My earliest memory of downtown Newark was
going to Bamberger's (Bams) with my Mom, who incidentally, took
a bus downtown until she was in her eighties. (She lived in Newark
until now, at 90 years old.) We would always be dressed up in our
finest. Wednesday nights brought busy streets crowded with people.
There were many department stores besides Bams, Orbachs, Hearns,
Hahnes, Kresge's and later Kleins and Two Guys. One by one they
disappeared. There were three 5 & 10's (Grants, Woolworth's
I always worked in downtown Newark, so my lunch hour would be
spent going from store to store. There were at least a dozen shoe
stores, restaurants and movie theaters. Ah, the movies. I've been
in all of them. (Except the Little Theater, which was off limits
for non-adults) The Proctors, Paramount Loews, Branford and the
best of all, the Adams. The Adams had live shows with big name bands
and many acts and comedians who we would later see on TV. You could
sit through two and three shows on the same ticket.
At Christmas time every store had a Santa and decorations that
would make a child's eyes gawk at the wonder of it all. There were
moving figures in store windows that would challenge the New York
scene today. And displays of toy trains would take up a quarter
of the toy floor. The small restaurants like Joe's and Hobby's on
Branford Place, and Childs would be our "after the movie"
place to go for a bite to eat. Movies cost about a quarter, but
the live show at the Adams was about fifty cents. You could go on
a date with about five dollars or less and see two movies, coming
attractions, News of the Day, and sometimes even a cartoon, buy
candy in the theater and then go for a bite to eat. That amount
of money wouldn't even get one person in a theater today. Ah, for
the good old days in downtown Newark. They were wonderful!