by Angela Degennaro Lucas

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 and McCrory'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!

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