My grandmother always got a twinkle in
her eye when she talked of going "downtown" - though she
lived in North Arlington, she had worked in Newark for many years
and even after the city began its decline she would merrily walk
to "down the hill" to River Road to board the bus for
Newark. Sometimes though, depending on the time of day I guess,
she would walk "up the hill" to get the Express and would
return from either "up" or down as well.
Of course I loved to go with her; she had a way of making everything
an adventure (usually a funny adventure) - remember the time we
were walking "down the hill" from ridge after a trip to
Newark and the bags we were carrying burst - cans of pineapple rings
we had purchases on sale at Woolworth's went cascading down the
hill - grandma, rather than being upset had to sit down she was
laughing so hard - we got some back, but some I'm sure made it all
the way to the murky Passaic.
My favorite destination in Newark with Grandma was Woolworth's.
Oh, the smells of the popcorn and peanuts, and the sounds of bells
ringing...And the toy department and the pet department with live
birds - it was almost too much to take in. Then of course there
was the lunch counter where I had hot chocolate with whipped cream
no matter what the season, and one of those delicious hot dogs with
the rolls fried golden brown.
We always came home with lots of odds and ends - once (too bad
I was not with her that time) grandma came home with a little tree
on the bus - grandpa planted it and it grew tall and sturdy and
for all I know its still growing on Shields Place in North Arlington.
As we emptied our bags at home like two trick or treaters on Halloween,
every once in a while grandma would get an ESP bright twinkle in
her eye as she took perhaps a scarf, or a comb, or some other small
item from the bag - I don't remember seeing that, I would say and
she would smile and say with a grin
"I swiped it- it was on the floor and you know they can't
sell things that have been on the floor"
Sometimes though, I wonder though whether it was grandma who put
those little things on the floor!
Anyway for grandma, and for me because of her, "going downtown"
was a great adventure - how I would like to take that adventure
with her just one more time!