Pinkwater made a name for himself with the 1977 classic The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, a story about Arthur Bobowicz, a fictional Hoboken resident who is looking for a Thanksgiving turkey for his family. But to his surprise, he finds that there are no turkeys left in all of Hoboken. As a last resort, he buys Henrietta, a 266-pound chicken with a mind of her own, from local Professor Mazzocchiho.
Henrietta appears again in the 2004 book Looking for Bobowicz and the recently released The Artsy Smartsy Club.
In each of the books, Pinkwater weaves real Hoboken places and details with the imaginary.
To date, Pinkwater has published over 80 books, mostly for children, and continues to write several new books every year. He is a regular contributor to National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition Sunday" and "All Things Considered" and is known for books such as The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death and Jolly Roger: A Dog of Hoboken.
Pinkwater lived in Hoboken for around 12 years starting in 1965.
Hoboken: an inspiration
During a 2004 interview, Pinkwater told the Reporter that he often wondered what it would have been like to grow up in such a diverse and friendly urban community as Hoboken.
"It's a charming place in a gritty way," he said. "I really loved my time there. When I write about Hoboken, I mix real detail with the completely imaginary. It isn't important to be accurate, because Hoboken is a state of mind."
Pinkwater moved to Hoboken in 1965 after his art supplier said that he knew of a loft apartment on Hudson Place. Apartments in town were relatively inexpensive then.
"What I wasn't told," Pinkwater said, "was that there was a saloon [below my loft], and that saloon was home to a horrible live band."
But Pinkwater got used to the noise and quickly gained a deep appreciation for the mile-square city.
"There was such a wonderful community," he said, "full of colorful and interesting people."
He reminisced about eating "some of the world's best" hot dogs by the Erie Lackawanna Ferry Terminal and riding the steam-powered ferries for only a quarter. And of course, he remembers the view from the waterfront.
He added that during his time here, he was attracted to Hoboken's human scale, the fact that there "was a sense of extended family" in this place that is so close in proximity to Manhattan.
"It's a real place all by itself next to the big city," said Pinkwater. "It's a real place with real traditions. I get a certain feeling from the town. The way the sunlight hits the bricks [of the brownstones], the way the lights of Manhattan shine across the river, and the sense that the water is never far away."
He added that he knows how long it takes to walk a block, and what it sounds like as one passes the city's stoops, all of which aid in his creation of place and cadence when he writes a story based in Hoboken.
All of the past columns from this year-long series are available online by visiting www.hobokenreporter.com, scrolling down the left-hand side of the page and clicking on "150th Anniversary."