The winter of 1933 and 1934 was one of
the coldest on record. On March 8 the temperature dropped to Minus
Seven and on the ninth slipped to Minus Ten and it remained very
cold for several days. The Passaic River and Newark Bay were frozen
over from, shore to shore with about a foot of ice. The United States
Coast Guard dispatched an Ice Breaker to clear a channel for ships,
tugboats and barges on both waterways.
With the breakup of the ice cover, many Ice flows began to travel
up and down the river with the tide. Large ice flows moved along
the shore, offering a great chance to ride them as they floated
down the river. We skipped merrily from flow to flow, a somewhat
dangerous sport, however nothing tragic happened. This was on the
ninth of March.
The next day several of my friends and I, taking our sleds traveled
to the side of the old Morris Canal, to enjoy the thrill of belly
whopping down the embankment. As we were enjoying our pastime an
Officer of the Law approached and we were told to follow him. When
we tried to get an explanation of his conduct, he accused us of
riding the ice flows on the river. In that he was wrong, the day
before yes, but not today. No amount of talk on our part would change
his mind. We were ordered to follow him down Read Street to the
Third Precinct, pulling our sleds behind us. At the Station House
we parked our Flexible Flyers and were ushered inside. Next we were
interrogated by the Desk Sergeant, we were asked our names, addresses
and telephone numbers if we had one.
At this point, into a holding cell we went. My friend Joe Ryan
began to complain, that his father was a Committee man and would
have something to say about our confinement. I told him that his
talk would do us little good.
At this point another one of the lads began to cry, at this juncture
in my most Philadelphia Lawyer Style, I tried to tell him that they
could only hold us for so long before accusing us of a crime. It
apparently satisfied him, crying stopped.
After many hours in the holding cell, Mr. Ryan's appearance gave
us the opportunity to be relived from our confinement. We then retrieved
our sleds and slowly trudged down the streets to our homes. We were
never told what transgression we had committed.
This was my one and only encounter with the Men in Blue of the
Newark Police Department.