn’t look like she should be riding the senior jitney. Time has done wonders for her.

That said, I couldn’t help but feel like I was a kid again — her thick Scottish accent reminded me of an era gone — one where no matter where you were in Kearny, you heard Scottish accents and Irish brogues.

It reminded me just how important these pillars of the community were to Kearny.

Now mind you, in no way is this me lamenting. The diversity of Kearny is what brought me back here after having been gone for 10+ years in 2016. But on occasion, it’s nice to look back — and Catherine McGrath certainly allowed for that.

The bus trip was also a great reminder of just how important the senior citizen community of Kearny truly is. Everyone who hopped on the bus last week — there were about six in total on our journey — has a story, has a history, has something important to contribute to our town to this very day.

There were times, when I was young, when I’d think, “Why do towns focus so much on the senior citizen community?” But it hit me years ago — if towns didn’t, who would? It would be too easy to forget about the people who built what we see and know today.

It reminded me why the town’s senior citizens liaison, Carol Jean Doyle, spends so much time in her own life making sure the seniors have what they need and enjoy their twilights.

Kearny has always been a wonderful town. But if and when the time comes that you question it — recall — the seniors are still here. And we are very lucky to have them. Bravo!

Odds & ends

It’s hard to believe that on Aug. 31, it will have been 20 years since Diana, Princess of Wales,and Dodi Fayed, her partner at the time, lost their lives in France. Where does the time go?

Last week, my colleague Karen Zautyk wrote of a Belleville doctor who had been arrested and charged with reportedly issuing countless scripts for narcotic pain killers. The report said the doc may have gotten away with all of this (cash for prescriptions) were it not for a bright pharmacist in Atlantic County (where many of them had been filled.) The pharmacist got suspicious — why were so many Atlantic County patients seeing a doctor 100+ miles away in Essex County?

After a thorough investigation, the doctor was arrested.

And the epidemic just continues and continues and continues. These so-called physicians who take an immediate oath to “Do No Harm” do more harm than some common, street drug dealers do. Because they make it so easy — entirely too easy — for people to get their hands on these pills that should be reserved for people who truly need them … for pain!

Zautyk’s report said people only needed to pay $50 to $100 for up to 120 pills.

Their visits to the doctor — they lasted just a few minutes.

And the epidemic? It won’t end until every single unethical, disgusting doctor — and there are plenty of them we don’t even know about — loses their license and does serious hard time behind bars.

The time to get tough and crack down on these doctors has passed. It’s time authorities do whatever it takes to hunt such doctors down, to charge them — and to do whatever it takes to prosecute and convict them once and for all.

I can’t even begin to imagine the strain doctors like the one in Belleville cause for law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

Don’t think this is a problem?

You’ve missed our police blotters, for sure.

That’s all for now. Next time I write a column, it will be late August — and that much closer to September and the fall. That time can’t get here fast enough.


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Editor & Broadcaster at 

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.