Ice Cream, World War II and Baseball by Tyreen Reuter

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The name "Costa" may conjure up images of delicious ice cream in many long-time Metuchen and Edison residents; from 1898 until 1977, the Costa family made and sold ice cream in Metuchen.  In an oral history conducted in 2006, Mr. Gregory Costa recounts how at first his his maternal Uncle and Aunt operated a small ice cream shop at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Main Street.  In 1905, Gregory's parents, Matilda and Gregory Costa, Sr., purchased the business from his Aunt and Uncle, and in 1914 constructed the building at 416 Main Street and then, in 1923, built an ice cream plant on Pearl Street (near the Boyt's Drug rear parking lot).

Due to an injury Gregory suffered while playing football at the New York Military Academy, he was unable to serve in the military during World War II, but was eventually admitted to the Reserves where he served as a Second Lieutenant. 

But Gregory's younger brother, Joseph was able to serve overseas.  He was born in 1913, just fourteen months after Gregory and grew up with his brother and sister, Maria, in Metuchen.  Some may remember him as Mayor of Metuchen during the 1950s.  What people may not know about him is that he was apparently also quite a baseball player.

A researcher in McLean, Virginia recently contacted the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society to find out if we knew anything more about Joseph Costa and his career in baseball.  

According to a 1994 interview and news article printed in the Chicago Tribune, Captain Joe Costa "collected baseball players the way some kids collect baseball cards" and organized some pretty spectacular games with his collection of Major Leaguers serving in post-war Germany.  According to the article,

 

Walker, the Cardinals' outfielder, wound up on his team, along with Pirates outfielders Johnny Wyrostek and Maurice Van Robays, Reds second baseman Benny Zientara, Cubs first baseman Heinz Becker, Dodgers shortstop Bob Ramazzotti, Browns third baseman George Archie and pitchers Ewell Blackwell of the Reds, Rex Barney of the Dodgers, Ken Heintzelman of the Pirates and Alpha Brazle and Johnny Beazley of the Cardinals.


The complete text of this fascinating article can be found at http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-09-11/sports/9409110357_1_postwar-germany-benning-baseman/2.  If you want to know more about Costa's Ice Cream, visit the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society's website where you can read the Winter 2007 issue of the newsletter, Nannygoats, http://www.metuchen-edisonhistsoc.org/resources/Vol.+5+Issue+1+Winter+2007.pdf

The Metuchen-Edison Historical Society is thrilled to have been contacted about this interesting and new piece of our local history, and is keeping an eye out for additional information about Joe Costa and his baseball history that may come to light.  We are also now very hungry for some of that peach ice cream that the Costa's made...

 

-Tyreen Reuter, July, 2011


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