Arleen's Memories

by Arleen Lanzotti Gonnella

Picture it. Belleville, New Jersey 1954. My family and I had just moved from Montclair. I was the new kid in the 4th grade class. My first teacher at School number 8 was Mrs. Hahn. She introduced me to the class and 2 min. later a beautiful little girl with dark curly hair got right in my face and said, "Hi, I want to be your friend". That was an offer I couldn't refuse. The girl was Denise Ferri and I was her shadow the rest of the day.

Later that day I met Peggy Santiglia as we were changing classes. The first thing I noticed about her were her were her lovely eyes, they were warm and friendly. Well needless to say we three bonded immediately. From that day on we were joined at the hip.

The following year, when we were promoted to the 5th grade all three of us were in the same class. Our teacher was Mrs. Eleanor Arthur, who put together a Friday talent show, picked the three of us to write and perform a song..we did, and we won the contest. From that day on we knew, we had a love for singing and writing.

We realized we needed a name for our group and we decided on "The Delicates," which was suggested by Denise's uncle, because of the delicatessan that her family owned on Union Avenue three doors from the Number Eight School.

By the eighth grade we were an established girl group recording for a major label. We wrote & recorded many of our own songs-apeared on T.V., radio, did numerous "Sock-Hops", Rock & Roll shows. American Bandstand, Connecticut Bandstand, The Clay Cole Show, Alan Freed's "Big Beat" and of course Murray the K radio show to name a few. Pretty heady stuff for 14-year-olds. We loved every minute of it. Truthfully, I'm not sure if what I loved more was being a part of all these shows or just being together; probably a little of both. Here we are more than 50 years later, still friends and still enjoying being together, writing and singing.

Yes, it all started in Belleville, a town well-named because it translated to "beautiful city." Thank you Belleville! Thank you Mrs. Arthur!

Love you all! Arleen (Lee)