I lived on Stone Street, four blocks from
St. Lucy's Church. What happy memories…the constant aroma
of Italian cooking, friends always coming over, meeting the kids
after school at The Sacred Heart Cathedral on Clifton Ave., the
St. Lucy's Feast. The laughter and family gatherings with so much
food and stories you'd feel the goodness for days on end. Being
picked up by the nuns from St. Michael's Church for religious classes,
always the Sisters of Charity who were nurturing and well educated
women. Taking the bus every Friday to St. Frances for the church
dances, and dancing till your feet hurt. Falling in love for the
first time, was one of the most memorable. After the dances we would
all meet at Barney's Pizza place, and have the best pizza on an
Italian roll with gravy and mozzarella! Nobody made it like Barney's.
Meeting all my friends from 6th street to 12 Ave., what a great
group of friends.
Webster Junior High on High Street where I saw it all…the
fights, the good kids & the ones always getting into mischief,
and yes we actually studied for Social Study Classes. The clicks,
the tough groups, the kids from the projects who became our best
friends. Walking to Broadway to have a soda at Woolworth's five
& dime store. The Essex House where my mom and aunts would buy
the most beautiful furniture and make our house a home.
The houses looked so big when I was a kid, and when I returned
as an adult for the St. Lucy's Feast, the houses seemed so small,
completely different than my experience as a young girl. I remember
how everyone watched out for each other…and how my grandmother
cooked for days to have all the neighbors come celebrate in our
backyard. How the musicians from the St. Gerard parade would put
down their instruments and come join us to eat and chat. I remember
my Grandmother pinning the Ribbon of money on the Saint with donations
from the whole family, hundreds of dollars to support the church.
My grandmother was loved by many, a strong women, who walked in
the parade, carrying the banner for the church, so proud to be an
The sound of the peddlers calling for Tedasina (Theresa, my grandmother)
by buy the tripe, the vegetables, the cheese, the sweet potato man,
and she bought it all. She had 10 kids and always had extra food
on the table to invite someone else over for dinner. My Grandfather
was a Mason, and helped build the Sacred Heart Cathedral for the
entire 18 years in its making. He brought many men/families from
Italy to work on the church who were also masons. He was a handsome,
quiet man with a dedication to his family that I always admired.
I could go on…the best part now, is that I have passed on
the traditions to my children. I am proud to say I come from Newark,
the First Ward, a place where everyone was united by values of family,
church and country, America, the greatest country in the world!
God Bless us all!