North Newark Memories

by Theresa Russo


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 American Citizen.

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!
Theresa Russo


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